THE WRITERS POST

(ISSN: 1527-5467)
the magazine of Literature & Literature-in-translation.

VOLUME 7 NUMBER 1

JAN 2005

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UYEN NICOLE DUONG

___________________________

What has happened to ďMay all your wishes come trueĒ

 

 

††††††††† A four-act play by

††††††††† Uyen Nicole Duong,

††††††††† in collaboration with

††††††††† Robert Wilcher

††††††††† (for the development of

††††††††† thecharacter Eurydice)

††††††††† copyright 1995

††††††††† This play is available

††††††††† bilingually (Vietnamese

††††††††† and English)

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††


††††
CHARACTERS:

 

†††† Nhu-Nguyen, code "NN" (in English, the name means "May All Your†† Wishes Come True," pronounced ďNu-WenĒ): a Vietnamese American political immigrant woman living in North America, still beautiful but tired.

 

†††† Psyche of Nhu-Nguyen: a walking soul, non-speaking, wearing a white Vietnamese national dress

 

†††† Young Man:a beautiful man, with no malice in his heart.

 

†††† Eurydice:beautiful in a non-specific, non-recognizable way; somewhat willowy and almost transparent.

 

†††† About the Greek myth of Eurydice:Eurydice was Orpheusís lover.She died and went to Hades.To rescue her, Orpheus went to Hades and charmed everybody with his beautiful music.That way, he was able to cheat Death and bring Eurydice back to Life, but only if Eurydice would follow him and walk behind him, in his footsteps, on the way from Hades.To rescue his lover back to Life, Orpheus couldnot turn around to look at her. Impatient and unable to control his love, Orpheus turned around to look at Eurydice just before the pair reached Life.Eurydice died the second time, thrown back into Hades....

 

†††† In this play, the concept of Hades and the Underworld has deliberately been reinterpreted to accommodate an injection of the laymanís version of Buddhist philosophy.The purpose is to draw out similarities between Eastern and Western mythologies in terms of an after-life. Hades and Charon have become concepts that transcend East and West in this play.

 

†††† Charon the Ferryman:a dark shadow; clad in black, having no face, except that his devilish eyes and smile are visible.

 

†††† Father, Mother, Husband, and Friend:normal people, no special characteristics.

 

†††† Doctor, Nurse, LightHouse Man, Rescue Boat Captain, Coast Guards, Paramedic: either voice only, or (where they appear), dressed in accordance with their profession.

 

 

†††† SET: This play needs no set. Setting is created with skilled light and sound techniques, the kind of light and sound techniques that deliver and accompany choreographed dances.The spotlight plays an important role in character introduction, development, and the transgression of each scene and act.

 

†††† SUGGESTED CAST:††††

 

†††† Eurydice:†††† Meryl Streep, Juliane Moore or Gwynneth Patrow

†††† Ferryman:Jack Nicholson, Christopher Walken

†††† Young Man: Some unknown newcomer to Broadway, in perfect††† physical conditions; an actor that most resembles the statue of David.

Nhu-Nguyen: Played by any Asian woman blessed or cursed with such a name, at 45 years of age. (At 45, being of genetically delicate bone structure and nice skin, this actress should look 35)

 

 

†††† SYNOPSIS:

 

†††† Somewhere on the face of the earth, during a sailing trip, Nhu-Nguyen (code name "NN") was knocked unconscious by a sail boom.†† In her near-death experience, she met Eurydice, who was en route to Hades...

 

 

ACT I -- LIFE AND REMMINISCENCE

 

Stage: (BLACKOUT)

 

Background:(the sounds of the ocean, the wind, tides,and sails knocking against each other, flapping violently.)

Young Man:Going about! Let it all off! Watch your head on the boom! Release it, release it!Now onto the other side, pull it on, pull it on.Hard.Go go go, quickly! The jib sheet too, pull it on.Lean, lady, lean out, use the trapeze...Come on come on.Just lean harder, we'll keep it sharp to the wind.We're flying! Lean lady.A couple of seconds more and we'll go about.Don't stop leaning lady.Are you ready?

 

Nhu-Nguyen:Ready?My hands are blistered, my knees are bruised, my eyes are salty...

 

Young Man:Lean hard, lady!

 

NN:and my stomach muscle...I just can't go on...I am breaking in half...I just can't take it any more...

 

Young Man:Now, lady, now. You're doing good!Let it go let it go...pull on that one, move! faster! Swing it around and keep your head low...Watch the boom...

 

(The sound of sails flapping increases in volume and overcomes the Young Man's voice.Then comes the noise of the boom cracking against some hard object.Nhu-Nguyen yells in pain.Noise of the boat capsizing.)

 

Young Man (shouting): Oh God, we're done!Lady, Lady, can you hear me, where are you?

 

(Sound of water being disturbed.Sound of wood cracking.All violent and swift.)

 

Young Man: Lady, lady, hold on to my hand, try to keep your head above water, hold on...(breathing heavily, amidst sounds of tides and waves) Oh, no!

 

(Noise of people swimming, treading and struggling in water.

(Then, all sounds subside.Silence.)

 

***

 

(Spotlight beams on Mother sitting at a vanity table [If setting does not include a vanity table, Mother will be miming the process of applying makeup])

 

Mother: Nhu-Nguyen! I am going out.Will you stay here and look after your baby brother?

 

NN: Why do I have to look after him?

 

Mother: Don't be so naughty.You must look after him because he is a baby, and I must go out for business...

 

NN: I don't understand why you have to go out for business so often.

 

Mother: You're being argumentative. You should behave well to set an example for your baby brother (continues to apply powder and adjust her necklace).Have you forgotten the saying, "she who is destined to be the big sister should not be envious of the indulgence bestowed upon younger siblings, for they are to be loved and protected simply because they arrived late." You being the first born must look after the younger ones.

 

NN:†††††† But the baby is naughty.I clean up after him all the time.

 

Mother: As I said, you were born first.Youíre the early arriver. That in itself is a privilege for which you must bear certain sacrifice...

 

NN:†††††††††††††††††† Can I just crawl back into your tummy so that I can no longer be the first born and be spared the job of cleaning up after the baby?I want to be a late arriver.

Mother (losing her temper):Don't you talk nonsense with me!(softens her voice) By the way, will you make your father some tea when he gets up?Don't you love your Dad?

 

NN:†††††††††††††††††† Of course I do!

 

Mother: Good! (Stand ups, grabbing her purse).When I am out, will you take care of your Dad?Make him some tea, and take his shoes to him.And then, you can accompany us on a trip to the country.That's your reward.(Starting to leave)Remember, the baby, and then tea and shoes for Dad.Good girl! (Exits)

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† * * *

 

 

(Spotlight then beams on NN and Friend, both dressed as eight-year-old's)

 

NN:My mother has just left.My brother is still sleeping.My father is taking a nap.We can play!

 

Friend:Play?

