At rise, JIM, HEATHER, and STRANGER sit partially removed from GIRL, who is playing in a corner. STRANGER watches what follows with an impassive stare.
JIM: (After a long pause watching GIRL.) Look at her. So independent. Just like her mom.
HEATHER: She’s been in here since just after breakfast.
JIM: Just readin’. Readin’ away. All them books. Just readin’ away. (HEATHER begins sobbing into JIM’s shoulder.) No. No. Look. Look at her. She’s going to be all right. She can handle this.
HEATHER: She’s just a girl.
JIM: Strong. An independent girl.
HEATHER: She shouldn’t need —
JIM: Independent like her mom. That’s your doing. And look, see?
HEATHER: I don’t want to look.
JIM: You didn’t know, but it was for something. For a reason.
HEATHER: What are you talking about?
JIM: Well —
HEATHER: She’s seven years old!
JIM: Seven going on thirty!
HEATHER: Seven going on seven! Seven going on — she’s not ready for this. I didn’t make her ready for this.
JIM: Well, no parent could.
HEATHER: Then what are you —
JIM: You did the best you could!
HEATHER: The best I could?
JIM: We did the —
HEATHER: Stop! Just stop. It doesn’t matter. None of it matters. (Beginning to weep again.) What is she going to do? What is she going to do?
JIM: We’ll figure this out.
HEATHER: Oh stop it, Jimmy. There’s nothing to figure out.
JIM: We can figure this out. She’s going to have a good life. She’s strong. (Long pause.) My brother.
HEATHER: (Pause.) Honey, John can’t — (Pause.)
HEATHER: John. He doesn’t have this in him.
JIM: Don’t say that.
HEATHER: He lives in Milwaukee.
JIM: He’ll move.
HEATHER: She doesn’t even know him.
JIM: He’s a great guy.
HEATHER: He’s an alcoholic!
JIM: He can clean up. You know he can.
JIM: This is exactly the kind of thing he’s needed.
JIM: (Pause.) Well, what other options do we have?
HEATHER: Not John.
JIM: (Pause.) Your parents then.
HEATHER: Are you crazy?
JIM: What’s wrong with your parents? (HEATHER begins to cry again.) What? What’d I say?
HEATHER: Jimmy, listen to yourself. My parents? Just last week we were talking Glen Meadows or Oakbrook Senior and you want her to go and live with them?
JIM: If they’re the best option.
HEATHER: They’re no option! They can’t give her anything. They can barely feed themselves. Probably only have a few years left anyway.
JIM: (To STRANGER) Hey, you. Hey. You enjoying yourself over there? I bet you are. How many years her parents have left? You can tell us that at least?
STRANGER: Why do you ask?
JIM: We’re going over the options.
JIM: Just answer the question. Her parents. How many years they got left?
STRANGER: I don’t think you want to count on them. (HEATHER sobs. STRANGER remains impassive.)
JIM: No don’t listen to him. Don’t listen to him.
HEATHER: Why not?
JIM: He doesn’t know anything. He’s just trying to make us angry. Your parents —
HEATHER: Jimmy —
JIM: They’re going to be fine.
HEATHER: Jimmy will you —
JIM: I think they’re going to be fine!
HEATHER: Will you just shut your mouth for a minute? WILL YOU JUST SHUT YOUR DAMN MOUTH?
JIM: What? What did I do?
HEATHER: (Hysterical.) JUST STOP TRYING TO MAKE OUT LIKE THIS IS ALL OKAY! THIS IS NOT OKAY DON’T YOU SEE WHAT’S HAPPENED?
JIM: Yes I see. So?
HEATHER: SO IT’S NOT OKAY!
JIM: Heather —
HEATHER: STOP PRETENDING LIKE IT’S —
HEATHER: IT’S NOT OKAY!
JIM: LISTEN TO ME! SHE’S GOING TO BE ALL RIGHT! SOMEONE WILL —
HEATHER: NO JIM NO ONE WILL! And who cares if they do? She’s just going to end up here anyway!
JIM: Don’t talk like that.
HEATHER: (To STRANGER) RIGHT?
JIM: Don’t say that.
HEATHER: I’m right? Right?
JIM: I SAID DON’T SAY THAT!
HEATHER: DON’T SAY WHAT?
JIM: DON’T YOU SAY THAT ABOUT OUR LITTLE GIRL!
HEATHER: WHY NOT? IT’S THE TRUTH!
HIM: DON’T YOU DARE SAY THAT ABOUT OUR LITTLE GIRL! (Pause.) I mean, why — ?
HEATHER: Why what?
JIM: Why — Why’d you have to leave — WHY’D YOU HAVE TO LEAVE HER ALONE IN THE HOUSE ANYWAY?
JIM: It wasn’t safe! It wasn’t smart!
HEATHER: What are you saying to me?
JIM? Why’d you have to run out all the sudden in the road?
HEATHER: (Deflating.) I was taking the trash out. I was taking the trash out! Why did you come home so early?
JIM: Why didn’t you look where you —
HEATHER: Why didn’t you? This is not my fault!
JIM: I just want to know what happened!
HEATHER: You were there!
JIM: Yeah but I still don’t know what happened!
HEATHER: I wanted to hurry up and get back to her —
JIM: But then —
HEATHER: BUT WHAT?
JIM: WELL YOU’RE NO GOOD TO HER NOW! WHY DIDN’T YOU PAY ATTENTION? We’re no good —
HEATHER: I WAS TRYING TO GET BACK TO HER!
JIM: FORGET IT! JUST FORGET IT! THIS ISN’T DOING HER ANY GOOD.
HEATHER: (Collapses in JIM’s arms, weeping.) Oh my baby, my poor baby. What are you going to do, what are you going to do?
JIM: (To STRANGER.) You can look somewhere else. Look away. You look away. This is none of your business. Do you hear me? (STRANGER doesn’t move.) YOU LOOK AWAY! AND DON’T YOU GO NEAR HER EITHER. (STRANGER stands, facing JIM and HEATHER.) NO! YOU SIT BACK DOWN! WE ARE NOT DONE HERE! (STRANGER gathers himself to leave. HEATHER begins to wail.) WE AREN’T LEAVING YET! WE’RE STILL TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT TO DO! DAMMIT WE’RE STILL TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT TO DO!
STRANGER walks to exit. JIM and HEATHER have no choice but to follow. HEATHER hysterically wailing and shouting, JIM is shouting at STRANGER. All exit.
GIRL is left onstage alone.