Dramatic Texts >> Herand Markarian >> MIRRORS

MIRRORS by Herand Markarian  

 

A Play in Eight Scenes

Characters

MEDICAL PERSONNEL, any number of people
OLD TENY, a lady in her sixties with a slight limp
YOUNG TENY, a young woman in her teens
MRS. DAVIS, nurse, in her thirties
DR. JIM BROWN, senior psychiatrist, in his forties
DR. JOE WILLIAMS, psychiatry department chairman, in his sixties
MARY, a patient in the hospital in her twenties
GARO "FEDAYEE", a freedom fighter in his twenties
TENY'S MOTHER, a woman in her thirties
GENDARME, aman in his twenties

Setting
The stage has no curtain. The background scenes—a hospital room, flashbacks, and fields are created by employing several identical triangular columns with three panels. Each panel is six feet high and two feet wide. There are wheels under the columns to aid in rotating them. The three panels are:

Side l —Mirrors of different shapes and sizes on a black background used for flashback scenes.
Side 2— A light gray texture, used for hospital scenes.
Side 3—A light blue background used for field scenes.

Music
The song "Delé Yaman" is an authentic old Armenian song. It is intertwined with Old Teny's world. Variations on the theme can be used. The whole song is heard only once.

The musical notes of "Delé Yaman" and the Armenian transliteration of the song are given at the end of the text along with a loose translation.

Lighting
Three distinct colors are used to recreate Old Teny's early life in her village: blue representing the vibrant sky; violet reminiscent of her joy in the presence of flowers; and amber reflecting the wheat fields where she spent her youth.

Place
A room in a New York psychiatric hospital. A wheelchair center stage. A table and chair next to it, left. A nurse's desk, cabinet, and chair, stage right.

Time
The mid-nineties.

Scene I
(The stage has no curtain. Downstage: The columns are placed in a semicircular manner. The mirrored sides face the audience blocking the set. In the darkness, ambulance sirens are heard followed by loud pounding heartbeats. There is strobe lighting throughout this scene.)

(Medical Personnel enter in white coats. They move the panels upstage by rotating them to the gray sides (hospital wall). Their voices are heard during this action. Afterwards they exit sporadically.)

  MALE and FEMALE VOICES

- She's unconscious.

- Take her in.

- Did she have an attack?

- I don't know.

- Oxygen!

- Pulse?

- Heart rate 42. Hardly any pulse.

- Dry off her sweat.

- I.V., now!

- I can't find a vein. Seems collapsed.

- She is going to die on us.

- What's her name?

- I don't know.

- More oxygen!

-Okay!

- She's breathing.

-Pulse?

- It's coming back!

-I have the I.V.!

- She seems to be calming down.

- Pulse is normal.

- Thank God, she's going to make it.

- Thank God.

(Fade to scene two.)


Scene II

(Afternoon. A room in a psychiatric hospital. The pounding of the heartbeat from Scene One continues. A violet light bathes the background. An amber spot falls on 01d Teny. The music of "Delé Yaman" begins as the heartbeats subside.)

(Old Teny in a wheelchair, wearing a simple home dress, staring ahead with a blank expression. Young Teny under amber lighting, enters stage left, she is wearing a long white dress, crosses downstage in a dreamlike walk and exits stage right. Old Teny does not look at her.)

(The music fades out.)


MRS. DAVIS (In nurse's uniform, with a stethoscope around her neck, enters in an upbeat mood carrying a plastic shopping bag.) Good afternoon, Ms. Ross. How are you today? How did you sleep last night? Your belongings are in this bag. I'll put them right by your bed, O.K.?

(Old Teny is silent.)


MRS. DAVIS (Gets a thermometer and blood pressure equipment from her desk and approaches old Teny.) I'll be taking your temperature and checking your blood pressure, all right? Please open your mouth.

(Old Teny does not react.)


MRS. DAVIS
Please, open your mouth.

(Old Teny remains immobile.)


MRS. DAVIS (Gently pulls Old Teny's chin, opens her mouth and puts thermometer in. Checks her pulse and the blood pressure and records them on a chart. Takes the thermometer out, checks the temperature.) Good, you don't have a fever. Is there anyone you want us to get in touch with?

(Old Teny does not answer.)

MRS. DAVIS
Let me see your head wound (Checks the back of Old Teny's head) Does it hurt?

(Old Teny does not answer.)   


MRS. DAVIS
Good, the wound is healing. (Records and leaves the chart on her desk. Crosses to stage right and looks off.) What a beautiful spring! Flowers have bloomed. You know, you have the best view of the garden..(Crosses to the wheelchair and moves Old Teny to stage right.) In the morning you'll hear birds playing and singing. Last year they made a nest by this window. (To Old Teny) Do you like birds?

(Old Teny does not answer.)


MRS. DAVIS
I do. (Points outside.) Oh look, my friends the Canadian geese m here. They have made their permanent residence here. You see, patients. come and go, but these birds always return. You know, I recognize some of them. I think they recognize me too. I feed them when I go out for my my lunch break. (Moves Old Teny back to stage center and goes stage right.) Did you know that geese go through a courtship before mating? . . . And they stay together for life? (Dreamy as if talking to herself) What devotion, what commitment! I always wonder, what keeps them together? It can't be only physical attraction. It must be more than that. It might be love.


DR. BROWN (Enters wearing a white coat, a stethoscope in his pocket, holds small note pad where he frequently records his observations. An eager and caring  individual.) Good afternoon, Mrs. Davis.

MRS. DAVIS
Good afternoon, Dr. Brown.

DR. BROWN
If you're talking about love, it must be spring.

MRS. DAVIS
It certainly is spring.

DR. BROWN
How is she?

