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This is the ten-minute play I'm working on for school this semester. I just finished the first draft. It's based on an idea I've been turning over in my mind-- I've been referring to it as "Vitality" because the vitality of the human spirit is a major theme --but is a big enough project that will take some time to work out. The character of Sariel, the guardian angel, has appeared before in this scene I scribbled down a while ago. The character of Max is one I thought up based on trying to get some of the bad things in my head right now out in any constructive way possible. My present biggest disappointment with the current state of the piece is that I want Sariel to be extremely cheeky and funny normally, but with turns into a profound serious intensity when it really matters, and I'm not sure it hits that enough. Will have to revise for that. This piece is for school, but I think I can repurpose it to use in the larger Vitality piece.

You know. Just turning my pain into gold. Or something.

What Everybody Living Gets
by Phoebe Roberts
MAX TAN, a terminal cancer patient
SARIEL, his guardian angel


(MAX TAN sits at his desk, looking sick and drawn. Papers and books are spread out in front of him. He leans back in his chair and stairs dully. The lights go down. When they go back up, SARIEL has appeared behind him, holding a strawberry smoothie in front of his eyes. MAX startles, then looks up at him in recognition.)

MAX: Shit! Sariel! It’s you.

SARIEL: Morning, Max.

MAX: Never going to get used to how you just blink in like that.

SARIEL: Ah, it’s just to keep you on your toes.

(He comes around to beside the desk.)

SARIEL: Brought you this.

(He holds up the smoothie.)

MAX: How thoughtful.

SARIEL: I know you had a rough morning.

MAX: It’s always rough.

SARIEL: Still. You don’t always have that bad a reaction. Is the Benedryl still working?

MAX: Yeah. The swelling’s down. Gave me some trouble with the port, though.

(He rubs at his upper right chest.)

SARIEL: Aw, man. I’m sorry.

MAX: Isn’t your fault.

SARIEL: You know what I mean. Anyway, I thought I’d stop in and make sure you were okay. With a smoothie!

(MAX stares.)

SARIEL: No need to thank me. I like taking care of you. It’s my nature!

(MAX rolls his eyes. SARIEL pushes the smoothie toward him. MAX takes one look at it then goes back to glaring at his work.)

MAX: Get rid of that.

SARIEL: You got to eat.

MAX: I’m not hungry.

SARIEL: You didn’t have dinner last night. Or breakfast this morning.

MAX: I told you, I’m not hungry. That chemo shit makes me sick to my stomach.

SARIEL: Just want you to keep your strength up. I thought we could do something today.

MAX: Like what?

SARIEL: I don’t know. Nothing big. I thought we could… I don’t know, ride mules down the Grand Canyon, or take a stroll down the Champs Élysée.

MAX: Nothing big, huh?

SARIEL: Oh, dear boy. Not for me.

MAX: Maybe tomorrow.

SARIEL: Tomorrow the chemo will kick in and you’ll be too wiped out. Come on, while you’re still feeling okay. You could use the change of scenery.

MAX: Nice as that sounds, I’m just starting to get into this problem.

SARIEL: Oh, really?

(SARIEL gets up and stands behind MAX to look over his shoulder.)

SARIEL: It’s good to see you working.


SARIEL: It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

MAX: It’s been hard to concentrate. But I’m trying to get my mind off things.

SARIEL: I’m glad. Anything good?

MAX: Eh. I don’t know. Too soon to tell.

(MAX tries to return to his work, but after a moment leans back and rests his head in his hands. SARIEL stretches his head around to look MAX in the face. MAX’s head stays bent, so it is quite the contortion. Finally MAX rolls his eyes to look at him.)

MAX: Can I help you?

SARIEL: Max? If you don’t mind my saying, you look like hell.

MAX: Thanks, pal.

SARIEL: You been sleeping?

MAX: Not much.

SARIEL: You’re not going to be good for much of anything if you quit sleeping too.

MAX: I can’t. I’ve tried. Those goddamn steroids make sure of that.

(SARIEL leans over the desk.)

SARIEL: This is a problem, friend.

MAX: No kidding.

