Ghosts I’ve Known
(a monologue for a woman)
D. M. Larson
from the published play "Secrets of my Soul"
Copyright © 2002
All Rights Reserved
* * *
(In the darkness an old wooden rocker is heard moving with a creaking noise. Lights come up dimly on EMILY, a woman [R] dressed in black, alone in a funeral parlor with a closed coffin. A sofa with quilt on it is [DR]. A rocking chair is at the foot of the coffin [L] rocking on its own when the lights come up but stops after a moment)
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 the 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 slightly flicker)
Lights dimmed and glowed. Her ghostly will stronger than the new world magic conjured by GE.
(Goes to sofa. Sits and slowly makes her way under the quilt and lays her head sleepily against the back of the sofa during the following)
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…
(Sits up. Then gets up and crosses to coffin)
I was always worried mother would leave me too.
(She touches the coffin lovingly. Then stops looking very tired)
I wish the ghosts would go. But they linger. Always lingering. Never really gone.
(She goes to rocking chair and pushes it with her hand so it rocks. She crosses to sofa and sits staring at the rocking chair)
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.
(Slowly slips quilt over herself. Holds it up so she can’t see rocker, but audience can still see her)
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.
(Rises from bed)
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 say the same for you…
Spirits dog me. Just when I no longer believe, they appear. Flashing white lights. A cold touch. They return.
(Expression grows dark)
But this time it was too much. Another place. Another spirit. This time it was someone I knew.
(Sadness as she returns to coffin. 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)
I had lost so much. An emptiness replaces 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 for sofa)
I ran for bed, buried myself in covers and waited for dawn.
(Throws covers overhead. 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.
(Goes to coffin)
Was it you that touched me that day?
And if you are still here, why do I feel so alone?
(Lights fade to black. The rocker is heard again creaking as it rocks)
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