Depression (WT) ACT I, SCENE 1

SETTING: A curb-bound smoking area outside of a community college building.
AT RISE: Eric is sitting on the edge of the curb. He is wearing a black weather-resistant Northface jacket and a questionably-clean pair of blue jeans. His hair is dirty and plastered against his head. He is smoking a cigarette while slightly rocking back and forth from a hangover that is being eradicated by drinking again. It is early in the day. ALTER is sitting next to him, dressed well and looking well put together.

NARRATION
There are people in this life who live. There are people who breathe in and out every second of every day without ever having to struggle for each breath. There are people who view struggles as surmountable obstacles instead of surviving a struggle in every moment. This story is a familiar one to those of you who are not like the people I speak of. For those of you whom I do speak, this story is for you. This is a story of a struggle darker and harder than the struggle of a normal life. This is the struggle of living when death seems at times easier. This is the story of people who find the simple act of living to be the greatest struggle of all.

ERIC
We’re early

ALTER
Or late for you

ERIC
Whatever. I’m going today. I’ve just got to finish my cigarette and it’s an easy walk.

ALTER
It is easy. It’s…
(pause)
80 meters to a set of double doors; a simple one-eighty to the stairs; one flight up and then fifty feet to your classroom.

ERIC
(Puts out his cigarette and stands, swaying slightly)
You’re right, it’s easy.
(Pause)
It is… 
(Sways heavily and sits)
Shit…
(Withdraws another cigarette, lights it and takes a drag)
It isn’t easy, is it?

ALTER
Then why go? You know where we can go.

ERIC
Fuck you, man. Shut up and get out of my head. I’m going.

ALTER
Good choice.
ERIC
You’re not playing with my head right now. I’m going.

ALTER
Then let’s go. Stand up and let’s walk in.

ERIC
After this cigarette

ALTER
And another and another…

ERIC
What does that mean?

ALTER
That you already know you’re not going in.
(Pause)
It’s too embarrassing for you to explain why you’ve missed three classes in a row.

ERIC
 (Shrugs his shoulders)
I haven’t missed a test. I haven’t missed an assignment. The quizzes I’ve missed don’t amount to many points. I’ll be fine.

ALTER
Then why are you still smoking?

ERIC
(Dismissively shrugs his shoulders)
I’ve got five minutes till class.

ALTER
And what will you say when PROFESSOR ALVAREZ asks about your absences?

ERIC
 (Shrugs his shoulders again)
Does it matter?

ALTER
(Laughs)
Not to me, but it does to you. You’ll have to lie and make excuses and then you’ll feel like crap.

ERIC
You don’t think I can handle myself?

ALTER
I think you hate lying only slightly less than you hate talking about why you disappear from time to time. I think you would rather run away than be faced with that conundrum.

ERIC
Fuck you. I don’t have to lie. I’ll just take the quiz, attend class and take notes. If I’m asked about what has been going on I’ll just say that I’ve been going through personal stuff and PROFESSOR ALVAREZ will understand.

ALTER
Will she?

ERIC
Why wouldn’t she?

ALTER
How shall I count the ways? You’ve been gone for a week and a half and have not responded to a single email. You’ve been called by both PROFESSOR ALVAREZ and PROFESSOR ASI and have not answered. Now, all of a sudden, you believe you can show up and excuse it away by saying you had personal business you had to attend to?

ERIC
Why not?

ALTER
As if you don’t reek like whiskey right now

ERIC
College kids drink. Hangovers are common.

ALTER
You’re no longer a kid and you’re not hung-over. In the best light you’re still drunk from last night. In reality you were still drunk from last night but the pint of Early Times you downed on the way here makes you currently drunk. How will that come across?

ERIC
I didn’t down it all. Half of it is still in the car.

ALTER
Very well
(Pause)
And where would you rather go? To class or the car?

ERIC
I’d rather go to class.
(Pause)
You fucking dick.
(Pause)
Let’s go to the car.

ALTER
I’m only trying to point out what’s best for you.

ERIC
You’re a fucking Saint.
(Pause)
Let’s go.
(The two stand and exit)

Like what you read? Give C.G. Andrews a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.