White Shadow

by Gulmaram



This play is based on pieces of various dreams and fears of mine.




GWEN - young, college age, pale and sickly but beautiful

DAVID - GWEN's twin brother

JON - GWEN's classmate and very good friend, DAVID's room mate, exotic, alluring

NURSE - female, dressed in an impersonal white uniform



Scene I


(This play takes place in modern day. Now the stage is set as a hospital room. The lights are dim. Everything is white, from the furniture to GWEN's hospital gown. There is a bed downstage centre. A small table is to the left of the bed, and a chair. The chair is positioned 3/4 right. GWEN lies in the bed, propped up by pillows, wearing only a white hospital gown, hooked up to tubes and machines, facing the house full front. The spotlight is on the bed and the chair. Centrestage right there is a door. Upstage right there is a window with a venetian blind. DAVID will enter through the door, dressed in ordinary bluejeans and a short-sleeved button-down shirt, and wearing rings and a necklace.)


DAVID: (knocking, outside of open door) Hello, Gwen? (enters) I brought you some flowers. (puts flowers on the table and sits down in the chair)


GWEN: Hi, brother.


D: How are you feeling?


G: (smiles weakly) No better. I'm sick of being sick.


D: Did you hear anything new from the doctors?


G: Nothing really. If I lay here long enough, supposedly my heart will just patch itself up... And I have to take my medicine, of course...


D: Would you like me to open the shades and let some light in? It's dark in here, but the sun is very nice outside.


G: Thank you, but no. If I can't actually be in the sun, I don't want to see it.


D: Oh, Gwen. Try to cheer up. (more hopefully than certainly) Keep a good attitude and you'll get better very quickly.


G: (weakly) Please, David, don't worry about me. It's the last thing I want. Really. I do want to get better... and I do want to see the sunshine. But I'm... too tired right now... And too sick of this white room.


D: (standing up) I'll come back and see you tomorrow, then. (reaches out and squeezes her hand, smiles. She smiles weakly in return, then DAVID exits through the door)


(NURSE enters. GWEN sighs as NURSE gives her some pills and a glass of water)


G: Little white pills again. Everything is white. The room, the pills, my face from being sick... White is such a lonely, empty colour. I'll never get well in a place like this.


(GWEN takes pills, NURSE exits, blackout)



Scene II


(The next day, stage set as before. JON is dressed very similarly to DAVID, in very colourful clothes. JON knocks, then enters)


JON: Hello, Gwen. Mind if I sit down?


G: (looking up, surprised) Jon! I thought it would be David! What are you doing here?


J: (sits down) I came to see you. How are you doing?


G: I'm so happy to see you! But I certainly could be doing better, I'm in a hospital after all.


J: Are you alright? David said something was wrong with your heart.


G: Myocarditis.


J: (concerned) What's that?


G: An inflammation in my heart. It's from getting the flu or something.


J: Is it very serious? You look terribly pale.


G: Oh... I don't know anymore.... Maybe I'm pale because I'm sick, but maybe it's just all the white all around me... It's everywhere... and it soaks into my bones, and my skin.


J: Well, I'm sure you'll be fine soon.


G: That's what I love about you, Jon. You're such an optimist. You are my sunshine... la la la la... Do you remember that song?


J: Oh, yes. It's a very nice song. (stands up)


G: You're not leaving, are you?! (anxiously) Please don't go!


J: I'm not leaving. (walks across room and opens the venetian blind. The room is suddenly flooded with light. JON returns to his seat) There, this is much better, isn't it? Bright rooms are so much nicer to be in than dark ones. The sunlight fills all the corners, and shadows cover the floor. Colours dance in the light. Have you ever noticed how colours change to a minutely different shade when you shine light on them? I think it's the most beautiful thing.


G: (sighing) Yes... But darkness is quiet... safety... security....


J: You seem tired. Maybe I should let you have some rest. Besides, David is probably back at our apartment waiting for me. I didn't tell him I was coming to see you.


G: Please, don't leave just yet. Why didn't you tell him?


J: Well, it was kind of spontaneous that I came here, you see. I was on my way home, and as I drove by, I thought I'd stop by and see you. David probably has lunch ready and wonders where I am.


G: Tell him not to worry about me, okay? Please?... Tell him that I'm... absolutely fine.


J: But are you absolutely fine?


G: Does it matter?


J: You shouldn't lie to your brother.


G: But it doesn't matter to you, does it? (pauses, waits, but JON says nothing) Just give my message to him.


J: I'll come back again soon, Gwen. Hurry up and get well! (exits)


G: I am... invisible. White on top of white.


(NURSE enters with pills and a glass of water)


G: Close the blinds. I don't want the light. (NURSE closes blinds, GWEN takes pills, NURSE exits, blackout)



Scene III


(Same stage setting, GWEN is in bed, JON, dressed in a new change of clothes, knocks and enters)


J: I told you I'd come back.


