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This scene takes place in the middle of a thick, green fairytale forest. A stream trickles through a less wooded area. Oliver is sitting on a fallen tree, looking into the water, holding a pen and paper. He is tense, biting his fingernails. A crash can be heard, cutting through the sound of nature. Curtis enters downstage right, stumbling. The twigs in his hair and mud on his clothes suggest he’s had difficulty traversing through the woods. He catches himself and stands up. Curtis and Oliver make eye contact. Curtis leers at Oliver, who in turn signs dramatically.
Curtis: Just my luck. I didn’t expect to see the hermit outside of his dusty old library. What brings you here? (mocking) Did surrounding yourself with worthless hunks of paper not live up to the expectations?
Curtis laughs at his own joke. Oliver just narrows his eyes and lifts his chin slightly.
Oliver: (quickly folding the paper in his hands, places pen in his pocket) I guess what they say is true. Everyone really can’t keep their hands off of you. Even the trees themselves felt the need to grab hold.
Oliver stands up off of the log and walks downstage to align with Curtis.
Oliver: For your information, I’m actually here to meet someone. I arrived early so I would have enough time to write her a poem as lovely as she is.
Curtis: (taken aback) You?! With a woman? The world really has gone mad. Well she’s as peculiar as you if she actually wants to meet in the middle of the woods. What kind of lady—
Rosaline enters upstage left. She looks around, still not sure where she is, looking for Oliver. When she sees him, she waves and comes downstage. Oliver visibly brightens, excited and giddy. Curtis can’t take his eyes off of her, and his mouth hangs open slightly. He tries to say something, but the words don’t come out.
Oliver: Rose! It’s so good to finally see you again.
Rosaline: The pleasure is mine.
She makes her way over to where Curtis is standing. He still can’t speak.
Rosaline: (holding out her hand) I don’t believe we’ve met. My name is Rosaline. My friends call me Rose.
Curtis: (snapping out of his trance, takes Rose’s hand and kisses it lightly) Lovely to meet you Rose…Is it ok for me to call you that? I go by Curtis, but you can call me—
Oliver: (cutting him off) Curtis! Curtis…works just fine. Ahaha…
Rosaline: (taking her hand back nonchalantly) Well, now that that’s settled, who wants cornbread?
Oliver: Oh, Rose you didn’t have to.
Rosaline: Oh yes I did. I had to repay you for all of those wonderful poems you sent me.
Oliver: (remembering his unfinished poem) Ah! Uh…excuse me. I’ll just be a moment.
Oliver hastily runs into the thicker woods, desperate to finish the gift for Rose. Rose is baffled at his sudden departure, but Curtis sees his chance.
Curtis: Please help me understand why such a beautiful woman is out here all by herself in the middle of the woods. Surely you wouldn’t travel all this way to see Oliver of all people.
Rosaline: You flatter me Curtis, but in all honesty I live here. I’ve never been on the same wavelength as other people. So I finally got sick of trying to fit in and I put down roots in the forest. My house is less than a mile from here.
Rose, much to Curtis’ surprise, hops up onto the log and puts her hands on her hips triumphantly.
Rosaline: Oliver just happened to stumble across my dwelling trying to find his way back to town. Some meddlers thought it would be funny to knock him out and leave him in the woods. He really is a nice man, even if he can be a bit aloof sometimes.
Curtis: (motivated) Well, if you are interested in a nice man, then Oliver’s your guy. But if you’re looking for a more passionate and exciting partner—
Oliver bursts out of the woods, panting. He holds up the crumpled poem.
Oliver: A poem for m’lady.
Rosaline: (Brushing past an agitated Curtis) I’m just going to pretend I didn’t see you dart off to finish that earlier.
Oliver: As is the tradition. I hope it pleases you.
Rosaline takes the poem from Oliver.
Rosaline: (reading from the poem) Her smile haunts me day and night. Her delicate hands carve desire into my soul. Her embrace envelopes me completely. I cannot see the world around me. I only see her. (Lowering her voice) Sounds like Bella.
Oliver: what was that last part?
Rosaline: Oh! Nothing… It’s wonderful Oliver. Thank you. Oh look at where the sun is! I better be off. I hope to see you boys again. Oh! And here, take this, (handing them both a loaf of cornbread) I just happened to make extra today.
Both men watch as she walks upstage and exits stage right. Oliver grasps his pen and Curtis finally drops his self-control and wraps his arms around his torso and spins towards the audience.
Curtis: (to the audience) She will be mine.
