"White City," Pt. 3
Scene IV: The White Room
(M lies on a white, raised, L-shaped table.)
(D stands, his back to her. He’s filling many large glass jars with cotton balls.)
D: Where did you come from?
Where were you before you came to the White City?
M: I don’t know.
All I remember is the fog,
my mother breathing, sleeping.
D: What did she look like?
(M sighs. She looks up at the overhead light. Looks back down. Looks at her hands.)
M: I don’t remember.
D: What were you doing when your mother was there,
with you, sleeping?
(Silence. M looks at the light, then smiles with a momentary recollection.)
M: I was making tea.
For her, I think.
The morning light was gray.
I put the sugar cube into the cup.
I watched the cube dissolve.
Put the spoon into the cup.
(D shifts. Some object or another clinks against a large glass jar.)
I stirred the grains of sugar
with a little steel spoon.
The sound of it. The spoon.
The steal spoon against the glass.
(Silence. D has now filled all of his large glass jars with cotton balls.)
(He turns and nods at M. She nods and gestures to the jars.)
M: And then,
there was another sound.
And then, she was no longer breathing.
She was sleeping,
but no longer breathing.
Then, the fog.
(D sets a jar beside the L-shaped table where M lies. She reaches in, pulls out a couple cotton balls. She pulls apart their threads until they form a sort of gauzy web. She holds the web above her head. She looks up, through it, gazing toward the filtered light.)
D: Cardamom tea?
M: No, it was rose.
D: Would you like some?
M: No, maybe.
D: I’m partial to rose, myself.
M: I don’t remember.
D: What is your favorite color?
D: No. White is not a color.
White is every single color
blurred together all at once.
M: I do remember smoke,
like stony dust.
The smell of white.
D: Red is my favorite color.
The smell of red, of rose.
(A silence. D watches M watching the light through the web of cotton balls.)
(He blinks. The light blinks.)
(He closes his eyes. The light stops blinking.)
(He opens his eyes, sighs, and reaches over. He extracts the web between her fingertips.)
(M takes his hand into her own. She gazes at his fingernails. She gazes at his nails for a very long time.)
D: What are you looking at?
M: Your nails. They’re so clean.
D: I am proud of them.
They are my most important feature.
(M returns his hand, looks down.)
D: Your eyes are lovely.
You must hear that all the time.
They are quite lovely, though.
M: Can’t trust a man with such clean nails.
D: And why not?
M: Thinks that he can touch you
without leaving any mark.
(Slow fade to black.)