"This isn't haunting? You're a ghost, you're dead. I'm alive, you're here. This is haunting."
|Either||Young Girl or Boy||MIRANDA|
|Either||Adult: Any Age||DENNIS|
THE SET UP
This is the full play, from the beginning. Read on...
(Note: the dialogue is gender-neutral, so that the roles could be played by the opposite sex, with changes in the names to Denise and Michael.)
The full script of "Bethesda" is available for purchase as part of "Short Plays for Young Actors and Audiences, Volume 1" (in hard copy or download form) at
Part of Matthew's online script store
copyright 2000 by Matthew A. Everett
An individual room in the locked psychiatric ward of Bethesda Lutheran Rehabilitation Hospital in the year 2000.
DENNIS, a nervous man in his thirties, sits on his bed in a hospital gown, his knees tucked up under his chin, his arms wrapped around his legs. He rocks himself, the movement just barely perceptible. His eyes dart around the room as he mutters to himself.
As he launches into another string of numbers and is looking the other direction, MIRANDA, a 13 year-old girl dressed in white, suddenly appears on the opposite side of his room.
DENNIS whirls around, startled, and emits a little yelp at finding her in his room.
MIRANDAWhat? I got it right.
DENNISYou're not a nurse.
DENNISYou're too young to be a nurse.
MIRANDAI'm not arguing with you.
DENNISWho are you?
MIRANDAYou don't remember me?
MIRANDAIt was a long time ago.
DENNISCan't be too long ago, you're only, what, twelve?
DENNISStill, my brain isn't exactly -
MIRANDAWhy do you stop at ten?
MIRANDATen times three, ten times four, ten times whatever.
DENNISIt's a nice round number.
MIRANDATwelve's a dozen.
DENNISYou didn't stop at twelve.
MIRANDANo, I stopped at thirteen.
DENNISWhy did you stop at thirteen?
MIRANDAI wonder that myself sometimes.
DENNISWhy did they let you in to see me?
MIRANDAThey didn't let me in. They didn't have to. I have the run of the place.
DENNISHow do I know you exactly?
MIRANDAI was here the last time you were here. I visited you.
DENNISI've never been here before.
MIRANDANot on the psych ward, no.
DENNISBut it hasn't always been a psych ward.
MIRANDANow you remember.
DENNISThis hospital's changed a lot.
MIRANDAYes, it has.
DENNISI was born here.
DENNISI had my tonsils out here.
MIRANDAI still have mine.
DENNISThey don't hurt?
MIRANDANope, I was lucky that way.
DENNISThey don't do tonsils anymore, huh?
MIRANDAThey don't do babies anymore either.
DENNISJust crazy people.
MIRANDAAnd people who need help learning to walk. And people who need help learning to breathe. And people who need help learning to think and speak. And people who just need a rest.
DENNIS & MIRANDA55...60...65.
DENNISI didn't see the other parts of the hospital. I just woke up in this room. In this thing.
MIRANDASomeone'll bring you clothes from home.
DENNISI don't think the folks at home want to deal with me anymore.
MIRANDAThey just want you to get better. They can't help you. But the doctors and nurses can.
DENNISWill they come to visit?
MIRANDA'Course they will.
DENNISHow do you know?
MIRANDAI'll bug 'em til they do.
DENNISI'm not just making you up, am I?
MIRANDAYou're not psychotic.
DENNISI didn't know they let kids in here.
MIRANDAWho you calling a kid?
MIRANDAYou try hanging out in this place for a couple of years.
DENNISDidn't mean it as an insult or anything.
MIRANDAYou should have been here when they still had surgery and an emergency room. Not pretty.
DENNISWait a minute.
DENNISThey shut this place down, they remodeled -
DENNISSo, OK, you could have been born here at, like, the last possible minute, but I had my tonsils out WAY before -
MIRANDASo what's your point?
DENNISYou can't be only thirteen.
MIRANDAI've been thirteen a long time.
DENNISAre you, like, a midget or something?
MIRANDAAre you trying to tick me off?
MIRANDACalling me a midget.
DENNISWell, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
MIRANDAI'm stuck at thirteen 'cause that's when I died.
DENNIS curls up in a corner.
MIRANDAWhat's your problem?
DENNISYou lied to me.
MIRANDANo, I didn't.
DENNISYou said you were real.
MIRANDAYou asked if you made me up. You didn't. I was real. I still am. You didn't ask if I was alive.
DENNISYou're a ghost.
DENNIS recoils further.
DENNISYou're haunting me.
MIRANDAIf I was haunting you, you'd know it.
DENNISThis isn't haunting? You're a ghost, you're dead. I'm alive, you're here. This is haunting.
MIRANDAHaunting would be if you couldn't see me or hear me and I moved the furniture around, or lifted your hospital gown or something.
DENNIS grabs his gown and holds it down.
MIRANDAPlease. You're not my type. You're way too old for me.
MIRANDAAll I'm saying is, you can relax. I'm a casper.
MIRANDADon't you watch cartoons?
MIRANDAWell,there's hope for you yet.
DENNISYou like the Halloween episodes?
MIRANDAWhat do you you think?
DENNISOh. Right. So - ?
DENNISWhy are you here?
MIRANDAYou knew me. I figured you'd like a visitor.
DENNISAre there - a lot of you, around?
MIRANDAOh yeah. If we die here, a part of us stays here, you know, to help out.
DENNISHelp what out?
MIRANDAThe patients. Calm 'em down. Keep 'em company. It sucks when nobody visits.
MIRANDAAnd this can be a creepy place. It's hard to visit, to see all this.
DENNISBut you're used to it.
MIRANDAYup. I've seen it all. Where you are right now, it isn't so scary.
DENNISThat's good to know.
MIRANDA hold up a deck of cards.
MIRANDAGame of cards?
DENNISLike when I had my tonsils out.
MIRANDAYou do remember.
DENNISI'm starting to.
MIRANDAWhat are you, a preschooler? We're playing poker.
DENNISWhen did you learn to play poker?
MIRANDAYou pick up a lot at the nurses' station.
DENNISSo when's your birthday?
DENNISSame as me. What year?
MIRANDASame as you.
MIRANDAI was alive the last time you saw me.
MIRANDAWord of advice?
MIRANDAIf you want to get out of here quicker, probably a good idea not to tell the staff you've seen me.
DENNISOur little secret.
They smile at each other.
MIRANDASo are we playing cards or what?
DENNIS (continued)Say, you can't, like, see through the cards or anything, can you?
MIRANDADoes this look like the face of a cheater?
DENNISI guess I'll find out.
MIRANDAI guess you will.
She grins. He grins back.
They play cards.
copyright 2000 by Matthew A. Everett