The scene is in a hotel lobby in Philadelphia. ASTRID enters pushing a luggage cart with three bags on it to a seating area. She is wearing black dress pants and a light purple blouse. She almost runs into GISELLE who is drifting around between the lounge chairs.
GISELLE: (Stepping to the side of the cart.) Hello there.
ASTRID: (Startled). Oh! Hello. I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there.
GISELLE: It’s okay. Not many people usually notice me. (She gestures to the cart.) Are you leaving or checking in?
ASTRID: Leaving, actually. (She pushes the cart against the wall.) My fiancé and I are traveling to New York from Chicago. We decided to take the train instead of fly, but couldn’t find a direct route. (She sits down in a chair.) We arrived here in Philadelphia yesterday morning, and the next train to take us into New York is leaving this afternoon.
GISELLE: (Surprised.) Oh, I’m also on my way to New York. That’s where I was born. But I’ve been living in Chicago for the past year.
ASTRID: Are you going to visit family?
GISELLE: (Mumbles.) Something like that. (Clearly.) What brings you to the city?
ASTRID: I’m scheduled to play in an orchestra at this annual festival in Central Park. This will be the second time I’ve played in it.
GISELLE: (She sits in a chair near ASTRID.) That sounds quite exciting. What instrument do you play?
ASTRID: The piano.
GISELLE: Ahh. Such a beautiful instrument. How long have you been playing?
ASTRID: Since I was five years old. My mother had owned a beautiful baby grand piano when I was younger. I remember she would always scold me because I would play when she wasn’t around. (Makes air quotes around ‘play’ and begins chuckling.) She was afraid I would fall under the lid and get stuck if she wasn’t constantly watching me.
GISELLE: (Laughing also.) You sound like you had been a rambunctious child. I’d always wished that I’d learned how to play when I had had the chance.
ASTRID: Oh, there’s always time to learn. It’s never too late to start playing.
GISELLE: (Softly and ASTRID doesn’t hear.) For me it is.
ASTRID: (Continuing without noticing that GISELLE had spoken.) You’ll just have to pick a weekend and start playing. And find yourself a good teacher, of course. I was actually thinking about beginning to teach again. Maybe once we’re both back from New York, I could teach you.
GISELLE: That would be nice, I suppose. But I don’t know if I will be going back to Chicago.
ASTRID: You’re family wants you to move home? (Looking closer at GISELLE.) Wait a minute. Are you even old enough to be living by yourself? You seem so young.
GISELLE: I’m fifteen actually and I lived with my father in Chicago.
ASTRID: So your parents are divorced then?
GISELLE: They were never married, actually. (Slowly.) I had lived with my father for the past ten years. I would go to New York to visit my mother for summer vacation. (Pause.) Father became ill last winter. He passed about a month ago.
ASTRID: (Shocked pause.) I’m so sorry to hear that dear.
GISELLE: It’s okay. Really. I’m going to live with my mother now. (Long pause.) You’re very nice you know. Not many people usually talk to me like you are.
ASTRID: Now why’s that? You seem like a sweet girl.
GISELLE: (Shrugging.) They just don’t notice me.
ASTRID: Such a beautiful girl and no one notices you? Now, that I don’t believe.
GISELLE: I’m very shy.
ASTRID: Really? But, you’re the one who said hello.
GISELLE: That’s only because you almost ran over me.
ASTRID: Oh yes. Sorry about that again.
GISELLE: It’s okay. (Shrugs.) You’re not the first person to run over me. But you are the first person to talk to me.
ASTRID: Now that I know can’t be true.
GISELLE: (Softly and without emphasis.) But it is. No one else can notice me.
AXEL enters in a rush. He is wearing a light grey sweater and dark blue jeans. As AXEL is entering, ASTRID looks up at him and GISELLE rises and exits in the opposite direction from his entrance.
AXEL: (Hurried, he is almost out of breath.) There you are Astrid. I’ve been looking all over for you.
ASTRID: I told you I would be waiting over here while you were checking us out.
AXEL: Oh. (More composed.) Yes. I remember now. So sorry I took so long.
