Song: “Talk About the Passion” by R.E.M. from Murmur
DAISY waits, tapping her foot, at a receptionist’s desk. The receptionist gamely ignores her, despite DAISY being as intrusive as possible in polite society. Finally, IRIS opens the door to the office and walks into the lobby..
IRIS (gesturing an invitation)
Sorry sis, crazy day. Come on in.
DAISY nods but says nothing more, following IRIS into a sparse office. Three chairs sit, all stacked high with paper. A desk on the other side of the empty room is covered by a computer, a laptop, a tablet, two cell phones, and a pad of paper covered with a wall of text. There is a sense of organize chaos.
IRIS (moving some items on the desk, before pushing herself up onto it to sit. She crosses her legs and smooths her skirt before speaking)
So what brings you by, Daze?
Where have you been?
IRIS (looking momentarily confused, then speaking in a rapid but controlled way)
Today? Here, mostly. I stepped out for a co—no wait, no I didn’t. I was going to, but I was too busy. So I sent…umm…Laura. Lauren? Lara! No, no, Laura. I sent her out to get me a coffee.
How about all week? Have you even gone back to your place for any time longer than a shower and a change of clothes?
IRIS (hopping off her desk, pacing the room a bit while not making eye contact)
Of course I have. Don’t be silly.
I’m not being silly, I’m being concerned. Near as I can tell, all you’ve done the past three days is, stop in to visit dad for about 10 minutes at a time, work, shower, change your clothes, drink coffee, grab cat naps, and eat rice cakes.
That’s not entirely inaccurate, I’ll allow.
You can’t keep this up.
DAISY (frustrated and obviously concerned, bordering on scared, about her sister.)
This is not a healthy way of living I.
IRIS (laughing a little)
Well, it certainly isn’t for everyone.
DAISY (now close enough to slap the desk open handed)
It’s not for anyone!
IRIS (raising an eyebrow)
Are you done?
DAISY (becoming angry)
God damn it! No, I’m not “done.” You can’t do this to yourself. It’s not safe for you. It’s not safe for your company. It’s not safe for your customers!
IRIS (with withering tone)
And you’re an expert on this? I always knew you were a jack of all trades, sis.
Don’t be mean. I’m not being a bad guy here. I just want to make sure you are taking care of yourself. Ever since Da—
I said I’m fine.
Which is a great thing to say, but I’m more interested in you actually being fine.
I work hard, that’s all.
This is beyond hard. You can’t hide from Dad being sic—
IRIS (spinning around, getting her finger in IRIS’s face)
Don’t even finish that fucking sentence. I’ve visited him every damn day in the hospital. Don’t you accuse me of hiding from our father.
DAISY (taking a step back before moving forward again, back at her sister)
I’m not saying you aren’t coming by. I’m saying you are avoiding every OTHER part of your life. I’m saying you are doing this to avoid the reality of Dad.
I have a demanding job under the best of circumstances and we have a product rollout next week. The more I can be here the better.
Come on, I. Let me in. You don’t need to do this tough as nails, twice as strong bullshit with me. Talk to me.
See yourself out.
No, you are coming back to my apartment. You are watching a movie and falling asleep. You are eating whatever I make you. You are done working today.
It’s remarkable how much you misread this situation. You are getting the hell out of here. NOW! And going to do whatever you do. I am staying here and WORKING!
Damn it, sis, Dad’s dying!
You think I don’t know that?! You think that somehow escaped my observation? I am VERY aware that our father is dying. Do you really think I’m so self-absorbed and heartless that I don’t realize?
I don’t know, I. I don’t know because I haven’t seen you. You won’t return my calls. My emails. My texts. So, yeah, maybe.
IRIS (grabbing the handle of her frosted glass door)
Great. So glad you came. Now you can go.
DAISY (slapping her open palm against the door to keep it closed)
What the hell, Daze? What the hell do you want from me? You show up here in the middle of the day and basically call me a piece of trash daughter and demand I let you take me to your apartment and you, what, expect me to smile, thank you, and shuffle on.
He’s sick, I. And this isn’t a temporary—
I told you. I know. I don’t need your self-righteous “I’m the good sister” routine to know that Dad is…not doing well.
So why are you ducking me? Why are you not calling mom? Why are you never home? And why can’t you spend more than 5 minutes with him? You are—
IRIS (quieter, more broken)
I’m fucking useless, ok? You’re the one who…hugs and kisses and reassures. I fix things. I make things and I sell them and I fix them when they don’t work right. And there is nothing I can do for him! I can’t help him! I can’t him and I can’t help mom and I can’t help you! And I can’t help me! I’m drowning, ok? I’m so scared, Daze, and I’m so sad and I’m so angry and I can’t do anything!
DAISY (soft, reaching out for her sister)
Oh, I…no one…Christ…no expects you to—
I expect me to! I should be able to. It’s the least I could do for him.
Dad would never—
I know that! Dad never expects anything. He’s just—every time I screwed up, every mistake I made…he was there to smooth it over, to pick me up, to dust me off, to hug me and kiss my forehead and tell me it was ok and it’d get better. And he was right.
And now he’s laying there, in agony, and I can’t do any of that. Not one bit of it. He needs someone to hug him and tell him it’s ok and be right and I can’t.
And, worse, all I can think about is, “What am I going to do now?” What am I going to do the next time I get fired for missing third quarter projections or catch another boyfriend cheating or cheat on another boyfriend myself. He’s dying and I’m worried about me.
IRIS sags against the door and then her sister
DAISY (so quietly)
I know, I know, I know…
I’m so selfish, Daze. Our parents are so incredible. You’re so incredible and I’m so fucking selfish. What’s wrong with me?
Shh, shh…don’t say that. Don’t say that. You’re great. You’re my big sis. You’re…I love you. We all do. And if you think any of us aren’t thinking about ourselves right now—
What are we going to do?
We’re going to hold his hand. And cry. And bury him. And try to wake up the next day and the next and the next without bursting into tears the moment we remember we can’t call him to talk about movies or that new Blackhawks forward or why we hate not getting to see he and mom every weekend. And, eventually, we won’t.
Yeah. Eventually. But not any time soon.
The two turn against the door and slide to the floor, holding hands. Twilight is setting in out IRIS’s windows.
He can see the skyline out his window, right?
DAISY gives a small nod.
Good. Good. He always liked when the sun went down and the lights took over.
Yeah, that’s what he called it. Magic hour.
The two say nothing more, just watch as the sun sinks away and the city flickers to electric light.