G: I wish you'd never left in the first place.


J: (sits down in the chair) David said you didn't mind when he left. (teasing) What's so special about me?


G: You... Make me feel better, I guess. Even though you don't even see me.


J: Whatever do you mean? I see you right in front of me, pale and thin, with tubes stuck in you and your hair like a limp curtain over your pillows.


G: No, you don't see me... I'm white, just like the sheets, and just like everything else... So I'm camouflaged like a chameleon...


J: I don't know what pills they have you on here, but either they're not doing the trick, or you've taken too much of them!


G: (indignantly) See what I mean! I say something, and you see pills... those little white pills the nurse keeps giving me... (sadly) instead of seeing me...


J: Oh Gwen, I'm sorry. I just don't like to hear the crazy, depressing things you keep saying. I wish you would cheer up. Would you like me to open the blinds again?


G: No, thank you. I like the dark.


J: Sunlight is good for you.


G: Do you care about what's good for me?


J: Of course I do! Why bother to ask?


G: Well... I couldn't tell.


J: I care very much about what's good for you.


G: That's good... That makes me happy.


J: Is there a special reason for that?


G: I love you.


J: (stunned, staring at her) What?!


G: I love you.


J: Since when did you love me? We've always been good friends, but that's all it's ever been!


G: (dreamily) We were good friends at first... but that day when you were late to class... You got caught in the rain, and you were sopping wet... You sat down next to me with the rain dripping off you, and I could feel how warm you were through your damp shirt...


J: (quite upset) Why are you telling me this? Why now, anyway?


G: I've never had a chance until now... And now might be my only chance...


J: Only chance? What on earth are you talking about?! (pale, fingers gripping arms of chair tightly)


G: Myocarditis can lead to congestive heart failure... I could just be minding my own business any minute... and suddenly my heart could get really sick and swell up so much that it can't beat...


J: (standing up suddenly) Please, Gwen! Please! Stop talking about this!


G: Fine... Do you love me?


J: I uhm... I'll come see you again soon... But I really have to go now... (walks towards the door)


G: Jon, no! Don't leave!


J: I'm sorry, I really have to go now. (exits)


G: Jon! No... I'm still invisible... Everything is white, white swallowing up white... (her voice breaks and she begins to cry) An endless chaos of white, forever, enveloping everything... (NURSE enters with pills and water) Nurse, please take away those flowers that my brother brought me the other day. (GWEN takes the pills. NURSE exits with flowers, blackout, curtain)



Scene IV


(Stage is set as DAVID and JON's apartment. A couch is set downstage centre, full front. Lighting is normal, with the couch somewhat more illuminated than the rest of the set. A rug is in front of the couch, a table to the right, and bookcases behind the couch. DAVID is sitting on the couch reading a book. JON enters from stage left and sits down on the couch, visibly upset)


D: (looking up from book) Jon, what's wrong? Didn't you go to see Gwen? (suddenly alarmed) Is she alright? (puts book down)


J: Oh, she's alright, as far as I know.


D: Then what's wrong, baby? (attempts to embrace JON, but JON stops him)


J: She loves me.


D: Well, of course. Like a friend.


J: No, not like a friend.


D: Oh. (silent for a moment) Did you tell her about us?


J: No. I thought since she's your sister, it was your right to tell her... She doesn't even know I'm gay.


D: Does she know now?


J: No. I just left after she said she loved me. I couldn't think. It doesn't make any sense.


D: It's nothing to be upset about, really! Just decide what to tell her, then tell her, and everything will be fine.


J: It's not that simple.


D: (confused) Why not? She'll understand. Gwen's known for years that I'm gay. She still loves me. In fact, we're even closer now than we were when we were younger.


J: (standing up) That's not the problem.


D: (standing up as well) Then what is?


J: She loves me. She's in the depths of depression and apathy, but she loves me. She might even die in that ugly white hospital. How can I destroy the last thing she has left?


D: Oh, Jon! Think about it! Is this actually something that she has? She'll never have you. She never did and never could.


J: But she doesn't know that. I... (sighing, looking about as if looking for answers) I couldn't hurt her.


D: Truth never really hurts, baby. You have to tell her. The truth might be painful, but it won't really hurt her the way lies would.


J: (sinking back down on the couch) Why don't you tell her?


D: You're the one she loves, Jon. You're the one who has something to say.


J: (clenching his fists, resting his head on his knees) I just don't want to hurt her.... (blackout)



Scene V


(Stage is set as the hospital room again. JON knocks on door)


G: (weakly) Come in.


J: (entering) Gwen, I need to talk to you.


G: Sit down. I'm glad you came... I get so lonely.


J: But David comes to see you everyday.


G: You're the only one who dispels my loneliness.


J: (sitting down) Gwen, I need to tell you something. Gwen... I'm gay.


