MIRIAM lies on the stage with her head pointed towards the audience and her feet resting US by the GRAVESTONE. A VISITOR carries in a bouquet of flowers and gives it to the GRAVESTONE before exiting.
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 them. 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 is alone on stage.
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.
CLARISSA is preparing to go to a funeral. SHE practices as she applies makeup, puts on earrings, etc.
CLARISSA: (singing) Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found. Was blind but now I see.
VIVIAN: You sound absolutely beautiful. There won’t be a dry eye in the house.
CLARISSA: It is a funeral. They’re going to be crying way before I get up there.
VIVIAN: It really is sad, isn’t it? I mean, it was only two years ago that you were singing at her wedding. Now here you are singing at her funeral.
CLARISSA: It’s crazy to think about. How something as little as a bee sting can take away something as huge as a woman’s life.
VIVIAN: I didn’t even know Ruby was allergic to bees.
CLARISSA: I don’t think she knew.
VIVIAN: Can you imagine being Oliver right now? I wonder what he was thinking when he got that phone call.
CLARISSA: I bet he hates bees.
VIVIAN: I can’t even begin to think what he’s going through. Getting ready to go to his wife’s funeral. How’s it been around here?
CLARISSA: Quiet, actually.
VIVIAN: Wendy barely acknowledged me when I got here.
CLARISSA: She’s said three sentences to me since she found out Ruby died. The first one was right after she hung up the phone after the call. I was sitting right there in the kitchen with her. She turns to me and says, “My sister is dead. Will you sing at her funeral?”
VIVIAN: Oh my god.
CLARISSA: She said it just like that. Totally deadpan. I was like, what? What? What happened? She said the second sentence. “She was stung by a bee.” Huh? Elaboration please. Nothing. I ended up calling her mom to get the story. Third sentence was the day after that. Asked me if I’d sing Amazing Grace. I said I would and I haven’t heard a word since then.
VIVIAN: Oh Wendy, poor Wendy.
CLARISSA: I’ve heard her on the phone with her relatives through the door to her room, but she hasn’t really said much of anything to me.
VIVIAN: I’d be crying my face off if I were her. I don’t know what I’d do if my sister died.
CLARISSA: I’ve been crying on and off for the past four days. I hope I can get through the whole song.
VIVIAN: I can never remember the other verses.
CLARISSA: Don’t feel bad; no one ever does. (singing) ‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear…
VIVIAN: And grace my fears relieved!
BOTH: (singing) And grace my fears relieved…
WENDY: You sound beautiful, Clarissa. You too, Viv.
VIVIAN: Oh, Wendy!
VIVIAN rushes over and embraces WENDY.
Wendy, Wendy, I’m so sorry about Ruby.
WENDY: I know you are.
VIVIAN: I can’t imagine how you feel.
WENDY: No, I’m sure you can’t.
VIVIAN: Oh, Wendy…
WENDY: Hey, Vivian. I’m okay. I’m sorry I ignored you when you got here.
VIVIAN: You don’t have to apologize for anything. It’s the day of your sister’s funeral.
WENDY: It’s also the day of your friend’s funeral, and you drove all the way here, and I appreciate that, and I want you to know that.
VIVIAN: Of course I know that, Wendy.
WENDY gently breaks loose from VIVIAN’s grip and moves closer to CLARISSA.
WENDY: Thank you for singing today.
CLARISSA: Of course.
WENDY: Oliver’s really glad you’re doing it.
CLARISSA: Poor Oliver.
WENDY: Poor Oliver. (pause) I’m so tired, but I can’t stop moving around. All the dishes are done, Clarissa. I’m sorry I let them pile up for the past four days.
CLARISSA: Oh Wendy.
CLARISSA holds WENDY close and weeps a little. WENDY looks saddened but doesn’t cry.
WENDY: Anyway. You two look nice in your black dresses.
CLARISSA: Are you…not wearing yours? We have to leave pretty soon.
VIVIAN: Do you want some help getting ready?
WENDY: No thank you. I’m not going.
CLARISSA: To the funeral?
WENDY: No, I’m not going to the funeral.
CLARISSA: Wendy, it’s your sister’s funeral.
