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.
(Holding a sled)
I’ve tried meditation. Music. Books. Movies. Jogging. They all work a little bit if I focus but I can’t really jog long enough to make a difference usually because the actual act is so miserable especially when it’s cold. No one wants more wind on their face when it’s cold. I haven’t tried the isolation tank but I’m scared of that. I can’t do rollercoasters because I can’t stand the stomach drop and the visceral fear isn’t too fun either. I mean I know the rollercoaster won’t collapse and I won’t fall out, except maybe I will, you know? You know what’s best for getting my mind to stop thinking words and words and words? Sledding. Give me a hill like this with snow that’s easy to pack. And I’ll do it for hours. No trees around to crash into. The exertion of going back up the hill after is worth the ride down. It’s above freezing. Not too windy. My nose isn’t going to fall off. Why can’t every day just be sledding down the hill?
Things I don’t have to think about while sledding include
My ex’s new girlfriend, emphasis on girl
My dead end job
Waiting to find out about the job I applied for that I really want
Waiting to find out about the other job I applied for that I really want
The dishes in the sink
My date with the neighbor
Whether or not there’s a god
My own mortality
So yeah. Sledding.
(She runs offstage.)
Here’s how you build a snow cave. You make a big pile of snow. You get your shovel and you just build a big hill. You pack it down as you go. Maybe you even try to walk on it. After you got a good sized hill, like you imagine when you dig it out, you’ll be able to fit in it, and if it’s for two people, it’s big enough for that, then you get a bunch of sticks and cut them like a foot long or eighteen inches. Then you stick sticks in it all around the hill. When you’re digging it out later, you’ll know to stop digging when you hit the sticks and then your walls are about a foot thick. You can go thicker. You just need longer sticks. Then you go away and wait for it to melt a bit in the snow. If it’s getting colder, you want to wait for it to get warmer so maybe you try the next day. Just don’t wait too long or no hill anymore. Okay so it’s melted and packed down and the sticks are in. Now you get your shovel and you make a door and you carve out the inside with a shovel like it’s a pumpkin or something. Remember to stop if you hit stick. It’s a lot of work and will be tiring. And the sun is bright so I always wear sunglasses or else the sun on the snow gives me a headache. But that won’t be a problem inside the cave. Okay, now you’ve dug it out. Lie down on your back. Put your arm straight out from your mouth. You need to dig a small hole there for your breath to get out. So punch a hole the size of your fist through the wall with your hand or a stick. Then that’s it. You have a snow cave. That’s the way I was taught. Maybe there are better ways now but this way works. Will it be warm? No it will not. It will be very cold. But it will also be quiet. You could sleep in there if you are in a really good sleeping bag and are wearing hats and dry clothes and everything. Mine is in my backyard so I can sleep in my house. But I go out there to get away. Sometimes we all need a snow cave, you know? I know you know. I wish I could stay out there all the time. But it does get lonely. And cold. And I get hungry. We all need things.
(KELLY reads a letter out loud.)
I tremble as I write these words. My breath catches in my throat. I’m terrified because I’ve never known how you feel about me— not really. But I felt like it was time to tell you how I feel about you.
I hate you. Like I truly and viscerally hate you. Which is a problem because I’m in love with you. I don’t know if this will be a surprise to you to hear this from me or if it’s really really obvious.
I’ve tried many times to change how I feel about you but every day it seems it just gets more intense in both directions. So it is you that has to change.
Please try harder not to be so awful. I know that’s difficult for you but I also know you can do it. Please try to dress better and be less disgusting more of the time. Please be kinder and quieter and please stay out of my dreams. I think about you enough during the day. Really it’s the least you could do.
I’m sending this through the mail. Everyone likes getting mail, don’t they? Please write me a letter back detailing the ways you’re trying to improve yourself and also please declare your love for me.
