The Unplayed Keys By Taylor Tillery and Autumn Hollis

My daughter told me last night this is the correct title and also said friend Autumn Hollis collaborated with the play. There have been many new readers on the site lately and I wanted to welcome you all with the reason that I be. I’m very critical of writers who don’t seem to understand how their work affects us all and this is why: I do this for my children,  my closest family and lastly, my friends. Everyone who knows me, knows this to be true. Mizzo Jr., is in love with the arts. I feel he’s the best athlete of all my kids, but sports doesn’t serve his soul and that’s perfectly fine. My love of sports was passed to my youngest children, Gaston and Taylor Jourdan. My soul of sports is embodied in the non-stop protection of their limitless future–whatever that may be. It’s as simple as that. When the dogs inevitably come after my children (like they do with so many seeds of others) with venomous pens, I want them to be ready to burn through their argument with action. What kind of Pop would I be if I was never critical of writers who do us all a disservice? So far, my youngest two have state and district titles in multiple sports. It’s very logical to say they’ll go on to college and continue their athletic careers. I wrote a piece on Gaston and will have one forthcoming on Michael Jr. My daughter Taylor, 12, who is tearing up basketball (triple double threat with blocks), softball (will not get caught on the base paths, hits bombs and will run down everything in the field) and field hockey (scores from everywhere), wrote this play and I wanted to post it just to show others just how much the work we do affects our children. When I initially got into the game, I made sure Taylor was with me whether I was on the field or doing an interview. She seemed to enjoy journalism so I would be remiss not to pass the wisdom and knowledge I’ve collected over the past three years in hopes she’ll find her own path to success. Now, I’m not the greatest Pop by any stretch. I have so much work to do to become the best father I can be, but my soul is happy knowing that I have great children and also a great niece. My niece Aivonna is a freshman at Penn State and is doing big things that hopefully her cousins will emulate.Vonni, as we call her, is a very talented writer in her own right and I will post pieces written by her as well. Taylor’s play has nothing to do with sports. It has more to do with family struggle and how that struggle helps us transition into the successful people we all aspire to become. I must note that my edits were at a bare minimum. This was all my daughter. A poem I wrote for Taylor entitled Daughter Daddy Eyes follows her play. Click the pics for relevant music clips. Thanks for reading.

The Unplayed Keys

By Taylor Tillery and Autumn Hollis

SCENE 1

(NAOMI is just walking in the door, coming home from work around 8:00 P.M. CHRIS is sitting on the couch doing his homework and eating a bowl of cereal. MAMA is in her bedroom sleeping.)

NAOMI (locking the door behind her)

Hey Chris, is Mama asleep?

CHRIS (replying softly)

Yea, she was just out here talking to me a minute ago; I don’t think she’s doing too well.

NAOMI (putting her bag down)

Oh ok, uhh… did she take her medicine? I’m really starting to get worried about her; she’s been sleeping a lot and hasn’t been eating.

CHRIS

Yea you’re right. Do you think you could work an extra shift, so she can go to the doctor’s or somethin’?

NAOMI (shaking her head)

I don’t think that’s possible. I’m already working seven hours and it’s not like I can work until three in the morning. The restaurant closes at ten and I have to get some sleep for school.

CHRIS (jumping up from the couch and having an attitude)

Then what are we going to do Naomi? What if somethin’ really bad happens? You know Dad doesn’t want us; then where would we go?

NAOMI (crying)

I don’t know Chris; I really don’t know.

CHRIS (plopping down on the couch)

Yea I knew it. We’re just going to be in an orphanage while Mama’s lying in the ground. You can’t just get another job or somethin’? Why can’t you Naomi?

NAOMI (sitting next to CHRIS)

You know Chris, it’s not that easy…, I think I feel the same way as you, if not more sad. I want Mama to get better, and I know you know that I do. I have been under so much stress; I don’t even think you understand. All I can afford is cereal and barely pay the rent for this apartment. I am doing all I can to keep this family together. (Crying) Chris I really am and I want you to know that.

CHRIS (hugging NAOMI)

I know. I just got worked up because I’m really scared Naomi. I’m scared.

NAOMI (kissing CHRIS’ head)

I’m scared too, Chris.

CHANTAL (walking into the living room from right stage)

Babies, is everything all right? Why you crying?

