Dark, Leafy Greens

A Play for Videoconference

Rachael Carnes

CHARACTERS

ALEX and BAILEY- two middle schoolers, eighth graders, 13 or 14 years old.

BAILEY'S MOM- woman, mom age.

SETTING

ALEX and BAILEY'S bedrooms where all of life exists- sleep, school, meals. It's weird.

TIME

Now.

ALEX and BAILEY in a Zoom meeting, like everybody:

BAILEY

Do you have computer fatigue?

ALEX

Me? No.

BAILEY

Well, I do. I get sad in my heart every time I join a new Zoom 

ALEX

It can't be every single time.

BAILEY

I'm tired and mentally exhausted.

ALEX

Maybe you need some fresh air 

BAILEY

We're all just insignificant rectangles.

ALEX

I love it. I can eat in class now and wear pajamas.

BAILEY

Well, I miss the lunchroom. At school I'd eat 99-cent cup noodle, but here-

BAILEY'S MOM bombs the meeting holding a healthy salad.

BAILEY'S MOM

I made you a kale salad.

BAILEY

Mom! I don't want a kale salad. How'd you get into this Zoom?

BAILEY'S MOM

Dark, leafy greens are important. Hi, Alex!

ALEX

Hey, Mrs. C.!

BAILEY'S MOM

I appreciate that you still use prefixes.

ALEX

I'm all about the O.G. honorifics, ma'am.

BAILEY'S MOM

I'm not sure I'm a "ma'am," but 

BAILEY

Okay, mute. Stop video 

BAILEY'S MOM leaves the meeting, or rather, is expunged.

ALEX

Your mom is dope.

BAILEY

My mom needs to chill.

ALEX

Is your third eye open?

BAILEY

What?

ALEX

Do you have a growing pressure between your eyebrows?

BAILEY

No. Just a headache from all this 

ALEX

Since quarantine started, I've been working on developing perception beyond ordinary sight.

BAILEY

I don't think I 

ALEX

You just have to look for your pineal gland.

BAILEY

Ew!

ALEX

It's shaped like a pinecone  It's in your vertebrate brain. Right here.

BAILEY

All I have there is a raging zit.

ALEX

Your third eye comes online when exposed to light.

BAILEY

Where did you? 

ALEX

I've been doing a lot of research on the internet. Went way down a Reddit board. 

BAILEY

That's not necessarily 

ALEX

Shine your flashlight on your third eye, like me!

BAILEY

I'm not doing that.

ALEX

Come on! It'll be fun!

BAILEY

That's stupid.

ALEX

But it will kill three more minutes. You need novelty! A change of pace.

BAILEY

What I need is fewer dark, leafy greens.

ALEX

Don't you want to activate your powers of mind control?

BAILEY

I'm finding it hard to brush my teeth these days 

ALEX

Your third eye can help you regulate! It can allow you to adapt to this changing world!

BAILEY

I'm fine.

ALEX

Friend, I see you.

BAILEY

What? I showered today.

ALEX

You lack resilience.

BAILEY

I got up for class?

ALEX

And then 

BAILEY

And then I logged into the Zoom School and put myself on mute and watched KPop videos.

ALEX

Well, I've been developing telepathy.

BAILEY

Maybe you should see a doctor for that.

ALEX

Telepathy is the purported vicarious transmission of information from one person to another without using any known human sensory channels of physical interaction.

BAILEY

You can't do that.

ALEX

I knew you would say that!

BAILEY

That's not telepathy  That's like, seeing the future.

ALEX

I'm working on that too!

BAILEY

And what do you see?

ALEX

Empty space! A calendar, void of activities and extracurriculars!

BAILEY

No vacations, no parties?

ALEX

Isn't it glorious? As an introvert, I've never felt more alive!

BAILEY

Before, I took my daily schedule for granted, thinking school is monotonous.

ALEX

Get a spoon!

BAILEY

Why do I need a spoon?

ALEX

You must have one in your cup and bowl collection.

BAILEY

My mom's been complaining about that  Okay. Here's a spoon.

ALEX

Great! Hold it up where I can see it.

BAILEY

What are you doing?

ALEX

Can't. Talk.

BAILEY

Are you okay?

ALEX

Brain. Bending. Spoon.

BAILEY

You're turning purple?

ALEX

Did I do it?

BAILEY

Spoon's still the same.

ALEX

Darn it. Oh well. I'll just work on levitation.

BAILEY

I'm happy for you that you have all of this, but without school, I can't keep my mind active.

ALEX

If I'd had the power of precognition, I would've seen this whole thing coming 

BAILEY

At home, it's always the same sequence of events  I can't take it anymore!

ALEX

You know what really brightens up my day?

BAILEY

What?

ALEX

Ghosts.

BAILEY

Ghosts.

ALEX

I channel them now: I can't help it! Hey, Gary. Hi, Blanche.

BAILEY

We've been here for months now  

ALEX

I'm actually not sure how my knowing all this was coming could've helped us. I'm just a kid?

