Moving On

Cast of Characters:

GIRL 1 - an abused child, 9*

GIRL 2 - a teenager, 14*

GIRL 3 - a troubled woman, 30s*

CHORUS 1-6 - voices in Girl 1's, Girl 2's and Girl 3's heads

*GIRL 1, GIRL 2 and GIRL 3 are the same persona (at different ages) and played by different actors.

** Only lighting for last scene is bright. Other than that, it should be dim.

GIRL 2 sits centre stage, back facing audience.

CHORUS 1

Wakened in the darkest hour.

CHORUS 2

Hearing silent screams.

GIRL 2

[suddenly stands and frantically looks around] Wh…what's that?

CHORUS 3

She trembles with a blinding fear.

CHORUS 4

That now fills her dreams.

GIRL 2

[backs away from audience] Ge…Ge…Get out of my head!

CHORUS 5

She sees a vision all too real.

CHORUS 6

Of a helpless little girl.

GIRL 1 enters, looking afraid, and cowers in a corner of the stage.

CHORUS 1

Taken from her innocence.

CHORUS 2

Into a shattered world.

GIRL 1, GIRL 2

[moaning] Stay away from me… please…

CHORUS 3

The faceless image before her.

CHORUS 4

Games she didn't understand.

GIRL 2

[starts sobbing quietly] What… what are you doing? Stop, please…

GIRL 1 starts drawing on the floor.

CHORUS 5

Drawings of a mouthless child.

CHORUS 6

With no arms or hands.

GIRL 2

[sobs get louder] Stop, please… Help!

GIRL1, GIRL 2

Mummy where are you? Help me!

CHORUS 1

She closes her tear-filled eyes.

CHORUS 2

To block out all her pain.

GIRL 2

[she closes her eyes and says between sobs] Why can't you just leave me alone? [she buries her head in her hands]

CHORUS 3

She doesn't want to remember.

CHORUS 4

And to feel that way again.

GIRL 1 sits at the edge of centre stage hugging her knees. GIRL 2 sits on a box stage right. GIRL 3 stands stage left. All of them are clearly troubled.

GIRL 1

I'm hungry. But Daddy says it's too late to eat. I wish I had some milk. At least some milk.

GIRL 2

I lie in bed with the lights on. It's late but I can't keep the thoughts out. I'm trying to sleep but there's just so much going on. Those images in my mind keep replaying themselves over and over again. There seems to be no end.

GIRL 3

My life is in a mess. Things just aren't working out. It's been twenty years! Twenty long years! And yet… [pauses] I still feel so small.

GIRL 1

It's all my fault. I shouldn't have made Daddy angry just now. Then he wouldn't have punished me.

GIRL 2

Heck, I just want to sleep. I'm sick of the nightmares. I'm sick of seeing his face every time I shut my eyes. I'm sick of everything. And I'm freaking sick of… [pauses and looks away] living in constant fear.

GIRL 3

I don't understand why this is happening. Again. I thought it was over. I thought it belonged to the past. I thought I'd buried it and moved on. I really thought I had. But… It's still haunting me now.

GIRL 1

I'm still hungry. But then Daddy says that it's for my own good. He says I shouldn't eat too much. He must be right. Daddy says he's always right. He says he loves me.

GIRL 2

But then there's nothing I can do about it. Just sit back and try my damndest not to cry. Because I know it'll hurt worse if I do.

GIRL 3

I keep telling myself that it's a thing in the past and nobody can ever hurt me again.

GIRL3, GIRL2

But it feels as if he's still behind me, watching every step I take and I can never be free from him.

GIRL 1

But if Daddy really loves me, why is he so mean to me? [CHORUS 1, 2, 3 enter and start mocking her] Why does he pull my hair? [CHORUS 1 pulls her hair] Ouch! Why does he scold me?

CHORUS 2

You idiot! You're a bad girl! You're such a naughty little girl! [GIRL 1 backs away from CHORUS 2] Don't you ever dare say no to me again!

