The Crack

Play in Three Acts

 

 

 

 

 

Act one

 

In the living room: the furniture has been overturned and scattered, the ensuing chaos encompassing the whole room. On the wall a canvas oil painting hangs by only one corner.

 

(Sarah is sitting on a large overturned chair).

Sarah : Every thing has collapsed, every thing has become pointless, (she looks at the chaos surrounding her) but at least everything is clear now, that's more reassuring (she sighs with satisfaction), every thing is clear. (After a pause for thought) No, this clearance is frightening, from every angle I look at it, it's frightening. (She kicks a table lamp close to her, then wipes her face as if she wants to make sure that there are no cuts or lacerations on her body, she hears movement from inside).

What do you think he's doing? For more than an hour he’s been moving between rooms.

If the servant would come one hour earlier, so that would be some point to her coming. She says that she has to send her son to school, every day she talks about her son, his education, his clothes, his wickedness at home, she keeps on thinking about her son with every sweep of the brush. Okay, what now? I need a glass of water to quench my thirst. The servant says that her husband worships her. Worships her? No, I don't believe that, she began to use our words (she notices her leg), oh! Am I getting fat? No, not much, I must regulate my eating. In any case I won't ever be as fat as Leila, or even as fat as Hanna. Hanna says that men like slightly overweight women. She says that birth leaves it's mark on the body, I don't like it, then they try to hide their fatness with big clothes.

(Sammy's voice from inside)

Sammy : Sarah…

Sarah    : Yes.

Sammy : Why 's there no light in the bathroom?

Sarah    : (with artificial affection) The bulb burnt out darling.

Sammy : (After a while) The cooker's not working either (she doesn't reply) I said the cooker doesn't work …

Sarah  : You know I don't like talking between rooms, why don't you come closer and talk? The cooker caught fire, the fire caught ablaze and turned into ash, as you can see (she turns on the radio that overturned on the floor and searches for some classical music).

Sammy : Could you please turn that noise off?!

  (She turns the radio off angrily)

(Sammy comes in)

Sammy : I can't find even one shirt in the wardrobe to wear.

Sarah    : The washing machine has stopped working.

Sammy : The washing machine always not working.

Sarah    : As you know these machines don't last long, they don't stand up to a lot of wear, they're just like .. like.. like people darling. They shine and smile with beautiful forms but they betray you in the moment you need a cup a coffee. Or you need a clean shirt to go out in.

Sammy : (He looks at her suspiciously and then…) You're right, it's as if we can't do any job without them. I don't feel like going to work today, tomorrow I'll go early and carry out all the delayed work.

Sarah    : How did you sleep last night?

Sammy  : Why are you asking?

Sarah    : (Sarcastically) You seem in a good mood.

Sammy : I slept well enough (moves his arm and feels his shoulder) except that the floor crushed my arm. My grandfather used to say that when you find yourself in strange status, try to take from it what you can and don't worry about the rest. (Sarah nods her head in agreement but mockingly) and you, how did you sleep?

Sarah    : A headache disturbed my sleep at sunrise, so I left the bed and came to the living room and I sat thinking (Sammy looks at her as if he waiting for some kind of disclosure). For a moment I wanted to call my sister, or my mother, or any friend, to talk with. But I found the idea crazy because the time was still to early and all of them would be sleeping quietly or perhaps, at that moment they were enjoying some early morning dreams.

Sammy : I was also awake at that time, I felt my arm twisted under my back and it was uncomfortable for a while.

Sarah   : I heard you tossing and turning, and you were saying things in your sleep.

Sammy : That reminds me of the night we spent in the countryside, when the tourist bus broke down and we were overcome by sleep, sleeping in our seats while we were waiting for the company mechanic.

Sarah    : Where was that?

Sammy : In Brazil, during the holiday we spent there, have you forgotten?

Sarah   : (Her mind is distracted) The Brazilian holiday? (She returns to reality and replies harshly) The day you lost the cases in the airport.

Sammy : (He smiles) That's right, and before that you forgot the tickets at home, so we waited ten hours to get the next plane.

