Song: “Never A Time” by Genesis from We Can’t Dance
FELICIA sits on the stoop of a brownstone, a duffel next to her. The block is quiet and dark, streetlights blazing above her. It is either very early or late. She seems unsure, restless, and hesitant, all at once.
FELICIA (looking down at the ground, almost mumbling at first)
I’m leaving. I’m leaving, I’m leaving, I’m leaving.
FELICIA looks up for the first time and her voice becomes a more natural speaking volume.
This is unavoidable. Please trust me on this. If there was a way to do this, to make this work, I would be doing it. I don’t want to leave. I have to.
She’s—Claudia—She’s not home right now. She’s out at…some benefit. Feed the Children while Saving Them from Dysentery and the Unfair Expectations of the Patriarchy or something.
She drops her head down and shakes her hair out, scratching her scalp, then flipping her hair back as she raises her head.
But I’m being snarky. Which isn’t helpful.
For one thing, it’s hard to make a noble exit when part of the reason you’re leaving is your girlfriend spends too much time doing good for the world. It’s like when my brother was still reading comics and he used to complain about Spider-Man’s wife and how she was always giving him a hard time for being a hero. Who takes the side of the person arguing against heroism, right?
But I get it now. I absolutely get it.
I want to be clear though. It’s not just the do-gooding. I think—I’d like to think I’d be fine with that. It isn’t just that though.
Claudia, even when she’s here, isn’t here. She’s—I was going to say delusional, but I try not to throw those kinds of heavy terms around unless they are really accurate. So, let’s just call it “willfully ignorant.” Or “resistant to acknowledging reality.”
We’ve had this cloud hanging over us for—for months! We’ve been circling the drain and she would wake up whistling. Not literally—well, sometimes literally—but the feeling was there, you know? We wouldn’t have exchanged three words in a week and she seemed to be just as pleased and unconcerned as she was in the days we were spending nights making out in every room and days sending emails back and forth in endless games of 20 open parentheses Personal closed parentheses Questions.
She’d say we were fine at parties and I could tell she meant it! How could we be fine when I was so miserable?! How could we be fine when we had fought on topics as varied as adopting or surrogating children someday to sexuality on Game of Thrones over the past 5 days?
So either she is refusing to see the problems or she plain doesn’t see the problems. No matter which is true. I don’t know…how do you overcome this?
The answer is you don’t. So I’m leaving. I left a note upstairs. I packed my stuff. I’ve got a hotel around the corner for a few days and then a friend is letting me sublet while he’s out of town for the next month. It’s over.
FELICIA picks up the large bag and slings it over her shoulder. She begins to walk off out of view. She pauses for a long time and strides back
I should stay, right? Like not for good, but until she comes home. To tell her—in person you know? That’s what I should do, right?
Or is that just a waste of time? She never hears me anyway. Maybe it’d just be an act of self-flagellation? Or, worse, she does hear me and promises to change? Do I stay for that? Or do I REALLY be a rotten human and refuse to let her try to change?
FELICIA puffs out her cheeks and breathes out with a long hissing breath. She runs her fingers through her hair again, rocking on her heels in place.
No. I’m leaving. There’s nothing left here. I loved her. I don’t love her. You know? I’ve tried, but I’m just…tapped. I’ve been tapped. For a long time. I’ve never threatened to leave, but I’ve told Claudia—told her that things were wrong, that we are falling apart. But she just…it’s same as it ever was.
A woman wanders into view, pausing and looking confused. She is CLAUDIA.
Leesh. It’s late. And cold. What are you doing out here?
I…Can we talk?
Sure. But later. I’ve exhausted. The benefit was great but SO much work. So maybe in the morning?
FELICIA opens her mouth to reply.
CLAUDIA (walking into the apartment)
Actually, can’t do tomorrow morning. Lunch then. Lunch is better.
FELICIA snaps her mouth shut, shoulders her bag again, and walks off.
CLAUDIA (turning to where she thinks FELICIA is)
Oh and everyone was asking abou—
She stops talking as she realizes no one is there. She stands, still, and stares down the block, looking the opposite way from where FELICIA went.