the wax paper

Hayley Lawson-Smith

BETWEEN WATER AND AIR

CHARACTERS:

GOLDFISH: Speaking rapidly and dripping with sarcasm and cynicism.

PARROT: Speaking with great thoughtfulness, slowly and dreamily.

Note: Neither of the actors in this play need to be dressed as the characters they represent. Being dressed in blacks, trimmed

with a small token in order to symbolise their characters would suffice. Eg: The parrot in blacks with a beak; the goldfish in

blacks with a fin.

SCENE:

(The Parrot, slightly philosophical, sits perched on his perch. A splash is heard; the Goldfish has thrown himself out

of the goldfish bowl).

GOLDFISH: (Off stage). Damn Saturday Age!

(The Goldfish lands in front of the perch, flopping around a little on the floor before noticing the Parrot).

GOLDFISH: Oh, I say! I say, you there! Parrot, old chap?

PARROT: (Dreamy). I’m sorry Goldfish, are you talking to me?

GOLDFISH: You are the humans' only parrot, are you not?

PARROT: I suppose so, there's a couple of cockatoos they feed every Sunday morning; visitors from the bush. But

if you ask me, they're a right pair of galahs.

GOLDFISH: (Still floundering). Right, well, if I could just trouble you for one moment ...

PARROT: Did I hear you say something about the Saturday Age, mate?

GOLDFISH: What? Oh yes, one of those bloody humans slammed it down right next to my bowl. Scared the life

out of me; they don't get heavier than the Saturday Age. Wasn't a thing I could do but jump for it and now as you

can see I’m somewhat, well, stuck.

PARROT: Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

GOLDFISH: I suppose you could choose to think of it that way, yes –

PARROT: Couldn't pass me the sports page, could you?

GOLDFISH: (Continuing to flounder). I beg your pardon?

PARROT: The paper. I’m behind on my lacrosse results. If you wouldn't mind ...

GOLDFISH: (Sarcastic). Oh, I’m so sorry. I didn't think of grabbing the morning paper as I came hurtling through

the artificial seaweed to land in this mess of breadcrumbs and tea leaves.

PARROT: Doesn't matter. I’m sure it will be on the telly later.

GOLDFISH: Well, how very fortunate for you. Now, there is just that small matter of my asphyxiating down here –

PARROT: Of course, the televisions no use to me once they put the Cozy Cover on.

GOLDFISH: – see, my operculum is completely useless without water, damned annoying you understand.

PARROT: Once the Cozy Cover goes on, it's lights out. Curfew time. Not allowed to speak then.

GOLDFISH: Look, as fascinating as this all is –

PARROT: Me and my reflection have to talk in whispers.

GOLDFISH: But you can speak now, can't you?!

PARROT: Oh yes, I probably could. Why do you want to know, mate?

GOLDFISH: Ah, glad you asked. As you may or may not have noticed, I am somewhat in the middle of my death

throes.

PARROT: Oh, how awful for you.

GOLDFISH: Indeed. It all boils down to not being able to breath on dry land.

PARROT: You oughtn't to have jumped out of the bowl, you know. Goldfish need water.

GOLDFISH: Oh, thank you awfully for telling me!

PARROT: You're welcome.

GOLDFISH: Truly, that piece of valuable information may just save my life. The next time I am so exceedingly

startled I choose to fling myself from the safety of my bowl, I shall remember your sound words of advice.

PARROT: No problem, mate. Maybe I can help?

GOLDFISH: You? Help me? Now why didn't I think of that? Help! What a novel idea!

PARROT: I suppose it's because of your memory.

GOLDFISH: I beg your pardon?

PARROT: You forgot you needed help, yeah? Forgot you're going to die. Fish only have three second memories,

you know.

GOLDFISH: A parrot and an academic! What luck that you should be the only talking animal in the house!

PARROT: The dog can speak on command. But he only knows one word. Woof. And even that he mispronounces.

GOLDFISH: I see. And how many words do you know?

PARROT: Me? Oh, I have a human vocabulary of more than a hundred words.

GOLDFISH: You don't happen to fancy using one of them now, do you?

PARROT: I’d like to, but I don't know any words which would suit this circumstance. Sorry mate. Funny, isn't it?

Over one hundred words and nothing to describe the instance of a goldfish in the state of an emergency.

GOLDFISH: (Gasping for air). Funny, yes. Irony worthy of Oscar Wilde.

PARROT: I often have thoughts like that.

GOLDFISH: I’m sorry, thoughts like what?

PARROT: Deep thoughts of the philosophical vein. I have a lot of time to do so; sitting here on the perch all day,

when one's not performing for the humans, one has a lot of time to consider the deeper issues of today's hectic,

modern life. This pretty polly wants more in life than just the odd cracker, you know. I want to know the meaning

of the cracker, man. The complicated cracker, which is our life.

GOLDFISH: Ah, talking about life, mine just happens to be in grave peril and –

PARROT: Like, for instance, what do you think we'd do if we fell in love? Where would we build a nest?

