Didn’t I warn you ’bout fallin’ in love?

This scene is from the one-act play Berry Park between two sisters. We are in a bare-looking, comfortless house in North London.

KATE 16, enters the kitchen where her sister, STACEY 30, is making tea.

STACEY: Why ain’t you drinkin’ normal milk?

KATE: Mum says it bothers my stomach.

STACEY: Never heard of this brand. (She closes the fridge door.) We used to get free bottles of milk delivered to our front door; you wouldn’t remember, ’cause you were just a baby then.

KATE: Why’s it so cold in here?

STACEY: Can’t turn the heat on durin’ the day; bill’s gettin’ too high. I’ll turn the oven on. It’ll heat the place up a bit.

KATE: Just turn the heat on Stace, I’m freezin’!

STACEY: Put a jumper on ya! We ain’t livin’ on Castle Road. We ain’t even caught up on the bills yet; we’re behind. Ain’t you supposed to be at work today? What happened to the cafe job you had?

KATE: Got fired.

STACEY: When?

KATE: Last week.

STACEY: You can’t hold down any damn job. Useless. Why’d they fire you?

KATE: He said I was moving too slow.

STACEY: Who said?

KATE: Gavin, the manager.

STACEY: Well, little does he know. Here’s your tea. Sit down. Let’s talk.

KATE: Can’t we just enjoy our tea? Maybe talk another day ’bout this all?

STACEY: No.

KATE: I’m not feelin’ that well. As of late, Stace, I’ve got a sore throat, my knees hurt. I’m on my period. I feel…feel tired; my body hurts; it’s all this stress makin’ my stomach swell up. My head still aches from when mum was shoutin’ at me the other night; she’s gone mad. I think she’s mad.

STACEY: And why d’you think that is?

KATE: I think, think she’s just…maybe she’s just lost the plot or somethin’.

STACEY: Tell me more ’bout this lad.

KATE: Donny?

STACEY: Yeah.

KATE: He’s just a local lad.

STACEY gives KATE the look.

KATE:  He is! Mum and dad are takin’ it all too seriously. We go out and we have fun, that’s all. He treats me nice; pays for everythin’! (giggling) We went to the movies last week, then we went for burgers. I couldn’t even eat with him looking at me. I was so nervous. Then he took me to the theatre; we left early ‘cos my head was startin’ to pound. It was mad; I never did so much in one day. Must have cost him a fortune, an’ didn’t bother him none!

STACEY: What does a bloke, fifteen years older, want to do with a sixteen-year-old?

KATE: He’s – It’s not anything. He’s just a friend. Makes me feel good is all.

STACEY: (disapproving) I dunno Kate. This is why I ain’t havin’ kids.

KATE: (fiery) I’m not hurtin’ anyone! I don’t understand, it’s just a bit of fun.

STACEY: It ain’t just bits of fun! Your ‘bits of funs’ have consequences! Don’t you ever think ’bout anyone but yourself, Kate? I hardly see you thinkin’ bout anyone else but your own damn self! Ain’t you aware of what’s been happenin’ ’round here? Mum’s been called into the doctor again; they want more tests. What if it’s a recurrence of cancer? What then? What would you do then? For f’cksake, Kate, your head! What’s in it?! Nothin’! Somethin’s wrong with it. Always gettin’ yourself wrapped up in the most stupid scenarios. (KATE gets up from the couch.) Oi! You listenin’? (STACEY gives her a warning look. Pause. KATE sits back down.) I was driving down The Lanes the other week, an’ I saw you go inta the doctors with him. (KATE looks at STACEY in shock.) I see everythin’ ’round here. When you’re up to ya neck with responsibilities, you can’t help but pay attention! You’re plannin’ on havin’ a baby with him, aren’t ya? (KATE gets up and starts pacing the room.) I tell you, you’re goin’ta flip this family on its back! God forbid we get a stretch of peace; six months I’ll take, anythin’! Sick of you, to be honest, out here killin’ myself, an’ you’re out there, runnin’ your little arse ’round town! So let me tell you ’bout your bits of fun; I noticed Dad was in the attic, openin’ up a case. What d’you think he was openin’? Our granddaddy’s gun! That’s what he was handlin’. Is that the kind of trouble you wanta start ’round here? (Silence. STACEY gets up to let off steam.) Exactly. That’s right. For once, think! Think with the brains you’ve been blessed with! God! And ain’t you blessed with ’em! (pause) There’ll be no baby ‘round here any time soon.

KATE: (sulking, pause) He makes me happy.

STACEY: (standing ground) I don’t care what he does.

KATE: What would you know?

STACEY: You’re dreamin’ love!

KATE: (erupting) And you’re whoring! That’s all you’re doing! Whoring from one Harry to the next!

STACEY: (fuming) What did you just say?!

KATE runs upstairs and slams her bedroom door.

KATE: (explosive) NOTHING!

STACEY: Get down here! I’m gon’ kick the livin’ sh’t out of ya!

