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1000 Playwright Interviews The first interview I posted was on June 3, 2009.  It was Jimmy Comtois.  I decided I would start interview...

Nov 1, 2014

Monologues For Women

updated 12/31/19

see also  
Adam Szymkowicz's website

From time to time, actors ask me for monologues. I thought it would be easiest to put them all in one place. 



(Speaking to a gravestone)
Hi. This is weird. Hi. I wanted to . . . I don’t know what. I saw Charlie. I went to see Charlie, I mean. Wow. This is hard. Suzanne. I. Well, I guess I came for your blessing? I know we were never what you’d call the best of friends. Not that we—I don’t have any animosity. I understood. I wanted good things for you. Better than what happened. I mean that. I’m not bitter. I’m resigned. I have my tea. I have my books. I’m not complaining. I don’t want an exciting life. Excitement has never been—But that’s not what I came to say. It’s been a long time. When I let him go all those years ago. I guess what I’m saying is, I want him back. Which is to say get to know who he has become. But I can’t do that if I don’t feel like it’s okay with you. I’ve come to you to formally make peace so that he and I--What am I saying? He doesn’t want me. He has his own life. His own ways. It can’t work. And he doesn’t need more love. The love you had was enough for life. Wasn’t it? I’m sorry to bother you. Please rest. Peacefully. Sorry.



It was never supposed to happen. Or it was never supposed to last long. When I asked him out, he said yes to make her mad. Probably. I wasn’t supposed to get pregnant. Definitely.

We got married right away. Quickly, quietly. Days turned to weeks. Weeks turned to love.

He turned down his scholarship. He took over the family business. The future Librarian went to college. And then my baby came and she was stillborn. We mourned. Instead of driving us apart, we grew closer together. After two more miscarriages, we stopped trying. The future Librarian came back from college and got a job at the library. And then life and life and life. Until four years ago when I came down with bone cancer and then two years ago when I stopped being alive.



 (MARISA is giving a tour of the school. Behind her, the campus in all its glory.)

Okay so I don’t know if there are stragglers, but I’m just going to start the tour. Hi, I’m
Marissa. Hi. Welcome to Alcott College for Women founded in eighteen ninety five.
You are here because we are the best. You know the saying. Smith to bed, Mount
Holyoke to wed and Alcott to run your company. But our grads are not all CEOs. We
have novelists, painters, journalists, lawyers, doctors, philanthropists, architects and
professors. (as if responding to someone on the tour.) Yes, right and mothers. But you
already know all this. That’s why you’re here. . . . No, Gloria Steinem didn’t go here.

Amelia Earhart? No. … Helen Gurley Brown? No. … Well, scores of amazing
women, just not those three. … No Aphra Behn died a hundred years before the college
was founded. … No, not Gertrude Stein. No. … No. … No. … No. … No. … No…
We’re getting sidetracked here. Let me show you the campus. Designed by Stanford
White after an exploratory trip to Italy and Greece it’s a neoclassical … yes, that’s right.
Imposing, isn’t it? It gives a weight to our studies. We aren’t f- fooling around at Alcott.
We are the future leaders of the arts, business and-- No, not her, either. Stop! Hold on!
I know you! You’re the tour guide from Wellesley. You’ve been warned before. Don’t
let me see you on this campus again! I don’t care if your girlfriend’s here or not. This is
my work study job. I won’t have it! I simply won’t! We’re not continuing until you
leave. … Go! Just go! GO! GO! GO! 

… Is she gone? Behind me, the cafeteria.
You’ll spend a lot of time there. And the library of course. The intricate structure to my
left is the cathedral, mostly used for--GET OUT OF HERE! GO! GO! Okay, I think
she’s finally . . . This way to the STEM wing. That’s new. Then the Theater. But you
probably want to see the dorms, don’t you? I SAID GET OUT OF HERE!!


Welcome. Welcome. Come in. There’s seats down in the front. Everybody here?
Great. So this is, “Finding Your Voice.” My name is Lucy and I am here to tell you that
you are valuable. Your thoughts are valuable. Your feelings, your ideas. The patriarchy
spends a lot of time telling women in subtle and not so subtle ways that what they think
or feel or believe is wrong. I am here to tell you they are all full of shit. You have a lot
to contribute to our community and I am here to help you find and free your voice. This
will be an era in your life of freedom, an end to the oppression of denying your true self.
There will be no more writer’s block. No more insecurity. No more second guessing or
self censoring. You ready to get started, you future leaders of tomorrow?


Your instincts are right. I can’t wait for when you fall on your face. I hate you so much.
So so much. So so so much. I’ve done everything. I cut my hair. She doesn’t notice. I
dye my hair, I dye it back, shave it off, grow it back. Nothing. Change my eye shadow.
Change my lipstick. I put on my good bra and the tight dress and glitter but nothing.
Nothing. You wear that and have that face and don’t write a fucking word and she’s all
over you drooling like Prague shouldn’t drool.


My name’s not Violet. My name has never been Violet. I always introduce myself as
Elizabeth. It’s my name. It’s always been my name. Meredith called me Shrinking
Violet once during my freshman year and ever since then, everyone thinks my name is
Violet. My name is not Violet. It’s been fourteen years. Stop fucking calling me Violet!

Relax, Honey.

I will not relax. You know, I’ve expended so much energy over the years trying to get
you to notice me. All of you. Why do I care what you think? How is it I think about you
when you aren’t there? Still. All the time. All of you? You’re not that special. You
never were. No one cares about you. No one knows who you are. You’ve built this
wind tunnel around you that celebrates your cult. It’s not a real thing. Theater isn’t even
a real thing. My mother thinks I open curtains during Lion King. And you! All the
things you do are insignificant. You are selfish and you are oblivious and you are all
terrible people.


