Painting Churches

hand-holding-crayons-painting-churches

A monologue from the play by Tina Howe

MAGS

It was wintertime, because I noticed I’d left some crayons on top of my radiator and they’d melted down into these beautiful shimmering globs, like spilled jello, trembling and pulsing.

Naturally, I wanted to try it myself, so I grabbed a red one and pressed it down against the hissing lid. It oozed and bubbled like raspberry jam! I mean, that radiator was really hot!

It took incredible will power not to let go, but I held on, whispering, “Mags, if you let go of this crayon, you’ll be run over by a truck on Newberry Street, so help you God!” . . .

So I pressed down harder, my fingers steaming and blistering. Once I’d melted one, I was hooked! I finished off my entire supply in one night, mixing color over color until my head swam!

. . . The heat, the smell, the brilliance that sank and rose . . . I’d never felt such exhilaration! . . . Every week I spent my allowance on crayons. I must have cleared out every box of Crayolas in the city!

AFTER THREE MONTHS THAT RADIATOR WAS . . . SPECTACULAR! I MEAN, IT LOOKED LIKE SOME COLOSSAL FRUITCAKE, FIVE FEET TALL . . .!

It was a knockout; shimmering with pinks and blues, lavenders and maroons, turquoise and golds, oranges and creams. . . . For every color, I imagined a taste . . .

YELLOW: lemon curls dipped in sugar . . . RED: glazed cherries laced with rum . . . GREEN: tiny peppermint leaves veined with chocolate . . . PURPLE:— And then the frosting . . .

ahhhh, the frosting! A satiny mix of white and silver . . . I kept it hidden under blankets during the day. . . . My huge . . . (She starts laughing) looming . . . teetering sweet—

I was so . . . hungry. . . losing weight every week. I looked like a scarecrow what with the bags under my eyes and bits of crayon wrapper leaking out of my clothes.

It’s a wonder you didn’t notice. But finally you came to my rescue . . . if you could call what happened a rescue. It was more like a rout! The winter was almost over. . . .

It was very late at night. . . . I must have been having a nightmare because suddenly you and Daddy were at my bed, shaking me. . . . I quickly glanced towards the radiator to see if it was covered. . . .

It wasn’t! It glittered and towered in the moonlight like some . . . gigantic Viennese pastry! You followed my gaze and saw it. Mummy screamed . . . “WHAT HAVE YOU GOT IN HERE? . . .

MAGS, WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING?” . . . She crept forward and touched it, and then jumped back. “IT’S FOOD!” she cried. . . “IT’S ALL THE FOOD SHE’S BEEN SPITTING OUT!

OH, GARDNER, IT’S A MOUNTAIN OF ROTTING GARBAGE!” Of course in a sense you were right. It was a monument of my castoff dinners, only I hadn’t built it with food. . . .

I found my own materials. I was languishing with hunger, but oh, dear Mother . . . I FOUND MY OWN MATERIALS . . . !

Read the play here

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