Faraway: Get Out of Your World
To Be or Not To Be
A Pocket Play by Kathleen Franks
Hospital Lobby Receptionist
Scene I. Doctor’s Office, Berkeley, CA, 1970 (Riley on examining table)
Well, it’s positive. You’re about six weeks pregnant. Listen, I know this is not the best news for you. Here’s a pamphlet on the legal process for getting an abortion in California. You have to get two doctors to sign off and a psychiatrist. Ask my secretary for the list of doctors you can call.
Scene II. School Courtyard
Man, that’s not cool... You can’t be a mother now... You gotta finish school... and Canyon, he’s not ready to be a father, that’s for sure...
Yeah, I know... I guess I’m gonna have to get the abortion...
Scene III. Office Building
Bus pulls up at stop on Central Ave.... Riley gets off... looks at address on ‘50s-style office building... heads down walkway... opens door into dark, musty lobby... checks directory on wall... finds narrow stairway leading to cramped upper hall... dimly lit... Riley stares at stains on carpet... then looks up to see a cloudy glass window on door that reads, “Edward P. Stanton, Psychiatrist”... opens door...
DR. STANTON (looking over paperwork... pen in hand... looks up to see Riley enter)
Sit down. We’ve got forms to fill out. Your age?
Where are you from?
and what brought you to California?
What do you intend to do with your education?
I’m not sure yet... maybe teach art as mental health therapy... I used to do that in Ohio...
DR. STANTON (strokes beard... looks at paperwork... reads next question...)
Will this pregnancy deter you from reaching your goals?
Yes, it will.
Anything else that will put you at risk if you go through with this pregnancy? Is the father employed? Does he have an occupation? Why isn’t he here with you?
He’s not employed. I don’t know why he didn’t come with me today. It wasn’t something I thought about.
Dr. Stanton (shakes head...)
Anything else you need to tell me that will help you get approval for this abortion?
Well... my boyfriend’s black and my parents are going to kill me when they find out about all this.
DR. STANTON (writes on form)
Well, that should do it. Dr. Wilson will call to let you know when you’re on the schedule at San Francisco General.
Riley gets up... glances at Dr. Stanton who is hunched over paperwork...
Thanks for signing off on this.
Scene IV. Hospital Waiting Room (Riley and Canyon reading magazines)
I’m gonna see what’s taking so long...
Riley approaches the receptionist’s desk
I’ve been waiting for almost an hour....
What’s your name?
RECEPTIONIST (flipping through appointment book)
Honey, you’re nowhere on the list today... You’ll have to call your doctor and make another appointment...
Riley slowly walks away.... motions to Canyon to get up...
Scene V. Riley and Canyon’s apartment
Riley awake in bed... looking at ceiling... Canyon snoring... Riley gets up... goes to window.... places hands each side of womb... looks up at the stars...
Tell me... am I supposed to keep this baby? Who is he going to be? What if the world needs him? What if he grows up to find a cure for cancer or something? .... gets out paper and pen...
Dear Mom and Dad,
I met this guy. Canyon Montgomery. He’s black. I’m pregnant... Grandpa always said that mixed breeds are stronger... smarter... that cross-pollination produces a healthier strain... that pure-bred dogs, thorough-bred horses and inbred livestock can develop genetic weaknesses... Canyon and I have decided to live our lives together... from our strong union a new life is coming... that will combine the best from each of us... I hope that you can share in our new love... and allow our joy to brighten your lives...
TO BE CONTINUED
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