Catherine: Really. What a shame. (Beat) But she was up there.
Ruth: I’ll put the water on.
Catherine: Helen was good enough to get it started.
Ruth: (To the nurse who enters)
I’m so sorry. Helen. Here you are on your last day and I’m holding you over. But thank you.
Nurse: It’s no problem. But, there are some important things we have to go over.
Ruth: Oh, I know. Just let me catch my breath.
(Ruth goes back over to Catherine. She kisses her on the cheek.)
How are you feeling?
(referring to the newspaper) I’ll read it to you after tea.
Catherine: (Somewhat in a haze.) Walking on air. (Beat)(Referring to the newspaper) It says she was 78.
Nurse: I gave her an injection earlier today just around 10. It wasn’t an easy morning. (Beat) She’s ok now but still sometimes a bit out of it.
Are you sure you can handle this?
Ruth: Yes. I want to.
Nurse: It won’t be easy.
Ruth: I want to.
Nurse: It’s about time again. ( (beat) I have some things to show you. Beat) But after you have your tea.
Ruth: I can take a moment now. I’d rather have that behind me so we can have our tea without rushing.
Nurse: Are you sure.
Ruth: Yes, Let’s take care of it now.
Nurse: Are you ready?
Ruth: Yes. Show me.
Nurse: Hold on a minute. (She goes off stage.)
Ruth: (to Catherine) Are you sure you’re feeling well?
Catherine: Yes. Yes, of course. Don’t worry. I know you can do it.
Nurse: (returns) don’t laugh. We’re going to use an orange.
Ruth: Who’s laughing?
Nurse: It’s what every new nurse and intern does. The orange gives the same sense of skin and muscle.
Ruth: Fire away.
Nurse: First. Insert the syringe into the vile. Like this. (She demonstrates.)
Draw back on the plunger.
Withdraw the syringe.
Press up to express any air. There’ll be little squirt to show the air is out.
Now you try.
(Ruth imitates what she has just learned.)
Nurse: Perfect. (Beat)
(The nurse moved Ruth to the side.) Now the tough part.
The one thing … the dosage. Be extremely careful. Any overdose….
Ruth: …. Yes, I know.
I think you can do it.
I know I can.
Nurse: And you realize that …. That for Catherine it won’t be for very much….
Ruth: (cutting in) Yes. Yes, I know.
Thank you so very much Helen. Thank you. (Beat) I’ve taken the week. I want to be here.
Nurse: Call me. Don’t hesitate.
Ruth: Thank you.
Catherine: What are you two babbling about? The tea will get cold.
Are you going to pour?
Ruth: Here I come.
Do you want to play it now?
Catherine: No. Let’s just have our tea.
Ruth: Ok. We’ll save Lenny for later.
Catherine: I do love that film and that music.
Ruth: One of our boys.
Catherine: I suppose so.
Ruth: Without us Jews there would be no American music.
Ruth: Look at it. (Beat) Hammerstein, Lerner and Lowe, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin…. Ok. There are some Italians too, Sinatra. Dean Martin. Even Jimmy Durante. But it’s the Jews who gave America their singing voice.
(Ruth pours and serves Catherine.)
Catherine: And how were your demons today?
Ruth: Not so demonic. We started this new book today. “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Catherine: Gregory Peck? The movie? I loved that picture. Didn’t you?
Ruth: Well, it’s now on our reading list. The kids love it already.
Catherine: When you were a little girl didn’t you want to be like Scout?
Ruth: Are you kidding. I was her. Only she lived in Alabama I lived in Brooklyn
Catherine: Is there a difference?
Ruth: Not really. We were all phlegm spitting illiterates with incomprehensible accents and bad grammar.
Catherine: Ruth, your imagery!
Ruth: Oh, pardon me Miss Bryn Mawr. (She pronounces it broadly Bryyyn Maaah.) but my people call things as they are.
Catherine: (swatting Ruth.) Give us a kiss.
Ruth: (kisses Catherine.) How’s your tea?
Catherine: Just perfect. (Beat) Wasn’t it just yesterday?
(Holding up the cup)
They were my grandmother’s.
Well, all but one.
Ruth: All but one.
Catherine: So lovely.
Ruth: you’re too sentimental.
Catherine: Where would we be without it?
The tea cup 1939 (#2)
The Shop owner is listening to the radio. We hear and see the invasion of Poland.
She turns it down as we see the interior of the ANTIQUE STORE.
Shop Owner: Afternoon. May I help you?
Catherine: I like to browse. I’m just looking.
Shop Owner: Take your time. And just let me know.
Let me turn down the radio. (Beat) Seems they’re back at it again.
