Friday, April 3, 2015

Incidental Blessings


When we first moved back to SF, I rode my bike to the CalTrain station at 4th and Townsend with Ace three days a week, took it down the Peninsula to San Mateo, then biked from the train to my work at a high school. The train ride was pleasant and stress free, and the atmosphere in the bike car super fun, making me feel part of a community of cool bike-riding people, mostly younger and hipper than I. 

But eventually I got lazy, and returned to driving my car. Sometimes I feel guilty for taking this less ecological mode of transportation, and sometimes I reconsider my choice, like when I'm caught in one of the frequent traffic jams downtown. 

But other times, on the occasional blessed morning, driving southbound beside the Bay on Highway 101, I look out my window and see this.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Motherhood Ain't Easy


Sometimes I worry that I made mistakes when raising my children, but I'm glad I never asked my middle schooler to pass out pamphlets while I protested nude on the streets of North Beach.


Luckily, they're all grown up now so the danger has passed. 



Friday, March 20, 2015

Charybdis ~ A short play

(A woman is sitting on a bench in a park, staring out blankly at the audience. She's clean and well dressed, holding a purse on her lap. She is waiting for someone. She looks at her watch. A young man enters and sits next to her. He's unshaven, in shabby clothes.)

SON
Hey, Mom! I've been looking for you.

MOTHER
I've been waiting right here.

SON
Well, I'm glad I finally found you. Are you hungry? Do you want to go get a sandwich?

MOTHER
Sure. I guess we could do that.

SON
Let's go. I'm starving.

MOTHER
Why haven't you eaten?

SON
I don't have any money.

MOTHER
What happened to your money?

SON
I spent it on other things.

MOTHER
What kind of things?

SON
Oh, you know. The usual.

MOTHER
(looks away, then down at her feet; seems surprised by something she sees there and lifts her feet a little off the floor)
The water is rising.

SON
What water? I don't see anything.

MOTHER
My shoes are getting wet.

SON
What are you talking about? There isn't any water! C'mon, let's go get a sandwich or a piece of pizza. I'm starving to death!

MOTHER
(gives him an appraising look) Yes, you do look like you're starving. You look like a skeleton. Why are you are ruining the good looks that God gave you? You got a great gift of beauty and you're throwing it away for no reason!

SON
Mom, no. Not this.

MOTHER
Not what?

SON
Not this big load of bullshit.

MOTHER
(Sighs dramatically. Looks away, then takes a hand towel out of her purse and starts drying off her shoes.)

SON
(watches her skeptically for a moment before continuing)
There's a reason.

MOTHER
A reason for what, Son?

SON
It’s because I'm suffering.

MOTHER
What?

SON
I'm suffering because you never loved me.

MOTHER
(Sits up straight and looks at him)
How can you say that? I've always loved you! I love you more than my own self!

SON
That's what you say.

MOTHER
I gave you everything--everything I had. I rack my brains every night about how I can help you!

SON
And then you don't do it.

MOTHER
I'm trying!

SON
No you aren't. You're not even getting me a sandwich. You're just sitting there polishing your shoes.

MOTHER
I’m not polishing my shoes! Forget about the fucking sandwich! Listen to me! The water is rising. It's already past my ankles!

SON
I don't see any water.

MOTHER
It's almost up to my knees!

SON
(nonchalant) Whatever. I'm not really hungry anyway. After you go a day or two without eating, your stomach forgets.

MOM
A day or two? Jesus! No wonder you’re so skinny! Okay, let’s go get a piece of pizza.

SON
No. Forget about it. That's not my problem. I’m suffering because Joanna left me.

MOTHER
Joanna? Son! That was 2 years ago! That's not a good reason to starve yourself.

SON
I think it is.

MOTHER
So you're feeling lonesome? Guess what? So am I. I miss you so much. Why don’t you come back to your senses?

SON
(annoyed) How can you miss me when I'm sitting right in front of you?

MOTHER
But I never see you! I don’t know where you are! Every night, I worry that you're freezing to death under some overpass. Why don't you ever answer your phone?

SON
I lost it.

MOTHER
Again?! I just bought that last month. How could you lose another phone?

SON
The same way everybody loses things! I put it down and forgot to pick it up!

MOTHER
(taps the top of her purse and looks away again)
Have you seen your doctor lately?

SON
You’re not allowed to ask me that.

MOTHER
When is your next appointment?

SON
I don't know. Maybe next week.

MOTHER
Are you taking your medication?

SON
You’re not allowed to ask about that, Mom, remember?

MOTHER
But are you?

SON
What do you want me to say? Yes?

MOTHER
(Sighs. Taps her purse.)
You smell like you need a shower.

SON
I’m sure I do.

MOTHER
Why don't you take one at the shelter?

SON
They kicked me out.

