Monday, April 16, 2012

Playing Post Office

Please note: This made-for-film opera libretto was originally created for the English National Opera mini-operas competition under an in-kind Creative Commons license. Anyone who would like to use it in creative projects may do so, under the terms of that CC license. For more information, visit www.minioperas.org. All other work on Bloghilde's Blather is subject to traditional copyright.

PLEASE NOTE: THE CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSE FOR THIS PIECE IS RESCINDED EFFECTIVE MARCH 1, 2013. ANYONE WISHING TO CREATE A WORK USING IT UNDER THE CC LICENSE MUST NOTIFY ME AND FORWARD A COPY OF THEIR WORK BY THAT DATE. AFTER FEBRUARY 28, 2013, "PLAYING POST OFFICE" WILL REVERT TO TRADITIONAL COPYRIGHT. 


By Jennifer Ann Wilson


INT – BRODY’S STUDY – DAY

BRODY is seated at a disorderly desk, tapping at a laptop. He seems engrossed in what he is reading, alternately peering intently at the text, smiling, and chuckling. Gazing at the screen, he ardently sings.

BRODY
Dearest light of my days,
Sweetest sunshine piercing the haze
Of my weary existence,
You are the highest,
Richest, most splendid essence
Of womanhood’s most brilliant best.
I long to hold you,
To  touch you,
To press your lips to mine –
Not merely online,
But in the warm and welcome flesh.
Soon, soon we will be joined, my dear,
Our lives and souls will enmesh forever.
This gift I send to you is
Proof of my promise.  The promise of
Your most sincere,
Adoring,
Admiring,
Passionately aspiring,
Brody.

MRS. BRODY enters, standing in the doorway for a moment before rushing toward the computer, which BRODY quickly snaps closed.  She stands over him, and he gazes up at her, submissive and sheepish.

MRS. BRODY
We must discuss this!

BRODY
What are we discussing?

MRS. BRODY
The new furnace will cost nineteen hundred dollars! 

BRODY
(distractedly)
Furnace?!  But it’s July!

MRS. BRODY
It doesn’t matter! The technician said the old one could kill us all!

Candace, seven, runs into the room. She clambers into her father’s lap.

BRODY
(cooing to Candace as he embraces her)
Hello, my sweetheart!


MRS. BRODY
Anyhow, if we buy from Sears, we can get six months with no finance charge…

Walter, 12, enters, wearing modern play-clothes – shorts, a t-shirt, and sneakers. His hands and shins are covered in blood.

Both BRODY and MRS. BRODY sit stunned for a beat, before MRS. BRODY grabs Walter and rushes out. BRODY gently shoos Candace off his lap, calling after MRS. BRODY.

BRODY
(sweetly)
Honey, I have to run some errands… can I get you anything while I’m out?

BRODY pauses briefly, waiting for but not expecting an answer. Candace skips off. BRODY, at last alone, grabs a sheet of paper from a nearby printer, scrawls something on it with great care, then with a slight glance over his shoulder, withdraws a rectangular box from the briefcase at his feet. He fondles the box, kisses it, then gently places it into a mailing envelope with the piece of paper. He seals the envelope, then hurries out.

EXT.  PERIWINKLE STREET – DAY

BRODY ambles briskly down a street, approaching a mailbox. The sun is shining, and the birds are singing. He opens the mailbox and drops his small package in, patting the door as it closes, before turning and walking off, a cheery spring in his step.

Just as BRODY disappears from view, CHERISE enters, bearing a small, ladylike stationery envelope. It is unsealed, and as she pauses by the mailbox, she slowly and deliberately licks the seal. A thought occurs to her suddenly, and she stands awkwardly for a moment, rummaging through her purse. She pulls out an atomizer and spritzes the envelope with it before dropping it into the box. She smiles with satisfaction, heading off in the opposite direction from BRODY’s.

INT – CHERISE’S APARTMENT – NIGHT

CHERISE’s apartment is a modest, big-city one-bedroom, furnished with feminine bourgeois elegance. The d├ęcor is all lace runners and flowered tapestries, betraying no sign of masculine presence or taste; a doll collection rests on a long table beside one wall. CHERISE enters, hip-bumping the door closed behind her, her hands occupied, respectively, with a cell phone and a stack of mail. She shuffles toward a sofa, singing as she goes.


CHERISE
We haven’t actually met, but it feels as if I’ve known him forever.. Of course he isn’t married! He said, “No one holds my heart but you, Cherise!” I really must go… He sent me something… (shakes the package)  It feels like jewelry! OK – goodbye!

CHERISE sets the phone aside, drops the rest of the mail on a table, then proceeds to tear open the bubble-wrapped package. She pulls the sheet of paper out first, unfolding it and gazing at it lovingly. She sings, reading Brody’s letter.

