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The Letting by Brandon Daily

The Letting by Brandon Daily

 Drama, Vol. 6.3, Sept. 2012

ACT I
Scene 1

The setting: Late 19th century in a small town. All action will occur with the same SCENERY on the STAGE; no adjustments need be made to the STAGE except for a few small/light items which will be carried on and off STAGE by the actors in their parts. The LIGHTS will simply mark the passage of time from scene to scene (going down and then coming back up). The LIGHTS will be dimmed at different levels throughout various SCENES.

The LIGHTS OPEN on a simple STAGE. Jutting out from the wing of STAGE RIGHT is a corroding wooden porch, two rocking chairs sit on the porch, and two steps lead to an empty space that is the field area. Though we can’t see what the porch is attached to, we are to assume that it is a house– which the action throughout will allude to (from here on it will be referred to simply as “the house”). A large dark tree rests in the background STAGE CENTER, though it may tend toward the left side of the STAGE. The tree is only branches, no leaves; we get a foreboding sense of sadness and unease from the tree. The STAGE is bare of people. It sits. Quiet. Then, from the house and down the two steps of the porch, runs a young woman, mid-twenties, dressed in late 19th century dress (plain clothes, hair braided back). She is FAITH.

FAITH
(her back is to the house)
Did you see that?…Thomas! BEAT Come here! Quick!

From the house ENTERs to the STAGE SUSANNA (a young woman in similar dress to FAITH), THOMAS (a tall and thin young man who is FAITH’s husband), and REV. JONATHAN THORNE (an older man dressed in a black coat and wide brimmed black hat, he is FAITH’s father). These three walk slowly to join FAITH, their eyes searching off in the distance to where FAITH is pointing.

THOMAS
What is it? Faith? What?

FAITH
Didn’t you see it?

THOMAS
See what? There’s nothing there, Faith.

FAITH
I saw something. It looked just like a person, a man. Over there.
FAITH points to the tree. We can see that there is nothing there.
I know I saw it. From the window I saw it. Dad?

THORNE
(as if speaking to a young child)
I don’t see anything there, dear.

FAITH
Susanna?

SUSANNA
It was probably just shadows, Faith.

THORNE
SUSANNA goes over to FAITH and places a gentle and soothing hand on the latter’s arm.
That or an animal in the tree. A bird even. Come on, Faith. Let’s go back inside.

FAITH
No. No! There was no animal. There was something there. I saw it through the window. It looked like a man staring directly at me. I could see his eyes.

SUSANNA
(nervous giggling)
Stop trying to frighten me, Faith. You know how I must walk back home alone. And you know how scared I can get at the mention of ghosts and goblins.

FAITH walks over to the tree slowly, as if expecting something to be there, hiding behind the trunk, waiting to grab her. She looks around the entire trunk and, seeing that nothing is there, looks back to the three.

FAITH
(frustrated)
It was right here. I saw it. Why will you not believe me?

THOMAS
(soothingly, but also slightly annoyed)
Come here, Faith.

THOMAS walks over and loosely wraps his arms around his wife.

THOMAS
You’re alright now. I am sure that there was something there, but I am also sure there was not a person there. Just some animal. But there is nothing now.

THORNE
THOMAS leads FAITH back toward the house, but they stop once they get back to the others and join THORNE and SUSANNA.
Are you feeling alright, Faith?

FAITH
I’m fine. But, dad…

THORNE
(smiling uneasily, with a nervous chuckle)
An overactive imagination. That’s all.

A silence spreads over the small group. FAITH still searches the tree behind her with her eyes.

THORNE
I should get back inside the house, now. I must get back to my sermon for Sunday.

SUSANNA
SUSANNA walks FAITH a few steps away from the two men. SUSANNA tries to settle her friend’s mind with a reassuring hug.
(to FAITH)
You aren’t going mad on me, are you?

FAITH
(with a slight smile, to SUSANNA) No. But I wasn’t fooling either.

THORNE
(to THOMAS)
Look after her, Thomas. That is the duty of a husband.

THOMAS
I will.

SUSANNA
It’s late.
(smiling wide, to FAITH)

SUSANNA
SUSANNA hugs FAITH again. SUSANNA and FAITH walk back over to the two men.
I must be on my way.
(curtsying to THORNE)
Thank you, Reverend.
(touching Thomas gently on the arm and letting her hand slide down until it touches against THOMAS’s skin, she smiles)
Thomas. Good night.
(to FAITH)
Get some rest, now. Alright? I’ll come by again tomorrow and check in on you.

THORNE
(to SUSANNA)
Faith always complained to me and her mother of not having a sister, but I think God sent her you in order to give her one.

SUSANNA smiles.

THORNE
Come on, Susanna. I’ll walk you home.

THORNE turns to THOMAS and FAITH.

THORNE
Thank you both for this evening.

SUSANNA and THORNE begin to walk away. THOMAS begins to lead FAITH into the building, but after a few steps FAITH stops.

THOMAS
Faith?! What is it? Is it happening again?

FAITH turns in place a quarter turn, or so, looks up to the sky, and then falls in a heap to the ground.

THOMAS
(calling out to two who are near the edge of STAGE LEFT)
Reverend! Susanna! Help! Reverend!

SUSANNA and THORNE turn and look back. They see FAITH on the ground. Both run to her side.

THORNE
Not again! God no! BEAT Susanna! Quick! Get Dr. Lansing! As quickly as you can! Go!

SUSANNA sets off and EXITs STAGE LEFT.

THORNE
Thomas, we need to get her inside. Hurry!

As they bend down to pick her up and carry her off, FAITH’s body begins to convulse. She begins to shake, making strange guttural sounds and moaning cries.

THOMAS
Reverend?!

THORNE
Just hurry. Get her to a bed. There’s nothing we can do right now. We have to wait until the doctor gets here.

The two carry FAITH into the house. The lights dim on the bare stage and then go out.

 

Scene 2

 

When the LIGHTs OPEN, we see THOMAS sitting alone on the porch steps. In his hand is a stick which he twirls around in the air. From the house ENTER to the STAGE an older man with a brown coat, in his hand he carries a leather bag, tarnished and beaten by the years. He is DR. DANIEL LANSING. THOMAS gets up and drops the stick when LANSING ENTERs.

THOMAS
How is she, doctor?

LANSING
Shhh. Come out further from the house.

THOMAS
The two walk out to CENTER STAGE.
Doctor?

LANSING
She’s had another spell. This one was serious. Her mouth was cut from where she bit.
(he shakes his head)
She could have bitten her tongue off. Luckily though, there seems to be no signs of real damage. But…

THOMAS
LANSING places the bag on the ground.
But what?

LANSING
But, these episodes are happening far too frequently now, Thomas. This is, what, her fifth attack in as many days?

LANSING
THOMAS nods his head in agreement.
And they seem only to be getting worse, more violent. This was her most violent yet. I am only concerned about what may happen next, Thomas. I really don’t understand it all.

THOMAS
Is there anything that can be done? Anything?

