Pixelated Intimacy

A Ten-Minute Play by Kymberlee della Luce

CAST

Elizabeth Bishop: Attractive and insecure divorced woman. Successful artist and instructor. New Age Type. Age 37. Dating Michael Mourand

Maria Richardson: Age 41. Muscular, attractive, assertive woman. Impatient and opinonated. Runs a local gym. Been burned a few times by men. Guarded but has a huge heart.

Michael Mourand: Age 30. Young but earnest. Charming, tall, attractive with a killer smile. Used to be a player. Trying to change his ways. Dating Elizabeth.


ACT I

SCENE 1

SETTING:  Small studio apartment in Seattle.  We see
only a couch, a coffee table with a lamp and some
magazines and a small kitchen nook sort of table.    

AT RISE:  ELIZABETH BISHOP sits as the kitchen
nook alone typing on her laptop with music
playing.  We hear the sounds of the city outside
the windows.

Elizabeth is typing and dancing in her chair,
singing along with the music.

We hear a knock on the door.  Elizabeth crosses
the room.

ELIZABETH
Hello?  Who’s there?

MARIA
Jesus, Elizabeth!  It’s me!  You knew I was coming
right over!

ELIZABETH
(unlocking the three different locks) Okay, okay! I’m
sorry.  A single woman can’t be too careful. 
(sheepishly) Sorry.

MARIA bursts in, crosses the room and flops on the
couch, throwing her bag and coat on the arm. 
ELIZABETH stands awkwardly for a moment shuffling
her feet with her head down before sitting down on
the tiny bit of couch left by MARIA.

MARIA
(legs crosses, twitching her foot impatiently) (loudly)
Stop apologizing, Elizabeth!  Do you know I counted
FIVE apologies from WOMEN on the bus on the way over
here.  Gah!  Maybe women get paid less because we’re
constantly apologizing for our freaking existence!

Maria takes a deep breath, closes her eyes and
plants both feet on the floor, sitting up a bit
straighter on the couch.

MARIA
Okay.  I’ll stop my ranting.  Too much coffee today.
Time to drink some water.

MARIA pulls out water bottle, and gulps it down
then wipes her mouth with her sleeve.

MARIA
Okay.  (another deep breath) You had something you said
you needed to talk about.  I’m here and ready to
listen.  What’s up?

MARIA reaches across the couch, scoops ELIZABETH
up and hugs her tightly then ruffles her hair.

ELIZABETH
Yeah.  I do.  Just a second, I need to grab something.

Elizabeth smiles a little sadly, heads over to the
table, gets her cell phone and water bottle and
crosses back over to the couch and sits down.

ELIZABETH
It’s, it’s…about Michael.

MARIA rolls her eyes dramatically.
I know I keep talking about him but I can’t help
myself!  I feel so good when I’m with him and he keeps
telling me he loves me too.

(fidgeting with cell phone in her hand)
I want to believe him but I am feeling so confused. 

MARIA
About…?

ELIZABETH
About the way he communicates with me.  When we’re
together it’s so great but it’s fleeting.  He goes out
with his friends a lot and we only see each other about
once every two weeks. 

MARIA
He loooooves you, right?  pffft!

ELIZABETH
I know how it seems but I don’t mind that part.  Really
(not said very convincingly.  I mean, I’m busy too and
our schedules don’t mesh all that well yet.  It’s,
well…what’s hard is all the fucking texting he does! 

MARIA
Elizabeth Bishop!  Did you just say the “F” word?  Oh
my goodness! (smirking mockingly)

ELIZABETH
(Playfully) Shut up!  Anyway…he sends them all the
time! We don’t see each other much and hardly ever talk
on the phone but he sends me text messages all day long
and sometimes in the middle of the night.  It’s weird! 

MARIA

Annoyed.  Crosses arms.
Sounds like he wants to know if you’re still hooked to
me.

ELIZABETH
Maria (exasperated)…

MARIA
(interrupting) Look, Bitz.  I know you think he’s part
of your “Soul Family” or whatever but Jesus H. Christ! 
He’s USING you!  Don’t you see that?  He wants the best
of all worlds and you’re giving it to him.  He wants to
know that somebody loves him out there while he parties
with his friends. I’m sure he’s flirting when he’s out
there too.  Let me guess, his Facebook page still says
“single.  Looking for dating and relationship”, right?

ELIZABETH

looks down at her phone
Well…um….

MARIA
Gah!  How can you let him do that to you, Bitz? 