Sometimes I wonder if I have a heart of snow. It didn’t start that way. Most of my teenage years my heart was a blazing hot summer. Beaches, pools, water skiing even. But then a long term relationship ended badly and that cooled things off. At first it was just a layer of frost. And I knew it wasn’t my fault but I had a hard time coming back from it all the same. So my heart went away for a while. Eventually I tried dating again. Got stood up. But I let the snow melt and tried again. Fell hard for a kind face but after three years, he left me for my friend. They’re married now. And so the frost set in. Time passed. Went on a couple dates. The frost grew a crust. Snow fell. I stopped trying. Got set up a few times but my heart wasn’t in it any more. In the end, it was never one thing or one person. But it’s been a while since I’ve been in a relationship. And now my heart has four feet of snow covering it.
Everyone is on the lake. The parking lot at first beach is full like it’s the beginning of summer. The ice is thick and it’s just like a big party on the lake in our parkas. And there’s skating and fishing. I saw Gerald on his snowmobile. Probably drives it one day a year. And I guess that day is today. It’s like a big party in our small town and there is hot apple cider someone is giving out and then someone puts on some music and everyone is dancing and sliding around. And we’re all lucky and grateful to be alive maybe.
One day, my brain just quits. I can’t think. Everything is fuzzy and I can’t have long thoughts any more. And if I can’t think, who am I really even? I think therefore… But if I can’t— I’m known as the thinker, the writer but if I can’t think enough to write, I don’t know who I am. Who am I? So. I’m going to try and exercise more and take those vitamins that increase blood flow to the brain. But maybe I’ll never come back. Maybe I have to just learn to live with my new situation. And you can get used to anything. What’s the word? It’s on the tip… I feel like I lose words and I find them again but what happens the day I lose them and they never come back? If I didn’t know it was happening maybe I’d feel free from the burden of having all those thoughts knocking into each other in my head. But instead, it’s a thought that starts and just can’t…. finish.
And then. The sun comes out and something lifts and I can think again. I know it’s just a reprieve and old age will take us all eventually if something else doesn’t take us first, but I’m grateful and hopeful and … what’s the word?
The Wooden Heart
If I’m honest, that hurts a little bit. I mean I’m happy for her. We just weren’t compatible. And hope, yes, we all wish hope for others, don’t we? I mean if we are good people. It’s hard getting over a breakup. I thought this play would help maybe. I don’t know. Narrating is, I think, the thing for me. I found it, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Especially when –well, you were there. You saw. I’ll be okay. Don’t worry about me. The play will be over and then. . . something else, right?
I had two employees quit. Two! The same day. Apparently they “just couldn’t do it anymore.” But what does that mean? Do what? Pay their rent? Eat? Jobs are not supposed to be fun. Who ever told you jobs were fun? Jobs aren’t fun. Jobs suck and then you get to go home after and live and if it’s a good job maybe when you go to the doctor it won’t cost that much. That’s it. You do whatever stupid thing you have to do and then you go home. I mean, I want to be an elven princess who goes on fantastical journeys but that ain’t gonna happen. I got to get groceries tonight or tomorrow there’ll be nothing to eat. I mean, right? Don’t you agree? Everything sucks for everybody. Jobs aren’t fun. Right? Like. . . What do you do?
Once we were sitting on the grass, just me and her and she was like “I need to tell you something” and I was like “uh oh” you know because I didn’t know what it was but I got nervous about it anyway like bees in my stomach or something and her face was so serious and I was thinking “why do I even care” except that I did care a lot even if I didn’t want to or if I wanted to pretend like I didn’t care at all. And then she told me and it was nothing. Just some stupid life thing and I was like why did I get so nervous right then? What did I think she was going to say and why was I worried it was going to crack my whole world open and then she went and died and that cracked my whole world anyway.
I never said, “Will you marry me.” I never said, “Let’s run off together.” I wanted to say that to you. Every day I looked at you and that’s what ran through my head. Maybe I was scared that you’d say no or maybe I was scared you’d say yes. You had that smile. It hurt me. Split me right open even. And when you’d look at me, I mean really look at me—Why did you leave me here? I can’t go on. It’s too hard without you here. And it was hard with you here too. You were difficult. And you were beautiful. Sometimes you were mean and awful. But also I loved you and I never told you. And now you’re gone. And I never kissed you once. So I guess I’m the idiot.
