i haven't really written since graduating college two and a half years ago. fortunately, i have been given the privilege of writing a play for the interns at the theater where i work. it will be performed on a professional stage, as part of cincinnati's fringe festival. this is kind of a big deal.
here is the first draft. it is a collection of short scenes and monologues specifically written for five women. all but one of the scenes are unfinished. i'm a little light on stage directions so feel free to ask for an explanation. feedback would be extremely appreciated.
i don't have a title right now but the working title is Gravestones.
A GRAVESTONE sits on her knees. MARYAM lies comfortably with her head on the GRAVESTONE’s lap. A VISITOR approaches the pair and hands the GRAVESTONE a small stone before exiting. MARYAM and the GRAVESTONE admire the stone together. MARYAM smiles up at the GRAVESTONE before addressing the audience.
MARYAM: They buried me in holy ground. They sang Psalms over me and ripped their clothes. They covered me with consecrated soil, one by one, three shovelfuls at a time. One, two, three. One, two, three. They buried me here, in this peaceful, holy place. Sometimes they come and say prayers over me. Sometimes they come and leave these little stones for me. Look at my stones. You must admit, they last longer than flowers. I lie here while they leave them and say nothing.
I don’t want to believe it’s wrong. I’ve been a good person. Listen: I volunteered at the soup kitchen four times. I’ve never raised my hand against anyone in my entire life. When Kara Jennings offered me the answers to the final history exam in eighth grade, I didn’t take them.
But then again. I did smoke pot in college. And there was that time I rear-ended a Buick trying to move out of a parking space. I left a dent but no note. Premarital sex. Postmarital non-husband sex. I pick my nose in public.
Still, I can’t have been the only one. Even the holiest of ground is filled with sins. But I suppose it isn’t just those sins, is it? It’s the Sabbath. It’s meat and milk. It’s my mother.
They buried me in holy ground. I want to belong here but I do not. I’m not even Jewish.
TALIA: My grandmother told me once: “There are three things in life that we expect to be beautiful, meaningful occurrences. Birth, death, and losing your virginity. But they never turn out the way you think they should.” My own birth, as my mother loved to remind me, was supposed to take place at home. There was a doula, I think her name was Alexandra, that my mom selected after researching and interviewing like a dozen different women. There was this lovely little corner picked out for the occasion. It’s actually still there, not much different, with huge soft pillows piled up and a charming, peaceful view over our wooded backyard, everything strategically placed to create the most optimal atmosphere for giving life. Those are the words my mother uses when she talks about this. Unfortunately for her birth plan, I arrived two weeks early via emergency C-section. The hospital had a view of the parking garage they were building across the street, but I was given life all the same.
As for my virginity, well, that’s another story for another play. Suffice it to say that it did NOT take place on a bed of white linen in a New England cottage with birds twittering outside the window.
Then there’s my death. Whenever I thought about it, if I thought about it at all, I was a good ninety, ninety-five years old. On a bed…on white linen in a New England cottage, actually. I wonder what that means. Anyway, I was always very old, dying of that non-specific ailment, old age, surrounded by children and grandchildren and maybe a loyal old dog at the foot of the bed. It was always after a full life. It was always soft and clean with someone’s hand in mine. I always always got to say goodbye.
When you are twenty-three years old, you never imagine your death coming when you are carrying a box of paint up your dirty stairs to your dirty apartment. If you imagine dying young at all, it is always to some rare cancer or some huge, spectacular car crash. It’s never because of a piece of loose carpet on your dirty stairs. You never consider what it might feel like to feel your center of gravity shifting as your box of paints presses against your chest heavier than you realized, to feel your feet sliding out from under you, to fall backwards so quickly you don’t even have time to grab the railing yet so slowly, you can almost count the ceiling tiles as they pass above you.
I died in a stairwell, of blunt force trauma to the head. (She places a hand on her head, in the same place a fontanel would be on an infant.)
They buried my body here, and here my body lies, under this gravestone. My mother always told me I would go to heaven. I have one friend from college that would say I would be reincarnated. The Jehovah’s Witnesses that came to our door sometimes said I would be resurrected. None of them really knew. They just expected these things. They all think that what happens after death, what is happening to me, right now, is a beautiful, meaningful occurrence. But these things never turn out the way you think they should.
ELLIE is working on the corpse’s makeup. TARA comes in to help her with the hair so ELLIE can leave earlier.
TARA: Hey, Ellie, you almost done?
ELLIE: This is my last one for the day.
TARA: You almost finished with it?
ELLIE: Sort of. The hair’s going to take me a while. They want it in this kind of up-do. They gave me a prom picture.
TARA: Let me see. (She takes the picture.) If my parents wanted me to look like my prom picture at my funeral, I think I would come back to life just so I could die again of embarrassment.
ELLIE: I looked damn cute at my prom. Hand me that foundation brush.
TARA: This doesn’t look too hard. You want me to do the hair while you do the makeup? I got an A on up-dos at beauty school.
