Hugo Santander Ferreira
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The First Date of Norida Ocampo
 

A monologue for an actress


ACT ONE
 
Studio in a downtown apartment with an open window. Present time. There is a wardrobe, a semi-double bed, a rack and a chair facing the audience; besides it, a desk and a small library. As lights turn on, the audience discovers a faceless naked mannequin in a sofa, slightly leaned over a night table, on top of which we see an ashtray, a small ivory box and a chessboard with several pieces on the move. A hangman's noose knot hangs from the ceiling, two feet above the ground, just above the chair.

To one side of the stage we see a kitchen with a bar stool and a telephone. A cork hangs over a wall. It displays several pieces of newspapers, all attached with metal bugs. At the other end, a staircase that communicates with a terrace, from which we can see the sky and glimpses of the domes from several buildings.

We hear traffic noise and car engines.

Norida, a plump woman in her fifties, enters wearing a bathrobe and a towel on her head. She walks very thoughtful and closes the window, cutting the traffic noise.

She moves to the cupboard and opens it.

NORIDA. - (Talking to the mannequin with ease, but not yet looking at it.) I still don't know what to wear tonight. I've been thinking all day, even at work. I told you, I want to look good. (Smiling) You know I do it for you! (Thoughtful.) My grandmother never trusted on makeup.  Neither on costume. As in the biblical times. You must make an effort to understand her, she never knew of the arrival of this century.

(She grabs a gray suit and a miniskirt out from the closet. She spreads them out on the bed.)
Too bad you didn't meet her  ... (Sigh) But you don't care anyway, right? Let's the dead bury the dead.

(She sits on her bed. She looks at her suit.)

Now, how about this dress? Not bad, you know. But perhaps it will too sophisticate for your taste.

(She takes the skirt.)

Trousers? Don’t even thing of it. I should wear them tightly. No! They will betray my spare tyre. This skirt is sexy and daring! Emma thinks so. You must admit I have beautiful legs.

(Clapping his thighs.)

Forty years walking back and forth to the bus station.

(Pause.)

Even so, you are right. Every morning I discover another woman whispering on my back. They are just jealous. No, I don't want to embarrass you. If they knew that in my younger days I could stop the traffic with my wiggles.
 
(Low Light. Traffic increases. She models. A car crash is heard. She smiles. Full lights.)

You should be cheerful. I have enough trying to please you. (Pause) Uh! Not all men are equal. That's a saying of those who don't dare to see the world. (Pause.) It's useless.

(Pause.)

Yes, you can be the exception. Though still don't know you. One day in the morning you are in love with life, and then in the evening you want to commit suicide. All right! I don't know you down to the bottom. All bottoms frighten me--they are murky, unrestricted. I just love the bottom of this cabinet. Didn't you ever crouch there as a kid? I did it quite often with Julio, my brother, just to escape mum's spanks

(She tries to enter the closet.)

 Then the world was bigger.

(She gets out with difficulty.)

What are we arguing for? Soon we'll know the truth. With a little bit of patience everything comes to an end. So, be quiet. Let's talk about something more interesting. (She looks inside the closet.) Do you pinks dresses are the fashion? No. We agree for once.

(She sits down, discouraged.)
 
I can hardly believe we've been living together for two years. I don't even know how to dress for my first date. I never thought it would come. In two years many things can happen ... You, for instance, could have abandoned me for a pole girl ... Or I could have done it for ... what's the name of that hunk that plays on TV at nine?

(She faces the mannequin. She laughs.)

Don't look at me that way, Michael. We both are responsible. Our relationship has been closed as a circle, or, better to say, like a sphere. You've always refused to talk to me about our first date, and it's just natural couples do it, don't you think? (Aggressive.) It is natural, right? There are events in life you can't avoid, unless you are prepare to face a pitiful bitterness every morning, just after you wake up next to a stranger.

(Pause.)

After all, the date is with Michael.

(Pause. His face becomes sharper.)

All right, never mind. (Smiling) You know I always forgive you. Just try to understand it: it's not a matter of censorship. Do not frown! Your students have already given you too many wrinkles. Your female students, to be more precise. I just didn't want to offend you for no reason. To seduce you will be as difficult as  ... to seduce you. To seduce you will be as difficult as to seduce you! Yes! That's what I said. Clear as glass.
 
(Pause.)

Uh! You have not forgotten our first date. (Ill-humoured.) I was worried for you. For a year and a half you abandoned me; you didn't call me, you didn't write me, not even a note. That, at least, would have comforted me. I think  ... I think you were unfair with me.
 
(She sits on the chair and puts make up on her face. As she speaks the light acquires the hues of dusk.)

You caused me so much distress. I thought you had forgotten me. I thought you were about to give up your happiness. Yes! Because you and I knew who was the most beautiful woman in the entire world, the most sensuous, the smartest, the strongest, yes! And everything was created just around us. Do you see it? And because nobody, you hear me, no-body has the patience to treat you as I do. (Pause.) Our date won't be short-lived. It will last, like so few.

(Pause.)

Even so I waited for you, as Penelope, the most virtuous wife. Working and collecting my salary, working and collecting, collecting out of my work.  I was unable to conceive a day without you. (Injured in her ego.) For some time I even doubted of myself. What I am is always there, but this face, this body ... They change.

(Pause.)

I hope I didn't offend you. God help me! I just waited to see you again. I wanted you to be sure that even if you had met a bad lover that night, everything was about to change. But at the same time I was afraid! Afraid of not being able to please you, of no longer be able to please any man. (Pause.) Maybe for you it's not so easy to understand it. At the end of the day you're a man. But, how to explain it? It's as if your main concern in life were to make happy someone you didn't know.

(Pause. She wonders.)
 
Even at the price of your happiness, because, as I've told you, there are not many women who come to a full satisfaction.

(Look at the mannequin. Ironic.)

Sure. You don't care about it, right? The fact is ... (Nervous.) Forgive me, I'll be brief. What I say is that I thought I was not only going to be unhappy, but also that others were going to be unhappy on my account. (Struggling inside.) And that haunted me!

(Brief smile.)

Emma warned me ... So she helped me. Oh, God! Some day you'll meet her, sure. You'll see then what a great a friend she is. Without her I don't know where they would have sent me. I know everyone makes fun of my ugliness on my back. I always surprise them looking at each other, exchanging smiles of complicity. Emma has also taken note of that! Though she was very kind to remark that in our society everybody is obliged to perform a role of rank. So instead of grumbling on the rude manners of others, I decided to bear the ordeal of a forgiving behaviour. And you see, everything has changed. And there you are. Just a bit of mortification is good enough to improve everything, isn't it?
 
(Pause. She smiles triumphantly. Finally she burst into laugh.)

