WRITER: Honesty 

[At Rise. Littered on the stage are pens, pencils, and pieces of crumpled paper. Clearly agitated, MR. SYM walks about the stage with a small garbage can, throwing out the pieces of paper and garbage]

Once a week . . . Just a quick sweep with a broom . . . that’s all I ask of our caretakers. If I take 
the time to write a handout, treat it with care.

[picking up a pen from the floor]

Mine. Return my pens. I don’t ask much.

[puts it on his desk. Puts the garbage can down and goes to a book rack near his desk.

He organizes the rack, then looks down to find another pen.]

“Treat my books with care,” I say. Mine.

[puts the pen on his desk. Moves to the white board stationed behind his desk. Picks up the eraser, but hesitates as he reads the comments littered on his board, and analyzes the drawings. This is the graffiti of his students. A knock interrupts MR. SYM, and he puts the white board eraser down and sits at his desk. He shakes his head, and puts on his teacher persona]


Come in, Joy.

[JOY enters. Her backpack, filled with textbooks, makes a sickening thud noise when she absentmindedly drops it. In her hands is a large wad of paper, easily 1000 pages, with multicolored post-its sticking out at all ends—Mr. Sym's manuscript. She places it on the table]

Aw, Mr. Sym, you took down your Shakespeare posters.

Students can't read anymore, so when they fell down I didn't bother to put them back up.

[JOY begins unpacking her stationary items from her backpack—clearly a routine she has developed from years of studying for school. Each item of stationary has a specific place around the manuscript]


Bad year?

[MR. SYM interrupts JOY's routine by mistaking one of her pens for his. He begins to fidget. Joy wants her pen back, but decides not to say anything. She continues setting the remaining items out]

Ever year, it goes further and further downhill. Your generation was one of the last that could

even be called a class. Now it's just a congregation of children who've been taught that "learning" is getting spoon-fed simple answers and puking them back out. Afterwards, they say "A+. There —I'm educated.


That bad?

[one pen needed to finish laying out her stationary, she stares at the pen MR. SYM is fidgeting with]

I'm on my third box of blood-red marking pens, which means I'm spending more marking their

work than they spend writing it.

[notices JOY staring. She points timidly to the pen]

Oh. This is your pen.



[MR. SYM hands the pen back to JOY]

Students steal my pens so often it’s become habit to steal them back when I get the chance.


No worries, this is my pen. Actually, this is the pen I used to mark up chapter 33 of your manuscript.

[placing the pen in its rightful place]

Is it?

[another knock on the door. FELIX enters without permission. His messenger bag is half- full. He takes a quick look around the room]



You took down the Shakespeare posters.




[sitting down across from JOY]

Good. That one I sat under looked at me, like, all the time. It was fucking creepy. 

© Makrenna Sterdan 2017