Ruby & Mitch by Emily Ward
RUBY and MITCH (two teenagers, perhaps no more than 17) are
standing around a roped-off area; above them a group of
aerialists perform dazzling tricks on silks and ropes. RUBY
is wearing eclectic clothing; her socks are wildly mismatched
and her linen jacket is wrinkled but well-cared for. MITCH is
more pristine, the lines of his careful button-down neatly
pressed. They are standing close enough to each other to
suggest comfort and tension, but far enough from each other
to suggest embarrassment.
After a moment of silence:
I – I, uh – I’m sorry, I didn’t mean –
No, no, it’s fine, I shouldn’t have –
I just… Kenna told me that you –
Well, you know Kenna. She’s always saying –
Yeah, but this time… she said
something about you and –
Uh, just that, you know… That you
wouldn’t mind being kissed.
Well, she was right –
She was right?
RUBY ignores the implication for the moment.
What girl doesn’t want to be
kissed, Mitch? … Was that all?
MITCH shakes himself slightly and gulps to regain his
And, uh, that… you wouldn’t mind
being kissed… by me.
A heavier pause now as MITCH watches Ruby’s upturned profile.
She blushes under his stare but keeps her attention on the
(with the air of
one thinking ‘f**k
Yeah. She wasn’t wrong.
This is a pleasant surprise for Mitch. His bottom lip
trembles and Ruby finally turns to look at him.
Ruby, I – I didn’t mean to overstep
a boundary, you know, earlier –
You, um. You didn’t.
So… it was OK?
RUBY gives him a small smile and surprises him further by
reaching for his hand and slowly weaving her fingers between
his. They share a smile. RUBY then turns to gaze up at the
Aren’t they beautiful?
MITCH smiles and steps closer to her, gripping her hand a
little more tightly.
Very… They remind me of birds.
Crows or sparrows?
(with a chuckle)
More like parrots.
RUBY hums and focuses on a particular aerialist who is moving
fluidly through his silk, jolting his limbs in a way that
looks akin to jumping.
That one looks like a flying
Cousin to a monkey.
RUBY laughs and looks up at him.
You’re the monkey!
I do take my bananas very
RUBY watches him for a moment with a combination of
bemusement and wonder.
You’re allowed to, you know.
I’m allowed to what?
Kiss me again.
MITCH just stares at her for a moment, his gaze lingering and
softening. Taking utmost care, he leans forward to brush his
lips against hers. RUBY and MITCH fold into each other, their
lines blurring; it becomes impossible to tell where one of
them ends and other begins.
A second later, the aerialists finish their dance. At the
sudden burst of applause, RUBY and MITCH look up, wondering
if the people are clapping for them. But when the teens
realize that they are just another part of the backdrop, they
smile at each other, lost in the silk.