But finally, on a Wednesday afternoon, you called me. Your intention was to ask me to go out for a date. I know you as well as my own shadow. (She laughs. Seriously all of a sudden.) But I'm not an easy woman. I didn't pick up the phone. Now, after a week, I have accepted. I know you want me; I also want you. We are adults. (Look at the mannequin.) It is about time to define our relationship, face to face. This time it won't be a nightstand. You must promise it. We'll go out together, we'll sleep ... We'll retire.
 
(Pause. Se stands up with chagrin and goes into the kitchen. She looks for a glass and pours a drink in it as she speaks.)
 
Shut up! I don't want to hear again your talk on your childhood traumas. What's so special about? It's history. What can be particularly important about something that has already happened?

(Mockingly.)
 
At dawn is my sunset, you used to say. I can also impress you by saying: In darkness is the light ... Okay, let's keep our opinions for later. But poetry is also tiring. You find so much beauty in the toilets' filth.

(She takes out from a dresser drawer five identical books.)

All right. You could have rejoiced by the sale of the first edition of your satires. They sold out so quickly. I struggled to get these copies in our city. Listen:

(She reads)

There is no reason to sacrifice your life for an enslaved and thankless crowd. "Enslaved" by the bourgeois society. "Ungrateful" by their indifference to you. You're an open book to me, Michael. And though many frustrated critics--that bunch of spiteful reporters of yellow journalism, succeeded to persuade you to abandon the art of the sarcasm, there is no reason for dejection. Some day, listen to me, some day, all these copies will be sold for gold.

(She frisks the place frenetically. Sad.)

Besides, you're still a young and healthy man.

(She finds a cigarette box. She takes out one of them. She smiles.)
 
 Your satire doesn't apply to Jesus, though. He really sacrificed his life for an enslaved and thankless crowd. That way he saved us from aggression, our original sin. Don't get angry. You know that since I know you I'm an atheist. God save me! I also look good for my age, don't you think?
 
(She lights the cigarette with determination.)
 
I'm inspired ... That's all. (Resigned.) Yes! Of course I love you. (Smiling) I'm still in love. I'll be faithful to you, yes. Otherwise, do you think I would have shared my life with someone like you for two years? I just feel they have happened in a split of a second. Oh, sorry! I forgot how cigarette smoke annoys you.

(She goes near the window. She opens it. A light breeze shakes her hair. We hear noises of the city traffic.)
 
The night falls and you haven't answered to my question.
 
 (Pause. She smashes her cigarette against the ashtray, starts impatiently and closes the window.)
 
Should I just bring everything to an end? Answer me. Or do you really think I have a chance? I don't care about them. I know what you think! You admire that writer and his wife for the way they did it. What's his name? Joseph's brother: Benjamin. But I don't have a reputation to take care of. Or I'm just not capable of doing it. No! I don't believe in hell! That's not the point! That's enough! You never want to discuss it further. Just say it! Otherwise I'll take what you wrote as your final word.

(She opens a book and reads.)

If you feel powerless in a world of beauty and money, sell your body Ophelia, or just jump off from the nearest bridge. I really tried to be beautiful and wealthy, Michael. But I just wasn't up to the challenge. Now it's too late.

(Pause.)

Thanks! What would you like me to wear tonight?
 
(She fidgets impatiently along the bedroom.)
 
No! This time, your help is of vital importance, Michael. You more than anyone should give me a hint ... But how can you be so lout? By God! I know everything! It's been a year and a half since we parted from that motel. For seventeen months and three days you have been just lost in the streets. I have also suffered. We have to admit it! The suit I bought you is old, and ... (Beat.) You know ... All that time--fashion changes.
 
(She approaches the mannequin and massages his shoulders.)
 
You have to prove me right. At least this time, right? (Smiling. Pause.) How can we forget the way we did it? That night you were spotless.
 
(She removes a red handkerchief from the cabinet and smells it.)
 
Who would have thought of it? Though I never go to conferences, I was just there, in the front row, before you. I don't remember the name of the boy who was besides me. He invited me, of course. I had just met him and ... I don't know; I had no commitments, so I accepted his call ... Oh! There is no reason to feel jealous. He was a child looking for his mother at the wrong place. That's what he told me in the bar, just after we met. Months later, on the eve of his wedding, he came to say goodbye. I dislike students, you know. Besides, now that I think on him, he was very corny. It would have been more appropriate to invite me to the movies, for example. (Pause.) I wonder if he's separated already. I should contact him.
 
(She laughs as she caresses the mannequin on the cheek. She puts in order the furniture of the apartment. She finds a newspaper clip in one of the books.)
 
You look so cute when you get furious! I promise! I won't talk about it again ... But what did you ask me before? Ah, yes! Of course ... (She laughs.) Did you know that that night, during your conference, I was unable to decipher the expression in your eyes? No? Oh, you should look yourself in the mirror from time to time! ... Your eyes were sweet and arrogant at the same time. (She sighs.) Oh, how can I forget? Nicodemus homo est bellus. Since then I rebuilt your past ... You were--I said to myself that very nigh, the younger son of an aristocratic family. Numerous, but decadent. No doubt you were the darling of your parents. A happy childhood, the figure of a boring adulthood. (Pause. Impatient.) I was wrong. I know, yes. Either way, the first impression is indelible. No make fun of me, Michael! You said that human life was mere thought. Accordingly, thought changes as life does. (Pause.) I found your story as interesting as the story I had made up about you ... Do not insist! You're an intellectual; I know ... You spoil your inspiration with your doubts. Now, to hear you grumbling that way is quite annoying. (Ironic.) You don't know how ...
 
(She wonders. Contrite, passing her index finger on a shelf.)
 
I'm sick of this dust. We should move to a less polluted place. It's a losing battle. Have I told you that they want to demolish this building? (Recovering his previous idea.) But maybe there is your greatest virtue. In your, what shall I say? Truthfulness. In your project to write someday a book that will prove once and forever the inexistence of God. You will fail, as may others. But you'll be famous. And that's what you want, right? (After thinking about it.) Personally I am not a good reader, not even a casual reader ... (Blush.) You know ... That's why perhaps I can't understand your aim. (Pause) I mean your aim to read and write--to recreate and create. Living amongst books you just don't enjoy life. Why do you pick on me all the time? I'm fed up, Michael! Don't tell me off! Every morning, as I wake up, I see you in bed covered by books ... Particularly on Sundays! You can suffer a heart attack. No, don't take me wrong. I also hate sports. Was I not in your conference?
 
(Read the newspaper clipping.)
 
"Mens sana in corpore sano is a foolish saying." I agree with Bernard Shaw. "The sound body is a product of the sound mind." And "Any kind of race is hideous. The football fan doesn't want as much to see the victory of his selection as the humiliation of its rivals ... " True, there are always losers. "The victories of the athletes are the appetizer of the incoming wars." What was the country that won the world cup before invading the islands? And you wrote this just before that war. I love especially your final irony. The shot against the gyms. "Made of bricklayers and ploughmen who have taken the jobs of the thinkers."  And yes, I can't be more convinced when you write that they should open some ploughing fields instead of gyms. But the marketing managers won't allow it.
 