Sarah    : Did I really forget them? No doubt that I was so confused (her mind drifts) that day, I was so happy to be traveling, I was so happy with many thoughts about life which filled my head (she returns to reality), but the final days of the journey turned into hell when we argued about how to return. Should we get back via Rome or Paris? It was the only time we traveled together, wasn't it?

Sammy : The only time. Do you remember the day we hired a two-oared dinghy and went for a picnic in the river? And I asked you, when we went a little way from the riverbank, what would you do if we found out that the bottom of the boat had a hole in it and the water flowed in? Do you remember that?

Sarah    : No.

Sammy : You said "you'd save me if the dinghy sank."

Sarah    : Mmmm…

Sammy : And when I said I don't know how to swim you were filled with fear

Sarah   : The trip to Brazil was in the first year of our marriage. But why are you reminding me of it?

Sammy : (He looks at her for a moment, then in hope and excited voice) Let's tidy up this furniture instead of waiting for the servant. Come on let's put some order back into the living room, let's create a spacious, relaxed atmosphere. Maybe our mood will change. I don't trust the servant, I feel that there is something strange about her, it wouldn't surprise me that she arranges things in a way … … how can I say it … she makes them susceptive to fall and collapse quickly, it's better we tidy up the house ourselves, that's what I prefer. (He begins to arrange the furniture) Get up and give me a hand. What do you think if we put these pieces in a new way? What if we put two lamps in each corner? (Sarah shrugs her shoulders as if it makes no difference to her, while Sammy continues to arrange the furniture and talk) Then we can put the sofa close to the window over there, how's that?

Sarah    : I don't know.

Sammy : Why?

Sarah  : These winds will blow up tomorrow, or after tomorrow and every thing will turn upside down again.

Sammy : Shall we leave them as they are? That doesn't make sense, come here, at least we can get rid of this mess, and what would we say if one of our friends or relatives came to visit suddenly? It is not nice to leave our home in this way? (Sarah gets up and helps him without really wanting to). Have you heard what people are saying these days about my cousin Waleed?

Sarah    : No.

Sammy : They're saying that he's involved in a huge business deal. He's a funny guy. one day he'll fall down out of exhaustion and all the money he's accumulated won't save him. It seems as if we're going to need more lights because this corner's still dark, what do you think?

Sarah    : This corner has more light than the rest of the living room!

Sammy : More light here will be better, and the furniture will be more beautiful, we need some small tables as well (he notices that she has stopped). Why have you stopped?

Sarah    : I need to think for while.

Sammy : Why?

Sarah    : Let me think.

Sammy : Are you thinking or is it something else?

Sarah    : There is deep feeling, which tells me that there is no point to all of this.

Sammy : How?

Sarah    : I believe … the problem is somewhere else.

Sammy : Somewhere else? What do you mean?

Sarah    : I mean it's more than just arranging furniture.

Sammy : That's ridiculous.

Sarah    : Please!

Sammy : We're almost finished, now talk about somewhere else. Do you know that you're very clever at creating justifications to destroy things.

Sarah    : That's not true.

Sammy : And creating reasons to destroy any idea that comes to my mind.

Sarah    : Don't exaggerate.

Sammy : All you dream about is lying on a large sofa, stretch out on it and spend your whole day lazily.

Sarah    : Me?

Sammy : You prefer to live in your own imagination. You're always creating wings to soar into space, whenever the issue needs to be looked from the ground (he stamps his foot on the ground) here … the ground.

Sarah    : That's me? (She laughs loudly) Please …

Sammy : You don't find any point to this, you don't find any point to that … just because I think the opposite.

Sarah    : That's not true, I feel that the problem is greater, that's all.

Sammy : You don't care if the problem is greater or smaller, the only thing you care about is that to say "no" when I say "yes".

Sarah    : Ahhh….( she holds her head as a headache is starting).

Sammy : I woke up and can't even make a cup of coffee, isn't that enough do something? To think about the state of our home? So that we can rearrange this mess?

