Postcards from Eternity
written by Jenn Wadell
Father – One writing the postcards
Mother – his wife
Robert – Son
Judith – Daughter
Madeline – Daughter
Stuart – Son
Cecile – Sister
Jasmine – Granddaughter – daughter of Judith
Luke – Grandson – son of Stuart
Scene One – A tree lined park.
Lights up on a park bench, stage right. Robert and Judith jog in from stage left. Stop at the bench to stretch, check pulse, etc.
Robert: (looking at his watch) We beat our time from yesterday by another minute. If we keep this up, we should be able to get one more mile in every morning.
Judith: (sarcastically) Joy.
Robert: Don’t look so excited.
Judith: You’re my brother and I love you, but if you keep pushing me, I’m going to have to kill you. (Robert opens his mouth to say something) And, for the last time, I am not running in that 5K with you. I’m doing this for exercise only.
Robert: Okay, I hear you. I’ll see you tomorrow. (He turns to walk away)
Judith: (pulling a postcard out of her pocket) Robert? Can I talk to you about something?
Robert: (turning around) Shoot.
Judith: It’s about Dad.
Robert: Then, no. (turns to go again)
Judith: (looking at her hands) I got a postcard from him yesterday.
Robert: How in the… You know what, I don’t care. I have to go.
She watches him jog off stage. She is left alone with her postcard. She stands up and begins to pace as she reads.
Judith: Dear Judith, Well, here I am in the Jungles of India, my mission field for the next month. I’m not even sure if this is going to reach you before I come home, but I was thinking about you so I wanted to let you know. Sweetie, there’s something I’d like to speak with you about when I get there, but just to get you thinking, let me bring it up now. I know how hard you’ve been working lately. Trying to balance a job, kids, and looking out for your mother in my absence is not easy. I really do appreciate you. There is something that concerns me, however. When was the last time that you went on a date with your husband? Mom tells me that he is staying at his apartment in the city more and more. Honey, it’s not too late. Remember when you first fell in love with him? He was all you could think about or talk about. How often do you think about him now? I know it’s a difficult time and it’s not all your fault, but what would happen if you took the first step? Don’t write him off. Love him back into your home. I promise, you won’t regret it. I love you so much, Dad.
Scene Two – in front of a Fire Station
Spot on Robert down stage right sitting in an armchair, talking on his cell phone. Lights up on Fire station. Stuart slowly enters stage left dressed in jeans and button down shirt, kicking an imaginary rock, head down, talking on his cell phone.
Robert: Are we still on for lunch today?
Stuart: Can’t. (pause) I’m not going in today.
Robert: You sick?
Stuart: Nope. (pause) I’m taking the day off.
Robert: You sick?
Stuart: I’m reevaluating.
Robert: Reevaluating what?
Stuart: Things, work, pretty much my whole life.
Robert: Stu, you’ve been working toward that promotion for months. You are days away from it and you’re backing out? What is going on?
Stuart: (long pause, big sigh) I got a postcard from Dad. (another long pause) You still there?
Robert: I’m here.
Stuart: Do you want to hear it?
Robert: No, I really don’t.
Stuart: I figured you wouldn’t. (pause) It was really pretty profound.
Robert: How nice.
Stuart: So, I’ll call you tomorrow?
Robert: Think you’ll be done evaluating by then?
Stuart: This isn’t easy for any of us, you know?
Robert: Yeah, I know. Talk to you tomorrow.
Stuart sits down on the firehouse steps, pulls out his postcard and reads.
Stuart: Dear Stuart, I was sorry to hear about the immoral road that you’re boss has decided to take. I am so proud of you for sticking up for what you believe is right. I know your coworkers want to blame you for the loss of funding and the subsequent downsizing. Don’t believe their lies. You did what was good and right. You will not have an easy time, but hang in there. Even if it costs you your job, it will be worth it in the long run. I wish I could be there to help you though it. I think of you often and lift you up in prayer every time. Love, Dad.
Jasmine is on the phone with her aunt Madeline.
Jasmine: Aunt Maddie? I need to talk to you. I just got a post card from (looks around and lowers her voice) from Grandpa. How did he do that? (pause) There’s that much of a delay? Wow, okay, so listen to this. (she pulls out her post card) Dear Jasmine, your Mom tells me that you’ve started to run with the wrong crowd. (speaking to her aunt, waving the post card around as she speaks) Can you freakin’ believe that? Mom tells Grandpa – of all people – that she doesn’t like my friends. She doesn’t even know my friends. (continues to read) I know that you are not involved in the sexual promiscuity that they delight in themselves, but I know that they have corrupted some of the girls you used to be friends with. It’s only a matter of time until you succumb to their way of thinking as well. Turn away from them, my dear. Turn toward the One who made you and who is longing to lead you down His well lit path. I would love to discuss this with you more in person the next chance I get. Clear a spot on your schedule for me, I shall be home before you know it. All my Love, Grandpa.
Why does anyone give a crap who I hang out with? Dad’s gone half the time, and Mom is too tired to have any real conversations. Aunt Maddie, what should I do?
Scene Four – outside a Courthouse
Robert, dressed in a suit and overcoat, wearing gloves, carrying a briefcase, hurries across the stage, Man One hurries to catch up with him.
Man One: Hey, Buddy! Hey, slow down! (Robert turns around) You dropped this. (he holds out a post card)
Robert: (glances at the post card) That’s not mine.
Man One: It flew out of your coat pocket when you pulled out your gloves. I’ve been trying to catch up with you for blocks! You are a really fast walker. (he chuckles)
Robert snatches the post card out of the man’s hand and hurries off stage.
