The Nine Friends of Death, A Short Play

Characters

The Singer
The Daughter
The Lover 1
The Lover 2
The Painter
The Lost
The Elder
The Mother
The Hunter

 

Opening

Nine women gather around a large oak tree that dwarfs the stage. There is the SINGER, the DAUGHTER, the two LOVERS, the PAINTER, the LOST, the ELDER, the MOTHER, and the HUNTER. Some stand, some pace, and other sit, tangled among the branches. They are old and young, familiar to each other but not family.

One of them, the SINGER carries a lantern. She lights it with a match.

SINGER
(Addressing the audience)
Sit down.

DAUGHTER
Quickly.

SINGER
Not you.

ELDER
I’ll begin.

SINGER
I already have.

ELDER
There’s really no hurry now. No need to be rude.

SINGER
Ahem!

DAUGHTER
Bitch.

SINGER
I heard that! I damn well heard that!

The HUNTER bangs her fist against the tree. The lantern light flickers.

HUNTER
Enough. Don’t waste the light.

MOTHER
Now, now…

LOST
Must we?

SINGER
Yes. We only have the night.

The LOVERS sigh.

SINGER
Ahem! I am the Singer. Mine was an accident. I was struck by my lover and my head went–

She claps

SINGER (CONT.D)
He was very sorry.

MOTHER
I’m sure he was, dear. I am the Mother and mine was unplanned. I never met my child. They said this sort of thing doesn’t happen anymore. We’re civilized now.

ELDER
We are, we are. But this night is older.

MOTHER
I would have named her Eva, but I never told a soul. Do you think she knew?

DAUGHTER
Who knows?

The SINGER raises the lantern up.

SINGER
Shh! There are rules.

DAUGHTER
You and your rules…

LOST
Are we playing a game?

HUNTER
If we are, then someone wins.

SINGER
Wait your turn! It’s not your time yet.

HUNTER
Hmm.

DAUGHTER
Fine. I’ll play. They call me the Daughter and I went too soon. My friends wore green at the funeral. Silk, too. I couldn’t stand black.

MOTHER
Were you in pain?

DAUGHTER
It happened too fast.

MOTHER
Oh…

DAUGHTER
Don’t cry. You didn’t know me at all.

SINGER
It’s still very sad.

MOTHER
Yes…

PAINTER
No one cried for me. It’s fair to say no one knew I was gone.
ELDER
I’m sure that’s not true.

PAINTER
But it is. I’m the Painter and I died in war. No one knows where I’ve gone. They’ll never bury my bones.

LOST
But they’ll remember your art.

PAINTER
They won’t.

LOST
They will. There’s a gallery in Canada, some border town that sells glass, and they put your paintings on the factory walls. The night manager lights a candle below his favorite every night.

PAINTER
Which one?

LOST
The one with the mountains. You named it after a Hemingway story.

PAINTER
Hills Like White Elephants.

HUNTER
I never liked that one.

DAUGHTER
You never liked Hemingway.

SINGER
I’m sure that’s not the point.

PAINTER
Someone remembered me.

LOST
They’ll always remember you.
LOVER 1
Be careful with that.

LOVER 2
If you’re remembered, then you’re known.

DAUGHTER
What happened to you?

SINGER
The Lovers. They’re dramatic.

LOVER 1
We’re not.

LOVER 2
We’re just here.

HUNTER
Oh?

LOVER 2
We died in a dark place.

MOTHER
You died for love?

SINGER
Don’t say it like that.

LOVER 2
They called it wrong.

LOVER 1
I didn’t think they would–

HUNTER
Of course they would.

LOVER 2
We loved.

LOVER 1
We were honest. We were the Lovers and we died for it.
LOST
So it goes.

ELDER
It’s an old story.

DAUGHTER
So sad.

SINGER
Don’t be like that.

The two LOVERS embrace.

ELDER
My turn, then? It was time that found me. Far from tragic. I am the Elder and I died as the road ended.

DAUGHTER
Is that a metaphor?

ELDER
Yes.

SINGER
I’ll allow it.

ELDER
I never asked you, my dear.

SINGER
Hmph.

LOST
Were you sick?

ELDER
At the end.

LOST
I was sick the whole way. I’m Lost and I saw no way out.

DAUGHTER
What do you see now?
LOST
Strangers. Nine of them.

MOTHER
But no one left to speak.

They all look to the HUNTER.

SINGER
Oh, right. The murdering bitch.

PAINTER
The Hunter.

MOTHER
Oh, dear.

HUNTER
What?

MOTHER
Won’t you say anything?

HUNTER
Nothing worth saying. I did it and was then done in.

PAINTER
Was it righteous?

HUNTER
You’ll never know.

DAUGHTER
Oh.

They all turn to face the audience.

SINGER (CONT.D)
Well, we’re due for another tonight. Who’s it gonna be?

She blows out the lantern. Blackout.


Emma Johnson-Rivard is a Masters student at Hamline University. She received her undergraduate degree in Film Studies at Smith College in Massachusetts and currently lives in Minnesota with her dogs and far too many books.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will never be published or shared and required fields are marked with an asterisk (*).