Title: Spoken Roses
Author: Peter Wood
Draft date: 13-08-02
Two women sit on opposite sides of the stage. Darkness surrounds them and presents a gulf between them. They should look similar enough to be mistaken for sisters and wear matching clothes. Unless otherwise indicated, they should speak in unison. “Spoken Roses” by John Foxx and Harold Budd plays softly, repeating itself, in the background.
Here I sit. Sat. The day was troubled and I watched you slipping away from me like a long held breath. This is not the way, a voice said, not the way it was supposed to be, a voice said, not the way it was ever supposed to be. Yet the undeniable fact was that, yes, it was happening. And the lines of your face were suddenly etched with a peculiar sadness. One that I had never quite seen before. In an echo. An echo of a ghost. An echo of a ghost fading before the sunrise upon the Atlantic ocean with the smell of salt air and seaweed and the sand in the wind catching in my hair on a day so unlike this one yet bringing with it a memory. No, not a memory. A feeling.
Not a feeling. A . . . sigh. A sigh of licorice breath through parted lips that lived not in my heart and not in my head and not in my stomach but in my muscles and bones. Barely more than a silence. But--
Barely is more than nothing. This thought, speaking roses in the muscles of my neck and your hand, my hand and your neck, this thought speaking roses, roses spoken, spoken roses.
Silence. The music fades. The two women breathe in unison.
The music resumes.
You slip away into a darkness. Oh you laughed and spoke wildly, veering from love to hate and wine to sex and the bright, bright lights with your eyes reflecting distant stars, but it was all edged with a darkness that frightened me and excited me and made me forget myself in the moment I was revealed. A mirror saw without reflecting, that gathered in my face, my face into itself and never let it go so that I was only ever able to see myself in the backs of diner teaspoons in the moments before I stirred cream into coffee. Licking the spoon would always erase my face, leaving me once more alone in your eyes with nowhere else to see myself.
Which is not death.
This death which is not death yet is I hold in my fingers. Like the hand of a newborn baby. Like a butterfly. Like a breath.
I cannot breathe.
They do not breathe for at least one full minute. The music fades.
They breathe out. Softly. A cry nearly emerging from their throats. The music resumes. The two women breathe in unison.
I watch you slip away. The petals fall.
Slowly, they reach for each other’s hand. They are too far away, yet still they try.
The lights fade. The music fades.
They breathe and strive.