MRS. DAVIS
Her temperature is normal. Her blood pressure is still on the high side.

DR. BROWN
(To Old Teny) Good afternoon, Ms. Ross. I'm Dr. Brown. We'll work together to get you well. How are you today?

(Old Teny does not answer.)

DR. BROWN
(To Mrs. Davis) Did we get her admission papers?

MRS. DAVIS
Yes, Dr. Brown.

DR. BROWN
May I see the reports, please?

MRS. DAVIS (Takes three folders from her desk. Hands one folder to Dr. Brown.)
Here's the police report.

DR. BROWN
Thank you. (Thumbs through, reads as if skipping lines) Responding to the neighbor's call, arrived at the scene . . . The doors were locked . . . No signs of break-ins . . . She did not respond to the knock on the window . . . Forced the door open . . . She was lying on the floor with a pool of blood around her head . . . Did not respond to questions . . . There was a shopping cart full of food . . . Scattered papers, newspapers, letters on the floor . . . She had a piece of paper clutched in her hand . . . Called the Paramedics immediately . . . (Closes the folder and gives it back to Mrs. Davis.)

MRS. DAVIS
This is the Paramedics report. (Hands another folder to Dr. Brown.)

DR. BROWN
Thanks. (Thumbs through, reading) Unconscious . . . Oxygen administered . . . Neck and head immobilized. (Closes the folder and gives it back to Mrs. Davis.)


MRS. DAVIS
And this is the Emergency Room report. (Hands Dr. Brown the last folder.)


DR. BROWN
Thank you. (Thumbs through and focuses on the important words) Fluctuations in blood pressure . . . sweating bouts . . . incoherent words. (To Mrs. Davis) These sweating bouts, did you notice any fever associated with them?


MRS. DAVIS
No.


DR. BROWN
Okay, let's keep monitoring them. (To Old Teny) May I examine you?

(Old Teny does not respond. Dr. Brown pricks Old Teny's upper arm with a needle. 01d Teny responds with a sigh signifying pain.)


DR. BROWN
Very good.

(Pricks Old Teny's hand with a needle.)

(Old Teny responds by pulling her hand.)


DR. BROWN
Okay, (Checks Old Teny's feet.) Ms. Ross, how did you get this scar on your left ankle?

(Old Teny does not respond.)


DR. BROWN
(To Mrs. Davis) May I see that police report again?


MRS. DAVIS (Hands Dr. Brown the police report.)
Here.


DR. BROWN (Looks at the report.)
There is no mention of the scar. (Hands back report to Mrs. Davis.) Mrs. Davis, could you please get the neighbors' telephone number from the police station?


MRS. DAVIS (Hands him a piece of paper.)
Here it is.


DR. BROWN (Smiles.)
You knew I would ask for this, right?


MRS. DAVIS
I guess. I called, but the neighbors were not home.


DR. BROWN (Disappointed.)
Great! Has she responded to any questions?


MRS. DAVIS
No. But last night she stepped down from her bed and limped around the room. She seemed to be looking for something or somebody.


DR. BROWN
You said she limped? Did we get back her neurological tests?


MRS. DAVIS (Hands him a folder.) Yes.

DR. BROWN (Reads the folder.) Normal ... normal.. Aha, left foot drop. I wonder what might have caused it. Oh, Mrs. Davis, can you see to it that we get court permission to visit this lady's house?

MRS. DAVIS
I'll do that first thing on Monday morning.

DR. BROWN
Monday morning? (Checks his watch.) Of course, it's five o'clock, Friday. (Checks the chart.) Where does she live?

MRS. DAVIS
Meadow Park.    

(Dr. Williams enters wearing a white coat. A confident knowledgeable authoritative and well-composed gentleman.)


DR. BROWN(To Mrs. Davis)
Where is Meadow Park?


DR. WILLIAMS
About half an hour from here.


DR. BROWN
Oh, hi, Joe.


DR. WILLIAMS
Hi, Jim. Good afternoon, Mrs. Davis.

 

MRS. DAVIS
Good afternoon, Dr. Williams.


DR. WILLIAMS
Well, any leads?


DR. BROWN
Not really. She sweats at times, her heartbeat races. She stepped down from her bed last night and limped around. But she has not responded to questions yet.


DR. WILLIAMS
Did you say she limped?


MRS. DAVIS
Yes, she has a left foot drop and a scar on it. It looks like an old injury.


DR. WILLIAMS
A fall maybe.



DR. BROWN
Maybe.


DR. WILLIAMS
How about her tests?    


DR. BROWN
All normal.


DR. WILLIAMS
What's her name?


DR. BROWN
Ms. Ross, Ms. Teny Ross.


DR. WILLIAMS
How did she get here?


MRS. DAVIS
The neighbors had stopped by to say good-bye before going on vacation. They knocked on the door and got no response. They looked through the window and saw her lying on the floor. They called the police and the police called the Paramedics and here we are.


DR. WILLIAMS
What else do we know about her?


DR.BROWN
That's it.


DR. WILLIAMS(To Old Teny)
Hello.


(Old Teny stares straight ahead without answering.)



DR. WILLIAMS
How are you?

(Old Teny does not answer.)


DR. WILLIAMS(To Dr. Brown)
Has she talked at all?

MRS. DAVIS
She hasn't uttered a word since she was admitted. Sometimes she makes sounds, which seem like incoherent words.


DR. WILLIAMS
Maybe a language we don't understand.


DR. BROWN
That's a possibility.



DR. WILLIAMS(Holds Old Teny's hand gently.)
How are you, Ms. Ross?

(Old Teny is silent.)


DR. WILLIAMS
Do you speak English?

(Old Teny is silent.)


DR. WILLIAMS
Habla Espanol?