LANSING
That is what troubles me. The only thing…
LANSING is cut short by THORNE’s ENTRANCE to the STAGE from the house. THORNE quietly walks up to the two men. They watch him in silence.

THORNE
She’s resting now. Asleep.
(to LANSING)
Please Daniel, continue.

LANSING
(to THORNE)
Jonathan, I honestly cannot say for certain what this is.

THOMAS
THORNE nods his head, his face tight in thought.
You were saying that there may be something that can be done?

LANSING
There is one procedure that I can think of. It is something that I have only heard of, however. I have read about it many times, but have never actually seen it performed. It is a practice that has been used for a very long time, but it is something that I do not want to do. Do you understand?
LANSING turns away from the two men and walks a few paces away and then returns.
Essentially, we bleed the illness from her. If the disease is in her blood, we must rid it from her body, let the disease run its way from the inside out.

LANSING
THOMAS and THORNE look at each other silently.
(quietly, as if afraid to be heard)
It is a practice frequently used in ridding a person of demons and…

THOMAS
Demons?! Is it the devil inside her? Reverend?

LANSING
No. No, no, no. That is not what I am saying. Listen, Thomas. Please, hear me out first. This is a practice used for that sort of thing–casting demons out–but it has been used for medical purposes. Many times, in fact. It is used for afflictions that confound us in the the medical world.

THORNE
Is it dangerous, Daniel?

LANSING
If done correctly, no. Painful, yes. But it should not be dangerous.

THORNE
Can you do it correctly?

LANSING
I believe I can, yes.

THORNE
Belief is a strange thing, Daniel. It constantly enjoys lying to you.

THORNE
The three men stand in silence. All three seem in deep thought, afraid of speaking. Finally: Is there anything else that can be done? If you are weary of it, then I cannot put trust in that.

LANSING
I have been sitting here all night thinking of something else. I have looked into her eyes up there and know that I do not want to shed her blood, but I cannot, in truth, think of anything else. I assure you both that I do not want to do this. But I can also assure you that if we do nothing, if we continue to wait, then there is the greater chance that nothing will change, or that things will only continue to get worse. BEAT Some people have hope in miracles, others pray in times like this. Personally, I am not a man who relies on either in desperate times. I would much rather do what I physically can.

THORNE
(to THOMAS)
What do you think, Thomas? You seem too quiet now. She is your wife, and, being such, you must make the final decision.

THOMAS
I…BEAT If this is something spiritual, the devil inside her, I…I am out-manned. I don’t know what to say. But, my trust is in Dr. Lansing’s judgment, and yours, Reverend.

LANSING
Thomas, I am not saying that it is a spiritual affliction. Do not mishear me.

THOMAS
I’m not. But if it is something bigger than us, then what can we do? If it is a spiritual battle, then it must be for her to decide with God and break.

THORNE
Don’t confuse faith and real life, Thomas. There is a difference. Besides prayer, there is nothing that can be done on a spiritual end. God will decide for Himself. Without us, Thomas. But if there is something that we can do, physically, even to help in the slightest, then I believe that it must be done.

THOMAS walks over to the tree in the back of the stage and studies it.

LANSING
We should wait until later. Tomorrow, if it can be helped. Not tonight. She is simply too weak now.
(to THORNE)
Jonathan, between you and me, I would like very much to stay clear of this. I would do everything else in my power not to perform this procedure.

THORNE
But what if there is nothing else to do. I cannot put complete stock in something that I do not wholly believe and I cannot ask you to do the same, but I can ask you as an old friend, do whatever it takes to protect her. Whatever you must to help her, Daniel.

LANSING
Alright, then. If we are to do this, if I cannot find some other treatment, it should be performed after one of the spells. The bad blood will be closer to the surface and easier to extract. Hopefully she does not have another spell like today’s. But, if she were to have a minor attack, then we might be able to get it done quickly. You must keep an eye on her, Jonathan. And Thomas…

THOMAS rejoins the other two men.

LANSING
(to THOMAS)
Thomas, it is vital that you keep her rested for the next few days. Any kind of excitement can bring on another one of these spells. The worst thing is that she have another attack as closely to this one today. Do you understand?

THOMAS
THOMAS looks away from the two men, then up to the sky.
Yes, I do.

LANSING
Thomas, this is of the utmost importance. Watch her. Keep her calm, comfortable. And both of you, do not tell or even hint to her of this thing. Keep her unaware. It may be the only thing that can help her and give her some peace.

The LIGHTS dim and then go out completely.

 

Scene 3

 

The LIGHTS OPEN and show the STAGE as before, deserted, quiet. THOMAS ENTERs from the house. He slowly walks down the steps and across the STAGE. He walks over to the tree, looks at it, as if examining its make-up, trying to understand what fibers create it. He begins to walk away, then he brings his hands to his face. He slowly, almost mechanically, falls to his knees. He is facing the audience. He bends his face down, kissing the ground. Then he raises his head. His eyes remain closed.

THOMAS
(he lets out a loud moan, almost a stifled yell of pain and anguish, then softly)

FAITH
Father. Forgive those who know no better, those who cannot believe. Forgive the sinners who are tainted by the presence of evil and shun Your power and Your grace. Those who do not fear You oh Lord, those who do not love you. Forgive her, Father. Forgive her. Please.

THOMAS continues his prayer in silence, only his mouth moves. No sound. He bends his face back to the ground and kisses the dirt again, then he brings himself up again. He sits there, kneeling, rocking gently back and forth.

From the house ENTERs FAITH. She has a blanket draped over her shoulders, her hair looks matted, her face flushed a ghastly white.

FAITH
Thomas?

THOMAS
THOMAS juts his eyes open and turns to face her. She is standing next to him.
What are you doing? (he stands)
You shouldn’t be up. You are not supposed to be outside. The doctor said that you need rest.

FAITH
I woke and you were not there.

THOMAS
I came out here to pray.

FAITH
I know. BEAT I slept inside, and in that sleep I was able to dream. I haven’t remembered the feeling of dreams in days. They were hazy dreams, but they seemed so real, like I could reach my hand out in that dream and grab hold of it… (she looks away from him at the night sky) That haze seemed more real than this. (she pulls the blanket tighter) I wanted to grasp what I saw, wanted to believe in the feeling I felt inside my dream. It was a numbing comfort to me I cannot begin to describe. And, in the dream, you were there and we were surrounded by trees, but you were so far away from me, removed to some distant place too far for me to run to, only close enough to see. An outline in the dark of the woods was all. But, I felt somehow comforted in being alone, being solitary. Then, you turned and left me and as I watched you walk deeper into the trees, further from me, I felt a hand rest itself upon my shoulder–I can still feel it there–and I felt a sense of home and belonging that I have never felt before. And then I woke up and you were gone.

THOMAS
(defensively)
What are you saying, Faith? What is that supposed to mean to me?

FAITH
I cannot tell who you truly are, Thomas. I feel no comfort with you anymore. You have so many different faces you put on–one with company, one with me, with my father, when you’re alone. They are all different. I do not know who you are, and I want to, but I don’t!

THOMAS
I am who I have always been.

FAITH
But who is that?

