One or the Other

Courtney Sage


Setting:         [A messy bedroom. Modern day.]

 

At curtain:      [Stephanie is taking up her whole bed, like a starfish. Her hair is in a messy bun. She is wearing an old high school t-shirt, and boxer shorts with dogs on them. Ya know, like ya do.]

 

[(Stephanie rises from her bed after hearing an alarm go off on her phone. It’s the fifth time it’s gone off now. Girl. Time to get up.)]

 

[STEPHANIE]

UGGGHHHH [she reluctantly sits up to look at her phone]

 

[STEPHANIE, cont’d]

 

Okay. Time to get up. You’ve got exactly 10 minutes before you “actually” need to get ready. Let’s do some meditating. Just a couple minutes, not too long. Pinterest told me I need to start small. Let me just set the timer really quick. 2 minutes. Sounds good. Alright just me and my breath.

 

(we begin to hear Stephanie’s inner thoughts via voiceover)

 

[STEPHANIE]

Alright, breathe in. Breathe out. Remember your mantra. Today will be a good day. Today will be a good day. Today will be a good da-shit, what day is it anyways? Thursday? Great. (gasps) That means I have that meeting at the beginning of my shift with Chris. Why does he wanna meet with me anyways? I’m on time everyday. I’m always in dress code. Am I getting fired?(Beat.) Yep. Definitely getting fired. That’s it, that has to be it. Okay. Well, if I’m gonna get fired today, I guess I better look cute while doing it. What am I gonna wear tod-wait a minute. Nope. I am supposed to have a clear head. No other thoughts. Just you and your breath.

 

[(a couple beats of silence. We see another young woman entering Steph’s room. She looks oddly similar to her. It’s like Steph, but with her shit together.)]

 

[STEPH (voiceover), CONT’D]

God, it’s hot in here. I hope it’s not gonna be like 1000 degrees. I guess that rules jeans out. But that means if I have to shave my legs if I wanna wear a dress… [whining]

[Meanwhile, while Steph is doing her “meditation”, we see this more put together version of herself looking around the room and laughing. She walks over the piles of Steph’s old outfits for the week and makes her way to the bed. She very daintily sits herself on the bed next to Steph. The timer on Steph’s phone finally goes off.]

[Stephanie]

Great. Yet another unsuccessful meditation session. Maybe I should sign up for another class with my next paych-SHIT! [she spots the other presence in the room]

 

[Steph 1]

 [(she chuckles very daintily)] Oh my God, I remember when I used to have the mouth of a sailor. How cute.

 

[Stephanie]

[obviously very shook] WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?!

 

[Steph 1]

Um, hello? I’m Stephanie.

 

[Stephanie]

[standoffish] Okay! Cool! We have the same name! Big whoop! What’s your last name so I know how to report this super fucked up Breaking and Entering?!

 

[Steph 1]

[still chuckling and clearly loving this old version of herself]

Again, that sailor’s mouth is just so precious! I’m you! Silly goose!

 

[Stephanie]

Oh my God. The meditation actually worked! I’ve reached a new level of enlightenment!! WOOOOO!

 

[Steph 1]

Sure. That’s what we’ll call it. I’m you 1 year from now. With your..crap together. [She faces out in the audience, smiles and winks.]

 

[Stephanie]

Ha. Really. Well, if you take a look around this room you will see very clearly that I am working on getting my sh-crap together

 

[Steph 1 takes one solid look around the room and just shakes her head]

 

[Steph 1]

I remember this room. Our old photos from college that we shouldn’t really be proud of, but here they are strung with Christmas lights and clothes pins. Our BA in Creative Writing still in its frame...on the floor.

 

[Stephanie]

Okay, I get it. I’m not exactly...you yet. Alright? I told myself I

would hang up that degree once I actually did something with it. But I’m just trying to take my time!

 

[Steph 1]

Honey, life is WAY too short for that. If you really want something nowadays you HAVE to get after it as soon as possible! And I’m the version of you, if you had done that!

 

[Stephanie]

Okay...me. What the hell, that’s so weird. Anyways. So, what exactly are you doing then if you’re me in a year?

 

[Steph 1]

Let me just go ahead and show you.

[Steph 1 claps her hands. Quick blackout.]

 

SCENE TWO

[We now are seeing the two in an office building, on the top floor of what is clearly a very fancy skyscraper]

 

[Stephanie]

Where...are we? [(looks down)] and why the hell am I still in my pajamas? You couldn’t have at least let me change?

 

[Steph 1]

I’m not THAT powerful. Besides, don’t worry no one can see you.

 

[Stephanie]

Oh...cool. So what exactly is this place? And what do I do within a year to get here?

