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The World Without
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EMILY: You have your work... Anne’s work. You have more than enough to create something between the two of you.   CHARLOTTE: We can’t move forward without you.   ANNE: If she doesn’t want to be a part of it there’s no point in forcing her.   EMILY: Do you... want to be a part of it? Want to publish your-   ANNE: Yes. I’ve always wanted this.
EMILY: You’d have a better chance if I’m nowhere near it.   CHARLOTTE: That’s not true.   EMILY: It is.   CHARLOTTE: We need your work.   EMILY: If you’re in such dire need of a third ask Branwell. He’s the one with the talent.   CHARLOTTE: Oh, Emily! How can you not see it? You have a gift. Do you know how many people spend their lives searching for what you have?   EMILY: What I write is... strange. It’s not suitable... or dignified. It in no way reflects how a woman should feel... or think... or write. I know that. No one will understand it. No one will want to-   CHARLOTTE: If you were a man do you think for a moment you would choose not to pursue-   EMILY: If I were a man I wouldn’t have to choose.
ANNE: Then just pretend you’re a man and be done with it.   EMILY: I can’t pretend to be something I’m not.
ANNE: Why not?
EMILY: Because it... it’s not-
ANNE: Because it’s not what?   CHARLOTTE: You can. You can.   She takes paper and a quill and writes.   CHARLOTTE: We could keep our initials... keep the first letters for each of our names. The rest can be whatever we like....   She holds the page up for them to see.   ANNE: Currer, Ellis, Aaron Bell.   CHARLOTTE: If they think we’re men they’ll focus on what we write... not who we are. We can send our work out without being afraid of anyone knowing. We can write what we like... how we like.   ANNE: Why Bell? Why can’t we use our last name?   CHARLOTTE: People know there’s only one son in our family.   ANNE: How many people know that?   CHARLOTTE: Enough.   ANNE: Can’t we submit anonymously?   CHARLOTTE: No. Our work could be stolen. And we would have no way to prove it was ours.   EMILY: Work with a name is respected far more than anything written anonymously.   ANNE looks at the page.   ANNE: Currer, Ellis, Aaron. Mine doesn’t sound nearly as intriguing as yours. Aaron... it’s so plain.   CHARLOTTE: What then?
ANNE: Adam, Abram, Andrew, Arthur, Alfred-   EMILY: Acton.
ANNE: Oh... Acton. Yes. Currer, Ellis, Acton Bell.   CHARLOTTE writes the names out again. She holds it up for them to see.   ANNE: So... no one would know it was us?
CHARLOTTE: No one would know it was us.
ANNE: What about Papa? We would have to tell him.   CHARLOTTE: Papa would go mad knowing we were trying to be published. He would get too invested. He would want to change everything we wrote.   EMILY: He would edit every poem until he was satisfied.   CHARLOTTE: Until he felt it was up to his standards.   EMILY: And if it weren’t a resounding success... he would never forgive us.   CHARLOTTE: No. We don’t tell him. We don’t tell Branwell. It stays between the three of us.   ANNE: Then... what’s the point?
EMILY: I won’t do it if we tell people. That’s the point.   CHARLOTTE: But if we don’t tell people? Then you’ll...   EMILY looks at the page with their proposed names on it.   EMILY: We shouldn’t have to disguise who we are.   CHARLOTTE: Oh, Emily... does it really matter? It would be a few published copies of a poetry collection. That’s it. That’s all it is.   Beat.   EMILY: I don’t know.
CHARLOTTE: Emily. Can’t you at least try to-
ANNE: Just say yes, Emily! For goodness’ sake!   EMILY looks at the paper with their names on it. Then looks at her sisters.   INTERLUDE

CHARLOTTE, EMILY and ANNE grab a small stack of blank pages and a quill. They sit at the table. They write. As they do, they hand each other their pages. They read one another’s work. They make notes on the pages. They hand the pages back to the author. They sit and write.

Again, they hand each other their pages. They read one another’s work. Makes notes. Hand the pages back to each other. Sit. Write.

Again, they hand each other their pages. They read one another’s work. Makes notes. They start to form a pile in the middle of the table.

They write. Review. Stack. The stack of paper grows. These are the pages of their poetry collection. CHARLOTTE gently picks up the pages. Leaves the room.

EMILY and ANNE grab another small stack of blank pages. Again they start to write. They share their work with each other. They each begin a stack of their own.

CHARLOTTE enters with a small book in hand – a printed copy of their poetry collection. EMILY and ANNE gather beside CHARLOTTE. They look at it together. Smile. Place it on their bookshelf. Get back to work.

CHARLOTTE grabs another small stack of blank pages. They write. They share their work with each other.

The stack of paper grows. These are the pages of their novels.

CHARLOTTE collects the pages from EMILY and ANNE. Together they tie the piles with twine. Fold an envelope out of a large sheet of paper. Seal it shut. CHARLOTTE takes the envelope and leaves.

EMILY removes books from the shelf. Leaves the room. ANNE tidies. EMILY enters in a housedress. ANNE looks at EMILY. Hands her a book. Leaves the room.

EMILY goes to the windowsill. Sits. Opens the book. And reads.

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Speed Dating for Sperm Donors
Scene 6: Total World Domination


A brisk spring day. Helen and Paige stand outside near the arrivals gate at the airport. They blow into their hands and stamp their feet. The whoosh of airplanes can be heard.

Paige: Why is it we must meet him at the airport?

Helen: He’s on a tight schedule, I guess. He gave very specific instructions. I wasn’t about to question them.

