PLAY #20: WHAT I REALLY WANTED FOR CHRISTMAS (DEC 20)

Three adults in their thirties.

STEPH looks on at FATHER and MOTHER.

FATHER and MOTHER give large presents to a young child.

Both the child and the presents are invisible.

 

STEPH

When I was two, I didn’t realize the rules.

‘Thank you’ was a part of my vocabulary

but it lacked real meaning

was triggered only by ‘Stephie, what do you say?’

 

MOTHER

I told you she’d only care about the box.

 

FATHER

Stephie, come on, look at your new carpark!

 

MOTHER

She’ll be happy enough in that yoke all day.

 

FATHER

Ah well, she can drive it, can’t she?

 

MOTHER

You can push her.

 

FATHER and MOTHER kiss.

 

STEPH

At six, I got what I had asked for

But it was only when I opened the box

That I realized that I didn’t want any Sylvanian family.

I wanted the water-gun that my brother got.

 

FATHER

I told you we should have got two.

 

MOTHER

One is enough in the house. Paul, put that down!

 

FATHER

Come on, Paul, share with your sister.

 

MOTHER

Next year, they’ll be opening the presents in separate rooms!

 

FATHER backs away from an imaginary jet of water.

 

FATHER

Paul, stop, stop!

 

MOTHER

Serves you right.

 

STEPH

At nine, I was old enough for some cunning

I’d slipped Santa a secret note

I was testing the boundaries of what was possible

Searching both of your faces for evidence of duplicity.

 

FATHER

What’s wrong, this is what you asked for, isn’t it?

 

MOTHER

You know Santa can’t change his letters after a certain stage.

 

FATHER

He’s too old-fashioned for emails.

 

MOTHER

He’s not even on Twitter.

 

FATHER

Stephie, what’s wrong?

 

STEPH

The years passed.

There was always something that I wanted more than I got.

Some secret intuition that I wished somebody had picked up on.

Proof that nobody really knew me the way I wanted.

Not you.

Not my boyfriends.

Not my girlfriends.

The book I was dying to read that I was sure somebody would buy for me instead of perfume.

The perfume that I counted on because I assumed that I would get it ever year.

I never felt rancor at the gap between what I wanted and what I got.

Just a twinge of disappointment

Not about the present or the thing

But about the lack of knowing me.

 

MOTHER and FATHER move very slowly, in stylized fashion.

Presenting the present, opening the wrapping paper…

Slow, stylized glee.

 

I wish there was a way to go back

Say not to bother with the flash and the fancy

Say don’t spend your time searching for the Pepa Pig lunchbox

Don’t worry about which Teenage Mutant Ninja turtle is my favourite

Don’t fill our house with waste and wrapping paper and batteries that we will lose

Do something about my future.

 

When I’m looking back at you across the years

I don’t feel bitterness

I see you as good people wanting the best for your children

Excited to give the things you didn’t get when you were small

I can see the love in your limbs

A love I’ve felt myself

A thing you never got to see

A sadness and a blessing

Because the seeing of a grandchild that would only be taken away

Would be too much

The knowing that your beautiful grandchild would die too young

Would grow up in a world changed and terrible

It would have been too much.

 

Still though

If you asked me now

What I wish you’d given me

Was a future.

 

Advertisements