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CAST OF CHARACTERS

 

 

                                                                     John                 :              late 30s man, professional, weary

                                                                     Ella                   :              late 30s woman, professional, warm

 

 

SCENE

 

A therapy session.

 

 TIME

 

2012.

 

SETTING: The stage is bare but not harsh. Two armchairs face each other with simple lighting. If needed, there may be either a coffee table or two end tables placed upstage. However, there is never anything between the chairs. Lighting is simple, not special. We could be anywhere.

 

AT LIGHTS UP: JOHN sits with his head bowed and his hands still, calm, collected, asleep? ELLA sits across from him with a legal pad and a pen.

 

ELLA

Are you ready?

 

JOHN

Yes.

 

She produces a recording device and

switches it on. She puts it out of

sight.

ELLA

Can you hear me, John?

 

JOHN

Yes.

 

ELLA

What’s my name?

 

JOHN

Ella Greene.

 

ELLA

Good. And you are?

 

JOHN

John Watson.

 

ELLA

And you are of sound mind and body and are willingly and knowingly allowing me to hypnotize you for the purposes of therapeutic treatment today, Thursday, the eighth of March at approximately...

 

She checks her watch or a clock.

Seven-thirty-six?

 

JOHN

Yes.

 

ELLA

Patient is in a state of extreme relaxation at this time. Respirations appear normal. No outward signs of stress. Are you ready to begin, John?

 

JOHN

Yes.

 

ELLA

Good. When I count to three, you will be in your special place, relaxed and safe. Okay, John?

 

JOHN

Okay.

 

 

He takes a deep breath. She leans forward.

ELLA

(carefully)

One, you’re walking slowly, taking in the scenery. You’re breathing, deep and calm, deep and calm. Two, it’s just you and the environment. You can feel the air around you. You like the smell. You’re safe and you’re breathing, in and out and in and out and three.

 

(beat)

Where are we, John?

 

 

John lifts his head and looks at her.

JOHN

I knew it was you.

 

 

Ella stays quiet. John smiles broadly.

JOHN (CONT’D)

Sherlock, I...hi. Hi. It’s so... Hi.

 

 

 

Ella sighs, disappointed. She makes a note.

ELLA

Why am I still here, John?

 

JOHN

You live here, you idiot! I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to visit. I think I can stay a bit longer this time. I know you get lonely.

 

ELLA

I’m fine.

 

JOHN

I should have brought you something! It’s so rude of me. I know you miss home. They still talk about you, ask me about you. It’s okay, though. I don’t mind. Can I get you anything? Do you want anything? I can go get something from town..? Are you hungry?

 

John pats his shirt pockets, his trouser pockets, coming up empty, but earnestly looking.

 

ELLA

I’m fine, thanks. Really. Look at me, John. I’m okay. Why am I still here, John?

 

JOHN

But I should have brought you something! You can’t just turn up at someone’s place with nothing. I was always on you about it. Do you remember when we forgot to bring a gift to your brother’s for dinner? I thought he was going to kill y -...

 

John fades away for a split second. Ella makes another note.

 

JOHN (CONT’D)

Kill us both. After that, we always kept those bottles of red wine and you said that it didn’t matter what we took as long as it was something you liked, remember? So we kept all that red -

 

 

ELLA

Why am I still here, John?

 

JOHN

Why do you keep asking me that?!

 

ELLA

Because I need to know.

 

JOHN

Come on, Sherlock! You know why you’re here. You know exactly why.

 

ELLA

I need to hear you say it.

 

John looks at her hard. His fingers tense on the arms of his chair.

 

Ella takes him in, braces herself.

 

JOHN

I’m not telling you again. I don’t want to talk about this anymore. Don’t you want to know how I am? You can probably just look at me and tell, can’t you? Doesn’t matter, really, I guess. How’s the weather been here? Nice, I assume. You look fantastic. Really rested. I always loved...that coat on you.

 

ELLA

Tell me and we won’t ever talk about it again. I promise. Why am I still here?

 

She fights an urge to touch him.

 

JOHN

Sherlock...please...not...not today...

 

He grows more upset.

 

ELLA

John? Tell me.

 

JOHN

I can’t. I... Don’t make me do this... Sherlock, please... Please, please, please -

 

He starts to breathe harder, muscles tingling.

 

ELLA

John. It’s been three years. I’m wearing the same thing. We’re in the same park. We’re always here. I’m still waiting for you to tell me what I’m doing here. What did you want to say to me that day in the park by the pond? What did you need to say to me, John? Why am I still here? Just tell me, John. Tell me what you - !

 

Before she can finish, John is on top of her, hands over her mouth, nearly toppling them over.

 

Ella fights him off with a rather uncouth kick to the torso.

 

He lands in his chair and suddenly looks around as if everything is new. He wipes his face, no longer crying.

 

JOHN

What the f...?

 

ELLA

(coughing)

What’s my name, John?

 

JOHN

Ella Greene. What the hell just..?

(beat)

Oh shit. I did it again, didn’t I? Are you okay?

 

Ella rearranges herself, picks up her legal pad, makes some notes.

 

John is distraught. Not crying, but embarrassed.

 

ELLA

Don’t worry about me. I’m fine. No permanent damage done. And besides, it’s to be expected. We finally are starting to make some headway with this thing. You let me get a lot farther than you ever have before. That’s progress, John!