GIRL1

[backs further away from CHORUS 2] Why does he beat me?

CHORUS 3 slaps her lightly and GIRL 1, screaming, runs across to the other side of the stage. The chorus, laughing, chase her and exit.

GIRL1

Does he really love me?… [quickly and defensively] No. Daddy loves me. He says he does. He'd never lie. He won't. Would he? No. It has to be because I'm nothing. That's what Daddy says. I am nothing.

GIRL 2

The nightmares never leave me in peace. Every other night, those familiar feelings roar into my throat and choke me with terror. My body begins to convulse. And the convulsions finally give way to sobs. I cry until I'm empty. I feel small again and utterly powerless. I wish I was.

GIRL 3

Dominic proposed to me yesterday. I want to fully embrace his love… [pauses] But I can't. I've known him for five years now and I'm sure he's the one for me. But… [sighs] I really can't. It's like I'm going back in time, and once again

GIRL1, GIRL2, GIRL3

I am small.

GIRL 2 and GIRL 3 freeze. GIRL 1, in high spirits, walks along stage with all chorus members.

GIRL 1

I am small, walking with mummy, pushing the trolley.

CHORUS 1

Aisles as tall as trees.

CHORUS 2

Giant cereal boxes.

CHORUS 3

Stacked high like LEGOs.

CHORUS 4

I smell donuts.

CHORUS 5

It makes me hungry.

CHORUS 6

A lady is giving out cheese.

CHORUS 1

Stuck on little toothpicks.

CHORUS 2

They look like little skinny people.

CHORUS 3

Stuck into the cheese.

GIRL 1

There's candy over there! Look, Mummy, there's candy!

CHORUS 4

They're so colourful.

CHORUS 5

Just like the rainbow.

CHORUS 6

It makes me feel happy.

GIRL 1

Mummy, can I have the candy? Can I? Can I?

Chorus members back away from her.

GIRL 1

Mummy? Mummy? [shouting]Mummy! [starts wailing] Mummy!

GIRL 1 reaches out her hands to find no one.

GIRL 1 stands up stage, clearly distressed. All chorus members stand in a 2 lines on both sides of her (3 on each side). 1 stands opposite 2, 3 opposite 4 and 5 opposite 6. GIRL 1 starts to walk in a straight line, to down stage and back again. CHORUS 1, 3 and 5 lean forward each time they speak.

CHORUS 1

What are you?

CHORUS 2

I'm a bad child.

CHORUS 3

Do you want to be bad?

CHORUS 4

No. No, I want to be good.

CHORUS 5

Do you know I love you?

CHORUS 6

You punish me because you love me. You punish me so that I can be good.

CHORUS 1

Is it good to be hungry?

CHORUS 2

No. It's bad to be hungry.

CHORUS 3

Is it good to disobey me?

CHORUS 4

No. It's never good to disobey the one who loves me.

CHORUS 5

Are you strong?

CHORUS 6

No. I'm weak. So weak, you have to protect me and take care of me.

CHORUS 1-6

And so what will you give me in return?

GIRL 2 sits on the edge of centre stage. GIRL 1 stage left, and GIRL 3 stage right.

GIRL 1

Daddy says he loves me. He hugs me gently and kisses me gently at night. Then he lies down beside me and pulls me close to him. That's love right? Mummy used to do that too. Mummy hugs and kisses me. Mummy lets me sleep in her arms at night too. But…

GIRL1, GIRL2, GIRL3

Daddy's love seems different from Mummy's love.

GIRL1

Why does Daddy only love me at night? [pauses] Daddy beats me and sends me to bed without food sometimes.

GIRL1, GIRL2, GIRL3

He says it's because he loves me.

GIRL1

But Mummy loves me too. And she doesn't beat me or send me to bed without food.

GIRL1, GIRL2, GIRL3

Mummy talks to me gently and brushes my hair. Mummy lets me watch TV and play with my teddy bear. Mummy lets me have cookies and milk before my bedtime. Sometimes Mummy plays tea party with me too. And Mummy always reads a bedtime story to me every night.

