by D.S. Ingram
A dream in which a woman meets the adult version of her unborn child.
| Michelle’s Daughter
Characters: Michelle - Quick, mild sophisticate confused by the beauty of it all.
Lovely - A vision of elegance and understanding, once seen never
Additional Characters: A man whose love for Michelle has died out.
A man who happens along the path of our heroines.
An actor whose skill is unsurpassed.
An actress who causes any stage to glow.
Scene 1 ----------------------------------------------------
**From behind we see two women, seated high above most, taking in a play wherein the actors are at times boisterous and at others gentle. The playhouse is dark, lit dimly on either wall by deep orange phantom flames. All audience members sit rapt, thoroughly taken by the subject. The play continues…..**
Actor: …… is not to be understood until the very thing strikes deeply the heart, most vital and unlikely organ to be chosen among all. Oh! Why does it now yearn for that which is denied!? Better this all consuming passion to strike the mind, which at the very least would comprehend the bleakness of its striving!
Actress: (moving to embrace Actor) Come lay your cares upon me so I may share with you in your hour of trial. The disobedience of your heart is known well to me, most wretched of pleasures that fills my hours with laughter and tears at once. Do not discuss this with your mind, but rather with your most trusted of friends. Long have been the years we have spent together and great the love shared.
Actor: Would that my heart might learn to follow more faithfully the will of my thoughts. She is in my mind a necessity, as finding a hearth by which to sleep or bread to fill my appetite. To hear her voice so clearly is to know angel song, while I could gladly spend eternity gazing in her deep, ever pure eyes.
The two ladies have not as yet looked at each other, until…..
Lovely: (sighs contentedly, looking to Michelle) This is my favorite part! Oh isn’t it wonderful!?
Michelle: excuse me?
Lovely: Watch! This is where she finally confesses her undying love!
Michelle: Not fair! You’re giving it away!
Lovely: (grabbing her arm) You simply must watch! If only one thing catches your attention, let it be this!
Michelle: (gently pulling away) You’re quite enthused… So you’ve seen this more than once then?
Lovely: I came on opening night, and haven’t missed a performance yet! Watch, watch!
Actress: …but how could I bring myself to tell you!? All of my life your love has been freely given, and to be wrecked by admissions of gently veiled longings would be found simply intolerable by my faltering heart.
Actor: Sweet passion of my mind, do not fail me now! Alas, all of my days I have been blind! Spending my youth with such a vision of beauty I wasted what time could have been spent in your embrace! Long ago I resigned myself to chasing after whichever nymph seemingly could not be grasped, while each night spent itself with the most lovely of angels. Kiss me, that I may be forgiven and waste not another moment!
Lovely: Magnificent! Doesn’t it just melt your heart!?
Michelle: Honestly I’ve seen more exciting scenes in..
Lovely: Oh I’m sure you have not! The fate of the entire world rests upon this scene! Hands and hearts unite as destiny unfolds in its most familiar form!
Michelle: That‘s from “A Ladies’ Kiss”. You saw that one?
Lovely: I wouldn’t miss it!
Michelle: Anything with a bit of passion and love and we’re supposed to be glued to our seats…
Lovely: Was there ever a more appropriate topic to be held in such esteem?
Michelle: Well, I don’t suppose it’s any different than..
Lovely: Oh but that’s the very issue at stake! Love! Deepest love that binds the world together and caresses each lonely mind in turn is too often placed in our esteem among the most mundane of feelings. When a lover speaks, each word is a soliloquy, and the subject is that which underlies existence!
Michelle: (laughing) And you got all that from watching this play 5 times?
Lovely: Silly, the playwright shares my heart. Even Though I’ve never met him, his characters are the voices of my very soul! Have you ever had your exact thoughts spoken to you before you’ve revealed them to anyone?
Michelle: I can’t say that I have…
Lovely: I recommend it. Anyway I love your hair! My name is Lovely, and you are?
Michelle: Michelle. Are you always this forward?
Lovely: Forward? hhmm, I’m not sure what you mean by that, but I do love to talk with people who look like they’re worth talking to!
Michelle: (amused) I strike you as interesting then?
Lovely: you look like you have a lot on your mind.
