Exoneration

Characters: 

Adrienne, high-school student, best friend of August, female, 15-17

August, high-school student, best friend of Adrienne, male, 15-17

 

 

Setting: A park in mid-December, present time. There is a street lamp and a bench.

 

Note: A slash (/) indicates interrupted speech.

 

ACT I , SCENE 1

 

(ADRIENNE and AUGUST are sat on a bench by a street lamp in a park as they stare in different directions and are out of breath.)

 

ADRIENNE

I’m sorry.

 

AUGUST

Please don’t be.

 

ADRIENNE

August, you don’t know why I’m saying it.

 

AUGUST

Okay, well I mean, you never say it.

 

ADRIENNE

Okay, well I’m saying it now… and you need to believe that I’m sincere.

 

(AUGUST looks defeated as he takes a few steps to the side.)

 

ADRIENNE

Please don’t do that storming thing.

 

AUGUST

What storming thing?

 

(AUGUST jerks his head towards ADRIENNE in annoyance. ADRIENNE puts on a defensive tone.)

 

ADRIENNE

How am I supposed to describe it? You look like you’re running away from me, even if you walk back. (a beat) It makes me sad.

 

AUGUST

I’m sorry.

 

ADRIENNE

Don’t be.

 

AUGUST

Okay, so… what are we now?

 

ADRIENNE

I don’t know August, but this isn’t me hurting you.

 

(AUGUST is puzzled.)

 

AUGUST

Then what is it? Can you please just say what you mean. If it’s me, my family, or something I do that bothers you. I mean, you want to be with me / but still want to keep me in your back pocket because you know I’ll be here when it’s convenient for you.

 

ADRIENNE

/ Come on, you know that’s not what this is abou-

 

ADRIENNE

August! That isn’t fair and you know it!

 

AUGUST

I don’t know anything at this point, Adrienne!

 

(AUGUST walks downstage and faces the audience and ADRIENNE grabs her arms as if to hold herself and steps behind AUGUST.)

 

ADRIENNE

Loving you isn’t convenient, it’s really hard. You’re my best friend, and I can’t ruin us for exactly that reason. I’d never be able to forgive myself.

 

(a beat)

AUGUST

What do you mean ruin us? You know that I’m always going to be “best friend.” Best friend, the best damn friend you have. I’m just here to protect you, and listen to you cry over the douches you decide to let play you. To kill for you. All to try to build you up again when you’re going through whatever happens to you, because of how fragile you are. Yet nothing I do is reciprocated, because, I guess I’m always going to owe something to you.

 

(ADRIENNE takes a few steps towards AUGUST in frustration.)

ADRIENNE

Stop it, August, stop flattering yourself, stop, it’s embarrassing.

 

(AUGUST laughs.)

AUGUST

Okay well, go ahead and tell me Adrienne, why should I listen to you make me feel stupid?

 

(ADRIENNE seems almost disgusted at how AUGUST is acting.)

ADRIENNE

Are you high? Have you been this whole night? Why are we still doing this after five months? I know what happened this summer was horrible, and there are never enough ways for me to say I’m sorry, which is why I don’t say it, but you can’t keep victimizing yourself.

 

AUGUST

Well then.

 

(AUGUST goes behind the bench and drags a rolled up carpet to the side of the bench opposite of the street lamp, he stumbles as he stands back straight.)

 

I’m not a victim, but he is. You know, maybe I am a bit glad I could put this guy out of his misery, because I’m the only one talking and actually saying things. I mean, did you do that to him too? Rely on him to interpret what you’re thinking? I’m always guessing, and guess what? It’s exhausting, Adrienne. No matter who it is.

 

ADRIENNE

I don’t know what to tell you August.

 

AUGUST

Yeah, I’m sure you don’t.

 

ADRIENNE

And what does that mean?

 

AUGUST

That I guess I should’ve known better.

 

(a pause)

 

Why did we hook up this summer?

 

(ADRIENNE takes a second to ponder if she even remembers the night AUGUST is mentioning, then she remembers.)

ADRIENNE

I was sad, and you were there.

 

AUGUST

Oh, but loving me isn’t convenient?

 

(AUGUST goes and sits on the bench somewhat confidently.)

 

ADRIENNE

It wasn’t love. You made me feel amazing, like, on top of the world, but it wasn’t love.

 

AUGUST

Ah, makes sense, cause how can you really love when a new guy is at your disposal every month?

 

ADRIENNE

(with sudden shock)

Listen, you have no place in calling me a whore, August. You were the best person I had ever met. I had everything when you decided to stick with me. Everything you did made me feel some way I had never felt before. I’m never going to be able to explain it, but I’m not a bank for you to deposit your insecurities. I love you, and as hard as you always make it, I think I always will. A guy in my bed is not your concern unless you are that guy. Now, I understand that I am indecisive, and it confuses you, but you’ve never once considered how you affected me. —

 

(AUGUST begins to formulate a remark.)

 

ADRIENNE

No! Just stop!—You always leave, not just me, but you leave everyone. I couldn’t pick up the phone fast enough, or I never asked how you were. People at school already hated me, for rumors, or whatever shit they’d say… so imagine what people would’ve said if I even visited you, or talked to you, even if it was months later.— Do you see the guilt you caused me to feel? Do you see how I wouldn’t want to be tied to that every day? I wasn’t going to ruin myself because of you. (a beat) I could not let you be the reason I was ruined.

 

AUGUST

Ruin. You think I…ruin you. (as if to confirm what he just heard)

ADRIENNE

August you know that’s not what I meant.