 

NN:†††††† The other day, my parents took me to their friends' house.Those people had sketches and colors on their walls.I still remember what they look like, those sketches.My parents like them. They keep telling their friends,"Oh! magnificent."Why don't you and I try to draw them on the wall here?I think my parents will like what we do. They'll be so proud of me.

 

Friend:I think we'll get spanking.

 

NN (miming, painting on an imaginary wall, experimenting with a brush and crayons):See, there is a tree, green and yellow...(completely involved in the task) There is the sun, and the mountains...(turning to Friend)Why don't you paint a tree? (taking Friend's hand and put it the task, bossy) Paint! Here!

 

Friend (struggles to be free):†† No, No, I don't want to.

 

NN (pinning Friend's hand to the imaginary wall):I'll let you draw the sun. (Their struggle continues)

 

Friend (yelling):I hate you!

 

NN:†††††† I don't care!

 

Friend:I can't draw the sun down here.The sun's got to be higher up!

 

NN:†††††† You're too short!Your sun could be in the corner.Down there!

 

Friend (on the verge of tears, feeling oppressed):You are very mean.I don't want to play with you.I don't want to be near you.When you get your spanking, I'll laugh!And you're stupid.There is no sun in a corner, on the ground.The sun's got to be on top of the tree.

 

NN (rationalizing):I am sure it's OK to put the sun in that corner. Why not?

 

(Friend begins to cry quietly)

 

NN (apologetic and consoling):Come on!Stop crying.Would you like to play dolls instead?

 

Friend: There's no doll left.You've broken her arms.The doll is dead.

 

NN (very mature):Well, then, we'll have to bury her.

 

Friend:I don't like it!

 

NN:†††††† You have to like it.She's got to be buried.

 

(Another struggle)

 

Friend:You, a mean bitch!You always make other people do what you want them to do.

 

NN:I told you she's got to be buried.Use your shovel.Keep digging. (Continues to dig and begins talking to herself).You hate me, and the doll is dead (suddenly fearful, reaching out for Friend.They embrace).††

 

(Mother's voice is heard from back stage): Oh my God, look at this wall.

 

 

NN (turning to back stage, happy and proud):Don't you like my painting?Just like your friends' house...

 

Mother: Oh Lord, Nhu-Nguyen, you filthy child.You did this? I was away for one minute, and she filthed up this wall.She drew all over the place.Look at this.I've had it with this child.Nhu-Nguyen, come here, you'll get the spanking of your life.

 

(Friend turns loose and runs away in fear.Spotlight remains on Nhu-Nguyen)

 

NN:†††††† My doll is dead.My mother doesn't like the painting I did for her.And my friend left me.I don't understand adults.I don't understand children, either.

 

(BLACKOUT)

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ***

 

(Sound of tides and waves.A storm is coming.Electrical sound of a rescue signal, together with remote sound of a motor boat approaching)

 

Rescue Boat Captain:Here is a float!

 

(Sound of float flapping the water.Sound of motor boat becomes louder and clearer)

 

Young Man (breathing heavily, amidst sounds of water and motor):Will you pull her up?

(Mixed sounds of water and motor continue, something sounding like a siren, plus voices over the radio; sound of water continues as bodies are being pulled aboard)

 

Young Man:Lady, lady, please wake up.Oh God look at her eyes...Will you please help?

 

Rescue Boat Captain:OK OK (on the radio)We've got an emergency...

 

(Heavy breathing; a sense of urgency is expressed through all of this.Sound of beating on the chest, slapping on the face, etc.Heavy and rhythmic breathing continues.

 

Spotlight reappears, showing Young Man miming mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

 

Then BLACKOUT again.)

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ***

 

(Spotlight on Father and Nhu-Nguyen (now in her late teens) in center stage)

 

Father:Nhu-Nguyen, you have always been my favorite child, always making me tea.

 

NN: (non-communicative)

 

F:†††††††† I need to talk to you...

 

NN:†††††† What about, Father?

 

F:†††††††† I think you will understand it much better when you get married...You see, marriage is not an ideal thing.

 

NN:†††††† Is there anything at all in life that is ideal?

 

F:†††††††† If there is, I guess you're gonna to have to find it on your own.

 

NN (thinking):††† I suppose you're trying to tell me you and Mom are no longer together.

 

F (relieved, but cornered):Something like that.

 

(Pause)

 

F:†††††††† You've always been a good daughter.You've always been strong and responsible.Youíve always taken care of your mother for me.I just want to ask if you can continue looking after your mother.I'll stop by now and then.I really think you'll understand it better when it's your turn to get married.But I do hope when that happens, your marriage will be better than ours.

 

NN:†††††† If only I could trust somebody...

 

F (upbeat):So you do understand.I am very much relieved.I feel much better having you with your mother.

 

NN (to herself):I do want and hope for something ideal...

 

(BLACKOUT)

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ***

 

(Voices of people talking, amidst the sound of the sea and fast-speed boat flapping water. This whole scene is voice over the radio while sound of motor boat continues)

 

Coast Guard:††† Any hope?

 

Rescue Boat:††† Pretty bad.

 

Coast Guard:††† That's too bad.

 

Rescue Boat:††† You know who she is?

 

Coast Guard:††† A chick.Got hit in the head by a boom...She went sailing with some guy.†† I guess she was on vacation.†† Has been unconscious for a long time.

 

Rescue Boat:††† The world is crazy.To die during a vacation for such a stupid reason.

 

Coast Guard:††† Well, it could happen to anybody.She's lucky.The friend she's with is a good guy; otherwise, she would have been inside a shark by now..

 

Rescue Boat:††† A friend or boyfriend?

 

Coast Guard:††† Who knows?

 

Rescue Boat:††† I told you.The world is crazy.Sometimes a friend and a boyfriend and a husband are three separate persons, and some women can have all three at the same time.Wouldn't be surprised if later some guy turns up to claim her as his wife.(Changing his tone) We have to notify the paramedics immediately.An ambulance, too.Hello, hello...

 

Young Man:††††† I have to put her down.Can I go with you and the ambulance?

Rescue Boat:††† What about your boat?

 

Young Man:††††† Forget it.I just don't want her to die.

 

(Mixed sounds of water, the storm, the wind, voices on the radio, the motor, and water flapping against a fast-speed boat continue, all working into a frenzy)

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ***

 

(Spotlight reappears, center stage, introducing Husband and Nhu-Nguyen)

 

Husband:††††††††† You haven't changed, but I have.

 

NN:†††††† What is it now?

 

H:†††††††† I hope you understand.I don't think we are in love with each other anymore.

 

NN (non-communicative)

 

H (guilty, ill at ease):††††† You know, news of this sort is never easy to deliver.

 

(A long pause for the news, yet delivered in words,to sink in)

 

NN:†††††† Where are you going now?Who's going to take care of you?

 

H:†††††††† I will move in with a friend...

 

NN:†††††† Which friend?I need to know in case of emergency...

 

H:†††††††† I meant to tell you...

 

NN:†††††† I think I need to know.