(Old Teny is silent.)



DR. WILLIAMS
Como esta usted?

(Old Teny is silent.)


DR. WILLIAMS
What nationality is she?

DR. BROWN
I don't know yet.


DR. WILLIAMS
Has anybody inquired about her?


MRS.DAVIS
No, no record of any contacts


DR. WILLIAMS
How about the neighbors, has anybody contacted them?


DR. BROWN
Mrs. Davis did.


MRS. DAVIS
I called, they were not home, left a message on their answering machine.


DR. WILLIAMS
Let's keep on trying. Let's find out as much as possible about the lady. Maybe we should contact her other neighbors.


OLD TENY (Makes a monotonous high-pitched sigh)
Naaa ...

MRS. DAVIS
Here she goes.


DR. WILLIAMS
What?


DR. BROWN (To Dr. Williams. In a low voice)
Shhhhh.


OLD TENY
Naaa .. . Naaa . .. (Her voice rises. She starts shivering.)


DR. BROWN (Comes closer and in a comforting voice)
It's all right, it's all right. You can talk. Do you want to say something, Ms. Ross?


OLD TENY
Naaa ... Naaa ...


MRS. DAVIS
There, you heard what I've been hearing all night long.


DR. BROWN (Takes a tissue and wipes Old Teny's forehead. In an encouraging tone)
Can I get you something? Water? Mrs. Davis, please get a glass of water.


(Mrs. Davis hands a glass of water to Dr. Brown who in turn gives it to Old Teny She does not respond. He gives the glass back to Mrs. Davis.)


OLD TENY
Naaa .. . (Calms down gradually.)


DR. BROWN (To Dr. Williams)
If only I could make her go beyond that sound. (To O ld Teny) I'm trying to help you get well, but I need your help. (In a friendly gesture holds both her hands.)           


OLD TENY (Frees her hands.)
Don't hold me. Let me go! Let me go!


DR. BROWN (Excited)
She speaks English! (To Old Teny) Where do you want to go, Ms. Ross?

(Old Teny is silent.)


DR. BROWN
Do you want to go out for a walk? Do you want to go home?

(Old Teny is silent.)


DR. BROWN
Ms. Ross, say something.

(Old Teny is silent.)

DR. BROWN
Do you know where you are?

(Old Teny is silent.) 

DR. WILLIAMS
Jim, she may have spoken as a reaction to something. What do you think she reacted to?


DR. BROWN(Realizes)
But of course. She reacted to my holding her hands.

(Slowly tries to hold both Old Teny's hands again.)


OLD TENY (Loud)
Don't touch me!

(Dr. Brown attempts to hold her hands again.)


DR. WILLIAMS
Is it wise to put her through this?


DR. BROWN
This is the only clue I've had so far. (Holds both of Old Teny's hands firmly.)

OLD TENY (Frees her hands.)
Let me go! Let me go! (Loudly) The scissors. The scissors. Where are my scissors? (Steps down from her wheelchair, limps around looking for something on the floor. Calms down. Bends and strokes the floor.) Tarragon . . . It's grown . . . (Points offstage, terrified.) Over there . . . they're waiting .. . Look out! Look out! They are approaching . . . Yegan, yegan! Get down, get down . . . O.K. I'll put the mud on my face . . . Hold on to my hand. Don't let go ... (Shouts) No ... no ... no ... (starts crying.)


DR. BROWN (Approaches Old Teny and tries to comfort her.)
It's O.K. (Takes a tissue and gently wipes her tears.) It's O.K. (Holds both her hands.)


OLD TENY (Loud) Let me go!


DR. BROWN (Releases her hands. Pauses attentively. Looks at his hands, then Old Teny's. Extends one hand only and helps her stand up. Brings her back to her wheelchair, strokes her forehead very gently.)
It's O.K., it's O.K.

(Old Teny calms down gradually, Mrs. Davis walks to her desk, sits down and starts writing.)


DR. WILLIAMS
Well, Jim, what do you make of this?


DR. BROWN
I don't know; it seems a chaotic world.


DR. WILLIAMS
Waiting to be unraveled.


DR. BROWN
If only I had a clue, then I would understand it.


DR. WILLIAMS
I'm sure you will.


DR. BROWN
I'll try, I'll try, that's if she lets me.


DR. WILLIAMS(Walks towards the exit.)
You've always succeeded in the past.


DR. BROWN
Yes, I have.


DR. WILLIAMS (Stops and turns.)
By the way, Jim, I didn't see you at the weekly conference this morning.        


DR. BROWN
Oh, my God, I forgot all about it.


DR. WILLIAMS
You know you're needed there. The residents missed you. This case has really captivated your entire attention.


DR. BROWN
Well, it's quite an unusual case


DR. WILLIAMS
Unusual cases demand ...


DR. BROWN
Crazy psychiatrists.


DR. WILLIAMS
I was going to say . . .


DR. BROWN
Crazy psychiatrists. Come on Joe, say it. Everyone else is saying it


DR. WILLIAMS (Smiles.)
Well, this case is right up your alley. You know what I mean. Let me know if I can be of any help.


DR. BROWN
I need all the help I can get.


DR. WILLIAMS
I'll be there.


DR. BROWN
I'll be in touch with you.


DR. WILLIAMS
Good luck.


DR. BROWN
I'll need more than good luck.


DR. WILLIAMS (Referring to Dr. Brown's writing pad.)
Are you writing another article?


DR. BROWN
Maybe.


DR. WILLIAMS
If it's anything like your last one, you'll be on the frontiers of psychiatric thinking again.


DR. BROWN
Oh, come on, Joe.


DR. WILLIAMS
No, really. That last article was a mind boggler. My belated congratulations.


DR. BROWN
Thanks.