I never told you what you meant to me. I’m still not sure actually what you meant to me. I looked up to you of course. And you were always there, so there’s that. I coveted your clothing. I wanted to be you. I mean, not now. And anyway, did you want to hear that really? That I wanted to be you? Better I think to never say something like that. Not just because it’s embarrassing to me but because it’s embarrassing to you too. But maybe I should have told you. If only I could have been born as you, maybe my life would be worth something. Don’t look at me like that. I know I have low self esteem. I’m working on it. You were so much more than the rest of us though, weren’t you?
Twenty-five times I tried to tell you what you meant to me but I couldn’t.
Twenty-four times I brought you coffee.
Twenty-three times I read to you.
Twenty-two times you read to me.
Twenty-one times you gave me a ride.
Twenty times I asked you what time it was.
Nineteen times I was angry at you.
Eighteen times I asked about your mother.
Seventeen times I played that song you like.
Sixteen times I stopped myself from saying something mean to you.
Fifteen times you wore my jacket before I asked for it back.
Fourteen times I was afraid of what you would say.
Thirteen times I gave you a pencil.
Twelve times I let you copy my homework.
Eleven times I forgot what I was going to say.
Ten times I said the wrong thing and you told me so.
Nine times I celebrated your birthday with you.
Eight times you called me your best friend.
Seven times you told me to go. “Just go.”
Six times we danced to my favorite song.
Five times you asked about my brother.
Four times I lent you money.
Three times you used my phone.
Twice you told me to shut up.
Once I spilled soup on you.
Eight hundred and forty three times you smiled at me.
I kept track.
I have a lot more but I’ll stop there.
You really made me feel bad about myself a lot. Like I felt ugly around you and stupid. I felt like I couldn’t do anything right. I sure couldn’t run as fast as you could or speak French half as well. I couldn’t make anyone swoon the way you could. And the way you dressed! I tried sometimes to do the thing you did where you roll up your sleeve but it never worked. Or the thing you did sometimes with barrettes? But no. I just looked like I was trying too hard. There was just something about you that just made me want to open myself up with my fingernails and jump out of my skin. Let’s just say I always felt bad about myself with you in the world, and now, I should feel better, right? But I don’t. Not even a little.
I spent a lot of time finding just the right mix of flowers to bring to your grave. I wanted to find the ones that you would think were beautiful. I thought about the colors you wore and about your general disposition. I thought about your smell. And look, sometimes the wrong flowers together don’t smell right. So I really worked on this. The florist was very annoyed. But I had it finally. A perfect blend that seems like you and that you would like. And I deposited it perfectly on your grave. It was like a spot was saved for me in front. But you weren’t there. It was just some grass and a rock. So I took the flowers back to my car and I drove around trying to think of where to put them. I went to the coffee shop. I hung outside your house. I went to the lake. I went to your old job. But nothing seemed right. So I brought them home. I will watch them die and I will hang them upside down and dry them and I will remember you maybe. I wish I could give them to you but this will just have to do.
This is what I imagine death to be like. You’re floating, suspended, but you’re also underwater and your body doesn’t weigh anything and you can’t really feel it. And you can’t see anything. It’s black. Like black ink or like really dark blue ink. It could be that. But that’s all you see. And everything is just silent and you float and you’re kind of aware of everything but thinking about it all doesn’t hurt or cause you distress. You’re free maybe. But also you’re not anything. And that’s it. You float and exist but don’t exist and that’s what it is forever. That’s death. Some days I look forward to that. But it may not be like that at all so maybe not.
I’m here representing the Secret Society Of Julie’s Secret Admirers. We’ve disbanded. It’s not a secret any more. In case you weren’t privy, we met biweekly and would discuss Julie’s finer attributes and who she was and wasn’t talking to and we read poems written about her and would tell stories. It was kind of like this except with some hope of someday. Or maybe that was never true either. I was hoping to provide some levity actually but. Sorry. Maybe Freddy will come up and be funny. Freddy? Freddy? Did he leave? Freddy? Freddy? I know you were here before. Hey could you come be funny? Are you here? Freddy. He does this impression of me actually that I never appreciated but I hear it’s really funny really. Freddy? You don’t have to do that. You could do something else. Freddy! FREDDY?!!!!
