Alexandra - 16 year old girl, still trying to deal with the years of abuse she was put through as a child.

Joshua - 16 year old boy, Alexandra's best friend of 6 years. He was also abused as a child, but has dealt with it and put it behind him.

(An abandoned playground, containing an old swing set, a slide, and a climbing frame. It is an overcast night, the playground lit only by the dim light of the streetlights. ALEXANDRA is alone, sitting on a swing, facing the back of the stage. We can see her body trembling, as she is crying. She is dressed in a full length spaghetti-strap dress. She moves slowly back and forth on the swing, as she cries As she swings, she cradles her right wrist. JOSHUA enters, from stage right. He runs towards her, concerned. He kneels on the ground next to her, resting his hand on her knee. She gets up, and moves on to the other swing, facing the audience. JOSHUA rises, and sits on the other swing. He twists it to face her. She moves her face away from him, looking off stage.)

JOSHUA: Hey. (He puts his hand under her chin and moves her to face him. She sighs, reluctant.) You okay? You ran off pretty quick back there. Everything all right?

ALEXANDRA: Yeah. (She smiled weakly.) Sure, I'm fine.

JOSHUA: (Looks at her reproachingly.) How stupid do you think I am? Something upset you back there. What was it?

ALEXANDRA: (Nonchalantly) was nothing. It was just..stupid, don't worry about it.

JOSHUA: (Notices her wrist) What's wrong with your hand?

ALEXANDRA: (Surprised that he noticed.) Oh, it's nothing.(Laughs nervously) Just a little scratch, that's all.

JOSHUA: (Narrows eyes and holds out his hand)(Demands) Let me see.

ALEXANDRA: (Startled) What? No, d-don't worry about it. (Pulls away from him.) I told you, it's...(She breaks off as he grabs her hand, and looks at her wrist. There is a shallow cut on it.)

JOSHUA: (Quietly disbelieving.) You cut?

ALEXANDRA: (Muttering) No, It's...It's nothing.

JOSHUA: (Angry) Nothing? How can you stand there and tell me that it's nothing?! You're back to cutting, and you tell me that it's nothing? (Quietly) I just don't get you sometimes.

ALEXANDRA: (Defiant. She stands up, and stands in front of him.) I have not "gone back" to cutting. (Calmer) This was the first time, I swear.

JOSHUA: (Quietly) Did you plan it?

ALEXANDRA: (Outraged) What?! Of course I didn't plan it! What do you think I am, some kind of psycho?!

JOSHUA: (Eyes downcast)(Ashamedly) I'm sorry. That was out of line.

(There is an awkward silence. Neither one makes eye contact. ALEXANDRA moves back to the swing, and sits down.)

ALEXANDRA: (Quietly) I'm sorry too. It's not your fault.

JOSHUA: (Comfortingly) Alex. Come on. You know you can talk to me. About anything. I want to know what's going on with you. You've been...different...for a while.

ALEXANDRA:(Looking away) I know, and I'm so, so sorry. It's just...I don't know. I've been feeling a little out of it lately. I just..I don't know how to deal with it.

JOSHUA: (Concerned) Deal with what?

ALEXANDRA: (Inhales deeply, exhales. She looks at Joshua)...My dad's back.

JOSHUA: (Concern in his eyes) Oh. Why didn't you tell me?

ALEXANDRA:(Sighs) I didn't want you to worry.

JOSHUA: (Struggling to keep his anger under control)I have every reason in the world to worry, Alex. The man abused you! He hit you, he made you feel like you were nothing. You were ten when I found you. When you found me. I have never, in my life, ever met a ten year old as broken as you were. As broken as he made you.(Scoffs) And you tell me not to worry.

ALEXANDRA: (Pleading, sounding guilty) I'm sorry, Josh. I honestly never meant for you to get caught up in all of this. This is my problem. I don't want you to have to feel like you have to take care of me.(sighs) Like, I'm some sort of charity case, some kind of puzzle that you have to put back together.

JOSHUA: (Upset at the tone in her voice)How can you think that? Honestly. You've done as much for me as I have for you. You mean so, so much to me. You have no idea.

ALEXANDRA: (Stands up, and paces along the stage) You don't get it! I don't want you! I don't want you to be there, looking at me. I don't want your help, I don't want anything from you! (She sits on the bottom of the slide.) Just..go. Please.

JOSHUA: I'm not going anywhere. (He crosses the stage, and sits cross-legged on the stage in front of her.)

ALEXANDRA: (Whispers, confused) I don't understand.

JOSHUA: (Takes her hands in his) What? What don't you understand?

ALEXANDRA: (Still whispering) Everything! How you can stand to be around me, how you can still like me, after all that I've put you through..?

JOSHUA: (Gripping her hands) Don't. Don't ever think that. I love you.

ALEXANDRA: (Eyes watering, she is pleading with him now) How can you love someone that can't even love themself?

JOSHUA: (Confused, trying to make sense of what she's saying)Am I missing something here? What are you talking about?

ALEXANDRA: (Muttering quietly)I hate this. I hate feeling like this. I

JOSHUA:(Shocked) You hate yourself?

