The play may or may not begin

By Nikkin Rader

Actor 1

The snake is the metaphor.

Actor 2

For what?

Actor 1

The snake is a metaphor for everything.

Actor 2

The skin, the meat?

Actor 1

All of the snake is a metaphor for the all of everything.

Actor 2

Can I be a snake?

Actor 1

You already are, Satan.

Actor 2

Begins to devolve into a grotesque four legged entity.  Oh no.

Actor 1

Oh yes.

Actor 2

I’m metamorphosizing into a metaphor.

Actor 1

If I were a bird, I would love to eat you.

Actor 2

If I were a bird, I wouldn’t be a snake.

Actor 1

But you are.

Actor 2

But I am.

Actor 1 begins to attempt to behead Actor 2.  Soft music begins to play as violence wrought the stage. 

The curtains now begin to split as the bird and snake scrimmage offstage.

Mother

Where are my children?

Father

Where are my eggs?

Mother

Squats over a frying pan, produces two eggs. Here you are you boggart fart.  Now, where are the children?

Father

I think I saw them fighting outside.

Mother

How strange, they fear the outside.

Father

How strange. Eats the eggs, begins to smear blood on face.  They’re too runny again.

Mother

If they weren’t, how would they get away from you?

Father

Begins a forced laugh.

Mother

Follows the forced laugh.

Actor 1 now Child 1

Mummy!  I killed the serpent!

Actor 2 now Child 2

Mummy! I’ve been killed!

Mother

Very good children, now sit for breakfast. Squats over the frying pan and produces a few more eggs.  This time, shell and all. She hands one to each child.

Child 1

I hate eggs Mummy.

Child 2

Yes, eggs are rotten, Mummy.

Father

Eat what your mother has provided or you’ll get the belt again.

The children begin to smash their respective eggs on each other’s bodies.  Yolk can’t be escaped.

Mother

Very good, I need to get to showering before the water dries out.

Father

Yes, please, go wash your sins away, you vile woman.

Mother

Oh, you know how I love your bible talk.

Father

Go.

The children are rolling on the stage together, either fighting or playing, it’s hard to say.

The mother leaves the stage.  Black out. When the lights return, it’s just the mother on the stage.  She is about to go behind a shower curtain. She does, and the sound of water falling.  She begins to sing.

There are 2 stagehands planted in the audience.  They should be dressed whatever normal is, nonchalant.  The singing commences, until the lights begin dimming. One stagehand should pull out a cell phone, and ringing overtakes the room.  Within a few beats, the other stagehand takes a mobile phone out of their pocket. They answer, the ringing stops. They begin to make small talk about the performance or about the audience members surrounding them, their disdain for being there.  They realize they are in the same room. They get past whomever is in the way to find each other. They embrace. They are intimate. They are moody. They boo the mother, who doesn’t hear them. They use their phones to take pictures or as a flashlight to find their way out of the room.  

All the while, the mother is singing in the shower.  The water stops once the stagehands have cleared the stage.  The water and singing stop almost simultaneously. She steps out from behind the shower curtain, towel to hide the self. 

Mother doesn’t have much time before the children come in.

Child 2

Mummy mummy! They’re trying to behead me again!

Child 1

Off with your head!

Mother

Oh, hush, and take the swing like a man.

Child 2

But I’m not man! I’m not even a snake!

Child 1

But you are Other.

Mother

Go bother your father, please, I’m not even dressed.

Child 1

But you are Mother!

Child 2

Smacks Child 1 as hard as they can and flees.

Child 1

Upon regaining footing, chases after.

Mother

Sits in front of a mirror, back to the audience.  She begins speaking to the reflection.

I wasn’t always so cruel, you know.  I wasn’t always so crass. But sometimes when your ass falls out your mouth you become this thing, this entity meant for breaking, or, for taking anyways.  I wanted to be an astronaut before the wars wiped out all space exploration. I wanted to see what anti-gravity felt like, because all I know is the weight on me, which unhinges me even now.  I am tired of feeling heavy. Each breath is a flame licking my eternal demise of external being – existence is putrid and so is the garbage I shoved under our bed last week. He always loved the scent of non-cover-up. 