THOMAS
(angrily)
You don’t!…

FAITH
No! You don’t, Thomas! You pretend to be someone you aren’t. You hide behind your prayer and in the church meetings with everyone else who can’t decide for themselves who they want to be. You lie to them while you lie to yourself. And then you come to me and lie, and I can’t tell what is worse.

THOMAS
You cannot say such things. To criticize God, His people, me!…

FAITH
I’m not. But I cannot pretend to be the content wife of a man who is lost to himself. Do you think God can help you understand who you are? Is that why you kneel? Are you so afraid of what you might find if you were to ask yourself the questions you ask God?

THOMAS
Dr. Lansing was right. (looking up, whispering) My God, help her.

FAITH
He was right about what?
He is silent.
About what, Thomas?!

THOMAS
Faith, this is not you speaking now. I can see it in your face. It is draining the life from you.

FAITH
What does that mean?

THOMAS
The devil is inside of you, Faith. Lucifer himself. I can see it. That Godforsaken wretch is destroying you! Can you not feel it?
THOMAS grabs hold of FAITH’s shoulders and shakes her back and forth.
Get out of her, you beast!

FAITH
(she screams out) Thomas! Stop!
THOMAS lets go and walks away, then begins to pace back and forth.
You’re mad, Thomas! There is no reason to you.

THOMAS
This is black magic. Witchcraft. You are cursed. Satan has gotten into your soul and painted it black, Faith. But God can deliver you!

FAITH
(she takes a deep sighed breath and speaks in a hushed voice, almost a whisper)
No, Thomas. No. I am not cursed. You are the one who is truly cursed. You may not come to see it until it you never understood you had, but you will one day realize it. There is more to life than belief in something you cannot see. There is a life that you can see, one you can feel and touch and taste. It is a good life, Thomas. But it is a life that you have never truly lived, because of your own fear. Why do you hide yourself from this reality? Why hide yourself in the darkness of yourself?
(pleadingly)
What are you so afraid of, Thomas?

FAITH
Silence.
I look at you now, huddled in some corner, praying to God, Who is watching you destroy the life He has given you.
(She begins to speak louder and with more impassioned vigor)
What is it that you are so frightened by, Thomas? What is it that makes you turn your back on everything good in this life? BEAT Satan is not inside me! Yes, Thomas, there is a God. I can believe that. I see it when I open my eyes and look at my world, but you, if you live your whole life with your eyes covered, then you will truly miss what God is. He is not found in some darkened corner, or a bible, or even a prayer. (almost out of breath) He is out here. In us. In you. In me, Thomas. In life!

FAITH begins to turn to leave, but falls again to the ground. THOMAS watches in wide-eyed shock. FAITH tries to get to her feet, but loses her balance and falls to a rest on the ground. THOMAS stands still, not knowing what to do. He starts toward her, but then stops and EXITs STAGE LEFT, leaving her lying on the ground alone. The LIGHTS dim, save for a barely perceptible beam on FAITH, which lingers for a few short seconds before it goes dark.

 

Scene 4

 

The LIGHTS OPEN on the STAGE. LANSING ENTERs from STAGE LEFT; he is in a hurry. In his hand he carries his leather bag. As he approaches CENTER STAGE, THOMAS ENTERs from the house. THOMAS walks over to meet the doctor.

LANSING
Did you do as I told you? Did you take her inside?
LANSING sets the bag at his feet.

THOMAS
She’s resting on the bed again. I didn’t know what to do.

LANSING
What happened, Thomas? I told you not to upset her. I told you she needs rest. She needs comfort. Was she bothered by anything?

THOMAS
I’m sorry.

LANSING
Do not be sorry for me, Thomas. It isn’t me who’s lying there. BEAT And it isn’t you, either. Remember that.

THOMAS
I don’t know what’s happening. Something–I don’t know what–but something is wrong with her, something inside her. She speaks against God, against me. Dr. Lansing, she speaks against this town. What can I do with that? She’s never acted in this manner before.

LANSING
You first need to be strong, Thomas, for her and for yourself. You cannot simply watch what is happening and seek pity for it. No one will give you that pity. Stand firm. We must address what is happening now. That is the only thing that we are in control of. Everything else is out of our hands. Do you understand me, Thomas?

THOMAS
(nodding)
And do what?

LANSING
Whatever it is that we can.
From the house ENTERs THORNE to the STAGE.

THORNE
She’s just fallen asleep. (to LANSING, as if suddenly realizing that he is there) Thank you for coming so quickly, Daniel.

LANSING
Jonathan, we have known each other too long to count. I have spent the entire night since I left you looking through all of my journals, hoping to find some alternative remedy that we can use, but I have not found one. The only known way we may be able to help her is to perform the bleeding. BEAT I won’t lie to you, either of you–I have told you before–I do not want to do this, but I believe that we are out of time to search for other options. I leave this decision in your hands now.

THORNE
Will this procedure work? Can it cure her, Daniel?

LANSING
These spells are occurring too frequent to be overlooked. Provoked or not, they need to be dealt with directly.

THOMAS
Can she be cured, though?

LANSING
In truth, Thomas, it is impossible to tell for certain. I have heard of this procedure curing people with different illnesses and diseases, some similar to Faith’s, but I cannot say that she will be cured, or that we can rid her of this disease, or whatever it is that afflicts her.
(with great thought)
I honestly cannot look either of you in the eye and say this. You can pray about this; I, however, prefer to treat her using the extent of my knowledge and the belief in goodness that I hold to.

THORNE
THORNE and THOMAS stand in silence. THORNE raises his hand to his face and walks around the STAGE, pacing back and forth in deep and anguished thought. THORNE stops and looks at LANSING.
What do you need from us, then?

LANSING
And you’re sure you want to go through with this? BEAT Jonathan? Thomas?

THORNE
If there is a chance of helping her, then I could not rightfully call myself her father if I did not take it.

LANSING
Alright, then.
(LANSING thinks)
I need two baskets and a chair from you, Jonathan.

THORNE EXITs STAGE RIGHT into the house. LANSING turns to THOMAS.

LANSING
We need your help.

THOMAS
Whatever I can do.

LANSING
Go to the stables. We need straps of leather, as close to three arm lengths as you can, two or three should do. Quick. We need to begin before day breaks, while the air is still cool enough and the disease is still near the surface of her skin.

THOMAS EXITs STAGE LEFT. LANSING kneels down and opens the bag that still rests at his feet. He pulls out a pocket watch which hangs from a chain attached to his vest and looks at the time, then replaces it. He takes off his coat and folds it neatly and lays it next to the bag. ENTER THORNE STAGE RIGHT carrying a chair with two wooden water pails resting in the wooden seat.

THORNE
Will this do, Daniel?

LANSING
It should.
LANSING stands and pulls up his sleeves. He is deliberate in his actions.
I suggest you do the same.
THORNE looks at LANSING, confused.
Take off your coat.

THORNE puts down the chair and pails and takes his coat off and rolls up his sleeves. ENTER THOMAS STAGE LEFT with three strips of leather belting, each three to four feet in length. THOMAS hands them to LANSING who pulls the straps taut.