(She burst into laughing. She wipes the dust with a feathered brush.)
 
You look like my grandfather when he was dying, I mean, my paternal grandfather. You know I never met another. He died of cancer ... The paternal. (He looks at the mannequin.) Don't get me out of my wits, Michael. (Pause.) I'm not willing to put your cheap ironies. (Aggressive.) But ...! What right do you have to raise your voice? I 'm telling you the truth!
 
(She slaps the mannequin. She steps back scared.)
 
All right. Let's not argue ... No, don't worry. I'm fine. (Pause.) You don't need to apologize. It was I who brought you first. (With emotion.) Oh, Michael! Forgive me! I talk too much, but only sincere people are into chattering. Concise people are arrogant. Don't get me wrong. I mean, others. From now on, I won’t tell you more stories of my grandfather. (Pause. She sighs.) Yet you are a confident and earnest man. (Pause) I knew it from the beginning; you know where to go ... (Trembling.) What's better, you acknowledge your shortcomings. (Thoughtful.) That night I was happy. I knew you'd have loved me had I been free. I would have loved you too. We would have lived together, one for each other. Who would believe it? And you would have accepted me. Since then I have expected to consume our fate alone. (Smiling) You, looking at my life as a chess game.
 
(She moves the checkers.)
 
I would have been prepared to help you. After the first move you would have analyzed the next one, revaluing the previous one. Yes, we are chess pieces in the vast field of black nights and white days. (She doubts.) Yes certainly we make mistakes. We would have been eliminated. What a shame. But without recriminations. No, of course not.
 
(She walks away leaving the chess pieces in disarray.)
 
Soon it will be two years from the day I agreed to live with you ... My life has changed. It's evident. Now I have fewer friends who visit me. The truth is that I have ignored them for quite a while. It's natural. They would have been scandalized by our cohabitation. Either way they know. Otherwise they would have come. They would have invited me ... I don't know, to dine at home, or in a restaurant, just they used to do. Do you remember Heriberto? No, I don't think so. He was a good boy, though he was shy. (Smiling) I'm sure you never met him ... So much the better.
 
(Sitting in front of the dresser mirror, she combs her hair.)
 
I never questioned my job until I met you. As a Sales Manager I used to earn a good salary. Do you remember what I did? I dropped it for a job in a sociological research centre. (Pause.) Don't be silly. I never tried to emulate you. Since I was a child I wanted to write articles announcing the great changes in our history. (Terse.) Ok. The sentence is yours. But it's quite appropriate.
 
(She gets up and kisses the mannequin.)
 
You know what happened next. I quit. It was your idea. At first I disagreed, but at the end I was convinced by your stubbornness.
 
(She puts a wig on the mannequin and combs it.)
 
I had to pawn my jewels just to survive. It was a hard blow for you. I had anticipated it. But it was necessary. (Pause.) Then I was hired as a secretary. Since then my career has stalled. (Pause.) No, don't grieve. You know there's no reason to bother. I think the black suit fits you well!
 
(She opens the window. The traffic sounds have decreased.)
 
It was a hot afternoon. But now the breeze is fresh and the traffic is almost gone.
 
(Closing the window.)
 
I'll dress you. (She pulls out a worn black suit from the closet.) But before becoming secretary I took a couple of courses in a fine arts institute. (Pause.) The models? Yes, they are beautiful if you think that way. Believe me: I never got interested in them. You, however, saved enough money to buy a car. Don't get goofy. Every morning I saw you driving by the bus stop in the company of that slender slut. I was furious! And what really got into my nerves is that she was the one driving! God forgive me, but the day I heard about your accident I was glad. (Pause) I never knew how much money you got from the insurance company.
 
(Dressing the mannequin.)
 
For my part I just wanted to follow you as an artist. What better match for a humanist like you? As a writer I could do nothing. You know, I have no patience for reading. Once I find the conflict in a novel, I jump to the final pages. (Suddenly.) Our exhibition got several reviews in the pres. They were published in "New Age". A decent glossy magazine. I have not forgotten your criticism. You were too severe, Michael. They appeared obtuse to you, once and again. Not knowing why, you rewrote two of them four times!
 
(Pause. She calms down.)
 
They were never published. We better never mention those articles again. Let's finished our conversation on sculpture. In fact, you never liked it. I wasn't surprised at all. In fact, I expected it. You are a man reluctant to change, and my work was a set of post-modernist sculptures. An installation of bones of pork. We were five artists. It's a shame you didn't attended the opening cocktail. But I understand. You had an appointment with Anna Karenina. The curators found my work interesting. Even so the idiots forgot to print my name in the leaflets.
 
(She exits and enters with a sculpture.)
 
It was my best sculpture. It was praised by the public. A secondary school teacher told me I was going to succeed. I didn't sell my work. This is your birthday present.
 
(Placing the sculpture in a conspicuous place.)
 
Isn't it beautiful, Michael? It bears no title, but it's inspired by our relationship. (Pause.) Statues are what we were. Want some coffee?
 
(Going to the kitchen.)
 
No sugar.
 
(Preparing coffee for two.)
 
Shortly afterwards I left the sculpture behind. It could have been actually a good business, but it didn't satisfy me. (Smiling.) It seems I'm one of those human beings who can live without art. (Pause.) That's when I decided to live. To live! It's what every woman wants once she is in love ... Though you never got it. (Pondering.) I understand. At least you are honest. You and I, we both are. Otherwise, our relationship would never have survived.
 
(She approaches the mannequin. Collecting and storing the chess pieces.)

It's getting late, Michael. And yet I hesitate. It may be more appropriate in a white suit. It's elegant. Come on! Help me! (Pause.) Have you not finished your chess game?

(Looking at her watch.)

I have a commitment at eight. Then you can play all the time you want.

(Keeping the board in the closet.)
 
But now ... By God! What's wrong? At least tell me the colour of the suit you were wearing that night.
 
(Serving the coffee cups on the table. Joyous:)
 
It's important to remember. That way I can figure out your tastes. Maybe the trousers ...
 
(Try to wear some pants.)
 
No, you're wrong. Personal appearance is always relevant. I'm talking about the period of seduction, Michael. (Disappointed.) At the end you may be right. But at first, men don't notice manners or gestures. Not to mention personality.
 
(Breathless, taking her back in a gesture of pain, looking to an imaginary mirror.)
 