NAOMI (wiping her eyes)

Yea, were alright Mama, sorry for waking you. We we’re just talking ‘bout stuff that’s all. How you feeling?

CHANTAL (stretching)

Oh, I’m alright, don’t worry about me. It’s (emphasizing the word “you” and looking directly at NAOMI) YOU I’m worried about. You’ve been working all these days, all these hours. I’m pleased with your work baby girl, but you need to relax one of these days. Someday you gonna be all run down just like me. You need a break and I’m planning to get back to work in a few days.

NAOMI (with a confused look)

But, Mama you-

CHANTAL (cutting NAOMI off)

Don’t but Mama me. You can’t do this all by yourself forever child. Now go on, you need to get some sleep, you too Chris. I love you babies, night.

NAOMI and CHRIS (in unison)

Love you too, Mama.

END OF SCENE 1

(Lights dim and everyone walks off right stage to go to bed it is about 10:30 p.m.)

SCENE 2

(NAOMI arrives at The Lorette with BRITTANY and they have about ten minutes until their shift starts and so NAOMI goes off to play the piano and BRITTANY sings along in the lounge. It is about 2:50.)

NAOMI (sitting down in the piano bench)

(Pointing at a song on the piano) Do you know this song?

BRITTANY (sitting next to NAOMI)

Yea, play it on G.

NAOMI (starts to play)

I’ll count you in.

BRITTANY

Okay I’m ready when you are.

NAOMI

Okay 5, 6, 7, 8

(BRITTANY starts to sing, but NAOMI stops because she sees someone watching them.)

BRITTANY

Why did you stop?

NAOMI (whispering to BRITTANY)

Look over there by the door. That lady’s watching us.

BRITTANY (scrunching her nose)

Who is that? Do you know her? I’m starting to get freaked out.

NAOMI

I don’t know who that is? Do you want me to go ask her or something!? I’m not just going to go ask that stranger why she’s listening to my beautiful piano playing and your horrible singing. Anyways it is a restaurant and the piano is here for entertainment. (NAOMI starts to laugh)

BRITTANY (giving NAOMI a dirty look)

That is so not funny, I can totally sing. Seriously, you should go ask her what she wants.

NAOMI (puts her hands up in a quizzical way)

Fine, but you’re coming with me.

BRITTANY (in a whiny tone)

Okay, but you’re talking to her.

(NAOMI and BRITTANY get up and go by the entrance door.)

NAOMI (Looking directly at the woman)

Hi, can we help you with something?

MARY CRENSHAW

Oh, I’m sorry for interrupting and staring, but I thought that was beautiful. I am Mary Crenshaw and I usually come here. Do you two work here?

NAOMI

Thank you very much and yes we do. We have to start our shift in about a minute, so we have to get ready. But if you’d like, how about you come and eat here. Or you can come tomorrow and we can play for you again.

MARY CRENSHAW

Okay, I can probably come tomorrow. I am quite busy today so I’ll be here around at about 2:45 tomorrow. Have a nice day.

NAOMI

Bye, you too.

(MARY exits off left stage)

BRITTANY (after MARY leaves)

Wow, that was kind of weird. What do you think she wants? Why would she want to come back to see us?

NAOMI

Well, I don’t know, how about you ask her when she comes back okay? Whatever she wants she seems pretty nice.

BRITTANY

Yea, I guess. Let’s go start our shift.

END OF SCENE 2

(Lights dim and everyone walks off left stage to go to work in the kitchen)

SCENE 3

(NAOMI is just coming back from work and it is about 9:30 pm. CHRIS is crying and MAMA is lying on the floor. BRITTANY is in the kitchen getting water)

NAOMI (locking the door with a worried face and talking fast)

Guys, what wrong? What happened to Mama? You guys!

BRITTANY (coming out of the kitchen from right stage with a glass of water giving it to MAMA)

It’s okay. I just called the hospital and they should be here any second.

NAOMI

What happened to Mama? Please tell me!

CHANTAL

Baby, I’m fine. Everything will be alright; you just take care of your brother and everything around here.

NAOMI (holding MAMA’s hand and crying)

Okay, I will. I promise Mama, you just promise me one thing. Come back for Chris and me; you need to stay strong for us Mama. Please? We love you.

