Monologue

A quick explanation is probably due.  This was a writing prompt from someone who wanted the Writing Prompts subreddit to do their homework for them.  They’d been tasked with writing a monologue.  I was the only person to respond, the original prompt was deleted for breaking the rules and the post faded away into obscurity.  I, on the other hand, was relatively pleased with bashing out a two handed one act play in about 30 minutes.

THE MAN sits in a bedroom. On the bed, a pile of clothing (all female in a variety of colours).
There is a dressing table, a chair, the bed, and a table. Only these things are lit, everything else is black.
SHE stands in the background and we can barely make her out. Throughout, as THE MAN speaks, we increase the light on her until she is fully spotlit.

THE MAN
I miss you.

He starts to pick clothes out of the pile, haphazardly. He looks at them before setting them aside. He settles on one.

THE MAN
They said I had to do this eventually. Go through your things and pack them away. I remember when you first wore this. On our…second date? Yeah. I was lucky to get a second date, you made me work so hard for the first one and I was pretty sure you weren’t going to return my call. But you did. And teased me mercilessly about being too eager.

He folds the garment carefully and sets it on the table. He picks another, sniffs at it.

THE MAN
The perfume I bought you for our first Christmas as a couple. We drank a bottle of wine each on Christmas Eve and then your mother called me and yelled at me for getting you drunk and leaving you hung over for Christmas morning. And then my mother yelled at her for yelling at me. They still laugh about that. It’s good that they can laugh together. I wish I could. No one made me laugh like you did.

He folds the garment carefully and sets it on the table. He picks another up, but does not look at it.

THE MAN
I miss laughing. It went when you did. You tore a hole in my life and because you weren’t there it filled up with pain.

He folds the garment, then unfolds and refolds it.

THE MAN
I used to breathe hurting. I used to hate waking up because it would be fresh, like cutting, to wake up not next to you and to make breakfast without you in the bathroom using all the hot water. Eating cereal without you telling me grownups don’t eat cereal, nothing tasted of anything very much. Or when it did, it was like tin. Like blood in your mouth when you bite your cheek. Even that went away, eventually. Your absense took even the pain, when it had become a friend.

He unfolds and refolds the garment. A different way, this time.

THE MAN
I wish I could hate you for d… for not being there. For leaving me. It’s hard, being here on my own. Having to go on. My phone doesn’t ring any more. I spent so long picking it up and saying your name, because this is all some stupid mistake and you’re just in another city with one of your friends. Shopping. Seeing that band you like. It’s never you. I think people started to hate the disappointment in my voice when they called, so they’ve stopped calling. That’s OK. I don’t have much to say.

Mechanically, he starts to fold and stack the other garments into same height piles.

THE MAN
The only person I want to talk to is you. I just…when the accident…when the car…I could see you. I could see you as they tried to cut you out but I couldn’t reach you because they wouldn’t let me. I could see you were scared and I wanted to hold your hand and tell you I was sorry, and you were right, and we could work past it, but they wouldn’t let me. I remember your eyes. Wide open and so afraid, and that’s my fault. You were so angry. I just wanted you to pull over. I just wanted us to talk like we did in the beginning. I know you would have forgiven me. I know you would have forgiven me if we had just been able to talk.

He sorts the folded garments into piles of the same colour.

SHE is now lit and during the next speech she moves to stand behind THE MAN. SHE remains expressionless.

THE MAN
You had a right to be angry. I was stupid to take the wheel but you needed to listen and I needed to be forgiven. I was wrong, but you shouldn’t have told me it was over and you shouldn’t have shut me out and I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry.

The sorting becomes more frantic. The piles of clothes aren’t the same height, so he sorts them into height order as he speaks.

THE MAN
You were nowhere. But now I can feel you everywhere. I can hear you. Everywhere. They don’t tell you that you start to forget things. I can’t remember what your voice was like. I can’t remember what colour your eyes were. Those things were taken when they put you in the ground and your mother took all the pictures for her scrap booking. But I can feel your eyes on me all the time. You watch me and you don’t say I’m forgiven. You watch me all the time and you never speak. It’s all I need to hear. Then I can be better. I want to be better. Why won’t you let me be better?

THE MAN flips the table.

THE MAN
Why won’t you leave me alone?

THE MAN crumples himself into a ball, makes himself as small as possible. Behind him, SHE looks down at him, then out at the audience. SHE smiles.

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5 Comments

  1. I really liked this.

    The range of emotions shown here is so well done; I felt the sense of loss, the frustration, that weird dichotomy of “please come back or just let me forget”

    The stage direction was just another wonderful layer on top of everything else, and I could see this being performed in some theater competition pretty easily without any changes.

    Excellent work and in such a short time.

    Thanks for sharing this, Dave!

  2. The brilliant thing about this is how it simultaneously hold you at arms length and draws you in close. The raw emotions could end up being too schmaltzy, but in the context of reading them as a script with stage directions we are disarmed of our defenses against raw sentimentality. Beautifully done.

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