My journey writing a play.
This is the story of a woman who has three Vices that make her commit three crimes. She is currently in jail, with a life sentence for drowning her son. Her sister comes to visit her and attempt to figure out what happened that night. (I couldn’t choose names, so I just put stock names in for now).
- Woman: Protagonist. She has schizophrenia and is easily influenced by her Vices.
- Fire: Sarcastic and reckless. (female)
- Water: Warm and loving, but her sweetness is malicious. (female)
- Earth: Earth. Is realistic, worried and mannered. (male)
- Sister: Whimsical and fiercely protective of her sister.
- Rope: This will be used to make shackles, but it will also trail behind her and be held by the Vices, as if she is a dog that they own. In the end, she uses this rope to commit suicide. Represents possessiveness.
- Flashlight: When in solitary confinement, they use the flashlight to see her, showing that she has no privacy from these creatures. Represents deception and guilt.
Woman: (singing) A life lived, covered in smoke,
black, black as the day.
At night, they come, one by one,
whispering sins, and
feeding sweet words, I
sit. I watch. I pray. (eerie music, and sobbing)
(All members of the ensemble turn on their flashlights, while she continues humming)
Water: They said she was going to do great things.
Earth: That her mind was a diamond in the making, compressed with shards of knowledge no one could fathom.
Water: A beautiful statue
Earth: Impeccable curls
Water: Porcelain nose
Fire: Violet eyes (laugh)
Water, Earth: We watched you (she stumbles as if pulled back by an invisible force)
Fire: Blinking and squinting, as if the world was a math problem that you wished, to solve.
(The next lines are said together)
Water: An innocent heart that pulsed with passion.
Earth: An inquisitive mind that refused to rest.
Fire: You were the purest soul that we had ever known. (puts hands over eyes)
Woman:(voice) I sit. I watch. I pray.
(She is reading books peacefully. Earth and Fire are playing a game of chess in the corner of the room, and Woman is talking to herself, while Water is watching her)
Woman: Stupid! So, so stupid. Why would she do that, he loves her! (Beat) Wait… wait a second… AWWW, she said yes! That is so cute… wait until I show Jarence… (Marks page, Fire and Earth look up but don’t say anything)
Water: Isn’t she fascinating?
Fire: ‘Seems pretty normal to me. (Water scowls)
Earth: You know she can hear us, right?
Fire: She is not paying attention.
Earth: You don’t know that for sure.
Fire: AMELIA, YOUR HUSBAND IS AN ASSHOLE (no response) See? Her ears are clogged.
Earth: And we are stuck in between her ears, aren’t we? One day, she will be listening in when we don’t want her to and, you’ll wish you would shut your mouth for once—
(Woman suddenly touches her head and groans)
Water: Look! Look at what you idiots did. All your screaming gave her a migraine! Poor baby. (stroking Woman but she still remains stiff)
Fire: Why do you always pamper her so much?
Water: Shhh…My baby, my poor, poor baby (lighting shift and music, signaling that the Woman can hear and see the Vices now) How have you been, darling? (Fire and Earth join her)
Woman: Leave me alone, ahh.
Fire: Let me see, what book is that? (throws it on the floor) Please don’t tell me what I can and can’t do. We have a deal, remember? And if you talk to me like this, I won’t come back again. (silence) There we go! That’s the smile I want to see!
Woman: I’m sorry, I just haven’t been feeling well.
Fire: Have they been nice to you?
Woman: Yes, they always are.
Earth: What about the guards?
Water: Are any of them cute?
Woman: Well, there is this one guy—
Water: See, you are fitting right in!
Woman: But, I miss Jarence. How much longer did you stay I have to stay here for?
(Uneasy stares between the Vices)
Earth: Well, they did say a few more weeks until you can appeal.
Woman: Weeks? Hmm…that seems like a lot of time.
Earth: It is! It is, and, um, you have been waiting a long time to see Jarence, and I think that we should—
Fire: —Remind you that Aria is coming!
Woman: She is!
Water: Oh sweetie we’d never lie about it. Your sister is coming tomorrow morning, just to visit you!
Woman: Aria… oh god, I miss her so much. The last time I saw her, we were in court, and that man was yelling at me—
Fire: I wanted to burn him to ashes right there!
Woman: They accused me of murder.
Earth: The audacity!
