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My mother used to come home on Sundays. She lived away with a family. The Petersons. My grandmother used to tell me she was the gift we got given from praying all Sunday morning. I would stand at the top of the dirt road, waiting for Mr. Peterson to bring my mother home and stood there the same when he picked her up. I’d watch them drive away, my memories of her trailing behind the tumbling dust. She came home with things no longer needed by her girls; white dresses with ruffles, the softest leather loafers, sacks of satin ribbons, beautiful things I hated, loathed. I could smell my mother on those clothes right alongside those girls - the lingering scent, the stench of the years she gave loving them  - they were her girls. I was just what she came back to. Am I still breathing? Grandmother raised me and Granddaddy died early on, so it was always just us two; a family of one old woman and a young girl, always real quiet. Real quiet. Quiet except for when my daddy came around, hooting, hollering. “Where’s my Joie? Y’all keeping her from me? Where's my Joie? Where’s my joy.” Where’s my joy? He was always this tangled figure that would appear; his legs twisted, his arms dangling. Grandmother never let me come outside, said he was all mixed up. He was shook all right. Broke his spirit over on in Europe, and then broke his own heart over my mother having to provide for us, that she had to work for us, for them. All I knew of him was framed by looking through that window, out at this crumbled man

EVE Quiet


MIRIAM At last 


EVE On this dead end


MIRIAM A miracle


EVE You love to hate it


MIRIAM The dead end’s soundtrack 


EVE Of train cars 


MIRIAM Screeching 


EVE Of work crews  


MIRIAM Building  


EVE You hate to love it


MIRIAM The round the clock, backdrop 


EVE Of fast cars 


MIRIAM Roaring 


EVE And the people?


MIRIAM Screaming!


EVE For quiet…at last 


MIRIAM Quiet to listen to your own heartbeat


EVE Like out on the road, nothing but sky and asphalt ahead of you 


MIRIAM What’s it like?...


EVE Like a taste of freedom. So sweet you savor it 


MIRIAM Before it comes to an end 


EVE Too soon, so fast


MIRIAM Like laying here


EVE Quiet at last

A Portrait 

Eve & Miriam 

Dialogue Act I 

In development at 

Central Works Theater

BOUGÉE (It is a memory she doesn’t share or recollect, and that pains her, so she starts to pace the room again. ) 


Tight quarters here. For a woman. A man. And all their things…


FORD Mother…


BOUGEE What? It’s suffocatingly small 


COCO M I’ve always liked it that way 


BOUGÉE I just know Sidney likes to sprawl out, that’s all… liked


COCO M We had some adjusting to do at first, trust me. But eventually, we got it down 


BOUGÉE And the music people? Le Roy and the rest? Did they come in here too? You entertained with all them clowns? 


FORD Mother, I don’t think she’s invited us here for an interrogation/ 


BOUGÉE No one’s cross examining. Just trying to piece this all together. It’s funny to me. You see. I cooked. I cleaned. Did he make you cook?


COCO M I don’t particularly like to, 


BOUGÉE Don’t particularly like to...Well, I didn’t particularly like to 

either. But I did. Seventeen years. I cooked. I cleaned. I washed. Raising this here, son. What was my thank you? 


FORD Perhaps we should be leaving/


BOUGÉE All I asked? None of that noise under my roof. That group changed him right in front of my eyes. That noise is nothing to bring a boy up with. No boy to turn into no man at least 


COCO M You both were so young 


BOUGÉE Young! Young ain’t nothing but yesterday and yesterday’s been 

long gone. Sidney walked right out the door with young 


COCO M I’m not saying he’s without fault/


BOUGÉE My maker’ll be the judge of that!


COCO M You just have to let it go. Today. You have to. Why carry it around


BOUGÉE “This is why I weep and my eyes overflow with tears. No one is near to comfort me. No one to restore my spirit”


FORD Mother, why don’t you sit down 


BOUGÉE You know the worst part of it all?...(Her attention is caught)...What’s this? 

(Picking the sheet off the music stand, her eyes trace the page with fire in them. 

The NARRATOR exits hastily)


COCO M Put that back 


BOUGÉE (Her voice picks up laughter, growing louder) Snake never lost his rattle!

FORD Mother!


Act I 

Bougee, Coco and Ford 


ZORA She was there! The way she manned the delivery guys up the freight? Jesus! And then on the day of? What was it? Oh, Zora, my alarm clock never rang! One, we very well know you don’t own any clocks because you’re never on time. Two! The event doors don’t even open till seven! At night! 


MARK Tonight will be different! She’s really been looking forward to this. We all have


ZORA So of course I’m left to run headless in circles, big fake smile on my face, making my rounds to reassure everyone the time on their programs is indeed not a misprint


MARK Here we go


ZORA Yes it started at seven, yes we are late. Of course, by then the buzzards are already full steam ahead, plowing through the hors d’oeuvres, you know, the leech-patrons that attend every year, suck the cater waiter dry, and leave us blank checks at the end of the 

night, and not the kind of blank checks you want, if you know what I mean


MARK Penny pinchers


ZORA I’m scurrying past the ring of pearls, and old miss makes a comment like, black people…they’re just never on time. In my gallery, cleaning out my trays and I couldn't even be mad! Black people can’t ever be on time. Thank you Miriam Nelson, she keeps that one alive and well for the rest of us


MARK Oh, Zora  


ZORA She does it all by herself! 


MARK A lot’s changed. Give her a chance


ZORA Sure has! I lost my job! 


MARK You didn’t lose your job, stop saying that 


ZORA That’s right. Even worse! They asked me to move and I chose home. I threw it away, like every housewife 


MARK You’re not a housewife 

ZORA She says, I’ve lost sight of my dreams, can no longer recognize them, let alone find them, he says you didn’t lose it, search a little harder. She says, I see my days in waste in this house, in more permanence than I see my name carved into any placard on any door or desk, he says at least you got your baby! She says, my mind is slowly losing function! It runs itself tirelessly in circles, like a winged spirit in a cage, trapped! Yet he says, you’re not imprisoned, you have all you need, just look around 


MARK You’re no housewife, honey!


ZORA You know how many of us have shouted this from the top of our very lungs? How many of us will shout for years to come?


MARK You aren't a housewife 


ZORA Yeah, yeah, yeah. How do I look?

He called me Little Girl. A title he never deserved to utter. A title so cruel in its contradictions because of the lips from which they were spoken. Mommies and daddies call their jewels little girl, promising a world of hopes and dreams, and better things, but he and I, that was not our kin. Nine years between us so he titled me, appropriately, Little Girl. Just that. Infant to his Mighty. The only time the title was stripped, was when I too was naked, laying bare in his arms with his fingertips pressed deep enough, leaving on me, in the small of my back, the foul prints of his 

thumbs. My eyes were young but my thighs were not so little. At sixteen. He bought his way, caressing me with his lies. Only then was I, Ms. Sexy. 

A Portrait

Act II



In development at 

Central Works Theater

A Portrait

Act II

Zora and Mark


In development at 

Central Works Theater

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