(This is a letter. I’m going to read a letter.)
I’ll probably never actually give this letter to you. I won’t put it in an envelope and put a stamp on it and put it in the mail. Or hand it to you. You won’t ever read it. Unless someday I get brave. Julie, I guess the thing I’m afraid to say is that I’m worried I’ll always be alone in this life. And you made me feel a little less alone today. And you probably didn’t even know when you smiled at me and talked to me and said something nice about me— you probably didn’t even know that it meant what it meant to me. But thank you. Maybe someday I’ll give you this note. Maybe.
But now I can’t.
Sometimes I write things down because it’s hard to remember how it really happened and what I really felt. I was sure I had been betrayed and then I went back and read my journal and yeah I was betrayed but in a different way than I remembered. Sometimes I look back at the person who wrote those words and wonder who they were. So I started writing things I remember about Julie. Her hair. Her time on the four hundred meter. The way she said “whistle.” The way people would turn when she walked down the hall, stumble over their words, avert their gaze even. How much of this will I forget or distort from remembering over and over until her face is just a memory of a memory, or her voice. I can’t even remember really.
100 Love Letters I Never Sent
When I first saw you, it wasn’t anything. It wasn’t love at first sight. You were just one of many. I didn’t think much of you. Attractive, sure but nothing special. And I was aware of you. You were around. I was around. We saw each other. And then one day a bunch of us were in the break room I remember. And you laughed for the first time and the whole room turned to look at you. And from then on I started to listen to things you said and everyone started to want to be around you. And then one day you wore that hat and it made your eyes pop and that was it. I was gone. And I wasn’t the only one.
My biggest problem is you don’t say much and what that means is that I project onto you the kind of person I hope you are. I see you thinking and I imagine what you’re thinking. You have deep thoughts, I think about life and our place in it and the purpose of everything. Maybe you have something figured out that we will never understand. But maybe that’s not true. Sometimes I see something funny and I want to show you because I think you’ll think it’s funny too. But maybe you won’t. Maybe you’re not the person I think you are at all. So this is a love letter for the person I want you to be. And I do want to get to know you. I hope I can. I hope when I talk to you, you’ll say things back, more and more. And I’ll see what you’re really like. And I’ll adjust, I think to how you actually are. I’m sure you’ll disappoint me. Everyone does. But that’s not your fault. I’m disappointed by myself too.
I think about sex all day every day. Sex with you, of course but sex in general and sex with many many others. I don’t think this is a problem but also I can’t stop so I think I’ll just learn to live with being extremely this way. They say someday it dies down. Maybe I won’t be like this when I’m old and part of me thinks, cool. I look forward to that and part of me is pretty sure that will never really happen to me. Anyway, this is how I am today. You don’t need to know every sexual thought I’m having but you may want to know they are plentiful. But probably you’ll forget I’m saying this or think I’m joking. Or it’ll make you jealous maybe for a minute and then you’ll push it out of your mind.
So I bought a typewriter at a thrift store. It was black and shiny and beautiful and it worked. I took it home and polished it until it gleamed and then I put a single sheet in, and turned the platen, I think it’s called a platen. And I started to write you a love letter. And I was embarrassed so I stopped. And I put a new sheet in and started over. I wrote about the moon and the stars and your stomach. And that one was bad too. But I tried again. And again. And again. Day after day, I tried. Sometimes for hours, sometimes for only a few minutes. I had to get a new ribbon and learn how to put it in the typewriter. I went through a lot of paper. I learned how to type though I still make a lot of mistakes. For fifty days I tried every day and I never quite wrote what I meant to say. But here is the newest one. No. Wait. Don’t read that yet. Let me try again.
I carry lots of things wherever I go because I never know what you might need. Do you want this chapstick? Do you need a shoelace? A band aid? Aspirin? I have super glue. I carry a compass in case we get lost together. I have a bottle of water. I wear this watch in case our phones die. But I also have a power bank to bring them back to life. I have a whistle and a lighter and a flashlight. I have pens and a penknife. A small tent. A sweatshirt you could wear. And a letter I wrote to you so if I ever die you will know I loved you.
