Moving from Room to Room: A Short Play by Abigail George

Mrs. Anthony: You are changing the subject to console me. My mother was right. You were and still are the right man for me.

Mr. Anthony: It was harder to convince your father. He never liked me.

Mrs. Anthony: You are giving up. You are giving up so easily.

Mr. Anthony: You have been like this for days now.

Mrs. Anthony: You mean you are indulging me for now but not forever?

Mr. Anthony: Yes, something like that.

Mrs. Anthony: I have such beautiful hair, Frank.

Mr. Anthony: Yes, yes you do. I remember how you wore it on our wedding day. You lifted it up, there were strands of it at the nape of your neck but you pulled it up, stuck pins in it.

Mrs. Anthony: I have not been looking after myself, have I?

Mr. Anthony: No, you have not, my dear.

Mrs. Anthony: Would you brush my hair for me?

Mr. Anthony: Of course, I will, Betty.

Mrs. Anthony: I think I will have some of that tea now, Frank.

Mr. Anthony: I think I will put some honey in your tea.

Mrs. Anthony: Frank, thank you for putting up with me. I know I can be a bit trying sometimes.

Mr. Anthony: I took vows, remember?

Mrs. Anthony: Frank, do you remember what that day was like when they came?

Mr. Anthony: Yes.

Mrs. Anthony: It was an injustice, was it not?

Mr. Anthony: It was hectic.

Mrs. Anthony: Do you remember how they harassed us to move?

Mr. Anthony: Yes.

Mrs. Anthony: I feel nothing, absolutely nothing but the day they came with their bulldozers and I felt like a puppet. Slow to think, slow to react, and slow to speak, to utter a single word. I felt that somehow my movements were restricted. Do you understand?

Mr. Anthony: Yes.

Mrs. Anthony: My hands were trembling as I watched the pot cooking on the primer stove.

Mr. Anthony: I polished my shoes.

Mrs. Anthony: My mouth was twitching.

Mr. Anthony: I pulled up my socks.

Mrs. Anthony: All these people that were my friends and neighbours…it was their suffering and pain that was ignored as the harassment from the Afrikaner police continued.

Mr. Anthony: I tied my laces.

Mrs. Anthony: All I could think about was two words. ‘Forced removals’.

Mr. Anthony: This was our destiny but men to whom spirituality meant nothing created it.

Mrs. Anthony: I was weak at the knees that day.

Mr. Anthony: You were as tough as nails, as tough as my boots.

Mrs. Anthony: I thought I was going to collapse.

Mr. Anthony: I thought you were strong, never thought you could be that strong.

Mrs. Anthony: I never knew that I was going to turn into a different person at my age.

Mr. Anthony: Now we just have different dreams and goals.

Mrs. Anthony: Even at our age?

Mr. Anthony: Even at our age.

Mrs. Anthony: Now I am hard.

Mr. Anthony: All people have different priorities now.

Mrs. Anthony: I am tough.

Mr. Anthony: Everyone is tougher.

Mrs. Anthony: I do not think I want to believe anymore.

Mr. Anthony: You cannot blame God for this.

Mrs. Anthony: But I do, I do.

Mr. Anthony: Man did this.

Mrs. Anthony: Do you not see why I blame God for this?

Mr. Anthony: Man did this.

Mrs. Anthony: Can’t you see that it haunts me day and night? Whom do I blame?

Mr. Anthony: It is man’s unconscious shame that has brought him to this time and place.

Mrs. Anthony: Where do I go?

Mr. Anthony: You are not going anywhere anytime soon.

Mrs. Anthony: Where do we go to now?

Mr. Anthony: We stay here, together. I do not know what the words ‘holy matrimony’ mean to you but I know what they mean to me (he smiles warmly at her).

Mrs. Anthony: My hair is grey and I do not have any children, any family to bury me. You do not get to choose what side you are on between the divided lines that are drawn in the middle of society. It just happens that you are born rich or born into poverty.

Mr. Anthony: You do not mention love.

Mrs. Anthony: What is love? Sometimes it lasts as long as the honeymoon phase.

Mr. Anthony: You have not mentioned ‘our love’.

Mrs. Anthony: Do you often think about what eternity will be like?

Mr. Anthony: With love, you can live without many things, you can think about many more things, sacrifice things, live alongside hope and tragedy. God knows what he is planning for the two of us.

Mrs. Anthony: I guess that is why you have the brains, the great intellect in this relationship.

Mr. Anthony: You are so afraid of the future.

Mrs. Anthony: Everybody should be afraid of the future because for every generation values keep changing.

Mr. Anthony: What do you really want? What do you really desire?

Mrs. Anthony: To live in the present.

Mr. Anthony: How can you distance your life from that word ‘love’?

