- Vol. 04
- Chapter 09
Arnold Winton – Fifty years old, mortician.
Beatrice Jones – Mother of Isa (deceased)
A mortician’s parlour.
BEATRICE: I don’t like it.
ARNOLD: The stance you mean? I can adjust her, if you like?
BEATRICE: Not, all of it. I don’t like any of this.
[She indicates the whole room]
ARNOLD: I see.
BEATRICE: Tell me again. What was it she wanted?
ARNOLD: Right, let me see, she left instructions.
ARNOLD: Yes, she wrote it all down, what she wanted. Just a minute, I have them somewhere.
[Rummages about on a desk trying to find the papers]
BEATRICE: Wait, please, can you do something about her eyes?
ARNOLD: Her eyes? Oh, the glass. You don’t like it?
ARNOLD: Ah, right, yes … perhaps I need to explain.
BEATRICE (sobs gently): No, don’t. I’d rather not.
ARNOLD: I can imagine.
Here, sit down. Let me get you a drink. Some tea perhaps?
BEATRICE: Yes, thank you, that would be lovely.
ARNOLD: It’s not something I imagined would take off here, if I’m honest. So American, don’t you think?
ARNOLD: No, I mean … you know [points to Isa] this...
BEATRICE (mumbles): Uh-huh.
ARNOLD: Right, well, I’ll just get you that tea.
[Arnold leaves the room. Beatrice sits in her chair and stares at her daughter.]
BEATRICE: I suppose you think this is funny? Quirky, is that it? Is that what I should be thinking?
Oh, but why would want anyone to see you this way, Isa? I don’t understand it. I really don’t.
[Arnold comes back with the tea]
ARNOLD: What’s that? What don’t you understand?
[He gives Beatrice her cup of tea]
BEATRICE: Thank you.
[She takes a sip]
I was talking to her. To Isa.
ARNOLD: Ah, yes, we’ve been getting that lately. Conversations. When they look so lifelike, well...
BEATRICE: She wasn’t like this, you know?
BEATRICE: No. Quiet she was. Intelligent. Now she looks like … well, I don’t mean to be rude, but she looks like some magician’s assistant, sitting there like that. Holding that ...
[Leans in and peers closely]
What is that actually?
(Arnold picks up Isa’s instructions and reads)
ARNOLD: Aunt Ada’s hat. She said you’d understand.
[Beatrice stares at the hat, leans even closer. Laughs.]
BEATRICE: Why, so it is!
[She sits back, drinks her tea, contemplates her daughter. Turns to Arnold]
When she was born, I carried her home in that hat.
ARNOLD: I see.
So, shall I keep her like this?
BEATRICE: Would you?
ARNOLD: It’s not for me to say.
ARNOLD: We’ve been getting that a lot lately too.
Okay, imagine her another way.
[Beatrice sits and thinks]
ARNOLD: Any better?
ARNOLD: So? Like this then?
BEATRICE: Okay then. Like this.
[Gets up, whispers in Isa’s ear]
The hat. It was just a story, Isa. But you knew that, didn’t you?