 

[Steph 1]

You remember that night you got really drunk the week of graduation and wrote an essay about feminism in the age of social media?

 

[Stephanie]

Yes...well, no. I know I tend to write my best works when I’m just slightly under the influence [trying to be charming. It isn’t necessarily working.]

 

[(Steph 1 gives her a judgemental look)]

 

[Stephanie, cont’d]

Yeah, I guess I do remember that.

 

[Steph 1]

Well, one day after getting tired of our boring minimum wage job. We found it and realized it actually wasn’t half bad. We decided to submit it to a few periodicals, and now you have the job you always wanted.

 

[Stephanie]

 [Her jaw is dropped]

Pinch me so I know this is real.

 

[(Steph 1 pulls something off Stephanie’s upper lip)]

 

[Stephanie]

Ow!

 

[Steph 1]

Sorry. We worked a long time and used a ton of bleach to get rid of that mustache.

 

[Stephanie]

Girl, please.

 

[(Stephanie pulls something off of Steph 1’s upper lip)]

 

[Steph 1]

OW!

 

[(A young man enters stage right. He is very neatly dressed. Has a certain frat boy with a heart of gold look about him.)]

[Tyler]

Is...everything alright, Ms. Schulz?

 

[Steph 1]

Oh! Tyler [(clearly flustered)] Yeah, I’m fine I promise. Do you, um have some messages for me?

 

[Tyler]

Yes. Well, your dentist’s office called to confirm your teeth whitening tomorrow [Stephanie rubs her teeth and looks in a mirror in the office to make sure her teeth really aren’t that bad], and Andre called to confirm lunch tomorrow. 

 

[Steph 1]

Great. Thanks so much, Tyler.

 

[Tyler]

No problem, Ms. Schulz.

 

[Stephanie and Steph 1 both watch him walk away as he exits stage left.]

 

[Beat.]

 

[Stephanie]

[Asking very seriously] So...we’re totally boning him, right?

 

[Steph 1]

[Flustered, yet again.]

Psh! Please! We are a lady! We would never have sex with our assistant.

[Beat.]

Maybe just once at the company Christmas party…

[Stephanie looks at her judgingly]

[Beat.]

And another time on New Year’s Eve

[Stephanie looks at her again.]

[Beat.]

And last night in my apartment, but that was it! That was the last time! I can’t do it anymore, it’s completely unprofessional.

 

[Stephanie]

Who cares, dude?! Is it more of a casual thing or do you, I mean, we really have feelings for him?

 

[Steph 1]

 It’s casual. Strictly casual. And the word dude definitely died out as soon as you stepped in this office.

 

[Stephanie]

Okay, then. If it is casual, then just keep having fun! There’s no harm in it!

 

[Steph 1]

Can I be honest with you? Me? This is kinda confusing, but okay. He makes me happy. I honestly don’t know what I do without him. He gets me on a level that is so much more than a personal assistant relationship.

 

[Stephanie]

If he’s the one we’re meant to be with, then what the hell are you standing around for?! Go tell him how we feel about him!

 

[Steph 1]

But that requires settling down, Stephanie. And you know what we’ve said about settling.

 

[Beat.]

 

[Stephanie]

That it’s not what we want to do under any circumstances. But, why can’t we have Tyler AND have this kick ass job? Who says you can’t have both?

 

[Steph 1]

[Laughs disappointingly] No one specifically has said that, Steph. It’s just the way of the world. You can have a great career and be alone or you can have well, this option.

 

[Stephanie]

What option?

 

[Steph 1 claps her hands. Quick blackout.]

 

SCENE THREE

[We reappear in Steph’s bedroom. She is alone. Everything is just the same as it was. However, Stephanie’s alter ego is gone.]

 

[Stephanie]

What the hell kind of sleep aid did I take last night? Shit. What time is it?

 

[Stephanie looks at her phone]

 

UGH FUCK I’M GONNA BE SO LATE!

 

[She runs off stage, grabbing some clothes and a towel off the floor on her way out.]

 

[As soon as she is off, we see another version of herself. This one is very different from Steph 1.]

 

[Stephanie enters in a towel. She’s looking for something when suddenly she sees yet another version of herself]

 

[Stephanie]

Who are you?! I really need to check the locks on my door, geez.

 

[Steph 2]

I’m you. Stephanie. But my last name is Banks.

 

[Stephanie]

Again, you have the same name as me. But clearly, I’m not hallucinating anymore. You’re just another person who broke into my house.

 

[Steph 2]

No, I’m still you. But did you not see the ring on the finger? We got married.