Woman: And I’m rotting away between bars—
Water: Baby, you are not rotting. Our love for you is keeping you alive and fresh—
Woman: Days, so many days, locked up in here. It—it just eats up my lungs, and I just sit here reading books and counting the days… how many more days?
Earth: You have to wait for a few more months until you can appeal. (increased time)
Woman: Months? That’s it! And Ari is coming tomorrow!
Fire: (sarcastically) Time is just rushing by, isn’t it? (Lighting shift, Woman hops into bed, and sleeps, eerie music)
(Woman has shackles on her hands, and there is a screen in between her and her sister. They see each other and press hands against the barrier. Woman picks up the phone, while the Vices make themselves comfortable around her.)
Sister: Amelia… oh my god, what happened to you? Your skin is so…
Sister: Lia, I am serious. Did you not get the lotion that I gave you? I am sure that I sent it, and they said that I’m allowed to —
Woman: Ari, don’t worry about it.
Sister: What do you mean “don’t worry about it”? Look at you! You look like you haven’t showered in days! And your cheekbones are popping out of your face, do they even FEED you in this hell hole? I am going to the warden’s office right after this and filing a complaint —
Sister: (grumbling) Stupid government, can’t even take care of the people they take in. This is why we should have voted for the Conservatives.
Woman: Well, what do you expect, it’s a prison! It isn’t some five-star hotel.
Sister: But you are still a person with needs and wants, aren’t you! And the fact that they didn’t give you the lotion just proves how inhumane they are.
Woman: I got the lotion, Ari, but it smelt weird so I threw it away. And I look like this because I haven’t been eating because the food here tastes like plastic. If you want to make yourself useful you could, you know, get me chicken shawarma or something… but anyways, I actually don’t mind the prison! You hear that? (looks over at sisters face) What — why are you looking at me like that?
Sister: (shocked) You threw away the lotion?
Woman: Yes! Yes, I did! Is that all that matters to you?
Sister: It had saffron in it.
Woman: That’s why it smelt like that! I sniffed it once and felt like I was in a graveyard—
Sister: It was from Jarence. It was in his will.
(Vices become alert, and there is an eerie sound.)
Earth: (To Woman) She is lying.
Woman: (to Sister) Will? Who’s will? You are lying.
Sister: It was in his will. Why would I lie about something like that—
Water: (stroking Woman’s head) He is at home waiting for you to return, don’t listen to her, dear.
Woman: (to sister) I don’t know what you are talking about.
Fire: Come on, let’s go.
Sister: Have you already forgotten about your old life? It’s only been a year Lia. Surely it hasn’t left you yet.
Fire: We have to go, now.
Sister: I sometimes feel so selfish thinking, thank god you weren’t at home right then. Your house, your car, your love was all there, and it just disappeared, and I know how devastating it was for you, just watching it all go away but, (vulnerable) all that mattered to me then, and all that matters to me now is that I didn’t lose my sister (hand on barrier)
Fire: GET UP, NOW.
Woman: (to Fire) Give me a second! (Sister sees her look off at empty space)
Sister: Who did you just say that to?
Woman: What happened to my house?
Water: We will explain everything to you dear, let’s go back to your cell, and we can talk all about it.
Sister: I asked you a question. Why did you look that way?
Woman: Where is Jarence? Is he okay? He told me that he was waiting for me on the other side and that when I am out—
(Buzz signaling the end of the conversation)
Sister: I’ll be back, Lia, I promise. (looks over at empty space) I know it is hard for you to accept it, but, trust me, I promise that you will be okay if you talk to people. Listen to me. Are you listening to me? Talk to people. Okay, Lia? You will go paranoid if you sit in that small cell all day (buzzing sound as a warning) Lia promise me that you —
(the line cuts and they are left staring at each other’s faces, and the light dims)
(Reenactment of the scene in between Woman and Husband. Husband is played by Earth, The mistress is Fire, while Water is narrating. The couple is slow dancing in the middle of the stage with drinks in their hands. Fire is watching with malice)
Water: You could say he was a used man. His wife ran after him for so long he hadn’t fallen for someone new since high school.
Woman: Stop here. Oh my god.
Woman: Jarence, I think I just had a heart attack.
Water: Maybe she wasn’t the princess he had fallen in love with anymore.
Woman: Why wouldn’t I have a heart attack? My husband is just so handsome! (takes a large gulp, laughing)
Water: Maybe she was just too much. Two years of commitment is a lot to handle, especially for a man like him.
