Setting: Jennifer’s home, the lounge
Time: Day time, afternoon
Character: JENNIFER, early 30s
Afternoon sunlight is streaming through a window stage right, but as the monologue continues it gradually darkens. A centre doorway decorated with colourful pictures as though it’s the entrance to a nursery. There’s a second door stage left. The nursery door opens and JENNIFER, a tired-looking woman enters the lounge and sits down on the sofa. JENNIFER speaks full front—she appears to be speaking to her husband.
Eight weeks. It scares me sometimes when I think about how much my life has changed in eight short weeks. It feels like just a moment ago that I realised I was in labor, and at the same time, an entire lifetime. Which, for her, it literally has been. Eight weeks since this tiny creature came into the world, and somehow she’s managed to change it utterly.
Every time she cries I feel myself disappearing with each sob until there’s nothing left of me: no strength or willpower or intelligence.
(She stands, paces the room, arms out as though holding an invisible baby) I walk around the apartment holding this strange, screaming thing in my arms until I can’t remember who I am anymore, or who she is, or what we’re both doing here in this weird place between consciousness and the deep, sweet sleep I used to know.
(pauses briefly, resumes pacing, more slowly) I walk until my arms and legs are as numb as my brain, until I’m as likely to drop her as to hold her safe, and I freak
myself out until I’m crying harder than she is. Then you, my love, you walk
through the door and take her from me, and she stops crying, and, slowly, so do
(sits down on the sofa again, perching at the edge) I remember the terror of telling you; so afraid it might be the excuse you needed to leave. The knowledge had been with me for over a week, secret and hidden, yet affecting my every thought, every
emotion and reaction. It even affected my sense of gravity, making me wobble
uncertainly every time I stood up, feeling as though I might simply drift away.
I wanted to tell you, but I was afraid you wouldn’t know your line, that you might not be aware of your role in my carefully scripted scene. What if you forgot to be amazed and elated? I wasn’t sure I could bear the disappointment.
But you’ve proven me wrong. You stayed with me through it all, holding my hand for all the hours while I was dilating, inch by inch.
(stands up, pacing again but this time with back bent as though in pain) You moved with me around the hospital room while I waded through each contraction, and helped me lie back down when the pain passed.
(pauses, straightening up and gazing directly at the audience) Eight weeks, and she already knows her role in our lives. She’s learnt so much—the sound of my voice, the sound of yours. She’s even learnt how to smile. Have you noticed how she raises her head to watch us move around her?
When I take her to the store with me, she watches everything that goes by, cooing away in her own strange dialect to anyone who pauses to admire her. I’m no longer there, though. No one sees me anymore. I’m just the mother of her, no longer myself.
(The room is now almost dark. JENNIFER walks over to the lamp and switches it on.)
Sometimes when she finally sleeps, instead of going to bed myself and sleeping like I know I should, I open the window (opens the window) and I climb onto the
sill (sits on sill) and I try to remember what I was like before, who I was.
(pauses) But even you can’t seem to tell me that.
And now, looking out into the darkness, I think about my life, and feel like it was all aiming towards making her for you. Now that’s done, what’s the point of me? If I swing my feet over the sill (swings her legs over the sill) the air licks against my bare legs and makes me shiver (shivers, dropping voice to a whisper) but it feels nice.
(raises voice back to normal volume) It makes me wonder what it would feel like to let gravity have its way, pull me down into the street far below. What would that be like? A whoosh then a crump, then peace, endless peace…
(pauses, as though awed by the idea) Could I really? Could I really?
(lowers voice to a whisper again) Could I really not…?
(raises voice back to normal volume) Somewhere deep inside part of me smiles with a sense of anticipation I haven’t felt since before she was born.
(As she gazes out the window, there’s a sound on the other side of the door stage left—someone jangles a bunch of keys, puts one in the lock. JENNIFER half turns. As the stage lights are dimmed, it begins to swing open.)
copyright © 2010 Judy Darley. All rights reserved. _________________________________________________
Judy Darley is a fiction writer and journalist. Previously, she’s had short stories published by a number of literary magazines including The View From Here, Gemini Magazine, Open Magazine and Quality Women’s Fictions, as well as having a monologue performed by the Show of Strength theatre group. Judy is the founder and editor of EssentialWriters.com , a website for writers and word-lovers.