Nothing But the Truth: Scene 7

Scene 7

MARILYN

(A weighted silence) You seem pretty down…what’s going on?

RACHEL

My sister is having another child.

MARILYN

And that feels like…?

RACHEL

Like finding out I have cancer.

MARILYN

Sounds to me like it’s about loss.

RACHEL

What do you mean?

MARILYN

Well, cancer is the loss of your health, the loss of your world as you know it.

RACHEL

At least people with cancer have a disease with a name and a treatment. Where are the pink ribbons for women who think dying is preferable to hugging a child?

MARILYN

Why don’t you try hugging your niece and see how it feels?

RACHEL

Why don’t I try cutting off my arm? (A weighted silence)

MARILYN

There are lots of people who don’t like kids−

RACHEL

God! You don’t get it!! It’s not about not liking kids…

MARILYN

Then what is it? Help me understand.

RACHEL

I met my sister in the park last week. Her daughter was catching snowflakes on her tongue with her head thrown back and mouth open—and suddenly this innocent image twisted into something lewd. (beat) She came toddling over and fell face down, wailing in the snow. I just stood there. I couldn’t pick her up.

MARILYN

Her daughter is your trigger, like a backfiring car to a soldier. You couldn’t run or fight back as a child, so you froze. If you tell, you throw the family into chaos. If you keep quiet, you’ve dug your own grave.

RACHEL

When I was five, my father and I had this game—I was the cowboy and he was the horse. I straddled his lap in the leather chair…riding…(hesitation) him. Once when my mother went shopping, her car stalled on the block so she came back and walked in. I jumped up like a pack wild of Indians had appeared and ran off sobbing.

MARILYN

Kids at that age just want to play and your father took advantage of your trust.

RACHEL

At night he’d come into my room so I made my mom wake me for cookies. I said I wanted a midnight snack. What I really wanted (beat) was to never fall asleep. I sat at my pink ruffled table alone, ate Oreos and prayed—please god, don’t let this happen and I promise I’ll be good. (beat) I remember riding with my mother on the highway and I unlocked my door and flicked the handle like I wanted to fall out. You know what she said? (angrily) “Stop making that noise!”

MARILYN

And now you’re reliving an experience that did make you want to die.

RACHEL

God, I swear if I joined that Ethiopian tribe and came home with a plate in my lower lip, my mom would just heap a pile of pot roast on it. (beat) So how do I make something not real now, not real?

MARILYN

Well, we have to work on separating the fear from the paralysis. Can you identify where you feel trapped?

RACHEL

Between needing to be around people and not wanting people around me.

MARILYN

That’s the hallmark of trauma right there. Ask someone who fought in a war and you’ll hear the same sentiment. When your abuse ended, you lost what little affection you had. You didn’t want it but you also craved it, and that’s the same contradiction you feel around people now. Tell me where else you’re stuck.

RACHEL

Between wishing I could forgive my parents and wanting them to suffer. My mom doesn’t believe my accusations because she says I’ve been contrary all my life. According to her, when she tried to get me to take a bath as a toddler, I’d say no and she’d insist and I’d refuse; then she’d concede, Ok take a shower, and I’d say, (petulant child) fine, I’ll take a bath.

MARILYN

Your mother should have protected you.

RACHEL

And I’m angry, but I also understand because she needs him to survive. My mom doesn’t have her own bank account or email; my father still hands her a twenty on his way to work. 

MARILYN

Your mother’s certainly a product of her time.

RACHEL

She reminds me of the wife in that film Capturing the Friedmans—about the father convicted of molesting kids in their basement. He had piles of child porn around the house and she wouldn’t allow herself to notice. Ugh, she sickens me even more than her husband.

MARILYN

Why would you blame that woman?

RACHEL

Because she chose not to see. She probably sent her husband off each morning with his lunch and her perfect Miss America wave…

MARILYN

Her what?!

RACHEL

You know…(mimics the pageant wave) buh-bye dear, have a good day…

MARILYN

But how could she know?

RACHEL

How could she not know? Kiddie porn was arriving in their mail! (beat) Did you know there are pictures of babies sexually abused with their umbilical cord attached!

MARILYN

It is horrific−

RACHEL

And the toddler raped in New Delhi, lured away with a banana. The police offered her parents 2000 rupees to keep quiet. That’s $37 dollars. And you know what I read in the Times? Ten million computers in the US contain child pornography. There are 100 million men, so that means one out of every ten of them looks at kiddie porn. If they were arrested all at once, our economy would collapse. Think of ten male relatives or colleagues; one of them indulges in child porn. (beat) There’s one more place I’m trapped.

MARILYN

Where’s that?

RACHEL

I’m stuck between wanting to live and hoping to die. My father robbed me of what I could have been.

MARILYN

Have you ever considered suicide?  (Rachel snorts laughter.) What’s so funny?

RACHEL

It sounds like you’re posing it as an option. Are you gonna suggest the most durable rope?

MARILYN

I didn’t mean that. But I need you to tell me if you have a plan.

RACHEL

Last week I bounced around online from Pottery Barn to suicide with a plastic bag to cupcake recipes. Google can’t tell if I’m shopping, binging or asphyxiating. (pause) My writing is the one place I don’t feel frozen. I started this new piece. (She retrieves a paper from her purse.)

MARILYN

Can I read it? (She unfolds it like a gift.) “My mother’s house is filled with cancer memorabilia. She saved ointments and capsules like baseball cards shelved in shoeboxes, ordered by ailment. (She reads quietly to herself briefly.) Sometimes I sit in her cool, dark closet, putting memories into remission and recalling the simplicity of a scraped knee.” 

RACHEL

Will you…(their eyes meet) sit next to me?