Why not?! Because you write about me over and over except it’s not me. I’m funnier
than that. I’m smarter than that. And then after you dumb me down, you expect me to
keep playing this paler version of myself . And then the point of the play is always that
you aren’t in love with me. So night after night I have to go in front of an audience and
be rejected by you in every dumb play you write about me. And like an idiot, I keep
coming back for more. I think, “artistic license.” I think, “fiction.” But I’m just lying to
myself. You’re obsessed with how in love with me you aren’t. And maybe you don’t
even see it. But I’ve seen it in a thousand different moments over the last several years.

So I’m just going to quit. I’m not going to be in your play.



(French accent)
People confuse love and romance. Romance is good, very nice. But love, love is necessary. See this? The moon, the stars, the lights over the water. The Pont Neuf. The Eiffel Tower. Candlelight there. Chocolates, small presents. All of this is romantic, no? But this is not love. I take a knife, I kill myself because you don’t love me. This is love. The most powerful love you feel will be after it has gone away.

It’s pain.

Yes, but love is also pleasure. The most pleasure there is in the world so when it leaves, you want to take a knife and kill yourself. No? You don’t know. It’s because you don’t know love.


(MATT and JOSETTE are making love)

(French accent)
I will tell you a story. I have. (an interjection of pleasure) Mmm. A ritual. I like to tell this story the first time—with someone. Yes! It is—the story of true love. It is harder in English, but I will try. Oooh. One day, a caterpillar was caterpillering along when she came upon a worm. Mmm. She had never seen such a beautiful sight before. She fell in love with the worm right then. The worm, he did not care for her. He was blind. Mmm. And he only cared about the dirt. He dug into the ground, but she followed him. Uuh. He said go away, but she would not. He said, I have no use for you. But still she followed wherever he went. Finally, she wore him down. Mmm. He started to see things about her that he liked. Like the stripes on her—OH—back and her many legs. He started to miss her when she wasn’t around. This is not normal love. This is a backdoor, surprise love. And no one was more surprised than the worm. AHH. Their affair was horrid.
No. Torrid?

But then one day, when the worm…Mmm…awoke, she was gone. He looked everywhere. UUH. In the ground. Ahh. Somewhere else in the ground. Everywhere he could think. Oooh. But nowhere. This went on for a long time. Ahh. Every day he looked but she was gone. One day, while he was looking, a beautiful butterfly floated by. “Terrence,” the butterfly said, because that was the worm’s name. “ Terrence!” Ahh. But the worm ignored the butterfly. “Go away he said. I’m looking for my lover.” She said “I am your lover.” OOOOOoooh.
Mmm. And he said, no. My lover can’t fly. My lover doesn’t look like you. Ah. And she said this is what I have become. So. Oh. They tried to get back in their routines. Mmmm. But she also wanted to fly. Hm. She wanted to be in the ground with him but she wanted to be floating on the wind too. Uunn. She was not at all happy. Then one day, AAhhh--a bird came down –Oooh--and plucked the worm from the ground. Aaaaa! “Terrence!” Aa! She said. Ooh. You can fly now. WOOO! And for a few seconds –EEEE---they both flew, UUUH-- side by side. It was the most beautiful MMM feeling MMM they had ever known. And then the bird ate the worm. AAAAAAGH! (She comes) And that is what love is.


(French accent)
Do you? Look, you are here how long?
A week at least?
After a week with me, you will want to marry me.
I need you to know now, I cannot marry you. I am a better lover than a wife.
I am giving you a gift, can you understand? The gift of my love.
But it is all I can give.
Now you say “okay” but later you will try to get me to marry you. I would suggest you not try this. It would be the end of us. When a man asks me to marry him I have to say goodbye. I am serious. Marriage is a death to me. Do you want me to die?
Then when you feel yourself want to ask for marriage with me, you must think twice. You understand?
You make jokes but it is not funny. I have to beat off my suitors with a tree.


(French accent)
Over here it’s the café where I first kissed a boy. His breath was like a sleeping kitten. But his lips were nice. Over there, the school I went to as a child. Sometimes they made me cry, but sometimes I was the bully. You know? Here the corner I smoked my first cigarette. I hated it but I pretended. There, I scored my first goal. And also we played football. Soccer, yes?

Down the street my best friend, Jean slapped me on the face one Saturday.

It’s hard to remember. I do know, it hurts more to be slapped by a friend. All of this, it is my home. For you it is tourism.


(MATT and JOSETTE making love)

(French accent)
The story of you is that mmm you came to find me because you wanted to find love. But you didn’t know what love was. Aahh. So I tried to show you all the important faucets of love. I showed you romance and you showed me pain. Ooh. I thought I could live a life with only pleasure and no attachments. You lived a life without pleasure. And we tried to help each other. But then, you were to die and leave me and I couldn’t mmm take it. So I ran away. But that is not love. Noooo. Running away. Love is staying. Being there while you die. So I am here for that. Aaah Even if I think I cannot take it. It is what must happen. Mmmm. Because you are showing me that I should not be selfish. And I become a better person and I learn better mmm. What love is. AAAHhhh.

(They come. He dies.)
Matt? Matt? No. Matt?

(But he is dead. She climbs off him. She bites her hand to keep from crying, if she can.)

You left me.

SNOW   (From Five Short Plays)



I’ve been careful, always very careful. Sure there are people who leave the house more than I do. They take strolls, they cross streets in the midst of traffic. They get on airplanes and fly halfway across the world. And I say good for them. If they want to risk their lives daily, let em. But don’t ask me to. I’m fine how I am. It is true I have not left my apartment in three years. Everyone delivers in New York. Everyone. My mother says I would meet more people if I left my apartment—but I have my college friends I still call and email and of course there is a large online community waiting to hear my every word. Anyway, people die when they take risks. I’ve seen it happen.



There are many things I do not understand although I am an intelligent person. There are things beyond my grasp—things that screech or howl out numbers. There are darknesses I cannot comprehend. There is death somewhere and somewhere black holes and tears in our unconscious.

Somehow the brain works but how I couldn’t tell you. One day my heart will stop and so will yours but at this moment we sit beside each other with our beating hearts and our pleasant faces.