Sarah    : Please, that's enough; my nerves can't take another new fit of headaches.

Sammy : Of course, we only have start talking about the future of our home and your nerves become fraught. I only have to ask about a clean pair of socks and a fit of headaches begin. I only have to request a bite to eat and the house is filled with headaches. And when the headache overcomes you, trains, planes, ships and the whole human race must stop. (He raises his voice) I'm sick of this life, I 'm fed up of it. (He kicks the chair and it lands upside down on the ground, while Sarah holds her head again) I live on tinned food, I wash my clothes at the launderette, I work all day to support this house and in the morning I can't even find some hot water to shave with. (He shouts close  to her head and she is visibly in pain) I'm fed up…(His anger rises) I never asked for complete happiness I only wanted a little relaxation, I never asked for a wonderful family life, only some peace and quiet, and even after all that I'm still to blame, accused of being lacking, without understanding, without feeling of responsibility (he laughs) responsibility! (He pushes another piece of furniture and overturning it) Have you forgotten how many tours you caused us to lose in Brazil? All the people wake up in the morning, take their breakfasts and wait happily in front of the hotel, while you get up from bed then you go back to it. You wear the yellow blouse, then the red one, then you grab the green one and think about the blue one. Finally, when we go down we find that the tourist bus left half an hour ago. You are a useless woman (he throws a china jug against the wall) you are full of pride, you can't even look after a house with three rooms in it, you're incapable of warming your husband's bed, or showing some affection (he points at the painting on the wall) and this wood which you splash paint on it is valueless, so trivial, a waste of time, stupid, (he rubs the surface of the painting and then throws it on the ground).

Sarah    : Enough… Please!

Sammy : You’re wasting money, wasting time, whereas I don't even have a minute for myself, and because of this mess, I am useless person who doesn't even achieve a small part of his aspirations. I have been suspended from opportunities and overwhemed by the worries and difficulties of a little house. I could have become a minister, or a doctor who discovered a revolutionary treatment, or a lawyer who changed the basis of international relations, or an engineer who builds huge cities, if only I had the chance and some peace of mind. But how can peace of mind enter a house devoid of affection, warm, and person cannot find even and someone to understand his needs.

(Sarah still holds her head)

Look at my cousin Waleed for example, he is a simple person of average intelligence and despite that he has extended the activities of his trade office and earned lots of money in few years. Do you know the reason of his success? Peace of mind, the peace of mind which he finds at home (he shouts in her ear) peace of mind!

(She is overcomed with fear by his shouting,then she gets up to look for the bottle of headache tablets, she finds the tablets but the water jug is empty, so she goes to the kitchen).

(Sammy continues talking during her absence)

My grandfather used to say about me, "this boy will do something great", and everyone used to share his feeling. I didn’t know what this "great thing" was but I felt worthy of what he said, so I prepared myself for it but it was my bad luck which led me to this house, to this mess and to this dry well. (pause) The worst thing is when you can't find someone who understands you.

(Sarah enters and stands at the door weak and despondent, she faces the painting and lifts it from the ground wiping the damage incurred, then she  returns it to the wall as it was before).

Sarah    : It's not possible to continue like this, I've been thinking deeply and reached to a conclusion that the solution… the solution is to separate.

Sammy : (Scornfully) Separate!

Sarah    : We can't agree about anything, we cannot understand each other, the situation is unbearable, it is better for us to get separate.

Sammy : Do what you like.

Sarah    : Yes, if there is no hope.

Sammy : It will be just like all the other decisions in your life.

Sarah    : No, not in such case.

Sammy : After two days you'll change your mind again and the chance to go back will have been lost.

Sarah    : I've thought deeply and taken everything into account. (pause) A week ago I consulted my family and all of them said that it's my decision at the end of the day (Sammy trembles a little). I didn't tell you at the time as to leave one last chance to try again. Now I'm convinced that another chance just means more despair, more harm, nothing else (she makes to leave). I'm going to pack my things.

Sammy : You're not serious.

Sarah    : (She stops at the door) I'm very serious.

Sammy : (He seems confused) Is it your right to make this decision alone?

