by K. Brian Neel
© 2012, K. Brian Neel, all rights reserved
Hildegard - A kid
Papa - Her father
Natasha - Her best friend
A public swimming pool. The stage is the edge of the pool. The audience is in the water.
Lights up on Natasha sitting on the edge of the pool, dipping and swaying her feet in the water.
Papa enters with Hildegard. He settles on a deck chair. Hildegard sees Natasha and excitedly goes to her.
HILDEGARD: Hey Natty!
NATASHA: Hello Hildy.
HILDEGARD: I didn't know you were coming. Let's go on the slide, then the lazy river. Then the deep end! Come on...
Natasha doesn't move.
HILDEGARD: Natty? Are you okay?
NATASHA: I can't play.
HILDEGARD: Oh. Okay.
She sits down beside her and puts her feet in the pool.
HILDEGARD: Maybe I shouldn't go in the pool so soon anyway. I just ate sourkraut for the first time. Have you ever eaten sourkraut? It tastes really sour.
NATASHA: You should go.
HILDEGARD: Oh. Okay.
Shocked, in a daze, Hildegard makes her way back to Papa who is reading a magazine.
PAPA: Hey Hildy. How's Natasha?
HILDEGARD: What are you reading, Papa?
PAPA: An article on the sleepwalking defense in court cases.
HILDEGARD: That's interesting.
PAPA: There have been a handfull of crimes where perpetrators were supposedly sleepwalking. In court the plea is a valid defense, apparently.
HILDEGARD: Violent crimes?
PAPA: Why aren't you playing with Natasha?
HILDEGARD: She doesn't like me any more.
PAPA: I find that hard to believe. You two are peas in a pod.
HILDEGARD: She hates me.
PAPA: Oh, Hildy. She's probably in a mood. Go over there and make up. I'm sure she's just... in a delicate place. You can support her.
He kisses her on the head.
HILDEGARD: Okay, Papa.
On her way back she gets a pool toy.
HILDEGARD: I got you a noodle.
NATASHA: Go away.
HILDEGARD: You're in a delicate place. I support you.
NATASHA: You should't be near me right now. I'm going through changes.
HILDEGARD: Do you mean puberty?
HILDEGARD: Does it hurt?
NATASHA: Remember at your second grade birthday slumber party when Sam hit Isaiah and said it was your fault so Isaiah hit you and so you hit Sam but Isaiah believed Sam and hit you too so you hit Isiah and they hit you back over and over, and your parents were getting the cake so they didn't see, so I poured bubble goop on them, and you were crying so I poured bubble goop on myself and some got in my mouth and I was making bubbles by breathing and we laughed. But Sam and Isaiah didn't laugh cause they got their Catholic uniforms ruined. Remember? It's just like that now. I'm saving you. Leave me alone. Forever.
Hildy is on the verge of tears. She makes her way back to Papa.
PAPA: Hey pumpkin. Did you make up?
HILDEGARD: She's a fat cow!
HILDEGARD: I hate her! I... I'm going to pee in the pool near her!
PAPA: Hildy! Hold it right there, young lady. It is our Christian duty to forgive, to love people even if they... piss us off. We don't pee in their pool. That is an offense to all poolgoers. Got it? Good.
Hildegard makes a bee-line for Natasha.
HILDEGARD: I'm going on the water slide and in the lazy river and the deep end, and I'm going to meet someone else and play Marco Polo and have a really fun time.
NATASHA: I warn you: do not go in the water. It is dangerous. I am here for a hideous purpose. I am a monster. A beast. A devil. I don't want to have to with you, but I will.
HILDEGARD: (laughing) That's funny.
Natasha screams like a banshee!
Hildegard jumps back in shock.
She eyes Natasha. Spite rears up in her and she decides to brave the waters in spite of Natasha's warning. The girls eye each other like gunslingers. Hildegard puts a foot in the water. Natasha stands up. Hildegard puts another foot in. Natasha steps toward her. Hildegard brazenly jumps in; Natasha hurredly pulls her out. The girls struggle for dominance on the pool's edge.
NATASHA: I'm warning you. I will steal your soul. You will rot in eternal damnation, suffering in torturous hellfire. It's what I do now.
HILDEGARD: We sat on Santa's lap together!
NATASHA: This water is a conduit. Look at all those swimmers. I'm eeking their essences right now. I don't want to hurt you, Hildy, but I will. You were my best friend, but I have different friends now. Evil friends.
HILDEGARD: Did you meet them at the mall?
NATASHA: It's always been in me. Blood of my family. I'm tied to them from now until eternal emptyness. I didn't know about it until day before yesterday. I'm sorry.
Big beat. Hildegard starts to leave again. Natasha calls to her:
HILDEGARD: If you return again, I'll reap you.
Again back with Papa:
PAPA: Hey dumpling, why haven't you gone in the water yet?
HILDEGARD: I'm afraid.
PAPA: What? You love to swim, little porpoise.
HILDEGARD: Natty is evil.
HILDEGARD: She's going to eat my soul.
PAPA: Did she say that?
HILDEGARD: It's her deal now.
PAPA: Chickpea... sometimes people grow apart. I don't know why. It just happens. It's happened to me. Good friends just move along on their way. They're assholes... I mean, they have their reasons. But we find other friends. Friends that don't threaten us. And it all works out.
HILDEGARD: She's my best friend, Papa...
PAPA: (trying to cheer her up) Look, the lazy river isn't very busy. Go on, you'll have fun. Here, take the tube.
HILDEGARD: I'll get hurt.
PAPA: Not if I can help it. I'll watch you the whole time. (He puts magazine away.) I'm your guardian angel.
She gives a little smile.
PAPA: Atta girl.
She plops in the water and slowly cycles around. The sound of the water and people rise up, along with a cinematic symphony.
As Hildegard watches from the audience vantage, the music rises.
Papa sprouts angel wings.
The music takes a dastardly turn. Natasha bears huge claws and fire spews from her mouth.
They stare at each other like sparring cats for a few moments.
In the pool, watching it all, Hildegard floats in the lazy river, stunned. She can't believe her eyes. After the shock of the vision wanes, she spastically paddles toward them, to the rim of the pool. She gets out, but by this time Papa and Natasha are back in their human guises.
Hildegard stands in the center. She looks at each of them. She goes to Papa.
HILDEGARD: (looking to Natasha) What should I do?
PAPA: That's your choice, bugaboo. If her friendship means that much to you, let her take your soul. But a relationship based on soul-taking is not equal. And I don't think you and I will be as close. It's your choice.
HILDEGARD: Best friends stick together. You taught me that.
HILDEGARD: Goodbye, Papa.
PAPA: Goodbye, sweetie.
Copyright © K. Brian Neel. All rights reserved. Except for brief passages quoted in newspaper, magazine, radio or television reviews, no part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording, or by an information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the author.Professional and amateurs are hereby warned that this material, being fully protected under the Copyright Laws of the United States of America and of all other countries of the Berne and Universal Copyright Conventions, is subject to a royalty. All rights including, but not limited to, professional, amateur, recording, motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio and television broadcasting, and the rights of translation into foreign languages are expressly reserved. Particular emphasis is placed on the question of readings and all uses of this play by educational institutions, permission for which must be secured from the authorá║s representatives. For all rights, including amateur and stock performances, contact K. Brian Neel.