A Pawn Piece (1978 play): Act IV
(The curtain raises on only one character in the woods. QUESTRA is reclining near a tree. She is tall and sleek, dressed in a long white gown, made from diaphanous fabric. She has feline looks, and is extremely feminine in all ways. The stage lighting should now be bright white. As DEREK enters, QUESTRA settles into a sensuous pose.)
DEREK: Pardon me.
QUESTRA: Why are you asking my pardon?
DEREK: I have a few questions to ask you.
QUESTRA: About what?
DEREK: About the meaning of life.
QUESTRA: Why me?
DEREK: I don’t know; I think you remind me of someone.
DEREK: Someone I knew a long time ago.
QUESTRA: How well did you know her?
DEREK: I’m not sure, but I think it was very well.
QUESTRA: Have you ever had this feeling before?
DEREK: Not that I can remember?
QUESTRA: Are you in the habit of forgetting?
DEREK: Normally, no; somehow I have a feeling that this is different.
QUESTRA: In what way?
DEREK: Like when I’m dreaming: upon awakening, I forget what I’ve dreamed.
QUESTRA: Do you think you’re dreaming, now?
DEREK: Of course not.
QUESTRA: How can you be sure?
DEREK: All of this seems so real: more real than dreaming.
QUESTRA: Have you ever heard of the saying, “When you’re dreaming, it’s real, and what you call reality during your waking hours, is only a dream”?
DEREK: No, I haven’t.
QUESTRA: What does it mean to you?
DEREK: It’s not clear to me.
QUESTRA: Why not?
DEREK: It doesn’t make sense. If reality is only a dream, and dreaming is the only thing that’s real, how can I be sure what I’m doing now?
QUESTRA: Aren’t you questioning life?
DEREK: Yes, I suppose I am. It’s just that I’m beginning to feel that I’m standing on the edge of an unfathomable abyss, teetering, almost falling in.
QUESTRA: What do you think will happen if you fell in?
DEREK: I think that I’ll die.
QUESTRA: Is that so bad?
DEREK: Yes, I don’t want to cease to exist.
QUESTRA: What do you mean?
DEREK: If I die, I will become nothing.
QUESTRA: Who says?
DEREK: My mother. According to her, death is the end of everything: the only thing that lives on for a while after your death is your memory.
QUESTRA: Would you believe that she’s partially correct about the memory? Whose memory did she mean?
DEREK: The memory of friends and relatives.
QUESTRA: Does the person who dies have any memories of his life?
DEREK: That’s hard to say: if he didn’t, then Life would seem purposeless.
DEREK: Life gives everyone a chance to experience situations and associations.
QUESTRA: For what purpose?
DEREK: To learn.
QUESTRA: About what?
DEREK: To learn about life.
QUESTRA: Doesn’t a person have to understand himself, before he can understand life?
DEREK: What do I have to learn about myself?
QUESTRA: How much do you know?
DEREK: My name, where and when I was born, who my parents are, what I like/don’t like, and how I react to people around me.
QUESTRA: Is that all?
DEREK: Why, is there more?
QUESTRA: What would you say if I told you that the existence you experience every day is only a portion of the Total You?
DEREK: I’d say you were crazy.
QUESTRA: Would you?
DEREK: I sure would. You can’t persuade me to believe that there’s more to me than what I already know.
QUESTRA: Is it too fantastic for you?
DEREK: Not really; it’s just that I pride myself in being self-sufficient.
QUESTRA: Are you?
DEREK: I think so; I make my own decisions, my own choices.
QUESTRA: Doesn’t anyone help you?
DEREK: Only if I let them.
QUESTRA: Will you let me help you?
DEREK: If you wish.
QUESTRA: Will you open up your mind to me?
DEREK: As long as you’re gentle.
QUESTRA: You claim that you make up your own decisions, right?
QUESTRA: What about the still, small voice that speaks out when you’re quiet?
DEREK: What, my conscience?
QUESTRA: Does it reside within you?
DEREK: Yes, I’ve heard it.
QUESTRA: Where is it from?
DEREK: Inside my head.
QUESTRA: Could it come from somewhere beyond yourself?
QUESTRA: How about from God?
DEREK: If it is God, why does His voice sound like a grown-up version of mine?
QUESTRA: Have you ever been told that you’re an expression of God?
DEREK: In a way: He created me, as He did everything else, and His Spirit’s everywhere, even in me.
QUESTRA: If I told you that you were an important part of His Spirit, would you understand?
DEREK: Considering that He is a god of Love, I guess so.
QUESTRA: Do you love yourself?
DEREK: I can’t say: if I answer “yes”, I’m an egotist; if I answer “no”, I’m telling God that I don’t like His creation.
QUESTRA: Do you love me?
DEREK: How can I? I don’t know you, intimately.
QUESTRA: Must you love only what you know?
DEREK: It’d be easier than loving a complete stranger.
QUESTRA: If we’re both part of God’s Spirit, how can you refuse to love me, even if I seem to be a stranger?
DEREK: I guess I can’t. I’m beginning to feel as if I know you, anyway. Please explain how.
QUESTRA: Do you believe in Reincarnation?
