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18 December 2011

The Little Tree That Stopped Blooming -- rough

Once upon a time, a little tree was planted in a park that was filled with a lot of other trees. It was planted as part of a program to introduce variety into the park. As the little tree grew, it watched people pass by and admire all the grown trees, because they bloomed with beautiful flowers every year. As a young tree, it only produced leaves, but the leaves were a brilliant green, and children became mesmerized by the little one.
One day, when the little tree was nice and tall, a little boy came along and stood for a long time in front of it. By now, it was blooming beautiful flowers every year that wilted and fell to the ground like snow when late spring rolled around. With the flowers in full bloom, the boy stood under the tree, and left for home after many hours. He came by every day, sitting under the little tree, preferring it over the ones that provided more shade, or with different flowers.
When winter had passed, the little boy came back and saw the little tree, which was blooming again, and stood, admiring it. But instead of sitting under the tree, he walked away and went to another one, which was just as tall as the little tree, but bloomed with different flowers. The little boy spent most of the season with this tree, giving the one he used to like one day a week. Soon, the little tree didn’t see the boy under its branches anymore -- he spent all his days with under the other tree.
One day, after the petals had fallen, the boy came back to the little tree, and stood under it for a long time. The little tree wished its blooms has not fallen yet.
As it grew dark, the boy’s mother called out to him.
“Russell! It’s time to come home, now!”
And the little boy named Russell, before turning away, grabbed a branch from the little tree, snapped it off, and ran home with it. And the little tree watched the little boy run home, with sap slowly dripping from its broken branch.
When the heat of summer came, the little tree lost all of its leaves, long before all the other ones did. The park workers watched sadly as the little tree became bare, but they decided to let it recover. So the world passed the little tree, sure that it was just sick.
“Look at that little tree,” the people said. “Disgusting little thing. They should take it down; it’s ruining the park, looking like that.”
“It’s the tree’s own fault,” said one little boy. “I talked to Russell once, and he said that it made less flowers last year. He said it was sick from the start. That’s why he stopped liking it.”
No, the little tree wanted to say. I made even more than ever last year. It’s not my fault I’m sick.
But trees, alas, cannot talk, and so the little tree continued to be bare, for many years. And as more people passed by the tree in disgust, the little tree started to think that its sickness was its own doing. After all, no matter how hard it tried, it just wouldn’t bloom when the season came, despite the sun or the rain, or the weather. Nothing, it seemed, could make this little tree bloom again.
One day, a different little boy stood in front of the tree in the spring, just as the buds were starting to form throughout the park. After regarding it carefully for a while, he sat underneath it and began to read a book. When his friends came over, asking him to play, he declined the offer, preferring to read.
“Then pick a different tree,” one of his friends advised. “This one is ugly. And it doesn’t get leaves anymore. They’re going to take it down soon, anyway.”
“No, I like this tree,” the boy replied simply.
The little tree was scared, but it slowly produced a few buds. By mid-spring, when everyone was flowering, the little tree had a few leaves. Small, but brilliantly green. The little boy continued to sit under the tree, every day.
The park workers saw this and rejoiced, and they decided that the little tree was beginning to recover, and that they wouldn’t have to take it down. Still, the little tree, still wary, lost its leaves, before all the others. Despite the rumors spreading again that it would be taken down, the little boy read under it every day, until winter came.
When spring came again, the boy came back, happier than ever to see the little tree still standing. As he had done the year before, he read under the tree, and it became so happy, that it pushed as hard as it could and bloomed in full force by mid-season. It was the most beautiful tree in the park, and when others came to admire it, the little boy just smiled.
To this day, the little tree continues to bloom with beautiful, fragrant flowers every year.

10 August 2011

On the Brink of Sanity.