We are afraid, you and I. We are terrified people. Many people aren’t as terrified as we are. They slip through life without concerns or wants. They don’t worry about what they know but instead they purchase things and eat up every new TV program. These people are happy and perhaps we should be more like them. But we are not and no one can control the weather.

Try as we might we are only these creatures with two legs, maybe a soul, some of us a God, all of us hearts beating until they don’t. And I will stay here with you because it is what I want. I think it is what you want too. And we will work towards some design perhaps or maybe just screw but either way I will be happy for more than a few moments and maybe someday when we are old, we will sit holding hands looking out the window at the snow falling.




Hi. I’m Julie. This is my town. It’s the greatest . . . no. It’s the most . . . no. It’s . . . uh . . . unique. You’ll see. It’s uniquely unique in its uniqueness. Which is not to say it is all I want it to be. I could move away one day. To somewhere else. Somewhere flatter or with more buildings. Somewhere with a bigger sky or closer to the ocean. I might do that. I’ve been talking about it for years. But here I am still. And now you’re here too. I don’t know. It has its charm. I meant to move away for college but instead I commuted and then I got my own place and then I got a job here, so . . . I teach, um, I teach English over at the high school. Mostly freshmen. It’s okay. I might not be good at it. No one notices. Don’t tell. I’m looking for um . . . something. I’m not really sure. Love? Or maybe just like one good verbal exchange every day. Is that weird? This town is pretty weird. No, really. You’ll see. I hope you’ll be able to handle it. It might be . . . a little tricky at first. But I’m glad you’re here. Don’t pity me for my little life. Please. You don’t have everything. Do you? No. Do you? No. No one does.



Okay. Settle down. The bell rang. Get in your seats. Okay so for homework last night you had to read the rest of Romeo and Juliet. So. What do you think? Yes, Tim? … I see. Does anyone agree with Tim’s stupid opinion? … No? Who else thinks something? Corolla? … Interesting. I mean for me the question isn’t “Is it love or not?” but “Does love even exist?” … Mackenzie … uh huh. … uh huh. Right. .. Yeah. .. Okay… except what if that’s not love either? What if there is no such thing? I don’t care if your grandparents spent their entire lives together. I mean, what else were they going to do? Do any of us really have options? I mean Romeo and Juliet, right. They’re like thirteen. They can boink and call it love because who else is around? I mean how big is Shakespeare’s Verona? And of course go for the guy who your parents hate. Because, dangerous is exciting. And maybe sex and danger can feel like love. I get that. I do. But don’t tell me love exists. What? Yeah, what is it, Tim? … No. You should stop speaking up. Put your hand down. You kids don’t know anything.


Sam, I know you said not to call but I just feel bad and I miss you and I get it sort of but also, you know I don’t get it at all. And you’ve always just kind of been there and now you’re not and I don’t know what to do. So call me or. Or don’t. I don’t know. Tell me you don’t hate me. Tell me you’ll be my friend again some day. Or. Okay. I’m sorry. I’m doing exactly what you told me not to. I’ll text you. I’ll-- okay.


And now that Romeo and Juliet have died and Tybalt and some others, somehow this causes them to lay their feud aside. Which of course makes no sense because forever they’ve been blaming each other for every slight. Revenging and revenging and revenging. And so why would anything change? Nothing ever changes. And now the two they love most, Romeo, only son of the Montagues and Juliet, the Capulet’s daughter are dead. They should just want to kill each other more. Killing is what they know. Which is one more reason why Romeo and Juliet is a ridiculous play and I don’t know why I have to teach it. In conclusion, love doesn’t exist and everything is terrible. Any questions? … Shut up, Tim.




(on the phone)

Physics has a name for the things you can’t see. Elsewhere. Like if I’m transmitting something light years away, the time it’s in transmission, we lose it. During that time it’s elsewhere. It’s unknowable. Irrelevant. 

My sister used to bury my favorite toys when we were kids. It took me a while to figure out what was happening. I would get a new doll and I would tell everyone how much I loved its yarn hair and its jagged smile and before I knew it, it was gone. When I finally figured it out, I was able to unearth some of my toys. Never the ones I wanted most, but I found some, by digging all day long, day after day in randomly chosen places. Eventually the adults got involved and my excavations were shut down.

Maybe I should have become an archeologist. Are archeologists lonely? Do they stay up at night thinking about civilizations they wish they could have been a part of? You know, loneliness is the only thing I can’t get over. I accept that they’re dead. I accept that I’m terrified of leaving the house, but I can’t stand how much it hurts to be alone. It burns with lack. The emptiness. I could take all the rest if there wasn’t such an emptiness. Sometimes I order things I don’t want just so the delivery man will show up and talk to me for a minute. But he just hands me the package and leaves again. What about you? Is your job lonely? It must be nice talking to people all day. No, I know, but still. Oh, right. I’m sorry I wasn’t letting you talk. Oh, well I don’t have a car so no, I don’t need car insurance. Hello? Hello?


So many things put me on edge all day long. I look out the window and I get nervous. I read a book and it drives me crazy. I turn on the TV and I have to turn it off again right away. I sit down, I stand up I sit down again. I’ve tried crocheting and knitting and sewing. I’ve played classical piano, made clay pots, built towers from popsicle sticks. But none of it helped. It all made me crazy. Cooking calms me. Especially cooking for someone like you. So serene. How do you do it?

Tell me, what is your secret life? What are the things you think that you never tell anyone? What do you do that you don’t want anyone to know about. What makes you different? What excites you? What makes you emotional? What makes you, you?


(The dog howls) Oh, Doggie, I hear you. I feel for you. I do. The nighttime is the hardest time. We regret things at night, don’t we? (The dog howls again.) Even if at the time, everything you do seems like the right thing to do. Even if during the day, you think all your decisions are reasonable at all times, at night you start to wonder. And then the cold seeps in, too, at night.

Oh, Doggie, how do you deal with the cold? Does howling help? (She howls. The dog howls. She howls. The dog howls. They howl together. She sighs.) I don’t think it’s for people, howling. People must be rational. We must not yelp like animals in cages. But what then?