G: What?! (bursts out laughing, laughter soon becomes coughing, and she lays back heavily into the pillows)


J: (nervously) I mean it, Gwen. I'm not joking. I'm gay.


G: (laughing) Is that why you wear jewelry?... Is that your excuse for ignoring me?... I should think someone like you could come up with a better joke...


J: (indignantly) Gwen! Be serious and listen to me! Either you're bemoaning how white everything is, or you're ignoring whatever I say. I'm sick of the way you behave! You're one of the most beautiful, intelligent women I've ever known. But you're acting like someone from the mental health ward. Just because you're sick doesn't mean you should act like a two year old. You don't even seem to want to get better!


G: (sitting up suddenly, straining towards him to stare into his face, cutting him off sharply) Shut up! How dare you talk to me like this! (breathing deeply, sinking back into the pillows)


J: Oh, for goodness' sake, Gwen... (gazing at her concernedly. long moments of silence) Gwen, I understand that you love me, but I'm really not joking. I can't have the same feelings for you. I'm gay, and I'm dating your brother.


G: (staring at him, shocked) My brother? David?! How can you? (becoming very upset, voice breaking) What do you see in him that you don't see in me? What can he have to offer that's so much better than me?


J: Gwen, please, calm down!


G: I'm invisible! You see my brother, my twin brother, but you don't even see me... (taking a deep breath) I'm a... a white shadow... (her voice breaks and she begins to cry hysterically) a white shadow in a white world... invisible! (GWEN continues to cry loudly. JON stares at her, distraught and at a loss of what to do. NURSE enters and gently, silently, leads him away. Blackout)



Scene VI



(Stage just the same as before. GWEN lays in bed. The bandages anchoring the IV tubes on her hands and arms should be filled with some sort of red liquid that the audience can't see yet)


G: Little white pills... I'm sick of pills... I'm sick of pills, and of being sick, and of being in the hospital... (she slowly pushes the covers down to the foot of the bed and climbs out of bed. The tubes in her arms are a messy tangle and prevent her from going far) I'm sick of these tubes too! Clear, invisible fluid seeping slowly into my veins... This is my invisibility... They are feeding it to me, right into my bloodstream! (in a wild fit she rips all the tubes off herself, splattering the white bed and her white hospital gown with red "blood". GWEN observes the blood) Now there is some colour in this room! (she stumbles over to the window, almost gleefully) I'm sick and tired of being so pale and invisible!... (breathing with effort) I'll vanish in the sunlight like a vampyre! (she opens the venetian blind, and suddenly the whole stage is illuminated brightly. She turns to stand full front. A spotlight shines from behind her, giving her an ethereal glow. GWEN staggers forward, then grasps her chest and sinks to her knees, her breathing becoming very difficult) I... (weakly) I can't breathe! Can anyone hear me? Help me! I can't breathe! (she becomes frantic) Somebody, anybody, help me! Can you hear me?! Help! I can't breathe! (blackout)



Scene VII


(Stage is set as JON and DAVID's apartment. DAVID is sitting on the couch, 1/4 left. JON is standing to his left, facing him, 1/4 right. Both men are very aggravated)


J: How could you let me do this to her?!


D: (desperately) You didn't do anything to her, Jon. Don't blame yourself.


J: She was fine, she was sick, but she was fine when I was talking to her. She was fine!


D: It's really not your fault!


J: Then I talked to her, and now she's in the critical care unit!


D: Don't you think I'm upset too? She's my sister! But this happened, irrelevant to anything either of us did. Beating ourselves into the ground isn't going to help anything!


J: (voice breaking) How could you let me do this?


D: (disbelief) Me? You're blaming me?


J: I should never have told her about us.


D: (grabbing JON by his shoulders) Just sit down and calm down!


J: (pulling away) No! I should never have listened to anything you said!


D: What are you going to do?


J: I'm going to go to the hospital. I'll sit next to her and hold her hand. When the nurses kick me out, I'll sit in the waiting room until I can go back to her again. When she's well enough to get out of bed, I'll be there so she never feels lonely again. If she loves me enough, dammit, maybe I'll even marry her!


D: Jon, have you lost your senses? You're gay! And you're my boyfriend!


J: The hell with what I am! I cannot believe that I have caused another human being so much suffering, just because of my personal issues!


D: Stop this, Jon! You didn't cause anything!


J: Gwen nearly died because I'm such a heartless bastard. It doesn't matter that I'll never love her the way she loves me. I'll be there for her, and I'll make sure I never hurt her again! (JON turns and begins to walk away)


D: Come back here!


J: I can't.


D: Stop and think this over!


J: (turning to face DAVID again) I nearly killed someone. What is there to think over?


D: Do you honestly think either of you will be happy?!


J: I don't deserve to be happy anymore. (turns around and exits. DAVID stares after him helplessly. Blackout, curtain)