LANSING
These should work fine.

THORNE
Should I wake Faith?

LANSING
(nodding)
Be gentle, be kind. Do not show signs of any stress in your voice or manners. Be prepared, both of you, for her to react with an…unease. I wouldn’t doubt that she will even become violent in the process, with us and herself. We need to sit her down and strap her feet and arms. You both will need to secure her as tightly as possible.
(to THORNE)
Jonathan, you will need to keep her in the seat.
(to THOMAS)
Thomas, you need to bind her tightly, her arms and her legs. She cannot have any mobility. She cannot move.

LANSING
THORNE turns to walk into the house.
Jonathan.
THORNE turns.

LANSING
This is the last chance to stop this, to try to find something else. Either of you.

BEAT. LANSING turns to THOMAS, then back to THORNE. THORNE takes a deep breath, shakes his head and EXITs STAGE RIGHT into the house. THOMAS nervously paces back and forth. LANSING looks at the ground, then raises his hands, inspecting them.

LANSING
You need to be calm, Thomas. Breathe in and breathe out. You will not be of any use to us if you don’t have a clear head.

THOMAS
THOMAS stops.
I have tried to help her through this. All of it, since it began. But, I don’t know. She seems so distant, so…almost as if her mind were absent from her body. She’s become like some chair in the corner of a room that sits there alone, sometimes rocking back and forth, other times just resting quietly. And I try to go to her, but she doesn’t allow me.

LANSING
You need to understand that she is her own person. I have seen the way you try to restrict her, Thomas. I am not saying you’re wrong in thought, or that it is bad even–it is not my place to do so–but anyone, any thing kept under such strict guard will cease to be alive. They simply will not survive. They cannot truly live under such overbearing pressure.

THOMAS looks at him, slight contempt in his eyes and then looks away.

LANSING
I am not judging you as a husband, or as a person. I am merely saying that sometimes a person must let something go in order to keep it. Sometimes, Thomas, the only way to hold something dear is to allow it a chance to live on its own, free.

THOMAS
But these things, whatever they are that are making her like this, these things happening to her, it’s the devil inside of her. Demons, just as you said. The things that escape her tongue, Dr. Lansing, the looks on her face some evenings when I sit across from her, the dizziness and fainting which take hold of her. It isn’t right. It isn’t normal. She is infected with evil. In my heart, I know it.

LANSING
I cannot tell you that demons do not exist. I believe in a God, so I must believe in the devil, I suppose. But, Thomas, there are plenty of medical explanations for the things happening to her. I cannot see a God existing that allows such evil to enter a person like Faith.

THOMAS
But you haven’t seen the things I have.

LANSING
True, and you have not seen the things that I have seen, or the things that you yourself do. We all carry evil within us. We all have sin in our hearts. But, it is how we overcome that sin and evil that we become truly righteous. Every human will have times of weakness. But they will also have more times of goodness, love, kindness. My only hope tonight is to allow your wife to have more chances to show that love. You must look beyond what you think you see and glimpse at what really is, Thomas.

THORNE
ENTER THORNE with his arms around FAITH from STAGE RIGHT. FAITH is wrapped in a large quilt. She is rubbing her eyes. Then she holds her head with her hands. She staggers toward LANSING and THOMAS.

Go ahead and sit down, Faith. Dr. Lansing only wants to check how you’re feeling.

LANSING
FAITH sits. THOMAS walks over to THORNE. They both stand behind the seated girl.
Faith, my dear. How are you feeling tonight?

FAITH
Tired. My head feels heavy. BEAT And my eyes hurt.

LANSING
(soothingly)
Alright. That’s alright. Now, let’s have a look at your eyes. Go ahead and open them.
LANSING studies her face. He talks in a hushed and pacifying whisper.

LANSING
Alright. Faith. I know this will be uncomfortable, but you must relax. Alright? Just relax.
LANSING motions to THORNE and THOMAS with his head.

LANSING
(soothing whisper)
Relax now. Just relax. Shhh. Shhhhh.

FAITH
THORNE puts his hands on FAITH’s shoulders, keeping her seated.
Dad?! What…
THOMAS grabs the leather from the ground and begins to tie FAITH’s wrists. She flails hard and helplessly. She screams indistinguishable sounds. Tears stream down her panic stricken face. THOMAS moves to her legs and begins to tighten the leather. She still screams. The only words that can be heard are pleas from FAITH to “Stop!” THOMAS continues. FAITH begins to buck in the chair. Even with THORNE holding it down, the chair almost tips. She kicks, connecting with THOMAS’s face, sending him sprawling backward.

THOMAS
Christ!
THOMAS goes back and finishes the knotted leather. The three step back and look at FAITH sitting helplessly in the chair, her head down in a dazed stupor. THOMAS holds his face where she kicked him.

LANSING
Faith?

LANSING
FAITH looks away, giving no response. Her eyes show her dejection and confusion.
Faith?

LANSING
FAITH looks up with tears streaming down her face.
Please forgive us.

LANSING
FAITH’s head hangs back down.
Thomas. Get my bag.
THOMAS goes and picks up the bag and hands it to LANSING. LANSING reaches in and pulls out a short, sharp blade. He looks at the other two, who stand motionless in front of the strapped girl.

LANSING
Get the buckets and place them on either side of her, under her arms.
THORNE and THOMAS do so. LANSING walks over to the chair. He looks up.

LANSING
Forgive me.
LANSING goes to FAITH’s right arm and pulls up the sleeve. The girl looks over at him, seeming too tired to react. When she realizes what is about to happen, she tries to pull away, but THORNE restrains her, holding her arm still for LANSING. LANSING places the blade to her skin and cuts into it a small hole. She screams into the night. Blood begins to trickle down to her hand and drip, some into the buckets, the rest to the ground. She begins to struggle hard. THORNE moves to stop LANSING, but is restrained by THOMAS. LANSING turns to the two others.

It’s too late to stop now. It must be finished.

FAITH
LANSING moves up her arm and cuts another hole. FAITH continues to cry in hyperventilated panic. LANSING moves to the right arm and does the same. She kicks with her strapped feet, but to no avail. The LIGHTS begin to dim slowly, constantly, to a barely perceptible haze.
Why?! My God! Why?!

The LIGHTS dim, leaving the STAGE in complete darkness.

 

Scene 5

 

We wait in the dark here longer than at any other scene break. The LIGHTS eventually OPEN dimly on the STAGE now cleared of all remnants from the blood-letting scene. The tree in the back seems to loom over the STAGE, which is darkly lit, as if from a waxing moon. On the porch, in one of the wooden rocking chairs, sits THORNE. He is so silent that the we almost don’t see him there. He keeps to the shadows. Still. We notice him after he lights a match. The flame burns in the darkened porch. He lights a pipe, then takes the dying flame and lights a lantern. He shakes out the match and sets the wooden stub down. The flickering lights from the lantern and pipe throws his face in shaking shadow, silhouetting, then illuminating, then fleeing and leaving him to himself, silently and methodically smoking. He takes his hat off and sets it on the porch floor. He scratches his head. From STAGE LEFT ENTER LANSING. LANSING walks with his head down. When THORNE sees him approaching, he sets the pipe down, stands, and walks down the steps to meet the doctor.