ELLIE: Oh my god, yes. Here. (Hands TARA the hair stuff.)
TARA: I do not want to be late to this party. Are you wearing that shirt?
ELLIE: No, I have a top and pants in my car. I don’t want to smell like formaldehyde all night.
TARA: The red top?
ELLIE: Nah, the green one with the, like, flower thing on the neck?
TARA: You look cute in that. I shouldn’t smell, right? Just doing the hair real quick?
ELLIE: It’s fine.
TARA: This is a cute-ass shirt right here.
ELLIE: I know, right? I seriously thought about ganking it but it’s going to be an open casket.
TARA: What the hell. They’re just going to bury it anyway.
ELLIE: Burn it, actually. Cremation.
TARA: That sucks. See if you can sneak into the crematorium and steal the shirt before they shove her in.
ELLIE: Can’t. We’ve got a party to go to tonight.
TARA: So true. I don’t even really want to go, but I think Aaron’s gonna be there.
ELLIE: So? Aaron is a douchebag.
TARA: What the hell? No he isn’t.
ELLIE: Yes he is. For one, he wears those douchey hats. For two, what is the deal with his beard? It goes up to like his eyes. For three, last week I ran into him and Joanne at the bar.
TARA: Ugh, I hate that bitch. I already know this story’s going to be terrible.
ELLIE: She wasn’t that bad, actually. It was all him. She was telling me about her job at her salon and like, how she had to shampoo this three-year old that kept wiggling around and she accidentally got soap in the little girl’s eye. And she said, “At least you don’t have that problem at your job.” Which was a little bit bitchy but not really, you know? But then Aaron had to start going off about how gross it was that I touched dead people all day and how if he was my boyfriend he’d never be able to touch me without thinking about it and all this stuff.
TARA: Oh fuck off! You should have said that you’d rather touch dead bodies than his greasy ass any day.
ELLIE: I know, I thought of something like that like ten minutes after I left.
TARA: It’s not like it matters, anyway. I mean, he went to beauty school too. And what do we work on in beauty school? Hair, skin and nails. All of which are already dead.
ELLIE: Oh man, I should have said that to him. That’s really good.
TARA: Anyway, you’re making more money here than he’s making in his grandmother’s basement salon. That place has the shittiest ventilation.
ELLIE: And I will always have clients.
TARA: No repeat clients though.
ELLIE: Oh shit you almost made me spit out my gum. Oh my god! Did I tell you what happened last week?
TARA: I don’t want to hear this story, do I?
ELLIE: No but I’m going to tell it anyway. Okay so last week I was applying lip liner to this woman for an open casket. Her lips were kind of a weird shape so I got really close trying to get it right. The pencil pulling at her mouth sort of opened it up, and the second they did, my gum falls right out of my mouth and lands directly into her mouth. Right into this dead old lady’s mouth.
TARA: That is the most fucked-up thing I have ever heard.
ELLIE: I know, right?
TARA: Did you get it out?
ELLIE: Hell no I was not going to go fishing around in a corpse’s mouth. I mean, hair and makeup is one thing, but that is something else entirely.
TARA: So what did you do?
ELLIE: I just left it in there.
TARA: During the whole funeral she had your gum in her mouth? What the hell! Did anyone notice?
ELLIE: I hope not. I didn’t get in trouble or anything so I assume nobody saw. Besides, how messed up would you have to be to get that close to your dead grandma to see inside her mouth?
TARA: Truth, truth.
ELLIE: She’s buried, too, not cremated. So my gum is somewhere in a cemetery in some lady’s mouth I never met.
TARA: That shit never biodegrades, either. Your gum is going to be with her longer than her heart. Hey, if they ever have to dig her up later, like if they suspect she was murdered or something and need evidence, your DNA is going to be on her person.
ELLIE: Uh oh.
TARA: Yeah! They should totally make a CSI episode about that.
ELLIE: She was like eighty or ninety something. No one suspects murder of people that old.
TARA: Have you ever worked on somebody here that was murdered?
ELLIE: I don’t know.
TARA: You don’t know? They don’t tell you the cause of death?
ELLIE: They told me how the first person I ever did died. After that I told them not to tell me anymore.
TARA: Why not?
ELLIE: I don’t know. I just don’t want to know.
TARA: Did the first person die in a really gruesome way or something?
ELLIE: No. It was just a heart attack. The woman was really old. I just…didn’t want to know any more after that. I mean, I’m supposed to be making them look like they’re still alive. How can I do that if I’m sitting here for hours knowing exactly how they died?
TARA: Fair enough. I’d still want to know, though, if I worked here. Think of all the stories you could tell.
ELLIE: People already don’t want to talk to me because I work at a funeral home. Can you imagine if I went around all the time telling stories about how somebody’s next door neighbor died of liver disease and how I had to choose the perfect shade of foundation to mask the signs of jaundice?
TARA: What are you talking about? That’s an awesome story. You should tell that to Aaron at the party tonight.
