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Scene 1 begins in the middle of summertime (mid-August), with Jesse and Michael sitting on the bench swing at the front porch of their two-story house in the country. Jesse is holding a stack of comic books and is looking through them, and Michael is drinking a glass bottle of cream soda, looking out at the darkening sky. The boys are spending their time at the house rather than going out. Jesse is six years old and is all about having fun (and getting his way). Michael is eleven and likes to enjoy himself in the summer break, but is on the verge of adulthood with the many questions he asks about his life and why things are a certain way and not another. He has been thinking a lot lately about his real father. He is uncomfortable and hesitant to accept Nick, his step-dad, as a true father figure and wants to look for his biological dad and find the truth to his existence.

Jesse (looking excitedly at a particular Batman comic book): Oh, cool! I thought I lost this issue of Batman!
Michael (uninterestedly): Oh joy. Good for you, Jesse. (Looks left and right) Have you seen Mom yet?
Jesse (with excitement): Nope. Hey! Look at this page! Batman’s saving the day once again! Yay! (Jesse raises his arms in the air and cheers for Batman.) Go Batman! I always liked this issue.
Michael (slowly speaking and turning to Jesse): Uh, yeah…
Jesse (wide-eyed and child-like): Geez, Mikey! Don’t you feel glad Batman saved the world?
Michael: Well, sure I do. I just don’t care for comics right now. Have you seen Mom at all today?
Jesse: Uh, no. Not once. What’s up?
Michael: It’s…nothing. I just need to tell her something before I forget.
Jesse: Ah, okay. (Brief pause) Hey! Why doncha write it down? That way you won’t forget. Or just leave her a note or something.
Michael (thinks to himself, looking down at his muddied tennis shoes on the ground beside the swing): There’s a thought. (looks up and over to Jesse) Hey buddy, thanks for your help.
Michael gets up from the bench swing, picks up his shoes and places them in the soapy tub in the laundry room, then goes back out and gives Jesse a quick pat on the shoulder and leaves. Scene fades out. End Scene 1.

Scene 2: Scene starts out in Michael’s room, where he is upon his bed thinking deeply about his question. The stage lights are set to warm green. He is holding a pencil, which is dull, and sharpens it with a mini green pencil sharpener by the small garbage can in the corner by his desk.

Michael (to himself or audience): I should tell her in person (looks anxiously up at the clock, fidgets around for a bit, and then looks outside). Maybe not (grabs a Post-It note and begins to write a note to Mom. He is reading his note aloud as he writes). Dear Mom, I need to go to Chicago to find my real dad. I love you a lot and don’t worry about me. I will be back. I just need to meet him and find out what’s missing inside. Love forever, Mikey (he puts his note on the side of the bed and looks up at the ceiling, mutters something like “I don’t know,” and then looks at the note, picks it up, and puts it on the refrigerator door in the kitchen.) Yes, I do. I can do this (Michael exits and right after he does the Post-It note falls off the fridge and onto the floor, where the dog walks by and chews it up.).
End of Scene 2, fade out.

Scene 3: Michael’s room, where he is packing his backpack with his clothes, his teddy bear, toothbrush, a picture of his mom, and a lunch.
Michael: Okay, now I think I have everything. Oh, no more allowance. Where to get money? Mom! (trail off, pause)
Mom enters Michael’s room with a confused look on her face.
Mom: Ahem. Um, Michael?
Michael: Oh… (trail off, slight pause) hey, Mom.
Mom: Are ya goin’ somewhere?
Michael (confusedly): Um, yeah. I’m goin’ on a trip!
Mom: Okay (pause). And where might that be?
Michael (pauses for a moment, thinking he must have let her know pretty obviously, then has second thoughts. A few seconds pass and he sees the dog walking and then stopping, upon which he [dog] begins throwing up on the floor in the hallway next to his room. Michael mutters an ‘eww’ and gives a small, disgusted face at the sight. He looks at Mom again with an open expression): I’m goin’ to my friend’s house, and we’re gonna go to the waterpark.
Mom: Oh, well you should’ve told me earlier. I would’ve had Nick take you there.
Michael: Uhm, that’s okay. It’ll be fun. I’m staying the night at his house, and I’ll be back some time tomorrow. Can I have some money for lunch?
Mom: Okay, but stay safe and have fun! Here’s ten dollars (hands Michael a ten dollar bill). Remember, spend wisely! Here are your swimming trunks (holds out Michael’s only pair of swimming trunks). You almost forgot them! (Laughs, and then leaves. In the hall—offstage—she is surprised with the dog’s regurgitated mess and she groans) Oh no, Sparky! What did you get into this time? (sighs) Ughh.
Michael is seen holding swimming trunks in left hand, looking at them uneasily. Stage fades.
End Scene 3.