THORNE
Daniel.

LANSING
(quickly)
How is she?

THORNE
I have sat here for the last three nights, staring awake at the moon, hoping in some small way to find something. BEAT I have not, though.

LANSING
How is Faith, Jonathan?

THORNE
(emotionally)
I cannot in truth say. I try, but…but how can I stand in front of her and look into her eyes with clear conscience.

LANSING
It had to be done, Jonathan. We had to try at least.

THORNE
Did we?
THORNE walks back to the porch and picks up his hat.

THORNE
Yesterday, another attack. Another spell. We may have tried, but we have failed to accomplish anything. And in the process, I’ve driven her from me.

LANSING
The spell was not nearly as bad as those previous. It may have worked still. The disease may still be leaving her body. BEAT Has she fallen today?

THORNE
THORNE sits again. Quiet. He looks down at his hat, studying its texture. LANSING sits in the chair next to the minister.
What do you think, Daniel? Is there any kind of order to all of this? Any reason to the ways of the world?

LANSING
You are asking me for answers? To life’s ways?

LANSING
THORNE nods his head solemnly.
I don’t know, Jonathan.

THORNE
Everyone hides behind their faith, behind belief. But belief in what? What is faith if we cannot truly understand ourselves? When we cannot look ourselves in a mirror and see anything resembling good.

LANSING
Maybe faith is our way of dealing with ourselves, of justifying the negative in life and hope…Yes, hope is a powerful thing, Jonathan. It lets us look past our lives and look to the future. It allows us to await what is next to come. No matter how troubling times may seem, there is still that future. That is what hope is. Some of us rely on belief for that hope, while others simply find it within themselves.

THORNE
But what is belief? Really? What is trusting something no one knows for a fact exists? Something we cannot see?

THORNE
THORNE sits silent. LANSING looks to the sky, rubbing his hands softly.
What are we supposed to believe in, Daniel? Belief in what?

LANSING
Belief in the truth. That there is something leading us forward, to some future. A belief that we are not alone. And we must put stock in the notion that there is something we cannot see.

THORNE
(much of this is spoken to no one in particular, almost talking to himself)
I have given up on that long ago, Daniel. That’s not what a minister should say, I know. But I am tired of lies and hiding behind some kind of guise of contentment and satisfaction. I am tired of devoting my life to a wayward thought, something that is as unsteady as a leaf drifting in an autumn breeze and realizing now–now that it’s too late–that it never truly added up to anything substantial, anything real. That I am not the better for that belief in a dream or a hope, but maybe more confused and lost than I could ever have been. That is what I see now. To not know the truth if it were spread before me, that is the fear that I have lived with.

LANSING
Sometimes the greatest truths in life are the lies that we tell ourselves, Jonathan. I remember you telling me that. I don’t know what faith is, or even what to believe. I try to think clearly, but the more I think, the hazier things get. Maybe it is simply better just to leave things as they are rather than seek out what might be.

THORNE
And keep lying to ourselves?

LANSING
Sometimes that is the best thing.

LANSING
They sit in silence. LANSING gets up.
I should go check on her.

LANSING walks into the building. The LIGHTS dim on THORNE sitting in quiet, looking up to the sky, gently rocking back and forth.

 

Scene 6

 

The STAGE remains the same; however, now it is lit by a bright sunshine light. It is morning. In the back, we can hear the faint whispers of birds in the trees and crickets singing in the grass. On the porch steps sits FAITH. Alone. She rubs her arms slowly, pulling up her sleeves and looking at her smooth skin and the small punctures that were left to remind her. From STAGE LEFT ENTERs SUSANNA. She walks over to her friend. FAITH looks up and sees SUSANNA and rises and walks over to meet the girl. They embrace and slowly and quietly they make their way back to the porch steps. They sit. SUSANNA looks at FAITH and smiles.

SUSANNA
I wanted to come sooner, but Dr. Lansing told me I should wait to see you and allow you time to heal.
(awkward and nervously)
How are you?

FAITH
(she nods her head)
It’s a week since I…I can’t truly tell you what I think of it all…how I feel. BEAT I don’t know, Susanna.

SUSANNA
Have you been struck with another spell?
There is an uncomfortable silence.

SUSANNA
We don’t have to discuss this. It’s alright, Faith. I’m sorry to have mentioned it.

FAITH
No. It’s alright. I had a spell a few days after, but nothing since that one.

SUSANNA
That’s good to hear!
Another silence.

SUSANNA
The season is changing. It’s becoming warmer. Do you feel it? It feels so nice. Don’t you think?
A silence, FAITH looks around her, seemingly lost.

FAITH
(almost in a whisper) I’m seeing things, Susanna.

SUSANNA
What?

FAITH
I’m seeing things that I cannot say are real or not. It’s strange, but not frightening. It’s…comforting.

SUSANNA
What types of things do you see?

FAITH
Since the night of my last spell, I’ve seen him. Every night he comes to me. He watches me. I can feel him, even when he’s not there. I feel him.

SUSANNA
Who?

FAITH
FAITH smiles.
I don’t know. I can’t even tell if he’s real or just imagined. I try to speak to him, but he never responds to me. He just stands there, in the shadow of the tree.
(she points over to the tree in CENTER STAGE)
I’m afraid that I’ll go to him, try to touch him and he’ll vanish, like a phantom. Or worse, I’m terrified that he won’t even be real. I want him to be real, though, Susanna. I want him to talk to me, to say something to me, to be there. I need him to be.

SUSANNA
This makes no sense, Faith. Has anyone else seen him? Thomas? Have you even told Thomas about this?

FAITH
Do you remember that afternoon, when we were all in the house and I looked out and saw something by the tree and I went out to look for him, and you all followed?

SUSANNA
I remember.

FAITH
That was him. That was the first time I saw him. BEAT I want him to exist. There’s something odd about him. I can’t even see what he looks like. He’s always dressed in black, his hat pulled so low I can’t see his face. But in that darkness, I know his eyes. They watch over me, clothe me in a gentleness I’ve never known before.

FAITH stands and walks over to the tree. SUSANNA follows timidly.

FAITH
Since he came back to me, I haven’t had a spell, I haven’t felt tired. I’ve never felt this alive in my life, Susanna! But I can’t tell if it’s him, or something else. I can’t tell if he is even there, or if it’s my mind deceiving me. BEAT But there is something in seeing him, in feeling his presence, knowing that he’s there watching over me. BEAT Do you believe in angels, Susanna?

SUSANNA
I do, but I also believe in demons, in evil, Faith. How do you know that this thing–whether it be real or created–how do you know that it’s gentle? kind? What if it’s temptation, sin, following you?

FAITH
I don’t know. I don’t. And it is that unknowing which has awakened me to life. It’s in the fear that he is not there at all which gives me hope. Hope, when all else seems void.

