Karen and Stephanie are sisters. Karen is 12 and in grade 7 and Stephanie is 9 and in grade 4. Even though the two sisters are pretty close in age, they don’t act like sisters. They act more like enemies at war. At least Karen does. She’s always trying to pick a fight with Stephanie, when all Stephanie wants is a big sister. Right now the girls are going through a rough time, especially Karen. Their parents have been fighting lately and they both have their own ways of coping with it.
The two girls are both in their room. Stephanie is doing her homework and Karen is fiddling with her hair.
Steph: What’s 9×9?
She writes it in her book.
Looking more annoyed.
Karen: Uhhhh . . . . . . 64.
She writes it in her book.
Looking very, very mad and frustrated, she groans and stops playing with her hair.
Karen: Will you just stop asking me all these questions?! It’s not like I’m your personal calculator or something!
Looking very innocent.
Steph: Well soooory!
Karen goes and flops down on her bed very angrily while Stephanie closes her math book, walks over to Karen’s bed and sits down. Karen kicks her off.
Stephanie gets on her feet and quietly says:
Steph: Karen. While you were at your Digital Club meeting, Mom and Dad had another fight.
Karen: So, what’s your point? It’s only like the fifty millionth fight they’ve had this week. I mean what do you want me to do? Help you keep track of their most recent fights?!
Karen rolls over on her bed so that her back is facing Stephanie.
Steph: Well I just thought I’d tell you. Sheesh!
Long pause. Then Stephanie sighs and blabs out quickly and quietly.
I’m scared that Mom and Dad are gonna get divorced.
Karen jumps off her bed. She says this screaming:
Karen: Don’t say that! Don’t ever say that! They’re not gonna get a divorce. Everything is gonna be fine.
She is almost crying. She grabs Stephanie by the arm.
Ya hear me? EVERYTHING IS GONNA BE FINE.
Karen lets go of Stephanie’s arm, flops back on her bed and picks up a book, putting it in front of her face to hide her tears. Stephanie looks really scared, but not knowing what to do or where to go, quietly sits on her bed and opens her math book. She is about to get to work just as Karen gets up, goes to the dresser and takes out a small box.
Steph: What’s that?
Karen: None of your business.
Steph: It was in the dresser and the dresser’s on my side of the room so it is so my business.
Karen ignores her and opens up the box. Stephanie walks over to her bed.
Steph: What are those little round things?
Hey, you’ve been hiding candy from me. That’s not fair. Give me some.
Stephanie holds out her hand.
Getting a bit worried.
Karen: No . . . .you wouldn’t want to have it. You’re too young to do Bennies.
Steph: I’ve never heard of that kind of candy before. Give me some.
I’m not too young to have candy. You just don’t wanna give me any.
Stephanie stomps over to the door of their bedroom. Karen looks up.
Karen: Hey, where do ya think you’re going?
Steph: I’m going to tell Mom that you’ve been hiding candy in our room.
Karen: No . . . .Don’t . . . .I mean . . . .Here, sit down.
Stephanie runs back to Karen’s bed happily. When she gets there, Karen grabs her hard by the arm.
Steph: Ow! Let go of me.
Karen still holds on, makes sure nobody’s coming and then whispers:
Karen: Look, this isn’t candy.
Steph: Oh yeah, then what is it?
Karen: These are Bennies.
Stephanie looks blank.
Ya know, pills.
Still Stephanie looks blank.
DRUGS! It’s drugs!
Stephanie looks astonished.
Steph: Drugs! You’ve been taking drugs?!
Karen: Yeah, what’s it to you?!
Steph: I’m gonna tell Mom and Dad on you.
Reaching for her arm.
Karen: Do and I’ll break your arm.
Steph: You know what Mom and Dad said about taking drugs. Drugs are bad for you.
Karen: Bennies aren’t bad for you, they help you. And besides, I’m older and I’m allowed to take drugs. When Mom and Dad gave us that talk, they were talking to you not to me.
Steph: You know that’s not true. They gave US the talk. They were talking to both of us not just to me.
Karen doesn’t answer.
Steph: Why Kar, why are you doing this?
Stephanie strokes Karen’s hair. Karen pushes her hand away. There’s a long pause. Then Karen faces Stephanie and looks her right in the eye.
Karen: You wanna know why? I’ll tell you why. Because they make me feel good, that’s why.
Steph: How do they make you feel good?
Karen: Well . . . sometimes after I have a lot of them, I just feel so happy that I wanna fly, I wanna fly like a bird.
Karen gets on her bed and waves her arms up and down like a bird.
Steph: But Karen, after you have a lot of them, don’t they make you feel awful? You know, sick like you’re gonna throw up? Some people came to my school last month and they said they used to take drugs and after awhile, they began to feel sick.
Karen: Well, I guess sometimes they make me feel sick . . . but I like them. They help me. I mean, just the other day I had a test in history and I had trouble studying for it, so I took a break and downed some Bennies to get me relaxed. Then when I went back to studying, it was like I knew every answer to the questions on that test. And today at school I got the test back and I got an “A.” And that’s not all they help me with.
Karen says this slowly.
Bennies help me cope with the fact that Mom and Dad have been . . . fighting.
Karen turns away. She picks up the container of Bennies about to swallow some, but Stephanie quickly knocks it out of her hand and the Bennies fall out of the container and onto the floor.
Karen: Stephanie! What do you think you’re doing?!
She is ready to kill her.
That was my last bunch and I really need them now.
She is almost crying.
Steph: Why do you need that stuff? I don’t understand it. Mom and Dad always told us that if we have a problem, we should always talk about it.
Karen: Well, the hell with Mom and Dad. Who gives a damn what they say?
Steph: Look, I know you’re not gonna talk about this with Mom or Dad, but at least talk about it with someone else.
Karen: Oh yeah, like who?
Steph: Like me.
Karen looks astonished.
You never talk to me anymore, or help me with my homework. Or play “Barbies” with me. It’s not like you’re my big sister. I mean ever since this thing started with Mom and Dad, you always seem to be everywhere but here. You always ignore me and blame me for everything that happens. All I want is for you to be my big sister again. Please?
Pretty please? With a cherry on top?!!!
Stephanie gets down on her hands and knees and starts begging. Then, suddenly Karen starts laughing and then Stephanie starts laughing too. The two girls hug each other.
Once they stop hugging.
Karen: You know Steph, that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said in your whole life.
Steph: So . . . ya think you’ll talk to me about it, or to one of your friends?
Karen: I don’t know. It’s just so hard to talk about.
Steph: Well maybe if we tell Mom and Dad how we feel about all their fighting, it might help you to stop taking those pills. I mean, whenever I have a problem I always tell at least one person. It makes me feel better to know that someone cares. So please, try to talk to someone and stop doing drugs?
Hugs Stephanie and says this slowly.
Karen: I promise you, I’ll try sis, I’ll really try.
END OF SCENE.
Footnote from Julie:
I wrote this scene when I was 11 years old, as part of a collectively created original play called Growing Up Is What You Make It, for the Lifetime Learning Centre’s “Young Company.” I called it “Sister Scene.” I played the role of Stephanie, the younger sister.
I feel compelled to tell the reader that I didn’t have it on my computer (why would I?!), so I actually had to re-type it for Diaspora Dialogues! Despite the fiercest of dramaturgical impulses, I’ve re-typed it as originally written.