(As she turns down the radio.)
I lost my father at the Somme.
(Catherine sees Ruth who is admiring a tea cup.)
Catherine: That cup! That’s the cup!
Ruth: Excuse me?
Catherine: Oh, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be brusque but I’ve been looking for that cup….. or a cup just like it.
Shop Owner: This is quite a lovely piece.
Ruth: I was just thinking about it myself. Really pretty isn’t it.
Shop Owner: A very good price.
Catherine: Pretty and perfect. It’s a perfect match.
Ruth: Do you have one like it.
Catherine: I had one like it, but I broke it.
Shop Owner: I’m afraid it’s the only one I have.
Catherine: The only one.
The one I broke was part of a set.
Shop Owner: The only one.
Catherine: Mine was part of a set.
A very old set.
A set my grandfather gave me.
(Catherine admires the cup in Ruth’s hand.)
It’s a perfect match.
Shop Owner: It’s not a common piece.
Ruth: (to Catherine.) Really?
Catherine: Look on the bottom. You’ll see crossed swords.
Shop Owner: Yes. Turn it over, Do look at the bottom.
Catherine: Crossed swords in blue.
(Ruth turns over the cup and saucer.)
Shop Owner: Crossed swords in blue.
Ruth: You’re right. There they are.
Crossed swords in blue.
Catherine: It’s Meissen.
Ruth: Meissen? Sorry.
Shop Owner: Meissen, of course.
Catherine: Meissen, late 19th century. Made in Germany.
Ruth: Is that a good thing?
Catherine: Why of course. ..(Beat)
Oh you mean that (pointing to the radio.)
Catherine: My grandmother’s tea set was a wedding present from her parents.
Ruth: I think my grandparents ate from wooden bowls.
Catherine: (sheepishly) Do you think…?
Ruth: Of course. I was only looking.
I just wanted a nice tea cup for myself.
I like to have tea in the afternoon after school.
There are plenty of lovely tea cups here.
I’m sure I can find….
Catherine: Oh, I can’t thank you enough.
(She takes the cup and raises it up.)
Such a piece of luck to find it.
Listen, you said you teach…
Ruth: Yes. I teach at Jackson.
Catherine: (stunned) You teach at Jackson?
In the city?
Ruth: Jackson on 64th. And yes, I’m still alive.
Catherine: A brave one, huh?
Ruth: An Amazon.
Catherine. I teach too. But not on the battle front. I’m at Abbey Garner on the Square.
Catherine: (looking at the cup again) Listen. Let me thank you.
Why not let me have you to tea.
You said you like to have tea in the afternoon?
Ruth: It’s my way to “décontracter.”
Catherine: “Décontracter?” My, we are “au courant” at Jackson.
Ruth: Believe it or not I studied in France. Speak it fluently.
Catherine: Bet it comes in useful on 64th Street.
Ruth: Every day.
Catherine: So, how about it.
Would you like to come for tea?
…. My way of thanking you.
10 North 2nd
Ruth: What’s the apartment number.
Catherine: (a little bewildered.) No apartment. (beat) It’s my house.
Ruth: You live in a whole house. Just you?
Catherine: My father left it to me. (Beat)Yes, just me.
Say tomorrow at four?
Ruth: A whole house!
Catherine: Yes, a whole house.
So, would you like to join me?
\Ruth: Sure, tomorrow at four.
Catherine: (to the Shop Owner) I’ll take the cup.
Shop Owner: I’ll wrap it for you.
Catherine: Thank you.
(Antique store fades. Apartment up.)
THE PRESENT (#1)
Catherine: What was it that let us know?
Ruth: What is it always when people know?
Catherine: No. Really. There must have been something.
Ruth: (A bit sarcastic.) What? A scent? A twist of the hand? A twitch of the eye? You’re another Emma Bovary with your romantic novels. And remember what happened to her.
Please, Catherine. Don’t make me laugh.
Ruth: Did you know then? Did you know immediately?
Catherine: Wishful thinking.
Ruth: You must have known. I did.
Catherine: What do they call it? Serendipity?
Ruth: Or is it Karma? What were we in a previous life?
Catherine: A previous life? Did we have to live like this before?
What did we do to deserve this?
Ruth: to deserve to love each other?
Catherine: to love each other behind a screen, behind a wall.
Forever hiding who we are. Forever fearful to show our love?
Forever fearful in a world that could not understand?:
Ruth: Even so, even behind this wall, I was yours and you were mine.
Catherine: Why did it have to be that way. Why was the world so blind?
Our love was no different from so many before us.
Our love was no different from that of any other couple that was accepted, that was celebrated
with ceremony and joy and solemnity.
