Don’t Stand So Close to Me

Three extracts from my play, Don’t Stand So Close to Me. This is the story of a friendship between a sixth form student and her teacher that begins innocently enough, but quickly moves into dangerous territory. Below is one scene from each of the first three acts.

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ACT I

 

Scene 3

SOPHIE’S bedroom – messy, a confusion of styles and colours. Photos everywhere, in frames, stuck to doors and windows, doors, walls and mirrors. SOPHIE’S IPhone is plugged into speakers, a Coldplay album is playing. SOPHIE is lying on her bed with a folder of work in front of her, half-heartedly trying to concentrate on an essay. AYESHA is sitting on the floor in front of the mirror, straightening her hair.

AYESHA:                   Have you finished that yet?

SOPHIE:                   No.

AYESHA:                  Hurry up!

SOPHIE:                  I can’t concentrate.

AYESHA:                  Do it tomorrow!

SOPHIE:                  It’s due tomorrow. First period.

AYESHA:                  Do it in the morning!

SOPHIE:                  There won’t be enough time.

AYESHA:                  Then don’t do it!

(exasperated sigh)

Is it coursework or summing?

SOPHIE:                   No. (looks at her) I still have to do it.

AYESHA:                  He won’t care.

SOPHIE:                  I got a D in the last one.

AYESHA:                  So? You’ll get a D if you try and do it now! Do it later!

SOPHIE:                  I said it would be in tomorrow.

AYESHA:                  You said it’d be in last week.

SOPHIE:                   Look, I have to do it, so you might as well stop distracting me and I’ll get it done a lot fucking faster.

(silence. AYESHA makes a face into the mirror)

AYESHA:                   Well we’re not listening to this shit. (fiddles with IPhone. Nicki Minaj starts playing)

Come on Soph, free entry stops at 10.

SOPHIE:                   Yeah, alright.

AYESHA:                   We’re not gonna make it, are we?

SOPHIE:                   Doubtful.

AYESHA:                   Sophie!

SOPHIE:                   You go, I don’t even want to!

AYESHA:                   I can’t go by myself!

SOPHIE:                   You’re not!

AYESHA:                   Katie doesn’t count.

SOPHIE:                   Loads of people are going.

AYESHA:                    Like?

SOPHIE:                   Everyone! Kath, Luce, Jo…

AYESHA:                   Fucking great. Why don’t you want to go?

SOPHIE:                   I can’t be fucked!

AYESHA:                   Thanks a lot.

SOPHIE:                  I’m just not in the mood alright? I don’t want to see him tonight.

AYESHA:                  You two had a fight or summing?

SOPHIE:                 Only the usual.

I don’t know. I’m just tired.

AYESHA:                  Tired?

SOPHIE :                  Too tired to deal with Paul, anyway.

AYESHA:                  You make it sound like a job.

SOPHIE:                   Feels like one.

AYESHA:                  Thought you well liked him.

SOPHIE:                  I did. Then he opened his mouth.

AYESHA:                  Soph!

SOPHIE:                   It’s the truth.

Actually it’s more that he doesn’t open his mouth.

All this time I thought he was just a dark horse, you know what I mean? Like he can be a bit of a nob, but it’s just an act, there’s                 more                           more going  on underneath, I just had to get to know the real him or whatever. Now I’m starting to think that is the real him.

He’s just a nob.

AYESHA:                   (laughing) Aww, Soph, when you gonna realise, they’re all nobs. You might as well pick a fit one.

SOPHIE:                   Well. Maybe.

AYESHA:                   Found an exception have you?

(SOPHIE smiles involuntarily)

AYESHA:                   Soph? Oi!

SOPHIE:                   Might have done.

AYESHA:                  (turning to look at her) Sophie! You kept that one quiet!

SOPHIE:                    No, no, nothing like that. Well I don’t know. No, it’s not.

AYESHA:                  Oh my god, what’s going on?

SOPHIE:                   Nothing! It’s just… look, I just got talking to someone at work the other day, and we got on really well, it’s nothing. He was just nice.

To talk to.

AYESHA:                   Oh, yeah?

SOPHIE:                   No, not like that. Stop it! We just talked. But it was – nice. You know what it’s like trying to talk to Paul. He might as well grunt.

AYESHA:                   Well. Who’s the new man then?

SOPHIE:                   No one.

AYESHA:                   Come on, what’s his name?

SOPHIE:                   You’re making this into a much bigger deal than it is.

AYESHA:                   Then tell me.

SOPHIE:                   It’s just someone from college!

AYESHA:                   Oooh! Who? It’s that Nick boy isn’t it? I saw you two getting a bit chatty in Media…

SOPHIE:                   No! Of course not. Euww! It’s not like that anyway, it’s just – ok, don’t freak.

AYESHA:                    Oh god.

SOPHIE:                   Fuck it. I’m not telling you.

AYESHA:                   Oh come on, don’t be like that.

SOPHIE:                   There’s nothing to tell. It really doesn’t matter.

AYESHA:                   Fine.

(silence)

I got a little confession actually.

SOPHIE:                   Why? What have you done? Or should I ask who?

AYESHA:                   Shut up! Well. You know Jon?

SOPHIE:                   Which Jon?

AYESHA:                   What d’you mean which Jon?? Kayleigh’s boyfriend, the one I’ve fancied for ages!

SOPHIE:                   Oh, him.

AYESHA:                   You’re useless.

SOPHIE:                   Come on then, what about him?

AYESHA:                   Well, he was at Sam’s on Saturday, and I was like, a bit pissed, and I kind of, might have implied… um… ok, it’s quite bad.

SOPHIE:                   What did you say?

AYESHA:                   Oooh, actually, I don’t think I’ll tell you after all.

SOPHIE:                   Fuck off!

AYESHA:                   Well come on, tell me yours first.

