“If Only We Knew”, An Original Scene By Me

Suicide prevention is a topic very close to my heart.  That’s why this year, when my English teacher asked us to write a dramatic scene in the form of a play, I got this brilliant idea.  Of course, I am still in high school and wasn’t sure how well my scene would be received by my teacher, but the idea I got was one I knew I needed to write.

I spent the next hour writing the scene, editing, and crafting it.  By the time I finished, I knew I’d written something amazing, and if he didn’t like it, oh well.

I got the assignment for the rough draft back today, and got a 100.  Yes, my rough draft got a 100.  All I had to do was resubmit it for the final draft.  Today I wanted to share with you the scene that I wrote.  The scene is titled “If Only We Knew”.

***

(The scene begins with muffled cries throughout the funeral home. As the families stand from their chairs and exit the room, only four teenagers remain. They are sitting in the front row.)

KENDRA

I can’t believe she’s really gone.

PEYTON

It’s so strange. Just last week everything seemed fine. Then she’s gone.

BEVERLEY

That’s the problem, guys. Everything wasn’t fine. We didn’t know.

ALLEN

Yes, but we should have. We were her best friends. And Peyton, you were her boyfriend. Did you not notice that anything was off?

PEYTON

(More aggressive this time) I told you! Everything seemed fine. We were talking about college and what life would be like once we left this place. I had no idea she would have done this to herself.

ALLEN

You’re right, man. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that.

KENDRA

We know that, Allen. When I got the call… (pauses) I didn’t think it was true. I was the last person to see her alive and I just feel somewhat responsible.

BEVERLEY

Don’t say that, Kendra! It’s nobody’s fault. She was hurting inside. Her mom said that Lyla struggled with depression for the last few years. Lyla didn’t tell anyone—not even her extended family. She wanted to keep it under wraps.

PEYTON

But why? Did she think we would treat her differently?

KENDRA

(Kendra wipes tears from her eyes, and her voice began to crack.) Possibly. You know how she is. I mean, was. She seemed like a really happy person. I guess she just didn’t want anyone to know.

ALLEN

I hate feeling like we could have done something to help, you know?

BEVERLEY

Like Kendra said, she was too happy. At least she pretended to be. Do you remember last year when my parents got divorced? Lyla was the one who was taking me out to movies, getting me out of the house. She really helped me through that time in my life.

KENDRA

(Smiling) I remember. You kept complaining about how you wanted to be miserable and she wouldn’t let you.

ALLEN

(Laughing) She really did do that. It was like all she wanted to do was help people. When I first came out of the closet freshman year and people made fun of me for it, she was the one who told them off. What were her exact words?

PEYTON

I believe she told them something about how homophobes are often the ones that are secretly gay.

KENDRA

Oh yeah! And she got called into the principal’s office for using some very profane words.

ALLEN

Peyton, wasn’t that also the day she met you?

PEYTON

Yes, actually. It was. I got called into the principal’s office for fighting this guy who was making fun of my sister. Breaking his nose probably didn’t help. But when I got there, Lyla was putting her foot down about you, and I don’t know. It was the first time I ever really thought about dating someone.

BEVERLEY

She was to into you, too!

KENDRA

Long before that day. She’s had a crush on you since middle school.

(There was a long pause once Kendra realized what she said. This time she couldn’t hold in her tears, and her sobs ring throughout the room.)

BEVERLEY

It’s okay. It’s going to take some getting used to. Talking about her in the past tense just feels wrong.

PEYTON

It does. But we have to be strong. You all know that. Lyla would probably chew us out if she knew we were feeling sad right now.

KENDRA

Do you think she knows?

PEYTON

Knows what?

KENDRA

That we feels sad right now.

BEVERLEY

I don’t know. That’s a good question. I’ve always believed in the idea of Heaven, but never really thought about it beyond that. This is the first major death in my life.

ALLEN

I’m not really sure what I believe. I know Lyla had faith. She believed in God. Maybe not the same God everyone else believed in, but she believed that something out there created us.

PEYTON

She did. She used to love going to church. Allen, that reminds me of the day she brought us both for the first time. I wasn’t a huge believer and you were scared to even set foot in a church.

ALLEN

Of course! She was one determined girl. I swear, Lyla had to drag me in by my hair.

PEYTON

(Putting his hand on Allen’s shoulder.) She really cared about all of us. I never thought you and I would have been friends, but she brought us together. She made me more accepting of people like you.

ALLEN

Lyla made me realize that not all straight guys are jerks, either.

