(A woman dressed in black business clothes, with a white rose bracelet, stands stiffly next to her living room window. She is slowly peeling back the curtains a little bit, looking nervous. On the walls are feminist posters and a self- help leaflet about protecting yourself from danger and defensive strategies)
I went to the town centre today. It was supposed to make me feel good, strong, I guess. But I didn’t.
(Pause. She has a brief look at the posters on the walls, looking thoughtful)
How could I? I’ve always been weak. (Sigh) Everything was exactly the same. (Sigh) Anyway, all the noise and all the busy crowds made me feel… uncomfortable. The people didn’t make things any easier, they were exactly the same. Boys showing off with coarse language and girls hanging stupidly on theirs arms. To think (Pause) I used to be one of them, thinking that they were special and would love and respect me. (Deep sigh) The folly of youth isn’t endearing to watch- too many memories- but I had to for my recovery.
Jennifer, who wishes that I call her Jenny, said that she was proud of me. I don’t know why. I didn’t feel proud of myself. I never do. I’m a weak person.
(Pause. She slowly and carefully plays with a button on her shirt, her eyes looking focused)
I felt like I’d been waiting for this to happen, to go outside. But I expected to feel good. Better. Maybe even have Pasta Puttanesca with Red Wine- I’d love to say I could have a sophisticated dish, like Caviar, but that is an acquired taste that I haven’t acquired, despite many attempts- although it could work with Champagne. Of course, I knew that was a big maybe as I was having sleepless nights over it. Anyway, I didn’t expect to question the logic behind my hard work- lots of hard work, Jennifer, Jenny- whatever- pushing me to talk about my reasons, not knowing how it tears me to pieces and then she gave up in despair and made me start a diary, even though I’ve never been able m to write it down without wanting to cry and ripping the paper apart to make it seem less real- (Deep breath, she taps her knee a couple of times) my decisions and to end up regretting it, like I regret a lot of things. Memories are hard. So hard. Especially about my sister. Half- sister.
(Sat down, firmly tucked in and straight)
I’m older and much more tired than I used to be. But that’s good. Wisdom is good. It makes you stronger to lose your innocence- even if you end up sobbing at night sometimes- and to be wary and nervous.
(Sigh. She tucks a piece of hair behind her ear)
They say that we’re the weaker sex, but we put up more than they do. Maybe that’s why we’re weaker, we put up with it. Gullible people, we are. (Sigh) But that’s a stupid assumption, I know. Some of us are like them- like my half-sister… taking advantage.
(Deep breath. She closes her eyes for a couple of seconds)
I was always wary of boys. Not cynical- well, a little, but mostly nervous. Well, I was nervous of everyone. Is it any wonder after what my sister – half- sister- did?
I was never pretty, not like the others. My Dad said that I was too much of a book smart girl – well, I wanted to hide away and then be able to be a big shot in a different country, anyway away from her- it made me look cold. My Mum didn’t disagree. She never did. (Sigh) So when one day, my Richard, showed an interest, I felt relieved. I didn’t have to die alone and be left that way. I had someone to trust, to make me feel good. Strong.
(Pause. Her hands clench in a non -aggressive manner, and then relax)
He seemed so special. Cute, as well. (Pause) How did I get him? Why did he want me? (Sigh) Deep down I suspected, well, I must have done, ever since… well, I was still full of doubt, but it was so nice to put my head under the sand. I felt the need to show my gratitude to him, for rescuing me and making me feel worthy.
(Pause. Her lips widen slightly, as if in a small smile)
We were strong and moving fast. Sometimes too fast. Especially about… that (dismissive hand gesture) I’d always been old fashioned, waiting for marriage- if ever, I’d been put off for life by- (deep breath) He was so sweet, so gentle, that I-
He wasn’t special. None of them are. That was the only think I was good for, to them. That’s how they thought. I was a piece of meat to my parents; as long as I got married and had grandchildren they were happy. They’re not happy now, because I ruined their plan. Everybody has so many restrictions, so many expectations that I turned away. I’m hidden away… safe.
So many years of being trapped at home, unable to go outside without fear or fainting. Yes, I was alone and sad- but I got used to it, and I could have bought a pet, yes, a poodle, or maybe a Labrador- but in my own bubble. Nobody else’s, my own. (Sigh. She cradles her hand) I was so happy to be away from my weird half- sister, who was never brought to justice. I tried so hard, I wanted to take back some of the security she had taken from me, as well as my youth, but nobody believed me. Well, nobody ever hears of that abuse happening, especially from your older sister- half- sister, it’s bad enough that I’m tainted by half her blood and the vile memories, need I be fully connected?
I’m glad to be away from my bambi eyed younger sister- so many sisters, why couldn’t I be an only child? I protected her; she stayed safe and young, because of me. Did she help me? No. She was too naïve, too young- it’s lucky for some. I hate her almost as much as I hate my older sister. She’s insufferable to look at, her dreamy, happy self-
(Pause. She puts her bracelet in place)
They dragged me out of my bubble- never underestimate somebody called Jenny, no Jennifer, well, whatever her name is. Made me feel part of the real world again. I was free and strong. I loved feeling the wind and the sun and stretching my legs. But today-
Things will never change. Everything may be a lot less obvious than it used to be, but it’s there. I’m still below them, unequal in their minds. In everybody’s minds. A pushover. How foolish of me to forget? Wishful thinking. All of my wishes are out of reach; even my Pasta Puttanesca and Red Wine- don’t forget the Red Wine- one.
Although I was able to leave without fainting, my mind was not ready to return to reality. Not now. Maybe not ever. Too many scars. Too much hatred. Not just for my half- sister who I wish nothing but pain, but my baby sister- who we did baby and it caused her to be ignorant and useless- and my Mum being a pushover too, never sticking up for me. What about my Dad for never being anything other than negative? Then there are still the people who never believed me; who will always have my blood on their hands, and men in general for being dominant.
(Pause. She taps her fingers on her knees)
That’s such a long list. I wish it could be shorter, like most peoples would be. But most people haven’t had my life. Even so, is it pointless? I doubt any of them think of me. So why should I think of them? If I could just forget. But it’s hopeless.
That is the life of a desperate woman. My life. (She puts her hands on her temple and crosses her legs. The room slowly fades out to darkness)