WENDY: That’s right, it’s my sister’s funeral and I don’t want to be there so I’m not going.
VIVIAN: But Wendy, you have to go.
WENDY: No I don’t. I’m in mourning and I can do whatever I want.
CLARISSA: Your mom will…
WENDY: I already spoke to my mom. She said if I wanted to stay home I should.
VIVIAN: This is a really difficult time for you. You’re going to need the support of your friends and family more than ever.
WENDY: You don’t know what I need. Your sister didn’t just die. What I need is some quiet. Not all my aunts and uncles and cousins asking me if I’m okay. Not everybody I know grabbing at me. I just want to be at home.
CLARISSA: I’m not going to leave you here by yourself.
VIVIAN: Yeah, we’ll stay here with you.
WENDY: No! Clarissa, you’re supposed to sing. Vivian, you drove all this way. Just go.
WENDY: Go! I need to be alone today.
CLARISSA: Okay. We’ll go. But I’m leaving my cell phone on so if you need anything at all, you call me, okay? I’ll give it to Vivian while I’m singing.
WENDY: Don’t do that. I’ll leave a voicemail or something. It’ll go off like it did when you sang at the wedding.
VIVIAN: I remember that. It was terrible.
WENDY: Mostly because of Clarissa’s ringtone.
CLARISSA: Oh my god. I was so young and foolish then.
WENDY: Right in the middle of a stunning rendition of “Power of Love,” what do we hear coming from Clarissa’s purse?
WENDY and VIVIAN: (singing) Who let the dogs out? Who, who, who…
CLARISSA: I deleted that ringtone the second I got off stage. My phone just rings now.
VIVIAN: That doesn’t erase the fact that you had it as your ringtone in the first place.
CLARISSA: Oh, the shame. I sent Ruby and Oliver like fifteen apology emails.
WENDY: Ruby didn’t care. She thought it was funny. Ruby thought everything was funny. She would have thought today was hilarious. I mean, who dies from something as tiny as a bee sting? It’s outrageous. She would have el-oh-eled at her own obituary. She would have made some tasteless flies and honey joke. If Ruby were alive, she’d be cracking up right now. If she were alive. Which she’s not.
WENDY: Don’t touch me! Ever since Ruby died everybody’s been grabbing at me. The florist. The funeral director. Some old rich lady that was arranging her husband’s funeral. My brother. Just because my sister died, it doesn’t mean I am all of a sudden a touchy-feely person.
VIVIAN: I think that…when someone dies, you just need to grab onto everybody that’s still alive. To make sure that you don’t lose them too.
WENDY: I am feeling too much. Someone’s hands on me is just one feeling too many. A whole funeral’s worth of people’s hands on me and I just might explode.
VIVIAN: What if we keep everybody away from you? Like bodyguards.
CLARISSA: Don’t you want to come and say goodbye?
WENDY: Ruby almost never said goodbye. You know what she’d say? Tee-tee-why-el. God that was annoying. Tee-tee-why-el! That little brat. She did it just to get on my nerves. I always tried to hang up real quick but she always squeezed it in there. You know, that might be the one reason I’d go to the funeral. Just so I could finally say bye without hearing her say that. But then it wouldn’t be right. Then I’d just be waiting to hear her say it.
You both have that look in your eye. Like you want to grab me.
VIVIAN: I don’t know what else to do.
WENDY: Go to the funeral. Go now, you’re going to be late. Go grab somebody else.
CLARISSA: Are you sure?
VIVIAN: We can stay if you need us to.
WENDY: Girls, I love you both. So, so much. But I need you to not be in my face right now. I am completely serious.
CLARISSA: Okay. Okay. My cell phone is on. Call if you need to.
WENDY grabs the phone, adjusts the volume settings, and returns it.
WENDY: Now it’s on vibrate.
VIVIAN: We love you Wendy! We’ll be back in a few hours.
WENDY: I’ll be here.
I’m sorry I’m going to miss your singing, Clarissa.
