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Hello! Thank you for your interest in this play!

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Cheers and thank yous,


Andrew Wade

The Romantics
by Andrew Wade
actorwade@gmail.com
778-985-1617

The Romantics 1
The Romantics
ASTRID, female, 26, the fiancée who doesn't trust herself
ERIC, male, 27, the best friend who has an emotional epiphany
HUGH, male, 31, the ex-husband who left on a train
MICHAEL, male, 26, the fiancée whose worries all come true
NANCY, female, 32, the ex-wife who has surrendered herself to haunting memories
TÉANA, female, 19, the self-tracking dreamer who rides subways looking for love at first sight

Present day. Various locations. Feel free to localize references (such as 'Vancouver'
and 'Alberta') to fit the city, state, and country in which the play is being performed.

*****

Lights up.

TÉANA stands downstage centre, looking straight out to the audience, a large purse
under one arm.

TÉANA
I...

She stops herself, holds up a finger to tell the audience to wait for a moment. She
roots through her purse for an item, revealing items used by self-trackers (such as her
notebook, a clipboard, office supplies, ziploc bags, a camera, etc) as she searches. She
pulls out an aneroid blood pressure monitor. Triumphant.

TÉANA
I-

MICHAEL and ERIC interrupt her as they invade the stage in a flurry of loud
movement. NANCY and HUGH enter from opposite sides of the stage, quietly, slowly.
They remain at the outskirts of the stage. Hugh has a glass of whiskey. Most of Nancy
is hidden within a large dressing-robe in need of a good wash. They stare across at
each other.

MICHAEL
What I'm saying is, I think this relationship is getting serious. No, I know it is. There is a
definite serious-ness about it. Serious. If relationships came with a series of seriousness
warnings, mine would be up to, like, a red.

The Romantics 2
Téana attaches the aneroid blood pressure monitor to her arm.

ERIC
It can't be too bad, you're not even living together yet.

MICHAEL
My choice, not hers.

ERIC
Why the hell not?

MICHAEL
The thing is, I'm liking that it's getting-

ASTRID enters.

ASTRID
Michael!

ERIC
Speak of the angel.

Michael and Astrid meet up and kiss.

TÉANA (to the audience)


I've seen what happens to people who aren't ready.

HUGH (speak-singing)
Some folks can lose the blues in their hearts...

NANCY (spoken)
But when I think of you.

ASTRID
You're late.

ERIC
Only by half an hour.

TÉANA
I’ve seen people jump into the water before learning to swim, so to speak.

The Romantics 3
MICHAEL
Astrid, we had a specific time we were supposed to meet you?

ERIC
Well, yes, but we were having a good conversation!

MICHAEL
I'm so sorry, Astrid; it wasn't me, it was him, he never told me, he never even said we should hurry,
just let us meander about, cavort about the town without any idea that you were stranded here, left
high and dry by the unthinking, selfish habits of that villain, that-

Astrid holds a finger up to Michael's lips.

ASTRID
Yes, he's a bad, bad man.

ERIC
The worst.

HUGH (speak-singing)
Into each life some rain must fall...

TÉANA
And then what happens? They nearly drown, and are afraid of the water for the rest of their
lives.

NANCY (spoken)
But too much.

ERIC
Come on, let's go eat.

Michael and Astrid exit, hand in hand, with Eric following.

TÉANA
Not me. I refuse to let myself get dragged down by a string of broken, misguided relationships. I'm
going to get it right the first time.

TÉANA
I will not be caught unprepared.

NANCY
Life never works out the way you want it to.

The Romantics 4
Hugh finishes his drink and exits.

NANCY
So why bother wanting?

Nancy exits the stage.

TÉANA
Have you ever seen a perfect connection between two people? It's the most beautiful thing in the
world. But rare. Please, if you don't mind, I would like you all to try a thought exercise. Thank you.
Now, close your eyes and think about each sidewalk you walked down today. Think about all the
people on those sidewalks who you passed right on by. Didn't look at them. Didn't really look.
Because we don't. We think there are just too many of them, or that they're not important, so we
don't lock eyes, we don't pay them the slightest iota of attention, we don't acknowledge that they are
all fully-formed people, living fully-formed lives, just like you and I. So we miss out. You may have
already missed out on your singular, ineffable moment of connection with another human being just
because you weren't prepared to see it. Weren't open to letting them in. But I will be. Oh, you can
open your eyes now.

She checks the monitor.

TÉANA (jotting the numbers down)


105 Systolic, 54 Diastolic. 52 Pulse.

She puts the monitor away.

What you can measure, you can control. So for myself, I take forty-eight measurements every day –
heart rate, blood pressure, emotional satisfaction index, and so forth, and I adjust my life accordingly,
based on statistically significant, beneficial trends. I alter my nutrition, vitamin supplementation,
sleep-cycle, lighting conditions... all so that when that moment arrives, I will be in the perfect position
to seize the day! Carpe Diem! Dead poet! YOLA!

I will not let myself get distracted by a sluggish mind brought about by a lack of detailed care and
attention. I will not be clouded by caffeine or alcohol or sleeplessness or negative-emotion-inducing
interactions. I will stay alert. Aware. Focused. Patient. For the right moment. So if I stare at you on the
subway, it's because I'm prepared, and because I think you're beautiful, and because I hope we will
connect. Be ready.

House lights come up. Téana hunts through the audience with her eyes, making eye contact
with as many people as possible, then sighs. No magical, mysterious connections.

As the house lights go down, lights up on ERIC, walking around a jewelry store, looking around
for someone. Lights down on Téana.

The Romantics 5
Michael scurries on.

MICHAEL
Alright Eric, let's make this quick. Astrid's over at The Bay.

ERIC
Wait, Michael, you BROUGHT her?

MICHAEL
NO! I mean, yes. Look, I mentioned I was going out, and she asked where, and I couldn't lie to her, so I
said the mall, and she said, great, I was going to go there myself, and I said, well, that's just super.

ERIC
Why don't we reschedule-

MICHAEL
No! I mean, no. We've got plenty of time – Astrid's a browser. She browses.

ERIC
I know. I once spent three and a half hours in Value Village with that woman. She bought one skirt.

MICHAEL
Besides, I need to buy the ring now. Before I lose my nerve.

ERIC
Fine. What style?

MICHAEL
Style?

ERIC
Weavy, plain, silvery, gold, el cheapo, multi-million-dollar-blood-diamond...

MICHAEL
I just want it to be something she'll treasure.

ERIC
Michael, you could give her an onion ring, and because it came from you, she'd make it a family
heirloom.

MICHAEL
Be serious. Her favourite colour's green.

The Romantics 6
ERIC
Yes, it is. Well, let's see... she wouldn't want anything too large or gaudy.

MICHAEL
And here I was about to buy her a ring pop. (beat) Sorry. Thanks for coming to help. This way, if she
hates it, we both share the blame. I'm glad you're okay with- Dammit! Dammit dammit dammit
dammit.

ERIC
What.

MICHAEL
She's across the food court. (He looks around for a hiding place.) Uh...

Michael ducks behind a display case.

ERIC
Please, it's not like she'll see us over here-

Eric sees her see him. Eric waves back at her.

ERIC
Never mind.

Eric pretends to browse nonchalantly.

MICHAEL (whispering)
Don't say anything!

ERIC (quietly)
And what exactly am I doing in a jewelry store, hmm?

MICHAEL (whispering)
Your watch broke! Gift for your grandmother! Buying bling for your new hobby as a rapper! I don't
know, make something up!

ERIC (singsongishly, quietly)


You're a cow-ard!

Astrid enters, holding a shopping bag.

ASTRID
Hi Eric. Have you seen Michael?

The Romantics 7
ERIC
No, not recently. Seems like he has been laying low. Why? He here with you?

ASTRID
He was. I swear, sometimes that man is jumpier than...

ERIC
A kangaroo on a trampoline?

