Our Common Deception
You are breathing elsewhere. A rumination on the inevitable end.
A play by Anna Fox
Characters: WOMAN – Middle-aged.
*This play is written in a poetic format to break up moments. Do with them what you will. Rearrange them if you have reason to, or don’t if you don’t have reason to.
I read about these people in the news sometimes.
They were born, and then they die.
I read about an Olympic athlete.
A runner from Oregon.
He died when he was 24.
He flipped his car.
I feel better knowing that:
A. He won a gold medal before he died.
B. He was drunk.
I don’t drive drunk.
I’m also not a man, nor am I from Oregon.
I look in the mirror sometimes to see if my face will disappear.
There was a girl,
I didn’t know her personally,
but someone did.
“Isabelle, it was just so sad”
“She died when she was only 14.
She was an ice skater and everybody loved her”
Could everybody have possibly loved her?
There are some people who we don’t love.
And they die too.
I used to lie awake in bed
and watch you for hours,
just to make sure you were still breathing.
Your stomach going in and out.
In and out.
Then I would
and go back to sleep.
You are still breathing somewhere
Do you ever hear about people dying from old age?
“His skin was wrinkled and his eyes were gray.
He lay peacefully in his bed while his wife held his hand”.
I would like to be 92 when I die.
Excuse me, higher power?
Is there some sort of spirit guide telephone line I can call for the answers?
“Hold on one moment. This call is being outsourced to India?”
I see a little girl eating an ice cream cone with her father and think about how she will outlive him…
or maybe she won’t.
“Leela”, the randomness of the universe.
There are 4,000 stillborn births in the UK every year.
When I was five I saw a gravestone that was for a girl who died at ten.
When I was ten I saw a gravestone for a boy who died at fifteen.
When I was fifteen, I knew I’d made it….
There is a week I don’t remember.
It was the week after you left
to go breathe in someone else’s bed.
My heart is still beating.
Is that a miracle?
Please put me out of my misery
by telling me life’s not miserable.
Every moment I am alive seems like an eternity.
I have practice drills.
This is not a test.
This is not a test.
This is the phone call, it’s the one.
She’s dead. He’s dead. They’re all dead.
A plane crash. A car crash. A cross-country skiing accident.
They have all died peripherally
in other countries.
or in wars.
But you haven’t… yet.
The only guarantee is that
there isn’t one.
I read about a man dying while eating pineapple.
I thought it to be melancholy.
Then I read further.
It was his favorite food.
It was 6 am.
The room was silent.
Filled with sunshine.
He was a writer.
He was alone.
He wanted to be alone.
(Or at least that is how I imagined it to be).
I don’t want to die alone.
But I also don’t want to die with you.
Wherever you are.
Is anything made to last?
Shit. Fuck. Shit.
Call me morbid,
But I am obsessed with life,
although there is no word for that.
I think everyday should be cause to write an obituary.
What would you say to that person right now?
Why not say it to that person right now?
I think everyday should be cause to write an obituary to yourself.
If it begins with “she sat and stared at the sun”
and ends with “she sat and stared at the moon”
the day you thought you wasted,
was actually spent observing the natural cycles of the universe.
The universe will be here long after you are.
I want to be here long after I am.
I drank from the eternal fountain.
I climbed Mt. Olympus.
I never liked fantasy or myths.
“You think about this too much.”
What else is there to think about?
The weather? Back to school shopping?
I don’t go to school and the weather usually adheres to the season….
unless it’s an Indian Summer.
One day I told you
“I have OCD”
And you replied,
“But you don’t arrange and rearrange things, or touch the crevice where two walls converge over and over again”
Next time you watch an episode of “Monk”
remember that I’m not a fictitious male detective.
In one moment I will take my last breath.
And that moment could be now…
You told me I needed medication.
So I went out into the sunshine.
Trust the nature of the universe.
You think I’m crazy because
I’m not sick, or old or reckless,
But I could be all of those things,
and I will be old,
sooner rather than later.
What about those children who go missing?
What about those unmarked gravestones?
What about those fires, and famines and floods?
What about that bloody squirrel I saw laying in the middle of the road last Wednesday?
Anything could happen.
Anything couldn’t happen.
Something is going to happen.
Am I supposed to find this funny?
I laughed at the movie Fargo.
To bite the dust
To kick the bucket
To go to a better place.
Better than what place?
What about when you die?
I would say, “would you bother to call”?
But you can’t call from beyond,
unless I become a necromancer.
Or they might connect us via the spirit telephone line,
but they’ll probably just end up outsourcing you too.
Who says I want to be connected spiritually with you?
When I die
I want to be surrounded by everything.
I want to be paraded down streets.
Stuffed inside a paper lantern
and burned at sunrise.
My smoking purple ashes wafting up
over rocky mountain tops
and towards the cotton candy sky.
This is why I hate waiting rooms.
I don’t want to be forgotten.
I don’t want to drown.
But sometimes I hold my breath.
I would hold my breath
while I watched you breathing.
And I would count…
Our Common Deception by Anna Fox was performed as part of Tongue in Cheek Theater’s “Plus 1 Solo Show Festival” in late October 2013. It was first published in Issue 1 of Bare Fiction Magazine in December 2013.