h2>Dating : SWIMMING WITH YOU: A ONE ACT PLAY
EXT. — BEACH-NIGHT
[Summer 2019. Behind the PINE trees on the north side of the beach. Vancouver. Evening. YOU and ME are swimming in the Pacific OCEAN.]
WE are seated in the tide’s old hands hovering over this giant hole in the ground, watching the orange SKY peel. Quiet, quiet. The FISH are whispering beneath us, sharing secrets of the UNIVERSE. WE can’t hear them and that’s okay. WE float. WE whisper. The STARS are old and bright and they can’t hear the FISH, either.
YOUR skin is burnt and YOUR lashes are stuck together like something made them scared. Every now and then YOU stop treading and allow YOURSELF to be swallowed by the deep SEA beneath us. I know this because I can hear YOUR breaths, hear the WATER slipping through YOUR fingers. I hear YOU until YOU stop moving, then everything goes quiet. YOU always come back up with a burst, shake YOUR hair, spray ME. I always turn to YOU. WE share a smile. WE resume watching the SUN give himself to the NIGHT, our toes taunted by WEEDS.
Once the WATER hardens and our feet get tired of kicking at nothing, I make a move towards the large black STONE behind us and crawl onto her back. Stand softly in the still air. YOU join ME on this large STONE I find — MY best friend, MY partner. WE wait. WE stand still for a moment, WIND licking the SALT off our shoulders, our chests. Shivering in this still air. Feet gripping the edged STONE. Lids soft, skin cool.
[OFF CAMERA: FISH are whispering string theory and BARNACLES are contemplating GOD. The NIGHT is moving closer, her clothing riddled with holes. STARS. The LIGHT is old and the OCEAN is deep and this whole act is set within an ancient moving thing.]
[SMASH CUT] YOU leap forward! And are momentarily held, softly pinched between the SKY and SEA before cutting through her thin crust. I fall in behind YOU. The WATER flakes away and WE are in it: a messy, deep SEA exploration. Two submarines, the biggest FISHES YOU’VE ever seen spinning silently through deep greens and parted LIGHT.
That is, until I hear a rubber echo from below and the sound of carbonation, bubbles alive. I open MY eyes and see white air flying out from beneath MY feet and YOUR legs kicking, a small patch of water stained red and swaying in the waves. I push MY way through the water and
YOU’RE cussing. Arms moving fast, hair not yet pushed from YOUR face.
Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! I fucked MY foot! Fucking barnacles! Fuck!
As YOU say this, YOUR jaw locks. YOU bite down and it doesn’t move and I can see YOU cringe as YOU re-maneuver YOUR jaw until it clicks.
There is nothing but the slap of the tide against the hard STONE behind us and the mean, old WIND pushing everything, absolutely everything forward. I watch as YOUR gaze shifts away from ME, towards the shore, and YOUR body, like all determined things, begins to move YOU forward.
There was a time when YOU would exhale and let the tide hold YOUR soft little frame here. Floating, floating. The WATER hugging YOU, kissing YOUR wounds, swaying. The SKY on YOUR shoulders, the OCEAN holding YOU both. Everything moving in grace. This is not the case anymore.
In the shallow end YOUR arms touch down, fingers grabbing SAND as YOU pull YOUR legs, hips, torso under YOU. YOU pull YOURSELF up and limp across the SAND, the small STONES, and seat YOURSELF on the spine of a large, softly curved BOULDER crowded by SPRUCE and OAK. YOU turn to face me from above, foot in hand, blood squeezing out like toothpaste from a tube.
I really want to build a BOAT,
[FLASHBACK: The north end of the beach is comprised of BOULDERS and WEEDS and OLD GROWTH TREES leaning out towards the OCEAN. Where YOU first got high and I watched, absolutely enthralled by the idea that one might smoke something beneath an old, crispy TREE in the fiery smoulder of summer. The TREES, a manly troop, impressed by YOUR gumption.]
