'Debris' by Evan Lee D'Altong
A Tiny Play:Finding our place in the universe in 600 words
The family back garden, Friday evening. Lizzie (mid 20s) is sitting on a bench and gazing absently at the sky. The UARS has re-entered the Earth’s lower atmospheres and is expected to impact tonight. Her father (early 50s) has come out to join her, holding two mugs of tea.
DAD Ah. Your mother said you were out here. (Sitting down.) Now, take this.
LIZZIE No, Dad, I’m okay. Really.
DAD (Shrugs, putting her mug down on the ground beside him.) Suit yourself. (Takes a sup of tea.)
LIZZIE I read that there’s a satellite out there, just . . . falling.
It’s incredible, when you think about it. Six tonnes of . . . junk . . . just coming out of the sky.
DAD Well. We best get on our helmets so.
LIZZIE I thought maybe I’d get to see it passing by.
DAD (Short pause.) Do you remember we got you that telescope when you were seven? And Christopher was jealous because it was him that wanted to be the astronaut? . . . I told him there’d be two astronauts in our family.
LIZZIE (Smiling briefly.) Yeah. (Stopping.) I didn’t even want a telescope. I don’t think I knew what a telescope was. Chris was always talking about that stuff, y’know? (Pause.)
DAD Are you sure you won’t take your tea love?
LIZZIE (Shaking head.) Thanks, Dad. I try not to have caffeine after eight these days . . . It keeps me up.
DAD Right. I see.
Sure I suppose it’s all coffee over there anyway . . .
(Lizzie leans forward and squints into the sky. It’s nothing.)
DAD Lizzie, love (stops, putting his hand on her knee) – I’m glad you’re home. We’re all glad to see you back.
(Lizzie ignores him, appearing somewhat uncomfortable)
LIZZIE Y’know, I read in the paper that there’s a 1 in 22 trillion chance of getting hit by this thing. 22 trillion. Those are some pretty good odds.
DAD Ah now. Knowing my bloody luck . . .
LIZZIE (Swallows lump, getting more agitated.) That’s the thing, though . . . It’s . . . It’s absolutely improbable, but it’s not impossible is it?
DAD (Shrugs) Nothing’s impossible, Lizzie.
(Pause.) It’s funny. I mean, it won’t hit us. But it could.
DAD Lizzie —
LIZZIE Can you imagine Dad? 22 trillion. You’d have to be (voice breaks) . . . the unluckiest person in the known universe.
(Lizzie begins to sob. Dad puts his arm around her shoulder)
DAD Now now. Come on, pet. It’s okay.
LIZZIE (Through sobs.) I’m so sorry, Dad. I’m so sorry.
DAD (Lump in his throat.) Don’t be sorry love. You’ve nothing to be sorry about. (Kisses her forehead.) It’s not your fault.
Christ, it isn’t anybody’s fault.
LIZZIE I should have been here. . . if I’d known it was so bad. . .
DAD (Fighting back his own tears.) There was nothing you could have done. There was nothing anyone could have done. And you’re here now, that’s what matters. It’s each other we need to be looking after now.
(Lizzie sits up and wipes her tears from her face. She looks up at the sky, nodding her head.)
LIZZIE We’ll be okay, Dad. It’ll be okay.
(Lizzie takes his hand in hers.)
DAD We’ll be fine.
(Pause. Dad reaches forward for her mug.)
DAD Now get this tea into ya.
To coincide with the staging of Tiny Plays for Ireland in the Project Arts Centre in Dublin by Fishamble, The Irish Times is publishing some of the scripts that made the grade