Scene: Complete black. A scuffle is starting. The sounds of shuffling feet, and bumping around. After a moment voices, both young and old, male and female, some with foreign sounding accents, begin to speak in the darkness.
“Hey! That’s my foot!”
“No it isn’t, it’s my foot!”
“Who’s elbow is this! Get it out of my face before I bite it”
“I can’t see!”
“There’s no lights on, dumbass.”
“There’s no need for name calling…someone find the switch.”
“What be a switch?”
“The. . .who is that?”
“Who dared touch my –”
A sudden hollow sounding thud brings the voices to silence. There is a crack in the air, and an echoed voice says:
A single bright light comes from above to shine on a large black box – a crate with hinges on one side, and a large padlock on the other. The voices continue from inside the box:
“Did you hear that?”
“Someone’s out there”
“Hey! Is someone there?”
“Let us out!”
The box begins to rock, and shudder, the padlock banging against the latch. Again the voice from afar speaks:
A motor whirs into life somewhere off stage, accompanied by the rattling of chains being drawn across the floor and over the box. The box is lifted, swaying back and forth as the unseen crane lifts it higher above the nondescript floor.
The whir silences, the chains jerk with the sudden loss of movement.
“Get your elbow out of my ear!”
The light circles the box, casting a beam of light on every corner.
“It’s scary in here.”
“Shh, sit with me, wee one.”
“Is that you?”
“Back in the bughouse after this one. Geez louise I can’t cop a break to save my ass. . .I SAID GET YOUR ELBOW OUT OF MY. . .”
The engine whirrs back to life with a new authority as the crane carries the black box to the left, then to the right, setting it swinging, swinging, in an ever growing arc.
“She. . . she can’t do it again!”
“But we’re not written yet!”
“Make her stop!”
The speaker cracks once more.
“Let it go.”
The box reaches its fullest arc, but instead of swinging back, it flies free of the tether, hurdling out to a black void of space.
* * *
“You can’t do it that way,” the lad argued.
“Why not? It’s my world. I can do anything I want in it,” I argued in reply.
“But, you can’t just. . . shove them off into space that way. It’s not right!”
I laughed. “You make them sound like real people.”
“Well? Aren’t they?” The look on his young face, was pitiful. By the droop in his jowls one would have thought he’d just been told that Christmas was cancelled.
“Real? No, darling. That’s why it’s called fiction. I can let them go.”
He stared, stricken. “No. You can’t. It’s. . . murder.”
“They’re not real.”
“They are too!”
“I made them all up!”
“You made them real for me.”
I had no reply.
“You made me care for them. Every one of them, and it’s not fair to just. . . toss them off into oblivion, locked up in some old black box that way.”
He was right, though I could not admit it to him. But did he realize how badly it hurt for me to gather them all and push them into the black box in the first place? Could he know what it was like for me to hear them crying out night after night while I slept? To hear them screaming to be brought back into the light, to be made flesh again? He couldn’t know what it was doing to me to know they were languishing in the box, while I struggled for a way to bring them back.
“What can I do about it?” I ask, helpless to keep the shaking from my voice.
“Let them play, mom. Open the lock.”
“But I’ve already sent them into space.”
“So. Isn’t it your universe?”
He’s so clever. I could smack him.
He grinned, producing a silver reel and a rod. “Go ahead. Cast.”
“What if I can’t catch them?”
“You don’t have to. They’ll catch you.”
* * *
“Hey, that’s my foot.”
“Shh! There’s. . . a light.”
“We be goin’ home!”
“Hold on. . .”
* * *
House lights up. . . and. . . Action.