Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Scene 16a, lilies The Reckoning
Sylvia arrives home after working with Anne in her garden. She is exhausted, and worn. She has little to work with to make dinner.
As she walks in the door her husband, Neil, is sitting in the same place he was when she left this morning. It is obvious he has been drinking, which means he either didn’t find any work or didn’t make any attempt at all.
Sylvia: Don’t suppose anyone came by the house to offer you work today eh?
(She walks into the kitchen with a young one on her hip)
Neil: (Up for a game of it)
Oh yeah, three lawyers came, and a Doctor too. Except I didn’t care much for what they were offering so I had to turn em down flat, the lot of em.
Sylvia: (From the Kitchen, and about to loose her patience)
I’m serious Neil!
(She is mixing what is left of the milk along water and flour. She pours it into a bottle to feed the baby)
Neil: You don’t think I’m serious? You don’t think any Doctors or Lawyers would offer me a job?
(He is obviously drunk and halfway mumbling to himself)
Could’ve been a doctor myself if I’d have been born to the right folks.
(We see Sylvia's face as she realizes he is drunk. Tense and angry. Sensing a fight coming on. She calls to her eldest daughter)
(She comes in and takes the young one from Sylvia knowingly)
Where is your head Neil?
Neil: Better days Sylv. I’m thinking on better days.
Sylvia: Well your kids and I are right here on this day, and we have three potatoes between the nine of us. What do you suppose I cook us for dinner?
Neil: (Laughing Belligerently) Potatoes!
Goddamn lazy louse, good for nothing, cocky, drunk!
We have nothing Neil, NOTHING! Were behind three months rent a pound of flour and three potatoes to our name, a meal away from starving.
(He hardly flinches)
Well I can only assume by the look of you that you were down at the Lavry’s drinking Whiskey, charging up a tab you have no intention of paying and tarnishinhg our families good name , eh?
(In a mumble she she hisses.)
There’s no man left inside you.
Neil: (Almost seeming sober)
You think I don’t know? You think I haven’t noticed Sylv? This time, this place…
There’s no work to be had, and each day I walk the streets, with the other boys in being reminded of that.
You know what that does to a man? To watch his children go hungry? To feel his wife’s hate for him grow more and more each day for things out of his control
(Sneering, up in her face, she turns her own but does not shudder.)
You think I don’t feel that eh? You think I don’t feel it? You think I don’t see you cringe when I walk through that door, like you can’t stand to look at me?
Well if you’re so high and mighty, why don’t you get a job?
Get paid in scraps, hardly enough to feed your family, fall asleep to their hungry cries at night, and wake up and go do the same goddamn thing, knowing it won’t make any difference.
Sylvia is left standing alone. She is neither surprised or scared of Neil aggression toward her. Instead, a silence falls on the room.
Neil: You used to love to dream with me Sylv. What happened? Remember how we used to sit together for hour just dreamin’ of all the possibilities of what could be? Where is that girl I used to know? I liked her!
Sylvia: (Quite sober)
She woke up Neil! They weren’t plans, they were dreams and dreams don’t put food on the table and a roof over our head now do they?
Neil: Well a drink and a dream sure soften the knocks we take, livin’ like we do. I have that right still don’t I?
Don’t I Sylv?
Sylvia: I gotta tell you your rights now?
What? Have I gotta lend an ear for confession as well? What am I, your keeper Neil?
Neil: You sure have acted like it all these years!
Sylvia: You look to me for all your answers only to curse me for all the things you don’t have and never became!
So what is it then Neil?
(He hangs his head, afraid to say what he is thinking.)
What’s it going to be Neil?
Neil: (Quietly as if admitting defeat)
We can’t go on like this forever.
Sylvia: Why not? Nobody said life was easy.
Neil: That’s just something people say…
Sylvia: Well don’t you think they say it for a reason?
This isn’t working!
Sylvia: You keep repeating yourself and looking to me to say what you mean to, Neil but it really just comes down to one thing. Are you in? Or are you out?
(Silence. His shoulders hang in shame. His eyes lowered from her gaze.)
Neil: I tried…
(And with those two words she realizes that he means to leave them.)
…I’m sorry Sylvia.
Sylvia: Don’t Neil! Don’t you dare! You don’t get to apologize to me, or your children! You walk with that. Do you understand me? You get up and you leave if that’s what you mean to do. But you can take your apology with you because it’s no good here. Your children can’t use an apology in place of a father, and the same goes for me. (She turns from him and he walks out the door. It is that simple.)