Sarah    : What I decide concerns me initially and I'm telling you now that from today we need to start divorce proceedings.

Sammy : (He smiles) Surely you're joking.

Sarah    : I don't  joking when it's related to my future.

(She makes to leave again then the conversation returns her gradually to the living room)

Sammy : We must give ourselves a chance to think.

Sarah    : A chance? (She laughs) I gave you plenty of chances.

Sammy : (Completely confused then he shouts) This is crazy!

Sarah    : (In a voice louder than his) Don't scream, it's crazy for us to continue.

(She becomes stronger and more aggressive whereas he appears weaker and more confused)

Sammy : It's possible for us to put things right (Sarah doesn't answer) I admit some mistakes have been made.

Sarah    : Some!

Sammy : Okay, there have been a lot of mistakes, each one of us has had his part play but that doesn't mean that we should destroy our marriage.

Sarah    : Our marriage is already over and destroyed.

Sammy : Everyone goes through difficult circumstances, or they are subject to problems for a while, then things improve…

Sarah    : (She interrupts him) It's not the circumstances, or a problem, our life together itself is upset.

Sammy : Don't exaggerate.

(Her situation becomes strongerý)

Sarah    : Look around you.

Sammy : This mess! It happened reluctantly, we're not responsible for it.

Sarah    : I'm talking about our life together which plunges deeper in chaos every day.

Sammy : (He grabs her hand) We can start again, we can create our own paradise, we can be happy.

Sarah    : (she sighs deeply out of despair) How often have I heard that.

Sammy : Trust me.

Sarah    : I can't.

Sammy : You can if you want.

Sarah    : I can't.

Sammy : You trusted me before.

Sarah    :(Looking completely untrusting) Now I can't.

Sammy : (Bitterly) Why? My life's not that different to any other man!

Sarah    : (She moves away from him) In which meaning? In which way?

Sammy : In every way.

Sarah    : No, I still don't know who you are, I live with you under one roof, we sleep in the same bed, we eat on the same table but I don't know exactly who you are. I don't know your real face, so I can learn how to live with you.

Sammy : (Disapprovingly) Oooooh.

Sarah    : You say that I'm a failure as a wife and, you damaged my painting (she touches the surface of the painting) it's simple, maybe it's not valuable but I worked on it for a whole month and I spent some wonderful moments with it. It would amuse me when you were busy spying on your cousin Waleed's life. What has Waleed bought! Where did he travel to! When did he return! The jealousy devoured your heart, you're jealous of him because of your own failure.

Sammy : Me?

Sarah    : (Quietly but challenging, she feels like she has taken complete control of the situation) You…

Sammy : I'm a manager of a factory with number of employees, workers and good market relations…

Sarah    : A pastry factory?

Sammy : Yes the pastry factory, I know it's small but we live comfortably from it, we’re not in need for anything.

Sarah    : That factory was built with my family's money and you were happy to be a servant for them. You were a hypocrite with this individual and praised that one, until you deceived them with the idea of a factory and then you began cheating them in the accounts you supplied. I discovered that and just kept quiet…

(Sammy collapses in exhaustion on the same chair that she was sitting on while she continues talking)

I know the way you played with the accounts (she circles him) I know everything from the time you began bringing the paperwork home. You wait until I fall asleep, then you sneak off to the living room to perfect your clever deception, with the names and numbers. But I know the way (close to his ear) I know it all (she shouts) I know… (she pushes a chair and it falls to the ground).

I kept quiet hoping that one day you would wake up. I always tried to put things right to save this house, to strengthen it's walls to stand in the face of adversities, whereas you only think about yourself, you only dream about your own greatness, you race for the sake of that greatness, you smash this and that, racing…you don't want to stop for even a moment to see the destruction of your home sustains. You don't glance to see the harm that you cause, you just race like a Japanese train (close to his ear) too- too, too-too.

Sammy : (He blocks his ears and shouts) Everything I do I do it for us, for our home.