Where was our moment?
Where are those who rejoiced with us?
Where was the day, the ceremony of our union?
How many times I wanted to take your hand.
How many times in the spring of an afternoon
To walk with you
Or In the summer of an evening
To take your hand in mine
In the square or in the park.
Ruth: You’re always too much the romantic, Catherine.
Dreaming about yesterday.
Catherine: But now is the time to remember.
(Ruth is silent. She thinks on those words.)
Catherine: Ok, Let’s think about better things.
Things like the good old days. When we were young.
Ruth: Now, you’re really headed back in time.
Catherine: Do you remember the war?
Ruth: Which one? We’ve been around for a few.
Catherine: One, W, W, One.
Ruth: You’re really going back there.
Catherine: No, It’s so clear in my head because the war ended on my birthday. November 11.
Ruth: Yes. I know your birthday. It’s this week.
Catherine: But, what I remember so clearly is that was my first month at Bryn Mawr.
Visual (#3) Carey Thomas
Ruth: I didn’t start Hunter until the next year. I worked part time at just about every department store perfume counter in New York to get my startup money.
Papa was not about to pay for his daughter to go to college when she should be getting married.
Catherine: I remember Carey Thomas telling us, “Marriage is nothing more than the loss of freedom, and introduction to poverty, and a personal subjection for which I see absolutely no compensation.”
Ruth: Tough old broad.
Catherine: Didn’t do her much good. Her partner of many years left her to marry a man.
Ruth: Not so unusual, even now. (Beat) You’ve read The Bostonians? Henry James?
Catherine: No, I don’t know that one.
Ruth: I guess not. Bryn Mawr wouldn’t teach it. The man wins her away from her lover. The men always won over women in those days. These days too. Women were too afraid not to have a man.
Ruth: (tapping the newspaper)Anyway, here’s poor old Eleanor. The same story.
(Visual #4) Eleanor Roosevelt
Ruth: Gone without her lover at her side.
Ruth: No, not Franklin. You’re so naïve.
Catherine: Naïve about what?
Ruth: Tell me you didn’t know.
Catherine: Know what?
Ruth: You never heard of Lorena Hicock. “Hick” they called her.
Catherine: Oh, come on. You don’t believe those old rumors.
Ruth: Rumors! I tried to get you to read The Ladder but you never would.
Catherine: Please, you know I never liked that sort of thing.
Ruth: Drink your tea, Love. (She blows her a kiss.)
Ruth: (Laughingly.) Do you know the one about Eleanor and the little farm girl?
Catherine: No, I don’t think so.
Ruth: Eleanor is making one of her rounds to poor farm families.
She goes into a house and there’s this little girl sitting there sucking her thumb,
Eleanor notices a picture of herself on the wall.
(In a high Eleanor voice.)
Little girl, do you know who that is in the picture.
The little girl keeps sucking and nods “no.”
Look again little girl. Don’t you know who that is?
Eleanor asks again, “Are you sure you don’t know.”
The little girl pulls her thumb out of her mouth.
I don’t know who that is but my mammy say that if’n I keep suckin’ my thumb I’m gwanna end up lookin’ like that!”
Catherine: Ruth, you’re terrible.
Ruth: I know.
I suppose you have to hand it to her for all the good she tried to do.
Catherine: Yes, I suppose so. But remember I’m a republican.
We see her a bit differently. My father said she and Franklin were communists.
Ruth: I’m sure they did.
When I was growing up and I heard my father say,
I thought it was another word for “Jew.”
Still, I have to say that while Eleanor was an old time Wasp with a stick up her butt, she had something of an open mind.
Maybe , she was just being patronizing to the lower classes, Something that gave her a sense of the aristocrat helping the lowers classes. But she did some good,.
We need someone like her now.
Catherine: Ruth. I think I feel a little sleepy. I suppose I’m still under the medicine from this morning…
Ruth: Let me take your cup. Rest a bit.
In the past. 1963 (#1)
Ruth: Catherine, come in here. You have to see this
Catherine: What is it?
Ruth: Just look at this!... These bastards.
(Dissolve to: Video clip of Birmingham riots.)
Ruth: I think more than the war in Germany, the war today is always on my mind.
Catherine: You mean with Russia.
Ruth: No. Not Russia? Are you kidding? They’ll bury themselves in their own slogans.
I’m talking about this war. (Pointing at the TV) Look at what these sons of bitches are doing.
They ought to take every one of these red neck racist …..
Ruth: No Jew can tolerate this.
Catherine: Jews aren’t Colored people. (Beat) You’re not a Colored person.