What do other people do? I don’t see other people much any more. There’s Teddy sure, but everyone else I only see from a distance. They seem content enough, capable enough, out in the streets, buying groceries, saying hello, getting their newspapers. But then if you turn on the news, everything they do is terrible. Maybe when they go in their houses and close their doors and shutter their windows, then they all do terrible things, things that can be discovered and reported the next day. It makes me feel better to think that. How about you, Doggie?

(The dog does not howl.)

Now, you’re quiet. Maybe you’re asleep already. I wish I was asleep.



All the dishes are broken. Are you happy now!? I’m going to have to have new dishes delivered. I liked those dishes, Teddy. Those dishes were my favorite dishes ever. I got them when I moved in here. They have sentimental value. I don’t know why you made me do that. Maybe you were unaware of the sentimental value of the dishes. You’re oblivious to my dishes, of course you are. But have you no heart? Each broken dish was a part of me. A part of me I can never get back. Whenever I eat on the new dishes, I will always remember this day and how you caused me to be cold at night even though there were things you could do to prevent it. When I’m dying of pneumonia, I will eat my last meal off these new dishes and I will remember you and curse you for your unfeeling nature. You are the devil. You are the worst creature to ever walk the planet. I will die. I will die of neglect unless you intercede. It’s your choice. I’m drowning. All you have to do is reach out your hand to pull me from the icy water. Do you understand? Either you sleep in my bed or you have to move out.



I want you to stay pure. Teddy, promise me you won’t let her taint you. She’s a bad influence, always has been. That’s why I make sure she’s asleep with me. I used to wake up and check on her but I sleep through the night most nights now. I’m not sure why. Maybe I’ve been eating right. It’s almost like when I was taking those—no. No.

Is she drugging me? (TEDDY looks down.) She’s not coming to your room, is she? (TEDDY looks down.) When we were kids, my parents gave me the task of walking in on her with her boyfriends. I was to keep any trouble from happening. And I did for a long time. But then she rebelled. She had something on me. I forget what. But after that, I would walk in on the most disgusting things. Her body. She used her body in such ways.

You couldn’t imagine. It was horrible. And the men didn’t care. Some of them liked it. They would come back for more. It would make me feel so strangely. It was so disgusting. I’d hate to think she’s getting up in the middle of the night and doing things like that to you. She’s not coming to your room, is she, Teddy?



It’s best, I think, to just assume that everything you do will work out. If you think too much about details, it’ll only make things more complicated. Just do what you do. Everything can be justified if you think hard enough. And once you have your justification, well, you can just hold onto it. It’s yours. It’s there to help you. Who cares if it’s true? As long as it makes you feel better. I feel the same way about love.

Don’t you?

Well, I’ll tell you something. Consider it a parting gift. Love is . . . What love is, really, when it comes down to it, it’s the thing that makes the day bearable. It doesn’t matter if it abides by other people’s rules. It doesn’t matter if it involves a certain amount of sex or a certain amount of kissing or if someone gets hit. It doesn’t matter what the actual mechanics of the relationship are. At the end of the day, if it makes you feel better, then you should do it, everyone else be damned.



(Talking to Teddy's corpse)

I dug you up because I wanted to play with you Teddy, but you’re dead for good, aren’t you? Oh, what did I do? I’m so stupid. I knew I would regret it but I did it anyway, didn’t I, and here you are and anyone can see, you’re no fun anymore. In that back of my mind there’s always that voice saying you can dig him up again after, but I always forget that once I get you back, you’re not going to be any fun at all. I thought, maybe a little bit of fun. I could move your face around and pretend like we’re having a conversation, but I see you now and I just don’t want to. It seems pointless.

Teddy, we must live with the mistakes we make. That is the lesson here. Not for you, of course, but for me. You must live with the mistakes you make. So I’m prepared to live with and maybe learn from this mistake. I’m beginning to think some of my loneliness may be my own fault. Ah, but you would have left anyway, and when I saw you it would make me lonelier still. But lonelier than now? Perhaps not. I think nothing is lonelier than now. I guess I should put you back in the ground. I just don’t want to let you go.

Let me look at you for a bit. That’s it. Don’t move. Just let me look at you.



I want to stop.  I really do.  I’m trying.  I really am.  But I don’t think you understand.  A fire is the most beautiful thing ever created.  I dare you to show me a work of art that can rival a five alarm fire.  You couldn’t do it.  You just couldn’t.  And I like art as much as the next person but I wonder always when I see a Van Gogh or a Rembrant--I imagine, as I’m sure you do, what it would look like on fire.  That second before the painting caves in, that would be . . . it would be . . . incomparable.  But sadly, I don’t think any of us will live to see it.  We could burn prints, I suppose, cheap gift store prints, but it would just be paper.  No melting paint, no disintegrating wood.  It’s a waste.

There is nothing in this world like fire.  At first it’s just a match, an idea, a spark, a little yellow flame, and it need nurturing to grow to an inferno.  Those oranges, those yellows, those cores of blue don’t just happen by themselves.  They take planning.  They take skill.  They take love.  I am not some Zippo-flicking fourteen year old—no.  I am an artist.  I can light a fire so precise all that’s left of the building is dust while the rest of the block is miraculously untouched.  And of course, me and the boys are always around to come and put it out in case anything should happen.


You live alone.  No pets even.  You drink too much.  You swear too much.  You call your mother on Sundays.  You never call your father.  Your socks often don’t match.  You never learned to swim.  You’ve never been married but you had an ex-girlfriend you loved more than anything.  She died when a tour boat accidentally caught fire in the Caribbean.  You were supposed to be on that boat but you couldn’t get the time off.  Some nights you wished you had died with her—suffocated and then burned to death.  Other times you imagine you could have saved her even though you never learned to swim.  You couldn’t cope for a while after her death.  They gave you time off after you crashed up a coupe or two.  Then you spent a little time in a white room with cushy walls.  When you returned they gave you fire duty.  You have an almost religious need to catch this arsonist.  And while I believe you have interest in me, I can’t help but think deep down, perhaps subconsciously, you want to be close to me in case it helps your case in the long run.  That and I’m the best looking firefighter in New York.  Although they didn’t print that.