 

H (embarrassed, ill at ease):†††††† If you need to get hold of me, you can ask Blue Orchid (Thanh Lan)...

 

NN:†††††† Blue Orchid?Why on earth...Blue Orchid?You mean Blue Orchid my secretary?

 

H (looking away):††††††††† That's how we met.

NN (still stunned):††††††††† Why Blue Orchid?

 

H:†††††††† We didn't really want you to know...Oh no, I didn't meant to say that...We meant to tell you...

 

NN:†††††† You guys are having an affair?

 

H:†††††††† Kind of...Something like that...But it's not what you think.

 

NN:†††††† You don't know what I think.†† Any way, does she plan on staying there and continuing working for me?

 

H:†††††††† Well, we'll figure something out.Of course, I'll help solve the situation.†† Everybody thinks so highly of you.Everybody knows you're a class act.You wouldn't make a scene, wouldn't take petty revenge, would you?

 

NN:†††††† Apparently you ha've had it all figured out.I still don't understand...

 

H:†††††††† Let's say, fate.Blue Orchid and I met, through you...

 

NN:†††††† I believed in both of you.

 

H:†††††††† Well you can still believe in us.We're still your friends.We respect you.

 

(A rather long pause)

 

NN:†††††† I don't think you understand.You haven't changed at all, but I have.

 

(Spotlight dies out.BLACKOUT)

 

 

 

ACT II -- MEETING WITH EURYDICE

 

(Center stage is lit up.Threads of silver light beams cross one another on stage.Eurydice appears, almost like a transparent shadow.Her silhouette is not well defined.There are faint sounds of footsteps, rhythmically, in the background.Eurydice sobs and begins her monologue, her voice passionate, tragic, occasionally interrupted by her own sobbing.)

Eurydice:Orpheus, your steps are my heartbeat, surging through my congealed veins. My skin thrills at your lively steps.

 

Orpheus, your legs are pillars of fire, enflaming my cold soul.My hips burn for their hot embrace.

 

Orpheus, your cheeks are two caged doves, trapped in flight.My sex yearns to spread their wings.

 

Orpheus, your back is the broad valley of the ascent from Hades. My breasts ache to rest in such valley of life.

 

Orpheus, your shoulders are the temple of Adoration.My red lips tremble to sweep the steps of the temple.

 

(Music begins, soft and melancholy; Eurydice's monologue continues; her passion increases with the crescendo of music, her delivery more intense and then peaks in pain)

 

Eurydice:Orpheus, your arms are two solid branches, laden with fruits.My body craves the taste of your fruits.

 

Orpheus, your hair is the dense veil obscuring your face.My eyes cry for the terror of seeing your face.

 

Orpheus, turn around! But, donít!Donít turn around.Not yet!

 

Strange how my love for life would be my death.

 

Orpheus, look at me. I am Eurydice.But donít!

 

Do not look at me. We can cheat death if our eyes do not meet.

Orpheus, kiss me.I am your lover. But donít!

 

Do not kiss me.It is the kiss of second death to be face to face.

 

I am lifeless without your turning, and lifeless with it.

 

Blind without your look, and unseeing with it.

 

Your kiss is both my body and its dust.

 

Withhold your passion, my love.

Walk, lover, and be patient.Endure this brief journey.

 

When we soon see life again, the pleasure shall be longer than, and beat, the pain.

 

(Music softens and dies out; so do the rhythmic sounds of footsteps in the background.Eurydice retreats into backstage, her back to the audience, head lowered, her hair flowing toward the audience.As she exits, all silver light beams take turnsextinguishing, except one.The remaining stream of silver light follows her to the end as she finally exits, and then abruptly extinguishes.)

 

BLACKOUT.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ***

 

(Spotlight on Nhu-Nguyen, appearing in center stage).

 

NN (very lonely):††††††††††† Is it really over?

 

(Sound of the wind. Remote, fierce and lonesome.Then comes the sound of footsteps, as though in the thousands, all rushing toward some destination.)

 

NN (looks around, lost, intimidated and confused):Are they going somewhere? (moves around the stage as though following the crowd; spotlight moves with her):Excuse me, sir, madam...Oh, please stop.I just want to ask a question.Where does this road lead to? Excuse me, don't you hear me?I ask, WHERE IS THE DESTINATION?Donítyou speak English?Why doesn't anybody answer me?They must not be speaking English then.(Moves back to center stage, sorrowfully disappointed.Then overwhelmed by loneliness and frustration.)

 

NN:This, whatever this is...This situation looks so much like...an evacuation.Yes, an evacuation.These people are refugees, rushing toward some place safe.Some kind of destiny is taking place here.I was that way once.In the middle of an evacuation.When the army tanks rolled in, and rockets were about to fall, and they blocked off the roads, the ports, the airports. And we were all waiting so desperately for a ship, a plane, some hero, some miracle to happen.Someone to rescue and evacuate us.And hope was all we had, but despair, too, was larger than fate itself, and we struggled to stay alive.Between hope and despair, between life and death lies uncertainty. And we couldn't tell between those who left and those who stayed, which ones were closer to life or to death, or which ones would end up mourning which ones.So that was what I knew of an evacuation.So this is deja vu.I should not feel afraid, nor worried, 'cause I have faced this once (pauses; panicked) Oh but does this mean I am being evacuated again, the second time? (shuddered, continues to be anxious) Am I about to die? (horrified) Or, am I already dead? (rubbing her eyes) Am I alive or already dead?Where am I?

 

(The sound of rushing footsteps re-emerges...In the middle of that chaos, Eurydice reappears, tragic and beautiful, the silver light follows her -- her own shadow.Spotlight focuses of both Nhu-Nguyen and Eurydice standing face to face, although Eurydice does not seem to recognize Nhu-Nguyen's presence, continuing to stare into the empty space afront.)

 

(Music begins, wailing.)

 

Eurydice (crying tragically):He turned.He looked at me. Orpheus! You looked!Why? Why did you turn? Why?I was only three steps behind, just still in the dark, life bleeding at my fingertips, and you, oh, Orpheus, the sun fresh on your face and you turned to look at me.Why?Why trap me with your gaze?Why kill me now, just when we could have been together?Couldnít you hear my footsteps?

 

Oh Orpheus, my impassioned impatient lover, I am lost.I am dead. Send me down again. Imprison me. I have seen the thin horizon of life and did not surmount it.Shrivel my brain, powder my heart.Let me forget what I have seen.I do not want to live again.Hurry me down to the malignant Charon to ferry me across the River Styx.And die.

 

(Music subsides)

 

(NN timidly tries to come closer, wanting to touch Eurydice, but was pushed aside by the silver light.Eurydice turns and looks at NN, acknowledging the later's presence for the first time.They look at each other intensely.A vague sense of deja vu.

 

A long pause.Seems eternal.)

 

NN:†††††† Why are you crying?

 

Eurydice:††††††††† Who are you?

 

NN:†††††† My name is Nhu-Nguyen.

 

E:†††††††† Nhu-Nguyen?