ELLIE: Anyway I wouldn’t even have very many good stories to tell. Everyone that comes in here is a hundred years old and died of ancientness.
TARA: Not this one.
They look at the dead body as if for the first time.
ELLIE: You’re right. This one is really young.
TARA: Like our age.
ELLIE: No, not our age. Older, right?
TARA: How should I know? You know, I bet the death was covered in the paper. My dad left one in the car. I’m going to go get it.
ELLIE: No, Tara! We don’t have time for that. Just finish the hair and let’s go.
TARA: It’ll only take a second!
ELLIE: No, just forget about it! I told you I don’t want to know! Tara! God, she left strands of hair sticking up everywhere.
She repairs the up-do until TARA returns.
TARA: Okay, look! I found it. The picture in the paper is the same one you’ve got taped up over there.
ELLIE: You left hair sticking up everywhere.
TARA: You want to know the name?
ELLIE: No. I want you to fix this travesty of an up-do.
TARA: I got age and cause of death.
ELLIE: Look, the top is lumpy.
TARA: You were right. A year older than us.
ELLIE: Tara, will you quit? I told you I didn’t want to know.
TARA: What’s the difference? You’re almost done anyway. Oh man, listen to this: Killed in that five-car pileup that happened during that huge rainstorm. You actually could tell this story at the party; Terrence’s brother is an EMT and he was called to that accident. Says here “survived by mother, father, two brothers…”
TARA is interrupted by ELLIE gently taking the newspaper from her hands and tossing it away.
What the hell?
ELLIE: Look, can you just sit down and finish this hairstyle so we can go to the party? Please?
TARA: All right, all right. Sorry.
ELLIE: Thank you.
They work in silence for a moment. ELLIE takes her gum out of her mouth and throws it away.
TARA: I guess if I died next year, I wouldn’t want two girls I never met talking at a party about how I died. Or rushing through my hair and makeup so they wouldn’t be late.
ELLIE: It doesn’t look rushed.
They are finished. TARA casually puts away the hair and makeup items but ELLIE can’t stop looking at the corpse’s face.
TARA: No it doesn’t look rushed. Looks great, actually.
ELLIE: She looks beautiful.
HANNAH, JORDAN, ANNETTE, and APRIL have just returned from their friend’s funeral. HANNAH is taking it the hardest.
APRIL: That was so intense.
JORDAN: I could not look over at her mother. Every time I did I would just start bawling. Her face was just…ugh, just devastated.
ANNETTE: She just lost her only daughter.
JORDAN: I know, I know. I’m not saying she shouldn’t look like that. I’m just saying it was heartbreaking to watch. I mean, this is horrible for all of us, it must be just about impossible for her.
APRIL: Are you okay, Hannah?
HANNAH: No. I’m not okay. I mean, I will be. But right now…I just can’t believe she’s gone.
JORDAN: It was weird, sitting there in that church with everyone we know, and Maya not being there. I kept looking around for her without even really thinking about it. Especially when I looked over at you, Hannah, I expected to see Maya nearby.
HANNAH: She was my best friend. My best friend.
APRIL: She’s still your best friend, honey. She’ll always be a part of your heart and your life.
JORDAN: I bet she’s with you right now.
ANNETTE: Hey, did anyone else think it was strange, not being able to see her one last time? I would have liked to have gone to the viewing.
APRIL: It was family only. I thought it was nice the way they did it though, the ash-scattering ceremony for the friends. Really beautiful.
JORDAN: No, I think Maya would have liked it the way it was. She wouldn’t have wanted all of us standing around staring at her. She wasn’t the look-at-me type.
APRIL: You never went out to karaoke with us. Yes, she was the wallflowery sort of girl, but give her a microphone, some music, and about six rum and cokes and she was a rock star.
JORDAN: I never did, did I? I always meant to but never quite got to it.
APRIL: Well, we only went a few times. But she sang every time. What was that one she sang the last time? That Fats Domino song? She put on the deep voice and everything. Oh yeah: “Ain’t that a shame…you’re the one to blame. Ain’t that a shame…”
HANNAH: I’m sorry. I just can’t do this right now. I’m going to take a shower.
APRIL: I’m sorry, Hannah.
HANNAH: You have nothing to be sorry for. I just can’t do the reminiscing thing right now. I’ll be back out in a little while.
APRIL: Oh my god. I feel so bad.
JORDAN: Don’t feel bad. Hannah’s just taking it really hard. She just scattered her best friend’s ashes over Eden Park. We all did. Some of us feel like talking and some of us don’t.
APRIL: I’m glad they had it like that. All of us scattering her ashes together. It really made me feel connected to her somehow.
JORDAN: The preacher said something so beautiful, what was it? Something about how we all had a hand in shaping her life, and now we have a hand in helping her rest.
APRIL: I cried so hard when he said that.
ANNETTE: Why do you think they chose Eden Park?
JORDAN: I don’t know. It’s really lovely there. Her mom said something about them having lunch there sometimes.
ANNETTE: When I think of Maya I don’t think of Eden Park.