Scene 4: Scene fades in and Michael leaves for Chicago on his bicycle. He pedals, pedals, pedals, until he finally stops at the bakery to buy some pastries for lunch. He eats a pastry underneath a tree next to the bakery, and then starts on his bicycle again, only this time a bit slower. Eventually, Michael stops and gets off, and just walks the bicycle on towards Chicago. He soon pauses and takes out a map of Chicago, looks up for a moment, then puts away the map in his backpack. He then slings the bag over his right shoulder and continues walking the bike. He looks around and up, thinking to himself as he walks slowly-paced and relaxed.

Michael (to himself or audience): Wow, I wonder what my dad’s like. I probably look a lot like him. In fact, I’ll bet my cream soda that I look more like him than Mom. (excitedly) I can’t wait to see him (silence now, and he is still walking slowly, thinking)!
As Michael walks, he sees a little boy holding his mom’s hand as they walk the opposite direction he is going. The little boy is sobbing and his eyes are bright red and wet, so is his face.
Michael: Are you okay?
Michael: That sucks (looks at little boy’s mom). Why won’t you let him go to the park?
Little Boy’s Mom: Because the park is filled with pollution and bad kids. I wouldn’t advise you to go there either. It’s dangerous.
Michael: Well, all you have to do is clean up the garbage, right? And make the mean kids leave. It’s perdy simple if ya ask me.
Little Boy: YehMommycanwedoodat? (Looks up at his Mom and ceases the crying, sniffling and breathing in hiccup-like wheezes)
Little Boy’s Mom: No, it’s too dangerous. And you—you’d better keep your no good ideas away from my son, you hear me? Fixing these kinds of problems is not as easy as you think, boy!
Michael: I’m sorry. I only wanted to help.
Little Boy’s Mom: Well, you had better pay attention to your own problems. Where’s your mother anyway? She ought to know where you’re off to or she’ll get worried. I’m his mother. I know what I am doing (walks off and little boy begins to cry again).
Michael (watches the mom and her little boy get smaller and smaller as they walk down the sidewalk. The little boy keeps turning around at Michael, crying and crying.): Geez (looks at the park down the block). I think I’d better see this for myself (walks with bicycle to the park down the block). Oh (looks at the run-down park, with groups of older kids huddled together and smoking joints and vandalizing the benches and swings. The stage is lit with warm green lights upon the park). She was right (Michael turns to leave and go back home, but one of the older kids puts his hand on his shoulder.)
Older Kid: Hey, hey! Not so fast, little guy!
Michael: Whaddya want?
Older Kid: Oh, just a bit of fun, man! It’s all good!
Michael: I don’t wanna have fun with you, I wanna go home.
Older Kid: Well, well, well! Hey guys, look who wants to hang! (grabs Michael’s left jacket sleeve and as the older kid pulls Michael toward one of the groups, the bicycle falls to the ground with a big clank)
Michael: Leave me alone!
Older Kid: Hey, little guy, we only wanna have some fun wit you! It’s all spiffy, really c’mon now, kid.
Michael: No! (A group of older kids surround Michael and take his bag and begin to look through it.) Leave my bag alone!
Older Kid: Why? What’re you gonna do about it? (laughs, and group laughs along with him)
Michael: Me? I’m gonna get you guys reported! Give me back my bag and let me go!
Older Kid: Let’s see…whatcha got in here, little guy?
The group of older kids laugh again and take out a brown paper bag with food inside from Michael’s bag, as well as his teddy bear, and then push Michael down on the sidewalk by his bicycle and then shove his backpack into his chest, keeping his lunch. They pull off the teddy bear’s right arm, laugh and throw them down the sidewalk. They laugh some more.
Older Kid: Thanks for the lunch, little guy! (He laughs wildly, and group laughs too. After this, they leave Michael on the ground and go back and eat his lunch by one of the benches, and smoke. Michael gets up and picks up his bag and bicycle, as well as his precious torn teddy bear, and then rides back home with tears in his eyes.)
End Scene 4.