Michelle: Well, I… I don’t know if… Never mind.
Both women return their attention to the play for a while, until…
Michelle: …You know, it’s not that I have a lot on my mind, there’s just a few things I really need to think about. I hope it doesn’t show so obviously on my face?
Lovely: No, no, you hide it well. I have a way with this sort of thing is all. Having a problem at work maybe?
Michelle: No, nothing like that. I’ve been doing freelance work for a few newspapers around the bay area. I doubt you’ve read any of my work, unless corporate embezzlement and industry leader mergers interest you.
Lovely: Oh how cool! And where does our successful news lady call home?
Michelle: On the east side of San Francisco, I have an apartment that I cant seem to move out of. I never liked moving anyway so it’s nice.
Lovely: Nice home, great job, you must have love problems!
Michelle: Love…. I never had much time for it after moving here. You seem to have pretty strong opinions on it though.
Lovely: Well gee, I mean, love is the meaning of life! It’s the unanswerable question, the cosmic joke! It’s what makes life worth living! Why, without love we would be left with nothing but pain and hopelessness!
Michelle: What of those who would argue that love necessitates hate? That passion itself is the guiding factor of our psyche, and that love and hate are not far apart on that continuum, ever enmeshed in the instability of human emotion?
Lovely: (sighs, smiling) Exactly!
Michelle: (laughing now) You agree!? Then would you name hate as important as love?
Lovely: Think of it…… Passion in any form is what makes us who we are! It moves the world to our will and brings heaven against us. Passion pulls every fiber of our being to achieve what we will with who we will, whether it be to have someone in our arms or at the end of a gun barrel!
Michelle: Well I….
Lovely: It’s what separates us from anything else. When a tree grows, it has no passion. When a family of monkeys gathers to eat, there’s no passion, it’s like watching intelligent machines perform an often rehearsed dance! But when a person loves someone…something… or hates it even… You can see something different in their eyes… something invisible driving them as far as the end of the world to satisfy its desire.
Lovely: Oh watch, watch!! (she turns her head and sits rapt, stunned, Michelle turns to the play as well after some time)
The play no longer keeps Michelle’s attention. The conversation has her mind wringing itself around the past. As time passes she begins to daydream of troubling recent days…….
Scene 2 ------------------------------------------------------------
A modest home. The scene is annoyingly bright. Michelle and a man converse heatedly…
Michelle: I really don’t want to talk about this anymore. Can we please not talk about this?
Man: No, we have to! You can’t run from an obligation like that!
Michelle: I just wish you were a little nicer about things is all…
Man: Nicer!? What are you talking about !?
Michelle: You know exactly what I’m talking about right now! You’re not willing to work with me at all, everything has to be the way you want it, just like always!
Man: I just don’t see where you’re coming from on this! There’s no way they’re granting you custody.
Michelle: That’s how it always goes! Just look at my mom and dad, or yours! In California girls always win this kind of thing, everyone knows that.
Man: Look……. I don’t care what the state says! I’m the father, a boy needs to be raised by his father! If you think you’re gonna raise MY boy as a sissy then..
Michelle: What are you talking about, we don’t even know if it’s a boy!!
Man: I know. I just know about these kind of things.
Michelle: Oh ok, sure… And there’s no way anyone would grant custody to you..
Man: Ha! And just why is that?
Michelle: A judge isn’t going to grant custody to a cheater.
Man: Oh my God can we just leave that in the past!! I did this you did that bla bla bla. None of that matters anymore. What matters is what’s best for the kid!
Michelle: And you think raising him around all of your stupid drunk friends in your smoky house is good for him!? With your parties all night and your stupid dog and your stupid motorcycle that you’ll probably drive him around in and your stupid .44 that you probably keep loaded!?
Man: Like you’re any different!
Michelle: I’ve already changed my entire life to make sure this baby comes out perfectly healthy! I care about my child more than anything else in the entire world. What have you stopped doing since I became pregnant!? Nothing?
Man: That’s not the point! How are you going to take care of him? Huh? I have the house, the car, the job, everything a judge wants to see. Are you going to tell him you can rely on your parents to help for the next 18 years?
Michelle: I have a car…..
