A Different Kind of Tourist

Written by Carol Er Yue in China

List of Characters

Adam

A young man just over the age of 30. A Danish Jew who escaped Nazi persecution by fleeing to Sweden as a child. Though he has turned into a stubborn/cynical person, he also has the capacity to dream and hope.

Emilie

A pretty and mature Danish woman who has put the war behind her. She is about the same age as ADAM. She used to be his best friend when they were kids.

Ms. Johnson

A lonely woman in her seventies. Loves to complain.

Mr. Rose

A Danish lecturer. Almost fifty years old. He is filled with ideas, very chatty and friendly.

A Copenhagen morning with bright sun and birds chirping, indicated by lighting and sound effects. To one side of the stage there are some neatly trimmed shrubs and a door to an apartment. The other side contains a sign indicating a motel’s café. ADAM sits at a table in front of the café. Something seems to be on his mind.

MR. ROSE enters. He sits down at a table across from ADAM.

Mr. Rose

Lovely day, huh?

Adam

Sure. (Distracted) Yeah I guess, why not! A lovely day indeed. Indeed.

Mr. Rose

(Glances at the audience knowingly) Well…

Awkward silence. MR. ROSE keeps glancing at ADAM.

Mr. Rose

So… I’d say you’re a young man of… thirty two? Thirty three? (ADAM nods.) Well, for a gentleman of that age, you certainly seem to have a lot on your mind?

Adam

(Sighs.) I just wasted my whole vacation.

Mr. Rose

Oh? What do you mean… you, you’re not Danish?

Adam

(Looks at MR. ROSE as if he is stupid.) What else would I be doing in front of a motel? (beat) No, I used to be Danish.

Mr. Rose

And now you are…?

Adam

Swedish.

Mr. Rose

Right. Sweden’s beautiful. Is that why you moved? Change of scenery?

Adam

Sure… if you say so… (He mutters under his breath “you big nosy.”)

Mr. Rose

(He chuckles.) That’s what my students say. I’m just being caring. I’m a teacher, you know. I listen to problems all the time. Even when I don’t want to.

(ADAM shrugs.)

Mr. Rose

What is the real reason you went to Sweden then?

Adam

(Studying MR. ROSE’S face.) My parents and I fled there when I was about 14. Because of the war and my religion. Then we settled there…

Mr. Rose

I’m sorry to hear that. That’s devastating.

Adam

(Reflective, almost as if he is talking to himself.) It’s strange how your homeland can feel foreign… Now my vacation’s ended and I’m leaving to go back to my (He uses his hands to mark the punctuation he is using.) “home”.

Mr. Rose

Your family, your friends are there. Why don’t you want to go back?

Adam

Ha! Easy for you to assume! Sure, my family are there, but not my friends… definitely not friends. (Looking off into the distance as if specifically remembering someone or something.)

Mr. Rose

(He opens his mouth ready to say “not friends,” but he pauses.) Remembering someone…?

Adam

No one.

Mr. Rose

Mm… so what did you mean by “not friends”?

Adam

I… I didn’t say that!

Mr. Rose

You know, you can tell me things. You can trust me.

Adam

(Rolls his eyes.) Whatever, Mr. Big Nosy. I’ll tell you this: my best friend whom I have not seen in years is still here in Copenhagen…

Mr. Rose

(He winks, replacing ‘best friend’ with ‘girlfriend’ in his mind.) Well really!? Did you visit..

Adam

(Slams his fist against the table.) That is exactly the point! NO, I did NOT visit her. And tomorrow morning, my train departs for the coast at 8:30 am!

Mr. Rose

Calm down. You young people get way way WAY too ahead of yourselves! There’s still a day left, is there not? This is only, what (He checks his watch.), eight in the morning! You still have time. A whole day. Surely you can catch her today.

Adam

Well, it’s more complicated then just having time. I haven’t been back. This is my first time here after the war. I’m not sure she wil remember me…

Mr. Rose

That’s a long time. But it’s still worth a try. This friend, if she truly is your friend, (He winks again.) she’ll remember you.