CHERISE
(reading)
“Most lovely moonbeam,
My pitiful present, understand,
Is only of value because my hand
Has touched it and, by sweet extension,
Your loveliness.
Ever always, yours and mine,
Lips in tender kisses twine.
Brody”

CHERISE pulls the box from its wrapping. She lifts the lid and reaches inside to extract her gift – a spectacularly garish and un-lifelike love toy. Alarmed and with trembling hands, she replaces it in its box, then drops it as if it is burning her fingers.  She stands and, backing away from the object, makes her way to her desk, seating herself at the computer.  Beside the computer is a framed photograph of a smiling man with a luxuriant head of hair. It is Brody, in younger days.  CHERISE sings as she types.

CHERISE
(curtly)
Thank you for your gift.

CHERISE  pauses for a moment, composing herself. Composed, she sings.
                                             
When I was a little girl, Mama told me I should
Hold out for a certain kind of man. He would
Arrive bearing flowers… he would ask for my hand.
He would be courteous at all times, and at no time demand
Any more than I, his lady, could properly give.
As long as I lived, he’d take care of me
And I of him.
I thought such a man would remain a dream
Until the day I met you
On Yahoo.
The thrill my heart gets
From your honeyed tete-a-tetes
Means more to me
Than rustic chivalry.
Therefore, I beg you, don’t ever change.
Never exchange your enchanting eloquence
And manly charm
For petty decadence and smarm!

INT – BRODY’S STUDY – A MOMENT LATER

BRODY
Darling!  I’ve been waiting to talk with you all day. Did you like your gift?

CHERISE (V.O.)
Beloved… it was… a fascinating color! 

BRODY
You didn’t like it. I’ve offended you.

INT – CHERISE’S APARTMENT – CONTINUING

CHERISE
(insincerely)
Oh no, darling Brody, I could never be offended by something from your… hand.

BRODY (V.O.)
I’m glad for that. I only wanted to bring you the same pleasure you have brought to my life…

CHERISE
The same pleasure?! You mean you…

INT – BRODY’S STUDY – CONTINUING

BRODY
Well, of course… I mean…. don’t you?
(silence)
Cherise? Cherise, are you there?

CHERISE (V.O.)
I am here.

BRODY
I’m sorry. What can I do to make it up to you?

CHERISE (V.O.)
Brody darling, let’s just forget about it…

MRS. BRODY enters quietly. BRODY, because of his absorption in the online exchange, does not notice her entrance or that she is peering over his shoulder.

MRS. BRODY
(angrily)
Brody!

BRODY
Dear! I was just…

 Brody starts, knocking the laptop to the floor. It is still connected to the internet, and CHERISE’s messages are still popping up on the screen. Nearby lies the envelope CHERISE had sent, a photograph of her half sticking out of it.

CHERISE (V.O.)
… and go back to the way things were.

MRS. BRODY
Are you having an affair?!

BRODY
Never! 
BRODY cools, taking MRS. BRODY’S arms in his hands and pulling her gently away from the computer’s resting place. 
What makes you think such a thing?

MRS. BRODY
(pointing)
Who is Cherise?!

BRODY
She is a colleague from work, darling. We had an argument, and I was trying to soothe her feelings.

CHERISE (V.O.)
Brody? Are you there? Brody?

BRODY
(TRIO)
(caressing MRS. BRODY’s arms)
I have never touched another woman, my love, and I never would. (kisses her) Come on. Get the kids ready, and we’ll all go out to the Sizzler.


MRS. BRODY
(TRIO)
I’ll get the kids ready, and we’ll all go out to the Sizzler.

CHERISE (V.O.)
(TRIO)
Brody? Oh Brody! His Yahoo must have crashed!

MRS. BRODY, mollified, departs. BRODY scrambles for the computer, hastily typing.

INT – CHERISE’S APARTMENT – CONTINUING

BRODY (V.O.)
Cherise?

CHERISE
Yes -- I was just going to log off. I am so glad you’re back!

BRODY (V.O.)
Darling, I must go.  Send me something, and I’ll do the same for you. I promise I’ll make this up to you.

CHERISE
Of course, dearest Brody. Until the next, my love…

CHERISE’s computer displays the message “BRODYPACKERSFAN has disconnected.”

EXT – PERIWINKLE STREET – THE NEXT DAY

CHERISE walks briskly down the street, approaching the mailbox. Just as she reaches it, she stops in her tracks – on the other side of the mailbox is BRODY. They wordlessly stare at each other for a moment. It is clear that they recognize one another, but they do not exchange even a smile in greeting. Slowly, BRODY reaches for the mailbox drawer with his left hand and holds it open for CHERISE. CHERISE’s eyes wander over the hand, with its gold wedding band clearly displayed, then flicker to BRODY’s bald pate, before she abruptly glances away, attempting to look cheerful.

 Without making eye contact with BRODY, CHERISE drops her letter into the box. BRODY does the same. BRODY’s expression is one of controlled panic. CHERISE dons a mock-insouciant smile. Their eyes still do not meet as they turn on their heels and walk away, in opposite directions.

THE END





                                   
                       












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