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More To This Life
"It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude" (Emerson).
The curtain rises. Lively music envelops the theater as storefronts open up, shop owners appearing in front windows. The little, rural town awakens. Residents greet milkmen as farmers slap their sows onward to the butcher, who is smiling as he sells his first piece of beef to an eager mother of three. The entire crowd is buzzing with excitement, pure energy for this new day. Everyone has his or her own task to complete, bustling in that direction whilst acknowledging every neighbor on the way.
The world of Charente, France c. 1750 is alien to the modern American world. From clothing to agriculture, types of work to leisurely activities, the two worlds could belong to different galaxies. Hence, the most important note to cast, tech crew and costumers: keep us in the 18th century.
Lynette: Can you believe your eyes, Pierre? This life is a routine! I went to my cottage last night after work, and I come back to the same group of people, scurrying on by and saying their toodle-doos with such exuberance as if they didn't do the same yesterday…as if they don't do the same every day. And to think that this is where we were born and raised. We've lived here for eighteen years, brother! I've baked more bread in this humid boulangerie than I ever wanted to. Would maman and papa appreciate this, Pierre? The monotonous, menial labor we have succumbed to?
Pierre: Lynette, how could you?
Lynette: You know it's true! They died for us, Pierre! We wouldn't be in this world if it weren't for their sacrifice. Those bandits—
Pierre: Please, ma soeur. You're screeching again. How many times have I told you that that octave doesn't suit your voice well?
He pulls her aside, away from the storefront, into the corner of the shop, where none from the outside can see in.
Pierre: Don't you think that I feel the same? We're twins, Linny. We have une connection, remember? I know what you feel, and it stings me every day, too. Our parents were who they were: rich, living in the city, et cetera! But it's gone now! Lost. We are living a different life. This is our world. Can't you accept it?
Lynette pulls away, moving into the light of the store's front window.
Lynette: No! Don't you dare tell me to accept it! Why must I agree with the insignificant societal opinions that drive our town? I'd much rather live alone, in the woods, away from you, than live another day in this world that asks too much for me!
Pierre: So you'll give up? You don't like this lifestyle, so you go to one that suits your likings better? That's it, Lynette? Ç'est tout?!
Lynette: Of course! What else could I possibly do?
Pierre: Do what I do, Linny. I need you. You are my haven, my woods… Linny, you have me, too. We can live in this world, as long as we do it together! We can fake the storefront, get the money and goods we need, and still have our own opinions! This communal lifestyle doesn't need to be our way. But I do think that we shouldn't run. We shouldn't seclude ourselves just because we disagree with the motion of these people. Since when have you let others drive your decisions so?
Lynette: Since they've inhibited my freedoms, Pierre. This world is whipping me! That's how badly they want us to conform! The milkman came by today, again, asking if we needed any of his dairy. He was going to give it to me for free, as long as I returned the favor with une baguette. Right after I turned him down, Gustaf, the butcher, asked me what we were planning to eat tonight! It seems like…
Pierre: …like the longer we abstain from their traditions and lifestyle of sharing, the more we receive their attention?
Pierre: The milkman, the butcher, and this entire society will continue to vie for your interests, Lynette, and mine, too. They want to sway our beliefs, for they think it is natural for us to eagerly join in on their lifestyle. To conform. They'd follow you, Lynette.
Lynette: No. That's impossible. They don't know where I'd run. I could go right now, Pierre. I could walk home, avoiding their glances, their waves, pack my things, and just walk right out of this place forever.
The bell of the storefront rings.
A male voice: Hello? Is someone able to provide me with deux baguettes? I'll trade for a hen! She laid a dozen this week! Hello-o?
Pierre, running to the front: Bonjour, monsieur! Yes, of course I'm able to provide you with some bread! Our sign says boulangerie for a good reason! Now, let me see that hen! Oh, la la, she is gorgeous! I'll be back with the bread in a second. Lynette, two baguettes!
Pierre, not hearing a response, walks deeper into the store. There is a note lying on the table, the same table Lynette and Pierre ate their bread on for the past 3 years. "Pierre, I don't know when I will return. I can make no promises. This life is too difficile pour moi. I'm leaving to another city, or another cottage, or just something…different. I know that it will be much easier to look after myself if I live in solitude. I don't know if you'll ever understand. Je t'aime, Linny"
The poultry farmer: Monsieur, have you left me?
Pierre: No, no, here I am. And here are your baguettes! I shall not need this hen. She's a beautiful one, mon ami, but I don't know if I'd be able to take a treasure like her away from you! A dozen eggs is très incroyable!
Farmer: But what shall I give you in return, kind chef? I must look out for my fellow man! No one needs to live in this world solitarily.
Pierre doesn't respond, instead thinking of why that last sentence shocked him.
Farmer: Are you all right?
Pierre: Excusez-moi? Oh. Ah. Yes, I'm quite all right. Ahem, please don't mind me.
Farmer: My payment, monsieur!
Pierre: The next time I need a hen, monsieur, the next time, I will definitely find you!
Farmer: That's more like the Charente spirit! I guess I will see you in town!
Pierre: Oui! Au revoir!
Once the neighbor leaves, Pierre sighs and moves back into the dark. He views his bakery, the bottles of wine saved for important occasions, the table used for the daily kneading of fresh bread, and, for longer than he viewed the rest of his bakery, gazes at the back door. Pierre moves to the storefront, bringing himself into the light. He has lost his twin. He has lost the last factor that directly kept him from living with the world opinion of his small town.
Pierre leans over the counter, viewing the streets for a sign of someone…anyone. Then, realizing he could live in this world, work behind this counter, without having people know the independence of his solitude, he called out to the next passerby: "Bonjour!"