ASTRID
Ye-

ERIC
A rabbit on a pogo stick? A british sweater! A... meth addict on... a roller coaster? (beat.)

ASTRID
You done?

Beat. Eric thinks.

ERIC
Yeah, that's about it. So how'd you like the painting?

ASTRID
It's beautiful. Thank you.

ERIC
Well, you once mentioned how much you like your paintings, and I saw those other ones on your
wall, so when I picked up the ol' brush again, it made sense to paint one for you. How does Michael
like his?

ASTRID
You painted one for Michael?

ERIC
Yes...

ASTRID
I haven't seen it.

ERIC
You mean he hasn't put it up anywhere?

The Romantics 8
ASTRID
Sorry, Eric. First I've ever heard of it.

ERIC
Hunh.

ASTRID
I'm sure it's nothing personal. Or artistic.

ERIC
No, I'm sure it's just Michael being Michael.

ASTRID
He's a special man.

ERIC
Yes, yes he is. Well, I'll give you a call if I run into him.

ASTRID
Thanks. You're a peach.

ERIC
And you're a... plum.

Eric offers her a hug. They hug, then Astrid exits.


Michael, on his hands and knees, pokes out from behind the case.

MICHAEL
A peach? And a plum?

ERIC
You haven't put it up?

MICHAEL
It's all, yellow.

ERIC
And?

MICHAEL
And my room's white. The colours don't go together! But it does hold a very special place in my
closet. (beat) You worry me.

The Romantics 9
ERIC
You worry about everything.

MICHAEL
True. But at the moment, I'm worried about you. Ever heard of the iceberg theory?

ERIC
That as a lettuce, it holds next to no nutritional value?

MICHAEL
No. The iceberg. They're built like... like pyramids, but only the little peak at the top crests out over
the surface of the water. The rest is submerged, underneath, ominous, (Jaws music) Da dun, da dun,
da dun da dun, dadundadundadundadun, ready to scrape holes into the hulls of... it's a metaphor.

ERIC
Yeah, got that.

MICHAEL
There's what you're aware of, the little bit at the top, and what you're not. The rest. What you know,
and the subconscious.

ERIC
And...

MICHAEL
And that painting you made for Astrid, it must have taken you all day and night to put together. I
mean, all those minute details-

ERIC
I had an idea for it!

MICHAEL
You spent way more time on her painting than you did on mine.

ERIC
Oh don't tell me you're jealous because you like her painting better. You're comforted by simple
shapes. Astrid prefers more... chaotic, complex imagery. She's punk.

MICHAEL
She called you peach.

ERIC
Punks can like peaches.

The Romantics 10
MICHAEL
And peaches can like punks. Or plums.

ERIC
What?

MICHAEL (turning away from him)


You know what I mean.

ERIC
No, I don't think I- Oh, come on, Michael! I asked her out once. We were seventeen. Almost a decade
ago. She said no. Didn't feel it. C'est la vie. Moved on. Besides, you two make an amazing couple-

MICHAEL (turning back)


What about that play in high school, huh? The kissing scene?

ERIC
We both went through the audition process and happened to be given the roles of the young lovers.
That's all. Besides which, we never did kiss. Not even in rehearsal. She got tonsillitis early on and
Susan Shrump took her place.

MICHAEL
Ah, Susan Shrump. Two-hundred and eighty pounds of woman.

ERIC
Your point?

MICHAEL
You were crushed.

ERIC
She was a large woman.

MICHAEL
I mean at not getting to kiss Astrid.

ERIC
You're having second thoughts.

MICHAEL
You signed up for that play because you knew Astrid was going to get that role.

The Romantics 11
ERIC
You and your neurotic little squirrel brain are trying to find any reason to chicken out of proposing to
her.

MICHAEL
You'd never auditioned for anything before.

ERIC
Michael, marry the woman. I am delighted to see that you and Astrid, two of my favourite people in
the world, are as happy as you two are. You'll have adorably neurotic children.

Michael points at a ring.

MICHAEL
I think she'd like that one.

ERIC
Simple, green inlay, good cut, won't break the bank. Good choice.

Astrid re-enters.

ASTRID
Eric, why are you in a jeweller's- Michael.

MICHAEL
Astrid!

ASTRID
Oh. Ohhhhh.

Eric steps away to give them their moment. Pretends to look at a display case.

MICHAEL
Astrid.

Michael gets down on one knee, puts out his hands as if opening a ring box in his hand.

ASTRID
Oh.

MICHAEL
Will you please marry me, please? (He points to the ring in the display case.) Pretend that ring there
is in my hand right now. In a classy yet simple black case.

The Romantics 12
ASTRID
You're such a loon.

Astrid pulls him up to standing, kisses him hard.

MICHAEL
That's a yes, right?

Astrid kisses him hard again. Lights down on Astrid and Michael, but still up on Eric.

Lights up on NANCY, sitting on her bed in her darkened bedroom. She wears a well-worn
nightgown she hasn't changed out of for days. Closed blinds. Pill bottles. An old calendar.
Music player. Phone. Upstage, in the dark, HUGH sits in an armchair. (This Hugh is a figment of
Nancy's imagination.) Nancy is still. Quiet.

Eric continues to stare in the direction of the happy couple.

ERIC
Well that's... Oh, piss.

Eric walks offstage. Lights down on his area of the stage.

Nancy takes a pill from a bottle, swallows it.

Silence.

She presses play on her music player. Till The End Of Time, by Perry Como.

Listens.

NANCY
We heard this song, when was it?

HUGH
I sung it to you a few times while cooking dinner. It was my mother's favourite song.

NANCY
Yes, that's right.

Hugh stands up and emerges from the shadows, into the scene.

HUGH (singing along, softly)


Long as there's a spring of birds to sing I'll go on loving you...

The Romantics 13
Hugh holds her from behind, and dances with her, softly, swaying back and forth.

HUGH (singing along, softly)


Till the end of time, long as roses bloom in May, my love for you will grow deeper, with every passing
day.

Hugh kisses her on the cheek.

NANCY
The pills haven't worked in weeks. Never did much, but now they're just... routine.

HUGH
Routine is important.

NANCY
Yes darling, but they don't keep you away anymore now, do they.

HUGH
And why would you want to be without me? To be alone?

NANCY
No one wants to be alone.

Nancy sits down on her bed.

HUGH (singing along, softly)


The one you love and live for, till the end of time...

NANCY
It's almost our anniversary. Did you know that? Eleven months and twenty-one days.

HUGH
Not so long.

NANCY
No, not so long. Just like yesterday, some nights-

The phone rings. Nancy jumps. Slams off the music. Watches the phone as it rings again, as
though the phone were a dangerous, predatory animal. Frozen. Hugh watches her. The phone
rings again. And again. Goes to her answering machine, with a “Nancy and Hugh, leave a
message!” in Nancy's voice from happier times, followed by a beep.

The Romantics 14
HUGH (on the answering machine – but stated by Hugh, onstage)
Oh, the old, um... Hello, Nancy. I uh... Astrid asked me to get a hold of you to ask you if you wanted to
come to her wedding. She's getting married. My own little sister, walking down the aisle. (beat.) I
know I haven't been responding to your messages, so I don't blame you if you don't respond to this
one, but please, give Astrid a call. And uh... perhaps we should arrange a skype chat or something
beforehand, before we see each other there. Might be a good idea. Let me know. Hope you're well.

Click.

Silence.

Nancy suddenly stands upright, moves to her bed. Sits rigidly on it.

NANCY
Those are the first words you've said to me in-

HUGH
-eleven months and twenty-one days. (He sits down beside her.) You're not going to answer him, are
you?

NANCY
No, of course not.

HUGH
You don't want to hurt me again, do you?

NANCY
You know I don't.

HUGH
If you don't go, no one gets hurt.

NANCY
But Astrid is my friend.

HUGH
Was. Was your friend.

NANCY
She IS.

HUGH
You're looking for excuses.

The Romantics 15
NANCY
I'm not.