 

JOHN

Good. That’s good.

He calms down, rubbing his hand absently across his torso.

 

JOHN (CONT’D)

Did I..? Was I talking..? I talked to him again, didn’t I?

 

ELLA

Yes.

 

JOHN

I knew it! I knew I saw him. God, it’s been forever. Not even a dream since I don’t know when. I didn’t even think...I don’t know what I thought. I knew it!

 

She senses something is off, sniffs the air, narrows her gaze at him.

 

ELLA

But you didn’t see him, John. Not really. You know that right?

 

JOHN

What?

 

ELLA

He wasn’t really here.

 

JOHN

Yes, he was.

 

ELLA

No.

 

JOHN

But, it isn’t...I don’t...I can’t explain it, Ella, but he was here. He was right there. Where you are now. I could... He was. I know he was. I know he was.

 

ELLA

Sherlock is dead. And no matter what you thought you saw, he wasn’t really here. He didn’t come back.

 

John bows his head.

 

 

ELLA (CONT’D)

He’s not coming back, John. You have to accept that. And this isn’t going to help you unless you say what you need to say. Hypnotherapy isn’t a game. You told me you wanted to keep trying so that you could get it out, but it’s been long enough and I’m not going to keep putting you under just to watch you keep doing this to yourself. I won’t. I can’t help you.

 

JOHN

Ella, c’mon.

 

ELLA

It’s a cycle, John. We work and work to finally get to that place and then he’s there and you’re there and we’re ready to go! Then I have to push you and you lash out and we have to start all over and over and over!

 

JOHN

I know. It’s just...

 

ELLA

It’s not healthy.

 

JOHN

I know.

 

ELLA

And professionally speaking, I’m not doing it again. I’m done. I recommend we try some other avenues.

 

JOHN

It is helping, though!

 

ELLA

How?! Explain it to me! Your insomnia is actually worse. You’re not journaling. You come to your appointments and we talk and we label and we problem solve, but then, three months later, you convince me you’re ready to try again and boom! – - it’s like nothing ever happened, nothing ever changed, nothing ever progressed.

 

JOHN

I have progressed! I just. I don’t know, but - !

 

She reaches for the recorder.

 

ELLA

This is not a huge problem. There’s a simple solution. There are other counselors you could see. Maureen on the third floor is taking new patients right now.

 

JOHN

Ella, come on. I don’t want to see Maureen.

 

ELLA

And I don’t want you to go, but you’re not really leaving me much of a choice! I can only work so far as you’ll work with me. With me, John. There can’t be no-go’s. Not in therapy. And we keep running into the same wall. It’s not fair to either of us. Or to Sherlock. 

 

JOHN

But I can’t - ! I don’t want to keep attacking you. I’m trying to keep you safe. You think I like coming to and picking you up off the floor? Or seeing you wince or the bruises or any of that shit?!

 

ELLA

Of course not –

JOHN

Good, because I don’t! I hate it. I really hate it. That’s not me.

ELLA

I know.

JOHN

The whole thing just...

 

He gestures ‘overwhelming’. She makes

notes.

 

JOHN (CONT’D)

But then I see him – I saw him. And I smelled him. And it almost, just almost stops feeling like I’m disappearing. I don’t drown. I don’t – my skin feels like I’ve put it back on and I’m not so exposed as an invisible person – that doesn’t make sense. But. He makes me. I feel. I feel like my lungs are full of air and that I’m five inches taller and that my hair is made of nerves or sparklers or something and then he talks to me. And the sound. And it feels...it feels –

(beat)

And he’s not (dead)...anymore. He’s there. And we’re just there...

He looks wistful, lost in thought.

 

ELLA

John? I’m going to ask you something I haven’t asked in a while. And this is the last time I’m going to ask it, so don’t bullshit me, okay?

 

He sniffles and looks at her again. A

silent agreement.

 

ELLA

Do you want to get better?

 

SPOTLIGHT: on John as he

thinks it over. He is clearly

uncomfortable; folding and re-folding his arms,

touching his face. The answer could go either way –

he nearly forms the words “yes” and “no” and “yes” again.

 

While he ponders, ELLA adds glasses and a scarf,

maybe puts her hair up – a differentiating piece

of costume, subtle, not immediately noticeable.

 

Back to SCENE:

 

John is all back together. He even smiles a

bit.

 

ELLA

Do you want to get better?

 

JOHN

Why else would I be here? I need to move on. God knows it’s been long enough. I just feel like there’s stuff I need to say. And I think I can...I’m ready. I’m ready.

 

ELLA

I think I know just the thing. It’s kind of new, but I think it would really benefit you.

 

JOHN

What’s that?

ELLA

Have you ever heard of hypnotherapy?

 

John leans in, vibrating with interest, and shakes his head 'no'.

 

ELLA (CONT’D)

It’s essentially a relaxation technique that’s been adapted to bring patients, trauma patients like yourself especially, some closure. Sometimes we’re able to go back and re-experience memories in order to finally label those feelings and move past them. Is that something you’d be willing to try with memories of...

 

She checks her notes.

Sherlock?

John nods, wide-eyed and smiles.

 

ELLA (CONT’D)

Excellent!

She makes more notes.

 

I’m so glad you came in, John.

 

JOHN

I am too, Maureen. I am too.

: LIGHTS DOWN