Adam

What if she’s… different, though…?

Mr. Rose

What if she is!?! Surely you’re different. The point is you have to give it a try. That’s what I always say to my students. Unless you try, you will fail. It’s a guarantee.

Adam

I don’t like the embarrassment failure brings, but I guess if you say that…

Mr. Rose

Do it! You won’t be sorry. Life is too short. Surely you must know that from experience.

(ADAM stands up slowly and edges his way toward the apartment door.)

Mr. Rose

(Shouting after ADAM.) That’s her apartment!?! Just THERE!?!

Adam

Why else would I have booked THIS rather lackluster motel?

(MR. ROSE shakes his head and gestures for ADAM to keep going. He watches as the young man walks toward the door. He is excited.)

Adam

Well… I guess I’ll just ring the door… (MS. JOHNSON opens the door abruptly before he can.) Ah!

Ms. Johnson

Ah what? I’m the one who’s supposed to “ah”! (She walks past him, mumbling.) Another visitor… Maybe for lively little Ellen upstairs, or maybe for sweet Mr. Burns across the hall. It’s never for old, miserable Ms. Johnson…

Adam

(On hearing the name “Ms. Johnson,” Adam turns his head.) Wait! Ms. Johnson!?! Ms. Annemarie Johnson!?!

(MR. ROSE leans forward to listen to the conversation.)

Ms. Johnson

Oh, this one knows me!

Adam

I’m Adam! Remember? The boy who used to live next door? (MS. JOHNSON studies ADAM’S face suspiciously.)

Ms. Johnson

Oh Jesus! You are! (Approaches ADAM.) You are all grown up now! Why did you come back? Did you come to see me! Life here is ridiculous. I hate these stupid tea shrubs, the people upstairs make so much noise, and that old man… (She indicates MR. ROSE who looks rather offended.)

Adam

Ms. Johnson?

Ms. Johnson

(As if she is thinking very hard and therefore does not hear Adam.) I must invite you inside as my guest. I have tea, or at least what they say is tea. It’s awful, just like the guy who sells it!

Adam

Actually, Ms. Johnson, I’m here to visit Emilie.

Ms. Johnson

Oh. (beat) I’m sorry to get in your way. Naturally, I’m the miserable old hag that no one likes. Of course you are here for Emilie… (MS. JOHNSON suddenly becomes confused) Wait, wait sorry, who did you say?

Adam

Emilie. The girl I used to…

Ms. Johnson

Emilie Clark? She moved away years ago.

Adam

She moved? Where?

Ms. Johnson

(Again, talking as if she does not even hear Adam.) She left. My life was sad, miserable and… (beat) God, I forgot the word. What was it…

Adam

Pathetic?

Ms. Johnson

(Looking at the audience.) There we go. Your brain works fast fast fast, Adam.

Adam

I was hoping to see her.

Ms. Johnson

I have her number… (She opens her mouth to complain more.)

Adam

Her number! That’s great! Can – can I borrow your landline to ring her? Oh please, good Ms. Johnson. How can I thank you?

Ms. Johnson

Now you like me? Go… use the landline.

(ADAM walks through the apartment door with MS. JOHNSON following him. They close the door. MR. ROSE rushes over to eavesdrop. The following conversation will occur as a voiceover on the stage. The ringing begins and then stops as EMILIE answers it.)

Emilie (off)

Hi? Ms. Johnson? Did your egg deliveries not arrive?

Adam (off)

(His breathing is amplified so that the audience can hear it. He gathers his thoughts.) Actually, this is Adam. I’m back.

Emilie (off)

Adam…? (beat) I don’t think you called the right number. I don’t know an Adam… sorry you’ve called wrong number. Have a good day.

Adam (off)

No wait wait wait wait wait. I’m sure you know me. ADAM. The boy you hid in your grandparent’s basement. Remember? In the beginning of the war? (There is a long pause of silence.)

