THE FOLLOWING TAKES THE FORM OF AN AUDIO PLAY, suitable for commercial satellite radio entertainment or perhaps as a practice piece for the students in a high school drama class. Or, it could be read between a father and his young daughter in the privacy of their own home, as a sort of "bonding exercise". No props, sound effects, or narration are required, although actors may find they deliver their lines more authentically if they try to act out the scene in real time. This play could also be adapted for television as an "After School Special", dealing as it does with adolescent children of divorce and their challenges. Enjoy.
Melissa, a young teenaged girl. Best cast with a female voice, aged 13-14.
Dave, Melissa's father. Best cast with an adult male voice. Dave is 40-ish in age.
DAVE: Umm, Honey ... there's something important we need to discuss. I need a little favor.
MELISSA: Seriously, Dad? Right now?
DAVE: Yes, Sweetheart. I've been putting it off all day, and since it concerns tomorrow, I can't delay any longer.
MELISSA: Sounds like something big, Dad. Maybe we should have talked at dinner, instead of now, when you're already tucking me in. Should I get out of bed? Put my robe on?
DAVE: No, no. You're fine. Lay back ... that's a girl. Actually, Honey, I waited until now for a reason. This is probably the best time to ask you.
MELISSA: What is it, Dad? Is something wrong?
DAVE: Well, that's for you to decide, really. Okay, please hear me out. Let me get comfortable first ... there. Okay ... First let me ask you, how do you like the new house?
MELISSA: It's awesome, Dad. And a big surprise. It's huge. I didn't think you'd be able to afford anything like this after the divorce.
DAVE: Exactly. This is an exclusive, private and gated community. Even before the divorce settlement, I couldn't have afforded this place under normal circumstances. But I'm really glad you like it.
MELISSA: I do Dad. But what do we need to talk about, and ... why ... right ... now?"
DAVE: Uhh ... there we go ... Well, Melissa, I can afford this place because this is a special community. Have you noticed anything about the neighbors you have met?
MELISSA: They seem nice. And at least there are a couple of girls my age, so I s'pose I'll make friends easy. Haven't met any boys yet.
DAVE: Have you noticed anything about ... about their parents?
MELISSA: Well, they seem nice, too. Although I've only met a couple of girls, and I haven't met either of those girl's moms yet. Met both their dads, though, and they seemed cool.
DAVE: You probably won't meet any moms. You see, this exclusive community consists only of divorced fathers. On top of that, they all have full or joint custody of daughters. Daughters ranging in age from a little younger than you, say 12 or so, through quite a bit older, 17 or even 18. Mostly, though, they're girls like you, still in middle school looking forward to high school.
MELISSA: That's kind of weird, just like us. I wonder if...
DAVE: I'll get to that. Yes, it is kind of weird, but at least you see how we fit in – a recently divorced father with full custody of his daughter. It's why we were approved to buy here, and how we could afford it. The community adjusts the price for its members based on means.
MELISSA: Jeez, that's pretty cool. How did this happen?
DAVE: We were invited to move here by Bob Howard.
MELISSA: What! Mom's lawyer?"
DAVE: Woah, Honey. Relax! Just let me get back ... there. Do you want me to continue, or do you want me to stop, turn out the light, and let you go to sleep?
MELISSA: Sorry, Daddy. Keep going. And keep explaining.
DAVE: Bob Howard is not a bad guy. In fact, he's a great guy. You know your mother was contesting custody. Bob was of course helping her. He had a strategy and some material – evidence – to present to the judge that would have assured that you would have had to live with your mom, and probably had little or no visitation with me.
MELISSA: Oh Daddy, that would have been awful! But that's why I hate Mr. Howard!
DAVE: Well, Bob Howard came to see me. He offered me a deal, and I took it. He said he'd make sure your mom didn't get custody, and in fact that she got minimum visitation. He also made sure that we were left with most of the money. Both of these things would be viewed as being highly unethical – probably illegal – on his part. So he did us a big favor, and took a risk. We have to keep his secret, okay Honey?
MELISSA: Sure Dad. I can keep secrets. You know that!
DAVE: Good. Now in exchange for doing this, he insisted that we move into this house, in this community.
MELISSA: That's the deal? Sounds like we win both times, Dad.
DAVE: Well, I think so, and I hope you'll still think so when I tell you the rest. Bob Howard lives here, too. Just down the street.
DAVE: Yep. Along with his thirteen-year-old daughter, Ashleigh, and his sixteen-year-old daughter Hannah.
MELISSA: Oh ... don't think I met either of them yet.
DAVE: Yeah ... but you will. I have. I certainly hope you like Ashleigh, the thirteen-year-old ... I think she'll be over here a lot. And you did see Hannah, the sixteen-year-old. She's the one who met me with the keys when we first arrived.
MELISSA: That was Bob Howard's daughter? She looked like she was very pregnant. I would have thought a fancy lawyer's daughter would stay out of that kind of trouble.
DAVE: Actually, Bob's okay with it. In fact, he told me he bought her a new car when she first told him about it. Melissa, we have to remember not to be too judgmental. We all have glass houses, you know, even us.
MELISSA: I know, Dad, and I'm not going to judge her. How a family decides to handle things is their own business, you know that I am a firm believer in that.
.... There is more of this story ...