blackbirdonline journalSpring 2011  Vol. 10  No. 1
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from “Dear Sara Jane”

Sara Jane is a character who requires a witness. She is sorting things out, emotionally, as she speaks—slowly testing the limits of what she understands, and what she might be brave enough to divulge. A live performance heightens the risk.

(A clean, bright living room. SARA JANE enters with a bunch of yellow daisies. She limps slightly. She begins to arrange the flowers in a vase. She speaks somewhat quickly, and directly to the audience. She smiles easily, if a bit nervously. She is lovely.)


It’s a sunny day. Thank god. Hasn’t the rain been awful? I just . . . 

(a little shudder)

. . . I’m not a rain person, I’m a sun person. I mean, I don’t like to go out in it too much because I burn easily but . . .  I like it around. If I lived in a cloudy place I would probably shoot myself. Well, I wouldn’t shoot myself, I’m not a big gun person, but I would probably just die of natural causes or whatever.

Failure to thrive. Do you know that expression? Well, that would be me. Put me in a dark room. That’s a case study for you. I would shrink. I’d end up a little black spot on the floor, you’d step on me, not even see me.

(She continues to arrange the flowers.)

I just don’t think we give the sun enough credit. The warmth, you know, and just light in general. And from that far way. It’s really sort of unimaginable.

(fusses with flowers)

Mother is coming for lunch, so . . .  I just want everything to be perfect.

She’ll say something about the daisies but I think they’re pretty. Maybe not the most showstopping or whatever, but . . . simple, you know. Innocent. I mean roses are nice but they’re not innocent.

And besides, the rain was giving me these horrible dreams.

(She finishes with the flowers.)

I used to keep a dream journal but . . . Jerry made fun of me, so . . . I just think dreams are interesting, you know. Even the boring ones are interesting if you think about them. Like one time, this was maybe five years ago, I dreamed I was sitting in a tree and I was eating a leaf. Just chewing on it. You know, nibbling. I mean, okay, that’s kinda boring, but then I thought about it and I thought maybe, maybe . . . I was a caterpillar once. In a past life or whatever. Because the taste of the leaf was very familiar.

I mean, I can totally see myself as a caterpillar. I’m practically a vegetarian as it is.

You know what I love? Chard. Oh my god I just love it. And what is it? It’s basically a big leaf right? So . . . 

(She takes a chocolate from a bowl and eats it.)

I’m big on chocolate too. But I’m skinny, right? Jerry says I’m a stick. I could break you in two pieces. Snap. He’s so funny.

He probably could. He’s got these big big hands. Strong, you know. And this deep voice, it rumbles. Makes you melt.


(She eats another piece of chocolate, savors it.)

Mmmm. So good.

What was I . . . ? Oh, the dreams, right. So every night during the rain, I dreamed of, I don’t even know what they were, like arms and legs and . . . 

(She shudders.)

. . . red paint or whatever. I mean, even in the dream I knew it was fake, I knew it wasn’t real blood, but I was still scared. Did you ever go to the Haunted Mansion when you were a kid? Because it was like that. Oh my god that place totally freaked me out. People dressed up as ghouls and vampires. Actors with their faces painted white and they jump out with like decapitated heads in their hands. And you know they’re actors but still . . . and I mean they’re not even that talented or anything, I mean I think most of them probably weren’t even real actors but like . . . migrant workers or whatever.

And even though it terrified me I always wanted to go in. I actually went in with Jerry once, this was years ago. We were teenagers. Fourteen or something. I’ve known him forever.

Our first kiss was in there actually. In the Inquisition Room. He tried to put me on the rack.

(She laughs, distracted for a moment by the memory. She comes back to us.)

What are ghouls anyway? I guess they’re like the living dead, right?


Oh, so my mother just had plastic surgery. That’s why I’m making soup. Because she really can’t chew. It’s just liquids right now.

She looks good, though.

I haven’t seen the new bit yet. Upper eyes. And something with the lips. I don’t know how she can afford it, my father didn’t leave her much. But this is like her third plastic surgery.

Her p.s. she calls it. Going in for a little p.s.

(She lightly touches her face.)

I’m pretty good with wrinkles. I try to drink a gallon of water a day. You have to. Plus I don’t go out in the sun. The sun is very bad for you. For skin and stuff. Terrible.

Jerry said when he gets back we’d take a vacation. Hawaii, he said. Which is fine. I’ll just wear lots of sunscreen.

(She nods to herself, reflective for a moment.)

When Jerry left I . . . oh my god. I cried. I just . . .  lost it. Lunatic banshee.

