Tweet Tweet Goes the Nightshade
“Tweet, Tweet” Goes the Nightshade- by Molly
Secret Scene for and inspired by Trifles which was originally written by Susan Glaspell
SCENE: In the kitchen of the farmhouse of John and Minnie Wright, the room appears to be lit by kerosene lamps, with one lamp on the table in center of the room, and two lamps hanging on the left and right walls. Minnie Wright is standing at the counter by the sink kneading dough in a pan. There is a small, crumpled, brown paper bag next to the pan. She is wearing a drab dark blue skirt with an even darker blue long sleeved sweater with a white apron tied around her waist. (She is working vigorously at the dough). There are two pots on the table, with two place settings next to them; giving the appearance of dinner time. As Minnie is pounding the bread dough at the counter, the rear door opens and in walks John Wright, dressed in a heavy work coat, carrying a metal lunch pail. Minnie pauses, looks up at the cupboard doors but does not turn around to face her husband.
JOHN: Some lunch you packed me today woman. The bread was hard as rocks and tasted just the same. (Slams the lunch pail on counter next to Minnie – she jumps startled) See for yourself! Hope you have dinner ready this time. I haven’t had a shit thing to eat all day!
(John takes off his coat and hangs it behind the door leading to the upstairs of the house, walks over to the table and sits in the chair with his back to his wife. He is wearing a plaid shirt under denim overalls, appears to be middle aged and balding with a beard. He begins to dish some food out of the pots and onto a plate.)
JOHN: What did you make tonight?
MINNIE: I made turkey stew. I’m sorry about the bread. I’m making some new loaves right now. I thought I would try my hand at some of that Nettle Bread your Mom used to make.
(She goes over to the stove and pulls out a cast iron pot and places it on a towel on the counter, tips it over and a loaf rolls out onto a dishtowel. She begins to slice the loaf, putting several slices on a plate and setting it near her husband at the table.)
JOHN: It’s still hot, good! Where’s the butter?
MINNIE: (Glaring at her husband from behind him) It’s there on the table, between the pots.
(John grabs a knife full of butter and begins slathering his bread, and takes a bite.)
JOHN: Well it’s still too hot to tell if it’s any good or not, but I’m hungry enough. (Still chewing, he looks up at the ceiling) We ain’t getting no damn telephone. You know that, right woman?
MINNIE: I never asked for one John. (She begins to place some of the new dough into the same cast iron pot the other loaf came out of, and throws a towel over the rest of the dough.)
JOHN: Yah, well you never asked for no damn bird either, but you got one of them, didn’t ya? Good thing I took care of that pretty little thing this morning. I tolerated its noise long enough! I don’t want no other damn noisy contraptions in this house. Bad enough I gotta listen to you hum yer damn songs while yer knittin and rocking away. Give me a goddamn headache! (John starts to stretch out his arms and begins to yawn extensively) We ain’t getting a telephone, no way. (He takes another bite of his bread, this time slopping some turkey stew on top of it.)
MINNIE: That’s just fine John. I wouldn’t want a telephone anyway. Who on earth would I want to talk to? (She takes the pot over to the oven and slides it in with a towel. She wipes her hands off on her apron, leaving a smudge, then walks back to the counter and grabs a small paper bag sitting by the bread pan and shoves it into the fire of the stove.)
JOHN: Are you sure this is Nettle Bread? It tastes (eyeballing his piece of bread in his hand) different than I recall. (Sets the bread down and yawns long and loud.)
MINNIE: (Standing at the counter, one hand on her hip, one hand on the loaf of bread on the counter, looks toward her husband with a glare) No, I’m not sure. Come to think of it, I may have used the wrong nettles. Why this might be nightshade bread, my mistake John. Does it taste ok?
JOHN: (Looking confused and a little dazed) Nightshade bread? What the hell is (he is interrupted by a long lengthy yawn, and looks as though he might pass out at the table) that?
MINNIE: It’s an herb John. Are you feeling ok? (Still glaring at her husband from behind)
JOHN: Yes woman, I am fine. Now fetch me my slippers, I may go lay down for a bit.
(Minnie leaves the room and returns with men’s slippers in hand. She sets them down at her husband’s feet and he appears to have some trouble with slipping them on. Minnie bends down to help him, and he shoves her to the floor with his leg.)
JOHN: Get outta my way! I can put my own damn slippers on!
(John gets up, and clumsily walks to the door where he had hung his coat, opens it and stumbles up the stairs. There are loud thudding sounds to be heard until finally, we hear the creaking of noisy bed springs. Minnie shuffles up off the floor, wiping her hands on her apron again and turns to go out of the room. She returns to the kitchen carrying a small bird cage with the door of it left open, it is flapping and rattling against itself. Minnie places the bird cage in one of the kitchen cupboards then carefully pulls a small bird carcass out of the cage, and wraps it gently in a piece of silk from her apron pocket then shuts the cupboard door.
MINNIE: (To the bird carcass cradled in her hands) He won’t hurt us anymore my sweet thing. He won’t hurt us anymore. (She kisses the dead bird and slides it into her apron pocket.)
She then turns to one of the kitchen drawers, opens it and pulls out a bundle of white rope and places it on the kitchen table. She stands up tall, looks at the rope and smiles. She then continues to clear dinner off of the table, placing pots and pans under the sink. She goes to the oven and pulls out the cast iron pot, takes it to the counter, flips out the loaf of bread and places it near the breadbox. She puts the pot back on the stove, grabs the bundle of rope slowly and leans against the upstairs door, listening. Minnie looks around the room, opens the upstairs door and disappears off stage to the upstairs. There is the sound of her light footsteps going up the stairs, with a long pause followed by the sound of creaking bed springs. Then there is a sudden loud thud and scratching noises followed by quick footsteps coming down the stairs. Minnie reappears on stage coming through the stairs door. She closes the door behind herself, sits at the kitchen table, and begins to hum as she cradles the silk-wrapped dead bird.
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Molly Roland is a writer by nature, and she enjoys stepping over the invisible lines society loves to draw.