WARNING: I did almost no research on this one; that’s what happens if you write a play in a day – research and drafting fall by the way-side. But I think the idea holds true, even if the details are sketchy.
Also – swears
KELLY, white, early 40s, is clearing up her breakfast in a family kitchen.
KELLY Laura! You’ll be late for netball!
SIMON, a black man in his early 40s comes in, sifting post. Sits. Pours himself some sugary cereal and munches as he sifts.
KELLY Anything exciting?
SIMON Bil, bill, circular, pizza menu, bill – ooh!
SIMON It’s come!
KELLY What’s has?
SIMON Our future! The deepest secrets hidden in our lives!
KELLY Sounds awful. What are you talking about?
SIMON You remember last month when I got you to do those mouth swabs?
SIMON Well the results are in! The secrets of our DNA!
KELLY Simon, darling, this will come as a shocking surprise to you but I wasn’t really listening when we did the swabs – I just went along with it to shut you up.
SIMON I’d never have guessed!
KELLY So, do you want to take it from the top?
SIMON From the saliva sample I sent they can analyse your genetic make up – they map your whole genome and run it against they’re database and they tell you things about yourself.
KELLY Such as?
SIMON Well. . . gene 7912 mine says that genetically my heart is likely to be strong. I have 2413 a slight tendency towards weight gain.
Kelly reaches over the table and slides his cereal bowl away from him.
Ha, ha. (Pause) Oh. Oh no.
SIMON Oh God.
SIMON Oh my –
KELLY WHAT IS IT YOU ARSE?!
SIMON 5028. I have a mild intolerance for coffee. I think my life is over.
KELLY Mild intolerance versus never being awake? Tough call!
SIMON I will find a way to soldier on.
KELLY Alright, then Professor, let’s see mine.
SIMON Well, it says here that genetically you are beautiful but very annoying.
KELLY snatches it from him.
KELLY 7823. Relatively tall. Nailed it. 3103 slight hypertension – (Pushes her own coffee away from her.) 5067 green eyes. You paid how much for this?
SIMON Doesn’t it say ‘green eyes, exceptionally beautiful.’
KELLY Creep. Well, according to this I am genetically average in every conceivable way. How dull.
SIMON Not to me you’re not!
KELLY Thank you!
SIMON You are definitely never dull.
She thumps him playfully.
Let’s see what Laura’s says.
KELLY You did Laura?
KELLY Without asking her?
SIMON Well, she said yes to a swab.
KELLY But did you explain what it was for?
SIMON No, wanted it to be a surprise.
KELLY Shouldn’t we wait till she comes down.
SIMON C’mon, just a peak. Don’t you want scientific confirmation that our daughter is extraordinary?
KELLY I don’t need a piece of paper to tell me that.
SIMON C’mon. Let’s have a look!
KELLY Alright, fine – get on with it.
SIMON 7823 – relatively tall.
KELLY Boom! That’s down to me.
SIMON 5067 – green eyes.
KELLY Double boom! Told you she took after me. Mama’s got strong genes.
SIMON Oh god, this is a long one. 8291. ‘The protein encoded by this gene belongs to the ferlin family and is a skeletal muscle protein found associated with the sarcolemma. It is involved in muscle contraction and contains C2 domains that play a role in calcium-mediated membrane fusion events, suggesting that it may be involved in membrane regeneration and repair. In addition, the protein encoded by this gene binds caveolin-3, a skeletal muscle membrane protein which is important in the formation of caveolae. Specific mutations in this gene have been shown to cause autosomal recessive limb girdle muscular dystrophy type 2B.’
KELLY What the fuck?
SIMON Erm. . .
KELLY No, seriously, what the fuck does that mean?
SIMON Mutation in 8291 causes autosomal recessive limb girdle muscular dystrophy type 2B.
KELLY What the fuck is that!
SIMON Hang on! (Rifles through the papers.) Here it is! Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy, type 2B is one of many forms of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy, a group of disorders that affect the voluntary muscles of the hips and shoulders. LGMD2B is characterized by early weakness and wasting (atrophy) of the pelvic and shoulder girdle muscles in adolescence or young adulthood. The age of onset typically ranges from 15 to 35 years, and legs are usually affected first. Symptoms include the inability to tiptoe and difficulty walking and running. Cardiac (heart) and respiratory involvement is uncommon. It is usually slowly progressive, with need of a wheelchair 10 to 20 years after onset.
LAURA, mixed-race, 15, bounds on in her netball costume.
LAURA Come on mum! We’ll be late!
See you later Dad!
Grabs the car keys from a hook on the wall.
C’mon mum, I’ll be in the car!
She heads out. Kelly and Simon sit, unmoving.
Now that we’re at the end I can unpack some of my thinking on this – reading it back I wondered if it was ableist, making the diagnosis of a condition into a tragedy. The day nine year-old me became diabetic felt like a tragedy. But to 40 year old me it’s more of a constant low-level irritation. Although I’d definitely not swap my diabetes for the condition here, I am very sure that there are people with Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy, type 2B who are living full and happy lives and making a difference in the world. I’m sure there are others with the condition who feel they could be living full and happy lives if society offered them better support. In short, I think the snap-shot here is true – a diagnosis like this feels like a bereavement, a loss which must be mourned. But it would be interesting to revisit our three characters over the following years and see if that feeling evolves into something else.