About the Author by Sky Vogel
WOMAN (any age, 20+)
MAN (any age, 20+)
Time: The time is the present
Place: A sparse setting, meant to represent a library study center or
quiet, casual, public place.
Note: The two characters are intentionally non-specific, allowing for
casting over a wide range of ethnicities and ages, though they should
be relative contemporaries. In addition, while their gender here is
specified, any same-sex or other LGBTQ identification would work.
At rise we see several chairs surrounding a table, on which may be
situated a small, illuminated study lamp, all meant to indicate a
somewhat darkened library study space. Alternately, we may see a
daylight scene of park bench, facing out, perhaps with a nearby
lamppost to help suggest place. The effect of both, or of any
particular set design, is to subtly suggest solitude, though not
We see WOMAN, seated at center, reading a hardcover book. Her
belongings are spread out nearby
After a few moments, MAN, a messenger bag over his shoulder, enters
MAN: Excuse me.
He indicates a seat
She moves her things aside
WOMAN: (cont'd) No, no, go ahead.
MAN: Thank you. (A pause) Are you studying?
MAN: What are you reading? I notic—
WOMAN: Oh, it's a, a—
MAN: I'm sorry, I don't mean to be forward.
WOMAN: Well, I'm not so sure.
MAN: No, really, I'm telling the truth.
WOMAN: No, no, I'm…not sure what I'm reading.
MAN: Oh. (Beat) How is that possible?
WOMAN: Well, it's a little cryptic.
WOMAN: Kind of like this conversation.
WOMAN: That wasn't a dig.
MAN: I dig.
She returns to reading
A pause as he removes a magazine from his bag and starts to page
WOMAN: What are you reading?
WOMAN: Excuse me?
MAN: No, I'm kidding.
WOMAN: No, I don't think you are.
MAN: You're right.
He sets the magazine aside
MAN: (cont'd) It's gotta be more interesting to know why you
don't know what you're reading than it is for me to be reading
what I already know.
He indicates his magazine
MAN: (cont'd) Y'know?
WOMAN: Are you all right?
She returns to her reading. He glances around the room
WOMAN: (cont'd) Well, now I can't concentrate.
MAN: You couldn't before.
WOMAN: That's beside the point.
MAN: You were sitting there, here, reading the same three sentences
over and over, and if anyone were to interrupt and ask what any of
those sentences said, what the thoughts were, you'd be at a loss.
You were sitting there, reading the same thing over and over, while
the clock on the wall ticked continually forward. Never going back.
MAN: May I?
He reaches over and takes her book away. After a glance, he sets it
MAN: (cont'd) Good stuff.
WOMAN: You think so?
MAN: Without a doubt.
WOMAN: How do you know? You looked at it for three seconds.
MAN: That was enough.
She takes the book back
WOMAN: Do you always walk up to strangers and make them feel
MAN: Maybe I wrote it.
WOMAN: Look, you're not getting my phone number. Now if you'll
She returns to reading
WOMAN: Okay, what?!
MAN: No need to be upset.
WOMAN: I can't read if you're going to sit there staring at me!
MAN: I didn't know I was.
WOMAN: Well, you were!
MAN: I'm not now.
WOMAN: Well, you were!
MAN: Would you like me to leave?
WOMAN: No, I'd like… Yes, I'd like you to leave.
MAN: It's quite all right. I understand.
He gathers his things and exits
She once again makes an attempt to read
A few moments pass, after which he enters, holding a book
MAN: (cont'd) Hi, again.
WOMAN: Yes, this seat is taken!
MAN: Look, I wanted to return this. I must've picked it up by
WOMAN: Oh. Thank you.
MAN: You're welcome.
A pause as he remains standing there
MAN: Did you read that one? Did you enjoy it?
WOMAN: Well, I'm not done, but yes, I'm enjoying it.
MAN: I hear it's good.
WOMAN: It is.
MAN: Listen, I'd like to apologize for upsetting you before.
WOMAN: It's okay.
MAN: You're very generous.
WOMAN: You're very insistent.
MAN: Thank you. Well, goodbye.
He starts to exit
WOMAN: Look, can I ask…may I ask you something? I've been thinking
about…I'm sorry, please.
She indicates his previous seat, which he takes
WOMAN: (cont'd) I've just been thinking about what you said. About
reading and not understanding. It's happening a lot. And I
wonder…I don't know, I guess you can't plant a garden if the
soil is barren.