Sarah    : This home in which nothing is stable! (the noise as before) too-too, too-too, every corner of it reminds me of a moment of despair, every room reminds me of hours of sadness, every piece of furniture reminds me of an argument (She kicks a lamp and it falls on the ground).

Sammy : (He's upset by what's happened to the lamp, so he gets up and returns it to it's correct position).

Sarah    : About the trip to Brazil which you talk about every day and which hurts my feelings deeply, do you know why I was overcome by fear in the boat? I was afraid of you and not of the hole in the dinghy. I was afraid that you would drown me because I saw Leila's address on the table in our hotel room the day before, do you remember? You forgot it …or it fell, but I know you wrote to her. Yes, I'd heard some rumours about the old affair between her and you, that's why I was scared when you mentioned the hole. It came to me that the picnic by the river was planned, so I became afraid, in fact I was trembling inside until we reached the beach. (She laughs) But I've hidden something from you until now… I know how to swim, in fact I'm an excellent swimmer and I lied to you. That was my only useful weapon at that time, if you intended to push me to the water.

Sammy : Why you thought like that?

Sarah    : Why not? …Actually, I heard them saying at home, that my father is thinking about selling the factory and they were thinking of selling it to your cousin Waleed. They're saying that the factory is making too many losses and the profits are too small to be spent on enjoyment and dinner parties. I'm going to pack my things.

(She makes to leave but stops when he shouts behind her)

Sammy : No… (He circles around from a distance as if he fears she will flee if he comes near her) I've made mistakes, I've made mistakes, is that what you want to hear? I've made lots of mistakes, I was trying to build a second floor to the house, so that I could add a spacious garden to make the courtyard bigger, I was racing to get higher position and prestige, but today I'm sure that the mistakes from within my home itself and they are rotting in it, they eat away at it's foundations like a ferocious rat.(He comes closer to her) I've learned, and the lesson was very harsh, there won't be any more mistakes now, you're right, what's the point of a second floor on top of a collapsing house? (He grabs her hand) What will I do with a bigger garden if I don't have you? I've caused you a lot of pain and sadness, you don't know how much that hurts me! (He puts his hand on her shoulder) I was oblivious to what was happening to us, absolutely oblivious, I didn't think about the mist that was surrounding our life, I didn't pay attention to the thorns we were walking on, and you put up with all of the disasters alone,… oh, how cruel I am, (he puts his head on her shoulder) What can I do? I try to control my anger but I can't, I find myself weak when it comes to anger, incapable, without choice, and when I'm harsh on you the regret tortures me, tears me apart. Oh God! What can I do? (she is affected by what he is saying and faces him) Tell me …what can I do? I wasn't fair to you, because of my stupidity, but I love you.

Sarah    : I love you too (he embraces her) You're trembling!

Sammy : I feel scared.

Sarah    : What are you scared from?

Sammy : I'm scared that I'll lose you one day, I can't live without you.

Sarah    : Neither can I.

(They embrace each other with great affection)

Sammy : I won't cause you anymore harm.

Sarah    : Neither will I.

Sammy : We have to move from this house

Sarah    : Why?

Sammy : Because we've faced a lot of problems here.

Sarah    : We'll find the same problems in another place.

Sammy :(He withdraws from her gently) I don't think so. This place seems ill-fated to me, or that problems are attracted to it.

Sarah    : We won't find a better place.

Sammy : Yes, we'll  find an appropriate place.

Sarah    :(Close to the window) Come and look, every where is wrecked, in each corner there's smoke, anywhere you look there's debris.

Sammy : We'll go farther.

Sarah    : Farther? (She casts her gaze further) The same thing…

Sammy : A lot further.

Sarah    :(She shakes her head as if there's no point) The smoke is as far as the eye can see.

Sammy : We'll find a house at the high shade, that's what I'm thinking.

Sarah    : Do you believe that he house will be safe when these aggressive winds blow?…I don't think so. Sometimes the winds speed can reach up to one hundred miles an hour, causing mountains to collapse, oh God…every time I listen to the radio, the news spreads about what happened after the blowing of a storm…I feel something inside shaking then it collapses, boom! When the wind suddenly bursts towards the houses and the things start flying around our heads, our faces are severed with shock, a person thinks only of escaping with his skin.

