The Blankie - Published by JAC Press
Rock-a-bye, baby, in the tree top: When the wind blows, the cradle will rock; when the bough breaks, the cradle will fall.
(Hums the remainder of the nursery rhyme.)
Few here recognize my quality. Even as I lie softly across a velvety cheek, they don’t know the superiority of my weave. (Beat.) Lie across a cheek, pink and warm, contemplating the pros and cons of stifling the sweet breath of my charge.
Holding humans in high regard was the original source of my discontent. That quilted vinyl pad on the changing table, she has the appropriate philosophy. She told me, “have no expectations, you’ll never be disappointed.” At the time I assumed her view was due to her position in life. Has anyone remembered a changing pad? (Beat.) It is interesting the connection people have with objects they love. For example, take ice cream. You love ice cream, you lick it and swirl it on your tongue, a simple pleasure. But, consider the ice cream’s position as it slides down your esophagus into your stomach. You might discover objects of love find your wet unconditional display of adoration, abhorrent! (Reflective.)
My packaging says it all. “It’s never too early to start enjoying the finer things in life.” You’d never know that once I was soft, certified 100% organic merino wool, a blanket for baby's sensitive skin. Created in a safe non-toxic process that did not involve hydrochloric acids, chlorine bleach or heavy metal dyes. With my packaging, I was destined for something special.
Others like me thrive on slobber and tears; I’m simply not weaved that way. Take that blanket over there, yes the blue one with a fuzzy bear appliqué. That blanket coos sympathetically, “Poor thing he’s teething,” as drool permeate his fibers. (Shutters in disgust.)
Drool, slime, composed of water, electrolytes and mucus oozing out of open mouths. What is the point of having lips people if you can’t keep the wet stuff inside? And who wipes curdled spit-up off a baby’s face with a precious blanket? She does. The mother! She, who can’t be bothered to find a suitable wash cloth, instead, rubs my delicate twines rudely across a dripping chin. Lord, what I would give for a gentle soak and a low heat spin dry. Unfortunately, this mother is inured to the stanky funk of diaper excretions and the tang of dried urine. But a blanket can dream. Right?
You see what I live with? I was created to swaddle a beloved infant. (Beat.) I am to be treated gently, (Beat.) I am dragged across the room, stepped on, (Beat.) left on the filthy floor of a Chevy Astro Van while my pieces are scraped away by asphalt because, she, can’t ensure a fine piece of workmanship isn’t hanging out the van door on her weekly trip to the grocery super store!
And look at that one. The mother takes better care of that fleece monstrosity than any blanket here. Retro styled cowboy fleece with another piece of predictable navy fleece on top, edges cut and knotted together. At best it’s a juvenile arts and crafts project. The daft Sock Monkey could have made it after drinking a bottle of codeine infused cough syrup. So what if her sister made it, it’s polyester, polyester! Petroleum based and a non-renewable resource. (Heavy sigh.)
Thank God for Eeyore. (Pause.) When I have the urge to fling myself into the fire or slide down the toilet and swirl away with a brown flush, Eeyore talks me off the ledge. Eeyore knows I’m a sap for Sock monkey’s moronic antics. Sock monkey, what a riot, and a filthy mouth. But what can you expect? He’s a primate and they eat their own poo. Last Thursday, he got into some baby Tylenol; we laughed so hard, Eeyore split a seam. That Eeyore, not slow or stupid, just really, really (Beat.) stoned. He has medical marijuana; it’s a great body buzz. You can understand why he needs it, ever look at his backside? We smoke his stash and chill. I love watching the evening shadows flicker on the nursery walls. Sitting with Eeyore, sipping sweet bong water, reflecting on the cosmos, for a moment life feels sufferable. Eeyore says “Suffering brings enlightenment”, I think he’s an old soul.
Lately, I notice the less there is of me, the less I matter to myself. (Beat.) Like crumbs, you know? Those wet bits of liquefied biscuits swept off the highchair. Bits of fine fabric, like bits of biscuits aren’t important, unless you’re the family dog. Gummy, spit soaked bits are amazingly significant to the dog.
Anyway, I’m tattered, half of what I used to be, stiff patches, stained from, you don’t want to know. The mother recently used me to wipe mud off the dog’s paws. Hey Mom, while you’re at it use me to wipe the oil off that piece of crap Astro Van’s dip stick. Sure she washed me before the baby got up from his nap, but I know. My days as baby’s chief comforter are dwindling. Soon I’ll be added to the rag bag in the bottom cupboard. I’m not bitter. Well, maybe a little, it’s just, I guess, I hoped there would have been more. (Pause.) I wish I would have enjoyed it more. Because (Beat) I didn’t know it at the time, but being the object of love (Beat.) that’s all I ever really had going for me. Maybe this is what Eeyore calls enlightenment.
(Hums Rock-A-Bye baby until the last line of the rhyme.)
Down will come baby, blanket and all.
3rd Grade Werewolf
(Talks to the audience as if the audience is her second grade daughter.)
My favorite teacher? Definitely Ms. Maki, she ran the Resource Room, you know, the place that kids with I.E.P.s go. I.E.P.? Individual Education Plan. My “private” files revealed my, far from normal, behavior and the action plan created by Ms. Maki to help me work toward appropriate school behavior. Whatever appropriate for a third grade girl is. Anyway, Ms. Maki wasn’t like Mr. Thomson. Mr. Thomson was bad, probably the worst third grade teacher in the whole solar system of schools. He’d pick up the phone and call Ms. Maki saying “Get down here! She is at it again. No dogs are allowed in my classroom!” Then he would turn to me and shout, “Melissa, go sit in your chair, now!”
