Start Talking, continued. . .

PLAYWRIGHT
(Typing furiously.)
Good, good, good. Hang on. I need to get this down. “A job, not a passion . . .”  

PATRICIA
Give me a break.

ALEX
Wait a minute, Mom, I didn’t know that. I just think Gram is cool and you aren’t. What did you want to be when you were my age?

PATRICIA
Oh, a singer, if you must know. Singer-songwriter. I had a nice voice and I wrote some pieces that were very well received at open mics, and a local company wanted to make a tape.

JOAN
I didn’t know that.

PATRICIA
I never told you. You were always working on a book and you always had that Do Not Disturb Under Pain of Death sign on your study door.

ALEX
Gram? Really?

JOAN
Yes, Alex. It’s true. Trisha, I’m sorry. I am so sorry. It’s just that after your father left I was determined to make something of myself. I had to get the academic world to take me seriously, —to show him that folklore was every bit as important as organic chemistry. 

PLAYWRIGHT
Wait, wait, wait. . . . I can’t keep up. What did you say after the “Do not disturb” sign business?

PATRICIA
Wow. I never thought about that. You were in competition with Dad?

JOAN
Did I ever tell you why he left?

PLAYWRIGHT
No, no. Stop. Stop right there. That’s all I need to know about you right now.

PATRICIA
But. . . 

PLAYWRIGHT
No. I mean it. So. Joan came out of my undones, and I guess Patricia is, in a way, a kind of offspring of that. I am super organized and controlling, too, but for other reasons.

ALEX
What reasons?

PLAYWRIGHT
None of your business. But okay. You, Alex. I wanted a relationship with a grandmother, so I invented one. One of my grandmothers died before I was born, and the other died when I was seven and she lived in Cleveland and I only saw her three times. So I always wanted a grandmother.

RED
Wow. Did you invent Grandmother for the same reason?

PLAYWRIGHT
Probably sort of, but I think she’s a little more complicated than that. When I became a grandmother, I got to thinking that maybe the best thing a grandmother can do for the kids is be an example of someone who can do what she wants, in her own way. So, Red, your grandmother came about for that reason. She loves you dearly, and. . .

RED
Yeah, when I come over, she’s always busy at her easel and I have to wait till she’s at a good place to stop before she talks to me. 

GRANDMOTHER
(To Red.)
And you had an easel in my studio, remember? At least, in one of the drafts. Or maybe that was in the story version. Whatever happened to that, Playwright?

PLAYWRIGHT
Oh, you’re right. I’d forgotten. I think it was in the story. Better put it back in. Hang on a minute.(She types.)

JOAN
Grandmother, I’m curious. Would you rather be eaten by a wolf or the sun? Fenris, of course, eats the sun, so if you are in the sun, he’d eat both.

GRANDMOTHER
The sun itself works better for me. You see, in the first couple of pages of our play, I told Red that I was trying to find out the exact color of the sun, and one day—at least in one version— I vanished.  So Red came over as usual with that horrible bag of granola bars and yogurt from my daughter, and I wasn’t there. I think nobody, even the Playwright, knew what had happened to me. But since you ask, I’d prefer the sun. It’s simpler, and stays with the grandmother-as-artist idea better, don’t you think? The search for color?

JOAN
Maybe. But I am intrigued by the idea of introducing the Nordic myth, and, of course, the wolf who is in the original Red Riding Hood tale, but it does complicate things.

PLAYWRIGHT
Okay, okay. Enough already. Who’s next?

PATRICIA
I think that’s all of us.

PAT
Ahem.

PATRICIA
Oh, right. Playwright, what about Pat? And why, pray tell, do we have the same name? We’re hardly the same character.

PLAYWRIGHT
(Looking up, long thinking.)
Same name. Hm. Okay. As I recall, ages ago I did “The Artist’s Way” and I had to come up with five imaginary selves. And I called one of them Patricia. She was an office manager, or something like that. Very efficient. Basically you. Huh. I’d forgotten that. The subconscious is rather fascinating isn’t it? And Pat. Well, who knows? I do know a really sensible woman named Pat, but I didn’t meet her till after I started this whole story. It just suited her.

PAT
But hey. I mean, you said back there I was Hecate or whoever. I don’t know who she is.

JOAN
She’s a goddess. Witches summoned her. She was the goddess of crossroads, and magic. In the Demeter myth, she . . 

PAT
Hold your horses there. Crossroads? That’s the name of the greenhouse I own. In the novel and play both. So that’s why. But still. How come a greenhouse for, whatever, a witch’s goddess?

PLAYWRIGHT
I don’t know, Pat. I really don’t remember. Why don’t you tell me? What are you doing in my head?

PAT
Jesus. Search me. You’re in charge, right? Supposed to be anyhow.

One comment on “Start Talking, continued. . .

  1. inlandsea7@gmail.com says:

    what a great way to work out conflicts and dilemmas. Give someone the power which is so easy, ok..you…over there, you come this way. and then we all figure out how little power we have over so many things. sigh

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