TIME: Noon, Summer
PLACE: In the middle of the water, between forest and iceberg.
AT RISE: The green of really tall cedar trees a mile away, chunks of ice in the water. Matt, a three-inch-tall mushroom, is floating on a piece of plastic. Sebastian, a six-year-old penguin, is swimming in place.
SEBASTIAN: (aside) It’s going to be difficult. I have to get 3400 fish in three days! I shouldn’t even be swimming here right now; I should be catching my fish!
MATT: I think it is time we talked about what we both know is bothering us.
(Stands straight, top turned down a little)
SEBASTIAN: What’s bothering us?
MATT: (Turns and scoots away; the plastic moves in rocking motion) You’re not even taking me seriously!
SEBASTIAN: (Grabs plastic with beak and pulls him back) I want to know what you’re thinking!
MATT: I need your help. (Moves his cap around in different directions, looking for a place to go)
SEBASTIAN: What kind of help and when?
MATT: I need your help making a plan. (slow motion, turning sideways)
SEBASTIAN: Well, I want to help you but I can’t. (pause) The other penguins are starting to question why I leave so much by myself.
MATT: I thought you were my friend! Why didn’t you tell me this sooner?
(Lays down on the plastic and curls up and shields his top)
SEBASTIAN: I didn’t think my fishing needed to involve you.
MATT: (Turns his cap) I wasn’t talking about your fishing, but I’m glad to know where I stand!
SEBASTIAN: (swimming there) I didn’t mean it like that, but I need to go… get those fish with my mouth.
MATT: You’re just going to leave me here floating on a piece of plastic, when I need your help?
SEBASTIAN: I want to help you, but I need to do this. (Looks up at sky, kicking flippers to keep floating)
MATT: (Plops down) Okay, I didn’t want to tell you, but all the other mushrooms are planning on moving tomorrow. I need to get over there today. You don’t know what it feels like to not have a family, be all by yourself.
SEBASTIAN: Why can’t you just hop through the grass, if you can learn how to swim?
MATT: Because you can’t get stepped on in the water. In the grass, there’s animals in the forest who don’t pay attention and couldn’t care less if they stepped on me. It’s frightening! It feels like I’m lifeless and nothing. It’s like when I hop on the dirt I don’t care how it feels, what it’s feeling. That’s exactly what animals feel about me.
SEBASTIAN: I’ve never looked at it this way. (Turns his head) But I have needs too. I need to get 3400 fish in three days, you’re not making it any easier by making me float here longer!
MATT: (Turns beige-ish color; puts top high, almost sideways) I’m not making you do anything! You could have left a long time ago if you wanted to!
SEBASTIAN: It’s not like I’m just catching these fish to eat! If I caught these fish and gave them to my penguin community, it would feel like I don’t have to feel guilty anymore. I’d be able to sleep at night. I’d be able to be around all the other penguins without feeling like I’m just there to take.
MATT: At least you have a community to go to! If I don’t go through the short grass today, I won’t have the chance to have a community. Where I live I’m the only mushroom. All the other fungus have things to talk to that somewhat think like them. I’m the only mushroom on this side of the forest. If I don’t get across the forest through the short grass, I will still be the only mushroom because they’re going to leave tomorrow! The cricket told me. You’re a bigger animal, so going through short grass would be nothing to you. But being a short mushroom and going through short grass and being seen by the other animals is a big deal for me. All I’m asking for is help to make a plan.
SEBASTIAN: I’m not trying to be rude or anything, but it’s not my fault you’re so small, or that you’re so afraid of other animals, or that you can’t make a plan on your own. There—I said it!
MATT: This conversation is over! (Hops in the water and spins, angry)
SEBASTIAN: (Opened eyes wide) This mushroom’s crazy! I can’t believe this mushroom just jumped off the piece of plastic!
MATT: I don’t need anybody’s help. I don’t need the plastic, I don’t need Sebastian… I don’t even need my cricket. I’m going to spin around Sebastian in circles—that will show how independent I am! (Pops back up)
SEBASTIAN: Are you crazy? You’ve never jumped off anything! You could have flipped and not been able to come back up by yourself. What’s wrong with you?
MATT: Why didn’t you teach me how to flip in the first place?
SEBASTIAN: I guess teaching you how to swim wasn’t enough, then? It’s not that easy to teach a mushroom how to swim—you have to spin.
MATT: Well, swimming won’t help me when I have to jump off something, because you didn’t teach me how to flip.
SEBASTIAN: Well, I couldn’t teach you how to flip with you ignoring me. I would swim every day to the spot where I met you for swimming lessons and you were not there. And not once did you swim out to my iceberg for swimming lessons, so this is not my fault!
MATT: That’s true—I never came out to the iceberg for swimming lessons, because I didn’t think I could make it that far. But I don’t believe you came out to the forest either. Because we were fighting and I didn’t think you would swim over to teach me how to swim if you weren’t talking to me. So I never came to the spot because it made me sad that we were fighting. (Gets back on piece of plastic).
SEBASTIAN: I told you I would teach you how to swim, and even though we were fighting I still came.