Dropping A Line

(An older woman, Dorothy, is looking with strong intent into her cellphone. She is looking at some instructions on a piece of paper and is following steps as she uses her phone. She points the phone at her face and hits a button.)

Hello there, Derek? Uh, let me see. Well, I hope this thing is working. This is your Aunt Dorothy. Oh, silly me, of course if you can see me, you can see that it’s me…but I’ve never used this thing before - it’s just that with the storm last night, the phone line went out. I know what you are saying…Aunt Dotty - no one has a what do you call it…a land line? That’s a strange name for it. They’re all on the land…so anyway, I’m using that celluloid telephone thing that you gave me. I followed those directions you gave me. Wrote them down, right here…on paper! Or is it “land paper” these days? So this is some kind of television message I’m sending, I guess. I touched the little camera picture on the telephone screen and I think it’s doing something. Hope so. (Fixing her hair as she talks) Anyway, I wanted to tell you not to come here today. I know you said you were going to spend the day with your old aunt Dotty but that storm was so bad last night, I think it might have washed the road out. I’m not really sure. I didn’t go out, but the rain was so heavy and the wind, my, my it was like the roof was going to come off…but don’t you worry about me. Everything seems to be in one piece although I can’t really get up into the attic to check. I know you’re busy anyway and I don’t want you getting stuck on that road or anything. I’m doing okay. So don’t you dare come out here in this mess. (She hits button on the phone.) Shit! That didn’t sound right. Sounded like you were begging him to come out - the roof and the attic…I swear, Dorothy Cartnell - you are the world’s worst liar. Now try it again…and this time don’t lie. He deserves to know the truth. Okay, okay… (She looks at the directions and pushes the button on her phone.)

Hello, there Derek? This is your Aunt Dorothy - of course you know that because I guess you can see me. Look - did you get that first message I made? Not sure what I punched. If it was the send or the delete. Anyway, I wanted to tell you that you shouldn’t come here today. And not because of the storm and the washed out road - although that won’t make sense if you didn’t get that first message - well, just forget all that because, well, dammit, I have to tell you the truth. Your mom called me yesterday and she was fit to be tied. That’s right, in one of her tirades about us. She said that I was - how did she put it? - oh! a bad influence on you…a detriment - that’s the word she used - just like her to use a word like that - a detriment to your upbringing. Now I know, and I know YOU know, that that is a load of malarkey. Just because we connect…have always connected in a way that you haven’t with her, well I would not call that a detriment. Especially when I see what effect it has had on you - when you were having that rough time dealing with that sexual stuff - that I can’t say I totally understand or agree with, but I’m willing to try–not like her and her pinch-faced society bitches–oops! you better delete this as soon as you get it. I don’t want you putting it up on those internet do-hickeys and having it go vital–or whatever they call it. No…I think it’s been the opposite of detriment for you. I can’t think of what word that would be but I’m sure there is one. Besides, you’re almost eighteen now. You are a grown-up. And the fact is, Derek, you are the closest person to me in the world right now. When we are talking together or watching an old movie or sharing those crazy news stories or those funny names in the obituaries or watching those loony old folks down at the senior center…you keep me alive. You really do, and I don’t want to lose you. I can’t imagine my life without you, (she is starting to break down) but to honor my sister’s wishes…(hits the button on the phone) Goddammit! Now that’s too honest. And face it Dorothy, you don’t give a good goddamn about what Gloria thinks…but…God!

(Thinks a minute, then looks at the directions, picks up the phone and hits a button as she points at her face and intones very mechanically.)

Hello, Derek, this is your Aunt Dorothy. Just forget those last two messages - if you got them. I know you were planning to come here today, but I’m just not feeling well. So maybe we should just make it another day. Thanks, dear. (Pushes a button) Dorothy Cartnell, you are one big phony. That’s the worse. What good is that going to do anyone? He needs you and you know damn well how much you need him right now.

(There is a knock at the door.)

Aunt Dotty?

Derek? Is that you? Thank God. Didn’t you get my messages?

No. What messages? Are you okay?

I’m fine. Very fine. Be right there. (To the phone in her hand) Thank the lord, I never figured out how to use the damn thing. (Throws it down and exits.) Coming, my dear!


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About the Author

George Plautz has been writing, acting and directing for the theatre for more than forty years most recently with Wasatch Theatre Company where he directed, wrote and/or produced over twenty productions. Three of his full-length plays and numerous of his one-act and ten-minute plays have been produced. After retiring, he has been pursuing playwriting and cooking full-time including a month-long residency at Dairy Hollow in 2021.

George Plautz
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