WOMAN: Well, you can plant, but don't be surprised if the flowers
WOMAN: Thanks. I guess. Whatever.
MAN: Are you a writer?
MAN: Do you write?
WONAN: (a slight laugh) No.
WOMAN: Well, some bad poetry when I was a teenager.
MAN: I bet it was good poetry.
WOMAN: Okay, what makes you say that?
MAN: You don't know?
WOMAN: I'm no poet.
MAN: That's what you say. Me? I know that you felt a need to express
your innermost feeling through words. But you didn't just talk, you
wrote down a…a trail of words, placing each one very carefully, in
the hopes you could arrive at a destination of understanding.
WOMAN: You know something I heard once? "Poetry is the martial arts
of language." Isn't that great?
MAN: It is. Here's another: "There is no frigate like a book to
take us lands away."
MAN: Emily Dickenson.
WOMAN: Emily. I love that name. Em-uh-lee. Em-uh—You know what's
funny sometimes? The sound of a word that—
MAN: Separated from its meaning?
WOMAN: Yes! All of a sudden, out of nowhere, a word that you've said
a hundred times before just sounds strange. Foreign. There was one not
too long ago, what was it… That's it! Toy. It all of a sudden
sounded, I don't know, Martian to me. (Tries out different
inflections) Toy. Toy. Toy. 'Course, it's not exactly the same
now. (It happens again) Now. Now.
MAN: I actually had that happen just the other day.
WOMAN: Really? What was the word?
WOMAN: Connect. Connect.
MAN: (trying hers out) Now.
A pause, but not a "moment"
WOMAN: Are you really a writer?
MAN: What makes you think that?
WOMAN: Before, when you glanced at my book.
MAN: I don't recall.
WOMAN: C'mon! You asked me how did I know you didn't write it!
MAN: That's right.
WOMAN: Pay attention.
MAN: I am.
MAN: You think so?
She lets that one pass with a look
MAN: Did I write it? Maybe. Let's look at the jacket photo.
She picks up the book and regards the photograph
WOMAN: You've changed.
He leans over and looks as well
MAN: Yes, apparently a picture on a dust jacket works just as well as
one in the attic.
WOMAN: I'm not going to ask you what happened to the breasts. (A
pause) So, do you make it a habit of bothering women, or am I just one
MAN: That's a good question.
MAN: But not a direct one.
WOMAN: Two, actually.
MAN: Come again?
WOMAN: I asked you two questions.
MAN: I guess I—
WOMAN: But the second was rhetorical in nature, posed in a sarcastic
yet playful manner though nevertheless designed to display a lingering
irritation at having my studious reverie interrupted, but not so
acidic a query as to reveal myself to be something akin to a walking,
talking, great-white-man-eating asshole.
MAN: I would never think that.
WOMAN: Wait a minute, what did you mean by "not a direct one?"
MAN: That was marvelous, but the way. Are you sure you're not a
WOMAN: I've been studying debate techniques and logical fallacies.
Answer my question!
MAN: Glad to.
WOMAN: Well? Well?
MAN: I'm pretty certain you don't want me to say "water"
WOMAN: C'mon! Just a second ago, you said…I don't know,
something about…c'mon, you remember! C'mon, c'mon!
WOMAN: (cont'd) Where are you going?
MAN: I'd better go.
WOMAN: What? Why?
A slight pause
MAN: Just now…you suddenly seemed irresistible. And I have to
WOMAN: Oh. Uh…well, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to—Wait, I
remember now! I asked you if you made it a habit of bothering women or
if I was just lucky. And you said that was a good question, but not a
MAN: I said that?
WOMAN: You said that. Moments ago.
WOMAN: Well? Well water?
MAN: I don't recall.
WOMAN: Yes you do!
MAN: Yes, actually I do. What you mean to say is: Am I trying to
bother you? I am. So tell me, what's bothering you?
MAN: That's my question.
She stares at him
MAN: (cont'd) Do you trust me?
WOMAN: Not in the least.
MAN: That's awfully harsh.
WOMAN: I'm sor—
MAN: But that's okay. Even better. So, why don't you trust, not
even in the least?
WOMAN: Who are you?!
MAN: Don't be afraid. It's just a question.
WOMAN: I'm not afraid!
MAN: It's just a question.
WOMAN: I don't know you!
MAN: Do you know yourself?
[End of Extract]