GOLDFISH: Come again?

PARROT: There's a whole wide world out there, man, for a parrot and a fish. But here we are stuck in a menagerie

of our own domicile design. You have your scales and I have my feathers, but we both have our souls man. Our

souls.

GOLDFISH: Feathers? Feathers?

PARROT: (Monologuing while the Goldfish flounders). Water and air, man, that's what we are. Two extremes of nature

co-existing in a life and time that neither of us control, but both of us flow through, man. Both of us being one with

nature, yeah?

GOLDFISH: Feathers! Of course!

PARROT: And, like, I need a piece of your world, yeah? I need to have H2O in my life, man. But too much and I

die. I mean, die. Drown. Dead. And too much of myworld and you dry out, mate. That is deep. It's like poetry, man.

GOLDFISH: I say, Parrot! Parrot old friend, can you fly?

PARROT: Fly? Oh man, can't we all fly, soar in the power of our own imaginations?

GOLDFISH: Quite. But I mean to say, perhaps if you could step down from your celestial perch for one moment, I

have an idea which may actually save my piscatorial life. As inconsequential as it may be in the grand scheme of

things.

PARROT: In the grand scheme of things mate, you and I are mere passing fancies. Two characters acting out an

absurdist piece for the amusement of an audience unknown and unloving. (Pause. The parrot and goldfish look out

at the audience. A moment passes).

GOLDFISH: Right. Well, I do not intend to die the tragic death of a Macbeth or an Othello –

PARROT: Don't think you can, mate. Shakespeare never wrote for fish. His one flaw.

GOLDFISH: – and when you mentioned feathers, the idea came to me that perhaps you could fly down here and

carry me back to the safety of my bowl.

PARROT: Becket may have written a part for you, but the competition would be tough.

GOLDFISH: So what do you say, old chap? Fancy being the hero in your own melodrama?

PARROT: What, and come to the victim's rescue?

GOLDFISH: Exactly!

PARROT: You mean, save the damsel in distress, like?

GOLDFISH: Precisely!

PARROT: You're talking about making a significant change for the better to a small life of little or no importance in

the grand scheme of things; a small token of peace and love in an otherwise harrowing world, too busy to notice the

plight of one of God's less influential creatures?

GOLDFISH: Yes!

PARROT: A fleeting moment of charity and self-sacrifice, which would go unnoticed by the greater world at large;

a sparkling miracle, shining bright while it burns, as a beacon to the forgotten fauna of the world that simple

miracles can and do happen everyday?

GOLDFISH: Hallelujah!

PARROT: Can't mate. Clipped wings.

GOLDFISH: (Really in trouble now). What?!

PARROT: Yeah, incongruous isn't it? The one joy I had in life and quite possibly your only means of salvation, hindered by a race of so-called superior minds who believe their actions are all for the greater good.

GOLDFISH: Oh, holy fuck!

PARROT: Yeah, I know. Insensitive, isn't it? They even ate chicken in front of me last week. Never a

thought to the psychological damage it could do to the already scarred psyche of a domestic parrot.

GOLDFISH: You know, I’m rather beginning to hate your breed! You sit up there as smug as a blonde Adonis on

the cover of a Mills and Boon and get all the attention from those accountable for our very lives, while I’m nothing

more than a way for little Billy to prove he's responsible enough to own a puppy! But you! You?! You are the simple

pleasure which gets their hearts racing, the darling of the house which they bring out at parties! Oh, look at the

clever parrot, they all say! Isn't that amazing; a living, breathing voice recorder with no off-switch!

PARROT: There is the Cozy Cover.

GOLDFISH:: Nobody thinks to look at me! Nobody thinks for a moment that I might crave a bit of attention, that I

might want a little more from life than a novelty pirate ship and a few flakes of food every other day! But no! I’m

nothing more than a passing fancy in a long line of easily flushed Christmas presents!

PARROT: That's deep man. That's like, asking the eternal question: why?

GOLDFISH: And what's it all in aid of? Why the endless swimming about in circles? For here I am, ending my

days flopping glassy-eyed and pathetic, cursing the evolutionary process which denied me the right to evolve into

a salamander, and about to die of suffocation!

PARROT: You're saying, that's it for you? A slow and belaboured death on the kitchen table, with only this one,

humble parrot to watch you draw your final breaths?

GOLDFISH: Yes! I hope the humans got their dollar fifty's worth. This is it for me. Death on the kitchen table.

PARROT: I wouldn't count on that, man.

GOLDFISH: (Flopping around and panting with the last of his energy). Oh, really? And why ... in your humble ...

opinion ... is that?

PARROT: Because mate. Here comes the cat.

(Blackout.)

Hayley holds a Masters of Writing for Performance from the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne University.

She's had plays produced in both Australia and the U.S., and has received Best New Australian Play Awards at

various one act play festivals. Hayley's youth production, Warriors, is published by YouthPLAYS.com