ASTRID: I’ve just been here talking to… (She looks around and realizes that GISELLE has left. Pause.)
AXEL Been talking to who?
ASTRID: Uh, no one. It was just a stranger. Someone who was just passing through. (Puzzled.) Strange though. She didn’t even say goodbye.
AXEL: Don’t worry about it dear. We need to get going or we’re going to miss the train.
ASTRID: (Checks watch.) Yes, you’re right. We don’t want to be late.
AXEL gets the cart and begins pushing it off stage the way he had entered. ASTRID takes one last look at the chair GISELLE had been sitting in and then follows after AXEL.
It is the evening of scene one. ASTRID and AXEL have just arrived at the hotel. They enter into the sitting area of their hotel room. One side is used for entrances into the “hallway” while the other entrance is used to enter from the “bedroom,” neither of which are shown. There is a couch with two chairs, an end table, and a coffee table near the “hallway” entrance, while on the other side of the room, nearer to the “bedroom,” sits a modest upright piano. ASTRID and AXEL are wearing the same clothes as in the first scene and they are carrying their luggage bags.
ASTRID: (Setting her bag on the couch and pointing across the room.) Oh look! The manager was kind enough to provide me with a piano after all. I had been told there would be one available, but I was expecting it to be at the recital hall.
AXEL: (Joking.) Good, now you can serenade me while I nap on the couch.
ASTRID: Oh you’re no fun. And it’s too late to take a nap. At this point it makes more sense to just go to bed early.
AXEL: (Yawns and sits his bags on the ground.) Which is not a bad idea either. Traveling this much always wears me out.
ASTRID: (Sarcastically.) Good thing you have to travel a lot for your job then.
AXEL: And I always get very well rested on those flights.
ASTRID: And I swear all you ever do is sleep.
AXEL: (Laughing.) If I’m not working or eating then yes.
ASTRID: (Chuckling.) I wouldn’t be surprised if you went into hibernation this winter.
AXEL: Na, that would never work. (Pulls her into his arms.) I couldn’t stand going three months without seeing you.
ASTRID: (Partially pushes away from him.) Sometimes I think you can’t go five minutes without seeing me.
AXEL: Well why would anyone want to be away from such a wonderful woman?
ASTRID: (Flippantly.) First I have to find out who that is, throttle them, and then I’ll let ya know.
AXEL: I meant you, of course.
ASTRID: Hmm. I don’t know. I saw you eyeing up that waitress earlier.
AXEL: That was my cousin and I was just saying hello.
ASTRID: Sure, that’s what you want me to think.
AXEL: Excuuuse me for forgetting that she worked at that restaurant.
ASTRID: Too late. Now I’m grumpy. (She jokingly pouts and crosses her arms.)
AXEL: Well I’ll have to make you un-grumpy then. (He begins tickling her.)
ASTRID: Hey! That is so not fair.
AXEL: All’s fair in love and tickle fights, my dear.
They struggle for a moment as he tickles her and she tries to escape. Finally she tackles him to the ground.
ASTRID: I win.
He gives her a kiss.
AXEL: No, I think I win. (He smiles affectionately at her and then yawns.)
ASTRID: Well I guess it’s time for someone to get to bed. (She goes to stand up, but he holds her down.)
AXEL: We both need to get to bed. You are going to have a long day tomorrow with all of those rehearsals.
ASTRID: I know. But I wanted to look over the sheet music a bit before turning in. I promise I won’t be out here all night. (Gives him a peck on the cheek and pushes herself onto her feet.)
AXEL: If you insist. I’ll go to bed all by my lonesome. (Pulls himself to his feet and looks defeated.)
ASTRID: I’m sure you will survive until I get there.
AXEL: (Chuckling.) You are lucky you’re adorable. (Kisses her.) I’ll go warm up the bed and will see you whenever you decide to join me.
ASTRID: I’ll follow you in a little while. I promise.
AXEL: Good to hear.
He picks up his bags and exits into the “bedroom,” while ASTRID pulls a folder out of her bag and thumbs through her sheet music. She absently walks over to the piano and begins playing a bit of the music. After a moment, there is a knock on the door. ASTRID pauses in her playing, and looks puzzlingly at the door. There is another knock and ASTRID stands and answers the door.
