What A Memory Looks Like (A play)

by Rachael Carnes, U.S.A.

CHARACTERS
DUMI, a rhinoceros.
KOOLA, a koala.
Characters can be played by any actor. Please just dress them simply, and like humans.

Not quite daybreak. We hear crickets quietly chirping.
A shadow crosses the forest canopy.

KOOLA
Is the owl gone?
DUMI
I think so.
KOOLA
I don’t like him.
DUMI
An opportunist.
KOOLA
Seems like all he does is hunt!
DUMI
He can’t help it?
KOOLA
But why does he have to go after marsupials like us?
DUMI
I’m not a marsupial.
KOOLA
Maybe he goes after arboreal herbivores because we’re so slow and defenseless?
DUMI
Huh?
KOOLA
Those days are over. I’m learning to box.
DUMI
A koala can’t box, mate.
KOOLA
Sure, we can! Look at this! Jab! Jab! Upper cut! Come on!
DUMI
I’m not a koala.
KOOLA
What are you talking about?
DUMI
Does a koala have one of these?
DUMI points to the big bandage across the bridge of their nose.
KOOLA
What’s that?
DUMI
Well, it used to be a horn.
KOOLA
Used to be?
DUMI
It was magnificent.
KOOLA
Can I feel where the —
DUMI
No.
KOOLA notices they’re wearing gauze mittens.
KOOLA
What are these?
DUMI
Bandages, friend. Your paws got —
KOOLA
No, they’re boxing gloves! Let’s practice: Jab! Cross! Hook! Uppercut!
DUMI
Go away.
KOOLA
Go away where? Leave the forest?
DUMI
This isn’t the forest.
KOOLA
What do you mean? I can smell eucalyptus! I hear the crickets.
DUMI
That’s just your memory.
KOOLA
Mom?
DUMI
What?
KOOLA
Mom! Her pouch. Am I back there? It was cozy — Like this.
DUMI
This isn’t that.
KOOLA
You’re such a know-it-all — where are we then?
DUMI
I don’t know. Some in-between. I’ve been trying to find the way out —
KOOLA
No, I live in the treetops. Let’s tuck into a good nook and —
DUMI
They left the lights on. And the air conditioning.
KOOLA
What’s air conditioning?
DUMI
Chilly, right at 73 degrees. Isn’t that nice?
KOOLA notices the glass edge of the enclosure, near the front row.
KOOLA
What’s this line? I can see through the air, but I can’t go through it. And who are —
DUMI
I was wondering when you’d notice them.
KOOLA
Why are they looking at us?
DUMI
I don’t know. You’ll get used to it.
KOOLA
(To the audience.) Who wants a selfie?
DUMI
You have got to chill.
KOOLA
I’m good for tourism! Right?
DUMI
No one wants a selfie with you anymore.
KOOLA
What?
DUMI
Have you looked in a mirror?
KOOLA
People wait all day in the hot sun just to hug me. I mean, I get it — I’m hecka cute!
DUMI
Come here. Look at your reflection. What do you see?
KOOLA
My — I —
DUMI
Sorry.
KOOLA
I’ll be okay, right? My fur will —
DUMI
I don’t know.
KOOLA
But why are they —
DUMI
Maybe they want to remember?
KOOLA
Remember what?
DUMI
The sound of quiet. The smell of fresh air?
KOOLA
Well, if the owl’s gone, then it’s time for my nap.
DUMI
All you do is sleep!
KOOLA
That’s not true. I also eat.
DUMI
What a winner!
KOOLA
I eat — And that keeps the balance. That’s what my mom says.
DUMI
“Mom”?
KOOLA
You don’t have a mom?
DUMI
Sure, I do — Well, I did.
KOOLA
Mine should be around here. She’s probably just —
DUMI
Oy! Bambi, how dumb are you?
KOOLA
I’m smart enough to adapt to living on practically no nutrients or water. See? Smart!
DUMI
