ONLY CHILDREN BELIEVE IN BUTTERFLIES
by D. M. Larson
From the published play "Bullied, Bungled and Botched" (ISBN-13: 978-1518661082).
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(Janey is in a garden watching the stars in the sky. She becomes upset when someone approaches)
I was hoping I could be alone out here in the garden. No one ever comes here in the evening. I wanted to be here for the stars.
I don't want anything - and I don't want to talk anymore - can I please be by myself? That's all you've done here - poke, prod, and pry - I've never felt so violated before - I just want to be left alone.
I don't like being around anyone. I get upset when I'm in a room full of people.
I get really scared - I almost feel like I can't breathe - I just need to be alone, Doctor - I know you don't really care - you're simply doing your job - once I'm "better" you'll be through with me - then it's on to another patient - you're just like anyone else -
You probably haven't cared about any patient in years - that would be unprofessional - an unnecessary burden on your conscience - Please, just go - I know what I need better than you -
You're not God, you know - you don't have the powers to cure everything - I know what you can and can't do -Go on - get out of here!
(Pause - she gets an evil smile)
How can I relax with you bothering me all the time? If there's another way, I'd like to know how -
(Pause. Turns away)
Is there anything else you wish to pry out of me? No? Good - then goodnight -
(JANEY starts weeding the flower bed)
I thought you were leaving - Sorry but I'm busy - I'm killing weeds - Cultivating beauty by killing the ugly - it's an odd practice - in reality its weeds on which the soil feeds -
But few people find the truth as fulfilling - If only you had planted something more useful - beans, or tomatoes, then the sacrifice might be worthwhile - but flowers, they're more difficult to justify - Frail beauty - that's all they are - cultivated for weakness - and has very little nutritional value - in the end they never can satisfy - always a disappointment as they wither and die - Frail and weak - a light frost would snap its neck -
(JANEY breaks the head off a flower)
So easily smitten by one little insect -
(JANEY holds up broken bud to a weed)
The choice is so easy for most - Yet it's not - I suppose most people don't give it much thought -
(Looks up at sky)
I know a story of a man who had a plant which most called a useless weed - it turned out the weed was a cure for cancer - but the weed was nearly extinct so no one got the cure - do you believe in such a thing? Do you believe in anything?
Oh, never mind - I guess to you most beliefs are only fables -
(Throws both plants down - upset)
No one really cares, do they? They pay you to care - everywhere it's the same way - People should only fix what's broken - Why couldn't you all just leave me alone? Nothing was wrong with me before you found me - I was happy at home - alone - shut out from then world - protected -
(Pause. Calms a moment. Grows sadder)
I had to be alone - I - I needed to hide - I had no choice - I had to get away - I couldn't live like the others anymore -
Why do you want to know all this?
I said I don't want to talk anymore! Leave me alone! I don't have to tell you anything! I'm not a little kid.
(Bends over and buries her face in her hands)
There's so much you don't know - I just need to be alone - Why can't they leave me alone?
(She sees something)
But I'm never alone - There's always someone - Or something - Around me - Following me - They're always near - Spirits - Ghosts - Shadows of the past - Ghosts have always been with me. Not by choice. At least not on my part. It just happens. I don't want to believe... but they've forced themselves on me.
Perhaps the old Indian woman did it to me. I lived in her house too long as a child.
(Looks at ceiling)
At night, footsteps paced the ceiling. Over and over, an impatient march, forever in step to a silent drum. If only this had been my only encounter, I could dismiss it. "The house is settling," my mother said... but this wasn't all the house did. Lights dimmed and glowed. Her ghostly will stronger than the new world magic conjured by GE. I slept in my room. Well, not really slept. Sleep was never something I did much of, especially early on. My worries at seven far outweighed my need for sleep. Awake. Forever awake. My father had left me. My mother... I was always worried mother would leave me too. I wish the ghosts would go. But they linger. Always lingering. Never really gone. The old Indian woman was my first. She rocked at my beside, all in white. My eyes met hers. Her eyes giving me a worried look as if I were the one who had expired. Fear making my head sink deeply into covers. My eyes entombed by my lids. How long she waited, I'll never know. By dawn I ventured a look. She was gone... or perhaps she was never there. Thinking the apparition a dream, I told my family and their eyes betrayed them. Others had known her too. Mother had a vision. She did not go questing for it though. The old Indian, young to most who saw her, once lived on this land. A servant. A girl died here, she at her side... at her side rocking... and the girl died. I wish I could have been there for her too... Spirits dog me. Just when I no longer believe, they appear. Flashing white lights. A cold touch. They return. Even now. But this time it was too much. Another place. Another spirit. This time it was someone I knew.