SOPHIE:                   Shu’up Ayesha, just finish the story.

AYESHA:                   Oh alright. Well anyway. I think I gave him the impression that Kayleigh was cheating on him.

SOPHIE:                   How exactly did you manage to give him that impression?

AYESHA:                    Said something along the lines of, “I heard Kayleigh’s cheating on you”.

SOPHIE:                   Ayesha.

AYESHA:                   It’s not a total lie!

SOPHIE:                   Oh yeah? So who exactly is your source, then?

AYESHA:                   Well no one, but she probably is. She cheats on everyone!

SOPHIE:                   Like who?

AYESHA:                   (thinks) Stefan. With Jake Roberts, in the year above.

SOPHIE:                   That was in Year Eight. And they only went out for three days!

AYESHA:                   She cheats on everyone.

(muttering) Slut.

(beat. SOPHIE smiles to herself)

Have you got any alcohol?

SOPHIE:                   There’s a bottle of wine in the Tesco bag.

AYESHA:                   (taking it out) Didn’t know you drank red.

SOPHIE:                   Don’t usually, but I like that one. It’s well nice. Was drinking it the other night with Mr – um with, with – the guys from work.

AYESHA:                   With Mr Who?

SOPHIE:                   No, the guys from work. We serve it at the restaurant.

AYESHA:                   No, hang on… your secret restaurant rendezvous is a Mr someone? I thought you said it was someone from college!

SOPHIE:                   It is!

(beat)

AYESHA:                   Oh fucking hell, didn’t know you were talking about a teacher!

Come on, who was it?

SOPHIE:                   No one! Stop it!

AYESHA:                   Oh my god oh my god. Was it…

Mr…. Whitely.

SOPHIE:                   No!

AYESHA:                   Mr. Harris?

SOPHIE:                   No.

AYESHA:                   Mr. Mitchell?

SOPHIE:                   No.

AYESHA:                   Mr. Lees?

SOPHIE:                   No. Stop it now, I’m not telling you.

AYESHA:                   Mr. Blake?

SOPHIE:                   A- Look. I said stop it.

AYESHA:                  Was it Mr Blake?

SOPHIE:                  Ayesha!

AYESHA:                  Ah, so that’s why you’re bothering to do his essay for once.

(beat)

Soph?

Don’t get in a strop.

SOPHIE:                   Alright, it was Mr. Blake, just get off my back now.

(stunned silence)

See! I knew you’d do this! That’s why I didn’t tell you! Oh fucking hell.

AYESHA:                   Mr. Blake?

SOPHIE:                   Ayesha! Nothing happened, it wasn’t like that! Fucking hell, I just talked to him!

AYESHA:                   That’s all?

SOPHIE:                   Well, and he drove me home.

AYESHA:                   Sophie! Is that even allowed?

SOPHIE:                   Yes! No. I don’t know. Probably. It must be!

AYESHA:                   Oh my god.

(Enter KATIE)

KATIE:                   What are you two screaming about?

SOPHIE:                 Noth-

AYESHA:                Sophie’s seeing Mr. Blake.

KATIE:                   What!?

SOPHIE:                   No I’m not! Oh bloody hell. He just gave me a lift home.

KATIE:                   Oh. Jesus Christ, Ayesha, don’t scare me like that.

Anyway, Sophie, can I borrow your concealer? I think I just made it worse…

SOPHIE:                   S’in my bag.

AYESHA:                   Whoa! People! Am I the only one who thinks this is kind of important?

KATIE:                   Yes, you are. Don’t be so dramatic.

AYESHA:                   Shut up Katie, you missed the whole “we really connected, he’s so much better than Paul, I want to marry him and have his babies”

speech, alright?

SOPHIE:                   I didn’t say anything like that!

AYESHA:                   I read between the lines.

KATIE:                   Its no big deal, maybe Sophie just likes the older men.

SOPHIE:                   What?

AYESHA:                   Eugh!

SOPHIE:                   Listen, both of you, nothing happened!

KATIE:                   Sure Sophie. Look, we wouldn’t judge you.

SOPHIE:                   But nothing happened!

KATIE:                   It’s okay, we understand.

SOPHIE:                   Piss off.

AYESHA:                   What did you even talk about?

SOPHIE:                   I don’t know. Just stuff. His car.

KATIE:                   Deep.

SOPHIE:                   Oh, shut up.

AYESHA:                   It wasn’t… weird?

SOPHIE:                   No, we kind of just –

KATIE:                   Connected?

SOPHIE:                   No!

Well, I mean, sort of –

AYESHA:                   (puts her hands over her ears) La la la la laaa!!!!!!

SOPHIE:                   No, not like that.

AYESHA:                   Sophie. Please. He’s old enough to be your grandfather.

SOPHIE:                   No, he’s not.

AYESHA:                   Fine, your father, then.

KATIE:                   To be fair, so’s Johnny Depp, and I would.

AYESHA:                   That’s different.

SOPHIE:                   How?

AYESHA:                   It just is. Johnny Depp’s fit.

KATIE:                   Mr Blake’s not THAT bad. If you squint a bit, and shake your head around.

SOPHIE:                   You’ve done that?

KATIE:                   Look, my English lessons are seriously boring.

AYESHA:                   You’re such a freak.

KATIE:                   Yeah, but with a face like this, does it matter?

AYESHA:                   (rolls her eyes) Alright, Sophie, whatever you say. But come on, you’re not staying in.

KATIE:                   Yeah, why aren’t you getting ready? What you wearing?

SOPHIE:                   I don’t know. You decide.

AYESHA:                   Are you SURE that’s a good idea?

SOPHIE:                   Good point… Um, playsuit.

KATIE:                   Shoes?

SOPHIE:                   Er… flats.

KATIE:                           Er.. no!

SOPHIE:                   I don’t care.

