Simon Quits Smoking

Characters:

Simon: Awkward, overly self-aware, fidgety 18-year-old

Chris: Quiet, unresponsive, indifferent 15-year-old

Steven: Overly confident, not self-aware 22-year-old


SCENE ONE

 

It is a nice day in early summer in suburban Connecticut. People off stage are gathered around as a coffin is being put into the ground. A boy, Chris (15) stands by a tree away from the people. Simon (18) walks on stage looking beyond annoyed. He wears a black suit. He lights a cigarette and begins to smoke.

 

CHRIS: You trying to kill yourself?

 

Simon looks around, still not seeing Chris, with a surprised and clueless look on his face. He stumbles a little bit, chokes, and almost drops the cigarette. Then looks up.

 

SIMON: God?

 

Chris swings around the tree tapping Simon on the back making him jump. Simon whirls around.

 

SIMON: Oh it’s you. (Inhales again) How long have you been standing there?

CHRIS: Since we got to this hellhole.

SIMON: You can say that again.

 

Chris goes back to his side of the tree to look at his picture. He has the appearance of being intoxicated and has clearly had a hard time dressing himself. He is the youngest of the three, around fifteen. His shirt is not tucked in and he is not wearing a tie. Simon walks around the tree and stands next to Chris.

SIMON: So, (smokes again) how you holding up?

 

Chris shrugs and with some difficulty puts the picture into his pocket.

 

SIMON: I've missed you.

CHRIS: (Sinks to the bottom of the tree) Didn't go anywhere.

SIMON: I know that. (Sits next to him) But you seem to be refusing people or any means of basic communication.

CHRIS: S'not true. Get your cancer stick away from me.

SIMON: I remember heath class…. we learned so much and yet (inhales again) so little. So, you wanna talk about it or…?

CHRIS: (Shakes his head) Go away.

SIMON: (Laughs.) Chris, its time you learned….

CHRIS: Not again…


SIMON: Listen, Chris, (clearly improvising) people, people are like…butterflies.

CHRIS: Good talk. (Gets up to leave)

SIMON: (Gently pulls him back down) No, no listen this is good. And, and, important to learn. People are like butterflies…in that…they…are pretty? No that doesn't work. They are born…. wait no that's not right either…. OK butterflies are colorful just like…like Steven…. Like Steven when he…. is…. unhappy…when Steven is unhappy… about… science?

CHRIS: Listen Simon….

SIMON: No wait I will think of something.

CHRIS: Look, I'm really not in the mood for a pep talk….

SIMON: OK, OK that's fine, no that's great. I'll just sit here with you.

CHRIS: Must you?

SIMON: Wont talk, don't worry.

 

Chris sighs loudly and once again removes the picture from his pocket. He stares blankly down at it, doing his best to shield it from Simon who, in a failed attempt to be sly tries to look at it.

 

SIMON: Whacha got there?

CHRIS: It’s…nothing. (tries to slide it back into his pocket)

SIMON: No its not. Come on what is it?

CHRIS: Please Simon, I just want to be alone.

SIMON: Shock there. Listen…how can I say this? Now Dad…and (looks down) Jess are…. gone, I'm the only one left who you actually talk to. And so Mom is expecting me to take full responsibility for…your actions. And trust me kid, I hate it more then you do but I am…. morally obligated to ask, really Chris, are you sure your OK?

CHRIS: I'm fine.

SIMON: I know. I know. But being your one and only confidant I was kinda hoping for the truth….

CHRIS: I get it so because I have nothing to say I'm not telling the truth?

 

CHRIS looks down then over at his brother then down again.

 

CHRIS: Sorry it’s just….

SIMON: No, I get it.

CHRIS: No you don't it was…

SIMON: You don't have to explain it to me.

CHRIS: (Still looking down) It was the last picture Jess and I took together.

SIMON: Look you really don't need to…

CHRIS: Were frowning. In the picture we just look so damn unhappy. And all I can think is that I wasn't unhappy that day…. it was…a sensational day. (Pauses, clearly this is hard for him to talk about) That was the day (laughs dryly) the day we all went camping. And Jess was downright miserable. God that girl hated bugs. And. And Steven he said…

SIMON: That we would have to take away her title of honorary Cobb brother, (inhales again) yeah I remember…God that was a fun weekend…almost made it OK that Golden Boy was home from College.

CHRIS: (Quietly) I don't mind him that much…

SIMON: God knows why…

CHRIS: (Looks over at him) Shut up…

 

Simon laughs

 

CHRIS: And I will miss you too…God I'm…. I’m gunna be the only one left. Why does the world hate me?