Ruth: You don’t have to be. The situation is the same. My skin isn’t black but I know that world. I know it from my parents when they crossed as exiles from Russia. I know it from the smashed glass in Germany. I know it from the fine schools I applied to teach at. Schools like yours. Why do you think I went to Hunter?
(Fade to Image of Hunter mixed with Image of M. Carey Thomas quote. #6, #7.)
I went to Hunter because college was segregated. Not just against women. You had your Bryn Mawr but Bryn Mawr was segregated against Jews. I know. I applied. Your M. Thomas Carey for all her ideas about women did not include Jewesses, as she called us. Hunter was a great school. It made me who I am. But the thing is, I had no choice. And then, after I graduated I wanted to teach in a girls’ school.
I wanted to open young women to all the wonders of the world.
I wanted to show them that they could be more than crinoline wives, more than a flourished dress under the hand held cocktail torch of a vapid and mindless social swarm.
Night after night before graduation I poured over catalogue after catalogue of schools for girls.
Schools that purported to offer the highest and finest in women’s education.
In a frenzy of that youthful hopefulness of those that truly believe in the possibilities of the American dream, who hope that in this new world, a world free of the darkness of our immigrant parents we would be a part of this, this, “land of the free and the home of the brave,” that they taught us as children in school.
But what was my hope? Where would it take me? My hope was like a nighttime bat trapped in a room.
A bat that beats its wings frantically against a ceiling that is closed to its flight. And where, in exhaustion and frustration it falls motionless to the floor.
I wasn’t the daughter of an Irish Catholic Philadelphia industrialist with the world at her feet.
In the Past
Catherine leaves her chair and the Headmistress sits. We are in her office.
Headmistress: Come in Miss Green.
Ruth: Hello. Good Morning.
Headmistress: Have a seat Miss Green.
Ruth: Thank you.
Headmistress: I see you have a rather remarkable academic record.
Ruth: Thank you.
Headmistress: You went from your bachelors directly to you Masters.
Ruth: Yes, I did. I just love school. Never wanted to leave it.
Headmistress: It seems so.
Your bachelor’s is in English Literature and you did your master’s thesis on Victorian women writers.
Ruth: Wasn’t that a wonderful age. (Beat) Such an example for today’s young women.
They are what I want to teach. These are the women I want our young women to know.
Headmistress: Which specifically may you have in mind.
Ruth: Browning, Rossetti, Elliott….
Headmistress: Elliott, T.S Elliot? He was a man.
Ruth: No, no. George Elliott.
Ruth: Her pseudonym. She wrote as a man.
Headmistress: Seems rather peculiar.
Ruth: Not at all. She was a mirror of Georges Sands in France.
you’ve never read her? Georges Sands, friend of Chopin, … woman novelist, … dressed as man.
Headmistress: Yes, I learned some Chopin on the piano. But I was never much good at the
keyboard. Mother insisted.
Ruth: Have you never read: “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”
Headmistress: I’m afraid not, dear.
Ruth: Actually, I never found it in any of her books, but even so, what better thought for young
Headmistress: But let me get down to our most important considerations. As you know, our school maintains a very high intellectual and social level,
Ruth: (interrupting) Yes, of course, that’s why I applied.
Headmistress: (ignoring Ruth and continuing directly on.) Our girls come from the finest families, patrons of the arts and many social organizations.
Ruth: I’m sure.
Headmistgress: (continuing) We as educators have an obligation to assure our families that they can rely on our discernment.
Miss Green, I hope you won’t mind me asking you…
You’re from Hunter.
Ruth: Yes. It’s right there on my curriculum vitae.
Headmistress: Yes, I see that.
Ruth: Yes, right there.
Headmistress: We’ve never had a teacher from Hunter. What brought you there?
Ruth: That had the courses I was looking for and they accepted me so I went.
Headmistress: Yes, your reports and references are certainly very good.
Ruth: Thank you. I graduated Summa.
Headmistress: That’s all very good. But there are other considerations. We have an obligation t o our families. (Beat) You see, I was just wondering…
Is Green your ,…. Your family name?
Ruth: … My family name?
Headmistress: Yes. Your family name. (Beat) The name on your birth certificate.
Ruth: I was born in New York.
Headmistress: I’m sure. … but where in New York.
Ruth: Does that matter?
Headmistress: No, no, of course not. (Beat) I would just like to get to know you better.
Ruth: I don’t see…
Headmistress: Just a friendly question. You have a very interesting background.
Ruth: Oh, I see. (Beat) Your obligation to your families.
