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The Waiting Room

By , Wyckoff, NJ

CHARACTERS
AUDREY-13 years old, 8th grade, straight blonde hair and blue eyes, small for her age
LIAM-10 years old, brother to AUDREY, 5th grade, curly blonde hair blue eyes, energetic and enthusiastic
SYDNEY-AUDREY and LIAM’s mother, 43, dirty blonde hair, blue eyes, caring and empathetic
RYAN-AUDREY and LIAM’s father, 44, blonde hair, blue eyes, level headed
DOCTOR-middle aged, no specific appearance

 

TIME
Late afternoon

PLACE
Living Room

SCENE 1

(The curtain opens to a Living Room with a door stage right. It has a cozy and welcoming look to it. There is a red couch in the middle and a coffee table with a lamp next to it. There are Christmas decorations up, signifying it is winter. AUDREY is sitting on the couch, doing homework. Suddenly LIAM runs up and pulls the book from her hands.)

 

AUDREY
Liam! Give it back!
(She jumps up and attempts to grab the book.)

 

LIAM
(Dodging her grabs)
Not until you play Monopoly with me. You promised yesterday! You said you crossed your heart and hoped to die. That’s a vow that’s unbreakable.

 

AUDREY
Liam, I have to do my homework!
(She turns towards stage left and yells)
Mom! Liam took my homework and now he won’t give it back!

 

SYDNEY
(Stepping out from backstage stage left with a phone in her hand)
Liam, give your sister her work back! She has a test coming up, and then she has a soccer game. Now, you two be quiet, I have to take a phone call.
(She walks back off stage stage left.)

 

LIAM
(Handing the book back grudgingly.)
Fine! If you don't play Monopoly with me, I’m running away!
(He runs of stage right and out the door.)

 

AUDREY
(rolling her eyes and yelling after him)
Sure you are Liam.
(She sits back down and opens her book and continues to yell out the door)
I bet you’ll be back any minute now.
(she continues reading for a little while)

 

(Suddenly there is a door slam and a crash heard from offstage and a scream. AUDREY jumps up and starts to run out the door. SYDNEY enters and runs after her.)

 

AUDREY and SYDNEY
Liam! Liam?
(they exit)

SYDNEY
(Off stage)
Audrey, call 911! He’s been hit!

(End of scene.)

 

Scene 2

 

TIME
Around noon, two days after

 

PLACE
Hospital

 


(Curtain opens to the AUDREY, SYDNEY, and RYAN in the hospital waiting room, stage right. Stage left is a smaller set with the lights off above so that the audience can not see it. The waiting room has beige walls and magazines on tables; it’s the pathetic look of a sad place whose caregivers are trying too hard to make it not look so sad; undoubtedly they are failing. The Wallaces are sitting in green cushioned chairs, all three of them looking like they haven’t slept in days. They are staring at the clock, emotionless. The clock ticks on, tic, tick, tick. The sound is over exaggerated, as the Wallaces are just waiting for time to go on. The sound continues in the background throughout the entire scene.)

 

(The DOCTOR walks in, looking worried)

DOCTOR
Mr. and Mrs. Wallace?

(The Wallaces look up)

 

RYAN
Yes

 

DOCTOR
I need a word.
(He seems reluctant and unsure)

 

(The Wallaces stand up as the Doctor leads them to the corner, front stage right)

 

RYAN
Yes Doctor, what is it? Is Liam okay?

 

DOCTOR
Um, well… (he straightens his shoulders and decides he is just going to go for it) Mr. and Mrs. Wallace, unfortunately things are not going very well.

 

(SYDNEY makes a choking noise in her throat. RYAN just stares at the DOCTOR, prepared for the worst. AUDREY looks for her father’s reaction.)

