Act I – The Mountain
Setting – The desert. 5AM. It’s already 84 degrees. A scrappy group of hikers take on a mountain in the inhospitable conditions of the Phoenix summer.
Jill (a deceptively normal looking female) – I’ll take the lead! I don’t really run or hike that often, so I’ll probably be easy for everyone to keep up with.
Elizabeth (with several tough hikes under her belt and the over-confidence to go with) – Great! I’ll go with you!
The Mountain (kind of a bitch) – Oh girls. You’re so cute. I hope you all brought lots of water.
An hour and 45 minutes in, after mostly flat terrain at a small rest stop along the trail.
Jill – I feel pretty good. I don’t really need a rest. Let’s go!
Elizabeth – Sure, me too! We’re like pretty close to done, right?
Everyone else – We’re going to take a second to rest and get water before this really hard part coming up.
The Mountain – Probably not gonna help, but you can give it a try.
15 minutes later, after rapid elevation increase. Jill has maintained the same pace she set during the flat portion of the hike. Elizabeth is starting to think Jill might be Superwoman. Or a robot.
Elizabeth – *GASP* You’re not even *SUCK* breathing hard *COUGH*.
Jill – No, I am. A little. So anyway… (she continues to carry on normal conversation as though she’s sitting in a café sipping wine, not trudging up the side of a mountain at breakneck speed. Elizabeth can no longer understand the words coming out of Jill’s mouth because she’s stopped getting adequate oxygen to her brain.)
Elizabeth – You *WHEEZE* should go ahead. I’m just going to (she looks around for a place to sit and realizes she’s on a two-foot wide path halfway up the side of a mountain in 105 degree heat) stand here a second.
Jill – OK! (She’s quickly a speck on the side of the mountain.)
Mountain – Wow, she’s hardcore. Also? *EVIL LAUGH* You’re screwed.
John (Elizabeth’s brother-in-law and another member of the hiking group, coming up behind Elizabeth, whose spirit is broken and is making virtually no progress up toward the top) – Hey! How’s it going?
Elizabeth – Not good. Trying not to die.
John (passing right by Elizabeth) – Well suck it up! You can do it! (And several other platitudes that just sail through Elizabeth’s ears as she makes the supreme effort not to blow chunks. He looks down at the heart rate monitor on his wrist.) Hey, I didn’t even know my heart rate could get up to 205! That’s amazing!
The Mountain – Woa. That dude probably needs to take it easier.
Elizabeth (realizing she may have to pull it together for John, who is clearly hallucinating or having a brain aneurism) – JOHN! My sister is going to be SO PISSED if you have a heart attack on the mountain. I don’t even remember CPR it’s been so long since I took it! SLOW THE EFF DOWN!
John – It’s only chest compressions now. My phone is in the back of my pack if you need to call 911. No worries!
Act II – The Airport
Setting – Sky Harbor. Three boys with three backpacks and three small rolly carry-ons. One saintly Grandma. Two parents equally excited by their impending freedom and worried about the safety and sanity of all parties involved.
Elizabeth (the nervous mom) – OK, so I packed all of Jonas’s allergy medications and Gray’s reading homework. And everyone has a sack dinner for the plane in his backpack. JONAS (the four year old who has wandered 50 feet across the terminal as this conversation has been going on) IF YOU CAN’T STAY WITH THE GROUP THEN YOU’RE NOT GOING TO TEXAS TO VISIT YOUR GRANDMA I SWEAR TO GOD.
Jonas (looking contrite) – O. M. G., Mom, I’m sorry. I’ll stay close, I promise.
Elizabeth – Do you even know what ‘OMG’ means?
Jonas (shaking his head and looking unsure) – Sometimes I say words and I don’t know what they mean.
Elizabeth – Gray, you HAVE to do your reading homework. Every day. Do you promise? I’m telling you I could pack you back into the car right now and take you home if you’re not willing to promise you’ll keep up on your homework!
Gray (8, eyes rolling) – I already promised five times, Mom!
Elizabeth – Bennett, please, PLEASE help your Grandma with your younger brothers, ok?
Bennett (12, with the affected disinterest of a 13 year old) – Help her with what? Why do I always have to help?
Elizabeth – Are you serious right now? BECAUSE YOU’RE THE OLDER BROTHER.
Bennett (not yet having developed as sense of ‘when is not the time’) – I didn’t ask to be born the oldest brother you know.
Elizabeth – … (silent with rage, a blood vessel bursts in her left eye.)
Grandma Linda (haloed with shining blonde hair) – Don’t worry, Dear, everything will be fine. Everyone will take their medicine and do their homework and be good brothers to each other. It will be just fine.
Elizabeth – You know you can still back out of this. All three kids for a week in Texas? There are Navy Seals without enough bravery to take this on. No one would blame you if you just turned around and got on that plane all by yourself right now; I’m just saying. Are you sure?
Grandma Linda – Don’t be silly, we will have so much fun!
Elizabeth and Jason (exchange an incredulous look and back away slowly, mentally calculating the amount of time in days, then hours, then minutes they won’t have to ask anyone what he was doing in the bathroom so long and whether he washed his hands when he was finished) – OK… well BYE!
Act III – The Screwdriver
Setting – 10:05PM. Elizabeth is fast asleep. She’s only been in bed for 10 minutes, but was so physically exhausted from the hike and emotionally exhausted from the send-off of her three children that she immediately fell into a coma-like sleep. When she got into bed Jason was in the garage working on his car.
Jason (from the doorway of the room without turning on the light) – ELIZABETH! ELIZABETH!!
Elizabeth (sitting straight up in bed, her heart in her throat) – What?! (She grabs for her glasses on the nightstand and puts them on.) What’s going on?
Jason (flips on the light switch and is illuminated in the doorway of the bedroom. He has his hand over the bridge of his nose and his face is covered in blood) – Do you know where the butterfly band aids are?
Elizabeth – What the hell happened to your face? (She gets up and runs around the house with Jason following behind, searching for butterfly band aids.)
Jason – I accidentally hit myself in the face with a screwdriver while working on the car. I need something to close the cut so it will stop bleeding.
20 minutes later, Elizabeth stands in line at the checkout in Safeway (in her PJs) holding three different boxes of wound closure products. She stopped at Walgreens first, but it was closed. She managed not to curl up on the concrete and cry right then, but just barely. The woman in line in front of her has a shopping cart full of things like ground beef, pastries from the deli and packets of Koolaid. The woman seems slightly crazed.
Crazed Woman (as she finishes unloading the things from her cart) – Oh… I don’t think I have enough money for all of this. I probably need to put back this, and this and this (hands ground beef, 3 boxes of mac and cheese and a package of Velveeta to the checkout clerk).
Checkout Clerk – That’s ok, we’ll put them back for you.
Crazed Woman – OK, let me try this credit card. I’m not totally sure of the pin.
Checkout Clerk – It’s been denied.
Crazed Woman – I’ll try it one more time. I just got this card; I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t work.
Checkout Clerk – It’s been denied again.
Manager – Ma’am, if we run it a third time and you don’t get it right they will suspend your ability to use it for 24 hours…
Crazed Woman’s Boyfriend or Husband (who just walked up) – What’s going on here? What’s the problem?
Crazed Woman (eyes wide and confused, with eyeliner smudged half an inch below them) – I don’t know… The pin won’t work. Maybe if we put back the Koolaid packets?
25 minutes later Elizabeth walks back into the house and hands boxes of band aids to Jason.
Jason – It’s so swollen now it’s stopped bleeding.
Elizabeth – I’m going back to bed. I’m not sure any of this actually happened.