(ELISE and JAKE continue to kiss as they move into the space that is JAKE’s apartment.  They undress as they kiss, but ELISE’s big rubber boots stay on.  Then they are making love on the bed, perhaps under the covers, perhaps not.  There are groans of pleasure.)

There are many ways to make a fire.  Oooh.  Friction is good.  Ahhh.  Although not the most popular.  Pressure.  We like pressure.  Mmmm.  You can have an electric fire, sure or gas, grease, a chimney fire.  Uuunh.  But I like the kind made with intense amounts of friction.  Or one solitary strike.  Mmmm.  Of a match.  But yes, the intense pressure of bodies uuummmm colliding oohhh to make a spark uuuuhhh that may or may nnnnmm not set the whole thing whaaaa into a blazing mm pulsing mm creature   ah with a mmmm…life of its own.

 (They come.  JAKE falls asleep.  Exit ELISE)


 (ELISE is lighting a fire.)

Burn, burn, burn.  I will raise you from a flame and nurture you.  Feed you until you grow up into a real fire.  And then you will burn, burn, burn.  You will scratch the sky and you will scathe the ground and you will be warm and good and you will make me very happy for a time and then when I put you out that will be happy too because you have to be snuffed out if you want to come back another day.  But let’s not think about that now.  Now we raise you to the sky and you will be powerful and good and fierce.  And you will burn. 


I’m just saying you better not.  Things can catch on fire sometimes I can’t control.  Like your house.  Or your husband.  And maybe the firefighters will get bad directions and arrive much much too late to do anything about it and then your house or your husband will be unrecognizable.  Things like that can happen.  I mean you do what you want, I’m just saying if you like your house and your husband you might want to reconsider your position on whether or not you should mention my firestarting career to anyone.  Because I’m really good at eluding cops at least long enough to set everything you love on fire.


(Bedroom.  Night.  JAKE snores in bed.  ELISE is partially dressed.)

I could stay.  I could stay.  Oh, but the light and the heat and the smell, oh the smell.  But I could stay.  He has smells.  He has heat.  He has other fine attributes.

The light. The sound of a scraping match.  Acetone.  Gasoline.  Kerosene.  The dripping.  The pain in the eyes.  The light.  The heat.  The billows of smoke.  We have too many buildings, don’t you think?  Too many construction sites, empty warehouses, all so much fuel.  It’s a service to take away these extra dangerous buildings.  They are in the way, they are dry and cracked and falling down and they need a good match, a good flame a cleansing of the palate, a cleansing of the city.

But I could stay and climb into his arms and breathe his foul comfort of a breath.  I could cling to his beliefs in right and wrong and the law.  I could give up firestarting right now for good.  I could climb back into his bed, dive under the covers.  I could warm myself on his broad back, lick the back of his neck, put my small hand around his trigger finger.

But there’s the light.  There’s the heat.  There is love and there is love and there are things that I need.  And I  . . .

(ELISE folds JAKE’s, puts it with care on his bed, then kisses him on the forehead.)


I want him to . . . uunh. . . feel pain like I feel right now.  Is that so much to uunh ask? Can we agree?  Ow.  He should suffer.  He should be in lots of pain for lots of time and should suffer.  Uunh.  Like I’m suffering.  I want you to hurt him uunh.  Like no one ever hurt him.  Like he’s never thought it was possible to be uunh hurt like that.  His mind can’t conceive uuh of that kind of pain.  And his mind will shut down.  Ow.  And so will his body ahhh until you shock it awake oooh to make it feel more pain. Uuuuuuuunh.


Let’s run away.  There’s an island in the Mediterranean the tourists don’t know about.  It never rains there and the hurricanes never hit it and you can pick coconuts and bananas off the trees.  You don’t need a fishing pole for the fish.  There are so many they flop into your arms as if to say eat me for dinner.  We can go there now.  With our pensions we’ll live like royalty on the beaches all day swimming with dolphins and at night we’ll make love until we become one person.


I mean she’s right; I didn’t help her stop setting fires.  But sometimes it made her so happy I didn’t even want to help her.  You should have seen the look on her face when  she talked about it.  It was like when we were first married, Gary how you used to look at me.  Why don’t you look at me like that anymore?  Was it something I did or something I said or did you just grow sick of me or is it something else? Am I a bad person?  Is that why you don’t look at me like that anymore?


What I need is to be taken care of.  Worshipped even.  It’s not what I want.  It’s just the position I’m in.  The positions I like to be in.  You’re powerful man and I like to spend time with you because of your power.  But that doesn’t mean you give me enough.  It’ll take more than you for me to get everything I need.


(Janet is trashing EVAN’s room.)

I never should have let this go on this long.  What was I thinking?  I let you do what you wanted and this is what you wanted.  This!  I let you ruin yourself.  What’s wrong with you?  From now on you’re going to be normal.  You’ll play a sport.  You’ll have friends.  You’ll sneak out late at night.  You’ll sneak into the liquor cabinet and you’ll kiss girls and smash mailboxes with baseball bats.  You will start being normal.  And you will not have any birds in your room.  You will not wear shirts with birds on them.  You will start being an adult.  And that means living in this world with the rest of us.  You understand?  We’re throwing all this out.  Everything!  All these posters, all these statues!  (tearing more posters, breaking more statues) All the magazines!  Where are the magazines?!  (JANET looks under his bed.)  Why is there a dead bird in a shoebox under your bed?


It’s not easy.  I’m not saying I thought it would be easy.  I don’t know.  I could use some help.  It’s been the two of us and that has worked sort of but also it’s not working at all.  If only your father was here.  The way he had with people.  He was amazing, wasn’t he, in his interactions.  He would know how to talk to you. He made people feel good about themselves.  It didn’t matter if he was talking to a mechanic or a doctor.  Everyone liked him.  That’s who he was.  I don’t know who he was.