At first I was young and skeletal. Now ... We grow old and we don't know when. If, at least, habit were easy. By God! Are you afraid I leave you? Now, when we have reconciled each other. Once I meet you, everything will be better. (Pause.) There is no way I will deceive you. That way you are behaving--how to put it? As a misogynist! (Pause) That's enough! This is about me. Do you find that hard to accept my will? Frankly I don't understand. For some time I spoke to Antonio. I was attracted to him. I admit it. (Pause.) All right. I don't intend to see him again. I just want you to remember that your attitude at the time was the most sensible. You used to accept all body contact. Your words alone can no longer comfort me. I don't want to go on just guessing your thought. There were two years of unbridled copulation. Sorry! There are so many follies to forget. You are so strong. We are so bored that we don't realize it, though Emma says that too much knowledge is always disappointing. That's why I'm more concerned about the colour of this dress. Yes, it's the most superficial, but you have to breath on the surface, don't you?. I also had hopes. I never was short of them. It took me two years to accept my loneliness in you. I took you up, as a dead relative. But then you got divorced.
 
(She throws the cup against the wall.)
 
And now you tell me that I shouldn't get worry! Have you thought of me, Michael? Just when I had accepted to your contempt, you leave this woman just to tempt me. I know what you think. I am no saint but ... I'm not neither what you believe! I am a woman. Will you at least understand my perseverance? Don't you understand that is reasonable, that is just completely reasonable for me to try to seduce you now, when all women appear to turn their backs on you? That there is no silence or mind able to replace you? Bastard! I can't stand you! I can't take it any more!
 
(She seizes the mannequin and jumps in the bed with it. Their clothes get entangled. They roll and fall onto the ground. She slaps it.)
 
You son of a bitch! I always knew it! That's it! Come on! Hit me! Norida can take it!
 
(Lights fade. Moonlight filters through the window. Norida pants as she talks straddling the mannequin.)
 
It's not good enough for you to make my life a living hell. You also try to control it ... Yes! Do you think I cheat you? But your wish to be faithful ... That says more about you than me!
 
(Gestures of pain. Screams of childbirth.)
 
Stop! Don't say ... Anymore!
 
(Full lights. Norida falls exhausted on the mannequin. She crawls onstage, still panting, weeping.)
 
Swine! I don’t want to know more about you! I don’t want to talk to me! Go! Go away!
 
(She stands up and approaches the cork. She rips off the newspaper clippings with pictures of Michael.)
 
I won't go! I'll kill you! I'll make you suffer like a pig!
 
(She steps on the clippings, each time with less force. She looks around in amazement. She opens the window.)
 
I don’t understand this madness. Forgive me. (Contrite.) How could I slur you, Michael? I insulted you and you--you're all I have.

(Crying, she picks up impatient the clippings. She places them on the table, where she tries to fix them.)
 
I have ripped them off, Michael. Will you forgive me? (Pause) Tell me you forgive me. (Satisfied.) I'll get them all again. Emma will help me. I know she knows people who collect newspapers.
 
(Taking Michael's Cup into the kitchen.)
 
Tomorrow is another day. It might be just the same, or different. I don’t know. At the end it depends on you. For now ... Let's see ... I'd better get you up.
 
(She lifts the mannequin and takes it up onto the chair.)
 
You are severe, Michael.
 
(Pause. Satisfied.)
 
Okay. I'll wear a white dress suit. But before you'll kiss me.
 
(Pause. She places her mouth suggestively in front of the mannequin.)
 
You look so special out of temper.
 
(She exits and returns with an ironing board.)
 
I know. You're exhausted. With no memory of death. I just don’t understand why do you insist on remaining alone after lovemaking. Well, it is your nature. Adam wants, but he doesn't support to ejaculate. I'd like caresses. It's what any woman would expect from a man.
 
(Picking up clothes from the floor and the bed. She folds them and stores them in the closet.)
 
Tonight I'll behave naturally. As if I'd always known you. We will discuss the weather--not too much. And then we'll talk about politics. (Pause.) I won’t contradict you. I'll just propose the topics. You will speak courteously, and I will listen to you. (Pause; worried:) I haven't rehearsed the presentation though. No, I shouldn’t worry. I'll give you the last word. I can improvise in the taxi, before reaching your flat.
 
(She takes out a white dress from the wardrobe and irons it.)
 
I'll be nervous. That's how I'm. You know me. He lives in a building called "Anchor." Mariela also lives there. My cousin. Have I not talked to you about her?
 
(She irons.)
 
No, probably not. I met her recently. On some occasion my mother mentioned her. She gave me her contact details. You know. This is a desolate city and it's just convenient to meet someone, even if you don't know her. (Pause.) Now I visit her often. She knows I do it for Michael. I love him ... Even now I'm sure ... Why not to tell you? I admitted it to her recently.
 
(Lights fade. Michael enters from the right side. His face is expressionless. Norida drops the dress. Impulsively, she moves towards him. She stops shortly.)
 
It's noon. (Hesitating.) I'm a shy woman. You shouldn’t think about it. But that's the way I am.
 
(Pause.)

Would you forget the date? No, don’t think so ...
 
(She advances with embarrassment. To Michael:)
 
Sorry! I didn’t think the door was unlocked. Thanks ...
 
(She checks the gap.)
 
What a nice apartment. Oh! It has a beautiful view. From here you can watch the sunsets. In my apartment is the opposite. I mean the dawn. Every morning, before work, I get this very pale light. (Pause) Oh! I don't always wake up that early during the weekends. Only occasionally. I suffer insomnia. Didn’t you know? Well, it doesn't matter. I understand. You live in a tenth floor, like me. (She smiles) Yet, don’t feel lonely. A broad view, I think, would be enough for me. During my studies I shared my little room with two other women. It had a view.  One way or another I managed to sleep all the time facing the window. From this site you must be inspired. Hour after hour watching these asperities on earth that are the cities.


(She looks beyond the horizon.)
 
There! You probably have rolled your eyes over that building. A mud brick building, pentagonal, with circular wings. And the window ... The third, from right to left, on the twelfth floor. You can see it directly from here! I never thought we both, so plunged into this mole, were in fact exchanging looks. Yes, I also melt myself in the evenings, as the sun slips into its purplish-pink hearths. There are the evenings, those that captivate you with the very beams I admire so much at the crack of dawn. I have also seen them, Michael. Let me call you by your Christian name. Do you remember me? ... Never mind. You will do it sooner or later. (Looking at the outward landscape.) We share the same space. We must celebrate. We could spend the night in this balcony. I have brought, by chance, a bottle of white wine, and cigarettes. I believe you smoke. I have no habits. (Smiling.) We can tell stories to each other.
 
(She hugs gently the deadpan body of Michael.)
 
It will be fun to weave a tale: the good ant that saved the ostrich against its will. The bird and the insect find each other in the same space underground. The ostrich prompts the ant to save her from the poachers. The ant, in silence, bites the ostrich in one of her eyelids. The ostrich runs in pain and escapes from her pursuers ... I can't remember the moral. Something like "bear your suffering." Maybe you can help me. I know you like them. I have lived with your personality for so long. (Sad.) I will describe you my life. So you will know me, Michael. We can share the silence, as Japanese do.  Words are nervous. Then, drunk of silence, we'll make love. Dumb, bath by the sunrise.


(Blue lights. Soft music. Norida drops her head on Michael's lap.)
 
