A Phone Call
By Christina Zhang ’20. Art by Emma Yang ’20.
Leah: female, 18 years old, a college freshman, an artsy free soul. She is wearing a plain white t-shirt, a pair of black shorts, and a pair of thick grey lounge socks in this play.
Dorm room of Leah. There is a cellphone on the desk at downstage right. A chair at the table. Bed at center stage left. A large oatmeal-colored rug at the stage center. A Taylor guitar leans against the bed, and the guitar case on the ground beside it. Books and music sheet paper scattered on the desk and on the bed.
(Lights on. Leah is talking on the phone.)
Yeah, they just canceled the program because they said there are not enough people applying this year and …… Yeah, I know right?
It completely ruined my summer plan.
Where are you? Why there are so many people coughing? ……Oh, okay. Should I call you later then? …… Alright, I’ll keep it brief.
So what am I gonna do in June and July?……I mean it’s already April, and, and most summer program already closed their applications.
I am so mad! Why didn’t they tell us earlier?
No, I don’t wanna come home and find an internship. It’s only my first year in college. I’ve got thirty years of working ahead of me after I graduate, I mean, why should I start doing it now? And I don’t even know what I wanna do with my life.
What did you say? Grandpa is with you? Why is grandpa at work with you? ……You are at grandma’s? But you just said that you are at work.
Wait, where exactly are you? What are you doing there? …… Why did you hesitate for so long? Are you at the hospital? Is somebody ill? …… Nobody, but then why, why were so many people coughing just now, and, and why is grandpa beside you?
Yeah…right…so, so what does this mean? ……Why did you pause so long? Yeah, you, so……where exactly are you?
(Leah becomes nervous, and starts biting her nails)
Wait. Your voice sounds weird. Yeah, it’s too calm for your personality……No, it does not feel like it’s you talking to me.
No, don’t change the subject. My summer plan is not important anymore. I am, I am nervous…… WHY AM I nervous? Because you, you are not telling me what is happening. What is going on, mom?
“She knows.” Who are you talking to? Who is “she”? Is “she” supposed to be me? What do I know about? Is there something I should know? What is it? MOM!
Are you at home? ……Can we facetime? ……Why not. Because you are not home.
You are at the hospital.
(ask timidly) …So, so who is it? It is grandpa? …… then, who? Is it you?
Yeah, I know……So your physical result is not……Did they find a shadow somewhere? ……Where exactly?
Oh My. No! No!(Leah crumbles to the floor, and lies in a ball on the floor howling “No”. She then becomes quiet and does not say a word in ten seconds. Tears start to stream down her face. All she hears is the noise of the heater.)
Don’t be so calm. The more you comfort me, the worse I feel.
(Leah cries. a few seconds of silence)
I know I shouldn’t cry, I know I shouldn’t, especially in front of you. But, but I can’t, I just can’t…… It’s just So UNFAIR to you……I feel so……
(another few seconds of silence)
So when did you get in the hospital? ……when is your operation scheduled? …… Yeah of course the entire truth……
Oh my, oh my god, so the tumor is taken out of you? ……
So when will you know how bad it is? Don’t downplay your conditions……How long will the biopsy take?
Alright. So, so, if I didn’t find out, when would you tell me? ……When I get back? (deep breath) I, I’d rather know it now, I would feel like such a fool if you tell me when I come home in July.
So when did you do your physical? When did you know about the tumor……That was, that was a month ago. …… so all this time, all this time we have been facetiming and calling each other, you never told me a word……
You are such a bad liar…..Well yeah, dad is much better than you……I know you too well. You can’t fool me.
I feel betrayed. I told you to never hold back bad news to each other when I left for college remember? I told you……. I mean, I know you want to protect me, but one day I would find out the truth, sooner or later. And by then I would feel my life has been such a fake because it is too protected. I want you to trust me, to tell me. I can handle it, I am a grown-up now (tears in eyes)……
I feel annoyed at myself……I feel so powerless, so useless. I can’t even see you in face to face or hug you or help you with anything. (lift her arm up and try to grasp something in the air, but there is nothing there) How I wish I could be better at chemistry so that I could go to med school. (tears streaming down her face)
Yeah, I believe in you. I really do. But, but I don’t believe in fate. I can’t see it, I can’t rewrite it, I don’t understand it. Why it is always you, why? It’s just not fair to you….
Oh, don’t worry about me. I am doing great in school and everything is fine.
This summer? I will come home of course.
What does the nurse say to you? ……alright, I will talk to you tomorrow.
Take care of yourself alright?
(Leah crowing on the floor, talking to herself)
I will come home.