Do you remember his funeral?  The whole town came.  They said it was the biggest turnout they ever had.  For weeks people came by with dinners they made, cakes, breads.  But then, eventually, they stopped coming and they forgot about me.  It was him they liked, not me.  I was just a reminder he was gone.  And now I go into the grocery store and there’s no recognition in anyone’s eyes.  Maybe they don’t want to remember him.  Or maybe they were never really his friends anyway.  I don’t know.  Or maybe too much time has passed.  Or maybe they found out.  Some of them must have known.  In a small town like this --You don’t remember, do you?  I hope you don’t remember.  I tried to keep it away from you.  What he did.  And how he did it.  I thought I knew him.  And then with one quick action he made it clear I didn’t know him at all.

I don’t know why he left us.  He was just lost.  I could see it sometimes in the way he looked off in the distance.  He wasn’t there, wouldn’t let me see.  So charismatic all the time and then moments where he wasn’t there.  The darkness.  Still.  I never thought—Which is why it scares me so much that you’re having such trouble.  A man like him could do that, then you with all the problems you’re having.  Evan?  Evan, baby?

Evan?  Evan, honey, are you there?  Evan?  Can you let me in?
Should I be worried?  Is this something to worry about?  (pause)  Evan?
I’m going to break the door down.  I’ll get the sledgehammer.  I’ll get the axe.  I’ll knock it down.   (Beat)  Evan—You’re not like him, are you?

7 Ways To Say I Love You (Smashing Eyes And Little Folded Hands)


Ask your parents. They’ll tell you. When I was one and you were two we built sand castles on the beach in Hawaii. And then after we built them, we smashed them with our little folded hands. Then we said to our mothers and fathers, “Mother, Father, we’re going swimming,” and we jumped into the water head first. You thought the water was awfully cold and said so, breaking the surface, gasping for breath. I dove deeper, trying to see what I could. The water was clear and I could see for miles and miles. It was then I decided I would live there underwater in a bed of coral. The crabs would be my friends. But alas, my one-year-old lungs would not hold out so back up I went, but right before I broke the surface I saw something at the very bottom. Something very far, very dark, out of the corner of my very young awareness. I came up top but didn’t stop to watch you doggie paddle but instead soared to the bottom past fishes and dolphins and sea lions and sharks. And I was inches from the bottom when my lungs again started to wail at me. But by then I could see them—two dark circles—darker than dark. Blacker than anything. And I reached out my toddler hand and gave one tremendous kick and grabbed them tightly. And that’s where I found these amazing eyes of mine that I’ve been wearing ever since. (Pause.) When I came to the surface you were gone. Up and left with your mother and father. And inexplicably, my mother and father were gone too. But I had my eyes. And they made me strong.



(to her DOG)
I see you looking at me. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I should get dressed and go to work. “Get going,” your eyes say. But I am moving. You might not see it, but I’m moving. It’s slow sure, but I’m faster than erosion. Faster than continental drift. But wait a minute. Let me rest. What’s the hurry? Live in the moment here with me. I’m here right now and I aim to stay here for another few minutes, an hour, a day. Everything will go on without me. I didn’t go to work yesterday or the day before and yet the world continues to revolve. New York does not need me. People go about their lives. No one calls to ask where I am. It’s like I don’t exist at all. But I do exist don’t I?

Please stop judging me. I don’t need to go to work, not today. It won’t affect the food in your dish. You’ll get fed. And you won’t be lonely.

Please don’t say anything. I know you disapprove and I hear you but it’s really not what I want right now and I know you subscribe to a sort of tough love viewpoint, but sometimes that’s not very helpful and furthermore, not appreciated. Don’t look at me like that. I do appreciate you, just not the hard line you try to draw sometimes. The world is not black and white. And colors can be confusing, so let me sit and rest and figure out a few things, okay? It’ll be fun. I can stay here all day with you. We can watch bad romantic comedies and you can jump up on the bed and curl up with me and we can eat crackers if we want. I won’t kick you out. And tomorrow? (beat) Who knows? Let’s just think of today. Everything is so uncertain these days.


Because I can’t handle things falling on my head. My older brother when I was a kid, used to drop things on me. He would pin me to the ground and then drop things on my face. Gummi Bears, ping pong balls, chocolate chips, our goldfish.

Legos, Barbie heads, pens, popsicles, water balloons, eggs, tin foil, socks, shoes, magnets, pieces of paper, jello, cereal, the cat.

Marshmallows, a slinky, legos. Flowers, ice, a recorder, matches, unlit. Matches, lit. matchbox cars, cellophane, statue of the virgin Mary, chapstick, butter, and then liquids. Juice, milk, water of course. Salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, parsley, bacon bits, tongue depressors, spit, oregano, pancakes, stuffed animals, marbles, lettuce, sticks, forks, spoons, wood chips, chopsticks, erasers. Legos. Did I say legos? Toast, rubber balls, hackey sacks, Frisbees, action figures, dirt, spare change, mints, catfish.

It is my dream to someday lock him in a room, handcuff him to a chair and spend all day and night dumping things over his head.


Something like this makes you think about what you know about yourself, your likes and dislikes, your way in the world. I feel like all this time the things I disliked were really the things I liked and possibly vice versa. I’m not sure what that means except I might be in love.


Everything is not about the two of you, and your bets and side bets, your tantrums, your proposals, your lust and your desires. I can have desires and you don’t have to enter into them in any way. I can have sex dreams and sex day dreams and they can be about someone else. I’m tired of being tied down or covered up. I am not a statue on a pedestal or a flower in a vase. I am not just a beautiful thing, although I am that for sure. But I want to be recognized for who I am, not only how I look. I don’t want to always be protected from the world by other people. You don’t have to build a ceiling over me. I don’t need it. I don’t know. Treat me like a normal person, not the freak in the room who happens to be incredibly incredibly beautiful.


Well thank you all. I don’t know that that will help me catch the perp per se but I do feel like we’re getting somewhere. Everyday, we try to get somewhere new. That’s the way I try to live my life and it’s working out so far. I mean, don’t get me wrong. It’s not perfect. My life is not ideal.