It always happens at full moons. But lately, the rage bites itself out of me. It moves up from my stomach, it rips my chest apart and peels away my skin. I become lethal.
(Becomes third grade girl/werewolf. Snarls, barks and growls.)
Crouched low, my ears twitch at the name Melissa. The aroma. I’m enjoying what’s in Mr. Thomson’s garbage can; butterscotch pudding cups, banana peels, pencils with erasers chewed down to the sharp metal rim, dried coffee in a paper cup. My sensitive ears twitch at the turning door knob. Ms. Maki enters and surveys the classroom. Now, she is calculating how best to exit a feral animal from the classroom. Her eyes meet mine, just, as my pointed claws are hovering above the classroom’s aquarium. Recently re-stocked with goldfish. She whistles. I like Ms. Maki. I don’t run and bite her for whistling. Whistling is for pets, dry dog food eaters, not, werewolves. Snarling, I flatten my ears and give Mr. Thomson one last sneer showing my razor sharp, canine teeth. It’s good he knows I can mutilate him at anytime.
She whistles again. A werewolf would never ever respond to a whistle, unless, maybe if it was around the neck of the P.E. teacher as I devoured her. The wolf hates Mr. Thomson and the P.E. teacher with her high pitched annoying whistle. Wolves don’t play soccer or freeze tag. She’s a P.E. teacher because she is stupid. Otherwise she’d know wolves playing freeze tag always bite their prey.
Later if that whistle was in me and I had gas, which I get a lot, because, werewolves eat anything and anything can be hard to digest. I wonder if you’d hear it. (Makes a muffled whistle sound.) Probably not, too much you know, feces, around it so you’d hear nothing. The person called mommy says feces is the scientific word for poop. Mr. Thompson can eat my feces even with a whistle in it. I laugh, short barking snorting noises, thinking about Mr. Thompson eating my feces with a whistle in it.
Deadly, wild and half human, but mostly wolf, I leave the room. It is a slow walk from Mr. Thomson’s room to the Resource Room. I stop and sniff the air, bite at spiders hiding in dusty corners and Ms. Maki waits. Up close, Ms. Maki smells like vanilla flavored candles. Her stride is slow, letting me travel on my paws. She doesn’t know it but I walk slowly for her, if I wanted to run she’d never catch me. No human could ever catch me! Maybe a regular wolf could keep up with me. But none of them come out in the day…only at night…and if a wolf shows up at night you have to be very quiet, don’t wake up the person called mommy.
She holds the door to the resource room open and I dart in past children sitting at the horseshoe shaped table and hide under Ms. Maki’s desk. It’s dark and small, my den. The kids at the table start giggling. They’re disgusting, sitting like fat retard flavored marshmallows learning to subtract. I come out from under the desk and try to scratch their legs. “Psss”, Ms. Maki snaps her fingers, glares into my eyes. She is the alpha dog in this room. (Throaty howl.) Under the desk my paws hurt. It is cruel to put shoes on wild creatures. I find a black magic marker and color the bottom of all my paws. People will know I’m a werewolf by my black paws and sharp
claws. The black magic marker feels good, like tickles in the night. I like it so much I gnaw on it, it’s a zebra bone. I crack it for marrow.
Hot coals. There is still a fire, in me, somewhere, but I don’t know why. Red hot coals. Who puts clothes on a wolf? I’m burning, turning circles in my den. (Throaty howl.) The slow soft children leave. I pant, try to cool off.
“We don’t howl in school, Melissa. You know wolves that howl inside have to wear muzzles. No wild animal wants a muzzle, does it?” She files some papers and then squats down by me. I love Ms. Maki, I lick her face. (Bark.) “What brought this on?” she asks. Wolves don’t talk, not like people. Ms. Maki knows that. (Bark.) It hurts I’m on fire. (Bark.)
She takes deep breathes. She watches me. I watch her. I don’t sleep, not at night. Night time means explore, hide, and wait for another from your pack. I curl next to Ms. Maki ready for a nap; she reaches for her purse and opens it. The scent of peppermints and dark chocolate M&Ms sneak into my nose. She pulls out a round plastic object and opens it, a mirror. “What do you see when you look in here Melissa?” Werewolves are naturally curious.
(Turns into a grown woman again. Opens a small mirrored compact and gazes into it. )
The lovely golden speckled eyes, haloed in black, were now hazel, red rimmed. My chapped cracked lips lifted to snarl and I saw blunt human teeth, coated yellow, with bits of last night’s pork chop still stuck in between the front two. My beautiful tan fur is greasy, a tangled matt of shoulder length hair. Instead of a sensitive glistening wolf nose I saw my own, nose, red and raw, from sniffing along the carpet. My bottom lip and part of my chin is black, from the gnawed on magic marker.
It was a small compact mirror. It had no magical power besides being held by a woman that cared for the werewolf and wanted to help me.
“What do you see?” How could I answer? Ms. Maki waited.
As fast as I could, not wanting my words to be heard by my vanishing wolf ears, “I have to pee and it hurts”.
She asked, “You mean like marking your territory?”
No, not like that. I shook my head. She looked at me, but I didn’t look at her. And I knew she knew, right then, she knew why I was a werewolf.
“Well, let’s see what we can do about that,” and she took my hand with its palm colored black and we walked, on only two feet, out of the Resource Room.
She stayed with me, holding my hand, when I talked to the school nurse and the school counselor and to CPS, and, to my mother. (Closes compact.) Before your grandmother and I moved to a different school, Ms Maki gave me this compact mirror to help me remember. It’s important to remember you are special. Never ever let someone turn you into something else. So here…
(Holds compact mirror out toward audience.)
You keep it. Look into it. Remember you’re a special human too.