MOTHER
What?! When did that happen? What did you do?

SON
I don't know. It was crazy. They said they couldn't wake me up.

MOTHER
Why couldn't they wake you? Were you on drugs?

SON
No.

MOTHER
Why wouldn't you wake up, then?

SON
I don't know. I guess I was tired.

MOTHER
How can you be tired when you don't do anything all day?

SON
What do you know about it!? I spend all day walking from place to place, just looking for somewhere to sit down. It's exhausting! It took me three hours just to get here on the bus to meet you!

MOTHER
(penitant)
Where are you going to sleep tonight?

SON
I don't know. I was thinking maybe I could spend the night on your couch. What do you think? I just need a place to lie down for a few hours...

MOTHER
I don't think I can let you do that...

SON
Why not?

MOTHER
Because something always goes wrong when I do. Remember the last time?

SON
It's Dad, isn't it? You won't let me sleep over because Dad says no.

MOTHER
You need to check into a hospital, Son, or a drug treatment program. Those are your options. We don't want to enable you to go on living like this.

SON
Why don't you think for yourself for a change? It's pathetic.

MOTHER
I am thinking for myself. I agree with Dad. This isn't working. It's not right. You're in danger. (putting her hand out to touch his jaw) Why is your mouth swollen? Did somebody hit you?

SON
(pulling away from her) Yes. But it didn't hurt. I was smiling the whole time.
(giving her a strange smile) Don't worry about it! Everything will be fine as soon as my loan comes through.

MOTHER
Your loan?

SON
The $50,000 government transparency loan I told you about. Damien is going to co-sign for me.

MOTHER
No one is going to loan you $50,000! And if someone said they would co-sign for you, they're lying. They’re probably trying to get their hands on your disability money--to rip you off.

SON
What do you know about it!

MOTHER
I know you aren't being realistic. I know you need help.

SON
Then why don't you help me?! I stink! My feet hurt! I'm cold! I'm hungry! You're sitting there with a purse full of money and you won't even buy me a sandwich!

MOTHER
But I WILL buy you a sandwich! Come on. Let's go get one right now.

SON
No. Wait. That's not really the problem. I'm suffering because I don't understand what's going on.

MOTHER
(suddenly alert)
What?

SON
I'm think I’m sinking into the water, Mom. I'm slipping under the surface.

MOTHER
Please don't say that.

SON
It's scary, but I kind of like it. The water is warm. It protects me from falling. It cushions me from the blow.

MOTHER
No, it doesn't.

SON
I can see a grate at the bottom of the pool, creating a current. It's pulling at me. It's sucking me in.

MOTHER
Don't go towards the grate! It's a trap! Swim up! Swim up to the top!

SON
I can see the sun penetrating the water, and little particles of dust floating beside me in the light; I can see your shadow standing at the edge of the pool, peering in...

MOTHER
(takes a sharp breath)
I can just barely see you. And the water is rising. Now it's covering my shoes. I'm looking around for a rope...

SON
A rope?

MOTHER
I want to throw it to you. I want to pull you out of the water.

SON
Do you have one?

MOTHER
I can't find one. I'm still looking.

SON
You are?

MOM
Come on, Son. Let's go get a sandwich.

SON
(getting up and starting to walk around the bench in a widening spiral)
Forget it. I changed my mind. I don't want anything from you.

MOTHER
What? Why? What did I do? (Following after him. The spiral getting wider and wider until she chases him off the stage; Each time she passes behind the bench, she emerges wetter and wetter.)

SON
Don’t pretend you don’t know.

MOTHER
Slow down! Where are you going?

SON
What do you care?

MOTHER
Don't you want a sandwich?

SON
Not anymore.

MOTHER
(Looking around anxiously, perhaps for the rope) But you said you were hungry! Come on, let me buy you a sandwich!

SON
I'd rather have a beer.

MOTHER
I'm not buying you any alcohol!

SON
(stooping to pick up a cigarette butt off the sidewalk and holding it up to admire in the light) Look at the size of that one!

MOTHER
Don't put that in your mouth! It's dirty.

SON
Stop pretending you care about me.

MOTHER
Stop running away from me!

SON
Stop following me! Go find the fucking rope!
(exits)

MOTHER
Wait up! Come back! Don't leave me! (stops at the edge of the stage, reaching after him; the next line is delivered quietly, in defeat) I could buy you some cigarettes...

(walks back to the bench; sits down carefully; looks down at the ground, then lifts her feet up on the bench to avoid the rising water; settles the purse on her lap; resumes staring blankly out at the audience)

THE END


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P.C. Fergusson is a writer based in San Francisco. See what she’s working on now at northbeachnotebook.blogspot.com. Find more of her work on her Amazon Author Page.


Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.
Cover art is a collage of images found on the Internet.