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Pizza the Cat

A Play in One Act

by Eric Craft

Characters:

Jess – A single mom in her forties.

Maddie – Her young teenage daughter.

Diana – Jessie’s work friend

 

Time – The Present

Place - Jessie and Mads’ townhome.

                         Act One

 

                         Scene One

 

Jessie’s home. A dining room table with keys, hand sanitizer, half-done laundry, and a hefty but loosely organized pile of mail. In the kitchen, well maintained builder’s grade cabinets and granite countertops that still have today’s team of cleaning supplies out and about. In all, the place screams Divorced Mom vibes. JESSIE enters with a ball of yarn, a bowl, and a little toy fish, and makes them a place of honor in the center of the table. She excitedly pours a little bit of milk into the bowl. She keeps checking the time, then looks out the window, sees something, and runs into position so the table is on display in front of her. Enter MADDIE.

 

              JESSIE

Hi Honey!

 

                         MADDIE

Hey.

 

          She walks past.

 

                         JESSIE

How was your day?

 

                         MADDIE

It was okay. I guess.

 

                         JESSIE

That’s nice.

 

                         MADDIE

Mhmm…I’m gonna go do my homework.

 

          She starts to exit.

 

                         JESSIE

Wait! I have something to tell you.

 

                         MADDIE

Okay.

 

                         JESSIE

Could you sit down please?

 

                         MADDIE

I someone dead?

 

                         JESSIE

No, it’s—

 

                         MADDIE

Is it grandma or grandpa?

 

                         JESSIE

All your grandparents are fine.

 

                         MADDIE

Are you dating someone? Like is there a man waiting in the bathroom?

 

                         JESSIE

What?

 

                         MADDIE

It’s not Dad.

 

                         JESSIE

God No! Sorry, we love your father. Sit! Please.

 

                         MADDIE

Fine. What’s for dinner?

 

She sits. JESSIE points at the objects on the table.

 

                         JESSIE

Guess what?

 

                         MADDIE

What am I looking at? Are we having fish?

 

                         JESSIE

What do you see?

 

                         MADDIE

A fish?

 

                         JESSIE

And?

 

                         MADDIE

Yarn and milk? Are we knitting for a cow? I don’t…

 

                         JESSIE

Okay.

 

          She sits.

 

                         JESSIE

Mads. I don’t think you know my friend Di from work. Well, her cousin has a cat who they didn’t know was pregnant and so they woke up one morning and discovered she had a litter of five kittens! So they’ve been looking for homes for these cats and I said we would take one.

 

          A silence.

 

                         MADDIE

          (growing upset)

What?

 

                         JESSIE

We’re gonna get a cat.

 

          Another silence as MADDIE starts to cry.

 

                         MADDIE

No…no no…no no no no no no…

 

                         JESSIE

Maddie, what’s the matter?

 

                         MADDIE
I DON’T WANT A CAT!

 

                         JESSIE

But you’ve been asking for a cat for years.

 

                         MADDIE

I don’t want one anymore! I don’t want a cat. I can’t take care of one!

 

                         JESSIE
Sure you can, I got litter and wet food.

 

                         MADDIE

Stop it.

 

                         JESSIE

What’s really going on?

 

                         MADDIE

Nothing!

 

                         JESSIE

Did something happen at school?

                         MADDIE
No.

 

                         JESSIE

Are those girls being mean to you again?

 

                         MADDIE

No!

 

                         JESSIE

Is it a boy?

    

               MADDIE catapults from the table.

 

                         MADDIE

NO! Oh my god!

 

                         JESSIE

I’m sorry, I just don’t understand where this is coming from! Let me help you!

 

                         MADDIE

I’m just sad today! Can’t I just have a bad day and not have a reason for it? And not have to pretend like I’m happy just so you can feel better?!

 

                         JESSIE

Fine. Fine. I was thinking of getting pizza for dinner.

 

                         MADDIE

Okay.

 

                         JESSIE

What would you want?

 

                         MADDIE

I don’t know what I want! Plain, pepperoni I don’t care!

 

                         JESSIE

I am just asking a question!

 

                         MADDIE
Why didn’t you talk to me?!

 

                         JESSIE

Wh- You don’t talk to me! You come home every day and it’s just “hey” and then up to your room! How do you think that makes me feel?

 

                         MADDIE

Just order pepperoni!

 

The doorbell rings.

 

                         JESSIE

Oh…

 

We see DIANA outside holding a carrier. She begins to poke her head in.