HUGH
Excuses to phone me up and say, gee, that sounds like a great idea, let's chat, and then let's meet up,
and then let's fall in love again and then let's live happily ever after.

NANCY
No.

HUGH
And then you'll hurt me again. Drag me down. Push me away.

NANCY
No.

HUGH
You nearly broke me the first time.

NANCY
No, no, no.

HUGH
Don't bring me back, Nancy. I live a normal life now. Now that I have gotten away from you.
Remember what you did to me? You pulled me down with you into your heavy, God-forsaken-

NANCY (jumping up and hitting his chest)


NO!

He holds her close to him, a hug.

NANCY
It won't be like that again! It won't be like that. It won't. It won't.

Lights up on Eric, sitting on a bench, waiting.

NANCY
We need each other, Hugh. We need each other.

Lights down on Nancy and Hugh.

Téana, with a notebook under one arm, enters upstage of Eric. Sees Eric. Checks her watch.
Waits five seconds, watching her watch, then walks forward and sits down beside Eric.

The Romantics 16
TÉANA
How's it hangin', big bro?

ERIC
Right on time.

TÉANA
I try.

Beat.

TÉANA (same delivery as before)


So, how's it hangin', big bro?

ERIC
Stop that. It's good to see you too. (beat.) I'm fine.

Téana walks around Eric, carefully examining him, then sits back down.

TÉANA
You've been drinking coffee again. Caffeine only creates a temporary energy spike, depleting your
adrenal gland's resources, resulting in anxiety, fatigue, and-

ERIC
I'm fine.

TÉANA
Unless...

Téana adopts her very best 'listening' pose. Beat.

ERIC
Really, I'm fine.

Téana maintains her posture.

TÉANA
Really?

ERIC
Really.

TÉANA (after a beat)


Oh?

The Romantics 17
ERIC
Fine. I hit an iceberg.

TÉANA
Go on.

ERIC
Well, I remember when I was maybe six years old, thinking that one day our parents would introduce
me to that perfect woman. Eric, meet so-and-so, and I would immediately fall for so-and-so, and we'd
get married, we'd move into a big house, and we'd have our own kids a day later. I was young.
Anyway, I – that's not what I wanted to say. Let me start again. So, in my head, it's like there's this
book about two people, about who they are for each other, and I thought this book had been written
years ago. The main plotline, at least. And I'd closed this book, put it up on my shelf, left it there.

TÉANA
And you're one of the two people in this book.

ERIC
Right. Well, I think I just pulled this book off my shelf and opened it up again, and... and there were
these new chapters in the book, pages and pages of them, well, old chapters, really, but I hadn't seen
how they fit into this book... it was like all my life I'd been writing this book about these two people,
in my sleep. Without realizing it.

TÉANA
And this... frightens you?

ERIC
It concerns me.

Téana laughs.

TÉANA
Sounds like it concerns someone else too.

ERIC
Not helping.

TÉANA (re-adopting her listening pose)


Continue.

ERIC
Well, all these new, old chapters... have made me realize that the story's incomplete.

The Romantics 18
TÉANA
Needs a third act!

ERIC
Something like that.

TÉANA
And what was in these chapters?

ERIC
Oh, an impulse to dance in O'Flannigans, or how often I'd compliment hair or clothes, gifts I'd
painted, small things I hadn't been consciously thinking about. A thousand hints and friendly
gestures; I don't know. It's all, the underwater part of the iceberg.

TÉANA
Iceberg?

ERIC
Michael's metaphor.

TÉANA
So what you're saying, if I'm reading you correctly, is, you think you have feelings for Michael? (beat.)
Or not. Just a guess.

Téana re-adopts her listening posture.

ERIC
What are you- what IS that?

TÉANA (playwright's note: pronounced fee-lore)


Felor.

ERIC
Pardon?

TÉANA
Felor. F. E. L. O. R. It's an acronym. Facing, Eye contact, Leaning forward, and Open, Relaxed posture.
It's a counselling trick to encourage people to open up to you.

ERIC
You're not in counselling.

TÉANA (exaggerating her posture)


But I could be, don't you think?

The Romantics 19
Eric notices Téana's notebook.

ERIC
You still doing that?

TÉANA
Yes.

ERIC
Why?

TÉANA
As a self-tracker, I gather data on every aspect of my life in order to gain self-knowledge, and-

ERIC
Yeah, yeah, cut the canned speech. So you take these numbers...

TÉANA
...and insert them into spreadsheets for statistical analysis.

ERIC
I don't suppose there's any chance you've found a way to get paid for this.

TÉANA
I make enough elsewhere to cover my expenses.

ERIC
Doing what? Mom tells me you've been riding subways back and forth all day. She's worried. Went on
about how because you were born too early, you're probably still craving the feeling of constant,
steady motion that comes from sloshing about in a womb. So yeah, mom's still crazy. But also,
worried about you.

TÉANA
Well, you can tell her I have been doing the most valuable thing a person can be doing.

ERIC
... working?

Beat.

TÉANA
As my response, I ask you to consider something.

The Romantics 20
ERIC
Alright...

TÉANA
Consider the space between you and me, between us and that duck over there, between us and
anyone we meet. This space, this separation, is all just an illusion. See, within every atom of our
bodies exists a nucleus of protons and neutrons, with electrons orbiting around each nucleus. And if
you enlarged any one of those atoms to the size of a football field, then that nucleus of protons and
neutrons would be as small as a grain of rice on the midfield, with those tiny electrons whirring about
an area of space the size of the rest of that empty stadium. With me?

ERIC
Sure; why not.

TÉANA
Now, between that grain of rice and those electrons is an empty vacuum for subatomic particles to
zip through. Trillions of subatomic particles zipping through every square millimetre of our bodies,
every second of every day. The same particles traveling through my body, and then through yours.
And vise-versa. Physically, subatomically, the universe connects us.

ERIC
And that's what you've been doing on the subway each day?

TÉANA
I have been figuring out how people connect. Like between you and the other person in your book.
We are constantly connected by the paths of cosmic particles, radio waves, sound vibrations... and
along some of these very physical threads... links form.

ERIC
Right. Well, when you're ready to come join the real universe, Michael and I are playing frisbee golf
on Friday. You're welcome to tag along. In fact, I'd appreciate it if you did. You can even take notes.

TÉANA
So they're really getting married?

ERIC
Yeah.

TÉANA
And you're going to the wedding?

ERIC
I'm the best man.

The Romantics 21
TÉANA
I see. (beat) And what about that third act?

ERIC
What about it?

TÉANA
What do you think is going to happen?

ERIC
Oh, the usual. A dramatic, fiery explosion as the hero runs down a hall in slow motion, followed by a
denouement where he's given the key to the city and cheered on by a crowd of appreciative
onlookers.

TÉANA
So, no idea?

ERIC
Nope.

Lights up on Michael and Astrid, on a couch, watching a movie together, Michael's coat slung
over the back of the couch. Astrid has a remote beside her. Dirty plates on a short table in
front of them.

TÉANA (exaggerating her counselling FELOR pose and adopting a Sigmund Freud voice)
Unt how does that uncertainty make you feel, hmm?

ERIC
Queasy. Like something bad is going to happen.

Lights down on Téana and Eric.

Michael slides closer to Astrid, then sidles up to her lovingly.

MICHAEL (asking in her ear)


Are you sure you'll marry me?

ASTRID
Not if you keep asking.

Michael slides away.

ASTRID
Oh, for Pete's sake – I'm kidding.

The Romantics 22
MICHAEL
I know.

Silence. Michael doesn't look convinced.

ASTRID
Just shut up and watch the movie.

Silence. Watching the movie.

MICHAEL
I have always found 'committed' to be such an odd word.

Astrid pauses the movie with a sigh. She stands up and collects the dirty plates.

MICHAEL
I mean, when a person gets married, they are committing the rest of their life to the other person.
But you know what else you commit? Crimes. And you know who else gets committed? Crazy people.