CLARISSA goes in for a hug, rethinks it, and blows a kiss before exiting. WENDY is left alone. SHE takes a moment to absorb her solitude before pulling out her cell phone. She dials her voicemail. We hear RUBY’s voice:
RUBY: Wendy! It’s Ruby. Mom gave me the number to the dentist. It’s 555-5483. Ha ha ha, now you get to suffer through the wisdom tooth extraction. Call me if you want me to drive you there. Tee-tee-why-el!
WENDY presses a button. We hear: Message saved. Another message begins:
RUBY: Happy birthday Wendy! See, I’m on time this year! Keep this message just in case and replay it next year when I inevitably forget. Love ya! Tee-tee-why-el!
RUBY: Hey, Wendy. It’s your sister. I’m on the way to the grocery store and I wanted to know if you were still eating vegetarian or vegan or whatever it is this week so I can pick you up some rabbit food for dinner this Friday. Did you know Oliver just found out he’s lactose intolerant? You guys are going to have to start cooking your own damn dinners. Oh snap, some Ford Taurus just cut me off! I should probably go. Hearts. Bye.
WENDY is taken off-guard. SHE stares at the phone and for the first time, she starts to cry. Before she can really get into it, the phone rings in her hand and startles her. Composing herself, she answers.
WENDY: Hello? Oh, Vivian. I’m okay. Tell Clarissa I’m okay. What? Oh, sure…Hi Clarissa. Yes. Yes. Okay. Thank you for calling. Yes. Fine, call me on the way to the cemetery. Yes. Okay. See you in a few.
SHE hangs up the phone, puts it back in her pocket, and exits.
NORA's head rests on a GRAVESTONE's lap.
NORA: It’s not like I didn’t know she was sick. She’d been sick for years. She came to live with us after the first stroke. My parents didn’t want her in a nursing home. It was when we found out about the cancer that she really started to go downhill.
It was weird, watching my grandmother get sick. I mean, she’d always been old. Grandparents are always so old. But she’d always used to come over when I’d gotten sick. Any cold, and flu, that one time when I busted my knee at gymnastics, she would show up at our house. She kind of got in the way, actually. My mom would be trying to make soup or an ice pack and my grandma would just hover around in our itty bitty kitchen and try to tell my mom a better way of doing whatever it was.
Then she had the first stroke. Then she was at our house, only she was the one who was sick.
It’s not like I didn’t help take care of her. I did. I brought her tea. I helped her drink it. I watched The Price is Right with her. Oh she was so angry when Bob retired. Me too, actually.
My mom and dad said they could handle it. They had everything under control. A nurse came every day. My mom worked from home. It was fine, it really was fine. I had a full scholarship to my top choice. How many people can say that? It was fine. So I went. It was only seven hours away. My top choice!
It had been a year and a half when I got the call. The cancer had spread to her kidneys. My grandmother was dying. She asked for me…my mom actually said that on the phone. Said my grandmother didn’t have much longer and she asked to say goodbye.
I cleared it with my professors. Packed an overnight bag. Filled my tank up with gas. I was going to make her tea and help her drink it. I was going to complain about Drew Carey.
It was raining. I was crying. I don’t know which car crossed over the yellow line. I was one hundred and fourteen miles from home when I went through the windshield and broke my neck on the pavement.
One hundred and fourteen miles from my grandmother. One hundred and fourteen miles from being able to say goodbye.
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: (singing) Ain’t that a shame…you’re the one to blame. Ain’t that a shame…
JORDAN: Oh my god. That girl just was not of this decade.
APRIL: I know, right? She would always, always sing this one song. How did it start? (singing) Didn’t I make you feel like you were the only man…and didn’t I give you nearly everything that a woman possibly can?
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. 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 can’t believe you’re being so selfish.
ANNETTE: How am I possibly being selfish? I did what I thought Maya would have wanted me to do.
JORDAN: And how would you know what Maya would have wanted you to do? Huh? She didn’t leave instructions. “In case of my untimely, sudden death, please steal some of my ashes regardless of my parents’ wishes.”
ANNETTE: Well, it was better than doing nothing.
JORDAN: Was it?
ANNETTE: I just don’t see how she could be happy scattered all over that park.
JORDAN: Annette. How can she be happy at all? She’s dead.
APRIL: It still matters, though. Just because she’s dead it doesn’t mean what she wanted doesn’t matter.
