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Layla's Choice

Scene opens with LAYLA pacing next to old, worn bridge that stands over polluted stream. There is a small town a mile or so away, in view, but it is late at night with lots of stars. Sounds of the stream running and LAYLA muttering to herself are only sounds heard.
Layla: And then I’ll walk away, and pretend none of this happened. I’ll just forget everything. It will be okay.

LAYLA is biting fingernails anxiously as SHAUN appears from side, walking casually down hill

Shaun: Layla!

(LAYLA jumps, scared.)

Layla: Oh, Shaun! You scared me.

LAYLA is blushing as she walks over with her head down to SHAUN who is laughing.

Shaun: I’m sorry!

They hug.


So what’s up? Why did you call me here?

Layla: Oh, we’ll talk about that later. Come, sit.

LAYLA gestures to the ground and smiles and they lay on the grassy hill and begin pointing to clouds and stars, acknowledging them as different animals and shapes.

Layla: It’s weird, isn’t it?

Shaun: What?

Layla: Everything. Life. We’re here one minute, and gone the next. Here we are, just graduated from high school; but it still feels like we’re back in kindergarten learning colors and numbers.

Shaun: Yeah…..

Layla: I just… I feel like the whole world is passing me by, and I’m going to die and not even realize it. It’s as though my mind is years behind what is actually going on around me.

Shaun: I know what you mean; it feels like you’re in a permanent daydream. But what’s bringing this up now? Fear of college?
SHAUN laughs nervously.

Layla: I don’t really know….

Shaun: You and I; we’re going to live forever, remember?

SHAUN forces a smile and reaches to LAYLA’S hand to hold before she pulls away. LAYLA shifts away from SHAUN and crosses arms over chest. SHAUN crosses his eyebrows, concerned.

Shaun: What’s wrong?

Layla: Nothing…. I’m… I’m fine.

Shaun: Layla, don’t lie to me.

Layla: (mumbling) I’m not…

SHAUN groans, obviously frustrated as he begins to sit up and LAYLA becomes defensive.

Shaun: Stop.

Layla: Stop what? I didn’t do anything.

Shaun: Stop lying to me. We’ve been friends since 1st grade, and I don’t understand why you keep lying to me about everything. The past 3 years, you don’t tell me s*** anymore. I feel like you’re hiding secrets from me.

LAYLA begins fiddling with her fingers, now also sitting. SHAUN and LAYLA are facing each other. SHAUN is beccomingaggravated.

Layla: I…. I’m sorry.

Shaun: Don’t be sorry if you aren’t going to change anything. I know everything about you – I know when you get your period, which bra is your favorite; I know about the little heart-shaped birthmark on your right hip, and that your ‘mom’ isn’t really your mom. I know everything about you, so why are you hiding this from me? And what could possibly be so secretive that you felt you needed to hid it from me?

LAYLA begins to cry softly, and SHAUN sits down next to her, putting his arm around her and pulling her into his chest as she whimpers and he holds her tightly.


Oh, Layla….

Layla: I’m sorry…. I don’t mean for everything to be the way it is.
Shaun: It’s okay, but I just want you to know that I am always here for you, no matter what, and even though I wish you could tell me what is wrong, I understand that you can’t, so I am here to support you unconditionally until you tell me.

There is silence while they embrace and watch the sky.

Layla: Remember in 10th grade when I shaved my head to raise money for cancer?

LAYLA seems to be building more confidence as she speaks more and SHAUN is cautious. They are both edgy and nervous.

Shaun: Yeah…

Layla: Well, it wasn’t for the cause.

Shaun: Then why did you do it? Remember how upset you were?

Layla: It wasn’t for the cause, because it was due to the cause.

Shaun: Wait, what do you mean?

SHAUN pulls away as he studies LAYLA’S face, and her voice breaks as she cries again.

Layla: I didn’t shave my head …. It all…. It fell out from the chemotherapy.

Shaun: Layla, that’s impossible. The only reason your hair would fall out from the chemo is if you had…. Cancer?

SHAUN chokes on his words as he begins to realize what she is saying.

Layla: Yes.

Shaun: No! You’re lying!

Layla: I’m so sorry, Shaun…

LAYLA reaches out to SHAUN but he pulls away and begins to cry.

Shaun: No, Layla. This isn’t real, this is a dream. You wouldn’t have kept this a secret for 3 years.

SHAUN turns away and runs in the opposite direction. LAYLA calls after him helplessly before holding head in hands and crying.

After a while of silence, LAYLA’S phone rings.

Layla: Hello? Shaun? Are you okay? I’m so sorry.

Shaun: How much longer?

Layla: A month.

Shaun: S***!

Layla: I’m sorry.

Shaun: Stop saying that!

Phone disconnects and LAYLA drops it on the ground as she begins to walk away hurriedly, her head down.

LAYLA begins walking down a busy road, such as a freeway. Sides of the road are full of trees. She keeps her head down and stops suddenly. She turns her head to look at the busy road. She takes a deep breath as she walks into the on coming traffic.



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