Setting: A bathroom, Yorkshire.
Time: Wednesday morning. The present.
Character: BRIDGET, a 40-year-old housewife.
BRIDGET addresses the audience, her husband, Barry, is in the bathroom with her. He appears oblivious to her rambling thoughts. BRIDGET, in a towel, is getting ready for the day.
Nineteen years in the same bed. Nineteen! (she observes her husband brushing his teeth) He thinks he knows everything about me. But do you? Do you know the half of it? (to husband) Don’t brush so hard, Barry; they’ll bleed.
(applying body lotion to her arms) All this flab. God, look at it—handfuls. I’ll have to keep my arms down. Or covered. Yes. Perhaps it’ll be one of those frenzied couplings where there’s no time to undress.
(irritated) Why does he have to brush his teeth that hard? It’s like a dog with a bone.
(pause) Habits. That’s what you marry. Regular as clockwork. Every morning: gargle and spit. Every night: nose whistling, chest pumping. And the snores, the snores! I could ram a pillow over his head and sit on it. Not to kill him, mind. Just to stop the breathing.
(she checks her face in the mirror) He never looks at me. Not a real “feel me over” look. Not anymore. Same as how you stop seeing the pattern on your curtains after a while, only the dirty fingers marks. Whereas Laszlo… (she sighs, then starts to sing an arpeggio) La di da Da di da da. (she raises the arpeggio by a tone and flunks the high note) La di da Da…
(pause) It was an ordinary Wednesday, like any other. I’d got the dinner done, homework sorted, grabbed my score, no make-up even, only just managed to scrape in on time and suddenly, there he was, all long and lean, sat at the back of St. Mary Magdalene’s, delicately peeling the foil off a Kit Kat. “He’d better be a tenor,” I thought. “We’re low on tenors.” Then he threw me a look—fierce, like flinging down a gauntlet—and bit across all four fingers of the bar. I felt the snap.
(BRIDGET removes her shower cap and lets her hair fall loose.)
Laszlo with his gold tooth deep at the back when he laughs, and eyes like a leopard, patient, dangerous, watching. (starts to brush her hair) Well, I’ve held out long enough—against those square strong hands and the taste of his tongue, the way it licks the side of his mouth, how he kissed my neck, fanged it with a faint aura of whiskey, the promise of a feast, and how yesterday, yesterday, in another life, another body, I tasted tobacco on his fingers, sucked their warmth one by one, while his other hand went on conducting me, making music in me. (joyful sigh, then sings an arpeggio) La di da Da di da da. (raises the arpeggio by a tone, reaches the high note perfectly) La di da Da di da da. (BRIDGIT breaks into the Easter hymn) “Christ…the Lord is risen today. Alleluia. Sons of men and angels…”
(she stops singing suddenly and scrutinises her husband, Barry) No. He hasn’t noticed. He can’t read the signs. He can spot the tiniest scratch on his car bonnet, but his wife of nineteen years, she’s just wallpaper, brightens the place up a bit, better than a blank wall. For Pete’s sake, Barry, look at me! Just look at me for once. There’s a woman in here. Someone with nipples. (she peers down the towel at her breasts) I wish they weren’t so brown. Is that normal? I haven’t seen enough breasts to tell. (sobering thought) Laszlo has though. Oh God, it’s going to be a disaster.
(noticing with irritation) Why does nobody ever remember to change the loo roll? Bums and noses, how many have I wiped? (to her husband) Use a new blade, Barry. You’re going to cut yourself.
(Long pause. Aside) I’ve no idea where he’ll take me. Not his house, obviously. The park? No, too public. Please God not a hotel.
(pause) I’ll sit in his car. He’ll drive. Both of us—washed, deodorised, ready. (hears noises on the stairs and shouts) Millie? (crosses to the door and shouts) Millie! Text me when you get there. I want to know you’ve arrived safely. (Aside) The kids’ll never find out. Never, never. I’d die rather than… It’s just an interlude. A one-off. An adventure. Yes. That’s what it is. Mum’s little adventure. A hike up a new peak. An emotional bungee jump. Why not? While there’s time. While there’s still life. Millie’s got her gap year. Well, I’ve got my gap lover. (sings an arpeggio successfully) Higher and higher! (raises the arpeggio by a tone, again successfully) La di da Da di da da.
(She picks up a pair of curling tongs) And afterwards? Tonight—when I come home? Will it show? Will I be different? (she looks in the mirror) Same face, same nose, same mouth. No stain. No mark. It’s so easy to lie with your body. But something else changes, surely? It can’t just be this. (she turns to her husband) Barry? (hesitates) No. Nothing. It’s nothing, love. You’ll be late. Don’t cut yourself. We’re out of TCP.
(BRIDGET takes a strand of hair and starts to curl it) No kiss, no time, no TCP. No time, no TCP, no kiss.
(Pause. To her husband) I’ll pick some up at Boots. And more Paracetamol; we’re running low. Oh, and by the way, Barry, I won’t need a lift back from choir practice tonight. Michelle’s dropping me off.
(Lights fade to black out)
copyright © 2010 Claire Booker. All rights reserved. _________________________________________________
Claire Booker’s stage dramas (bookerplays.co.uk) have been performed as far afield as Romania, Australia, Spain, France, and the UK. They include comedies, hard-hitting dramas, and adaptations. She has been nominated for a John Whiting and a Writers’ Guild MacAllan award. She also writes and performs poetry, and has had plays broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and local UK radio stations.