A university project to write in response to Samuel Beckett plays. Two voices are in a radio play and neither of them know why they are there.
THE SOUND OF FOOTSTEPS GROWING LOUDER. A DOOR OPENS AND SLAMS SHUT. THE FOOTSTEPS STOP SUDDENLY. BEAT.
Voice #1: (Tentative) Hello? (Pause) Hello? Is someone there?
Voice #2: (Surprised) Hello? Is there someone talking?
1: Who is that? Who’s there?
2: It’s me! Who’re you?
1: It’s me!
1: … I don’t think that really answered either of our questions.
2: That’s not true, I now know that it’s you and you know that it’s me, so we both know who we are and that we’re here.
1: You’re you and I’m me?
2: No, you’re you and I’m me.
1: (Curt) Yes, fine, yes, I get it. What do you want?
2: (Confused) Oh! Really? Well… I would like to know what you want!
1: What I want?
2: Yes! You came in here presumably to ask for something, right? I mean, I was already here and you walked in, so I assume that you would like to ask something of me?
1: Wha-? No, that’s… I didn’t come in here, you came in!
2: I did?
1: Yes! I heard you walk in, and then you just stood there in silence. Sorta rude.
2: Oh. I had no idea I did. Sorry.
1: That’s okay. What’d you want?
2: I… thought I wanted to… No, I was definitely already here.
1: We were both here?
1: I’m asking you.
2: Oh. Okay. Yes?
1: We were both here?
2: Yes. I guess.
1: And then there was these footsteps.
2: Right! Footsteps. That is correct. There were footsteps. And then the door slammed shut.
1: So someone else came in here…
2: Yes, very true!
1: And they’ve just stood in silence instead of actually bothering to-
2: Or someone else left.
2: Or someone else was already here, and those footsteps were them leaving, and they shut the door behind them on the way out. Meaning that we would have no need to ask anyone who they were or what they were doing, because we were both here doing what we are doing.
1: But the footsteps were getting louder…
2: I am not really sure about that. After all, why would someone want to come here? We are the only two here, and I am not entirely sure what we are even doing here. So I can’t fathom why someone would want to come here.
1: What we’re doing here…? I… This isn’t right at all, I feel like… marshmallow.
1: (Frustrated) Everything’s kinda fluffy and… slow. Nothing’s sticking well, I can’t remember…
2: Oh, do not force it. You will just hurt yourself at this rate.
1: What do you remember? What do you remember about us being here?
2: Here? Well, let me see… You started asking and talking and saying a lot of confusing things about feeling sticky-
2: Yes, fluffy, and then-
1: No, no, no! Before then!
2: Okay. Well, before then, there were some footsteps…
2: … And a door shut…
2: … And then you asked me if I was here, which I was, I think…
1: Oh, for the love of-
2: And then you were feeling sticky.
1: (Angry) Fluffy! Fluffy thoughts, non-thoughts, floating thoughts that won’t stick at all, are far from sticky, are resistant and bouncing and unmoving all at once! I can’t remember a thing! Where even are we?! Take a look now and tell me where we are!
2: Well. Nowhere.
1: I don’t… how can we be ‘nowhere’?
2: Well, we are, are we not?
1: I can’t see anything. I can’t… I can’t feel anything! Come over here, lemme touch you.
2: Alright, where are you?
1: I’m over here.
1: I… Er… (BEAT) Okay, listen. And don’t panic.
1: I… I don’t think that we are here.
2: Are we not?
1: (Panicking) No! We aren’t! You’re just a voice! I’m just a voice! I can’t feel a thing! Or see a thing! Or… I’m just gone! You’re gone! Nothing’s here!
2: (Perturbed) Good grief, you’re right! My body is completely gone.
1: Just… just my voice? This isn’t right, I must have a mouth at least for my voice to keep going! Just tell me my body’s here and I can’t move or something. I’d rather be paralysed and freaking out.
2: How am I supposed to know? I don’t have eyes. You make so much fuss, you probably blustered your body away.
1: But we heard footsteps! I can hear you right now! I must have ears or… I can’t even feel them. I can’t even smell myself!
2: (Disconcerted) Smell yourself?
1: Well, I didn’t even notice I had a smell until I couldn’t smell myself anymore! Why aren’t you more worried about this!? We’ve gone! Vanished! It’s just us, no one’s here, we don’t even know where here is, we have no bodies, no power to do anything but flipping gossip.
2: (Soothing) You are thinking about this in a way that is going to make you panic. Take a long think. Maybe your body is not gone at all. Maybe… Maybe we are here, but wherever here is we cannot perceive it in its entirety?
1: Your brain’s definitely vanished.
2: It is a more interesting thought than to think on your own smell.
1: Hey, I’m sorry if I miss a part of myself that’s gone. I mean, I’m just this voice now. I’m not even entirely sure what I used to, y’know, be. That smell was me, but now I don’t smell like that, what if I’m not me at all!?