Scene 5: Scene fades in and shows the kitchen during midday, with Michael and Jesse’s mom taking out groceries from brown paper grocery bags and putting things away, and then preparing for lunch. While making sandwiches for her and the boys, Michael enters the kitchen with anxiousness, walking up to the counter by his mom.

Michael: Hey, Mom.
Mom: Hi, Michael. How are you?
Michael: Um, I guess I’m doing okay. I wanted to ask you a question. It’s kind of important.
Mom (discontinues making sandwiches, picks up a stool and sits on it, facing Michael): Sure, of course (Mom smiles at him). What’s up?
Michael: Well, I just…wondered if I…could go to the, uh, the…park…tonight and get some, uh, leaves…together…so…um… (trails off)
Mom: Michael, just spit it out! It’s okay.
Michael (gives a weak smile, then decides not to tell his mom…yet.): I uhh…was wondering if I could go with my friends to the arcade tomorrow.
Mom (looks at Michael with disbelief, and then laughs): Michael! What kind of an important question is that? (laughs again) Of course you can go. You don’t have to be all uptight about it. Seriously.
Michael (smiles timidly, then laughs unsurely along with her): Okay. Well, thanks (turns and leaves the kitchen).
Mom: You’re welcome (goes back to making sandwiches). Lunch should be ready in a few minutes. Go and get your brother, okay?
Michael (calls to his mom from the foot of the stairs he is now walking up): K, Mom.
(Michael is offstage, but you hear him call for Jesse to come to dinner as the stage lights fade) Hey Jesse…
End Scene 5.

Scene 6: Fade in. Scene begins in the middle of a backyard, where Michael and Jesse are playing with their Legos and toy cars. Michael is building two homes with the Legos and pretends he is the driver of the toy car, going from one house to the other. This is what he wished he could do.

Michael: Vroooooooooooooooooooooooom! Ha-ha! Let’s go to Dad’s house! (Michael speaks in a muffled higher pitched voice) Okay! (normal pitched speaks again) Okay! Let’s go! (Michael makes a pretend engine noise of a car starting up and taking off) Oh boy, isn’t this fun? (Muffled, high-pitched voice) You bet your cream soda it is!
Jesse: Can I play pretend with you, Mikey?
Michael: Sure!
Jesse: Alright! Can I be the driver?
Michael: Uh, yeah. Okay.
Jesse: Cool! (makes a vroom noise, moving the toy car back to the original starting point)
Michael: Jesse, you’re going the wrong way.
Jesse: No I’m not. Here we are! (Jesse speaks in a high-pitched voice) Alright! (Speaks in regular-toned voice) Let’s go inside! (high-pitched voice) Okay!
Michael (becomes a little agitated with Jesse): Jesse, no you’re at the wrong house. We were supposed to be going to the other one, right here (points to the other Lego house).
Jesse: I know where I’m going! I was the driver!
Michael: No, you don’t understand…
Jesse: (calls out to Mom) Mom! Mikey’s being mean to meeee!
Michael: (sighs dramatically) Shut up, Jesse. I wasn’t being mean.
Jesse: Yes you were (sticks out tongue at Michael).
Mom (calling back): Michael? Leave your brother alone. Go for a bike ride instead, okay honey?
Michael: Okay, Mom (sighs, is hesitant to get up, but does anyway). Thanks a lot, Jesse (Goes to the garage to bring out his bike. He does and then leaves down the sidewalk.).
End Scene 6. Scene Fades and Curtain Closes.