End of Scene 1
Now the set is in the deeper forest. There is a house-like structure far upstage and more trees than before. Rosaline enters stage left, still holding her basket. She makes her way over to the house slowly. Curtis enters far downstage left, staying hidden from Rosaline. He peers out at her from behind a tree, his torso facing towards the audience.
Rosaline: Bella? Bella are you there?
A young woman around Rosaline’s age exits the house. She is happy to see Rosaline. Curtis keeps quiet, but is surprised.
Isabella: Welcome back Rosie. How was your date?
Rosaline: (raising her eyebrows) You know it wasn’t a date. But he did write me another poem. I feel bad for leading him on. His friend was there as well.
Curtis perks up at him mention.
Isabella: Aww, was he cute? You know I love to see lovesick puppies.
Rosaline: Well, not exactly my type, but he was entertaining.
Isabella: (walking closer to Rosaline) I wish you would stop playing with them and stay here with me.
Rosaline: (taking Bella’s hands in her own) You know, I’m doing this for us. Once I manage to shake enough money out of Olly, we’ll go get married at a big fancy church. I promise.
Curtis covers his mouth, shocked. He quickly scampers off as Bella leads Rosaline into the house.
End of Scene 2
This scene takes place at a tavern. There are many people dancing to the folk music playing, and the lights are dimmed. There is loud bantering, and some barstools upstage. Oliver is seated on a barrel, drinking while intently listening to the music. Curtis bursts onstage, frantically looking around. He sees Oliver and quickly walks towards him.
Curtis: Don’t mind me people. Just go about your business.
Oliver: (standing up) What are you doing here?! Did you follow me?
Curtis: No, but we need to talk. It’s about Rosaline.
Oliver: What about her? I’m not giving up if that’s what you think. My affection is unwavering. I would follow her to the ends of the earth if I had—
Curtis: (cutting him off) Here’s the thing. She’s not who you think she is. She…has someone else already.
Oliver: If you’re talking about yourself—
Curtis: No! I mean…Okay, you aren’t making this any easier. She is only playing with your feelings. You will be devastated in the end. I would stay away from her if I were you.
Oliver: I see exactly what you’re trying to do. You feel intimidated by my superior intellect and knowledge of the fine art of romance, and thus, you feel the need to keep me out of the picture so you won’t have any competition. Well, it won’t work!
Curtis: For the last time, she’s going to break your heart. She using you for your money!
Oliver: I have money?
Curtis: Well, she seems to think so. I heard her say it myself.
Oliver: As if she’d ever say that to you. Since when have you two spoken?
Curtis: (shouting now, drawing the attention of the rest of the tavern) She actually said it to her lover, who is in fact a woman! She was never interested in finding a man, she only wanted to scam you out of some money so they could pay for a wedding. There! I said it.
Oliver: I…I’m not sure I believe you.
Curtis: Ask her then! I’m done here. I tried to warn you.
Curtis storms out, exiting stage left.
End of Scene 3
The next day, residence of Curtis. He’s seated at a desk, frustrated. The room appears small, and there’s a lumpy mattress in the corner and hay on the floor. There are some other worn-looking pieces of furniture, along with an old cabinet. The room is lit by candlelight. A knock on the door can be heard.
Curtis: Who is it?
Oliver: Just a hopeless romantic who got caught up in his own fantasies.
Curtis: I’m sorry, we don’t house charity cases.
Oliver: (pauses) I have wine.
Curtis: Come on in my good sir.
Oliver enters stage left. He holds a large bottle of wine. Curtis get’s two glasses from a shelf far upstage. He sets them down without a word. Oliver pours the wine, grabs his cup and takes a huge swig. Curtis does the same.
Curtis: So, you went to see Rose I assume.
Oliver: Unfortunately. I was shocked at first, but then certain things I overlooked at first became blaring sirens telling me to be cautious. (pauses) She was just so beautiful.
Curtis: You think I don’t know that? Oh well. At least we’re not rivals anymore.
Oliver: Rivals? That would imply that you had a chance.
Curtis: (mock-offended) Oh how your words wound me! I cannot go on. My pride will never recover from this blow.
Oliver: (laughing) Aren’t you supposed to insult my hobbies now? Or was it my love of books that amused you last time?
Curtis: Hmm…No actually I believe it was how you never come outside. Your skin reminds me of ash.
Oliver: Well, give me a reason to and I shall.
Curtis: It’s a deal.
And so, the stage fades to black as the two uneasy friends drink and laugh away their troubles.