A mother’s heartache
Scene One: The Dress
Molly: (Internal monologue) I remember the day when a dress, a tear falling and a little box changed my life. All this had been unearthed because my beloved dad had just died and our vast house here in Sussex was being sold because my mother wanted a new ‘minimal’ style of house now that my father had died. I don’t think I ever saw my mum cry over my father but then again doing that in her day was ‘unexceptable’.. mind you, she is a cold bitch. She’s thrown out nearly all my dad’s stuff but I did rescue my dad’s snuff cigar box. He’d have a cigar when we’d have us time at six pm in the evening when we had ‘us’ time. My dad was the only person who really cared, loved and encouraged me well, him and our cook Ida. My mum seemed and still seems to resent me… well, now I know why and it was thanks to the that day in the attic…
Flashback to the other day when Attic door creaking open and somebody rummaging through boxes.
Molly: (Muttering) Golf clubs? sell. Old books? donate to the library. What’s this? ( unzipped suit carrier) Oh my lord! It’s my bridesmaids dress from cousin Sophie’s wedding. Why the hell would mum keep this frilly monstrosity? It looks like a flamingo died for this! (Calls to her mother.) Mum! I’ve found my old bridesmaids dress! What do you want to do with it?
Violet: (snobby voice) Bring it down please Margaret, I obviously can’t see it when you are up in the Attic can I?
Molly: (sighs) I can’t do anything right can I?
Climbs down ladder
Molly: Here we are mum.
Violet: Really Margaret, I do hate that name, please call me
Mother. Now let’s see what we have here?
Voilet unzips the suit carrier
Violet: (Softly) Oh.
Molly: What’s wrong Mu-, Mother? The thing is I remember dripping ice cream down it’s front and the ribbon isn’t torn around the waist anymore..
Truth be told, Violet was a bit taken back seeing this dress again. Memories flashed through her mind at lightening speed so she could not hold on to them. The dress had been perfectly preserved in it’s carrier and yet it had been stuffed away in a dusty attic, it had only been worn for half a day. If you looked very closely at violet Cleeveland’s face, you could see a tiny tear in the corner of her eye.
Violet (Come’s back to the present, talks quickly) I took it to a specialist dressmakers it was too much of an expensive dress to ruin and not wear again. You should have been more careful.
Molly: To be fair, I was six mum and I never wore it again. I’ll just donate it to the creche’s dressing box. A very hideous dress will be a four year old’s dream dress.
Narrator: Violet snatches up the dress, her face is pale.
Violet: No!I want to keep it Margaret!
Molly: But Mot-
Violet: (Anger and her fears come to boil) Don’t question me Margaret! Just do as you are told for once and not go against me! (quietens her voice) Now please go and sort out the attic! the movers will be here in an hour and this moving business is stressful enough without you questioning me about every item up there! Didn’t your father ever teach you in that big library of his and how many hours you spent in there that ‘curiosty killed the cat?’
Molly: (Internal monologue) When she’s like this I just nod and try not to show that she’s making me feel like I am five again.
Violet: (Stern) Good. Now don’t go looking for trouble where there is none. Now please hurry up and finish the attic.
Molly exists/Footsteps leading away and the door shutting / Carrier being zipped up.
Molly: (Internal monologue) Now, I know I shouldn’t have, but something made me open that door and peer in. I saw my mum stroking the collar of the dress the way a ‘normal mother’ might comfort a child during an upset or fever. She then pressed the material to her cheek and I saw a tear fall. I knew something was up because as I told you my mother is from the ‘Stiff upper lip’ generation so for her to cry over something so trivial as an outdated bridesmaid dress, I knew something was wrong. But what?
I couldn’t put my finger on it so rather than face a lecture off of mother for listening at doors or even worse in her book, being idle I returned to finish sorting the attic. Little did I know it would turn up dusty old jackets and mothballs no, this was tsunami crammed in a small box.
attic door opening.
Violet: (Internal monolouge) God it’s dusty up here! I get it that my mum is ‘grieving in her own way’ but would it kill her to lift a finger?! wait a minute, there’s a wooden trunk with the name ‘Rosie’ in gold lettering? Who the hell is Rosie?! I wanted to look inside as it was so intriguing. Does this Rosie have something to do with the dress? (exhales) Now I know mum told me not to go snooping but bugger it! if I’m the curious cat then I’ve only got eight lives left!
SFX; Trunk being dragged towards her.
Molly: (Sounding exasperated) Bugger it’s locked… wait a minute! Molly pulls a pin from her hair and thrusts it in the lock. The trunk springs open.
Molly: (Sounding triumphant) Aha!
Molly leaves through it’s contents, so far it’s just a lot of papers her father’s signed. At the bottom is a brown file and when Molly opens it photos of an unsmiling girl spill on to her lap.
Molly (reads aloud) ‘Rosie aged two dated 11th of the 11th 72, still no improvement’. Hey! That’s my dad’s handwriting! Was Rosie a child he once saved at the hospital? If so why would he keep a trunk?