Curtain opens. Scene 7 fades into view. Stage setting has warm, orange lights gradually brightening in on backdrop and floors of stage. Michael is riding his bike down the sidewalks of his hometown.
Michael (to himself, or audience): Wow, I’m doing perdy good with how far I’ve traveled! I wonder if I can make it to Chicago with just my bike. That sounds like a great idea (slowly smiles) I think that’s what I’ll do (stops and turns around to go home. When at home, Michael takes an index card and writes a similar message to his mom and then places it on the dining room table and leaves on bike.).
End Scene 7. Quick scene change to 8.


Scene 8: Quick fade in. Michael amazingly reaches the fourth town away from his own, still on the main road of his dwelling, and quickly rides down each block on his bicycle. Just as he is crossing the fourth intersection, a bright red car pulls up by the corner of Watershed Drive and Dixie Lane. A man who strikingly looks like he is related to Michael rolls down the window and lowers his Blue Blocker sunglasses at the boy.
Man: Hey there. Are you lost?
Michael: Um, no. Are you?
Man (smiles): Yeah, actually I am. Uh, do you know how to get to… (looks down at a notebook he is holding in his right hand, then looks up again at Michael) 1825 South Dixie Lane?
Michael (a bit taken aback, as this address seemed to belong to him): Um, sir, why do you want to know?
Man: Oh, I was looking for someone and I thought I might find them at this address.
Michael: Really? What’s their name?
Man: Oh, I was looking to get back in touch with some people who used to be a big part of my life way back when I was young. Not as young as you, but younger than I am now (laughs).
Michael (pauses for a moment, looks questioningly up at the sky): Oh. That’s cool. I’m sorry, but I don’t know how to get there. Good luck! (Continues on his way, walking with his bicycle on the sidewalk, away from the man whose mouth is left hanging half open and thunderstruck.) Bye (waves to the man)!
The man then turns out—left—onto the road and Michael stops and thinks about what had just happened. He finally realizes that the man was not trying to abduct him, but possibly his real father!
Michael (whispers with confusion): Dad?
Michael gasps and turns left to watch the red car speedily drive off down Dixie Lane.
Michael (to self or audience): Ughh! I am so stupid!
He then jumps onto his bicycle and darts back down to his house again. Rest of scene is left without sound, only mimed. When Michael reaches his home he runs into the house and looks for his mom, then asks her if anyone came to the door while he was gone. When she says there were no visitors, he runs around his house for the red car and speeds down the block and around it for any traces of the man or the red car. He finds nothing.
End Scene 8. Quick fade out.
Scene 9: Fade in. A few days pass, and it is now midday afternoon, with a slight overcast. It may storm, but not too soon. Michael stands alone on the sidewalk in front of their house and thinks, while Jesse plays in the front yard with toy cars and Legos again. He starts to walk down the sidewalk away from his home, but then pauses for a moment and stares down at his muddied shoes.
Michael (to himself or audience): Ugh. They’re muddy again.
Michael runs back to his house, where he kicks off his muddy tennis shoes by the doorsteps and rushes inside to look for his mom. He finally gets the guts to talk face-to-face with her about his dad.
Michael (franticly yells for Mom): Mom? MOM?! Where are you, Mom?
Mom (calling back to Michael from upstairs): Hey, I hear ya…hold on, I’m upstairs (rushes down to the living room where Michael is, takes a deep breathe and lets it out). Yeah, what is it? Are you okay?
Michael: Sure I am. (pauses and rethinks) Wait, no. No I’m not. I need to know the truth.
Mom (with confusion and concern): Michael, what are you talking about? What’s wrong?
Michael: I’m talking about how you never tell me anything about my dad. You make me assume he is a bad person, when all I know is that he and I never got to know each other! I want to know about my dad! My real father!
Mom: Michael, you wouldn’t understand. You’re too young now and it’s only for the best—
Michael: For the best? What? Mom, you don’t understand. I need to know the truth. I want to know my dad. What’s for the best—confusion?
Mom: Knowing the truth won’t help you and it sure never helped me!
Michael: But Mom I need to know. I need the truth. We all do! Truth can hurt—I know so, and I’ve learned so! I’ve grown up more than you think I have, and I need to know my own father! I need to know who I am! I don’t want Nick! He’s not my dad and he doesn’t understand!
Mom: Yes he is. He certainly is your father. He cares about you and loves you and wants the best for you. He might not be your biological father, but he does a better job of acting as one. He wants acceptance to be a loving father. Oh Mikey, don’t do this. You won’t figure out who you are by your pedigree. It has nothing to do with your father.
Michael: I think it does. It has a lot to do with my father. Would I be here without him?
Mom: No. You wouldn’t. And I wouldn’t take you back for anything. I love you, Michael. I only want what’s best for you.
Michael: Thanks. I love you. I just need understanding in me. I thought it’d be best if I meet him and get to know who he is. He is always going to be my dad. I might as well learn the truth, even if it hurts. I’m ready for it.
Mom: Oh Michael…let me think about this, okay? Sweetie, you know I would never want you to feel lost or lonely.
Michael: I do. Thanks, Mom (gives Mom a long hug and then leaves the room).
End Scene 9. Fade out.