GISELLE: Hello again. (Smiling brightly and entering the room.)
ASTRID: Oh! Well isn’t this a surprise?
GISELLE: I saw you and your fiancé in the hallway. Thought I would come by and chat a bit more.
ASTRID: Oh—alright. Come on in. Have a seat. (GISELLE walks further into the room and sits in one of the armchairs. ASTRID sits on the couch.) You left before saying goodbye last time. I worried that I might have offended you somehow.
GISELLE: I’m sorry. I had just realized that I was running late for an appointment.
ASTRID: It’s okay. I know the feeling.
GISELLE: So are you enjoying the city so far?
ASTRID: Yes. I didn’t realize how much I missed being here until we got off the train. So much of my life happened in this city… (Trailing off, lost in thought for a pause.)
GISELLE: I know the feeling. I spent my entire childhood here in New York.
ASTRID: It’s a marvelous city isn’t it?
GISELLE: For most people it is.
ASTRID: Now I thought you said you were coming to stay with your mother? What are you doing in a hotel then?
GISELLE: Oh. Yes. Mother lives in the suburbs and couldn’t make it into the city to pick me up today. I’m just spending the night here and will be on my way in the morning.
ASTRID: That makes sense.
AXEL: Dear, who are you talking to?
ASTRID: Oh this is Giselle. (Gestures to indicate GISELLE.) The girl I met back in the hotel in Philadelphia.
AXEL: Now what’s this?
ASTRID: You remember. I was chatting with someone before we left for the train.
AXEL: I know what you’re talking about. But honey, there’s no one else here.
ASTRID: Now there’s no need to be rude, Axel.
AXEL: Dear, look around. We are the only people in here.
ASTRID: (She looks from AXEL to GISELLE.) She is sitting right here. (Points to the armchair.)
GISELLE: He’s not going to see me honey.
ASTRID: What do you mean he can’t see you?
AXEL: I think you may just be overly tired. Why don’t you come to bed now? Get some rest.
ASTRID: In a minute. (Slight pause.) I’ll be in in a minute.
AXEL: It’s okay to admit you’re tired. You don’t have to pretend with me dear.
ASTRID: I’m not pretending. I’m fine. Just go back to bed and I’ll follow you in a minute.
AXEL: (Sighing after a moment.) If you insist. (Gives her a quick kiss on the forehead and then exits.)
ASTRID: What the hell was that about?
GISELLE: Like I said, he can’t see me.
ASTRID: And why would that be? It’s not like you’re a ghost or something. (Uncomfortable pause. GISELLE sits staring at ASTRID.) You’re insane if you think that you’re a ghost.
GISELLE: Then you explain why he couldn’t see me when I was sitting right in front of him.
ASTRID: Well… Um… I mean…
GISELLE: Exactly my point.
ASTRID: There is no fucking way you’re a ghost. (GISELLE screams as ASTRID throws her hands over her ears.) The fuck woman?!
GISELLE: See, you and I were the only ones who heard that.
ASTRID: And I don’t think I’ll be able to hear anything after that now.
GISELLE: Your ears are fine.
ASTRID: That’s debatable. (Pause.) So what the hell are you doing here then? And what about everything you said about your parents and whatnot?
GISELLE: I was lying. Sorry about that. But I couldn’t really tell you the truth. You wouldn’t have believed me.
ASTRID: Like I believe you now you mean? And you didn’t answer me. What are you doing here? Why are you following me?
GISELLE: I’m here to help you remember something important.
ASTRID: Like what? I’m not missing anything.
GISELLE: Are you sure about that?
ASTRID: Of course I’m sure.
GISELLE: What about the last time you were here?
ASTRID: What about it?
GISELLE: That’s why you need to remember.
ASTRID: Well just tell me.
GISELLE: You wouldn’t believe me. You need to figure it out on your own.
ASTRID: What the hell does it have to do with you anyways?
GISELLE: I cannot pass on until you know who I am.