Husband: (distant) Amelia, please, stop this.
Husband: This. Why are you always acting so…
Woman: (indignant) Loving?
Husband: Yes but—
Water: But why should she listen? She heard the voicemails of the woman over and over again. It was about time she confronted him.
Woman: Who is that woman from your office? (silence)
Husband: What woman?
Woman: Oh, don’t play dumb. I have heard all the voicemails.
Husbands: You go through my phone?
Woman: Answer the question.
Husband: I deserve some privacy.
Woman: I deserve the truth. WHO IS SHE.
Husband: There is no one, okay! I love you and you only. She is just my coworker, that’s it!
Mistress: (enters while husband is speaking, grabs his shoulders, but only Woman can see her) Your husband never loved you.
Woman: (to Husband) You love her. (points at Fire, eerie music)
Husband: Who… where are you pointing?
WOMAN: HER! That whore! I know everything, Jarance, you can’t lie to me. That bitch is going after my husband (lunges at Husband)
Husband: (grabs her wrists) You are too much. TOO MUCH! (silence, abruptly lets her go and she stumbles) You are accusing me of having an affair when I spend every second of everyday thinking about you. Just you! Every chance I get, I call you from work, but you still don’t see—
Mistress: —No one sees us at the copying machine. (malicious laugh) You have no idea how well he kisses—
Woman: (to Husband) You LIAR. (shatter of the glass) Get out of this house, NOW!
Husband: YOU CAN’T KICK ME OUT OF MY HOUSE (silence, regains composure) I—I can’t…I can’t deal with you right now. I don’t want to look at you anymore. (stumbles off to bed with glass in hand, Mistress is standing with hands on hips)
Mistress: You should honor a man’s wish.
Woman: Don’t talk to me.
Mistress: He shouldn’t have betrayed you like that.
Woman: Dishonesty was in his blood from the beginning.
Mistress: And from the beginning, you should have known.
Woman: He is a plastic piece of shit. A FAKE!
Water: She didn’t know that the voicemails were just voices in her head.
Voicemail: (Fire’s voice, with the static of phone, mistress lip-syncing) Hey, Jarence? I was just calling you regarding the gross income you calculated. Maybe, you want to stop by my house to, you know….
Woman: I’LL KILL HIM BEFORE YOU CAN TOUCH HIM!
Mistress: (mocking) You should honor a man’s dying wish.
Woman: He didn’t even want to look at me anymore.
Mistress: Melt away that plastic.
Mistress: Then what? Burn away his memory and
Both: Blow away his ashes.
(Woman is holding a match, she lets go, the sound of a match sparking, lighting shift to orange)
Mistress: (singing, Woman lunging and prancing among the fire) I life lived, covered in smoke,
Flames feasting the night,
Hold your breath, and
Dance for the dead,
Your husband’s sweet words,
Brought me to your bed,
Now, the flames are eating him alive, so
Go, sweet child, and
Caress the night. (shifts to Fire again, all the Vices surround her)
(Lighting shift. It is raining outside, and Woman shifts from being maniacal to forlorn, Sister enters)
Sister: OH, AMELIA! (silent hug, Sister watches flames in horror) They told me… I’m so sorry for you.
Woman: He is dead, isn’t he.
Fire: He deserved it. (All Vices join the hug)
Sister: He did not deserve to die like this.
Woman: The voicemails, did you hear the voicemails?
(The next lines are said in unison)
Sister: He was a good man.
Fire: He was the worst man to ever walk this earth.
Sister: And you should know that.
Woman: I know, Ari. (Referring to Fire’s statement) I know. (Sister is looking away from the flames, and Woman smirks at Fire)
Sister: (touches her stomach, alluding to pregnancy) You need to stay strong, okay? He needs you right now.
Woman: I know, Ari. I know.
(Return to present, mid-conversation between Woman and the Vices, tension)
Woman: I have a right to know.
Fire: I don’t know how many times we have to tell you.
Woman: Stop lying to me. Where is Jarence.
Fire: At home.
Woman: Where is home? The graveyard? (silence) Now, I don’t remember what happened, but Ari does, and-
Water: You trust Ari more than us? (manipulative)
Woman: Why would she lie to me about my husband being dead!
Earth: Because she is evil. She does not care for you. You need to understand that there is no one in this world you can trust but us.
Woman: Tell me then, why can’t I remember anything.
Earth: Because there is nothing to remember. Your life will be back to normal in a bit.