DR. WILLIAMS
What a catchy title, "The Non-existent Past"! I can't say I understood the entire article. As a matter of fact, I still have difficulty with your  concept of "letting the non-existent go." (Pauses.) If something doesn't exist, can you let it go? One of these days, when you have more time, we can talk about it.         


DR. BROWN
Sure.


DR. WILLIAMS
Well, let me leave you with her.


DR. BROWN
I'm really glad you called me for this case. Thanks, Joe.


DR. WILLIAMS
You're welcome. See you. (Exits.)


DR. BROWN (Thinking aloud)
What I need now is this woman's help. (To Mrs. Davis) Mrs. Davis.


MRS. DAVIS
Yes, Dr. Brown.


DR. BROWN
I want this patient watched very closely. Please videotape everything she does, and I mean everything.


MRS. DAVIS
Yes, Dr. Brown.


DR. BROWN
I've prescribed a mild sedative, all right?


MRS. DAVIS
I'll make sure she takes it.


DR. BROWN
Thanks. Have a nice weekend. (Walks toward the exit.)


MRS. DAVIS
You too, Dr. Brown. (Walks to her desk. Suddenly.) Oh, Dr. Brown.


DR. BROWN
Yes, Mrs. Davis.


MRS. DAVIS(Takes out a folded piece of paper and extends it to Dr. Brown.)
Here's the map.


DR. BROWN
What map?


MRS. DAVIS
The map to her home


DR. BROWN
How did you know I was going to take a ride there? Am I that transparent?


MRS. DAVIS
No, it's only ten years of working with you.


DR. BROWN
Thank you.


MRS. DAVIS
You're welcome. Have a nice weekend.


DR. BROWN
You too. You know you can call me if you see anything unusual.


MRS. DAVIS
That I know too well.


DR. BROWN
Boy, I am transparent. See you. (Exits.)


MRS. DAVIS (To Old Teny)
Can I get you anything, Ms. Ross?

(Old Teny is silent.)


MRS. DAVIS
Now you can rest.

(Turns off the light and exits.)

(The lights dim slowly.)

 


Scene III

(Same place. Some of the columns have been rotated in the dark to display the mirrored sides. It is evening. The music of Delé Yaman is heard.)

OLD TENY(Shows some signs of discomfort and starts her high-pitched sigh)
Naaa . . . Naaa . . . (She shivers, then quiets down.)

(Young Teny enters upstage left and in a dreamlike walk crosses the stage slowly diagonally.)


OLD TENY (To Young Teny, smiling)
You're here, how nice.

(Young Teny doesn't respond and moves on and exits downstage right.)


OLD TENY(Steps down from her wheelchair and follows Young Teny. Looks offstage where Young Teny has disappeared. Joyfully.)
Everyone's here. I'm not alone. ( Addressing offstage) Yes Mama, I'll do Maro's hair. No Mama, I haven't forgotten the tarragon. I don't have flowers but I'll pick some when I go to the fields today.   

(I'he mirrored columns rotate to display the gray sides.)

(Mary enters carrying a flower, she is dressed very neatly in a flower-patterned dress. Her hair is groomed nicely. She recites every word clearly.)


OLD TENY(Turns and looks at Mary.)
Oh, here you are.


MARY
Hi, I'm Mary. Dr. Brown told me you're new here. (Extends the flower to Old Teny.) Here, you're welcome. I mean .. . not that I want you to be in the hospital ... I mean ... I guess you know what I mean . . .


OLD TENY (Smiles.)
How nice, Maro, you brought me a flower. I didn't have time to get any myself.


MARY
You like flowers?


OLD TENY
Let me take a look at you. What a beautiful dress.            .


MARY
I sewed it myself.   


OLD TENY
Look at the design of the flowers, they look exactly like the untouched wild flowers in the fields. Let me take a look at your hair. What have you done to your hair?


MARY
I just put it up.


OLD TENY
Maro, you shouldn't have. Mama says girls should wear their hair long.


MARY
Why?


OLD TENY
Mama says men like girls with long hair. (She lets Mary's hair down) Look how beautiful you look. When you get married, I'll fix your hair.


MARY
Married?


OLD TENY
I know you're still young, but you'll be the most beautiful bride in the world when the time comes.


MARY
M-m-married?


OLD TENY
Well, every girl in our village gets married. (Looks at Mary.) And you will be so beautiful.


MARY
Dr. Brown tells me that I was...


OLD TENY
But Maro, you have to wait your turn, you are my younger sister. I have to get married first. That is our tradition.


MARY
But I was . . .


OLD TENY
Hush, little sister. Now, go and help Mama make dinner. I have to go to the fields, otherwise Mama will be angry with me.


MARY (Walks towards the exit.)
I'll come to visit you again.


OLD TENY
Yes, yes, we'll talk. I am going to tell you a secret. But you have to promise not to tell anyone, O.K.?


MARY
A secret?


OLD TENY
Maro, you go now. Mama will be angry if I don't get the tarragon.


MARY (Defiant.)
My name is ... (Confused.) Mary? (Looks at Old Teny and exits.)

(Old Teny looks stage right where Young Teny had exited earlier and limps to her wheel chair.)

(Several columns turn to the mirrored side.)

(Joyful Armenian dancing music is heard. It is bright spring morning downstairs. There is the sound of birds chirping.)

Young Teny enters, carrying a basket. She is wearing colorful villagers dress and a hat. Has long braided hair. She dances to the music. Takes out a pair of scissors from the basket and starts as if cutting tarragon leaves on the ground. Bends down to wash her face in an imaginary stream.)


GARO (Enters in shepherd attire with a hat—a "pappakh." Throughout the scene, he looks around cautiously checking for danger. Watches Young Teny from a distance. Young Teny does not notice him.)
Pahrev . . . Hi.


