Setting: Country cabin setting in autumn. There is a comfy couch, dining table, Franklin stove, recliner and end table with lamp. An old fashioned cradle is next to the recliner with new linens draped over, still unwrapped. A doorway and window leads into front yard. It is the new home of young marrieds, Elizabeth and Kevin. Elizabeth is quite plainly pregnant and walks with effort. Kevin is strong, enthusiastic and cheerful, and dotes on his wife.
It is dusk. Kevin and Elizabeth enter laughing from outside. They are both a little cold and he carries a giant basket of big, beautiful red apples.
(Puppyish and jumping around his slow moving, glowing wife.) God, I love it here! I am so glad we moved way away from the city. Aren’t you?
Anywhere you are I am delirious. (They kiss.) Ok, that was sappy, but no one can hear except the ghosts in this fixer-upper - These apples will need to be put up soon. You like apple sauce?
Love it! (Leaning down to speak to her tummy.) Hear that, little critter; your mama’s a happy lady. I’m in heaven. And you’ve got a womb with a view. My work here is done.
ELIZABETHOh ho, you think so? Not really. We’ve both got a lot of stuff to do to make this drafty little mess a home. It just doesn’t feel like our house yet.
(He grabs a beer.) I think I might go take the handsaw to the lower branches on that tree while dinner’s cooking. We need the wood for the stove anyway. I’ll chainsaw the rest of it and pull the stump in the morning. I’m all set to yank it with the tractor and chain…
Kev, it’s getting too dark, and anyway, do we have to take down that old apple tree? (She gazes out the window at the tree.) I like it. It’s like a big old gnarly guard on the lane, full of holes for animals to live in. It speaks to me somehow. I mean I know it is too old and rotten to stay up on its own, but it is still making these unbelievable apples…Isn’t there anything we can do? I mean look at it…it’s so protective, so ancient…
Well, maybe when I trim it up and lose some of that deadfall weight at the bottom it might do better. A little TLC and maybe we can bring it back. Ok…But I am going to pull down those dead branches for the stove tonight.
Apple wood smoke. I like that. (She flinches and laughs, hand on her belly.) Oooh! Soccer kid strikes again… Come feel – (She stops and freezes.) Who is that?
ELIZABETHOut there near the apple tree… There’s a woman I think… She’s just standing there.
KEVINWelcome Wagon maybe? Bet it’s a neighbor…People are more friendly out here in the sticks. Where? I just see shadows…I should be able to see her, the moon’s rising. You sure?
ELIZABETHHoney, I can see her eyes under her hat. It’s cold. Go ask her in…
Wait here, I’ll check it out. (Gets a flashlight and talking to himself.) Our nearest neighbors are two miles away. I didn’t hear a car…(He exits.)
Well, I saw her. She’s sad. (To herself.) We should ask her in to warm up; cup of hot tea…
Elizabeth goes to the basket of apples, picks out a good one, grabs a knife and bowl from the table and begins to peel it as she sits in the recliner. She relaxes and allows the knife and apple to fall into her lap. As she nods, the atmosphere, the very air in the room takes on a bluish tint, a door slams elsewhere in the house, a magazine is pushed from the dining table, a chair moves of its own accord away from a path leading to Beth, the bowl tips from her lap, a boom boom boom, like heavy footfalls, is heard and Beth’s hand comes up with the knife in it...
(Enters bustling and busy putting wood in the box next to the stove. The atmosphere subtly shifts to warmer tones again.) Whew… getting nippy out there. Little nippy in here too. No shadow woman, Beth. Moon’s a beaut though, huge, and I think it’ll be frost tonight. (He sings) Can I just have one more Moondance with you, my love? (He stops short) Beth! What did you do? Your hand…
What? I don’t know. Oooooh it’s a bad cut… (She raises up a bloody dripping hand.)
(To be continued)