The setting is a boat in the Coral Ocean, about 3 hours off the coast of Cairns, Australia.
JQ: a two-year-old boy who has blonde hair and a distinct penchant for doing everything himself. “I do” is his favorite phrase.
JARED: a determined PhD student; becomes very concerned about wasting time if he takes more than a half hour doing anything besides reading; friendly, personable, adventurous. Looks at the moment like he’s survived a year in the wilderness with a wild beard and fluffy curls down to his shoulders.
ANNIKA: A harried mother; quiet; hasn’t much of her own to contribute. Very devoted to JQ and JARED
RUBY: an Irish girl out traveling Australia before going back to the confines of university in Ireland
A HIPPIE AMERICAN COUPLE: complete with unshaven legs and armpits, long hair, and an endearing idealism
TWO DANISH GIRLS: who, despite being beach volleyball professionals, promptly become seasick and look like death; they say nothing, only uttering a few groans here and there.
THE BOAT CREW
SCENE I: The Edge of the Boat
ANNIKA: Yes, let’s go see baby shark!
They make their way out of the boat to where enthusiastic snorkelers are putting on their masks and flinging themselves into the sea to look at the corals and fishes. Paddling around with their red life-jackets and colorful pool noodles, they look like a swarm of enthusiastic puppies let out for the day to see some sights.
JQ: chatters enthusiastically I see baby dark, Mama! I swim, Mama! I see baby dark, Mama!
ANNIKA: Yes, baby, let’s get ready! Can you put your mask on?
JQ: I dit, Mama! Sitting at the edge of the boat, with their feet dangling off, they prepare to go snorkeling
ANNIKA: Ok, JQ, let’s put your mask on.
JQ: gets clingy No mask. Pushes it away and howls
ANNIKA: Do you want to see baby shark?
JQ: No baby dark!
ANNIKA: Do you want to swim?
JQ: No swim!
BOAT CREWPERSON: to JQ Can I help you put your mask on?
JQ: No mask! Clings to ANNIKA and wails loudly. Sighing, ANNIKA gets up and EXITS with JQ
SCENE II: After Diving
JARED: Scuba diving was intense! That was the scariest thing I’ve ever done!
ANNIKA: What, really? But I thought you liked adventurous things
JARED: Yes! If something goes wrong, you can’t just swim back to the surface or you’ll destroy your ears. Plus, they made me go underwater like 15 minutes before everyone else was ready so I was just waiting there wondering if they’d forgotten about me.
ANNIKA: But were you able to see the coral and the fish?
RUBY (the Irish Girl), butting in: I saw, like, some huge clams. They were about the size of a dinner plate. Oh, and there were some really beautiful fish.
JARED: To be honest, I was more focused on not dying than on the fish.
ANNIKA: So, you won’t be going back?
JARED: Snorkeling is so much more fun, and you don’t feel like you’re going to die.
ANNIKA: Well, I do, but I just have to remember to breathe and then it’s not so bad.
JARED: Yes, but you’re at the top of the water already, not stuck underneath it!
SCENE III: The Way Home
Everyone is exhausted from their full day of seasickness and happy-puppy snorkeling. Sitting on the top deck of the boat, people begin to talk.
JARED: (to EAGER HIPPIE MALE) So, where are you from?
EHM: Oh, we’re from the US.
JARED: Oh really, where?
EAGER HIPPIE FEMALE: Florida, actually. Have you heard of St. Petersburg? It’s kinda cool and artsy. Where are you all from?
ANNIKA: Well, I’m from Colorado and he’s from Oregon.
EHF: Oh, Colorado. We loved Boulder. It’s a great little town.
JARED: So what are you doing in Australia?
EHF: Well, we were getting a little tired of provincial American life and wanted to learn more about the world. So we’re taking a year to travel around and see the world.
ANNIKA: Oh, really? So what have you seen so far?
EHF: (giggles a little) Well, we’ve actually been traveling for six months already. We started in Hawaii…I know it’s still America, but it’s different enough.
EHM: And then we came to Australia. We’ve been living on this farm in Australia free of charge—we just had to do some work on the farm, y’know, and they’d let us stay.
EHF: So, when we finish in Australia, we’re going to go to Bali, and then if we have time, we want to see Cambodia, Vietnam, maybe Thailand….
EAGER HIPPIE MALE: Y’know, I just really want to help people. There’s so many people out there, like, y’know, in pain, or in need of money, or stuff, or advice. I want to help them all.
Gradually, people fall asleep or stop talking: Eager Hippies embrace, having previously snogged to their hearts’ content, and fall asleep with his head on her shoulder. The boat becomes quiet as, exhausted from their day of swimming, people wait to get home.