NN:†††††† You can call me by my code name.I also have a code name.It's "NN."Easier to pronounce.

 

E:†††††††† Why a code name?

 

NN (hesitant):††† There was a war where I was born.So they moved us to a new place and gave us a new home.Lots of technology in the new place, yet people couldn't pronounce our names and didn't want to take the time.You see, people are really busy there; there's never time to get to know anybody.So they gave us code names.A matter of convenience. †††

 

E:†††††††† I'd rather not deal with codes.What is "Nhu-Nguyen"?

 

NN:†††††† It means "May all your wishes come true."

 

E (pensive):††††† If that's what you are, you must have wanted to die.

 

NN: (puzzled, equally pensive): I...Am I really dead?†† (Frowning, sacarstically humorous)If I had wanted to die, then this must have been the only time I lived up to my name!

 

E:†††††††† If your name means what your life is about, I wish I could have your life.

 

NN (bitter):I would give it to you if I could.Especially at this point, when nothing matters any more. In fact, I wish I could give you all that belonged to me,let alone my name, since I no longer care about anything.

 

 

E:†††††††† That's unnecessarily generous of you.But I don't think you could give me the only one thing that I need.

 

NN:†††††† What is it that you need?

 

E:†††††††† Life!

 

NN (scared):††††† The way you talked...It must mean we are both dead!

 

E:†††††††† That's right.

 

(The realization hit both of them, cold and merciless.They are forced to face a reality they both do not want to acknowledge.This brings them close together.Some sort of unwritten understanding and empathy.)

 

NN:†††††† Where are you going?

 

E:†††††††† To Hades...In fact, I am looking for the Ferryman, kind of a disgusting fellow.I must cross the river...I have been waiting here for too long, longer than I could bear...

 

NN:†††††† You are going to Hades??? Who are you then?

 

E:†††††††† Eurydice.

 

NN:†††††† Eurydice?You're Eurydice in Greek mythology?Orpheus's lover?

 

E (nodding, very sad): That's me.

 

NN:†††††† You sure are dead!

 

E (sadly nodding again): I sure am.And so are you.You'd better go with me to catch the last ferry.It is the last, the only one.And there's not much time left. Come on! (The silver light flickers behind her)

 

NN (full of sorrow):I don't want to go very fast.I can't go very fast.Whenever I have to rush, I am reminded of the evacuation...

 

E:†††††††† What is an "evacuation"?

 

NN:†††††† It means living in exile.Hardship.Starting a journey without luggage.Rebuilding from zero.Leaving behind a forest of memories, in search of a promised land ahead while looking backward to a lost paradise.Indefinite future.Changing your name. Having everything uprooted. Jumping the beginning chapters and living the final chapters only.It means chaos and disorder...

 

E:†††††††† leading to further losses, I assume?

 

NN:†††††† Naturally.I wish I could again serve tea for my father, look after my baby brother, watch my mother put on her makeup, paint trees with my childhood friend.Those things I used to do.But all was gone after the evacuation.Even the things that I hated.There was no place even for memories became they were too painful and hence they must be erased for survival.I was cloned into a new person.Into my code name.Without childhood.So, you know what, I got married to recoup my losses.I just didn't want to deal with losses again.

 

E:I assume that marriage thing led to more losses; otherwise, you wouldn't be here this early.

 

NN:I don't know.I suppose.Except that you can't lose what you never have.††††

 

E:Who were the people who "evacuated" you?

 

NN:The people who made wars and ended wars...All with good intentions, I suppose.For the betterment of the world in which they lived, people sent others to death in order to save some.Among the saved, I am one in a million.History turned its course, and who cares about my broken dream, broken heart?

 

(The sound of footsteps increases in volume once more.)

 

NN (darting her eyes around):Yes, that's it.These sounds.These are the vestige and images of an evacuation (back to reality).If this is death, I must have been disillusioned.I thought in death there would be plenty of bright lines.Like a tiara.I had no idea it would have been like this....Just like an evacuation!

 

E:You must be an expert on evacuations.

 

NN:You can say that.I was a war refugee.An evacuee.I was evacuated from the Pacific to the Atlantic.

 

E (cold):As for me, I was evacuated from Death to Life, from Life back to Death. I bet between your Pacific and Atlantic, there are few footsteps of Death.

 

NN: In all due respect to a Greek mythological...person like yourself, I must say you're not completely right in your premises. There are plenty of deaths during an avacuation. But I think even in normal Life itself, there are many, many deaths.Life's petits morts.Sources of pleasure and destruction. Loving or not lovingis a form of death itself. Lifetime separation is also death. For what is worth of life if those who love each other are forever separated and kept apart, such that one is not part of the other's life any more?

 

E (deeply touched):†††† Orpheus!

 

NN: I am truly sorry. I have made you sad. (Remorseful) You must excuse my ignorance.I really don't know Greek mythology that well.Why are you here?Where is your lover Orpheus?

 

E: ††††††† What about you?Why are you here?

 

NN (shy, embarrassed): Will you promise not to laugh?I was on vacation.I was sailing.And then I was hit in the head by the sail boom.I fell into the sea.I must have died in the process.An...uneventful death!

 

E (stern, serious): I will not laugh. I think that you died because you wanted to die.You granted yourself the easiest wish. To make sense out of your name, for you are called "May all your wishes come true." Why did you choose a rough day to sail, knowing that you had little sailing experience? Why did you let go of the grasp?Why did you quiver and become weakened when the sail changed course?Why didn't you listen to your sailing instructor more carefully?I think you wanted to die just as much as I wanted to live...

 

NN (sidestepping the issue, obviously uncomfortable with the subject of herself and her own death):You want to live?

 

E (signing tragically): I died a long time ago.Perhaps millions of years.I can't keep track of time any more. In fact, I died twice.It all happened while I most yearned for life.My yearning for life is larger than life itself.Life and its glory. Sunlight and its gorgeous shine.Yet I had to die.Because of love I had to die.And because I died, I could no longer have love.I want to live to have love, and yet because of love I died.And because I died I no longer have love.(recognizing the ridiculous position she is in and attempt to treat it with humor)Just like the American saying, "the chicken and the egg, which one comes first?"

 

NN (feeling very close to Eurydice and wanting to touch her, but again, the silver light, a protecting force, a sacred distance, stands in between them, keeping them apart, and pushing Nhu-Nguyen afar)You are complicated.But I don't think you should regret.In as much as you want to live, I don't know if I should be telling you this, but actually life is not all that beautiful or fun. (Smiles in sadness and melancholy, thinking of Father, Mother, Friend, Husband)Sometimes, or often times, life is a burden.With nothing coming close to perfection.Losses, failures.†† Lots of complications.And often atrocities occur, and people die in mass.People are sentenced to death in the name of causes celebres and rhetoric.Especially in wars.Listen...

(Sound of rushing footsteps surrounding them.)

 

NN: You see, there are as many people dead as there are people alive (nostalgic).Life sometimes is a matter of solitude.And in death or in life, there is always a journey.

