INT. HOUSE— BEDROOM— AFTERNOON.
WE OPEN on THE BODY, which is laying in an amalgamation of blankets on the messy floor. The carpet is white and dirty. There’s an assortment of objects around that suggest creative hobbies to the viewer— a bass guitar, tubes of paint and markers, journals, etc. The curtains are drawn so the room is in near perfect darkness. THE BODY is wearing only a black bodysuit and has its dark hair parted neatly to the side. Staring intently at the ceiling, THE BODY squints like it's trying not to think.
THE BODY: (Narrating) I am curious to know why we are here. I know why I’m here, in all senses of the word— I’m in my bedroom because it’s safe and easy, I’m behind in school because I was too lazy to do the work, and I’ve built this sort of phone line to you because I have problems I can’t tell anyone and because I have nothing better to do. I’m mostly okay, you know. There can be more than one ‘mostly’ and they overlap like three dimensional Venn diagrams. It does not answer my question, though. I know why I am here. Why are you here?
Pause. THE BODY reaches for a water bottle and, finding it empty, places it back down and inspects the hand and wrist that moved it.
THE BODY: (Narrating) We all like to watch the dancers. We all like to watch the parade of pretty horses. I am an unnatural and hostile force, writing to impose my views upon you, but you could easily leave. Why are you here? Have I managed to be entertaining? A day is a badly syncopated waltz, one that slides and bleeds into the other notes. One. Two, three; onetwo, three— move, leave my room, go back, do it again and again until it’s embedded in me like a dance. Balancé, balancé, across the floor over and over, across the tiny infinity. Again. Again. Open the ribs and do it again. I press my face up against the window to watch the world outside pass me by and look at how my breath forms laughing coils on the glass. I’ve been glass this week. The dance starts again. I would ask you if you were tired of listening to me spin in circles, but you wouldn’t keep opening my music box if you were. Around we go. Ain’t I a pretty little piece of plastic?
THE BODY lets out a long breath, like a laugh it didn’t have the energy to push out. With the stiffness of something rusted, THE BODY puts on a pair of shorts and an oversized moss green fleece, then carries itself out of the BEDROOM, through the HALLWAY and down the STAIRWAY into the KITCHEN.
THE BODY: (Narrating) In this sense I suppose I have gears, little metal pieces that live inside me so I can twirl to the music. A little brass figurine that thinks about Kathy Acker and that pop song where a beautiful mezzo soprano says her life is a play over and over again. You know, I have to take Blood and Guts in High School in small doses because I know Janey uncomfortably well. Her life is a play, too. C’est la vie, I suppose, for all the sounding-brass girls out there. The kitchen is empty of brass until it isn’t and from there it gets even less empty.
ENTER: MOTHER from LIVING ROOM
MOTHER: I’ve stocked up on frozen fruit and pizzas, ground meat too, please eat something already made before you take something out of the freezer.
DAUGHTER: (Does not say “I know”) (Compactly) Are you leaving again?
MOTHER: No. I’ll be busy for the next few weeks, though.
MOTHER: Take off your sunglasses, honey.
DAUGHTER: No thank you. I have a migraine.
MOTHER: And you’ve taken painkillers? How many? Allergy pills? You know all that medication isn’t good for your liver.
DAUGHTER: Naproxen. And I know.
MOTHER: Liver disease is genetic for you, ‘cuz your dad gave you all that Native blood. And the mold.
DAUGHTER: I know.
MOTHER: Don’t say “I know” to me.
MOTHER: No more pills without asking me.
DAUGHTER: (Silent as God)
MOTHER: (Heavily, heavily)
EXIT: MOTHER into the LIVING ROOM
THE BODY: (Narrating) “Am I my brother’s keeper?” asks the brother killer. Sounding brass is hollow and it rings long, a sustained note like silk in the wind. Brandi from the trailer park called it fool’s gold before she learned that she’d been fooled. Round and round goes the brass dancer.
THE BODY goes back upstairs with a newly refilled water bottle and a bowl of frozen blueberries. Before it sits down, it methodically cracks each individual joint— first the toes, then ankles, then hips, then spine and neck and finally fingers. It removes the sunglasses and, after putting the food and water down, bows with a flourish.
THE BODY: (Narrating) I present you with the story of how I ran away when I was 7 years old: a small and blonde child intentionally got into someone else’s van in a display of confidence. I told them my parents said it was fine and that was a lie, but they didn’t notice and they didn’t mind, so I left the campsite in central Oregon with them. We got all the way to Arcata, California before my parents noticed I was missing. In 2012 everyone had phones, so the problem was easy to solve— they called everyone that had left that day, found the couple I had left with, and then told me to have fun, come back soon, and to not forget to eat my vegetables.
A pause— THE BODY holds itself in a form of stillness, and the room around it conforms to that stillness.