JORDAN: How can you sit there and presume to know that she didn’t want to be scattered in Eden Park? She wouldn’t have had an opinion on her ashes, because she wouldn’t have wanted there to be any ashes in the first place. She wouldn’t have wanted this or that at her funeral, because she wouldn’t have wanted to die for there to be a funeral in the first place.
APRIL: Nobody wants to die, Jordan.
JORDAN: But we all do anyway. Let me make one thing perfectly clear, since you’re both so keen on deciding things for people who can’t argue one way or another. If I die—when I die—I don’t want to be cremated. Make sure I am put in the ground, whole and uncut, so that there is no way that my so-called friends can get a hold of bits of me.
ANNETTE: Did you actually just call us “so-called friends”? Are you serious right now? I do what I think is right by my dead friend and suddenly my friendship is called into question?
JORDAN: That is not what I meant.
ANNETTE: What did you mean, then?
JORDAN: I mean, you have no idea if what you did really was right by Maya. For all you know, her soul is going to wander the earth forever because you’ve stolen a piece of her body.
ANNETTE: And for all you know she’s finally able to have peace, because somebody took the time to think about who she was as a person and what she would have wanted, not just some pretty place to have a ceremony.
JORDAN: Well there’s no way to know for sure, is there?
APRIL: What I do know for sure is that Maya wouldn’t have wanted her friends fighting. Especially not over her.
JORDAN: She’s not here to stop us.
APRIL: You know damn well she would be here if she could. You think she had an asthma attack as a personal affront to you? She didn’t plan to die. It was just her time.
JORDAN: Just her time? No it wasn’t. It was time for her to meet a boy, time for her to watch something other than 19th century English dramas, it was time for her to change her hairstyle. It was not time for her to die. I don’t know how you can say that, much less believe it.
APRIL: What other explanation do you want me to have?
JORDAN: Don’t! Don’t have an explanation.
APRIL: So you’d rather believe that Maya died for no reason at all? You’d rather she had a pointless, meaningless death? If you want to think that, I find that way more disrespectful to her memory than taking her ashes.
JORDAN: And what exactly is this great purpose?
APRIL: I don’t claim to know the answer to that. Maybe we won’t know until we die ourselves.
ANNETTE: They say God works in mysterious ways.
JORDAN: Don’t even talk to me about God. What would God want with a sweet, quiet, geeky 23-year-old woman?
ANNETTE: Maybe He’s trying to tell us something through her.
JORDAN: That’s a little extreme, don’t you think? I would imagine an email or a memo would do better.
APRIL: If He is trying to tell us something, and you don’t want to listen, then Maya really did die for nothing.
JORDAN: Don’t put some kind of guilt trip on me. Forgive me if I think it is more than a little fucked-up that God would kill my friend just to give me some kind of message.
APRIL: That is not quite what I meant. No one said God killed anybody.
JORDAN: Why wouldn’t I make that jump? He offed a bunch of kids in the Bible just for calling some guy baldheaded.
ANNETTE: I don’t remember that!
JORDAN: It was when you had chicken pox. You missed that day in Sunday school.
ANNETTE: That is crazy! I really ought to sit down and read that book.
JORDAN: No one ever does.
APRIL: God didn’t kill Maya! How did we even get on this topic?
JORDAN: Maybe he didn’t. But one way or another, Maya died, and if there’s a god somewhere he allowed that to happen.
APRIL: But He is allowing us to live.
JORDAN: Until when? How long before He drops the ball on us too? How am I supposed to trust God when at any moment, He could just let any one of us die?
APRIL: You’re wrong, you’re wrong. You’re getting it twisted.
JORDAN: Untwist it for me then. Tell me why I should just sit back and accept Maya’s death.
APRIL: I can’t defend God to you. I can’t tell you His purposes because they are not for me to know.
JORDAN: Then what the hell is the point?
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. I had to…hold on to her somehow.
ANNETTE: Keep her safe.
HANNAH: Carry her home.
ANNETTE: Where she belongs.
HANNAH: She really only felt comfortable at home.
APRIL: That’s not entirely true. She liked going to Sitwells. We went to karaoke just last week.
ANNETTE: Well, we were always with her.