Astrid stares at him.

ASTRID
So you think our marriage will be a crime set about by crazy people.

MICHAEL
No, that wouldn't make any sense. Unless I'd stolen you in order to marry you. Or you were, like, a cat
or a dog. Then that would be bestiality, which could involve a crime, a marriage and a crazy person,
all at the same time. Not that I'm judging. Okay, maybe I am. But you're not a cat. Or a dog-

ASTRID
Sweetie.

MICHAEL
Yes, darling?

ASTRID
You're rambling.

MICHAEL
Sorry.

ASTRID
More than usual.

The Romantics 23
MICHAEL
My condolences.

Quizzical pause. Astrid then turns to take the dishes into the kitchen.

MICHAEL
Did you and Eric ever hook up?

Astrid stops. She turns around.

MICHAEL
I mean, after high school, you know, when Eric let you stay with him after that trouble with your
parents, did you two ever...

ASTRID
Why...

MICHAEL
He still has feelings for you.

ASTRID
He said this to you?

MICHAEL
He didn't so much say it as...

ASTRID
As what?

MICHAEL
He painted a pretty clear picture.

ASTRID
That? That's what you're basing this off? A painting? And what about the one he painted for you,
hmm? Where'd that go?

MICHAEL
It's yellow!

ASTRID
So?

The Romantics 24
MICHAEL
So, yellow is the colour of alarm and surprise and I don't like surprises. And don't change the subject.

ASTRID
Michael, Eric is a friend. OUR friend. You know, as in, the guy who introduced us in the first place?
The guy who has been our friend for years?

MICHAEL
So nothing ever happened between you two?

ASTRID
He had some floor space and a spare mattress when I needed it. What, are you jealous? Now?
Michael, I'm marrying you.

MICHAEL
True.

ASTRID
True.

MICHAEL
Right.

ASTRID
Right.

MICHAEL
You're right.

ASTRID
Of course I'm right.

Astrid sits back down and pulls him towards her, until he's leaning on her in a cuddly position.

ASTRID
I'm always right.

Michael burrows further into the cuddle with a bit of a purr.

ASTRID
And you're adorable.

Michael shoots her a look.

The Romantics 25
ASTRID
Fine, you're a handsome, charming, debonair, secret agent man of mystery. Happy?

Pause.

MICHAEL
And nothing has happened between you two since?

ASTRID (sitting up straight)


Out.

MICHAEL
What?

ASTRID
Get out.

MICHAEL
I was just checking.

ASTRID
Michael, if you can't get over your suffocating ball of neuroses and learn to trust me, the woman who
has agreed to marry you, then we have serious issues here. Nothing is going on! Got it? There is
nothing happening between me and Eric!

MICHAEL
I want to believe that.

ASTRID
So stop being so paranoid, and believe it.

MICHAEL
You never answered my question.

ASTRID
What?

MICHAEL
I asked if anything had happened between you two.

ASTRID
Oh my god. Is that what you're looking for? Will that make you happy? Fine. Michael, nothing has
happened between Eric and I. Happy?

The Romantics 26
MICHAEL (putting his coat on)
I want to believe you.

ASTRID
Then believe me. I love you.

Michael mumbles 'peach' under his breath as he makes his way to the door/wing-of-the-stage.
Astrid grabs him by the arm and turns him around to face her.

ASTRID
What was that?

MICHAEL
Peach. He made you a painting, and you called him a peach.

Michael exits, slamming the door behind him.


Astrid sits down on the side of the couch, stares at the door.

Lights up on Nancy, in her bedroom, standing face-on toward the audience. An open laptop
sits downstage from her, on a short stool, pointed toward her. Her room is somewhat brighter,
as if she has opened a set of blinds. She has brushed her hair. She's waiting for something to
happen on the computer.

Astrid stands up abruptly.

ASTRID (shouting)
AND I SAID I LOVE YOU!

Lights down on Astrid.

THE SOUND OF SKYPE RINGING. Nancy quickly presses a button on the computer.
Lights up on another area of the stage. Hugh is in his office, standing face-on toward the
audience, looking at a similarly set-up webcam/computer. The visual is that the two actors
both face the audience, but act as though they can see each other on their computer screens.

NANCY
Hello, Hugh.

HUGH
Hi, Nancy.

Beat.

The Romantics 27
NANCY
Skype. Good idea.

HUGH
Yes, well, I figured it would be better to chat face to face before we see each other again in the, erm,
in person. At the wedding.

NANCY
I'm happy you could chat today. Happy anniversary.

HUGH
It's not our-

NANCY
Not of our wedding, silly. The anniversary of the day you left.

HUGH
That's... morbid.

NANCY
Sorry. I thought it was funny.

HUGH
That’s why you chose today?

Pause.

NANCY
So uh, Alberta. Land of the great tar sands.

HUGH
Yep.

NANCY
You went far.

HUGH
Far enough. How are you?

NANCY
I'm great. Really. Don't even need my medication anymore.

HUGH (unconvinced)
Really.

The Romantics 28
NANCY
Yep. You living up the single life?

HUGH
Not entirely.

NANCY
Oh?

HUGH
Yes. Well, I was with someone for a month, recently, just a few dates. Didn't work out.

NANCY
Ah.

Beat.

HUGH
You?

NANCY
Oh, I've been keeping my options open. But there's a cute boy at the supermarket who keeps making
eyes at me.

HUGH
Well, I'm... happy for you.

NANCY
I'm happy.

Pause.

HUGH
Look, I just want to say-

NANCY
You don't, need to.

HUGH
Yes, I do.

NANCY
I forgive you.

The Romantics 29
HUGH
Don't.

NANCY
But I do! You did what you needed to do. It's not easy to live with me. I get that. I respect that.

HUGH
Well, you shouldn't.

Pause.

NANCY
You've lost weight! You look good. You seem, happier.

HUGH
I am. (beat.) I hope you're happier, too.

NANCY
Like I said, I'm happy. Life is happy. Weddings are happy. Happy happy happy.

HUGH
Look, I'd much rather you yelled at me, alright?

NANCY
Why would I yell at you?

HUGH
Why? Why not?

NANCY
Why should I?

HUGH
Because I haven't responded to a single phone call or email from you in a year! Because I actively
screen my calls JUST to avoid speaking with you. Because I'm the bastard who took a suitcase and ran
out on his wife.

NANCY
I won't.

HUGH
Won't what?

The Romantics 30
NANCY
Yell at you.

HUGH
Why the hell not?

Pause.

NANCY
I'm looking forward to the wedding. They've always been such a lovely couple.

HUGH
It's a long time overdue. And I'm glad you'll be there. Last I heard, you weren't going out much.
Nobody'd seen you for a while.

NANCY
Been keeping tabs on me?

HUGH
Well, I... I wouldn't say...

NANCY
Thank you. It'll be good to see you again. I miss you.

Pause.

HUGH
I... I should go.

NANCY
NO! I don't mean anything by it, I just, I miss you. We were a huge part of each others' lives for a long
time, and it will be good to see each other again, at the wedding, that's all-

HUGH
I- Look, this conversation, I- (beat.) I should go.

NANCY
I'll see you at the wedding, then. Picked out a new dress from the store just yesterday! Red! Buying it
with the money I used to spend on my pills, back when I needed them! But I don't need them
anymore! So I can buy the dress! Because I've gotten better! Aren't weddings beautiful? Wasn't ours
just magical?

HUGH
Yes. It was. Goodbye, Nancy.

The Romantics 31
Hugh presses a button on his computer to end the Skype conversation. Lights down on his side.

NANCY
WAIT!

Light goes back up on Hugh's side. This is the imaginary Hugh.

HUGH (turns to look right at her)


Yes?

NANCY
Do you remember my wedding dress?

HUGH (with a smile)


I do.

NANCY (slowly turns to look at him)


It was cream, not white, but cream, and had those ornate little shell markings that wove all around
my waist, and a train that came out to, well, you stepped on it once and nearly tripped me.