KATIE:                   Have you still got those silver stilettos I made you buy?

SOPHIE:                   I’m wearing my black platforms.

AYESHA:                   Good choice.

KATIE:                   They have heels, though, yeah?

SOPHIE:                   Yes, Katie, they have 3 inch painful heels that I can barely dance in.

KATIE:                   Good.

SOPHIE:                   My toes will get cold…

KATIE:                   Shut up.

SOPHIE:                   Ayesha, will you straighten my hair? Pleeeeease?

AYESHA:                   Course.

SOPHIE:                   Cheers.

(AYESHA climbs onto the bed and starts straightening SOPHIE’s hair)

KATIE:                   Well, I’m going out for a cigarette.

SOPHIE:                   Don’t let my mum see.

KATIE:                   I can be subtle.

AYESHA:                   Katie, you’re about as subtle as a stripper in a monastery.

KATIE:                   Fuck you, you bitch.

AYESHA:                   I rest my case.

SOPHIE:                   Now, now, children.

KATIE:                      I’ll be careful, alright?

(Exit KATIE)

(beat)

SOPHIE:                   I can’t do this.

AYESHA:                   Do what?

SOPHIE:                   This essay. I can’t do it.

AYESHA:                   Do it tomorrow.

(beat)

SOPHIE:                   He’s really nice, you know.

AYESHA:                   He’s a right idiot at college.

SOPHIE:                   Well he’s not in real life. He’s nice.

AYESHA:                   If you say so.

SOPHIE:                   I don’t know why you’re being so weird about this, he’s just a person. He’s not, you know, exclusively a teacher, he’s got a personality as

well. Which I happen to really like.

AYESHA:                   Soph, he’s old, okay –

SOPHIE:                   He’s not that old.

AYESHA:                   He’s a lot older than you.

SOPHIE:                   I’m not a baby.

AYESHA:                   No, you’re right, Soph. You’re a fully fledged adult. A mature, independent woman. Who’s just finished her GCSEs and lives at home with

her mum. What would you even talk about?

(beat)

SOPHIE:                   I don’t know.

AYESHA:                   Exactly.

SOPHIE:                   For fuck’s sake Ayesha, I’m not saying I want to marry him, it was just nice to talk to a guy for once and feel like they actually want to

TALK to me, just for the sake of talking, you know? It was nice.

AYESHA:                   Hmm.

SOPHIE:                   What?

AYESHA:                   Something tells me you’re not getting a D for your next essay.

SOPHIE:                   (Swinging her head around suddenly) Oh, fuck off, Ayesha…! (Catching her neck on the open straighteners) Aarrgh!

AYESHA:                   Oh my god! I am so sorry!

SOPHIE:                   Fuck that hurts!

AYESHA:                   Sophie, I’m sorry, come here… (tries to hug SOPHIE, who nudges her off)

SOPHIE:                   (holding her neck) Back off, you’re dangerous!

AYESHA:                   Seriously, you should put something on it…

SOPHIE:                   S’alright.

AYESHA:                   Run it under cold water!

SOPHIE:                   It’s fine.

AYESHA:                   Do you have burn cream or summing?

SOPHIE:                   No.

AYESHA:                   Ice?

SOPHIE:                   (shakes her head)

AYESHA:                   Wanna borrow my Benefit mascara?

(SOPHIE nods pitifully. AYESHA laughs)

SOPHIE:                   (moving her hands away) Is it bad?

AYESHA:                   I’d wear your hair down.

SOPHIE:                   Fucking hell.

AYESHA:                   Sorry.

SOPHIE:                   Oh well, might keep Paul at arm’s length.

AYESHA:                   Shit Soph, are you gonna break up with him or what?

SOPHIE:                   No… he’s alright really. I’m used to it now.

AYESHA:                   Yeah, but Soph -.

SOPHIE:                   It’s not like I’m fighting them off, is it?

AYESHA:                   That’s not really the point.

SOPHIE:                   Isn’t it?

(silence. SOPHIE stares at her essay.)

(suddenly slams the folder shut)

Right. Fuck this, let’s go and get wasted.

****

ACT II

 

Scene 2

BLAKE is sitting at a table at a café-bar, very casually dressed in scruffy jeans & t-shirt, reading through a sheet of paper and making occasional notes on it. On the table are a cup of coffee and a small pile of university prospectuses. Enter SOPHIE, very dressed up. She looks around her uncertainly, then sees BLAKE, a little surprised as she notes his appearance. As she hesitates, he looks up, starts a little at her appearance, then recovers himself, smiles and waves. She smiles back awkwardly, crosses to the table, looks momentarily unsure of how to greet him, then gives up and sits down quickly, not knowing where to look.

 

BLAKE:                                    You look very glamorous. Going somewhere nice?

 

SOPHIE:                       (looks up sharply) No… just – here.

S’pose I just like to look nice.

BLAKE:                         Right.

Well.

(looks at the paper, then glances up)

Nothing too serious, then?

SOPHIE:                  What?

BLAKE:                    Your appointment, this afternoon?

Not dying, I hope?

SOPHIE:              Oh, right – no. Just a… check-up.

BLAKE:              Excellent. Well, shall we start talking about –

(WAITER approaches the table)

WAITER:                  (to SOPHIE) Can I get you anything?

SOPHIE:                  Glass of the house white, please.

WAITER:                  Certainly.

BLAKE:                   Another latte for me. Thank you.

(exit WAITER)

BLAKE:                  Right. Well, I’ve started going through your personal statement, and I’ve just made a few notes there, if you’d like to have a look…

(turns the paper for SOPHIE to see)

SOPHIE:                  What does that say?

BLAKE:                   (Twists his head to read his writing. SOPHIE shuffles her chair around next to his, turning the paper so they can both read it) Erm, hang on. Oh, specific examples. You need to say which authors you, um, you particularly like. To talk about in the interview.