THE BODY: (Singing) In Heaven, everything is fine. In Heaven, everything is fine. In Heaven, everything is fine. You got your good thing and I got mine.
Like a puppet with cut strings, THE BODY folds to the ground, back to the pile of blankets.
THE BODY: (Narrating) I present you with the story of how I briefly lived with two twenty-somethings and inadvertently convinced them to have a child. I can’t even call it running away because my parents agreed to it once they knew where I was. I present you with the story of trying to start a fight to only be met with pacifism.
Sometimes you need to get hit in the face, though, so you do it to yourself, which means that everyone will promptly do everything in their power to make sure you can never hit anything again. Doesn’t matter if you’re trying to defend yourself— no reasoning can happen, no argument can be argued. They’re just gonna declaw you. And all along, it wasn’t your fault. No one ever taught you that there’s something outside the dichotomy of violence initiated and violence rejected. No one ever taught you that there can be an absence of pain.
THE BODY’s lips are pursed so it can chew the skin off the inside of its mouth easier. Eyelids go up and down like elevators.
THE BODY: Now, that’s just not right.
THE BODY claps five times and bolts upright.
CHILD: Why does it hurt?
CHILD: Why does it hurt?
GOD: [it] [hurt][s] [it] [does]
CHILD: (Pause) The most inner part, entirely free of disease. On chemical greens.
GOD: [The] [hurt] [i][s] [in][t][er][n][al].
CHILD: But what creates it? Why is it there?
CHILD: Unilateral slices across my human heart. Veritas, aequitas.
GOD: [y][o][u] [do] [it] [t][o] [y][o][ur][se][l][ve][s] [b][e][c][a][u][se] [y][o][u] [m][u][s][t]. [qui][e][t][l][y]. [qui][e][t][l][y].
GODFULL: Why do we need it?
GODLESS: [human][it][y] [w][a][s] [f][o][r][g][e][d] [n][o][t] [create][d]. [a] [ma][t][t][er] [o][f] [er][os][i][on].
THE BODY is quiet. Once again, it forms itself into stillness, this time with its head bent at a 90 degree angle, parallel to its shoulder. It rotates the neck to look up, but is ultimately stopped by its own bodily limitations.
THE BODY: (Narrating) Tragedies abound. Lo and behold, it is the story of Ahab and his whale told anew— I punch to break the mask on everything. Allegory of the cave… allegory of the dark bedroom… allegory of the glass window that is made of me. Ultimately I am doomed to be human, to shit and die. This is just the case. An angel could come through the roof, the Angel of America that visits all the sick prophets, and fate would not waver. This angel could shatter the infrastructure of the house and yet I would still be insufferably human. Humanity is of less consequence to me than the shitting and dying, which I suppose is even sadder because more things than humans shit and die. When the angels come for me I will be human and when they are done with me I will be meat. Qué será, será. Even the worms can walk it off.
(Laughs long and bright)
Consequences! I know nothing about consequences. So they take away my things to teach me a lesson— good! I think nothing of things anyways, and it makes no difference to me. I want to be hit. I want to face a real consequence. My hobbies are vapid and vain; my hobbies are false and useless. Don’t nobody know my troubles but God…
THE BODY crosses its arms and lets out a sigh. In the HALLWAY, the dog is breathing with little huffs of air. Puppy dreams.
THE BODY: (Outloud, to itself) I am so far behind in school that the district has issued a warning and given me sources to get a GED instead of graduating, and I’m not worried.
(Narrating) I feel nothing for everything. Yada yada yada, blah blah blah, boo fucking hoo. You dug yourself this grave and for what. Agency? To prove that it’s your life and you’ll ruin it if you want to? All that future is going right down the drain, but then look at that! At least you proved everyone wrong.
(Outloud) Bravo, kid. That’s just fuckin’ sad.
THE BODY falls silent for a long period of time, laying on the floor, face turned towards the covered window. The room slowly descends into complete darkness as the sun sets.
THE BODY: (Narrating) I had a music box once. When I was a child. Not one of the little ones that just have a hand crank— a big one that I put all my little treasures in. One that had a white horse on a spring, a horse that would spin to an old Irish folk song that someone used to sing me to sleep with. There was no color on it, just black and white, except for the eyes— the red eyes that had once been brown. Fire eyes. Like the mustang statue outside the Denver airport. The hot coals…
(Outloud) I think I have a fever again. I can— I can feel the fire. Oh God. Oh, Joan.
i have so many thoughts i don't even know where to start so i'll just say this--i have don't know where you get your ideas or your talent but this is so gorgeous & i have not idea what half of it means but it's fucking brilliant anyway. i love how it's a script but the poetry of the directions hint that it's meant to be read in order to be understood. i seriously can't believe that this is on substack & not in a bestselling poetry collection. wonderful, wonderful! WHCU (white horse cinematic universe) for the win! <333
Holly I’d invent a new Pulitzer Prize special for you