HUGH (walking towards her)


I remember.

NANCY
I threw it away one night. Shoved it down the garbage shute. I don't remember why.

HUGH
Memories.

NANCY
Remember that moment before...

HUGH
You were crying. I was walking by your dressing room door and- no, that's a lie. I had stopped to listen
at your door to hear what you were talking about with Astrid and the other bridesmaids. And I heard
you crying. Alone. So I burst into the room-

NANCY
To hell with tradition!

HUGH
And you practically leapt into my arms, doused the shoulder of my suit with your eye make-up. Some
of it never came off the collar, you know. I lost my damage deposit.

The Romantics 32
They dance. Music plays. Some more Perry Como.

NANCY
I kept telling you I wasn't good enough for you, that you were making a mistake, that deserved
someone better. How did you stand me?

HUGH
I loved you.

NANCY
Why didn't I just break it off then and there?

HUGH
You loved me. Still do.

Nancy breaks off their dancing.

HUGH
We had a good two years.

NANCY
We did, didn't we. It was good. It was very... good.

Hugh retreats into the darkness.

HUGH
Until it wasn't.

NANCY
Until it wasn't.

Lights somewhat dimly up on Téana, Eric, and Michael. It's night-time. They are decked out in
midnight frisbee golf attire, complete with flashlights and magnetic LEDS attached to their
frisbees. Téana has one of those forehead-lights reminiscent of miners.

ERIC
What's the worst that can happen?

Lights down on Nancy (with Hugh already gone).

MICHAEL
The worst that could- uh, gee, I don’t know, they could arrest us?

The Romantics 33
ERIC
They're campus security. Sad little kings of a sad little hill. What are they going to do? Even transit
security people don’t take them seriously.

MICHAEL
So you’re affirming that what we're doing is illegal. Great. Just great. I can’t have a record! They’ll eat
me alive in there! If, because of you, I miss my own wedding because I’m rotting away in a rat-
infested cell thanks to a run-in with a rent-a-cop-

TÉANA
Uh, guys? Where's the hole for this level again?

ERIC
They're not called levels, they're called holes. And they aren't holes, they're targets. On this hole, that
red lamppost over there.

Eric points out over the audience.

MICHAEL (pointing across the stage)


I thought it was that one over there.

ERIC (pointing over the audience)


No, it has always been that one.

MICHAEL
How do you know? They all look alike!

ERIC
Because THAT one is next to the bike lock-up we used to use before heading into that insufferably dull
political philosophy course.

MICHAEL
Whoever would have guessed that learning about how the development of the industrial proletariat
is conditioned by the development of the industrial bourgeoisie would be so boring? (beat.) Just
because it was boring doesn't mean I didn't pay attention.

TÉANA
So, we just take turns throwing the frisbee at it?

ERIC
What?

TÉANA
The target. We throw our frisbees at it?

The Romantics 34
ERIC
Ya-huh. Just like golf.

TÉANA
Of course.

Téana unsteadily readies to throw.

MICHAEL
Uh, Teenee?

TÉANA
Don't call me Teenee.

MICHAEL
I know, I know. But you're uh...

TÉANA
I know how to throw a frisbee.

MICHAEL
You need to turn on the LED, or you'll never find it in the dark.

Téana fumbles with the disc. Not sure how to turn the LED on. Michael reaches to help, but
Téana turns away from him and fiddles about some more. Gets it turned on.

TÉANA
Hah!

Eric slow-claps.

TÉANA
I just... I haven't figured out a system for this sport yet.

Téana carefully weighs the disc in her hands. She checks the wind with a licked finger, then
makes several practice throwing movements.

ERIC
Uh...

MICHAEL
Dude, we're waiting for-

The Romantics 35
Téana throws the disc over the audience, hopefully to a stagehand in the back row. A great
throw. Michael whistles in appreciation.

TÉANA
Just needed some careful preparation.

Téana breaks out her notebook and makes notes.

ERIC
Now what are you doing.

TÉANA
Making a log of the event and of what worked so that I can accurately reproduce the same results in
the future.

ERIC
You're a freak.

TÉANA
No, a self-tracker.

MICHAEL
A who-in-the-what now?

ERIC
Don't-

TÉANA
Self-trackers are individuals, such as myself, who gather data on every aspect of their lives in order to
gain self-knowledge, and ultimately, success in the world.

ERIC
Digital narcissists.

TÉANA
Interesting assessment.

ERIC
She used to make our mother weigh each portion of her dinners and catalogue the recipes. I think it's
one reason why mom 'encouraged' Téana to move out.

TÉANA
I admit that both narcissists and self-trackers are somewhat obsessed with themselves. Though I'm
far from perfect with my data. Heck, I threw off my entire sleep schedule just to be out here with you

The Romantics 36
two.

ERIC
We're flattered.

MICHAEL
So what do you do with all those numbers?

TÉANA
Here's an example: This month, my bloodwork showed a deficiency in selenium. That means that for
potentially twenty-eight days I have had a suboptimal production of testosterone within my system.

MICHAEL
Bummer.

TÉANA
Oh, I don't get mad at the measurement. It is what it is. All I can do is take measured action to
remedy the situation. (pulls out a Brazil nut and eats it.) Brazil nuts. If I were to become emotional
about every downtick or overdose, then all my statistics would get skewed.

MICHAEL
So, it's a health plan?

TÉANA
More of an... awareness plan. Peak mental prowess.

MICHAEL
And all this helps, how?

TÉANA
It helps me to be as alert and prepared as I can be, so that I can best connect with the person I am
destined to be with when the right moment arrives.

ERIC
Wow.

MICHAEL
Garbage.

TÉANA
Excuse me?

MICHAEL
That's garbage.

The Romantics 37
TÉANA
It's not-

MICHAEL
Don't get me wrong, I think what you're doing is cool, gathering numbers and looking at trends and
whatnot, but you think that becoming some health guru with the ultimate personalized diet is going
to help you find someone? That is shit. That is a shit theory. As a man who almost got a bachelor of
science, I can tell you, that is a shit theory.

TÉANA
I'll bite. Why?

MICHAEL
Because life is messy. Opportunities don't come when you're wide-awake, ready to take on the world!
No. They come when you're overworked, over-caffeinated, under-slept, and haven't showered in four
days because you live in an office.

ERIC
That was Michael when I first introduced him to Astrid.

MICHAEL
They come when you're weak, distracted, vulnerable.

ERIC
We were all glad when he moved to somewhere with a shower.

TÉANA
Well... well... you're wrong. You'll see. My romantic life will be as blissful and as ideal as possible,
while you'll be left with...

Téana gestures to the both of them.

TÉANA
Whatever this is.

Téana storms off down the aisle to find her frisbee. Michael stares at Eric.

MICHAEL (after Téana has left)


What the hell did she mean by that?

ERIC
That girl is going to have her heart broken some day.

The Romantics 38
MICHAEL
No, what she said just now. 'Whatever this is.' 'Whatever this is.' 'Whatever this is.'

ERIC
Ignore it.

MICHAEL
What is going on between you and Astrid?

ERIC
What? Nothing!

MICHAEL
Yeah, that's what she said too.

ERIC
Did she? Well, good!

MICHAEL
Look, I need you to promise me that there is nothing going on, because Astrid and I are getting
MARRIED, and for me, that means for life. Eric, the thought of spending even one day of my life
without her makes me physically ill. Seriously, I get nauseous. And then, when I smell her smell on my
pillow,... There's no one but her. I need her, Eric. I need her. Just promise me nothing is going on
between you two.

ERIC
I... There is nothing going on between me and Astrid. Promise.

MICHAEL
Good. (Michael turns on the LED on his disc.) If it's all the same though, I'm taking you off Best Man
duty.

Lights up on Hugh, in a chair, drinking a glass of scotch.

MICHAEL (readying to throw)


Just in case you think twice and decide you can't attend the wedding. So you can do what you need to
do.