SIMON: World hates everyone, don't flatter yourself.

 

Chris laughs and looks up and for a second they look into each other’s eyes.

 

CHRIS: I just…I just I miss her you know…

SIMON: We all do man.

CHRIS: No. Their…Theirs just no way…no possible way you could know…

SIMON: (Looks down) I know but, she was my sister too and-

CHRIS: Was she also your twin?

SIMON: (Looks down) No, Chris you know she wasn't.

CHRIS: Then clearly, clearly you have no idea what it feels like.

SIMON: (Shakes his head) Your right…

CHRIS: I know.

 

They exchange glances.

 

SIMON: (Laughs again) Well on the bright side this has to be the first time I've heard you say something not mono symbolic since it happened. Or really in general I guess…

 

Chris shrugs, Simon laughs and takes a long drag form his cigarette. The two sit in agreement for a minute.

 

SIMON: We should probably be getting back.

CHRIS: Yeah.

(A short pause.)

CHRIS: Can I get in on that?

SIMON: God no.

CHRIS: Jess says I shouldn't but if this might let me be with her sooner…

SIMON: (Not really listening to Chris) Jess always hated smokers. Lit up in front of her once and the girl almost tried to kill me….

CHRIS: (Not listening to Simon) I mean, even if I never get lung cancer…maybe Mom will kill me and then….

SIMON: So I said to her, when your my age, and realize you have no hope in life with the Stevens of this world running a muck, then you'll get it.

CHRIS: I'm not saying I want to die…it’s just…

SIMON: I needed to do something to get attention, that was the year Golden boy…. anyway…you don't care.

CHRIS: I'm just sick of someone dieing every time the last person leaves….

SIMON: (Listening again) What? I know buddy loss is hard…but it’s a part of life you know?

 

Simon laughs again, then takes one last drag from his cigarette, puts it out, and throws it.

 

SIMON: Christ.

CHRIS: What? (Looking up)

SIMON: The Golden Child approaches…

CHRIS: Why does he bother you so much?

SIMON: Ask me again later.

 

Steven, 22, walks up to them and sits down, being sure to clean off the grass around him first to protect his suit from dirt. He protectively places his arm around Chris, who pulls away from his brother.

 

STEVEN: Here you are. I’ve been looking for you all over.

SIMON: Well, you found us.

STEVEN: (To Chris) How you holding up?

 

Chris shakes his head and says nothing.

 

SIMON: He’s fine.

STEVEN: Thank you Simon but I wasn’t asking you.

SIMON: Words were spoken and I responded.

 

Steven looks down, looking for words. Simon stands up and leans all his weight against the tree.

 

STEVEN: (To Chris) Death is hard, no harder then life. Sometimes, the easiest way to deal with these things is to hide your emotions. But believe me Chris, this may be the easiest thing, but it just hurts more later.

 

Simon looks pained and puts his face onto the bark of the tree.

 

STEVEN: Others, it seems like you have to try to bury them with think layers of hate and resentment. And if you need to hate someone, by all means I’m, I’m more then happy to be the one you have to hate.

SIMON: (to himself) So that’s why you think people hate you.

CHRIS: (To Steven) Thanks.

STEVEN: It’s what good brothers are for.

SIMON: Are you implying something?

STEVEN: No, why would I be?

SIMON: I don’t know it just sounded like….

STEVEN: Sounded like what Simon?

CHRIS: (Getting up) Yeah I’m going to go….

 

Chris exits.

 

SIMON: Would you look what you did?

STEVEN: Hey, my philosophy teacher said-

SIMON: Your philosophy teacher can go to hell!

STEVEN: You don’t even know Mr. Phillips!

SIMON: And you don’t even care that our sister is dead!

 

Steven looks down shocked and Simon looks regretful. Steven takes a few steps away from him and Simon steps away from the tree, refusing to look at his brother.

 

STEVEN: Do you know where I was when it happened?

SIMON: Look I went to far….

STEVEN: I was alone, in my dorm, about to hit the call button next to her contact. She had just told me the night before to call her at 7:46 exactly, right when her soccer games usually end. I had promised I would come home and visit over the weekend if she won…. the ironic things is she didn’t win…. but I still came to visit… Then he dean walked in.

(Beat.)

STEVEN: Mother’s looking for us, we should go.

SIMON: Look I-

STEVEN: (Yells) I said we should go!

 

They both exit. Simon hangs back for a second behind Steven.

 

SCENE TWO

 

Six months later, the three brothers stand around Jess’s grave, the tree is now gone. They are wearing light jackets now. Steven bends down and puts a white orchid on her grave. Simon holds a white piece of nice paper, the writing on which cannot be seen.

