Domestic Diva: A 90-second opera.

laundry pile

 

SCENE: The hallway in a domestic dwelling, a two-bedroom condo, in modern-day New Jersey.

A woman, not young, but certainly not old. A woman of a certain age. This woman stands in the hallway with a wheeled cart filled with colored clothing. A man, her husband, steps out of a bedroom into the hallway. He places a pair of still body-heated briefs onto the pile of clothes.

 

 

THE MAN

Hey, I’ve run out of whites. Would you wash them too?

THE WOMAN

(She looks over the clothes in the cart, piled taller than her, at the man. Her face darkens.)

It would take me double the time. There are other matters to which I must attend this morning.

THE MAN

I don’t have any undershirts or socks for the week.

THE WOMAN

For how long have you been aware of this?

(The Man looks confused. The Woman continues, louder.)

Your lack of white clothing is not a surprise to you.

You did not stumble from our bedroom, clutching your chest, exclaiming,

“Oh wife, oh! The day is doomed!

I have no clean articles of white clothing

with which to cover this temple, mine body!”

No, you stated it as a fact, a long-standing truth,

as unsurprising as “My nose is on my face.”

THE MAN

I don’t get this.

THE WOMAN

(Steps from behind the cart and closer to The Man.)

As your supply of clean whites dwindled,

you took no action. Until now.

You tossed the task of cleaning whites onto my chore heap,

as high and precarious as the pile onto which you added

your soiled undergarments!

THE MAN

Geesh, I’ll help you…

THE WOMAN

(She tosses her head back and gives a laugh.)

Help? How could you possibly help,

wring the injustice from my plight, alleviate my burden?

Push the cart? Push the elevator button? Push “Start”

on the washing machine? No. You have already pushed

me off the brink and into the abyss of domestic doom.

THE MAN

(His face shows greater confusion. He does not move from where he stands, and maintains his distance.)

Have you eaten this morning? Do you need a cup of coffee?

THE WOMAN

(She reaches toward the heavens with her gaze and her arms.)

He offers food, drink, as if these could right the wrongs

of this life, this world. The luxury of a moment to nourish myself

is never mine. I must do everything. Nothing –

not the colors, the whites, the earth’s rotation –

gets done if not by me. Nothing is mine. Everyone demands my time,

breathes in my space, deprives me of the life-sustaining air around me!

 

(The Woman lowers her arms and looks at The Man. He looks back at her, scratches his chest. She sighs. She asks The Man to place the hamper filled with whites into the cart. The clothes smell. Their stomachs grumble. The Woman sighs again, pushes the cart, asks The Man to grind the beans and get the coffee started. He walks ahead of The Woman to hold open the door so she can push the cart out of their condo unit and to the building’s laundry room.)

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