Stands up.  Starts pacing.
When you lit your little candle on your (sarcastically)
“romance altar” is this what you had in mind?  Someone
who doesn’t care about your feelings and needs?  Let’s
look at the facts:  (uses fingers like bullet points)
You’ve been dating this guy for five months.  He’s used
the “L” word and GOD KNOWS so have you!.  You only see
him every now and again and rarely talk… 

While MARIA is pacing, we see ELIZABETH look at
her cell phone and smile.  MARIA, noticing this,
stops pacing, feet planted, hands on hips.

MARIA
You DID NOT just do that!

ELIZABETH
What? 

MARIA
You just read a text from him! Give me that phone!

MARIA grabs at phone.

ELIZABETH
No!

ELIZABETH put the phone under the couch pillow
she’s sitting on.

ELIZABETH
Okay!  I won’t read anymore while we’re talking.  I’m
sorry.  I can’t help it.  He’s just so cute and
charming.  His messages make me feel close to him.

ELIZABETH buries her face in her hands and starts
crying.
(muffled) I
know…(sob)…I’m…(sob)…(sob)…PATHETIC!  (Angry
now)  What is wrong with me?  How could I let this
happen again?

ELIZABETH begis sobbing uncontrollably and groans
with deep rage every now and again.  MARIA sits
down next to MARIA with her hand on her back, the
other on her leg, silent for a few minutes.

(SPOTLIGHT ON MARIA)

MARIA takes ELIZABETH’S face gently in her hands
and tilts her head up so they are looking at each
other.  ELIZABETH’S body continues to shake with
sobbing.

MARIA
Bitz, listen to me.  You are worth more than this.  You
know you are.  You are smart, funny, successful and
filled with so much love.  That whole “Venus in Pisces”
thing is your Achilles’ Heel and we both know it.  You
have got to stop trying to fix the world and love the
world and just love yourself, sweetie.  Love yourself
enough to say no to being used.  Just….love
yourSELF!  Didn’t you say you pulled the “find your
backbone” card from your “Angel Deck” three times last
week? 

ELIZABETH
(weakly) yeah.

MARIA
Well?  Isn’t it time?

ELIZABETH
yeah.

MARIA
LOUDER!  Say YES!  I have a backbone!

ELIZABETH
(louder) Yes.  I have a backbone.

MARIA
I’m pretty sure your angels are smiling.  Now.  One
more thing, girl.

ELIZABETH
Yes? (smiling)

MARIA stands up pulling ELIZABETH up with her
hands.

MARIA
I’m going to tell you something you told me the last
time I had problems with a relationship.  It’s time for
you to look into your heart and ask yourself, “Do I
allow this lack of intimacy because I’m afraid of it?” 
You’ve told me WAY too many times

gestures with arms to make “big” movement
that it’s all inside of me, that whatever I’m
attracting to myself is a reflection of ME.  So right
backatcha! 

MARIA ruffles ELIZABETH’S hair playfully
You are allowing Michael to have this big, cushy wall
up that keeps you from real intimacy.  What does that
wall keep YOU from facing?  I know.  I’m a pain in the
ass.  (grins)

ELIZABETH
(smiling)  No, you’re right.  You’re also a terrific
friend.  I’m grateful.

MARIA
Gonna write that in your little gratitude journal? 
(chuckles)

ELIZABETH
Ha ha, very funny.

MARIA
You know I give you shit cuz you know you need it to keep
you here on this plane of existence, right?  Look, I
believe SOME of what you talk about.  I think I’m part
of your soul family too and if it’s Michael’s job to
mirror back your intimacy issues, then I guess I came
into your life for some reason too. Must be to be a
mouthy bitch.  (grins)

ELIZABETH
Maria!  You are not a bitch…much. 

MARIA
Oh!  Sassing me back now.  I see….  Look kiddo, I
gotta jam.  I have to hit the gym and go find someone
to have sex with on craigslist.  Kidding!  Seriously, I
do have to go.  You’re going to have to figure out how
to handle this on your own.  We both know that.  Just
remember that Archangel Maria is here to tell you to
FIND YOUR BACKBONE.  Now give me a hug, you beautiful
bundle of love, you.!

MARIA and ELIZABETH give each other a huge hug.

MARIA
One last word of wisdom that also came from YOUR
mouth.  You told me once that we train people how to
treat us.  Hello!  Don’t worry.  I’ll bill you.  TTFN,
beautiful!  Good luck with the boy!

MARIA exits and ELIZABETH closes the door behind
her.

ELIZABETH paces around the apartment, hugging
herself tightly and humming.  She retrieves her
phone from under the couch pillow and starts to
type a text message then begins to dial a number.

ELIZABETH
Michael?  Can you come over?  I really need to talk to
you.  No!  It can’t wait.  Look, we have some things to
talk about and it’s time.  Please? (smiles) Lovely. 
See you soon!