SUSANNA
You should speak with your father of this.

FAITH
He won’t look at me. I doubt that he would speak with me. He sits alone, in solitude, watching life pass before him and he doesn’t seem to notice. Just like everyone else in this town. I look at him and see how he judges me in his mind. I’m a failure to him, and I can’t stand to be so.

SUSANNA
There is a long silence.
And Thomas?

FAITH
What about him?

SUSANNA
What does he say of this? About any of it?

FAITH
I can’t bear to look at him. He continues to live in a world alone, a dream-world inhabited only by himself.

SUSANNA
He’s always seemed grounded to me. He’s so caring and gentle with you, Faith. You shouldn’t speak against him. If someone heard you…

FAITH
That is the lie he lives. He’s two separate men and I can’t tell who he is from one moment to the next. He’s not the same man I thought I loved.

SUSANNA
Could it be you, Faith?
FAITH looks blankly at her friend.

SUSANNA
Could you be the one who’s changed?
FAITH looks out across the STAGE. The two sit on the ground. They stay there in silence. SUSANNA massages her hands, rubbing them over each other, almost impatiently.

SUSANNA
What are you going to do, then? Continue to speak to a ghost you don’t even know is there?

FAITH
As long as he listens, I’ll continue to talk. He’s the only one I can speak openly to, without a feeling of judgment. With him, I feel peace and acceptance. It’s a feeling too rare to explain, one that I hope will never leave me. No one else makes me feel so peaceful and accepted as this man from the trees.

SUSANNA
I don’t judge you, Faith.

FAITH
Every one of us judges each other.
SUSANNA gives a loud exhale and stands. She turns and walks a few steps away from FAITH. SUSANNA turns back with a hurt look on her face.
It’s in our nature, Susanna.
SUSANNA turns quickly and hurries to EXIT STAGE LEFT. She does not run, but she is moving faster than a walk.

As SUSANNA leaves, FAITH stands and walks over to the tree. She sits at its base. She rubs her arms again and the LIGHTS dim.

 

Scene 7

 

The LIGHTS OPEN on the STAGE. The LIGHTS are not bright, but faded and dim, allowing a feeling of closing dusk. In CENTER STAGE, next to the tree, stands FAITH. She moves back and forth as if in confusion or deep concentration. She shakes her head, whispering to the ground. She looks haggard, tired: her hair is messy and her dress seems dirty from neglect. She stops and turns to the tree, as if looking at something beyond it. She sounds exasperated.

FAITH
I can’t. It isn’t that I don’t want to, but I can’t.
She continues to pace. As she walks, she shakes her head more, then returns to the tree.
Where can I go? Where can we go, then? It isn’t right. No one would understand.
(louder)
No. I don’t understand. I see you, but I don’t. How am I supposed to understand that? I feel…What? No. It’s not. No. I feel safe with you, like there’s nothing wrong. BEAT Who are you, then?! We can’t. Please. Don’t ask me to. I can’t.

From out of the house walks THOMAS. He looks up to the sky and then rubs his eyes. He doesn’t see FAITH until he walks out onto the steps of the porch. He stops and looks at her. He inches his way closer. FAITH’s back is to him.

FAITH
I believe you. I do.

FAITH begins pacing again, running her hands through her hair. She stops when she sees THOMAS.

THOMAS
(accusatory)
Who are you speaking with, Faith?

FAITH
(flustered)
I…I was talking to myself.

THOMAS
(demanding)
No, you weren’t. You were talking to someone.

FAITH
Who?
THOMAS goes and looks around the tree.
I was praying.

THOMAS
Don’t lie to me, Faith! You are my wife and you will obey me. BEAT I thought you were clean of this. I know when you lie. I’ve seen it too much. Is this another spell? A different kind of spell? BEAT Faith? BEAT Answer me. Is it happening again?

FAITH
(with growing upset)
You couldn’t tell if I’m better, Thomas. You think that if you don’t pay attention to me, you can forget me? That you can forget what happened? What you did, what you allowed to be done, Thomas! (quietly) No. You can’t, because you see me and you remember what you let happen to me.

THOMAS
(joyous, almost)
It fixed you, Faith. You’re healed because of that night.

FAITH
I am fixed, but it wasn’t from that night, and it was never because of you, Thomas.
THOMAS hangs his head for a few seconds, then raises it back up. He walks over to the tree, looking around it again, searching for some sign of a being.

THOMAS
(quietly)
Who were you speaking with, Faith? Who was here?
THOMAS walks around behind the tree again.
I saw you speaking with someone. There’s no one here, Faith. Where did they go?
He looks at her. She remains silent.

THOMAS
(softly)
Demons. The devil hasn’t left you. It remains inside you, changed of its shape, but it’s there. I saw you speaking to no one but the air.

FAITH
(shouting angrily)
Then that is your blindness, Thomas! Not mine!
THOMAS walks quickly over and slaps FAITH across her face. She hunches over, cowaring slightly, but then stands upright. THOMAS raises his hand again, but takes a deep breath, looking as if he wants to say something to her, but can’t, and then walks away into the house, EXITING STAGE RIGHT. She holds her cheek and then turns to the tree.
(quietly)
Alright. I’ll go. There’s nothing that remains for me here.

Scene 8

 

The LIGHTS OPEN on the STAGE, still illuminated with minimal lighting, possibly even darker than before. In the distance, an owl’s calls can be heard. It feels late, dark, quiet. Nothing is on the STAGE, save the tree and the house’s porch and steps. It stays undisturbed for quite a while, causing an unsaid tension to arise in the audience. Crickets’ chirps join in the chorus of the owl and the pair begin to sing their song to the voided nothing. Not from inside the house, but from behind the tree ENTERs THOMAS. In his hand, he carries a black-metal shotgun. We can barely decipher it in the near darkness. He begins to circle around the tree. He raises the gun a little and peers around the trunk of the tree. He lets out a shallow sigh and then walks over toward the house. As he reaches the steps and begins to mount them, he stops at the sounds of crunching twigs from footsteps headed toward him. He looks to STAGE LEFT and waits. He begins to raise the gun up, very very slightly, but drops it back down when he sees who is there. From STAGE LEFT ENTERs SUSANNA. THOMAS sets the gun down on the steps and walks over to meet the girl.

SUSANNA
I’m sorry, Thomas. I know it’s late.

THOMAS
It is. Is something wrong?

SUSANNA
I saw the reverend today, in the town. He seemed so sad and upset, like he didn’t want to speak to anyone. I asked about Faith, how she was, but, he only turned from me and walked in the opposite direction without saying a word. I’ve never seen him like that.

THOMAS
He’s not been here, to the house, in nearly two weeks. He would stay outside the house at night, but he’s stopped coming all together. BEAT He’s embarrassed, I am sure he is. It’s not hard not to be. It’s hard to walk in the town, now, with everyone stopping their conversations when you walk by, when you can hear murmurs under their hushed breaths, and feel their eyes boring into you, under the skin, and knowing that they’re simply standing there, watching you the while, questioning you.

SUSANNA
No one thinks that way.