 

E:†††††††† I had my journey once, with Orpheus.How can there be solitude if he is there?My Orpheus!

 

NN (repeats unconsciously):Orpheus!!!

 

E (reaching her arms above her head as though dancing, her voice melodious and mesmerizing in a very expressive monologue, as though she were semi-singing...Very soft music accompanies her.Stage light grows dim, and dancers appear on stage, behind Eurydice and Nhu-Nguyen.Movements are soft and non-specific.):

 

I have been dead for enternity.My lover, Orpheus was the only one with enough passion to conquer death.He came to my rescue, with the best of his music, mesmerizing the whole of Hades, with his lifeís songs.He mesmerized even Charon, the ferryman, the angel of death.And so he was able to secure me and bring me back to life, all because the gods decided that his music was too wonderful for the underworld on this side of the river Styx.His music belonged to life, and I belonged to him.But the gods imposed one condition Ė Orpheus could not look at me on our way back to life; I had to follow him in his footsteps.Yet he loved me so passionately, so intensely that he could not wait.I was damned with his impatient heart, his burning love!Just before our journey ended, he turned to look at me and devoured me with his eyes,all but one second before I could grab on to the horizon of life, causing me to die my second death.(Music picks up and changes tempo.Now tempestuous, working into a fury..Dancers disappear.Stage light goes out.Spotlight resumes, beaming on center stage with NN and Eurydice together.)

 

Eurydice (tragic still, yet angry):And so the horizon of life dissolved before me, all because he loved me far too much and wanted to shower me with his gaze before his touch. He imprisoned me in my second death with his fated gaze.His gaze sent me back into darkness, before my arms, my brain, my breasts could grab the wonder of my loverís life. So I had to leave him once more, back into the season of death where in eternity I longed for life.

 

Yes, in death I kept longing for him so for eternity I wandered in that twilight between life and death, hoping to catch another chance and to find my Orpheus.†† But now I must cross the river and accept my end.††

 

NN (overwhelmed, stuttering):††† I am sorry.I apologize.I just didn't know.I feel for you...

 

E (besides herself, infuriated, frustrated):†††††††††† We are only dead when our impatience destroys perfection or what could have been perfection.If only we could try a little bit harder, despite our despair, despite our wear and tear, despite our exhaustion, just a little bit harder, a little bit more, until we could hold on to perfection in the form as we know it.

 

(Music stops completely.Silence takes over. A long pause)

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††† ***

 

E:†††††††† It's time to go.I'm sure the Ferryman is waiting.

 

NN (hesitant):Why do we have to cross the river?After all, we are dead.

 

E:†††††††† We must finish.We must finish the business we have started.One must complete one's life until there is no more life to complete.The same in death.We must complete our death.Death is not complete until we have reached the other side of the river.

 

(Eurydice exists.NN follows. The silver light flickers between them.In fact, in this posture,the pair Nhu-Nguyen/Eurydice should remind the audience of the image of Eurydice following the footsteps Orpheus in their journey back to life.

 

The sound of their footsteps together is slow and exaggerated.)

 

BLACKOUT. The silver light behind Eurydice is the last light to be extinguished

 

 

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††*†† *†† *

 

 

 

(The sound of the rescue boat anchoring at dock.Voices of people, vehicle motor, siren...If the play is set for stage, at this time, spotlight will focus on center stage, showing the tower of a lighthouse.)

 

Man at Lighthouse:This is the Lighthouseís personnel.Iíve called for medical help. Where is the victim?

 

Rescue Boat Captain:Raise her!

 

(Sound of people lifting Nhu-Nguyen's body)

 

Young Man (heartbroken):She has stopped breathing.

 

(Sound of an ambulance approaching; voices of paramedics uttering impersonal medical phrases, working as a team.Sound of ambulance door opening and closing.)

 

Paramedic: Are you a relative?

 

Young Man:No!

 

Paramedic:A boyfriend?

 

Young Man:Oh No!Before today, I didn't know her at all.(To himself) I still don't know who she is!

 

Paramedic:So what the hell are you doing on this ambulance?

Young Man:I...I just don't want her to die.I gave her mouth-to-mouth.I tried to save her!

 

Paramedic:Oh I see.

 

(Siren.Ambulance starts to move)

 

(Spotlight resumes, showing doctor and nurse miming the act of taking care of a patient in an emergency room.)

 

Doctor (voice monotonous, without emotion):A sailing accident.No breathing.No pulse.But strangely there is a heartbeat.

Nurse:Any hope, doctor?

 

Doctor:Don't know.Start the procedure!

 

Nurse (filling out chart):According to the paramedic's report, she was in the water for a long time. There was a friend with her, who tried to keep her head above water.And then mouth to mouth all throughout the trip to the lighthouse.

 

Doctor (in the middle of procedure) Tell the friend to wait in the hall.All right, let's begin...

 

(Sound of a medical machine running; doctor and nurse continue miming.

 

BLACKOUT)

 

 

(Intermission)

 

 

 

 

ACT III -- MEETING WITH CHARON AND BAPTISM

 

(Spotlight on the Ferryman miming on his boat.The sound of the paddle parting water serves as background. The Ferryman begins his monologue while continuing his pantomime.An eery scene.)

 

Ferryman (clad in black; attention is called, by way of a neon light, to his left hand, which is exceptionally bony and large -- a ghastly sight):

 

This river is like any river, except that here, moonlight falls through the cracks of my fingers (raising his ghastly left hand, then pointing below)...So dark down there and bottomless, like death.And then from down there emanates this chill, going right under my skin, into my bone (laughing, continuing his pantomime.PAUSE IN MONOLOGUE.The sound of the paddle hitting the water continues.)

 

Oh yes, it is also a world down here where I am.A world in between worlds, yet this in-between world, too, needs order, leadership, and a ruler, just like any other world.But the difference is, here I rule alone.I am the only one.There is no such thing as democracy.I am the ruler. I am all.

 

(Pauses to laugh, his face to the sky, the neon hand waving eerily) To rule a world that exists in between worlds is a mystical art.Because here there is no such thing as rationality or emotion.I permit nothing of this sort. The people to be ruled here are outcast souls in transition.They belong to me and are controlled by me. Their fate is in my hand.When my paddle hits this water, there are cries emanating from underneath.When my ferry stops, a thousand steps rush through. Here there is no chance for revolt or resentment, because I allow no standard for comparison. Without comparison, there is no will to struggle for anything better, for they don't know any better (ecstatic).Besides, there is nothing to struggle for because they are all dead.There is only acceptance of eternal darkness.For I have laid down the predetermined conditions leading to no choice but acceptance.†††

 

There ain't enough space on this ferry for everybody.Thus I must decide who is to leave, who is to stay.Those who are blessed.Those who are damned.Those who linger in limbo on this riverbank.I tell them to sit, to stand, or simply to float in nothingness.