CHANTAL (in a whispering voice)

Okay baby, I love you two (looking at NAOMI and CHRIS). I’ll come home; I promise.

BRITTANY (looking out the front door and hearing sirens)

They’re here. Get well Mrs. Marshall (helping CHANTAL up and walking her to the door).

(MAMA exits off left stage and is taken away by the ambulance, but it doesn’t show it)

NAOMI (sitting down on the couch)

What happened to her, why didn’t she tell me?

CHRIS

I told you something was wrong with Mama!

NAOMI

Yea, but what happened to her? I came in and she was just lying on the floor.

BRITTANY

Chris came running to my apartment and told me that your Mom was lying on the floor and he was really worried about her. So I came over and called the ambulance, and that’s when you showed up. Thankfully I got off work early today.

NAOMI

Thanks, Brittany. I got it from here. (Hugging BRITTANY) I’ll call you later, bye.

BRITTANY

Okay, you’re welcome. Bye.

(BRITTANY exits left stage out the front door)

CHRIS (wiping his eyes and sighs)

So what are we going to do now? Remember that conversation we had a couple days ago?

NAOMI

Yea, I remember Chris. I’m not so sure what is going to happen to Mama or us.

CHRIS (sarcastically)

You’re a real support system, aren’t you?

NAOMI (getting an attitude)

What are you talking about Chris? Don’t YOU remember the conversation we had?

CHRIS

You’re just being really negative, that’s all. It seems like you’re not even trying anymore.

NAOMI

Chris. We already had this talk. I thought I explained to you, and I thought that you understood I am doing my best. Chris don’t you see? At this point I think we need Dad.

CHRIS

Are you kidding me? He doesn’t want us, and you definitely know that.

NAOMI

Yea, I know, but he might have changed over the years.

CHRIS (with an attitude)

Yea, but you don’t know that. Don’t you think that if he wanted us he would have at least called us or something by now?

NAOMI

Yea, I know, maybe he’s tried to find us too though. You know I really loved Dad when I was little and if something seriously bad does happen to Mom, then he’s our only choice.

CHRIS

I just can’t get over the fact that he left us like this. I didn’t even get to meet him.

END OF SCENE 3

(Lights dim and everyone walks off right stage to go their bedrooms)

SCENE 4

(MARY CRENSHAW is in the auditorium of Julliard. It is the next day and she is about to go to The Lorette to see NAOMI. She is talking on the phone to another professor, but you don’t hear them talking to MARY. It is about 2:30.)

MARY (holding a phone to her ear)

Hi, yes I’m just about to see this girl. She works at The Lorette and she can really play the piano. (Pausing like she is getting a response). Hmm, I’m not so sure. She looks to be the age of 16, but I could be wrong. Do you think it would be possible to give her a scholarship? (Pausing like she is getting a response). Oh, ok that sounds great. I’m just about to leave. I can call you later to tell you how it goes. (Pausing like she is getting a response). Okay, bye. (MARY shuts her phone)

END OF SCENE 4

(Lights dim and MARY walks off left stage to go to The Lorette.)

SCENE 5

(NAOMI and BRITTANY are waiting for MARY to come to The Lorette. While they are waiting, they are singing and playing the piano. It is 2:45)

BRITTANY (sitting on the piano bench, looking at her watch)

When is this lady gonna get here? Our shift starts in like 15 minutes.

NAOMI

Will you just chill? She’ll be here any minute. She said she would be here around 2:45.

BRITTANY (saying anxiously)

You know how impatient I am. Why can’t this lady just get here when she said she’s gonna be here? You know-(MARY walks in the door when BRITTANY finishes saying “know”) Oh, hi Miss Crenshaw.

MARY (putting her bag down)

Hello girls. Sorry I’m a bit late; you know that New York traffic.

NAOMI

Oh yea, that’s fine. So, did you want to talk to us about something?

MARY (with a smile)

Yes, yes I do. I wanted to ask you a very important life changing question, Naomi. (MARY pulls NAOMI to the side). When I saw and heard you the other day, I was astonished. You see I’m a professor at Julliard and I think that you should go there on a full scholarship.

NAOMI (gasping)

Are you serious? Oh, my God. I can’t believe this?

MARY (giving NAOMI a card)

Yes, I am very serious. I really want you to go there and I expect a lot out of you, from what I’ve heard.