On the Brink of Sanity
I’m tripping on the insanity. My shrink tells me I should get “Fresh Air,” every day. “Take a walk,” he says. “Ride a bicycle.” Opening the windows doesn’t count. “Movement is key,” he had said, leaning into me. The act of needing to draw in fresh air is important, I guess. I can’t walk. He doesn’t understand how controlling the insanity is. It makes one foot step onto the other. It makes my brain form mean words at the people around me. It makes me unable to endure the sun and tells me to put sticks in the spokes of kids’ bicycles. I don’t hate them. The insanity does. You don’t really know how awful this psychosis is until it’s gripping your insides, tearing at them with every action you take. It’s a physical pain. It insists that, instead of going out to a movie, you stay at home and search Netflix for something to absorb the next four hours. You watch documentaries that you know you will hate, just because it will take up the time. You know that seeing a movie will hurt, maybe in your pancreas, or in the bone marrow of your femur. You don’t know where or why it will hurt, only that it will, and you’re afraid of the pain. I wonder, then, why I went to the shrink in the first place. I knew it would hurt -- it gave me a horrible toothache. I held my jaw the whole time. I winced at every word I muttered, because they turned into three-ton weights and monster trucks, a torrential downpour on a single nerve. There was a small, runty, mewling kitten, abandoned in the corner of my brain, and it cried. The kitten was so tiny, like a speck of dust, a human cell, and its cry was almost impossible to hear against the chainsaws and riots in my brain, but it’s been there for years. I want it to stop. That’s why I went. It didn’t work. The kitten grew a little, maybe. Maybe I’m listening closer. So I walked. It hurt. My fingernails rattled painfully, acquiring needles that dug into my skin. I’m going to tell him tomorrow how much pain he caused me. I bet he’ll tell me, then, that I can stay home. You know how, sometimes, you sit in one spot on the couch long enough that there’s a second you in the couch? I think it’s the real you sitting there when you move away. Flat. Comfortable. Easy to determine. There’s no complexity to the you in the couch. Just couch pattern and shadow. The you that walks outside and endures the pain of movement and people and the air of outside has to be complex and have dimension. You have to transform yourself for every person you meet. If someone smiles at you on the subway, you become a welcoming person. If someone mugs you, you transfigure into a victim. Sometimes you are the fierce victim, and you fight, or you are the regular kind and cry as your wallet is running away from you in someone else’s pocket. Someone tried to mug me once, when I was in high school. I stared at him blankly as he jutted a knife at me, and my gaze moved to that flitting knife, and I studied it. I noticed that it was a smooth-edge knife, a switch blade. It shined like a hospital room in the street lamp. The blade looked new, and very sharp, but I regretted that it was not serrated. I recalled my history teacher saying that ancient swords were -- they were more likely to cause gangrene. We stood there for a long time. He realized I wasn’t listening, and he slammed me into the wall and held the knife to my throat. “I said give me your damn wallet!” He sounded like a city kid. Desperate, angry at his condition. The blade made my blood run hot. “Well, are you going to cut me or what?” He pulled away a little. “I will if you don’t give me your money.” “Screw the money. Are you going to cut me? Well? Do it, then! My blood’s on fire, honey, let’s go!” He backed up, screamed, threw his own wallet at me, ran. “You damn freak!” I used his money to buy popcorn and mushrooms. I needed the movie snacks. I handed his wallet, with his I.D., to a little girl on the playground. I sat on a bench and watched her explore the leather. An older woman, mom or sister or something, rushed to her. I imagined her asking the child where she got the wallet. I watched the girl point to me, and the horrified look on the older woman as she turned her face to me. She seized the wallet and stomped to me. Threw it down, scolded me. I stared. My blood was still hot. I gave the wallet to a hobo. I imagine he ate it. I want to return to the me on the sofa. When we merge, I feel completely invisible. The phone rings and I can ignore it to watch terrible documentaries. Answering the phone hurts. It resonates in my lungs and gives me diabetes. When the phone rings, the kitten jumps through the riots and avoids the chainsaws and shouts in my ear, or wriggles into my nasal cavity to make me sneeze until my eyes tear up. My blood is hot again. Every time that happens, I have to sit in the bathtub, halfway full of water -- precisely, so my body orders it -- and let that blood out. Someday, my arms will run out of space. I’ll worry about that when I get to it. The shrink tells me it’s insane -- so did my landlord and the neighbour. I think they don’t understand the requirement of filling the tub halfway. If you don’t fill it exactly halfway, the blood doesn’t cool properly. My shrink says it’s dangerous. He doesn’t understand that there’s a safe way to do it. When the blood is cool, I close the door, wrap it, and drain the tub, shower, and join myself in the couch and eat popcorn and mushrooms and maybe a burger. Doesn’t