Meet the Editors: Brett Iarrobino

Brett Iarrobino is a junior studying Theatre Arts and English. This piece is an excerpt from his short play “Talking (Air)Heads,” which was originally written and performed with the Clark University Players Society‘s 4th annual 24-Hour Playfest, Play-in-a-Day 2020. The play takes a playful look at the inner life and existential dread of birthday party balloons. Read an excerpt of “Talking (Air)Heads” below!

Balloons

Talking (Air)Heads

Brett Iarrobino
GREEN
Well…where do we float to?
PINK
You know. Uh. Up.
(GREEN looks up).
GREEN
We float up?
PINK
Yeah. That’s what I just said. We float up.
GREEN
Where is up?

PINK
Oh my god it’s – it’s up, okay? It’s hard to explain because you haven’t seen it, but…it’s just “up.”
GREEN
Do we pop when we go up?
PINK
How would I know? Does it look like I’ve floated up before?
GREEN
I dunno, I don’t know even what it is!
PINK (sighs)
Alright…do you see that set of doors over there? By the table with the presents?
(PINK motions to whatever real-life doors are in the vicinity of the playing space. GREEN follows them with their gaze, then nods).
Okay, the next time those doors open, look really hard at what’s outside. That’s what up is. It’s blue and white and it’s just…I don’t know, it’s hard to explain, but it’s just there. But sometimes, we don’t pop, or deflate – they just go up . So don’t be sad, or whatever. Because there’s always up.
GREEN
Huh. Do you come back down after you go up?
PINK
What? No, that’s literally the opposite of what I just- no, okay, no when you go up, you go up. And that’s that.
GREEN
Oh.
(They ponder this fate, then decide it’s a decent alternative).
That’s much less scary than popping or deflating!
PINK
Well, I wouldn’t super get your hopes up or anything. It’s like…it’s hard to float up. Most of us don’t get out of here to do it. It’s only when someone, like, takes you out with them or whatever you wanna call it.
GREEN
“Takes you out with them.” Huh. Hey, have you ever seen one of us float up?
PINK
What? What are you-? No! No. No, no I don’t know anyone that’s floated up, I don’t know anything about that. Not firsthand, not second-hand. I don’t know why you’d ask that.
GREEN
Oh, alrighty! You just sounded like you knew about it.
(A beat. GREEN observes more birthday cuteness and gushes with laughter. PINK sits with the thought of floating up).
Hey, aren’t things great now that the ever-looming dread of an inevitable fate has been lifted off our shoulders! That wasn’t any fun! (laughs) Man is it just me, or is this party so-!
PINK
I lied.
GREEN
What did you say?
PINK
I lied. I just lied a second ago. I do know someone who floated.
GREEN
Woah, that’s cool! It must’ve been one of your hundreds of friends from all those parties, right?
PINK
Yeah.
GREEN
How fun! Did they have a name?
PINK
Perri. It was short for Periwinkle.
GREEN
That’s a pretty name! Were you guys good friends?
PINK
We were. We…we felt the same about a lot of stuff.
GREEN
Neato burrito! Hey, that’s kind of like our deal, right? Best buds, 100% agreeing on 100%
everything?
PINK (ignoring them)
It’s because she was smart. Peri was wicked smart, actually. She knew how to say shit in a way that was…so smart. I guess. Not like I ever could.
GREEN
She sounds very special. She must’ve been if she got to float up! I mean, how did that even happen?
PINK
She…There was a party. And…someone had untied her. From her chair. And she was…near the door.And sometimes, when the door opens, the air gets, like…really pissed. I dunno how else to describe it. But the door opens and everything in here gets crazy, the others, the tables. And Periwinkle was untied and she just…she just floated away.
(PINK looks over at the doors, as though they look back).
And I dunno what happened to her after that.
GREEN
She floated up.
PINK
Yeah. She floated up.
(PINK mourns their friend, sadly looking at the door. GREEN does this as well, but is unsure of what they’re looking at the door for. Finally, PINK turns their gaze back to the safety scissors, picking them reluctantly).
GREEN
Hey, those are cool! What are you doing with OH MY GOD STOP THAT!
(GREEN turns to panic as they realize that PINK is applying pressure on their balloon with them). 
PINK
Look kid, no offense, but this isn’t about you. Nor does it involve you. This is between me and-
GREEN
OH MY GOD PLEASE DON’T DO THAT.
PINK
What do you care about whether or not I actually go through with this?
GREEN
DON’T DO THAT! Don’t do that don’t do that DON’T DO THAT! Think about what your friend would say! Oh gosh, what was her name-
PINK
DO NOT bring Perri into this-
GREEN
PERIWINKLE! Perriwinkle, that’s it! Yes, PLEASE think of Periwinkle!
PINK
You idiot, that’s exactly what I’m thinking of while I’m doing this!
GREEN
But that doesn’t make SENSE! Periwinkle wouldn’t want you to pop yourself!
PINK
Do you think it matters what she wants? Do you think it matters what I want?! None of it matters because Perri is gone! She popped for all I know!
GREEN
NO! That’s not true! She just floated up!
PINK
