By Chris Wyatt
A workaholic husband can't see that he has contributed to his wife's alcohol addiction.
Simon (her husband)
Phil (a friend)
Anne: Oh, shut up, you stupid fool! You're always going on at me.
Simon: But darling, I only ..........
Anne: Don't 'darling' me. It's obvious you don't love me any more. I wonder if you ever did. It feels like our whole married life has been full of your nagging.
Simon: That's not true. It's only in the last few years that you've.........
Anne: Don't start again. I'm not drunki. There's nothing wrong with me.
Simon: I didn't say you were drunk.
Anne: Oh, you don't need to say it. I know that's what you mean. All those not-so-subtle hints for years and years. It's only the occasional glass to soothe my nerves. God, I need something living with a man like you.
Simon: It hasn't always been like this.
Anne: Hasn't it? I can't remember. I can't seem to remember anything nowadays. (Breaks down) I've been so miserable for so long. What the hell's the use of living even? One drag of a day after another. I don't seem to understand anything anymore - understand what's happening to my life. Jusst because you refuse to change. I .......
Simon: Anne, don't go on like this. Please. I'm doing my best to help you. But you won't help yourself. Please go and see a doctor........
Anne: (standing up angrily) There you go again. A doctor. There's nothing wrong with me, do you hear? (shouting) Nothing! I don't need a bloody crutch to lean on. I'm strong enough to cope with life without going to a quack. You only need them when you're sick.
Simon: But darling, you are .....
Anne: Oh God, I give up with you. I'm going to the bedroom. (She storms out. Simon stares forlornly in front of him, then picks up a paper. He tries to read it but gives up. He switches on the TV, but turns it off frustrated. He starts to pace the floor when there's a knock at the door. He lets in Philip.)
Simon: Oh, gidday, Phil.
Phil: Hullo, Simon. Just returning the drill, thanks very much.
Simon: Work all right?
Phil: Yes, thanks, like a charm. A great help. I appreciate your kindness. (Pause) Doing anything?
Simon: Eh? Oh no. Come on in. Drink?
Phil: Thanks, that was thirsty work. Whatever you're having. (Simon goes to the drinks cabinet and pulls out a bottle of spirits. He takes the top off and hesitates.)
Simon: Listen, Phil, I just feel like a glass of lemonade at the moment. Would that do?
Phil: (Looking relieved) Suits me fine. In fact, I prefer it to most things.
(Simon leaves for a minute. Phil looks round, picks a glass and sniffs it. He sits and Simon enters with two glasses. He hands one to Phil.)
(Pause. Simon nervously begins to clear away empty glasses.)
Phil: You're upset, Si. Is it Anne?
Simon: (with back to Phil, pauses, turns suddenly) I wasn't going to say anything, but I've got to tell someone, or I'll go out of my mind. I don't know you all that well, but I guess I can trust you.
Phil: That's up to you. Whatever you feel best.
Simon: (flops into chair) It's Anne alright. You know, huh?
Phil: Well, I've only met her twice, but I can tell. I've come across a few alcoholics through my job.
Simon: Oh, yeah. Forgot. So she is an alcoholic, then?
Phil: It's a relative thing. There are alcoholics and then there are alcoholics. Anne's not the worst I've seen. The main thing is, she's certainly not beyond help.
Simon: (Gets up and paces) That's the stupid thing about it. She reckons she doesn't need help. She thinks there's nothing wrong. Just a few drinks.....to put up with me, she says. I've tried to get her to see a doctor, but she thinks I'm trying to make her look weak; that I'm insinuating she can't cope with life, and that she needs drugs and pills to prop her up. She doesn't understand.
Phil: I know. People like Anne are sometimes their own worst enemy. They refuse to face up to reality, and so no amount of persuasion will convince them they need a cure.
Simon: I'm at my wit's end. I've tried everything, but I can't seem to get her to change.
Phil: (Pause) How long has she been drinking like this?
Simon: I don't know. She's always had the odd drink.
Phil: You can't think back to any specific time or occurrence in your lives when it became heavier?
Simon: I guess it was about three or four years ago I first noticed it. That was soon after I got my promotion. (Looks up at Phil. He suddenly flares) What are you looking at me for? What are you trying to accuse me of?
Phil: Come one, Simon, I didn't say anything. (Pause) Maybe you heard a still, small voice within.
Simon: What do you mean? Don't start this "holier than thou" stuff with me. I know you've got religion and God and all that, but that doesn't appeal to me.
Phil: I haven't brought God into this. It sounds like you've suddenly understood something basic to the problem yourself.
Simon: You mean a connection between Anne's problem and my work?
Phil: What do you think?
Simon: I don't see how. Anne should be proud of my achievements.
Phil: So I've heard. I understand your firm sees you as their great saviour, and if it hadn't been for all your hard work they would be down the drain by now.
Simon: I've given my life to those people. I've burned the midnight oil so my clients would benefit. But why should that drive Anne to drink? Why isn't she fulfilled?
Phil: Are you asking me, or yourself?
Simon: Sure, it means I'm not home a lot. Having no kids means there's not much to get involved in round here. But Anne can't have all of me,can she? Got to get our priorities right.
Phil: I wonder what Anne's priorities might be?
Simon: Look, I don't know what you're getting at. I don't think I'm being selfish and unthinking, if that's what you mean. Anne sees as much of me as she needs. In fact, she says right now she wans to see even less! How can I change her?
Phil: Maybe she's not the only one who needs to change.
Simon: (scoffs) Ha! Bringing religion into it again. Wondered how long it would take you to get round to that.
Phil: But I never....
Simon: You needn't think I need any of that stuff. There's nothing wrong with me, you know. I don't need a bloody crutch to lean on. I'm strong enough to cope with my life without going to a faceless God. You only go to God when you're weak or sick. I'm sorry, Phil, I didn't mean that you....... I guess there are exceptions, but......
Phil: I know what you're trying to say, Simon. It's okay. But I think you've steered yourself straight to the solution without me saying anything, and then slapped it down. You seem to misunderstand what Jesus came to Earth for. He knows that no man or woman can cope on their own, no matter what their individual strengths and talents. How can they? He created them, and without him they are incomplete. Jesus doesn't want to be a crutch for the weak, but a vital ingredient, like - like salt - in every human life.
Simon: I don't understand what you're talking about, Phil. It all sounds airy-fairy to me. I know you're trying to help, but it's not just for me. I've been a great success in life. Got all I need. Anne doesn't even have to go out to work. She can stay at home and be fulfilled. And I can spend my life helping others through my work.
Phil: (Stands) So you still think only Anne has the problem?
Simon: Well, yes.
Phil: And nothing will convince you that you need the Great Physician as much as her?
(Simon looks perplexed, shrugs.)
Phil: There's a story in the Bible about needing to take the splinter from our own eyes before we can remove the log from other's. Please think about it, Simon. It could be the key to you both starting on the road up. Thanks for the drink. I'll let myself out.
© Chris Wyatt, All rights reserved
This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold for profit in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged. In exchange for free performance, the author would appreciate being notified of when and for what purpose the play is performed. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org