by Alistair Hewitt
On the stage there is a male body, centre, lying face down. Behind it is an armchair. There are two stools down stage.
ANNA, a woman of about 40
ANNA sits on one of the stools. She has a relaxed “at home” feel to her appearance. She is holding a fairly large kitchen knife. This is the opening scene of a play about a woman whose desperate desire to have a child causes her to commit terrible crimes.
Ovaries. Uterus. Fallopian tube. Womb. I think they’re lovely words, don’t you? They’re warm and soft and feminine. They’re women’s words. Words made for women. I wonder, you know, hundreds or thousands of years ago when all those sorts of words were being made up, if they were made up by women. I think it would make sense if they were because you’d think only women would understand what letters might go together to make the words sound right. If it was men who made them up and, let’s face it, men were the ones who did all that sort of stuff in those days, they must have been uncharacteristically sensitive. Or maybe the scientists or doctors or whatever they were, were so careful with the naming of the female anatomy that they employed poets to think of the names. And that’s why they turned out so beautiful. Whatever. If it was men, they soon forgot about it. I mean, how many blokes who you know can tell you what an ovary is? And I bet if you took twenty blokes, twenty brainy blokes, if you like, and asked them how to spell fallopian, or uterus, fifteen of them would get it wrong. They would. Fallopian. P. H. O. L.…Uterus. U. T. I…. You know what they’re like.
(Pause. ANNA looks towards the body, then back at the audience.)
He wouldn’t know. Frank. In fact I’m not even sure he’d ever heard of them. He certainly never spoke any of those words while I knew him. “What’s an ovary Frank?” “A bird sanctuary I think.”
Ovaries. Uterus. Fallopian tube. Womb. They’re dangerous words too. Words that name parts which are there to fulfill a purpose. Parts that make women different. Parts that are there to be used. And if we don’t use them. Or we’re not allowed to use them. Or they don’t work properly. And there are parts that I…that some of us want to use. Then what then? What do we do then? How do we feel? How do we proceed? Ovaries. Uterus. Fallopian tube. Womb. They can be such painful, such jealous words. But Frank. Dear, innocent Frank. He didn’t know any of them.
(ANNA takes a running jump and lands, two-footed on the figure lying on the floor.)
You poor useless bugger.
(As she kicks the figure:)
You soft headed prat.
(She kneels down and whispers in its ear:)
Soup. For. Brains.
(When the figure is kicked it becomes clear that it is not a real person at all, but a dummy. From her kneeling position ANNA looks up at the audience.)
You didn’t think this was Frank did you? No. It’s just a dummy. It’s too bloody intelligent for Frank. No. I’d never have done that to him.
He is dead, though. After the police found him, they drew one of those lines around his body. It was there for ages and it looked so sort of…empty. You know, reminding me that someone had been there, but wasn’t any longer. That’s when I got the idea of the dummy. I bought it, put him in Frank’s clothes, and just left him there. It was quite a comfort, really. Sometimes I’d put my feet on him when I was watching a film, or I’d talk to him about something on the news. And sometimes, when I was feeling a bit weak, (lying down) I’d lie down next to him and fall asleep in his arms.
(Pause. She looks up from her lying position.) You don’t think I killed him do you? I can’t believe you’d think I killed him. Well. I suppose I can. I mean, he was found dead in our lounge and I replaced him with a dummy, which is, I admit, a bit weird. Oh. And here I am, telling you all this with a kitchen knife in my hand. But no. I didn’t kill him. And I did live with Frank for eight years, so I think I’m entitled to be a bit you know… And this knife is for chopping vegetables only. Frank was fussy about veg. He wouldn’t eat anything that was round or needed peeling, which doesn’t leave you much choice if you think about it. So now he’s gone, I spend entire evenings chopping vegetables… The mundane and the exotic. No. I didn’t kill him. He was electrocuted. He was fiddling with a light bulb and he got electrocuted.
The police, of course, did the full investigation, with the autopsy and the forensics and all that. But they needn’t have bothered. I could have told them straight away. He’d accidentally electrocuted himself. The pillock. I supposed I should have felt guilty about the shallowness of my thoughts at such a time. But I didn’t. I had no need, not after the insensitivity he’d shown to me. Not after… Not after that.
copyright © 2010 Alistair Hewitt. All rights reserved. ___________________________________________
Alistair Hewitt holds an M.A. in Writing for Film and Television. Previously produced plays include Spending Frank (Scarborough and Scotland), Tales from the Melling Road and The Dangers of Tobacco (Southport).