ASTRID: I’ve never met you before. How could I possibly help you?
GISELLE: You have. That’s part of what you don’t remember.
ASTRID: You’re crazy. This is crazy. I’m talking to a crazy ghost!
GISELLE: Pardon you. I am not crazy, I’m merely trapped here. I cannot leave until you find that missing part of yourself.
ASTRID: I’m not missing anything!
(Calling from Offstage.)
AXEL: Astrid? Is everything alright?
ASTRID: Yes, I’m fine, I just — just misplaced my music. (To GISELLE.) There is nothing wrong with me.
GISELLE: You’re clearly in denial. Think about it for a while and you’ll discover that I’m not wrong about you.
ASTRID: No. You are completely wrong. (Stands and points to the door.) Now get out. I don’t want to see you again. (She picks up her bag and says to herself as she starts to exit into the “bedroom.”) I need to go to bed before I start hallucinating a circus to go with this crazy mess. Stupid fucking crazy people. (Looks back at GISELLE. Angrily but firm.) Good night.
It’s early in the morning the next day. ASTRID enters into the sitting room from the “bedroom.” She has a lush purple robe (no costume change is necessary as the robe should completely cover her top and the pants can be understood as yoga/sweatpants). She is humming “Fur Elise” as she enters. GISELLE is sitting on the couch.
ASTRID: (Angrily but not shouting.) What are you still doing here?
GISELLE: Well, good morning to you too. Did you sleep well?
ASTRID: (Defensively.) As well as I always do.
GISELLE: So terribly then?
ASTRID: (Snapping.) I slept just fine. And you didn’t answer me. What are you still doing here? I told you to leave.
GISELLE: And I already told you. I cannot leave until you remember.
ASTRID: Well, maybe I don’t want to remember.
GISELLE: (Sadly.) Don’t you know who I am yet?
ASTRID: No. And I don’t care. I just want you to leave.
GISELLE: Things aren’t that simple, honey.
ASTRID: Well why can’t they be.
GISELLE: Because you have to remember what happened first. (Pause). You need to remember what happened.
ASTRID: Why? Why do I need to remember something that my mind clearly does not want me
GISELLE: Because this is keeping you from being happy. And deep down in your heart you know that.
ASTRID: No I don’t. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t know anything. I’m perfectly happy.
GISELLE: Then why do you feel like your stomach falls through the floor every time Axel so much as hints at your impending marriage, or having children, or anything to do with the future?
ASTRID: I… (Clears throat. Not as confident as the first time.) I don’t know what you are talking about.
GISELLE: (Firmly.) Yes you do. You’re just too stubborn to see it yet.
ASTRID: Why do I need to see it? Okay, so I’m not as happy as I want people to think I am. But I am content with how my world is. And I can be perfectly happy with being content.
GISELLE: Are you sure about that?
ASTRID: Of course I’m sure about that.
GISELLE: Then why do you keep doing everything in your power to prevent your life from moving forward?
ASTRID: I’m not. I’m getting married in a few months. That’s not holding my life back by any means.
GISELLE: (Angrily.) Then why, after sixteen years, have you come back to this city? This city that saw you thrive. That saw you achieve your dream. Why did it take you sixteen years to come back?
ASTRID: (Angry outburst.) Because I don’t feel complete! I’m not finished with this city. And it’s not finished with me. There’s more here for me to do.
GISELLE: Why didn’t you do those things before? Why wait this long?
(AXEL enters from the “bedroom.”)
AXEL: (Slightly disoriented and sleepily.) Astrid? What’s wrong? Why are you yelling?
ASTRID: Nothing’s wrong. I’m not yelling. It’s not like there’s anyone here for me to talk too. (She glares at GISELLE.)
AXEL: Don’t lie to me, honey. I know I heard you yelling.
GISELLE: (Shaking her head.) He knows you too well. I don’t think he’s gonna let you avoid talking about this one.
ASTRID: (Glaring at GISELLE.) No I wasn’t. And there’s nothing to talk about. Why don’t you just go get dressed?