Well, yes, Miss Hownell, I do have quite a background. A background not like yours. (Beat) Not like your families. (Beat) My family name is not Green. My family name is Gruenberg. I suppose that makes me Ruth Gruenberg. Gruenberg. I’m sorry Miss Hownell, I’m sorry that I’m not a Middleton. I’m not a Hamilton. I’m not even a Jones or Smith. I am a daughter of Eastern Europe, a daughter of the pale, a daughter of a people suspected and mistrusted for times beyond any count.. I was raised in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, My parents were Jews, Orthodox Jews. Yes, Miss Howell, you’re not the first person who has wanted to ask friendly question to get to know me better. And I’m sure you won’t be the last. Good day Miss Howell.
Catherine: (Reaches out for Ruth’s hand.) You don’t resent me for that, do you?
Ruth: I love you for that. (She kisses Catherine on the forehead.)
Back to the present. (#1) Catherine: (Awakening but confused. She is in pain.) Ruth. (Beat) Ruth?
Ruth: I’m right here.
Catherine: Ruth! (The pain strikes again.) I need to breathe….!
Ruth: Calm. Calm.
Catherine: How long have I been asleep?
Ruth: You just dozed off a bit.
Catherine: Ruth, what happens when we sleep forever?
What happens when we go into that night that has no morning?
Ruth: Nonsense. You read too many novels. There is no forever,
Catherine: But there must be something,
Catherine: Because there must be something else.
Ruth: Isn’t this “else” we’re living in enough? Why would we expect more?
Catherine: Yes, I suppose you’re right. There’s no other “else” I’d rather have than with you.
Ruth: But you don’t really believe that do you?
You’re waiting for your Jesus. For your next world. For your heavenly reward.
(Beat)For you, there is that world.
Catherine No, Ruth. But there must be something else, something unspoken. (Beat) It’s something like my love for you. Something you can’t touch but something that you know is there. I don’t know what it is, but I know that I sense it, that I feel it. It’s like the first moment I saw you. From that moment I loved you. It had no reason. It had no explanation, but it was there. I knew it was there. I saw something in your face. Something in your eyes. Something in every word you spoke. I felt you hand, your touch. I imagined your fingers your lips. I wanted you. All of you. All of you to invade me, to seize me, to embrace ever part if me. I think that is what I expect in the end: something like an eternal embrace where I surrender my whole self to something that holds me and binds me within itself. A place where we finally find rest.
(Ruth embraces Catherine.)
Ruth: Catherine, you are such the romantic. (Beat) I love you so much. (Beat) But that is not what I see.
Catherine: So, for you, there’s nothing else.
Ruth: No, nothing else. Just us. Just here. Just now.
Catherine: You’re so cynical. Kiss me.
The Children’s Hour.
Ruth: Catherine, are you ready? We’re going to be late.
Catherine: I’m coming. I’m coming.
Ruth: This isn’t the opera. A skirt and blouse is fine.
Catherine: You know I want to be properly dressed.
Ruth: Catherine, no one will be looking at you. This is a movie.
Catherine: Still, you never know.
Ruth: Love, you are too much. You think you’re going to run into the Biddles or the Caldwells where we’re going. ( Beat) Don’t think so. Get your Philly aristocrat butt out here.
Catherine: Here I am. Here I am.
Ruth: Ok, let’s go. Get your coat and scarf. It’s cold out there.
Movie Theater Box Office
Ruth: Two please.
Ticket Lady: (Looks at the pair. Assumes the relationship and grunts her disapproval.) ( under her breath) I don’t know what brings youyr kind to see a movie about children.. By the way, the balcony is closed.
Ruth: Does she know what she’s selling tickets for? Does she even know who Hellman is?
Catherine: Ruth, don’t start. Ignore her.
Ruth: (To the ticket lady.) Don’t worry, we won’t hold hands. (Beat) And you should be so lucky.
Inside the theater
Ruth: Are these seats taken? (They take their seats in the chairs already in place.)
Catherine: Still what…? Ruth: Look at how she comes out to Audrey Hepburn (Beat) She sees herself as guilty. She see herself as destroying both their lives. (Beat) Why should she found herself so guilty? (Beat) Guilty of what? Guilty of being who she is, who she loves, who she as any other person should seek some happiness in life?
Catherine: Well, at least Audrey Hepburn walks out alone and with her head held high.
Ruth: But was it the character or was it Audrey Hepburn?
Catherine: Why wouldn’t it be the character? What was her name? (Beat) oh yes, Karen. Why wouldn’t it be Karen.
Ruth: And I must say that for once the man did not take the woman away. And you my love, for once you may have seen below the surface. (Beat) Yes, it may certainly have been Hellman’s character. She , Karen, right? Inside, she knew who she was even though she did not realize it. Why else would she give up James Garner? That’s closer to the truth than anything I’ve ever seen. That is your classic all-girl private school story.