2: I find it awful that you are managing an identity crisis because of your missing body odour.
1: Smell’s pretty damn interesting to me now I don’t have it at all!
2: Really? I find the whole thing rather odd now. Why would I ever have an interest in it? I hardly seem to be missing it right now. We are carrying on a perfectly good conversation without being able to smell. I did not even pay attention to it that much, really.
1: But it’s something we did all the time, all the time, and was such a part of who we were. Can’t you remember a single smell? Or maybe a taste? You must’ve liked something about it.
2: I am thinking. You would be surprised how far that goes when you do not have to stop to think about what you are smelling. Or needing the toilet. Or feeling hot. Or itchy. Or…
1: This sounds like the most you’ve ever thought. Just think on the question.
2: French toast.
1: French toast?
2: And cinnamon. I think? I remember hearing that cinnamon smelled nice. Or I remember thinking that I remembered that some time, though-
1: What did French toast smell like?
1: Uh-huh. And egg smells like?
2: (Dismissive) Oh, you know. Egg.
1: Sorta… musky? And kinda… kinda smells like what rubber tastes like, a bit of burnt rubber maybe…
2: A little bit like a warm fart, but in a nice way.
1: (A little disgusted) I didn’t expect you to say that.
2: Why should I be disgusted by bodily functions now?
1: I guess that’s a good point.
1: Yeah it’s a very good point.
1: I’m complimenting you, you disembodied shit.
2: I am just trying to think of how we got into this predicament, and seeing as the only thing I can register now is your voice I find it incredibly distracting. Do you hate silence so much?
1: Sorry. Sorry. (BEAT) … I said I’m sorry.
2: I know!
1: Right. Yeah. Making any progress?
2: I’m quite taken by the idea that we both died, and this is some form of afterlife. Like limbo.
1: What makes you think it’s not Heaven?
2: You’re here.
1: Well thank goodness your sarcasm didn’t float away.
2: (Ignoring 1) Maybe… maybe I choked on my French toast! Perhaps that is why it is the only thing I can remember well. To think my last thought in life was to savour a good piece of French toast… that is sort of beautiful.
1: What’d I die of?
2: Something to do with smell? Maybe you smelt so bad that you just keeled over?
1: … Y’know I’m starting to come around to your point about smell being pointless. It’s hard to be insulted about something I can’t ‘perceive’. Nice try, though.
2: Maybe we both died at the same moment, which is why we are both here, trapped in some horrible pocket dimension. Perhaps everyone who dies in the same instance of existence is equally trapped for eternity with all the others who died at exactly that time.
1: That’s horrible.
2: (Excited) Perhaps we cannot perceive that there are thousands, millions, of lost souls from the animal kingdom here with us who passed at the same moment, but have minds so different and so unique to our own that we are forever incapable of ever communicating, and we exist in parallel for eternity without ever reaching one another-
1: Okay, okay! That’s one theory, and it’s a nice one, very good. Very thorough.
2: I do apologise, it is hard to stop a train of thought when I seem to be made entirely of them.
1: We could just be trapped in our heads only able to talk to one another.
2: Could be.
1: Or we’re both trapped in the same head.
2: (Intrigued) Ooo, so we are the same person but different projections of them that are doomed to argue with one another because we emerged from the same original flawed construct?
1: Can we prove any of these things?
1: Well, can we?
2: (Frustrated) You ask me so many questions and yet you never want a proper answer from me!
1: (Downtrodden) Sorry.
2: I am without body, without people and placed in a scenario where thought is the only solution and pastime, with the potential for a deeper retrospective than any who ever had to breathe and drink and feed and defecate, with a great mystery around my entire existence, and you will not grant me a minute’s peace to think on it!
2: Will you just give me a moment? Spare me that?
1: I… I can’t.
2: Why not?!
1: (Snapping) Because your voice is the only way I know you’re still even here! Same with my voice! I mean, no one else is here, but you remember that there is such a thing as ‘other people’, right? You remember others?
2: Well, no, I cannot think of anyone…
1: But you can think about ‘others’.
2: I suppose…
1: But there’s no one here! It’s just you and me! What if there were more but they’re gone? If I remember having a body and it’s gone, and you remember French toast and that’s gone, what’s to stop you being gone and me forgetting that you were ever there?
2: (Anxious) Oh.
1: That’s all, really.
2: No, I see, I understand.
1: Good. I’m glad.
2: Good deduction. Better than thinking about smelling.
1: Where are you when you’re not talking?
2: I am still here, just thinking.
1: No I mean, you’re not.
2: I am.
1: How can you be sure?
2: Well, you cannot be sure, and I cannot be sure that you are there when you are not talking, but I know that I am not going anywhere as long as I keep thinking.
1: What if we stopped thinking?
2: Sorry, I was thinking about that.
1: Right, good. That’s good.
2: I don’t know.
1: Is it even possible to stop thinking?
2: I don’t know.
1: Are you trying it!?
