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It is Christmas time in Colorado. A teenage girl that looks to be about 15, Rain, has just lost her mother to a heart attack. She is alone and has no family left. Rain is recalling a conversation that she had with a social worker. There is a spotlight on Rain as she sits on a couch with a book on her lap. The scenery around her is black. Voices echo as Rain replays the conversation in her head.
VOICEOVER 1: (serious, yet compassionate, ghostly tone, as if from a memory) Ms. McMillan (pause) your mother suffered from a heart attack an hour ago. The paramedics did everything that they could…
RAIN’S VOICE: (shocked, ghostly, as if from a memory) Is she okay?
VOICEOVER 1: (sighs, compassionate, ghostly) Oh sweetie, she… didn’t make it. (RAIN releases a small gasp) I’m so sorry.
RAIN’S VOICE: (shocked, upset, worried, ghostly) What’s going to happen? Where will I go? (pause)
VOICEOVER 1: (caring tone, ghostly) We’re going to move you to a foster home until other arrangements can be made. (pause, compassionate) It’s only temporary. Don’t worry, sweetie. They’ll take good care of you. (voice fades)
(Lights come up on the rest of the stage. We see a brightly lit Christmas tree. KARLA stands by the tree, hanging ornaments. RAIN sits on the couch with a book on her lap. She looks pale and has a cold expression. There is a nightstand with a drawer by the couch. After a moment, a young girl of about 10, KIM, skips onto the stage in a dress.
KIM: (runs up and hugs KARLA, happily) Hi momma!
KARLA: (happily) Hi sweetie.
KIM: (glances quickly at RAIN, not as enthusiastically) Hi Rain. (RAIN briefly glances at KIM, her expression is cold.)
KARLA: (forcing a smile) Now, Kimmy, let’s be nice to our guest.
KIM: (rolls eyes, sighs) She’s so quiet momma. And weird. Why does she have to –
KARLA: (interrupts KIM, serious, yet her voice is not raised) Kimberly! Our guest has only been here for a week. Give her some time, and she’ll warm up to us. (pauses) Now, go up to your room and get to sleep. Tomorrow’s Christmas.
(RAIN watches as KIM runs offstage, a bit disappointed)
KARLA: (after a moment, calmly and kindly, looks at RAIN) Sorry about her, dearie. She’s not used to the whole “foster home” idea. (no response from RAIN) She’ll get used to it. (hopeful, smiling) Would you like anything to eat? We’ve got potatoes and turkey and –
RAIN: (does not make eye contact with KARLA, blankly) No.
KARLA: (taken aback, but still calm) Is there anything you’d like?
RAIN: (cold expression, looks a bit ashamed) No… what I want you can’t give me.
KARLA: Sweetie, I know it’s hard. When I lost my mom, I was heartbroken and I can’t imagine what –
RAIN: (interrupts KARLA) I realize what you’re trying to do… but I’d like to be alone right now.
KARLA: (sighs, disappointed) Well… (comes up and touches RAIN’s shoulder) good night, dearie. (walks offstage)
RAIN: (after a brief pause, she looks to see if anyone is coming, then she sets her book down and walks over to the nightstand, opens the drawer, and retrieves what looks to be a photograph of RAIN with her mother. She sits back down on the couch and looks at the picture. We see tears welling up in her eyes, she is upset, after a moment, she speaks) Why did this have to happen to you? Why did you do this to me?
(Suddenly, we see a light cast upon an area of the stage that was previously dark. MOTHER appears, dressed all in white)
MOTHER: (smiling) That’s an awful picture of me you know.
RAIN: (serious, not surprised by MOTHER’s presence) Well, it’s the only one I’ve got. (MOTHER sighs) And you never answered my question… why did you do this to me?
MOTHER: (frustrated, walks toward Christmas tree) I didn’t do anything to you Rain. I just did what I always do. I lived my life freely, just like I’ve always told (gestures to RAIN) you to do.
RAIN: (puts down picture, shocked, turns head sideways toward MOTHER) Yeah, you lived freely, mother. Free to smoke… free to chain smoke! (pause) You told me that you’d quit.
MOTHER: (rolls eyes and walks toward couch) Oh please, honey, we both knew that I wasn’t going to quit. Don’t fool yourself.
RAIN: (upset, yet angry) You didn’t smoke when dad was alive…
MOTHER: (pause, not paying attention) That was a different time. (laughs) It was before I realized that I needed my daily dose of nicotine to satisfy my needs. I needed it.
RAIN: (upset) I know it was hard when he died. It was hard on me, too. (stands up) But I didn’t ruin my life over it. I didn’t kill myself!
