BRIANNA:American, black, 22, with long dreadlocks. She is very pretty. She is barefoot and wearing a hospital gown.
SADIE:American, white, 35, seven months pregnant. Her skin has a beautiful glow from pregnancy. She is barefoot and wearing a hospital gown.
TYLER:American, black, 28, a doctor, speaks with a Southern accent, in her first year of residency at the hospital. She is cute in a quirky way.
WENDY:American, white, 30, a doctor in her last year of residency at the hospital. She looks like the “girl next door” type.
The year 2024 in Anytown, U.S.A. A sterile white room in a hospital. BRIANNA GRACE SADIE
SADIEsit on the edge of exam tables. There is a large round clock on the wall that makes a ticking noise — ticktock, ticktock.
BRIANNA I hate it, I hate waiting. There must be something wrong with that clock, time is passing so slowly.
GRACE You’re both probably too young to remember when hospitals had magazines you could look at while you were waiting.
BRIANNA Magazines, like for real in print and not online?
SADIEsmile at each other.
SADIE Yeah, for real in print.
BRIANNA (To Sadie and Grace.) That’s what happened to all the trees. Thanks a lot.
The other women ignore her comment as they remember the good old days. GRACE SADIE
GRACEplays with a strand of her dark hair streaked with white.
SADIErubs her pregnant belly.
SADIE I remember, and the magazines were in waiting rooms.
BRIANNA Waiting rooms?
SADIE Rooms where everyone waited to see the doctor.
GRACE Yes, that was nice, and when it was time to see the doctor you’d be alone in the room, not with strangers.
SADIEbegins to cry.
BRIANNA Hey don’t cry, please don’t cry.
GRACE O.K., O.K., look, my name is Grace and this is —
BRIANNA My name is Brianna.
GRACE I’m here because I, well, I felt something in my breast — a lump, I guess.
BRIANNA Oh my God, are you O.K.?
BRIANNA (To distract Sadie.) And I’m here because I have really painful periods, like really painful. Like some old people are doing a Civil War re-enactment in my uterus and they want the South to win and black people to still be slaves. (Pause.) So now we all know each other and we’re not strangers anymore.
SADIEstops crying and looks incredulously at
BRIANNA. She starts laughing. The other two women also laugh.
SADIE My name is Sadie and I’m here because, you could guess, the baby. I’m sorry I was crying. It’s silly, but I really miss magazines.
BRIANNA That’s why you were crying? Over magazines?
SADIE Yes. It’s the hormones.
GRACE (To Sadie.) You remind me of my partner — you have the same smile. There was a mouse in our house and my partner wanted me to catch it before she gave birth to our baby. If we didn’t catch that mouse she said we would have to move, and she was serious. I laid out a trap and caught the mouse. My partner found it first and burst into tears. I have to admit, it was a cute little thing, furry with big eyes. She was so worried about its little mouse family and what if something like that happened to our little family?
BRIANNA Something like what?
GRACE My partner was worried someone would lay a trap for us, too.
SADIE Your partner?
SADIE Like your business partner?
BRIANNA Like you’re queer, like your wifey partner?
GRACE Yes. We waited too long to get married, and then gay marriage was made illegal.
SADIE I wouldn’t have thought you were gay. You don’t look gay. Not that people have to look gay to be gay, whatever looking gay looks like anyway.
BRIANNA Does the hospital know?
SADIE I would never tell.
BRIANNA Me neither, I would never tell.
GRACE It’s in my file. When they made us all register our sexual identities at the D.M.V. I didn’t lie.
An awkward silence. SADIE BRIANNA GRACE
SADIErubs her pregnant belly.
BRIANNAstudies her nails and stares at the clock.
GRACEtells us her thoughts. The other women do not hear her. The ticktock, ticktock of the clock gets a little louder.
