Curtain rise. Nighttime after prom.
Cassie is sitting with her best friends on either side of her on her bed. Her room is mostly neat except for the two sleeping bags lying on the floor. Pictures of the girls line the room, with a few magazine cut outs here and there. There is one framed photograph of a dark haired boy on the nightstand facing the bed. The three girls are in their pajamas, wide awake even though the sun is about to rise and they have been up all night talking. They have just come back from their senior prom and their hair and makeup are perfectly intact.
Catharine:(In a loud whisper) So are you going to finally tell us, Cassie?
Cecily:Yeah, Cassie! What happened between you and that gorgeous hunk last night after prom? You two just disappeared!
Cassie:(Blushing mildly) His name is Cael! And we didn’t just disappear…
Catharine:Oh yeah? Well then how come you weren’t there to ride to the diner with the rest of us after it ended? The guys were a little curious. (She raises her eyebrow)
Cassie:Honestly! You should have told your dates to keep their noses in their own business!
Cecily:Cassie! Come on! Just tell us! We’ve been your best friends for three years!
Catharine:Tell us! (With a signified look at Cecily, the two girls grab pillows from the bed and begin hitting Cassie on the head)
Cassie:(Muffled) Ok! Ok! I surrender! I’ll tell you! I’ll tell you!
Catharine and Cecily look pleased. They sit up straight on the bed and gaze eagerly at Cassie.
Cassie:(Taking a deep breath) Well, he sort of got a hotel room…
Catharine:What do you mean, sort of? You either get a hotel room or you don’t!
Cassie:Ok, ok! He got a hotel room!
Cassie:Well…. (She looks at her two friends and bites her lip) We had sex! Ah! (She buries her face in a pillow)
Cecily and Catharine shriek.
Cassie:Shhh! Or Clara will hear you!
Cassie:My mom. Clara. You should know by now I call her that. (Cecily looks slightly ashamed at having forgotten this information) Her room is just two doors down the hall, and if we wake her up, all hell will break loose!
Catharine:(Pointedly lowering her voice back down to a whisper) Sorry! So how was it? You know… (She looks at her two friends. Realizing they want her to say something she is uncomfortable saying, she lowers her voice even more)… the sex?
Cassie:(She laughs) Oh, Catharine… it was GOOD!
Cecily:Tell us all about it!
Cassie:(A little shocked) Cecily! I don’t know how much I can tell you! I mean, I did promise him that I wouldn’t… well you know: (She pauses) fuck and tell!
Catharine gasps and Cecily’s eyes go wide.
Cassie:Oh come on girls! Don’t look so innocent! Live life on the wild side for once!
Catharine:Hey, I like my innocence!
Cecily:I can’t believe you said that, Cassie!
Cassie:Oh Cecily! Oh Catharine! I’ll tell you! With news like this, I just had to see your faces! (She laughs)
Offstage, a door creaks. Cassie quickly becomes quiet. When Cecily opens her mouth to say something, Cassie motions for her to be quiet.
Cassie:(In a whisper) That’s Clara! Quick guys, get into your sleeping bags!
Cecily and Catharine rush into their sleeping bags. The three girls pretend to be asleep. The door to the room opens and Clara steps in, dressed in pajamas. She surveys the scene for a moment, taking care to be quiet. Satisfied that the girls are asleep, she leaves. The moment the door closes, the three girls sit back up. Cecily and Catharine turn to face Cassie.
Cecily:Cassie! You promised to tell us!
Cassie:In the morning, I swear. We need to sleep now or it will be my ass hanging to dry tomorrow morning.
Catharine:Are you really going to tell us or is this a way for you to weasel out of it?
Cassie:I’ll tell you, I will! Just go to sleep now. In the morning, I promise. Now sleep! Goodnight girls.
The three girls lay their heads back down on their respective beds and start to go to sleep. They lie there for a few moments completely still. Cassie opens her eyes and sits up quietly. She looks at her two friends asleep on the floor and picks up the picture off her bedside table. She kisses it gently.