JORDAN: Well, it’s not like we could have scattered her ashes at Sitwells. Or here on this couch with her “Pride and Prejudice” DVD playing. Even though that might have made more sense.
ANNETTE: It would have.
APRIL: It makes her mom happy that she’s resting in such a pretty place. Maya wouldn’t have minded as long as the people she loved were happy.
JORDAN: You’re right.
APRIL and JORDAN share a sad moment. ANNETTE makes a decision.
ANNETTE: I have something to tell you guys.
ANNETTE brings her bag to the table and takes out a small velvet satchel.
APRIL: Is that…Annette!
JORDAN: You didn’t.
ANNETTE: I did.
APRIL: Is that just the little bag or is she still in there?
ANNETTE: Still in there.
JORDAN: But how did you…
ANNETTE: I just stuck her in my sleeve. Nobody noticed.
JORDAN: You’d better hope Hannah doesn’t notice! You cannot let her see that. She will never forgive you!
ANNETTE: Really? You think she’ll be mad?
JORDAN: Are you being serious? You see how she is right now. She does not need to see that in her living room.
ANNETTE: I didn’t think it would be that bad.
JORDAN: I don’t think you thought at all!
APRIL: Why did you take it, Annette?
ANNETTE: I don’t know. I just…it seemed like the right thing to do. I was standing there in the park with this little bag in my hand, and I realized that I’d never even seen Maya in this park. Think about that: I’ve known her for fifteen years and not once did I see her in that park. And it was supposed to be her final resting place? I don’t know. It felt wrong.
JORDAN: And hiding her in your sleeve and bringing her home felt right?
ANNETTE: I guess. Yeah, it did. I felt like I was doing something right by Maya.
APRIL: It did feel strange, pouring her ashes all over the park like that.
JORDAN: What, so you think this is okay?
APRIL: I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s okay.
JORDAN: Well, I’ll tell you. It’s not. What you need to do is put this in your room and make sure Hannah doesn’t see it. Tomorrow we’ll go back to the park and put it where it belongs.
ANNETTE: No! That was the point, don’t you see? She doesn’t belong there.
JORDAN: She certainly doesn’t belong here!
ANNETTE: Why not? People keep ashes of their loved ones all the time. Maybe I can buy a pretty little box to keep her in.
APRIL: Oh, like a little jeweled box. Maya’d love that.
JORDAN: Are you crazy? Are you both crazy? You can’t do that. This is Hannah’s house too you know. She will lose her shit if she finds out you’re keeping some of Maya’s ashes in here.
ANNETTE: I’ll tell her. I’ll tell her as soon as she gets out of the shower.
JORDAN: You will do no such thing! Now I know you’re being irrational because grief makes people do crazy things. But you’re being extremely selfish right now.
JORDAN: Yes! How do you think Maya’s mother would feel if she knew what you had right here? And do you really think Hannah’s just going to be okay with it? Jesus Christ, the girl is neurotic enough when she isn’t grieving. Whenever any little thing in her life is out of order—and let me tell you, this is bang out of order—she totally freaks out. I don’t need to be telling you this; you already know. Maya’s family wanted her ashes scattered where they were scattered and you want to ignore their wishes just because you think it felt wrong!
ANNETTE: I wasn’t thinking about myself when I took the ashes. I was thinking about Maya.
JORDAN: You honestly think Maya wanted you to steal her ashes.
ANNETTE: No! I honestly think Maya would have wanted to rest someplace that actually meant something to her!
JORDAN: And a little jeweled box on your dresser is that place?
ANNETTE: I never said that was what I was going to do.
JORDAN: What are you going to do?
ANNETTE: I haven’t decided yet!
JORDAN: It’s not your decision to make.
ANNETTE: Yes it is. Yes it is my decision to make. The preacher said we would all have a hand in helping Maya to her final resting place. This is what my hand is doing.
JORDAN: You are unbelievable.
APRIL: Girls. I don’t think Maya would have wanted us fighting like this.
JORDAN: You know what? It doesn’t really matter what Maya would or would not have wanted. It means nothing if Maya would have wanted this or that. Because Maya isn’t here. Maya is dead. Maya had an asthma attack and her lungs failed on the way to the hospital. She’s dead and gone and they burned her body and scattered her ashes, most of her ashes, and nothing is going to bring her back. Having a little bag of what used to be part of her body does not mean that she is here with us. That’s all it is, Annette. A little bag of ash.
ANNETTE: I know that.
APRIL: It still matters, though. Just because she’s dead, it doesn’t mean what she wanted doesn’t matter.
JORDAN: You don’t know where she would have wanted her ashes spread.
ANNETTE: I know it wasn’t Eden Park.
APRIL: And I know she wouldn’t have wanted her friends fighting on the day of her funeral.
JORDAN: She wouldn’t have wanted us to be at her funeral because she wouldn’t have wanted to die in the first place.
JORDAN: What? It’s ridiculous that we’re having this conversation at all. We shouldn’t even be in this position trying to figure out to do with these ashes, because there shouldn’t be any ashes in the first place.