he know that people believed bloodletting cured illness? Most people lived -- doctors have to know how to do it right. He asked why. Is he insane? How would he like it if his blood became so hot he felt as though he was ready to catch fire? He asked what my friends thought. If they’d seen my arms. I laughed at him. Friends? I told him I don’t have any. Did you know that I am incapable of holding long-term relationships? I used to have a few -- they lasted a long time. The insanity grew to hate them, and drove me to drive them away. It wanted people to hate me. It made me tell them mean and untrue things, and to act unhappy around them, to make them think I didn’t love them. That was back in the old days, before I cozied up with the madness. When I begged and cried, it showed how pitiful I looked. It said that I was disgusting, and because of that, I didn’t deserve to be happy. That’s when the chainsaws started. They churned and gurgled, and they dug into my ribcage and shook my lungs. I want to go to the library -- that’s inaccurate -- the kitten wants to go to the library. The kitten has dodged the noise and is lodging itself in between my kidneys. It is telling me to learn more about my “condition.” The shrink doesn’t really know what to call it. Depression. Paranoia. Bipolar. He says it comprises symptoms of multiple things. We’ve settled on the word “psychosis” or “condition” when he doesn’t want me to feel as bad. He said he wants to try therapy before medication. Wants the healing to be “natural.” So he tells me to walk. Listen. See. I walked yesterday. Kind of. I walked to the bus station. Got on. Sat on it for three hours. I watched the people come on and get off. Talk on phones, to the person sitting next to them. When I got on the bus, my feet hurt -- the bones had snapped. I watched these two lovers get on. They were probably in their early twenties. The woman looked like she had borrowed someone’s face to give to her lover, and the man looked like he knew it. Still, he loved her, you could tell. He waited patiently for her to remove her mask. He sat with his arms around her, tickling her or kissing her nose and holding her hand. The man next to me leaned to the side. His fat breath whispered to me, “Ah, young love, yes?” His French accent pierced my colon. I grunted. I wanted to kill them both. It was not jealousy -- the insanity had ensured that I could not love. My murderous desire was centered around their disgusting denial of their own insanity. I could see the girl’s bones rattling, surely causing her pain, but she ignored it. I’m sure she woke up each morning and thought, “My love will help me ignore the pain.” I imagine she’ll kill herself someday. She will slit her wrists in an overfilled bathtub, listening to The Magic Flute as her hot blood flows into the water, cooling and cooling her body. She’ll cry softly, with her eyes glazed over, regretting her life and her love. At the last minute, she’ll change her mind. She’ll try to get out of the tub, or scream to her neighbours for help, but she’ll be too weak by now, and her last words will be the name of her lover. Her note, folded into a delicate triangle with his name on it, will tell him how much pain she was in, how she loved him dearly, how it wasn’t his fault that his love couldn’t cure her. He’ll eventually realize that he’s free and marry and be happy. The bus driver kicked me off, eventually. He realized I’d never moved from the seat in three hours. As I stepped off the bus, he grumbled. I went home and merged with the me on the couch. I watched The Magic Flute and imagined the girl in her tub, bleeding. She would not have died if she had filled the tub halfway, I bet. I told my shrink about the girl, and the tub and Mozart and about popcorn and mushrooms. Why those? Mushrooms are a fungus. They spread and grow and soak up moisture. Their texture is unique. Popcorn is good. That’s it. They’re not my favourite. I don’t have favourites. I barely have likes. Mostly just hates. My shrink says I contradict myself. “You like popcorn,” he says. He smirks like he’s caught me, like he knows how to cure me now. He misunderstands. I said popcorn is good, not that I like it. It is hardly the same. He doesn’t think so. He wants me to make a list of likes and dislikes for next time. To keep getting fresh air. To bring a notebook with me everywhere, to observe things that catch my attention and how they make me feel. I went out to a diner after that. I wanted burgers. Seven of them, specifically. The ambiguously-gendered waitstaff gawked at me from behind the counter. She/He whispered to fellow waitstaff. I caught words like “so many burgers,” “wish,” and “fat.” I ignored the noise as I stuffed burgers, fries, and sodas. Halfway through, I started to feel intense pain in my shoulders. I finished my burgers and left, running home to join myself, who was listening to the radio -- jazz. I picked up the notebooks and wrote under dislikes, “diner waitstaff.” I stared at the table for a long time. I don’t have likes. Only dislikes. I started writing under that column. Chainsaws. Revolution. Organ pain. Bone aches. Grocery shopping. Lead feet. Scratching. Paper. Insanity. Shrinks. Noise. Documentaries. Fish. Couches. The list ran for three pages, triple-columned within the half page section reserved for dislikes. I looked at my work. Halfway down the second page, on the “like” side, appeared “kittens” in tiny lettering. Damn. He got me.