Adam (off)

I gave you the necklace. With David’s star. Remember? David’s star?

Emilie (off)

Yes, Adam. Wow. You made it. You survived. (beat) You came back… after all this time. Why?

Adam (off)

I was hoping to see you. Do you have time today? I’m at that motel near our old apartment building. We can have milk tea there, like we used to!

Emilie (off)

That’s a bit far… Plus I have to go visit my neighbor today. Let me just (She muffles the speaker so that ADAM cannot hear her, but the audience still can.) Sweetie, an old friend’s asking to see me today. Do you think you can arrange lunch for the kids? (beat) OK, thanks, darling! (She unmuffles the speaker, speaking to ADAM.) Yes, let’s meet at 12. But Adam…

Adam (off)

Yes?

Emilie (off)

(beat) Never mind. I’ll see you soon.

Adam (off)

Bye, glad you… (Emilie hangs up)… can come …

(ADAM steps happily back onto the stage, pushing the door too excitedly. MR. ROSE is suddenly pushed away from the door as he rushes back to his table to hide any indication that he was listening. ADAM does not notice. He returns to his own table and sits down. Lights down on the stage to indicate the passage of time. Lights back on.)

Mr. Rose

(Notices ADAM looking at his watch.) It’s getting close. Just a moment before 12. It will go very well! I have faith.

(ADAM smiles weakly as EMILIE walks onto the stage. She’s wearing expensive clothes and has a designer bag in her hand. She looks around, unsure exactly whom she is looking for.)

Adam

Emilie! Over here!

                                                                         Emilie

(Walks over and sits down at the table across from ADAM. She speaks formally as if she is not entirely comfortable.) ADAM! What a surprise to see you again after so many years. Much has happened here in Denmark. I can only imagine what happened to you after you left.

(ADAM looks straight at her and it is very clear there is a lot on his mind. He does not yet know what to say first and instead just stares awkwardly. MR. ROSE senses the atmosphere and stands up from his table to walk over to them. )

Mr. Rose

Good morning! Emilie, I presume? May I place an order for you? Are you hungry? You look hungry.

Adam

Mr. Rose you don’t work here… (MR. ROSE gives him a thumb’s up sign.) Oh…! Well, I’m sure Emilie would like milk tea. Right? (He looks at her.) Remember how much we loved that?

Emilie

Actually I’d prefer coffee. Got a rather busy day ahead. But of course, I’m thrilled to see you!

Adam

(Disappointed) Sure. Of course.

(MR. ROSE leaves the stage for a moment. He returns almost immediately after he leaves with cups in his hand and places them onto the table.)

Adam

When did you leave our apartment building?

Emilie

A few years after you left. We moved into my grandparent’s place. (She shrugs.) You know, it cost less.

Adam

And now?

Emilie

I live in the countryside with my husband. (ADAM swallows.) He’s a biologist. The air there is also fresher, and it helps with our oldest son’s cough.

Adam

(Suddenly turning cold.) Congratulations… (beat) A biologist. Impressive.

Emilie

He’s really sweet, he…

Adam

Not as sweet as milk tea!

Emilie

I can (beat) I can see what you’re trying to do here. Adam, life changed. And Hans, my husband, loves me. He proposed to me, so I couldn’t…

Adam

(Hugely disappointed and slightly angry.) Turn him down? Of course you could!

Emilie

Then what? Back then life was so uncertain! My father had just passed away. My mother’s depression made it hard for her to function. She eventually went into a home. I was alone. Until I met Hans…

Adam

Couldn’t you just wait…

Emilie

For what?

Adam

For what!?! For me. I thought about you every day. I thought I would be able to come back… and just (beat) marry you.

Emilie

I was supposed to wait over fifteen years for someone who might have died in the war? (She sighs.) I never heard from you. Adam, I have a life now. Things, they don’t stay the same. I am thrilled you survived. I am RELIEVED to see you so well. And I am glad you came back to me…

Adam

But what about…

Emilie

Adam. There was a war. I didn’t know what happened to you. As far as we knew, you had died.