All right. We should be patient. You are not divorced yet. Besides, my mother is on the way. She wants me to marry someone, but she will never consent to see me with a newly divorced man ... I’m sorry, but you'll have to give up. (Very sad.) I really want to, Michael. No, don't take me wrong. I love you, but ... but, well, no ... You're so special and I ... I'm not a beautiful woman. (Crying) They are tears of joy of course. Okay. My mother will understand it.
 
(They separate from each other. Michael exits. The lights regain their intensity. Bleak, to the mannequin:)
 
For two years you have been with me. I've given you everything. I have complied with each of your wishes. You'll never say I stopped loving you. The misfortunes of love don't kill--they just disconcert.
 
(Returning to the iron board.)
 
Sometimes I wonder what will be of me tomorrow. I wish I had complied with your advice to hang myself from that knot.  At least that would have appeased all my thoughts of you. But then I might reincarnate in something horrible as a punishment. I might crawl like an animal, or moan as a madman. (Pause. Smiling with contempt.) Your mother in law is sick. There is no doubt she won't make it. They don’t want her at the nursing home. It's not my fault. Since she breastfed me she was a dominant woman. She used my father at her will ... I wish I had inherited that spirit with you. Though, now that I think it, it would have been in vain. You know that one-way or another I always submit to your will. I have mortified myself in loving you. That's something that my mother is unaware of. That's to say, she doesn't know yet. My parents used to insult each other frequently. I still wonder how could they raise me ... You know? I feel a little bit sorry for my mother. She'll die. She'll die.
 
(Extending her dress.)
 
Well, that's it! (Pause.) No, I won’t eat. That way I will look a little thinner.
 
(She takes a pair of shoes from the wardrobe. As she dresses herself:)
 
All right. You can play chess. You'll fin lamb chops and potatoes in the fridge. You can bake them. (Irritated.) Emma hasn't called me yet. It's strange. She should have done it by now. Another day without hearing another voice than mine in this house. Oh! Mariela hasn’t called me neither. No wonder. Probably she went to bed, after leaving me her flat's keys at her building's front desk. I hope nothing terrible has happened to Emma. A single woman may undergo many mishaps. (Easy.) No, I'm a fool. Emma never stays at home on a Friday night. There are restaurants and nightclubs everywhere. It's a pity men like you don't frequent these places. Do you remember the evening you invited me to a library? At first I took it as a jest, but I was really touched to know that your intent was serious. Never before someone had invited me to read. (Pause) Sorry, maybe it was not you, but Antonio. Over the years we confuse many faces. Whoever it was, it was just natural for me to refuse his invitation. Too many books give me nausea.
 
(Taking her purse off the rack.)
 
I'll go shopping tomorrow afternoon. I need clothes to ...
 
(Pause. She remains tensed by an onerous thought.)
 
Everything can just end, Michael, can it not? (Pause.) Perhaps it would be better for us to remain this weekend at this place. Hammering our vices. We would watch television programs until the end of the afternoon. We can download some film. We can call the restaurant for food, and them tomorrow, again, with Emma; I would be buying groceries for the week, just to come back to bed.
 
(She looks at the audience. She turns around facing the mannequin.)
 
All right. I'll go.
 
(Darkness.)









ACT II

 Same place a week later. The mannequin, naked, stands on a chair, hanging from the rope tied around its neck. Four candles surround it. Rainy day. Thick dusty curtains cover the windows. Unwashed dishes lie over the table and the floor.
 Darkness.
 Norida, dressed entirely in black, enters and lights the candles, one after another.
  There is a metallic portable staircase, placed just besides the Mannequin.
 
NORIDA. - The cost of the vegetables has increased. Emma thinks we should blame the war taxes. She should have good reasons to believe so. But there is no shortage of vegetables in our fields. There are bananas and tomatoes rotting on the banks of rivers. There are many beasts around. They are sick of excess. God knows they are not killed by starvation but by greed.
 
(She kisses the mannequin in his mouth as she smiles. She goes to the kitchen, picks up three packages of paper with groceries within and brings them to the table.)
 
Don’t worry. I'm also against war. You, just the opposite, consider them necessary. Only suffering redeems us, you wrote once. Do you fear to die of overpopulation? It's unfair for you to write that the people from India or China live overcrowded. That's unfair. (Pause) Michael! By God's sake!
 
(Wry smile. She takes out the groceries one by one, examining the food-price labels.)
 
How can you be against procreation? Those women breed like rabbits, yes, but they are happy. They have a booming economy--you won't dispute it. And in spite of being many, they are quite happy. Let's face it! We are the carcasses unable to procreate! Come on! Don't deny what we are! We make few lives in the midst of so much space. The air is thin at this site, but it's because we chose to be overcrowded. Our dried seeds quench the throat of hell.
 
(Pause.)
 
To your eyes I have always been boorish. 'Uncouth' is the right word. Rude, am I not?

(Facing him.)

Well, I care a damn about your ideas. Yet, I'm not unhappy. (Trying to change the topic.) You better stop putting the blame on foreigners.
 
(Looking at the label of a product.)
 
They haven't increased the cost of a bar of soap in two years. Did you know that the inflation rate was low on past November? The truth I never notice.
 
(Pause. angry, throwing the bar of soap over the floor.)
 
Enough! I can no longer stand you! Will you listen to me, for one day at least? You have a peculiar ability to make me look like an idiot. Don’t deny it, you treat me like a useless gadget.
 
(She looks at the mannequin, trying to calm down. She crosses the space and picks up the bar of soap.)
 
In any event there is no point in arguing with you. You know I'm going through a breakdown. I'm aware you despise me on account of my devotion. That's your greatest flaw. You have never been interested in the history of the creeds; let's not mention theology. I was there the day you reproached a colleague of yours who was about to go to mass. You presumed you were undermining his devotion by saying that Constantine had institutionalized the Mass under the influence of his mother.  But you were surprised to find out that your colleague was not even flinched by your words. Unlike you he had notions of ancient Greek and Latin. A consequence of his desire to understand his creed. He even corrected you. Yes! Admit it. He told you that the Mass was a convergence of Pagan rituals. I was close to you, but so in love as to back you up with my silence. That is, I supported your errors. You are not so wise as you think. Or as I used to think. Love is blind to imperfections. But never mind. I won't ever betray you. In any event, your rhetoric is always there--somehow, to get you out of any mishap. Forgive my words, but you have never been indifferent to the divine. You want to be selfish, as more divinities are--the model to be imitated by the masses, but since all these wretches are inferior to your perfection, yes. You've calculated so, they can only worship you. You only admire Napoleon and Hitler. Were you powerful, you will be just another jerk, ready to sacrifice thousands of men for definitions as contrived as culture and progress. Like those tyrants, you are quite stubborn. Unlike you, and like most of the people, I'm uncertain of my purpose in life. And I've already given up long ago my divinity. I grant it to the fairer man: yes, Jesus Christ. Only ambitious women pursue aims contrary to humanity. Do you think I'm a fanatic? No. But I hear voices. Maybe I'm crazy, that's all.
 
