A Home for Heather

A Home for Heather

By Johnathan Schofield

Dramatis Personae

Heather

(A beautiful young teenage girl of fifteen who is slightly mentally retarded. She is free spirited and fun. She is simple and in desperate love with her parents, her only real friends.)

Nic

(Heather’s father. A successful marketing strategist who works hard to provide for his family’s many needs, particularly Heather’s many medical expenses and therapy.)

Julia

(Heather’s mother. Her daughter is her full time job. She spends all her time caring for her and being her closest companion.)

Scene I

(Heather and Julia have been picking apples in an orchard. Apples could be hung from the ceiling to indicate the orchard, but only as many as could be picked during the scene. Julia is sitting on a blanket or quilt eating an apple and reading a book. Heather is having fun picking apples and behaving as though she is only 7 or 8. She has a basket which has many apples, but room for more as she picks them)

Heather

                Mama! Look at this one! It’s huge!

Julia

(laughing) Wow! It sure is, Heather! You are so awesome. Come give Mama a hug!

You are such a hard worker! (Heather screeches with joy as she runs over and nearly tackles Julia with great big hug. With her arms around Julia’s neck, she realizes a worm has corrupted the apple.)

Heather

                Aww! Mama, look. This one has a nasty whole in it!

Julia

                Oh no! I’m so sorry, Baby. But I’m sure you’ll find an even bigger one without any holes in it!

Heather

                Yeah! I’ll find an even bigger one! (Heather discards the bad apple and hurries off in search of a better apple. However she gets distracted with the apples already in her basket and eventually sits down trying to stack the apples in odd ways. The apples keep falling over.)

                Mama?

Julia

                Yes, love? (continues reading)

Heather

                Can we go for sundaes, please, please!? (begging)

Julia

                Hmmm. Probably not. (continues reading)

Heather

                But you said we could!

Julia

                Haha! I don’t remember saying that.

Heather

                But you did! (Julia lowers her book and fakes a stern look at Heather)

Julia

                Now Heather, don’t tell a lie. Besides, Daddy is bringin’ pizza for family game night, remember?

Heather

                Oh! I forgot.  (Heather pauses before asking) Mama?

Julia

Yes?

Heather

                Why doesn’t Daddy ever come apple picking with us?

Julia

(lowering her book) He does too – sometimes.

Heather

                Yeah, but it’s been forever!

Julia

                Oh, baby. Do you miss your Daddy? (putting her book down)

Heather

                Yeah, I miss Nic. I wish he’d come pick apples with me.

Julia

                Oh, me too, darling. But you know why he can’t come.

Heather

                Yeah, cause he’s a marketing strategist! (Heather is very pleased with herself for remembering and using such big words)

Julia

                (laughing) Yeah, that’s right.

Heather

                I still wish he could pick apples with us.

Julia

                Heather, your father is very busy.

Heather

                But why does Nic have to be gone all the time?

Julia

                You remember your therapist, Miss Katie?

Heather

                Yeah! I like her a lot.

Julia

                Well, Daddy, has to give her money so she can help you. That’s why he’s off being a “marketing strategist” all the time.

Heather

                Why doesn’t he just go the bank and get money?

Julia

                (a little struck by the irony) Well, your Daddy’s done that before, darling, and I’m afraid they don’t like him much anymore.

Heather

                That’s too bad, ‘cause  I think Nic is awesome!

Julia

                Yeah, he is, isn’t he? In fact, he’s probably on his way home ‘ bout now, so we should make sure we’re there to say hello.

Heather

                (She shrieks at the thought of seeing Nic and races off stage toward the “car”) I’ll beat you to the car!

Julia

(picking up the blanket, smiling to herself) I’m sure you will.

Fade lights

Scene II

(This scene is in the family’s living room. Not more than a couple of chairs and a small end table across the room are needed. On the end table lies a decorative box/case not larger than a shoe box which is capable of being obviously left open. Lights come up on Heather and Julia sitting on the floor coloring pictures together. Nic enters, on his phone with a business colleague. He has clearly had a long and difficult day. He is carrying a briefcase. Upon seeing her dad, Heather sits bolt up and anxiously waits for the call to finish.)

Nic

                Look, don’t ask me, you’re the one who thought the pink posters were a good idea! I’ll see you tomorrow. (Nic ends the call.)

Heather

(as soon as Nic is done with the call, Heather rushes Nic to give him a big hug screaming) Daddy!

Nic

                (he lifts her off the ground and twirls her as he says with a mocking accent) Ahh, ma sweet ‘art! I missed ya, Baby!

Heather

(attempting to be serious) I missed you too, Nic. Where’ve you been, mister?

Nic

                Oh, you know, baby. I’ve been bringin’ home the bacon.

Heather

                Bacon?

Nic

                Yeah, bacon. For instance, bacon pizza on the counter in the kitchen!

Heather

Pizza! (Heather runs offstage to the kitchen)

Julia

                Hey baby.

Nic

                Hey. – How was she today?

