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More Than Friends
Shaun and Avery have been best friends for ten years and today is Avery’s 18th birthday. Shaun is tall and lanky, but not in a completely awkward kind of way, and has loved Avery since the second grade. He has taken her to see a show on Broadway in the hopes that she will fall for him on the trip. He is wondering if he will tell Avery how he feels about her today, after ten years of keeping his love a secret to protect their friendship.
S: Soooo …how’s it feel?!
A: Oh, stop. It’s just a normal day, Shaun.
S: We both know very well that today is far from a normal day! This day is everything! Aren’t you excited to see the show?
A: Oh, no no… I didn’t mean it like that. Of course I’m excited for the show… shows are my life. I don’t know, it’s just… I’m not happy like I should be. I don’t feel any different, you know? Same stress and worries all the same. Do I even look 18?
S: Ave, you’ve looked 18 since freshman year, just take a deep breath. Can you just try to be happy, just for today? For me? (Teasingly) These tickets weren’t easy to get, Stressy.
A: I’m sorry; you know how I can get. I get caught up in everything. I just wish… I’m 18 now! I should be in the show, not watching it! What if I never am Shaun? What will I do then? I don’t have a plan B, I never have.
S: Come on, you always have a plan.
A: Well not this time! Okay, maybe I have thought of some alternate roads, but that’s beside the point! They aren’t substantial enough. Why did I waste so much time dreaming about Broadway? It’s never gonna work out, is it?
Shaun shifts uncomfortably, not knowing how to respond. He ruffles his light hair nervously.
S: I think you’re a better dancer than anyone on Broadway.
A: Thanks, but you don’t have to lie to me. I know my place.
Shaun sighs because this speech is becoming repetitive. He puts a sympathetic hand on Avery’s shoulder, leads her to the ticket man, and hands him 2 tickets.
A: (looking in all directions) Do you hear that?
S: Hold on.
A: It’s so beautiful!
Shaun isn’t listening. He is waiting for the friendly old ticket man to rip his tickets, but he is very chatty.
Ticket Man: Beautiful day out, eh! Awfully cool out for July! I remember the first summer I came here, and it was…June…May? No, it was June because it was the month of my mother’s birthday. I’ve never seen a damn hotter day than that first day I came here to the big apple, nope nope nope. Into the theatre, son?
S: Oh, um… sort of I guess. You could say that. Can I…
Ticket Man: Funny, I wouldn’t really peg you as a theatre guy. You’re awful gutsy coming here yourself, son. Some folks might find that strange, but not me! Kids these days should be coming to the theatre more often! Independence, I say!
S: I’m not here alone, sir…my friend is right here.
Shaun points behind him, but Avery is gone. The ticket man gives him a concerned look and stops trying to make conversation.
Ticket Man: Right… ummmm…upstairs, to the left, and someone will be there to seat you. Enjoy…
Shaun turns, confused, to find he is by himself. He looks all around the theatre lobby and sees Avery halfway up the staircase.
S: Hey, wait!
Avery keeps walking. She scales the staircase with a purposeful walk, eyes set on the entrance. Orchestra music fills the theatre. Shaun runs up the stairs after her.
S: Hey, you’re being weird.
A: I… I’m sorry. I was daydreaming again… you know the theatre. One second I’m here, the next I’m in Broadway Land. Maybe I’m crazy. Let’s go in, I’m rambling. I’m sorry.
S: You don’t need to keep apologizing. Maybe I shouldn’t have taken you here. I’m the one who’s sorry, I ruined your birthday.
Shaun sighs and leans against the wall. He considers telling Avery how he feels about her as he nervously shuffles his fingers. Lost in thought, Avery touches his shoulder and he jumps.
A: Woah! Now you’re being weird! I’m happy you took me here, so don’t you dare apologize for the best present I’ve ever gotten. Come on.
Shaun smiles knowing that he has given her the best present ever. He follows her in with a sense of triumph, and they take their seats just in time for the curtain to open. The lights dim and Shaun looks at Avery in the low light. Her green eyes look like a child’s on Christmas morning, and even in the darkness, her unique beauty is unmistakable. The stage lights catch her blonde hair and highlight her face.
As the show goes on, Avery’s face grows less and less excited. Shaun worries she hates the show, but there seems to be a different problem. She twirls her thumbs around, pushes her hair back over her forehead, and slowly bobs her head.
(In a whisper)
S: What’s wrong?
Avery only glances at him and then continues to fidget. Shaun puts his hand on her knee to find it is shaking.
S: You’re shaking! We should go.
He grows extremely concerned and looks around for an escape. Avery bursts to her feet and runs down the aisle. Shaun sees a tear on her cheek as she vanishes. He awkwardly makes his way down the aisle too, apologizing as he steps over each irritated person. When he reaches the hallway, Avery is sitting on the floor with her head in her knees.
S: Ave, what in the world?! You’re scaring the hell out of me!
He crouches down next to her and wraps his arm around her. Her sobbing immediately slows at his touch.
A: It’s over! Shaun it’s really over!
S: What’s over?
A: Everything! It’s all over! Broadway, being a kid…you! It’s all over and I’m not ready!
S: Listen, your whole life you’ve loved Broadway, and it’s fun for everyone to have a dream, but, come on… that’s not really what you want. That can’t be why you’re so upset. You’re sitting in the middle of a theatre hallway in New York sobbing, what’s wrong?