QUESTRA: Do you believe in Reincarnation?
DEREK: I haven’t thought much about it.
QUESTRA: How many times have you lived?
DEREK: Only once: now.
QUESTRA: On what teaching do you base your belief?
DEREK: What my mother’s told me and what I’ve read for myself.
QUESTRA: Have you ever asked your father?
DEREK: No, I hardly ever see him, now that he and my mother are divorced.
QUESTRA: If you did, how would he answer?
DEREK: My mother says that he’s a dreamer; he’d probably say that we’ve all lived before.
QUESTRA: How many times would he say I’d lived, if he met me?
DEREK: Nine times.
QUESRA: Why that number?
DEREK: It seems appropriate.
QUESTRA: What if I told you I’ve lived nine times that number, at least?
DEREK: I’d say, “Impossible!”
QUESTRA: Impossible? Why?
DEREK: How can you say that you’ve lived that many times; how could you remember?
QUESTRA: Do you remember when I mentioned that your present self is only a portion of your Total Self?
QUESTRA: Can you now see the link between your Total Self and your conscience?
DEREK: Do you mean that my conscience is really just the recalling of my Total Self’s complete memory from past lives?
QUESTRA: What bothers you about that explanation?
DEREK: It seems so fantastic, so unreal.
QUESTRA: But is it wrong?
DEREK: No, it strikes a responsive chord in my soul: it excites me.
QUESTRA: For someone who didn’t believe in Reincarnation, why are you using the word ‘soul’?
DEREK: It comes from the expression, “God bless my soul.”
QUESTRA: Does the answer make any more sense, now?
DEREK: Yes, it does. Why didn’t I realize this truth before?
QUESTRA: Were you listening before?
DEREK: No, I guess I wasn’t. I still have a problem to solve.
QUESTRA: What is it?
DEREK: If we live several lives, why must we keep returning?
QUESTRA: Have you ever heard about Karma?
DEREK: Yes, but what is it?
QUESTRA: How can I explain it? Let’s see: if you make a withdrawal from your bank, what happens?
DEREK: The bank gives me money in exchange for my withdrawal slip.
QUESTRA: What becomes of the withdrawal slip?
DEREK: The bank uses it to debit my account for the amount of the withdrawal.
QUESTRA: What would happen if you’d actually taken more in money than you had in the account?
DEREK: Normally, the bank wouldn’t allow it, but if they did, I’d be given an overdraft.
QUESTRA: What’s that?
DEREK: An overdraft is an unsecured debt: I would owe the bank money for the deficit in the account?
QUESTRA: If you were allowed to keep withdrawing more than you put back in, what would happen?
DEREK: I’d have to pay back the debt, eventually. What has this got to do with Karma?
QUESTRA: Would it be any clearer to you if I said that your account in the bank works on the same principle as Karma?
DEREK: Someone or something is keeping track of my debts?
QUESTRA: Do you see how your soul can make deposits or withdrawals from your Total Self?
DEREK: My Total Self is my soul’s bank? That makes sense: so now I know why my conscience is so active. It’s almost like a bank sending out periodic statements and letting me know when I’ve written an ‘N.S.F.’ cheque. How can I pay back my debts?
QUESTRA: What if negative responses were withdrawals and positive responses were deposits, would that help?
DEREK: What if I became unable to pay the loan?
QUESTRA: What would your bank do?
DEREK: The debt would be held in abeyance until I was able to work it off again.
QUESTRA: Now do you understand Karma?
DEREK: Yes, but why can’t I declare bankruptcy, as in, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors”?
QUESTRA: What do you think?
DEREK: I think that God waits until Judgement Day, to see if we can account for our lives.
QUESTRA: When God totals up the sum of our good deeds and our bad deeds and finds us still lacking, what will He do?
DEREK: He’ll probably banish everyone from His sight for Eternity.
QUESTRA: But if we’re all part of God, why would He want to do that?
DEREK: You’re right; He must have some way to save our Total Selves from our selfish selves.
QUESTRA: What about Jesus, the Christ?
DEREK: I’ve heard that he came into the world to die on our behalf, so that we might live forever as Children of God.
QUESTRA: On what terms?
DEREK: That we profess Jesus to be God’s first-born Son and our own personal Saviour.
QUESTRA: What else would you like to know?
DEREK: Who are you and what are you doing here?
QUESTRA: Although my name is Questra C, isn’t that a silly question to ask me, after all the questions you’ve answered?
DEREK: Well, Questra, is there anything you’d like to ask of me?
QUESTRA: Do you know how to fish?
DEREK: I can learn.
QUESTRA (getting up): Would you mind helping me?
DEREK (assisting QUESTRA): How’s this?
QUESTRA: Can you think of another way?
DEREK: Oh, I see: you want me to help you catch some fish.
QUESTRA: Does my hunger show?
DEREK: About as much as my thirst for knowledge.
QUESTRA: Are you satisfied now with the scene you’re in?
DEREK: Yes, even if others might say I’d made it up. Let’s go get a bite to eat.
(Curtain comes down as DEREK and QUESTRA exit. A brief intermission only.)