Helvetica Stone

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Helvetica Stone

Helvetica Stone
November 26
Helvetica Stone wants art and science to hold hands and look up in wonder at the miracle of existence. See more on my website: http://www.helveticastone.com


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JUNE 29, 2011 8:08AM

Yes, Santa, there is a Virginia Woolf

Rate: 20 Flag

A very short drama

(A woman, Virginia, works at a desk with a glowing computer. There is a window within her view.  There is a closed door.  The rest of the space is empty, dark. She composes, typing click-click as she goes)

This was a family, much like any other American family during the Johnson Administration, in the waning years of country's innocence.  It had your normal amount of children, and was not too rich, or too poor, not too attractive or too unseemly, not too outspoken nor too withdrawn.  Yet, as it was, the father came down the stairs playing Santa Claus, with a cheap felt suit from the grocery store, and too much scotch in him already to make his words clear…

            (She stops.  Looks to the side.  The sound of jingle bells)

The children were singing carols and making ornaments, and the television flickered with snow.

            (A knock on the door.  Snow begins to fall outside the window)

But, Lillian knew, that she could no longer remain silent…

            (Another knock on the door.   A ball rolls across the stage)

Just a second please!  (pause)  The mother was…the mother was…

            (Another knock on the door.  The sound of a child laughing)

I'm working, please!  (pause)  Lillian knew that her mother…

            (The knocking begins, steadily this time, like a heart beat)

Lillian know that her mother was working…That her mother was writing, the books that made the family's living.   Lillian knew that her mother was not coming out to help with the ornaments.  Lillian knew that she was the only one of the children who knew this to be the case.

            (A child's voice comes from off:  "Momma, are you there?")

Wait, please.  I told you.  I'm working!

            (The pounding continues)

Lillian did not hate her mother because of this, but she knew that there were certain things that she could not go to her father to discuss, this ridiculous man with the white beard and red nose…

(A child voice comes over the pounding:  "Ma- ma- ma- ma…"  rhythmically, almost mechanically)

Lillian was old enough now to understand the burden that her mother had taken on, supporting the family so, and appreciated this sacrifice, and the nice dresses and toys and painting sets that it bought her…

              (The child's voice:  "Please Mama, please, mama, please…")

Lillian wanted to tell her mother that she understood, that she would wait, quietly, outside the study door, if only, if only she would come out for one last time…for one last kiss…

(The child's voice reaches a terrible crescendo:  "Oh, please Mama, Mama please open the door.  Please open.  Please!"  VIRGINIA finally stops, rushes to the door, and opens it.  There is nothing there.  VIRGINIA goes back to her work.)

But she wouldn't.  The door remained shut, and Lillian went back to making her ornaments.  She smeared glue on the cut outs, and sprinkled them with glitter. And when the time finally arrived and her work was through, the mother opened the door. 

          (VIRGINIA stands, faces the audience)

But by this time, it was too late.  The children were all gone.  In fact, they had never been there at all.  The father sat in his chair, sleeping, snoring a bit, the white fur beard pulled underneath his chin with a comic effect.
And Lillian, the imagined child from deep within in Virginia's mind said:  "It's okay, Momma.  Maybe it's okay not to have children, after all."

          (Black out.  END)

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I have somehow managed to intersperse writing and playing with my daughters during the evening hours.
This was such an unexpected ending! It is thrilling to be thrown into the abyss once in a while. Nice job.
It's too bad The Twilight Zone is off the air--this would make a good episode.

Con Chapman's wonderful parody "Salad Days of OS" and the anchovy on Virginia's keyboard made me dig this up. I wrote this shortly after I was told I had very little chance of having children. Happily, they were wrong. I also don't plan to do myself in like sad Virginia. But I do so love "A Room Of Her Own."
This gave me chills - fantastic!
Very well done! I felt both the ghost child's insistence and the mother's feeling of being torn in two places.
The twist in the end was well executed.
That was surprising! My kids just played on the floor by my computer while I worked.
Brilliant. You had me all the way with this. As I read I was remembering a writer friend who did have young children - two girls - who learned not to bother her when she was working because she would tell them, "Unless I see blood coming under the door I don't want to hear a peep out of you." Then at the end you startled me the way Dennis Lehane did with Shutter Island. I guess the critics would call this "multi-layered."
Captivating and riveting, and really, REALLY well written!
Excellent! Very cleverly conceived and executed..
yes! obsession(compulsion) is a form of suffering

note: was Virginia a feminist? what is that now-a-days?
This is excellent writing. I can tell when I get a shiver!! The children she never had. Wow!
Very clever, and beautifully written, H, wonderful post. R
I love the unusual so of coarse I adore this...Happy 4th of July to you on this good day.
Powerful work. rated!
Powerful work. rated!
I wasn't expecting that ending-- good job.