The challenge is to write a play every day, “Good. Bad. Whatever.” So here goes. (Bad, but what can one expect at 6 in the morning, what with EST returning, and all?)
The stage is empty, except for a tombstone carved with “Gladys Barnes” and dates that indicate she was ninety-two and died recently.
Cast: Young Woman— in her mid-teens, doing a project for school
two old women—One and Two, carrying baskets
the ghost of Gladys (who is concealed at the beginning, behind the tombstone)
Enter Young Woman, carrying a notebook. She examines the stone, writing in her notebook, turns to the audience.
YW: Ninety-two. Really, really old. No other stones around her, so I wonder if she was single, or had kids, or whatever. No flowers or flags or tacky stuff. No epitaph, but the modern ones don’t seem to have them. Just an old lady who died. I bet she had a pre-paid deal and bought her own stone. I wonder if she had it all figured out. She sure as hell had time to. Okay, on to the older graves. I need epitaphs and urns. Exits.
Enter the two old women. They stop before the stone and stand quietly for a few seconds.
OW1 (touching the stone): Dear Gladys. I miss her. Nothing is the same. It will never be the same again.
OW2: Of course not. No one ever promised us that anything would ever be the same, whatever that means. But we’re not hear to moan around. We have work to do.
OW1: I know. Yes. She reaches into her basket and removes a trowel. Slowly, paintfully, she bends over and starts digging in front of the grave, her back to the audience.
OW2: This had better work. Rosemary doesn’t take well to transplanting. She takes a small plant from her basket and hands it to OW1.
OW1: Taking the plant and putting it in the ground. If Gladys was right—if Gladys is right, it should work fine. She knew—knows— far more than we do about this sort of thing. And now she knows the truth. She stands up, brushing off her hands.
OW2 takes a small lamp from her basket and lights it and sets it on the grave. She then takes a bell from her basket and rings it vigorously. Both women chant, several times:
OW: Return, return, we summon thee!
By bell and flame and rosemary tree.
Gladys Barnes, arise!
Gladys arises, looks at the others somewhat sternly.
Gladys: What took you so long? It’s been four—no, five—days.
OW1: We couldn’t find the bell.
G: I left it right where I said I would.
OW2: But it wasn’t there. It was under the sofa. It must have rolled there when they carried you out.
Gladys: I don’t remember that. But I had other things to think about, so I’m not surprised.
OW1: And the important thing is, you’re out.
Gladys: Yes. At least for now. So shall we get on with it?
They join hands and circle the stone.
Enter the Young Woman, unseen by the others.
YW: Wow! Two old ladies kind of dancing on the grave. Really, really weird. I’m out of here. She exits, and the others continue to dance. Fade out.