GRACE One of the good things about being gay is that someone is always rubbing on your breasts. Lesbians love tits. She found it first — a small, hard little bump. I told her it was nothing. She wanted to believe me but made me promise to go to a doctor. We always keep our promises to each other. Our son’s kindergarten teacher called us in for a meeting. They said some of the parents didn’t want their kids to play with him because we’re gay. We put Peter in a private school. Fifty-thousand dollars a year to eat snacks and nap. Money is tight. Most doctors don’t take insurance anymore, not that anyone has it. The government shut down all of the Planned Parenthoods, so I couldn’t get a breast examination there or a referral for a mammogram. Now there are these state women’s health clinics. The night before my appointment at the state clinic, my partner and I made love, desperately drinking each other in. She still held onto me in her sleep. I hardly slept that night. I wanted to remember her before anything changed. I memorized the small of her back. The curve of her neck. In the morning, she woke me with soft kisses. With each kiss she said, “A promise is a promise is a promise.” At the state clinic, I filled out the form and gave them my driver’s license. I was told they couldn’t see me based on a moral objection to homosexuality. That’s how I ended up here. They’ll take anybody. This place is the worst. I was going to leave, but then I saw Sadie all alone and I stayed.
GRACE SADIE SADIE GRACE SADIE
GRACElooks away. We hear
SADIE’s thoughts, no one else does. The ticktock, ticktock of the clock gets a little louder.
SADIE My baby knows my heartbeat and I know hers in a way that no one else ever will. I love being pregnant. I have been dreaming a lot more. I guess that makes sense because I’ve been sleeping a lot more. I dreamt I was in a bathtub of mashed potatoes and the bar of soap was butter — that was amazing. I dreamt I was having sex with my college boyfriend — also amazing, but not bathtub-of-mashed-potatoes amazing. I dreamt that my husband was having an affair and I woke up pissed off and cussed him out. He told me he wasn’t cheating on me — which was true — and how beautiful I am. He is a good man. The thing about these dreams is that I’d move my arm in my dream and I’d feel my baby move her arm, or I’d walk in my dream and I’d feel my baby kick. Like she was dreaming my dream with me. People said it was my imagination, but I knew they were wrong. My baby and I, we dream together and in color. One night I was dreaming with my baby, but it was her dream not mine. I was swimming. The waters weren’t blue, they were pink and silver and so warm. Maybe I wasn’t swimming, maybe I was flying, flying and swimming. I was inside my own womb with my baby, dreaming. I have never felt so safe and loved in my entire life. It was a place you’d never want to leave. It felt so real. Then the waters turned cold and rough and shook us back and forth. It became harder and harder to breathe. I heard this little voice say, “Mommy, Mommy, help me.” Oh God, it was my baby. I woke up gasping for breath. I didn’t tell anyone. I knew no one would believe me.
I called the state clinic as soon as they opened to get an appointment. I wasn’t spotting so they wouldn’t see me. They told me I was overreacting. I pleaded, I spoke softly, I yelled and cried. They finally said I could come in the next day if I still wasn’t feeling well. A couple hours later I, I …
She starts screaming in agony. The other women hear her and rush to her side. She gets off the exam table and squats, holding her pregnant belly.
SADIE MY BABY, MY BABY.
GRACE Sadie it’s O.K. Just breathe, it’s O.K.
BRIANNA Oh my God, what’s wrong with her? Where’s the doctor — can’t they hear her?
SADIE MY BABY, MY BABY.
GRACE Sadie, Sadie, look at me. Look at me.
GRACE You don’t have to push. You’re tired, it’s O.K.
BRIANNA What is wrong with you? That is not what you are supposed to say to pregnant ladies. Push, Sadie. Push.
GRACE Brianna, you don’t know what you’re talking about. (Turns to Sadie.) You don’t have to punish yourself like this, it wasn’t your fault.
SADIE I wish to God this were a dream, but it isn’t.
GRACE No it’s not.
SADIE My baby is gone.
SADIE That’s good. I don’t want her in a place like this. How come you stayed?
GRACE You remind me of my partner, and she wouldn’t have wanted me to leave a woman in your condition alone. I’m a gentlelady.
SADIE (Calm, in a sad way now, drying her tears.) A gentlelady?
GRACE Like a gentleman, except a gentleLADY.
SADIEshakes her head and laughs a sad little laugh.
