Old Wife’s Tale
A Dramatic Monologue
Published in Monologues Selected from Playwrights Union of Canada 1996-1997 International Monologue Competition (PUC Play Service) First Chapbook Publication 1998
Exerpt from A Song After Living© 1997 Douglas Hill
SCENE: Maternity ward waiting room, 1963. Door opens, agonized yelling off, as Madeleine enters.
Madeleine: (Enter, to sit near a nervous young man, and knit.) Your first? Well, I just come up from seein’ my daughter. She’s havin’ her third — without anaesthesia. Allergic, you know. They took her downstairs, she was makin’ so much noise. You go into that stairwell over there, you’ll hear her screamin’. You’d think with it bein’ her third and all it’d be faster this time. Somethin’ wrong there. My third was just like squattin’ for a shit.
See him? That’s Dr. Hamilton. Fixed my varicross veins. Awful. Like havin’ a dog gnaw your leg all the time. Like worms crawlin’ all down the back of my thighs, here. Not pretty. Ruins a woman’s body havin’ all them kids, you know. My daughter, now. Gets these awful cramps — bleeds like a stuck pig, too. I go to her place, she’s got the curse, well I just turn around and leave, believe you me — and labour cramps — somethin’ wrong with her plumbin’ if you ask me. Hear her just then, when they opened the door? But you’re a new young father-to-be, I’ll bet — with enough on your mind.
Strange how many babies are born on the full moon, though. All mine, all my daughter’s. There: when the door opened? That’s her, screamin’ her vocal cords out. Her last — little Hector — almost died on the table. Two and a half now; had the chicken pox last summer: face like a can of worms — and the diaper area, well you wouldn’t want to see that. I have a snapshot of it somewheres. Anyways, he almost died at birth. Umbilical around the neck. Baby blue as that ashtray over there, without a word of a lie. I think it’s kind of stupid as a result, but you can’t tell her that. My last was Cesarian, you know. Stitches from here to here. Scar so big and red and jagged my husband hates to look at me naked any more. Calls me Scar Belly. You’d laugh! But he don’t seem to mind me in the dark! Awful toll on a woman’s body, though.
Dr. Hamilton. My, my. Good doctor. Cured my neighbour of a boil on her forehead, size of your eyeball. Had to lance it. Squirted across the room. Fountain o’ puss. You look kinda pale. Why don’t you get up and walk or somethin’? Help you get your breathin’ goin’. Well. Better see how my daughter’s comin’ along. Could be hours. Nice talkin’ to you. Hope it comes out all right. I can still hear her screamin’. But I guess I should go down. Wish I could stay and keep you cheered up, you look like you need it. But I’d better go. Remember, do as I do: always look on the bright side. See you. (Screaming off, as Madeleine opens the door.) That’s her. (Exit.)