(She laughs.)

Which is the opposite of what I was supposed to do.

It’s not recommended. Crying. I went to this seminar or whatever. For the wives and I guess there were some girlfriends. They told us: Try not to cry when you say goodbye. It’s better if the soldiers can leave with everything upbeat.

Because they fight better if they don’t succumb to a feeling of despair or . . . And it’s a woman telling us this. I guess she was some sort of military person. And that is something, I’m sorry, I don’t understand. I understand it should be legal, equal rights and everything but . . .

Wanting to do it. Women who want to do that. I’m not judging them, I just don’t understand the impulse.

I mean I completely support the military, that’s not what I’m saying, it’s just that I’m emotional, you know, I’ve always been very  . . .

I don’t know. Weak maybe. But in a way I think is acceptable, you know. Appropriate.

Someone is strong and someone is weak. That’s just . . . balance or . . . I don’t know, biology.

(She comes back to us with some conviction.)


I cried. I cried—and Jerry kissed me. And that was correct. That was right. Of course it was.

(A small smile bubbles up.)

It was a great kiss. It was . . .

You should have seen him in his uniform. He looked absolutely perfect. He just looked so sharp. He must be sweating over there. A desert or whatever it is. I mean, he’d be sweating if he was in Alaska, he just runs hot. Me, my hands are always cold. Ice. But him, you’d think he was running a fever. I’m burning up, he always says. I’m burning up. In the wintertime, in bed, I put my cold feet between his legs. And oh my god does he curse, it’s so funny. Says I’m gonna give him a heart attack with those feet.

I just worry about him.

It hardly seems real, you know. I mean is it a war, isn’t it a war. And that word! I can’t even say it. War. It’s like I’ve got a big piece of gum stuck in my mouth.

I don’t like to watch it. On the television. I turned it on once and there was this picture, this, this image. It was on one of those public television programs where they show you, you know, actual footage and . . . I mean I don’t even know about television in general. Lowers your intelligence. And half of what you see is probably not even true. Half at least. I’m not gonna let my children watch it. Not too much anyway, an hour maybe if they’re good. Jerry and I don’t have kids yet. We’re gonna have them though. Two or three. Jerry says two. Anyway I saw this image. Children running. Foreigners but, I mean they were kids. And the street looked like there was a stream going down the middle of it. Some of the children were bleeding, I don’t know, it was hard to . . . I couldn’t really get my head around it.

Some of the children were dragging other children. Trying to carry them. And someone was screaming. Or birds, I don’t know. It could have been birds for all I know. It was very high-pitched.


I was telling Mum about it the other day, and I also mentioned that article in the paper, I don’t know if you read it, but there was this whole village, it was all women and children—you know just like they say in the movies to make it dramatic—but I mean this was real. It really was all women and children. And I guess they were killed.

They were all burned. Somehow.

Well, you know, they say some of the children are terrorists too, some of them have bombs under their clothing, strapped to their bodies and . . . you know, that from a very early age these children are taught these things. I’m not saying these children in this village were killers, that’s not what I’m saying, because I know I was very upset when I read about it. And so I was talking to Mum about it because I was confused, I was upset. But what you have to realize is innocent people always die in a war. That’s just the way it is.

“Honey, innocent people always die in a war.” I needed to hear that.

It’s simple, you know, but nobody says it.

Mum is very . . . I mean Dad was in Korea, which I guess wasn’t a big deal but Mum’s father was in World War Two, and that was a big war, I mean that was major, so she knows stuff from experience, from living through things.

Mum’s tough, and that’s good for me. Because I get scared sometimes.

Jerry’s been gone three months now.

(Sara Jane eats another bonbon.)

I just want to get fat!

(She laughs.)

You know, something different. I don’t know.

Jerry wouldn’t care. He’d love me even if I were a total monster. Fat and ugly ,whatever, it wouldn’t matter.


The only thing he doesn’t like is how sometimes I talk a lot. Or sometimes I just can’t stop moving, like cleaning up and arranging things or whatever.

He calls me his little humming bird.

Land, he says. Would you just fucking land.

(She laughs.)

He gets irritated.

But I can be quiet. Certain moods, rainy weather, like I said . . . I get very . . . 

(She nods her head ever so slightly, drifting away from us a bit. She is quiet now.)

I don’t know.

(She is quiet. Doorbell. After a beat, she slowly turns her head and looks toward the door; she doesn’t move. She turns back to us with a small smile.)


(She pops another bonbon in her mouth. The lights fade to black.)  end

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