Cassie:Goodnight Cael. Goodnight my love.
She lays back down and goes to sleep.
Morning of Prom
Cassie, Catharine, and Cecily are in a nail salon getting their nails done. It is the day of their prom. Catharine and Cecily are sitting at a table letting their nails dry; Cassie is the only one whose nails are still being painted. A woman is sitting across from Cassie with her back to the audience. She is doing Cassie’s nails.
Cecily:So Cassie, tell us more about your date for prom tonight.
Catharine:Yeah, we wanna hear all about him!
Cassie:(With a smile and roll of her eyes) His name is Cael. (Really enjoying talking about him) He’s twenty! He works in an auto shop and –
Cecily:Does that mean he wears one of those one piece outfits?
Catharine:No, Cecily. It means he wears a tight white tee-shirt that shows his muscles (She licks her lips). Only the head mechanic wears that ugly onesie. Am I right Cassie?
Cassie:Yeah, Cecily. You should know that. Doesn’t your dad work in an auto shop?
Cecily:(Slowly) Oh yeah… I guess he does. (Coming to a realization) That’s why he wears an old white shirt to work every day! Oh!
Cassie:Wow, Cecily. Wow.
Catharine:Enough about Cecily’s dad! (Turning to Cassie) Does Cael wear the white tee too? Does it show his muscles? Does he even have muscles?
Cassie:Damn straight he does! (Catharine winces slightly at Cassie’s language) God, you guys, he is to die for!
Cecily:So, how long have things been going on between you two?
Cassie:(Sighs) Just about three years now.
The woman doing Cassie’s nails stands up and walks offstage. Cassie gets up and walks over to the table where her two friends are sitting and puts her nails by one of the small fans to dry.
Cecily:Wow! I can’t believe it’s been that long! I remember when you first moved here you told us about some guy that you had left behind, but I didn’t realize you were still with the same guy!
Catharine:But Cassie, you haven’t, you know… (She looks around to make sure no employees are within ear shot) gone past making out, right?
Cassie:No, Catharine! We haven’t! And you don’t have to worry so much about someone hearing. This is a nail salon, for god’s sake! The only thing women talk about in here is men and sex!
Catharine:Oh hush, Cassie. I’m just not good at gossiping. Well, I’m glad in any case. I’m sure you’re mother wouldn’t approve of that!
At the mention of her mother, Cassie’s eyes pop.
Cassie:(Worried) She doesn’t know about him! Oh please, please don’t mention any of this to Clara!
Cecily:Why doesn’t she know, Cassie?
Cassie:(Regaining her cool) You know how mothers are, don’t you? Would your mother approve if you were dating a guy three years older than you? Clara just doesn’t understand true love. She will never support our relationship. (She sighs)
Catharine:Although I may never have been in that situation, I can totally understand, Cassie. I promise I won’t tell your mom. (She raises her almost dry hand and carefully holds out her pinky finger to Cassie) Pinky promise.
Cassie:(Carefully raising her pinky) Thanks Catharine. (The two girls link pinkies and smile)
Cecily:Me too! I pinky promise too! I want in on this! (Laughing, Cassie and Catharine take their free pinkies and hold them out to Cecily. Cecily raises both her hands and connects pinkies with her friends. The three girls sit together all connected)
Cassie:You guys promise not to tell Clara about Cael?
Cecily/Catharine:We promise! (They giggle)
Cassie:Aw thanks guys! I knew there was a reason I liked you two so much! (The three girls laugh and unhook their pinkies from each other)
Cecily:(Teasing) Hey! I thought you liked us for us!
Cassie:I only like you for your brains Cecily! (She sticks her tongue out at Cecily)
Catharine:Oh, don’t be mean to her Cassie. (She lightly swats Cassie on the shoulder. As she hits Cassie, she sees her watch and with a shock realizes what time it is) Guys! We gotta go! It’s almost one! We need to start getting dressed back at my place!