Scene 10: Fade in, with cool blue shades of light. It is nighttime and Jesse is being tucked into bed by his mom. It is softly spoken back and forth between the mom and son, with a small lamp (a warm yellowish-white or off-white colored bulb) on the nightstand next to the small bed.
Jesse: Mommy, can you tell me a bedtime story?
Mom: Aren’t you tired?
Jesse: Yeah, but I want you to tell me a story.
Mom (chuckles softly): Alright (thinks to self of what story to tell). Do you have one in mind?
Jesse shakes his head.
Mom: Okay. Well, let’s see…how about a story about a young boy like you (taps him on the nose) who loses his teddy bear and searches to find it again?
Jesse (shrugs): Eh, okay.
Mom (smiles warmly): Okay. Once upon a time, there was a young boy—like you!—who lost his favorite teddy bear. The boy’s name was Matthew, and he was very upset that he couldn’t find his teddy, named Rocky, and he cried and he cried and he cried. He cried until he could no longer cry. Rocky had been missing for almost a month, and Matthew could not calm down or feel secure ever since. Then, a little angel flew down through his window and sprinkled magic dust over his head and told him not to worry, that things will turn out alright. Matthew sniffled and wiped his eyes with his sleeve, nodded to the angel, and calmed down. He explained to the angel how he missed his teddy bear, and that he could always find comfort when he had Rocky. He felt that he needed Rocky to be there in his arms in order to feel safe. The angel listened to him with all of her attention and understood what he was going through. She told him how she had once lost a best friend to Evil. ‘He would always get mixed with the wrong group of kids, and he’d do bad things and choose the wrong over the right. He slowly but surely faded away, never to come back to our friendship we once held so tightly.’ Matthew felt bad for the angel, but she simply said ‘He has made many mistakes, and I only want what is best for him. I pray that one day he will make it back to the right side of life. For now, he is no longer a friend of mine. He was not a good friend to me after he got into the bad things, and so we simply drifted apart. Sometimes that’s the way life is, and all we can do is pray.’ Matthew thanked the angel for the story, but questioned why she had shared that story with him. The angel only replied, ‘You and I have both lost something we thought important to us. I have learned to deal with the loss—which turns out that it was really mostly his loss—and I have grown to be a more stable and accepting person because of it. You can do the same.’ Little Matthew thought about her moral, and decided that he could grow too. He thanked the angel, and gave her a big hug. The angel gave him a kiss upon his forehead and reminded him to stay strong and grow big. She then floated up into the air and flew smoothly out his opened window. Matthew smiled as he watched her glowing ball become smaller and smaller, until there was only a speck of light congruent to the glittering stars in the deep blue sky. A few minutes passed, and Matthew closed his window, but left it unlocked. For the first time in a month, Matthew had felt calm and relaxed, comfortable and safe. And Rocky wasn’t even in his arms. He knew that deep within him Rocky would always be there, and that was more powerful than any hug in the world. It was the internal and everlasting love from the angel and the spirit of Rocky that helped him to keep going and feel confident. And from then on, Matthew grew to be a strong, stable, righteous, and loving man who lived happily ever after. The end.