(She looks at the public.)
 
It's so easy to recognize a maniac inside each of them. Being schizophrenic and paranoid, at the end I will surrender to their contempt.
 
(To the mannequin.)

Psychiatrists intimidate me. I just trust confessors. But there is a long time I don't go to Church. Today was payday and it's just natural for me to be tired. Fridays are the way they are. They also fired the accountant. He was dishonest.
 
(She goes to the kitchen, from where she returns with a package. As she talks she takes out from the package a suite jacket, a gray shirt, a hut, a bow tie and a pair of socks.)
 
Let's talk about fashion.

(Showing him the suite jacket.)

Don’t you like it? (Smiling) Save your thanks for later. It tires me to see you always in the same clothes. This colour also goes well with your sorrows. The prelude of the storms: gray, the colour of those who are tormented. The shirt and the socks are white. As for the tie, I wanted to buy it in a similar tone to the suit jacket, but couldn’t find it. The service was terrible. If I were the owner of that store I would myself take care of the customers. It seems arrogance pays. Either way it suits you quite well.
 
(Pause. She starts dressing the mannequin.)
 
You don’t want to wait until tomorrow. On Monday I'll buy a pair of white shoes; it's a promise. For now the black ones will do it.
 
(Sighing nervously.)
 
The truth is that I shouldn't have ever been there. That would have been the most sensible. But I am a frail woman--always subject to capricious emotions.
 
(Unhappy with his pants.)
 
This size is too small ... Mariela no longer wants to talk to me. Did you know it? Don’t get upset. (Smiling, containing her anger.) It seems I didn't leave a very good impression amongst your neighbours that night. They are free to blame me, of course. I won’t blame them.
 
(She moves away from mannequin.)
 
I'm no longer hurt by your noxious sentences. Of course! All is my fault! I have never denied it. No regrets. Ever since the beginning, I have abused of our privacy. Worshipping you as an idol. It started as a pastime in my adult life. It could have been Antonio, maybe Juan, Roberto. I just chose you amongst all my broken hearts. For two years, just as my youth was fading away, I was dragged, and I was only able to hold on this indispensable lie. A romance between Michael and Norida. A titanic love. Tell me. How much longer will this ship be afloat? Answer me!
 
(Pause. Quoting from memory.)
 
"All titans were sent by Zeus into the entrails of the sea. But you Titanic, a shipwreck as presumptuous as the gods, were made, sank and rescued by the uninformed." It's useless. This will never change. It's just always the same; it makes me sick.
 
(Dressing the mannequin.)
 
Don’t talk to me. From now on I will no longer rely on you. I still keep my co-workers' phone numbers. Drunken men with stout bodies.

(Pause.)
 
This time you won't be able to dissuade me.
 
(Pause.)
 
Yesterday I wanted to regain Mariela's friendship. I contacted her husband, who told me she no longer wanted to deal with me. Sure, my cousin would have been more polite had I been an influential person. But our consanguinity separates us. I'm not sorry. She was always a stranger to me.
 
(Raindrops. Thunders. Norida closes the window and returns to the Mannequin.)
 
I know myself--even with all my imperfections. I always say I don’t care what people think of me, but somehow I always end up meeting a meddler. I'm talking of the night you took me out for a date. I wanted to sneak into your flat. But an intense neighbour was just there. Looking back on it, she could have guessed that I was ... that I ... No. No ... (Laughter brief.) By God! What such perverted ideas across this mind?
 
(She stares at the mannequin's face.)
 
It is not fair. I mean, you humiliate me like a prostitute. (In anguish.) We are many, I know. But God has giving me a place in this world. He won't allow anybody to get rid of me. So, are you listening? That's why from some time now I look everyone in his eyes--yes, I stare at them. They get uncomfortable.
 
(Pause. Dressing the mannequin.)
 
Emma? It seems she is doing really badly. She is not feeling well since Saturday. Do you remember? Her silence made me so apprehensive. I know she suffers from depression. There is no easy remedy for that. Oh, God! It seemed so lucid. Now I feel so alone.
 
(Dressing the mannequin with sadness.)
 
Do you understand what I say, right? ... I feel bad. The attitude of people frightens me. Emma was my friend. How many times did we chat in cafes? Last Friday, after leaving work, someone accused her of having embezzled her company. She was addicted to gambling, true, but she was very aware of your remarks on the subject:  "Lying on gambler's suicide low rate, I saw Las Vegas, city of Hispanic tenders, where marmoreal mausoleums gleam". I know she didn't gamble. Partners who barely took a look on her, were all of a sudden berated by her arrogance. Briefly, she was fired as a pauper. When I knew of it, it was too late. Now she hates me, as she hates everybody else. She believes we betrayed her, but how could she include me amongst so many Judas? At her age, homeless. People can be so selfish. (Pause) I never trusted men. But suspicion is a heavy load. Oh, God! I believe in your mercy. Without it I would have been just shattered.
 
(Observing the mannequin.)
 
I have no doubts. It's the suit that goes the best with you.
 
(Drawing from the package a black sequin dress. Melancholic:)

Do you like it? Tell me you that you love it. Black is so lovely: the colour I like after a night of sadness. (Smiling) I'm not down. It's just that there's something we must talk about. You may already know it: at work, I was courted by several men. Not everyone, of course. Only a few: José Manuel, Francisco, Ramon. No, no! Alberto never. (Smiling) He has a wife.
 
(Pause. She takes out some groceries from the bag.)
 
But you know, when I talk about you they shut up. They are only interested in fun. (Pause.) No, there is nothing to wonder about it Michael. From the beginning I was treated well. It's just that they are unable to understand a lady. I love them with the passion that only a broken heart can express. In short, there is no reason to think of them. Other men will come. From now on I will only dress uniform tones: black, white and lilac. From Monday afternoon. (Smiling.) I'm no longer working. Don’t you know it? I quit before getting fired. Now I'm free. It's somehow like at the beginning, when I still believed a woman could make a man happy. Now we can spend our time together. You can read while I dress up to my commitments. Without further scruples I may just come back to the sculpture.
 
(Taking our the last groceries.)
 
Don’t worry about money. I will get something from my suitors. We'll buy a new toothpaste, although they say that this brand was just improved. You must have heard the slogan:
 
"Teeth white as snow
Clean teeth as white
Snow-white teeth "
 
You should tune the radio from time to time. It's better than moving busy around so many conferences.

(Showing him some razor blades.)

What? Aren't they beautiful? The ad said they were soft.  You won't even feel them as you shave. It's just a suggestion. I don’t like your beard. (Pause.) The former one got rusted.
 
(Takes off her clothes.)
 
Okay. No, you know I don’t like books. Those we have are good enough. You can read Tuesdays' newspapers. I have not arranged any appointments for Monday night, but either way, I'll talk to the manager of my company. I think he wants to offer me a new job.
 