16 March 2011


This engine,
Once so strong it
carried me across great distances,
has failed,
And I sit adrift at sea,
in a tiny boat.

I've been here for days.
I huddle in the counterfeited warmth
Of blankets insufficient for multiple
Frigid Nights
On the sea.
I've nearly run out of all the things
that are supposed to keep me

A cruise ship passed yesterday.
I called to it, to someone, anyone,
to help me,
Save me,
but no one heard.
Everyone was too busy dancing
in the ballroom,
Spending time with families,
Brothers, Sisters, Lovers.

And now, today, a small boat,
adorned like mine, drifted by.
Two people, a man and a woman,
Greeted me. I tried to gesture to them my need for help,
but my voice was gone from shouting at the cruise ship.
They gleefully waved back at me, in each other's arms,
and disappeared.

And I, who have been carried away
on a current I cannot control;
I, who have been separated, thrown aside
by these strange waters…
I have no choice, but to lay under these
blankets, as inadequate as my broken engine,
and wait until the morning never comes again.

22 February 2011

Portrait of a Dream

We're in some deep shit right now, Karrie. You know you can't just do crazy things like that. You can't just hack up a guy's stomach and throw him in front of a train!
The girl grabs a box of pins and begins pinning pieces together. Mina reaches for a bag that sits on the table and pulls out a notebook. She searches through the pages, running one finger down each one.
No, Michael won't take us in this time. He was upset about the last time you killed someone.
You know, I wouldn't have to kill guys if they weren't all evil.
They are not all evil!
Mina throws the notebook across the room, but Karrie only stares at her blankly, pausing in her construction of a new animal.
If they weren't evil, I wouldn't be compelled to hate them. And since I do hate them, they must be evil.
Karrie, you hate pretty much everyone.
Mina sinks to the floor, holding her head in her hands. She groans as she tries desperately to think of something useful.
What are you making, anyway?
A new animal. Everyone always sees bunnies as just bunnies. Why can't they also be whales?
Because they don't have fins?
But why? They could just jump in the water whenever they want and start swimming. That's how evolution happens.
Not really.
Karrie continues to pin pieces together to create a new animal. A door that is not seen by anyone but the characters creaks open loudly. The sound of a gun cocking follows.
Who are you? What are you doing here?
There is silence as Mina backs away slowly, hitting the table with her legs, stopping. Her face slowly turns to terrified realization and then panic.
No! Not me! I didn't do anything! Please, you have to believe me!
A gunshot, and a hole forms in the centre of Mina's head and she falls forward, her eyes wide. Karrie has finished forming the new animal and crawls to Mina's body.
Look, Mina! A Bunniwhale-iraffe!
Honestly, how long could it possibly take to put on a dress and do hair and makeup? I only had an hour to get ready for my wedding. She's had three hours! I bet my son is waiting, completely ready.
Another woman, of roughly the same age, steps over to Woman 1, placing a hand on her shoulder. Her expression is cheery -- it is obvious that this is one of the happiest days of her life.
Don't worry! I'm sure she's just making sure every little detail is perfect! Why, when I was getting ready for my wedding, I had to turn back to the room at least five times, because I was sure there was something wrong. Took me nearly three hours myself!
Well, as least we know where she gets it from. And why not have the wedding in a church, like normal people do? Why is she having it in her backyard?
Woman 2 picks up a couple of the bags and peeks past the various versions of shimmering tissue paper. With each present she peaks into, the look on her face worsens.
Well, she inherited a wonderful home from her late grandfather. I think a wedding overlooking the coastline is just gorgeous!
Footsteps begin to come down the stairs, and the women all turn to face the young bride. She is dressed in a long pale white strapless gown with a corset-style back. She has left her wheat-coloured hair down, and it flows behind her as she floats down the steps in low white heels. Her face is modesty made up with tones that generously accent her features.
Sorry, everyone! I just couldn't decide whether to wear my hair up or down.
Woman 1 scoffs, placing down the bag she had just been sifting through. Woman 2 hurries to the Bride and grabs her arm.
You're just in time, honey! Let's go outside!
Now, I hope you're ready for this commitment, and I hope you are ready to devote yourself to my son.
It doesn't matter if I'm ready or not. Nothing matters. No matter what I do, you are still going to despise me.
Bride walks out the door to blinding white light.
Who are you?
I'm Be--
Words are suddenly drowned by loud static. The girl gasps and covers her ears.
I don't care about your name. What do you want? Who are you, that enters here? Why are you here? How did you get here? Who else knows of this place?
I don't want to be here. I want to go home. I want to climb trees and drink lemonade and play with toys. I want my mom and my dad and my puppy. My swing broke. I want to go home!
There is no way out or in. How you got here amuses me. I want you to leave now.
But you just said there's no way out! What do I do?
I don't care. Just go now. I have decided to hate you, and I don't want things that I hate to stay around me. Now leave.
The girl closes her eyes tightly, and suddenly begins to feel wind in her hair. She opens them again to find she is still on the swing