NAOMI (taking the card)

Thank you very much! I won’t let you down.

MARY

That’s what I like to hear. To confirm that you are accepting the scholarship, you need to write a letter to Julliard, ok? Well I have to go and get ready to teach a class. Bye Naomi. (Looking at BRITTANY) Bye Brittany.

NAOMI

Thank you so much, bye.

BRITTANY

Bye.

(Mary exits left stage)

BRITTANY (walking over to NAOMI)

What did she want?

NAOMI (jumping up and down excitedly)

Guess what…I got into Julliard!

BRITTANY (hugging NAOMI)

Oh my God. I am so happy for you. Are you getting a scholarship or something?

NAOMI

Yea, that’s what she told me.

BRITTANY

That happened really fast are you sure you wanna do this?

NAOMI

Of course I’m sure. She told me to write a letter to Julliard to confirm that I accepted the scholarship. On your way home, can you drop it off in the mail box? I have to go get a few things from the store.

BRITTANY

Sure, superstar.

NAOMI (getting paper and a pen out of her bag)

I am not a superstar (laughing)….yet. Well I should start writing it. Can you go and sign me in? I should be done in about five minutes.

BRITTANY

Sure, no problem.

(BRITTANY walks of right stage into the kitchen)

NAOMI (slightly yelling)

Thanks.

(NAOMI starts and finishes her letter and goes into the kitchen and comes back out with an envelope. She puts the letter in the envelope, signs it, and leaves it on the piano. She then goes back into the kitchen to start working. BRITTANY walks out and picks up the envelope.)

BRITTANY (talking to herself and taking out the letter and slipping it into her pocket)

Well, she won’t be needing this any more.

(BRITTANY goes into NAOMI’S bag and gets out a pen and paper. She writes a letter and puts it into the original envelope. She lays it back on the piano)

NAOMI (from off stage)

Brittany hurry up it’s 3:00 o’clock.

BRITTANY (with a dirty smirk on her face)

Okay, I’m coming.

END OF SCENE 5

(Lights dim and BRITTANY walks off left stage to go to the kitchen.)

SCENE 6

(NAOMI is sitting in the living room of her apartment with a letter from Julliard. It is about 9:30 pm, three days later.)

NAOMI (yelling)

Hey, Chris do you wanna come in here for a second.

(CHRIS comes from right stage)

CHRIS (sitting next to NAOMI)

What is it? Do I wanna know?

NAOMI (opening the letter)

Of course you do, it’s from Julliard.

CHRIS (sarcastically)

That music school? What would they want you for?

NAOMI (nudging CHRIS and smiling)

Well, it should be a scholarship or something like that.

(NAOMI opens the letter)

CHRIS (curiously)

Is it a scholarship?

NAOMI (with an astonished look)

NO! Oh my God. I can’t believe this. (Putting her head in her hands and screaming.)

CHRIS

What is it?

NAOMI (crying)

Not a scholarship that’s for sure, it says, “Sorry that you didn’t like our program, but thank you for applying and we will give your scholarship to last possible applicant on the waiting list.”

CHRIS (with a confused look)

Wait, what? I’m confused; I thought that you wanted this Naomi.

NAOMI (wiping her eyes)

I did…I do. I… I just don’t get it. How did this happen? I said that I wanted this. Their must be a mistake. Maybe Brittany forgot to send it? I need to get to the bottom of this. Can you go get her for me, please?

CHRIS (getting up)

Sure, I guess so.

(CHRIS exits off left stage to go get BRITTANY. NAOMI is looking over her letter. About a minute passes before CHRIS comes back.)

CHRIS (shutting the door and walking over to the couch and sitting down)

She’ll be here in a second.

NAOMI

Okay, thanks.

(BRITTANY opens the door and comes through left stage)

BRITTANY (walking over to the couch)

Is there something you wanted to talk to me about?

NAOMI (with an attitude)

Actually yea there is something. Did you forget to send my letter?

BRITTANY

No, I sent it just as it was.

NAOMI

Then how come I got a letter back saying that I didn’t want to go?

BRITTANY (sarcastically)

I don’t know? Maybe that’s what you wrote.

NAOMI (standing up)

You changed my letter didn’t you?

BRITTANY (lying)

What? Why would I do that to you?

