The Middle of Things
A short play by Ernio Hernandez
HIM and HER sit opposite one another as we first see them. HER just sat down.
(Both appear to be in their late 20s/early 40s and are of different ethnic backgrounds. “HIM” and “HER” are not names nor suggestive of gender.)
HER Let’s not start at hello.
HIM What now?
HER I read this thing recently, “In medias res”…
HIM Medias res?
HER Yes. It’s Latin I think. It’s a technique in literature where the author starts something “in the middle of things” — like right in the action.
HER So, what do you think? Let’s not go through the whole “Hello… what do you do?” awkwardness and just launch right into the middle of something.
HIM Cool idea, but how do you just start in the middle? And haven’t we technically already started…
HER Semantics. Here, I’ll walk back in…
HIM No, that’s restarting or starting… you know, from the start.
HER Ah, you’re right.
HIM Okay, gimme a second.
HER Take more.
HIM looks downward. Pauses, breathes, then launches into:
HIM …and I don’t know why, but then she and her friend are running into another room — and I’m just feet behind them at this point — and in a flash, her friend SLAMS the door quickly and BAM! Doorknob to the forehead.
HIM Yeah, I barely remember any of this. I had to have been about doorknob-height, so… who knows… whatever single digit that is.
HER Oh dear.
HIM Yeah, so my eyebrow pretty much covers most of it, but you can kinda make out some of the scar if you look close enough.
HER I see your game.
HIM What? Game?
HER You’ve used that story before on “the ladies,” haven’t you?
HIM “The ladies,” eh?
HER Yeah, it gets them in close…
HER …“close enough” as you put it.
HIM Ha. Yes, this is my ruse.
HER I’m a sucker for ruse. I’ll bite.
HIM Wait. Bite?
HER Ha! No, not literally.
HIM Oh, phew.
HER I mean I’ll play along. Let me see that scar.
HIM (leans in closer) Yeah, right here. It was probably my only real childhood ailment — no broken bones or anything, but I did get stitches on that.
HER Well, I’m… (smiling) glad I asked.
HIM (smiling back) How about you? Any scarring or… hidden tattoos I should know about?
HER Wow, you ARE a smoothie with your subtle ways.
HIM What? I’m just following the line of questioning.
HER “Hidden” — to be revealed at some point later in the evening — you are clever.
HIM Not at all what I was implying.
HER Maybe not consciously.
HIM (whispering) Is this good? “Media res” enough?
HER Shh. It’s great.
HIM So yeah, I’m sorry, I think I cut you off. You were going to tell me about something and I launched into that story about my sister and my scar.
HER That’s completely fine. I will hold it against you later.
HER Oh, I know what I said.
HIM Stop. You’ll make me blush.
HER So, I dunno… where was I?
HIM Oh, you had mentioned some word… with Greek roots…
HER (making big eyes)…did I?!
HIM (smiling) Yep.
HER Oh… callipygian.
HIM What is that exactly?
HER You’ve never heard of this word?
HER It’s an amazing word.
HIM Do tell.
HER So the roots are “kallos” — which is beauty…
HER And “puge” which of course means… buttocks.
HIM Wait, what?
HER Yes. Buttocks. Thank the Greeks for putting together a word that means “having shapely buttocks.”
HIM What? No…
HIM That’s not serious, is it?
HER Look it up.
HIM pulls out his phone and types. Pauses, then smiles.
HIM What?! No way. That is…
HER Did you get the right spelling?
HIM Close enough. Wow.. that is…
HER I know… “an amazing word.”
HIM Well, thank you. I’ve been looking for such a word.
HER I bet you have.
HIM Haha. I’m going to just say this now, before this goes any further…
HER Oh boy.
HIM …I am enjoying your company.
HIM Were you thinking I was going to say something else?
HER I was worried you would use the new word against me.
HIM Ha. No, I would nev… I mean, not that you’re…
HER … go on, you dig yourself out of that one.
