A girl in her early- to mid-twenties with long blonde curly hair sits on her bed with a pill bottle in her hand and a textbook in her lap. Her bedroom is small and cluttered, with a queen sized bed, two dressers, and a TV on an end-table. Clothes and trash and toys and knick-knacks are piled on the floor in between her side of the bed and her dresser. Her dresser is covered with papers and knick-knacks and toys and trash and clothes as well. At the foot of the bed, next to the spotless second dresser, there is about a 3’x1’ area of actual floor, the only place to walk in the whole tiny room.
The clock on the wall above the bed shows it’s after noon, and the girl looks dishelvled, like she has just woken up. The girl pours the contents of her pill bottle—about ten small flat orange traingles; cut pieces of a film strip—out onto her phone. She sorts through them, picks a middle-sized one, sticks it under her tongue, and lights a cigarette. There is a knock on the door.
Father (bellowing): “Alex?”
Alex (yelling as she puts the rest of the triangles back into the pill bottle and struggles to get out of bed and open the door): “I’m up!”
Father: “You need to stop sleeping in so late. This isn’t fair to your child.”
Alex: “I know, I’m sorry, I was up until like 5am. I felt like shit. I still feel like shit. Gabriel got up with him.”
Father: “It’s that damn medicine–”
Alex (cutting him off): “It’s not the medicine. I don’t feel like this all the time. It’s winter. The seasons have changed. There is a bug going around. I am a human being and I get sick.” She sighs.
Father: “It’s that damn medicine. It affects you in all sorts of ways. It affects your sleep and your immune system and your brain. You don’t even think the same. You’re not the same person.”
Alex: “I am me, father. It keeps me from getting sick, that’s all. I have told you a million times, I do not feel anything. I do not get high. Fuck, I take three eights of a film a day. I have weaned myself down from one and a half to three eights.”
Father: “You need to get off it.”
Alex (getting frustrated): “I tried that with methadone. I got off too quick, and I couldn’t handle being that sick, and I relapsed. I am not taking that chance again. I know what I am doing. I may not be sober to you, but I am clean. And that’s enough for me, for right now. I am doing what is right, and responsible, and best for my child and myself. I’ve explained this to you a million times. I’d like if you could respect that.”
Father: “I’m sick of paying for it.”
Alex: “You don’t.”
Father: “I do. I pay for everything. I pay for your food, the roof over your head, every single Christmas present and toy for your child, everything. I pay for everything. The money for the medicine may come out of your pocket, but then you’re broke and can’t afford cigarettes so I buy them. I do end up paying for it, even if it’s not directly.”
Alex: “Fine, then stop giving me money.”
Father: “You need to stop taking it.”
Alex: “Dad, seriously, every single thing is not suboxone’s fault. I have had sleeping problems for years, before I ever touched a drug. I have had stomach issues for years. I have been getting colds since I was fucking born. You act like every single thing is because of the medicine. Sorry to break it to you, but if I scrape my knee it is not because I am taking suboxone. It is because I am fucking human.”
Father: “I don’t feel good. I need to go to sleep. You need to stop taking it. You need to wake up before noon. You need to do better.”
Alex: “I am doing better. I am doing things at my own pace. I am doing things the right way. I appreciate all that you have done for me. I am incredibly lucky to have such a supportive father. But suboxone is a part of who I am, at least for the moment, and you have to deal with that. Did you ever think that maybe I get it from you? The sickness. You’re sick all the time. You don’t take care of yourself, eating a whole freaking cake two seconds after you say you need to lose weight. I share your genes. We are not a healthy family. Stop blaming every single thing on one thing you don’t agree with.”
Alex’s father starts to walk away. She follows him.
Father: “It’s that damn medicine. You need to stop taking it.”
Alex: “I’ll do what is best for my life.”
Alex sighs again and walks back to her room. Her son runs up and gives her a giant hug. She smiles. She sits on the bed and pours out the suboxone out again. She cuts every piece in half, puts them back, and goes to play with her toddler son.
Alex: “Momma will do what she knows is best for you, baby boy.”
* * * * *
This is based on a real-life conversation between my father and myself, but is technically written as a fictional play.
Have you ever experienced anything similar to this? It seems to be a theme in my writing. What do you think about my play-writing? (Be honest, because I think it sucks.) Let me know!