She glances to both sides of her, takes a long breath, and looks to Shaun’s dark eyes for comfort.
A: Okay, so what if it’s not what I want? Then I don’t know what I want! I always know what I want, I’m Avery Grey! What do I do? I’m 18 Shaun, and I’m completely hopeless!
S: But you…
A: Do me a favor, okay? If you’re lucky enough to know exactly what you want, then take it dammit! Just take it while you can! Everyone wants things and nobody ever gets them! What a sight that would be!
A: I’m so embarrassed now. Look at me out here sobbing like a moron. All I ever do is embarrass myself, right? Why are you even friends with me? I’m finally hearing myself! Just go back inside and tell everyone about the sob-story of a girl you took here and wasted 10 years of friendship on, who has just ruined her own birthday gift! Just go…
Avery is unable to finish because Shaun is kissing her. Startled, she instinctively kisses him back, but quickly passes out. Shaun puts his hand under her head, also completely shocked at what just happened, trying to stay on his own feet. She opens her eyes and shoots up so fast that their heads smack into each other and she goes down again.
S: (holding his head) Good God! Hey, hey…come on.
He slowly sits her up with gentle, shaking hands. Avery’s face turns a beet purple as she realizes what has happened.
A: You just...you…you…um, uh…you did! You just…kissed me!
She can’t help but give way to her smile.
S: I…um…I, uh…uh….yes. You know what, I did it! Avery, I’ve wanted to do that since the second grade when you were crowned hop scotch champion. I can’t believe I waited until now! I mean, I’m sorry. I should have asked…
A: It’s okay Shaun. I, um, guess I should have known. Thank you.
S: Thank you?
A: Yes, thank you. I think I know what was wrong now.
She hesitates and leans in to kiss him again. This kiss is much longer and less uncomfortable for them both. It’s the kiss Shaun has been waiting for since the second grade.
A: Hey, uh…I think the show is almost over.
A: Yea, you know the one we came here to see but have now missed basically all of?
S: Oh, right! The show! But wait…
S: You just kissed me too…you like me back. How could you let me wait this long?! You’ve always been the one to say everything you’re thinking, and you know how hard it is for me to talk about something like this!
A: I didn’t know until you kissed me! This isn’t my fault!
Shaun rests against the wall and begins hysterically laughing. Avery is silent and completely confused.
A: I’m happy this is funny for you!
S: No, no it’s not at all. I mean it is, Avery. We kissed one minute ago and we’re already fighting! And we’re fighting about whose fault it is that we waited so long!
Shaun laughs even harder and Avery loosens up. She begins to laugh too.
S: Let’s start over. We’ve been out here for so long, the show must be almost over, but obviously this isn’t about the show anymore. Let’s go home.
Shaun holds out his hand to her and she graciously accepts. He escorts her to the car and even opens the door for her, trying to start the relationship right.
A: I know I just ruin everything, trust me, but what now? It’s July, we’re both going to college soon. What are we supposed to do, Mr. Spontaneous?
S: Well first of all, we are going to drive home safely. I’ll drive you back to your house, kiss you goodbye, you’ll tell your parents, and you won’t catch a second of sleep. After that, I don’t really know. I know that this is right and this is what I’ve always wanted, so whatever you say about life and planning will not convince me this is a bad idea. We can take this day by day, I guess. Do you have any ideas?
A: I haven’t stopped thinking of ideas since the second I realized what was happening. Let’s say I give up on Broadway and pick a solid major in college so we can stay together. You’ll drive me home safely, kiss me goodbye, I’ll tell my parents, I won’t sleep at all, and then we will spend every day of the rest of the summer together….as a couple.
Shaun smiles at her, knowing how crazy she must be going without a plan.
S: I think that sounds just perfect to me.
A: Good, so we have a plan then, right?
S: You and your plans, Ave. This…what’s happening right now…was this ever part of your plan? Did you ever think maybe plans are overrated? This is the best damn thing that’s ever happened to me, and I sure as hell didn’t plan for it to work out so easily.
Avery is itching to rebuttal, but knows she must accept defeat. Their relationship was never a part of her plans, and Shaun is right. She looks out the window to try to clear her head and just be happy with the good she has going at that moment.
When Shaun pulls up to Avery’s corner house, he sees she has fallen asleep. He kisses her forehead, unbuckles her seatbelt, and carries her inside. The plan has already been changed, but Shaun isn’t the one who cares about plans. He walks her up the stairs with ease because she is a small girl, and lays her down on her bed. Avery’s hair is spread out like a golden mane around her pillow. Shaun looks at her and realizes that he finally has her. He smiles again, and leaves her a note next to her pillow before leaving.
(The next morning)
A: Wow that was some dream! Shaun! I mean, that’s just crazy!
She feels butterflies in her stomach as she says his name and realizes that she hadn’t been dreaming at all. She finds the crumpled piece of paper on her nightstand, opens it, and reads the note aloud to herself to assure this is reality.
A: “You never needed Broadway to have all eyes on you. You’ll always be the star of my show. –Shaun”
She closes the note and lies down her pillow to rethink everything that had happened, but quickly stops.
A: Plans are for suckers.
Avery runs outside, hops in the car, and drives to Shaun’s house to begin their summer... plan free.