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Solitary (scene 2)
by Janet S. Tiger
(c) copyright all rights reserved Feb. 26, 2014
(A woman is seen. She is sturdy, and she is in her seventies, but looks younger. She is holding a pruning sheers or big clippers - something to prune a tree with - and she is dressed appropriately. She has a thick Northeast accent - Boston roots - and she is tough.
She looks around, up at the tree, takes a deep sigh.)
Well, God, you and I are going to have our last little talk. Maybe not last, but last out heah by this tree. Me cutting, you listening.
It's worked for a long time, hasn't it? I think of all the things I will miss about this house, this tree - and our little talks - will be be one of the biggest.
Forty-five years, God, has it been that long? You would know, I'm starting to forget so many things.
(She clips a bit, looks at what she's done)
Like the name of this tree....what is it called?
(She clips furiously, trying to get the clipping to help her)
I remember when we bought this place, James and I, after he got the job as the local sheriff here, and they gave him an advance enough to put the down payment on. Julie was a baby......and I was pregnant with Sophia. (Smiles as she remembers) This tree was no bigger than I was, and for the first two years it didn't grow one inch.
I thought it was because it was cold during those horrible winters, so I would cover it up with blankets and try to keep it warm. Those first years, I remember them with great fondness.
And then one day, I think it was a couple, maybe three years after we were here, I was pregnant with Tammy, I think, and I started talking to the postman, when he drove through. There weren't many people out around here then, not like now, with it all built up with the fancy places from all those rich people who like to have a home in country for skiing, so they buy and raise the prices and then they visit twice a year.
Where was I, God? Oh yes, the postman, and he and I started to become friends, because, often he was the only adult I would see for a couple of days, if I didn't go into town to shop. He was a nice man, Mr.....(searches for the name)....oh, you remember him, God, Mr......it'll come to me. and I told him that I was worried about the tree, it had not grown since we moved in.
And he told me that it hadn't grown since it had been planted by the first owners! I said, well, so that means it will never grow? I would like a shade tree here in my front yard. And he told me what to do to prune it, and I have been doing that for years now, with good result.
(She illustrates as she becomes Mr........she'll recall the name later)
(Very masculine) "This is a good tree, strong, able to handle the cold. But you have to prune it properly. You have to remove all the down-facing, branches.....like this..."
(She is still Mr. .....and she cuts more forcefully)
"Even if they go up after, if they start down, cut them off right here at the branch...."
"And if you keep at it, the top branches will grow without the burden of being dragged down. And it will bear a lovely apple in a few yeahs, and it will grow, but not too high and it will live a long time and make a lot of nice shade for your children to play under."
(Back to herself)
Why didn't he tell the other people how to do this?
"They never asked!"
(She laughs, then stands straight up. She has remembered something.)
Mr. Farris! His name was Mr. Farris! And the people we bought from were the Wilkins! And the name of the tree.......
(Stops, looks puzzled)
Now, that I can't seem to recahl.......I will have to ask Julie, she never forgets a thing, that girl.
(She cuts again, then stops)
One more week. Then the escrow will close, and we will have 45 days to move. I asked for 45 because one day for each year is fair, I think.
Of course, the escrow may not go through. Sometimes that happens. But it's rare, and I do not expect anything odd to happen. So this will be my last prune.
Tammy asks me why I am doing all this cleaning up and yard work when I will be gone. I told her, this is still my home, and I like it to look nice while I am here. It is still a lovely home.
I do not want to remember it all fallen down, broken.
(She looks up, sees something, laughs)
My son, you remember him, God? JJ - Jimmy Jr. He used to try and play up here, and I wouldn't let him! These branches were too weak, not strong as the oak - but he would sneak up here, until he fell out one day on his arm, broke it in three places. Did that stop him? No. Did he evah listen? No. Did he evah eat his vegetables.....we both know the answer, God! (Shakes her head) Nooooo!
Maybe it was my fault, I mean, he was the youngest, and I let the girls spoil him. I mean they watched out for him, but they spoiled him good - or bad if it be known.
He thought he could get away with anything.
And maybe that was my fault, too. He would smile at me with those big blue eyes....and i could forgive him almost anything.
(As a mother) But vegetables are good for you, Jimmy! God made vegetables to keep us healthy! You have to eat something green everyday to stay healthy....
(As a little boy) But, mommy, I do eat something green every day - I eat my snot!
I never thought I'd say it, but I'm glad James was gone when all this happened.
It was bad enough when the sheriff's own son got in trouble, but this....this was different.
(Suddenly realizing something) Oh, my God! I just figured it out! James had the first attack right after we got that call from Oregon, that Jimmy Jr was arrested. It wasn't immediately after, but a few months. Oregon is not Massachusetts, and James couldn't go to his friends to get Jimmy loose that time, no, it was for real, a DUI with drugs in the vehicle.
We got an attorney to argue it was the other guy's marijuana, but everyone knew the truth. And then he jumped the bail, and we lost our $25,000 bond - the money for our anniversary cruise. Europe, the Mediterranean, it all would have been first class.
(Holds her head in her hands)
I may have been wrong this time, too. He was selling those awful drugs....selling! (Anguished) But how could I let him rot for 40 years? I mean, five years is enough. That's not easy in the Federal system. So we got the best lawyer this mortgaged home could buy.....expensive, too, the Kennedys used the same firm. Maybe not this young one, but it looked good when our man stood up and said the name of their company - four long names - it meant something. So he got five years - less with good behavior. Was I wrong? God, I know you had troubles with your son, but did you ever have doubts about him? I don't think so. I have doubts......doubts he will ever change. (Hard to say) Doubts he wants to change at all.
(She sighs deeply, collecting the leaves and putting them in a pail.)
Well, as always, it's been good talking to you, God. I will miss our little chats here while I trim this tree, but I'm sure Sophie's house has plenty to do and I will be happy to talk to you there.
(She straightens up, she has made up her mind.)
But that is it. This house was all I had. I.....I told the girls I will not speak to him again. I wish him well, but enough is enough.
(She looks at the tree, wipes her face, starts to walk off. then stops. Listens, considers reluctantly, after all, it is God)
All right, maybe I'll change my mind - one day. But he would have to be changed for real......(thinks) he'd have to eat some real vegetables.
(As she walks off, we hear her say....)
That'll be the day......
(End of scene)
Notes - I suspect this will work equally well as pantomime or with a 'tree' that can be actually 'trimmed'
Janet S. Tiger 858-274-9678
Member Dramatists Guild since 1983
Swedenborg Hall 2006-8