SOPHIE:                  Who should I put down?

BLAKE:                  Well, what do you like reading?

SOPHIE:                  I dunno. Harry Potter?

BLAKE:                  Well, I think you might need to choose something a little more intellectual –

SOPHIE:                  See! I told you! I’m not clever enough!

BLAKE:                  I didn’t say you weren’t clever enough, only that your reading material isn’t quite –

SOPHIE:                  Well it’s a bit late now, I’m hardly gonna be able to read the complete works of Shakespeare before the end of term!

BLAKE:                  Well, no. But you don’t have to. Look, have a flick through a few of these and tell me if you see any courses you particularly like the look of, and we’ll go from there. Alright? (Passes SOPHIE the prospectuses, she reluctantly starts to read through them)

(Enter a WAITRESS – attractive, Spanish, early 30s – carrying the drinks. Smiles at BLAKE, places the wine by him and the coffee by SOPHIE)

BLAKE:                  Thank you.

(Exit WAITRESS. BLAKE self-consciously swaps the drinks around)

(BLAKE looks at his watch)

SOPHIE:                  Do you have to be somewhere?

BLAKE:                  Not yet. I need to be home in about an hour though. Expecting a call.

SOPHIE:                  Don’t know why you didn’t just let me come over to yours.

BLAKE:                  I think you probably do.

SOPHIE:                  Well, it would’ve been easier.

(silence)

(SOPHIE takes a large sip of her wine)

SOPHIE:                  This is stupid.

BLAKE:                  What’s stupid?

SOPHIE:                  I don’t see why we can’t be – you know – friends.

I mean, we’re both adults.

More or less.

BLAKE:                  Sophie, please.

SOPHIE:                  I mean, what’s all this about, all these favours, helping me with the uni stuff and that, if –

BLAKE:                     Because I care.

SOPHIE:                  But –

BLAKE:                  Because – we do have a friendship. Of sorts.

SOPHIE:                  Barely.

BLAKE:                  You know you can talk to me. You can call me if you need to.

This is the best I can do.

SOPHIE:                  It’d just be nice, you know.

BLAKE:                  I know.

(Beat)

SOPHIE:                  At least have a glass of wine with me. I feel like a right alky.

BLAKE:                  (smiles) Alright. (Gets attention of WAITRESS, offstage, indicates for another glass)

So. Your thoughts on the courses?

SOPHIE:                  Um, I dunno really. I think I want to do something with more modern stuff.

BLAKE:                  Well, that’s easy enough – actually there’s this one here (rummages through prospectuses) which combines a lot of American literature, that might be right for you…

SOPHIE:                  (drinking) Yeah.

(beat)

BLAKE:                  Do you want to talk about this later?

SOPHIE:                  I’m sorry, I’m just not really in the mood.

BLAKE:                  Okay.

(beat)

SOPHIE:                  I had a fight with Paul.

BLAKE:                  Ah.

SOPHIE:                  He got a bit nasty.

BLAKE:                  How nasty?

SOPHIE:                  Shouting his mouth off, breaking things. Typical Paul behaviour. He’ll be all sorry in the morning.

BLAKE:                  And that bruise on your arm –

SOPHIE:                  Yeah.

BLAKE:                  (sighs) You know what I’m going to say, don’t you?

SOPHIE:                  Yeah. I know.

(beat)                  I will. Honestly.

But it’s difficult, you know?

(beat)

Anyway he’s not that bad. You get used to it.

BLAKE:                  Why would you want to get used to him?

(SOPHIE shrugs)

Sophie.

(Enter WAITRESS with bottle of wine and another glass)

WAITRESS:                  (smiling warmly at BLAKE) Here you are. Sorry for the wait.

BLAKE:                  (smiles back) Not a problem.

(WAITRESS places the glass and bottle on the table)

BLAKE:                  Ah, well actually I only wanted –

SOPHIE:                  Let’s just keep the bottle.

BLAKE:                  Sophie, I can’t.

SOPHIE:                  Oh go on, you might as well.

BLAKE:                  Sophie!

WAITRESS:                 You want me to take it back? It’s no problem.

BLAKE:                  Well –

SOPHIE:                  It’s fine.

BLAKE:                  (sighs) You’ll be the death of me.

SOPHIE:                  Worse ways to die.

BLAKE:                  Ha. (To WAITRESS) Alright, thank you. (WAITRESS pours out a glass for BLAKE, tops up SOPHIE’s almost empty glass)

SOPHIE:                  Thanks.

(Exit WAITRESS)

(Silence. They both drink)

SOPHIE:                   I didn’t really have a doctor’s appointment.

BLAKE:                  I suspected as much.

What happened?

SOPHIE:                  Nothing happened.

I just wanted to see you somewhere else.

(beat)

I prefer to see you when it’s – like this.

BLAKE:                  Like what?

SOPHIE:                  Normal.

BLAKE:                  This is normal?

SOPHIE:                  Well not exactly. But it’s better. Now we’re just people.

BLAKE:                  As opposed to what?

SOPHIE:                  You know what I mean.

BLAKE:                  It’s not quite a different world, Sophie, you don’t leave your identity at the school gates.

SOPHIE:                  Don’t you?

(beat)

BLAKE:                  You’re very serious today.

SOPHIE:                  (brightening) Am I?

BLAKE:                  (laughs) That’s not necessarily a compliment.

SOPHIE:                  I think it is. I’d rather be serious.

BLAKE:                  Than what?

SOPHIE:                  I dunno. A silly little girl?

BLAKE:                  You’re never a silly little girl.

SOPHIE:                  Thanks.

(smiles) Neither are you.

(BLAKE laughs)

(pause)

BLAKE:                  Excuse me a minute.

SOPHIE:                  Where are you going?