BRIANNA You two have lost your minds. I’m going to get a doctor.
BRIANNAgets up and goes to the door. She tries to open the door but can’t. She bangs on the door over and over again. She shouts for help.
GRACE Poor thing, she doesn’t know.
SADIE How are we going to tell her?
GRACE I was hoping she’d figure it out. I have to leave soon. Are you going to leave, too?
SADIE I don’t know. I want to, I’m just so tired.
BRIANNAgoes back over to the other women.
BRIANNA The doors, they’re locked. We can’t get out. I don’t even know what time it is. The clock, I think it’s fast and slow. I don’t know. Where’s my phone? Does anyone have a phone? Where’s my stuff? What’s going on?
SADIE Honey, tell us why you are here.
BRIANNA I told you, I have really bad periods.
GRACE What is the last thing you remember?
The ticktock, ticktock of the clock gets a little louder.
BRIANNA (Brianna slowly remembers.) I hadn’t been to a doctor in years. With the new state clinics, every woman gets one visit a year, but the lines are so long and there are waiting lists for the good places. The nearest clinic to me is three hours away. I mean, I’m fine except I have really bad periods. Nothing some aspirin, tequila and weed won’t help. I wasn’t really trying to have some doctor look at my vagina in an assembly line of vaginas anyway. One day, my cramps were so bad I couldn’t walk. My brother carried me in his arms to his car and my mom took me to the emergency room even though it would be thousands of dollars. I kept on saying I was O.K. and it was so much money, too much money, and I was O.K. I told them to stop the car, that I was going to get out and walk home. But they didn’t stop the car and I couldn’t walk. The windows of the car were open and the breeze felt so good. The doctor said he wished I would’ve come in sooner.
Footsteps are heard approaching the door. The doorknob turns. The women look at each other. SADIE TYLER WENDY
SADIEputs her finger to her lips as a sign to tell them they should be quiet. The women quickly get onto their individual exam tables and lie down. Enter the doctors
WENDY So did you get into the program before they ended affirmative action?
TYLER No. I got in here just like you.
WENDY Oh, wow. That’s great. You must be really smart. I don’t think we get a lot of people that are … from down south in this program. Well, here they are, the ladies.
WENDYmotions to the women on the tables.
TYLERcrosses herself. She looks around the room, finds a folding chair and stands on it. She takes the clock off the wall. It is still ticking. Ticktock, ticktock. She removes the batteries from the clock and puts it on the floor face down.
WENDY What did you do that for?
TYLER There shouldn’t be a clock in the morgue. My grandma taught me that. A clock will just make the dead linger when they should be on their way.
WENDY Good to know. O.K., let me turn on the rest of the lights so you can have your pick.
WENDYflips on another light switch and the room is revealed to be much larger than it appeared before. There are rows and rows of bodies of dead women on tables.
TYLER Oh my God, there are so many.
WENDY Yeah, and you better choose the right one. She’ll be with you for the whole semester, or as long as she lasts.
TYLER They’re all women.
WENDY Yes. The chart on the side of the table tells you what they died from.
GRACE’s chart and reads it.
TYLER Breast cancer, it was never treated.
TYLER Placental abruption, the placenta separated from the wall of the uterus too early. The baby didn’t get enough oxygen, the mother bled out.
BRIANNA’s chart and reads it.
TYLER Vaginal cancer, treatment was started well after the disease had progressed.
TYLERlooks at all three women on the tables in front of her.
TYLER They were all treatable illnesses, preventable.
WENDY Yes. O.K., who’s it going to be?
TYLER I think her.
TYLERblows on her hands and rubs them together to warm them.
WENDY It doesn’t matter if your hands are cold.
TYLER Yeah, right, O.K., of course.
TYLER BRIANNA BRIANNA WENDY
TYLERopens a drawer and takes out a white sheet. She drapes it over
BRIANNAas if she is tucking in a child at bedtime. She wheels
BRIANNAout of the room.
WENDYfollows, shutting the door behind them.
The rows and rows of dead women sit up on their tables.
End of play
Source : https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/04/10/t-magazine/patricia-ione-lloyd-play.html