Romeo and Juliet were children. They didn’t know what love was. Just because you’re willing to die if you can’t be together, doesn’t mean you are actually in love. I blame the easy access to swords and poison and daggers. And feeling trapped. We all feel trapped sometimes in our little lives and it seems like there is a person who is the way out. But a lover will not solve all your problems. Romeo and Juliet clearly show us that. Which is not to say connecting with another person isn’t worthwhile. You just shouldn’t expect them to save you. Sorry. This is kind of a weird love letter, huh? What I mean to say is, I’m not going to plunge a dagger in my heart but I do love you in my own way, more than a thirteen year old from a tragedy could.
It’s love when I suggest we carpool. It’s love when I come to work and hang out with you even though I’m not on the schedule. It’s love when I want to entertain you and be around you. And I’m embarrassed to buy you things so I don’t, even though I’m thinking about you. I’m afraid you know I love you but you don’t love me back. In fact, I’m almost certain. And I don’t want to have that conversation so maybe I’ll just stop always being around. I haven’t started doing that yet but maybe I’ll do that. Soon. Maybe soon. Or maybe I won’t. I think love is a problem. For me I mean, love is a problem. I hope that will change someday. This town is too small.
Some people never fall in love, maybe don’t even believe it exists. I fall in love twenty times a day. Thirty on weekends. And I don’t think my way is better but it’s just the way I am. And maybe because I’m dazzled by the humanity in everyone. A laugh or a moment of clarity. A cute cough. Fingers. Hearts beating more rapidly. Your hair. Or other times I’m bowled over when they’re not like me, go through life with sharp bones or sharp words. It seems effortless for other people even though I know it isn’t. I am a child in a candy store. And I get to see so many people some days. And I know I could love them, so many of them, if they let me. If there was time. But there’s never time.
I took all the letters I wrote to you and the straw you used and the napkin you wiped your face with that time and that strand of your hair I found on my coat and the ticket stub from when we went to that show together and the mint I saved for you and the stuffed animal I was going to give you and I buried them all. I dug a big hole in the woods and put everything in one by one. I read each letter. I read a poem to the straw. I kissed the strand of hair. And then I filled up the hole again. Let my despair nourish the trees. I don’t want it anymore.
Whenever I have sex, and this has always been true, not just with you, but whenever I have sex I think about a long hallway. The décor sometimes changes. Sometimes it has a nautical theme, with paintings of ships on the wall. Sometimes it gets smaller and smaller the further down the hallway I go. Sometimes it’s bright yellow. Sometimes there are tigers chasing me. Or giant moles. Sometimes it’s snowing. Sometimes I’m wading through a flood. Sometimes it’s tall green grass. But lately it’s been a hallway of door after door after door. Sometimes I knock or try to open them, but none of them budge and I can’t find the key. So I go to the next door and the next. And the next. And the next. And the next.
Oh! Me? I don’t know how much there is to tell. There is a hole inside me of course. But I don’t drink to fill it. And I don’t buy too many shoes. And I don’t eat too much chocolate. I haven’t found my compulsion yet I guess. So my emptiness just sits there waiting. And I don’t know. I guess right now, I’m just trying to get through the day. Today is at least a bit different than yesterday.
MARTYNA (Russian Accent)
You do not love him. You are used to him. Is not the same as love. Your old shirt with the holes in it, you do not love this shirt. You are just used to it. But a new shirt come along, no holes, keep you warm, protect you, you throw the old shirt away, yes.
Yes. So I don’t know you but this is how I do things, I fall in love at first sight and I tell you. You in turn run off with me and you belong to me and I protect you, better than he could and life is, you know fun and sometimes exciting. Like a lot of foods you never ate before.
So this is my offer. You don’t have to say yes, but I think you should.
Yes so come to the back with me and I will show you my talents.