BLAKE:                  To powder my nose (smiles)

(EXIT BLAKE. Passes WAITRESS as he leaves, she catches his eye)

(WAITRESS crosses to the table)

WAITRESS:                  You ready to order now?

SOPHIE:                  Sorry, I haven’t even looked at the menu yet.

WAITRESS:                  No problem.

(beat)

I like your dress. Very pretty

SOPHIE:                  Oh, thank you!

WAITRESS:                  You know, in this country, I never see girls – ah – like this. Is so different. Where I am growing up, fathers are always taking out his daughters for dinner, he’s proud of her, it’s special, you know? But in England, I don’t see this. It’s nice.

SOPHIE:                  (Stares at her) Um… I’m not actually here with my father.

WAITRESS:                  Hmm? (Glances at BLAKE’s seat)

Oh! I’m sorry… I thought…

SOPHIE:                  Don’t worry about it.

(beat)

WAITRESS:                  Let me know when you’re ready. Ok? (Goes to fetch a tray, begins clearing & wiping down other tables)

(Pause. SOPHIE idly looks through one of the prospectuses)

(Enter BLAKE. Smiles at the WAITRESS. She gives him a scathing look and continues. BLAKE looks a little affronted, sits down. Glances at his watch)

BLAKE:                  Sophie, I really am going to have to leave soon.

SOPHIE:                  There’s half a bottle of wine left there.

BLAKE:                  (indicating to her mainly full glass) Well you’re drinking awfully slowly suddenly.

SOPHIE:                  I can’t drink on an empty stomach!

BLAKE:                  You haven’t eaten?

SOPHIE:                  No, I sort of assumed we were gonna get dinner.

BLAKE:                  What made you think that?

SOPHIE:                  Well when you said here… I thought…

(WAITRESS goes to exit just as WAITER enters. Stops. BLAKE glances after her as she goes)

BLAKE:                  Sophie, we’re here to discuss your UCAS application.

SOPHIE:                  I know! But it’s. Well, dinner time, isn’t it? Sort of.

BLAKE:                  But, I didn’t even suggest –

SOPHIE:                Yeah, well.

Just thought you might … (shrugs). You know.

BLAKE:                  Oh, I see, now you’re questioning my chivalry.

SOPHIE:                  Yup.

BLAKE:                  Honestly, I don’t have time.

SOPHIE:                  Alright, it’s okay. I’ll get something later.

BLAKE:                  Thank you.

(WAITER and WAITRESS are talking quietly at the side. BLAKE is very aware of it. WAITRESS smirks and looks at the table. Both exit.)

Ok, shall we take another look at the prospectuses?

SOPHIE:                  Yeah, alright.

BLAKE:                  Have you thought at all about where you’d like to go?

SOPHIE:                  Don’t really want to go anywhere with annoying accents.

BLAKE:                  For example?

SOPHIE:                  Wales. West Country. Anywhere north of London.

BLAKE:                  Right. Well, that narrows things down somewhat.

(Enter WAITER with plate of food)

WAITER:                  One halloumi salad, Sir (Places it in front of BLAKE)

(SOPHIE raises an eyebrow)

BLAKE:                  I ordered it before you got here. I was hungry.

SOPHIE:                  That’s not fair!

WAITER:                  (To SOPHIE) I’m sorry, can I see some ID please?

SOPHIE:                  ‘Scuse me?

WAITER:                  I’m going to need to see some ID.

SOPHIE:                  I don’t have it on me.

WAITER:                  We shouldn’t really be serving you alcohol without seeing some proof of age.

SOPHIE:                  (indicates the bottle of wine) It’s a bit late now, isn’t it?

WAITER:                  Well, on this occasion we’ll overlook it. But next time you need to bring your ID with you, ok?

SOPHIE:                  Okay. Thank you.

(Exit WAITER)

(BLAKE and SOPHIE both sit in silent mortification. BLAKE picks at his food)

SOPHIE:                  Nob.

BLAKE                  He’s got a point.

SOPHIE:                  Whatever. Should have said something in the first place.

(beat)

I’m hungry (opens the menu)

BLAKE                  No, Sophie, I really don’t think it’s a good idea.

SOPHIE:                  What is it you think is so dangerous?

BLAKE:                  Nothing! It’s just not –

SOPHIE:                  What? The done thing?

BLAKE:                  Well, no, frankly, it’s not.

(silence. SOPHIE sips her wine)

For goodness’ sake.

You really are quite pushy, aren’t you?

SOPHIE:                  I haven’t said anything! Look, it’s up to you, if it makes you happy I’ll go home hungry. I’m not complaining. I’ll just sit here and watch you eat.

BLAKE:                  Oh stop it, you sound like my ex-wife.

(SOPHIE smirks)

(beat)

The food isn’t particularly awe-inspiring, I promise.

SOPHIE:                  I’ve been surviving on beans on toast all week, it can’t be that bad.

Can I have a bit of yours?

BLAKE:                   No.

SOPHIE:                 Why not?

BLAKE:                     You – don’t have a fork.

(SOPHIE leans across and takes some with her fingers, eats it slightly messily)

(beat)

Well. That was truly unpleasant.

SOPHIE:                    (laughs) Why?

BLAKE:                      Because, it just – look, you can’t eat salad with your fingers!

(SOPHIE laughs. BLAKE looks at his food, disgusted)

SOPHIE:                     What’s the matter with you?

BLAKE:                      It’s a pet hate of mine.

SOPHIE:                   What is?

BLAKE:                       People eating off plates with their fingers. Particularly mine.

I don’t like it.

SOPHIE:                      Why?

BLAKE:                        I don’t know! It just makes me feel ill.

Like when people lick their fingers. I can’t stand it.

I can’t eat this now.

SOPHIE:                  Don’t be ridiculous.

(beat)

I’ll eat it then.