Sammy : That's what I mean. This place reminds us of a lot of pain and difficult times. If we want to begin a new life, it's better that we have entirely new start to be liberated from the reasons which cause us difficulties and forget the past sadness.

Sarah    : You are making a big issue out of this!

Sammy : Of course. Changing the place will have a great effect on our future life.

Sarah    : Here or there we can start our life again…let's relax first, shall I make you a cup of coffee?

Sammy : But the cooker's not working…!

Sarah    : I know a way of boiling a little water.

Sammy : Then you can.

Sarah    : Do you want anything else?

Sammy : What?

Sarah    : Some thing to whet your appetite before breakfast.

Sammy : No. Coffee's enough.

Sarah    :(She sits down) Coffee then.

Sammy : Yes.

Sarah    :(She presses down on her ankle) I feel pain here, at the bottom, do you think the nerves are the cause?

Sammy : A strong pain?

Sarah    : No, light.

Sammy : That's something passing don't be afraid (he sits next to her).

Sarah    :((She exposes her calf) Do you think I've put weight on?

Sammy : I don’t think so.

Sarah    : Then how does it seem to you? (The door bell rings).

Sammy : Who is it?

Sarah    : Fatima, who else will it be? (She gets up) Coffee then?

Sammy : Yes (he follows her), I'm coming with you…(she smiles at him) if you can give a little boiling water I can have a shave.

 

(They both go out. After a while the servant Fatima enter with a brush in her hand and a bucket, she immediately starts work. She sweeps the floor between the overturned pieces of furniture and splinters, without returning anything back to its' place).

 

Fatima  :   Every day the same thing, in every house, every day the furniture's upside down and broken glass everywhere. Strange, and madam Wasal says to me, why do you sweep in a zig-zag and leave the furniture upside down? Okay madam, what's the point of tidying them when everyday they just get thrown upside down? It's better they stay where they are and that I dust between them. If I speak openly without beating around the bush, it's impossible to clean this house because its' things never stay in one place. I put the table here and the next day I find it upside down over there. I put the sofa under the window then I find it near the door facing the wall. If you want everything clean and tidy let me do it myself otherwise your house won't be like the rest of peoples' houses. Honestly, I don’t know what those people want!

 (Sammy comes in).

The Servant: Good morning Mr. Sammy.

Sammy : Hello, (pause) Yesterday I found the platinum light near the door, where it's normally here, on the right side of the sofa.

The Servant: I didn't move it.

Sammy : How did it move?

The Servant: I don' t touch anything, besure of that Mr. Sammy, I only clean the floor I don't even have a chance to known where things are kept initially the living room, or in any other rooms.

Sammy : If you stayed one hour more every day to clean the living room then you know would where every thing is kept but you just pop in and out.

The Servant: I can't stay late, I must prepare my husband's meal, take care of his clothes and clean his work kit, to be ready for the next day.

Sammy : No doubt you spend most of your evenings at home.

The Servant: Yes, we talk, drink tea and watch the evening movie.

Sammy : That's nice. Do you listen to music?

The Servant: Music? Of course, all the evening movies have dancing and music.

Sammy : No, I mean classical music.

The Servant: We don't like it.

Sammy : Modern life, as you know, pressures our nerves and causes a lot of stress strain, what would we do to reduce the tension and stress without music?

The Servant: We put on a lucky charm.

Sammy : What?

The Servant: A lucky charm. Once my husband became stressed and upset so I put a lucky charm on him and from that day he never upset again. There's a lucky charm for nervousness, one for jealousy, one for hatred, one for bad dreams. There's one for every thing.

Sammy :(He laughs).

The Servant: (She laughs as well) Madam Sarah laughs as well, when I tell her that I'll give her a lucky charm that will release her from headaches.

(Sarah's voice from inside).

Sarah    : Sammy…the water's boiling.

(He goes out still laughing, the servant laughs as well).