A Room of One's Own
Friday, August 29, 2003

River tells Simon of a day she remembers while imprisoned.


A Room of One’s Own J Leigh (SerenityValley)

1 RIVER (whispering) Do you know what it's like to have no one believe you?


RIVER (babbling, getting louder) It's not a good feeling; feeling of secrecy. Can't tell anyone, but you'd love to show them that you know something they don't. Not good. Can’t keep a secret, what's that say about us?

SIMON River, what are you…?

RIVER I bet you've never seen the inside.

SIMON No, mei-mei, I…

RIVER (still babbling) Sure, you've seen the core of your nightmares. You've seen everything that they tell you it's like. They say so much, all words and no truth. There's more, oh so much more. It’s not about the building itself, but what it contains. I know who it contains. You think you know, but you would have never imagined, never imagined in your wildest dreams what lies beyond those big white doors. So much more than a big white room with padded walls. So much…

SIMON All right, that’s enough. Maybe you should just have a lie down…

RIVER (speaking quickly, babbling) No! No Simon! Windows! Windows are life. Not the life you live, but the life you could have lived, or you couldn't. What do you see? Possibilities, but not opportunities. Possibilities that don’t come true. Dreams. The life you never got to live.

SIMON River, if this is about you still feeling guilty about my career, I told you, I’d rather have you here than…

RIVER (whispering urgently) Do you know where the psychos live?

SIMON Well…no, but…

RIVER Of course not, because if you did, you'd move as far away as you could. (laughs) But that's not true. The real psychopaths aren't found in the creepy spacecrafts with black windows. They’re here.

SIMON My head?

RIVER We all live in our own padded rooms. Your mind buzzes around it. Constantly buzzing. Buzzing. (whines) Driving one to insanity that she’s already arrived at. Insanity is not a destination, it is a habitat. Simon. Simon!

SIMON (sympathetically) What is it?

RIVER Simon, I remember. I remember a day.

SIMON A day? You mean you…

RIVER (pained) Yes. A day, that day! A day when I was imprisoned, imprisoned in a white room.

SIMON (intrigued) Tell me.

2 RIVER Randi walked in. That was her name today, although, Jim had called her Sarah yesterday. Tomorrow her name would be Susan. That was my name last week. Jim was sitting in the corner. Randi started talking to me about something. I was not paying attention. I was looking at Jim. Jim, he looked sad. Randi had always failed to see Jim, no matter how hard she looked. She tried and she tried, but…nothing. I don't think she believed he was really there, but I could see him. Randi was usually nice to me...except on Thursdays. She didn't like me on Thursdays.

Randi would now proceed with her duties and give me a shot. She did this every morning. I was used to it and did not squirm. I wanted to, I wanted to, but I didn't feel it anymore, for my entire left arm had gone numb. It was odd though...Randi always gave me the shot in the right arm. Jim did not mind the sight of shots. He was here when I came. He told me that he enjoyed my company, except when I was Sandra. He did not like Sandra. That was ok though because I did not like it when he was Todd. Didn’t like Todd. But today I was not Sandra and he was not Todd. I was Ellen and he was Jim.

She gave me the shot. I did not flinch, though should have. I took Randi's outstretched hand. She led me down to the lobby. As we were in the elevator; I listened to the precise tone of each DING. The lights flickered some and I thought I heard Randi sustain a note for a while, but I thought it was just the ringings of the elevator. Just ringing and ding!

Finally, the elevator stopped rocketing down with a loud crash. It hurt and it hurt like what they did, but it stopped faster. I lost my balance, but soon stood again. I looked at Randi. She was lying on the ground. She was not moving. Her eyes were shut. I thought she was sleeping. The elevator door opened. I got out. The door shut behind me. I walked to the window. The sun was rising. Windows had bars on them, holding me out of my future. I walked out to the side doors. Randi was not with me. I walked out. There was a huge estate. I'd seen it from the cafeteria window before. I'd never actually been on the grass. It was real grass! I walked down the real sidewalk. I soon heard a siren noise, but it was far behind me now. I was at the gates. I pushed them open and walked out.

