Caridad Svich

RELISH MY TEARS


Prologue

Illumination: Reflection from hidden mirror is seen on one side of the stage: a woman
her late teens/early 20s. topless, in Victorian underclothes. She lights a match. She
smiles. She lingers. Immediate darkness.

Second illumination: Reflection from hidden mirror is seen on another side of the stage:
a woman in her 40s in corseted dress, hair put up and slightly unkempt. She laughs: a
call, a purr, a laughter of sex and domination. She lingers. She is caught in the glare of a
mighty flame. Immediate darkness.

Third illumination: Reflection from hidden mirror is seen stage center: a rush of water
spilling down winding stairs of the house. Slow darkness.


One

Before prologue time: The older woman Amada orders the younger woman called Dirt Girl.

Dirt Girl. Wash my feet.

You’ve boots.

Take them off.

…You smell.

Wash me.

…Heavy boots. Shall I put them on to wash you?

Only if you dig your heels in.

You’re in a mood.

Are you talking back to me?

What if I am?

I’ll beat you. I’ll put your head between my knees and beat you.

And then what?

Throw you into a cage.

That’d be sweet.

Foolish girl.

…Shall I lick your toes, missus?

Don’t call me that.

It’s who you are, missus.

Bucket. Sponge. Wash. Nothing more.

…Your skin is so soft. I could eat it.

Insolent girl.

What else am I?

Poison mouth.

Shall I kiss you?

Dry my feet.

Only got this rag here.

Come on, then.

…Feather bed soon. Down pillow. You on top of me.

What words you speak?

Dream words.

Amada grabs rag away from Dirt Girl and puts it against her mouth.

Silence now. Silence.

Two

Abandoned underground stable. Amada ties Dirt Girl onto a rough wooden chair. As she does so, she sings to her a song that feels ancient and glorious:

“Sparrow Lullaby”

In mid-summer rain
The silent sparrows cry
an endless earth’s disdain
for those who’ve hushed (their) sighs.

Quiet earth
Sounding bloom
Quiet song
Of long goodbyes

Become oh earth
A swift parade
Of tender song
Become oh earth
A bright charade
Of lucid blood

In mid-winter’s snow
The vibrant sparrows sing
An endless moon’s refrain
for those who’ve taken wing

Quiet earth
Sounding bloom
Quiet tune
Of sad goodbyes

Become oh earth
A swift parade
Of tender song.

Amada caresses the Dirt Girl.


Three

In the parlor, Amada drinks a tall glass of strong liquor. She catches herself in a mirror’s glance. She cries.


Four

Dirt Girl, unbound, sleeps on the abandoned stable floor. We hear her thought-dreams.

In the desert we danced
we made up songs
we pretended we’d go somewhere
where we’d be taken in
taken care of
given food hope warmth
we thought so many things
when we danced the desert

we didn’t think
what else
there could be
out there
out here
in the tall country
where breezes cool
somebody else’s skin
and summers last way too long
and there’s never enough sleep

I think now
we danced the wrong songs
We spread our wings too far
and asked to get burned

Five

In the parlor, Amada kneels. Dirt Girl kneels. Amada leads the prayer.

And now

We pray

We ask our Lord

Forgiveness

For what we’ve done

For who we are

For what we’ve done

For what not seeing the world clearly.

We ask this oh Lord

In all His Heavenly grace

To forgive us

Forgive us

Grant us peace.


Amada blesses herself (a gesture). Dirt Girl mimics the gesture. Amada slaps her.

Six

In the kitchen, Dirt Girl stirs ingredients in a bowl. She hums to herself a fragment of the
“Sparrow’s Lullaby.” She bites her wrist occasionally (a gesture).


Amada walks in.

Dirt Girl keeps stirring and humming, not directing her gaze at Amada.
Amada observes, and after a short while, makes a sound: a short, harsh laugh.
Dirt Girl looks at her. A moment.

She walks over to Amada and holds out a spoonful of the paste she’s been stirring.
Amada eats.

Seven

In the parlor, Amada reads an old book. Dirt Girl sews in a corner.
After a moment, Dirt Girl stops sewing. She asks.


…Who is this camisole for? Who is this fine linen for?

Hush.

Nobody comes round. And God, God just lets things happen.

Go to bed.

But I’m not finished.

Now.

…Shall I wait for you?

No.


I don’t mind waiting. I like your hands. I like your mouth. I like every part of you. Sometimes I wish I was just like you so I could go outside, and have people thank me when I spit on them. Sometimes I imagine your spit on my breasts and I rub myself until I can’t rub anymore, until I’m so worn out I can’t even sleep. I wish I didn’t have to sleep. I wish I could just wait up for you all the time. And there’d be no clock: no night or day. Just endless time with you. … You blush. I like it when you blush. Your skin lights up from within. I wish I could blush like you. Full-out. Unashamed. One day I’ll have the courage to lose my shame. And we’ll be the same. We’ll be like sisters bound by the same invisible rope. And we’ll walk out of this house together and no one will be able to tell us apart. I wish for that day. I can see it. …I’ll go to my room now. I’ll leave the light on.