Man One: (waves in Robert’s direction) Have a nice day!
Man One exits stage left, passes Luke entering stage left. He checks his watch, looks around, then takes a seat on the Courthouse steps. He pulls out his post card and begins to read.
Luke: Dear Luke, You are my one and only grandson. The family name lies with you and your descendants. Our name has a good reputation and I know it will continue that way. You are a good kid, and I am proud of you. Your Dad told me that your grades are coming up and that you’re studying hard. I do want to say one thing though; you need to figure out where you stand when it comes to authority. Someday, your entire family will look to you. They will be following you, who will you be following? Be wise in whom you seek for counsel, know who you’re talking to. Do not tolerate anything false in your life. Take the bad with the good, but know what the truth is so that you will not be misled. I believe in you and in your abilities. Love, Grandpa
Dry Cleaner & Library
Scene Five – outside a dry cleaner next to a library.
Robert is helping Aunt Cecile down the library steps. She has a couple of books in her arm and is carrying a great big purse.
Robert: Here, Aunt Cecile, let me carry those books for you.
Cecile: (slapping his hand away) Nonsense, I can carry them myself. It’s bad enough to have to lean on you coming down these steps, but I’m afraid I might slip and that would be even more embarrassing. (beat) I’m not old!
Robert: (trying to hide a smile) Of course not, Aunt Cecile.
Cecile: Oh, speaking of help. (she dives head first into her big purse. Her voice is muffled) I got something in the mail the other day. The handwriting is atrocious and I can’t quite make out the words, so if you’d be so kind (her head comes up out of the purse) as to read it to me, I would much appreciate it. (she holds the post card out to Robert)
Robert: (staring at the postcard) What’s that?
Cecile: (impatient) What does it look like? I want you to read it to me. I can’t figure out the scrawl on it.
Cecile holds the post card up close to her face, then slowly begins to pull it away until she’s holding it at arms length.
Robert: I really have to get going.
Cecile: Yeah, (beat) right after you read this. Come on. Won’t take but a minute. Who’s it from, anyway.
Robert: (without looking at it) It’s from Dad.
Cecile: (turns her face away) It must have been sent before he…
Robert: Must have.
Cecile: (presses the post card into Robert’s hand) Please, Robert.
Robert: (reluctantly takes the post card and reads it) Dear Ceci,
Cecile: (smiling) He always called me Ceci.
Robert: How I miss you. I miss our lively conversations and your quick wit. You can always make me laugh. God gave me a word for you, dear sister. Your life is far from over. The Lord has work for you to do. So, get your head out of those romance novels, get off the couch, and get on your knees.
Cecile: Words only a brother could say and get away with! (pause) Go on.
Robert: It’s not too late. You are still useful. Ignore the lies that say you are too old. Look at me – on my first over-seas mission trip at the age of 71. You can do it too, I know you can. I’m looking forward to sharing pictures with you over a cup of tea and your famous lemon bread. I love you like a sister.
Cecile: There you have it. Words to ponder I shall say.
Robert: You’re not going to listen to him, are you? Who is he to tell you how to live your life?
Cecile: (obviously hurt) Thank you for reading my post card to me, Robert. You may go now.
Robert: Aunt Cecile, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…
Cecile: I know you’re very busy, so off with you.
Robert exits as lights fade.
Scene Six – near a construction site
Madeline and Jasmine are walking together.
Madeline: Hey, I got a post card from your Grandpa too. Do you want to hear mine?
Madeline: Okay, here it is. Dear Madeline, The Lord has spoken to me regarding you. I have no idea what it means, but I’m sure you will. Don’t be afraid, no one will be able to shut the door that the Lord has opened for you. Walk though with confidence. I’m so excited for you, whatever it is. After everything you’ve been though in the last couple of years, you deserve it. Stay strong, you’re almost there. I hope we get a chance to catch up soon. I love you, Daddy.
Jasmine: Aunt Maddie? What door?
Madeline: I’m moving.
Jasmine: What? No! What will I do without you?
Madeline: I’ve received a job offer in Phoenix. It will be a chance for me to start fresh – in a town where the memories of my past don’t constantly haunt me. I have to do this, Jas. I’m going to tell everyone about it next week at Grandma’s Birthday party.
Jasmine: But, I need you!
Madeline: It won’t be so bad, you’ll see.
Madeline puts her arm around Jasmine as they exit. Lights Fade.
Scene Seven – Living Room
Entire Family is gathered, eating, drinking, talking. There is an empty recliner in the center. Mom is wearing a button that lights up and says “Birthday Girl” on it. All noise stops when Robert enters. Family stares at him.
Mom: (walks over to Robert and gives him a hug) I’m so glad you could make it, Robert.
Robert: I would like to read my post card. I’ve been thinking about it a lot and I think you all need to hear this. (he clears his throat) Dear Junior, I hope you can forgive me for the awful fight we had just before I left. (Robert pauses, fighting back tears) I know I was hard on you, but I hope you know that I wouldn’t be so hard if I didn’t love you so much. (pause) You have been so complacent in your life lately, and my hope is that you can live passionately, enjoying what you have, and enjoying your family. You are rich in money, but poor in love. You act like you don’t need anyone or anything, but I know you do. Let others into your world and they just may surprise you. I want you to know that I forgive you. I’d like to have coffee with you when I get back. I’ll see you soon. Love, Dad. (Robert collapses into the recliner and cries silently into his hands.)
The room is silent.