These are scenes from a play, which have been found throughout Lacuna along with various victims of apparent suicide. These people seem to have nothing in common with one another, except the subject of their writing and the fact that they often died after long periods without food, water, or sleep, but almost always actually died due to severe blood loss. Those who did not live alone apparently abruptly abandoned their friends and families, and most of these were found in anonymous hotel rooms. The words themselves are written with and on any available materials, though the “final drafts” are always carved into the victim’s own skin. Local tabloids have spread the rumor that the suicides are actually connected killings, and have dubbed the murderer the “Ghost Writer”. To the best of our knowledge, the play has never been performed, though it is also not yet complete.
This scene is from the first victim, Jennifer Rose. The bulk of the text is on the left arm and thigh, made with the scalpel found in her hand. She was found wearing a red dress, red lipstick, and red nail polish.
A thrust stage, twenty-three feet long by seven feet wide, stretches out from a proscenium stage. The thrust and the stage are painted matte black, and the proscenium arch is curtained with red velvet. A spotlight centers on the central gap between the curtains, from which a woman emerges, dressed in a long gown of the same color as the curtains, and matching lipstick and nail polish. She saunters down the thrust to the microphone stand placed at its end. When she reaches it, she stands silently for a few moments, regarding the audience. Then, she speaks.
Woman in Red: This is the story of [insert actor’s full name here]. He was born as we all are: in blood and agony, torn kicking and screaming from the warm, dark safety of the womb.¹
The curtains open, and an infant’s cries are heard, mingled with those of his mother and all the rigamarole of modern medicine. The child cannot be seen, obscured by the many bodies surrounding the mother’s bed, but we hear their cries crescendo together.
Doctor: Push! Push! That’s the shoulders! You’re almost there! [The cries crescendo] Push! Good! Yes! Here he is!
The mothers’ cries become laughter that is still on the edge of tears.
Nurse: It’s a boy! A beautiful baby boy!
Doctor: Yes, ten fingers and ten toes. Everything seems to be in order. Now comes the cord. Nurse, please hand me that scalpel
There is no period, because at this point, while making the last “l”, the late Ms. Rose cut into her femoral artery and bled out onto the carpet of her living room floor.
¹This is where the text transitions from the arm to the thigh.