Catherine: You know it’s not like that.
Ruth: Not like what? Are you going to tell me that all these turn of the century women headmistresses from day one weren’t intellectual Sapphos? Look at the history of your own school. Three old maids, unmarried, living with their decrepit and impoverished blue blood father, open a school for proper young women… Please…
Catherine: That’s history. That’s the way things were in those days.
Ruth: History? You’re going to tell me that your present Miss Hownell and her “associate” headmistress are strictly educational partners?
Catherine: It’s not the same.
Ruth: Not the same? What’s not the same?
Catherine It’s not like that. (Beat) I think they know.
Ruth: Who knows?
Catherine: People (Beat) Families.
Ruth: Yeh, they know. They know with every snide chuckle and every wink at their cocktail parties.
Catherine: No, it’s not like that at all.
Ruth: Are you kidding? They snicker and bend over laughing with every mention. But they send their girls because of the name, because they all want the social status, the restricted eliteness that your little girls’ academy offers. (Beat) Catherine, tell me, how many “Jewesses” are in your school? How many colored?
Catherine: (hesitating with a bit of confusion.) I don’t know? (Beat) I don’t know.
Ruth: Catherine…. You are so naïve. But that’s why I love you.
Diagnosis. A short time before the present.
No image. Stark wall.
Nurse: The doctor asked me to speak to you. He felt… he felt considering… your situation
Ruth: Our situation?
Nurse: (quickly) He felt it would be better to hear it from another woman.
I gather you would like me to speak to both of you?
Catherine: Yes, please.
Nurse: This is not an easy situation.
Catherine: Yes, I know.
Nurse: It seems that there has been a progression.
Ruth: Progressed.? How do you mean progressed?
Nurse: It has migrated from the uterus to the lymphnodes and to the kidneys.
Catherine: (Sighs and grabs her waist.)
Nurse; The cancer has progressed to the point where….
Catherine: To the point where there is nothing the doctors can do.
Nurse: I’m afraid not. (Beat) I want to be honest with you. You will want to….
Catherine: …. To prepare?,
Ruth: Are you sure? (Beat) Are you very sure?
Nurse: (nods “yes.”)
(Ruth grabs Catherine’s hand. The Nurse takes a moment to weigh this gesture.)
Catherine: And just how long do you…?
Nurse: The time?
Catherine: The time.
Nurse: Very little I want to be frank with you. Very little.
Catherine: Ruth, hold my hand.
Ruth: I have your hand.
Catherine: Do you have it?
Ruth: Yes, … here it is (Ruth holds up Catherine’s hand.)
Catherine: Hold me.
Ruth: (She embraces Catherine.) I have you, my love. I have you.
Catherine: Ruth, I’m afraid,’
Ruth: Of what? I’m with you,..
Catherine: I don’t know.
Ruth: None of us knows.
Catherine: What if..?
Ruth: There is no “what if.” (Beat) I’m with you now.
Catherine: Hold me. Hold me,. Hold me, I’m afraid.
Ruth: I’m holding you. I’m holding you.
Ruth: I’ll hold you forever,
(Back to the apartment, Catherine in her chair.)
Catherine: Ruth….I’ve never asked you this.
Ruth: Asked me what?
Catherine: Something that I have always wondered about.
Catherine: Something that goes back a long time.
Ruth: Catherine, you’re being obtuse.
Catherine: I don’t know.
Ruth: Catherine, is there anything we cannot say to each other?
Catherine: No, no, of course not. (Beat) But this is something different.
Ruth: Catherine, love, say what you want to say.
Catherine: (After a thoughtful pause then rapidly blurts out..)Have you ever wanted things to turn out differently?
Catherine: I mean about us. (Beat) I mean .... I mean the way were were….are… you and me.
Ruth: Catherine, are you saying what I think you’re saying?
Catherine: I mean … did you ever want to be like other women?
Ruth: Like other women?
Catherine: Other women, women who go with men. Women who marry and have children.
Ruth: (Long pause.) I (Beat) What kind of question is that? Why….?
Catherine: Because I need to know. (Beat) Did you ever..? (Beat) Tell me.
Ruth: (Becoming shaken) Really, Catherine, at this point does it matter?
Catherine: Yes, yes, it does. I know it seems foolish but I want to know. I need to know. (Beat)
I know I did. I wanted to be normal,… to fit in. But I couldn’t fit in with regular woman and I couldn’t fit in with other women. I tried. I searched.
Once, only once, back during prohibition, I went to one of those bars, one of those clubs.
