VI. FATHER & SON #2 

 THE STUDY 

James

Henry​

James

Henry

James

Henry

James

Henry

James

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James

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James

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James

Henry

 

Jessica

Henry

Jessica

Henry

Jessica

Henry

Jessica

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Jessica

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Jessica

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Jessica

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Jessica

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Jessica

Henry

 

Jessica

Henry

Jessica

Henry

(JAMES, at a run, enters a spot.)

 

(Ecstatic) Father, come quick, you’ve got to see this, you won’t believe it!

 

(HENRY, writing in his study, draped in a blanket again.)

 

Not now, please, James, I’ve more urgent things that need attending…

 

But you’ve got to come now, or else you’ll miss it! I found Polaris, like you said, although the clouds were very bad /

 

James, please…

 

At first I thought my lens at fault, too much grease on the cloth though I took care not to smudge it, I swear, but the eyepiece was clear when I checked, so it’s the sky that’s not right /

 

Have a mind, James, I must take down these notations with exceeding care or else the whole experiment is wasted.

 

But father…

 

The solution was applied with no change to the chamber, and yet somehow the charge remains insufficient to revive. Could the problem be voltage? Could the chamber withstand current past permissible means?

 

Father, please…

 

No, I couldn’t dare – to exceed the threshold would spell disaster, the circuits would not stand it. The Homunculus would fail. The force… catastrophic. There remains something I cannot see. The method should have worked. The method must have worked…

 

Father, you must come see!

 

What? What is it I must see?

 

Father, please – the stars are falling!

 

(A beat.)

 

No, James. The stars are governed by a force of enviable permanence. They do not, though they may wish it, fall…

 

They do, across Ursa Minor! Stars descending in darts of blue and green, royal red and crimson! Tim said I must be lying but he saw them too, I made him look – hurry now, father, hurry, you must come with me now!

 

(Suddenly) Haven’t I done enough for you already? Have I not begged myself into debt, bankrupt my own name, torn the brilliance of my mind into tattered fragments for you – for you? No, James, what I must is no concern of yours, even were the very stars to fall, the world to end, or you and every precious thing be blown to smithereens! (JAMES, chastised, begins to retreat) James, wait… Please, James… (JAMES has gone)

 

I didn’t…

 

Surely he must know I didn’t mean this – for any of this…

 

Tell me he knows?

 

The solution was sound. It should have worked.

 

This means nothing. All of this. It means nothing.

 

Did any of us say it didn’t?

 

I will have him back.

 

You have us both already. Here (touching his head), and here (his heart)… Isn’t that enough?

 

Enough? Ha! What do I have that won’t vanish with waking? Dreams can’t be quantified, nor measured, nor contained! And memories? Memories fade…

 

As does the spring. The sunrise. The scent of rose perfume…

 

Nature’s method is to fade. All that Nature labours to birth must wither in the fullness of time. It is a cruelty I will not stand.

 

You speak as one somehow apart from nature.

 

Of course! Am I not a modern man? Am I not made in God’s own image - an Englishman, to boot? Nature is mine to bend by rights.

 

Granted on whose instruction? Not God’s, surely. Even in his grander gestures, that seems too wild a virtue to concede.

 

God’s instruction? No. I claim it on the broken backs of every man who went before me.

 

Seems a pitiful thing to behold, this line of broken men.

 

They are Prometheans of their own design, burned by their own hand. Pity us not. Pity instead the women they scorched along the way. Their choice was made without consent.

 

There’s no shame in holding a memory, you know, even if it’s meant to fade. If I, too, must /

 

No. Nature’s wrath I will not allow, nor God’s grand design.

 

And who are you to stand in its way?

 

Have I not done so already?

 

(A beat.)

 

At least permit yourself to hold a kinder memory.

 

These are the ones that return to me the most – the ones of regret.

 

I should have gone with him. It would have been a simple thing, to put down my pen and to join him in the yard. But the work would not wait. It has ever been so. And for all it ruled my thoughts so completely in that moment, I could not now for any earthly prize recall what required such attention. Whatever it was, whatever calculation that so consumed my thoughts… gone, like so much empty space.

 

And yet the shame in his face, as I send him away… I recall as clear as my hands.

 

Why did I bring you back?

 

Whatever you did, you did it out of love.

 

The worst things man has yet conceived have been done out of love.

 

I still love you, Jessica. I love both of you, with all my heart.

 

Then why won’t you let us go?

 

(A beat.)

 

I still have too much hope.

 

(HENRY returns to writing. REBECCA watches him. Lights go down.)

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