Issue 7 Preview

This scene from Our House is on Fire by Fiona Murphy McCormack is Route 7 Review’s first ever published drama piece. This unique piece is only a glimpse of what we have to offer for our 7th issue. The themes of the latest issue focus on going back to your roots, cityscape, conservation, and climate change. Our issue will be published on December 3rd, 2019.  

Our House Is On Fire

 

ACT 1 SCENE 1

The Lowland family sit around a dinner table. STEPHEN and DIANE across from their daughter SYLVIA.

DIANE

Eat your greens, Sylvia.

SYLVIA

I’m not eating anything. I’m on hunger strike until you let me.

STEPHEN

Don’t be silly love. You have to go to school tomorrow. And you have to eat.

SYLVIA

What’s the point?

DIANE

Is there something going on?

SYLVIA

Yes. The protest!

DIANE

No, I mean, are you struggling with your English homework again?

SYLVIA

mumbles

Struggling to see the point.

DIANE

You aren’t. . .getting bullied, are you?

SYLVIA

No.

STEPHEN

Then what is it?

SYLVIA

I already told you about it. The protests started by Greta Thunberg? Haven’t you seen the news? Children are taking Friday off to strike for the climate crisis in the hopes that the government takes notice and changes environmental laws to protect the planet for our future.

 

STEPHEN and DIANE exchange glances of amusement.

DIANE

But love, that’s not something you can do all by yourself.

SYLVIA

I’m not. Lots of people are doing it. Even Andrew McNally who’s a litterbug. But he’s just doing it to get the day off. I want to because I care about Fridays for the Future.

DIANE

Well, do you feel as if you have to because lots of children are doing it?

STEPHEN

If all the children were jumping off a cliff, would you?

SYLVIA

dryly

I might as well.

STEPHEN

Besides, there are more important issues going on in the world. The refugee crisis. World hunger. School Shootings. Bloody massacres, Sylvia. I don’t want to sugar coat things for you but there are a lot of bad things in this world –

SYLVIA

No, Dad, I know that, of course but…

DIANE

You’ve got tests coming up. You can’t change the planet if you don’t have the grades for a science degree.

SYLVIA

But -

STEPHEN

So, you need to focus, you don’t need to skive off. You can think of other ways to help the cause.

DIANE

We aren’t so bad. We recycle. And you ride your bike to school.

SYLVIA

No. See -

STEPHEN

And we stopped using plastic straws because of Blue Planet.

DIANE

We do the best we can. But taking a day off school only affects your attendance. That wouldn’t do, would it?

STEPHEN

I don’t know what the teachers must think.

SYLVIA

They…

DIANE

You can do your little bit to save the planet around you but it’s another matter to take off school. How is it our business to -

SYLVIA

Standing from her seat.

LISTEN TO ME!

Beat.

SYLVIA

Look, I’m very sorry for shouting but it’s the only way you’ll take me seriously. Nobody is paying any attention and that is the whole point of striking. Don’t you see?

People used to say we had twelve years to change. But it’s too late now. We’ve destroyed too much already. We’re doing more damage than an asteroid smashing into the planet. The most we can do is to stop emissions as much as possible. Even that isn’t likely. But this is our home. Don’t you think it should be a clean place to live?

DIANE

You don’t even tidy your room at the best of times.

SYLVIA

That’s not the point.

STEPHEN

So, what is this protest for then exactly?

SYLVIA

The government is planning to go emission free by 2050. It’s a good step, but it’s not good enough. It’s too far away. It’s too late already in this generation, never mind the ones still to come.

DIANE

What do you think will happen?

SYLVIA

In 2050, I’ll be 43. And the people who made these laws might not even be alive anymore.

And there’s not going to be any more ice left in the arctic.

And there will be lots of species gone extinct. And the forests will burn down.

And the world will be three degrees warmer. And the oceans will have more plastic than fish in the water.

STEPHEN

Those are very scary statistics there, Sylvia, but there’s no way of knowing how true that will one day be.

Besides, the world isn’t going to fall apart because you stayed in class. We have years and years to fix these problems.

SYLVIA

tearful

Well I’m not going to wait to panic. The time is now.

She exits.

DIANE

Now look what you made her do.

STEPHEN

It’s hardly my fault, is it? When did she become a little Al Gore?

DIANE

What kind of father are you?

STEPHEN

Oh, pardon me, Mother Earth.

DIANE

Well she seems to believe what she says. Maybe we should let her strike. Especially with the Amazon on the news.

STEPHEN

Or it could be a phase. Like horses. As if the little country village school strike could make any significance.

DIANE

Do you want to tell her that? Don’t you remember being young and feeling as if one action you made could change the world?

STEPHEN

I guess. But isn’t this, I don’t know, the opposite of action? In-action?

DIANE

Look, it doesn’t make any sense to you or me, but it’s her future we are dealing with and I think we should let her decide. One day she’ll be happy she was on the right side of history. And I’m sure we can just pass it off as a tummy ache if the school calls. There’s a bug going around, we’ll tell them she’s gotten poorly from that slacker McNally kid.

STEPHEN

Calls

Sylvia? Come here, please.

Sylvia reenters.

DIANE

Love, we want you to decide how we can help you. You’re a very smart girl. What do you think you should do?

SYLVIA

I think I should protest. And if you don’t let me protest, I will protest even harder.

STEPHEN

No matter what we say?

SYLVIA

What’s the use in going to school, if you aren’t going to listen to someone who is more educated than either of you are about this?

STEPHEN

There’s no reason to be cheeky!

SYLVIA

I’m sorry.

DIANE

We used to care about the ozone layer Sylvia. And we were all very worried about it. We would’ve held our own protests. But you never hear about the ozone layer anymore.

SYLVIA

That’s because the ozone layer is healing. But only because people cared about it. They felt the same way we do about changing the climate. And you’re the one who always says things are different now and summers are too hot, and winters aren’t cold enough.

STEPHEN

I know but…

SYLVIA

What?

STEPHEN

Isn’t this part of a natural cycle of the world? It’s gone through ice ages before.

SYLVIA

No. We are causing more damage than an ice age could in a faster amount of time. Dad, no offence, but you don’t know what you’re talking about.

STEPHEN

Don’t be so smart.

SYLVIA

Being smart is what’s going to save us.

DIANE

He means not talking out of turn.

SYLVIA

It’s deeds, not words, that change the world. That’s what the suffragettes said. And they were right. Saying you recycle is a completely different thing from actually recycling.

STEPHEN

If you want to take the day off for your protest you are going to have to be a good girl.

SYLVIA

Sighs and rolls her eyes.

DIANE

Alright. Fine. That’s it.

STEPHEN

What is?

DIANE

Until we know what she’s talking about, we aren’t participating in this conversation. We don’t have a right to tell her off.

STEPHEN

What do you propose?

DIANE

That we should read. We should learn. Get informed. And then we’ll talk about turning thoughts into action with her. Has everyone got that?

SYLVIA

I think I’ll finish my dinner now. Could you pass the peas?

She sits back down with the family.

fade out

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