Narrator: Molly delved amongst the paraphernalia again, swamped in words like ‘palsy’ and ‘remedial’ and brought out a faded birth certficate. Molly was astounded.
Molly: ‘Rosland Elizabeth Cleveland born on May 12th 1970 to parents… (Molly breaks off and tries to keep composure in her voice.) Violet Cleveland and Arthur Wallace. (Internal monologue) Wait, so this makes her my… my half sister. So my mother had an affair- (Rustles through papers) and my father knew, signing for this Rosie to be taken to Rookwood House. Why?! I’m so confused! My mother is a bitch for breaking poor daddies heart! Why did they send that little girl away.. my sister. MY Sister!
Gabbing the file and flinging the attic door back, she stormed down stairs like a bolt of lightning that had been set free from it’s confinements to confront her mother and to get the truth.
SFX: Some forties music is blasting from a tiny boombox. MOLLY STORMS IN.
Molly: Mum I want a word.
Violet; Margaret it’s mother and don’t speak to me in such a tone! Why do you have to be so impaient? I needed to get the house at least in a liveable state before the movers get here in –
Narrator: Molly’s mother glances at her wrist watch and still furiously scrubs the skirting boards as if to be trying to rid of stain only visible to her eye.
Violet: – Half an hour.
Molly: Now I knew I shouldn’t have but the anger was reaching it’s boiling point so I thrust the birth certificate under her nose.
WHAT’S THIS?! ALL THOSE TIMES I CRIED MYSELF TO SLEEP BECAUSE I WAS LONELY AND NOW I HAVE SISTER?! WORSE THAN THAT YOU HAD AN AFFAIR AND THEN SENT HER AWAY AS IF SHE NEVER EXSISTED?!
Violet: NO! IT WAS NOTHING LIKE THAT! YOU HUSH YOUR MOUTH YOUNG LADY! VOILET STRIKES MOLLY
Molly: Then tell me the truth! HELP ME UNDERSTAND!
Violet is sobbing whole heartedly on the floor. Molly standing over her. If you listened well enough you could hear her heart that she patched up all those years ago, break again.
Violet: I came to your daddy in 1971. I had just had your sister Rose and mother’s intuition told me something was wrong with her. She was beautiful but she was floppy and cried when she was fed. I was married to Arthur Wallace for a year but taking care of Rosie was taking it’s toll on us.
Molly: Oh poor you. Then what happened if you were manrried to that Wallace bloke then how did you marry daddy?
Violet; You have to understand something. I’m sorry to say this but your daddy wasn’t an Ange-
Molly: No! You’re lying! he was the kindest man ever, it’s YOU who is no Angel.
SFX: Dramtic music reaching it’s climax almost like a pulsing heart.
Violet: HE WAS MY BROTHER! (sobs) HE WAS MY BROTHER! EVER SINCE I WAS EIGHT YEARS OLD HE’D TOUCH ME AND MAKE OUT TO MAMA THAT IT WAS ‘FRIENDLY FIGHTING!’ HE WAS JEALOUS OF ME MARRYING ARTHUR BECAUSE HE COULDN’T HAVE WHAT HE WANTED ME! HE HAD THE DEVIL IN HIM AND URGES THAT HE CHOSE NOT TO CONTROL!
Molly: (Quivers) What?! So how does all this tie in with Rosie?!
Violet: He told me that if I married him that he would see that Rosie got the best treatment available, myself and Arthur saw that as our only option. INSTEAD THAT BASTARD TOOK MY BABY AND SIGNED AWAY MY RIGHTS TO SEE HER! (sniffles) I saw her once when she was eight. I took a replica of the bridesmaids dress and they told me I couldn’t give it to her because of house rules! I couldn’t even hug my own child for fear it would ‘excite’ her! She was left slumped in a chair, her hands gloved so she couldn’t use them. Rosie didn’t even recognise me!
Molly: So you resented me because of something my father did? – Sorry my uncle?!
Violet: No my love, I never resented you! Yes you were a painful reminder of what Rosie couldn’t do. But I hated the way you’r father had control over me. Each time when I couldn’t give him a child he’d beat me. And when I finally gave him you, I was jealous of how he took away my child.
Molly: I want to meet her. By the way, that’s no excuse for depriving me of your love. Do you not know how that effected me?!
Violet: (Deadpan) you can’t. when I lost my second baby when you were 11, your father ordered Rosie to be moved. He never told me where she was.
Molly: And this was all legal? Why didn’t you go to the police?!
Violet: How could I? He could easily turn against me what with him being an ‘upstanding citizen’.
Molly: Oh… Mum, I’m so sorry.
Both women look at each other, soaking up information. Molly crouches down and takes her mothers hand. Slowly the bond between them mending.
Molly: Mum, we’ll go to the police, get justice for Rosie and the other patients, We’ll find her. HE’S gone. He can’t hurt you anymore.
Violet: Yes. Let’s go. Gathers up her skirts and dusts herself down.
Molly: What about the movers?
Violet: I. Want. to. Go.
Gathering up what was left of her past violet and Molly went forward to forge a future together out of these demons. A mother’s heartache that had been hidden for years now turned into a fight for justice.