I used to be an addict. It burned down a lot of bridges behind me. There are a lot of people who won’t talk to me anymore though I wish they would. I’m not telling you this because I want your sympathy. Or pity. I’m just a person. I went through something and came out the other side, scarred but intact. And there is temptation of course everyday but I tell myself, that was a bad life I led. And I embraced the law and what is good and right because it seemed like the opposite way was the way to go, you know?

People can change.

Most people don’t. But they can. You can go to God. That works for some people. Or shrinks or I don’t know. We all have our own paths. But I think it’s important to make sure you’re on the right path for you, you know? Look at where you’re going. Get out of the car, examine the map, make plans if you can. But don’t just put your foot down on the gas and shoot down the highway in the fast lane without proper consideration of where the fuck you’re going.

But really I guess what I want to say is would you like to go out sometime?



What you speak of, I think, Fred is a coldness I have managed to cultivate towards the majority of men. Because I give off the air of not caring about you and because I speak to you and others brusquely, because I am short and dismissive with you, you think there must be something about me. I get many dates because of this. Perhaps you think I am like this all the time, but I am not. It disappears when I go home. It is not anything true. Because when I go home I am under a different spell. Not unlike the way you are under mine. Do you understand?

I think I love you.

All right, well, add your name to the chalkboard and leave me a sample of your genetic material and we’ll see what comes of it. I promise not to erase your name prematurely.


Oh, Father, what am I doing? I don’t know who I am anymore. I go to work in a fog. Is this what I’m supposed to be doing with my days and nights? Look at me, ready for another date, a date I don’t want to go on but why sit at home when another cold soup man is willing to buy me a another hot meal. So I put on the date lipstick and the date perfume, because who knows, maybe this time, this man, but no, he too will sit in a shadow and I will stop listening in the first minute.

Why is my life not like yours and mother’s? Why is my bank account empty at the end of every month and my bed empty at the end of every night? This was not the way you lived, even when you were digging and burying. I am unable to bury a damned thing. Help me. Help me, Father. What am I supposed to be doing? How can I get through this night? Or tomorrow?


Go ahead and stop me then. (Silence) What you can’t? No, you can’t stop me now, can you? The night is blank and the streets are empty. I pick a direction at random and begin running. I feel like I am running through water. My legs don’t move like I tell them. My brain is mush holding on to a single thought—that I must find him. I run and I run and the air is water and my brain is melting. I am about to give up. I can’t see anything, anyone, anywhere. And then he is there.

(BOBBIE caught in streetlamp.)

Where were you?

(BOBBIE tries to kiss her. She turns away again. He begins to walk away again, hurt.)

No, I’m sorry. Don’t go. Shit! I’m so stupid. Wait for me.

(BOBBIE and SYLVIA walk.)

He walks more slowly this time. As if he’s waiting for me. But he still doesn’t look in my direction or seem to see me in his periphery. I stare at him as we walk along, oblivious to the night, the neighborhood, to everything. Then we are standing in front of a brownstone. Then we are in the hall. Then we are in his apartment or what I assume is his apartment.

(BOBBIE goes to his desk, opens the drawer, takes out his handgun. He looks down the barrel for a while. They are both completely still. Then BOBBIE slowly turns his head and looks at SYLVIA.)

How can I explain that I’m not afraid? Yes, it is dangerous, but not any more dangerous than falling in love. When it comes down to it what it really does is make a piece of metal move very quickly. It doesn’t ever get to the root of things. It just takes care of the surface problem—if that’s what it’s for, that is. I don’t ask what it’s there for. But let me be clear I’m not afraid.

(BOBBIE puts the gun back. Sits down and begins to type.)

I am more afraid of what he is writing. I am afraid of his command of language, his diction, the way the verbs might rub up against my palate or jam themselves, get stuck in my throat. I am afraid I might like it too much, get used to it. Or maybe instead it’s the opposite: I am afraid of disappointment. I am afraid of who I think he is and more afraid he isn’t.

(BOBBIE stops typing, slips the sheet into a bottle and corks it.)

Then he speaks to me for the first time, although he looks away from me as if anyone in the room might catch his voice and latch onto it and find meaning in it and, if it happened to be me, well so be it. He says:

"If you stay here, I will hold you all night long."

So I do.



What is this feeling, so unpleasant, like my insides rotting or my outside melting? There is a bad taste in my mouth that won’t go away. I feel itchy and oversized and everything is crawling. Is this what rejection is? Isn’t there usually a heaviness to it? An unbearable weight? (beat) Oh, there it is. A big boat of depression sailing over my chest.

It hurts. It hurts so much. It’s not—is it me? No one has ever rejected me before. He must be a lunatic. He must be some sort of nutcase. Someone not all there, because why else--? Ohhh. Or he can see everything wrong with me, all the things I’m afraid are there but can forget about. He knows I’m no good. I could have fought Doctor X harder. I could have climbed the fire escape faster maybe. Or I could have tried harder to love them back. If I had made myself maybe or—


What do people do after they get rejected? Do they curl into a ball and die? Do they tear out their hair? Drink themselves into oblivion? I want to do all of these things at once.

There must be something outstanding about him if he’s too good for me. Now I will never want anyone besides him. All other men are fools and idiots who could never measure up. No, there is nothing to do now except commit to a life of celibacy. A life with meaning. (She takes out her cell phone and dials the number on the card the Crimefighters gave her.) Hello, Crimefighters? (A huge crash.)


Doctor X is just so exciting. And wrong. So exciting and wrong. I think the other girls have an inkling. Because I—I let him get away. I paused. If you know me, you know I’m not someone who ever pauses. I run into any situation, burning building, shark infested pool, without a thought. But I saw Doctor X and I paused, to the point of stopping even. And it was not revulsion I was feeling. Well, it was, but it was mixed with something else, something potent. I’m not sure what. They should bottle it if they could ever find a way to collect it. They’d make millions.