Michael throws his disc over the audience, hopefully to that stagehand. Trudges off after it.
Eric watches him go. Lights down on Eric.

Sound of three pounding knocks at Hugh's door. Hugh slowly gets up. Three more pounding
knocks.

The Romantics 39
HUGH
I said I'm coming! (He stops.) I think I did.

Three more pounding knocks.

HUGH
I'm coming!

He gets to the door (or wing). Opens the door. Astrid storms in.

ASTRID
Why aren't you going to be at my wedding?

HUGH
No hello? My own sister shows up at my door and doesn't even say hello?

ASTRID
Hello, Hugh.

HUGH
No phone message? No email? Shouldn't you be back in BC in full Bridezilla mode?

ASTRID
Be serious.

HUGH
Always. Always serious. What brings you to la belle province?

ASTRID
That's Quebec.

HUGH
Don't insult Alberta.

ASTRID
Why aren't you coming to my wedding?

HUGH
Quite a housecall for a simple question! Not that I'm not glad to see you.

ASTRID
An email wouldn't have got me out of the city.

The Romantics 40
HUGH
Needed some distance, eh? Expensive!

ASTRID
Nah. Dad still has his deal with the airline.

HUGH
Well, you won't get any distance in a marriage! You sure you're ready for it?

ASTRID
You're drunk.

HUGH
And wise.

ASTRID
And wise. But drunk. And my marriage won't end up like yours.

HUGH
Perhaps not. If you get back there in time.

ASTRID
Why'd you leave Nancy?

HUGH
Oh, you don't want to listen to my old war stories.

ASTRID
Don't shrug it off.

HUGH
I would never do that.

ASTRID
So tell me.

HUGH
You ever look outside at night and think to yourself, “I wish it was raining”?

ASTRID
That's not an answer.

The Romantics 41
HUGH
But look at it – a damned clear night, stars twinkling everywhere. Friggin' beautiful.

ASTRID
What happened between you and Nancy?

HUGH
So damned pretty.

ASTRID
What did Nancy do?

HUGH (turning around)


Forget about it! In with the new! That's what I always- will say. Tell me about Michael. He still all-

Hugh bursts into a snivelling, over-the-top imitation of Michael with wildly flailing arms.

ASTRID
He's a good man.

HUGH
I've barely seen him in a year. Could be a Hell's Angel now for all I know.

Astrid stares at him with a 'be serious' look. Hugh snorts with laughter.

HUGH
I take it he still hasn't gotten any better, then?

ASTRID
I'm going to pretend I don't know what you mean.

HUGH
That there is a jumpy man in desperate need of working a year of hard, manual labour. Toughen him
up.

ASTRID
He's plenty tough.

Hugh arches an eyebrow at her.

ASTRID
He is!

Hugh bursts back into his imitation of Michael.

The Romantics 42
ASTRID
It's just, he's a different kind of tough. I mean, yes, he'll complain, and kvetch, and worry until he
hyperventilates, but when something should be done, he'll do it. No matter what it is.

HUGH
Sounds like a hell of a guy.

ASTRID
He is, in his way.

HUGH
But just because someone's a hell of a person doesn't necessarily mean you should marry them.
Marriages are hard work.

Hugh sits down and takes a swig of vodka. Astrid rushes over and takes his drink from him.

HUGH
Oy! Give that here. Nothing wrong with the odd sip now and then.

ASTRID
Sip?

HUGH
Everyone has their vices.

ASTRID
That's no excuse.

HUGH
Sis, I'm sorry about your wedding. Truly, I am. About missing it, I mean. Not about you marrying that
jitterbug. Though that's a sorry situation too. I'll send flowers.

ASTRID
If you were really sorry, you wouldn't miss it.

Hugh picks up a bottle to pour himself a new drink. Astrid rushes over and takes the bottle
from him.

ASTRID
Come to the wedding.

HUGH
I can't.

The Romantics 43
ASTRID
Why not?

HUGH
I just... I can't.

ASTRID
I'm waiting for a reason.

HUGH
It's because... because she'll be there, alright? Nancy. And that's wonderful. It is. I am so happy to
hear that she will be there, out and about in the world again. I am. But if I'm there too... I can't hurt
her again. I can't.

Hugh takes the bottle and glass from her and pours a new drink.

ASTRID
Then I'll uninvite her.

HUGH
NO! No. Don't you dare. She needs this. Don't you- How dare you hold her hostage in this.

ASTRID
How dare I? How dare you hide from her! You may pretend to be Mr. Big Businessman, but in your
heart, you're just a-

HUGH
What? A what? A coward? Is that what you're going to say? A goddamn coward, running away from
his problems? Well YOU'RE DAMN RIGHT I AM! (Hugh downs a glassful.) A goddamn pathetic
coward.

ASTRID
You shouldn't drink so much.

HUGH
I drink for her.

ASTRID
No, you drink for you.

HUGH
You always did have my number, even when we were young. Never let me get away with anything.

The Romantics 44
ASTRID
We're still young.

HUGH
Speak for yourself.

Astrid pours herself a drink.

HUGH
And you, why are you running away? What's your problem? What did you do?

ASTRID
We can talk in the morning.

HUGH
No! Now. Sit.

Hugh takes her over to the chair and sits her down.

ASTRID
Michael's being insufferable. He has it in his head that I have this thing for Eric and-

HUGH
Do you?

ASTRID
Why does everyone think this?

HUGH
Why didn't you answer me?

ASTRID
Because... because if we are standing together, up there, at that altar, then when I say 'I do', that 'I do'
is supposed to mean forever. Michael and me, forever. But there was this time, back when we were in
school, when Eric and I... I don't know if I can say 'I do' to anything with absolute certainty. I might
know what I feel now, but forever? Who knows that?

HUGH
Then screw forever. What do you feel now? Right now? Hmm?

Pause.

The Romantics 45
ASTRID
That's a very good question.

HUGH
I'm full of them.

ASTRID
You're full of something.

HUGH
So hostile. Can I lend you a word of advice, ma petite soeur?

ASTRID
Only if you promise not to use any more French.

HUGH
Comme vous-etes difficile. Ca va, ca va. In all honesty... if you're as smart as I know you are, you'll
never, ever be one-hundred-percent certain. Not if you're thinking clearly. Nothing's that black and
white.

ASTRID
How optimistic.

HUGH
Hey, if you wanted sunshine and lollipops, you've come to the wrong divorcee.

ASTRID
But I love him.

HUGH
I know. But marriages take more than that, darling. Look at mom and dad.

ASTRID
Are you trying to get me to call off the wedding?

HUGH
Only if that's what you think you should do. We are the shapers and the destroyers of our own lives.

ASTRID
My brother, the fatalist philosopher.

HUGH
And what is your philosophy, hmm?

The Romantics 46
ASTRID (after a beat)
That love must conquer, because if it doesn't, then what else can we believe in?

HUGH
Nothing. Nothing at all. Except a strong whiskey. Cheers.

They drink.

ASTRID
And somehow I'm the optimist of us two.

HUGH
You staying the night?

ASTRID
If you don't mind me crashing on your couch.

HUGH
Couch? HAH! You, my dear sister, are staying in the deluxe, fully furnished guest room.

ASTRID
You have a guest room?

HUGH
I told you I'd found a better job.

Hugh gestures Astrid ahead of him, with an 'after you' wave of his hand. She goes offstage.
Lights up on Michael, pacing, writing his marriage vows onto flashcards.

HUGH
Just don't tell Michael you fled the province; I don't think his little rodent heart could take it! (hand to
heart, imitating a heart pumping quickly, then exploding) Bumbumbumbumbumbumbumbum PEOW!
HAH!

Hugh follows her offstage.

HUGH (offstage)
HAH!

Lights down on that scene.

The Romantics 47
MICHAEL
Astrid, I'm not perfect. Far from it. But despite all of that, you still want to marry me. Me. And I
should take advantage of that.