05 December 2010

A Whisper And A Clamour

(Iris is upstage; she stands in front of a table in what can be assumed to be a bathroom. on the table stands a pill bottle, from which she takes a pill and swallows it, chasing it down with a glass of water, which stands next to the bottle. Facing the audience, she gives a fake smile into an imaginary mirror, frowns at the attempt, sighs, and walks downstage into the kitchen where Brandon is sitting at a table, reading from either a book or newspaper, with a mug near him. she pours herself an imaginary cup of coffee into a physical mug, and sits across from him, sipping.)
IRIS Good morning, Brandon. How did you sleep? I had a crazy dream last night. I was on this elevator
in Wal-Mart, and I rode it all the way down, through the basement, and out of the other side of the world! The elevator landed on top of someone’s car in Italy, and the driver drove me to someone’s house, where I was entertained by animals! What do you think it means?
(A long pause. Iris sips from her coffee nervously.) Sorry. I know you have to give a big lecture in a few days. Just... I’m feeling a little better than I have been, and I guess it makes me talkative. I mean, I haven’t felt this good since... you know, a year ago... maybe it’s the meds? I don’t know.
(Both sip from their coffee in silence.) Are you okay, Brandon? Are you upset because I didn’t tell you that I changed the milk back to 2% last week?
(She stares at him, waiting for an answer.)
BRANDON (Writing on a piece of paper next to him )
Eggs. I have to remember to get eggs. And some cat food for Owl. And what else? Dog food? No, Oliver has plenty.
IRIS Brandon? What’s going on? Why are you ignoring me?
(Brandon continues to mutter to himself, writing
things on his list.) Brandon?! Brandon, say something to me! Don’t act like I’m not here!
(An uneasy moment as Brandon slowly lifts his gaze from the list to where Iris sits. He gazes for a long time and then sighs.)
BRANDON (In a tone that implies that he talking at her, and not
to her.) Oh, I’m sorry. I should have listened to you. I’ve just been so distracted. What were you saying?
IRIS I was saying that I’ve been feeling a lot better. I think I’m finally starting to get over it, you know?
BRANDON Oh, you’re feeling better? That’s great. I’m so happy. I told you it would pass eventually, right?
You’ve been working so hard. We should celebrate. I’ll buy some expensive champagne tonight when I’m grocery shopping, and cook you something special.
IRIS You don’t need to do that, Brandon. Besides, and I know I’m sounding pessimistic here, but what
if it’s just a kind of remission? I could just be feeling better for a few days, and then relapse, right? You said you’ve seen it happen before...
BRANDON I’m sure everything will be fine. And even if you do relapse, you’ll be able to associate feeling
good with the reward of celebration, and you’ll eventually come back. Don’t worry, we’ll make it through this together.
IRIS Thanks, Brandon. I don’t know what I’d do without you.
(Another long pause. Both take the time to drink more coffee, watching each other closely.)
BRANDON (His expression slowly drops, and he lets out a long
sigh) Iris... I miss you so much...
What did you just say?
BRANDON You were so...alive, so beautiful. I miss you, your smile, your...everything.
IRIS (Smiling nervously, trying desperately to understand
the joke.) What are you talking about? I’m right here. I’m having coffee with you! What is happening?
BRANDON (Distant, reminiscing.)
I remember when we first met. Yuri had invited us to dinner one day, and we just hit it off.
Afterwards, you and I walked through the park. You were so beautiful; your laugh, the way your eyes lit up when you smiled. I knew I just couldn’t let you go. Do you remember where I took you on our first date?
BOTH, TOGETHER We went on a boat tour of the river, it set off just as the sun was setting.
IRIS There was a dinner, and you paid all the extra money to get us a seat. It was great food -- seafood,
wine, the best biscuits outside of Red Lobster...
BRANDON And there was dancing. We were voted the cutest young couple on board--
IRIS And we sat out on the deck, just before it all happened, watching the sun sink below the river,
going off to wake up the other side of the world.
BRANDON And soon I asked you to marry me. And after we did, it was like your eyes got so much brighter,
and you laughed more. And then, two years ago, you told me you were pregnant.
IRIS I was so anxious to tell you. And when you did, you twirled me in the air, and kissed me--
For like an hour.
BRANDON You spent so much time preparing for the baby; buying toys, decorations, mulling over names...
When Nicholas was born, you couldn’t stop smiling, even when you passed out from exhaustion.
IRIS I had been in labour for nearly a full twenty-four hours--
