Mind the Gap

Mind the Gap, requiring a man in his late 50a and a woman in her 20s, is set on a wooden bench in an old European train station.  (A note says that the writer W. G. Sebald drove into an oncoming lorry and was killed on December 14, 2001.  He probably suffered a heart attack driving his daughter home.)  As lights come up on the characters sitting on the bench, we hear footsteps and voices echoing in the distance.  Max notices that Anna is reading a book by Sebald, a writer Max finds unusual and rather difficult.  They speak of memories, happy and unhappy, and ambiguity in Sebald’s work.  Max says that he sometimes feels that he has written Sebald’s work himself, that the numinous symbols of the writer are significant to him as well.  He says he was drawn to Anna when he saw her sleeping and knew, although he cannot explain what it was he knew.  Anna says that when she was a child her father told her that when a person dies they go to a big room like the one they are in where people wait for trains to take them to unknown destinations.  Max says, “Mind the gap,” explaining that the sign by the tracks warns of the danger of stepping into the abyss between life and death, two inexplicable realities.  Max speaks of one of Sebald’s narrators who returns to his village but nobody recognizes him, and he observes life as a spectator, noting coincidences that seem to give meaning to existence.  Max begins to remember driving with his daughter and feeling a sudden pressure in his chest and seeing something very large coming directly at them.  Anna thinks she remembers driving with her father, and Max tells her that the train that has arrived is for him, not her.  Max says she must go through a door back to where she was before she got to where she is.  Max takes out a small camera and takes her picture.  Anna, leaving, stops and says, “Papa? . . . Mind the gap.”  He says he will, she goes, and the light fades out.

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