HANNAH: With us, girls. Maya was at home with us.
JORDAN: If she’s gone…where is our home?
ANNETTE: She isn’t. She’s with us right now.
HANNAH: Do you two still have your bags? The empty ones?
APRIL: Hey, I do. I didn’t think to throw it away.
JORDAN: I gave mine back to the priest.
ANNETTE: I know.
SHE exits and returns with a little jeweled box.
Had this on my dresser.
HANNAH takes the box and the empty bag. Ceremoniously, SHE divides up the ashes and gives them to each girl. As she hands over the ashes, she says to each:
HANNAH: Welcome home. Welcome home. Welcome home.
ANNETTE: Welcome home.
APRIL: I feel like we should be singing or something.
HANNAH: What was the one from karaoke?
APRIL: If you don’t want to…
HANNAH: No. It’s fine. How did it go?
APRIL: (singing) Oh come on come on come on…
ANNETTE: (singing) Didn't I make you feel like you were the only man—yeah!
APRIL: (singing) Didn't I give you nearly everything that a woman possibly can? Honey, you know I did.
ALL: (singing) And each time I tell myself that I, well I think I've had enough, but I'm gonna show you, baby, that a woman can be tough. I want you to come on, come on, come on and take it! Take another little piece of my heart…
THEY all trail off once they realize the eerie pertinence of the lyrics. ALL the girls dissolve into laughter. Real, stress-relieving laughter. JORDAN is the first to stop. SHE suddenly abandons the laughter, picks up the jeweled box, and abruptly leaves the apartment.
IVY lies with her head on a GRAVESTONE's lap.
IVY: I died while doing my taxes. How’s that for poetics? House fire. My downstairs neighbor fell asleep with a cigarette in his hand. Here’s something you may not know about fire death. I sure didn’t know. People don’t usually get burned to death. It’s the smoke. I died by breathing. It’s almost funny, isn’t it? Almost.
I wish I could say that I died while working on my unfinished novel. Or, I wish I could say I died having the greatest sex of my life. Or eating the most amazing tiramisu I’ve ever had.
I had a lot of wishes. They never put those on your gravestones. Sure, here are the things that I managed to be: Loving Daughter. Beloved Sister. Cherished Friend. I happened to survive from 1986 to 2009.
But it would make more sense if it said “Here lies Ivy. Her book was almost finished.” “Here lies Ivy. She had applied to four grad schools.” “Here lies Ivy. She always wanted to see Japan, but never got enough money saved up.” This gravestone is all that’s left of me. This gravestone is all the information the world can see about me. My only future is an engraving of my past.
They buried me in an old cemetery in a family plot. We lie here in rows. All together. To my left are all the ones who died before me. To my right are empty spaces, where the ones who will die later will lie. Everyone who has my name will lie here. They will either have died before me, or after me. I don’t know how or when they’ll get here, but they’ll get here. Eventually there will be no one left to remember the things that are not etched above my head. “Loving Daughter” doesn’t tell about the time I threw a serving dish against the wall because my mother was making me wash it. My gravestone does not reveal that I, a cherished friend, was the one who told everyone about your abortion. It doesn’t say I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
Maybe my life wasn’t worth remembering. I mean, here I am, lying among hundreds, thousands, millions dead like me. Can you imagine trying to remember us all? Remember our first words? Our last words? What season of the year we felt most comfortable in? The way we took our coffee? Our eggs? It’s too much.
But then, why did we have those lives? Why spend a lifetime shaping ourselves into these individual people if all of it was just going to disappear into the ether? Literally gone in a puff of smoke.
I thought I was going to have at least eighty years. I only got twenty-three. I thought maybe we all go to heaven. I thought maybe I’d go to hell. But no one guaranteed anything. No one knew. All I know for sure is I had twenty-three years. I had life. That much was certain. I took sugar in my coffee, had my eggs over-easy and felt most comfortable in the spring. This is all I can tell you.
You might want to believe that I am someplace beautiful and happy. You might want to believe that I am aware of nothing at all. You might want to believe that I am only sleeping, and will wake someday.
Please believe these things. Believe them for as long as your reality is alive, because after this point? I guarantee nothing.
Thanks for reading!