 

(Spotlight dies out. Stage is half-lit, just enough to show Eurydice and Nhu-Nguyen entering from left.The Ferryman continues his mime.For a while, the movements of all three characters are extremely and deliberately slow, as though in a choreographed dance.)

 

Ferryman (recognizing Eurydice): Oh, it is you (satisfied).I know you just can't escape.

 

NN:You are wrong.She never tries to escape.We are free to board this ferry.

 

Ferryman (staring contemptuously at the two women):DEAD wrong! (stressing the word and apparently very pleased with his pun) You are never free anywhere, let alone on my ferry.I have only one seat left.All other seats have been reserved for men.One of you will have to leave.

 

NN:Men?Like in the male species or in homo sapiens???What is this?If you mean the male species, you are discriminating against female passengers. What about equal opportunties?

 

Ferryman (looking at NN as though she were from outer space):†† Equality" is a word that does not exist in my dictionary (deepening his voice gravely with practiced humor).You must be from the United States.

 

Eurydice (busy looking down at the river, not worrying in the least about the fact that she has been ignored): I canít see the bottom.

 

Ferryman:You idiot.Of course it is bottomless.But you do not come here to admire the river.

 

(Very loud and abrupt music catches everybody by surprise.A little shock effect, both for the characters and the audience. NN and Eurydice both look dazed.Stage light flickers on and off like lightning.Space seems condensed and claustrophobic.The loudness and crudeness of the music takes over the stage, creates a sense of hysteria and becomes the dominant force.)††††††††† ††††††

 

Ferryman (shouting):It's the moment of finality.No more wait.No more elaboration.No more time.No more decision-making. (Music stops as abruptly as it has started; the voice of the Ferryman becomes threateningly slow and clear).There is only one space left, for that special, lucky person.Now you both must leave.

NN (a desperate attempt at rationality at a time and place where rationality is insignificant): What did you just say?Both of us must leave?

 

Ferryman (folding his hands, thoroughly enjoying the moment): That's right.Both of you.

 

NN (last attempt to save rationality from being shattered):You have contradicted yourself and, further, it makes no sense.You said earlier that only one of us had to go.Now you are changing your position and insist that both of us have to go.Further, you have never denied that there is one space left on this boat.If there is one space left, why do both of us have to go?You see, it doesn't follow.It's not reasonable.

 

Ferryman:Whatever I say is what's reasonable.By the way, "reasonable" does not exist in my dictionary.

 

NN:What about humanitarian concerns?You see, where do we go from here if we have to leave the ferry?Surely we can crowd into that one space left on this boat and we promise we won't be of any bother to you...

 

Ferryman:Again, "humanitarian" is a word that doesn't exist in my dictionary.What happens to you and this idiot (pointing his neon hand at Eurydice, who, all this time, has been oblivious to it all and has continued looking deeply at the river) is not my concern.(Pauses, leaning on his paddle in an unexpected moment of elegance). Come to think of it.Both of you will linger by the riverbank until you can catch the next ferry, which, by the way, will not come for another LIFETIME, HA HA HA (stressing the word, laughing with vulgarity, pleased with himself and his play on words).However, (rubbing his hands together, very mercenarily and devilishly) there is a way around all of this (approaching NN and whispering into her ears; the young woman apparently is repelled by the close proximity).††

 

NN (listening with tolerance, then astonished beyond belief):What are you talking about? I can secure a place, you mean, buy a place, you mean, buy like...a fee?a service fee to Hades?A ticket? You really mean a bribe!There is bribery even in a place like this?†† ††††

 

Ferryman:There you go child. Look, it is in places like this that bribery is originated and perfected. Think of it as a tax.This is my kingdom. A taxation regime devised by my...greatest self!!! HA HA HA (laughing with vanity).

 

Eurydice:(suddenly interjecting, despite her aloofness and lack of interest so far): There is nothing great or surprising about all of this.

 

(Ferryman is too lost in the hysteria of his mime and self-adoration to notice Eurydice's retort. At this time, there is a strong wind coming, causing the charactersí attires to flutter wildly.The piercing sound of the wind permeates the stage. Eurydice stands stoically, her hair flying behind her, beautifully tragic, fragile yet enduring against the wind.Ferryman and NN continue their conversation by miming in silence.)

NN (approaching Eurydice with tenderness as though she was afraid Erydice would break):The Ferryman has asked for a bribery (sorrowful and with utmost regret and shame, to the point of tears).And I have only one coin left.This means that we must part.You give him this coin and buy yourself a place.I will stay here with the river, waiting for the next boat, (without conviction) hopefully with a nicer ferryman.†††

Eurydice (lost in thought): Staying here with the river?

 

NN:I have thought this out.You cannot float forever, and yet you cannot come back to life.You've died twice.In fact, none of us can come to life...This is your only chance to put an end to all of this and rest in peace (placing the coin in Eurydice's hand with utmost affection).

 

Eurydice (awakened):No, this is YOUR only chance.It is I who must go with this idiot to Hades (pointing at Ferryman, who obviously is very displeased with Eurydice's choice of word).I cannot go back to life, but you can.

 

NN (with disbelief): Me?Oh No, Iíll wait here. Iíll be by the riverbank. I can't come back to life.

Eurydice (feverish):Yes you can.With all your heart and soul and arms and legs and everything you have, you can come back to life. Swim, swim with the moonlight, swim toward the sound of music, toward the touch of tenderness, toward the precious sparkling of sunlight when the suns finally comes...And then warmth will replace the cold and darkness of this hideous river, and then when you are just about to be exhausted, you will have defeated all, and you will then bathe yourself in that warmth, embraced with life and the first gleam of sunlight, and you will have found him.Go find him for me, find my Orpheus.(ECHO FROM BACKSTAGE:FIND MY ORPHEUS.)

 

NN (scared, confused):But how can I? I'd rather wait here. It is safer to wait here.I just can't make it.I have never made it.

 

Eurydice (Infuriated):So, instead of finding Orpheus for both of us, you'd rather be here, wait in eternity for the next ferry to come, wander in between two worlds, and become a mourning ghost? (Begins to walk away, holding the coin high, proud, hurtful).

†††††††

NN (calling out at Eurydice, trying to save face but in fact to convince herself):But wait, wait, even if I make it, how will I know where to find him for you?I have never met him, I don't know how he looks like.

 

Eurydice:You'll know him when you see him.

 

Ferryman:Come on.Finish your requiem. You're not visiting the rose garden here.

 

Eurydice (Looks briefly at the Ferryman contemptouslyand then turns to talk to NN):By the way, one thing I want you to understand.I've never liked this black-clad fellow.That's my misfortune.

 

Ferryman:Too bad.I'm still taking your money...Your MISTFORTUNE is my FORTUNE. (stresses his choice of words, and takes the coin with great pleasure and satisfaction).

 

(The fierce, loud, and violent music begins the second time. BLACKOUT.†† The voice of Eurydice continues in the dark.)

 

Eurydice:Quick, quick, there is no more time or space for pondering.No more decision making.No more indecision.