 

               DIANA

Hey hey he-

 

          JESSIE shoves her outside and closes the door.

 

                         JESSIE

Maddie doesn’t want the cat.

 

                         DIANA

I live an hour and a half away.

 

                         JESSIE

I don’t know what’s going on with her. She’s upset about something and she won’t tell me and she doesn’t want the cat but she’s wanted the cat for years. Don’t let her see!

 

          MADDIE pokes her head out.

 

                         MADDIE

Mom?

 

                         JESSIE

I forgot I already ordered the pizza is all.

 

                         DIANA

Yes. I’m the pizza guy.

 

                         MADDIE

And that cat? 

 

                         DIANA
That’s pizza.

 

          A long silence.

 

                         MADDIE

I want to go to dad’s.

 

She enters back into the home.

 

                          DIANA

Do you want me to help?

 

                         JESSIE

I’m so confused, she doesn’t behave like this I don’t know what I did.

 

                         DIANA

Breathe. Here, I literally have a kitten to calm you down.

 

DIANA enters the home. MADDIE has her back to the door.

 

                         MADDIE

I don’t want to talk to you.

 

                         DIANA

I’m not Jessie.

 

                         MADDIE

Oh. I guess you’re Di?

 

                         DIANA

Diana. I work with your mom. You don’t really know me, but I know you. Your mom tells me so much about you. About your interest in photography, the shows you two watch together, even stuff that, frankly, I have no business knowing. Like the bullying and how you handled the divorce. She tells me a lot about you because she doesn’t know how to care for you anymore. You’re thirteen?

 

                         MADDIE

Fourteen.

 

                         DIANA

She’s having a very hard time. And clearly, you both face difficulty in being honest with yourself. She is just as confused as you are, but she won’t tell you that because she’s afraid you’ll realize she’s just another human being, and not Mom the all powerful. She didn’t tell you about the cat, did she?

 

                         MADDIE

No.

 

                         DIANA

Adopting a pet is a big change, and you have already been forced to deal with big changes. I don’t think it was fair for her to withhold this from you. And also, she told me that she told you, so she lied to my face and I don’t appreciate that.

                         MADDIE

That sounds like her.

 

                         DIANA

She’s funny though. Your mom.

 

                         MADDIE

She’s so stupid. She tried to break the news to me by laying out this yarn and stuff.

 

                         DIANA

Oh that! With the m-m-m-milk?! That’s hilarious! The little fish too!

 

                         MADDIE

Oh my god…

 

DIANA laughs up a storm, prompting JESSIE to enter with the cat in hand.

 

                        JESSIE

Hey…

 

                         DIANA
What is this riddle you tried to set up?

 

                         JESSIE

What? I was very excited!

 

                         DIANA

You’re too much, Jess! Absolute crazy woman. Anyway I gotta go feed the meter.

 

                         JESSIE

It’s free parking in this complex.

 

                         DIANA

I need you to talk to your daughter. I’ll be back for the little guy.

         

          She exits.

 

                         MADDIE

You told her that I knew about the cat.

 

                         JESSIE

She wouldn’t let me adopt him otherwise, and I wanted it to be a surprise.

 

                         MADDIE

I hate surprises.

 

                         JESSIE

Since when?

 

                         MADDIE

Since the surprise divorce. I know I’m a teenager but I’m not, like, hard to figure out.

 

                         JESSIE

I should’ve known that.

 

                         MADDIE

I didn’t say it.

 

                         JESSIE

Oh god…I just feel embarrassed now. I know how much you’ve grown, I see it, I’m there. I’m there for you. I am here. For you. I just choose to ignore it and I don’t know why. You’re old enough to be part of the conversation.

 

                         MADDIE

But if I’m part of the conversation, will you still take care of me sometimes? Will you tell me everything will be alright?

 

          At this point they are hugging.

    

                         JESSIE

Of course, of course. But you’re old enough now I can’t force you to believe it. I won’t tell you how to feel anymore.

 

                         MADDIE

Well, I’ll be sure to tell you how I feel then.

 

          The doorbell rings. DIANA pokes her head in.

                         DIANA

Hey, is this a good time? I’m going to take the little guy back?

 

          MADDIE looks at her mom.

 

                         JESSIE

I’m not going to manipulate you either way, it’s entirely your decision. I have the receipts from the pet store.

 

                         MADDIE

Do you have other people who might adopt him? Will he go to a shelter otherwise?

 

                         DIANA
I am not telling you that. Do you want the cat or not?

 

                         MADDIE

His name is Pizza.

 

                         END OF PLAY.

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