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.
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?’
I told you she’d only care about the box.
Stephie, come on, look at your new carpark!
She’ll be happy enough in that yoke all day.
Ah well, she can drive it, can’t she?
You can push her.
FATHER and MOTHER kiss.
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.
I told you we should have got two.
One is enough in the house. Paul, put that down!
Come on, Paul, share with your sister.
Next year, they’ll be opening the presents in separate rooms!
FATHER backs away from an imaginary jet of water.
Paul, stop, stop!
Serves you right.
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.
What’s wrong, this is what you asked for, isn’t it?
You know Santa can’t change his letters after a certain stage.
He’s too old-fashioned for emails.
He’s not even on Twitter.
Stephie, what’s wrong?
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 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.
If you asked me now
What I wish you’d given me
Was a future.