THOMAS
Then what do they think? What do they think, Susanna?!

THOMAS
SUSANNA I…
SUSANNA hesitates and begins to walk away. THOMAS follows her a few steps, then she turns and moves back toward him and stops.
I’m sorry. It’s not been easy. For any of us, I know.

THOMAS reaches out and holds SUSANNA’s arm gently. She looks down at his hand, then walks toward the house a little, letting his hand fall off of her. He watches her. Then, she turns.

SUSANNA
How is she. Thomas? Truthfully. I saw her three days past and…I don’t know. She was changed somehow. I don’t even know how to say it, but there was something there that wasn’t before. Something new. Something. I haven’t seen her that way since we were little girls playing together in the woods. I remember her then, how she would run away from where I was and hide among the trees, and she would speak to me of the fairies and angels that she had seen while she was hiding. It was like she was living in a world separate from this, a distance away, separate from me. In one way, I admired her for that, but in another way she always scared me. And it seems to be back again, and I don’t know what to say about it.
THOMAS walks over to SUSANNA and faces her.

THOMAS
I’ve done everything to support her, to love her, Susanna. Everything that I can think.
(with sadness)
I’ve tried, but she only rejects it, she rejects me. I don’t know why. I look into her face as if I’m looking at some other being.
(quietly now, self pitying)
I can’t live this way, wishing she were different than what she’s become. I can’t do it, Susanna. I can’t.

SUSANNA
You’re too good of a man, Thomas. I see it. I see what you’re doing for her, and how she responds to you. I do see it, Thomas. BEAT Where is she?

THOMAS
Sleeping.
SUSANNA walks over and begins to climb the stairs of the porch.

THOMAS
Don’t disturb her now, Susanna. She seems even further gone tonight. I pray that some sleep may help to settle her. I pray that she can wake and we can all feel as if we’ve been living some horrible dream.

SUSANNA
But we’re not, Thomas.

THOMAS
I know.
(sadly)

SUSANNA
SUSANNA walks down the steps, but stops where the gun rests against the porch.
What’s this for?

THOMAS
I thought hunting may settle my mind.

SUSANNA
Has it?

THOMAS
No.

SUSANNA
I’m sorry to hear that.

THOMAS
That’s not the only reason, though…for the gun, for going into the woods.

SUSANNA
What’s the other reason?

THOMAS
Have you seen anyone in town recently, or heard of some person newly arrived?

SUSANNA
Not that I can recall. Why?

THOMAS
No reason, I suppose. I was just curious.
SUSANNA looks away and then back to him. She seems cautious, timid.

SUSANNA
Have you seen him, too?

THOMAS
What?

SUSANNA
The man. Have you seen him, too? I thought it was her madness speaking through her.

THOMAS
Who are you speaking of?

SUSANNA
Whoever or whatever it is that Faith has seen.

THOMAS
What has she seen?

SUSANNA
She hasn’t told you? BEAT Faith told me the other day that she’s been…visited by something, or someone. I cannot tell for certain if there’s truth to what she says or not. It seemed like madness. When she told me, she seemed somehow separated from everything. That’s mainly why I’m here tonight, to see if she was truthful the other day. But I’m sure it’s only her mind, Thomas. I feel, when I see her, that she has lost her hold on herself…Lost to everything in our world. I feel scared, Thomas, even when I think of her and me and the way we were. I don’t know what to do, or what she’s done already.

THOMAS
She’s never spoken of anyone, or thing, to me.
THOMAS walks around, his head searching above him for guidance. He shakes his head.

THOMAS
Whatever it is, it must be in her mind. I haven’t not…There hasn’t been anyone that I’ve noticed, but I don’t know. I don’t know, Susanna.
(pleadingly)
What am I to do with her?
THOMAS rubs his face with his hands.

SUSANNA
I should go.
SUSANNA turns and is about to walk off, but is stopped by THOMAS, who walks after her.

THOMAS
Wait. Please. I’m sorry. I haven’t had anyone to…I’ve just forgotten who she is, and what she was like. I feel so alone, Susanna. Earlier tonight, she spoke to me. But she wasn’t herself. I knew then that she’s no longer my wife, but something controlled. And I don’t know what I’m meant to do. I don’t know what God wants of me.

THOMAS hangs his head. SUSANNA walks over to him and wraps her arms softly and quietly about him.

SUSANNA
You’re not alone, Thomas. You said so yourself. We all feel the same loss with her.

THOMAS brings his head up and looks gently into her eyes. He brings her closer to him with his arms. Slowly, he brings his face to hers and they kiss. As they embrace each other, a loud clatter is heard from within the house. They break apart from each other, look at one another, and then move toward the house. THOMAS runs up the porch stairs and EXITs STAGE RIGHT, yelling to SUSANNA to stay behind. SUSANNA paces back and forth frantically, then moves up the steps, as well. As she reaches the porch, THOMAS ENTERs the STAGE from the house. He is out of breath, his eyes search the darkness frantically.

SUSANNA
What is it, Thomas? Is she alright? What is it?!

THOMAS
She’s gone! She’s not in the house! She’s gone!

The LIGHTS dim completely.

 

Scene 9

 

The LIGHTS OPEN. Unlike before, however, the lights are bright, illuminating the STAGE and its inhabitants. At CENTER STAGE is THORNE, his arms folded as he paces back and forth quietly, slowly. His head is down, sometimes shaking back and forth. He looks like a man directed in thought. Behind him, watching his friend, is LANSING. LANSING takes his watch from his pocket, looks at it, then replaces it. LANSING stops THORNE with a gentle hand on the pacing man’s arm.

LANSING
Jonathan, You must stop this.

THORNE
Stop? You cannot tell me to stop, Daniel! Ever!

LANSING backs away and looks toward the tree in the middle of the STAGE, turning his back to the audience. THORNE turns to leave, but stops. LANSING turns back to face THORNE.

THORNE
(sad, mournful; sorrow and regret cracking his voice)
We did this, Daniel. It was us. It was me.

LANSING
I was not anyone, Jonathan. We did what we thought we had to, what we thought we could do. We don’t even know anything yet. Everything is mere speculation.

THORNE walks away from LANSING.

THORNE
It has been a week. A week of wondering, of thinking, a week since waking and hearing her soft hum in the air, or the smell of the room lighten when she enters it. BEAT She’s not coming back. She’s out there, Daniel. She’s out there and I’m never going to see her again.
(with pain in his voice)
And it was me, Daniel. It was me who drove her away. She could be alone, by herself out there. She cannot survive that. A week! We have done all we can think to do: searched the town, the woods. And what’s come of it?! Nothing!
From his pocket, THORNE pulls out a small black bible. He looks at it and then lets it fall to the ground with a heavy thud, and walks a few steps away from it.

THORNE
I cannot pretend anymore, Daniel. I thought I could. The lies can no longer be truth. They’ve taken over now, spilled out, and this is what’s left. BEAT Faith was all I had left of this world. I spent the entirety of my life looking into the hope of another world, and in that process, I never noticed this world…The beauty of it fell dumbly on me.