I was terrified. I walked away from the door and walked around the block out of fear. Then I crossed the street and looked over at the women entering. Some alone, some hand in hand. The fear rose so high it closed my throat. I was lost in the tangle and confusion. I knew that the world was not mine but nor could I be a part of sliding in side-alley doors, hiding in dark bars. Then I thought about the service, the WACS , I thought I might find someone there, but in the end I cowered. I was afraid. I was afraid of everyone and everything until that afternoon in the antique shop.
I need to know Ruth. I need to know. Was it the same for you?
Ruth: (Turning away from Catherine in frustration. Ruth begins to sob.)
Catherine: (Approaching Ruth and turning her about) Please.
Ruth: (Breaking down in tears.) Yes, yes, I did. I would be lying if I said I didn’t.
I was young. I was so alone. I wanted to fit it. I wanted to share boyfriend stories with the other girls. I wanted to share their jokes. I wanted to be interested in dresses and make-up and hair styles. I tried so hard to be like them. But the more I tried the more it hurt. The more I knew that I was different. The closer I tried to be to the others the further away I was drifting. (Beat) I wanted it so much I let a boy I met take me. (Beat) But afterwards….afterwards, I was disgusted with myself. Disgusted for what I had done, disgusted with who I was. I wanted to put an end to it all, to the pain, to end the loneliness, to end who I was. (She clutches Catherine to her.) Yes, I wanted to be like them. Yes, I did. But I’ve shut those days away. I went on living with myself, with who I am. I’ve not thought about times in years. But you’ve sent me back, back to a past I’ve chosen to forget. There is only one moment in the past that I cherish: the moment that we met.
When I saw you that afternoon, I was so taken. I thought to myself, what a lovely, delicate girl.
You looked at the tea cup with such gentle lovingness. I knew that for you it was more than just a cup, more than just some antique piece
I knew then, I knew at that moment. Your smile. Your white skin like the porcelain of the cup I held in my hand. When you touched the cup and asked if I would part with it, my heart knew. I watched your fingers. I watched how lightly they moved across the rim. The cup vanished. As I passed it to you your hands touched mine But it was you I wanted to touch. Yes, I knew. I knew without question.
Selfish? Perhaps. Without another person, self has no meaning. You are my meaning. You are everything that shapes me. Everything that gives meaning. Everything that makes me who I am.
That moment was something of a dawn. A moment in life when there is a certain clarity, a certain vision where for once it all makes sense. Because of you Catherine, I know who I am. (Beat) I know who I am.
Catherine: (Embracing Ruth.) Ruth, Ruth, Please. I didn’t mean to drag up old memories. I didn’t mean to hurt you. (Beat)
It was selfish of me to ask. But I suppose I haven’t been able to shut those times behind me. They are still with me every day. As much as I love you. As much as I cherish our every moment together, that ghost of the past still haunts me. I needed to know …. I needed to know that I wasn’t alone… (Beat) Oh, Ruth, I love you so much. So much. You have given me the life that I have always wanted deep inside me. A life that we can share alone.
(Ruth embraces Catherine.)
We are in the past. (Image #5)
Audio: Gregorian Chant, Hebrew Chant
(A split screen. One side the interior of a church showing a statue of Mary, the other side the bema of a synagogue.
As the Hebrew chant begins Ruth slowly moves forward:
Catherine in front of Mary. Ruth in front of the bema. They face the audience.)
Ruth: Mamma, I have to tell you.
Catherine: Oh Holy Mother, who can I talk to?
Voice of Ruth’s Mother: What are you saying? This is ridiculous.
Ruth: Mamma, I’m trying to tell you…
Voice: You’re too young. You’ll find a nice young man.
Ruth: Mamma, I don’t want a nice young man.
Catherine: O holy mother make this all go away.
What is this inside me?
Ruth: I’ve read, I’ve studied.
I can find no answer.
Voice of Ruth’s mother: Shameful. A disgrace.
Ruth: But Mama, I’m burning in loneliness.
Catherine: I burning in loneliness
Help me Mary.
Voice: In Talmud it says…
Ruth: In Talmud it says nothing.
Voice: What do you know of Talmud. You’re a woman.
Ruth: Mama. I’ve studied Talmud on my own. I’ve poured over page after page; commentary after commentary/Talmud says nothing.
Voice: Then in Torah…
Ruth: Not a word. Mama, I know Torah. I’ve study it again and again.
Voice: Nonsense. What do you know? Are you a Rebbi?
Ruth: I am like Ruth, the Ruth you named me for wandering in a world I do not know.
Ruth: Like Ruth, a stranger.
Catherine: What is the answer?
Ruth: Like Ruth, I do not belong.