(Wearing the black suit.)
 
Yes, it would be unfair. I begin to regret to have quit my job. Maybe I was not going to be fired after all. I am a conformist woman, always willing to work overtime. No, it wasn't easy leaving my post.
 
(Extracting a box of cosmetics from the wardrobe, she applies makeup in front of the auditorium.)

It's not the same. Understand me, please. Yes, you're here every night. Let's put things straight. I know it's not easy to change habits in just three days. Think of us! It took us almost a year to get used. (As she can’t find the right word, she speaks sincerely.) Oh ... Anyway ... You know how bad we spend our weekends. This flat has just become a mausoleum. We let go of the crowd, especially on Sundays. It's only logical. Sooner or later I get silent and you ... You think. Before noon, words are exhausted. It's not very difficult to get it.
 
(Pause. She half-faints, taking the stomach in her hands. She falls onto the stage breathing with difficulty.)
 
It's nothing. Maybe the diet. No need to be frightened. Soon I'll be fine. (Smiling) The years never come alone, and their fat is the hardest to get rid of. An operation would be the proper solution. (Calmer.) Perhaps that's why Emma wanted to go to the gym. I wonder if I should go with her--no kidding. We'll jump until falling exhausted on the floor. But, as I told you, now Emma rejects me. I have no money to get enrolled elsewhere anyway.
 
(Sudden memory. She looks in the wardrobe.)
 
Don’t forget it. I always I have your satires ready.
 
(Find the book of poems. Lee.)
 
Twenty stiff necks blow their veins
Forty big arms lift our weights
 
Those are your words for a gym. (Pause.) I give you the reason, sooner or later we'll get sick.
 
(Pause.)
 
You have not asked me why did I resign. (Pause.) Don’t get angry by what I say, but I think all started with you and me. That is, with my talks. There are other people ho talk to themselves. Don’t pretend to cover the sun with your stumps. Loneliness has sickened us. Not only at work, but also on the street. I've even seen women who sing for a few coins on City Avenue. They might be sad but never lonely.  No one gets bothered by them really. But I don’t sing, I don't dance, I just survive. José Manuel, Francisco, Ramon, I discovered them all laughing at me.
 
(Pause; sore on the ground.)
 
Now I'm more convinced than ever that my company wouldn't have fired me. There are those who want to blame me for the embezzlements we had. Those jerks treat me with hypocrisy and contempt. I'd rather be in prison than before their inquisitive eyes. Then they would pity me. Look! (Pointing out beyond the window.) The night is coming. Sometimes I also believe that, as my mother, I will lose my mind. True, I'm losing it, Michael. It's not fair. No human being can tell me that! That has never been your concern. It doesn't matter. I will get through. You also despised me, as so many others. As your wife; as your mother. I know it because I also despise the innocent. Back then people used to respect me. Don’t defend my filthiness--that would be another folly. Not yet ... Long ago, yes, maybe. It's always in the past. Present is a paper bird that we can’t capture. Before I met you I had so many men between my arms.
 
(Murmurs and laughter.)
 
I never hid it to you. Your jealousy is no longer worth it. Nobody chose me among them all. Yes. They can scoff me as much as they want!
 
(She laughs and sobs. Michael enters, as in the first act. She cuts her laugh. Lights turn pinkish.  Norida approaches him.)
 
Don’t worry. No, I don’t feel bad. I know the exit. Promise me you won’t judge me wrong. Either way, you know I'm an honest woman, from the strain of the Ocampo. Yes, like the general who was victorious in so many battles. Well, you already got my mobile number. Thanks. Anything you need, just feel free to contact me. (She smiles) There is nothing to be thankful about, if you please. You make me blush. Consider it a favour, not from friend, but from ... (With difficulty.) From a suitor. Someone who wishes you the best. Believe me, I'm happy with your farewell. Now, excuse me. You, who read so much, should not be wasting your time with a simple secretary like me. Now, do you remember me? Yes, I'm Norida. Norida Ocampo, whom you met and seduced at the university. That night I went with you to the bus station. No, you were not drunk. We even shared a coffee. (Vibrant.) I knew you'd remember me. There are so many premonitions between you and me. In my flat you will feel at home ... Michael! No! Excuse me if you've offended you. I won’t waste more of your time. I feel good. Of course I live in this building. I'm single, without roommates.  You won't think I just come to ... You can talk to Mariela. Mariela ... Can’t remember her name, we are cousins. (Nervous.) I lost my head. Now you will excuse me.
 
(Advancing to the public. Exalted. Music.)
 
Oh! What a beautiful balcony. But where are your books? I see. I hope you will come out to watch the sunset. The rain is also beautiful: it comforts. Because one way or another we're all alone. Although another body may distract us ... Yes, I read your satires against beauty: Do you love me with your heart, or with your eye—that’s to say, with the impression of the-light? (Sigh) Yes, even people on the street are beautiful. Look at them! They move like ants.
 
(The music fades to its climax.)
 
I know it's unusual for someone to visit you in such a way, and after so long. Don’t get me wrong, you may never understand me. But you just need to know it. I ... I ... No, there is no need to call the guard.
 
(Michael exits. Norida embraces tenderly the mannequin.)
 
He doesn't love me. But he is noble, like a sweet boy ... So innocent. You should have seen him! It's even more beautiful with his white hair. Yes, It's true. Because he never sought love, and he never lacked it. Because he is sensitive, and men like him don’t love. They just wait to be loved, and then, they give everything. Disappointment comes to them as part of life itself; they just assume it. And their souls suffer in spasms, as if it they were already death ...
 
(Pause. She sits facing the audience. She colours her lips with bright red.)
 
Maybe one day he will call me. Then I would be able to love him. As he always wanted: as I am: thus.
 
(She puts makeup frenetically, with skill, throwing the cosmetics on the floor.)
 
But that's not possible. Everything has been nothing but a waste of time. It's unlikely. You know me. Out of your selfishness you know me.
 
(Pause.)

This is your punishment:  death! I won’t allow you to insult him again!

(Suddenly she kicks the chair that sustains the mannequin, leaving its inert members hanging in the air.)

I will no longer allow you to mock him. Is not it enough to have prevailed? I tried to hate you. Yes, true. I was on my right. Sacrificing my life for someone who despises me. But I was very reluctant to face unhappiness. If at least I would have succeeded in my work. Only a single unemployed woman knows the privilege of being born with an appendix of meat between her legs!
 
(Pause.)
 
You knew it. Otherwise you'd have never let her go. No. You remained silent, just to delay the conflagration. You wanted to witness my humiliation. You knew the answer beforehand, because for you our first date was just another chess-game defeat. Because for you Norida always was a jealous, round-the-bend spinster. So, from the climax of your lethargy you laughed. Don’t lie! You did it! And you didn’t even have the shame to hide it. Because you foresaw the slaughtered pawns, the betrayed black bishop, and the rotten gases from the Queen's dead body.