(Reaches over to take the plate)

BLAKE:                     No! Leave it alone. I’ll eat it.

SOPHIE:                   Well, make up your mind.

I’m starving.

(beat)

(Sophie surreptitiously licks her fingers)

BLAKE:                     I saw that!

(pokes at his food)

(SOPHIE reaches across, tries to snatch some of his food- BLAKE moves his plate away sharply, then glares at her. SOPHIE makes a pitiful face)

BLAKE:                  (Rolls his eyes.)

Go on then, order something.

You’ve made me feel guilty enough.

(SOPHIE grins)

Only this once, mind.

And you’ll have to eat it fast.

SOPHIE:                  Alright, alright. (opens menu, gets attention of WAITRESS, offstage)

(Enter WAITRESS. Smiles at SOPHIE. Ignores BLAKE)

Hi, can I get – ummm – the stuffed potato wedges please?

BLAKE:                  You’re having potato wedges for dinner?

SOPHIE:                  Yeah.

(BLAKE looks at her)

Look, I’m a student, alright? I’m poor.

WAITRESS:                  One wedges. Anything else?

SOPHIE:                  That’s it thanks.

(glances at menu)

Actually, can I cancel that? I’ll just get some chips.

WAITRESS:                  Sorry, we don’t serve chips.

SOPHIE:                  Oh. Well what else do you have for under four quid?

BLAKE:                  For goodness’ sake.

(sighs, leans his head on his hands, then looks up at her)

SOPHIE:                  What?

BLAKE:                       Just – get what you want, alright?

SOPHIE:                  But –

BLAKE:                  Sophie, I’ll pay. Just order.

SOPHIE:                 Aww, thank you!

BLAKE:                  Don’t mention it.

Really.

To anyone.

(Smiles mirthlessly to himself, takes a sip of wine)

(Lights fade)

 ****

ACT III

 

Scene 3

As before; a few more hours have passed. BLAKE and SOPHIE are still trapped in the locked office but have given up trying to reach the key. They are sitting on the floor, quite drunk and laughing, with the bottle of ‘Teacher’s’ whisky that was on the shelf now a third empty on the floor between them.

SOPHIE:                   Ok, ok, my turn…. How old were you when you lost it?

BLAKE:                   Lost what?

SOPHIE:                   Your virginity, you nob!

BLAKE:                   Well, that really is a refreshingly original question.

SOPHIE:                   Just answer it.

BLAKE:                   I can’t remember.

SOPHIE:                   Whatever!

BLAKE:                   Alright, alright, twenty.

SOPHIE:                   Fucking hell!

BLAKE:                   Late starter?

SOPHIE:                   Just a bit.

BLAKE:                   What about you, or do I not want to know?

SOPHIE:                   S’not that bad. Only a year or so ago. To Paul. (takes a swig of the whisky, retches slightly)

Okay. Okayyyyyy – have you ever, fantasized about a student?

BLAKE:                   Oh come on, Sophie. I’m a warm blooded male, of course I have.

SOPHIE:                   Really?!

BLAKE:                   Yes, really.

SOPHIE:                   What kind of…

BLAKE:                   Oh – I don’t know!

SOPHIE:                   Come on!

BLAKE:                   Nothing sinister, just sometimes… you can’t help it… certain faces, at inopportune moments… sometimes just pop into your head…

SOPHIE:                   Like who?

BLAKE:                   Look, when I was younger –

SOPHIE:                   Stephen!

BLAKE:                   No, listen! When you’re young, and you’ve just started teaching, and some of your students aren’t all that much younger than you are, it can be quite difficult to –

SOPHIE:                   I don’t care about when you were younger, I want to know about now!

(beat)

BLAKE:                   Sometimes, Sophie, you can be really quite cruel.

SOPHIE:                   Oh come on, it’s just a game.

BLAKE:                   Why do you want to know so urgently?

SOPHIE:                   I don’t! I’m just curious. I don’t really care.

BLAKE:                   Well then there’s no need to tell you.

SOPHIE:                   Stephen!

Alright I do care. Tell me who!

BLAKE:                   Look, I – I don’t know. You all look the same to me these days. Faces all blur into one.

SOPHIE:                   Bullshit!

BLAKE:                   It’s true! I –

SOPHIE:                   You must know who –

BLAKE:                   Yes, but you see –

SOPHIE:                   I mean, for example have you –

BLAKE:                   These things can be very vague –

SOPHIE:                   Yeah, but you ever… you know… about me?

BLAKE:                   (drinks from the whisky bottle) I believe it’s my turn to ask questions.

SOPHIE:                   Stephen!

BLAKE:                   What about you? Surely you must have had these sorts of thoughts about teachers. I know I did when I was at school.

SOPHIE:                   Oh yeah?

BLAKE:                   Of course.

(smiles to himself)

Miss Ferris, in particular, I seem to remember. The main reason I chose O Level Geography.

Many an idle lesson spent contemplating the contours of her shores, I can tell you.

SOPHIE:                   You’re disgusting.

BLAKE:                   I’m a man.

SOPHIE:                   Fair point.

BLAKE:                   Come on then.

SOPHIE:                  I’ve never thought like that about my teachers.

BLAKE:                   Absolute twaddle.

SOPHIE:                   Shut up! How would you know?

BLAKE:                   (shrugs) Instinct.

SOPHIE:                   I can honestly say I have never fantasized about –

BLAKE:                   Not necessarily a full-blown fantasy, I’m not suggesting you’ve lain awake at night thinking about –

SOPHIE:                   Being spanked with a board rubber?

BLAKE:                   Well, no, precisely. I just mean –

SOPHIE:                     What?

BLAKE:                   It’s never even occurred to you?

SOPHIE:                   S’pose the idea might have crossed my mind, but –

BLAKE:                   Well, then, there you are.