 

NN:†††††† But, but... (Her voice is overwhelmed by the music.And then there comes a louder noise.The noise of a heavy object, a body, hitting the water, breaking the stream of the river, followed by the sound of a person swimming, treading water...)

 

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ***

 

 

(BLACKOUT.Music again takes over, this time, more expressive and less chaotic, transforming gradually into a mesmerizing tune, and the stage seems to sink into waves of sound.Music then subsides, and Nhu-Nguyen's voice takes over from backstage, in a monologue.BLACKOUT remains all throughout the delivery of Nhu-Nguyen's monologue; the actress is not seen on stage; the emotions of thischaracter in this scene, therefore, are entirely expressedinthe voice and the delivery of the monologue itself.The voice alone must create the emotions and images conveyed by the monologue.)

 

NN:†††††† In my childhood, we lived next to a river. There was a magnolia tree nearby, and the blowing wind caused the pink magnolias to shred all over the riverbank.My father used to take me to the riverbank, where my mother sat to wash her silk scarf amidst the shattered pinkness of magnolia petals...

 

I used to be fascinated by the sparking water of the river...Like a thread of silver tenderly and alluringly awaiting my exploring footsteps.So, once I followed the shattered magnolias and stepped into the water, without any notion of danger.It was all a game to me.And then, when the river engulfed me and fear took over, my father came just at the right time to drag me outand save me from the engulfing water...

 

And then we moved to the seaside...And despite what had happened in the river, I was still drawn to the sparking waves of the sea, whitened and bubbled and broken into a thousand threads of silver when they hit those giant rocks, teasing the white sand and the dancing seaweeds.And one more time I ran into the sparking waves, toward the immense ocean, without the least notion of danger. Again, another exploring game.MY exploring game.And one more time the waves engulfed me and fear took over.And one more time, my father was there to rescue me, out of the snarling danger of the deep ocean and its overwhelming tides.††

 

My mother said when people grow up and get old, subconsciously they will seek to return home, to the place where they were born. Back to their childhood.And if she is right, I, too, will seek to return to the river, to the ocean.Just like now.Back to my childhood.

 

I remember once I felt so cold, just like now, when fear took over and water engulfed me.My head was heavy and light at the same time.My limbs carried a thousand weights. And surrounding me was a vacuum of whiteness, of tons of water without an end, a surface, or a horizon.But my father was no longer there.And he is not here. With all his faults and defects and weaknesses and cruelty as a human being, I wish that he, the father,were here.Now I can no longer lean on his shoulders to seek a refuge.

 

I am swimming upstream in search of life once and for all as though this journey would begin another synopsis of my time on earth.This must be Sysiphus' journey up the mountain, carrying his weight only to fall back down again so that he could start all over.Never an end.Never a rest.The promised land remains an illusion.Unreachable like dreams themselves.

 

I must have returned to the river, to the ocean of my childhood, only to find .myself in this alien stream.So dark.So foreign.So trying. Is this my baptism?I was born, I grew up and I grew old, only to be a small child again.Is this dark and alien stream my rebirth?

 

I was born with the flesh of a woman.In my youth, I couldn't help but exuding the sensuality of a woman -- an obvious and naive exhibition and manifestation of the flesh. I abandoned my childhood the moment womanhood took over.In the form of the flesh I accepted my fate.Without my father's rescuing shoulders I brought my sensuality into the journey of life. It turned out that love was just another journey of the female Sysiphus.It tied me down and slaved me in my own concepts of sensuality and nobility.So I swam in my own slavery.Until now.Until this moment.

With the flesh and soul of a female I carried the mountains, forests and oceans in me, their rebellion and surrender. But in this moment of my baptism, everything succumbs into nothingness.

 

I have met Eurydice to find that behind her and ahead of her is the stream of light, but that she herself is the sad story of darkness.She who has died twice yet still yearns for the perfection of her love...

 

I have met Charon in the interim space of neither Death or Life.In that transition, there is still the call of oppressive power.

 

So I swim.Tirelessly.I spread my arms reaching out for hopes and kick my leggs to save myself from slavery.In utmost yearning.I have taken with me the wishes and desires of Eurydice, and I have challenged and rejected the oppressive power of Charon.

 

I am in search of my own Orpheus.

 

(Music seems to shatter into asymetrical sounds, merges in with the sound of tides and waves, gradually reaching a musical climax, in a blasting volume that sends vibration and dominates the entire stag. Then music and all sounds subside into complete silence.)

 

 

 

ACT IV -- LOVE, DISCOVERY, AND REBIRTH

 

(Spotlight beams on and follows the Psyche of Nhu-Nguyen.She wears a white, plain traditional Vietnamese national dress, long-haired brushed back with a cotton band, no makeup, looking straight ahead.Psyche of Nhu-Nguyen crosses the stage toward center in slow motion. A long, white scarf around her neck falls behind her as though tracing her steps.

 

Spotlight follows Psyche of Nhu-Nguyen to center stage and beams onto a single brass bed. The physical Nhu-Nguyen is lying very still on the bed, eyes completely closed. The rest of the stage is BLACKOUT.Spotlight becomes the central focus.Psyche of Nhu-Nguyen looks over at the physical Nhu-Nguyen, then bends and sits on the side of the bed and begins to lie down.Psyche of Nhu-Nguyen and they physical Nhu-Nguyen begin to merge into one.

 

Silence.

 

Nhu-Nguyen begins to move slowly and feebly.She wipes her eyes and begins to look around.She looks at her hands, touches her face and seemsastonished in a silent way.She then looks sideway to stage left.

 

Spotlight leaves Nhu-Nguyen and moves to stage left.Young Man is sitting still as though waiting, his chin rests in his palm.A movingly beautiful sight.He moves slowly, stands up, stretches, his arms reaching above and forward.A lofty reach.Lightbeams in silver color begin to shine upon him representing sun rays. Like a statute, his boby and muscles are accented by the light beams underneath his cotton shirt.He then stands still, very still...

 

All of the stage lights up to show both Nhu-Nguyen sitting on the bed and the Young Man standing on stage left.)

NN:†††††† Oh God, you are beautiful.

 

Young Man (moving, turning toward NN, surprised and happy):You have awakened!

 

NN (lost in her own vision, not hearing his statement):Orpheus!

 

Young Man:††††† What did you say?

 

NN (still in a dream):Orpheus!

 

Young Man:††††† Whatever you say, (signs with relief) as long as you are alive.You don't know how relieved I am that you finally awakened!

 

NN:†††††† You mean, I live?

 

Young Man (enthusiastic):Oh yes, and I am really really happy about that.You live indeed! (Lowers his voice as though disbelieving his own statement).After all that I have seen...You were cold like a piece of ice.You did not breathe.Mouth to mouth didn't do much good then.But after all that, you awakened.

 

NN:†††††† You gave me...mouth to mouth? (coy; turns to speak to herself):Orpheus!

