The In-The-Middle a one-page play
ELLA, in her 70s, is in a wheelchair, silhouetted down-stage next to a park bench. LIGHTS FADE UP as ERNEST, the same age, enters carrying flowers. He looks about. Removing his hat, he approaches ELLA.
ERNEST: Good morning!
ELLA: Good morning to you.
ERNEST: It’s a lovely view.
ELLA: Yes, it’s my favorite.
ERNEST: Mine as well.
ELLA: I like the pond in the afternoon, when the ducks are there. But the garden is nice in the morning.
ERNEST: Is it alright if I join you?
ELLA: Oh yes. Please do.
ERNEST dusts the park bench with his hat, then sits and places the flowers on the bench beside him.
ELLA: Those are very pretty flowers. Those are… Don’t tell me, I know… Are they… ranunculus?
ERNEST: They are. Very good!
ELLA: I remember them from my mother’s garden when I was a girl. They are a particularly pretty flower.
But she had so many! She had… gladiolas. And… and… pop-eyes? Is that the name? And roses, of course, that aphids always ate. Is that the word, “aphids”? She got so mad at those bugs! Ranunculus, is that right?
ERNEST: Yes, quite so. (beat) Would you like these for your room?
ELLA: Oh, but I think you brought these for someone else, didn’t you?
ERNEST: I brought them for my wife. But they tell me that she is not in a way to receive visitors today.
ELLA: Oh, I am sorry. How sad.
ERNEST: For me, or for her?
ELLA: For both of you.
ERNEST: Well, that depends on your point of view. If memories are what make us happy, then I’m happy.
ELLA: Memories can make you happy or sad, I suppose. It depends. I have problems with my memory.
ERNEST: It happens, sometimes, at our age.
ELLA: A lot, with me.
ERNEST: It happens.
ELLA: I can remember the far-away, when I was a girl. I can remember every flower in my mother’s garden. And I remember the now: What they had here for breakfast, the medicine that they brought me.
I particularly remember those ducks by the pond in the afternoon. I remember what’s happened recently.
But the in-the-middle, not so much. I try to remember it, but mostly, there’s only the far-away and the now.
ERNEST: That must be very difficult for you.
ELLA: It used to be difficult. If I didn’t remember something, didn’t recognize someone, I got very upset, very angry. But now, I try to remember the happy times when I was young, ranunculus in the garden and so forth, and happy times like now, like looking at the ducks in the pond in the afternoon. I try to remember that the times that I’ve forgotten were probably very happy too. And I try to enjoy what I can.
ERNEST: That’s a good way to look at it.
ELLA: I guess, if memories make us happy, that’s a good thing. But if they make us sad, we should just
live for the now, you know? And not worry about the in-the-middle.
ERNEST: You’re a very wise woman.
ELLA: Most days, I don’t even remember my own name!
ERNEST: My name is Ernest. But you needn’t remember it.
ERNEST pats her hand, rises, dons his hat, and bows.
ERNEST: And now, if you’ll excuse me, I fear I must go. I’m not really supposed to be here. I don’t enjoy visitors privileges today, you see. I don’t want these nurses to create an upset.
ELLA: I understand. Thank you for the flowers.
ERNEST: You are truly most welcome to them.
ELLA: I hope your wife is feeling better the next time you come.
ERNEST: I hope so, too. It has been a great pleasure talking with you, Ella.
ELLA: Yes, I enjoyed talking with you… Ernest.
ERNEST: Good Morning.
ELLA: Good morning to you.
ERNEST smiles, tips his hat, and exits at once without looking back. ELLA watches him go, then sits looking out at the garden, smiling.
LIGHTS FADE TO BLACK.