ASHLEY, 7-years-old, is building a sand castle—at least, that’s what she appears to be doing. The tide is low, but it was at its lowest when the audience found their seats, so it can only now begin its slow rise.
The audience should only be as full as the moon is on each of the nights the production takes place. Please don’t ever do a matinée.
ASHLEY’s sand creation—which does not, in truth, actually resemble a castle—grows outward instead of up. It spreads as she continues construction.
JULIAN, 5-years-old, enters with his eyes fixed on the ant crawling over his fingers, hand held up so he can see. He walks downstage toward the audience, straight across the sand, somehow managing to entirely avoid stepping on the wide-reaching sand structure.
ASHLEY doesn’t look up.
(never taking his eyes from the ant) I’m bothered by the upheaval, friends. I reach down myself, but what turns up is dead, and I’m too young to hold the bones above my head. Instead, I let the tiny tri-sectional members of my flock comb my body for the duration and I try to feel their march on my skin; the light hair on my arms tingling with their progress. I’ve lived now for five years and of those I remember only these last two and I’m overwhelmed by how much I’ve lost. To be seen, then, as this slow-growing floating island, a transient home on which a growing six-legged population finds safe passage, I am content. I’m told that I will not grow forever, but this I simply can not believe. Why put my faith in the words of jealous giants when I clearly see my feet are further from my eyes each day. My faith is in action.
My sister is an old, shy, but dedicated and tireless mute who refuses the—
JULIAN doesn’t look at her (there is no unpleasantness between them). He simply stops speaking and looks at the ant which is now on his wrist, moving at a lively pace but making slow progress up his arm because of its zig-zagging path. After a moment, JULIAN sits on the sand, using his other hand to find the ground, never taking his eyes off the ant. Just before he touches down entirely, a few other ants—some of which entered behind him and some others which descended from his legs—move from beneath him, avoiding being crushed.
ASHLEY stops her work and sits back on her heels, closing her eyes and breathing in. The tiny shovel drops from her hand. As she stands slowly, the pre-sunset light hits her skin in such a way that the uneven layers of salt covering her are now entirely visible. Indeed, her long hair (which, because of its current bunched up, impliable state only reaches her shoulders) appears almost like a solid sculpted object, so full of that dried, caked, sea salt. Therefore, when she moves now, there is a white-grey dust that falls from her, and there is an occasional tiny cracking sound heard between the ocean waves.
I’m going swimming.
(after a brief pause) Yeah.
(who is by now lying on his back) I just keep breathing. (pause)Look at my belly. (pause) I don’t believe in failing light. The moon and sun have made a deal and I love them both equally. I refuse to recognize such a thing as night. Sometimes I am awake. Sometimes I sleep. And I can do both no matter the situation of the light.
I feel a great love for the things that walk on me.
After a few moments, JULIAN’s breathing makes it apparent that he has fallen asleep.
It could be hours before ASHLEY gets back, so it’s more pressing now to worry about the tide.
JULIAN is small and the waves are getting bigger. The ants are even smaller, and the fact that they have colonized ASHLEY’s sand construction now means their homes—where presumably they would welcome the rest of the colony members once they arrive later this evening—are at risk. They really wasted no time in beginning their rearrangement of the sand within ASHLEY’s original design. They’ve been doing this grain by grain, but their growing numbers make the process surprisingly speedy.
How long have we been here?
ASHLEY returns with a towel around her. Her hair is longer than we would have imagined. It brushes along the sand now as it trails behind her. She steps carefully through the populated modified sand structure, moving toward us.
(to herself) A free process.. (out to us) I combed my hair but it kept growing and now when I swim I’m just another wild ocean thing with bizarre extensions mysterious and amazing to human people. In keeping with the original vision, this here is a temporary home. I would never build a prison and I’m glad I’m not alone. I invented the reasonable task. I traced the line between my brother and our father and I built the perfect city though I didn’t mean for future death or drowning. My brother is asleep. He says there are no girl ants and the queen is a myth; that all the ants which will be have already been created, so once they’re gone, they’re gone. He’s only five.
Don’t worry about him. I’m a good swimmer and there’s plenty of time to build again tomorrow.
The lights fade as the tide continues to rise.
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