 

DOCTOR
As you know, when Liam was hit by the car, he hit his head very badly, as well as suffering from multiple fractures all over his body. That isn’t the main problem though. Unfortunately, Liam has suffered a brain hemorrhage.
(He stops and pulls up a diagram on his computer)
This means that an artery has burst in his brain, which kills surrounding brain cells. This has resulted in part of his brain “turning to mush” so to speak, and partially sliding into his spinal cord.
(He hesitates)
Mr. and Mrs. Wallace, we regret to inform you that there is nothing more we can do. This is a point of no return. We are almost 100 percent sure Liam will never wake up.

 

(The Wallaces look at him in stunned silence, then SYDNEY starts to sob.)

 

SYDNEY
I’m sorry.
(She stands up and walks back to her chair, crying.)

 

(AUDREY looks at the DOCTOR in shock and disbelief.)

 

AUDREY
There has to be something else you can do. You're a doctor, you’re supposed to fix people, not give up on them. (She begins to get angrier). He’s only ten years old. Ten year olds aren’t supposed to die! Everyone deserves a second chance. He shouldn’t have to die for something that isn’t his fault.

 

DOCTER
(He looks at her sadly, this time more sympathetic.)
Audrey, your parents can always decide to continue to keep him on life support, for a little while, at least, but you have to understand that Liam is brain dead.

 

AUDREY
(Begins to stand up)
How would you know? He’ll wake up. Of course we’re going to keep him on life support. Family doesn't give up on each other.

 

(She stomps back to her seat of the room.)

 

RYAN
(Starts to follow her and pushes past the DOCTOR)
Excuse me.
(His tone is a small bit forceful.)

 

DOCTOR
Yes, of course. I understand.

 

(As he exits, the DOCTOR stares sadly after him. He sighs, shakes his head sympathetically, and exits stage right)

 

(The three sit back in their chairs, with RYAN in the middle. His face is expressionless and blank as he stares at the floor. AUDREY face is a storm cloud of anger. SYDNEY goes on crying. Although they are sitting side by side, they make no move to comfort each other.)

 

LIAM
(In a voice over)
Dad? Dad?

 

RYAN
(Spotlight focusing on him as he jumps up, surprised. The only light is on RYAN, indicating that it is just in RYAN’s head.)
Liam? Liam?

 

LIAM
Hey Dad.

 

RYAN
Liam, you need to come back for us.
(His voice is filled with grief).

 

LIAM
Dad, I can’t. You heard what the doctor said. I’m already gone. You have to accept that.
(There is a pause)
Dad, Mom and Audrey aren’t going to listen to me right away, that’s why you have to.

 

RYAN
What do you mean?

 

LIAM
You have to convince them to let me go.

 

RYAN
Liam, we need you.

 

LIAM
But you’ll always have me. I’m not talking to you in real life right now. Only in your head. Through your heart. Because you love me.

 

RYAN
(Doesn’t respond)

 

LIAM
Just try to tell them, okay. I love you.

 

RYAN
Wait, Liam!
(There is no response. The spotlight fades back to the other two, with AUDREY looking at her father, partially curious and partially annoyed.)

 

AUDREY
(Bitterly)
Dad, what are you doing?

 

RYAN
(Looking around himself, disoriented.)
What? Oh, uh, nothing.
(He starts to pace. The clock continues to tick).

 

RYAN
(Stops pacing, and then begins to speak.)
I’m...I’m trying to be strong, you know. Trying to do what's best for Liam, for you both. I’m trying not to get angry at the driver, at God, at anybody. Because really, am I the one to blame? What if I had been there that day, instead of at work? Would he have run out of the house? Would we have been able to reach him sooner?

 

SYDNEY
No, it’s my fault. I shouldn’t have yelled at him.

 

RYAN
(Pauses)
I think we have to accept that he’s… (he has trouble saying it)...gone.

 

SYDNEY
(Stands up, shocked)
How can you say that? Are you just going to give up on your son? You’re just going to let him die? You may as well have been the stupid person that hit him, or the ice that made that stupid person slide!

 

RYAN
Sydney, I don’t want to let go of him anymore than you do. But I feel like that’s what is best for him. And for us as a family.

