A single spotlight turns on and focuses on a young woman sitting in a chair near the front of the stage.
She is wearing a black dress and clutching a bundle wrapped in a small pink blanket. She looks up, and begins to speak.
She’s a wonderful child. She used to fuss a lot, but I never minded it. Now she’s quiet all the time. The perfect child.
I always wanted the perfect family. You know, husband, wife, two kids, small white picket fence, maybe a dog. I thought I had it all when I met Devon. He was so beautiful, so kind, and so invincible. The first time we went out I knew – knew that he was the one. I got that special tickle in my stomach, you know, that little sign? So I didn’t argue when he wanted to have sex the first time, or the second, or the third.
Everyone I knew was worrying about AIDS tests and safe sex, stuff like that, but I never did. I mean, I was in a steady relationship, with Superman, for God’s sake. I figured we were totally safe. After six months, I got pregnant. I was so happy! My dreams were all coming true. But when I told Devon, he wasn’t as enthused. He got really pale. He kept asking ‘Are you sure? Could the tests be wrong.’ (laughs bitterly)
That should have been a big sign. He wanted my to get an abortion – to kill my baby! He said it would be better for all of us. But I couldn’t do that, I couldn’t.
(clutches her bundle tightly to her chest and looks down)
Devon left after that. But I still had my baby; it was a part of me, a part of him. My own little creation. (pauses) I used to sit for hours, singing to the baby inside me and dreaming what she (I always wanted a little girl) would be like. She would have my eyes, my hair, my nose, but Devon’s mouth, his sense of humor, his invulnerability. The doctor’s tests showed that she was developing fine -My own little wonder woman. (pauses)
Lily was born on January 26, 1996. She was so beautiful. For the first few hours, all I could do was look at her, marvel at her little toes, her sweet expression, her utter perfectness. I didn’t even want to breastfeed her; I was afraid I’d goof it up. My sister, hell, everyone told me I should breastfeed her…they said it would be better for her teeth, that she would be healthier (laughs bitterly) Yeah. Best for her. But it was beautiful. I felt we had a bond, you know? She was my little one, and I loved our special time. When she was three months old, she started to get sick. I thought that maybe she just had a cold, something harmless. At first, the doctor couldn’t figure what was wrong with her. Lily was subjected to test after test, her poor little body poked and prodded.
(She clutches her bundle to her, stroking it gently)
(speaking to it) My poor baby…(she trails off, then looks up sharply.)
Finally, the doctor suggested an AIDS test. But that was ridiculous. They’d given me one when I first got pregnant…It was negative. There was no way my sweet baby had HIV…but she did. Superman had his weakness, Kryptonite, and I guess Devon’s was HIV. (looks off into space) Funny, how a little tiny bug could bring down a hulk like him. He said his last girlfriend had given it to him – she didn’t think he was special enough. Only he forgot to pass along the information on his little “problem” to me. I guess that was why he didn’t want me to have Lily. The fucker.
I gave my baby a part of me – one I wish I hadn’t. (looks down at her bundle) Yes, sweetheart, mummy gave you the greatest gift of all...the plague. (looks up)
The doctors gave her a few years, at most. The latest drugs, all those alphabet letters, couldn’t be given to her, except intravenously. And her poor veins were so small; it was hard to give them to her. I was given a longer sentence. I would live to see Lily die. Oh joy, just what every mother wants. I had to stop breastfeeding her…my milk was poison, liquid death. I just wish I had known that earlier. All of that stuff: incubation periods, ways of contracting HIV, the stuff they taught in high school, I had ignored. After all, it couldn’t happen tome. (raises her hand to her head)
God, how wrong I was. I thought maybe she’d be okay, you know, live long enough for them to find a cure. But then she got sick. Pneumonia, the doctor said. Not much we can do. Not like the prick really tried. But I knew she’d get through it. I knew…
A man enters from stage left. He is dressed in a somber gray suit. He bends down to her eye level. He is lighted as well, but the rest of the stage remains in darkness.
I need to take the baby now, miss. It’s time.
He puts his hands out but she clutches her bundle closer to her chest.
No! You can’t take her away from me…We’re all each other have. Who will take care of her?
The man pries the bundle from her arms, and the rest of the stage lights up. Rows of chairs are set up, with people in somber morning clothes seated in them. A tiny coffin is in the center of the stage. The man walks over to the coffin and places the bundle inside. The woman follows him, still trying to touch her baby.
Don’t worry, sweetie, I won’t let anything happen to you.
She goes to the edge of the coffin, and looks down at it. She begins to cry softly. Two men in dark suits come up on either side of her and take her arms. As they lead her away, she speaks.
I’m sorry, Lily, I’m so sorry…so sorry…..so sorry……..
She exits, and blackness descends.