Beautiful - A Short Play by Beret Finken
Cast of Characters:
STELLA - Young woman in her early 20s; a prostitute
MATTHEW - Young man in his early 20s; Stella's love interest
AMELIA - Stella's older sister, who is well-educated, married, and has a stable job
JACK - Stella's pimp; an all-around bad guy
MALE VOICE (voiceover only)
(STELLA is sitting on a bench crying. MATTHEW walks over with a flower bouquet in his hands and sits down next to STELLA, looking dejected.)
MATTHEW: Rough day?
STELLA: (Looks up slowly, surprised.) You could say that.
MATTHEW: (Sighs.) Yeah… I just got rejected. (Pause. Looks at flowers. Looks over at STELLA.) You know, you look like you could use these. (Offers flowers to STELLA.)
STELLA: (Surprised.) I’m flattered, but… why would you give something like this to someone you just met? I mean, you don’t even know my name.
MATTHEW: (Sticks out his hand.) Hi, I’m Matthew, but you can call me Matt. It’s a pleasure to meet you-- (Waits awkwardly to hear her reply.)
STELLA: (Giggles and shakes his hand.) Stella.
MATTHEW: (Suddenly elated, forces STELLA to take the flowers.) Stella! Well, Stella, dry your eyes, because today is a beautiful day!
STELLA: How can you say that? You just got rejected.
MATTHEW: Yes, but I met you, didn’t I? That, in and of itself, is enough to make any man’s day a beautiful one. (Winks at STELLA.)
STELLA: Oh, stop. You can’t be serious.
MATTHEW: Oh, but I am. I mean, you’re much more grateful for those flowers than the woman I was supposed to be meeting. Maybe I was supposed to be shot down so that I could meet you. Who knows?
(STELLA is silent, staring at the flowers.)
MATTHEW: (Shrugs.) Or maybe I’m just a weirdo.
STELLA: (Pause.) No one’s ever given me flowers before.
MATTHEW: Well, then I’m glad I could be the first. (Stands and turns to leave.) I hope I see you around sometime.
STELLA: (Pauses, then smiles.) Yeah. Me, too.
(MATTHEW exits. STELLA stares at the flowers, a smile still on her face, then she chuckles to herself.)
STELLA: What a weird guy.
(Sounds of a car driving by offstage.)
MAN’S VOICE: Hey, wassup, girl? You for sale tonight?
STELLA: (Suddenly a completely different person.) I’m for sale whenever you want me. If you’re looking for a good time, I’ve got just what you need.
(STELLA stands and begins to make her way toward the car, then stops, realizing she is still holding the flowers. She is on the verge of tears, but collects herself and exits, leaving the flowers on the bench. Lights out.)
(A few days later. Lights come up on empty set. JACK and STELLA enter.)
JACK: Alright, sweetheart, you’re workin’ the corner again tonight. You do your job right and I won’t have to get angry.
STELLA: Yeah, Jack, I know.
JACK: (Pause.) I’m the one making a decent life for you, but that could change any time. Don’t forget that.
(JACK exits. STELLA takes her spot on the corner. A few moments later, MATTHEW enters, carrying more flowers.)
MATTHEW: And what would Stella be doing out here on this fine evening?
STELLA: (Whips around in surprise.) Matt! (Composing herself.) Uhh… just, uh… getting some fresh air. Yeah. (Notices the flowers.) Umm, what are those for?
MATTHEW: (Holds out flowers to STELLA.) I thought I’d get you flowers for real this time.
STELLA: How did you know I would even be here?
MATTHEW: Eh, I just had a hunch.
(STELLA is unconvinced.)
MATTHEW: Okay, I actually had no idea.
STELLA: And yet, you bought flowers on the off chance that I would be here?
STELLA: (Shakes her head.) I don’t understand you.
MATTHEW: Do you want to? If so, I would be absolutely overjoyed if you would join me for dinner.
STELLA: Dinner? You want me to go to dinner with you?
MATTHEW: Precisely. Should I not want that?
STELLA: (Pauses, deliberating.) When?
MATTHEW: Any time that works for you, ma’am. I would even go right now if you wanted to!
STELLA: (Pause.) You know, why not? Let’s go to dinner. (Accepts flowers from MATTHEW.)
MATTHEW: (Surprised and excited.) Really, right now? You’re serious?
STELLA: Yeah, you said right now was an option, so I pick right now.
MATTHEW: Alright, then, let’s go! After you. (Gestures to let STELLA walk in front of him.) Where to?
STELLA: Oh, I don’t know. You pick. I hate making decisions.
(STELLA and MATTHEW continue conversing as they exit. Lights out.)
(Lights up on STELLA sitting on the bench. Enter AMELIA. She sits down next to STELLA.)
AMELIA: I thought I’d find you here.
STELLA: Are you here to lecture me again? Because if you are, I don’t want to hear it.
AMELIA: No, Stella, it’s not like that. Sure, I may not approve of what you’re doing, but you’re my sister, so it’s my job to make sure you’re okay. (Pause.) So... are you okay?
STELLA: Yeah, I’m okay.
AMELIA: (Pause.) I think you should come stay with Ed and me for a while.
(STELLA looks at AMELIA, clearly offended. She is about to say something when AMELIA interrupts.)
AMELIA: I’m not saying that you are incapable of figuring out your own problems, but I just want to help out a little. That’s all. Get you started so that you can figure things out on your own. You know?
STELLA: (Pause.) Thanks, but I don’t need your help. I don’t want to be someone who has to rely on anyone else.
AMELIA: But isn’t that what Jack is?