 

[Stephanie]

We did?! Oh my gosh, I need the details. When, where-wait to WHO?!

 

[Steph 2]

Alright, let’s get out of here.

 

[Stephanie]

Okay, cool, let me go just change clothes really quick-

[Before Stephanie can even complete her thought, Steph 2 claps her hands. Quick blackout.

 

SCENE FOUR

[We open up on the inside of a nice suburban home. There are toys everywhere, scattering the ground. We hear the ambiance of cartoons playing on TV.]

 

[Stephanie]

So, I’m guessing that we had a few kids.

 

[steps on a toy elephant that squeaks]

 

[Steph 2]

Be careful with Mr. Toots! That’s Grayson’s favorite toy!!

 

[Stephanie]

Grayson?! First, I’m shocked that I am responsible for another living thing that doesn’t have gills and live with neon rocks. But we had a kid named Grayson?! Well, at least tell me we had a girl with a cute name.

 

[Steph 2]

No girls. We had three boys.

 

[Stephanie]

You’re kidding.

 

[Steph 2]

Not at all.

 

[Stephanie]

So, what exactly happened to get us to this point?

 

[Steph 2]

Well. Miss Thing that you met earlier, she is you 1 year from where you are now, “with her crap together”. I’m what you said you would never do-settle.

 

[Stephanie]

Okay. Alright. So how did we end up settling, exactly?

 

[A man enters the room. It is the same man who plays Tyler. He is obviously changed. He has salt and pepper hair, you probably have seen this guy before. Wears a company polo, tucked into his khakis. Has a belt clip for his phone. You know that guy. He plops himself down in the La-Z-Boy, popping open a can of beer.]

 

[Stephanie]

Wait a minute...is that-Chris?! As in my boss, Chris?!

 

[Steph 2]

Yep. That’s him. Chris Manchild Banks. That meeting he has with you before your shift? It’s not exactly professional if you catch my drift. He basically professes his love to us, we fall for it, start dating, get married, he gets a somewhat better job and tells us to quit so you can stay at home and raise his three boys. Happily Settling After.

 

[Chris]

[incredibly underwhelmed] Who are you on the phone with honey?

 

[Steph 2]

[to Stephanie] He’s super observant, obviously. [to Chris. Shouts] MY MOM, HONEY!

 

[Stephanie]

This is nuts. I always said I would never have kids. I also saidI would NEVER quit my job for a man. What about my writing career?

 

[Steph 2]

 Honey, get real. That wouldn’t happen. Did you honestly think the whole writing thing was REALLY gonna work out?

 

[Stephanie]

[Extremely sarcastic] Gee. I guess you’re right. When I was picking a major in college, I really just closed my eyes, opened the course catalog and BOOM! There it was! I was gonna major in Creative Writing. For shits and giggles.

 

[Steph 2]

I’m just saying. We took a good, hard look at life and realized it was time to just grow up.

 

[Stephanie]

But why? Who keeps saying we have to do all of this?! What sick, twisted voice keeps saying all of these things?! That-that you can either be successful and awesome and never really be happy OR you have to also settle and just be unhappy?

 

[Steph 2]

That was all you.

 

[Stephanie]

What?

 

[Steph 2]

You were the one who said those things. You said you had to go after your dreams if you wanted to. You said you wanted to be successful, but you didn’t want to settle. In your head, this is what happened. One or the other.

 

[Stephanie]

No, I didn’t. Did I? Am I the one who really came up with these two extreme lives for myself? All I wanna do is just create. That’s it. And if that leads me to a really cool person who wants to share that with me, great. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. It can be both. Life is right there in front of me. It’s not clear. It’s messy and there’s not a whole lot of guidelines, but that’s why it’so beautiful.

 

[Steph 2]

So...are we done here?

 

[Stephanie]

Please leave.

[As Stephanie is having this realization, we see the scene behind her fade to black. The scene behind her transitions back into her messy bedroom]

 

[Stephanie]

Did I just meditate...and figure out what life is really about? Um, okay I am calling the meditation studio right now because clearly I’m an expert! I have it all figured out! Well.Not quite. I think there’s another phone call I need to make first

 

[She grabs her phone and calls Chris]

[Stephanie]

Chris? Hey, it’s Steph. Listen, I don’t think I’m gonna be able to make it in today. Something came up. But can we get coffee and talk sometime next week? [Beat] Awesome. [Small beat.] Bye.

 

[Stephanie pulls out her laptop and begins typing vigorously. The glow from the screen lights up her face. She gets up. We see her pull her framed college degree up and hang it on the wall. She looks on proudly. She goes back to her bed and continues writing. Blackout.]

 

[END]