Monday, January 18, 2010
Scene 7a and 7b, lilies Sylvia
Anne is walking home from the party that she has served that evening. Her apron is dirty, her hands are worn and raw from washing dishes and her hair a disheveled mess. She wears a look of defeat and humiliation. She walks slowly down the street. As she passes her neighbor’s house, there is a woman on her porch watching Anne. It is the same woman who took notice of her a few nights ago. She is rocking steadily in a wooden rocking chair. She lights a cigarette. The light from the amber flame illuminates her face revealing a strong; fair completed woman in her early forties. She is an able bodied with wise and watchful eyes that squint as she inhales deep hungry drags from her cigarette.
As Anne passes directly in front of her house, the lady yells to Anne from her porch.
Sylvia: (WIth an Irish accent)
Do you have to make it so obvious that you’re not used to actual work?
(Anne freezes terrified that the wretched voice is yelling out to her. She looks down and walks at a faster pace)
(Meanwhile, on Sylvia’s porch)
Sylvia: (Mumbling to herself)
Jesus, you think I’d be shouting so loud if I was talking’ to myself?
Oh Sylv. You’ve done it this time. Well…
(She rises out of her rocker on the porch, goes inside, comes out with a sack and heads down the path to the street)
Inside Anne’s house. Anne sits down alone at her table and starts to cry. The day proved to be the most challenging yet. The shock of hearing the cruel things that were said about her at the party have broken her spirit.
There is a knock at the door. Anne gets up to see who it is. Seeing that it is that neighbor who yelled from her porch, she ducks back and does not answer.
Another knock. Followed by another one.
Sylvia: I know you’re in there. No use pretending miss. (Anne freezes stands still as time passes. She goes quietly to the door.) That’s it now open it (Anne does as she is told)
(There stands Sylvia Breslyn, bright eyed and true. For a moment they stand there in silence, taking turns looking at each other, waiting for the other one to speak the silence.)
Sylvia: Sylvia is my name. Anne is yours. I know because I asked the neighbor. (Silence…. Finally, tight lipped and unappologeticly.) I Don’t see much sense in pretending you don’t know someone’s name when you do. It’s like a lie. I don’t lie. You ought to know that straight off I suppose.
Anyway, I imagine you should invite me in.
(Anne is too tired to show any social graces much less protest. She swings the door wide open and in marches Sylvia, who sits herself down at the very same table Anne was at when the scene began.)
(Anne walks over to the table, takes a deep breath, plops herself down next to Sylvia)
Sylvia: No use moping on an empty stomach.
(She pulls out a piece of cheese and some soda bread from her bag. She hands it to Anne.)
I was thinking. It's not good for person to be alone. You come to my house tomorrow night, after you get home from work. The food is for shite, but there's usually lots of it.
Anne: (Eating the bread. With tears in her eyes.)
Thank you Sylvia.
(Sylvia understands, nodding back to Anne with great warm sympathy in her eyes. She pats Anne’s shoulder as Anne begins to eat. Sylvia reaches into her bag again. She pulls out a flask of whiskey and offers some to Anne.)
None for me thanks.
(Sylvia looks as though she doesn’t understand)
Haven’t you heard of temperance?
Sylvia: Heard of temperance? I should introduce you to my husband; he’s got a terrible temperance. That’s why I keep him good and drunk
(She gets a serious look from Anne)
Yes dear I’ve heard of temperance, but I myself know too many crooked men who are dry, and a good number of honest hardworking drunkards.
(She raises her flask)
So here’s to them, and to you.
(She pours a bit of whiskey into a glass that sits on the table in front of Anne)
I won’t tell.
Well it was nice to have made your acquaintance Anne.
(As she rises Anne rises with her, following her to the door)
Anne: (Almost sorry to see her go. She musters up some manners)
Sylvia, it was so nice of you to… I really appreciate…
(on the verge of tears)
Sylvia: I know dear.
(Pats her shoulder again, starts to walk out, then turning.)
Remember that you’re the one who gets to decide.
Anne: Decide what?
Sylvia: Who you are, and who you are to become in all this. Nobody else has any say so in that love…
(As we watch Sylvia walk down the path to the street she passes Anne’s perennial garden. The lilacs are in full bloom; beneath them are a bed of oak leaf geraniums and a handsome patch of Jacob’s ladder.
Anne watches Sylvia walk down the path. From their short interaction, Anne has gathered that Sylvia is a woman of purpose. She does and says what she means to; no more, no less. Anne takes a deep breath in realizing this, as if to take it in and receive the gesture as a true act of kindness.
She closes the door, walks in to the table, looks down at the large shot waiting for her, grins, and takes it. She leans forward, blows out the candle on the table. The smoke rises in the dim light remaining in the room. Outside the dining room window stands an azalea bush whose flowers have faded and died.)