a play in one act, to be played out in the round.
set direction: please allow the queen sized bed to serve as center stage pedestal for the performance.
props and decoration should suggest de-scripted origins and trend towards an upwardly mobile visual declaration.
keep it sparse and simple. other than the bed and the dresser and the door, it is preferable to model deep shadows with lighting.
the curtain is an over-sized gauze mosquito netting, hung in the traditional way of a canopy bed, extending over the audience;
making the comers a part of the bedroom.
upon this scrim: faint projections of various color and abstractions. house enters with bed cocooned in laced ivory gauze.
a sleeping form begins to toss and turn, just visible, as the audience takes their seats in dawning stage light.
final transition is thirty second cross-fade from house lights out to stage dim.
bleeding white sun has teased her eye awake
through a bullet hole in the curtain no one talks about.
now an opening door spills light and the sound of video games.
Mac: why aren’t you getting dressed?
Silvia: I’m taking a nap.
Mac: Silvia, it’s three in the afternoon. the kids are home. Silvia. I have to go to work- you have to get up.
Silvia: [rolls over moaning]
Mac: Silvia. I’m turning on the light, close your eyes.
Silvia: do not turn on the light.
Mac: [looks about the scattered room for something to say] I’m turning the light on now. [his hand slides along the wall for the switch]
Silvia: [yanks the blankets hard up over her head, her body arching with tension] go away, please, go away. turn the light off!
Mac: Silvia. you’ve been sleeping all day.
Silvia: [muffled beneath blankets] no, I’ve been laying here awake dreading this moment. for days I think.
Mac: well, you did sleep some last night I think.
Silvia: how would you know? you aren’t even here.
Mac: [eyes tracking a moth flying to the lamp]
I’m here now. Jack White called about kids breaking a window out. said it was Cody. so I came home. Silvia. do you feel bad?
Silvia: the door was locked. I don’t feel anything. maybe blind. please turn out the light. and close the door.
[Mac retreats, dimming the light to half and gently closing the door to a muted crack. outside a nearby dog begins to bark
the door opens briskly and a mop headed teenage boy sticks his head in for a moment, swats out the light and then closes the door firmly.
Silvia rises from the tangles and kicks her feet in the blankets, spreading her toes with little gasps. through the door; conversation]
Cody: I don’t know.
Mac: what do you mean you don’t know? did you tell her?
Cody: I told her.
Mac: What did you tell her? what did she say? Cody?
Cody: I think she’s sleeping.
Mac: no, Cody, she’s not sleeping. I was just in there.
you didn’t tell her did you?
Cody: well, I thought she was sleeping. I’m going to my room.
[a door slams. the bedroom door opens again and Mac walks into an angle of light to the foot of the bed where Silvia remains unmoving beneath the blankets. he reaches up and pulls a hanging chain on the light fixture to turn on the ceiling fan]
Silvia: please turn it off.
Mac: I thought you might like some air.
Silvia: I keep telling you I don’t like anything. so I don’t want anything. let me sleep.
Mac: but you’re not sleeping.
[the blankets erupt as Silvia jerks up to a sitting position. Mac steps back, but stands taking her look. after a moment, she softens with exhaustion and pulls the blanket up over her breasts]
Mac: here, put this on. [he pulls an oversize cotton sweater from the mound of blankets and puts it in her outstretched hand] Silvia. open your eyes.
Silvia: is the light on?
Mac: no, just through the door. [Silvia snakes into the sweater and falls back onto the bed, raising a knee and propping her other leg over it; pushing her foot up and down. Mac sits on the foot of the bed near her, watching her foot]
[Silvia’s arm flops up and down on the bed]
Mac: do you want to cook something for dinner?
Mac: Well, will you?
Silvia: no one is hungry.
Mac: but they are hungry Silvia, they, we, are hungry. you are in here in the dark all the time. no one sees you any more. just for right now, get up and come out and watch TV.
Silvia: [quickly swings her feet to the floor, making Mac dodge. she grabs his arm with one hand and clutches her chest with the other]
Mac! I can’t breathe! she rasps in breath over her vocal chords I can’t
Mac: ok, ok, Silvia. listen to me. you can breathe. just
Silvia: no! I can’t. my chest hurts
Mac: ok, well. [she calms a bit, then collapses against him, blowing her cheeks with each bit of breath. Mac caresses her hair, then begins to try and smooth it down]
Silvia: please don’t. [she moves his hand away and holds it in her lap. they gaze at the hands. Cody opens the door wide, spilling a circus of sound and light]
Cody: I’m going.
Mac: Cody, close the door.
Sylvia: Please Cody. Good-bye. [Cody’s hand reaches in for the doorknob. he pulls the door closed softly]
Sylvia: [whispers] I love you.
Mac: you -we have to say it louder.
Sylvia: it’s too late. [her head falls into his lap] I can’t do it for you any more either.