There was a bus. I followed the people onto the bus. The bus driver began talking to me; something about fares. I ignored him and took my seat. After the bus driver had a heated conversation with himself, the bus began to move. There was a woman with a nice hat in front of me. A beautiful hat! I’d seen one just like it back home. She smiled at me politely and turned away. I decided to call her Mary. That was a good name to have. I noticed that I did not look like the other people on the bus. Mary wore a pink dress and a man behind me wore a business suit. There was a boy in big pants and plaid shirt. I wore a long white shirt and shorts. My hair seemed to be too long and sticking out. Mary's hair was tied into a tight bun. I wanted Mary’s hair, but I didn’t take it. Is this why Mary looked at me funny? I looked out the window. People were chasing the bus. I smiled kindly and waved. They did not wave back, and I became very disappointed.

When the bus stopped, I got off. There were some monitor sets in a big window on the outside of a store. They were all on the same channel. There was a man talking. Something about democracy. He talked and he talked. He should have stopped, but he didn’t.

I continued to walk. There was a boy on the corner of the street holding up newspapers and waving them in the faces of people walking by. No one paid attention to him. I went to help him, but I noticed an older man. He sat on the ledge, just outside the door of a shop. His clothes were similar to mine. He held a cup to me, shaking it a little. I took it with gratitude. As I peered into the cup, I saw one coin. It was silvery and shiny. I loved the coin, but I felt bad for the boy with the paper, so I gave it to him. He gave me a paper. I did not look at it, for today I was Ellen. Only Sandra could read. I walked into the barbershop. Could they give me new hair? I sat down in the big leather chair. It was a nice chair.

BARBER Ah you must be Christine, my ten o'clock. You're early, but that's ok.

RIVER I nodded, although I was Ellen today. I was only Christine every-other Sunday. The man began to trim my hair. He also stuck a comb in it and battled with my scalp for a while. Finally he was done.

BARBER That'll be nine fifty.

RIVER I gave him the newspaper and walked out, ignoring him and hopped in the nearest yellow car. The nice old man began chasing the taxi, but the yellow car did not stop. How nice of the old man to want to talk more, but I could not engage in social affairs. Couldn’t talk, couldn’t talk. The driver asked me some more things about money. I wondered why so many people spoke of this. No matter. I handed him the empty can the old man gave me. The car stopped very fast.

Then I was sitting on the side of the road. People were not very nice to me today. Perhaps they would be nice to me tomorrow. Tomorrow I would be Shelly. People tended to like Shelly more than Ellen. I never knew why.

I stood up and another car drove by, splashing water up, covering my white shirt and my new hair. I was wet. I was sad. I felt like I would shed tears, but I did not. Wanted to let the wet fall, but it wouldn’t come. I kept remembering you, Simon and what it would be like to get home, but home wasn’t around here. I couldn’t find it anywhere. I looked and I looked…

SIMON What happened on the street?

RIVER As I continued down the road, a tall man in black bumped into me and then held out a gun. I’d seen guns, many many guns and I knew what it would do. This man spoke of money too. I told the man politely that I had none of this currency he spoke of. I suggested he ask the old man who sat on the ledge of the doorway at that shop. A noisy blue and white car pulled up with flashing lights. A stocky man in a beard and a slender woman, both wearing the same clothes, walked out and grabbed the man with the gun. The man took away the gun while the woman bound him. They bound him like they had bound me.

I walked into a small cafe. There was a woman sitting at the counter, cup in hand. I liked her. I decided that she was called Amy. I took the seat next to her.

RIVER (cont.) Hello Amy.

AMY I’m sorry, you must be mistaken. (beat) Isn't it awful?

RIVER What is? The ones who lie everywhere? Everyone sees them, but no one takes notice.