YOUNG TENY (Stands up scared. Looks at Garo.)
Pahrev, Hi. You startled me.


GARO
Sorry, I didn't mean to.


YOUNG TENY
I came to pick tarragon for my mother. She dries it for the winter. This area has the best tarragon in the whole wide world.


GARO
How do you know it's the best tarragon in the whole wide world?


YOUNG TENY
I just know. I always pick it here. You see this tree? The tarragon grows right around it. This is my special place. No one else knows about it. I always come here in the spring for tarragon.


GARO
I know.


YOUNG TENY
You pick tarragon here, too?


GARO
No, but I see you when you come to your .. . private place.


YOUNG TENY
Now you are going to tell everyone.


GARO
No, I won't. If you tell me why the tarragon here is the best.


YOUNG TENY Last summer, my father came back from a far-away country, where lie had gone to find work to support us. You should have seen the tarragon he brought back! It was terrible! We gave it to our dog, but he wouldn't eat it.


GARO
I didn't know dogs eat tarragon.


YOUNG TENY
Our dog does. . . if it's good tarragon.


GARO
You must have a smart dog.


YOUNG TENY
The smartest in the whole wide world. Oh, please, don't tell anyone that I come here.


GARO
I won't.


YOUNG TENY
Promise?


GARO
Promise.


YOUNG TENY
How?


GARO
I just gave you my word.

YOUNG TENY
That's not enough.


GARO
What else?

(Young Teny motions for Garo to come closer. Garo comes closer. Young Teny motions for Garo to sit next to her. Garo sits down next to her.)


YOUNG TENY
Put your hand on your heart.


GARO
Why on my heart?


YOUNG TENY
Because the heart knows when you lie.


GARO
So what if it does?


YOUNG TENY
Then it stops and you ...


GARO
Die?


YOUNG TENY
Well. . . just put your hand on your heart.


GARO (Playfully seeks his heart's location then puts his hand on his heart.)
Here it is. What now?


YOUNG TENY
Repeat after me. If I tell anyone . . . (Looks at Garo who is silent) Come on, repeat after me. If I tell anyone .. .


GARO
If I tell anyone ...


MARY
About your secret...


GARO
About your secret. . .


YOUNG TENY
Then . . . (Looks at Garo again who is silent. Louder.) Then . . .


GARO
Then . . .


YOUNG TENY
May God burn my path with bolts of fire.


GARO
Don't you think that's a bit too much just for this tarragon?


YOUNG TENY
This is not about tarragon. It is about my secret... I mean my secret territory.


GARO
What's so secret about your secret territory?


YOUNG TENY
Because no one knows about this place. It's so secluded, so serene. When I come here, I'm all alone with myself. I think, I dream ... I dream beautiful dreams...


GARO
What kind of dreams?


YOUNG TENY
If I told you, they wouldn't be secret anymore.

GARO
All right, then. (Places his hand over his heart.) May God burn my path with bolts of fire.


YOUNG TENY(Terrified.)
Oh no, may God never do that to you!


GARO
Isn't that what you wanted me to say?


YOUNG TENY
I just tested you to see if you respected my secret.


GARO
Well, did I pass the test?


YOUNG TENY
With flying colors. Now, this place is your secret place too. You too can pick tarragon here.


GARO
Gee, thanks. (Pauses, then with a serious tone.) May I tell you something?


YOUNG TENY
You have a secret too?


GARO
You shouldn't come to the fields all by yourself. It's not safe.


YOUNG TENY
Why? I'm only a holler's distance away from our village. If I yell "help," the entire village will come to my aid.


GARO
Don't be so sure. People are busy, you know.


YOUNG TENY
But our villagers...


GARO (Interrupting.)
I know, they have the best hearing in the whole wide world.


YOUNG TENY
Hey, don't mock my villagers. They are the best people in the ...(Pauses.) Well, they are. Besides, I'm not afraid of the enemy. My father tells me ... do you see these mountains? My father tells me these mountains protect us from the enemy.


GARO
How could mountains protect you from the enemy?


YOUNG TENY
My father says (looks around and in a low voice) that our fedayees, our freedom fighters are in these mountains. They protect us from the enemy. My father also says that you can't recognize the fedayees when you see them. They look like ordinary people but they are the strongest people in the ... (emphasizing) the whole wide world. They carry weapons, (in a low voice) concealed weapons, just in case the enemy ...


GARO
Your father's right. The fedayees do look after people like you. They want people to enjoy their God-given rights, be free to say what they think, enjoy the fruits of their labor, protect their heritage, and practice their religious rights without persecution. This is our land. Our ancestors have lived here for thousands of years. It's our right to live on this land to enjoy life here and prosper. We are a minority in this society. Being a minority here is like a curse. This country has laws... what a joke. The rulers, who are supposed to uphold these laws, are the first to bend them to their liking and cause suffering in­nocent people like you. I don't want you to suffer. (Softly.) A beautiful girl like you should never suffer.

 (Young Teny, embarrassed, lowers her head.)


GARO
Come now; give me your most beautiful smile, the best in the whole wide world.


YOUNG TENY (Smiles.)
My father says...


GARO
Yes?


YOUNG TENY (Hesitating)
That. . . you are a fedayee . . . and . . . you are always in these areas. . . You'll protect me, won't you?


GARO(Touches Young Teny's hair tenderly.) Oh, dearest. If it were up to me, no one in this world would get hurt. (Gets ready to move away.) It's almost sun-down. Soon it'll be dark. Please go home. (Walks towards the exit.) I'll be up in the mountains.


YOUNG TENY
I'll be here tomorrow.

(Garo looks affectionately and exits upstage left.)


