CATAPILLAR SKIN - A play for the chemical jubilee

OPEN : A girl lies on top of a small, obviously home dug grave, decorated only by a crude cross and scattered flowers and sea shells. She wears a white summer dress, a little tattered, with no shoes. Her hair is done in random plaits and braids, as though subconsciously done through nervous inner tension. Around several of her fingers are small string bows. She lazily plays an African piano, plucking the same melody over and over as she softly sings gibber to herself.

After a time, she stops playing and her arms fall to her sides, remaining completely still. This pause last for just a little too long, enough that the audience gets a little uncomfortable. Then her head slowly lolls towards the audience, a smile spread across her face. After a moment she stretches like a cat and yawns, staring back up at the sky.

GIRL : (Talking to the grave) The sun looks as though it should be warm today, Monty. Like it should be stabbing my skin with delicate knives, prickles and tickles. Instead its rays are dull and marbled. Cold. It’s hard to be agreeable, Monty, when even the sun is telling you lies. It’s the strangest thing, but somehow I imagine your little bones to be bleached white as though by the sun. Ivory jutting out of sienna, like some sort of crown. But of course, this can’t be so. No sun reaches you down there, does it Monty? Dead eyed or otherwise.


Peculiar how I can come see you every day at the same time, and think… the same… things.

(Voice trails off. Subconsciously she begins plucking notes on the African piano. She turns her head suddenly, as though hearing someone speak.)

GIRL : Stories? Again? What of this time?


Oh. I see.

(Her expression becomes solemn)

My father.

(Long Pause)

GIRL : Raised on this dirt farm, was I, a sparrow in a nest of glass and clay. My father was a tall man, gaunt comes to mind, stone cold and somehow.. embalmed. God was his drug of choice Monty. I remember him saying that he heard angels calling his name from beneath the cracks in the fields. From within the undergrowth of the kudzu.

(Her hands move towards her stomach protectively)

GIRL : From the… handle of a blade.


GIRL : A Christmas eve of icepacks ands sutras. Seventeen stitches, the first. Only eight for the second and the third would heal all on its own if only I could keep it clean.


GIRL : No Monty, not scars. I prefer ‘Endorsements of my former owner’s opinions.’ But I want you to know, sweet Monty, that it’s important not to harbour such things.

(Begins dangling her fingers with the bows in front of her face)

GIRL : Sometimes it take a day to remember the ways, a single day can make you feel, I wear this string to remember such things. It’s important to appreciate contrasts, Monty. And remember, strong light always has to cast an equally dark shadow.

(Continues watching her fingers)

GIRL : Tick. Tock. Tick….. tock…tick. It is quiet, isn’t it? Still. No, Monty. There’ll be no more nightmares from the woodshed: buzzsaws and bourbon. Not anymore.


GIRL : I remember, Monty, when I thought his very smile decided the difference between night and day. I thought he was that big a part of the very world itself. When he was King of all the little things: gestures, words, carving our names into the bed head after I’d fallen asleep. On those days before a storm settled behind his eyes, Now he is… was.. just a head full of bad noise. A television stuck between channels, Monty. Fire..hands.

(Begins softly gibbering to herself in a child like voice)

GIRL : Of course, everybody sleeps, Monty. Everybody forgets not to turn there backs eventually. At some point Monty, everybody seems to stop…

(Pulls a bloodied knife out of her dress and drops it lazily beside her)

GIRL : …paying attention. Mr freehands-bigshot-breakajawwiththekitchenchair. Mr-

(smiles slightly)

-King with a broken crown. Gargle for your mother amongst broken bottles and car parts, tough guy. Cursing the pumping heart that’s killing you. Red. Calm. Resting comfortably. It’s peculiar, but sometimes I think I can almost remember the exact second when all words became sharpened, wielded instead of spoken, and simply listening began to require an armour of sorts. Men turning to beasts infront of your very eyes, Monty. Werewolves.

(Begins tracing lazy patterns in the dirt)

GIRL : Not like you my pup. My simple love in white fur. Wet kisses and kinetics. Always my favourite landscape, Monty. I have so much to thank you for. Everything you gave me. The very gift I needed to set myself free.

(Begins tearing up, her hand becomes a fist)

GIRL : I’m so sorry, Monty. Always so sorry. I know it was necessary, but sometimes… I can still feel you… breaking apart in my hands.

(Sobs, rubbing hands over dress as though trying to make them clean. Pause. After a time she sits up, rubbing hand over her mouth, smearing blood across her face as she does so.)

GIRL : They put this thing in me my pup. Pieces of themselves to fill the holes they took out of me. A dirty bird. I used to think I was a butterfly, simply looking for a safe place to dry my wings. Stupid girl nonsense, I know. But now, now I’m.. this thing.

(Pulls at dress angrily)

GIRL : A caustic angel, Monty. Poisoned. Acid.

(Looks around. Her expression relaxes, and she almost becomes sinister)

GIRL : My father broke me apart. My lover destroyed the pieces, and you my pup, you loved the debris. Each of you taking what you needed from me. But none of you could survive me. None of you are still here to take anything more from my husk.

(Lies back down, stretching slightly. Picks up the African piano and starts plucking lazily)

GIRL : It really looks as though it should be warm today, Monty.

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