This is for a bit of fun and a bit of laughs. Named after Samuel Beckett’s famous play and inspired by the many times in which my sister loses her Apple Pencil.
Albert: Brother of Suzanne. Age: 16-18. Tall, rather slim.
Suzanne: Sister of Albert. Age: 10-12. Prepubescently naive.
Cashier: Maintains a fake smile the entire time. Clearly bored and exhausted by the job. The Cashier will mostly improvise his/her response to Albert and Suzanne.
Apple Pencil: A person wearing an Apple Pencil suit. Lanky. An apple logo drawn on their face with an all-white outfit (that is, if one does not have the budget for a suit). Its hand will press against each other above his head the entire time, even when it, for example, sits down.
Note : (Suzanne and Albert will be abbreviated as S & A)
[Suzanne walks into the Cafe from the toilet. She sits down on a table (at stage center facing the audience) next to Albert, who is reading a book. In front of her is an iPad. On the table is a cup of coffee for Albert, which he picks up for a sip from time to time. Suzanne looks around, growing anxious. “Free Jazz” by Ornette Coleman plays in the background in a low volume. Apple Pencil is backstage. On stage right is the Cashier behind a counter with a Cash Register Machine.]
Delby, did you see my Apple Pencil?
A: [Still concentrating on the book]
No. I think I saw you drawing with it just then, weren’t you?
I left it on the table when I went to the bathroom. The Apple Pencil’s gone when I came back. [Albert diverts a bit more attention to her]
I looked around. It can’t possibly be anywhere else. Albert. This always happens. I don’t understand. [Growing in frustration] Why do I always lose things?
[Cashier takes out change. Sound of coins clattering as the Cash Register Machine closes.]
A: [Puts down his book]
When did you last see the Apple Pencil? I mean, it must be around here. No one came over. At least, I don’t think so. I was just here, enjoying my [Ironically. In broken French.] À la recherche du temps perdu.
I just left it on the table. Somewhere here. [Draws a circle near the iPad]
A: [Not entirely sure what to say]
I mean, I’ll try to find it for you, but I can’t see where the Apple Pencil can be. [Signs, although not particularly angry at Suzanne] Why do you always lose things…
I know. It just disappears like this all the time. I can’t see how it can be lost.
[The Apple Pencil walks in slowly. Emotionless. Wanders in the back.]
A: [Puts down his book. Testing]
Suz, can you be a bit more mindful, please. I know this isn’t exactly what anyone wants, and you’re not having too swell of a time right now, but you always lose it and it is so [in a Southern accent] damn annoying. I told you before we came out. [Signs]. [In a parodic, condescending voice. His feet tapping with the stresses] Remember to put the Apple Pencil back with the iPad. [Twists his arms outwards. Looks at Suzanne]
S: [Growing increasingly worried]
This sucks. It must be somewhere here. Why does it have to disappear?
A : [Feeling an increasing amount of guilt]
It’s fine Suzy. Not really your fault; you just have bad luck. If I have to guess, it’s probably some Alien with a Pencil fetish who dropped by. [Thinks a bit. Looks around.] Let’s check again.
[The Free Jazz mysteriously increases in volume. Suzanne and Albert move the items on the table, then stare blankly at the table for a few seconds too long. Look under the table. Check their seats. Walk around the cafe. Check their pockets. Apple Pencil mimics their movements, but with his hands above his head clapped together. They sit down]
A : [Resigned, one hand on his book]
Suzzers, I don’t think we can find it… The Apple Pencil is very expensive. [Growing more cautious, noticing that he is being too harsh to his younger sister, but carries on despite himself] Can you just be a bit careful? I mean, this always happens. That was our third Apple Pencil already, and you also lost your phone…[Taking a deep breath] It’s fine, it’s fine. I’m being too harsh, Suz.
S : [Defensive, almost jumping]
You also lost the Apple Pencil once. I put it on the table and went to the toilet and it’s just gone. And the phone… How was it my fault? Albert, it was you who dragged me to Disneyland, I didn’t even want to go out. I mean—
A : [Speaks in a calm voice, suppressing his frustration. Over articulating his words]
Okay. Suzanne. There’s no point finding it out now. It’s not here. It’s gone. That’s a fact. A rather unfortunate one, but still… We have tried our best. The blame is not necessarily on you. I talked about it already. [Deep breath] But this is just life, Suz. You know that phrase I told you, c’est-la-vie. [Signs]
eat eas what eat eas. [It is what it is]
S: [Still puzzled over how the Pencil managed to disappear. Her eyes are growing red with frustration]
Aiiiiii…. Al, I’ll go back to the bathroom and check, and also ask the cashier, I guess. [Prolonged, one can hear her throat vibrating] Uhhrrrhh.