 

Young Man:You are talking to me?Oh well, the ordeal is over.I should go.Why don't you just rest? (Begins to leave).

 

NN:†††††† Oh please don't leave.I don't know your name.Do you...know my name?

 

Young Man (taken back): Oh that's right.I don't even know your name (pauses to think).Oh well it does not matter.I do know you.I was with you when you were...almost dead!(Softens his voice affectionately as though couldn't help himself).Why don't you just sleep?Really I must go.People here will take care of you.They will contact your family.

 

NN (oblivious to what Young Man was saying; lost in private thoughts):You know, I was on the way to Hades...I was drowned.Did you save me?And why?

 

Young Man:I don't know if I saved you.I just didn't want you to die.

 

NN:†††††† But why?

Young Man (a little confused): I...don't know.I really don't ask as many "whys" as you.

 

NN (smoothens her hair, all of a sudden self-conscious, holding up one hand as though looking at a mirror):†††††† Oh no, I must look real ugly now (turning toward Young Man). Do youthink I look ugly?

 

Young Man (more confused):I...really don't know.

 

NN:†††††† You must have looked at me all the way, all that time when I...was out of it.Oh God I must have disgusted you.Believe me, under normal circumstances I don't look this bad (embarrassed). Actually I wish you'd seen me when I looked a little better.Tell me honestly (coy), do I look all that bad right now?††

 

Young Man (honest):Honestly, I don't know.

 

NN (probing):††† That must mean...you have never looked at me...Orpheus.

 

Young Man (rubbing his forehead, sincerely surprised):That must be it.How strange.You know, I know you.I can still feel the throbbing warmth...whatever warmth was left in you when I held you in my arms...All that way from boat to boat.Yet I can't remember how you look like (honestly embarrassed by his confession)You were right.I never look at you.I never see you.Yet I know you. At one time I could even count your feeble heartbeats.

 

NN:†††††† Orpheus!

 

Young Man (looking at Nhu-Nguyen as though for the first time):You (exhaling in excitement)...Now, this is the first time I see you.Boy, you live, you really live.†††

 

NN:†††††† Thanks to you!

 

(They look at each other, eyes locked, really looking into each other's soul for the first time.Nhu-Nguyen sits on the bed, the Young Man stands, both freezing in places for a moment.Then the music begins, melodious and soothing, then lively and hopeful.)

 

NN:†††††† You...are about to leave?

 

 

Young Man (genuinely poignant and sad):You've recovered.My job is done.I have to go.

 

NN:†††††† But if you leave we may never see each other again.

 

Young Man:We have met...

 

(Pause.Momentarily)

 

NN:†††††† Where would you go?

 

Young Man:Back to where I came from...The other side of the beach.

 

NN:†††††† I guess the storm is gone by now.

 

Young Man:Yes, the storm has passed, quite a while ago.

 

NN (taking a deep, melancholy sign):Right at this moment I would like very much to hold a flower.Do you have a flower?Can I have a flower before you go?

 

Young Man (looking around):I don't see a flower anywhere (Eurydice reappears, a flower in her hand, entering stage from left, silently moving toward the Young Man.†† Eurydice places the flower in the Young Man's hand, turns around and exits.Young Man looks down at his hand) Oh how strange, here is a flower, in my hand!This is so strange (thinking, shaking his head).Oh well, ever since the boat capsized, I have seen and felt nothing but strange things.Oh well, so what, let it be...

 

NN (loving):You always have flowers with you.You just don't know.††

 

Young Man (looks at the flower and then at Nhu-Nguyen):I shouldn't be thinking too much.Shouldn't be asking why.(Can't help but being passionate)I can't explain why this flower is here, but here is a flower for you, as you wish (gives the flower to Nhu-Nguyen).

 

(NN receives the flower.They look at each other again in silence.Music increases in volume, crescendo gradually, but still very melodious.)

 

NN:†††††† Do we really know each other?

 

Young Man:Not really.We are perfectly strangers.But when you were very cold and seeemed to have no heartbeat, I held you in my arms wishing I could give you my warmth.My life.

 

NN (a deep sign, as though making a resolution, sounding determined):I know you have to go.Will you take me with you?

 

Young Man (astonished):But you have just recovered.You have just escaped from the sea.You can't possibly want to cross that sea again!

 

NN (proud and happy):Yes I can! I will! (dreamy)After all, the storm has passed.There is the sun outside, and the sea has spared me once.And after all, I have you.You'll be with me, and with you, I know of no danger.You're not afraid...Why should I be afraid?

 

Young Man (reluctant):I am not sure I can do anything to save you again!

 

NN:†††††† As you said, so what!Let it be.I'd like to test my fate.

 

Young Man (innocently happy): Oh I just can't believe this.You want to go with me...

 

NN (girlish but determined):You'd better believe it.

 

Young Man:††††† No fear?

 

NN:†††††† No.

 

Young Man:††††† No regret?

 

NN:†††††† What is there to regret?

 

Young Man (excited):†† So you'll be joining me, once again at sea...

 

NN:†††††† because you'll be with me.

 

Young Man (taking a deep breadth):So we'll make the journey.I'll take you to my home, on the other side of the ocean.This time the ocean is no longer against us.It is with us!

 

NN:†††††† And so now, you can see me for the first time.

 

Young Man:Yes, I have seen you (passionate).Your eyes, your lips, everything is completely foreign and yet intimate at the same time. (Approaches Nhu-Nguyen and gathers her in his arms.He picks her up and she places her head onto his chest).We are leaving together, like two fearless children.

(Stage is filled with soft colorful lights in pastel shades, music becomes clearer, mixed with the sound of the sea and birds)††

 

Young Man (hopeful, excited): The storm has long passed.There are birds singing, there is the sun, and you live!

 

(Stage dims and all colorful lights gradually fade.Spotlight takes over, beaming directly on the Young Man cradling Nhu-Nguyen in his arms.A gentle wind is blowing on them, enough for his shirt toblow against his body, and for Nhu-Nguyen's long hair to fly behind her. They bothlooks ahead into some remote destination. They freeze together in that posture into a statue, heroic and defiant. Spotlight turns into a violet shade.

 

Music rises into powerful crescendo without losing its sweetness.So does the alluring sound of the sea.)

 

CURTAIN CLOSES.

THE END

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††Uyen Duong, January, 1995

 

 

THE WRITERS POST (ISSN: 1527-5467),
the magazine of Literature & Literature-in-translation.

††††††††

VOLUME 7 ISSUE 1 JAN 2005

 

Editorial note: Works published in this issue may be simultaneously published in the printed Wordbridge Magazine Issue 6 January 2005 (ISSN: 1540-1723).

Copyright © Uyen Nicole Duong 1999-2005. Nothing in this issue may be downloaded, distributed, or reproduced without the permission of the author/ translator/ artist/The Writers Post/ and Wordbridge magazine. Creating links to place The Writers Post or any of its pages within other framesets or in other documents is copyright violation, and is not permitted.

 

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