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Short Fiction: "Confession"
I originally wrote this short play for a college drama course, but it is being published for the first time here on HubPages as part of the HubPatron of the Arts contest. Essentially it boils down to a man confessing his sins to a priest, and beyond that I will only say that it is a humor piece. It has been formatted slightly different from the traditional screenplay/script in the interest of readability. I hope you enjoy it.
SETTING A church confessional booth. The booth sits center stage and is divided in two with a screened window in between. The sides that remain open face the audience.
CHARACTERS MAN, middle aged male wearing a nice business coat. His hair is neatly combed and his face recently shaved. PRIEST, elderly male wearing traditional black priest clothes with the white collar. He has glasses and grey hair. WOMAN, thirty something woman in a heavy red sweater and jeans.
When lights rise, PRIEST is sitting quietly in his booth. MAN enters from stage right and gets inside the other booth.
MAN Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It’s been three years since my last confession.
PRIEST Tell me your sins, Child.
MAN You see, Father, it’s my wife. I haven’t been faithful to her.
PRIEST Thou shalt not commit adultery. How long has this been going on?
MAN Just today. I was at work, replacing the toner in the printer and I bumped into my co-worker.
PRIEST (After a pause.) You touched her inappropriately?
MAN Yes, my elbow hit her elbow. I felt so dirty afterwards.
PRIEST (Chuckling.) My dear boy, bumping into someone else can hardly be considered adultery.
PRIEST Were there any further interactions between you and this co-worker after the incident?
MAN I said I was sorry, and she said she was sorry… It was really awkward.
PRIEST Did you have any impure feelings towards this woman?
MAN (Shaking his head.) No… well, maybe a little. You see… we touched bare elbows. I could feel her skin. My wife will kill me. All I could think of afterwards was her bare elbow. Father, I didn’t mean to!
PRIEST An elbow is a very neutral body part, I do not believe you’ve…
MAN Is it? It didn’t stop there, father. I started picturing her elbow in strange situations. I saw her elbow on tables, arm rests and car doors.
PRIEST All very harmless, as I see it.
MAN Then I started picturing her elbow dipped in butter and ice cream and cole slaw.
PRIEST Cole slaw?
MAN Yeah, cole slaw. Isn’t that twisted?
PRIEST I… well… technically… were these thoughts sexual in nature?
MAN Yes, I’m sorry father. I pictured both of our elbows together, mine rubbing against hers. I pictured our elbows naked together on a beach.
PRIEST (Scratching his head.) Just your elbows?
MAN Yes, I feel terrible.
PRIEST I mean, were they attached to your bodies or were they just sort of… floating in your imagination?
MAN I don’t know. It’s hard to tell. Even now I can’t close my eyes without seeing her elbow and that one freckle that torments me.
PRIEST Do you picture your wife’s elbow in this fashion?
MAN No, that’s why it’s so horrible. I would never think of my wife’s elbow like this. She wouldn’t go for something like that.
PRIEST Wouldn’t go for elbows?
MAN Her elbow is far too delicate and pure to be pictured in butter.
MAN Please, help me father, I don’t know what to do. I’m starting to picture her elbow covered in mud and baking soda.
PRIEST I’m not really sure…
MAN Get out of my head, temptress elbow!
PRIEST Please, calm down, my son. I will help you absolve yourself of guilt.
PRIEST First, I want you to say ten Hail Mary’s.
MAN Did Mary have nice elbows?
PRIEST Focus, my son. Next I want you to go home to your wife and tell her that you love her.
PRIEST And when you feel yourself starting to picture this other woman’s elbows, I want you to instead think of your wife’s elbows, and remember that Jesus still loves you.
MAN What do I do if I see my co-worker again?
PRIEST I want you to focus on something else. Think about a time where you were truly proud of yourself, and use that to focus your mind.
MAN What if it doesn’t work?
PRIEST It’s all a matter of re-directing yourself. Remember the things in life that mean something to you, and know that they are more important than her elbows.
MAN You’re right, father. Thank you.
PRIEST You are forgiven my son.
MAN I won’t think about her elbows anymore.
PRIEST Very good.
MAN And when I see her, I won’t look at her elbows. I’ll focus on something else. I’ll distract myself.
PRIEST Yes, you understand.
MAN Thank you, Father. I feel better.
Man exits the confession booth and starts to leave stage right. As he is leaving WOMAN walks past him and accidentally bumps him with her shoulder.
WOMAN I’m so sorry, I didn’t see you there.
MAN No, no. It was my fault. I’m sorry.
WOMAN exits stage left and MAN stands still for a long moment, looking after her with a glassy look. He suddenly snaps out of it and hangs his head in shame. He heads back to the confessional booth.
FADE TO BLACK