GIRL1

There's Little Red Riding Hood, Three Little Pigs, Cinderella and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Then there's this story called the Big Friendly Giant. I really love that story. I wish the Big Friendly Giant was real. Then he can carry me out of bed at night and bring me to Mummy. But I suppose the Big Friendly Giant wouldn't know where Mummy is. I will have to tell him.

GIRL1, GIRL2, GIRL3

I see Mummy every day.

GIRL1

Especially at night when Daddy hugs me to sleep. I close my eyes and Mummy is there. She's always on the other side of the lake. But I can't get there because I can't swim. And she can't get here because she can't swim too. I hope the Big Friendly Giant can swim. No wait. He doesn't have to swim. He can just jump over the lake. And then I can be with Mummy.

GIRL1, GIRL2, GIRL3

Safe in her arms once again. Mummy. She's always there for me.

GIRL2

She's there when my head crashes into the kitchen table. She's there when I hide in my room and nurse my wounds.

GIRL1, GIRL2, GIRL3

She's there across the lake when he comes to me at night.

GIRL2

She'll still be there after he leaves, when I lie with my face pressed into the crack between the bed and the wall. There's no tears, no feelings, no sound. [smiles sadly] There's just me and Mummy. [a long pause]

GIRL1, GIRL2, GIRL3

But now she's suddenly gone.

GIRL2

All these years, I've been holding on the belief that she's still alive and that she'll come and get me.

GIRL1, GIRL2, GIRL3

But no, now she's gone.

GIRL2

He said she's gone. And I know that he's not lying this time because if Mummy really was alive, I wouldn't have been forced to live with him in the first place.

GIRL1, GIRL2, GIRL3

So now it's just me against the world. Against him. [pauses] And against the voices in my head…

GIRL 1 and GIRL 3 freeze. CHORUS 1-6 enter and form a circle around GIRL 2. Their voices get louder each time and the circle gets smaller. They soon join hands and close up the circle, trapping GIRL 2 in the centre.

CHORUS 1

Filthy.

CHORUS 2

Contaminate.

CHORUS 3

Whore.

GIRL 2

[holds her head with both hands] Get out of my head!

CHORUS 1-6 join hands as the circle gets smaller. GIRL 3 unfreezes.

GIRL 3

No! [runs up to the circle] Don't listen to them!

CHORUS 4

Teach you to be good.

CHORUS 5

So bad, so bad.

CHORUS 6

Won't learn your lesson.

GIRL 2

[frantically shakes her head] Shut up!

The circle closes up. GIRL 3 desperately tries to break it.

GIRL3

Stop it! Let her go! [attempts to break the circle again] Don't listen to them! Don't listen to them!

CHORUS 1, 4

Your mother's dead.

CHORUS 2, 5

Gone forever.

CHORUS 3, 6

You'll never see her again.

CHORUS 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

She's dead.

GIRL 2

Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!

GIRL 2 attempts to break free from the circle but she finds herself trapped in the middle. GIRL 3 grabs GIRL 2's hands and try to pull her out. GIRL 2 suddenly screams and lets go of GIRL 3's hands. GIRL 3 is flung backwards. There is a sudden black out.

GIRL 2 and GIRL 3 sit on boxes centre stage. They do not look at each other. GIRL 3 combs GIRL 1's hair when GIRL 2 suddenly breaks down. GIRL 1 immediately starts sobbing softly. GIRL 3 hugs her, stroking her hair. GIRL 1 slowly stops sobbing and wipes away her tears. GIRL 3 plants a kiss on her head and continues stroking her hair. GIRL 2 calms down.

GIRL 2

I hate the voices in my head. They won't leave me alone. He said he cared about me. But he said caring denotes punishments for my own good. He was wrong, wasn't he? Wasn't he wrong? Didn't I discover that? He would never hurt me. That's what he said. He said it was punishment. He said I was a horrible child. That he had no choice but to punish me because otherwise I wouldn't learn. [looks down] I really hate myself. I hate the way I feel. I hate the way I avoid contact with others because I still think I don't deserve… That somehow I would contaminate them. I hate the way I flinch when someone comes near me. I hate everything about me. [looks away] It's times like this I feel the weakest. Times when I remember what I let him do to me - the things I didn't stop. Times I feel so worthless, I don't even what to breathe anymore.

