Real Talk

A one-woman play in three parts.

Working Mother - - Contents -

Try­ing to balance ev­ery­thing can be a real night­mare.

SCENE 1 The stage is dark; in the cen­ter, a woman sleeps on a liv­ing-room couch. An alarm goes off. Woman sits up, looks at her phone and groans. NAR­RA­TOR: It’s 5:00 a.m. Our friend has just been roused from her only REM sleep of the night. She will not get this op­por­tu­nity again for an­other 20 hours. The couch be­came her so­lace at 1:00 a.m., when she es­caped the bru­tal con­fines of the bed she shares with a mas­sive man whose de­vi­ated sep­tum cre­ated a thun­der­ous, rat­tling snore, which woke her daugh­ters down the hall. She stum­bled through the dark to­ward the couch, over a mine­field of small, nearly in­vis­i­ble Lego bricks and mis­cel­la­neous shoes. Two hours into her sleep, she was again awak­ened, this time by the dog, scratch­ing to be let into the house. The dog pre­ferred to sleep out­side ev­ery night, ex­cept this one. Woman stands up and shuf­fles into a bath­room, closes the door. NAR­RA­TOR: The night of in­ter­rupted sleep is be­hind her, but dan­gers re­main. Walks past scale. Stops. Stares at it. NAR­RA­TOR: Our friend has ex­er­cised two days in a row—real ex­er­cise, like from an aer­o­bics DVD—and had sushi for din­ner last night, skip­ping the fried rice. There is a glim­mer of hope that just maybe the scale will re­flect her ef­forts. The jump­ing jacks in front of the very couch on which she suf­fered through poor sleep last night. The lift­ing of light hand weights. The stom­ach crunches—my God, the stom­ach crunches! Drop­ping her robe, she steps onto the scale. She looks down at the num­ber and screams. No one else in the house wakes up. They are all en­joy­ing deep REM sleep. NAR­RA­TOR: Our friend has gained 4 pounds. Even though it is still dark, morn­ing has ar­rived. Woman looks up, alarmed. WOMAN: To­mor­row is my daugh­ter’s birth­day! [Starts to hy­per­ven­ti­late.]

I don’t have bal­loons or a spe­cial break­fast for the morn­ing. I have to go to the gro­cery store … to­day. [ Screams] Woman sobs softly into her hands, and gets in the shower. SCENE 2 Woman is at an of­fice meet­ing with four other peo­ple.

WOMAN: And those are the 11 ini­tia­tives I am cur­rently un­der­tak­ing. I feel I am at max­i­mum ca­pac­ity, but with some all-nighters, I think I can get 75 per­cent of this com­pleted. [Woman leans in and looks at her co-worker speak­ing. Face grows dark.]

But I … [sput­ter­ing] … yes, but I don’t see why it’s a pri­or­ity

now … [starts to hy­per­ven­ti­late] … if I push ev­ery­thing else aside, di­vorce my hus­band and move away from my kids, straight into my of­fice, I sup­pose I could com­plete this, but …. [draws a deep breath and screams]. SCENE 3 The stage is again set like Scene 1. The woman is asleep on the couch. A spot­light shines on her, and she sits up, wide awake.

WOMAN: Oh, my good­ness [grabs her heart]. What a

night­mare. [Her breath­ing slows, and she calms down.] Faintly, a man snores. Soon, the snor­ing crescen­dos to a deaf­en­ing level. In be­tween snorts, a dog scratches fever­ishly at the door, bark­ing oc­ca­sion­ally.

Birth­day bal­loons float omi­nously to one side of her, just catch­ing her pe­riph­eral vi­sion.

The alarm on her phone goes off.

Woman draws a deep breath and screams. THE END

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