RIVER (cont.) I watched a bug scurry across the counter. Amy smiled kindly toward me. She then pointed to the monitor set posted in the corner of the ceiling. There was that man again. He was still talking. This time it wasn't about democracy. It was something about life. Not the life we live. The life we will live. Amy looked sullen.

RIVER (cont.) Life is not like that. AMY Oh no?

RIVER People are not free like that man says. He is wrong.

AMY Our leader?

RIVER Your leader. Our leader. Yes. People can be wrong. Even the leader. And they are. They are all wrong. We are not free. We are trapped. Can’t get out.

AMY Trapped? Trapped where?

RIVER In our white room. The one with all the padding.

AMY You mean like in an asylum?

RIVER No. Here.

RIVER I pointed to her forehead. I walked out. Her eyes followed me out, but I did not look back at her. As I walked across the street, a red car whizzed around the corner. The blur and then it stopped blurring. I was powerless to stop it. It ran into me, knocking me to the ground. The car sped off and people began to gather around me. Red dripped onto my almost clean shirt. My new hair was messy again. The red was from my mouth. People made a circle around me. No one said anything. I stood up and turned around. They closed in on me. Stop it! Stop staring at me! Stop! Stop it! With that, I ran, breaking a tie in the crowd. I ran. I ran far into the direction in which I'd come. Some people began to chase me. I don't know why. I dodged cars, passed the cafe, the barbershop, the old man, and I ran back to the estate. I ran across the real grass, sprinklers going off. Red dripped down and got wet. I ran through the side doors and past the lobby. I flew up the steps. I went back into my white room, where I was safe.

SIMON Why did you do that, River? You escaped? I didn’t know that. Why would you go back to that place?

RIVER (disoriented) It wasn’t right. I got out of the place and it still wasn’t right. Home wasn’t there, so I went back to wait until everything was right again. Then I could go home, but Simon, things didn’t get right, they didn’t get right.

SIMON What else do you remember River?

RIVER She doesn’t remember, she doesn’t remember what happened that day. She wasn’t there.

SIMON Who wasn’t there?

RIVER River.

SIMON Who was there?

RIVER Ellen was there. Christine was there. Susan was there. Sandra was there. Shelly was there. They were all there.

SIMON Where are these people now?

RIVER Gone, lost and alone, still there. Only River is left because only River is home.

SIMON (guessing) Ellen and Christine and all those other people, they were other girls like yourself? Being tested on? You could get inside their heads. See what they saw?

RIVER She still wants to go home. They still hurt her. She doesn’t have a brother to save her.

MAL Hey you two, time for dinner.

RIVER The leader’s not always right, you know. You could be wrong.


MAL It’s just dinner.

RIVER Going to my room.

Music and River’s footsteps, the long walk back to her room.

3 RIVER Hello good wall, you stood there yesterday, did you not? Stand not there again today for what prize have you got? What do you hold in do you hold out for your rapture? But neigh if it be me you hold, I mourn my capture. Hello good door, what news you bring from outside this wall? Do you suppose the good folk heard my screaming at all? Do you offer freedom or do you hold me in? I shall put up a fight provided I discover where to begin. Hello good floor, how do things look from way down there? I'd ask for help, but I fear my problems are much too big for you to care. Trapped inside like me, but you can crawl under the door. I can not fit however, I wish I had been born a floor. Hello good ceiling watching over me, but never interfere. If anyone knew, it would be you to know the way out of here. If you had a hand to give, I'd ask you to lend me yours. So I could be tall and bust out through those doors. Hello good room, is there a time when you will let go? I know you love me too much, but I need room to grow. Would you at least make a window to let in sunshine? I may be a prisoner here, but at least this room is mine.



Monday, December 1, 2003 4:47 PM


I like River's little Epilog (3). River can be confusing and make perfect sense at once. She is a paradox. I like what you wrote.

Keep writin' and flyin'.


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A Room of One's Own
River tells Simon of a day she remembers while imprisoned.

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