BRANDON (Cutting her off, as though he isn’t listening.)
Nicholas seemed to grow up so fast. When he sat up by himself, we were so proud of him. But then, at six months, he just couldn’t do it anymore, and couldn’t even hold up his head. And then he couldn’t suck from the bottle anymore. That’s when we learned about Leigh’s Disease.
(Iris’ expression darkens, recalling the memories.) IRIS
Brandon, don’t. Please.
BRANDON And then he died, just before his first birthday. Just before that, he had seizures, almost every day.
He just screamed and screamed. You cried so much. We couldn’t do anything. We brought him to the hospital, and they only made him comfortable, and then he had one last seizure...and, God, all I heard for three days was the beep of the heart monitor. That horrid monotone sounded instead of my phone’s ringtone, the alarm clock, and drowned out your voice. That’s when you stopped talking. Your eyes stopped looking at people, at things. You looked through everything.
IRIS Can you blame me? My baby boy died before my eyes. I couldn’t even hold him. I had to watch
him seize to death in this tiny bed, covered in wires and tubes! Can you blame me for being upset?
BRANDON I knew you blamed yourself, but it’s not your fault, Iris. We couldn’t have seen this coming.
IRIS (Incredulous) Not my fault? How could you say such a thing? Leigh’s is a mitochondrial disease, Brandon. That means it goes from mother to child. Mother to child! How could it not have been my fault? I practically handed him the gift of life wrappin in death, and he got caught in the wrapping paper, catching just a glimpse of the wonderful thing inside!
BRANDON There’s no way we could have known you were carrying the genes for Leigh’s. If we had, we
could have gone to genetic counseling and worked around this somehow. But now we know.
IRIS (Beginning sarcastically) Yeah. “Now we know.” That won’t bring Nicholas back, Brandon!
BRANDON I remember that, one day, I found you in the bathroom. You were bleeding; you’d cut yourself, and
were just watching the blood fall onto the floor. You told me you were, “Letting the bad blood out.”
IRIS (Nearly shrieking.)
It’s poisoned blood, Brandon! It’s my blood that killed our son, by holding that horrible disease! I wanted it out, gone, obliterated! And the poison is still in these veins!
(Holds her arms out, as though he could see the
blood in her veins.) You say we can try again when I’m feeling better, but for what? So I can watching another child die? So I can just stand by as my own flesh and blood slowly goes from being healthy and normal to barely able to look at me anymore? To watch him fall into constant seizures, to stand terrified as my child just starts shaking violently, screaming for help, screaming as though to say, “Please, Mommy, please make everything better?!” SO I CAN MURDER ANOTHER CHILD?! I will not put another child through that!
(After a long pause, Brandon laughs softly.) You really think this is funny?!
BRANDON Oh, Iris. Isn’t it hilarious? Even now, without you here, I can have a conversation with you,
imagining every single word you say. I know exactly how you would have responded to everything I’ve said. It helps, sort of. Now that you’re gone, I thought I would go insane by myself. But I’m still not lonely, because it’s almost as though I can still talk to you.
IRIS (Gets up from her chair, leaning with her hands on
the table.) Gone? What the hell are you saying? I’m not gone. I’m here. I’m right fricking here, Brandon. I’m across the table from you, talking, well, screaming now, right? Screaming, panicking, living. What’s this nonsense about me being gone?
BRANDON (Stands, walks to the counter where the coffee maker was, and pours a glass of water from a pitcher. Iris
watches him.) I couldn’t believe it, after finding you bleeding on the bathroom floor, you just went downhill from there. I was sure that by bringing you to the hospital, screaming at you, begging you to please, please just keep on living, that everything would be okay.
(Drinks.) I was hoping you would pick back up, slowly. I wanted you to start smiling, and start having dreams that I could interpret for you again.
(Sits down again.) Remember that game? It was a lot of fun.
IRIS (Trying desparately to understand what is
happening.) Yeah, it was. And it still can be! I told you the dream I just had!
(Begins to stutter. As she speaks, she walks next to him, behind the table such that she faces the audience. )
An elevator through WalMart and landing it in a car in Italy. Tell me, please tell me what it means? (Leans on the table.)
BRANDON I got you to date me that way -- interpreting your dreams. I asked you to tell me the most recent
dream you remember, and you said it was something about a hippo and having to fight it with a stick of Old Spice deodorant. I told you that it meant that you were going to go to dinner with a young psychologist at Red Lobster, and eat delicious food until you were full, and then go to the beach to walk along the shore until the sun faded behind sea, and when that last glimmer of light disappeared --