SOPHIE:                   But that’s not the same as –

BLAKE:                   Of course it is!

SOPHIE:                   It’s so not!

BLAKE:                   Alright, If you say so.

(Beat)

SOPHIE:                   It’s not.

BLAKE:                   Alright!

(beat)

SOPHIE:                   You’re so annoying.

BLAKE:                     I try my best.

(beat)

You’re very prudish, you know, for seventeen.

SOPHIE:                   I am NOT prudish. I’m just –

BLAKE:                   Reticent?

SOPHIE:                   Ladylike!

BLAKE:                   (laughs) Yes, you’re right. The elegance with which you clutch that whisky bottle is positively regal.

SOPHIE:                   Fuck off!

BLAKE:                   Just which finishing school did you go to?

(silence)

Oh, stop sulking. I’m only teasing.

(boisterously puts his arm around her and pulls her towards him) Come on, you can ask the next question.

Hmm? (Lets go of her. She doesn’t move away.)

(Beat)

SOPHIE:                   What does reticent mean?

(Blake laughs)

Stop laughing! Why are you laughing?

BLAKE:                   (still laughing) No reason. (Stops laughing. Smiles at her, amused)

It’s nothing insulting, don’t worry. Just – reserved.

You’re quite reserved. About some things, anyway.

SOPHIE:                   Oh.

(beat)

BLAKE:                      Right. My turn.

SOPHIE:                   No it’s not!

BLAKE:                   I’m afraid that counted as your question.

(SOPHIE makes a disgruntled noise)

A slightly serious one, I’m afraid.

SOPHIE:                   Great.

(beat)

BLAKE:                   Sophie… did you tell Ayesha about us?

SOPHIE:                   She said something to you, didn’t she? Earlier? I knew it.

(beat)

Thought there was nothing to tell.

BLAKE:                   Sophie.

SOPHIE:                   No. I didn’t tell her anything.

BLAKE:                   Then why –

SOPHIE:                   They’re not stupid, Stephen. Or blind.

BLAKE:                   No.

I suppose not.

(beat)

SOPHIE:                   Have you told anyone?

BLAKE:                   (drinks from the bottle) There’s nothing to tell.

(SOPHIE makes a face and hits him on the shoulder)

Come on. Your turn, I suppose.

SOPHIE:                    Oh, yeah.

(drinks from the bottle. Looks at BLAKE, falters slightly)

Alright, got one.

Have you ever… felt, you know…

BLAKE:                           Yes.

SOPHIE:                          Fuck off!

BLAKE:                             Sorry. Continue.

SOPHIE:                         Have you ever felt, um … Have you ever felt jealous of Paul?

BLAKE:                   Of Paul?

SOPHIE:                   Yeah.

BLAKE:                   Why on earth would I feel jealous of Paul? He’s an eighteen year old drop out with no qualifications and a developing drug habit.

SOPHIE:                   You know what I mean.

(BLAKE takes a swig from the bottle)

BLAKE:                   Define jealous.

SOPHIE:                   Well, when you saw us together, after I’d talked to you about it and that, didn’t you feel, you know…

BLAKE:                   I suppose it was somewhat exasperating, when I knew how unhappy you were, but –

SOPHIE:                   So you didn’t feel at all, um … I mean, you didn’t like him…

BLAKE:                   Yes, but that’s not connected to you, he just isn’t a particularly affable young man.

SOPHIE:                   But you seemed so angry with me, when –

BLAKE:                   I don’t like to see you upsetting yourself.

SOPHIE:                   Why?

BLAKE:                   I don’t know.

You bring out this sort of – protectiveness – in me…

SOPHIE:                   Do I?

BLAKE:                   Well, yes. I mean, I wasn’t exactly about to challenge him to a sunrise duel, but I did feel… how can I put it…?

SOPHIE:                   Fatherly?

BLAKE:                   No, not that.

SOPHIE:                   What, then?

BLAKE:                   I don’t know, Sophie.

SOPHIE:                   Jealous?

BLAKE:                      Ahh. I don’t know. Pass.

SOPHIE:                   That’s not allowed!

BLAKE:                   Well, then, yes! I suppose I may have felt, occasionally, a twinge of something that could possibly be categorized as jealousy.

SOPHIE:                   Interesting.

BLAKE:                   Have you considered a career in Law?

(SOPHIE laughs)

BLAKE:                   Alright, here’s one for you.

Just what is it about a greying, balding, middle aged grump – albeit an also very dashing, highly intelligent and charismatic middle aged grump – just giving you some ideas there – what is it about some one like this, that a bright young thing like you could possibly find attractive?

SOPHIE:                   What’s to say I find anything about him attractive?

BLAKE:                   Presuming you do.

SOPHIE:                   Is this a theoretical question?

BLAKE:                   Nnno.

SOPHIE:                   Then, umm – I don’t know.

BLAKE:                   Rubbish. Disallowed.

SOPHIE:                   Alright. Alright.

I want to say, it’s because you’re nice to me, but you’re not really, are you? So I don’t really know.

Although you sort of are nice, in a way. Not in the way I’m used to.

I don’t know. There’s something about how we sort of – connect. Does that sound stupid? I feel, when I talk to you, I can feel my brain

properly switch on.

I guess, when I spend my time with – with these immature little boys, you seem –

Stop smirking!

BLAKE:                   Sorry.

SOPHIE:                   No. Too late. Moment’s passed.

BLAKE:                   Oh, come on, just a little ego massage….(leans towards her slightly)

SOPHIE:                   Absolutely not.

BLAKE:                     Pleaaaase?

(leans towards her, for a moment their eyes meet and both hesitate. SOPHIE breaks the moment by suddenly looking away. BLAKE falls back slightly)

SOPHIE:                      Anyway. It’s my turn.

(beat)

SOPHIE:                     Stephen…

BLAKE:                      Mr Blake.

