Fiction, Monologues, Plays & More
The continuation of ACT1, Scene 1: Mercy and The Dress of Eleanora Duse
(CLICK HERE to read The Weight of Words: Part 1)
The chimes of the door of the Boutique ring. The DOCTOR enters.
PRICILLA: May I help you?
DOCTOR: Just looking.
The AUTHOR has put the boa back and is looking at a Hope Chest.
AUTHOR: A Hope Chest- I haven’t seen one of these in a while.
LINDA: That’s not just any Hope Chest- That’s the Hope Chest- The very one- where 900 Emily Dickinson’s poems were discovered after her death by her sister Livonia…
LINDA: Yes! 900 poems, in little packets bound with twine.
AUTHOR: No, I thought that Emily Dickinson’s poems were found in a box, not a Hope Chest, I read-
DOCTOR: (from across the stage where she is examining shoes) Well, I don’t know what you read- that said it was a box- because they didn’t have what we would call a box- back then. Boxes were made out of wood, and what is made out of wood could be called a chest. I know these things. I’m a Doctor.
AUTHOR: Oh. Okay.
DOCTOR: I’m just saying if you’re going to get literal about it, I can get literal about it, too.
AUTHOR: I wasn’t asking you.
DOCTOR: And I wasn’t charging you.
LINDA: (trying to placate) I just like to call it a Hope Chest because of the poem- you know.
PRICILLA: (to author, challenging) Do you know the poem, “poet”?
AUTHOR: Of course. “’Hope’” is a thing with feathers- That perches in the soul- And sings the tune without words- and never stops at all-“’
PRICILLA: Stop. I don’t need the whole thing.
LINDA: (looking at her parrot) “A thing with feathers.” Hope is like a bird…
PRICILLA: Right- a bird.
AUTHOR: You know, in England, they call girls “birds”. And I had a friend named Hope who lives in Kansas- anyway, so Hope is like a girl… (The author examines the chest.) It’s empty.
PRICILLA: Duh. We don’t have the poems- we’re not a museum.
AUTHOR: Yes- I wonder- shouldn’t this chest be in a museum?
LINDA: I know your point- The Hope Chest is priceless. It’s not for sale. We just keep it here-
DOCTOR: -When you do a heart transplant you don’t keep the dead body-
LINDA: -So people can appreciate the value of Herstory beyond the mortal.
LINDA: Emily Dickinson was never published in her lifetime- she had sought the advice of a publisher in 1862 but her told her that although her words were beautiful, they didn’t fit into the standard of what a poem was thought to be.
PRICILLA: I still think that. She doesn’t really rhyme.
DOCTOR: (holding up ballet slippers) Why on earth would anyone pay $6000 for a pair of old ballet shoes?
LINDA: Those belonged to Zelda Fitzgerald.
AUTHOR: The Zelda Fitzgerald?
PRICILLA: The crazy wife of-
LINDA: The Great Gatsby.
DOCTOR: The dance shoes of a diagnosed schizophrenic are not worth more than a good pair of sensible pumps, much less a used car.
AUTHOR: You know- I could tell you something about those slippers-
PRICILLA: Please don’t.
AUTHOR: -And this thing Zelda said about hope, which fits right in with what we were saying-
PRICILLA: PLEASE DON’T.
AUTHOR: (hurt) Okay.
LINDA: (to Pricilla) Be nice.
PRICILLA: She’s not gonna buy anything. She’s an “artist”.
Laura Lee Bahr is the author of the short stories Happy Hour and The Liar (available in the anthologies DEMONS, winner of the Bram Stoker award and PSYCHOS, edited by John Skipp and published by Black Dog & Leventhal). She is the award-winning screenwriter of the feature films Jesus Freak and the little Death. Her first novel, HAUNT, received the Wonderland Book Award.