Newton's Cradle by Stina Trollbäck

CHARACTERS: Felicity (27), Lucille (30), Balfour (32).

SETTING: The dining room of FELICITY, LUCILLE, and BALFOUR’s parents’ house. There is a party going on that happens annually. There is a table in the middle of the room with four chairs around it. There is a Newton’s Cradle on the table.

The room is empty.

______________________________________________________________________

BALFOUR walks in quickly, door slamming behind him. He stands against the wall and gives a loud sigh.

(Pause)

LUCILLE and FELICITY walk in quickly together, door slamming behind them as well. LUCILLE has a glass of wine in hand; she sits down at the end of the table and swirls the wine in her glass. FELICITY sits down on a chair backwards, elbows propped up on the back of it. BALFOUR starts the Newton’s Cradle.

BALFOUR

(After a few moments of silence)  I’m not much of a social collar.

BALFOUR looks up towards the ceiling and reaches up to run his fingers along the collar of his shirt.

FELICITY

Neither am I.

LUCILLE looks at FELICITY, but turns away quickly, and stares at BALFOUR.

LUCILLE

Balfour, please. You make your rounds like you’re a glittery red flag on a wind turbine.

BALFOUR

Only sometimes.

LUCILLE

Every time.

BALFOUR rolls his eyes and sighs. FELICITY looks at LUCILLE.

FELICITY

I want to glitter, too.

LUCILLE

(Dismissively) You do glitter.

LUCILLE looks away quickly, focusing her attention on BALFOUR again. She taps her heels against the floor once, loudly, stands, and walks to BALFOUR.

BALFOUR

Stop stabbing me with your breath. You’re breathing too close to me.

LUCILLE

Just examining.

BALFOUR

Why?

LUCILLE

You’re being different.

BALFOUR

How so?

LUCILLE walks away from him and sits down at the dining table, as far away from both FELICITY and BALFOUR as possible, and taps her heels against the ground once, loudly, again. FELICITY starts shivering. 

LUCILLE

You talked to our mother differently, and your shoulders are more slouched than usual.

BALFOUR

And?

LUCILLE sighs and takes a sip of her wine.

FELICITY

I’m cold.

LUCILLE and BALFOUR do not turn to face FELICITY. LUCILLE wears a face of resignation.

LUCILLE

We should go back out to the party.

FELICITY

Or not.

BALFOUR moves towards the door.

BALFOUR

You’re right, Lucille. We probably should.

FELICITY slams her fist on the table and stands up. LUCILLE jumps a little, but BALFOUR just glares at FELICITY. FELICITY looks worried.

FELICITY

No.

LUCILLE

Why?

FELICITY

It makes me feel like a sink that’s overspilling.

BALFOUR

Well you could just stay. They don’t need you out there anyway.

LUCILLE taps her heels again, once, speaking as she stands.

LUCILLE

(Sternly) Balfour.

FELICITY

(Quietly, only to LUCILLE) That’s why I don’t want to go, though. (Louder, after a pause) Fine. You two go make your glittery rounds, then.

The three of them have moved so that they are all standing close together by the door, stiffly.

LUCILLE

We can stay.

BALFOUR

(Pause) But there’s more alcohol outside.

LUCILLE glares at BALFOUR.

LUCILLE

You remind me of insufficiently dissolved blubber.

LUCILLE takes a sip of her wine with a satisfied expression. BALFOUR raises his eyebrows and points at LUCILLE as if to signal that she drew an accurate parallel.

BALFOUR

That’s why Lottie left me.

(Pause)

LUCILLE

How is she, by the way?

BALFOUR

Fine, I suppose. Enjoying finding herself, or something. She said something about needing to scrub the murk off her moon.

FELICITY is sitting down again, tapping the table repetitively with one index finger, quietly, in a steady rhythm.

LUCILLE

Good to hear. How are you feeling about it?

BALFOUR

Like an apricot dipped in sour milk.

LUCILLE

Bad, then, I take it?

BALFOUR shrugs and gives a slight nod.

BALFOUR

Bad.

FELICITY props her elbow up on the table and places her chin in her palm.

FELICITY

Lucille?

LUCILLE

Yes?

FELICITY

Do you know what our father meant when he said I was leaving a convulsive blueprint?

LUCILLE inhales deeply, pensively.

LUCILLE

(Softly) I think he meant you were being a bit abrasive.

FELICITY

I don’t like seeing him.

LUCILLE

Felicity…

BALFOUR

I don’t particularly like it either.

LUCILLE

It’s the guests I don’t like seeing.

LUCILLE slowly sits down, softly clicking her heels once on the floor again. BALFOUR follows, and sits down as well.

FELICITY

They’re all so critical.

LUCILLE

They’re like a babbling eclipse of moths.

FELICITY

And all they care about is why we’re unmarried.

LUCILLE

Because a woman is nothing if she’s not a female honorific attached to a man’s name.

BALFOUR scoots his chair in towards the table quietly. LUCILLE’s statement resonates for a few seconds.

BALFOUR

Lottie kept her maiden name.

LUCILLE

That’ll make leaving easier.

BALFOUR looks uneasy. It is as if he is crumbling inside, but he is too proud to admit it, so he makes a somewhat-failed attempt at masking it. FELICITY moves as though she is going to stand up, but relaxes in her chair again. LUCILLE furrows her eyebrows.

BALFOUR

She’s bolting like a copper comet.

FELICITY stands and puts her elbows on the table, leaning forward.

BALFOUR

Mother has been acting a lot like Lottie did. She’s been smoking more fluently.

LUCILLE

She wouldn’t leave our father.

BALFOUR

I’m not saying she should, I’m just saying she’s acting like Lottie did.

LUCILLE

She thinks she’s too old.

FELICITY
She is, I think.

BALFOUR
But she looks at him like she wishes her eyes were hatchets.

LUCILLE

(Quietly) Her face is permanently jaded, and she tries to hide it with smiles, but she can’t. I don’t even know when it started.

FELICITY

We should have noticed it earlier.

LUCILLE is staring at the door, but it is as if her eyes are not focusing on anything in particular.

LUCILLE

She just lost herself at some point.

BALFOUR stands. There is a beat of silence as he walks over to where he stood against the wall before, and lets out a loud sigh.

BALFOUR

She likes these parties, though.

LUCILLE breaks her gaze to look at BALFOUR. She gives a slight smile.

LUCILLE

I know. That’s why we come.

FELICITY takes her elbows off the table and stands up straight. She walks around the table and sits down in the chair that BALFOUR had been sitting in. BALFOUR taps his hands against the sides of his thighs rhythmically, creating a steady, quiet, simple beat like the ticking of a clock. LUCILLE stands up too, as if having realized something. She looks around, thinking. She reaches for her wine glass, and takes a sip. FELICITY reaches out to LUCILLE for the wine glass, takes it from her hands, and sips as well. FELICITY hands the glass to BALFOUR. He hesitates, then stops his tapping, and takes the glass. He holds it up to his mouth, looks at FELICITY and LUCILLE, and then takes a sip as well.

FELICITY

We have to go back out, then.

BALFOUR

Are you sure?

FELICITY

(Nodding) For her.

BALFOUR hands the glass back to LUCILLE, who places it back on the table. LUCILLE smiles.

BALFOUR

(Nodding) Okay.

LUCILLE nods, too.

LUCILLE

Then let’s go glitter.