 

STEVEN: Mother’s done a nice job of keeping her grave up.

SIMON: Has she ever passed on an opportunity to make something perfect?

(Beat.)

STEVEN: You think we should say something?

SIMON: What is there so say?

STEVEN: I wrote a poem.

SIMON: Of coarse you did.

CHRIS: Please you guys promised you wouldn’t fight.

SIMON: The kid’s right.

STEVEN: Shall I read is then?

SIMON: Read what?

STEVEN: My poem.

 

Simon roles his eyes, Steven steps forward addressing the grave.

 

STEVEN: Another Time by Steven Jonathan Cobb. (Clears his thought.) Jess, I stand here, each breath, a memory of you, the way you laugh, the color blue, our shared love of the ocean, God you loved the ocean, I know forever is not our fate apart, if anything t’was just a bitter start, together again, we will someday be, another time.

(Beat.)

SIMON: Wow.

STEVEN: I know.

SIMON: Thank God you’re physics major.

STEVEN: Shut up.

(Beat.)

SIMON: At least you didn’t write a song…. again.

 

Steven looks at Simon as though annoyed, they both laugh.

 

STEVEN: Fine then. Why don’t you show her what ever the hell it is you have there.

SIMON: I will thank you.

 

Simon steps forward and reveals a charcoal drawing of a butterfly. He places it beside her grave.

 

STEVEN: A butterfly Simon, really?

SIMON: Why the hell not? Jess always loved them.

(Beat.)

CHRIS: She did. I remember one day we were walking in the woods, and there was a gigantic blue one sitting on a log in our path. I was just going to walk over it but then she stopped me. We stood in our place for ten straight minutes until it decided to fly away. She told me to watch the way he beat his wings, the way the trees around him framed him like a picture. (Beat.) Ten days later, some moron didn’t stop for her at a stop sign.

(long, awkward silence.)

STEVEN: I’m gay.

SIMON: I know.

STEVEN: How could possibly have known that?

SIMON: Peyton.

STEVEN: What about him?

SIMON: Just Peyton.

STEVEN: I see.

(Beat.)

SIMON: You gunna tell mom?

STEVEN: Only when I have to.

(Beat.)

CHRIS: It’s getting dark.

STEVEN: Yeah, we should probably go soon.

(Beat.)

STEVEN: Did you really know?

SIMON: Yeah

STEVEN: Interesting. Do you think other people-

SIMON: Yup

STEVEN: Huh

(Beat.)

CHRIS: We should really go.

SIMON: Are you OK?

 

Chris shakes his head and runs off stage Simon and Steven follow him.

 

 

SCENE THREE

Three months later, Simon enters wearing a heavy winter coat. He places a flower on Jess’s grave.

 

SIMON: Hey, Jess. I know, I haven’t been to visit you as much as I should have, and I’m sorry for that. I just, I don’t like this kind of thing you know, I mean talking to someone who can’t exactly hear me it’s just, just weird. (Beat.) To be honest I have no idea what to say…. my therapist thought this might bring me closure. What ever that is anyway. (Beat.) Well I’m on my way back to visit everyone for the holidays, and for once I’m kind off looking forward to it. Christ you would have loved thanks giving, Steven came bursting out of the closet, nearly gave Aunt Martha a heart attach. But he’s happy now, finally happy, and I couldn’t explain why but I hate that. I wish I was happy. (Reaches into his pocket, pulls out a cigarette and lights it.) Anyway that’s about it. I guess I should go… No you know what, I’m going to give you one last Christmas present. This, this is my last cigarette, ever. Just for you. Does that make you happy? Well I guess that’s irrelevant your dead. No offence. (Pulls her diary out of his pocket and begins leafing through it.) I found this in your room a few days after it happened. Don’t worry I haven’t read it. I was planning on giving it Chris…I thought maybe you would like to hear some of it first. You know to remind you of….stuff. (Reads aloud) November 14, 2010, Dear Diary, I saw another blue butterfly today, this time on my way home form school. Its weird, like they’re following me around now. (Flips a few pages.) January 9, 2010.  Dear Diary, Steven visited us again this weekend, he taught me how to find the slope of a graph. Good times, good times. (A few more pages.) February 1, 2010. Dear Diary, I got the lead in the play! There was a blue butterfly sitting on the windowsill when I auditioned so I knew I would get it. Smiley face, heart, peace sign. Huh. (puts the diary in this pocket.)

 

Simon exits. Blackout.

 

Emma Silverman
Age 15, Grade 9
Columbia Grammar-Prep School
Silver Key

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