ELIZABETH begins straightening up the room, lights
candles on the coffee table and adjusts her bra
straps, fluffs her hair and puts on some lipstick
from her bag next to the couch.  She goes over to
the computer and puts on some very soft, romantic
music and then fluffs the couch pillows. 

She paces around a bit, sits down, closes her eyes
and breathes loudly three times.

ELIZABETH
Elizabeth, just relax.  You know how much he loves
you.  You feel it and see it in his eyes.  Stop making
yourself crazy!  Even if he’s not The One, this whole
experience is good for both of us.  It will be…

knock on door.  ELIZABETH flies off the couch and
rushes to door.

ELIZABETH
Michael? 

MICHAEL
Yes!

ELIZABETH opens the door wide.  MICHAEL comes in
and sweeps her up in his arms, kissing her
passionately.  He closes the door behind them and
leads her by the hand over to the couch.  They sit
down.

MICHAEL
Okay, now what’s this important talk we need to have?
What’s up?

ELIZABETH
(tentatively at first) Well, I…I…I am feeling
confused about where things are with us.  We’ve been
doing more texting than spending time together lately
and I feel lost. 

MICHAEL stops holding her hand and sits back,
stretching his legs out, putting his face in hands
and lowering his cap over his eyes a bit.

MICHAEL
Oh great.  Here we go…

ELIZABETH
Michael!  Please don’t say that.  I am not saying YOU
are doing something wrong.  I just want to talk about
where we’re at.  Actually, I suppose it’s more about
where I’m at.  Are you willing to listen?

MICHAEL
(relaxes a little) Okay.  I’m listening but first I
want to say I love you.  Okay?  I really do.  I wish I
was enough but I do love you.

ELIZABETH
What does that mean?  Enough? I never said you weren’t
enough.  You are so much more than I could ever
imagine. 

MICHAEL
Really?  You seriously think that?

ELIZABETH
Yes!  I love you, Michael.  I do.  I realize that all
of this text messaging and facebook stuff is just
ridiculous.  I enjoy the connection, but I want and
need more.  I see how I’ve been holding something back
in a huge way.  I’ve been angry and lonely and tried to
pin all that on you. I’m always trying to pin it on
someone because it’s easier than taking full
responsibility for my feelings and needs.

MICHAEL
What needs aren’t getting met?  I mean…what is it
that you want?

ELIZABETH
Michael, I want you.  I want US.  I don’t want you
listed as “single” on the internet while we’re making
love and while you’re telling me you love me.  (louder)
I want to be real with each other and not allow this
weird space–this pixelated intimacy that seems to be
created with all of these fucking text messages.

ELIZABETH gets up and starts walking, she’s filled
with passion and intensity.

MICHAEL
Dude!  Jesus.  Calm down!  Stop yelling.

ELIZABETH
I’m not yelling!  I am just feeling.  I’m emoting. 
I’ve held this in too long because I was afraid of
scaring you away.  But what the fuck?  If I can’t be ME
will all my mess and intensity and EMOTION, then what
chance do we have?  That’s why it feels safe behind
that wall of pixels.  Cuz you can’t see my bad hair
days or smell my morning breath.  You tuck me in at
night with these “I love you” messages or give me a
icon smile in the morning via text but I LONG to hear
your voice and feel you touch and I think you want that
too.  I think we’re both so scared of being hurt that
we don’t try hard enough and that needs to change.  I
can’t keep doing it this way.  I just can’t.

ELIZABETH begins sobbing and falls to the floor
burying her face in her hands.  MICHAEL sits for a
moment, stunned, watching her then puts reaches
over to her and puts his hands in her hair. 

MICHAEL
Baby, come here.  It’s okay. 

ELIZABETH crawls over and climbs up on Michael’s
lap.  She sobs into his shoulders and he rubs her
back.  He smells her hair and looks into her eyes,
kissing her sweetly on the forehead.

MICHAEL
Better?  Is that better?

ELIZABETH
It’s only better if we can have more of this.  More
touch, more tears, more reality, more mess.  I can’t do
love any other way.  Not anymore.

MICHAEL
I don’t know, Elizabeth.  I don’t think I know
how…I…just.  I’m not good at this stuff.

ELIZABETH
Well, if you want me.  If you really do love me, we’re
going to have to try because I can’t see the word HUG
typed one more time as a substitute for your arms
around me like this.  That’s what I’m not good at.

THE END

***

This play was written for a class I took in undergrad at Antioch University called “Staging Change” with the fabulous Vincent Kovar. He suggested that we write about things that matter to us. Themes in our lives. 

This was a theme in my life at the time and still is. I have questions about how the digital age is affecting the human heart.