Catherine: Why do I not look for a man?
Is there someone else?
Or is it you who wants me?
Ruth: Do you remember Mama,
Do you remember the scripture?
It is Naomi who accepts Ruth.
It is Naomi whom Ruth loves.
Where is my Naomi?
Where is the woman who loves me?
Voice: It’s unnatural I’m telling you. Unnatural.
Catherine: Who am I to love?
Ruth: Who am I to love?
Catherine: Why am I alone?
Ruth: Why am I alone?
Are you calling me to you?
Voice: You’re not my daughter.
Ruth: Then, I can’t stay.
Voice: And I can’t have you in this house. __________________________________________________
The Present (Image #1)DOOR BELL RINGS
Ruth: (To herself.) Now, who can that be?
(Ruth goes to the door.)
Beth, what brings you here?
Beth: (She is here on business.) (To Ruth) Good Afternoon.
Is Aunt Catherine….
Ruth: She’s been sleeping off and on. She probably can’t hear you.
Beth: May I speak to you alone?
Ruth: She can’t hear us. She’s asleep now.
Beth: Listen, Let me tell you from the start that I have no interest in being here.
This is a family matter.
Ruth: Yes, I understand. The insurance. Well, everything is covered.
Beth: No, it’s not the insurance. That’s not my concern.
I’m here for two things.
First, we all know that my aunt has little time remaining.
I’m here to talk about the arrangements.
Ruth: The arrangements?
Beth: The funeral.
Ruth: You’re here to talk about a funeral for a woman you see only once or twice a year.
Beth: Believe me, if I were making the decision I’d leave you to your own devices. I’m doing this for my mother.
Ruth: But your mother barely speaks to your Aunt.
Beth: She still feels some responsibility. Guilt of some sort, although I can’t image what my mother should feel guilty about. It’s just her native kindness.
But you can’t fool me. I’m not a sheltered and naïve delicacy. I know about you and your kind. I know what you do. You snare young innocent girls and drag them into the dark alleys of your perversions. You did this to my aunt. She was a sweet woman, kind and thoughtful. You and your kind have seduced her, reduced her, shut her away from all Christian decency.
And there’s another thing.
The tea set.
Ruth: What about the tea set?
Beth: The set belongs to the family. They were a gift to Aunt Catherine from my great grandfather.
Ruth: You want to take the tea set? (Beat) Do you know what that means to us…? (Correcting herself) to your Aunt?
Beth: It’s a very valuable set. Meissen if I’m not mistaken.
Ruth: You want to take it from her in these last…..
Beth: No. I don’t want it now. But be sure that it doesn’t “disappear” when my aunt goes.
Beth: (firmly) The set is not yours. It belongs to the family.
Ruth: I can assure you. The tea set will not “disappear.”
Beth: Very good. I’ll be back to pick it up.
Oh, and there is one more very important thing.
The funeral will be for family only.
Do you understand what I am saying?
Ruth: ….for family only.
Beth: You do understand.
Ruth: Yes, I understand.
Beth: Thank you for your time. Remember…. family.
Ruth: … family.
(Ruth paces. She goes to the morphine. She looks at Catherine. Ruth checks the amount of the drug in the vile. She sits to think. There is a long pause.)
(Catherine is taken again by pain. She awakens suddenly.)
Catherine: Ruth. Ruth.
Ruth: I’m here.
Catherine: Ruth. How much longer?
(Catherine moves in pain.) Ruth!
(Ruth rushes to administer the morphine)
(Ruth caresses Catherine’s brow)
Ruth: Catherine, You know the bible.
(As she gently strokes Catherine’s head.)
Do you remember this passage?
And Ruth said to Naomi,
“Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee:
for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge:
thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:
Where thou diest, will I die, (Ruth kisses Catherine.)
and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.”
Catherine. (Beat) Catherine, you know how much I love you.
Catherine: (very feeble) Yes.
Ruth: I know how much you love me.
(Catherine touches Ruth on the cheek.)
Ruth: Catherine…… Catherine,
(Catherine again in a bout of pain.)
(Ruth rushes to administer another dose of morphine.)
Ruth; Catherine. Don’t stay because of me.
Catherine: I don’t want to leave you.
Ruth: Catherine. You can leave. I want you to know that you can go.
(Beat) Can you hear me, Love?
(Catherine nods slightly.)
Ruth: I have the record you wanted.
I’ll play it for you.
I know which one you love most.
Catherine: (rising slightly) you know …
Ruth: Of course I know.
Catherine: (weakly) Ruth….. I love you.
(Ruth considers the morphine again. She knows that this does will be fatal. She administers the morphine.)