 

SYDNEY
If you love someone, you’ll do anything you can to save them!

 

RYAN
Liam is beyond saving! If you would just go and actually look Sydney, you’d see. It's not him there anymore.

 

SYDNEY
No. I refuse to go in that room. I won’t look.

 

RYAN
You have to go look eventually. You're just running away from your problems. We’ve been at the hospital for days now, and you still havn’t even gazed upon your son.

 

SYDNEY
At least I’m not trying to kill him!

 

AUDREY
(Screams)
Everyone stop!
(RYAN and SYDNEY turn towards her)
How can you argue about this when your son is lying brain dead five rooms down? How can you even think about any of this? Don’t you realize that there could have been a million other scenarios that could have happened that would have resulted in Liam still with his eyes open, us having dinner right now? Everything as it should be? A million different scenarios where we would be a family again? I just keep playing it over and over in my head, what I could have done differently. How can you two think about the future when the past is what got us here?
(She runs out of the room.)

 

(AUDREY runs to the blacked out part of the stage, stage left. The lights come on there. The lights fade out in the waiting room. RYAN exits after the lights are off in the waiting room. She sits on the hospital bed, where LIAM is lying. Various wires and tubes are connected to him. One long and thick tube is connected to his mouth. Next to the bed there is a table with “Get well” cards on them and a smiley face balloon. The balloon is starting to run out of air and has become droopy, making the intended happy face on the front seem sad.)

 

AUDREY
(close to tears)
I don’t know what to do, Liam. How can this be happening? Everyone deserves a second chance! Liam, I’d give anything for things to go back the way they were. If you woke up, I’d never tell you to go away again. I’ll never tell you to get out of my room. I’d never tell you to shut up. I’d play an unlimited amount of monopoly games with you! Promise.
(pause)
Cross my heart and hope to die
(longer pause)
I’m sorry Liam.
(now she is crying)
I’m sorry. This is all my fault. Mom and Dad think it’s theirs, but it’s not. It’s really not even the drivers fault. Or the ice. It’s mine. And I’m sorry.
(there is silence, then she goes on, more angrily)
Liam why won’t you wake up?
(She’s shaking with pain, with sadness, with guilt, with remorse. She puts her head in her hands and sobs. The lights fade out.)

 

(Then the lights turn on again; this time they have a bluish tint, making the room look slightly disorienting. They are still in the hospital room, but LIAM is no longer lying down, but sitting next to AUDREY. Her head are still in her hands.)

 

LIAM
(Tapping AUDREY on the shoulder)
Hiya Audrey!

 

AUDREY
(She looks up sharply. When she sees LIAM, she jumps back, and then throws her arms around him.)
Liam! What are you doing here?
(She continues to hold on to him)
Liam, I’m so sorry.
(She releases him)

 

LIAM
Sorry for what?
(He laughs)

 

AUDREY
I didn’t keep my promise. I didn’t play monopoly with you. I didn't stop you from running out of the house. And now you’re lying in a hospital bed with one hundred different tubes stuck to you. 

 

LIAM
Audrey, I shouldn't've grabbed your book, or run out of the house. Don’t blame yourself. You are never going to move on if you do.

 

AUDREY
Don’t you want to get out of here Liam?
(she looks around)
Don’t you want to wake up and have fun again? You’ve been in the same room for a whole week!

 

LIAM
Well, so have you. All the rooms you’ve been in basically look the same. Like a waiting room.

 

AUDREY
Well yeah, I guess. All the rooms in the hospital look pretty much the same. Same beige walls. Same tables. Same plants.

 

LIAM
(Exasperated)
I’m not talking about how it looks, stupid. All of the rooms that you’ve been in the past few days have been waiting rooms, if you think about it. Everywhere time is still. The waiting room here at the hospital is a waiting room because people wait to hear what has happened to the people they love. The Doctors office is a waiting room because he waits to tell people bad news.
(he pauses)
And this room is a waiting room because it’s waiting for me to die.
(Longer pause)
Except...I’m already dead.

