March 30, 2007

A Play A Day #350

Let Children Process Things By Themselves From Time To Time

Delilah - mom
Betsy - daughter (about eight)

Setting: Betsy's bedroom.

(lights up, Betsy is sitting cross-legged in the center of her bed, back very straight, enter Delilah)

Delilah: Hi, sweetheart. What are you doing up?

Betsy: Thinking.

D: It's late. You have school in the morning.

B: I know.

D: Time for bed.

B: I know.

(pause, Betsy doesn't move, Delilah sits down on bed)

D: What are you thinking about, honey?

B: Death.

D: Oh.

B: Dying.

D: Um.

B: Being dead.

D: Uh...


D: Anything else?

B: That's enough.

D: Yes. All three at once. That's... that's a lot.

B: They're different, aren't they?

D: How do you mean?

B: Death, dying, being dead... they're different, right?

D: Well...

B: I mean. Death is where you go, dying is how you get there, being dead is the clothes you wear.

D: I... sweetheart? What makes you think about these things?

B: What's wrong with thinking about them?

D: Nothing, nothing, nothing's wrong... nothing... just... ummm, okay. Well, something's wrong. You're only eight.

B: You're thirty-five.

D: (pause) Right.

B: So?

D: I... well, I just mean, what would make an eight-year old think about death?

B: I wasn't just thinking about death. I was thinking about death, dying and being dead.

D: Yeah. That's more than just death, I know that, but why were you thinking about those things?

B: Because of sleep.

D: Oh. (pause) What?

B: It's like death... or, I guess, it's more like being dead. Being asleep is like being dead.

D: No, not really, I mean, uhhh...

B: Pyjamas are like being dead.

D: I... honey... I don't get what you're saying.

B: Sleep and death. You know.

D: When you're asleep, I check on you, so...

B: So I won't die?

D: No, I mean, yes, yes... I mean, well... ahhh... I just make sure you're okay.

B: Like not dead, right?

D: No! Sweetheart... I check to see that you're doing alright, that's all.

B: You don't check to see if I'm dead?

D: No! Betsy!

B: Maybe you should. Being asleep feels like being dead to me.

D: You're not dead; you're asleep. You will wake up in the morning, and everything will be the same.

B: The same?

D: As the day before. The same.

B: Everything will be the same as the day before, but I won't be dead?

D: No, honey, of course not. You'll be Betsy, same as always, a great girl with her whole life ahead of her.

B: Not her whole death?

D: What?! No! Honey, you'll be fine. Everything will be fine. I'll be fine. Everything will be just like always.

B: But it seems like an awful lot of things will be the same.

D: Yes, they will be, and so will you. You'll be filled with life!

B: But, if everything's the same when I wake up, will it be the same the next day?

D: You will wake up the next day and the next day and the next day and so many days into the future that even I can't count!

B: Isn't that the same as being dead? Everything's the same, every day, forever?

D: (pause) Ohh... sweetheart... there will be some changes, I guess, but they're very slow.

B: Slow? Like walking-kind-of-slow?

D: Slower, like you don't even notice it happening, that kind of slow.

B: You don't notice it?

D: No, it's growing up. One day, after all these things you don't notice, you'll be grown up.

B: And then dead?

D: No! Just grown up.

B: All those slow changes add up, then you're grown up?

D: Yes, that's it... Betsy, not dead... You're not dead, and sleeping is just allowing these slow changes to occur.

B: So I can grow up.

D: Yes, it adds up so slowly. Just like adding in school, which you have tomorrow; so lie down and go to sleep.

(Betsy starts getting under the covers)

B: Then tomorrow, I'll add some more change to me.

D: Until you grow up. That's right, honey.

B: Okay, that makes sense, Mommy.

D: (kissing Betsy goodnight) Good. Sleep well, jitterbug.

(Delilah starts to exit)

B: Mommy?

D: Yes?

B: You're grown up, right?

D: Yes.

B: Those slow changes just added up.

D: And now I'm a grown up.

B: So when does the subtraction start?

D: I... uhh...(pause)

B: You know, minus?

D: Yes. (pause)

B: Mommy?

D: Good night, sweetheart.

(lights fade to dim spot on Delilah who has now exited Betsy's room, she sighs)

D: (to herself) Good night?

(lights out)


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