Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Baby Tree, part 5


The Baby Tree
continued...

Nervous and amped up, Elizabeth paces checking out the window at intervals. Light shifts slowly, imperceptibly to blue.  She picks up the fallen magazine replacing it on the table. As she turns away, it is roughly pushed off the table again, a chest-rattling boom, boom, boom is heard in the attic and the cradle moving of its own accord scrapes right up to her in a threatening approach like a dog. She gasps and freezes. There is a soft knock at the door. Elizabeth carefully goes to the door and begins to open it peeking through the crack.

ELIZABETH

Ohhhhh.  Miss Louise told me about you, Fiona. Your babies…yes I understand. Charlotte, Abigail, and George? There are three? In the tree? Oh that’s where they are. (She sings) Rock a bye baby in the tree tops, when the wind blows…. Of course. You finally found them. Show me…

(As she tries to open the door wider to join the shadow woman, the door is abruptly pushed shut from behind her wrenching it from her hand. Lights flicker and dim. Elizabeth is then flung to the couch by invisible hands and she scoots across to get away.) Leave me alone! You have no control over this house. You are dead. And I am not afraid of you. (Items shake, scrape and scoot around while a low wail is heard phasing through the house. Elizabeth, trying to go out the door is caught in an invisible pair of hands, pulled backward and appears to be choking as though being strangled. Enter Louise flinging the front door open with a bang! She is holding a blue faded mildewed cloth bundle. )

MISS LOUISE

That’s ENOUGH!   (All unnatural activity stops. Elizabeth is gasping and holding her throat.  Lights brighten slightly. She is followed by a somber Kevin holding the shreds of two small pink weather-worn cloth bundles tenderly in his hands. He goes to Elizabeth who is gasping for air.)

KEVIN

Beth. The babies. Fiona’s babies were wedged in a hollow in the tree. When I cut the branches, their…bones…fell out. Here they are… (Elizabeth cradles them and weeps)

MISS LOUISE

(Looking up and around addressing the spirit) This doctor boy is right, I am sorry to say. We shoulda stopped you then. I’m stopping you NOW. John Wilson McCarthy, Fiona’s babies are coming in out of the cold and this here mama is going to love them, along with her own, to make up for you’re a killin’ ‘em. Fiona, darlin’, I am sorry. Rest now. (She pauses, takes a shuddering breath and wails in grief)  And I want my Georgie back. You had no right to put yourself on me after Fiona died, that was evil, but you’ll roast in hell for taking my baby Georgie from me and putting him with the others up high in the hollow in the apple tree. I could hear him cryin’ on the wind like he were flyin’ and couldn’t find himI've walked by that tree hundreds of times...(She wipes her nose on her sleeve and pulls what's left back together of her emotions.)  Say you’re sorry to St. Peter, Uncle John, and maybe save your soul, but go out of here! This is a house of life now. (Deflated)  As for my sorry self, I’m standing here in front of God ‘n everone with the bones of my baby boy in my hands, askin’ for forgiveness. I need forgiveness.  Georgie!

Light goes white and bright and the sound of pipes bursting throughout the house is heard. There’s a lot of water running. Then in cadence, the sound of several doors slamming and a wind blowing through and out. Lights return to natural. Kevin runs to the “main” water cut off and twists it shut.

ELIZABETH

My water broke.
KEVIN

(In a new father flurry of unnecessary kinetic activity-) It’s time? It’s TIME. Let’s get to the car. County is only 30 minutes away so we’ll make it.  (They go to the door where her maternity bag is packed and ready. Kevin, grabbing his physician’s bag and supporting his wife, turns to Miss Louise who is holding Georgie’s remains tenderly)

KEVIN

Miss Louise…

MISS LOUISE

You go on now. Clock’s tickin.’ I’ll be here when you get back. Things need straightening up and it was my damn Uncle John what went through here like Grant went through Richmond. You like vegetable soup and bread? It’ll be waiting…And boy? I’m pleased to have met you and Elizabeth here…

KEVIN

You know Miss Louise, I can't say what really happened here but as a man of science, I am sure there is a perfectly reasonable explanation…

ELIZABETH

(Putting her finger to his lips to shut him up she says warmly through a labor pain) Likewise Miss Louise. Likewise.

They go. A car starts and gravel spins.  Ms. Louise turns from the closed door and gently lays her son’s remains in the cradle. She gathers the pink bundles as well and lays them in carefully with her boy. She vigorously wipes her tears away and sniffs.

MISS LOUISE

You’ve been together for so long, be a shame to separate you now. (She pulls the cradle over to the recliner and sits. She clears her throat…puts her hand tenderly on the cradle and rocks it.) Rock a bye baby, in the tree tops, when the wind blows, your cradle will rock…

Gradual fade to black.

The window is backlit by moonlight where the motionless silhouette of a woman in a brim hat and shawl is looking in.






The End

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