Crosses that last line out on the flashcard.

MICHAEL
And for that, I am grateful. Better. I can't say I'll make an ideal husband, or be the best husband you
can find, or that you'll be happy all your life, or that five years from now you won't realize you've
made a huge mistake-

Crosses that last part out.

MICHAEL
But as long as you're under the delusion that I'll be able to be everything you need me to be, then, I'll
try. Because I do love you, well and truly, hot and coolly, absolutely, and if you think I'll make you
happy and all of that, through sickness and health, whether I'm better or worse, or worse than that,
then, I'll trust your judgement. I'm not perfect, but I'll trust that what I am is enough for you.

Lights up on Téana and Eric in full wedding clothes, staring at the wedding altar. Some flowers
at either side of the altar. Téana has her notebook.

MICHAEL
After all, marriage doesn't need perfect people, right?

Lights down on Michael.

TÉANA
Didn't think you'd show up.

ERIC
Neither did I. You the new best man?

TÉANA
Think about that, Eric.

ERIC
Hey, I've been to gender neutral weddings before.

TÉANA
I meant, he wouldn't choose a mini-you to replace you.

ERIC
Right.

The Romantics 48
TÉANA
Nervous?

ERIC
I'm not the one getting married today.

TÉANA
You're hours early.

ERIC
So are you.

TÉANA
Yes, but I'm here early because I've never been to a wedding, so I want to comprehensively document
this traditional ritual.

ERIC
And I'm here early because... I don't know why I'm here early.

Eric points to Téana's notebook.

ERIC
So what Michael said on campus didn't faze you?

TÉANA
If anything, I have become ever more steely in my resolve that being prepared trumps haphazardly
leaving life all to chance.

ERIC
In many areas, yes. I've no doubt you could replicate that frisbee golf throw all the way from here to
China if you took accurate enough measurements. But it will always take two to tango. And no matter
what you control, if the other person doesn't reciprocate, then what have you got? Nothing.
Relationships need two people. And-

Téana throws down her notebook surprisingly and violently.

TÉANA
-and data is all well and good, but if all you're doing is introspectively crunching numbers, then you're
just using that as a defensive mechanism to avoid actively going out and connecting with people.

Beat.

The Romantics 49
ERIC
Where did that come from?

TÉANA
Eric, I have been living inside the funhouse mirror walls of a delusion! Seeing only what I want the
world to be. Not what it is. So, to celebrate my epiphany, I stopped on the way here and drank a triple
shot white chocolate mocha with whole milk, whipped cream, and extra sprinkles.

ERIC
But that's-

TÉANA
A sugar spike enough to kill three diabetics, with more caffeine than I have had in the rest of my
entire life combined, added to my slight lactose intolerance?

ERIC
You've gone mad.

Téana burps loudly.

TÉANA
No, I fear I am now the sanest person alive. Now if you excuse me, my slight lactose intolerance is
apparently not so slight and I am now feeling the onset of abdominal pain, flatulence, and nausea.

Téana runs off.

ERIC
I'll cross my fingers you avoid the diarrhea!

Chuckling to himself, he picks up Téana's notebook and leafs through it. Nancy enters, wearing
a new dress, looking around.

NANCY
Eric!

Eric sees her. Doesn't recognize her. Nancy heads over to him.

NANCY
Eric! How are you?

ERIC
I'm... I'm good.

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NANCY
It's Nancy.

ERIC
Oh! Nancy! Right! It's been a while. Didn't recognize you.

NANCY
It hasn't been so long.

ERIC
At least a year or two.

NANCY
Have you seen Hugh around?

ERIC
Not since New Year's.

NANCY
Oh? You went to visit him?

ERIC
No, he was in town, on business. He didn't stop by to say hello?

NANCY
No.

ERIC
Oh.

NANCY
You spoke to him, then?

ERIC
At the party. And on the phone beforehand. He did ask about you. To see how you were.

NANCY
Did he?

ERIC
I told him I didn't know.

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NANCY
Did you. He say anything else?

ERIC
Well, truth be told, when he phoned, it was to make sure you weren't there. At the party. I doubt he
would have showed up if you were, no offense. Divorces can be difficult, I know. Not personally.

NANCY
Yes. They can.

ERIC
And some people don't belong together in the first place. I mean, such different personalities, there
are bound to be conflicts. Unresolved differences.

NANCY
Some people just aren't destined to be together.

ERIC
Might not be in the same book.

NANCY
Sorry?

ERIC
Never mind. Uh, Nancy, I'd love to catch up, but I have something to see to before the ceremony.

Eric puts down Téana's notebook and grabs a bouquet of flowers from beside the altar.

NANCY
Oh, yes. Happy to see you helping out!

ERIC
Helping out. Yes. With the flowers. Bye.

Eric rushes off.

NANCY
Happy, happy, happy.

Nancy curls up on a chair, miserable. Sings softly to herself. As she sings, Hugh enters in
wedding attire, upstage, behind her. Hugh hangs back for a moment and listens.

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NANCY (singing)
So take my heart in sweet surrender, and tenderly say that I'm, the one you love and live for, till the
end of time...

HUGH
You always did like that song.

NANCY
Oh, shut up.

HUGH
Pardon?

NANCY
I said, shut up! SHUT UP! SHUT! UP! I'm not going to listen to you any more!

HUGH
Nancy?

Nancy turns around, standing up. Sees that it's the real Hugh.

HUGH
Nancy, are you okay?

NANCY
No. No, I'm not okay.

Pause. They awkwardly keep their distance from each other.

NANCY
But that's not your problem any more. You made that abundantly clear.

HUGH
Nancy, I just- I couldn't...

Beat.

NANCY
You've had a year to rehearse what you were going to say to me, and now, nothing?

HUGH
I had to- There was- (Hugh regains his composure.) You really want to hear it?

The Romantics 53
NANCY
I think you owe me that much.

HUGH
Yes. Nancy, there were times when, it was as though your smile could send me to the moon. I really
did love you. But those moments when you were so full of vibrant energy and love, let's be honest;
they never lasted. They never stayed. But I thought I could make a difference, so I proposed, and we
got married, and more and more, I would find you just sitting in a chair in a cold, dark room, all day
long, just staring off into space as though... contemplating some great wound in the world. The air
was so thick, so heavy. And every morning when I left to go to work, it felt like I was betraying you,
abandoning this sick, unresponsive woman right when she needed me the most. But what could I do?
You never wanted to go out. Then I stopped going out. Began going to bed earlier, and earlier,
sleeping more than I've ever slept in my life. Found myself lying there in our bed in a cold, dark room,
staring up at the ceiling. For hours. And that terrified me, Nancy. More than anything. Then one day, a
job opportunity came up, and without a moment of thought or hesitation, just an instinct, a primal
need to survive, I took it. I don't blame you, Nancy. I blame me. I couldn't help you, so I helped
myself. I packed a bag and got on a train, and as I looked out my window at endess fields of sheep
and wheat, it was like I'd just relearned how to breathe. I'm sorry, Nancy. For everything. I'm so, so
sorry.

NANCY
You did what you had to do.

HUGH
That doesn't make it right.

NANCY
No. It doesn't.

Beat.

HUGH
And here I was worried this would be awkward.

Pause.

NANCY
Hugh?

HUGH
Yes?

NANCY
It's good to see you too. Now get out of my sight. And don't sit near me at the ceremony.

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HUGH
Yes ma'am.

NANCY
And stop asking around town about me. Next time you want to know how I'm doing, just pick up the
goddamn phone.

HUGH
Will do. Yes. Good.

Hugh exits.

Lights up on Astrid, wearing her wedding dress, in her preparation room. A bed. In a mirror,
she examines how she looks.

Nancy notices Téana's notebook, picks it up. She moves to another location onstage, sits
down, and reads the notebook with growing curiosity.

A quiet knock at the door. Astrid looks over, unsure whether she heard it properly. Another
quiet knock.