Before this I was in a harem from a young age.  As soon as the mooning blood came, we went. It was the way of the New New World after the War.  I only made it out after the Reckoning. But by then I was no longer a girl, made woman by war, as many are.  I am what I am and yet I am without, in want, all of the time. I don’t see myself in my children.  I only see their father, their grandmother, their teachers, their neighbours, the eyes watching them from the windows at night.  I know them by how others see them. And thus how I am seen myself. No longer marital bound but still hung heavy with a burden of burrowed youth, the parasites eating within and with those.  I never wanted to be a mother but I came to appreciate being needed, or used, or abused, but always some feigned impression of a could be love, maybe was, ain’t got. I don’t mind it anymore, it’s been a decade and a few years since their play by play arrival, one in one out one in one out and then I cut my ovaries out to keep them at bay.  I am happier now. To be cleansed. My husband would not do it so I did. He does not know, still tries to plant his plow and seed but it is all ash and soot here, phoenixes never flew higher than me on our wedding day, when I was all posies and mallowdrops. I cannot recollect the way he looked back then, any longer. I cannot recall much at all these days.

After a beat of silence, she smashes the mirror.  Black out.

When the lights return, there is a fire simulated on stage.  The wood is real. All four family members are huddled around the fire, trying to determine how to keep the heat for themselves alone and not share with the others.  Eventually, one of them douses the fire in attempt to fuck over the others and take control of the remaining wet wood. A fight ensues. One of them gets ahold of all the wood through the smoke.  They create a circle around them with the pieces. The other family members claw at the invisible force shield this creates, trying to get inside the circle. They cannot. Black out.

When the lights return, the children sit with their father.  It is storytime. Father has a book, maybe with pictures. The children listen.

Father

Once upon a time there was a magical place called The United States of America.  There, the only thing that was law was capitalism. The people spewed coins in their sleep and they hung nooses in their yards.  It was a festive time and everyone was glad to be alive, if not just to kill off the others.

Child 1

The Others?

Father

Don’t interrupt me again or you’ll get the belt.  If not just to kill off the others. So, one day, the president gave all the citizens their own little atomic bombs.  They were so glad to have them! Everyone cheered and planned where to decimate their neighbors. There hadn’t been this kind of potential for blood shed since the dawn of drones.  Everyone was very excited to get a piece of the action, to take home their very own communist scalp. It was time to annihilate the others. The president gave the word, and poof! All was well in The United States of America once more.  They were the only island left in the world and all else sank to the sea. The end, for now, children.

Child 2

Why can’t we have our own bombs?

Child 1

Ya, where are our bombs?

Father

You know we keep those heirlooms buried in the basement.  Wouldn’t want the two of you tarnishing our family relics, now, would we?

Child 1 & 2

No Father.

Father

That’s right.  Now, get yourselves to sleep, before I send the monster in here.  He gets up and leaves the stage. 

Child 1

I love those fairy tales.

Child 2

Those aren’t fairy tales those are non-fiction folklore accounts of our ancestors.

Child 1

Shut up nerd before I make you shut up.

Child 2

Don’t be stupid then.  Just because I want to be something and you don’t doesn’t mean you can replace lack of aspiration with apathy.

Child 1

I believe that’s precisely what that means. Engages with a mobile like device.  The stagehands come back after a couple beats and take it savagely from him, perhaps with punishment inclusive.  Child 1 goes to bed whimpering afterward. We don’t know it but Child 2 is smiling.

Child 2

Speaking as Child 1 becomes frozen in whatever movement there was, Child 2 now free to roam the stage or building.  

Ever since the latest ban apprehending all over-usage of cellular technological communicative devices beyond governmental check-ins, I’ve been much more pleased with my other’s repercussions.  A light whipping in the public laboratory school hallways here, a mild mauling on the bus for rude talking there – the world has not been a better place. And yet, I no longer know what it’s like on the outer bits of our world – my cyber pen pals have vanquished under this new regime guised protection, but, I can’t think about them anymore.  Wherever they are in their own civic breakdowns, I can’t be there for them even if I were online. But I miss watching their demise from afar. That’s true enough. Kicks Child 1’s bed which seems to reanimate time, Child 1 responding after a beat.

A fight ensues.  The Father enters once more.

Father

What did I say about ruckusing before slumber?  Wait to murder in your dreams, boys, girls, things.  Now, be quiet and get to bed. The next time I come in here won’t be so pleasant.

The children now sleep, the sound of atomic bombs whistling through the air, radio talk as if air bombers were giving coordinates at the very place the audience rests.  The children dream in technicolor, the stage projected with images of warfare, of violence, of fire shedding down forests, of beheaded dolls. Black out.