Paige: Is he coming home with us, or—?

Helen: I’m not sure. There he is.

A man in a Russian fur hat enters.

Physicist: You are on time. This is most excellent.

Helen: Thank you so much for agreeing to meet us.

Paige: Can we, perhaps, go and sit down together—?

Physicist: No, this location is serviceable.

Helen: Okay, well why don’t you tell us a little about yourself.

Physicist: Here, I have photograph. Myself as little baby. You may keep.

Helen and Paige lean over the picture.

Helen: Awww. Very cute.

Paige: This must be your maman holding you?

Physicist: No. This is wet nurse in Mother Russia Young Physicist Training Facility.

Helen: Yes, you mentioned you were a physicist in your message. Maybe you could tell us about your work.

Physicist: Black hole physics, yes. I make superconductor simulations embedded in flat space. I propose new type of ultralight particle forming halos supported by the quantum uncertainty principle.

Helen: Wow. That sounds . . . Wow.

Helen elbows Paige.


Paige: Impressive. Very impressive.

Physicist: Quite standard, actually, compared to former research. But we dispense now with pleasantries. I go to produce required material. You will kindly have transcripts ready for my return.

Helen: Transcripts?

Physicist: You both completed university training, yes? My requirement for distribution of genetic material is that you score in top ninety-?five percentile. Equivalent of your North American A+. I am not wanting to mix my genetics with inferior specimens. Kindly produce documents to prove your intelligence level.

Helen: We don’t have any documents with us.

Physicist: Most inconvenient. My flight departs at two p.m. Ah.

He whips out a notepad and sketches.

I now pose you theorem of moderate difficulty. You have solution by the time I have sample . . . no problem.

He hands the theorem over to them and leaves.

Helen: He didn’t say anything about a test!

Paige: What does that mean, “inferior specimens”? Is he going behind a pillar?

Helen: Could it be a language problem?

Paige cranes her neck.

Paige: I think it’s a bigger problem—?he’s a crackpot!

Helen: Very smart people, I have noticed, are often quite odd. Let’s just ask him some more questions. Meantime . . . here, you better do this.

She slides the notepad paper over to Paige.

Paige: No, you.

Helen: I’m not touching it. You’re math girl.

Paige: Normal math, not black hole physics!

Helen: Try. Write something!

They throw it back and forth. The Physicist returns and Paige quickly writes down an answer.

We just wanted to ask you: Why do you want to be a donor?

Physicist: It is most efficient. Statistically speaking, I would never have time to personally impregnate all of the women who now have borne me children.

Paige: All of the women? How many are there?

Physicist: Two hundred and thirty-?nine this year.

Helen: This year alone?

Physicist: Total number of known progeny since I begin experiment is two thousand seven hundred and twenty-?one.

He reaches inside his jacket pocket, and Helen and Paige both take a step back.

But we waste time. Sample is getting cold.

Paige: Why do you do this?

Physicist: Covert distribution of superior genetic footprint. End result: total world domination. But don’t worry about that. Very cute babies. Look at photograph.

Paige: I don’t think we can be a part of your experiment.

He is examining the theorem on the notepad.

Physicist: Unfortunately, you are correct. Three? The answer you propose to theorem is three?

Paige: Oui?

He does a little bow.

Physicist: It is my disappointing duty to inform you that you are not viable subjects. I now proceed to Cincinnati to next potential vessel. Goodbye.

He gives another little bow and makes an abrupt departure.

Helen: Nice to meet you too.

Lights fade.

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Sound of the Beast


Have you ever been slow cruised?
If you have, you know it.
If you haven’t, it’s impossible to explain It’s like... like this.   The cops are always out there, making themselves know Nothing sinister, just visibility
So when it happens...   It’s a thing you know for sure happened when it was happening, but when you try to say what happened, there’s no happening there to describe. This incident, which very definitely is something, becomes nothing. It is like a sentence without a verb.
They ... blehhhh’d me. I’m sorry can you spell that?
No, I can’t. And I can’t draw a picture of it either, or point to it on a doll. But this thing happened ... happens. Frequently. It is the frequency that gets under your skin. The perpetualness.   Each time they pass they are saying something. Do you see me?
I see you.
And I know what you’re about to do. Am I gonna stop you today? Maybe .... Nah. Today I’ll keep driving. But I could have stopped. I could have.   It’s a very grown up game of “I’m not touching you.” And you don’t want to get touched.   So when you see them, you suddenly think, “act like nothing’s going on” which is how you were acting before you saw them, because nothing, genuinely, is going on. But suddenly you can’t remember what that looked like, so you are racking your brain trying to remember how fast you were walking before you saw them, and then you wonder, did I just speed up, or slow down, and does that look suspicious, and is there a more suspicious looking person nearby I could walk past in order to become less threatening on the curve, and fair enough, I look like the type, right? Fair enough. Cuz why didn’t I wear a bowtie to the laundromat today? And all the while they are slowly cruising by,   Do you know what I mean?
Have you ever been slow cruised? If you have, you know it. If you haven’t... You say ‘just take it cuz it all serves a purpose’
And ‘if you never did nothing, why you getting nervous?’ Seems knee jerk on the surface but it goes deeper:
Sound of the beast is sound of the reaper.
Or the sleeper or the choke
It’s a taser for a toke
Grab the phone, then remember them three numbers is a joke And you’re on your own when you hear that note
cuz the system’s broke....
....   Have you ever been slow-cruised?...

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An Indigenous Matriarch Story
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