APRIL: It was just her time, Jordan.
JORDAN: No it wasn’t. It was time for her to meet a boy, it was time for her to watch something other than period dramas, it was time for her to change her hairstyle. It was not time for her to die, and nothing you can say will make me believe differently.
APRIL: Well what other explanation do you want me to have?
JORDAN: Don’t! Don’t have an explanation. I don’t even think there can possibly be an explanation.
APRIL: So we’re just supposed to think that she died for no reason at all? That’s ludicrous.
JORDAN: As though it’s not ludicrous to think that any reason would be good enough to make it okay that Maya is dead.
APRIL: I didn’t say it would make it okay. I just said there has to be a reason. A purpose.
JORDAN: Oh sure. When Hannah gets out the shower, I’ll just tell her that her best friend died because God needed more soldiers for his invisible army. I’m sure that will make her feel better.
APRIL: It’s better than saying she died a completely senseless, pointless death.
JORDAN: Well, it really doesn’t matter either way, does it? Either way she’s still dead.
APRIL: You keep saying that, but—
They are interrupted by HANNAH returning from the bathroom.
HANNAH: What are you doing?
EVERYONE’s attention goes from HANNAH directly to the little bag, which is still on the table.
HANNAH: What is this?
HANNAH picks up the little bag.
JORDAN: What did I tell you?
ANNETTE: Hannah, I can explain…
HANNAH: You went through my things? How dare you go through my things!
ANNETTE: What? No…Hannah…
HANNAH: I know I shouldn’t have taken it. I know! But that doesn’t give any of you the right to go through my stuff and take it back.
APRIL: Hannah, that’s not—
HANNAH: Not what? Proper? Respectful? I’ll tell you what’s not proper or respectful. Dumping Maya all over some fucking park like she was trash. I couldn’t. I couldn’t do it. Okay?
ANNETTE tries to take the bag from HANNAH.
ANNETTE: it’s going to be all right.
HANNAH: No it isn’t. How dare you go through my things!
ANNETTE: We didn’t. I took that bag.
HANNAH gives her a dark, suspicious look. SHE goes over to her own shoulder bag and pulls out another velvet satchel, identical to the one ANNETTE has just gently taken from her hand.
JORDAN: This is unbelievable.
HANNAH: How did you—
ANNETTE: I hid her in my sleeve.
HANNAH: I put her in my pocket.
ANNETTE: It just seemed like the right thing to do.
HANNAH: I just couldn’t go through with the scattering.
APRIL: Oh, now I wish I had saved mine.
JORDAN: April, shut up.
HANNAH: What are we going to do now?
JORDAN: What you need to do is go back to the park and finish scattering the ashes according to Maya’s family’s wishes.
ANNETTE: I just don’t think I can do that.
JORDAN: This isn’t right! She’s supposed to be in Eden Park. Her family is expecting her to rest all in one place.
HANNAH: She’s already scattered in different places. It was impossible to avoid that ash once the wind started. Some of her blew onto some of the cars. I got a little bit in my mouth. She’s on your pants right now, Jordan. I just washed some of her down the drain.
MIRIAM lies on the stage with her head pointed towards the audience and her feet resting US by the GRAVESTONE.
MIRIAM: Somebody pointed it out. It may have been the sister of the grieving widower. Somebody noticed that my coffin was pointing the wrong way when they buried me. I mean, they’re called headstones for a reason, right? For me, a footstone. Somebody pointed it out. They said, they’re putting her in the ground the wrong way! You’ve got to fix it!
There was a priest there, and he said no. He said it’s fine! It’s fine because I’m facing east. That way is the way the son rises. Son like S-O-N. He said, this priest, that it was proper that the dead face east because when Jesus Christ himself returns to earth, he will come in the east, and we must be facing the right way so that we can sit up and see Him. That’s capital H-I-M.
That seemed to be okay to the sister. But honestly. It’s crazy. I mean, first of all they covered me with six feet worth of solid earth. I’m not sitting up without a shovel or a crane. Second of all, they put this great big gravestone right in my line of sight. If I do manage to bust through all that dirt and look east, all I’m going to see is a big rock with “In Loving Memory” carved into it.
And third of all, even if your friend Jesus does come strolling in from an easterly direction, I’m probably not going to be sitting up and looking his way anyhow. He’ll probably be wondering what a nice Jewish girl is doing lying in the middle of all his followers in the first place.
GRACE: I don’t have a gravestone. Where I am buried, there is no marker reminding the world that I once lived, no place where anyone can go to mourn. I suppose the trees are my grave markers. But they tell nothing about me.
I’m not buried in a place lovingly selected by my family. I lie instead in a forest randomly selected by my killer, chosen precisely because it is so far away from my family.
I don’t know if he got away with it. I don’t know if there are others like me. Maybe even in this same forest. It wouldn’t really make a difference. I’m still dead either way.
