• Callum Holgate

The Boy In The Well

SCENE The Bottom of The Well

The stage is dark. THE BOY lights a candle, illuminating his face briefly. He is sat, cross legged in the centre of the stage. The stage lights come up, dimmed.


THE BOY

Dance, weak flame, and with you Drip another drop of wax upon my finger; Course and calloused. Pricked and bloodied.

He stands and gestures to the confinement of the walls.

Candlelight, be you a signal of morn, Or perhaps another darkened sky? Alas, I wish but a crack of daylight would bless My matted locks. Yet, alone I stand With no chance of sun-kissed flesh, Or the scent of morning bread. Only companion in this suff’ring You, dear Candlelight, And the fruits of my day labours, All of whom lay scattered, Waiting for deliverance.


He picks up a teddy at his feet. It is ragged and imperfect. He holds its face to his ear.


Pah!


He discards the bear.


You are no companion of mine. You are nought more than a bastard child, A feckless whelp brought about by needle and twine, Blood and cross-stitch. Your button eyes serve no purpose for sight, And your mouth is but a zig-zag Of needlework…. My needlework…


He stoops to pick up the bear.


Yet… You have her eyes.


The sound of a metal cover grates. A spotlight appears from above THE BOY. MOTHER’s voice is heard off-stage.


MOTHER

Are you awake, Boy? Lay not dormant again at my call, Else the bread shall be coarser still.


THE BOY (His voice is notably louder when talking to MOTHER)

Mother, I heed your call, Worry not. The bears are complete again. Five in total, as you requested.


He hurriedly picks up the scattered bears around his feet.


MOTHER

Good.


A wooden bucket attached to a rope is slowly lowered down from the ceiling to where the boy is stood. A creaky lever sound is heard.


THE BOY places the bears within the bucket, pauses with his hands touching the rim, and turns to the audience.


THE BOY

Again, the fifth day comes, and pail descends, And with it rings the call of the broodmare, This knotted rope to me it is whip And the splintered oak, it is a home. Farewell sweet bastard children I have wrought From scrap of cloth and stitched with bloodied hand, I place them now, into this pail: their grave, And send them up to that forsaken land.


Though, ‘tis the land she roams so surely dark? For in it stands a hundred stitched bears, All brought about by my two beaten palms. Their button eyes that hold a fortune bright, Yet in me stir up something without light, Shall stare into the eyes of children there. Yes, sheer joy is within this stitched bear.


Among the children, all with stitched bear, I know that, I their maker, better fares. Why bears feel human love, but I have none? Their hands are held and round and round are spun, Yet I within this stony cage create What to others joy, brings creator only hate? I beseech you bear, allow me to take place, Beside your brothers, in your oaken tomb, Replace me here, so creator he may face The woman who hath create him from her womb, And throw her down this hole he’s trapped within Never to send needle-thread again.


Perhaps if I were in this pail to climb, A chance is made to end this sheltered life, The rope, the whip, it pulls me from the brine, Nary again to wake to Candlelight. Yes! This pail it is my guiding light, A life-raft from these stony walls so tight, A chance to fool the broodmare, perhaps I might. Alas, I am not as stitched bear so light.


He places his leg inside the bucket and grasps the rope. There is a clear tension.


MOTHER

Boy, your simple tricks will fool me not! Remove yourself from the pail, Else your food be left above ground.

THE BOY holds on.

THE BOY Beginning to weep

Mother, each day I knit a bear from the scraps you send, And each day I prick my fingers in the dark. The Candlelight is my only friend, And the bread you send scratches my throat.

MOTHER

Silence, Boy! Else I shall leave your food above ground For a fortnight. And you, frail as you are, Will wilt further still.


THE BOY lets go and the rope is pulled to the surface.


I shall return, boy. Don’t think your deviance shall go untested.


The metal cover is heard. The spotlight disappears. THE BOY sits, weeping. Dim light illuminates his face.


THE BOY

Such dalliances are fun in the mind, Yet in their truth are naught but bitter dreams. I’ll nary hear the sweet chirp of a friend. That broodmare is the only voice I’ll know.


THE BOY sews.


After a moment, the metal covering grates. The spotlight shines though. THE BOY flinches. A younger voice is heard.


THE GIRL

Hello? Are you the boy that lives inside the well? I’ve heard this is your home, and come to speak. The boys in school tell of the boy in the well, Whose bears he makes for his mum to sell, Forgive me for coming to your home. I only wish to know if you are true.


THE BOY looks up briefly. Opens his mouth as if to speak but remains silent.


If what the boys say has any truth, I thought I’d bring a gift I made for you. Thank you for the bears that you’ve stitched, The one I have has been my greatest friend.


The bucket lowers. It stops just behind THE BOY. He remains sitting. The metal grating is heard. The spotlight disappears.

THE BOY waits, arises in the dark, goes to the bucket, removes something and sits down again. He holds it up to his ear in the candle light. It is a hastily-knitted bear.


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