Jack’s Mistake by Jacob Fiott
Jack: Is wearing clothes fit for a job in an office.
Lana: Is only heard as a voice on the phone. She is Jack’s wife.
Time: Is wearing a suit. It is either black, or dark coloured. Hair has to be set up in a polite style, as s/he is here on business. Has a watch in one hand (a pocket watch is preferable but a rather large wristwatch that is visible to the audience, will do just fine).
Setting: Jack is in his office sitting at his desk late one evening, when he should be at his son’s dance recital. He suffers a heart attack and is approached by Time.
Jack: (He is clearly agitated and in a hurry. He is swamped in paperwork, and someone comes in with more. Phone rings, and he answers it.) Hey, Lana, I’m on my way.
Lana: That’s what you always say.
Jack: But I am.
Lana: Stop lying. I know you’re still at work.
Jack: I just need to finish a few more things and I’m done.
Lana: It’s the first time your son is dancing on a stage. You already missed the first half of the program.
Jack: I’ll be there soon.
Lana: He already danced his first dance and you missed it. He will perform his last dance in half an hour, and you’re still at work
Jack: Lana, I really am trying my hardest here.
Lana: You’re replacing your family with work. You think you’re doing us a favour. You think that by working so hard you’re making us comfortable. But you’re not.
Jack: What?! You don’t like your new dress? Your new shoes?! Whose money is it that is getting us all plane tickets each year? You don’t like that either, do you?!
Lana: You know what? No, I don’t like them at all! (She hangs up!)
(Jack places phone on desk and sighs. Goes to continue working, but a sharp pain starts in his chest. He clumsily tries to walk in front of the desk, whilst clutching his chest, but he collapses. Someone comes in with more papers, drops them on the floor when s/he sees Jack on the floor, and rushes out in a panic. While this is happening, a ticking of a watch can be heard.)
(Ticking stops and Jack slowly stands up confused. Time swaggers in)
Time: You have done it now Jack. You messed up good.
Jack: What happened?
Time: What do you think happened?
Jack: I must have passed out from the pain or something.
Time: You really are a dim one Jack.
Jack: Ey! Watch it! Coming here calling names! Who are you any way?
Time: I’ve been called many things. Renpet, Khronos. Simply put, I am Time.
Time: In the flesh, so to speak.
Jack: Pfft! (Begins to leave)
Time: Where are you going Jack?
Jack: Look, I have somewhere to be, and people to meet. So, thanks for whatever it is you did. It’s been a pleasure.
Time: You didn’t pass out. You’re dying, Jack.
Time: Jack, you’re dying. Go ahead, check your pulse.
(Jack checks pulse. Feels nothing.)
Time: (picks up mobile phone and directs the screen towards Jack.) Try and see if you have a reflection.
(Jack looks, and sees nothing.)
Time: All you are right now is a soul about to leave this earth.
Jack: I’m dying? I’m dying!
Time: And I’m Time.
Jack: So you can fix this. Reverse time or whatever
Time: No can do pal.
Time: Time never stops, never goes back. Always forward.
Jack: So, you’re telling me you, the embodiment of Time cannot give me more time?
Jack: Sorry? “Sorry” my foot. You’re always like this aren’t you? You’re there when people don’t need you. You’re in abundance when people don’t even want you. Yet, when someone absolutely needs you, poof, you’re gone.
Time: That’s rich coming from you.
Jack: What do you mean by that? I was always there when people needed me. I was there by my mother’s side as she was dying. I was there to help my father through his grieving. I was there for my wife and son whenever they needed me. I work myself to the bone to provide for those who need me. And you, Time, don’t. You’re there for the fun times, but when people need you, you’re gone. When I needed you, you were nowhere to be found. I only found you in the pain you extended, the heartache you made me feel for far longer than I could bear. And yet here you are judging me. I know you, Time, and you’re a coward. You expect people to work around your demands because “time waits for no one”, and that makes you a pompous coward.
(Time grabs Jack by the lapels/shirt collar/shoulders, yanks him closer so that they are now in each other’s faces.)
Time: Do not presume you know the first thing about time, Jack. You, who does not even know how to spare a few hours for his own family, cannot even begin to understand time.
Jack: I made time for…
Time: For your mother, for your father. Yes, you already told me all that. But the truth is, Jack, you didn’t. Not enough. You were only by your mother’s side for the last week of her life. You only spent a week giving proper time to your father’s pain. The rest of your time was spent working. How often did you make time to call your parents, or to meet them and take them out for a nice dinner, when they were both alive and well? There for your wife and son whenever they needed you? Your son needed you today and you put work before him. You work, work, work, either to escape your pain, or because you think your money will solve all the problems around you. Well, newsflash Jack, your money is useless. All your work could not save your mother, or stop your father from grieving, or stop your family from having to face troubles. You cannot always solve your problems by working. Try as you might, you only managed to make things worse.
Jack: Shut up…
Time: How does it feel, huh? Up to the final moments of your life you worked, and worked, and worked, only to achieve nothing more than disappointment. In your pursuit to make your family happy with material things, you denied them the one thing they truly wanted, and now here you are, in your office, dying, alone. Tell me what’s going through that thick skull of yours?
Jack: (swatting Time’s hands off of him) SHUT UP! If you’re not here to help me, then why are you here? To wave me off to the other side?
Time: You really don’t get it, do you? I am helping you! I am trying to make you see all the chances you’ve been given throughout your life. Every time your wife begged you to spend some time with her. Every time your son looked for you when you were supposed to tuck him in. Every time your parents called you, trying to show you they feel alone. Yet you were so caught up in your little illusion that you, with all your work, can make all their problems go away, ignored the fact that all they wanted was your time!
Jack: And what do you care? You’re time. You are infinite. What do you care about me?
Time: I care about you because of your son. You had multiple chances to open your eyes and do the right thing. To spend time with people that love you, doing the things that actually matter. If you’re not careful, your son will follow your example. Your son still has a chance to learn not to do the same mistakes you made.
Time: Prioritise him. Be there for him, even when he doesn’t need you. Be there so that he knows you care. He can’t have his mother telling him you love him, because if he doesn’t see it, his mother’s reminder will just lose its charm. He needs to see that you love him, and care for him, and the only way he can do that is if you spend time with him.
Jack: I was just trying to help them! That’s all I tried to do, make them comfortable and happy.
Time: Your family is not lacking money by any means. All they lack, is you. Just stop. Breathe. Relax. Prioritise. What is more important? Should your family be rich and angry at you? Or doing well enough, and happy each and every day to see you?
Jack: You make it sound like I can fix this. I’m dying…
Time: (starts pushing Jack back to where he previously lay on the ground) Exactly. You’re not dead yet. If you’re lucky, the paramedics will get here before it’s too late. You messed up. Now fix it. You’ve been given yet another chance. This time, it will be your last. Make sure you don’t waste it.
(Time looks at the watch and begins to walk away, while a ticking watch can be heard in the background. Paramedics rush in.)