It was a random killing. I didn’t know him. I don’t know if he knew me. He might have been my neighbor. Could have been a worker in my office building. Or maybe he never saw me before in his life. I’ll never know.
I was only three blocks from home! Had I been followed? Seen from afar and randomly chosen? Three blocks from home when I was grabbed from behind. Hit with something. A metal pipe? Something heavy, and cold. Twice in the head. Once in the back. Maybe more. I blacked out after that. Blacking out is the most merciful feature built into these soft, fragile bodies. Blacking out is a gift from God, a gift of no more pain. I suppose death is too.
I didn’t stay unconscious. I woke up in the trunk of a car. My hands and feet were bound with duct tape. I was still wearing my clothes, but they were unrecognizable from all the blood.
He didn’t take anything from me. This is the part I do not understand. My coat, my bag, my shoes can all be found somewhere nearby in this forest. He never undressed me or raped me. All he took was my life.
I only got a look at his face once. Just for a second, when he opened the trunk. I don’t know if he saw my eye open. I think he thought I was still knocked out, or maybe already dead. He didn’t say anything when he opened the trunk. Right before my eye filled with light from the sky and blood from my head, I saw him. White male. Green eyes. Brown hair. Heavy eyebrows. Thin lips. Wearing a blue sweatshirt and jeans. Stop him, stop him before he kills again. Make him tell you where I’m buried. Put me in my rightful grave.
He killed me with a knife. Here to here and here to here. (indicates throat and gut) No stabbing. Isn’t it odd, to be killed with a knife but not stabbed at all? No Juliet-style blade through the heart. There was no romance to it—and yet, there almost was. ***
That was four years ago. I have yet to be found. I was almost found, once, almost a year after I died. There were two girls. They were about the same age I had been when it happened. They must have been lost. They passed within a few yards of me. They couldn’t have known I was here. A grave with no gravestone has no voice. There was no engraving to let them know that here lies Grace, born 1984 died 2005. Here lies “a beloved daughter, a cherished friend.” They couldn’t have known that I was lost too.
KATHERINE, GRETA, LAURIE, BIANCA & SUE-ELLEN are at a funeral.
BIANCA: We finally get to meet your boyfriend, and it’s at his funeral. Typical.
KATHERINE: You know I always wait until the last minute for everything.
GRETA: Shouldn’t we be seated farther back? Shouldn’t these seats be for, you know, family?
KATHERINE: It’s festival seating, my dear. First come, first serve. These are the best seats in the house.
BIANCA: I’m surprised we’re here so early. I would have thought you would want to make a grander entrance than this, Kath.
KATHERINE: I was torn between sweeping in fashionably late, entourage in tow, or showing up before his wife.
BIANCA: Don’t call us your entourage. We’re here for moral support.
GRETA: I wouldn’t go throwing around the word “moral” like that.
SUE-ELLEN: You mean she’s not here yet? The wife?
KATHERINE: Oh, you won’t miss her when she comes in. She’s an absolute troll.
SUE-ELLEN: You’ve met her?
KATHERINE: We haven’t traded recipes for muffins or anything, but I’ve made her acquaintance.
BIANCA: You’ve met the wifey? You’re an absolute slut, Kath.
KATHERINE: It was strategic. I had to know what I was up against.
BIANCA: Married or not, I’m still appalled you didn’t introduce him before. I mean, we’re your best friends!
KATHERINE: Well, there he is, ladies. May I formally introduce you to Mr. Charles F. Barrowcliff, CEO of Barrowcliff Industries, before his untimely death.
LAURIE: He doesn’t really look like your type. I haven’t known you to go after the balding ones.
GRETA: It doesn’t matter what the top of their heads look like; it’s the inside of the wallet that counts.
KATHERINE: Greta! You wound me. I admit I like the classier types, but there’s never a dearth of love and adoration. I simply doted on Charles.
LAURIE: You were with him for longer than anyone else I’ve known about.
KATHERINE: Two years.
SUE-ELLEN: And all that time we never met him.
KATHERINE: It’s not that I didn’t want to show him to you darlings. You know how it is with married men. They’ve always got to rush off to the wife or take some kid to dance class. He simply wasn’t available for our little cocktail parties.
BIANCA: Speaking of which, when are we going to meet your new fling, Laurie love?
LAURIE: Oh! I don’t know if I should make introductions very soon, or wait until I have full ownership. The relationship’s still on loan.
GRETA: They never leave the spouse, Laurie. They never ever do.
LAURIE: You’re probably right. I know you’re right! But promises were made. I was told the spouse problem would be taken care of soon.
GRETA: Soon! Hmph! You keep clinging to nebulous time frames and empty hopes.
KATHERINE: Oh shut up Greta. You’re just bitter because we’re getting laid and you’re not.
GRETA: I may not be getting laid, but at least my lover isn’t being laid out.
BIANCA: That’s some terrible wordplay, Greta. Not to mention tacky. I mean, the man is right there.
KATHERINE: Poor Charles. He never once told me he was going to leave his wife. He was very upfront about that. You have got to admire an honest man.
