By Sha’Kara Wyatt
Adapted from the poem The Quiet World by Jeffrery McDaniels
Lights up on MAN and WOMAN sitting in their apartment living room.
In an effort to get people to look into each other’s eyes more, and also to appease the mutes, the government has decided to allot each person exactly one hundred and sixty-seven words, per day.
Can you believe this? One hundred and sixty-seven words per day. This is an outrage! Can this be stopped? I can call one of those rebellion promoting groups. Hmm, the ACLU! They must have something to say about this. Dear? Why aren’t you talking?
(Hesitant to answer) I don’t want to waste any words. (JANNY starts doing hands signs to represent seven in order to show THEO she wasted seven words)
What are you doing with your hands, Janny? Tupac? Five-pac. Seven? W? Seven W? Janny ,you’re making no sense. Oh, seven words. Ah ,who cares. This system like I all the rest, will fail. Nothing good can come out of this.
When I leave him he will be alone with no one to talk to. He attempts to call me everyday yet I have no words to say. I just sit and admire his use of language and how he loves me.
Maybe this will be good for us. Less talk and more connection on a spiritual level. Plus I leave for Boston tomorrow. Promise me you’ll be careful until I return?
Only because I love you. (THEO and JANNY kiss)
THEO is sitting on his bedside preparing to call JANNY
Late at night, I call my long distance lover, proudly say I only used fifty-nine words today. I saved the rest for you.
It’s been two weeks since you left. I miss you to bits, my love. I’ve been following the system very well. When the phone rings I put it to my ear without saying hello, I point to chicken soup on the menu instead of asking for it. I’m adjusting just for you. Why did you have to go away? I’m guessing you have run out of words. The 98 I saved for you will soon come to an end as well. Did you save any words at all, even enough for me to hear your voice. Just one?
I love you. ( JANNY and THEO listen to each other breathe for a few moments then go to sleep.)
Sometimes I pretend I’m out of words. Not because I don’t care but because I’m unsure of what to say. He’s always so sweet and my heart isn’t there yet.
THEO and JANNY are in different locations. They are sitting down next to bed where their phones are.
(THEO Picks up the telephone and calls JANNY)
Hello my love .(waits for response) Nothing but air tonight? ( smiles)
When she doesn’t respond, I know she’s used up all her words, so I slowly whisper I love you thirty-two and a third times. After that, we just sit on the line and listen to each other breathe.
He is so sincere when he tells me he loves me. I wish I could be the same. He tells me every day as I listen and sob silently. My job uses so many; I wish I could save a few for him but whatever pays the mortgage. He understands that one day I’ll be on a plane waiting to arrive in his arms again, waiting to see him and open my mouth, waiting to say everything I wanted to say while I was away.
I saved half of my words today so you can remember me as you drift off to slumberland. I will be very careful with what I say. (Whispering) I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love— (THEO stops to admire the way JANNY breathes) you. (THEO and JANNY get in their beds and lay listening to each other breathe.)
So today I walked into composition class thinking I’d get yelled at about how bad my composition recording was last week but… we got to listen to our recordings and mine came out pretty good! I never knew I could actually compose music. It gives me such a content feeling to know that I composed this music and it’s mine. I was scared to take this class in the beginning of the year because I thought I couldn’t keep up but now I see that it’s just a building experience. I can’t believe the process either… It took me a couple months to put together a 3 and a half minute piece consisting of four movements. I called it “Sounds by the Pier.” It basically emphasizes the.. sounds by the pier. From the main street (first movement), to the dock (second), the end of the dock (third), and then back to main street (fourth). In the first movement, I wrote for trumpet and stand up bass. I was really inspired by a few pieces, i.e. “Song for my Father” -Horace Silver, “Autumn Leaves” -Joseph Kosma, and “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” -Otis Redding. So I based this movement on those songs… mixed up all of them into a minute long movement. At first I thought the trumpet would clash with the bass but it sounded soooo good. You really hear the “main street” music. Now the second movement was a completely different tone. I used piano and cello to convey a water-like sound, just like you hear when you begin to walk onto the dock. It’s quiet and relaxing and melancholy and the same time. I used rolling triplets and two against three rhythm to really emphasize water. The third movement consisted of vocal (alto) and piano. It was kind of weird rhythmically because I’m not accustomed to writing for vocal so I wrote weird half triplet-y things. Basically it’s about how you reach the end of the dock and all the sounds of the main street go away. It’s just you and the water, the birds, and your memories. The singer sings of her memories and how they have followed her into the pier. Weird, I know. But as we transition into the fourth movement, which is just solo piano, it starts a faster tempo. I named this movement “A New Perspective” because after a time of thinking over memories, you’re bound to gain a new perspective. The theme of the first movement then returns, indicating we are back on main street. Then it all resolves.
Overall, I’m just SUPER proud of this piece because it’s my first legit composition and idk… I was really inspired by a lot of jazz styles and I incorporated it into my piece. Trust me, jazz is NOT easy to compose. It sounds simple but simplicity is deceiving.
In an effort to get people to look
into each other’s eyes more,
and also to appease the mutes,
the government has decided
to allot each person exactly one hundred
and sixty-seven words, per day.
When the phone rings, I put it to my ear
without saying hello. In the restaurant
I point at chicken noodle soup.
I am adjusting well to the new way.
Late at night, I call my long distance lover,
proudly say I only used fifty-nine today.
I saved the rest for you.
When she doesn’t respond,
I know she’s used up all her words,
so I slowly whisper I love you
thirty-two and a third times.
After that, we just sit on the line
and listen to each other breathe.
Where have my friends gone to?