by Casey Weaver
OLIVIA: 18, she/they, Chinese-American, founder of GSA at their middle school, total flirt, has flouncy hair barely contained by little clips at the crown of her head
INEZ: 18, she/her, second generation Venezuelan-American, goofy, nerdy, often overthinking, oldest sibling in busy house with cousins and grandparents
Setting: a cool Saturday night in July at an intimate concert venue.
At rise, Olivia and Inez are on their second date. Olivia fits in perfectly with the other concert-goers, in their hippie dippie flowing dress and platform boots. Inez, still experimenting with her style, wears a frog-patterned button-up with the buttons slightly askew. They stand a foot apart, towards the back of the venue, under softly strobing lights. They sway.
OLIVIA: I love this song.
OLIVIA: I said I love this song.
Inez nods slightly, an awkwardly cordial smile in response, not engaging.
OLIVIA (cont.): (affectionate, empathetic) Are you having a good time?
INEZ: Yes. Sorry. I – I couldn’t hear what you said earlier. And then it was like one of those moments where I already looked confused, and, so I just…
Inez takes a deep breath and giggles awkwardly.
INEZ (cont.): I’m having a good time.
OLIVIA: (smiling knowingly) I’m glad.
INEZ: Yeah, I mean, the last concert I went to was my cousin’s rap debut in my grandma’s basement.
OLIVIA: Wow, I didn’t realize the bar was so high. I don’t know if this can compare.
INEZ: Oh yeah, he’s on Soundcloud, so…
They both laugh, moving an inch closer.
INEZ (cont.): I actually, uh, did the lights for his performance.
OLIVIA: (impressed) Really?
INEZ: Oh yeah, I had to practice with him for like two days. He made me put a sign on the door with a seizure warning.
OLIVIA: Yikes, pretty intense.
INEZ: Yeah, I don’t really think we were in any danger of that, though. Probably just jacked up my grandma’s electric bill.
OLIVIA: In any case, you seem to be a woman of many talents.
INEZ: Oh yeah, I got the whole, like, (she mimes flicking a light switch) thing going.
OLIVIA: So what I’m hearing is you should be backstage right now.
INEZ: Hah, I don’t know if I could handle that. It’s, like, blinding. I can barely see you.
OLIVIA: (beat, quietly) I’m here.
They move closer, fingertips stretching to meet. Knuckles brush softly, lingering.
They pull away.
INEZ and OLIVIA: Sorry.
INEZ: I didn’t mean to, uh…
OLIVIA: Yeah, I think that kid bumped into me. The lights, you know…
INEZ: Yeah, no one can see.
OLIVIA: No one can see.
Beat. They listen for a while. Deep bass thumps like a heartbeat, lurking below
faded piano rhythms pierced gingerly by yearning vocals.
OLIVIA (cont.): How does she sing like that? My vocal chords are screaming just imagining it.
INEZ: I read somewhere that she does it like that on purpose. She records everything in her bedroom, right when she wakes up, sitting on the floor…
OLIVIA: (chuckling incredulously) And how do you know this?!?
INEZ: (biting her nail) Oh, ahha, I, uh,… she’s kind of my idol to be honest. I didn’t wanna make a big deal, but seeing her perform is sort of all I’ve ever wanted.
OLIVIA: (slight pause) I had no idea. (smirking coyly) Didn’t realize I was on a date with a diehard fan. So nooooow you have to give me all the insider info.
INEZ: What do you wanna know?
OLIVIA: (looking at the stage, captivated) It’s like her voice is coursing through my veins. How can she make me feel so safe?
INEZ: I think it’s everything. It’s her, and it’s you… Sometimes I feel like she anagrammed my diary into these lyrics.
Olivia laughs quietly.
OLIVIA: It sounds like a lullaby.
Inez hums along lightly.
OLIVIA (cont.): It’s just like something my mom used to sing. Did your parents ever sing to you?
Inez thinks for a minute.
INEZ: Not too much. We read a lot of books at night. Old stuff from when my dad was a kid that bored me to sleep. But I always woke up the second he left my room. The stairs would creak.
INEZ (cont.): I guess it was sort of like singing, hearing him read. What songs did your mom sing?
OLIVIA: Everything, it seemed. It always felt the same, though.
Olivia takes a moment, lost in memory.
OLIVIA (cont.): She would sit at the edge of my bed and sing as I fell asleep, and then she’d sing in the doorway, and then she’d keep singing as she walked down the hall just to make sure I didn’t wake up. I never really wanted to go to sleep, though. I could’ve listened to her singing forever.
Olivia and Inez each close their eyes.
OLIVIA: It’s like I’m six years old again.
INEZ: I can hear the stairs creak.
The music slows. Inez and Olivia take a few beats to close the gap between them. Upper arms pressed together, they find each other. Softly, silently, they hold hands.
OLVIA: (whispering) I wear a lot of rings. Sorry.
INEZ: (whispering) Oh, no, they’re nice. Or I think they are. I can’t really see them, um––
OLIVIA: They can get in the way, sometimes.
INEZ: I like them. It lets me know it’s you.
Foggy strobes of blue and purple wash over them. Inez and Olivia laugh and dance, liberated in the shadows.
Too quickly, the set is finished, the audience is thanked. Suddenly, the lights come up. Magenta darkness is replaced with bright white-gold. Olivia and Inez separate, fingers untangling faster than thunder follows lightning.
They exit the venue. The city glows.
OLIVIA: How does it feel? Finally seeing your idol perform?
INEZ: Incredible. Everything about it. The music, the lights… I could’ve stayed there forever.
OLIVIA: I would if I could.
INEZ: Would you ever wanna perform there?
OLIVIA: Are you kidding? People were crying at that performance. I could never do that.
INEZ: Come on, I’ve heard you play.
OLIVIA: Yeah, in like the eighth grade orchestra concert.
INEZ: (smiling, mind adrift with the idea of Olivia onstage) I can imagine you up there.
OLIVIA: Just me and my violin? I bet your Soundcloud rapper cousin would get more of a crowd than I could.
INEZ: Well, as long as you get someone to come other than my grandma, you’d have him beat.
OLIVIA: (more vulnerable than we’ve seen her before) Would you watch me play?
INEZ: I would do the lights for you.
Inez mimes the light-switch flicking again, stopping to face Olivia.
OLIVIA: So no one can see.
INEZ: Just us.
Olivia and Inez slowly brush their fingers together, finally grasping each other’s hands. Olivia slowly closes her eyes, imagining her violin resting on her shoulder and the delicate weight of the bow in her fingertips.
OLIVIA: Can you hear it?
INEZ: Like a lullaby.