KATHERINE: Oh, my Charlie! Doesn’t he look peaceful lying there?
BIANCA: He looks like someone put on his makeup with their eyes closed.
SUE-ELLEN: Is he wearing makeup?
BIANCA: Oh yes dear, it’s all the rage amongst corpses these days. Greta, hand me your compact. (GRETA does.) Do you see that line of foundation along his jawline? Somebody forgot to blend.
BIANCA takes the pad from the compact and blends. GRETA is horrified and refuses to take back the compact. BIANCA ends up slipping it into GRETA’s bag at some point during the scene.
SUE-ELLEN: That’s much more natural. Good job.
BIANCA: Thank you.
LAURIE: Uh-oh, the family members are starting to sit down.
BIANCA: Hunker down, ladies. We’re getting the stink-eye from Granny over there.
SUE-ELLEN: Who’s the one in the purple tie? Do you know him, Kath?
KATHERINE: The one giving us the finger? Oh yes, that’s Charlie’s brother, Jon. He’s an investment banker. Never met him directly, but Charlie told me a fair bit about him.
SUE-ELLEN: Is he married?
KATHERINE: It doesn’t matter, honey. Did you not hear me say he’s an investment banker?
SUE-ELLEN: Is it poor etiquette to ask for somebody’s number at his brother’s funeral?
BIANCA: Hell no! Go for it, girl. But I’d wait until after the burial.
KATHERINE: You were always one for decorum, Bianca.
BIANCA: Funerals are excellent places to find men. I met Doug at one. Remember him? I think it was his sister’s funeral? It might have been his mother’s. Anyway, they’re perfect because emotions are running high, everyone’s looking for arms to rest in for comfort…and black is so flattering.
KATHERINE: I’d just bought this black dress. I was going to wear it for our two-year anniversary dinner. I had no idea I would end up wearing it at his funeral.
SUE-ELLEN: How did he die?
KATHERINE: it was the oddest thing. He’d been having trouble breathing for about a week, but it really wasn’t a big thing. The doctor said it was just allergies. It got worse and worse until one day, he was shaving in front of the mirror. He opened up his bottle of aftershave, took a whiff, and keeled right over. I called 911 but it was too late.
SUE-ELLEN: Wait, you were with him when he died?
KATHERINE: Garfield Suites room 1142. That’s right. That’s why I deserve to sit right here in this front row. She may have had his ring, but his heart was with me the day he died.
SUE-ELLEN: Did they figure out what killed him?
KATHERINE: He had some kind of allergic reaction. To what, I’ll never know.
SUE-ELLEN: It’s so tragic!
BIANCA: One of the downfalls of dating older men, though. You never know when they’re gonna poop out on you.
KATHERINE: My Charlie was a strong, healthy man. He was a 60 year old in a 40 year old’s body.
KATHERINE: He managed to keep me and his wife happy, if you know what I mean.
BIANCA: (to GRETA) She means sex.
GRETA: Shut up Bianca.
KATHERINE: Yes, shut up Bianca. Because the devil herself has just entered the room.
THEY all turn at watch the wife enter the room. LAURIE is suddenly very uncomfortable.
LAURIE: Why didn’t you tell me he was married to Isabella Corthington?
SUE-ELLEN: Of the chip-dip fortune? That’s her?
KATHERINE: Why does it matter?
LAURIE: Remember that new fling I was telling you about? Well.
BIANCA: Laurie! You and Isabella Corthington? Why, bravo my dear! She’s Oprah-level rich. I’m green with envy!
SUE-ELLEN: But Bianca, you don’t even like women.
BIANCA: For Isabella Corthington, I’ll eat a mile of carpet.
GRETA: Bianca! I’m sure Laurie does not appreciate your language.
KATHERINE: Who are you people? Are we all missing the point? Who cares about Bianca’s language. Laurie is sleeping with my dead boyfriend’s wife! How did this happen?
LAURIE: I was one of the caterers at some fundraiser dinner.
BIANCA: And you bagged a billionaire? I’m in the wrong business.
LAURIE: Oh my god, she’s looking this way. Hide me. Give me that scarf. Do you think she saw?
GRETA: I actually think she was too distracted by Katherine to see you.
SUE-ELLEN: Oh my god, awkward.
KATHERINE: What are you talking about? This is marvelous. Now if she says anything to me about homewrecking or whatever, I have something to say to her.
LAURIE: No! I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone about us. You’ll ruin everything.
BIANCA: This is possibly the worst conundrum a woman could come up against. Do you use your powerful knowledge to bring down your enemy, or do you keep the secret so as to protect your friend’s relationship? A relationship with a billionaire, no less. Kath, I’d keep my damn mouth shut if I were you.
KATHERINE: But it’s too perfect.
BIANCA: You’re right, it is! Augh! I would never be able to make a decision. This funeral has gotten too intense for me. I won’t make it much longer without a drink.
