We're back with Simona at home -- she's home, in bed. It's late, and we can see by the bottle and glass near her bed that she has been drinking... maybe too much. She's writing in her journal.
SIMONA It was one of the busiest days in recent memory. My first Middle East war casualty. The soldier was Private First Class Jonathan Miller, age 20. Hundreds of people showed up, and they just kept coming until finally we had to move everything into the large chapel. Half the people didn't even know Jonathan Miller, but people came anyway... veterans groups, parents of soldiers killed in other wars, and of course, there was all Jonathan's friends and family.
Jonathan's casket was closed and draped with an American flag. I felt very patriotic being there, but every time I think of his age, and that the war will probably never end, I think... what a waste. There was a lot of talk about honor and forefathers and democracy. But once everything was finished around 8 p.m. and all the strangers had gone home, I was left staring at the most complete and vacant grief that I have seen since I started working here. Jonathan's mom -- I think she could lose her mind. She seemed to have no idea where she was, but at the same time, she was totally aware that her son was gone. I would come in now and again and check on her and one time she stood up and held my hand for a long moment. She told me she wanted to see her son one last time, but the military liaison guy had made it clear that I shouldn't open the casket. He was really stern when he came to do the government part of the funeral arrangement.
(Stage goes dark and MILITARY OFFICER steps on stage. Light illuminates him.)
MILITARY OFFICER (Clears throat.) Pfc Jonathan Miller was killed in action, and his remains were processed through Dover Airforce Base. He is unviewable.
SIMONA Joe told me “unviewable” is code for “hamburger.”
(Stage goes dark and JONATHAN steps on stage. Light illuminates him.)
JONATHAN (Sheepish) Hey, Mom? I don't want you to see me, ok? It really is bad.
SIMONA I stood with her and said nothing. I couldn't bring myself to say no, but I thought if I just stood there quietly, the impulse to open the casket would go away. Finally she sad down again and I went back into the office. I let her stay as long as she wanted. She went home around 10:30.
(Simona pauses, closes her journal, puts it aside and settles into bed. Soon, she is asleep and dreaming. Spanish music plays and a flamenco dancer breezes across the stage. Lights flash. The music stops. GENEVIEVE SHER and GEORGE SCOTT, Jeff Scott's father, walk onstage, arm in arm.)
GENEVIEVE I don’t know, Mr. Scott, I just thought it would be different.
GEORGE Please, call me George.
GENEVIEVE (Demure) ) Well, all right, George. I just don't know what to make of all this.
GEORGE What’re you talkin’ about, honey?
GENEVIEVE Well, there’s no one here! Not like I thought there would be. My mother’s not here, my father’s not here, my husband's not here, my cat’s not here!
GEORGE I heard animals go somewhere else. I haven't seen a single…
GENEVIEVE (Wide-eyed.) That’s not what the Pastor said! Every Sunday! He said that when it was my time to die, I would wake up in this peaceful place… with many rooms! And all the people I loved would be there, waiting for me. And he said I would see my Misty again, too.
GEORGE And you believe that?
GENEVIEVE (Horrified, insulted.) George!
(Smacks his arm.) You’re a heathen!
(Hands on hips. Bitter.) I just can't believe this! I guarded my virginity, I prayed, I was a good wife and mother. I believed! And I end up here? Walking hand and hand with a heathen?
GEORGE Well, I'm sorry you feel that way, honey. I was just making conversation.
GENEVIEVE (Softens, embarrassed.) Oh my, I’m so sorry. I should be on my best behavior now, shouldn’t I? And here I am, shouting at you!
(Embarrassed laugh.) I’m so sorry.
(Pauses) Would you like to dance?
GEORGE I’d love to.
(Genevieve walks over to a radio, tweaks the dial to a slow tune. The two grasp each other and begin to sway.)
GEORGE So you have kids?