You think you might be mistaken? About me. And your feelings. About me. And what if it doesn’t last? I don’t know. Is it going to be over at the end of the day? Until we die of old age? Maybe you’ll get glasses or something or get hit on the head and then you’ll see me. Or there will be a moment when I’m selfish or a coward and you’ll hate me for it. You know what happened last time? He just left. No note. No nothing. I come back from work and all his stuff is gone. His phone is disconnected. Who knows where he went. Probably shacking up with someone else.
Don't tell me what I like! I like sushi. I like knives. I like school supplies. I like cashmere. I like to hear their last words right before they die. I like type A blood. I like sunsets. I like a sock with an orange in it. I like a roll of quarters. I like laughing. I like hobo clowns. I like divorce when it's the right decision. I like bodies of water. I like hippos. I like surprises. I like getting paid on time. I like ice picks. I like swordfish. I like love letters. I like killing. I like to kill. I like making people die. Killing. Killed. Killered. Killingly. Killperson. Kill-kill-kill-kill-kkkkkk. Dead. That's what I like. Don't tell me what I like!
I never thought about being dead. But here I am. I know some people think about it a lot. The ones that think about killing themselves of course. But also the ones obsessed with it because they're terrified of it. But I wasn't really either one of those. Does that mean I'm not prepared? I don't think death is something you can prepare for really. Not really. Because how could you? And if you were always thinking about death, then you never think about life. And that's sad. Because now that I'm dead, I've come to realize how amazing every bit of being alive really is. I wish I knew about that while I was still alive, but you can't tell the living anything. "Look around you," I would say. See the person breathing next to you. Look at the expanse of sky. Feel your feet on the ground. You are here. Love being here. Can you?
I just wish I didn't feel so alone. There must be someone else like me out there somewhere, right? Someone who thinks like I do. Who can understand me? I imagine, that I have something valuable inside me, right? There's something worthwhile right under my skin and it will come out somehow someway and everyone will see. Someone will see? Maybe some people will never see, but someday someone will see my value and then . . . and then . . . I'm so tired. I can't go on like this, right? But I have to. One day at a time. Until something shifts. It won't be a long wait. I'm sure after everything is better it will seem like such a short time I lived like this. Yes. Tomorrow will be better.
Can we stop the play for a second? (to the audience.) I just want to say to you. You are worthy of love. Maybe you already know this. Or suspect it. Or maybe you don’t really believe me. But I want to be sure you hear me. You are worthy of love.
Also you don’t have to be afraid, which doesn’t mean the world isn’t sometimes scary but that you deserve to be somewhere safe.
Also once in a while you deserve a treat. You deserve a parade when you do something amazing. You may not get one, but you deserve it.
Me, I only see the horrible things I’ve done or said or thought. Mostly I think I don’t deserve any success or love but also at the same time I think I’m the most amazing person that has ever existed. So sometimes it’s hard to be me.
Checklist version twelve
make me laugh
make me dinner
excite me sexually
dance for me
read to me
sing to me?
fun to be around
good with pets
good with children
good with houseplants
good at rock climbing
smarter than me
dumber than me
older than me
younger than me
wiser than me
taller than me?
Would you miss them?
Do you love them?
Do they smell good?
Do they say excuse me?
Do they seem happy to see you?
Do they know all your passwords?
Is this list too long?
Am I asking too much?
Do they know you?
Do you know them?
Do they make you think?
Do they make you wonder?
Do they make you happy?
Do they make you happy?
Do they make you happy?
I have to step out of this play for a minute.
It’s hard for me to dream right now. Nothing seems possible.
I want to be special like everyone else but unlike everyone else I know I’m not. I mean maybe I could have been at one point. I act of course and I think I’m good, and I do work at that but I wonder about other things. Studying to be a great artist or dancer. Or a doctor. If I had put in the effort. Woke up early and practiced like olympians do. But I never would have been that probably. Not really. So I’m just normal. Like you. And you. And you. And you.
But what I want is to daydream. I want time to read and look at the sky and read poems and I want to not be afraid. Can we just for one day put all the anxiety away and pretend we don’t have to worry about money or living up to our potential or how to be human and just be. I want to just be and not feel guilty about it. Can I?
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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