Julia

                She was MUCH better today. Not even a single episode, and I swear we’ve got a whole bushel of apples now!

Nic

                Good. – Good.

Julia

                You alright, darling?

Nic

                I guess.  – I’m fine.

Julia

                You sure?

Heather

                (Heather runs out and grabs Nic’s briefcase from him running back offstage the opposite direction screaming) Tag! You’re it!

Nic

(smiling) Yeah, I’m sure.

Heather

                (offstage) Daddy!

Julia

                Well, stud-muffin, it looks like you’re it!

Nic

                (laughing) Ha ha! Not for long! (Nic chases offstage after Heather, backstage Heather screeches in joy as Nic has clearly caught her and they laugh together. Smiling, Julia continues coloring.)

Fade Lights

SCENE III

(Later that evening the family sits around the center of the living room playing UNO. A beverage of some kind is on the table very near the case.  Heather lays a card very proudly.)

Heather

Draw Four! Take that, Nic! Haha!

Nic

                Ooo. Well, played, kid, well played.

Julia

                Ugh, I seriously have had all yellow this whole game.

Nic

                Haha! Sucker!

Julia

                Shut up! (draws a card)

Heather

                (Nic has not drawn his cards yet, and Heather gets very cross and demanding.) Daddy? Draw Four!

Nic

                Um… Right, sorry. (as Nic draws the cards Heather is clearly relieved and smiles again as she plays a card. They continue to play in turn through the following dialogue) Say, Heather, could you be a chum and grab your ol’ man his glass over there.

Heather

(Heather is delighted to get the drink. She jumps up, and as she walks over to the table) Oh, Nic, you’re not old.

Nic

                Well, you’d be surprised.

Heather

(As Heather reaches for the glass, she accidentally knocks the case off of the table. It must not open when it falls.) Oh, no!

Nic

(very stern, but concerned) Oh, Heather, my pistols! (Nic rushes over to pick up the case)

Heather

                (she is very clearly shaken) Oh, Daddy, are you mad?!

Nic

Oh, baby, of course I’m not upset. I’m sorry if I frightened you.  It’s just that these are very dangerous. You could hurt yourself, love, do you understand?

Heather

Oh, Daddy, please don’t be mad. (whimpering, almost crying)

Nic

                Heather, look at me, I’m not mad, baby. I was only worried about you. I love you.

Heather

                Promise?

Nic

Promise. Always. (Heather gives Nic a hug and wipes some tears from her eyes) Now, I think it’s your turn, isn’t it, love?

Julia

                Yes, indeed!  (Nic and Heather rejoin Julia in the game.) You , okay, Heather? You know Daddy loves you, right?

Heather

                Yeah. I know. (Heather lays her card, Nic lays his, and Julia proceeds to lay her card very triumphantly)

Julia

Uno!

Heather

                (Heather is furious because she thinks she has lost. She throws her remaining cards and messes up the pies screaming) No it’s not! It’s not Uno, Mama!

Julia

                Heather!

Heather

                No! You cheated!

Nic

                (Nic attempts to hold her and calm her, but Heather starts hitting and shaking violently and screaming) Heather, baby. Please come here. Please calm down, love.

Julia

                Please, darling. Listen to your father. He’s trying to help you. (Julia tries to assist Nic as best as she can, but finds it difficult)

Heather

                NO!

Nic

                (Nic forces her to sit in a chair as he gets very stern with her) Now Heather, you listen to me! Calm Down!

Heather

                (Heather stops, falls limp in her chair, and begins to softly cry)

Nic

                (Nic draws closer to Heather and tries to comfort her) Shhh. Oh, baby. It’s okay. It’s okay. Now Heather?

Heather

                Yeah?

Nic

                Who’s girl are you?

Heather

                (Heather smiles big as she realizes Nic is not upset with her) Daddy’s Girl!

Nic

                That’s right.

Julia

                And what about me, eh?

Heather

                (Heather rushes from her chair and grabs her mother in a tight hug) And Mama’s too!

Julia

                That’s better. Now, how about you run upstairs and get into your pj’s and climb into bed. Daddy will be up to tuck you in in a bit, k?

Heather

                Can I play with my dolls till he comes?

Julia

                Of course you can, but only one, okay?

Heather

                (Heather squeals with excitement) Okay! I love you, Mama! (Heather races offstage toward the stairs) I love you, Nic!

(Heather creeps back down the stairs and eavesdrops on the following conversation. This could be done several ways. Perhaps a progressively increasing lighting cue that slowly reveals Heather as listening to the conversation.)

Nic

                (calling after her) Love you too, pumpkin! See you soon! (Julia begins picking up the cards as Nic collapses into a chair with a frustrated and tired groan.) Oh dear sweet grief!

Julia

                I’m sorry.

Nic

What for? It’s not like it’s your fault or anything.

Julia

                I know, I just feel bad, I guess. I know it must be hard coming home to all this after a long day. You work so hard for us.

