Farid, a Muslim American man in his late twenties attends the long-awaited funeral of his daughter. The funeral had to be postponed in hopes that Melanie, a Caucasian American, would wake up from a comma. Months earlier while in her final trimester she was the target of a hate crime by a man that had threatened the couple for months. Warning them that there is a debt to be paid by “his kind” in America. Finally Melanie awakens and is told her the loss of her daughter. When she returns home and the baby room has been turned into an office she can’t understand or accept that Farid has decided to move on without their daughter, “erasing” her from their lives. Farid argues that he had to make all of the decisions for their family while she was in a coma and he did his best. This is an emotional story that starts with a hate crime but goes much deeper when two people who have loved each other since they were teenagers must stand over the casket of their daughter at her funeral and work together to get through the most difficult moment of their lives. While they are standing side by side it is the most alone that either one of them have ever been. Will they be able to sweep the pieces of their relationship back together an move forward or will the end of this funeral also be the end of their love?
***The male character needs to be a person of color but the lines may be edited to reflect another race. Please contact the publisher for specific cuts/ edits for this specific purpose.***
WhileYou Were Away
(Scene opens with Farid on one side of a casket and Melanie on the other. They look up to see each other, then quickly look away. It is clearly an uncomfortable situation. Farid finally moves closer to her and whispers.)
Farid: How, how are you?
Farid: (Beat)Fine. (Silence)I’ve been meaning to call you but-
Melanie: -cell service down? Too busy? Lots of things to do? Busy, busy, busy that’s Farid.
Farid: (Slightly raising his voice)Stop it. (They both look around to see people looking at them. Composed.) Please just stop. I- I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to handle this situation the right way-
Melanie: -so you don’t handle it at all?(She smiles at someone passing by, to them.) Thank you for coming. (She hugs them, forces a smile and goes back to Farid.)Nothing is active. Doing nothing is just doing nothing. (Beat, aside)That’s what you do, actively do nothing. Can’t believe you can’t even-
Farid: - here? Now? This is where you want to do this?
Melanie: You didn’t give me a choice Farid. Where have you been? Tell me where you have been?
Farid: You left.
Melanie: You let me. (Beat)
Farid: (Putting it together)You wanted me to what, hunt you down? Force you be with me through this?
Melanie: I wanted you to do something.You chose to do nothing. (Disappointment)I just don’t understand how you could do that.
Farid: You pushed me away. You damn near kicked me out of your life, but I was right here. I was always here.
Farid: Wherever you needed me.
Melanie: Not home, not with me.
Farid: All you had to do was tell me.
Melanie: I can’t search for you and handle all of- (Pointing to the room)This.
Farid: I couldn’t either.
Melanie: I can see that.
Farid: (Beat, he reaches for her hand, she calmly yet forcefully pulls away. They both continue to smile at people, hug people and then, Farid grabs her hand and forces her to follow him into another room, she reluctantly follows trying to hold onto her smile.)Stop it. (Melanie is about to speak but before she can he grabs her and hugs her. Holding her tight she wants to fight him but eventually she gives in. The hug is full of heartbreak.) I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.
Melanie: (Through her emotion)I never needed that…I just needed you. (Beat, they separate.)
Farid: I can’t change it.
Melanie: And I can’t forgive you.
Farid: We were so perfect Mel.
Melanie: We were.
Farid: We made each other so happy.
Melanie: We did.
Farid: One chance. One more time…to make it right.