by Ella Bowler
Delma is a short play written for the Cork Midsummer Festival this year as part of the Young Playwrights Programme.
Two girls. They are sitting side by side, looking into the distance, never making eye contact. They’re speaking on the phone, however the audience shouldn’t be made aware of this until ‘don’t hang up’.
Fidelma: (distressed) Grace, Grace are you there?
Fidelma: ...There was a car.
Fidelma: And my hand - heavy with rain - it just slipped!
Grace: You aren’t making sense kid.
Fidelma: I broke your watch. I dropped it in the street and before I knew it -
Grace: Impossible! My watch it’s in my suitcase. The first thing I pack, always.
Grace: Did you go through my suitcase?
Fidelma: I’m sorry - I am. Massively, fucking sorry.
Grace: Why, when? Christ. You really broke it?
Fidelma: It wasn’t my intention.
Grace: Then why my watch? What I hold closest to my heart - why I have a permanent tan line on my pasty wrist. (exhausted laugh) You know this! ... Was it just my watch? You’re holding back. I can tell.
Fidelma: Nothing else is broken - wet - they’re wet.
Grace: What’s wet?... Don’t make me drag it out of you Delma.
Fidelma: Everything else.
Grace: Why in god’s name is everything else wet?
Fidelma: You wouldn’t believe me if I said I wanted to do something nice for you. Well it’s the truth. But I opened your suitcase and I grew so mad. Anger bubbled up inside of me and I couldn't ignore it's acidic taste - I couldn't help myself... throwing your clothes onto the street.
Grace: (throws her hands forwards) Only you. Only Delma could say she was doing
something nice for you when throwing clothes onto the street! You’re callow, crazy-
Fidelma: I’m not crazy.
Fidelma: I wanted to give you a letter.
Fidelma: A letter. The nice thing I tried to do.
Grace: Could’ve given it to me in person.
Fidelma: Wasn’t sure when I’d see you next.
Grace: I’m right here.
Fidelma: No you're not. You’re in our home but you’re in a house. You’re with me but you’re with a stranger. And I look at you but I see that face. That vacant face. Let’s me know you can’t hear me anymore.
Grace: Tell me what it said Delma.
Fidelma: It doesn’t matter. Because you wouldn’t have read it and recognised my distressed heart! No, you would have read it and squirmed over my poor grammar and spelling mistakes. (head down, laughing) You know I was so fucking afraid of getting somethingvwrong, I stiffened the page with Tipex. The pages don’t even fold anymore.
Grace: I wouldn’t have judged you.
Fidelma: You do judge me.
Grace: Stop it! You can’t justify wrecking my stuff... you can’t throw a tantrum and expect me to feel bad about the insecurities behind. Could’ve left the letter.
Fidelma: Jesus. It wasn’t just about the letter. I opened your suitcase and I saw everything you’re taking with you. Charity shop jumpers, worn jeans, paint brushes older than me!-
Grace: Do you think you’re making things better?-
Fidelma: Yet they made the cut when you organised your new life ... Whatever’s in that case, trumps me. (points to self) I’m not close to your heart. Worthless.
Grace: Delma shut up! ... I can't stay here just for you ... anymore. Don't act surprised! For the longest time, I have waited for life. A flicker, murmur, quiver of excitement ... to no avail. I tried to piece together reasons to stay. I made mosaics out of strained relationships and hollow offers. Told myself abandoning fingerprints is wrong! But that's all they are. All they've ever been ... I have been so distracted making my life beautiful, I’ve forgotten to inject it with meaning. And now it’s all kinds of empty.
Fidelma: Just don't give up on me - us - now. This isn't you! Or who you used to be, at least. You were resilient. Do you know who gives up? The crowd of mediocrity. Tenuous grey figures that lounge among tired graffiti. Those brimming with dispassion. We hated them, Grace.
Grace: Enough! I have outgrown everything - you, me, this whole thing! ... You had this idea that I was going to be a special thing and it turns out I'm not a special thing.
Fidelma: What are you then, Grace?
Grace: Not a fine entity and that disappoints you! But God - that doesn’t mean i’m nothing. That doesn't mean i’m grey and tenuous. I'm sorry I'm not some beautiful creation and you don't like the person I've become. This is me, this is what I am now!
Fidelma: I just don’t want to be alone.
Fidelma: No! This isn’t how things are meant to be!
Grace: But it’s how they are.
Fidelma: I’m not saying you have to hold my hand. I’m not even saying you have to stay. Just don’t leave me, please.
Grace: I love you kid.
Fidelma: Don’t hang up.
Passing of time Grace closes her eyes indicating she is no longer present
Fidelma: Hi, it’s me. Has been a while, I wasn’t sure who else to call... I’ve been feeling kind of scared. I’m looking out of my bedroom window - which doesn’t sound all that fear provoking when said aloud - however it’s the scariest thing I've done today. Scariest thing I've done in a while if i’m honest. When I look out of it, the little rectangle, I never see trees or grass or the shitty little swing set that should have disintegrated years ago. Do you remember it? Its hinges still creak. Like living in a horror film. Anyway... I see the sky; the purest beacon of hope. Evidence that i’m not all alone, staring out of my little rectangle. Although it offers me comfort, it can turn and make me feel insane. As if it’s not sky at all, it’s a pit, sucking me in, pushing me out, too fast for me to focus... often...(looks up) above...whispers: so much of your life will remain unlived... what a waste, kid! What a waste. So I guess I wanted to say I hope you’re out there experiencing the world on my behalf too. I’m rambling. You always said many words and feelings were great for artists... just not for people. Call me when you get this, ok? It’s Delma.
Ella, 17, from Meath, is a Sagittarius in every way.
Currently, she's in secondary school, which isn't all that interesting, fact wise. Something a little more interesting about her is that she's an aspiring writer. She's written and read in abundance since she was a little kid, however recently she was fortunate enough to receive a real writing opportunity.
Writers she looks up to include Louise O'Neill, Sylvia Plath & John Green.
Alongside he love of writing, she have a deep love for art. Her love lies with painting portraits & every kind of photography - she buys Vogue magazines just for the pretty pictures.
Ella is a self proclaimed 'edgy kid' when it comes to music. Her top shower tunes come from Declan McKenna, Blossoms & Little Green Cars.
Despite her general interests, the most important thing about Ella is that she is a feminist; anything related to equal rights, she's there. If there was one thing she could ask to see in her lifetime, it would be a world where all women were heard.'