Woman: How long? How long must I wait?
Earth: They said you have to wait a few years until you can appeal.
Woman: You said a few months last time. (they are caught off guard) The time before, you said weeks. Why are you saying something different every time-
Fire: (fake yawns) Now, (snaps) is it just me, (Woman gets tired) or are the stars out tonight?
Woman: I can’t see the stars here.
Water: But you can feel them, can’t you? Their warmth races through the concrete and surrounds your bed right at this moment.
Woman: They are cold and menacing—
Water: They are bright and brilliant. (slight irritation)
Woman: Even if they are, they are too far away to be of any comfort to me.
Woman: You can only lie to someone for so long until the truth claws out of its cage. (silence)
(Lighting of Scene 1, Woman’s dreams, she is sleeping while the three Vices surround her flashlights on)
Water: We are so rude to her.
Earth: (to Water) We are too sympathetic.
Water: How do you expect her to listen to you if you keep threatening her at every corner?
Earth: How do you expect her to obey if you do not show her who’s boss?
Fire: She is getting out of hand isn’t she?
Water: Maybe she was getting lonely.
Fire: Bah! Nonsense we give her enough company.
Water: She was given a life sentence. You can’t make time go faster. You can’t make her dead husband come alive again. She went crazy after the fire, remember? And we had to lie tell her
All: That her husband was waiting on the other side.
Earth: All inmates take it one day at a time, and she is no different.
Water: You know she is innocent.
Fire: THAT’S IT! (prolonged silence) We all know what you did to the child. You are as guilty as I, even more maybe.
Water: I DID IT FOR HER OWN GOOD. (Woman stirs in her sleep, and they lower their voices)
Earth: You can’t make her dead child come alive again.
Water: I got angry, okay. And what did you do? How long did it take to claw out all that dirt, huh?
Fire: But that is not important now. She wants to know where her husband is, and she trusts her sister more than us.
Fire: We need to show her a memory.
Earth: We need to isolate her even more.
Fire: And what good will that do?
Earth: She will be forced to rely on us at all times. Think about it. Her sister is coming back to see her again. She most likely will tell her the truth.
Fire: (uses chessboard to illustrate) If we make it so that she is trapped in here, shackled and constrained to her cell for the rest of her life…
Earth: Then we will survive.
Water: (boisterous laugh to Earth) You are an idiot. Do you think she will listen to us now? After we have been lying to her for so long? Let her be. Let her talk to her sister. Let us see what she does. We will twist whatever that villain has to say, so Amelia has no choice but to believe us.
ALL: Lure. Isolate. Manipulate.
Earth: I’m warning you, we will not be able to control her anymore. If she is not in fear, then –
Water: Shhh, shhh, she is dreaming. (Water hums as flashlights turn off one by one, the dull glow is still visible, while they put the ropes on her hands) Let my baby dream in peace. It will be a long time before she can feel that way again.
Fire: A slave can only act as they please for so long until their owners decide to take control again.
(They are sitting in the meeting room with the boundary in between them, looking at each other intensely)
Sister: It had been a few years. I tried to come as much as I can, but… it seemed as if she was dying day by day. That that prison cell was eating her alive much too fast. (The Vices are tightening the rope around the chair and Woman is looking at Sister with a distant, washed-out appearance) How do you stop the decay when everything you say just makes it go faster? I tried to talk to her about her husband.
Woman: He is waiting on the other side.
Sister: I asked her about her health.
Woman: I’m fine. I swear it.
Sister: I even brought her chicken shawarmas.
Woman: I don’t want your pity.
Sister: Then what do you want!
Woman: You know, you don’t need to come here anymore.
Sister: Don’t you dare tell me what I can and can’t do.
Woman: Just a few more years and –
Sister: You were approved for parole. (Vices look sharply in that direction)
Earth: (commanding voice) Say you don’t want to go.
Woman: I don’t want to go.
Sister: I am not giving you a choice. Why are you making this so difficult?
Woman: I didn’t sign the permission, therefore, I am not going to go. (silence) Jarence said that I have to wait –
Sister: (using her illusions against her) Jarence told me that he is dying to see you.
Fire: – She is lying –
Woman: (disbelief) You… you talked to Jarence?