(Slowly turns to panic during following)
It started with the call. The news that she had gone away. Finding myself in tears. Tears sapping me dry. Would the tears ever stop? Pain like a thick metal pole shoved up your ass.
(Tries to calm herself but panics again)
I had lost everything. An emptiness replaced love, anxious to find, nothing there... no “body” anyway, but something. Something that opens doors, something leaving tissue by the bed. The dog barking at nothing... but something. Finding things in new places, things missing. The locked door... open.
(Tries to calm herself)
Explanations fly. Knowledge our protection.
(Thinks a moment. Frowns and shivers)
It began with the cold. Spots of cold. A moment of normal then cold, as if the heat were sucked into another dimension. These don't bother me as much as the touch. A handless touch of nothing. Something grabbed by arm but no one was there.
(Pulls back in fear and runs. She falls to the ground)
I ran for bed, buried myself in covers and waited for dawn.
(She curls up in a ball. Pause)
You're never too old to hide under the covers. Wrapping yourself up into a cocoon. Hoping that when you emerge life will be butterflies again.
(She sighs and sits up)
But only children believe in butterflies.
(She rises again)
Adults know... or learn... that life is full of moths, caterpillars, and worms.
But when I'm alone... fear sets in. I wonder... do I really want to be alone? Maybe their visits comfort me.
(She seems to see someone else)
Was it you that touched me that day?
And if you are still here, why do I feel so alone?
(Sees Doctor again and gets upset, almost in a panic)
Please, stay away. She won't visit me if you're here. Please. Go!
(Turns back to the new person she sees)
Mother? Mother is that you?
(Sits up quickly - startled)
(Breathing hard - cries - the person is gone - she calms down)
I'm sorry - I'm so sorry - There's usually no one to listen - at least no one who's willing to bend - Why are you still here? What's the use of talking if it doesn't do anyone any good?
(sighs - doctor won't leave)
Do you believe in an afterlife? Like heaven and angels and pearly gates - free of all Earthly strife - I think it's a lot less defined than that - I think maybe we all end up a part of greater whole - a tiny molecule in a bigger being or a little star in a vast universe - we'll return to where we came from - whether it's God, the Great Spirit, or something else - but I know that's where we will be - Everything around me seems to point to the same conclusion - "ashes to ashes - dust to dust" - where we begin is where we end - the Earth gives us life through what we eat and we give her life when we die - the source is the finish - rain that feeds the river comes from the sea - to each beginning there is a definable end -
(she looks at the sky and smiles)
I know it's getting dark but I don't want to go back inside anymore - I don't like my room - this is where I want to stay -
(Looks at doctor)
You can't keep me caged any longer - The locked doors won't hold me anymore - Did you know I can fly?
(She looks up at the night sky)
I'm leaving all the Earthly matters to you - I belong near a different sun -
(Points to a star)
I wish I were that star over there - The little one next to Orion - that way I'd never be lonely - It's so free out there - no one can touch you or hurt you - you can simply shine - People don't like it when you shine - that's why stars are up there and not down here - humans think the brightness is offensive -
(Pause - looks and smiles at the stars)
My mother is a star now - She always seemed like one to me - but stars don't like it very well where they can't be stars anymore -
(Pause - grows sad)
I want to be a star - stars having meaning - stars I understand - Now those stars up there in the sky have staying power. I can always count on them. I can always look up and know they'll be there for me. The stars on Earth burn out too quickly. They have a moment where they shine so bright but then poof. They're gone. A memory. Sometimes not even that. But with the stars in the sky, I know they'll be there night after night, always there for me to make a wish.
I make wishes all the time. I watch for the first star each night and say...
"Star light star bright, first star I see tonight... I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight..." I always make the same wish, but I can't tell you what it is. Then it might not come true. I really want it too. It would change my life.
I would always go to wishing wells with lucky pennies... Those pennies you find that people have lost... Unlucky for them... Lucky for me... Then I toss them in the wishing well in front of the old museum. And I toss them in the fountain at the park... Each time making my wish.
Have you ever wanted anything that badly in your life? So badly that you can't imagine your future without it?
I would be so sad if my life wasn't different... If things didn't change... If I was still stuck here... In this life. But I won't stop wishing... I can't...
I don't want to be left with nothing... I want some meaning... A reason things my life turned out this way. I want this suffering to be worth while.
END OF MONOLOGUE
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