YOUNG TENY
May God shower your path with the most beautiful flowers in the world. (Goes to pick up her basket.)

(The sound of marching gendarmes is heard.)

(Young Teny, frightened, leaves her basket and the scissors and hides behind Old Teny's wheelchair.)


YOUNG TENY (Fearful.)
The scissors! The scissors

(Young Teny runs downstage, grabs the scissors. The sound of marching gendarmes gets louder. She runs to hide behind the wheelchair holding the scissors in a defensive gesture.)

(Gendarme enters upstage right, notices Young Teny's basket. Comes close and looks at the basket, looks around, picks up the basket, looks in it. Laughs. Dumps imaginary content, throws the basket on the floor and exits.)

(Young Teny looks around. Makes sure the gendarme is gone, runs and picks up her basket and tries to put the tarragon leaves back in it.)


TENY'S MOTHER (Shouting offstage.)
Varteny, Varteny. (Enters with an apron on. Shouts.) Varteny, Varteny, oor es, where is that girl?


YOUNG TENY (Runs to her Mother.)
Yes, Mama.


MOTHER Aghchee, oor menatseer?
Girl, where have you been?


YOUNG TENY
I was in the fields, Mama, picking parsley, dill and tarragon.


MOTHER
Let me see the basket.

(Young Teny extends the basket.)


MOTHER
There is no parsley, no dill and hardly any tarragon. Is this all you got in four hours?


YOUNG TENY
But Mama, I had to look and choose only the best.


MOTHER
What did you do the rest of the time, dance in the fields? How nunv times do I have to tell you it is dangerous to come here all alone. Why didn't you bring your brother Armenag with you?


YOUNG TENY
Armenag was playing with his friends in the yard. Besides, Papa says the freedom fighters the fedayees will protect us.


MOTHER
Yes, they will, but. . .


YOUNG TENY
And Mama, I met one of them.


MOTHER
What are you saying, aghchee, girl?


YOUNG TENY
I saw Garo the shepherd. He is a freedom fighter.   


MOTHER
Come to your senses, Varteny.


YOUNG TENY
Honest, Mama. He said he'd be looking after me.


MOTHER
Quiet, child. If your father hears that you have talked to a man in the fields, he'll kill you . . . and he'll kill me too for letting you come out here all alone. You've become a woman. You can't wander around and meet men in the fields. Now, tell me the truth, child, what happened?


YOUNG TENY
Nothing, Mama, we just talked.


MOTHER
What kind of talk?


YOUNG TENY
Plain talk.


MOTHER
What kind of plain talk?

YOUNG TENY
Plain, plain talk


MOTHER
What else?

(Young Teny hangs her head.)


MOTHER
Girl, I asked what else?


YOUNG TENY
He said . . .


MOTHER
Yes?


YOUNG TENY
That I have the most beautiful smile in the whole wide world.


MOTHER (Makes the sign of the Cross.)
Oh, my God. What else?


YOUNG TENY
He touched my hair.


MOTHER(Makes the sign of the Cross.)
Oh, my God.


YOUNG TENY
Mama, I said, my hair.


MOTHER(Extends her hands to the heavens.)
Mary, Mother of God, please protect your innocent lamb from the ills of the world. What else?


YOUNG TENY
Nothing.


MOTHER(Kneels as she makes the sign of the Cross.)
Oh, my God.


YOUNG TENY
Mama, I said, "nothing."


MOTHER
I heard you. That's worse.


YOUNG TENY
Why is it worse?


MOTHER
Because we don't know what he's thinking. Is he interested in marrying you? Is he ready to start a family? Has he talked to his parents about you?


YOUNG TENY
Mama, I'm only sixteen.


MOTHER
I was thirteen when I married your father. By sixteen, I already had you and your brother Armenag. What am I going to tell your father?


YOUNG TENY (Upset.)
Nothing, Mama. Nothing happened.


MOTHER
Child, innocence is like a crystal, it doesn't just break, it shatters. (Touches Young Teny's face with her hands.) My love, my innocent baby. I see spring has flourished within you. (Kisses her.) Let me take a good look at you. (They rise.) Turn around.

(Young Teny turns around slowly.)


MOTHER
When did you grow so fast?


YOUNG TENY
It took sixteen years, Mama.


MOTHER (Pulls young Teny to her chest. Hugs her tightly.)
My baby, my love.


YOUNG TENY
Mama, I'm choking, can't breathe.

(Mother lets Young Teny go.)


YOUNG TENY (Pauses. Softly.)
Mama, I'm always thinking about Garo.


MOTHER (Pulls Young Teny back to her chest and hugs her tightly again.)
I should've choked you (Releases her.) Now, let's go, there's work to be done at home.

(Young Teny walks toward stage left.)


MOTHER (Slowly walks backwards looking at young Teny.)
Varteny, thoughts are like winds, my dearest, they carry us to worlds unknown. Don't let those thoughts carry you. (Exits stage right.)

(Young Teny exits stage left.)

(Columns rotate to display gray hospital walls.)


OLD TENY (Gets off her wheelchair, walks towards mother's exit.)
Mama, Mama.


DR. BROWN (Runs in.)
It's O.K., it's O.K. Ms. Ross, can you tell me what happened, please?


OLD TENY
Mama, mama, I love him.


DR. BROWN
Whom do you love, Ms. Ross?


OLD TENY
I do, Mama, I really do love Garo.

DR. BROWN
Where is Garo, Ms. Ross? Who is Garo?

(Old Teny returns to her wheelchair and sits down.)


DR. BROWN
Please, Ms. Ross, say something, where are they? And who is this Maro you told a patient of mine about.

(Old Teny does not answer.)


