Yes you have my permission to do any of these monologues in class or in competition. You are welcome to post a video of the monologue online if you wish.
The Book Store
I feel Sad. Like. Sad like I’ve been underground for a long time. And it’s dark and I can barely breathe. And I remember when it wasn’t like that. There was hope once. I can almost see it way up above the ground. But I can’t move and no one’s digging me out. It’s not depression exactly because it seems tied to circumstance. Or maybe my expectations are just out of whack. People enjoy things, right? And not just in the next life and not just in retirement, but in their daily lives, right? There are happy times just normally, right? People like to wake up, enjoy I don’t know, brushing their teeth or listening to music. I can’t even listen to music right now.
I see that. It’s a life. A place of your own in the city.
Commuting every day during rush hour. Editing books on the train. Maybe someone spills coffee on your manuscript. Maybe someone gropes you. But you have the office, you have your dreams. You have a home with lots of light and a man you love to come home to. You drink some tea by the fireplace. Is there a fireplace?
Maybe a cat curls up on your lap. Course there’s jackhammering outside when you try to do yoga. But construction ends eventually. And maybe there’s an author who’s demanding and doesn’t understand commas. But another author will follow. We choose our best lives … or we try. We have to work with what we have.
(SHEILA wears a mask over her nose and mouth.)
Under here, I could be anybody. I don’t have to make myself look normal. I don’t have to smile. Or do anything. Because you… you can’t really see me, can you? You can’t see my pointy front teeth that I’m self conscious about. Or my chin. And look maybe I’m more attractive this way or more mysterious. It’s hot sometimes and scratchy. It hurts my ears but I never want to go outside without it. If I wear sunglasses too, I can be anybody. (Puts on sunglasses.) You don’t know. I could be a movie star. I’ll pull this hat down and maybe this is the new normal. (Puts hat on or pulls it down.) That pimple on my forehead? You can’t see it. My nose? Look, my nose is okay. People have said nice things about my nose so maybe. Not that it should matter what people think.
But look. What if I was always just like this? Even after all this is over? Maybe I pretend I have a cold and I can always wear a mask over my mouth. And I’ll go out like this all the time. I’ll say, “Pardon the mask, I’m feeling a little under the weather.” Or maybe I don’t have to say anything at all. People will get used to it and then I never have to show my face to anybody and no one would assume I’m robbing a bank or disfigured. I can just be invisible. Or more visible? I don’t know. Maybe both. I could be me. Like the most version of me and you couldn’t judge me for it. Your judgement bullets bounce off me. Because you don’t know what my face is doing. That would be perfect. Except. Except…
You. You with a capital Y you. The You that never sees me no matter what. The You I talk to late at night in my head. What are You doing now? What are You thinking? Would You like this music? Would You enjoy my lemon tarts?
Why don’t You see me or talk to me or notice me? I can speak up more. I can be snarky too. But it doesn’t seem to matter. I could be a mysterious movie star in a mask and you wouldn’t even glance at me. If only I could be invisible to everyone but you. I would take off my mask when I got home to You and You could see all my feelings and all my thoughts. I wouldn’t have to say anything to You. You would just know.
(She takes off the mask, the sunglasses, the hat.)
And You’d accept me for me. Wouldn’t You?
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.
How do you think you would fit into our office? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Tell me about a time you had a challenge at your previous jobs and how you handled it. How well do you function in a fast paced environment? Why are you right for this position? Why do you want this job? What will your previous bosses tell me about you when I call them? Do you think the interview process is a useful way to choose someone? Do you get lonely at night? If I hire you, will you have to go out and buy a lot of shirts and pants and ties and socks so you can work here? What is right about you? What are your hobbies? What is the thing you are afraid I will find out about you? Are you a good person? Will I have to fire you someday? I really don’t like to fire people. I would hate to hire you just to have to fire you two weeks or three weeks or five years down the road. How are you getting on in your life? Is this the right choice for you? Are you political? Are you religious? Do you like and dislike the same things I do? Can we talk about our favorite TV shows and our desire to ride unicycles? Will I ever find love? Will I ever find God? Will my life ever feel less meaningless? What is seventeen times five?
A Thing Of Beauty
We don't make art. Art makes itself through us. But we have to be open to let the muse in. I mean the state of being where it's not just us doing it. Time passes and you don't notice. It's like you're in a trance. You come out and you feel like you were led on by forces beyond you and just touched God. It doesn't happen every time. For some people almost never. But it's the reason to make something. It's the dirty secret of why people are really artists. It's the chance you get to commune. That high you get from creation when you're with the muse . . . Or with God or whatever you want to call it. And you come out of it and you're like how did I do that? It couldn't have been me. It must have been someone else.
I think athletes know about it too. Scientists. Mathematicians. They all know what it is to get in the zone. It's just that for me, the way to that thing is through painting ... Or sculpting. But the muse won't come if you're thinking about your critics. It's why Fred doesn't read reviews. It's why artists drink. That shuts up the critical voices for a little while, at first, but it destroys you other ways I guess. I don't know. I'm not an alcoholic. But I am addicted to making art with my muse. If you could only access that all the time-- but you can't. Or at least I can't. But that's the flaw of criticism.
You think the artist is creating something for you. But she's not. She's feeding her addiction. The art is just the byproduct of the process. The art is for the artist, not for the people.
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.
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.
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.
(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.)
(Bedroom. Night. JAKE snores in bed. ELISE is partially dressed.)
(ELISE folds JAKE’s, puts it with care on his bed, then kisses him on the forehead.)
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?
FOOD FOR FISH
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.
HEARTS LIKE FISTS
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?
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.
SISSY. The funny thing about brakes is one minute they’re working fine and the next minute they don’t work. Personally I know a few things about cars and I could look at your brakes for you if you like. If you want, I’ll do it right now, unless you’ve got somewhere to go.
I could take a look anytime. I know what your car looks like. It’s a very very simple thing to do. Anytime you come to Waldo’s house I could take a good look at your car. Look at the tires, maybe they look kind of flat. Or maybe I’ll look directly at the brake line. It’s terrible for brakes to go on a hill or when someone cuts you off on the highway. So many people die that way. Without any warning, their brakes just go.
MONOLOGUES FOR MEN
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