 

AUDREY
(Looking shocked)
Don’t say that!

 

LIAM
You’re freezing time. Making the world a waiting room when it doesn’t need to be. You need to stop waiting.

 

AUDREY
(begins to tear up)
But I don’t want to leave you.

 

LIAM
You have to. For Mom and Dad and everyone else. They need to go on with their lives.

 

AUDREY
How can we do that though? I can’t imagine life without you.

 

LIAM
I’ll always be there for you, if you ever need to talk, like now. No matter where you are, I'll always be here whenever you want.
(There is a pause)
Audrey, you can keep holding on to me, you can keep freezing time. But you’ll never be happy if that’s what you do. Because I’m already gone. The body you see in the hospital bed is just, that, a body.

 

AUDREY
(Softly to herself)
I guess I have to accept that.
(Pause)
So this is it.

 

LIAM
(Smiles slyly at her.)
I’m still the favorite child.

 

AUDREY
(She smiles.)
In your dreams.

 

LIAM
(Smiles sadly at her)
Goodbye, Audrey.

 

AUDREY
(Hugging him)
Goodbye Liam. I love you.

(The lights fade out, then fade back in again. This time with its normal color. LIAM is back lying in his bed. It is as if no time has passed. AUDREY looks at LIAM thoughtfully for a moment, then exits the stage.)
(The spotlight shines back to SYDNEY sitting in a waiting room chair nodding off to sleep. No one else is in the room with her.)

 

LIAM
(Voice from off stage in a voice over)
Mommy?

 

SYDNEY
(Jumping up in surprise)
Liam! Liam!
LIAM
Mom, you need to stop. Dad’s right. Why are you holding onto me? Audrey needs you to be a real mom again. She blames herself for something that isn’t her fault. You need to be there for her.

 

SYDNEY
But you’re the one that’s in trouble. You’re the child that needs my attention.

 

LIAM
No, the one you need to focus on is the one that’s awake!

 

SYDNEY
Don’t you want to wake up, Liam? Don’t you want to continue with your life and go to middle school and then high school and then college and then grow old? Don’t you want to play soccer and monopoly and all the other fun things we used to do with you?

 

LIAM
Mom, come to my room. The waiting is over.
(Sydney runs into hospital room)

 

SYDNEY
(Rushes into the room excitedly.)
Liam!
(She gazes onto the bed, where LIAM is as motionless as ever. It dawns on her that LIAM isn’t awake. She sits next to him on the bed.)
I have to let you go, don’t I, honey. That’s what you meant when you said the waiting is over. I have to stop waiting.
(She stands up and kisses him on the forehead. Then she exits the room. End of scene.)

 

TIME
The next morning

 

PLACE
Hospital

 

SCENE 3

 

(The family is gathered around the hospital bed. The DOCTOR is standing near a machine that is hooked up to LIAM.)

 

DOCTOR
Are you sure you are ready?
(The Wallaces nod in unison.)

 

RYAN
(He approaches the bed)
Hey Liam. I tried to do what you requested. I guess it wasn’t me who convinced them, though. It was you.
(He leans down and whispers something into LIAM’s ear. Then he backs away, tears streaming down his face.)

 

SYDNEY
(She approaches the bed, crying)
I don't want to do this. But it’s time to let you go.
(She leans down and kisses him on the cheek.)
I love you Liam. Your...you (she starts to choke up) your the best son anybody could ever ask for.
(She backs away as AUDREY approaches.)

 

AUDREY
I…(she begins to stutter) I just wish I had more time. More time to laugh with you. More time to talk to you. More time to play games with you. More time to undo what I did. But freezing time isn’t going to change that.
(She leans down and hugs him)
I love you.

 

DOCTOR
Ready?

 

AUDREY, SYDNEY, and RYAN
Ready.

(AUDREY reaches out her hands to her parents. They take her hands. The lights fade out. End of scene.)




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