Bones Under the Magnolia Tree

 

by Maya Gelting

 

 

A five minute play

Cast of Characters 

MINA:                  Nineteen. 

 

JEREMY:                Late forties. 

Setting:           A graveyard behind a small, southern church. Gravestones litter the ground, from brand new to old as sin. Two benches sit back to back. 

 

At Rise: JEREMY sits on the left, relaxed. MINA enters Right and makes a beeline for one of the new gravestones without pausing.

  MINA

One more thing! Why couldn’t you have pulled this a year earlier, when we were all home? Why did you have to wait until I was gone, I mean, Jesus Christ, Dad, you didn’t tell me anything. And should I pencil you in for a weekly meeting? Here we are again, on a (checks phone) Wednesday evening, four hours from my apartment because (pointedly) somebody doesn’t know when to just give up! 

     

The world’s not full of poetry. It’s full of shit. I hate it here. And I always know what you would’ve said. Tonight, it’s      ‘Oh, on nights like these, baby girl, the Spanish moss whispers susurrous secrets and the air sticks to your skin like a lost desire.’ You know what I think? It’s just hot. And sticky. 

 

JEREMY

What got him? 

(Without turning around, he motions her to sit down. She does, so they are back to back.) 

 

MINA 

Nothing special. 

 

JEREMY

So sorry for your loss. 

MINA (rehearsed- her customer service voice) 

The family appreciates your support during this difficult time. 

 

JEREMY (after a moment) 

Can hear you thinking up in South Carolina.

 

MINA 

(slipping back into her Southern accent) 

Reckon they can. 

 

JEREMY 

What about? 

 

MINA

He always said, “I’ve seen bones. Over on the side of the road, after the flies and the crows have picked them clean, until they gleam like new silver. That’s where we’re all going.”

 

JEREMY

And I reckon bones and magnolia petals are painted in the same color. 

 

MINA

Guess God ran out of clean  paintbrushes. 

 

JEREMY

And you have to bury something with the seed, or the roots won’t take. 

 

MINA

So bury me under the magnolia tree. And yet here we are, with a brand new gravestone. 

 

JEREMY 

If a man don’t do enough in his lifetime to make a mark, no reason to make sure his grave does. 

 

MINA

I believe my father’s archeologist husband would disagree. 

(JEREMY chuckles.) 

Feels like someone scooped out my insides with a melon baller. 

 

JEREMY

 

Sounds painful. 

 

MINA

It’s not, not really. Just—numb. Like someone emptied out all my insides and replaced them with a glass vase, one of the pretty ones, with a pink bow on the neck. And I keep trying to push my face against the glass, leave a smudge or something, but I just can’t make a mark. It’s still pristine. Like nothingness. I should have come home earlier. 

 

JEREMY

And done what? 

 

MINA

I could have been with him longer, I could have made sure he wasn’t alone. The walls in that room were too white and clean for any love to stick to them. They asked if I wanted to leave, they said I should leave.

 

JEREMY

Who? 

 

MINA

The nurse. She said it was normal, it was better not to be there when they flipped it off, that he wouldn’t know. But he did. I know he did. And I wasn’t there. In all them stories he told there was an angel that took folks off to heaven. But there’s not. Just a space, about this tall. 

     (She holds up a hand even to the top of her head.) 

 

JEREMY

It’s over now, baby girl. 

 

MINA (a revelation) 

Dad? 

(She starts to turn around. He stops her.) 

Dad, I’m sorry, I wasn’t back to say goodbye. I’m sorry I wasn’t home more. I’m sorry I forgot to make you a Father’s Day card and- 

 

JEREMY

Take a deep breath, baby girl. 

 

MINA

 

Daddy, do you forgive me? 

 

JEREMY

Don’t matter now. All that matters is if you forgive yourself. 

 

MINA

It can’t be over! That can’t be it! There’s so much more left, it’s not fair! 

 

JEREMY 

It’s time to say goodbye, baby. 

 

MINA

Daddy, I miss you. 

 

JEREMY 

Put some of my ashes under the magnolia tree.

 

MINA

I will. I promise. Dad, please, I- 

(She finally turns around. He is gone.) 

I love you. 

(Lights dim. We hear JEREMY singing his favorite hymn, softly. Lights up on a huge magnolia tree in MINA’s back yard. JEREMY sits under the tree, to the left. MINA enters with her journal and sits down on the right. She rips out a page, then begins to read it aloud.) 

Hi Dad. We’re selling the house. We found your wedding pictures. I hope you’re just as happy, gathering up sunlight. Sometimes I think I can hear you. The way the leaves rattle together in the wind reminds me of you, somehow. Stubborn. We’re going up to Maine. I hope you like evergreens, too.  You always said you’d find your way up through the roots until you got out to the magnolia blossoms, and you could see the sun again. I hope you like it up there. 

(She places the letter carefully under the tree. She looks directly at JEREMY, and they make eye contact for the first time in the play.) 

Goodbye, Daddy. 




END

 

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