Princess of the Sea

Characters

Princess of the Sea, a 16-year-old high school student, African American

Milkman, African American

Mother, African American

 

Time and Setting

The present.  Morning.  A kitchen (a table, chairs).

At rise:  PRINCESS enters.  Looking disheveled, she is dressed in PJs and a bathrobe.  Today is a school day, but she has told her mom that she is sick.  She sits at the kitchen table, removes a cell phone and checks for text messages.  She finds one and starts to read it aloud.

PRINCESS

(With a sour attitude)

Oh, boy.  A text from Connie.  “Guess what everyone!  I’ve been accepted to State University!”

Guess what, Connie.  I hope you go blind.

(She moves down to another text message)

A stupid text from Danny.  “Hey, I did it.  I joined the Navy.  I ship out the week after we graduate.”

Hey, Danny.  May you sink to the bottom of the ocean and stay there.

(She slams down the cell phone.  Beat)

PRINCESS

(As she rests her head on the table, falling asleep)

I wish everyone would leave me alone.  I wish I lived on different planet.  I wish…I wish…

(Beat.  A MILKMAN opens the backdoor, entering the kitchen without knocking.  He is dressed like a milkman in the 1950s:  clean starched matching shirt and pants, black bow tie and a hat with a visor)

 MILKMAN

Good morning.

(PRINCESS wakes up, looks around, sees MILKMAN)

PRINCESS

Who are you?

MILKMAN

I’m the milkman.

PRINCESS

Oh.

MILKMAN

Who are you?

PRINCESS

I’m the Princess of the Sea.

MILKMAN

(Starting to cross to the fridge– which may be played as an imaginary kitchen appliance)

Just ignore me.  I’ll go on about my work.

PRINCESS

What’s a milkman?

MILKMAN

What’s a milkman?  You might as well ask, what’s a morning without the sun?

PRINCESS

Huh?

MILKMAN

(Opening the fridge door)

If you don’t have milk for breakfast, what do you have?

PRINCESS

Dr. Pepper.

MILKMAN

I’d laugh but that’s not so funny to a milkman.  Now let’s see what you folks need.  (Looking) Well, well, well.  Your fridge is low on dairy.

PRINCESS

We order in pizza a lot.

MILKMAN

No milk.  No cottage cheese.  No eggs.  No butter.

PRINCESS

We have margarine.

MILKMAN

Don’t make me scream.

PRINCESS

My mom screams all the time.

MILKMAN

Margarine is plastic food.  If you want good health, consume natural food like milk and milk byproducts.

PRINCESS

Why are you wearing that military uniform?

MILKMAN

This is standard attire for the modern milkman.

PRINCESS

Can’t you wear t-shirts and shorts?

MILKMAN

We milkmen take pride in the service we provide to the community, and we like to show it in any and all manner, including our dress.  Shall I recite a poem I wrote about our profession?

PRINCESS

It’s early in the morning for poetry.

MILKMAN

Not for a milkman.  Listen up:

Wind, snow or sleet,

You’ll always find me on the street.

That includes Saturdays, holidays and the Jewish Passover.

You can whip our cream,

But you can’t beat our butter.   

That’s the poem.  What do you think?

PRINCESS

It’s not very romantic.

MILKMAN

My wife thinks I could be another Langston Hughes.  You know, that poet who lives in Harlem somewhere.

PRINCESS

He’s deceased.

MILKMAN

(Taking out an order book and pen)

Not Langston Hughes, the poet.  You must be thinking of a different Langston Hughes.  (Looking in the fridge and writing) For a proper stocking, your fridge needs:  three quarts of milk.  A carton of butter.  A dozen eggs.  And a tub of cottage cheese.  Does your mom like cottage cheese with or without chives?

PRINCESS

What are chives?

MILKMAN

(Writing)

No chives.  What favor ice cream do you like?

PRINCESS

Chocolate chip cookie dough.

MILKMAN

We carry vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.

PRINCESS

In that case, one of each.

MILKMAN

(Writing)

Good thinking.  Look, princess –

PRINCESS

Of the sea.

MILKMAN

What?

PRINCESS

My name is Princess of the Sea.

MILKMAN

Look, Princess of the Sea, I wonder if your mom would help me out.  See, the company is having this contest.  The milkman who sells the most cottage cheese this month wins a set of dinnerware.  I’d love to present those dishes to my wife for her birthday.  If I sell 5 more tubs, that’ll put me ahead of the competition.

PRINCESS

My mom would like 8 tubs of college cheese, maybe 10.

MILKMAN

Are you sure?

PRINCESS

She’s always saying there’s never enough cottage cheese in this house.

MILKMAN

I’ll order you 5 tubs.  That’s plenty.  This is good news.  And these days a milkman needs all the good news he can get.

PRINCESS

Why is that?

MILKMAN

Because there is a steady incline in the number of supermarkets in this country and a decline in the number of milk companies that offer home delivery service.  Everyone is talking about it.  Guys down at the milk plant say there’ll be a time when people will do all their grocery shopping in supermarkets.

PRINCESS

Aren’t they doing that now?