SOPHIE:                    Stephen. (beat) What happened with your wife?

BLAKE:                   (sitting up, irritably) She left me.

SOPHIE:                   I know, but –

BLAKE:                   That’s it. Nothing dramatic. No affairs, no conspiracies, no deaths.

Sorry to disappoint you. (drinks)

(silence)

SOPHIE:                   You don’t have to be so –

BLAKE:                       So what? Boring?

SOPHIE:                     No, bitter.

BLAKE:                       I’m not bitter. I’m just not in the mood to discuss this.

SOPHIE:                       You’re never in the mood to discuss anything.

BLAKE:                   It’s hardly an anecdote you whip out at parties, Sophie, it’s a fairly painful topic…

SOPHIE:                  Yeah, but it’s healthy.

BLAKE:                     Whinging to my students about my marital failings is healthy?

 

SOPHIE:                   You’re not whinging to your students. You’re whinging to me. And it’s not whinging, it’s talking.

 

                                    (beat)

 

So, what? She just said it’s not working, goodbye?

BLAKE:                   Well, no, obviously there was more to it than that.

For one thing, she –

(Sighs, reluctant)

She wanted to start having – children. And it wasn’t going to happen.

SOPHIE:                   You don’t want them?

BLAKE:                   It’s more complicated than that.

SOPHIE:                   How?

BLAKE:                   It would have been difficult.

SOPHIE:                   Well, obviously. When is having kids easy?

BLAKE:                      It would have been particularly difficult in this case, Sophie.

(looks at her)

SOPHIE:                   But –

BLAKE:                   I’d really rather stop talking about this.

(SOPHIE opens her mouth to speak)

BLAKE:                     (raising his hand defensively) I would really rather not!

SOPHIE:                    You’re being a bit – reticent.

BLAKE:                     Well remembered. Gold star.

(beat)

I thought this was supposed to be a game.

SOPHIE:                    It is.

BLAKE:                        Well it’s not much fun.

SOPHIE:                     Fine. Let’s play something else.

(silence)

(looks around)

I spy with my little eye…

Something beginning with…

D.

BLAKE:                  Desk.

SOPHIE:                 (surprised) Oh – yeah. Well done. Your turn.

BLAKE:                     (sighs). I spy with my little eye, something beginning with … W.

SOPHIE:                    Er…Window.

BLAKE:                     Yes.

SOPHIE:                    I spy with my little eye… something beginning with B.

BLAKE:                     Book.

SOPHIE:                   Nope.

BLAKE:                      Bag.

SOPHIE:                    Your turn.

BLAKE:                       I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with L.

SOPHIE:                    Um. Lamp.

BLAKE:                      No.

SOPHIE:                     Llllllllllllllll… lightbulb.

BLAKE:                     No.

SOPHIE:                  (looking at her legs) Legs.

BLAKE:                     No.

SOPHIE:                    (inspecting her tights) Ladder.

BLAKE:                      (looks at the ladder in her tights) No.

SOPHIE:                     Laura.

BLAKE:                        (looks up sharply) What?

SOPHIE:                       That’s her name, isn’t it?

BLAKE:                        Whose?

SOPHIE:                       Your wife. There’s a picture of her on the notice board.

BLAKE:                        No, there isn’t. (turns to look at the notice board, sees the photo. Looks away.)

 

(Silence)

SOPHIE:                     Laser printer.

BLAKE:                       Inventive, but no.

SOPHIE:                      I give up.

BLAKE:                       Liability.

SOPHIE:                 Wh – oh ha fucking ha.

Your go again.

BLAKE:                 I spy with my little eye… um… Oh I’m not playing this, it’s ridiculous.

SOPHIE:                  Got a better idea, have you?

BLAKE:                     Yes. Drinking ourselves into oblivion.

SOPHIE:                    (rolls her eyes) Don’t you have a pack of cards or  something?

BLAKE:                   (shrugs) Look in the drawer.

(SOPHIE goes to the desk, rummages in drawer, finds a pack of cards)

SOPHIE:                    Ah, you do as well! (Returns, sits down on the floor)

Right. What d’you wanna play?

BLAKE:                     What do you know?

SOPHIE:                     Fish?

BLAKE:                       (makes a face) What about Rummy?

SOPHIE:                     Don’t know that.

What about cheat?

BLAKE:                    With two people?

SOPHIE:                  Oh yeah.

None of the games I know are for two people.

Except snap.

BLAKE:                    I’m not playing snap.

SOPHIE:                  Why not?

BLAKE:                    Because it’s a crap game!

SOPHIE:                   Clearly you’ve never played strip-snap.

(beat)

BLAKE:                      You can’t play strip-snap.

SOPHIE:                     You can play strip-anything.

BLAKE:                    Good lord. Teenagers.

SOPHIE:                    Have you never played strip – anything?

BLAKE:                       Only poker.

SOPHIE:                    Yeah, see, and it’s a laugh, isn’t it?

BLAKE:                                    We’re not playing strip poker.

SOPHIE:                                    I wasn’t suggesting we do! I can’t even play poker.

BLAKE:                                    (smiling to himself) Maybe we should play strip-poker…

(SOPHIE stares at him in shocked amusement)

I jest, I jest.

(beat)

Can’t we just play scrabble? I think I have scrabble.

SOPHIE:                     That’s not fair, you’re an English teacher. You’ve got an advantage.

BLAKE:                     That is true.

Alright. I know.

(gets up, looks through the shelf. Picks up a book)

If it’s in here, it’s allowed.

(shows her the book)

SOPHIE:                    (Reading) “The Oxford Dictionary of Modern slang”. (laughs)

Amazing.

If it’s in here, or only if it’s in here?

BLAKE:                 Ohh… only if it’s in there.

SOPHIE:               Alright. You’re on.

***

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