LANSING
With beauty comes pain, Jonathan. You cannot turn your back on it.

THORNE
On what?

LANSING
On hope.

THORNE
Stop speaking to me of hope.
LANSING walks over and picks up the bible. He dusts it off.

LANSING
You cannot turn your back on it though. And this (he holds up the bible) This is hope. It may be truth, or it may be fiction. I cannot say which, but to most, it is hope. People, they twist and turn words to fit what they want, what they need. It is their search for hope that drives them to it. And that is not wrong, but, what is right in one man’s eyes may not be in another’s. Life is tempered by seasons, always changing, constantly moving and flowing and shifting, up and down, hot and cool, beauty and destruction and then rebirth. That is life, Jonathan, and unless you have something to hold fast to, whatever it is–it does not matter what–it is something each individual must find for themselves–then we will be lost. As long as you hold tightly to that hope, life and all of its problems, its joys and defeats, that life will be lived well and be worth the trials we live through.

LANSING hands the bible back to THORNE, who looks at it and opens it in the middle, running his finger over the words.

LANSING
Maybe Faith simply found that hope, Jonathan. Maybe she found her own path, and who are we to truly question the path of another? We have control only over ourselves and the way we each choose to live.

THORNE closes the bible and replaces it in his pocket. He looks up to the sky.

THORNE
I…

THORNE
THORNE walks slowly toward LANSING.
I was never able to apologize to her. (his voice breaks with emotion) To hold her one last time. (he begins to sob in muted bursts) To tell her what she meant.

LANSING
And she knew how you felt, Jonathan. She knew.
THORNE walks over and embraces the doctor, sobbing into the man’s shirt, while LANSING holds his friend, patting him gently on the back.

LANSING
She knew, Jonathan. And she loved you. She knew. And she continues to know it, wherever she is.
THORNE breaks from LANSING and walks slowly out to the tree and stops. From STAGE LEFT ENTERs THOMAS, followed closely behind by SUSANNA. LANSING watches carefully as the two walk over to THORNE, who moves to greet them.

THORNE
Is there any news, Thomas?

THOMAS
Nothing in the town, nor in the woods. We’ve been looking for days now, reverend. I don’t know how much more there is that we can do now.

THORNE
There is always something we can do, Thomas. Did you ask the townspeople?

THOMAS
(slightly agitated)
We’ve checked the woods, looked in the town, questioned the people. There’s nothing more to do. She may have wandered off in her demented state. It would be impossible for her to survive out there in the woods without any help. BEAT All that’s left for us is to pray and wait and try to move on with our own lives here, and focus on what is still left in front of us, what remains important.

THOMAS looks at SUSANNA, but SUSANNA looks away. THORNE paces with graceful determination to THOMAS and grabs the young man by the throat and pushes him back a few steps. LANSING watches without a movement. SUSANNA walks toward the two men grappling with one another, she puts her hands to her face and turns. THOMAS struggles to free himself of the hold, clawing at THORNE’s hand, but is unable to.

THORNE
Important?! Don’t you ever disrespect her in that manner again, Thomas. She is not something you can push aside and forget. She is your wife, and, more importantly, she is my daughter. If you ever speak of her that way again, I swear to you before God that I will quit you of your breathing. BEAT I see through you, Thomas. I have always seen through you. I have seen through your show of faith and kindness, your lies. With all your talk of God and prayer and Christian principle?! I see now that you are nothing but a coward, and by God I wish I had the strength to kill you.

THORNE
THORNE lets go of his hold on THOMAS. THOMAS staggers back and falls to the ground, holding his throat and gasping for air.
Unless you have something that can help us find her, I want you away from me. Do not so much as glance an eye’s blink in my direction, Thomas. Never again.
THOMAS stands and glares at the minister.

THOMAS
You are just as mad as she was! Possessed! All of you! The devil lives here.
(looking to the sky)
God, rid the world of these crazed blasphemers.

THOMAS
THOMAS begins to walk to STAGE LEFT. Then he turns to them.
God will judge you. Just as He has judged Faith, He will judge you. He will spare the clean and damn the wicked.

THOMAS EXITs STAGE LEFT.

THORNE looks down at his hands and then up to LANSING. LANSING nods his head and walks into the house, EXITing STAGE RIGHT. SUSANNA brushes tears from her eyes and looks back to where THOMAS left, then back to THORNE. A moment of silence passes between them.

SUSANNA
She didn’t leave alone, Father.

THORNE
What?

SUSANNA
Faith. She left with someone, or something, I suppose. She told me of it, said it was an angel. I never saw him, though, but she was so sure of it to me.

THORNE
Why didn’t you tell me of this? When was this?

SUSANNA
A couple weeks past.

SUSANNA
SUSANNA begins to pace the STAGE, allowing herself and her voice to become distressed, agitated.
Part of me wanted to believe she was mad, that she was seeing phantoms, apparitions. She was so convinced, though. I saw it in her eyes, Father. I was scared to say anything. But, since she told me, I find myself sitting alone, sitting there, wondering why I have never seen an angel, wondering why I have never been blessed, chosen…Thinking that maybe God has forsaken me and forgotten me. BEAT Maybe in some way I always knew that she was chosen. But I believed her, Father. As mad as it may be, I believed her, and for that, I hated her. I was scared and angry that she was able to see it and I wasn’t. I was afraid that i had done something wrong, a sin I could never clean myself of.
(she begins to cry a little)
I know that she is alright, though, wherever she is. I’m sorry, Father. I don’t know if you can accept that. I don’t know if I could, but I am. BEAT And I don’t know what I am meant to do now.

THORNE
THORNE looks at her and then back to the house. He brushes some tears from his eyes and then faces SUSANNA again.

This past week, I’ve found myself standing out here in this yard. BEAT I close my eyes and breathe in, and I smell the nature surrounding me. (he closes his eyes and lets his hands flow about him in the air) The trees, the dirt even. I hear the birds in their nests; they’re screaming to be fed. They’re full of innocence and consumed by some feeling they cannot yet understand. BEAT I remember her mother, the look on my wife’s face as she held Faith after she was born. There was a spark in her mother’s eyes of something so beautiful it cannot be properly named. Only felt. In the darkness of my mind, I look back to the house and I can see Faith open the door and walk out to meet me here, and I smile. I can hear her voice, yet, as hard as I’ve tried, I find myself unable to speak to her. Unable to do anything but smile.
(he opens his eyes)
I feel her in that darkness as I feel you standing here now. BEAT But when I open my eyes, the world is blurred by my tears. The beauty still surrounds me, the trees and the birds, the blue of the sky overhead and the rush of the creek water out in the distance there, but Faith is not there, and I’m left standing here by myself, and it isn’t until this moment, when I open my eyes, that I truly realize how alone I really am.

The two hold in silence for a moment before the LIGHTS dim on the two standing, facing each other without speaking, without moving. Their silhouettes hang like ghosts at dusk and then the lights darken and the STAGE is thrown into blackness.

 

~ END ~

The Caretaker by Wolfgang Prometheus Wright

Ossuary by Eleanor Paynter

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