The three girls stand up and start gathering their purses. Cecily stands up and sees Cassie checking her phone for messages. She looks wistfully at her friend.
Cecily:Oh Cassie… I envy you.
Cassie:Why is that?
Cecily:Because I’m going to prom with the first guy who asked me because I was afraid no one else would ask. You’re going with the guy you love. How lucky are you?
They start walking toward the nail salon’s exit, stage right.
Catharine:How in love are you?
Cassie:Pretty lucky and extremely in love. Cael is amazing. I couldn’t ask for more than him.
They exit stage right.
Early evening one week before prom.
Cassie is sitting at the kitchen counter on a high stool. She is facing her refrigerator. The phone mounted on the wall next to her has a small red light shining, indicating that Cassie is talking to someone on speaker phone. She is absent mindedly doodling on the newspaper on the counter. She is alone.
Cassie:(As she doodles) I’m so glad you are coming with me to prom, Cael. It just wouldn’t be the same without you.
Cael:(His deep voice is gravelly over the phone) Me too, Honey. I know how much this means to you. (Pause) I’ve still got a week to get my tux in order though, right?
Cassie:Yes, silly. Prom isn’t until next Saturday night. (She sighs) I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since I’ve seen you! If it wasn’t for Clara, I’d be down there every weekend to see you.
Cael:I know. Believe me, I know. I would come up to you if I could.
Cassie:But Cael, you know Clara would notice if you were in town. This wretched place is so tiny! If you were both downtown at the same time, she would spot you with her beady bird eyes in an instant.
Cael:(Slightly sternly) Be nice Cassie.
Cassie:I just wish she understood, Cael. I wish she would give us a chance to explain ourselves. She never even listened to what we had to say. She saw us together once – once! – and now she thinks she knows everything there is to know about us. It’s been three years and she still thinks we’re up to no good. My god Cael, it’s not like we’re sleeping together!
Cael chuckles. A noise is heard from Cael’s end of the line. Cassie’s head shoots up immediately.
Cassie:What was that?
Cael:Nothing for you to worry about, Cassie. Just something at the shop fell over. No big deal.
Cassie:Cael, you know I worry. I’m a professional worrier, especially when it comes to you. I love you too much. I just can’t wait for you to get out of that dangerous mechanics place and into a nice comfortable life as the fabulous architect I know you will be. Have you heard back from that college yet?
Cael:No, and don’t jinx it, Honey. Nothing is set in stone as of now. And you know I love you too, but I need some more time to –
The front door of Cassie’s house opens and shuts. Cassie quickly picks up the phone off the charger and the red light goes out, signifying that the call is no longer on speaker phone. A moment later Clara walks into the kitchen from stage left.
Cassie:(Falsely cheerful) Thanks for telling me the homework Catharine. I’ll see you tomorrow in chem class. Bye!
Cassie hangs up the phone and puts it back to charge on the wall as Clara places her large purse on the counter in front of Cassie. Clara is obviously tired and moves slowly. She goes to the refrigerator and pulls out a beer. Closing it, she puts her back to the fridge, opens her beer, takes a swig, and opens her eyes to face her daughter. Cassie is staring at the newspaper doodle she drew with a pen in her hand, avoiding eye contact.
Clara:Was that Catharine on the phone?
Cassie:(Without looking up, in a bored tone) Yeah. Why else would I have said her name if it wasn’t her?
Clara:Just asking, Cassie. No need to be rude.
Clara:What did you say? (She stands up straight and walks toward Cassie. She stops when she is directly opposite her daughter)
Cassie:NOTHING. I said nothing.
Clara stares at Cassie trying to decide whether to push the subject further or let it drop. She decides to let it drop. She takes another sip of beer and walks over to the calendar beside the fridge.
Clara:(Without turning back to Cassie) You are supposed to go down to see your dad in three weeks.