Sylvia: I can’t do it. I don’t want you to touch me. no one. I don’t want anyone to touch me.
Sylvia: promise you will never touch me again.
Mac: I’m touching you right now. you’re touching me.
Sylvia: but I don’t feel. anything. maybe it’s better. I think it is.
Sylvia: you go find someone who can.
Mac: Silvia, I don’t want someone else.
Sylvia: but you get lonely. I can tell. and I don’t even feel bad about it any more and I think you should know that.
every thing’s burned now.
Mac: no, nothings burned, every thing is the same.
Silvia, I know every thing is going to be ok. just sit here for a while.
Sylvia: why does everything have to be so plain to you now?
Sylvia: do I have to say out loud that I hate you?
Mac: you don’t hate me.
Sylvia: it’s worse Mac. I tried so hard and I couldn’t. but I don’t feel anything. do you get that it would be better to hate you than this?
Mac: I know you love me.
Sylvia: [stands and walks aimlessly to the dresser] but Mac, I don’t know. I don’t.
Mac: well, you just woke up, Sylvia.
Sylvia: [picks up a hand mirror and taps, then moves make-up bottles around the dresser top] no, I did not just wake up.
Sylvia: [rummages red nail polish into her hands and begins to paint her skin]
Mac: please don’t do that.
Sylvia: please go, and close the door.
Mac: no. I’m not going to let you do that.
Sylvia: I’ll wait till you leave. [she drags the brush up the inside of her arm, leaving a deep red gloss]
Mac: let me
Sylvia: no. I don’t want you to
Mac: you don’t know what I was going to say
Sylvia: and it doesn’t matter I don’t want you to do it. not anything.
Sylvia: stop saying my name! stop it. I’m not a little girl! I’m not anything!
Mac: Syl, I don’t want you to hurt yourself.
Sylvia: I am hurt.
Mac: well, not worse.
Sylvia: it doesn’t hurt though.
Mac: later it does.
Sylvia: that’s the only thing.
Mac: I love you so much Syl.
Sylvia: I know. I’m sorry. I just don’t feel sorry. don’t you want someone to touch you Mac?
Mac: we all do.
Sylvia: I don’t. I don’t want to touch myself. I dreamed. except I was awake I think. I was looking at my hand, and I wasn’t in it.
I mean I wanted the skin off it.
Mac: I don’t want you to hurt yourself.
Sylvia: No, listen. that’s not what I’m saying I wasn’t in there any more.
Mac: in your hand?
Sylvia: the skin Mac! what’s it for if your not in it? why even have it?
Mac: are you thinking of hurting yourself?
Sylvia: No Goddammit! What the fuck difference does that make?
Mac: ok, ok. breathe Syl, we’ll get through this.
Sylvia: I don’t want to get through it! I’m so tired Mac I just want to sleep but I can’t. if I do I’ll dream that I’m the way I was before.
before I woke up like you; and I don’t want to be like that. I won’t be ever. I’ll kill myself.
Mac: I think you are exhausted.
Sylvia: that wasn’t a threat or a promise just the truth. when truth is sad.
Mac: remember when we went to the beach that time and you had that blue hat that wouldn’t stay on?
Mac: well, let’s go there again. I’ll do everything. all you have to do is show up.
Sylvia: Mac please! I don’t know how to show up, because there’s nothing to show. I’m not even here. I’m not. it’s just my skin.
Sylvia: there’s still time. go find someone Mac. I don’t mind, I want you to. you are good. you need a heart to love you. I don’t any more.
Mac: we all
Sylvia: I don’t. do you want to fuck just skin Mac?
Mac: Sylvia, don’t talk that way.
Sylvia: that’s all I got. skin. here, want it? how would you like it?
Mac: ok, well
Sylvia: no, I’m serious. you may never get another chance with me. I’m giving my skin to you. one last time. to watch you feel what I don’t.
I will do the things you like best, so be sure to like it, because I want to remember you that way. then I want you to go and be happy, and to find someone else who can still do it. I’m a chicken-shit Mac. I don’t want to do it. I want you to.
Mac: Sylvia, this is our home. I wouldn’t leave you.
Sylvia: no, I’ll go then. that’s only right by you. I don’t want anything.
Mac: the kids need you Syl.
Sylvia: Cody needs pizza and electricity. and the girls. oh, the girls
Mac: I want you to stay Syl. I love you.
Sylvia: you love the one who couldn’t keep her hat on, and she’s not here any more. you get that right?
I know you do because you’re always smarter than me, you’re just not saying it because you don’t want to give her up, that girl. so you will settle for her skin because you are a man, and a good man, and so you must do the right thing, and you no longer care if it’s not real, because like any man, after 40, any convenient cunt will do.
Mac: I’m not like that.
Sylvia: cooperative then.