GENEVIEVE Why yes, I do. I lost one baby boy shortly after he was born. (Pouts.) I thought for sure my baby boy would be here. And I have a daughter, Malinda.
(Snorts.) With my luck, she's the one I'll run into!
GEORGE Not close with the girl?
GENEVIEVE Oh, it's not that. I love my Malinda. We were close, but... too close! She lived with me until I came here! And she was 45! She never wanted to date, or travel, or socialize… I would say, “Malinda, you are a beautiful girl! Why don’t you go out and make yourself available? Go make friends your own age! Why do you want to be holed up here with your mother?” She say, “Oh no, Mom, I feel better staying here with you.” My God, I got so tired of having her right there, always under my feet.
(The two laugh in a knowing, parental way.)
What about you, George? Do you have children?
GEORGE Yeah. Got five. Four girls and a boy.
GENEVIEVE (Swoons.) Oh… I always wanted a little boy.
GEORGE I always wanted one too. And then, hell, I had one. But we never… I don’t know, it wasn’t like me and my dad. I used to do everything with my dad. Jeffy isn’t like me at all. I wanted him to be more confident, more athletic. I wanted someone to work under the car with me, someone to shoot hoops with and take to the games. Jeffy just wanted to play music, collect records, stare at the stars, wander off alone. Not my type 'a guy, even though he was my own flesh and blood.
(Pauses, looks down at his feet, uncomfortable.) He stopped coming around years ago. I think it was something I said... or did.
(Sighs) I’ve been thinking a lot about that… I should have just loved ‘im. Accepted ‘im… I pushed him away because he wasn’t like me.
(ROSEMARIE PIPKIN enters, disheveled and eating blueberries, a sheet hanging from her neck. Genevieve is horrified.)
GENEVIEVE Oh my god, what is she doing here? It’s that awful girl… the secretary who hung herself with a bed sheet! She and her husband were separated, and she let herself into his house one day and hung herself right near the front door. It was the first thing he saw when we came home from work, the poor man. She pinned the note to her shirt so he had to get up on a chair and, and, take apart all these pins! It was just awful! He almost had a heart attack!
GEORGE (Sympathetic) Poor guy. Wonder what went so wrong...
GENEVIEVE I don't know but I thought for sure she would go somewhere else!
(Grabs GEORGE’s arm, fearful.) Oh my god, George. Are we in hell?
ROSEMARIE (Notices couple, walks over. She has a brooding, but good-natured manner.) Hey there… You want some blueberries?
GENEVIEVE (Cautious, leans into George.) No, thank you.
ROSEMARIE (Sighs, plops down on the floor, makes mock snow angels.) Isn't it great here? I am so glad it's all over.
GENEVIEVE What are you talking about?
ROSEMARIE Oh, my life. It’s over now and I am so, so happy!
(Chuckles.) Now that I’m here, I’m just so relaxed! I can’t believe how freaked out and tired I was for so long!
(Sits up, studies Genevieve and George) Are you guys ok? You look all bug-eyed.
GEORGE We’re just getting our bearings is all.
GENEVIEVE I’m so confused. This is not what I expected at all! And now I see you, and I really don't know what's going on.
ROSEMARIE Not sure what that’s supposed to mean, but hey! I’m not gonna dwell on it!
(Laughs out loud.) Wow! I can’t believe I just said that! What a milestone!
GEORGE How old are you?
GEORGE I'd do anything to go back to thirty. I hate to rub your nose in it, hon, but you had some of your best years of your life ahead of you. You're missing out on so much... kids, vacations, retirement… Hell, I'm sure your husband wishes it coulda been different.
ROSEMARIE You know, I just don't see it that way. But thank you anyway! I never wanted kids. And my husband was a dick.
(Genevieve and George exchange worried looks.)
ROSEMARIE Yeah, for me life was a grind. I dreaded waking up in the morning. I mean, think about it. I got up five days out of seven and I had to go to work. To a job I hated. To a boss who always had his boot on my neck. At home, my husband... I loved him in the beginning, but then he got... so boring. And condescending and... not what I wanted anymore. But then I was scared to be on my own, you know?