DR. BROWN
Where is Garo? Where is Maro? (Frustrated) Oh, God . . . Just when I thought I had a clue, she gives up on me. (He ponders.) Maro, Garo. What a web, what a web!

(Lights dim slowly.)

 

 

SCENE IIII

(Same place. It is morning.)

(Old Teny in her wheelchair, Dr. Brown sitting next to her wheelchair, dozing.)


DR. WILLIAMS (Enters.)
I thought I'd find you here.


DR. BROWN (Startled.)
What did I miss now, another conference?

DR. WILLIAMS
Since you asked, you missed an interview with an upcoming resident as well as a departmental conference.   


DR. BROWN
I'm really sorry, Joe.


DR. WILLIAMS
So, I have arranged for you to give a talk about your new . . . venture, "The letting go of the non-existent past."


DR. BROWN
And when is that?


DR. WILLIAMS
This Friday afternoon.


DR. BROWN
Joe, be realistic, how can I?


DR. WILLIAMS
Well, you know everything about the subject.


DR. BROWN
You're not serious, are you?


DR. WILLIAMS
I am dead serious. You wrote the paper and it's published. You're surely prepared.


DR. BROWN
But this woman.


DR. WILLIAMS
Well, that's something else I want to talk to you about. I called your home last night you weren't there. Your wife told me you haven't been home for three days. Jim, this room has become your living quarters again and that scares me.


DR. BROWN
Don't worry, Joe, I'll be fine.


DR. WILLIAMS
I've heard that before. Jim, I've known you for a long time. I respect your knowledge and conviction tremendously. Whenever you handle unusual cases, you get so obsessed that I wonder what truly drives you. I've come to the realization that the basis of this obsession is your own search.


DR. BROWN
What do you mean?


DR. WILLIAMS
You really haven't given up your personal search, have you?

(Dr. Brown doesn't answer.)


DR. WILLIAMS
Any progress?


DR. BROWN
Well, she has ...


DR. WILLIAMS(Interrupting.)
I mean about you.


DR. BROWN
Joe, right now, this case is more important. The other one . . . me, some other time.


DR. WILLIAMS
I'll take a rain check on your story.


DR. BROWN
O.K. Anyway, about this case, all we get are the same few signs: shivers, sweating and those moaning sounds: Na .. . na . . .


DR. WILLIAMS
Painful memories?


DR. BROWN
I guess.


DR. WILLIAMS
Abused childhood? Locked closets? Incest?


DR. BROWN
I don't know. Anything is possible. Abused childhood, incest, rape ... God knows what else, but definitely a deep affection for her mother. I was watching her movements as she was limping around. At the end she uttered "mama" in an affectionate, clinging manner, "mama, mama" ...

(Old Teny smiles.)

DR. BROWN
Look, she is smiling. (Approaches old Teny. Gently strokes her forehead.)

OLD TENY (Euphorically. Faces right where she imagines her mother.)
Mama, Garon desa, I saw Garo again. (Pauses. Faces left when imagining Garo.) Mv garden has bloomed, Garo. Yes, it's our garden now. No one knows about tint place. It's our secret. (Faces right.) Mama, Garo told me he loves me. I love him too, Mama. No, no, I didn't tell him that I love him. I know, I know it's not appropriate. (Faces left.) Did I call you Garo? Oh, my God, this is the first time I say your name aloud. Of course I've said it many, many times ... in your absence ... to myself... in my prayers.



DR. BROWN (Holds Old Teny's both hands.)
Where is Garo, Ms. Ross?


OLD TENY(Pushes Dr. Brown's hands away and shouts.)
Don't touch me! Go away . . . Go away . . . (Stares aimlessly in silence.)


DR. WILLIAMS
Who's she pushing away?


DR. BROWN
I don't know. She is guarding her private world so tightly. I wish I knew how to get in there.


DR. WILLIAMS
Is she remembering her past?


DR. BROWN
No, I think she is living her past. There's nothing about the present. As a matter of fact, there's a total denial of it.


DR. WILLIAMS
Are you thinking what I'm thinking?


DR. BROWN
Yes.


DR. WILLIAMS
Anterograde amnesia.


DR. BROWN
Exactly. Something must have triggered it.


DR. WILLIAMS Like what?        


DR. BROWN
I don't know. Whatever it is, it has caused her past to be her present. She has totally wiped out her present.


DR. WILLIAMS
But why?


DR. BROWN
I don't know. People remember their past, I mean those who do have a past, but they're able to put it back where it belongs. For most people, parting with an existing past is an easy process.


DR. WILLIAMS
How about parting with your "non-existent past"?


DR. BROWN
My "non-existent past" is like a black hole. It's as if someone took an eraser and wiped out my past and a part of me. I can never be a complete person. It's the wiped out piece that I need to complete myself. It is painful In have part of you missing.


DR. WILLIAMS
How's your search about your childhood progressing?


DR. BROWN
I thought I had reached back to the edge of nowhere. To the Big Nothing.

You see, Joe, you people with a known past are truly fortunate. Yon 11 talk about all phases of your lives. In all likelihood, your parents kept books where they recorded in detail the first time you smiled or ullen A "mama" or "papa." You may be able to draw your family tree back to . .   oh. I don't know how many generations.   My past is me as is. My past begins with me. You have a recorded and documented past, my past is a blank.

All my life I have tried to find out about my birth. My first adoptive parents, the Browns, lost their lives in a fire and all the adoption records were lost. My second adoptive parents told me that the Browns had picked me up from an orphanage and brought me over to this country. To stop the search and let go of my "non-existent" past was... is painful. That means I will never find out about a part of me. For a long time I didn't want to give up. That meant defeat. It was more than that. It meant killing part of me.