You’re so smart: Where are we?
KOOLA
I don’t know!
DUMI
What do you see? What do you hear?
KOOLA
My brain is extra small to conserve energy, okay? But I’m figuring it out!
DUMI
Clock’s ticking.
KOOLA
What’s a clock?
DUMI
A clock is the rhythm, the driver. The need.
KOOLA
I need sleep. And food — And the water I get from leaves. Doesn’t everyone?
DUMI
Baby, it’s not that simple.
KOOLA
Don’t call me baby!
DUMI
We once were kings.
KOOLA
I’m fine just being cuddly. I don’t need to be a —
DUMI
Now it’s all costs, calculations — Power. Free shipping! Part of my body in a FedEx envelope.
KOOLA
Why did they — You know?
DUMI
Virility. Stamina? Powdered horn’s an aphrodisiac.
KOOLA
Really?
DUMI
Yup. That’s what they say.
KOOLA
But —
DUMI
The last of my kind. No pressure.
KOOLA
The last?
DUMI
This is the Hall of Memory —
KOOLA
No, this is —
DUMI
The House of Extinction.
KOOLA
I’m at home.
DUMI
We’re on display.
KOOLA
No, we’re not!
DUMI
Try to eat a leaf. I dare you.
KOOLA
It’s —
DUMI
Realistic, right?
KOOLA
And the sky?
DUMI
All acrylic paint and lighting effects. Doesn’t make sense though, a rhino and koala together.
KOOLA
No! Mom! Come get me! Help!
DUMI
She can’t hear you.
KOOLA
The Powerful Owl was flying in the night and she said run for cover but — I don’t run.
DUMI
We all have a story, kid.
KOOLA
I’d never seen it before. Red, orange — Hot as the sun.
DUMI
What does a koala know about the sun?
KOOLA
We tried to escape it, but —
DUMI
We all have to try, don’t we?
KOOLA
Try what?
DUMI
We were trying to cross the thinning ice.
KOOLA
And now?
DUMI
And now we’re here.
KOOLA
But where is here?
DUMI
We’re in sight, sound, smell. We’re in a sort of a picture book. R for rhino.
KOOLA
Who put us here?
DUMI
The people.
KOOLA
I don’t have a quarrel with them! I mean, even the owl, he’s just gotta eat, right? He can’t help it!
DUMI
One night, poachers came. They slaughtered my family and —
KOOLA
But not all people are like that!
DUMI
People borrowed against time.
KOOLA
Mom says I eat more than my share of eucalyptus? And now —
DUMI
Cheer up, kid. We’re a family now, you and me.
KOOLA
Aren’t they a family?
DUMI
Who? The people? They don’t remember how to be.
KOOLA
Maybe we can teach them!
DUMI
Tell that to the macaw, the oryx, the leopard, the orangutan, the chimp, the tiger, the sea turtle —
KOOLA
Stop!
DUMI
They’re here, too. Can’t you see them? They each have their cages, their taxidermy.
KOOLA
I saw my house on fire!
DUMI
So did the people, and they did nothing.
KOOLA
It’s not too late!
DUMI
Excuse me! Hello? Anyone? I cannot spend all of eternity trapped in here with stupid!
KOOLA
We have to warn them!
DUMI
It’s over, okay? For me, you. For all of us.
KOOLA
No.
DUMI
Well, don’t cry.
KOOLA
I’m sad.
DUMI
Try to bring up a good feeling. For me, it’s the sunrise. Feeling my weight on the earth.
KOOLA
Okay. Can I be in a tree?
DUMI
Sure. Close your eyes.
KOOLA
They’re closed.
DUMI
Now picture your home.
KOOLA
No —
DUMI
From before. Before the drought, the fires, the smoke — Can you see it?
KOOLA
It’s so green.
DUMI
Yeah, kid. It’s so green.
Lights and the sound of crickets fade.

End of play.

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