AXEL: I’m not going anywhere until I’m positive that you’re okay. (He tries embrace her, but she pushes him away.) Please just talk to me about this. I want to help you.
ASTRID: I already said there’s nothing to talk about.
GISELLE: Quit lying to everyone.
ASTRID: Oh just shut up.
AXEL: Honey, calm down. I wasn’t saying anything.
GISELLE: And now you just look crazy. Good job there champ.
ASTRID: Sorry, I didn’t mean that.
AXEL: Look, I just want you to be happy right now. If you don’t want to talk to me okay, but just know that I’m here for you.
ASTRID: I know that. (Feigning cheerfulness.) Now, why don’t you go get dressed and we can go out for breakfast before my rehearsal begins?
AXEL: (He looks at her for a moment then gives her a quick, strong hug.) Okay. Give me a few minutes and then you can have the bathroom. (He kisses her on the cheek.) I love you.
ASTRID: I love you too.
He exits back into the “bedroom.”
GISELLE: See, you think you’re fooling him, but you’re not. He can tell you’re still upset about something.
ASTRID: Well I wonder what could have possibly caused me to be upset. (She glares at GISELLE.)
GISELLE: Well, I can see where I’m not wanted. Fine. Go enjoy your breakfast. I hope you can keep fooling him though. I don’t think he’d be able to handle your depression for too terribly long. Good day. (She exits into the “hallway.”)
ASTRID: (Stubbornly and in denial.) She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Crazy ghost. Haunting me for no damn reason. She probably just got bored and decided it would be fun to drive me insane. (Pause. She slumps onto the couch, looking more unsure of herself. She shakes her head.) No. Don’t think of that, Astrid. There’s nothing missing. There’s nothing wrong. (Pause.) I just wish I could remember —
AXEL: (Calling from offstage.) Dear, are you going to get dressed sometime today? I would like to eat before dinnertime.
ASTRID: (Pulling herself out of her thoughts.) Coming! (She exits.)
The day of the concert in the early morning. Still in the sitting room of their hotel suite, ASTRID enters wearing the same costume as the first scenes. Once again, GISELLE is sitting on the couch.
ASTRID: (Sighing.) And here I thought I was rid of you.
GISELLE: I thought that you would benefit from a few days away from me to think about your past. Have you figured anything out yet?
ASTRID: Not a damn thing. Because, guess what? I don’t give a flying fuck!
GISELLE: Now that’s a terrible attitude to have about all this.
ASTRID: So what? I’m clearly not going to remember. I’ve been trying for days. It’s not going to happen. And you refuse to just tell me. So explain this to me: why should I bother trying?
GISELLE: Because it affects more than just you.
GISELLE: Think about Axel. He clearly loves you. And anytime he so much as looks at you with affection, you run away and hide under a rock. This is hurting him just as much as it’s hurting you.
ASTRID: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
GISELLE: (Simultaneously with ASTRID and sarcastically.) I don’t know what you’re talking about. Yeah. I’ve heard that one before.
ASTRID: Well just tell me what I should remember then.
GISELLE: Why don’t you call your father and ask him about the last time you were in New York? I think you’d rather hear it from him.
ASTRID: I still say you’re crazy. (Pause. GISELLE and ASTRID stare intently at each for a moment before ASTRID looks away and picks up her cell phone. She mumbles.) Fine. (Pause as the phone rings.) Hello father… Yes. I’m actually in New York right now… For the philharmonic orchestra’s annual festival in Central Park… Yes I know. Sixteen years… That’s actually what I was calling about. I can’t seem to remember exactly what happened back then… A car accident… I see… And a what?… No I don’t remember… Died, you say?… Okay… Alright… Yes. Thank you father… Goodbye. (Pause.)
GISELLE: Well? (Pause.) What did he say Astrid?
ASTRID: (Slowly and disbelievingly.) He said that I have a child. (She looks at GISELLE who remains impassive. Pleadingly as if she is asking to be told it isn’t true.) I have a child?
ASTRID: But, why don’t I remember?
GISELLE: Because you’re father put the child into the system. A lonely orphan hoping for a family. Hoping for an adoption.