NAOMI (angrily and in BRITTANY’S face)

Oh, don’t you dare play dumb with me. You know that I wanted to go. Why couldn’t you just accept the fact that I got in and you didn’t even get asked? Why did you have to be jealous and change my letter?

BRITTANY

(Laughing) Jealous…of you? Why in the world would I be? You’re poor, you’re Dad doesn’t want you, your Mom is practically dead, you work everyday, and you don’t go to Julliard.

NAOMI (slapping BRITTANY across the face)

I thought that you were my best friend. (Crying) How could you? I trusted you. (Yelling) GET OUT OF HERE, NOW! I NEVER WANT TO SEE YOU AGAIN!

BRITTANY (holding her face)

Fine, you want it to be like that. I hope your Mom dies!

(BRITTANY runs off left stage)

NAOMI (screaming as BRITTANY runs off left stage)

I HATE YOU!

CHRIS (hugging NAOMI)

How could she say such a thing? Are you okay?

NAOMI (wiping her eyes)

Yea, I’m okay. I just can’t believe she did those things to me. How could a person be so mean? And what she said about Mom. I didn’t even think that it was Brittany. How could she be so jealous? She should have just talked to me about it.

CHRIS

Just forget her. She’s obviously holding you back from your dream and you don’t need that anymore.

NAOMI

You’re right. I love you Chris.

CHRIS

I love you too.

(NAOMI’S cell phone rings and she answers it. You can’t hear the caller.)

NAOMI

Hello? (Pausing like she is getting a response) Yes, this is NAOMI. (Pausing like she is getting a response) What?! (Tears fall down her cheeks and she drops her phone.)

CHRIS

Naomi, are you okay? What happened?

NAOMI (crying and putting her head down)

It’s Mama. She’s dead.

CHRIS (crying and shaking his head)

No…this can’t happen.

END OF SCENE 6

(Lights dim and NAOMI and CHRIS walk of stage.)

SCENE 7

(NAOMI is going to Julliard to talk to MARY. It is about 2:00 pm, one week later)

NAOMI (walking in the entrance doors and seeing MARY)

Hi, can I talk to you?

MARY

Yea, sure what is it?

NAOMI

Well, I got my letter back from Julliard….and it says that I’m not going.

MARY

Well, you are correct. We got your letter saying that you didn’t want to come here. I thought that you wanted to?

NAOMI

That’s what I wanted to see you about. Do you remember Brittany?

MARY

Yes, why? Did she do something?

NAOMI

Yea, she actually changed my letter. You see it turns out that she was really jealous and she just went on this rampage to hurt me. I just don’t get it because I thought that we were best friends. So I was wondering if I could get a second chance.

MARY

I think that is a possibility. Even though we did give up your spot, I can definitely give your spot back with a full scholarship.

NAOMI (hugging MARY)

Thank you very much. You don’t know how much I appreciate this. Thank you

MARY (hugging NAOMI back)

You’re very welcome (laughing) and there is no need to write another letter, but you will get a letter about what you need to know.

NAOMI (walking towards the door)

Thank you again. I have to get going now. Bye.

MARY

Bye.

(NAOMI exits left stage)

END OF SCENE 7

(Light dim and MARY walks off right stage)

SCENE 8

(NAOMI is going to her apartment from Julliard. CHRIS and MICHAEL are in the living room. It is about 2:20 pm)

NAOMI (walking in the door)

Dad, what are you doing here?

MICHAEL

Well, I was notified about your Mom and I have to take full custody of you guys.

NAOMI

What are talking about? You don’t want us. Right Chris?

CHRIS (shaking his head)

Naomi just give him a chance. Weren’t you the one telling me that he was our only choice if something happened to Mama? Well something did happen and we need him.

NAOMI (with an attitude)

Are you sure you wanna take care of us? I mean it took you this long.

MICHAEL

I know, but I’ve come to realize that you two need me and I want to get to know you guys again.

NAOMI (awkwardly)

Thanks, I guess. So are we leaving here?

MICHAEL (with a smile on his face)

Well I’m going to buy an apartment here because Chris told me about Julliard and I am very proud of you.

NAOMI (hugging him)

You’re all right.