ALEXANDRA:(Smiling wryly) In teen melodramatic terms, yes.


ALEXANDRA: Why what?

JOSHUA:(Patiently) Why do you hate yourself?

ALEXANDRA:(Trying hard to explain, but she can't seem to find the words) I don't know. I just...I hate what I've become. I hate...what they've made me.

JOSHUA:(Suspicious) They?

ALEXANDRA:(Nods, slowly) My parents. Do you...Do you remember when we met?

JOSHUA: (Nods) Of course. Why?

ALEXANDRA: (Sighs) We were ten, right? We were ten, and we already had more of an idea of the world than most people do at middle age. We came together, in the rain, hiding in the little tunnel of that old playground.(Her voice wavers, and she begins to cry.) We came together because we hurt. Because, young as we were, we couldn't deal with everything that was happening around us. To us. I couldn't deal, with my mum, with my dad. You couldn't deal with your dad. And we swore..(Sobs, and breaks off. She lifts her head, and attempts to wipe her tears away.) We swore, inside that tunnel, that we would never become what they were. We swore that there would never be more than blood tying us to our parents. We would be different. And I failed. I failed myself...I

JOSHUA: (Raises one eyebrow)And just how do you figure that?

ALEXANDRA:(Exasperated) Look at me! I'm everything that I swore I would never be. I swore that I'd never drink. I swore that I'd never touch drugs. I swore that I would never push anybody away from me, the way that my parents did to me. And look at what I'm doing. I'm pushing you away. I've become everything that I used to despise. The same excuses they used on me, I'm using on you. The very same lies that I grew up with are resurfacing. And I hate it. I hate that this has happened to me. (Resigned) But I guess that what they say is true. The apple never does fall far from the tree.

JOSHUA:(Mockingly)And what does that mean for me?


JOSHUA:(Patiently, he explains) Well, I'm an apple too. Does that mean that I'm going to grow up to be a raging alcoholic, a violent drunk?

ALEXANDRA:(Apalled) What? No! Of course I didn't mean you. You made an effort to change. I gave up halfway through. I'm not as strong as you.

JOSHUA:(Grins) Hey. Wanna know a secret?

ALEXANDRA:(Smiles weakly) Sure.

JOSHUA:(Whispers, and leans closer in to her) I'm not as strong as you think I am.

ALEXANDRA:(Moodily) Stronger than me, that's for damn sure.

JOSHUA:(Shakes his head) I'm not strong. I'm cold. And emotionless. And numb. You wanna know how I get through the days? I don't feel. I don't care, not anymore. And, my dad...he tries to act like nothing ever happened. Tries to pretend that everything is fine, like he's the perfect dad. Do you want to know why I'm still here?

ALEXANDRA:(Intrigued) Why?

JOSHUA: Because of you.

ALEXANDRA:(Confused) Me?

JOSHUA:(Smiles wryly) Strange, huh? The two biggest emotional wrecks in existence, and we're the only ones sane enough to save each other.

ALEXANDRA:(Whispers, and shakes her head) You can't save me.

JOSHUA:(Smiles, challenging) Try me.

ALEXANDRA:(Disagreeing) Why would you even want to save me anyway?

JOSHUA: Because you're worth it.

ALEXANDRA:(She still doesn't believe that she could mean so much to somebody) No, I'm not. There's a thousand other girls to take my place. I'm not that special.

JOSHUA: (Calmly reassuring her) Yes, you are.

ALEXANDRA: Why? Why do you insist on saving me? Why am I so special to you?

JOSHUA: You honestly need me to tell you?

ALEXANDRA:(Nods) Please.

JOSHUA:(Sighs) Because. Because, before this, before your self turmoil stage, you were amazing. You lit everything up, you were so happy. Because you're smart, and funny, and just, incredible. Because, even on my worst day, after I talked to you, I couldn't even remember how to be sad. You made me feel things that..I never thought that I could feel ever again. Because, you make me feel like, none of it even mattered. None of it. You help me to block out all the negative stuff, everything bad, everything that he did to me. Because you help me to remember why I'm here, why I'm doing this. Because you can make me laugh just by looking at me. Because you cared about me when I was broken, and because you tried to fix me. And, when I fell apart, you put me back together again, every time, without fail. Because you were always there for me. That's why I want to save you.

ALEXANDRA: (Speechless) Wow.

JOSHUA: Does that answer your question?

ALEXANDRA:(Still lost for words) Pretty much.

JOSHUA:(Slightly frustrated) I love you. Can't you understand that?

ALEXANDRA:(Sighs, eyes downcast) I know. I know.

JOSHUA:(Exhales slowly) Then why is it so hard for you to accept?

ALEXANDRA:(Sighs, exasperated again) Josh, just because you see all these...things.. in me, it doesn't mean that I see them. I still can't believe that I could mean so much to you, to anyone. I mean, obviously now, I know what I mean to you, but I still can't see it. I'm sorry.

JOSHUA:(Smiles, reassuring) You have nothing to be sorry about. This isn't your fault.

ALEXANDRA:(Disbelieving) Isn't it?

