WHILE YOU WERE AWAY – A play by the Fall 2015 Documentary Theatre Class (RCHUM 334)
Scene #28: “David” written by Angelica Okorom[Pops in video game disk and turns on TV] Okay, so you want to talk about mom. Why do you want to do this again? Oh, you have a class.
Sure, I guess we can talk.
[Inspects controller and presses ON button] Well, if you are asking me about how mom being in jail affects me…I don’t really know what to say.
Uh, I mean I think I’m good. Things happen and she really did need some help. It was sad to see her
go but it had to be done I guess.
[Brief silence] Wait, could you repeat the question? [Pause] Oh, I try not to think about her being in jail very often
honestly. I mean, its mom. It doesn’t really matter what she did, I can’t begin to think that she
belongs in such a scary place. But again, things happen I guess. It does really suck though not
having her around.
[Looks up excitedly] You know, I was invited to NY last week. Yoooo, I was chosen to go to a leadership conference at
West Point. How crazy is that?!
[Chuckles, gives a cocky smile] Out of 75 people, they chose me! Ha! Little brother is moving on up!
[Slumps a little in chair, deep exhale, looks away from game] But of course EVERYONE brought their parents, but mom was [gestures air quotes] ‘away’. I mean,
I knew everyone was proud of me but I really felt like I was going at it alone. I knew dad would come
if he didn’t have to work and I know you would have been there if you didn’t have school. Moments
like that make me feel like I am not supposed to be there. Like I shouldn’t be successful and I don’t
fit what success looks like. But dude. Nobody else from our neighborhood could even dream of
having a chance like that. I guess in those moments I feel sad because I feel like I don’t even have a
[Sits up and pays attention to game] But, its whatever.
[Brief silence] Well, there are a lot of things that I remember from when she first went to jail. I feel like everyone
forgets me because I am the youngest boy. Which doesn’t make sense, because I am 13 and almost
a grown man. But it’s cool. I see everything.
I remember not being able to get to school for a full two months. Since mom was gone, we just didn’t
have a ride. Her being in jail caused our family so much shame that it was hard to ask for help, and
even when we did, we didn’t really get much a response from family. But dad couldn’t lose his job
because it’s the only money we had to keep the lights on, so we just stopped going to school. I’ll be
honest, at first, this was awesome. I loved being able to sleep in everyday and not worry about
homework. I finished all my Pokémon games!
[Serious tone, puts down game controller] But I remember the day things got real.
I remember the day I saw you crying in the basement. See, you didn’t think I remembered that did
You were talking to daddy on the phone and you were scared that you wouldn’t be able to graduate
high school because of all the class you were missing. You were scared that a drop in your grades
would mess up your chances for merit scholarships. And without those scholarships, you couldn’t go
to college. I could tell that you were freaking out.
This was weird because you’re the oldest! Like, Angelica, the fearless one. I could always count on
you to figure out quick solutions to problems in the house. But here you were, so so scared of the
future and being torn to pieces by our situation. That’s the moment when I realized that things could
get really bad if mom stayed in jail.
So I prayed. We all prayed. We prayed that the Lord would have mercy on our family and protect us
in the rough times. It was scary. I don’t really like to think about it. But we made it! You and Chels
went to college and I’m not far behind.
[Cheerfully starts playing games again] Do you think I could be a lawyer? [Pause] Really? I think that would be cool. I would carry a
briefcase and wear a suit and everything. Mom could say that her son is a lawyer and is helping
other people all over the world.
[Stops playing and looks earnestly at the audience] Do you think mom would be able to see that one day?
[Pause] Yeah…I hope so too.