Mac: I do care though. and everything is going good. I think once you get some rest
Sylvia: what? what rest? I mean then what- that I’ll be my old self again, back in the only skin of mine you know? Poor Mac. how would I ever fit?
Mac: I think we should call this a Purple Night and use something to help you sleep.
Sylvia: I already had a Purple Morning, dear, and it didn’t work. I took two Ambien, Seroquell, and then some Ativan at noon.
Mac: I thought we had an agreement.
Sylvia: we did. we had everything. had had had. everything.
Mac: ok look. obviously we need to do something here because I don’t think your safe right now
Sylvia: I am so unsafe.
Mac: right, so, why don’t you go in for a few days
Sylvia: go in and do what?
Mac: you know. get some sleep, let them take care of you. so you don’t accidentally hurt yourself we have the insurance now.
Sylvia: [sifting through dresser drawer] I never accidentally hurt myself. I told you not to hide my lighters.
Mac: Syl, come on,
Sylvia: where are my lighters?
Sylvia: give it or I swear I will wait till you are asleep and use something else.
Mac: in my coat pocket in the closet, but I don’t see
Sylvia: you can’t see Mac. it’s not yours to see. [she crosses to the closet to retrieve the lighters] seriously, you should stop even looking.
Mac: I’m afraid for you
Sylvia: then be very afraid.
Mac: what am I supposed to do? I don’t know what to do.
Sylvia: maybe you should open a window.
Mac: oh God
Sylvia: Nope. I want a spiral scar at my left breast so you will remember my heart when you screw my skin.
Mac: Jesus Silvia! I don’t need that!
Sylvia: But I do Mac. you better be hearing this because I’m done now saying it any more. it no longer bears repeating.
Mac: I want to keep talking
Sylvia: because that’s what you do. I don’t even laugh any more.
Mac: just don’t do it right now.
Sylvia: how long?
Mac: fifteen minutes.
Sylvia: I don’t even smile.
Mac: I’ll hold them for you.
Sylvia: enough with the Pogroms. you don’t even know what they’re for. I don’t want you to know. I don’t want to know.
Mac: I need to know though. so I can love you better.
Sylvia: where did you read that?
Mac: Sylvia, stop cutting me. you, and we, chose this when we left the city. and now here we are in this family in this house and all this stuff we have to take care of.
Sylvia: you think I’m just bored don’t you? or that I just want to go back to being 26 in a Cabaret
Mac: I don’t think anything. I don’t know what to think. I thought you were making plans.
Sylvia: that was before. I don’t make plans any more. because of what happens.
Mac: Sylvia, we’re doing ok
Sylvia: will you just stop saying that? we’re not doing anything, and we have been doing not anything for a long long time.
Mac: I don’t know how you can say that. we do stuff all the time. we went out Saturday.
Sylvia: that was you dragging my skin across the floor.
Mac: well, what do you want?
Sylvia: I want to go where I have gone. where my skin; where what left my skin went. I want to go there.
and I want you to find some good cooperative pussy to help with the girls. we need to get you laid.
Mac: you would never leave them
Sylvia: what? you think it’s a choice?
Mac: well, please explain it.
Sylvia: ok, I’m going to. you all here? cause I might well never speak stupid words again after this.
Mac: I’m here.
Sylvia: I’ve lost track of the Blue Hat. I know it goes on my head, but I no longer have it to put on. it fell off one to many times. putting it on is not an option. can’t.
Mac: I sense you are a little lost right now.
Sylvia: but that’s not right. not lost. missing.
Mac: ok then, missing.
Sylvia: and you know what? there’s no search party, because everyone sees me like I’ve always been, except that I’m not that any more. that person left in the night without even saying good-bye to me, because I woke up weeks ago and she was already gone.
Mac: are you, do you want to leave me?
Sylvia: oh my god, I say things and you say you get it, then five minutes later you say this and I know you never had a clue.
Mac: well, Sylvia, when you get like this
Sylvia: wait! I’ve never been here before. this isn’t PMS or bad coffee.
Mac: sometimes, we just need time to sort things out.
Sylvia: you and my skin. and it’s truly darkest before dawn, except in real life that’s not the way it is at all.
Mac: I don’t know how I’m supposed to follow this. I’m trying so hard Syl.
Sylvia: I know you are. and a good wife would offer you her warm places in exchange for that faith of yours, because that’s the way we ladies fear the night.
Mac: I don’t demand that from you.
Sylvia: because you know the moment you do, what you really need will be gone forever. you are smarter than most men Mac.
Mac: I know I am. and I chose you. I know you think you are gone, or missing, but this right now is what I chose. and I chose to endure a little chaos to have the rest of you that I won’t do without. a little manic just now, yes? I’m not going to leave you Syl.
Sylvia: I’m really tired now Mac.
Mac: let me hold your lighters while you get some rest.
[Sylvia is sleeping on the bed. Mac sits next to her; striking the flints; finally producing a flame]