BAILEY

The thought of having this for the rest of the school year really gets to my head.

ALEX

I'm gonna try remote viewing  Seeing the future. Wait: Gotta rub my pinecone.

BAILEY

Don't do that in the Zoom!

ALEX

No  Just wait: I see Science! I see significant advances in disease prevention.

BAILEY

I can't enjoy life and the outside. I haven't been out in months.

ALEX

I see people in masks, cooperating, working together, harmoniously.

BAILEY

What In New Zealand? Have you seen the news. We'll be here forever.

ALEX

I see a vaccine!

BAILEY

This is our last year of middle school and 

ALEX

Let me try some Energy Healing on you. Hold still  

BAILEY

No. Stop it!   

ALEX

Sorry?

BAILEY

It's not fair. This is meant to be an important milestone of my education, where I'm turning into an adult, entering high school. Who would've thought that the way we enter the life of a young adult is by staying home all day doing basically nothing.

ALEX

I'm not doing nothing. I meditate. I have an app and I'm learning Spanish and  

BAILEY

This is so easy for you. I guess I just suck.

ALEX

It's not easy for me. It's just different.

BAILEY

I hate it.

ALEX

Well I hate school.

BAILEY

You do?

ALEX

It starts when I'm small  The punching, the shoving.

BAILEY

Maybe once or twice  

ALEX

Then the rumors, third grade. The teasing?

BAILEY

I didn't know  

ALEX

All the kids heading for pizza after soccer practice and I'm still on the field?

BAILEY

But you're such a cool person.

ALEX

Sixth grade: I start getting mean texts?

BAILEY

Did you tell anyone? You just have to feel confident in yourself.

ALEX

That's what I was trying to do when  

BAILEY

Don't give 'em the satisfaction. Bullies get relief from feeling helpless by overpowering others.

ALEX

I'm not  

BAILEY

They have poor self-esteem and will try to manipulate through gossip and being mean.

ALEX

I got out of those group chats   

BAILEY

Detached bullies plan their attacks  and are likeable to everyone but their victims.

ALEX

Yeah, I thought that I could  

BAILEY

Kale salad.

ALEX

What?

BAILEY

Every night, my mom says it: Dark Leafy Greens.

ALEX

Okay.

BAILEY

Every night she makes dinner with some kind of vegetable.

ALEX

Where is this going?

BAILEY

Moms and their vegetables. Is that like a thing that they sign when they graduate Mom School?

ALEX

This is supposed to be great! School in our PJ's! Sleep 'til noon!

BAILEY

When they said we'd do virtual school, my mom cried. I mean, I've got brothers and  

ALEX

It was better, at first? 'Cuz no more

BAILEY

But it's our last year! We should be taking a victory lap!

ALEX

You don't have it like me. I can't walk down those halls without 

BAILEY

Now we're here.

ALEX

And I'm loving it. What a relief! I watch the teacher's videos, I get the assignments  I study.

BAILEY

It's so boring.

ALEX

Not for me. For me, it's a relief. Until  

BAILEY

What?

ALEX

Until a griefer cracks into my online game and 

BAILEY

That's a major offense. Did you tell the principal?

ALEX

Oh, sure. I'm going to schedule a Zoom meeting with the principal and tell her, 'Oh, hey, online thugs are kill-stealing my targets, and camping at corpses so they can shoot 'em when they respawn and vandalizing my virtual creations.'

BAILEY

They're playing in bad faith!

ALEX

I'll tell the principal about them blocking me in rooms with a monster I can't kill, so they can see me die, all the while spamming me with chat so vile 

BAILEY

They're deliberately irritating and harassing you.

ALEX

I know that. And now my perfect lockdown existence is just as bad as school.

BAILEY

I miss people.

ALEX

People suck. Just  See what happens?

BAILEY

Kale salad! Dark, leafy greens. Good cheer! Routine.

ALEX

I don't have any of that.

BAILEY

Well, you've got me.

ALEX

Lemme try that spoon again.

ALEX summons the powers of spoon-bending.

BAILEY holds up a bent spoon.

BAILEY

You did it.

ALEX

See you tomorrow?

BAILEY

I'll be here.

They both leave the meeting.

End of Play.

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

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Playwright Rachael Carnes received a 2020 Oregon Literary Fellowship, a 2020 Oregon Arts Commission Career Opportunity Grant, a 2021 Lighthouse Writers Workshop Advanced Dramatic Writing Fellowship, and has had productions of her work across the U.S., U.K., the Middle East, Canada and Asia, with invitations to develop work at the Inge Theatre Festival, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Playwriting Intensive, the Midwestern Dramatists Center Conference, the Mid-America Theater Conference, the American Association for Theatre in Higher Education New Play Development Series, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop, the Great Plains Theatre Conference and the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Festival. Rachael is the founder of #CodeRedPlaywrights, an artistic collective dedicated to writing plays in response to gun violence. Her work is seen in many literary journals, and has been nominated for a 2020 Pushcart Prize. Rachael and her family live in Oregon. www.rachaelcarnes.com