 

(AUGUST stands up and takes a few steps towards ADRIENNE.)

 

AUGUST

Then what the hell did you mean?

 

ADRIENNE

You just bring out the worst in me, and you do it so simply. It’s not even your fault, you deserve so much better, but so do I.

AUGUST

So I’m… what? The guy who went crazy? So he needs support because he’s crazy, but he can’t be loved, at leat like that, because…he’s crazy.

 

ADRIENNE

It’s not that you’re crazy. You could never be crazy. You’re just always chasing some answer. (a beat) You don’t realize that maybe there isn’t one.

 

AUGUST

I’m not chasing an answer but I can’t say I’m not stressed out about you. I mean, nothing you say is what you mean.

 

ADRIENNE

Well I’m stressed out about how stressed you are about us, you make it seem like I need to prove something to you.

 

AUGUST

I’m sorry, Adrienne. I’ve always thought you were the most perfect person ever. You don’t ever need to prove anything, you don’t owe me anything.

 

(a pause)

 

Addie, I know that I need to accept what is, we’re not going to be together. I am okay with not being your boyfriend, but I’m terrified. You’re fading, even as my best friend, I just want to understand what I can do to keep you happy. You’ve been through so much, and I can’t imagine adding to that.

 

(a pause)

 

Remember that Jason Mraz song? The one where he says “it takes some good to make it hurt”? Well I think that’s what this is. I don’t want to fight anymore. I love you so damn much. Addie, and its always going to hurt…but it shouldn’t hurt you anymore. I saw every version of my life with you, but that’s not something you can just plan out. I don’t know what I’m trying to say.

 

(a pause)

 

My dad’s moving, and I think it came at the best time. I think I’m going to go with him. Maybe you couldn’t hate loving me anymore. Maybe we don’t have to think about loving each other if we can’t see each other. I always told you I’d do the best for you, and I’ve sucked at it, but maybe this is what’s best.

 

(ADRIENNE shows disapproval and shock, her entire motive seems to change.)

 

ADRIENNE

But August, you- no you can’t leave.

AUGUST

UGH! GOD ADDIE WHAT’S IT GONNA TAKE? I FU-

 

(AUGUST moves his hand to his mouth quickly as if to stuff his tone back into his mouth, he pauses as his voice begins to break.)

 

 

When do we get to be happy? When do I get to stop being the one you always fall back on?

 

ADRIENNE

I don’t, I don’t know-

 

AUGUST

Well I don’t want this. Adrienne, really I’m done.

 

(AUGUST starts to walk towards offstage.)

 

ADRIENNE

Please! August just please we can’t be done talking!

 

AUGUST

We’ve been saying nothing, Adrienne! I’m sorry, I love you. This is it.

 

ADRIENNE

(shouts)

 

August, I’m pregnant!

 

(ADRIENNE starts to sob as AUGUST walks back towards her.)

 

AUGUST

Addie… I.

 

(AUGUST holds ADRIENNE in shock.)

 

 

How do you kno-…how long ago did you find out?

 

ADRIENNE

About eight weeks ago. I didn’t feel the need to tell you. I’m so sorry.

 

AUGUST

What do you-?

 

(AUGUST pulls away slightly.)

 

 

Oh. It’s not mine… is it?

 

ADRIENNE

No, it’s a guy from my job.

 

AUGUST

How do y-…dammit Addie, why?

 

(a pause) (AUGUST pulls apart from ADRIENNE, *their dialogue seems to go quickly to the point of overlapping.)

 

 

Now? You need me now? Now that I finally have a chance to start over?

 

ADRIENNE

August I have nothing! You’re the only one who would ever stay!

 

AUGUST

Because you know I’d never say no to you, Adrienne! You use that to your advantage! Every time we touched! Kissed! Did any of that mean anything to you?

 

ADRIENNE

Of course it did!

 

AUGUST

Then why?!

 

(ADRIENNE stops answering as she seems to be overly distraught)

 

here…

(AUGUST helps ADRIENNE to the bench and sits beside her, ADRIENNE’s breaths scatter as she calms down her sobs.)

 

ADRIENNE

I-I-. (a beat) Thank you, August.

 

AUGUST

…I’m here, Adrienne. I tell you that every day. Even days when it makes me physically sick. (a beat) When I can’t get out of bed because I’m wondering “what did I do to make her upset this time?” or “what will I have to fix for her now?” I don’t have to question whether you’re happy or not, I know when you are. You only come to me when you’re upset, when you need a rebound, when you remember your life isn’t perfect, that’s when I’m important…but, I don’t make it perfect. I make it worse, you know this, and you want me to stay with you? To take care of your child, who’s father is someone I don’t even know?

 

(a pause)

 

What do you do to me? Why do I let you do it?

 

(a pause)

 

I think that I’m done trying, Addie. I’m done suffocating in the tide that forces me to constantly switch between being in love with you, and actually loving you. I’m not going to screw up both of our lives for a moment of lust.

ADRIENNE

But Aug-

AUGUST

No just. Please. (a beat) I never knew you, and perhaps I never will, but I finally understand what we have been, and I think you do too. I can’t do what you did to me. I won’t.

 

(AUGUST holds ADRIENNE as she weeps for a few beats, he kisses her head, then stands up from the bench, ADRIENNE looks up at AUGUST in disbelief for a beat, the lights snap to black.)                                                                

 

 

                                                                       End of play.

zelovepral

TX

17 years old

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