(The group laughs at the memory. For the first time since, Peyton wipes a tear away.)

BEVERLEY

It’s okay to cry.

PEYTON

I know…it’s just so weird. I always felt like she was the strong one in our relationship. Sometimes she had me beat on the happiness scale. Was it all just an act?

KENDRA

No. Lyla was a strong girl.

PEYTON

But if she was so strong, why did she…? (He stops, unable to say it out loud.)

ALLEN

We all know what she did, man. You can say it.

PEYTON

I just want to know…if she was so strong, why did she kill herself?

(The scene goes dark, and a spotlight shines on Lyla. She is wearing she white dress she was buried in, and her look is grim.)

LYLA

My friends are watching. I can see them as they sit together, trying their best not to cry. They’re doing it for me. What they don’t know is why. They don’t know why I did this.

(She begins pacing around the stage, as if she can’t stand still.)

The truth is that I don’t even know. Something was terribly wrong with me. Every day I felt like I was walking on eggshells, but I put a smile on for my friends. I loved my friends with everything inside of me, and I didn’t want them to know that the strong, happy, courageous Lyla they all thought I was didn’t exist. I was hurting. Every day I woke up was a struggle. Pretending was the only way to make it through the day. When I realized my meds weren’t working, I had to pretend. If medication couldn’t help me, what could? My mom was ashamed of my depression and asked me not to tell a soul besides the doctor, so I didn’t.

(LYLA’s cries become louder.)

Didn’t she understand? No! My mother never understood the pain I struggled with EVERY SINGLE DAY! Dad couldn’t even look at me and thought that I was faking my depression. Except it was just the opposite. I faked my smiles and my happy go-lucky way of life. I faked having courage. I dragged Peyton and Allen along to church with me, when I myself wasn’t even sure there was a God. Would any loving God let their child feel so terrible?

Every day I looked in the mirror and felt like I wasn’t good enough. Every day I went to school and felt like my grades weren’t good enough. My friends would compliment me on my good grades, but B’s weren’t good enough. I needed perfection, which I knew in my heart was unattainable.

(She drops to her knees.)

So that’s why I did it. But now, I only wish they could have known.

(The light goes dark and the scene fades away.

The funeral home comes back into view, and KENDRA,PEYTON, ALLEN, and BEVERLEY are pondering PEYTON’S question.)

KENDRA

Something inside was tormenting her. Something that made her feel as though she couldn’t take it anymore.

ALLEN

Shows how good of friends we were. We couldn’t even tell.

(MRS. NELSON steps down the aisle and stands beside the seat where the PEYTON, KENDRA, ALLEN, and BEVERLEY sit.)

MRS. NELSON

I couldn’t tell either.

(Startled, the four turn to look at her.)

PEYTON

Mrs. Nelson! We thought you left.

MRS. NELSON

I couldn’t leave. Not with my daughter here all alone. I didn’t realize you four had stayed behind.

(MRS. NELSON sits next to them.)

How are you all feeling?

PEYTON

We were just talking about our memories of your daughter.

MRS. NELSON

I overheard. And I just wanted to let each of you know that it is not your fault. If it’s anyone’s fault, it’s mine.

KENDRA

Why do you say that?

MRS. NELSON

I knew she was struggling. As I told you, I knew that she was fighting a long battle with depression. Of course, I thought I was helping her when I told her not to tell anyone. I just had the best interest at heart and didn’t want her to be hurt or abandoned by your four. She really needed you.

(She pauses but none of them say a word.)

The truth is, Lyla was struggling with more than just depression. The doctor was going to have her evaluated for a personality disorder. Unfortunately, when Lyla’s medication seemed to be working, the doctor assumed that there was just a chemical imbalance in her brain. Upon having her suicide investigated, I found her journal. As a mother, even thought she’s gone, I knew…I knew it was wrong to look, but I just wanted to know the truth. I wanted to know why my little girl would have been hurting so badly as to commit suicide. So I read it. (Crying) She was pretending to be happy so her father and I wouldn’t be ashamed of her.

PEYTON

So it’s true. She really was putting on a show.

KENDRA

What was wrong with her?

MRS. NELSON

We believe it was borderline personality disorder. She also struggled with perfectionist. She thought she was never going to be good enough.

ALLEN

That’s terrible. But she was so smart.

KENDRA

And beautiful.

BEVERLEY

And courageous.

PEYTON

If only we knew the truth.

(The scene goes black.)

***

As a message to my readers, if you are feeling suicidal, please call 1-800-237-855 to contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.  You are not alone.

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