Man: You’re still not seeing the point… I’m trying to be rational here..
Michelle: No you’re trying to be a major creep, and it’s working.
Man: Right… You’re not even listening, as usual! Just never mind! let’s not talk about this right now.
Michelle: Oh no! Go ahead, let’s hear another lecture-long load of listless lies!
Man: Forget it! I said forget it, never mind, like I said, it’s not like you’re listening anyway.
As she leaves she slams the door. Her phone rings as she walks to her car, and she picks up.
Michelle: Hello?… Oh, hi!… yeah, I’m just leaving right now… No… No, of course not! Talking to him is like talking to a wall, or my dad. …I know, what a jerk!… …Thanks… Okay I will, thanks, see you.
Stepping into her car, she begins to sob herself home as the flashback ends…..
Scene 3 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
The two women walk slowly in a very large observatory at night. Many of the curved walls are glass, revealing a placid ocean view. People can be seen walking hand in hand on the beach, and the sounds of a fight can be heard so slightly in the distance. The ladies take many pauses in the dialogue at the actress’s discretion, and during each pause Lovely hums parts of a song.
Michelle: Wow…. I cant believe I’ve never come here before. I’ve got to say this is the nicest view I’ve seen in a long time.
Lovely: Yeah! I knew you would enjoy it!
Michelle: How did you find out about this place?
Lovely: I come here all the time, my mommy used to bring me here! They call it lovers’ cove… but sometimes you have to watch out for gang problems.
Michelle looks worriedly in the direction of the sounds
Michelle: um.. Is it safe? Should we…
Lovely: (laughing) no, no we’ll be alright! I wont let anything happen to you!
Michelle: (Laughing) I’m sure you won’t. I feel safe now thank you.
Both women laugh pleasantly
Michelle: Oh.. Nothing, I was just thinking about something.
Lovely: You’re still not going to tell me what’s bothering you?
Lovely: It will help, you know. It’s always better to confide in someone rather than torturing yourself over something.
Michelle: yes, you’re right… I don’t know… This isn’t a problem I can share with someone… It’s…
Lovely: It’s okay, don’t worry. You don’t have to say anything if you don’t want to.
As they approach a large telescope in the center of the room….
Lovely: Have you ever looked into one of these?
Michelle: No, but I’ve always wanted to! Let’s see….. Oh its perfectly in focus!!…… wow, this is amazing!
Lovely: (sighs) Yeah. There’s nothing more beautiful. They can take all of your fears away you know.
Lovely: The stars. (she smiles contentedly) They’ll tell you who you really are, and when you hear them, you won’t be afraid of anything anymore.
A man, as yet unnoticed, quietly steps up beside them at the telescope…
Man: I’ve seldom heard a lady speak so true.
Lovely: (startled) I’m sorry, I didn’t know we had company!
Man: Pardon me miss, but I couldn’t resist the strongest urge to walk towards this spot, and upon arrival I heard an angel’s voice speaking the truths of heaven.
Lovely: Flattery will get you everywhere my dear sir!
Michelle: …Two of a kind…
Lovely: My friend Michelle thinks us a bit “forward”.
Man: Well… all the better to meet you with my dear.
Lovely: That’s what I said!
Michelle laughs, astonished.
Man: Lovely, isn’t it?
Lovely: Why yes! But I don’t remember meeting you before…
Man: I should hope not. I believe this is the first time we’ve met, I wouldn’t forget two faces as striking as yours.
Lovely: A true gentleman after all! But you knew my name!
Man: (laughing) I was talking about the view. Astonishing, no? Your name is Lovely?
Man: How appropriate… I should have known.
Lovely: And you are…?
Man: Oh, just trying to figure it all out is all…Anyway good luck!
As quietly as he approached, the man slowly ambles off thoughtfully into a distant corner of the observatory’s grand hallway.
Michelle: Good luck? What a strange person. Do you run across many people like him around here?
Lovely: As often as not, but that’s neither here nor there. I think he was on to something…
Michelle: Uh oh… you’re joking?
Lovely: No really! I mean, have you ever thought about what it all really means? You know, everything we’re doing, everything that’s so important to us. Compared to this (she raises her hand skyward), what does it all mean? It’s humbling.
