• Aja Houston

TURNING FORWARD - a short play



In the middle of the Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrored Room- The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away" exhibit at The Broad, stands A Black woman WILLING and a Black man ABLE.   

The room pulsates with light. Able tries to catch each one on his phone’s camera. Willing does a slow turn around as she scans the room with her eyes. 


WILLING

Ninety seconds. 


ABLE

Will, turn around and smile. 


WILLING

I am smiling. 


ABLE 

Then turn this way so I can see it. 


WILLING

No. 


ABLE

No?


WILLING

That way I already went. I am moving forward. 


ABLE 

There’s no forward movement in a circle. Like the circle of life. You’re born, you live, you die. The next one is born, lives and dies. There is no forward. 


WILLING

You described generations. Generations move forward.   

ABLE

If the generations don’t change how are they moving forward?


WILLING

Eighty seconds. 


ABLE 

We’ve been waiting forever to get into this exhibit. Please just turn towards me. 


WILLING

No backwards for me. My circle will straighten out into an arrow. 


ABLE

Will, what about half-way towards me? Profile shots are sexier anyway. 


WILLING

Seventy-five more seconds. 


ABLE

Exactly.


WILLING

Before we are made to exit. 


ABLE

So smile for the camera while we still have time. 


Able goes around Willing until he can see her face. He raises his camera.


WILLING ABLE

I am smiling. You’re not smiling. 


Willing bats the phone out of his hand. It falls to the ground. 


ABLE

What the hell Willing?!


Able goes to retrieve his phone but Willing stops him with her foot. 

WILLING

Able live the pictures, don’t just take them. 


ABLE

How am I supposed to remember living?


WILLING

How do you remember making love?  


  There is a moment between them. 

ABLE

I feel it. Like aftershocks. If it’s good. If it’s exceptional. When it’s once in a lifetime. (Beat) Just felt one. 


They both shudder. 

WILLING

Pictures aren’t tangible. Not like actually feeling. Isn’t it wonderful to experience the light again? It’s so dark out there but in here. I feel light. Like I’m floating. Like I am in space. Like I am a part of space. Something beautiful. A galaxy that’s bigger than this world where I am set apart from everything. In here I remember how it was to gaze at the stars out there.  I feel free. I think this is what freedom feels like. Feel. Feel. Feel. 


ABLE

I am. 


Able goes for his camera again. Again Willing stops him with her foot. 


WILLING

This room inspires me to expand my soul over the horizons, to reach for the burning star called our sun, to find some E.T.’s or some Wall-E’s or some... 


ABLE

Acid spitting, chest ripping, parasitic, dread-locked black scary aliens? 


WILLING

Beings that are better than humans. (Beat) Sixty seconds.  


ABLE

We don’t have much longer. 


Willing grabs Able’s hand and pulls him into her. 

WILLING

Stretch the time with me. We can do that.  


ABLE

Don’t tell me that we can do anything that we set our minds to. 


WILLING

That’s a grade school lie. Lies are a waste of time. 


ABLE

You told me you were smiling. 


WILLING

I am. On the inside. 


ABLE

You are so... you. 


WILLING

And you love it. 


ABLE

I do. 


WILLING

So stretch the time with me. (Beat) Fifty seconds. The more you fight me the sooner we are out there where you can’t take your pictures with you. They won’t allow it. 


ABLE

It doesn’t matter to me what they allow. I am a man. 


WILLING

Yes you are. A being better than a human. I am a woman. 


ABLE

A being better than a human. 


WILLING

Once we leave here that won’t matter. 


Willing brings her free hand to Able’s eyes and covers them.


WILLING

Close your eyes. 


ABLE

Closed. 


WILLING

What do you think our children would look like?


ABLE

Like you.


WILLING

I don’t mean their eyes, or their smiles, or their hair or their feet and toes. I mean what do they look like? Find them and tell me. What do they look like?


Able grabs Willing’s hand. The light pulsates to their heartbeats. 


ABLE

...


WILLING

...


ABLE

...


WILLING

...


The room gets brighter. 


ABLE

...


WILLING

...


The room gets brighter. 

WILLING

Tell me. 


ABLE

I can feel them. 


WILLING

That’s right. Tell me. 


ABLE 

I can feel them. 


WILLING

That’s right. So tell me.


ABLE

You know.


WILLING

I know. But I need you to tell me. How do you they look? If they were ours to remember. How would they look?


ABLE

...


WILLING

...


ABLE WILLING

Thirty-seconds. Thirty-seconds.


There is a KNOCK on the door. 


WILLING

We’re in space right now. Anything can happen in space. That’s not a lie. Stephen Hawkins said so. (Beat) What would the beings that we give life to, our children that are more than humans look like?


ABLE

...


WILLING

...


ABLE

Alive. 


They both slowly open their eyes. Willing reaches out and wipes away a tear on Able’s cheek. Able reaches out and wipes away a tear on Willing’s. 

In that moment time does seem to stretch and bend around them.  

Another KNOCK. 


WILLING

Fifteen seconds. 


Time continues to stretch. The door opens.  


ABLE WILLING

I’m smiling. I’m smiling. 



END OF PLAY



© 2020 by Aja Houston

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