When the lights return, the Mother and Father sit alone on the stage.  The Father is on all fours and the Mother stands behind, holding a leather strap that is tied to the father as if he were a horse.  He nays.

Mother

We must make sex softly sounded or the children will fuss again.

Father

This isn’t sex this is obedience.  Now, harder!

The mother whips him.  She walks him around the stage.

Mother

I never realized how much of a pussy you were.

Father

The only pussy here is that dead cat in the walls.  Now, harder!!

The mother throws the leather strap in front of him.

Mother

No.  You whip yourself.  I’m tired.

The father picks the strap up with his teeth, and gleams at the audience, as if begging one of them to take the strap up.  He may even begin to nudge the front row’s knees and feet as if a dog asking its owner to throw a toy. Meanwhile, the mother is undressing, preparing to lay in a bed onstage in the corner.  She looks at the audience before crawling into the bed.

Mother

Well, what are you waiting for?  Someone, take the whip!

Maybe someone does or maybe someone doesn’t.  The father reacts accordingly. He then follows the mother’s suit and crawls into bed.  Black out. There is a claque implanted in the audience. They should start to make an applauding ruckus now.  

The four family members around making sounds on stage as if something is being constructed and built.  Lights up. They have built a log cabin in the shape of a well with the sodden logs from earlier. It is thus a small structure.  They look at the audience in horror when the lights go up, as if rats caught in the dark. They scurry into the structure as best they can while avoiding our sight.  Black out.  

When the lights go back up this time, it seems to be a repeat scene in the seeming kitchen.  The Mother is squatting over a frying pan, trying her damnedest to produce eggs. Instead, bullets fall out.

Mother

Well that’s strange.  I guess we’re eating these for breakfast.

Father

This will not do!  Produce eggs or I’ll pluck you for all you’re worth!

Mother

This is what I have mother fucker deal with it and swallow or I’ll put one of these in you.

Father

Reluctantly begins to consume the bullets.

Mother

Where are my children?

Father

Have they not come in from outside yet?

Mother

I never heard the door open when they left.

Father

Children! You better not be in bed still!

Child 2

Clambering on stage with a head wound, visibly bleeding. They tried to kill me!

Mother

Oh hush and sit before your breakfast gets cold.

Child 1

Comes in with a mallet with red smudged on the end, beaming.  I almost got you this time.

Child 2

Mother!

Mother

I said hush! Now, both of you, sit.   She tries to lay eggs over the frying pan but this time two hand pistols come out.  She hands one to each of the children. Hurry and eat then get outside, the day will be near done before you’ve even set foot in the sun!

Child 1 & 2

They wield the guns and aim them at each other, making measures to traipse across the stage with high suspicion of the other.  One of them realizes the father has bullets, so they dive for his plate, the bullets bouncing around the stage as both children grab what they can.  They hastily move to load their guns, going out of sight offstage, then two gun shots sound through the room. No one should be alarmed.

Father

I swear, I’m getting tired of those two with each day they grow.  When can we sell them?

Mother

Never.  I’ll never sell my children.  Well, maybe the younger one. They are quite a tattle tale these days. 

Father

Yes, best not to have snitches in the family, kin win or kin fin, I always say.

Mother

We can raise their market value if we fatten them up first, and soften their spirits.

Father

Yes! Splendid idea!  I heard the military operates in the black market, maybe we can swindle the Air Force into taking the smaller one.  They always did want to fly.

Mother

And drop bombs.  They only wanted to fly so they could drop missiles from high above their supposed targets. 

Father

That’s my child.

Mother

For now.

There is the sound of airbombs once more, or singing from the mother in a distant haunt, the imposition of flames and fire bleeding over the stage, dollheads and eggs are being thrown onto the stage by the stagehands who are crawling through the aisles tugging at the legs of onlookers, looking beggingly at them as if to help end it all, to free them perhaps from this scenic hell. They are very sorry. Meanwhile, Mother and Father have disappeared in the chaos, and Child 1 & 2 have reappeared, slithering on the stage, or flying, or both, only animals are left, animals and sound.  Until silence. Black out.

Nikkin Rader has degrees in poetry, anthropology, gender
& sexuality, philosophy, and other humanities and social
science. Her works appear in Occulum, Pussy Magic, the
Mojave Heart Review, peculiars magazine, littledeath lit,
lipstickparty magazine, and elsewhere. You can follow her
twitter or insta @wecreeptoodeep


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