MOTHER: (angry) How dare you? I did not kill myself! And this has nothing to do with your father!
RAIN: (sarcastic laugh) No, of course it doesn’t. (upset, frustrated) But you don’t take responsibility for anything. Your decisions killed you… and they destroyed me in the process. Accept it. (pause)
(MOTHER walks toward nightstand, sighs, takes out a cigarette and lighter from the drawer, and starts smoking)
RAIN: (accusing) It’s your own fault.
MOTHER: Here’s the thing Rainie - (pauses to take a breath of smoke)
RAIN: Put that down.
MOTHER: (caught off guard, a bit sassy) Excuse me?
RAIN: (more serious) Put it down (pauses).
MOTHER: (laughs) You think I’ll kill myself? (smiles) Oh, Rainie... (smokes) I’m already dead.
(We hear footsteps coming from offstage. MOTHER and RAIN look towards that direction. KIM enters from offstage in pajamas, wiping her eyes)
KIM: (To RAIN, confused, tired) What are you doing? Who are you talking to?
RAIN: (turns away from KIM) No one.
MOTHER: (walks toward KIM, but appears to be “invisible”) So this is Kimberly, your new foster sister. (laughs) She’s a bit snarky, isn’t she?
RAIN: (To KIM) Go back to sleep. I’m sorry I woke you.
KIM: (annoyed) You were talking to someone, Rain. You’re not fooling anyone… but whatever. (rolls eyes) You were just being weird again. (pauses, sees photograph on couch) What’s that?
MOTHER: (smiles, sits on arm of the couch) She’s quite nosy. I don’t know how you put up with her.
RAIN: (To MOTHER) You’re one to talk! It’s your fault I’m - (gasps, stops herself mid-sentence)
KIM: (confused) Who were you talking to just now?
RAIN: (attempts to respond, breathing heavily) I –
KIM: (sighs after a brief pause) I’m going upstairs. Stop being so… (crinkles nose) strange. (walks offstage)
MOTHER: Well, she seemed nice. You weren’t, though. I don’t know how you expect to live with these people if you’re going to be so rude to them. I thought I raised you better than that, Rain.
RAIN: (serious) You didn’t raise me, mom. (pause, looks directly at MOTHER) Dad raised me. And after he died, I raised myself. You know that. Don’t try to make me look like the bad guy. I know that you resented me. (walks around the room, frustrated) Why? I don’t know. But for some reason, I thought that you cared just enough… to stay alive for me.
(MOTHER looks to the side, ashamed)
RAIN: And yet, here I am. (upset, tears of anger) Alone. Abandoned. You heard her… I’m weird. I’m the girl whose mom died at 37. I’m the girl who sits and talks to a picture every single day trying to find out one thing; why? You probably never knew that… I got teased at school… a lot. I didn’t have a father, and my mother… was a chain smoker. (shocked, frustrated) You know what they told me? (MOTHER smokes) They said ‘Someday she’ll die, (MOTHER stops and sits still and is shocked) and you’ll get what you deserve.’ (crying) And I told them… I said ‘She wouldn’t do that to me. She cares.’ (pause) I guess I was wrong.
(no response from MOTHER, MOTHER looks down)
RAIN: (crying even more) How do you have nothing to say to me? They think I’m like every other orphan child. But I was loved. I was wanted. (pause) Maybe not by you… but by dad. (frustrated) How can you just sit there, smoking, and tell me that everything’s going to be okay? How? (angrier) Answer me! Is there not one loving bone in your body? (crying, pause)
MOTHER: (upset, ashamed) It broke me Rainie... (looks up, we see that she has been crying) I abandoned you, just like he abandoned me when he died. (pause) But I see now… I see that you’re just as broken as me. You deserved better, Rainie. (looks toward RAIN) You deserved better. And I can’t tell you if everything’s going to be okay, but you were always stronger than me (stands up and walks to RAIN, touches her shoulder) … and if anyone can get through this, it’s you. (walks over to where MOTHER first “appeared”, pause, quietly) Merry Christmas, Rainie.
RAIN: (walks over to couch slowly, sits down and picks up photograph, the lights black out over MOTHER and you can’t see her anymore) I never got to say my last words to you… (crying) but I’m sorry mom... about everything. I’m sorry that I blamed you for everything after dad died, and that I treated you like a stranger instead of my mother. You didn’t deserve that. (pauses and waits for an answer, turns around briefly and sees that MOTHER is gone, turns back, upset, head propped up on her arm) I’m sorry, mom. I guess you really did love me.
(Fade to black)