KATE: I’m not goin’ anywhere near you, WHORE! (Slams her door again, even harder.)

A moment passes. They’ve been through this before – war or peace. STACEY walks upstairs and knocks on KATE’S bedroom door.

STACEY: (restrained) I’m not arguin’ with you Kate, ’cause today will be the day my patience runs out on you. (pause) This little dream of yours, put it to rest now.

STACEY leaves to go back downstairs as KATE ignores her. KATE sulks in her room.

KATE gathers herself and slowly makes her way downstairs again. KATE walks into the living room, where STACEY is sitting. She slouches back on the couch.

KATE: (softly) What if I’m not dreamin’ Stace?! What if you’re all wrong and Donny and I are meant to be together?! You say I’m all wrapped up in my problems, but don’t I have a say in what I wanta do with my life? Don’t I have a say?!

STACEY: He ain’t right for ya! It’s – what’s that word? – it’s – infatuation! Infatuation is what it is, Kate! And we’ve been down this road before! Infatuated with ’em all, an’ with that d’ckhead Tommy that you had a thing for!

KATE: But it ain’t Tommy! He’s nothing like TOMMY! It’s not what you think it is! It’s, it’s different with him! (pause) When I’m not with him, I don’t function right. It’s like I can’t think. I’ve never felt before what I’ve felt with him. When I’m with him, I feel like nothin’ in the world matters.

(STACEY lights up a cigarette and starts smoking anxiously.)

And yeah, I have been dreamin’, I’ve been dreamin’ of him! Last week, when mum kept me in my room and stopped me from seein’ him, I fell asleep cryin’, and there he was, clear as day, in my dreams. I looked into his eyes, an’ he was a lot younger then. In my dream, he was just sixteen like me; he was just a boy with big, brown beautiful eyes. I felt like I could even be protective of him…I don’t know when or how, but I think I – (Starts to cry.) I think I fell in love with him, Stace.

STACEY: God. Come here, you idiot. (She embraces KATE. KATE cries harder.) Come on now, stop…shhh. (KATE cries even stronger.)

KATE: Why can’t things ever be right? If I don’t see him again, he’ll leave. It’ll never be the same if he leaves. Dad gave him that look when he parked his car outside the other night. He acted all distant with me after that.

STACEY: Least I know he ain’t just a friend.

KATE: You gonna take him away from me, Stace?

STACEY: Don’t know what I’m goin’ to do.

KATE: Why do people fall in love?

STACEY: Because they allow themselves to! You allowed it! Idiot! Why’d you allow it? You shouldn’t have!

KATE: I didn’t want to.

STACEY: Didn’t I warn you ’bout fallin’ in love? It’s just about the stupidest thing anyone can do to themselves! Especially if it’s goin’ to bring ’bout a mess like this.

KATE: I told myself it wasn’t serious!

STACEY: I know you did! Everyone does that! Let’s go mess ’round them trees in Berry Park! Let’s go smoke some hash in the sun; let’s drink beers in Epping Forest all night long, just for fun! Next thing you know, you’re a drunk, you’re pregnant, you’re broke, you’ve fallen on your face, and your life is f’cked! (Silence for a while. Kate sobs. Stacey thinks.) You didn’t think ahead, that’s the problem, none of us think ahead. (pause) It’s not ever goin’ to work out, Kate. He’s fifteen years older, an’ your brain ain’t even developed yet; you’re practically a kid still. Yeah, you’re smart; you ain’t no dope; I don’t mean it when I tell you that you are, you’re not. (long pause) What were you doin’ at the doctors’?

KATE: I wanted to get pregnant.

STACEY: (sighs heavily) Yeah, knew it.

KATE: I’m sorry Stace.

STACEY: It’s alright.

KATE: I wasn’t thinkin’ right.

STACEY: No, you weren’t.

KATE: (wistfully) I just kept imaginin’ all these things, like the house we’d have in the countryside and how I’d look after him and our kid. I didn’t mind thinkin’ ’bout us gettin’ old…cos’ I’d still be younger, an’ maybe he’d love me more because of it. I kept dreamin’ of all that.

STACEY: You’re barely sixteen! What business do you have bein’ on a countryside? You’ve got no time for countrysides! You got no time to be skippin’ ’round grasses and trees, all in love an’ that, with the birds an’ all! Don’t you want to do somethin’ among all this mess? Anythin’?

KATE: I’m not good at anythin’.

STACEY: ‘Course you are. You are! But you won’t be Kate, if you keep gettin’ inta trouble like this.

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Berry Park by Daniella AlmaBerry Park is a one-act play between the two sisters of sixteen-year-old Kate and her older sister Stacey. The two sisters explore the realities of working-class Britain and come to terms with Kate’s infatuation with a much older man.  2 Women. Drama.

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Daniella Alma

Daniella is a British actress living in New York City with dual UK/US citizenship. In addition, she is a guest writer and executive film producer for Monologue Blogger Films. daniellaalma.com