He just stood there, looking at me, with his doctor’s bag and syringe. He showed no remorse. Remorseless. Soulless maybe. And it took my breath away. I’m terrified of what might happen the next time I run into him. You have to be ready at all times to kill if necessary. But when I think—I’m not sure I could do it in this case. I dread our next meeting and at the same time I look forward to it more than anything in my entire life. You know what I mean?



(Suddenly intense)
I think you’re the one who’s never had a really good kiss. A good kiss is like a knife. The best kiss I ever had hurt more than anything. It couldn’t help it. A really good kiss can’t help but hurt you ‘cause you give part of yourself away. Make yourself vulnerable to it. A kiss, a real kiss severs nerves and cuts through you and that’s an injury you’ll never recover from.


Sometimes it’s like you can’t feel anything because the conversations in your head are too loud. You have no connection to your body and you’re numb and depressed. The dancers in your head are twisted into knots. And there are voices, these hurtful voices and the only way to shut them up is to take a knife and cut yourself. Then, the numbness drains out, the dancers are free, and you can feel again for a while.



Well I wouldn’t shut up, would I? When you don’t shut up, the boys notice you. Course, eventually you realize no one was really listening. And you stop speaking up in class—realize maybe you weren’t saying anything anyway—not something someone else couldn’t say better--usually a boy. And the boys who seemed to be listening to you weren’t quite the right boys.

(Stuffing her pockets.)
So you stopped talking. But then you realize if you lift up your shirt there are boys that like that too. But maybe those aren’t quite the right boys either because then later those boys want to see what’s in your pants. And want to put themselves in you even if you’re not ready and maybe those aren’t the right boys either but at least they need you for a few minutes.

(Stuffing her bag.)
Then you go after your friend’s boyfriend because it’s wrong and it’s fun and because your friend is pretty. And you get him but once you have him, you realize he’s no good. And your friend hates you. But you do it again anyway to another friend. And the girls all begin to hate you. They call you a skank and they call you a whore. But some of the boys like you some of the time. But they think you’re a slut. So you embrace it because what else can you do? You buy a t-shirt that says “Fuckdoll” and a series of short skirts and you try on provocative lipsticks.


ALLEGRA at a bed talking to her FATHER who faces away from us. He wears an oxygen mask and does not move.)

And I’m working at this like group home with Suzy Harris. We hang out a lot. You know who she is? I think you’d like her. She’s a lot of fun. She was supposed to come here with me today but . . . she couldn’t make it.

Bobby’s good. He works at the garden place in Salem sometimes on the weekends. He wishes he could be here too. He’s uh . . . a good boyfriend. I think it’ll last for us. One of the great . . . things.

Fuck! It’s just as hard to talk to you now that you can’t talk back. I can’t ever say the right thing to you. You’re just so . . . not there, aren’t you. You always ignore me. I know even if you can hear me right now, you’re not paying attention. You never . . . Why don’t I matter to you? What do you want from me?!! Maybe you just want to be left alone.

Well, that’s what I’ll do then. I’m sorry I disturbed your death bed you selfish fucking bastard! You self-centered egotistical, pompous fucking bastard! I don’t care what you want! I hope you die! I hope you fucking die real soon! You can fucking rot and be eaten by worms! I hope fucking worms eat you! Worms with big fucking teeth! And rats and flies and vultures! I hope vultures dig you up and take you out of the casket and fly away with you! You fuck!


I miss you.

I’ve always missed you. I’m sorry. I don’t want you to die. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Oh, Christ, I’m so sorry. Please don’t die. You’re so small. Please, Daddy.

(ALLEGRA kisses his forehead.)


(ALLEGRA’s house. ALLEGRA’S MOM sits, facing away from us, watching TV. ALLEGRA approaches her mother.)

I know you’re probably mad at me for leaving before the funeral, but I just can’t do it. My whole body itches and it won’t stop until I get in a car and can’t see this house or this town or this state from the rearview window.

This way is better. This way I’ll come back from my trip and go straight to school and you won’t have to look at me or think about me. You can tell people you have a daughter but you won’t have to talk to me on the phone or see me on the couch. I’ll be a no-maintenance daughter just like you always wanted.

I’m going to go now. I know someday you’ll want to talk to me again. Maybe after I graduate and get a job and get married and buy a house and have my own daughter. Then you can talk to her and be her favorite and then we can pretend you were a really great mother. She won’t know and I don’t have to tell her.

But now I’m going to get on the road and push you out of my mind and I probably won’t think of you until I get to the grand canyon or some other fairly good canyon and maybe I’ll cry in front of the mammoth orange hole in the ground or maybe I’ll smile because it’s so beautiful and I’m free and windswept.

But first I’m going to get into Suzy’s mom’s car and we’ll drive till there’s just drops left in the tank and as we cross the border into Massachusetts, we’ll roll into the first gas station where I’ll get some Ding Dongs and some orange soda and I’ll bite into the first one sitting on the hood, watching the car slurp up gas. Then I’ll get in the driver’s seat and put my foot on the accelerator until I can’t keep my eyes open anymore. So I pull over and we both close our eyes and sleep until we’re awoken at three am by separate but equally terrible nightmares.


You have instincts and part of you knows things but the other part of you doesn’t want it to be so. So you say, “no, that’s not it.” A does not lead to B because hey that’s far fetched. Who would believe? The mind is being dramatic and should not be encouraged. Been letting it go too much. Too much time alone to consider too many possibilities.

But to answer your question Tom, sure there was two girls in here. Had some sandwiches. Left right before you came in. Don’t know where they went. Didn’t say.

Just paid and left. Young girls. Too cute for their own good. Are they in trouble or are they themselves trouble? It’s got to be one or the other. No, don’t tell me. I don’t need to know.

Can I offer you some ice cream. Sure, you can stay a minute. Or long enough for a bowl. Them girls is probably long gone by now. Down a back road never to be seen again. Now how ‘bout that? Never to be seen again. That would be something.

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Medicinal Plants said...
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Medicinal Plants said...
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