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Cast of Characters:
Michael: Young man in his 20s; just out of community college.
Cora: Woman in her 20s; MICHAEL's girlfriend.
Ben: Student at the local university.
SETTING: Late in the afternoon. We are in MICHAEL’s apartment, a small one-bedroom in an urban area. The place is filthy; clothes are strewn on the ground and dishes pile up in the sink. Two beer bottles, empty, sit on the counter.
AT RISE: MICHAEL is splayed on the couch, eyes closed. He hasn’t bothered to clean. The door opens and CORA walks in.
CORA. Anyone home?
MICHAEL. Cora, that you?
CORA. Yeah. Where are y—oh. (Beat.) Have you gotten up at all today?
MICHAEL. I washed the dishes.
CORA. (Looking at the pile of dishes) And left them in the sink. (Beat.) Michael, we need to talk.
MICHAEL sits up, making room for CORA on the couch. She sits.
MICHAEL. What is it, babe?
CORA. I… I don’t know how to say this.
MICHAEL. Don’t worry. Just spit it out. I’m here.
CORA. We need money.
MICHAEL. I know.
CORA. I want a good job. A real one.
MICHAEL. Cora. What are you trying to say?
CORA. I want to go to school. Real college. Four-year. I already applied, just to State, and they said yes. They’re covering most payments. I got my mom to pay the rest.
MICHAEL. Cora, that’s wonderful! (Beat.) Why didn’t you tell me?
CORA. That’s the thing.
CORA. I—I’m moving halfway across the state, Michael. You know how I am about long distance. I… I think we need to break up.
MICHAEL. I’m sorry, what?
CORA. We’re breaking up. I’m breaking up with you.
MICHAEL. Cora, you can’t— I’ll move with you. I’ll get a job. I’ll do anything. We’ve been together for a year. It’s serious now.
CORA. No, Michael. I can’t.
MICHAEL. (Beat.) This is about Scott, isn’t it?
CORA. (Defensive) No, of course not—
MICHAEL. He lives near the university. Or had you forgotten?
MICHAEL. No. I don’t want to hear this. I know everything I need to. (Stands)
CORA. No, you DON’T. (Stands and grabs MICHAEL’s arm.) Please. Hear me out.
MICHAEL twists out of her grasp and walks toward the door.
MICHAEL. I’m leaving.
CORA. It’s my mom.
CORA. My mom. She has Alzheimer’s.
MICHAEL. I’m sorry. I didn’t know.
He opens the door, turning his back to CORA.
MICHAEL (cont.). I guess you didn’t tell me that, either.
CORA. Michael— (She takes a deep breath. Composes herself.) She doesn’t remember me. Or you. Or anyone, most of the time.
CORA. Michael, this isn’t about Scott. I cut him off months ago. I just… I need to start over. New place. New school. New friends.
MICHAEL. New boyfriend.
MICHAEL. Did you ever…?
CORA. Ever what?
MICHAEL. Love me.
CORA. Every day.
MICHAEL. I loved you.
CORA. I need to move on, Michael. They’re moving my mother to the hospital tomorrow. They’re going to try and treat her.
MICHAEL. Is there even any point to it? The treatment.
CORA. There’s a possibility. (Beat.) There’s a chance, and I want to take it.
MICHAEL. Let me help you through this. I can be there for you—
CORA. You can’t support me, Michael. You don’t even have a JOB. You just sit on that couch all day, never cooking or cleaning or doing anything but thinking.
MICHAEL. I like to think.
CORA. Yes. Too much.
MICHAEL. Einstein thought all the time.
CORA. (Sneering) You’re not Einstein. Don’t pretend.
MICHAEL turns from the door to glare down at CORA. He crosses his arms.
MICHAEL. This isn’t about long distance, is it? It’s about me.
MICHAEL. The move. The breakup. Everything. You want to get away from me. (Beat.) Let me see your acceptance letter.
CORA. I don’t know what you’re talking about.
MICHAEL. Your acceptance letter.
CORA. It’s not here.
MICHAEL. You’re not going to school, are you?
CORA. You don’t know what you’re saying.
MICHAEL. But you aren’t.
MICHAEL goes to CORA’S bag. CORA leaps up to stop him, but he’s already grabbed her laptop and unlocked it. He starts to surf the web.
MICHAEL (cont.). There’s nothing here. (He raises his voice.) Cora, there is nothing here. No acceptances. No applications. You haven’t even set up a login.
CORA. I can explain.
MICHAEL. No, I don’t think you can.
CORA. It’s not Scott.
MICHAEL. (Yelling) I don’t care about Scott! I care about you. (Beat.) I love you, Cora. Don’t you see that?
CORA looks at the floor, unable to meet MICHAEL’s gaze. A pause.
MICHAEL (cont.). Don’t you?
CORA. (In a small voice) Yes.
MICHAEL. Then why—why are you moving away from me? Please don’t say school.
CORA. It’s more complicated than that.
MICHAEL. Tell me. Don’t I at least deserve that?
CORA. You’ll hate me.
MICHAEL. That’s not true.
CORA looks up at MICHAEL, pleading.
(END OF SCENE.)
SETTING: Evening. A street by the university, empty except for a few parked cars.
AT RISE: MICHAEL and CORA stand outside their car, parked on the side of the street.
MICHAEL. Where are we?
CORA. My home base.
MICHAEL. Home… base?
CORA. You know I don’t have health insurance.
CORA. Well… my mom doesn’t either. She lost hers. The new law, you know.
MICHAEL turns to face CORA.
MICHAEL. So how are you paying for your mom’s treatment? Don’t say stealing. God, don’t say that.
CORA. It’s probably worse.
MICHAEL. You’re kidding. Murder?
CORA. God, no! Who do you think I am?
MICHAEL. I don’t even know anymore.
CORA. Just wait. (She turns to face the university.) He’ll be along in a second.
A figure appears down the street, features obscured by the evening light.
BEN. You there?
CORA. Yeah, Ben. It’s me.
BEN. Who’s that with you?
CORA. A friend.
BEN approaches and comes into view. He’s young, 18, with handsome features but a hollow look in his eyes.
BEN. Anything new?
CORA takes a bag out of her pocket. It’s filled with white powder.
CORA. Fresh and new. The usual price.
BEN. Thanks, man.
BEN takes the bag and passes CORA a bill. He turns and walks back up the street, toward the university. MICHAEL and CORA watch him go.
MICHAEL keeps staring off into the distance.
MICHAEL. You’re a drug dealer.
CORA. Yeah. Told you you’d hate me.
MICHAEL. I don’t.
CORA. You’re kidding. Did you see that kid? He’s desperate. I’m just ruining his life.
MICHAEL. I know.
CORA. And you don’t hate me.
MICHAEL. You’re desperate, too.
CORA. Stop trying to justify it.
MICHAEL. Do you want me to hate you?
MICHAEL. Cora… (He pauses, thinking.) Let me get a job.
MICHAEL. I have a degree. A two-year degree, but a degree all the same. I’ll get a job. Then I can pay for your mom.
MICHAEL. You can stop doing— (He waves a hand, indicating the street around them.) You can stop this. Go back to being a waitress or whatever you did before.
CORA. I was never a waitress.
MICHAEL. Just a drug dealer.
MICHAEL. I don’t hate you, Cora. You should know that. I love you despite all this.
CORA twists to face MICHAEL and get closer to him.
CORA. I know.
From OFF—a police siren starts wailing. Red and blue lights on the stage.
CORA (cont.). Sure you don’t want to take that back?
MICHAEL. Not for a second.
Together, they sprint off the stage.