The Cut partial text

Copyright Holly Arsenault, 2015. All rights reserved. This text may not be reproduced or performed without explicit, written consent of the author.

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              SHE is an American woman of any racial background in her 50s or 60s.

HE is a transgender man in his late 20s who has immigrated to the U.S. from somewhere where it is not safe to be transgender. In the present day and future scenes, his accent is almost undetectable.

An American city. 2003.

Act One 

Scene 1 the second day


Yesterday morning. Saturday. She is asleep on the sofa. There is a rigid plastic hand splint the floor next to the sofa. He enters from the hallway, wearing a shirt, jeans, and bare feet. He crosses the room, passing her, and goes into the kitchen. Nothing happens for a bit—long enough for him to make a coffee. She opens one eye and lifts her head slightly, trying to see where he went. He re-enters. She quickly closes her eyes and puts her head back down. He has two coffees. He sets one down on the coffee table and keeps the other one in his hand. He stands there, staring at her. Nothing happens for a minute. He drinks his coffee. Nothing happens. Finally, She opens an eye.


HE. (Immediately) Did you sleep out here?

SHE. Hello.

HE. Did you sleep out here?

SHE. I didnt think you wanted me in there.

HE. Did you want to ask me?

SHE. I didnt think you wanted me to ask you. I didnt think you wanted me to talk to you at all.

HE. I would have preferred to sleep together.

SHE. Okay. Sorry.

HE. We lost a night.

SHE. I see. I apologize. I just didnt think you wanted to talk to me.

HE. We dont usually talk while we sleep.

SHE. So, you didnt.

HE. No.

SHE. Okay. Do you want to now?

HE. No.

Silence between them. She picks up her coffee and drinks it. He drinks his.

SHE. Can I just exp 

HE. No.

More silence

SHE. There isnt time for you to be angry.

HE. I know exactly how much time there is.

SHE. Nobody does.

HE. I know that its seventy-three days fewer than it would have been if youd told me in the beginning.

SHE. Told you what? I didnt know anything. And what would you have/ done differently?

HE. What possibly could have been going through your mind? What possibly did you think you were saving me from?


Are you thinking that youve done something good here? There is not anything about this thats good.

SHE. Yeah.


SHE. What do you want me to do?

HE. I want you to give me last night back.

She gestures to him to come to the sofa, and scoots back, squishing herself against the back of the couch to make room for him. She lifts up the blanket. He hesitates, but then goes over to her. He takes off his pants and lies down in front of her, spooning. She pulls the blanket over both of them. He puts his head down. She strokes his hair and kisses his head. They stay like this for a while.

SHE. You should leave.

HE. What?

SHE. You should leave right now. You should run. Thats what I would do.

HE. Fuck off. No you wouldnt.

SHE. Yes, I would. I would run at the first drop of blood on your handkerchief.

HE. Thats tuberculosis.


HE. How long have you known? For sure.

SHE. Three days.

HE. Three days.

SHE. Yeah.

HE. It took them sixty-nine days to figure it out?

SHE. It takes a lot of tests.

HE. Why didnt you tell me? Three days ago, I mean. When you knew for sure.

SHE. I was waiting for the weekend.

He gets up from the sofa.

HE. There has to be something they can do.

SHE. There isnt. Theres no treatment.

HE. There's not no treatment. There's no diseases like that anymore.

SHE. You think I'm lying to you?

HE. Just based on your wrist being messed up they decided this?

SHE. And the knives were too heavy.

HE. The knives were too heavy?

SHE. At work. All the knives felt heavier than they should have. You never notice everything being the weight it's supposed to be until it's not.


HE. What do they do for it?

SHE. Nothing.

HE. Shut the fuck up.

SHE. Nothing. I already told you this.

HE. What causes it?

SHE. I don’t— They don't know.

HE. Yes, they do.

SHE. They don't.

HE. Are you fucking— This isn't the jungle or medieval times! They know.

SHE. They don't know what causes it. They don't know how to cure it.

HE. Well, how did you catch it?

SHE. They don't know.

He stands staring at her with his face in his hand.

Will, I already told you all of this last night.

HE. Your impatience is staggering.

SHE. Im sorry.

HE. Yeah.


SHE. William? Last night, when I asked you to kill me? I meant it.