ASTRID: No. Father said it died.
GISELLE: He was lying to you.
ASTRID: He wouldn’t do that.
GISELLE: Why wouldn’t he? Because he always had your best interests in mind?
GISELLE: Exactly. You were in your prime as a musician and having a child would have ruined all of that.
ASTRID: I don’t even remember being pregnant.
GISELLE: No. You wouldn’t.
ASTRID: What do you mean I wouldn’t remember?
GISELLE: That car accident you were in was quite gruesome.
ASTRID: (In denial.) No. You’re lying. There’s no way that’s true.
GISELLE: (Exhausted.) Please, just listen. I am not lying to you.
ASTRID: It’s not possible. You’re telling me that, from a teeny tiny accident, I lost almost a year of memory. There is no way that that is true.
GISELLE: If you would let me tell you of the incident before you judge it, you may find you have a different opinion.
ASTRID: (Pouts and crosses her arms across her chest.) Fine.
GISELLE: (Pause to be sure that she will not be interrupted.) Sixteen years ago, you were invited to play in the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, just as you are now. Your father could not have been happier. You were already living in New York at the time. Do you remember?
ASTRID: (Reluctantly.) Yes. I was still going to Juilliard.
GISELLE: Mmhmm. Well, everything started the night after the concert.
ASTRID: I remember going to a party with my one of my girlfriends. It was at a club that her father owned.
GISELLE: Do you remember what happened there?
ASTRID: I remember having a lot of wine. (Slight pause.) And waking up on the roof with my father calling my cell phone. He was so angry because I wasn’t in the hotel room like I should have been.
GISELLE: Is that all?
ASTRID: Why? What more is there?
GISELLE: You don’t remember the young man?
ASTRID: What guy? There were plenty there that night I’m sure.
GISELLE: There was a specific one that I’m talking about. He was a guitarist in a rock band he had going with his friends.
ASTRID: Now that you mention it. I vaguely remember a guy like that.
GISELLE: I would hope so, since I’m pretty sure you’re getting married to him.
ASTRID: No. That can’t be.
GISELLE: If you’d actually think about it you’d know I’m right.
ASTRID: (Triumphant.) Ha. That I know is a lie. He’s never mentioned that night to me. Not once. There’s no way we both forgot about it.
GISELLE: He has tried talking to you about it. Quit denying it and think about it for a moment. You just keep pushing that memory as far away as possible.
ASTRID: What happened next then?
GISELLE: Well, you both enjoyed a romantic evening on the roof. When you’re father found out about him, he forbid you from seeing the boy again and sent you back to school.
ASTRID: But then how…?
GISELLE: Like I said, it was quite romantic on the rooftop that night.
ASTRID: (Becoming embarrassed.) Oh. I see.
GISELLE: It took him twelve years to find you again. But you know how that story goes.
ASTRID: (Wistful.) Yes. We bumped into each other in a cafe in Los Angeles. I didn’t recognize him, but that didn’t matter too much. We started dating within the month.
GISELLE: And after four years you still hadn’t figured out who he really was.
ASTRID: I guess not.
GISELLE: Anyways. About a month after your evening with him, you found out you were pregnant.
ASTRID: (Bitterly.) And I’m sure father was ecstatic about that one.
GISELLE: He tried everything he could to persuade you to get rid of it. But you were stubborn as always and insisted on keeping the child once it was born. He knew that it would ruin your career as a musician.
ASTRID: (Still bitter.) Which is what he had always wanted me to be. To take after mom.
GISELLE: Probably because your mother was no longer around.
ASTRID: That was exactly the reason. He never came right out and said it but I could tell in the way he talked about her to me.
GISELLE: Then there was the car crash. You were eight months pregnant at the time. It had been raining hard that day. As your car was moving through an intersection, another car came skidding through and hit your side of the car. You were in the hospital quite a long time after that.
ASTRID: How badly were we injured?
GISELLE: Your father was fine, he only had a few cuts and bruises to show for it. You, on the other hand, had several broken bones and suffered a severe blow to the head. During surgery you went into premature labor and the doctors performed a C-section to save you and the child.