GIRL3

It is not your fault, no matter what he told you and what he made you believe. Somewhere within you, you still put the blame on yourself. You are angry with yourself for not being strong enough. You still believe in his lies that you are bad. No. You are not. You were hurt badly. But you are not bad. [pauses] It's time to move on.

GIRL 2

My life's a big act. I'm trying to be strong when I'm just a scared little kid. Trying to keep everything under control when I really want to scream, cry, and maybe hit someone. Because I feel ashamed when I cry. I feel ashamed when I admit I'm hurt and I feel ashamed [pauses] when I'm scared. I'm afraid to move on. I can't. It's impossible. I can never move on. I can never move on.

GIRL3

I know it's hard. It's always been hard. [pauses] You don't want to move on. You don't want to let go. Because you feel that if you let go, you'll lose hold of your life. You'll lose control. You think you'll go crazy. [pauses] But no. You can move on, you just don't want to, whether you know it or not. Moving on doesn't mean you'll lose control. Moving on doesn't mean you've given up. Moving on doesn't mean you're weak. Moving on means you're strong. Strong enough to face your past and accept it. Strong enough to conquer it and focus on your future. Strong enough to control your life.

GIRL 2

I feel like I'm breathing underwater. And have to stop because I'm gulping in too much fluid. But I panic when I emerge from the water. Even the smallest intake of air will send waves of panic through me. There is control only when I'm fully submerged. If my real feelings ever start spilling out, I might just discover the pit of my pain and rage to be bottomless. I can't let go.

GIRL3

Yes you can. Truth is, your past is controlling you. You're not in control. You feel the need to protect those memories within you because you feel that if you don't, the pain would be too much for you to bear. But you have to. It's the only way to move on. Let go and breathe, take small breaths of air, little by little.

GIRL 2 looks away. There is a brief moment of silence.

GIRL 2

I want to… to… run away. But I'm scared, I really am scared. I know I'm fourteen and not that nine year old child but I can't help feeling small. [pauses] And alone now.

GIRL3

[gently] You're never alone. Mummy held your hand when you were a child but remember, she holds your heart forever. If you think that running away is what's best for you, then go ahead. Mummy loves you all the more for making your own decision. And remember, you're never alone and you'll never be alone.

All girls face the audience, hold their hands to their hearts. Lights slowly fade out. Spotlights on them.

GIRL 1, GIRL2, GIRL3

I love you, Mummy.

GIRL 1 stands on a box stage right.

GIRL 1, GIRL 2, GIRL 3

I survive.

GIRL1

The warm sun wipes away a child's tears.

GIRL 2 stands on a box stage left.

GIRL1, GIRL2, GIRL3

I fight.

GIRL2

For the sweet day when I'll wake up and not hurt.

GIRL1, GIRL3

Not imitation.

girl 3

Velvet-barbed wire.

GIRL2, GIRL3

Not Novocain.

GIRL3

In the soul.

GIRL1

Give this away.

GIRL2

To the thieves.

GIRL3

That stole my jewels.

GIRL1

Gift wrap it.

GIRL2

Enclose a card.

GIRL3

Let it go.

GIRL 3 stands on a box centre stage.

GIRL1, GIRL2, GIRL3

I heal.

GIRL1

The child I was.

GIRL2

Could have been.

GIRL3

The woman I am.

GIRL2

Should have been.

GIRL1, GIRL2, GIRL3

I crawl.

GIRL3

Underneath the barbed wire.

GIRL

The war is over.

Total darkness. Lights fade in. GIRL 1 stands centre stage crying for her mother. GIRL 3 enters stage right, walks over to GIRL 1, bends down and hugs her.