2: Oh! No. Well. I didn’t think it would happen anyway.
1: Why’re you trying not to think!? Are you trying to disappear!?
2: Do you really think that is going to happen?
1: I can’t remember anything! All of it’s already disappeared! I can’t remember how to smell or what an itch feels like or why a fart made me laugh or what I liked about bodies and what I didn’t like. All of that’s gone, and I can’t remember how long ago, or even why! Everything I know is just further proof that things will just go. All that I have left is you, and you keep going.
2: (Calm) Maybe it is just the next step on our journey.
1: (Furious) Rubbish! You’re talking like all of this is progress. We’re regressing! We lost our bodies, we’re losing our minds and then we’ll lose whatever this is, now!
2: I… I am not sure I would mind, but…
2: Well, you seem to mind a lot.
1: (Earnest) Make an effort for me. Try not to go anywhere.
2: … Alright, fine. Maybe something will happen. I cannot even tell how long we have been. What brought all this on?
1: Well, you were here and I was here…
1: And… we were talking about who we were and what we weren’t and where we were and where we weren’t…
2: (Remembers) Footsteps!
1: Footsteps? (Remembers) Oh, footsteps! Someone came in!
2: Or left.
1: Someone else was here! With working feet, which means a body, a real one! That’s what it was, that’s what made me ask you all that! If we find them, we can… we can… erm…
2: Find them?
2: What makes you think that they are not already here?
2: Well if all we can do is hear and talk to each other, perhaps they are already here, with a body, standing somewhere, but we cannot know because we have no body, and cannot be somewhere. It would be like we were overlapping one another. Unable to communicate.
1: Bodies talk!
2: Do they?
1: Well… Bodies talk!
2: I don’t think so. I can talk and you can talk. That would explain how we know what talking is. Though I am not even so sure what a body can do…
1: French toast!
2: I’m sorry?
1: French toast! You remembered that! From before!
2: (In thought) French toast, eh?
1: Think of that. Think of French toast.
2: French toast…
1: That’s right. It had a taste and a smell. Remember that?
2: I remember telling you about that.
2: (Concerned) I did not remember that straight away.
1: So? I’m here to remind you of that. You reminded me of the footsteps!
2: Which you forgot about.
1: Two minds are better than one.
2: Clearly. But you are missing the point.
2: We are still forgetting.
1: I can remind you. You can remind me.
2: No, I fear that you were right after all.
1: (Anxious) Forgetting’s what happens all the time. If we’re always thinking now, we must always be forgetting too. That’s fine, we can remind each other, that’s what we’re both here for. Footsteps and French toast.
2: And what are we trying to remember with those?
1: To keep remembering! To stay where we are. Here.
2: Reminding to remember so we can keep remembering.
2: That sounds ridiculous.
1: But I-
2: Tell me what you know about French toast.
1: I don’t-
2: Anything? What is it, even? Describe it to me, right now, in a way we will both understand, with the resources that we have; voice and thought.
1: It’s French toast.
1: (Desperate) I don’t want to forget.
2: I know.
1: I don’t like forgetting. I know enough to know I want to remember… I remember talking. With you, maybe, but maybe more. Talking with you keeps me clear. I can hear my voice, I know it’s me. I don’t want to be just my thoughts.
2: We are fading. I am almost sure of it.
1: I don’t want to go anywhere.
2: I know. You keep making noise. You keep wanting to hear instead of think.
1: Stop forgetting things. You need to stay here with me. Think of French toast. I’ll think of… of… I’ll think. What we talked about. Of…
1: Yes! I’ll keep thinking of footsteps, you think on French toast. Keep remembering. Keep clear. Keep sharp.
2: I will not be able to remind you forever. What if I forget about footsteps and you forgot about… yours?
1: French toast!
2: Yes. What if you forget about that when you are to remind me?
1: Well, I…
2: What if you forget that I am even here?
1: I would probably talk out loud at some point and you would answer back…
2: And if you forget how to speak?
1: … I don’t know.
2: We are both fading. That much is certain. We are struggling foolishly.
1: (Quiet) … Both?
2: The two of us, yes.
1: Fading together. That wouldn’t…
1: … Wouldn’t be so bad.
2: Neither of us would be left alone.
1: I mean, I’d rather go… go back, wherever… back is but… if we have to keep going this way…
2: (Gentle) Would you like to try it?
1: Try it?
2: I could count for you.
2: You know. Counting.
1: (Struggling to remember) Counting?
2: There is one of you. One of me. Two of us. And… and then…
2: Counting. One, two. I guess that is all.
1: Are we getting worse?
2: I think so.
1: (Meek) Okay.
2: So, after two.
1: How does it go?
2: One, two. Like that.
1: One, two. Then?
2: Then we stop. Alright?
1: Alright. We stop.
1: Is that it?
2: No. Not like that. There’s nothing after the two.
1: (Nervous) Okay. Again.
© Danny Dourado 2012-2013