IRIS (Distant, briefly calmed by the memory.)
--I would be kissed by the psychologist and fall in love with him forever. It happened, too. All of it.
BRANDON (Drinks, chuckles lightly.)
I kind of tricked you, I guess. But it worked. But you can’t tell me your dreams anymore. If you could, I would tell you that it meant that everything was okay, and that, no matter how you felt, you didn’t kill our son, and it was really something that we couldn’t foresee, and that I don’t blame you, and I still love you no matter what and forever, and that we can, and we need to keep living, not just for us, but for Nicholas. We can’t give up, because we have to give his memory the chance his body didn’t have.
IRIS But Brandon--
BRANDON (Places one finger on her lips, but continues to look
forward, not sparing her even a single glance.) And when you started to say that it really was all your fault and you killed our son and it will never be okay, I would silence you, placing this finger on your lips, just like this, and tell you, “Don’t argue, lovey. Dreams don’t lie.” Who am I kidding? Even if you were here, you wouldn’t listen to me.
(His arm moves slowly back to the table, and he glances at a book sitting on the table for a long moment. Iris is silent, both fearful and frantically thinking. Her heavy, staggered breathing is shown by the movement of her shoulders. Brandon then stands and goes to the bathroom. He picks up the pill bottle Iris used in the beginning of the play, opens it, and inspects the contents. He mutters “I’ll have to refill this soon” or the like, and puts it back down. He walks back to the kitchen and the table. Iris follows behind him, speaking after he places the bottle down.)
IRIS Please tell me that’s what the elevator dream means. I want to listen to you and that’s what I want to believe and really, I’m feeling better and I think that I could believe you now. So please please please just tell me and I’ll say, “Yes, you’re right,” and I’ll finally start to really heal and then we’ll be okay? Okay?
(Brandon sits. Iris stands next to him, behind the table again.)
BRANDON (Smiles distantly and the memory he is recalling.)
Oh, if only. I want to see that smile that drove me wild, Iris. I wish you would just smile for me one more time.
IRIS I can. Really. Look at me, see? (She gives the best smile she can manage and holds it
for a few seconds. When he doesn’t respond, it
disappears and she becomes panicked again.) Brandon would you frigging look at me already!?
(She throws the shopping list, his coffee cup, and everything else within reach from the table with a sweep of her hands. Brandon does not flinch. As she continues, she starts to break down, and her speech slows.)
Look at me! For God’s sake will you please at least tell me that I’m alive and you still love me, and I’m screwed up and need to be in the hospital and drugged up and in a padded room or something anything...please...please.
(She grabs his arm and sinks to the floor, starting to sob.)
BRANDON Now that I think of it, when your father died, you turned off. It was like you descended into this
state of mild catatonia. You talked, but not enough to hold a real conversation. You stared at the floor, or at the wall, or through things, through me. I remember that once, I asked you what was happening to you. I wanted your perspective on it. You looked at me, with eyes clouded by cataracts of grief, and told me you had gone away. That was it, you were “gone,” lost somewhere in your mind to protect yourself from the pain.
(She looks up at him, sniffling. Her face shows
remembrance.) Luckily, slowly, you came out of it, and then you got pregnant, and there was hope for our relationship again.
(Pauses, sips some water. It is apparent that the next
thing he will say troubles him greatly.) But when Nicholas died, I watched you descend back into that depression, but it was much deeper
this time. After you got back from the hospital, realizing your “bad blood” would never leave, you became almost completely catatonic. Before I knew it, you were “gone” again, and you’re still gone, and you almost never even get out of bed. But I feel like some part of your spirit still walks around the house, and that I can still talk to you. I just wish you would come back.
IRIS I want to come back. I want to be here with you. I want to live again. And not just have a heart that
beats and lungs that breathe. I want to be alive in the sense of loving you and having you love me, and going for walks and going to work and drinking celebration champagne and having expensive food and watching the sun and seeing meteor showers. I want to live again. Please, help me live again.
(Sobs.) (Blackout)