ASTRID
...Hello? Come in?

Eric enters, holding the bouquet of flowers behind his back.

ERIC
Happy wedding! These came for you.

Astrid looks puzzled. Eric pulls out the bouquet.

ERIC
These.

ASTRID
How lovely. From whom?

ERIC
Now that you mention it, I didn't recognize them. Him. Her. Definitely a her. They are lovely, though.
You look beautiful.

Astrid puts the flowers down on the bed.

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ASTRID
It's a beautiful dress.

ERIC
Stunning.

ASTRID
I can't believe how light it is! I was worried I'd be sweating right through it.

ERIC
Believe me, at this wedding, if anyone will be sweating... it's Michael.

ASTRID
Why would you say that?

ERIC
Seriously? The man's a nervous wreck at the best of times. He used to get anxiety attacks over what
kind of sandwich he packed for lunch.

ASTRID
He'll settle down.

ERIC
Hopefully.

ASTRID
I think he's still surprised when he wakes up to see me next to him in bed.

ERIC
He's lucky to have you.

ASTRID
Oh, and sorry about the whole best man thing. Didn't want to spook Michael. He's flighty.

ERIC
Well, not about you, he isn't. You're everything to him.

Beat.

ASTRID
Is that all?

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ERIC
Uh... yes. Happy wedding. Already said that. Right. (Eric turns to leave, then turns back.) Look, I uh...
Can I ask you something?

Beat.

ASTRID
Depends on the question.

ERIC
Well, I can't tell you the question to find out, without asking it.

ASTRID
Then maybe you shouldn't ask it.

ERIC
Right.

Eric turns around, then turns back.

ERIC
Are you sure?

ASTRID
Yes. Yes, I think so.

Eric turns around, then turns back. He sits down on the side of the bed.

ERIC
Have you ever read a book of, say, four hundred pages, and stopped when you were only about
twenty pages from the end?

ASTRID
Can't say I have.

ERIC
Well, I've been reading this book. A metaphorical book. And I'm at this point where I don't know if
the ending is the end, or-

ASTRID
Sorry?

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ERIC
It's a wonderful book. Starts with this cute story that any grandmother would be thrilled to share with
her grandchildren around a good old Christmas dinner, about how these two people met as children,
and both signed up for a school play that culminated in one great kiss. About how one of these kids
then came down with tonsillitis so that the kiss never happened.

ASTRID
Eric-

ERIC
Let me finish. And then there's that chapter about the time when you- when one of these two people
was staying with the other person for a few weeks, and they fell asleep on the couch, and one of
them woke up and saw the other one dreaming, wisps of hair bordering her face, and it took all his
muster not to kiss her, because she was sleeping and his best friend had already asked her out. And
then there was that chapter when in the middle of the night, you knocked on my door, and-

ASTRID
That's enough, Eric.

Eric stands up to face her.

ERIC
I spent three months painting a painting for you. Just kept going over it again and again and again. It
was never good enough.

ASTRID
It's a beautiful painting. And that book, it's a good story. But that's all it is.

ERIC
I stole the flowers from your wedding altar.

Astrid picks up the flowers and hands them to his chest.

ASTRID
And you're going to put them back, right now.

ERIC (taking her flower-giving hand and holding it in his)


I'm not asking you to run away with me.

ASTRID
Good.

ERIC
All I'm proposing-

The Romantics 58
Astrid pulls away from him.

ERIC
Poor choice of words. All I'm suggesting, is an experiment.

ASTRID
An experiment.

ERIC
Been spending too much time with my sister. But yes, an experiment. A kiss. From which there are
two possible outcomes.

ASTRID
Which are?

ERIC
One: We determine – while sober – that what I feel – and what I think you do too – is an old flame,
that, while stubborn, will die out. A book written to its final page. Closure.

ASTRID
And the other outcome?

Beat.

ERIC
I'm hoping like hell for the first one. We have a deal?

Pause. Astrid steps toward him. Stops.

ASTRID
No.

ERIC
I'm just asking for-

ASTRID
And I'm saying no.

ERIC
But I...

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ASTRID
Get out.

Eric walks toward the door. Turns around.

ERIC
I just-

ASTRID
GO!

Eric turns around. Reaches the door.

ERIC
Damn it.

Eric turns around and pulls Astrid into a kiss/embrace. After a few seconds in which Astrid
seems to let it happen, she shoves Eric away.

ASTRID (yelling)
GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE!

Astrid throws the flowers at Eric. Michael, hearing yelling, dashes across the stage toward the
room. As Eric reaches the door of the room, he reaches down and picks up the thrown flowers.
As he rises with the flowers, he and Michael bump into each other.

ERIC
Michael!

MICHAEL
Eric? I heard yelling.

ERIC
I'm sorry. You're the best friend a guy could have, and I'm... a jerk. I just needed to know. I had to.

Eric plunks the flowers at Michael's chest.

ERIC
I'm sorry.

Eric rushes out. Michael stares at the flowers for a moment, then sees Astrid's distraught
condition for the first time. She's a mess.

The Romantics 60
MICHAEL
Astrid?

He rushes to her bed and wraps her in his arms.

Lights up on a disheveled Téana, sitting alone at a bar, with a large whipped-creamy, foamy
coffee in her hand.

MICHAEL
Whatever it is, it'll be okay. We'll be okay. We'll always be okay.

Lights down on Michael and Astrid.

Nancy enters Téana's scene, holding Téana's notebook.

NANCY
Téana, right? Eric's younger sister?

TÉANA (without turning to look at her)


Here I am.

NANCY
The kid who always had a notebook in her hands. I uh, I found something of yours.

TÉANA
Keep it.

NANCY
It looks like you've put a lot of work into it, and I don't want to-

TÉANA
I said keep it! It's all meaningless.

NANCY
I found it fascinating how, in November, you wrote down that you had discovered a link between
emotional instability and-

TÉANA & NANCY (in unison)


Orange juice.

Téana slowly turns and looks at her. Eyes lock. They both smile.

TÉANA
I never did establish why, but I had thought it might be due to-

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NANCY
Blood pressure, I know. Read it. Makes sense to me.

TÉANA
You're really interested in all that?

NANCY
It seems useful.

TÉANA
I used to think so.

NANCY
Though I didn't quite understand the psychological index section.

TÉANA
I can explain it to you, if you'd like.

NANCY
Over dinner, perhaps? Carefully catalogued, of course. Saw that section too.

TÉANA
Of course.

NANCY
Great! Good. We better go in; the ceremony about to begin soon. After you.

Nancy gestures Téana ahead of her. Téana exits. A worried sigh escapes Nancy's lips. She then
takes in a deep, confident breath.

NANCY
To the moon.

Nancy follows Téana out.

Lights up on the altar scene. Michael and Astrid are holding hands at the altar. Hugh and
Téana sit in seats at the proceeding. Nancy walks into the scene and sits next to Téana.

MICHAEL
With this ring, I thee wed. I offer you my hand and my heart as I know they will be safe with you. All
that I am, I give to you, and all that I have, I share with you.

The Romantics 62
Michael puts a ring on Astrid's hand. Lights up on elsewhere in the theatre, possibly a balcony
or aisle, where Eric sneaks in to watch the proceeding, drinking.

ASTRID
With this ring, I thee wed. I offer you my hand and my heart as I know they will be safe with you. All
that I am, I give to you, and all that I have, I share with you.

Astrid puts a ring on Michael's hand. Eric takes a large swig.

Michael and Astrid kiss. Hugh, Téana, and Nancy cheer.

ERIC
Good on'em.

Michael and Astrid happily exit the stage. Hugh follows. Nancy and Téana stand up and watch
the others leave. Eric takes another swig.

Nancy and Téana hold hands.

TÉANA
To a new beginning.

Téana and Nancy follow the wedding party out.

ERIC
Well now, that's the end of that. Right? Right?

Eric drinks.

ERIC
Dammit.

Lights down.

The Romantics 63

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