Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Eternity (03/10/11)
TITLE: But I survived
By Ruth Neilson
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Stage set: minimal; perhaps a hospital bed (or beds)
Character and costume: An older teenage girl in a hospital gown with bandages on her body. Her hair should appear to be sleep mused, but her face and voice betray that she has not been resting. She is easily agitated and should act accordingly as she is recalling the memory.</i>
I shouldn't be alive.
I should have been on shore with my family when the earthquake occurred. But I wasn't. I begged my dad to take me out on his fishing boat because I wanted to help him out today. But, I really wanted to get away from everyone to have time to think—and pray.
We watched the earthquake hit. And then we watched as the seconds seemed to stretch into eternity as buildings crumpled, trapping our family and friends inside of them... <i>(solemnly)</i> almost as if it was a tomb for the living.
<i>(Pause)</i> I shouldn't be alive. Shouts and screams started to fill the air and my father and I tried our best to make it back to land. We wanted to help. We weren't hurt nor where we weak. So we could do something.
But, even as we tried to make our way back to shore, we noticed something. It was silent; deafeningly silent.
<i>(Pause for about fifteen seconds or long enough to let the auditorium become silent)</i>
There was no noise. Not even the gulls dared to make a sound. Something was coming.
Minutes stretched once again into eternity as we fought against the water, trying to go back into shore. It was as if the water was trying to prevent us from getting home and then <i>(Actress needs to speed up her words through this part ending with being overwhelmed with what she is remembering)</i> the water, it just started to come and come. It never stopped. It overwhelmed the boat we were in and then we were part of the beast. My father and I hung on to each other as best as we could. But, the water was so strong, so fast, I lost my grip one time and that was enough. I was caught up in the flow. I tried to swim but I couldn't. The water was moving too fast. I ended up grabbing onto something and I remember just praying that I would somehow survive this. There was a sharp pain in my leg, and I looked down, my leg was pinned against another vehicle. I just knew I was going to die—another victim to the water.
<i>(Actress takes several deep breaths to calm down)</i> I don't remember when the water finally stopped moving. All at once, I just stopped moving. Hours passed and every time I tried to pull myself free, I couldn't. The only thing I knew to do was to scream, pray, and hope that eternity would come quickly for me. I lost all sense of time and visions of the hereafter began to taunt me.
I could almost see my family on the other side of the veil. They were waiting for me to join them. But I couldn't. I wasn't going to just give up. I couldn't just give up. Not without a fight!
<i>(Quietly)</i> I shouldn't be alive. And yet I am. For some reason, I was found and brought to the hospital. I'm still weak, and I still haven't heard anything about my family. I don't know if I will ever hear for sure either way—their names might remain forever listed on the missing lists.
I shouldn't be alive, but...I will survive for them. <i>(Dim lights)</i>
In honor and memory of all those affected by the 2011 Japanese Earthquake and its aftermath.
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