(A park, August, in the center a swing set with four swings. In the background is a see-saw to the left, the left side raised, a set of monkey bars in the middle, and a slide to the right.
A GIRL in her mid-to-late teens, long light brown hair, wearing an attractive shirt and skirt that were in style a month ago and a silver bracelet with several charms, enters from left, pushing down the raised end of the see-saw as she passes it, and sits down on the leftmost swing. Swings on it slowly and sadly.
A BOY the same age, wearing jeans and a black shirt with a band’s logo on it, climbs up the slide and slides down. He walks in front of the swing furthest to the right and walks back with it before getting on to get a head start, thus gaining a great deal of height and speed.
BOY and GIRL continue swinging for a while, he fast and high, she low and slow. Eventually the BOY notices the GIRL and stops his swing to look at her.)
GIRL: (not looking at him) Hi… (She looks down and stops pretending to swing; simply jabs repeatedly at the ground with her foot.)
BOY: Name’s Alex.
GIRL: (still not looking at him) I’m Jennifer.
ALEX: Well, nice to meet you, Jen.
JENNIFER: I prefer Jennifer.
ALEX: (aside) Progress! (turning to continue to face Jennifer) Well, then, Jenny—
JENNIFER: (finally turning to face Alex) I said Jennifer.
ALEX: Alright, alright!
JENNIFER: (after a brief pause) Although Jenny is an improvement. I like the way you say it. I know I’ve heard an accent like that somewhere…
ALEX: (enthusiastic; putting on an Irish brogue) Aye, we spent every summer in Ireland till me grandmum died when I was twelve. I picked up this brogue, too; ye loikes it?
JENNIFER: (with a slight smile) That I do. Although the Yorkshire kind of ruins it.
ALEX: (somewhat relieved, comes out of the accent) But what was getting you down just now?
JENNIFER: (sighs, looks away from him) Senior year is ending in just two weeks. All the SAT prep, all the bake sales, all the college classes taken to give me an advantage… these last few days determine if they’re worth it. It’s just too much pressure, you know?
ALEX: It certainly sounds stressful. I’m just going to go to the state college, get my bachelor’s in whatever, and get the heck out.
JENNIFER: Really? That seems so… tame. Don’t you want to do something more interesting with your life?
ALEX: Of course I want to, but how could I? I’m just a normal guy. I don’t do that great at school, but I get by. I guess I’ll get by in the real world, too.
JENNIFER: The skills cultivated in the American school system are not necessary synonymous with the abilities you will need in the real world.
ALEX: Why do I get the feeling that you quoted that from some book somewhere?
JENNIFER: (grinning) Because I did. (beat) But it’s true. There are plenty of things you can still succeed at… Alex, was it?
ALEX: Yeah, Alex. I don’t know why I was named that, it’s way too classy.
JENNIFER: For every rich little girl named Brittany, five lower class ones became Britney.
ALEX: You’re quoting again.
JENNIFER: Paraphrasing this time, actually, from Freakonomics. It’s an excellent book. I think you might like it, too.
ALEX: I don’t read that much…
JENNIFER: Reading it is like listening to a stand-up comic, but there’s less profanity.
ALEX: Maybe I’ll try the podcast.
JENNIFER: I don’t think there is one…. (seeing ALEX look disappointed; thinks quickly) … but I do think that Steve Levitt, the author, might have a regular YouTube blog?
ALEX: (grinning) Cool.
(Several seconds of silence.)
JENNIFER: (staring at the park) Just think… this time next year, I’ll be an adult. No more times for tire swings or monkey bars…
ALEX: Hey, you still won’t be able to drink.
JENNIFER: (smiling) Good point. (beat) The standards of adulthood are so blurry…
ALEX: Apparently they want us to vote while we’re sober. A few kids in Florida weren’t during the new millennium, and look what happened…
(JENNIFER bursts into laughter for a while. Afterward, spends a moment staring at ALEX affectionately before speaking.)
JENNIFER: You know, you really have an excellent sense of humor. In a few years, maybe you should audition for Last Comic Standing.
ALEX: Hmmmm. I’ve never really liked using a microphone very much.
JENNIFER: Really? You seem to love talking…. (Awkward silence for a few beats. Suddenly, JENNIFER runs off to the see-saw and sits down on one of its ends.) It’s been forever since I did this!
ALEX: (gets up and walks to the other end of the seesaw) I always loved this when I was a kid….
(THEY play on the see-saw for about ten seconds until, still on, they begin conversation again.)
ALEX: So, Jen—
JENNIFER: (playfully) What happened to Jenny?
ALEX: Well…. (pause as he thinks) I once knew a lass I called Jenny/Who pleased eye and heart in ways many/But she skipped off to college/For even more knowledge/The girls I’ll know like her aren’t any.
(JENNIFER is flustered at the flirtatiousness, but after a moment one of his words hits her and she frowns.)
JENNIFER: You’re right. I am going out of state, and not planning to stick around in this town once I get back. I’ll probably never see you again.
(ALEX is very confused; he forgets to push on the seesaw and his end is left in the air.)
JENNIFER: Look, we’ve got to take measures so that we see each other again. Trade our e-mail addresses… exchange phone numbers… (suddenly having an idea) Or I could just give you something to remember me by.
ALEX: Um, you probably shouldn’t call my house, ever, and I don’t have a cell—
(JENNIFER gets off of the seesaw and runs to ALEX. She leans over and closes her eyes, clearly about to kiss him. But suddenly she thinks better of it, opens her eyes, and steps back, hands clasped.)
JENNIFER: What am I doing? What—
(ALEX stands up and looks at her.)
ALEX: (injured) What are you doing? You can’t just lead me on like that.
JENNIFER: I’m flirting with some dumb boy I’ll never see again. You’re probably taking “Introduction to College Math”. Ugh!
ALEX: Hey, that’s Precalculus to you.
JENNIFER: (scoffs) Not very impressive to someone taking Honors BC Calc.
ALEX: We’re arguing about what math class we take. How mature is that? We were friends five minutes ago.
(JENNIFER turns her back on ALEX.)
JENNIFER: That’s what you thought.
(ALEX steps up and puts his hand on her shoulder.)
ALEX: Come on, Jenny—
(JENNIFER turns and takes his hand off.)
JENNIFER: It’s Jennifer!
ALEX: Get over yourself. You were really one of those stupid preps all along.
(THEY both turn to opposite sides of the stage: JENNIFER faces stage left, ALEX stage right. Several beats of silence; then…)
JENNIFER: Who am I kidding?
ALEX: I don’t know either!
(THEY both turn around to face each other.)
JENNIFER: I never tell non-friends about all the quirky nonfiction books I read.
ALEX: I was after never telling anyone about me grandmum before I told ye today.
JENNIFER: (teasing) Oh, put away the silly Hiberno-English already.
ALEX: If you insist, Jennifer.
JENNIFER: (smiles) Call me Jenny.
(THEY have been inching closer over the past few lines.)
ALEX: If you insist.
(JENNIFER places her hand on his cheek.)
JENNIFER: Am I ever going to see you again?
(ALEX puts one arm around her shoulders.)
ALEX: Honestly? Probably not.
(SHE laughs. THEY kiss. As they do, CURTAIN.)
- Title: On The Swings
- Artist: LengaChan
- Description: Over the course of a ten-minute one-act play, a boy and girl meet in the park and fall in love.
- Date: 05/02/2009
- Tags: swings