[Suzanne leaves for the bathroom. Music now plays at 2x speed. Very loud. Covering speech. Albert looks around. Walking in circles, inspecting the tiny table and its vicinity again and again. After each round he would return to his seat, pause for a brief moment in frustration, and search once more. Suzanne comes back from the bathroom. Goes to the Cashier. They talk with each other. The Cashier looks concerned. The Cashier nods. The Apple Pencil drifts behind them, doing its own thing, swirling and whirling and wandering.]
[Suzanne comes back to the table, music volume turns down, Albert looks over questioningly.]
S : [Shakes her head]
I couldn’t find it. [Squeezes out a smile]
But I found this on the way. [Takes out a blue ballpoint pen]
A: [Pause. Feigns enlightenment]
Ahh. Yes. The Buddhists were right about the transmigration of the soul.
A: [Intentionally obscure. Says in a pompous voice. His right hand up, palms open, bouncing with his speech. As he speaks, The Cashier and The Apple Pencil creeps in behind them. They’re (The Cashier and The Apple Pencil) moving together, only mirrored—the Cashier on Albert’s right, Pencil on his left. ]
[Talking to himself. His hand on the book] The ontological status of the Apple Pencil has plunged into uncertainty… I actually feel quite a bit of sympathy for the Apple Pencil, who had turned into such a [gnashing his teeth] horribly inefficient and useless of a pen. I hate… I hate the damn blue ballpoints. School never has any pen other than those, and it is just the worst pen you can possibly get… [fast] I don’t understand, I cannot comprehend, I cannot ascertain, I cannot apprehend [slows down again, breathes] this incompetency.
[Calms down. He looks around. Stares at the Apple Pencil who had slowly drifted from behind him to his side, whilst not really acknowledging it, sort of staring at the empty space behind the Pencil. Thinks. Pauses. He looks towards the audience.]
Suz. I need you to help me with a question. Does one preserve one’s identity if, hypothetically—even though it’s not really hypothetical, this question, since our dear Apple Pencil has already gone through this transformation—one preserves one’s memory but not one’s body? [Continues to talk to himself. Free Jazz plays at 5.5x speed (If desperate, one can use Video Speed Controller, an extension in Google Chrome, to achieve the effect)] The answer from most would probably be… an affirmative, but what about one’s muscle memory as an athlete, a musician, or an artist? And what will be the implication if the answer is a firm no? Would it mean that we are never ourselves, or between the moment we think that ‘I am myself’ and when our brain registers it (i.e. the thought) we have already changed? This is neither here nor there but… [His hands stop intentionally. He has failed to improvise another line. The Cashier looks at his/her hands, and repeatedly mimes the movement of the operation on the Cash Register Machine]
S: [Pause. Albert’s words have taken a bit of time to sink in. Perplexed]
Delby. What are you saying? [Close to laughing] I didn’t understand a single thing. You’re just so weird sometimes.
It’s just interesting, Suz, to think about these questions. [Proclaims awkwardly, parodying] Man is born to think!
[A short period of silence. Suzanne’s gaze wanders. The Cashier and the Apple Pencil stays still, facing away from the audience, looking at the backstage wall]
Can you help me find my Apple Pencil?
Su-zanne, just give up. You asked me approximately…. a billion times already. We’ve looked at every single place that the Pencil can possibly be. [Short pause. Messing with her] I see. Have you been reading Hume lately? Yes. Induction is merely a hypothesis, a good and reliable one, with an evolutionary advantage for the beings endowed with it; you can perhaps say that induction is eo ipso true by the emergence of highly evolved complex organisms such as us, Homo sapiens, considering how fragile life really is. But one can still sometimes hope for the best and bet against induction. Yes. Very sophisticated, Suzzers, indeed. You have impressed me.
S: [Annoyed by his doggerel]
Al. I just want to find the fu-fu-freaking Apple Pencil…
Why does everything just always disappear?
A: [Speeding. His hand pointing and bouncing as he speaks]
You have made a grievous intellectual error, Suzanne, by assuming the existence of an intelligible cause for every effect. For all we can know, there may not be an explanation for everything, at least not anything that we can call explanations. More like just simple randomness. Brownian motion. The quantum fluttering of particles. Heisenberg uncertainty. Collapse of the wave function, from probability to actuality…
[Slows down] Anyway. This has been a very fruitful discussion.
I want to go back home now. You want to come with me?
No—I need to find the pencil. I cannot lose it again; I will sacrifice everything, [Her hand grasping something in the air, as if summoning some evil spirit] myyy soullll forrrr theee pencillll. I am waiting for the Apple Pencil. I am waiting for the Apple Pencil. I am waiting for the Apple Pencil.
[Repeats. Albert Leaves. The Jazz is back to 1x speed. Suzanne searches around in circles. Again and Again. Apple Pencil and the Cashier join her, they form a horizontal line. The light fades slowly. Apple Pencil and the Cashier joins her in the chant, which softens and becomes inaudible.]