MONOLOGUE: The Red Head

by Deidre Dowling

Setting:       An artist’s studio in Paris, France

Time:          Christmas Eve in the late 19th century

Character:   JOANNA HIFFERNAN, 25 years old, artist and model. For six years Joanna was the Irish mistress of painter James Abbott McNeill Whistler.

JOANNA

Do I want him to come? Well, I do…and then maybe I don’t… I’m expecting “the curse” an I feel like a piece of stretched elastic…and I’m that mad at him. Who the hell does he think he is ranting and raving at me like that? Maybe he has some little whore’s melt lined up somewhere whose only too happy to put him up these last few nights

(She vigorously brushes her hair) The best thing my Da did for me—the red hair…the only thing…the drunken ole shite! Though, it has to be said…I’ve never met the like of him…and he does stir me up so! His lovemaking isn’t all talk like some I could mention! I suppose you can’t blame the fellas back home, what with the priest and their mammies breathing down their necks and them afraid they’ll be hauled before the parish priest and condemned from the pulpit for immoral and debauched behavior with a girl of “uncertain” character! If it wasn’t for me Ma, I’d have been carted off to one of those homes for women—where they keep you in slavery washing sheets and scrubbing floors. What would the good people of Ballyjamesduff make of me now? I could be living at home with nothing better to do than saying a Novena to the Blessed Virgin. I wouldn’t go back if they paid my fare and threw in a hundred pound! Glory be to God, I’d go out of me mind and be sent off to the looney bin like Mary Henderson! Continue reading

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