(Breathing heavily. Stepping back.)
 
But you were wrong. Because this time I have not come to you in love. I hate you! For I have learned that you won't die until I do it, Michael?

(She takes a hold of the mannequin’s feet, pulling it downwards. The head gets separated. She kicks and drags the trunk of the mannequin over the stage.)

This time is for good! I'm the woman who hates her children's murderer! Now, do you tremble at my name?
 
(She places the head back onto the mannequin. She climbs up the stairs with it, panting. Thunders. She opens the window: the murmur of the breeze mingles with the traffic roar.)
 
Look at those buildings! Look at the world you have refused. Your own blood! Behind those windows you'll find light, darkness, coldness, cruelty, the thunders from other rains, parched trees, children who rot. (Laughs pathetically.) And look at our four candles. Just watch the tranquillity of our funeral.
 
(She falls onto her knees, crying on the brink of the void.)
 
A jump would be enough to end this mix of arrogance and vanity. Don't comfort me. I'm fed up of so much mortification.  Fed up of your compassion, of you and of myself. I don’t want respect. DIS-RES-PECT. We must do away with so many considerations. It's the end, we know. Not a day goes by without arguing, without insulting each other, without getting tired of so many forced smiles. It's always the same and, after all, nothing. Emptiness, boredom, stupidity.
 
(Pause. The sound of traffic increases. The breeze and the lights against the public convey the impression of vertigo.)
 
I live the best I can. I smile to people. I talk to them. I behave properly. I swear it! But then, at night, when I come back home, I realize that what really matters hasn't been uttered at all. That beneath this mask of manners, there is a being so weak and sad, unable to express herself. Outrages! Two remains in the midst of indifference. (Laughing.) Yes, we clog the paths of the others. Because for them it's just the same to die today as it's to do it one hundred and fifty years from now. Twelve stages between now and nothing. Let us leave behind so much contempt! There's plenty of forgetfulness ahead of us!
 
(Pointing to the void.)
 
Our candles are lit! Let's stop the charade! The two of us, as we were never together before! Let's crush the disgusting life with which our Father has lavished us!
 
(Pause. She takes the mannequin's head in his arm.)
 
Do you mock me, Michael? (Cold.) Laugh. Laugh at me once and forever ...
 
(She laughs nervously. She drops the mannequin onto the stage. Her face turns dry. She takes her hands onto her head. She screams.  Phone rings are heard. All other noises cease. Norida starts back to the room quickly. She picks up the phone handle.)
 
Hello? No ... You're wrong ... I'm sorry, but I'm busy.
 
(She hangs up.)
 
Salesmen.
 
(To the mannequin.)
 
One week ago you behaved badly. You let me down.
 
(She goes into the kitchen. She takes a knife. Her attitude is from now on self-absorbed.)
 
As if I were just useless crap. What's the difference? You put my purpose into doubt. No, Michael. It's not easy to live with you. (Pause) Now it's not worth trying. Nor is it worth dying. I can suffer. I'm a catholic. Had I been stronger I would have abandoned you long ago. For someone else. Men are always there. Who? Rubén Darío for example. I say a name among many I know. I just remember him. His face appears to be blurred.  Tall, dark, sweaty.
 
(Caressing the mannequin with his knife.)
 
I think he was married. I met him in a downtown bar, a Saturday night. It was cold. I was tired. So I don’t remember how I reached that place, but I did it. Shortly after the man was sleeping next to me. We didn’t wait until morning to make love. No, I took him to a motel near his home. (Nervous laughter.) I took him. What did you expect to hear? The blandishments of a nun? (To the audience.) Your naïveté is always there. Find out the truth. Every Saturday I played the same role, one man and another: Luis Eduardo, Juan Manuel, José Joaquín ... And many others who I don’t even want to remember.
 
(She kisses the mannequin with clumsiness. She falls.)
 
Go away! I'm fed up of you since I met you. Even as a child I was beautiful. People in my neighbourhood used to spoil me with strawberries, roses and chocolates. Do you remember what I told you about Julian? It was my first love, or so we both believed ... It lasted for quite a while, as long as I refused to surrender my body to his whims.
 
(She gets up and combs her hair.)
 
Now he runs a grocery store. He's not married; no children. I think he got tired of women.
 
(She opens the drawer and takes out a bundle of pictures wrapped in a red tape.)
 
There are only traces, involuntary marks of a past. (With laziness.) You would have said that.
 
(Unwrapping the package.)
 
I always wanted a son. An intelligent man to love. To care for. Why?, you ask. (She looks around.) There is nobody else around.
 
(She sits down.)
 
When I took the decision it was too late. I got tired of looking for a honest father. Bars are just full of rubbish. I would have preferred you to all the others. Now there is no illusion. I thought we had shared two years together, but I was wrong. It was my loneliness, the only disease that frightens me. The burden of each day has driven me to find consolation in a small mannequin. It's over.
 
(She slashes the mannequin. She laughs, declining in intensity, until uttering a continuous sobbing. She drops the knife to the ground. She places her hands onto her pubis.)
 
Woman, behold your work; man, behold your mother. The lover knows that everything goes away, that even the mirth of love goes away.
 
(She slaps him on each cheek. She tears his clothes.)
 
Never again, right? I won’t have to bear the scars of your indolence every night.
 
(She sobs. The phone rings. She picks the hanger up.)
 
Hello? ... Mariela. Long time without hearing from you! No. There is no reason to apologize ... I'd rather be here. Yes ... I'm interested ... We can talk ... This afternoon. I won't say it again, there is no need to apologize ... See you soon.
 
(Hang surprised. Pick up the mannequin puts him in front of the cabinet. Turn off the candles. Order.)
 
We'll have a visit. Save your words for later. There are six--not, seven months since we got someone in this house. I'll prepare something special. Nothing fancy, of course. Mariela is a good woman; she's a devout Christian. I've always believed on her. It appears she wants to offer me a new job.
 
(Annoyed and impatient.)
 
I should go to the supermarket. Some macaroni would be appropriate. (Defeated.) And to think I wanted to fast until the end. After all, the decision has been taken. We both have committed ourselves until death do us apart. Part of you, part of me: unity in one flesh. I still listen to your heartbeats. Do you hear? The storm is gone. We are but drops of rain at the wind's whims.
 
(Crying)
 
But all anguishes remain.
 
(She dials a phone number.)
 
Mariela? Sorry, but I have other commitments ... I don’t want to see you again ... I feel just great ... Sorry if I'm rude. Goodbye.
 
(Leaving the handset on the table, without hanging up. Lights fade. Michael comes out from the darkness, smiling. Music.)
 
Maybe tonight we'll be done, Michael. Maybe we both can both start our unfinished time, with no distances, sailing over the same sea ... Anticipating all the events.
 
(They hug each other. Darkness.)







Hugo Santander Ferreira © First Film Productions 2011