SARIEL: You got to take care of yourself.

MAX: That’s why I’m on the freaking chemo regimen, aren’t I?

SARIEL: As the philosophers say, necessary but not sufficient.


SARIEL: What’s that smell?

(He pushes around some of the books and papers and sees an ashtray with a smoldering cigarette in it.)

SARIEL: Oh, come on, Max.

MAX: Lay off.

SARIEL: You haven’t had enough of these yet?

MAX: Just a couple of drags. So kill me.

SARIEL: You don’t need me for that, Max, you got this!

MAX: Jesus Christ. What’s it matter now?

SARIEL: Begging your pardon?

MAX: What’s it matter now?

SARIEL: It matters because only an idiot would deal with a limp by shooting himself in the foot.

MAX: It’s not like it can make anything worse.

SARIEL: I don’t know about that. If it means you’re giving up.

(MAX tenses.)

SARIEL: But you don’t really want to do that. So come on, just a sip. All that protein’s wrapped up in tasty strawberry. Goes down real easy.

(SARIEL pushes it toward him. MAX grabs the ashtray and hurls it across the stage.)

MAX: Damn it, Sariel! What the hell are you doing!?

SARIEL: Not letting you throw in the towel.

MAX: What’s the damn point!? What does it matter if I work, or if I eat, or if I get any damn sleep? There’s no getting out of this. I’ve taken the drugs and I’ve shot up the chemo and I’m still dying. Why do you care whether or not I give up?

SARIEL: Because you don’t have much time left.

MAX: I know! I’ve accepted that! What more do you want from me?

SARIEL: Is that all you think I care about? Your death?

MAX: Is that what you’re all about? Making sure I’m at peace in preparation for the inevitable?

SARIEL: If I can do that for you, yeah, I’d like you to have that. But I’m here because I’m worried about the rest of your life.

MAX: Yeah, all few months of it. What does it matter anymore?

SARIEL: Because you’re not dead yet, Max! Because you’re getting cheated out of decades that most everybody else takes for granted. All you have is right now. Which is all the more reason you have to do something now.

MAX: What? Do what?

SARIEL: Anything! Everything! The things you’re never going to get a chance to do if you don’t do them now.

MAX: Why? Why should I? What’s the point?

SARIEL: What if I told you the most significant thing you’re ever going to do is going to happen between right now and the end of your life?

(MAX stares at him.)

MAX: Can you know that?

SARIEL: Does that change things for you?

MAX: Do you know that, Sariel?

SARIEL: It doesn’t matter, Max! What matters is that you can’t know that. You can’t know what’s coming. You just got to know that, if you give up now… nothing’s coming.

(MAX breaks down.)

MAX: How can I do that… when this is all I get?

SARIEL: You have what everybody living has, Max. You have a shot. All you can do is take it.

MAX: I don’t know if I can.

SARIEL: That’s why I’m here.

(MAX sits there silently for a moment, considering. At last he picks up the smoothie and starts drinking.)

SARIEL: Now, tell me. What are you working on?



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 31st, 2013 12:29 am (UTC)
I love this.
Jan. 31st, 2013 12:39 am (UTC)
Aw, thank you, I'm glad. :-)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

About Me

My name is Phoebe. I'm Boston area theater professional and English professor focused in writing, acting, directing, and modeling. I'm known for having lots of interests, lots of opinions about those interests, and a very high estimation of the value thereof. This blog is for talking about whatever's on my mind, from my daily life to my activities to musing on any number of abstract topics. Thanks for taking the time to read.

My productions:

Upcoming Productions:

MRS. HAWKING part 2 and 3

at the Watch City Steampunk Festival 2016

presented by The Chameleon's Dish

Vivat Regina
by Phoebe Roberts

at 2PM


Base Instruments
by Phoebe Roberts

at 6PM

Saturday, May 13th 2017
at 274 Moody Street, Waltham, MA

Other Achievements:

"The Tailor at Loring's End" screenplay
Quarter Finalist in the Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Competition 2013

"Adonis" screenplay
Top Ten Percent in the Bluecat Screenwriting Contest 2015

Latest Month

April 2017


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