I hoist MYSELF out of the heavy waves behind YOU and balance MY way across the small STONES, let MY toes nuzzle themselves into their slimy crevasses. I find our towels, WIND-strewn across the matted, dark shoreline and toss YOURS, now SANDY, across YOUR lap. Lie down on the patch of EARTH next to YOU, cold. Buzzing. Staring up at the heady STARS. Hair spilled across the SAND. WE are two big, silly STARFISHES sprawled out, SALT-soaked, and evidently missing a boat.
Now, how do WE build a BOAT?
It’s very simple,
WE need to find something that floats, or a collection of smaller things that float, and tie them together.
I glance over at a pile of bramble behind YOUR head. Soft, kind-looking BERRIES engulfed by spidery prickles and dotted LEAVES. All tied up in a knot of organic. I turn to the shore, then the SEA. If only WE could sit at the bottom and stay there, static, staring up at the weight of the WATER above us. But, alas, WE are not STARFISH, nor are WE SAND.
There are wet, heavy LOGS dotting the south end of the beach. I’ve watched them bob in with the milky tide some afternoons, foam spilling over their necks, spinning on their axes. Protecting the hermit CRABS from the SUNburnt beachgoers. The holy gate between deep SEA and hot, dry SUN.
[FLASHBACK: On family trips to the lake, MY BROTHER used to float on small LOGS in his SUNsuit, pushing himself from family member to family member with the tips of his toes acting as the rudder. I’d decorate him in WEEDS. I, a mermaid, him, a merman.]
WE need to get a LOG in the WATER,
I grab the towel off YOUR lap and grind MY toes into the curves of the rocks and STONES beneath our feet. Let the arches of MY feet reach their full, grandiose height with the support of the billowed out STONE. YOU follow suit, I can feel YOUR warmth behind me. Hear the air, YOUR staggered breaths. The slap of YOUR gentle feet against the EARTH. Soon WE are racing across PEBBLES, then SAND, and I can feel MY HEART in MY fingertips. All of MY BLOOD, all of MY OXYGEN, alive and bright in each limb. The LOGS look roughly the same under the blur of NIGHT, so I choose the first one that looks slightly smaller than the others.
YOU’RE going too fast, I’m still bleeding.
this one, here.
And WE square up, drop to our knees. I on the left, YOU on the right.
[OFF SCREEN: This LOG is not the type of LOG that MY BROTHER would have floated on. No, this LOG has the diameter of MY entire arm and is at least the length of MY bedroom door.]
Our pink knees get pulped by the SAND as WE edge the LOG forward with the full force of our bodies. WE push hard against this massive, dead sponge of a TREE. If this is the belly of the beach, this TREE is the bread and the beer. I push again, this time in sync with YOUR push, and the LOG crackles, yawns, rolls over on its heavy SELF.
And on the count of three, WE heave and the LOG begins to roll. He starts slowly, an achy hobble, but begins to pick up pace as he gains momentum and reaches the foreshore, flattened and smoothed with the late WATER and old tide. Branches catching and breaking with each turn.
YOU and I run/hop to keep up with our old man, our knees bent from hunching over for so long. He rolls right into the black WATER, the SEA and SKY now indistinguishable from one another against the dark pull of NIGHT. WE can hear the tide better now. The hollow sound of the LOG against each hollow wave. WE nudge our old man with our feet until he is fully suspended in the waves and YOU can hop over his back, injured foot first, floating over the deep black.
[A city of FISH and BARNACLES sit twenty feet west and ten feet below. The MOON is moving with the EARTH. The TREES are laughing and drinking and making homes for birds. Everyone is playing their part.]
I pour MYSELF over until MY chest is flat against the back of our old man. Hug the stern. Cheek against wet SPRUCE, MY small feet trailing through our wake. YOU turn to face forward, pale baby hairs illuminated under the MOON, arms scooping water in a rhythm, always moving.
[LIGHTS FADE. Onwards, onwards.]