Cassie:(Sarcastically) Oh boy! My first visit since last month! Do I get to stay for a whole day this time? Or do I only get to take a three hour train ride for ice cream before I have to come back to this hell hole?
Clara:Cassie… (She turns around) Don’t start with me. I’ve had a hard day.
Cassie:Oh yeah, waiting tables is so hard.
Cassie:Besides, you’re home early. How hard could work have been if Colby let you off early? Did you flirt with him extra today so you could get off sooner?
Clara:Cassie! I’ve had enough of this! If you don’t stop being rude, I’ll call your dad and tell him you can’t come down to visit.
Cassie:Because I love Cleo oh so much. (She rolls her eyes)
Clara:Don’t tempt me, Cassie. (She walks over and picks up the phone. She looks threateningly at Cassie)
Cassie:Fine, I’m sorry! Please don’t cancel. I want to go down.
Clara:That’s what I thought. (She puts the phone back on the wall) You get to go down for two days this time, actually. I arranged a special camping trip for you and your dad. You’ll be at the camping grounds just fifteen minutes from his place. It will be fun. (Cassie rolls her eyes and audibly sighs) It will be! Safe, acceptable fun! (She glares at her daughter and drinks from her now almost empty beer) And don’t even think about seeing Cael while you’re down there. I know how hard you try.
Cassie starts to open her mouth to protest.
Clara:Oh don’t start with me, Cassie. Not today. It’s wrong, what’s going on between you and him. I try to look the other way, but I can’t live knowing that I’ve made situations where you two will be together. I only send you down there because I believe you need to know your father, however much I might detest him for doing what he did to me.
Cassie:It’s not wrong, Clara! We love each other!
Clara:Oh that is disgusting Cassie! That is so not ok! How do you ever expect your twisted relationship with him to go anywhere? It just can’t be! He’s three years older than you and – ugh! I just can’t take it anymore, Cassie! I just can’t take you!
Exasperated, Clara turns to put her forehead on the fridge. Cassie stands up.
Cassie:Stop being such a bitch, Clara. I will see him – you can’t stop me. We will be together, no thanks to you. (She angrily grabs the newspaper off the counter) And you know why, Clara? BECAUSE WE LOVE EACH OTHER! Because, unlike you and Cleo, we truly love each other and know that we will be together until we die! Cael will never cheat on me! I will never come home to find Cael with some other woman, FUCKING in our bed! That will never happen to me!
Clara starts sobbing with her head against the fridge. She tries to cradle her head with her arm and in the process drops her beer onto the floor. It shatters. Cassie watches it happen with a sneer.
Cassie:That’s just what happened to you and Cleo. Just like your stupid fucking bottle, you broke. You shattered. You didn’t work. Get over it, Clara! Get over your (mockingly) dark and dreary past! (Clara falls onto the floor sobbing) So what? HE CHEATED ON YOU! And news flash Clara, NO ONE CARES! I don’t care! The only thing I care about is that Cael and I will never be like you and Cleo. Never.
With a disdainful look, Cassie walks out of the kitchen, stage left, and leaves her mother crumpled in a heap on the floor. Clara is sobbing uncontrollably next to the pieces of her bottle, hugging her knees to her chest.
Clara:(Through tears and heavy breathing. Full of regret) Oh Cleo! What have I done? Why didn’t we see this coming? Cleo! I’ve messed up! Cassie…. Cassie… It shouldn’t be… It just isn’t right… Oh Cleo!
She shakes her head and curls as much as possible into a ball and begins rocking slightly.
One month before prom, mid-afternoon.
Cassie is sitting in the living room of Cleo’s apartment with Cael next to her on the couch. The two are snuggled up under a blanket. They are “watching” a movie; neither one is looking at the screen. They are alone.
Cael:(Murmuring into Cassie’s ear) Oh Cassie, it feels so good to finally hold you again.
