The Linguist (Scene 3)

For reference, see character thumbnails.


[Wells’ living room on the stage left side; ELIZA is on the couch apathetically flipping through channels and hugging a soccer ball; NORAH is on the floor doing homework; REESE is microwaving something and has her phone pressed to her ear]

REESE:     [looking in on ELIZA]     Eliza, I know you have to have homework. Finals are only a month away. Just because you didn’t get to play last night, doesn’t mean you can slack off at school.

ELIZA:     I’ve already done everything. School’s a joke, mom. The teachers don’t care.

REESE:     Oh really? Does that mean I can call Mrs. Wilder and she’ll say you’re making an A? There are no free passes in life, Eliza, none—     [she looks at her phone suddenly]     —Oh, dammit! All of that recorded on your aunt’s voicemail!

NORAH:     Mom, you said a bad word. Put a quarter in the swear jar!

ELIZA:     Who cares? She’s a crazy cat lady anyway.

REESE:      [redialing]     You know very well your aunt is allergic.

ELIZA:     Whatever.

NORAH:     Mom, can you help me with this fraction? My brain hurts.

REESE:     Just a second, sweetie. I’ll be right back. I’ve got to leave your Aunt Nell a message.     [walks off stage]

NORAH:     [muttering]     Okay, but if my brain explodes, it’s gonna get all over the living room.

ELIZA:     Oh, shut up, Norah. You’re so dumb.

NORAH:     I am not! You are! That’s why you don’t do anything anymore. You broke your stupid leg and now everyone knows how stupid the rest of you is.

ELIZA:     [throwing the ball at her]     I said shut up!

NORAH:     Mom, she hit me! MOM!

ELIZA:     [mocking]     Mom! Mommy! Mama! When are you gonna grow up?

REESE:     [returning]     What is going on in here? Can’t I have just two minutes of peace to make a phone call? Is that too much to ask for     

[NORAH comes running to her and buries her face in REESE’s stomach]     

REESE:     What’s wrong honey?

[NORAH doesn’t answer]

REESE:     [running her hands through NORAH’s hair]     Norah? I promise I’ll help you with your fractions. They’re really not so bad once you get the hang of ‘em. Your sister didn’t

[RODGER comes through the door]

RODGER:     [Ricky Ricardo impression]     Honey, I’m home!

[the tension eases; NORAH goes running to her father and REESE relaxes]

ELIZA:     [laughing]     Ew, dad. Just ew.

NORAH:     Daddy, my brain is going to explode!

RODGER:     And why is that?

NORAH:     Fractions.

RODGER:     Makes total sense. I have just the cure.

NORAH:     What?

RODGER:     Ice cream. You freeze the brain so it can’t explode. Problem solved.

NORAH:     Ice cream before dinner?!

RODGER:     How about ice cream FOR dinner?

[RODGER looks at REESE questioningly; she shrugs, giving in; NORAH pulls RODGER offstage toward the kitchen; ELIZA struggles off the couch and hobbles after them]

RODGER:     [calling]     Do you want mint chocolate chip or turtle tracks, honey?

REESE:    [calling back]     Is there any more coffee?     [rifling through the mail RODGER brought in]

RODGER:     [mouth full]     No!      [NORAH and ELIZA laugh]

[REESE opens a letter and stares at it, pinching the bridge of her nose; RODGER enters]

RODGER:     Hun?

[REESE jumps and hides the letter behind her back]

RODGER:     You want some?

REESE:     No, thanks, I’m good. I think I’ll just have some tea and go lay down. I’ve got a headache.

RODGER:     Okay. I can put Norah to bed.     [kisses her forehead]     Love you.

REESE:     Love you, too.     

[RODGER exits; REESE moves into their bedroom as the lights come up on stage right]

REESE:     [she dials and waits, then leaves a voicemail]     Hey, Nell. It’s me. Again. I just really want to talk.      [looks down at the letter she’s still clutching]     Look, the kids and Rodger and I are all going down to mom and dad’s this weekend. The girls would love it if you came. They should know their aunt. Besides, it’s the Easter holiday. And you know holidays are supposed to be spent with your family. Please, Nell? Just…please?

[lights go down as she plops onto the bed and hits end call]

—End Scene—

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