JOSHUA: (Smiles warmly) Of course it isn't. You have enough reason to be numb for the rest of your life, but somehow, you aren't. You feel everything. Sometimes more than necessary. And that makes you stronger than anything.

ALEXANDRA:(Jokingly) Says who?

JOSHUA:(Sincerely) Says me.

(ALEXANDRA gets up. JOSHUA stands up also, helping her off the slide. They walk in silence for a while, and then head towards the climbing frame. They sit together on the a metal bar. JOSHUA puts his arm around her shoulders. ALEXANDRA stiffens, and then moves away.)

JOSHUA:(Embarrassed)(Mumbles) Sorry.

ALEXANDRA:(Shakes head) Don't be. I just...I don't know how to be.

JOSHUA: It's ok. It's my turn now anyway.

ALEXANDRA:(Confused) Your turn? Your turn for what?

JOSHUA:(Laughs gently) My turn to pick up the pieces.

(ALEXANDRA looks lost. JOSHUA laughs and puts his arms about her shoulders. He hesistates, realising what he has done, and moves to take his arm away. ALEXANDRA stops him.)

ALEXANDRA:(Returning to the topic before, moving away from the awkwardness) Pieces?

JOSHUA:(Nods) Uh huh. You were always there, as I pointed out in my over-elaborate speech, to pick up the pieces of me when I fell apart. I want to do that for you. I want to be the one behind you, picking up all the little pieces, so you don't lose any of yourself. I want to be the one who catches you when you fall, and, I'm not kidding, you will fall. A lot. You're going to fall down, scrape your knees, and get back up again, until you can face the world with me. And you know how you're going to get through all that?

ALEXANDRA:(Raises one eyebrow, amused) I'm sure that you're going to tell me.

JOSHUA: I'm going to be there, every step of the way.

(ALEXANDRA, suddenly uncomfortable jumps off the metal bar she had been sitting on. JOSHUA jumps off, moving to join her. She stops him.)

ALEXANDRA:(Stumbling over her words) Wait. Just...wait. I'm sorry, I just, I need to learn how to deal with this. (Unconsciously, she rubs her thumb over the many scars on her wrist.)

JOSHUA:(Warmly) Alex. (He walks over to her, and puts his hands on her shoulders.) Alex, you know that I want to help you. More than anything, I want to help you move on from...(he looks at her wrist)..where you're at. But I can't do that if you don't let me. If we're going to make this work, if you're going to get better, you have to let me inside. I know how much it's going to hurt, but you have to do it. You can't hide the broken pieces of you forever, pieces that I need to see, if I'm going to help you. What I need from you, is love. (He breaks off at her startled expression, and elaborates) Love for yourself. There's no way that you could love...(he looks away)..anyone..if you can't love yourself first. And, I can't love all of you, not if you hide bits and pieces of yourself away from the world. I know who you are, and this, what you're doing? It's not her.

ALEXANDRA: I know, I just..(she walks over to the swings, and sits on one. JOSHUA follows, and sits on the other. They turn their swings around to face each other.) (Softly, unsurely)I don't know. I don't know how to be whole again. It's been so long, that I've been in bits and pieces, I don't even know if I can be whole. I just, I've felt like this for so long..(she rubs her scars again, unconsciously,and starts to cry)

JOSHUA: (Takes her face in his hands and rubs at the tears) Hey. I want to help, I told you. It hurts me so much to see you like this. Please, just, tell me what I have to do to help. To make this better..

ALEXANDRA: (Still crying, she shakes her head) (Whispers) I don't know.

JOSHUA: (Pleading) Please. There has to be something I can say, something I can do...?

ALEXANDRA: (looks into his eyes. She holds out her wrist, and whispers.) Take my scars away? (She looks at the ground, crying.)

(JOSHUA stands up, and moves towards her. He kneels on the ground in front of her, and looks up at her. He wipes her face, trying to stop the flow of tears. Once again, he takes her face in his hands.)

JOSHUA: (Whispers) Baby, if I could, I would.

ALEXANDRA:(Startled) Baby?

JOSHUA:(Unperturbed) I told you. I love you. More than you could ever realise.

(He stands up, and he pulls her to her feet. As she moves to her feet, he pulls her into his chest. For the first time, she doesn't move away from the embrace she finds herself in.)

JOSHUA: (Whispering) And even though I can't take your scars away, I'm going to do everything I can to make you forget them.

ALEXANDRA: (Whispering) Thank you.

JOSHUA: I love you.

ALEXANDRA: I know. I love you too.

JOSHUA: (Pulls away from ALEXANDRA, without letting go.) What?

ALEXANDRA: I said I love you too.

JOSHUA:(Happily surprised) That's a big step.

ALEXANDRA: I know. I think I'm finally ready to let you in. I'm ready to scream, and fall, and let you help me up. I'm ready to show the world all the broken bits and pieces of me, and let you try to put me back together. (She shrugs, and smiles)I guess I'm ready to love.

JOSHUA:(Grins) You have no idea how much that means.

ALEXANDRA:(Shakes her head, disagreeing) You know, I think that I do.

(They smile, and return to their embrace. Lights black out.)