Do Geese See God - Opening five pages. For lexicographer, Topher Llewellyn, life is all about the words until she's left without them after she's hit by lightning during a winter storm.
Whenever TOPHER speaks in monologue or to people standing/sitting on the ledge, she speaks normally; she is her whole, able-bodied self. When she speaks at other times it is with whatever ease or difficulty as indicated in the scene. Often her verbs are dropped. As the story is being told in reverse, Topher's aphasic, or halting speech, will go from better to worse during the course of the play.
The play travels backwards in time.
TOPHER paints at an easel.
Off to one side, there's a ledge/elevated
platform where EDDIE sits.
I wish you were here. I wish we could have a long conversation, back and forth, over Chess. Like the old days.
Except there were no old days like that, were there? I’m afraid you treated me like one of Sammy’s temporaries.
I did. I’m sorry. Still, I wish we could have had a real conversation then.
Yes. I wish you’d get e-mail. When are you going to embrace the 21st Century?
Topher,you still own a turntable!
I still have record albums.
Nobody plays records anymore! Or watches black and white television on purpose. Maybe if you owned a cell phone, instead of the old hard-wired kind then maybe none of this would have happened--
Stop it! I’ve had my fill of electronic devices for awhile.
Well, if you won’t use e-mail, you could write me more often the old fashioned way with pen and paper.
Writing is laborious for me.
But your letters are word perfect.
Listen, cheer up! Both of us are still here. Still hanging on.
Even if out of time and space.
Here, and out there, too, Toph. In real time and space. Don’t forget.
Not as free as here, and--
(interrupting, changing subject)
I got your letter yesterday.
Did you notice the special stamp?
The spacesuit canvas. How did you--
LILY appears. She does not notice Eddie, because he is not really “here.” She gives Topher a long kiss.
LILY considers the painting.
It’s lovely. Like you’ve carved away at the paper to bring out what was already there.
Watercolors, that quality. Have.
Like you. You, quality, too.
Lily disappears. Topher continues painting.
As I said, I got your letter, but it didn’t answer my question.
You always have so many questions.
The one about ghost words. Eddie, you’re showing alarming signs of turning into an authentic word freak.
Whose fault is that? Please. Talk to me about ghost words. Give an example.
There are no examples, Eddie. “Ghost words” are by nature nonexistent. They’re mistakes that find their way into a dictionary. Mistakes, once discovered, are dropped from a dictionary, vanishing forever from the lexicon. Therefore, my dear, there are no examples I want to give you.
I love how you go on and on in your letters, just like that.
Talking, like this, in person, or on the phone, I can’t. Especially on the phone. Only slowly, on paper.
But you can in here, in this metaphysical meeting place we’ve created. Come on, Toph, a ghost word for little old me? I find them haunting. Words that come and go, you know?
No, there’s no romantic quality to things which never existed in the first place.
Lexicographers are human, aren’t we? One of the greatest, Samuel Johnson, said, “There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified.” Even real words with a purpose come and go over time.
Lily and I are thinking of moving away from here. To some place less volatile.
Life is volatile, Toph. Are you ready to leave here?
It’s been nearly a whole year since my Divine Intervention.
You mean since your accident.
Now who’s being picky about word choice? When it happens to you, it feels very personal. It’s like the Gods have reached out of the sky and collectively smacked you across the face.
You mean across the room.
You make it sound like a betrayal. Which is it, a betrayal or an intervention? They’re not the same.
It’s both. Nothing is ever the same afterwards.