Constance…from Goodnight Desdemona

Constance…from Goodnight Desdemona

Modern – Women

By Anne-Marie Macdonald(Coach House Press:26-28)

(Toward the end of Act I, sc.i: Professor Claude Night has just departed.)

CONSTANCE: Regina. I hate the prairies. They’re flat. It’s an absolute nightmare landscape of absolutes and I’m a relativist, I’ll go mad.Diamond’s are a girl’s best friend. Diamonds are harder than a bed of nails. I can’t feel anything. I’m perfectly fine. I’ll call the dean and resign. I’ll go back to my apartment and watch the plants die and let the cats copulate freely. I’ll order in groceries. Eventually I’ll be evicted. I’ll smell really bad and swear at people on the subway. Five years later I run into Professor Night and Ramona: they don’t recognize me. I’m selling pencils. They buy one. Suddenly I drop dead. They discover my true identity. I’m awarded my doctorate posthumously. Professor Night dedicates his complete works to me and lays roses on my gave everyday. My stone bears a simple epithet: ‘O what a noble mind is here o’erthrown.’…There’s no time to lose. I have to start right now if I’m going to sink that low in five years.[grabs phone, dials] Hello, give me the office of the Dean!…Oh yes, I’ll hold. [while holding she surveys the objects on her desk, picks them up one by one, addresses them then tosses them into the waste basket] The bronze wings that my Brownie pack gave me [reads inscription]’To the best brown owl in the forest.’ I flew up more girls than any Brown Owl other than Lady Baden Powell. [toss. picks up a jar that contains something like an anchovy] My appendix. It was removed in the summer of love when the rest of my family went to Expo ’67. The doctor gave it to me in this baby food jar. He thought it would cheer me up. It did. [toss. takes the plumed fountain pen from behind her ear] The fountain pen I made from my parakeet, Laurel. She used to sing ‘Volare.’ She fell five stories and died instantly. [goes to toss it away, but cannot bear to do so. She places it behind her ear where it stays for the rest of the play. Picks up the manuscript] And this–my fool’s gold. Silent mocking oracle. I’ll do the world a favour.[Constance goes to toss it in the waste basket but her gesture is suddenly arrested in midair and she stares, spellbound at the inscription on the cover. She blinks and tries to focus, as though the inscription were swimming before her eyes with a disorienting effect. Constance reads the inscription aloud: ]

‘You who possess the eyes to see / this strange and wondrous alchemy, / where words transform to vision’ry, / where one plus two makes one, not three; / open this book if you agree / to be illusion’s refugee / and of return no guarantee- / unless you find your true identity. / And discover who the author be.’

[Constance hesitates for a moment then opens the Manuscript. Its three pages fall out and down into the waste basket. Constance stops and reaches into the waste basket to retrieve the pages. Suddenly her arm jerks downward; she is being pulled down into the waste basket–‘Warp effects’—she is nowhere to be seen]

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