Saturday, April 28, 2018

Play a Day: Living Creatures

Ashley Rose Wellman
For Saturday I read Living Creatures by Ashley Rose Wellman, and available at New Play Exchange.

Having a relationship means risking part of yourself. Having a child means risking all of yourself.

My daughter has a severe peanut allergy. She is smart and diligent, she's fifteen and can care for herself. Always very careful about checking packaging, she doesn't fool around with that. She won't eat any baked good if she doesn't know where it came from.

And yet, things happen.

When my son was less than one year old her had a fall and fractured his skull. I was on watch. It required surgery. He's fine. Scar on the back of his head, when his hair is long you can't even see it.

It didn't have to happen that way. It could have been worse. A fraction of an inch. It could have been debilitating. It could have been fatal.

And before that, we were expecting a baby. Just the two of us, our first child, and he died before he was born. Like that. Things happen.

Having a child means that every day, every moment, is an opportunity to die. The fact that it becomes less fraught as they grow doesn't mean the terror goes away. You just get used to it. It's right there to destroy you if something goes wrong.

Wellman has composed a chilling fable about the helplessness of parenthood. Part ghost story, part aching lament, she taps into the primal fear of child loss, creating a contemporary mythology, not to explain the afterlife, but rather what happens to the living when someone they have put their heart into is gone.

The anxiety, the misery, the bargaining, and the utter impossibility of acceptance, of "closure." We want to believe that one day everything will be okay, that everything will go back to the way it was. But the only way through is forward.

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