And with that, BIANCA pulls an entire bottle of wine from her purse along with a stack of plastic cups. SHE pours everyone a drink.
SUE-ELLEN: You’re a doll. To you, Charles. Rest in peace.
THEY drink to Charles.
KATHERINE: Okay, Laurie, I won’t say anything as long as she doesn’t say anything to me. You better keep your woman in check.
LAURIE: No, no, she can’t know I’m here.
SUE-ELLEN: Ooh, I’ve got a pair of sunglasses. Here.
BIANCA: They totally work. And they’re fierce.
LAURIE: She made me promise to stay away from her in public places until she worked out her husband situation.
KATHERINE: What do you mean? Did she say she was going to leave Charles?
LAURIE: I guess. She didn’t say it in so many words, but that’s what I thought she meant.
KATHERINE: Charlie never mentioned anything about trouble with Isabella.
SUE-ELLEN: Maybe he died before she got a chance to break up with him.
KATHERINE: I suppose so.
GRETA: They never leave their spouses. Never. Maybe this is what she meant by “working out the husband situation.”
SUE-ELLEN: This? You mean…his death?
BIANCA: I love a good murder for passion! Tell us how she did it, Greta. Was it in the conservatory with the lead pipe?
GRETA: You’re hilarious.
LAURIE: Izzy wouldn’t kill her husband.
BIANCA: Izzy? Ugh. That will stop during this conversation.
KATHERINE: How could she kill him? She wasn’t anywhere in the room when he died. It was allergies.
GRETA: What was he allergic to?
KATHERINE: I don’t know. Penicillin, according to his medical bracelet. Strawberries gave him a rash. Oh, and peanuts. I couldn’t ever have a Snickers bar or a slice of peanut butter pie around him.
LAURIE: Did you say peanuts?
KATHERINE: I did.
LAURIE: Izzy—uh, Isabella had a bottle of peanut oil in the trunk of her car. She said it was a secret skin treatment.
SUE-ELLEN: More like a secret murder treatment!
BIANCA: Sue-Ellen. Please.
GRETA: I bet you she put it in the aftershave. I bet you she’s been sneaking it into all of his grooming products.
LAURIE: That’s insane!
BIANCA: Greta, darling, you watch too much CSI.
GRETA: It’s a very good show.
RAMONA and MOLLY are preparing to go to a funeral. RAMONA is going to give one of the speeches. She is practicing.
RAMONA: Melissa Romero…a friend to all, a helping hand always extended to…uh, her fellow…American? No. Helping hand extended to…always extended to her fellow human being. Should I just say fellow human? Fellow man? Is that sexist?
MOLLY: Um, I think fellow man isn’t sexist because she’s female. So, it can’t be fellow MEN because she isn’t a man, so it’s implied that you mean HUman.
RAMONA: Okay. Fellow man sounds better.
MOLLY: You should write it down.
RAMONA: No, I should memorize it.
MOLLY: You’re not going to memorize it in three hours. You have to be there at noon.
RAMONA: You’re not coming with me?
MOLLY: I don’t know. I barely knew Melissa.
RAMONA: Join the club.
MOLLY: What are you talking about? You guys were best friends in high school.
RAMONA: Yes. In high school. That was six years ago.
MOLLY: I don’t understand why you’re giving the eulogy at the funeral, then.
RAMONA: Mrs. Romaro. It was her idea. She’s having five different people from five different time periods in Melissa’s life give eulogies. Look, here’s the program.
MOLLY: Oh, that’s actually really beautiful. Oh look, Mrs. Schumacher from elementary school is giving the second speech. How sad, her older sister is giving the first one. She’s probably going to talk about when Melissa first came home from the hospital. I bet it’s going to be so sad and sweet. Oh, Ramona, I want you to give a eulogy at my funeral.
RAMONA: You’re not going to die before me. I’m the older sister.
MOLLY: Melissa died before her older sister.
RAMONA: It was a freak accident.
MOLLY: What was it?
RAMONA: White water rafting. She fell in and hit her head or something. Drowned.
MOLLY: So sad.
RAMONA: It’s sad.
MOLLY: I’ll speak at your funeral then.
MOLLY: This is a really lovely program. You should wear your hair up.
MOLLY: I don’t know. It just seems fancier.
RAMONA: That’s a weird thing to say.
MOLLY: No it isn’t. It will look better with your black dress, too.
RAMONA: I’m not wearing my black dress. I’m wearing the dark green one.
MOLLY: But Ramona. You’re supposed to wear black at funerals.
RAMONA: So? I don’t want to wear my black dress; it’s my favorite going-out dress. I don’t want to wear it at a funeral.
MOLLY: I don’t know. It seems wrong. Disrespectful.
RAMONA: It can’t be any more disrespectful than giving a eulogy for a girl you hardly know.
MOLLY: Well, at least you knew her at some point.
RAMONA: She was a totally different person then. I’m a totally different person now. I don’t even like the person she turned into. I barely liked the person she was then.
MOLLY: That’s a weird thing to say.
thanks for reading!