CONFESSION: THE HOURS, A MONOLOGUE — NATASCHA GRAHAM
INT. A WINDOWLESS ROOM. A WOMAN. HAIR A BIT UNBRUSHED. IN NEED OF A WASH. HUGS A CARDIGAN AROUND HERSELF AND SHIFTS IN HER SEAT LIKE SHE’S WAITING FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO COME INTO THE ROOM. ONLY SHE’S NOT, AND THEY NEVER DO. SHE HAS THE JOYLESS FEEL OF SOMEONE WHO IS PERMANENTLY PREOCCUPIED. THE INTERMITTENT FROWN OF A WOMAN WHO, EVERY NOW AND THEN, DOESN’T QUITE REMEMBER WHO SHE IS.
I did this thing, and (pause) it was one of those things you do and afterwards, you go, “Why’d I do that?” And the truth is (pause) I don’t think there was any way round it. He worked at the end of the lane, about a mile from here. And I had to pass him if I wanted to go anywhere. The first time I saw him (pause) he was standing by the road. And he looked at me. Gave me that look. Because men like him don’t (pause)they don’t see women as (pause, hesitates, thinks) people, or as equals. They give us the once over. See if we’re worth a second glance. Or a, or a (scrambles for the right words) whistle. Or some (pause, then gathers momentum, something in her sparks a moment of anger that never quite reaches boiling point) comment. We’re just here, for them to choose whether or not to lift us up and smack us down. To make ourselves look pretty. And we should be grateful. For the things they yell to. To. Underage girls in school skirts. Out the window of their work vans. And it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t make a difference. If a woman says, “that’s not how I am, I don’t let them treat me that way.” It doesn’t make a f-(almost swear) difference. Or change the fact that that’s how they see you. That’s still how they’ll want to treat you. By default. And that won’t change. (pause) Men get to rule the world. Women survive it. (pause, her outburst has left her even more exhausted.) Except the ones who don’t survive. Except the ones who are. Killed. Or, or, raped, or murdered. And it’s worse if you’re a gay woman. It’s worse ‘cause then the rape jokes are acceptable. Expected. And you’re supposed to just laugh. Or (pause, trails off) but when it’s every day… When it’s every day that you get followed, or you get. Some. Crude…(stops herself, glances away) all those hours, all those days spent never leaving the house because I knew he was there. Knew he came up, on his lunch breaks. Sat on the wall outside just looking. I told the police. And they gave him a caution. Told him it was probably not a good idea. Only that just made him worse. (pause) And then one night he followed me. I was driving back from a night out. With friends. It was my birthday. And I could see his headlights behind me, and I knew it then. What I was going to do. So I invited him in. (pause) Because if I hadn’t invited him, he would’ve come in anyway. So I got him a drink. A bottle of beer. And I knew what I was doing (pause) hadn’t planned it. But I knew that if I did it. It would be over. All of this (pause) shit. With him anyway. And…so I poured the morphine I still had left in the cupboard from when my wife was dying. In it. In the bottle. And. Something else. Don’t remember what. Something from the vets. Pain relief they gave me for the dog. I just poured them in and gave it to him. Then we sat on the sofa, and while he drank it he told me he’d always known I’d give in eventually. (pause) That I’d always wanted it. It didn’t take long. (pause) A few minutes? I don’t know. He just looked like he was sleeping. His eyes rolled a bit. Then he just laid there ‘til I couldn’t see him breathing anymore. I sat in the room with him all night. In case he woke up. But by the morning he’d turned this weird grey sort of color, and his hands were stiff. (pause) That night I had a bonfire. With him in the middle. And I put his bones. The bits of him I could find. In a bag, in the bin. (pause. An afterthought.) The police never came. (pause. To justify herself.) It’s like that line from that film, Meryl Streep…Nicole Kidman with the…fake nose. Don’t remember the name. But it’s like she said, Nicole Kidman, with the (gestures to her nose, her face) (pause) “What does it mean to regret when you had no choice?”
Natascha Graham is a lesbian writer of stage, screen, fiction, poetry and radio from the UK. She is influenced by David Bowie, Virginia Woolf and Sally Wainwright. Her novel, Everland has been selected for the Penguin and Random House WriteNow 2021 Editorial Programme, and her short films have been selected by Pinewood Studios & Lift-Off Sessions, Cannes Film Festival, Raindance Film Festival, Camden Fringe Festival and Edinburgh Fringe Festival, while her theatre shows have been performed in London’s West End and on Broadway, where she won the award for Best Monologue. Natascha is also working on The Art of Almost, a lesbian comedy-drama radio series as well as writing a television drama series and the sequel to her novel, Everland. http://www.nataschagrahamwriter.com