A Stage Play by QuiteOllie

The lights come up on a small table with only Penelope sat at it. She was clearly a beautiful woman at some point. It's not easy to place exactly why she isn't anymore. Her hair is badly taken care of and her skin is pale and a little dry. Her lips are cracked. She has a vacant expression but definitely not one of someone who may be considered insane. She has intelligent eyes. She is wearing white trousers and a white long-sleeved t-shirt. The Nurse is stood over her holding a tray with various small cups of pills on it along with a few plastic cups of water. Nurse hands over one the small cups of pills

Nurse.  Okay there Miss Boyd here are your Tuesdays

Pen goes to grab pills from the tray

            No, Miss Boyd they're not your pills. Okay. You just have these now, okay?

Pen takes her pills and looks away. It does genuinely seem like an honest mistake. Nurse puts a glass of water in front of Pen. Pen looks at the glass, then at the pills. Then swallows them in one gulp. The Nurse looks unsurprised, he takes away the pill cup then looks at Pen

Pen.     Go

The Nurse glances at Pen's face but lets no emotion show through. He sighs then leaves. After a few minutes it becomes clear that Pen has been scratching her legs. She spits out the pills. The scratching becomes more vigorous then she stops. Takes a deep breath and notices the water. She picks it up and tilts it from side to side. She is intrigued by the movement of the water and takes a gulp. She sighs and smiles a little. She put the cup back on the table and tilts it again but this time keeps going. She very very slowly pushes the cup over until water spills over the table and the cup rolls onto the floor. The second this happens she panics and jumps to the floor, her movements are almost primal. She is like a child that accidentally killed a butterfly by playing with it too hard and she doesn't know what to do. She pushes her face against the water that has leaked onto the floor and sighs with relief. The Nurse enters again

Nurse.  Penelope? Miss Boyd are you okay? I heard something

He sees what's happening and sighs. Pen sees that he is there but doesn't move

Nurse.  Miss Boyd please get up off the floor

Pen.     (talking to herself about the water) It's me

Nurse.  Miss Boyd?

The Nurse sighs again before picking Pen up off the floor and placing her back on her chair. Her body is lifeless except for the same faint smile as before, as if remembering something. The Nurse picks up the cup.

Nurse.  (under his breath) Oh s**t

The Nurse shows the cup to Pen and puts on a smile

            Now, Miss Boyd you won't tell anyone I left this with you will you? Because I'd get in a lot of trouble if someone found out and you wouldn't want that would you?

Pen.     (Still with a slight smile, but confused) it... Was... Me

Nurse.  Penelope?

Pen suddenly stares into The Nurse's eyes and stay like that for a few seconds before shaking her head quite rapidly and returning to staring at the table. The Nurse nods reassuringly to himself and leaves

Pen.     It was me. But not anymore. How can it-? Not anymore... Doesn't make any sense.

she looks at the water on the floor again. Throughout the whole of this speech her moods change very quickly but she never once gives the impression that she isn't sane. She is very intelligent and knows what she's doing. She is just different. She changes between talking to herself and the water. The words are articulated in a slightly unusual way. Just enough to hint that speaking English didn't always come so naturally to her.

Not that it was me. That it was a part of me who I was I mean it was part of what- it was such a big part I don't understand... (asking the water and tilting her head to one side) What happened? (suddenly and very fiercely) what do you remember what do you remember?! Come on come on COME ON! (suddenly sad) I was beautiful (she lets out a whine like a dog) I was very beautiful and something happened and now. Now (she swallows) this. (looks at her legs) I am hideous I am so ugly. My body (grabs her hair)... My body used to be weightless and my skin would shine in the light... It was perfect. My clothes were... (she stops as though she herself doesn't know how she was going to finish the sentence) I don't even remember my clothes. I don't think I even had any. Why though WHY!? I've been here too long and I can't even remember who I was anymore.

Pen stands up and walks around her table. she steps in the water and looks at it. She looks so confused it's almost painful for her. She closes her eyes really tight and presses her fists against her forehead before throwing them down at her sides and staring into the distance. This is maybe the first time that we get the impression that she is being driven insane by her memories. But it is clear that she is still in control

WRONG! It's all wrong! It was right at one point but NOT. ANY. MORE. I was fierce and untameable I was as free as the ocean itself. Funny little people put away what they can't understand like I'm some experiment gone wrong! Kept out of sight so I don't frighten anyone. Or enlighten anyone. Schizophrenia?! What does that even mean?! (pitifully) I don't know these words! (as if shouting at whoever can hear her outside of the room) F**k you! I came here looking for a change of scenery. Just a change. To see what it's like up here but no. You don't see any beauty in something new. You lock it away and feed it f*****g pills! I am NOT in my own skin I want my skin. Give me it back. I am suffocating and I cannot take it a second longer

She feels her body and strokes her lips before looking at her hands and showing them to the world. They are bloody but only slightly, as if she has cracked skin. She licks her lips. She is trembling. She goes to the table and licks the water again and again but it's not enough. She puts her hands in it and strokes her arms and face. It's still not enough though and she stops

I can't live like this.

She looks at her hands and strokes the palm of one of them delicately. The pain is clearly unbearable and she holds them away from her in a comfortable position. She then slowly looks at the floor and sits down by the water very carefully. She sadly smiles with a face of nostalgia, occasionally playing with the water

I would play for hours. I would race (she gestures with her hand dramatically) through the waves. And when I was bored I would go home. One day I thought I'd come here instead. Thought I'd take off my skin for the first time. I often thought to come but everyone said that it was wrong. That I wasn't ready for here and that here wasn't ready for me (she lets out a small humourless laugh and smiles as if to hold back tears)... they were right. This is different to home. There's so little awe here compared to the things I've seen (starts sobbing and gets worse and quieter as time goes on until she is speaking in a whimper) I really miss my home. I really miss swimming. Water all around me like air. Feeling the current stroke my skin. The dulled sounds of the sea when you're beneath the surface like a constant and reliable lullaby. Up here everything is harsh. And bright and intense and... Fast. Everything is too fast here. Too fast to keep up. I need to go home. I am so thirsty (looks out into the audience, begging) I'm not insane... Where's my skin? Where did I put it?

She curls up on the floor. Her breathing becomes heavier and dry. It is clear she is struggling to breathe. The lights fade to black.

© 2013 QuiteOllie

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Added on April 10, 2013
Last Updated on April 10, 2013
Tags: skin, mental institutions, society, mental illness, selkie, water, sea, ocean



United Kingdom

At Night At Night

A Story by QuiteOllie