Michelle: I‘ve heard that before, you’re starting to sound like a Buddhist professor I had for a few years when I thought I wanted a minor in philosophy. He was the best teacher in the world now that I think about it…
Lovely: Space is so peaceful. But it really puts things into perspective, don’t you think? I mean, everything we think is so important around us: politics, work, love, society, all of it is nothing compared to this. Atoms make up matter, and matter makes up everything, and this is the meaning of life! It’s so good to be alive, simply for the sake of being alive.
Michelle: (laughing) I thought passion was the meaning of life? Now you tell me passion is nothing and the stars hold the truth. Its hard to keep up with you!
Lovely: I get that a lot. But its true don’t you think?
Michelle: Hmm? Which one?
Lovely: Both! From different points of view I guess. Maybe the truth you see through the telescope is the true reality, but the meaning of life is to forget and believe in passion in whatever form it strikes you!
Michelle: It’s just like in that play, where he says “lost in a flash is all we hold dear, true weight and quality being shown under the test of time, life fades away…”
Lovely: “..Into what can be seen on the other side, truth revealed only too late as the joke unfolds before our eyes”. I love that one!
Michelle: I always wanted to float out into space when I would watch for shooting stars with my sister back home. I imagine it would be like the calmest ocean…
Lovely: Maybe one day you will get to see the stars! I know I will.
Michelle: You’re going to be an astronaut?
Lovely: I don’t know about all that, but I’m sure there will be another way to visit a star, in this life or the next. I can wait as long as it takes, but one day I’ll be there.
Michelle: (taken aback, laughing) You have to be the most interesting person I’ve met for longer than I can remember. Does anyone ever figure you out?
Lovely: Occasionally… Oh, can I have a look!?
The women change places at the telescope. Lovely slowly changes the pitch and position to find a star she’s memorized.
Lovely: You have that look on your face again! Something is still troubling you, don’t you want to tell me?
Michelle: …Well it’s just a…I don’t know… Have you ever felt like the weight of the whole world is balancing on one decision?
Lovely: …As if the wrong decision will cause the world to fall onto your shoulders…
Michelle: Yeah. I just don’t feel strong enough for what I have to decide. But I want it to be the right decision for me, too. I can’t ask for anyone’s help with this problem… Any problem in the world, but not this one…
Michelle: You seem so level headed. I bet you could fix my situation in a heartbeat if it happened to you. But I… just don’t…feel strong enough.
Lovely: Any strength I have comes from my mother. She was the smartest lady you could ever meet! And she always knew what to do. Always knew what was right. I learned a lot from her, you know. I couldn’t have asked for a better mom.
Michelle: Oh that’s so sweet! Now that I think of it, my mom was probably one of the best on earth too…
Lovely: (smiling again) We’re just two lucky ladies, aren’t we!?
Michelle: (unable to resist smiling as well) Yeah. I guess we are…
Scene 4 ---------------------------------------------------------
Abruptly Michelle finds herself amidst many graves, whose stones are as elaborate as the minds that necessitated and created them. This entire scene is utterly silent ; not even the actresses footsteps can be heard. The scene is to be beautiful, not ‘spooky’. Its trees are large and lively, and a bright sunset stretches across the entire scene.
Michelle: A lot of these graves over here are for those poor people who were killed when that bomb went off in the Sykes building a few years ago, do you remember that?
Lovely: I remember hearing about it from my family. How awful.
Michelle: It was… I was here at the ceremony. It was so sad, I could hardly contain myself. I haven’t been back here since, but it still looks the same as it did on that day… I was there when it happened, too… I saw the man who… saw him get shot by all of those police… it was so awful. I was on the news and everything, but I couldn’t watch it… They might not have even put me on the news, I was so hysterical when I was talking to them.
Lovely: Oh my god! How horrible. I don’t think I would ever forget seeing something like that for my entire life.
Michelle: I know what you mean. I can still see it like it was yesterday.
Lovely: I just don’t understand it..
Michelle: What’s that?
Lovely: I cant understand why we kill each other. Why we’ve been killing each other for as long as we’ve existed…
Michelle: What? I’ve never killed anyone!