Adam

You didn’t even try to find me.

Emilie

We were kids. And we were on opposite sides. How in the world could you expect me or my family to look for you?

(ADAM stares at her, processing her matter-of-fact but kind honesty.)

Emilie

The time that we spent together, I cherish those memories. But we grow. We are no longer children. The time of play…the time of sweet tea is over.

Adam

(beat) Those memories of us saved me in my escape. (He looks down.) Once we stayed in total darkness in an enclosed basement for two whole weeks. It seemed hopeless. Honestly, I wanted it all to end… The only light for me was the thought of seeing you again. When I imagined your voice, I would tell myself to live on.

Emilie

(Tearfully) Adam, I don’t know what to say. (Their glances meet for a moment.) I still love you Adam, but in a different way. As a friend. (She reaches in her bag and takes out a necklace with the Star of David on it.) Here, I kept it all the time. You should have it back.

Adam

I want you to keep it.

Emilie

I don’t think so, Adam. You gave it to me when we were young. It marked our romantic love. (She smiles sadly.) Now, that is gone. But what is here with us is the purest friendship and an opportunity to make new, different memories. I kept this necklace safe for you and now you should have it back. It’s not closure. It’s a new beginning.

(ADAM hesitates.)

Emilie

We can only work on changing the future, Adam. I don’t want you to live in the trauma of the past. I want you to work towards the brightest future. (beat) Please, Adam. Take it.

(ADAM accepts the necklace. He and EMILIE look each other in the eyes. ADAM nods.)

Emilie

(Checks her watch.) Adam, I need to go now. I wish I didn’t but I have a commitment. (She stands up from the table.) It was incredible to see you again. I hope you’ll come back.

Adam

I guarantee I will. I’ll call you.

Emilie

(Smiles) Will you meet my family next time? You’ll like them.

Adam

Sure! (He opens his arm ready for a hug.) A hug for friendship? A hug for life? (They embrace.)

Emilie

Goodbye, Adam. Please. Take care of yourself. (She leaves the stage. ADAM waves. He is smiling.)

Mr. Rose

(Moves over to ADAM’s table.) Adam, you did it! I’m so proud of you. (Noticing the necklace in his hand.) She gave you a necklace?

Adam

She gave me back a necklace, but (beat)  I’m not sure whether I want to keep it.

Mr. Rose

Why not?

Adam

It holds too many painful memories, of war and persecution… I guess, I just want to move on, like Emilie said. (Mr. Rose smiles.) In fact, you know what?

(He walks over to apartment door. It pops open as if MS. JOHNSON was waiting and listening there the whole time.)

Ms. Johnson

I knew you’d come back to visit me, Adam! I just baked cookies. Come have some!

(ADAM opens MS. JOHNSON’S hand and drops the necklace in it.)

Adam

I have always liked you, Ms. Johnson. I know that under your miserable and grumpy appearance, there is a nice lady. This is a gift for you. I hope you’ll remember me.

Ms. Johnson

(She tries to hide her happy smile by rolling her eyes.) Wow thanks! You’ve just given me a hand-me-down. Thanks for the second hand junk.

Adam

(Laughs) Don’t think of it like that. Think of this as a new piece. Forget about it’s past and all the hands that touched it. Give it a new future, Ms. Johnson!

(Light fades.)

Published by haringeyunchained

Haringey Unchained is a collective of students aiming to show case the creative talent of Haringey Sixth Form College in Tottenham, London. We think that through the promotion of our creative thoughts, we can educate our community, bringing to the foreground the critical and creative consciousness of a vibrant school in a deprived part of London. We are endeavouring to provide this blog as a platform for our community, giving the space to those whose work otherwise might not be seen or read. Being that the cuffs are off, we are able to express through our photography, art, short fiction and poetry, what’s really on our minds. We are free.

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