When We’re Together
A Brief Stageplay
Originally written for TA 114
Playwriting with Prof. Ed Heaberlin.
[AT RISE: Two girls in two different worlds, connected only by a computer. CASS, out and loud and proud; RACHEL, a pastor’s daughter in the Deep South. They are intimate and lovely and definitely in love, though maybe subconsciously on Rachel’s part. There is a hard, physical wall between the two of them. It is a source of great pain for both.]
CASS: Hey, there.
CASS: I didn’t think you were going to make it on tonight.
RACH (distant): Yeah, I know. I’m sorry.
CASS: What’s wrong?
RACH: Nothing. I’m sorry. I just got stuck late at church. Got stuck in a conversation with my mom and the pastor. (A grimace) Apparently, she tried to go snooping through my phone.
CASS: Was she able to unlock it? (This would be bad news. The worst.)
RACH: No, though I’d guess it wasn’t from lack of trying. I’m willing to bet she tried every password she could think of. Fortunately, I’m a step ahead of her. At least for now.
CASS: So we’re good?
RACH: Yeah, we’re good. I just got a lecture about how keeping secrets can eat away at the soul, and how I should be open and honest and truthful about everything.
RACH: Yeah, it was pretty bad. So basically, the moral of the story is all about how they give me all this responsibility and freedom with letting me have the computer and the internet, and they’d much rather keep me away from all of that, and how they’re trusting me not to get caught up in sinful and worldly things.
CASS: Like having a secret lesbian girlfriend on the other side of the country?
RACH: Yeah. (She melts a little) Though I don’t think that possibility has crossed their mind yet. I’m pretty sure the worst thing they can imagine is me getting into a chat room with some creepy trucker who tries to lure me out to the interstate with candy or something.
CASS: One too many Dateline specials?
RACH: 60 Minutes. (She laughs) I’m pretty sure that it’s never crossed either of their minds that I’m not straight. Which is a relief.
CASS: It would really be that bad. (She knows this, but can’t truly comprehend it.)
RACH: Worse. Worse than you can imagine. But they don’t have Facebook. They think it’s the Devil’s work, even though everybody tells them we should make a page for the church.
CASS: It’s probably good that they don’t know you have an account.
RACH: Yeah. That’s why I go by Sarah ‘Lene. It’s my dead grandma’s name. That way, nobody from school could find me. Because then they’d tell the youth minister, and she’d tell my parents, and — ugh. Sorry.
CASS: You have nothing to apologize about.
RACH: Ugh, sorry.
CASS: Really? (A beat) Stop apologizing.
RACH: Sorr — . Aaaaah! It’s a habit.
CASS (smiles and laughs): It’s okay. Don’t worry about it.
RACH: It’s like … all I do is worry. What’s going to happen if they find out? If one of them guesses or figures out; if someone from school or church sees me writing to you, or one of my parents is able to guess my PIN…
CASS: Don’t worry about it. What is your PIN, anyway?
RACH (smiles): Your birthday.
CASS: Well, as long as you don’t go around talking about me in your sleep, you should be okay.
RACH (stricken): Oh. What if I actually do talk about you in my sleep?
CASS: Then we’re screwed?
RACH: Something like that.
CASS: Has anyone ever told you that you talk in your sleep?
RACH: No. My sister used to tell me that I snored, but I’m pretty sure she was lying. I even tried to tape record myself while I was asleep, but the batteries died, like 30 minutes in. So that was a bust.
CASS: But no one’s ever mentioned anything?
CASS: Then you probably have nothing to worry about.
RACH: That’s true, but —
CASS: It won’t stop you from worrying. I know.
RACH: 13 months, 3 days. That’s what stops me from worrying.
CASS: I know (she smiles.) I’ve already got it all planned out.
RACH: You do? Tell me.
CASS: And spoil the surprise?
RACH: It has a better chance of working if I’m in on it.
CASS: Okay, that’s a good point.
RACH: So tell me!
CASS (teasing): Well. . .
[RACH crosses her arms and taps a foot, only playing at frustration.]
CASS: First, I’m going to fly in to Memphis, the day before your graduation. I’ve already picked out my rental car, a beautiful crimson Mazda MX-5, which will be waiting for me as soon as I get off the plane. I’ll drive from Memphis into Jonesboro, which is the only place in that corner of your state with a chain hotel decent enough for me to stay in. The next day, I’ll drive all the way into Peach Orchard, and, while you and your family are out of the house doing graduation things, I’ll sneak into your room using the key that you’re going to leave in a flowerpot or something —
RACH: We don’t have a flowerpot. I’ll have to leave the window to my room open or something.
CASS: That works, too, but excuse me. I was busy laying out this incredibly detailed and amazing plan of mine. Anyway, I will somehow sneak into your house and, while you and your family are away, I will get all of your essentials that you have already packed into the getaway car.
RACH: I just googled that car you said you’re getting. You might want a pick-up, or something that can haul cargo.
CASS: Oh my God, okay, whatever. (She laughs.) Anyway, can I continue? Anyway, I’ll load the car, by which I figure that by the time the car is loaded, it’ll be time for your graduation. So I’ll drive into Corning, slip into your school auditorium and sit in the back, where you’ll be the only person that notices me. And once you toss your cap, I’ll run outside, get the car started. Then you can run outside through the doors, take off your gown, announce to your parents and all of your classmates that you’re gay and in love, and run to the car, jump over the door, and I’ll hit the gas. See, it only works if we get a convertible.
RACH: And how are we going to escape the state police?
CASS: Hopefully, by the time your parents come to their senses, we’ll be back across the Tennessee border, and on a plane back to California … or wherever you want to go, really. I’m not picky. As long as I’m with you.
RACH: That all sounds like a dream.
CASS: I’m in the business of making dreams come true.
RACH: One of the perks of being in love with a trust-fund baby.
CASS: Exactly! Might as well put all this stupid money my parents left me to good use.
RACH: And you can’t think of any other way you’d rather spend that money?
CASS: Oh, I can think of lots of ways I want to spend it. But that’s part two. Part one is getting you out of there. You and me together. Safe.
RACH (urgent): My mom’s coming. I have to go. I love you.
[BLACKOUT Rach’s side of the stage.]
CASS (to dead air): I love you, too.
[BLACKOUT Cass’s side of the stage.]
Zach Payne is, to borrow the words of Lin-Manuel Miranda, “a polymath, a pain in the ass, a massive Payne.” He acts, sings poorly, and writes poetry, plays, and young adult fiction.
He’s an assistant at Ninja Writers, where he helps new writers find their voice and their tribe. He was the query intern for Pam Victorio at D4EO, and his novel Somehow You’re Sitting Here was selected for Nevada SCBWI’s 2015–16 Mentor Program. He lives in Reno.