END OF SCENE 8

(Lights dim and everyone walks off right stage)

SCENE 9

(NAOMI is performing at Julliard and it is about a month later. The time is 5:00 pm)

(NAOMI is playing a beautiful song on the piano for about 10 minutes. When she is done MICHAEL and CHRIS walk out with flowers)

NAOMI (taking the flowers)

Thank you so much. I love you guys.

CHRIS

I am so proud of you. You will always be my role model…seeing you do those things for me and Mama for all those years. (Hugging NAOMI) I love you.

MICHAEL (hugging CHRIS and NAOMI)

I love you guys. I can’t believe I left you, but now I am so proud that I have you two in my life.

NAOMI and CHRIS (in unison)

We love you, too Dad.

END OF SCENE 9

(Lights dim and everyone walks off left stage)


THE END

Here’s a poem I wrote for Taylor recently:

Daughter Daddy Eyes

You are my wonderful Angelic dream
Always more gorgeous than what you seem
Remember that man will never make what can come between us
I’m always here for you Taylor Jourdan Tillery
Nothing will ever make me look at you with disgust.

Your beauty inspires me
Enlightens me
Almost frightens me 🙂

I would die for you
Don’t you ever die for me.

Your intelligence is amazing
I must tell you that it’s not everything
Find common sense, street smart wisdom, eternal optimism.
If you do there will never be pressure on you
Armed with this God given knowledge
Through the heavens beautiful, your soul will spiritually sing.

You are special
I only want the best for you
I want our bond to forever be strong
Stronger than the hardest and most precious metal.

I will fight for you
I’ll always smile for you
I’ll never be disappointed in you
I will always love you 🙂

Life is hard baby
When it hits the hardest
Don’t cry, I your Father, will cry for you.

You can be anything you want
You are so smart
You have such a big heart
The kind soul of love
In your spirit I pray happily will start.

Make your mark on the world
Be an inspiration to all the little girls
There are so many who don’t laugh or smile
When you see sadness and worry in their eyes
Don’t be quick to judge–they need to be encouraged
Sit them down, wipe their tears, hold their hands and really just talk to them for a while.

You see, communication is the key
When the time comes
In their masculine eyes genuine or not so genuine you will be able to see
If you can’t tell, no problem, just ask me
I’ll never lie to you Boopsie.

They will selfishly grab, make you sad, lie and deny
If you are ever confused, simply close your eyes, see my face
My concerned spirit will help you put them in their place.

If you ever have any problem
I’ll be there and no time will waste.

Don’t let anyone ridicule your mixed race
If they do they are a disgrace

You are so very beautiful inside and out
No one can ever take that from you

Don’t hate them, never hate them
Just affect them with that pretty smile
That will always be on your Grandmother’s face.

On the athletic field you will have no peer
No matter what they say to you
Have strong ears that never fear
Trust that Tillery talent
My strong–will not be denied–heart forever beats inside of you
Champion you will be with
Ring filled fingers on charmed hands two.

You and your brothers are my destiny
Do you and never question regretfully
Find your Epiphany
When you ultimately do
Powerfully live your life gloriously.

When the time for altar comes
Tears I’ll shed
Just don’t be misled

I’ll always trust you

I’ll look into his eyes
Hug him Pop like tight
Wish you both love
But more importantly,
Support you always and forever
With all my might!

6 Responses to “The Unplayed Keys By Taylor Tillery and Autumn Hollis”

  1. michelle says:

    Wow! That was great! Good job Taylor. Mizzo I’m sure you are very proud of your daughter. Looks like good writing runs in the family. Keep up the good work kid!

  2. Michele Godwin says:

    What a breath of refreshing sentiment … to hear from someone who is intelligent, loving, articulate, nurturing and still keeping it real. I’m proud of you Michael Tillery. Your sense of fatherhood is inspiring and your kids are blessed to have a pop like you. Best of luck to all of you … not that any of you need it with the talent that you each possess.

  3. Eric Daniels says:

    Mizzo and Taylor what can I say, great, great article and play and very touching and I enjoyed reading it very much.

  4. Autumn Hollis says:

    Thanks for putting our play on your site that was really nice of you!!!

  5. […] was a great time for the family, because my daughter, Taylor, won the 10-year-old State Championship in softball a couple days […]

  6. Laura Prucyk says:

    I never realized this was here.. it makes me SO proud and yet so sad.. I hope she is doing well.. I hope you are doing well..