What is being uncovered?

Who is doing the uncovering?

And what's at the core of the onion?

 

ARARAT: A SCENE

By Jon Adam Ross

 

A woman, dressed in the clothing of an ancient biblical nomad, stands alone in the sand. Every now and then she looks around her in all directions. It doesn't seem like she is stressed, but she is certainly not comfortable. She removes a canvas waterbag from the sack she wears on her shoulder. She opens it and takes the tiniest sip with great intentionality. She closes the bottle, puts it back in the bag, and resumes looking around. Another woman enters. She is dressed in modern clothes, wearing a backpack, and staring at her iPhone as if it is leading her steps. She does not see the first woman and bumps into her.

BET

Eek! Sorry.

 

ALEPH

Impressive.

 

BET

I'm sorry?

 

ALEPH

I said it's impressive.

 

BET

I got that. But I don't know / what
 

ALEPH

/ There isn't an object in sight. Not a dune, not a marking or a stone or even a sandcrab.

 

BET

And?

 

ALEPH

And you still manage to walk right into me as if you didn't see I was here.

 

BET

I wasn't looking up, I mean I was trying to, like, I mean...

ALEPH
(laughing)

I'm not upset. Just impressed.
 

BET

Yeah, well, I'm, like, lost.

ALEPH

Aren't we all?

BET

Um, no?

ALEPH

You look lost.

 

BET

I'm not, like, lost lost. I just got left behind by my group and I'm trying to catch up to them.

 

ALEPH

Me, too! Are we with the same group?
 

BET

Um...I don't know? You don't look, I mean, I don't think you're in my group. I don't remember you and I would... 

(looking her up and down)

...remember you. Also, I don't think you fit the criteria.

 

ALEPH

Criteria?

BET

It doesn't matter. 

(checking phone again) 

Ugh, I have no bars!

 

ALEPH

Isn't it great!?

 

BET

What?

ALEPH

Freedom!

 

BET

What are you talking about?

 

ALEPH

What are YOU talking about?
 

BET
(showing ALEPH her phone) 

I have no BARS!

ALEPH

I hear you about the bars. It's so freeing, to finally be out of that cage.

 

BET

Ew, you were in a cage?

 

ALEPH

Metaphorically, we all were, right? I mean it was slavery after all.

 

BET

Like, sex slavery? OMG, did you work for Jeffrey Epstein? I mean you're a bit old for that, I guess, but some men must like mature / women.

 

ALEPH

/ I'm sorry, were you not a slave?
 

BET

Me? Ew, never!

 

ALEPH

So are you...Egyptian?

 

BET

No, but THANK YOU! I get that a lot because of my skin. My mom is French, so maybe that's...? Are YOU Egyptian?

 

ALEPH

No, heavens no! They were our enslavers.
 

BET

Oh. An Egyptian sex ring. Got it.
 

ALEPH

Not a sex ring. We were in construction.
 

BET

Well that explains the- 

(pointing up and down at ALEPH's wardrobe)
 

ALEPH

If you're not with us, and you're not with them, who are you with?

 

BET

Well if you must know, I've been quarantining from the pandemic for so long I signed up for a singles safari for people in their 20s with a BMI under 15 who've been vaccinated and passed a stringent facial symmetry exam. But, like, I was on a camel ride with this really good looking guy and I was holding on to his shirt to stay steady, but he was super sweaty so I had to stop holding on and then I fell and I guess he didn't hear me because he kept going on the camel and we were at the back of the line anyway and now I'm just, like, stuck here, and I have no bars.

 

ALEPH

Pandemic? I didn't realize the plagues reached beyond Egypt. God is great!

 

BET

I don't know about great. It's been a really inconvenient year. And I got mask acne!

ALEPH

I'm sorry to hear that.

 

BET

I know. You're so sweet. Do you, like, live here?
 

ALEPH

In this very spot! 

(indicating the emptiness around her) 

Do you like my tent? I planted the peonies myself. And the birdfeeders bring bluejays every afternoon!

 

BET

Wow, you don't have to be, like, ironic.
 

ALEPH

Sarcastic.

 

BET

Whatever.

 

ALEPH

We were slaves in Egypt, and thanks to some miraculous intervention, and our own ingenuity, we escaped a couple of months ago, and have been wandering in the wilderness toward a new land where we can make a new home as free people.

 

BET

Wow, um, okay. Sounds pretty epic. Do you know if that place has wifi? Because my gps...

(looking down at her smartphone which she's been holding and glancing at distractedly the entire time)


ALEPH

I'm trying to connect here.

BET

Yeah, I hear you. Me too. 

(looking at phone again)