Sister: I did, and he is the reason that you can come out for a little bit. (Earth gives her a menacing stare) There are flowers waiting in the dining room table –
Woman: When? Oh, when do I leave? I need to fix my hair. I’ll…I’ll go to the prison barbershop at two tomorrow, and I’ll wear that brown dress that he loved so much. Do you still have it? It is in the second drawer in the old house’s basement storage. If you can’t find it, then it’s okay, get me whatever you can find –
Water: You are not going. (silence)
Sister: Lia, what happened?
Woman: It’s nothing. As I was saying –
Water: Tell her no.
Woman: (to Water) Leave me alone.
Sister: I thought you agreed. Why are you kicking me out now?
Water: I am warning you one last time.
Woman: SHUT UP AND LEAVE. (Lighting shift. This is the first time that the Vices can’t control her. Woman takes her chance, and begins untying the ropes) (to sister) When are you picking me up?
Sister: (confused) Tomorrow at five.
Fire: Where is she.
Earth: I CAN’T SEE HER.
Fire: How did she do that? She can’t just do that.
Water: She no longer sees us as real. (defeat) We can’t control her anymore.
Woman: I’ll be ready for you. (Smirk with a dash of independence, buzzer sounds)
(Two scenes happening side by side, Vices on one side in the cell, sisters on the other, holding a box with his cremated body)
Earth: (stomps in) I have had enough of this girl. (referring to Sister)
Water: She is corrupting our princess.
All Vices: Something must be done. (surrounding chessboard)
Fire: She is going to find out that her husband is dead.
Woman: No… no, it can’t be.
Sister: You did not believe me, so I lied to get you out of there. Those are his ashes, Amelia. (she plays with his ashes between her fingers)
Fire: The guilt will blister her heart.
All Vices: Everyone knows that knowledge is pain.
Woman: Why is there so little? He was a big man.
Sister: No one knows. You kept the ashes in your house, and when I opened it, half of it was gone.
Woman: But… they told me he –
Sister: Who is “they”? Who do you tell to shut up? Who tells you that he is alive?
Woman: They are not here now, they haven’t been for a while.
Sister: Where were they before?
All Vices: (As Woman points to head) She will know we are just illusions. (they are playing chess on the side)
Sister: Oh, Amelia. Don’t listen to them. They are not real, okay? (touches face) I am. I am real. You can feel my skin, you can hear my voice out of the echo of your skull. Jarence, he was real, you can feel his ashes in between the creases of your hands. Your baby…
Water: (remembering) The baby! (keep in mind that the two can’t hear each other)
Woman: I never had a baby.
Sister: See, that is another lie that they told you. Your womb held a beautiful baby boy that sadly…
Woman: I had a son? His name was …. I don’t remember…. he should be five now, in kindergarten, right? (Sister looks down) What… happened to my son?
(Erie, foreboding silence throughout. Sister is holding the baby in her hands, humming a happy tune, and Woman is sitting beside them, smiling. Water is sitting in front, watching all of them. Earth is the police officer and Fire is the judge. Water feels ignored at the presence of the baby, as Woman is not giving her attention)
Woman: Look at his eyes.
Sister: Like the ocean, aren’t they?
Woman: Only if Jarence got to see him.
Sister: He would have loved the boy more than you! (they laugh) What are you going to name him?
Woman: I don’t want to name him.
Sister: Why not?
Woman: Because Jarence should have. He said he will meet us on the other side and –
Sister: Well, we will think about that later, and maybe you will change your mind. (Water is walking around them and watching the baby with hatred) For now, (hands baby to Woman) I am just happy that you are happy. I thought the fire would burn the life out of you, but you came out stronger than I could ever imagine. (Water is incredibly close to Woman, staring her down, but Woman can’t see her) Keep surprising me. (Exits)
(Woman is rocking her baby, happily, but water cannot stand it)
Water: (with malice) Look at her. Prancing around her child like it is the most beautiful thing in the world.
Woman: (baby giggles) Oh, look at you! (overlap of you) My baby, my beautiful baby….
Water: She wasn’t even supposed to have the boy. I LET HER. And now she ignores me!
Woman: (Baby crying) Oh, you are loud! Those lungs are strong, just like your father’s!
Water: (lighting shift, Woman can see Water again, Water changes to a kinder personality, while Woman becomes defensive) His father was a good man, wasn’t he.
Woman: (distant) I’m busy, go away. (Water feels insulted, Woman continues humming)
Water: (Comes and sits beside them) Can I touch him? (Woman hesitantly lets her) Oh, his eyes are so blue.
