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A monologue from the play by Leonora B. Rianda
Helen, a writer, forty, is having a conversation with a character in her novel, whom she has just killed off.
“Look, Ma! Top of the world!” Wow. It’s so — clear from up here. Look, look! My house — there’s my house! And there’s the freeway I take every single g*ddamned morning to work for nine years! (Pause.)
Uh-oh. Altitude. (Tilts head back.) Nosebleed! Oh, not now, now now — oh. Oh. OK. There. Maybe not. OK, I’m just lightheaded, afraid of heights, or, when I’m up so high, I wonder what it would be like to jump.
To fall. From so high a place. I’m attracted to the edge, you know. Closer, closer — a little closer. There is nothing to grab on to — nothing, just the sheer edge and then — aaaaaahhhhhh!
(Pause.) Does one — faint — before impact? Imagine being conscious, smashing into the earth — the body — the body — meeting absolute resistance? (Pause.) Mmmmmmm, smell the air up here!
So clean and fresh — beyond their pollution, their noise, their — needs. Uh-oh, dizzy. Breathe! Breathe. Relax. Mmmmmmm. (Pause.) I’ve been coming up here for all the years of my life.
Today that makes forty. Today I am forty years old. Of course, when I was very young, my father used to bring me up here. Only the altitude would make him irritable. He’d point out targets below and see if he could hit them with rocks.
“See that weed over there,” he’d say, “I’m gonna hit it with this rock!” All I could see was a large wildflower, orange like a rising sun. I thought it was beautiful. “Watch!” he’d say. Zing! I have to admit, he was pretty good.
At that distance he could knock off quite a few petals — a skinny stem left shivering in the clear clean air. Then he’d point out to me where he worked, tell me again how much he hated it,
how much he hated all the stupid, sheepy people he had to work with, how he was trapped — then he’d pick up really big rocks and heave them into the air. “Thunk.”
Like a body hitting the earth, “thunk.” Those rocks made such a hollow, heavy sound. “Thunk.” Even before he died, I learned my way up here so I could be alone. The older I get, the harder the climb.
And today, it’s forty years of climbing. Look! Look how clear it is today. This is how Noah must have felt after forty nights, forty days of rain — to at last come to rest on the earth again.
Looking around and everything clean and fresh and all his, all his! To populate! To go forth and multiply! What a job! What a great job! To create and create and create, morning, noon and night!
Imagine! Surveying all that lies blow and knowing it’s yours, all yours. That God is definitely on your side — there being no other side for Him to take — Forty years and here I am.
Dry land at last. The ark has come to rest. My body touches the earth. And now what? Do I throw rocks or go forth and multiply? The fast way down is over the edge. (Balances on one foot.)
“Look, Ma! No hands!” (Pause.) In the brief time it takes to fall, I imagine I am flying!