Lovely: I meant all of us! Just people in general. (laughing) Someone has a guilty conscience!
Lovely: It‘s everywhere, behind thick walls, above dark streets, in mansions, in our safe suburbs. Wherever there is human life you can find mortal struggle in countless forms. It’s a part of who we are I guess, engrained in our psyche, our evolutionary instincts, our sinful nature… but I just don’t feel it inside me. I just can’t bring myself to understand.
Michelle:… Do you think there are certain times when taking someone’s life might be justifiable?
Lovely: Absolutely not!!
Michelle: Wow, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you…
Lovely: No, it’s ok…
There is a long pause, the first awkward moment shared between the characters.
Lovely: Well… I suppose maybe…Like if someone were threatening your life, I guess it would be alright to end theirs to save yours. But I really can’t think of any other reason.
Michelle: What about capital punishment?
Lovely: Yeah right! That’s the very voice of insanity. How could any sane person follow such twisted logic?
Michelle: Twisted logic?
Lovely: Do you think if someone has committed murder, and then you yourself commit murder, that justice is somehow miraculously served? When a murder is committed a killer is created, but when an execution is carried out many more people become answerable for that worst of sins. And the scary part is that everyone gets away with it except the first guy…
Michelle: Yeah, I agree with you on that. I never really thought of it that way, but it makes perfect sense!
Lovely: And I don’t think it’s excusable in the pursuit of greatness either…
Michelle: Excuse me? In the pursuit of greatness?
Lovely: Murderer is a term that is only used up to a certain point. I think once you’ve killed at least 100,000 people, the term becomes “Great” or “Hero“.
Michelle: I’m not sure I follow you…
Lovely: Hmmm…. Have you ever heard of Alexander of Macedon?
Michelle: No, who is that?
Lovely: He lived along time ago. He went down in history as a great genius, and the ruler of the Persian empire.
Michelle: Oh! You mean Alexander the Great!
Lovely: Exactly! He is a perfect example of what I mean. To make a long story very short, Alexander wanted to control as many people as possible to obtain as much wealth as possible. So he would offer peaceful people the choice to serve him completely or be slaughtered. By the time he conquered the Persians, he had long passed the ‘responsibility for 100,000 deaths’ qualification, and earned the right to be remembered forever as “the Great”. And I don’t think any one of those deaths was excusable or forgivable, and that goes for more rulers and politicians than I would ever dare to count as well.
Michelle: Wow… I really had no idea… But I don’t know about the “Hero” part..
Lovely: Well, don’t you think the pioneers of our country are heroes? The pilgrims, and all of the original settlers who fought for freedom against oppression and gave us the homes we can enjoy today?
Michelle: Yeah! Of course, I mean , people like that are heroes…But…
Lovely: But when they arrived here, the country was completely full. An entire tribal nation was established here. A culture complete with deep rooted traditions and beliefs, who treated every living thing with the utmost respect and reverence; a people who loved, hated, raised children, waged wars, just like we do today. The question is…. Where are these people now? We can enjoy our warm homes today because our heroes dragged them, man woman and child, dead or alive, from theirs…. Our land was provided by slaughter and our independence gained by war, and everyone who participated is a hero…
Michelle: I think I’m going to be sick.
Another pause, this time not at all awkward
Lovely: What about me? Would you ever kill me?
Michelle: of course not!! That’s simply crazy, of course I.. Why would I ever kill you!?
Lovely: even if I never did anything wrong to you at all?
Michelle: What are you talking about? Please…
Lovely: So I have your promise…
Michelle: Can you please not talk like that?.. The whole thing is making my stomach upset.. I said I would never.. I could never..
Lovely: You’ve got that look again, don’t be sad. Is this about what’s been bothering you all this time?
Michelle: I… well yes…
Lovely: It will be alright. Please tell me, you’ll feel so much better if you tell someone all about it!
Michelle: Thank you… It‘s just…what if….
Lovely: You can tell me. You can tell me anything in the world right now.
Michelle: What if you knew that if you ended someone’s life… that you would be making things much better for them? I mean… If you knew that they would be taken from someone who loves them and given to someone who doesn’t know how to love… someone who treats people so badly… what if…
Lovely: Are you still talking about ending someone’s life? Or preventing it?
