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The First Death

by Mel Waldman

A Play in One Scene


HAROLD, an old man: H
ROSE, an old woman: R

Harold, an emaciated old man, sits next to his wife Rose, a majestic beautiful old woman, at an outdoor table at the Sunflower Cafe on Kings Highway, in Brooklyn, New York. It is a sultry dog day afternoon.

Harold is wearing a charcoal winter coat that covers his white shirt, red tie, and blue slacks. He stares blankly at the audience. His body shakes. Rose is wearing a sleeveless silk blouse with a light violet hue and a blue denim skirt. She looks lovingly at Harold.

R: Are you still chilly? Harold does not respond. His vacant eyes stare into inner space. Rose speaks in a loud voice: Are you still chilly, Harold?

H: No. But he continues to shake.

R: You look handsome today.

H: Yes.

R: I love you, Harold.

H (looks quizzically at his wife): Do I know you?

R: Yes.

Rose stands up, walks downstage, and speaks to the audience: We’ve been married forty years. Harold used to be a professor of English and a poet and writer. But now... he’s got Alzheimer’s disease. I love him. I miss him. He’s got the First Death. But sometimes, he remembers. Sometimes, he speaks to me before he vanishes again.

How could this happen to a beautiful man of words? What kind of G-d, if there’s a G-d, steals my poet’s gems and condemns him to live in darkness, without his precious words, without his soul?

Rose turns around, walks upstage, and sits down next to Harold. I love you, Harold. She leans over and kisses Harold on his forehead.

H: You’re quite bold, young lady.

R: Yes, I am.

H: Do I know you?

R: Yes, I’m your wife.

H: Yes, my wife.

Rose gives Harold her hand. She leans over and kisses him on the lips.

My beloved Rose. Harold vanishes, suspended in nowhere, going nowhere, unreachable, cut off without his mind or memory or identity, without his fancy words or his soul. He stares vacantly at the audience.

R: Oh, Harold, come back! I shouldn’t be greedy but... Come back, if only for a moment. I love you, my dearest, Harold. I’ll wait for you. Oh G-d, have mercy on our intertwined souls and heal my husband!

But for now, goodbye.


Copyright © 2010 by Mel Waldman

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