13 October 2010


There is this thing, see?
This string of little jewels that
Sit on my desk.
They don't sparkle. They are too dull.

This bracelet has not seen this wrist in a while.
This wrist has been occupied…
And besides, the string has broken
Stretched too thin by use
By tugging
and it needs fixing.

"I'll fix it today"
"I'll fix it tomorrow"
The next string, gilded;
it sits in a drawer. It is ready
But something stops me.

"Why repair it?" I ask.
"The symbol is no longer relevant,
Is it?"

So it sits. It will be repaired Someday.
And so too, perhaps, the relevance.

14 September 2010

The Quantum Mechanics of Life

According to the
Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle,
We could be smiling or crying our eyes out.
But we’ll never know until we look.

Humans are complex wavefunctions
With so many terms of kinetic energy,
human-human repulsion and attraction,
that to write it all down could take years.
We could condense the latter two terms into
one called “personality,” but still,
It’s massive.

Schrödinger’s equation, a combination
of these wavefunctions, needs to be
broken down to find the answer.
You solve. You look. You analyze.
You look again and the result is different.
A new analysis is in order.

With the knowledge of the principles of
quantum mechanics,
We no longer expect,
We accept.
There are rules that simply work,
that explain the phenomenon of life,
But for no apparent reason why.

So when you walk across the street,
Or are wheeled into the hospital,
Or see your lover after many months,
Or a few hours,
Are you laughing, or crying?
Break down your wavefunction…
And find out.