MILKMAN

Yeah, the milkman is a vanishing breed.

PRINCESS

Have you heard about The Dead Back-Country Milkmen?

MILKMAN

What happened?  Were they lynched?

PRINCESS

No.  They’re a rap group.

MILKMAN

What’s rap?

PRINCESS

Rap is black music.

MILKMAN

To me, all black music is soul music.  You know.  Be it the music of Billie Holiday or Chuck Berry or etcetera.

PRINCESS

I’m not familiar with Etcetera, but Billie Holiday and Chuck Berry are dead.

MILKMAN

They are very much alive.

PRINCESS

They are?

MILKMAN

Absolutely.  They both just came out with new albums.

PRINCESS

Cool.

MILKMAN

Want to know what else is cool?

PRINCESS

What?

MILKMAN

The future.

PRINCESS

Not on this planet.

MILKMAN

As a young person, you should be enjoying a positive attitude about the future.

PRINCESS

As a milkman, you should be totally down on the future.  You just said you’re vanishing breed.

MILKMAN

Yes.  But whole new worlds are out there waiting for us.

PRINCESS

What new worlds?  Where are they?

MILKMAN

Out there, among the stars.  With space travel, we’ll be uncovering the mysteries of the universe.  We’ll all be spacemen and spacewomen.  White folks and black folks together.  We’ll be zooming to far flung

MILKMAN (continued)

galaxies in atomic powered rockets.  And, if any bug-eyed space monsters get in the way, we’ll blast them with ray guns.

PRINCESS

I know some people I’d like to blast with a ray gun.

MILKMAN

The future will not be a time of grudges of any kind.  No, ma’am.  It will be a time of adventure and wonder, a time of the stars.

PRINCESS

When that happens, may I be the Princess of the Stars?

MILKMAN

Of course, you may.

PRINCESS

Oh, thank you!  When will the time of the stars happen?

MILKMAN

When our first rocket lands on the moon.

PRINCESS

Hasn’t that already happened?

MILKMAN

No, not yet.

PRINCESS

But I thought it did.

MILKMAN

It will very soon.

PRINCESS

How soon?

MILKMAN

I figure our life in the stars will germinate when a certain young U.S. senator is elected president.   In a recent magazine article, he is quoted as saying that his top priority as president will be to put a man on the moon.

PRINCESS

What young senator?

MILKMAN

John F. Kennedy.  And I’m voting for him.

PRINCESS

But he’s dead.

MILKMAN

Gee, Princess of the Sea, you’re a funny kid.  You think everybody is dead.

PRINCESS

I don’t want to.

MILKMAN

(Putting away his order book and pen)

Now this is a big order.  I can’t fill it today with what I have in my truck.  Tell your mom I’ll be back tomorrow to lay in a full complement of dairy.  Have a nice day.

And remember:  The stars are beckoning.  They want you up there with them.

(He exits.  Beat.  Suddenly, she bursts out crying.  She puts her arms on the table, puts her head in her arms, sobbing. Dressed in business attire, MOTHER enters.  In one hand  she carries a briefcase; in the other, a cup of coffee.  She sets the briefcase down and takes a sip of the coffee, oblivious to PRINCESS’ now subdued crying)

MOTHER

I’m off to work.  You say you’re too sick to go to school – again.  Okay.  But I don’t want you to spend the day texting and eating cookies.  I want you to complete at least one college application.  You’d like to remain a child all your life, but that’s not going to happen.  Everyone grows up, if they’re not taken down by some fool’s bullet.  Do you hear me?  Are you crying?  Why are you crying?

(She crosses to PRINCESS, puts her hand on her shoulder, setting down the coffee cup)

MOTHER

What’s wrong, sweetheart?

PRINCESS

(Lifting her head, sobbing)

I’m sixteen years old, and we haven’t put a man on the moon yet.

MOTHER

What are you talking about?

PRINCESS

(Sobbing)

The stars want me up there with them.

MOTHER

Let me feel your forehead.

(PRINCESS raises her head as MOHTER places a hand  across PRINCESS’ forehead)

MOTHER

My God, you are burning up!   Come on, I’m putting you in bed.  Then I’m calling the doctor.  Come on, honey, stand up.

PRINCESS

We’ll all be up there in the stars together.  Blacks and whites.  And if any bug-eyed space monster gets in our way, I’ll blast it with my ray gun.  Okay, mom?  Okay?  Okay?

(Sobbing, PRINCESS stands as MOTHER walks her to her  bedroom, exiting.  Long beat.  MILKMAN enters, carrying a quart of milk in a glass bottle. Seeing that PRINCESS is not present, he places the milk bottle in the middle of the kitchen table and exits)

END                             


Stanley Toledo’s short plays are performed in theatres in the U.S. and aboard. Gun Jr. Leaves Home was staged last year at the Underexposed Theatre’s New Writing Festival in London, UK. Also that year, Acorn Theater presented The Snake Charmer as a staged reading at its 2nd Annual Spectacular Tournament of Playwrights in Three Oaks, MI. The play was voted runner-up and people’s choice.

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