Dirt Girl exits.

Eight

Amada walks up the winding stairs. Faint light comes in from a room upstairs. Amada
notices it and heads toward it.


Nine

Illumination: Reflection from a mirror: Dirt Girl lies in Amada’s bed. She is nude, lightly
draped with a sheet. Amada begins to undress.


Ten

Dirt Girl wears one of Amada’s dresses. She sits in the parlor and sings to herself.

“My missus”

The ash of your mouth
The slip of your tongue
The voice slit by fear

I watch you
I watch you
My dear girl
My missus

In the valley you walk
You leave a stain

Oh missus
My missus
Whatever will we do?

The crest of your breasts
The cage of your torso
The belly slit by light

I watch you
I watch you
My dear girl
My missus
dirt girl of mine

Amada is seen now in an adjacent room scrubbing the floor.

Eleven

Dirt Girl is at the door. Amada looks at her.

Where you are going?

Dirt Girl doesn’t move or reply.

Don’t go.
Please.
Don’t.

Dirt Girl doesn’t move.

I’ll do anything.
I’ll give you anything.
What do you want?

Pause.

…Kiss it.

What?

The floor.

…Okay. Okay.

Do it.

Okay.

Amada kisses the floor. Dirt Girl watches her.

Twelve

Amada wanders the house. She checks every room. The dirt girl is nowhere to be found.
Amada grows increasingly more distraught in her search.

Then a small door opens, and the dirt girl crawls out.
She laughs an uproarious laugh. Amada slaps her. Dirt Girl slaps her back.
Silence.

Amada grabs Dirt Girl by the arm. Dirt Girl resists.
Amada pulls her harder and sits Dirt Girl onto the landing of the stairs.
Dirt Girl laughs a mocking laugh.

Amada takes out a length of rope from the inside pocket of her dress
and leashes the Dirt Girl to the stairs’ railing.

Dirt Girl whimpers: a performance for Amada’s benefit.
Amada slaps her.
Dirt Girl fake whimpers.
Amada slaps her.
Dirt Girl fake whimpers.
Amada slaps her.
Dirt Girl stares at Amada.

Amada caresses her, trying for a response.
Nothing.
Amada licks her, as a dog would, seeking affection.
Dirt Girl stares out.
Amada continues licking her in hope of some kind of reparation.

Dirt Girl stands, straining the leash.
Amada rises quickly and loosens it.
A strange embrace.

Thirteen

Amada cuts Dirt Girl’s hair with a pair of scissors.


It’s been grey for days.

I thought you liked it like this.

I prefer the sun.

You’ll love the look of yourself once I’m through with you.

Will it be just like yours then?

Shorter.

Yes. But like yours?

Do you think God wants it to be grey?

What does God have to do with anything?

If I’m like you, if my hair is like yours, then we’ll be the same. Exactly the same.

Sometimes I’m afraid of things.

You hide it well.

You mock me.

Amada…

Shh.

I like saying your name.

You’ve never said it before.

But I can say it now. Now that we’re friends. We are friends now aren’t we?

Yes.

…Why’d you stop?

I’ve cut enough.

No. Go on. Make me beautiful. Make me in your image.

Fourteen

Amada and Dirt Girl are in the parlor. They both drink from tall glasses of liquor. The sun
streams in through the windows. Dirt Girl’s hair is short.


I feel rested today. Like after a good sleep.

Must be the sun.

Even though we don’t really sleep anymore, do we?

I can’t remember…

It’s been days and days since the desert.

What desert?

Since I came. All that way.

What was it like?

It was strange. Dark. Cold. I wanted to run back but it was too late.
I could’ve given myself up, but then where would I be?
No. It’s better that I kept going, that I came here.
I wouldn’t have met you otherwise. I like saying that word ‘otherwise.’
That’s one of your words. A book word, isn’t it?
I think I’ll start reading. There are so many books.
So many in this house. It’s shame that they’re just sitting there.

I could read to you. Would you like that?

I’d like the sun to stop beating. Tell it to stop.

All this time…and I don’t even know your name. What is your name?

Dirt Girl.

No. Not the one I gave you. But your name, your real name.

I don’t remember anymore.

Fifteen

Illumination: mirror reflection of Amada lying in bed. She sleeps. Dirt Girl is seen
standing near the bed. She lights a match, and sets the bed aflame.


Sixteen

The ruins of the house. Dirt Girl stands in front of the ruins.

In the house I was loved
I loved too much.
In the house I was loved
I asked for love.
Shouldn’t ask. I know that now.
But what good, then, to not even try?
It’s in the asking, you know,
that dreams come alive.

She walks away.

 

 

 

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Caridad Svich is a US Latina playwright, translator, lyricist and editor. Key works for the stage include 12 Ophelias, Alchemy of Desire/Dead-Man's Blues, Iphigenia/a rave fable, and The House of the Spirits (based on the novel by Isabel Allende). She's been short-listed for the Pen Award in Drama three times.

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