ASTRID: And father told them to give it away?
GISELLE: Yes. Before you realized what had happened. What he didn’t realize is that you would have amnesia when you woke up.
ASTRID: What was it? A boy? Or a girl?
GISELLE: A girl. She went into the system. She grew up questioning why her mother never wanted her.
ASTRID: But I did want her! I was so excited to have a child, even if it was the product of a one night stand. (Pause.)
AXEL enters. He is again in the same costume as the first scenes.
AXEL: Are you talking to yourself again? I’m starting to think you have a secret boyfriend.
ASTRID: No. Sorry. I was — just trying to decide where I wanted to go for breakfast since I have to be at the rehearsal space by ten.
AXEL: (Laughing.) I was just thinking about the same thing. I know this wonderful little place that’s only a few blocks from here. If I remember right, they had the best pancakes you could find in the city. How does that sound? I know we both love pancakes.
ASTRID: Sure, sure. That sounds lovely. Just give me a few more minutes and I’ll come get ready. I want to look over my music one last time.
AXEL: Alright sweetheart. (Kisses her cheek.) I’ll leave you be. I wanted to finish reading my novel anyways. So take your time.
He exits. Pause.
ASTRID: So, what happened to her?
GISELLE: What do you mean?
ASTRID: The child. What happened to her after that?
GISELLE: She went into foster care.
ASTRID: She was never adopted?
ASTRID: My poor baby. (Pause.) I need to find her.
GISELLE: You won’t be able to.
ASTRID: And why not? If she’s in the system I should be able to track her down. I would still be listed as the mother.
GISELLE: (Slowly.) Because she died. About a month ago.
ASTRID: (Shocked.) What? How?
GISELLE: (She moves around the room to avoid looking at ASTRID.) There was a man that had a seizure while he was behind the wheel of his car. She had crossed the road in front of him. She — She didn’t hear the car coming. She had had her headphones on and was listening to music. (Pause.) She died instantly. (Turns to look at ASTRID.) She didn’t feel a thing.
ASTRID: (Defeated.) My daughter. (Pause.) But. How do you know all of this?
GISELLE: Do you still not know who I am?
ASTRID: (Realization dawns on her.) You?
GISELLE: (Nods and smiles sadly.) Hi mom.
ASTRID: (Sputtering.) But — but you — and me — and what? (Pause.) Oh my dear! (Pulls GISELLE into a hug for a moment. Then pushes her back to arms length.) But why can’t Axel see you then? If he’s your father that is?
GISELLE: He never knew about me. He isn’t the one who was feeling incomplete and unable to move forward with his life.
ASTRID: How could my father have been so cruel? To throw you away like trash. (She hugs GISELLE again.) And that is a beautiful name. I don’t think I could have picked a better one for you.
GISELLE: Thank you. That is the one thing you can thank your father for, despite this lovely mess of things.
ASTRID: Wait, what happens now?
GISELLE: We can both move on now. My life had been incomplete because I didn’t know you. Once I came into this state, I knew everything about myself, but I couldn’t pass on until you knew me as well.
ASTRID: Now we’re both complete. Now I’m going to lose you again.
GISELLE: No, now you have me forever. I’ll always be in here. (Points to ASTRID’s heart.) It’s a bit cliché, but it’s certainly true.
ASTRID: I’m glad I was able to meet you, even if it wasn’t how either of us would have liked.
ASTRID: I guess it’s true what they say.
GISELLE: What would that be?
ASTRID: You can’t miss what you never knew. But it’s not entirely true. I didn’t know you, but I knew I was missing something all these years.
GISELLE: That’s the moral of this story. Now, isn’t it?
ASTRID: I’m going to miss you.
GISELLE: I’m going to miss you, too. (Pause). Goodbye, mother. (GISELLE exits.)
AXEL: (Enters and crosses to ASTRID.) Are you ready?
ASTRID: (Stares longingly after GISELLE.) Yeah. Yeah, I’m ready.
* * *
If you enjoyed this short fiction, be sure to check out my other works under Short Stories.
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Copyright Sibille Rose – December 2014