The room is dark. On stage right, the contours of my mom’s reclining figure is softly backlit. On center stage is Papa, under the glow of a lone spotlight, sitting at his desk, reading. He is wearing his usual bedclothes – white boxers and a white T. Against the stark dark, his figure in white looms large.
I enter from stage left. “Papa, I can’t sleep.”
“You can’t sleep? Come here.” He calls me in softly.
He plops me on his lap and reads to me from his book of poetry. I sit quietly, my eyes on the page, listening to his soft voice. I feel loved and content.
“The moon is a pale yellow-orange disc
On the edge of the sea.
There is a trail of light
On the shimmering waters
Leading to the moon…
Your eyes cast a soft beam on the dark
Waters of my soul.
I shall trace the trail of light
Into your innocent heart.”
Changing his tempo, he says to me, “I know what! Let’s play blackjack.”
Papa started dealing out cards, face open, adding as he went along. I couldn’t get it. Math is, and always has been, a mystery to me. I’m highly literate but I’m sadly innumerate, innumeracy being the inability to deal with simple mathematical concepts.
When Papa sensed I wasn’t catching on, he said, “I know what! Why don’t I teach you how to write your name?”
Papa reached for a yellow pad and pencil. I was still plopped on his lap, and now he took my right hand in his, positioned the paper under our hands, held the pencil between our fingers, and then we started scribbling.
After about three tries I announced proudly, boldy, and triumphantly. “Okay, Papa, I get it now.” I pushed off his hand.
End of Act 1.