Woman: Like the ocean –
Water: (with force) No, not like the ocean. The ocean is too big for such a small boy. His eyes are more like a puddle. Small and sizable.
Woman: I like the ocean better.
Water: THEY ARE NOT LIKE THE OCEAN. (silence, realizes she oversteps and continues with a soft tone) Can’t you just agree with me this once?
Woman: I think you should leave.
Water: Darling, I’m sorry.
Woman: Leave. (Sister enters, and lighting shift where Woman can’t see Water anymore)
Sister: (narrating, sister was watching this all along) She changed after that. (Woman putting baby in the crib and going into bed) It was as if every morning she woke more distant than the one before. (Lighting shift. We are in the Woman’s dreams right now, where Water is speaking to her, and she is sitting up looking into the distance)
Water: He has been a bad boy (baby crying)
Woman: Bad boy…. Bad?
Water: Yes, darling.
Sister: Something was brainwashing her.
Water: Remember what he did to your sister last night? (Baby’s cries are heard)
Woman: Ari, is he bothering you?
Sister: She wouldn’t let me touch the baby.
Water: He would cry at night! Scream and shout, and thrash and kick.
Woman: He would screech like I was hurting him.
Water: Exactly. So what should you do in return?
Sister: I shouldn’t have left the baby alone.
(The sound of water being poured. Lights reveal Woman looking into the tub without expression, and Water watching, Baby noises)
Water: You are the mother.
Woman: I am the mother
Water: And the mother has to do what is best for the child, right darling?
Woman: A mother has to do what is best for the child.
Water: Let me take care of him.
Woman: I should take care of him.
Water: Wasting your time after a child that does not appreciate you?
Woman: My child does not appreciate me. My child is keeping me up at night with its putrid cries.
Water: He as strong lungs.
Woman: My child is ruining my happiness. (to tub)
Water: Punish it.
Woman: YOU ARE A MISTAKE (baby starts crying, Water is smirking)
Water: Feel his skin. You birthed this baby.
Woman: So much pain, I couldn’t bear it. (overlap of the word pain with the next line)
Water: A painful life is the only life left for you.
Woman: Make it stop. (Baby gets louder)
Water: His lungs are thirsty, with no water inside. Let him drink.
Woman: MAKE IT STOP. (Woman grasps into the water, lights turn off Baby’s cries are abruptly cut off)
(faint sound of the heartbeat, signaling that baby hasn’t died yet)
Water: Shh my baby, my poor, poor baby. (talking to Woman)
(Return to the scene with sister. She is narrating while Earth takes the place of water as one of her Vices. Continuation of the mellow heartbeat of the baby until the end of the scene)
Sister: I heard you screaming all to yourself, and … you were not in the washroom anymore. The window was open, and your footprints were right below. I tried to follow you… (Sister is looking around but can’t find them)
(Woman is kneeling on the ground, holding Husband’s ashes and Baby. Earth is standing over them)
Earth: They can both rest in peace there.
Woman: Peace, I want peace. (Woman begins digging the dirt)
Earth: Your husband never loved you, did he?
Woman: Melt away the plastic and burn away his ashes.
Earth: Let me hold the baby while you work (he reaches out and she jerks away)
Woman: His lungs are thirsty, let him drink.
Earth: The soil has enough moisture, don’t worry.
(Woman begins pouring ashes into the hole)
Earth: Leave some inside, so no one gets suspicious. (Sister dials 911)
Woman: (they inhale together as if to relax) Death has a peculiar smell.
Earth: Can you hear smell the decay?
Woman: It smells like freedom. (maniacally happy, picks up the baby and looks at it in the eyes) I didn’t even name you.
Earth: Jarence will on the other side. (sirens are heard)
Woman: The other side… can I join them?
Earth: In a few years, you can. (Woman places the baby in the hole and covers it with dirt, sirens get louder, heartbeat gets louder, while Woman is stumbling away. Earth has disappeared into the shadows. All of the noises suddenly stop, and sister comes panting into the space, Woman has a sinister look on her face)
Woman: Can you see the decay? (rolls eyes back, slumps onto the floor as the lights turn off)
(Sirens are heard. Fire and Earth are the police. holding a flashlight looking down at Woman sitting with dripping cloth in arms, while Water is sitting beside her, stroking her head. Sister is standing beside the two officers. Only Woman can see Water)
Woman: (singing) A life lived, covered in smoke,
black, black as the day.