(Itches her neck.) Then he kicked me out and there was that whole ordeal... All that confrontation, you know? My parents were devastated -- always looking at me with disappointment in their eyes.
GENEVIEVE What about your friends?
ROSEMARIE They were just part of the problem. They always wanted me to get help, get exercise, get a real career, get a life, get on medication… Always this big push to GET something.
(Teary, but obstinate.) My whole life I wanted to be an artist. I wanted to paint and maybe teach… I was always good at helping people get stuff. I was patient... But nobody needed me in that way.
(Groans, shrugs.) And then, life just wore me out. Just... waiting for it to start... it just became such a pointless slog.
GENEVIEVE But how could you do something so rash? How could you take your own life? Weren't you afraid you'd go to hell?
ROSEMARIE You talk like I committed this desperate act without thinking it through. I knew exactly what I was doing. I was in charge! I was free! Really, it was a moment of complete clarity. I felt more at peace than I had in years, maybe more than I ever had. Things had gotten so bad for me, and it was my own fault. I always knew it was my fault. I mean, Ron had kicked me out, I was living with my parents, the lawyers were after me to sign, sign, sign. It was time.
(Condescending.) And by the way, I pinned the note to my shirt because my husband's house was such a mess, I thought he wouldn't find it if I left it anywhere else. And if he didn't find it, then he would never know what I was thinking at that moment.
(Shakes head.) I couldn’t have that.
GEORGE What were you thinking?
ROSEMARIE That everybody's life would be better without me. And I wanted him to know how much I hated him and his stupid lawyer!
GENEVIEVE (Through her teeth.) You’re sick!
ROSEMARIE Was. Now I’m dead.
GENEVIEVE (Demanding.) Why are we here with you?! I don't care how you justify it and rationalize it! What you did is a sin and everybody knows it!
ROSEMARIE I don't know why we're all here together, but I’m certainly not complaining. Heck, I was prepared to break up rocks for all eternity.
GENEVIEVE You’re a maniac!
ROSEMARIE Hey! I just thought of something. Maybe this is where the people go when they have had to make really tough choices. You know?
(Points to Genevieve.) You let go when you had the chance-as soon as the spinster left the room, you croaked.
(To George.) You refused more chemo treatments - pretty much got sick of being sick. And I, as the owner and operator of my own mind and body, decided I was done.
GENEVIEVE Oh god! We are in hell. I did everything that book said! For what? For this?
ROSEMARIE Let's change the subject. Do you want to see my scar? That sheet made the most amazing design...
(Rosemarie loosens the sheet around her neck to reveal her ghastly hanging scar. Genevieve screams in horror, grips George. Phone rings, waking Simona. The dead disappear.)
SIMONA (Startled.) Hello? Oh, hey Jackie. Oh, ok. Malinda. Yeah, I remember her. I made the arrangement. She ok?
(Pause.) Oh, ok. What's her number again?
(Grabs pad and pen from night table and jots down the number.) Thanks. I’ll call her right now.
(Hangs up and dials. Kind, sleepy voice.)
Hello, Malinda? It's Simona from Jones… Oh, it's ok, I fell asleep kind of early. No, no, really, it's ok. I was actually having sort of a weird dream.
(Nervous laugh.) I'm glad you called. Are you ok?
(Concerned) What happened?
(Pause.) Oh, that's ok, don't worry. You can bring the her dress in the morning. Sure! We will probably dress your mom tomorrow anyway. (Pause.)
Oh, well yes. She's not totally naked, no. She's covered with a sheet. It's very dignified, Malinda, really. (Pause, speaks gently, sincerely.)
Did I offend you? Oh, good. I'm so sorry you had a hard day. I'll see you soon. Ok? Good night.
(Simona hangs up the phone, slumps back in bed, exhausted.)