Upon the story’s end, Jesse is drifting off to sleep. He makes a soft ‘yay’ sound and yawns. He is now fast asleep. Mom delicately brushes Jesse’s dark brown bangs to the side and kisses him upon his forehead. She stands up from the side of the bed and whispers ‘sweet dreams’ and turns off the small lamp. Mom leaves the room, leaving Jesse’s door ajar. Michael walks up to Mom in the hall and they have a small quiet talk. The shades of blue stage lights dim to the sides and focus coolly on Michael and Mom, still blue like nighttime.
Michael (whispers): Hey Mom.
Mom (whispers): Michael, hi. Are you getting ready for bed yet?
Michael: Yeah, I’ve already washed up and stuff. I was wondering if you had…
Mom (breaks off Michael’s question): I have. Come with me, I want to show you something (Mom and Michael walk down the steps of the stairs and into the office room, where they keep the computer, radio, school supplies, books, video cassettes, audio cassettes, scrapbooks, and photo albums. The office is lit with warm lights of green. Mom pulls out a small green photo album and places it on the coffee table in the office room. She sits down on the couch with Michael and opens the album to page one.). This is your father (points down at a photo of a young man with dark brown hair and similar features as Michael. He is smiling.).
Michael: Really? Wow, I look just like him.
Mom (nods): You do.
Michael: This whole album has pictures of him?
Mom: Yes it does. And I want you to see them, and be able to look at them whenever you want to. I’m sorry I avoided talking to you about your father. I suppose it is time for me to tell you the truth.
Michael (looks up at Mom and then back down at the photo album): Okay. And I’m ready, too.
Mom (takes in a deep breath and sighs): Well, your father was into doing drugs and staying out late drinking and being with other women. He wasn’t a very nice man after he became involved with that. When I had you, he stayed around for about six months but then decided to leave, thinking I’d do better on my own. He didn’t really care about anything going on; the fact that I had a newborn baby boy was indifferent to him. That’s due to the drugs. And I have tried my hardest to help him out, to get him to seek help from a professional or support group, but he was so set in his mind…I couldn’t do anything about it. He was the only person who had the power to help, but since he didn’t have the will to change he didn’t change. He only became worse. So I have learned to deal with it, and it is his loss more than mine or yours. You are a wonderful son, and I couldn’t ask for a better boy. I’m grateful for you and Jesse. And with Nick in our lives, it gives both of us a chance to make up for that lost love and grow. He is ready and willing to get to know you. I know he’ll make a great dad, and I know you’ll just love him. Are you ready to start growing?
Michael (smiles at Mom): I’ve already started growing, Mom (Lights change to normal lighting).
Mom (laughs): I know. I can tell. You’ve really come a long way, sweetie.
Michael: Thanks, Mom. (brief pause) So have you (hugs Mom).
Mom: Thank you, Mikey (slightly longer pause).
Michael: Hey, Mom? I liked your bedtime story.
Mom: Thanks! It feels good to know you understand what I mean (kisses Michael’s forehead as she stands up and leaves the room. Michael is alone in the office, looking through the photo album. He looks straight at audience and then up at the ceiling, and then at the doorway entrance into the office. He smiles.).
End of Scene 10. Scene slowly fades out and,

The Curtain Falls.

The End.

Kellie Lachata


The following comments are for "An Understanding"
by ducktape

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