From the second row in the theater, you turn back to look at the far left side of the stage. There in an ordinary bedroom is a figure in a hospital bed. Don has been very still, but now turns and calls out, voice weak, “Fran?” He holds his head up off the pillow, peering into the darkness at the audience, waiting, looking. “Fran!” a bit stronger.
This scene continues with an idea I started last month . . . and probably won’t make much sense without starting here: You Can’t Tell the Players without a Program.
On the far right of the stage, in another room, the blue avatar rises from a writing desk. “I hear you, love — coming.” She set her pen down and crosses the stage quickly, taking the few steps to the room a couple at a time, and goes to the far side to stand behind the bed.
“I was dreaming . . . and when I woke, you weren’t here.”
“I am here.” She crawls into bed, careful to move him as little as possible, and slips her arm around him. She lowers her head to kiss his temple and keeps her head there, breathing him in. She whispers, “how are you?”
“It’s not bad.” The voice is thin, a little high.
“I can give you some more — ”
“No.” He is stronger on that word, tone dropping deeper. “I want to stay here with you. The morphine. It makes me drift . . . when it’s worse, let’s wait until the pain is worse.”
“I’m so tired of it, Frannie.” He snuggles back against her. “I am ready to leave this — but — I can’t. I don’t know why I can’t.”
Francesca cuddles Don close.
His expression changes, the energy from him grows and he looks out into the darkness at the audience. “We can go back, can’t we?” He raises up on an elbow, “We can, I know it. I know it, Fran.”
Francesca says, “Yes, remember that time bends back on itself . . . string theory — Hawking’s lecture. It is possible to bend it.”
Don raises up a bit further. “Then . . .” and he looks at her, “I want to go back to the beginning.” He struggles to a sitting position and swings his legs out of the bed. “You remember. Cafe Brasil — where we began.”
She smiles at him, a big smile — “I remember.”
The two step out of the bed, stage hands move the bed back and a brick wall with a paned glass window, a wooden door drop in from overhead, while a simple table with two chairs are moved into place.
Two other actors, playing Don and Francesca go through a scene of meeting on their blind date, while Don in his pajamas and Francesca stand to the side and watch them. The blind date scene settles into a mimed performance and Don in his pajamas continues with the current Francesca . . .
“I remember watching you walk into Brasil, and thinking — God, I hope that’s her.” Don looks down at Fran and smiles.
“And I remember that we talked until 1:00 in the morning . . . left one another and then met for coffee at what seemed an impossibly early time.”
“Do you remember –” Don takes Francesca’s hand, “Gimme a kiss. We’ve never kissed, and there’s all this tension. So we’ll kiss now and get it over, and then we can focus on eating.”
Francesca kisses the Don. “I remember. By then we were are Maria Selma’s waiting to order. You, Woody Allen and Annie Hall.” She takes Don’s hand as the two turn back to watch the mimed scene at Cafe Brasil. The lights fade out.
When the lights fade up, Francesca is back at her desk writing. The light comes up in the bedroom. The hospital bed is gone and in its place, a regular bed. Empty.
Francesca stops writing, rubs her hand across her forehead. Quiet. There is a grayness about her.
There is a ping on her laptop, as she turns she sees a message from her friend Marshall . . . “Meet me. I’m on the Gulf of Lune.”
Lights go down, Francesca disappears.
The light changes and scenery flies in from overhead. We are on a salt marsh, and there is a tiny cabin on the water, and a very handsome man standing in the marsh near the house. A cloud of white vapor appears in front of him, and from that cloud, Francesca.
“I guess I should have brought my galoshes.”
Marshall grins. “I’m not minding it too much.”
The two go to sit in rocking chairs on the porch of the house as the light changes a goes to late sunset. Sounds of gulls, water.
“How are you doing?” Marshall looks at Francesca.
She shrugs. “Time is bending again. I can’t stop it.”
As a note. Anyone interested in String Theory, quantum physics and relativity, here are two options for understanding the ideas in a very accessible way: The Elegant Universe and Stephen Hawking’s lecture on Space and Time Warps.
Cafe Brasil is a great, hip restaurant near the Montrose region of Houston. In addition to great food, they have changing exhibits of work from local artists.