They stare into each other’s eyes for a few moments. Michelle is unable to utter a sound, though she tries. For the very first time Lovely is not smiling. Her voice falters as she softly speaks her last line, their gaze never broken.
The playhouse from scene one. Michelle slightly jumps as she wakes from what she believes to be a dream. The women are in the same places as in scene 1.
Michelle: Oh!… Oh my, I’m sorry, was I sleeping?
Lovely: (laughing) Only a little. And you’ve missed the best part!
Michelle: I thought you said the best part was when..
Lovely: Oh yeah, yeah, that one was great too! I can’t figure which part really is the best I suppose.
Lovely: Yes my dear sleepy head?
Michelle: Did you mean all the things you were saying back there? I mean, in the observatory, and in the..
Lovely: You mean in your dream?
Michelle: It couldn’t have been a dream… It was so real… I’m sorry, I…
Lovely: No, it’s alright. (laughing) Of course I meant it. Every word. Why wouldn’t I?
Michelle: So it WAS real! And we were really in all those places?
Lovely: Yes and no, but again that’s neither here nor there.
Michelle: I’ve just never met anyone who ever talks the way you do, about the things you do… I always thought of people as mostly boring, predominantly similar in most respects. But the way you see the world…
Lovely: Oh I’m not really anything special. There’s no telling what kind of people you may meet out there, as long as you keep your mind and your heart open.
Michelle: Thank you. I really should thank you.
Lovely: For what? You’re so silly Michelle! But I am very glad I was able to take your mind off of what’s been troubling you.
Lovely: Are you feeling a little better now?
Michelle: Why yes! I’ve made up my mind, and I just know everything is going to turn out wonderfully. I feel so free. So light and happy like I haven’t felt in forever!
Lovely: I knew you would! That’s great! All you needed was a little attention after all.
Michelle: (laughing) I guess so!
The curtain draws as the actors in the playhouse bow to thunderous applause.
Lovely: Aww, It’s over…again.
A bedroom. Pristinely clean and tastefully decorated; the polar opposite of the room in scene 2. The ringing telephone wakes michelle, and she eventually picks it up.
Secretary: Hello miss Hepburn, this is Diana calling from Dr. Bernstein’s office.
Michelle: Oh Hello!
Secretary: I’m sorry, did I wake you?
Michelle: Oh…No, not really. I was having the strangest dream, and I..
Michelle: Well I was talking to one of the nicest people ever. Not like anyone you could ever meet in real life…
Secretary: (she laughs) I don’t know, I get to meet a lot of nice people around here.
Michelle: People can be so unique… I guess I never thought about it before.
Secretary: Wow, what kind of dream was this? (she laughs more) If by unique you mean peculiar then I’ll definitely have to agree.
Michelle: And I felt like I knew her somehow. You know how sometimes you know what is happening in a dream even if it’s not really what you’re seeing?
Secretary: Yeah… Once in a dream I was talking to a cow, but I kept calling it aunt molly!
They both laugh. After a moment the secretary begins in a serious tone.
Secretary: So miss Hepburn… The reason I’m calling this morning is that the doctor wanted to see if you have made your decision concerning the…
Michelle: Oh yes! After last night there is only one decision I can make. I’m going to have her, and I’m going to keep her. I’ve already picked out a name and everything!
Secretary: Oh that’s wonderful! So you and the father have worked things out?
Michelle: Well… not really. But it doesn’t matter anymore. Everything will be okay, no matter what I have to do. There’s nothing in the world that can stop me from bringing my baby into the world now.
Secretary: You sound totally different.
Michelle: Last night I realized just how unique a mind can be, and I don’t think anyone should be able to prevent someone from reaching their full potential. What if my baby invents a cure for cancer? What if she leads a revolution!? Every cure that has ever been invented was created by babies who were allowed to grow to their full potential. And it was because of mothers like me, like I will be, who chose to let that happen by bringing them into the world and doing everything they could to raise them well.
Secretary: You said you’ve already picked out a name?
Michelle: Oh yes, definitely, although I can’t remember where I’ve heard the name before… I can feel that it’s going to be a girl, and I’m going to name her Lovely!