by John Byrd


Note: The only items we see in this scene are a coffee table, a cup of coffee which will be placed on the table, and the chairs that the people sit on.  All other objects described in this scene are visible only to the people in the scene.


Spotlight up on a coffee table.

Music: the only sound we will hear.

At the table sits Woman.  Woman thinks, and writes in a journal.

Waitress enters and places a cup of coffee on the table.  Waitress efficiently cleans other tables with a rag.  (We can't see these other tables, nor can we see the rag.)

Woman continues writing.  With her free hand, Woman mixes two sugar cubes and cream into the coffee.

Lights fade up.  Other people sit at other tables: a Jogger has a silent, heated argument on a cell phone.  At another table, a Patzer and a Shark hunker over a chessboard, playing an intense game of speed chess.

Woman blows on the coffee, takes a sip... And time stops.

Jogger is frozen in mid-complaint, a nasty expression on her face.  Shark has a chess piece poised in mid-air, ready to strike.  Waitress is peering at a lipstick stain on a coffee cup.

Woman surveys the stilled world nervously.  She takes another sip of coffee... And time recommences.

The cell phone argument resumes, the lipstick stain is scrubbed, and the chess piece falls.

Jogger hangs up in disgust and stands, stretching.  The chess game is becoming one-sided; Shark sees mate in six.  Shark gloats.  Waitress folds a dirty tablecloth and fluffs a clean one.

Woman takes another sip of coffee, and the world halts.

Jogger becomes a stretching statue.  The chess game halts, mid-gloat.  And the tablecloth hangs suspended in mid-air, with Waitress holding two corners.

Woman stands and studies the time-frozen people like art.  She admires the suspended tablecloth, the stretching jogger, and the chess game.  In a fit of inspiration, she moves a single chess piece on the board and returns to her table.

With one eye on the chess game, the woman drinks her coffee.

The world ticks on.  Jogger unstretches, Waitress's tablecloth falls.

Patzer sags, looking at the chess board...  He blinks, confused.  With the chess board suddenly looking quite different, Patzer makes a killer move.  Shark is dumbfounded.

Woman smiles.  Woman turns back to her journal and continues writing.

Man enters.  He checks his watch against a bus schedule.

Woman is transfixed by Man.  Her pen drops.  Woman looks at the journal, then at Man.

A bus arrives.  Man cheerily flags it.

Woman considers.  She takes the cup of coffee and takes a purposeful sip.

Man becomes a statue, checking his watch, a smile on his face.

Woman stands.  With utmost delicacy, she walks to Man and circles him slowly, studying him.  She takes Man's outstretched hand and turns it over, looking in his palm.  She tentatively touches the center of his palm and looks into his eyes.

With great care, Woman nestles herself into the crook of Man's arm and nuzzles against him.

For a time, Woman closes her eyes and cries.

Woman steps back and wipes her eyes.  She hesitates.  She carefully moves Man's arm back into the original position.  She returns to her table, sits, and in silent misery, tilts her cup and drinks the last of her coffee.

The world starts.  Man drops his arm and leaves to board the bus.  Woman watches him go.

The scuttled chess game has become a full-blown argument.  Shark collects the pieces and throws money on the table.  Patzer offers the money back to Shark.  Shark ignores it and leaves in a huff.  Patzer follows.

Jogger checks her shoelaces, pockets the phone in a fanny pack, and runs off.  Waitress takes the empty cup from the table and leaves.  Woman raises a finger, perhaps to ask for another cup, but Waitress doesn't see.

Woman thinks, and writes in the journal.

The spotlight fades.