HIM Uhh… Help me out here.
HER Nope. I’d like to see you complete this thought.
HIM (sighs) Wow. Just gonna leave me… Okay, yes. I think the shape of your buttocks are quite lovely.
HER (laughs rather loudly) Oh my, I’m sorry.
HIM And your cackle is just as lovely.
HER Pffff, oh wow, sexy, I know.
HER Well, thank you. For noticing.
HIM I am nothing if not observant.
HER Specifically of that area?
HIM No. Just generally.
HER Oh and thank you. Didn’t mean to step on your compliment.
HIM Which one?
HER “Enjoying my company.” I’m sure you get that all the time.
HIM No, I’ve never gotten it.
HER Oh, pshaw…
HIM notices his cell phone light.
HIM So, I’m amazed we’ve been talking for well over an hour now and you’ve yet to get a “phone call.”
HER Why’s that?
HIM Don’t women usually have a friend check in on them to make sure things are going well, or give them an out if they aren’t?
HER Oh, wow, I should have set that up.
HIM Or…did you… and you were having such a great time, you stealthily shut your phone off.
HER Ha, wouldn’t you like to know?
HIM Well, yes. That’s why I mentioned it.
HER You’re doing just fine.
HIM You too.
HER So… getting back to your question from earlier… I DO have a hidden scar.
HER Well, other than the emotional ones! I have a scar from my two C-sections.
HIM Oh, you have kids?
HER Yes, two wonderful young adults whom we will not talk about tonight.
HIM Oh. Okay.
HER So, there is my “before this goes any further.”
HIM Well, thank you. And I won’t pry but if “this” does go “any further” I’d love to hear about them.
HIM And I’m not falling for your ruse…
HIM You’ve used that story before on “the dudes,” haven’t you?
HER (laughs rather loudly) There I go again. Thank you for not bolting for the door.
HIM I wouldn’t dream of it.
HER You are sweet. Very sweet. Too sweet.
A long pause.
HIM Are you okay?
HER (deep sigh) I dunno if I can do this.
HIM Should we…
HER I don’t know how to do this.
HIM It’s okay. You’re doing great!
HER No. I’m not. I’m really not.
HIM Sure you are!
HER It’s not real.
HIM Well, no, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be…
HER Pfff. Sure, it’s easy to sit here with you.
HIM Well, it will be with the next guy too.
HER You don’t know that.
HIM No, but nobody knows. Doesn’t stop us from trying.
HER I don’t know if I can.
HIM Look, you were amazing. The whole starting in the middle thing? That’s great!
HER It’s just a silly thing.
HIM Well, if it works, then who cares?
HER It was just easier with you.
HIM Well, yes, I’m amazing!
HER (half laugh) Alright.
HIM Look, just because I found the man of my dreams doesn’t mean you can’t too.
HER (laughs) Ha! Okay. Good one.
HIM There we go. I knew that’d get a smile.
HER I’m just…
HIM Scared. Yes. He will be too, until he isn’t.
HER Scared and scarred.
HIM Sounds like a great sister act.
HER I just wish it were you.
HIM It was. But once the cancer takes over my brain, it won’t be.
HER Stop that! That’s not even funny.
HIM Okay, too far. But look, no matter what, you are going to be okay.
HER You think I’ll actually find someone?
HIM No, I know it. They’ll be the one finding you. You’re the treasure. You hear me?
HER You make the worst metaphors.
HIM What can you expect from me? I’m just a figment of your imagination.
HER (laughs loudly) That was the worst reveal yet.
HIM There’s my girl. You’re ready. Go get your man.
HER I love you. Goodbye.
The Middle of Things by Ernio Hernandez
Copyright ©2015 | Ernio Hernandez | All Rights Reserved.
(For permission to perform, contact author at ernio @ ernio.com)
Ernio Hernandez is a writer of plays, poems, short stories, humor and other flights of fancy.