I had come close to accepting myself from the point of my first adoptive parents, but something stops me now: a faint light, a new hope. This patient prevents me from pulling the trigger that would kill my "non-existent past." This might sound silly, but I envy this woman ... for having a vivid past. Joe, you don't know how lucky you are to have all phases of your life. Well, Dr. Williams, does the article "Non-Existent Past" make sense?


DR. WILLIAMS (Patting Dr. Brown on the shoulder.)
The article does, but I'm worried.


DR. BROWN
Worried, why?


DR. WILLIAMS
You, this woman, your unusual attachment to this case, and your neglect of everything else. Do you think you'll see the light you've been waiting for?


DR. BROWN
I don't know, but I sincerely hope so.


DR. WILLIAMS
I hope that light will help you find your complete self and release you from your entrapment.


DR. BROWN
Nicely put, Joe. When and if I find the light, you'll be the first to know. Thanks my friend.


DR. WILLIAMS
I'll send you my bill.


DR. BROWN
At this stage, I'm more concerned about this woman than myself.


DR. WILLIAMS
Any new information?

(Mrs. Davis enters and goes to her desk and starts writing.)


DR. BROWN
Her neighbors told me she's Armenian.


DR. WILLIAMS
Armenian? With a name like Ross? Don't Armenian last names rhyme with the word "Armenian"?


DR. BROWN
I guess she must have changed it. She came to this country in the twenties after the Armenian Genocide. One and a half million Armenians were brutally massacred by the Ottoman Turks during the First World War and yet not too many people know about it.


DR. WILLIAMS
Yes, I am aware of that inhuman calamity. Jim, I was wondering about the Ross matter. Did you get court permission to enter her house?


DR. BROWN
Yes, I did.


DR. WILLIAMS
Did you find anything relevant?


DR. BROWN
Yes, I did find something quite interesting: a photo album. There is a picture of a group of children in an orphanage. There was an arrow pointing to a little girl. It must have been Ms. Ross. I also spoke with the neighbors. They told me she lived alone, worked and supported herself. Was not married. Seldom spoke about her life, and when she did, she shivered like a terrified child. The neighbors also told me her name is Teny. She went to an Armenian church regularly. I called her priest. He told me her name is (Takes a notebook and spells out) V-a-r-t-e-n-y, Varteny.


DR. WILLIAMS
Varteny?

(Old Teny moves.)


DR. BROWN
She heard you. (Holds Old Tenys one hand.) Varteny?

(Old Teny moves her head to the side.)


DR. BROWN(Stands on the side of the wheelchair and whispers in Old Teny's)
Varteny, Varteny...

(Old Teny holds Doctor Brown's wrists very strongly and pulls herself into an upright position staring straight ahead.)

(Loud screeching music begins as a few of the columns rotate so the mirrors face the audience. The lights turn violet and blue. As the screeching music subsides, joyful dancing music from scene three is heard again.)

(Young Teny enters wearing the same villager's dress with her basket. Circles the stage. Takes out a pair of scissors and starts cutting imaginary tarragon leaves.)

(During the following lines Young Teny's actions reflect Old Teny's words.)


OLD TENY
This tarragon is so beautiful. Mama will be so happy when she sees me with a basket full of tarragon.


(Young Teny looks around as if waiting for someone.)

OLD TENY
He's late. He told me he'd be here before sundown.

(Young Teny takes out a long woven white scarf from the basket, wraps it around her neck.)


OLD TENY
My own knitting for my first and only love This'll keep him warm in the mountains. And he'll always feel my touch. I'll surprise him with it.

YOUNG TENY (Puts the scarf in the basket.)
I miss you. (She bends as if to wash her face in a stream.)

(Dr. Brown takes notes.)

(Gendarme enters, approaches Young Teny and stands behind her, then touches her hair.)

YOUNG TENY (Without looking.)
Garo? (Gendarme strokes young Teny's hair.)


YOUNG TENY (Without looking.)
Garo, last night I told my mother that your mother is going to ask for my hand in marriage. She cried. She said, "My little girl is going to be a bride." I think she's going to tell my father about us tonight. (Blushing, takes out the white scarf, extends it to the Gendarme without looking.) This is for you. I knit it with my very own hands. It's the best wool in the country. It came from our own lambs. It'll keep you warm in the mountains.

(Gendarme takes the scarf and wraps it around his neck.)


YOUNG TENY
How does it feel?

(Gendarme is silent.)


YOUNG TENY
Garo, say something. Do you like it? (Gendarme strokes young Teny's hair.)


YOUNG TENY
You liked it. Let me see. (Turns, sees the Gendarme, shouts.) Garo!

(Pushes Gendarme's hand away and tries to escape.)


OLD TENY
Run, run, it's the Gendarme!

(Gendarme laughs loudly and cuts her off.)


OLD TENY
The scissors, the scissors ...

(Drs. Brown, Williams, and Mrs. Davis watch Old Teny attentively.)

(Young Teny rum for her pair of scissors and picks them up. Holds them in a defensive gesture.)


OLD TENY
Don't come near me, I'll kill you! I'll kill you!

(Gendarme laughs loudly and gets closer.)   


OLD TENY
Don't touch me!

(Young Teny makes a stabbing move, Gendarme holds both of Young Teny's wrists.)


YOUNG AND OLD TENNY (Scream together.)
Help! Help!

(Old Teny has clutched both of her hands.)


YOUNG AND OLD TENNY

(Together.) Let me go! Let me go!

(Gendarme throws Young Teny forcefully to the ground. He looks at her and starts untying his belt.)

(Loud screeching music begins. Blackout.)


OLD TENY
(At the top of her lungs.) No ... no ... no ...!

(The music ends in total darkness.)

(The columns turn to hospital walls.)

End of Scene Four


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