Nic

                Well you’re here all day. I couldn’t do that. You have clearly got the patience of an angel!

Julia

                Well, I’d hardly say that. You didn’t see me when I tried to help her pick out her clothes this morning. What a nightmare!

Nic

                I thought you said she was doing better today?

Julia

                Well, she is – relatively speaking. She didn’t throw her oatmeal at me this morning!

Nic

                (sarcastically) Yay! Well, that’s progress.

Julia

                Nic – why do you insist on keeping those in here? (gesturing toward the case)  I nearly died when I saw them fall off the table again!

Nic

                I don’t know. They’re all I’ve got from back when I was collector, ya know?

Julia

                And I understand that, Nic, I do, but after Henry why would you insist…

Nic

                Those pistols have nothing to do with Henry. That was all just an accident.

Julia

                I know. But they just make me uncomfortable.  Nic, what are we gonna do if Heather ever starts asking about her brother?

Nic

                She doesn’t even remember anything. Why would she ask? Besides, Katherine seems to think Heather will be like this forever. Seven years old – for life.

Julia

                Katie is just a therapist, Nic. She doesn’t know for sure.

Nic

                I know you’re right. It just seems hopeless. I just want her to have a normal life, you know?

Julia

                Of course. That’s all I want for her too – for us.

Nic

                Do you ever wonder?

Julia

                Wonder?

Nic

                What it might have been like if, – well, ya know.

Julia

                We hadn’t had twins? If Heather and Henry had never found your , well, that. (pointing to the case)

Nic

                Is that bad?

Julia

                Oh, baby. I don’t think so. You just want a normal life for yourself as well. You love Heather. You’re her whole life and you do everything for her, but it’s been a hard road for all of us.

Nic

                It’s just we got married so young. We had so many dreams. So many visions in our head of what would be. Now I just feel like I keep jousting with fate and losing – getting pinned back to the ground everytime I start to make a step forward. It’s not something you can control, you know? It’s not something anyone can plan on or change.

Julia

                Oh, Nic. You don’t change something like that, it changes you – it changes us. I’m sorry you never got to achieve your dreams, but look at what we have. Look at who you are, you are such a good man, Nic, and I am so in love with you! I can’t thank you enough for sharing this crazy life with me.

Nic

                Oh, baby. You’re so sweet, and you’re right. I have achieved my dreams. You are my dream. This family, this is my dream. (tearing up) Oh, God, I am so blessed, and Heather, I would do anything for her.

(Julia and Nic embrace each other for several moments)

Julia

                I love you, Nic.

Nic

                I love you too.

Julia

                I think someone’s waiting to be tucked in.

Nic

                Yeah I suppose so. I’ll be back in a bit. (Nic rises and walks toward the stairs. As he rises, Heather disappears back toward her room. Neither of them notice Heather.)

Fade Lights

SCENE IV

(lights up on the family living room. It is the next morning. There is a paper on the floor that has clearly been colored. A box of crayons is open beside it. Several crayons and a few apples spilled out on the floor on and around the paper. The case on the table is clearly open.)

Julia

(enters from the stairs, she is wearing a basic robe or pajamas, something to indicate it is morning. She starts to tidy and clean the living room. She should not notice the open case!) Nic! Heather!

Nic

                (Nic enters with his brief case and is fixing his tie or something, as though he’s heading to work.) ‘Morning, baby. You sleep well?

Julia

                Yeah. Say, Nic? Have you seen Heather this morning? I thought she was in her room, but apparently she’s been coloring already.

Nic

                No. I’ve been upstairs getting ready.

Julia

                (Julia has gotten closer to the paper and sees it more closely. There is a message on the paper. She picks it up, sits down, and has started to read it to herself. She pauses and calls to Nic very worried. She starts to slowly shake her head in disbelief) Say Nic!

Nic

                (Nic hurries over and looks over Julia’s shoulder.) Yeah? What’s wrong, baby? (Nic takes the note from her and begins to read it, growing very concerned quickly)

Julia

                (Julia notices the open case) Oh, God no. Oh no, oh no! (Nic notices the case)

(A loud gunshot is heard offstage. This could be accomplished by an open palm striking the seat of a metal folding chair, or something similar)

Blackout

SCENE V.

(The night before, Heather is seen writing the note in crayon. The whole stage should be completely dark with the exception of an amber spotlight of some kind illuminating Heather, the crayons, and the apples. The case should be closed. She is reading the note as she writes it. She appears to be having fun.)

Heather

                Dear Nic, I am sorry I didn’t go to bed right away. I was thirsty. I just wanted juice. I don’t know Henry, but I’m sorry you can’t see him anymore. I’m sorry it’s my fault. I know I get mad fast – sometimes, and I’m sorry. Please forgive me? I didn’t know daddies dream. I dream too. I don’t want my dreams taken away either. I would do anything for you, Daddy. Anything. I love you.

Heather

(Heather finishes her note, gives it a once over for approval, stands and turns. And as she walks out of the light toward the case, BLACK OUT.)

End Scene

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