Cassie:I know what you mean. I’ve missed your big strong arms around me. And I’ve missed your sweet little kisses. (She kisses him lightly on the lips) But mainly, I’ve just plain ‘ol missed you!
Cael:I know, Honey. (He checks his watch) What time did you say Cleo would be back?
Cassie:He won’t be back until four or so. We’ve got a good solid hour and a half left, at the least.
Cael:Good, because I’m not ready to relinquish my hold on such a beautiful woman just yet...
Cassie:Cael, I’m not beautiful.
Cael:You don’t see yourself like I do, Cassie. You are beautiful; so beautiful.
Cassie:Ugh, I don’t feel beautiful. Clara is always telling me I look cheap.
Cael:Don’t listen to her, Honey. She just doesn’t understand you like I do. She never has, and she never will. You are beautiful – trust me.
Cassie:Well, I will be beautiful in a month when we go to prom together. Did I tell you about my dress yet? It’s light pink –
Cael:Three times now, Cassie. Light pink with black embroidery. I know, Honey, I know.
Cael smiles as Cassie playfully bats him on the shoulder before kissing him lightly. The light kiss becomes more passionate. Cael is the first to break away.
Cael:Cassie, you know how hard it is for me to restrain myself. I can’t tempt myself, not today. Cleo might be home any moment.
Cassie:He won’t be home for ages! I promise! (She tries to get him to kiss her again but Cael sticks firmly to what he said. Cassie pouts as he puts a little distance between them on the couch)
Cael:Cassie, I’m not even supposed to be here. If Cleo sees me and word gets back to Clara, we’re screwed. I won’t get to see you for another three months. You know how Clara can be.
Cassie:(She pouts) She tries to ruin all my fun.
Cassie:I know, I know. I don’t want to risk that. (She sighs) Cael?
Cael:Yes, my love?
Cassie:Why won’t she listen to us?
Cassie:(She nods) She won’t even hear our side of the story. She is so close minded when she wants to be. You know, (She resituates herself on the couch so she is cross-legged facing Cael) I bet she would rather I was a lesbian than be with you. And you know how she has issues with most gay people.
Cael:I know, Cassie. Trust me, I’ve heard all of this before. Now, (He takes her hands in his) let’s stop talking about things that make you upset. I see you so rarely, and I don’t want you to frown anymore. I want only smiles. Ok?
Cassie:Ok. Hey, I’m thirsty. Wanna go grab me a glass of water?
Cael:You’ve got two legs, Cassie. You could get it yourself.
Cael:(With a sigh and a smile) Ok, Honey, but just this once. You need to start learning how to use your legs, or you’re going to turn lazy!
Cael swats her playfully before exiting stage right to the kitchen to get her water. Cassie reclines on the couch, stretching her feet.
Cassie:(Calling to Cael in the kitchen sweetly) Hey Cael! Wanna put a little slice of lemon in it for me? Please?
Cael:(From offstage) Fine, fine. Might as well, or I’ll get a little hissy fit from you. I’ll be right there!
The front door opens then and Cleo walks in. Cassie’s mouth drops open. She quickly recovers her composure and smiles but her eyes give away her shock.
Cassie:Cleo! What are you doing home so early? I thought you weren’t going to be back until four!
Cleo:(Putting down a gym bag on a nearby chair) Yeah, well apparently the gym closes early today for some big to-do celebrating their 20th anniversary. I figured I could get us a movie for tonight. How does “Godzilla” sound?
Cassie:(Stammering slightly) F-fine, Cleo. Just fine. Uh… How about –
Cael walks in, stage right. He is holding Cassie’s glass of water in his hand, just as she asked for it. He is smiling broadly.
Cael:Just the way you like it Cas –
Cael stops abruptly as he sees Cleo standing near the doorway.
Cleo:(Smiling innocently) I didn’t know you were going to stop by Cael. This is the first time I’ve had both my children in one place in over three years!
Curtain falls on a horrified looking Cassie and Cael, Cleo still grinning.