by Ella Carmen Greenhill
Setting: A bed.
Time: A cold February afternoon.
Character: HOLLY, late 40’s. Beautiful and tired.
(HOLLY sits. She wears a white dressing gown.)
“You look nice”!
“You look nice”?
What sort of rubbish last words are they? If they are my last words, which to be honest with you, I think is quite likely.
Now “I love you”
or “never forget me”
if I had allowed myself to be really soppy I could’ve said:
“I will always be with you… right here” like E.T, with a lift of my frail hand as I reached up to touch her cheek.
But no, I’ve just said something that no-one really cares about, a comment that leaves no lasting impression whatsoever.
(She is annoyed but mellows quickly.)
She does though. She does look nice.
They all do, they all make an effort when they visit. Put on a pretty dress or a smart shirt to show me…
To show me they’re ok?
That they can use the washing machine without me? I dunno.
She’s small…looks very small today.
I wanna hug her but I can’t so
I just put my hand out a bit and she holds it.
Her hands are cold and…
Is she shaking because she’s cold?
Her hair’s all over the place, she’s trying to smooth it down but…
it doesn’t matter.
I just wanna say, like, leave it, leave yer hair, yer beautiful, but
instead I just say:
You Look Nice.
(Laughs slightly with regret.)
She’s talking to me and I can’t, the bloody stuff’s kicking in and I can’t answer her.
She’s trying to be, yer know
all upbeat but I can’t, I can’t say anything back, I wanna respond but,
I can’t get my words out!
She’s saying how they do hundreds of operations every day. I’m pissed off though now, I’m pissed off that I know they’ll be my last words and quite frankly they’re a bit shit.
I can hear them asking her if she wants a sandwich from the canteen, she doesn’t care, she’s not even hungry. She keeps hold of my hand. Quiet now.
It’s windy outside
That’s why her hair’s so…
not just windy, really
really blowing a gale, its good she’s come ter see me in this weather, shows she cares, made the effort
I was watching this bird this morning
Outside on the window ledge, there was this bird and it was fighting to stay put,
I watched it.
I was flippin starving,
bloody nil by mouth. Cut me open in the morning then, don’t make me wait all flippin day!
But yeah I watched this little bird to take me mind off me growling stomach.
He kept trying to take off but he couldn’t control his flying so kept giving up, settling on the window ledge again. He just couldn’t do it.
I could hear the nurses laughing and being really…well…squarky is the only way to describe it. Really squarky.
Blocked ‘em out.
Bird was sat there. On the window ledge, head down against the gale.
The weather was lovely yesterday,
glorious for February. Frost on the grass but
That bird woulda been flying all over the place yesterday.
He didn’t think about tomorrow.
He didn’t think he might not be able to fly wherever he wanted.
He didn’t think there’d be a gale.
I watched him and I thought
If its sunny tomorrow,
if its mild and the wind and rain have stopped,
he’ll fly again, wherever he wants,
but he’ll not forget today,
He’ll not forget that he couldn’t fly and that he was trapped on the window ledge.
And after today,
after this gale,
every time he flies he’ll feel thankful that there isn’t a gale blowing,
and he’ll know that the weather could turn at any time.
She’s still holding my hand. Her fingers are bloody freezing!
The stuffs really kickin’ in now, all blurry and echoey. Nurses are all millin’ around, stopped squarkin’, laughin’…doing their job now.
They’re wheelin’ me down now. Her hand slips out of mine. My eyes are heavy…closing.
(Sad but hopeful.)
I’ve got so many more words to say.
I’ve got so many more places to fly.
copyright © 2010 Ella Carmen Greenhill. All rights reserved. _________________________________________________
Ella Carmen Greenhill is a graduate of Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse Young Writers programme. Her play, Fallen, was performed and critiqued at Hampstead start night. Readings of her plays, Unspoken and Into the Water, were performed at the Everyman Everyword festival. The Rain has Gone was broadcast on BBC Radio Merseyside. Ella’s latest play, A Family Christmas, was performed at Liverpool Hope University’s Cornerstone Festival.