The curtain rises to reveal a pyjama-wearing woman in her mid-40s at her desk, writing on a laptop. The window's open, and a "breeze" lifts the papers scattered about her desk and surrounding surfaces. There's a map of the world to her right, and various pieces of paper taped to the wall on her left. Books, stationery supplies, file folders and other related paraphernalia give the room a sense of organized clutter. Clearly, it's a working office.
Hello. Yes, yes, I'm sorry ... it's been some time since we last spoke.
Not bad, though I did go through a valley there a while back. No, that's okay, I'm a fair bit better now, though if there's a dirtier D word in the English language, I'm not familiar with it. No, D. (pause) For divorce. Yes, that's right. Well, what can you do? What doesn't kill you, as they say. Oh, you hadn't heard? Well I haven't exactly been sending out announcements. It's just ... it's just so goddamn ... textbook. Anyway, I'd really rather not talk about it, okay?
What's new? Well, I've had to find some work. Real work. That pays. That's right. If I gave you 50 guesses you'd never get it. Not even 500. Are you ready? I'm driving a combine. Yes, I said a combine. Big machine that picks up swathed crops in a field. Think separator, hopper, auger, and--
Dangerous? Could be. I keep having visions of being armless by mid-October. Yes, that would put a damper on writing, playing piano, and taking the dog out on his leash. (pause) True, I could tie the leash around my waist but ... have you seen my dog? No. Thought not.
Christmas? Well, I don't know. I thought I was going to get away with a couple of friends on a cruise, but that fell through, so now I'm looking for options. In fact, I'm looking for options for all of 2010.
Yes, big changes. Maybe teach English overseas, or find a writer or artist or anyone else to do a home swap with. I'm open, truth be told. Could look into some extended retreats, but if I'm gone for any length of time I need someone living in my home to care for the dog.
(takes a drink of Diet Coke, straight from the 2 litre bottle)
Well, I'm just throwing it out there ... if you know of anyone who wishes to experience a Canadian winter and care for a gorgeous hound dog, give them my number or e-mail address.
Kids are good, I think. Wish they'd come out here and help themselves to this garden. Swear to god, I've no idea why I planted such a large one. I can't keep up.
Oh, really? Hey, that's great. I'm glad to hear things are going so well for you. Really. It's--
Man, I had no idea it was so late, and here I've been rambling--
Yeah, well, thanks a whole bunch for calling, eh? Maybe this time next year I'll have some good stories to share. (pause) No worries ... I know how busy you've been. Say hi to everyone for me, okay?
Thanks, you too. (puts the phone down)
Hey, Jackie, where are you? Come give Mama a hug. Jackie!
(dog lopes in, and the woman drops to the floor beside him, stroking his fur)
You're a little shit, you know. Remember how you wrecked ten leashes before I found one strong enough to hold you? Remember when we lived in the city and the letter carrier threatened to stop delivering because you attacked the mail as soon as it went through the slot? How about those tasty shoes you devoured ... the irreplaceable pair Mark had just brought back from Thailand. (pause)
You know, I wish I didn't have such a good memory. Things come back to me, all the time. It's like no time's passed since 1987, or 1994, or 2001. I've got a lot of junk in my head, and sometimes when I wake up I pretend it's 1989, or 1998. 2005. That was a pretty good year. Sometimes any time is a better time than now.
(Lies beside the dog on the carpet. The room darkens, and the moon can be seen in the window. The dog and woman are spotlit. The wind-rustled papers are the only sound.)
Right now I'm thinking about sitting on the back step, in the city, wondering how the hell I'd manage the work of loving you on my own ... a job previously shared by four. I often had a cup of tea on that step, and you'd sit beside me. We'd be hip-to-hip, jowl-to-jowl. I remember one night in particular. Maybe the last night. We could smell the dog shit from next door, and the other neighbour's post-dinner hoot, and we sat there among the elm seeds and sirens, and Jack ... do you remember? ... we had this conversation:
You said: Are we doing the right thing?
And I said: It feels right, but how can we know?
Then you said: But I need you to be sure ... I'm trusting you, Mama. Goddamn it,
you are all I've got.