Who gives a shit?! I’m never gonna know what happened, we’ll never know what happened! All that I do know is that she’s gone, and I’ll never see her again, and she left me alone!
GREEN
WELL YOU CAN’T POP YOURSELF!
PINK
WHY NOT?!
GREEN
BECAUSE IF YOU DO THEN YOU’LL BE LEAVING ME ALL ALONE!
(GREEN resumes their wailing/crying once again. They hardly notice that
they’ve actually made PINK relent – they put the scissors down, moved by what
they’ve said – not that they’d ever admit that).
PINK
Hey.
(They keep crying).
HEY.
(GREEN moves to sniffles, now ready to listen).
I’m not…I’m not gonna do that, okay.
GREEN
That’s a nice thing to do.
PINK
Okay.
(GREEN sniffles for a bit, then repeats their usual pattern of chilling out,
and switching their attention back to the party. But this time, they don’t seem as
amused).
GREEN
Thank you for not doing that.
(Silence. No response from PINK, who is uncomfortably avoiding eye contact).
Is that why don’t you like the parties?
PINK
What?
GREEN
The parties.
PINK
What about them.
GREEN
You said that you’ve been to a bunch. Like a dozen. And…you said you don’t really like them. You said you never really liked them.
PINK
Oh. Huh. Yeah I did say, didn’t I?
GREEN
I remember.
PINK
Your memory is getting better, like…really fast. Given how new you are to, you know…existing.
GREEN
You think so?
PINK
I think so. Well, okay, I’m not sure. The rules of our existence are incredibly loose.
GREEN
I wonder who’s fault that is.
(If a director is feeling cheeky, a pointed, 4th-wall-breaking look at the playwright wouldn’t be remiss here).
But…that’s why you don’t like the parties, right? Because of Periwinkle? And that’s why the others don’t like being around you? Like Teal and Navy?
PINK
Um…not really. Kind of, I guess. It’s some of that. But I hated the parties before the whole…before I met Perri. She hated them too.
GREEN
Okay…but why?
(A beat. PINK thinks long and hard about this question).
PINK
I don’t get them.
GREEN
You don’t get them?
PINK
I don’t get why little people want to throw little parties that celebrate the day they got blown up. That’s what a “birthday” means, y’know.
GREEN
What, the little people get blown up, too?
PINK
Maybe. I dunno how the whole process works. But I do know that whatever it is, they’re celebrating it. And it’s funny, because you think about it, and these guys have to do the whole life thing way longer than us. Because they’re only celebrating one day, right? And no one’s ever celebrating all the time, so like, there has to be one certain day out of the week, or the two weeks, or however else they string days and weeks together – there has to be some reason this one day is special, right? And the crazy part, for me at least, has always been that they…love it. They go nuts over this thing. They love this one day that’s all about getting blown up, their birthday or whatever, as if it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to them. And…I don’t know that’s like. To love why you’re here, I mean. I
don’t get that. I don’t know that I ever will. I don’t know what they’ve found that’s so great about all this, but I still haven’t found it.
(Silence. GREEN thinks about this).
GREEN
Have you been looking for it?
PINK
I never was. And definitely not since she floated up. That was the one thing she actually disagreed with me on.
GREEN
Looking for what’s great about this?
PINK
Yeah.
(More silence).
GREEN
I think…I think there’s a lot that’s great. About all of this. I think it’s great that there’s little people here laughing. And playing games. And eating pizza, and a cake with cars on it, even if cars don’t belong on a cake. And I think it’s great that there are those huge swirling things – what did you call them?
PINK
Ceiling fans.
GREEN
Ceiling fans! I think those ceiling fans are great, too. And I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m sure the up is great, too. With the blues and the whites you talked about. I’m sure I’d love the up.
PINK
You really do think it’s great?
GREEN
I do.
PINK
But…how?
GREEN
How what?
PINK
How can you just look at all that stuff and think it’s…so great ?
GREEN
I mean, you said we’re here for such a short amount of time, right? Compared to these guys? We have to find the great before…before we go. And I’m not sure why. But I just know it’s great.
(Suddenly, the door can be heard opening – GREEN dashes over to get a glimpse of “the up,” while PINK watches on, secretly quite charmed by the innocence).
The up! The up! I just saw it! I just saw it!
PINK
How was it?
GREEN
Oh man, you were right! It had blues, and whites, and…wow. It was just…just huge , really!
PINK
It’s great, isn’t it.
GREEN
Yeah. It is.
(They sigh, sadly).
I don’t know that I’ll ever get to see it.
PINK
Maybe not. But that’s how it is, right? Life’s a bitch and then you pop.
GREEN
Maybe.
(Tiny beat).
Sometimes, life’s a bitch, and you keep on floating.
(GREEN says this with a sincere, innocent smile. PINK can’t help but return it. The sound of children playing and laughing continues. Then a blackout, and silence).
THE END

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