At night, they come, one by one,
(incoherent humming), I
sit. I watch. I pray. (eerie music, and sobbing)
(Fire and Earth speak to Sister, as police)
Fire: Where was she?
Sister: I told you already, in the dead center of the forest.
Earth: We suspect that she murdered the child, chopped him into pieces and burned his body.
Fire: No one can find him? They searched the perimeter.
Sister: You can’t just accuse her of something like that. Where is your evidence?
Fire: Her hands have an ash-like substance on it, something that usually comes from a fire pit.
Sister: Did she have blood on her hands?
Fire: Just because there was no blood doesn’t mean…
Sister: Were there any weapons found?
Fire: We are still searching…
Sister: So stop accusing her of MURDER.
Earth: Maam, I think you need to calm down.
Sister: NO! My sister will not rot in jail based on false claims by some stupid police. (tries to go to Woman)
Earth: (Intervenes) You are not allowed to speak with her at this moment.
Sister: This is not a good time to mess with me. (Earth lets go, she goes to Woman, while Earth and Fire are listening in) Lia? Lia, can you hear me? (Woman humming) I know all these lights are really intimidating, but I need you to talk to me, okay? Where did you go?
Woman: (stuttering) Lungs…thirsty lungs.
Fire: Get her some water.
Sister: Where is the baby, Lia. Did you go to the river? Did the baby fall?
Water: (malicious) You never had the baby.
Woman: I… I don’t have the baby.
Sister: Yes, I know you don’t have the baby. Do you know where you left him? Did you drop him?
Woman: Raindrops, mud… the mud was wet.
Fire: (to radio) I want group A to check the river. I repeat group A check the river. Over.
Sister: Okay, okay, the mud was wet. We are going to find him, okay? Everything will be back to normal.
Woman: (Abruptly grabs sister, alert) Don’t touch them. I want to see them on the other side. DON’T STOP THE DECAY. (lights turn off)
(Fire is acting as the judge. Sister is sitting by herself. Earth and Water are on each side of Woman, as they were helped her commit the crime, no one knows about husband’s ashes)
Fire: Ms. Amelia, you are accounted for infanticide with no symptoms of postpartum depression. If you plead not guilty, you will receive the death penalty without parole. If you plead guilty, you can apply for parole, but the death penalty will still count.
Earth, Water: Guilty
Sister: NO! (gavel comes down) Amelia, you did not murder him! (Earth and Water are putting ropes around her arms and she is dragged) You can’t take her away like that! SHE IS INNOCENT! (sobbing)
(Sister is returning her to the jail. They are standing on one side of the barrier, the Vices are waiting on the other side, still playing chess looking dejected)
Sister: I didn’t want to bring it all up again. But I could see how they were killing you. (Woman is silent) I hope you feel better now.
Woman: Better? How would you react if your entire life was told to you backwards? I feel like a fool.
Woman: Like they were trying to trap me this entire time.
Sister: You were able to shut them out this entire time, you can do it again.
Woman: I killed my son? I think I killed my husband too then…
Sister: No, no that was the fire, that was not your fault.
Woman: There were these voicemails…
Sister: I will come back in a month. I just need to fix up a few things at work…
Woman: A lady… (buzzer sounds)
Sister: Keep surprising me will you? (hugs and exits)
(Woman is in the dream state of Scene 1. She is holding ropes in her hands)
Fire: A husband lost to flames.
Water: A baby with broken lungs
Earth: Both buried.
Fire: One dead.
Water: One alive.
Woman: Can’t Breath
All Vices: And she comes back to us.
Water: Her only company.
All Vices: WHY DID YOU LEAVE.
Woman: THE SMOKE.
Woman: Sweet words
Fire, Water: Baby
Woman: HIS CRIES!
Fire, Water, Earth: DEAD.
Woman: I NEED AIR
(silence, as they disappear and Woman is under white light with the noose in her hand)
Woman: (hopeful) Jarence? I’m…I’m coming to the other side, where you said you would wait for me. I’m…I’m sorry it took so long, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I know you took care of our baby well, and I want to see him again. I don’t even remember how he looks…
(Sister enters. She has a placid face as if she is aware of what is going to happen)
Sister: He will love you for it. I will love you for it.
Woman: I know, Ari. I know. (smiling)
Fire: I sit.
Earth: I watch.
Water: I pray.
(Woman takes large inhale and jumps)
(she hangs herself, and the lights shut off)