(STELLA does not reply.)
AMELIA: (After a moment.) How are you, really, Stella?
STELLA: (Pause.) I met someone, Amelia.
AMELIA: Wait, what? Are you serious? I thought you said you would never—
STELLA: I know what I said, and that’s why I’m so confused! Amelia, I don’t know what to do. I really, really like him, but…
STELLA: He doesn’t know. And I don’t think I can tell him.
AMELIA: Stella, you have to. It’s not fair of you to keep something like this from him.
STELLA: I know, I know… But I’m so scared that he’s going to leave. Amelia, I’ve never felt like this before. I never thought there were real good guys. I thought they were all like Dad, but Matt isn’t. Matt is different. I’ve never met anyone like him before. When I’m with him, I can just be… me. I don’t want to lose that. I don’t want to lose him.
AMELIA: Well, you can’t have him and keep your job at the same time. It’s just not going to work.
STELLA: I know…
AMELIA: (Pause.) Do you love him?
STELLA: Yeah. Yeah, I do.
AMELIA: Then you know what you have to do.
STELLA: Yeah. (Pause.) Thanks, Amelia. I think I needed that.
(STELLA and AMELIA embrace.)
AMELIA: No problem, sis. And if you ever need anything, just let me know. I’ll always be here for you.
STELLA: I know.
(Lights out. STELLA and AMELIA exit.)
(Lights up. STELLA and MATTHEW enter, laughing about something. They have just been on another date.)
MATTHEW: Well, Stella, I had a wonderful time tonight.
STELLA: Yeah, me too. (Small pause.) So, have you gotten sick of me yet?
MATTHEW: Sick of you? Never! (Teasing.) I won’t be sick of you until I’ve learned absolutely everything there is to know about you. And even then, I don’t think I could get sick of you.
STELLA: Oh, I’m pretty sure you could.
MATTHEW: Nope. I refuse to believe that. (Pause.) Have I ever told you how glad I am that I met you?
STELLA: (Smiling.) Yeah, you’ve mentioned it a few times.
MATTHEW: Good. Because it’s true.
(They are both silent for a moment.)
MATTHEW: Well, goodnight, Stella. I’ll see you tomorrow?
STELLA: Yeah, tomorrow sounds good.
(MATTHEW turns to exit.)
STELLA: Hey, Matt?
MATTHEW: (Turns back.) Yeah?
STELLA: (Pause.) I’m glad I met you, too.
MATTHEW: (Smiling.) Goodnight, Stella.
(MATTHEW turns and exits.)
STELLA: Goodnight, Matt.
(STELLA sits down on the bench. She contemplates for a moment.)
STELLA: (To herself.) I have to do it.
(Lights out. STELLA exits.)
(The next day. Lights up. JACK and STELLA enter. STELLA is crying and JACK is being rough with her – he is clearly angry.)
JACK: You think it’s okay to just start crying in the middle of working? You’re actin’ like it’s your first time! What’s the matter with you? I oughtta make you pay for this!
STELLA: (Finding courage.) Jack, I’m done. I’m not doing this anymore.
JACK: What’d you just say?
STELLA: I said I’m done. You don’t own me.
JACK: (Chuckles.) Actually, honey, I do. You think you can just tell me what you are or ain’t gonna do?
STELLA: Yeah, Jack, I do. Do what you want, but I’m done. I’m done with selling myself, I’m done with you, and I’m done with being someone I’m not. I’m just done.
JACK: (Suddenly angry.) You ungrateful whore. You’re gonna regret what you just said!
(JACK grabs STELLA by the wrists. MATTHEW enters just in time to see JACK hit STELLA.)
MATTHEW: (Rushing over.) Hey! What are you doing?!
(STELLA falls to the ground. MATTHEW pushes JACK out of the way.)
MATTHEW: You can’t just hit a woman! (To STELLA.) Are you okay?
(STELLA nods, still in tears.)
MATTHEW: (To JACK.) If you don’t leave right now, I swear I’ll call the cops.
JACK: Whatever, man. If you want her so bad, you can keep her. That is, if you can. Once a whore, always a whore.
(MATTHEW looks at STELLA, surprised. JACK exits.)
MATTHEW: Stella, what--
STELLA: Matthew, I am so sorry. I wanted to tell you, but I was so scared that if you knew, you were going to leave. And I understand if you don’t want to stay now, knowing what I really am. But before you go, I need to tell you something: Matthew, I love you. I swore to myself that I would never love anyone, but that’s because I’d never met anyone like you. When I’m with you, I don’t feel like I have to be someone I’m not. I don’t have to pretend. And the best part is that you wanted to be with me for exactly who I was! No one has ever wanted that before… I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m done pretending. Because of you, I can get my life back. So, thank you. You have done more for me than you even realize.
MATTHEW: (Pause.) Stella, I would never leave you.
(STELLA is surprised.)
MATTHEW: Knowing what you do doesn’t change who you are. You lied to hide the part of you that you’re not, which says a lot to me. You don’t have to apologize for that.
STELLA: Wait, so… you’re not mad?
STELLA: But… that doesn’t make sense. How could you not be mad?
MATTHEW: Because I love you.
STELLA: You… love me?
MATTHEW: Yeah, Stella, I love you. And because I love you, I’m not going anywhere. However you decide to get your life back, I’m going to be there with you, because I know you are going to make it something worth seeing. Wherever you are, life is beautiful.
STELLA: (Pause.) Hey, Matt?
STELLA: Is today beautiful?
MATTHEW: Yeah, today is beautiful.
Copyright © 2020 Beret Finken. All rights reserved.