Mrs. Anthony: Oh, that is easy. I think of all the bad things in the world that I have lived in denial of, all the negative stuff, the lips I could have kissed…

Mr. Anthony: Love is never perfect especially in times of desperation and when those two laser beams of greed and corruption distract rulers of society.

Mrs. Anthony: I never thought of the two of us being impoverished in our old age.

Mr. Anthony: But I like to think of our life as being somewhat perfect.

Mrs. Anthony: I think our principles are being tested.

Mr. Anthony: So why criticise God and mourn possessions?

Mrs. Anthony: I know what eternity must feel like.

Mr. Anthony: Music?

Mrs. Anthony: A reward, recognition for a life well lived and the familiarity that you lost as a child, those fantasies, wonder, tales of guts, of fairy glory in transient childhood is given back to you.

Mr. Anthony: We have had good life.

Mrs. Anthony: Did we not deserve more than this?

Mr. Anthony: Life is so short, so precious, my precious, just think about that.

Mrs. Anthony: Everything is so temporary. You are right.

Mr. Anthony: Yes, you are right. I could have lived vicariously through other virgins, lovers, and couples but instead I found you, fell in love with you and married you.

Mrs. Anthony: I have a broken heart over all our beautiful antique furniture we had to leave behind.

Mr. Anthony: Betty, they were just things.

Mrs. Anthony: I inherited some of that furniture and now it will find a home elsewhere.

Mr. Anthony: Betty, accept that now you will not see it again and you will find some peace of mind.

Mrs. Anthony: Now we have to accept the fact that where we live there is no police station, no work, no transportation, and no buses.

(For a long time Mr. Anthony stares into space. He takes out his pipe, a matchbox and a bag of tobacco.)

Mrs. Anthony: South End is ghost-suburbia now. Vagrants and scavengers are now moving in as we speak, making themselves comfortable by squatting amongst debris and rubbish and there is nothing miraculous about it.

Mr. Anthony: We are meant to have a purpose.

Mrs. Anthony: But here, here, it is as if we are living in a wilderness grasping at straws, flirting with healthy maturity advancing on us, fits, tantrums, and the flesh of pitch darkness.

Mr. Anthony: Believe; just believe that someday, somewhere, something good will come out of this, this struggle.

Mrs. Anthony: We have been dumped in the bush and so must make our own way back to an asphalt reality.

Mr. Anthony: There is a lesson to be learned in every human experience, whether it is traumatic or joyful.

Mrs. Anthony: It is as if we have to build a territory that has new dimensions.

Mr. Anthony: Look, swallows building a nest.

Mrs. Anthony: But what if there is a burglar in the middle of the night?

Mr. Anthony: Mrs. Anthony I will protect you as I always have.

Mrs. Anthony: That is just not good enough for me.

Mr. Anthony: Then I will get up in the middle of the night.

Mrs. Anthony: It is not enough. It is enough just saying things like that to me. I do not feel safe here. We do not know the people who live next door to us. I am not interested in anything anymore. What is life?

Mr. Anthony (takes his wife’s hand in his): I know it would have been different if we had children of our own.

Mrs. Anthony: How do you know?

Mr. Anthony: I know you are going through a depression but things will change.

Mrs. Anthony: Things will change from bad to worse.

Mr. Anthony: You have gone through depressions before.

Mrs. Anthony: I will never get used to this if that is what you mean. Are you telling me I will get used to this? You cannot be serious. The government threw us away as if we were rubbish. I stand for something. Do I not stand for something, Mr. Anthony? It is as if we are being punished for something. What did we do? Was I not a good wife? I wanted to be a good mother too but God had other plans for us.

Mr. Anthony (Mr. Anthony embraces his wife as she starts to cry): There is a reason for everything under the sun. God’s reasoning.

Mrs. Anthony: Is this God’s doing?

Mr. Anthony: No, we both know that is not true.

Mrs. Anthony (she sighs but at the same time she reaches out her hands towards her husband): Mr. Anthony, I think I am ready for that dance now.


Image: Pixabay.com remix

About the author

Abigail George

Abigail George studied film and television production for a short while, followed by a brief stint as a trainee at a production house. She is a Christian feminist, writer and poet. She lives in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. She has had poetry published in print and online. She has had short fiction published online. In 2005 and 2008, she was awarded grants from the National Arts Council in Johannesburg. She is not purely devoted to poetry but to pursuing writing full time. Storytelling for her has always been a phenomenal way of communicating and making a connection with other people. She writes for Modern Diplomacy and contributed bimonthly to a symposium on Ovi Magazine: Finland’s English Online Magazine. Her latest book Winter in Johannesburg is available on Kindle via Amazon.

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