The Endless Nightmare

A monologue written from the perspective of an elderly woman. It consists of flashbacks about her life. 'People come and go, but I never quite know what to say to them.'


1. The Endless Nightmare


Scene opens to Eleanor sitting near the window, staring outside.

The room’s quite dingy, isn’t it? I hate being in this room because it gets so musty all the time. The light seems to shrink away as if there is a black hole sucking everything in until eventually all the light in the world disappears.

It gets quite lonely, too. People come and go, but I never quite know what to say to them. They only drop in on me because they feel sorry for me, I’m sure. Even my family don’t know what to say around me. Well, what’s left of my family. All I have now is a few grand-daughters. That sounds so ungrateful, I know. But I’m not particularly close to them. I have a brother, too. He’s in a nursing home, a few miles away, but we rarely communicate. He’s been pretty much bed-bound since he had that nasty fall where he damaged his hip and back. I did drop in on him, though, before…

He seemed lonely, too. I guess that’s why I didn’t visit again. It’s always worse after you see someone, the loneliness. You get that happy spark back of being around people you relate to, that aren’t paid to talk to you. Then they disappear, and the pain’s worse than before.

Eleanor notices cars approaching the house and slowly stands up.

Everyone here thinks I’m mad, I can tell. You’re supposed to be happy when you have visitors, but they just remind me of how different our lives are, now. Sometimes I think they don’t really want to see me, they just come out of obligation. I hate to feel as if I am a burden to people. I don’t feel like a burden to the people here, though. They are paid to talk to me so I can’t really stop them. When they come to talk to me, I feel like I am a child again, when my mother used to read me stories before I went to sleep. They talk and talk and talk, about their lives as if I am their best friend and want to know every personal detail. Sometimes I pretend to fall asleep so they stop. They only come to visit me because they feel sorry for me, though, which makes me resent them more for it.

They don’t really think about death until suddenly one day everything stops. It’s as if you’re paralysed, deathly still like a corpse in the morgue. You can’t do anything, you can hardly speak. You just have to sit and wait while it slowly creeps up on you.

Time changes… when you’re young it passes so quickly. I remember years had gone by before I had time to catch my breath. When you get older it becomes agony. Seconds last for years and memories repeat, over and over, until you can’t take it anymore and you wish you could scream for it to stop. It’s like going to the theatre, and watching the same play, every day of your life. It’s torture, really, and it’s endless.

A nurse walks into the room with a jug of water and some flowers.

They change the flowers every day. It’s ironic, they keep the flowers alive and fresh but try to speed up the dying process for all of us. Flowers wither, and decay; just like people do. I’d hate to be thrown away, when it’s my time. I suppose that’s what happens with a cremation, though. I decided when I was fifteen I wanted to be cremated. I couldn’t stand the thought of my body sinking into the ground and slowly rotting. Once you die your soul leaves your body, that’s what I think. So I suppose it isn’t YOUR body any more. But just the thought of the decay and the smell and the insects… It was enough to make me retch all those years ago. Back then death was just a spark on the horizon. It doesn’t feel much closer now.

I’ve never been religious. What’s the point? No one’s going to save me now. You can hear the soft murmur of people praying, at night. You can see them, too. Their frail bodies rocking, the ancient bones cracking, the quivering lips moving. I often wonder to myself why people are religious. I mean, those people that have never had a single prayer answered yet they still hold complete faith in a God they have no proof really exists. It’s phenomenal. Maybe it’s the fear of death and the unknown, or maybe… I USED to believe everything happens for a reason, and in karma and fate. But when…I lost hope.

People suffer in life, don’t they? Sometimes there isn’t a reason for it, but you have to get on with it. I believe death is the reward for life. If you stick it out, you get rewarded for being strong. If you don’t stick it out, and something happens to speed up events, well, you get rewarded anyway, for trying. This place is like the waiting room for death. It sounds morbid, I know, but it’s true. We all just sit here, day in, day out, waiting until it’s our time.

Eleanor is sitting on her bed. The room is dim. It is evening. The nurse enters.

The nurses here hate me, I can tell. They hate all of us! Really, they’re just waiting for us to die, increasing our medication to try to get us to succumb to death by speeding up the process. They think they know it all but I’m wise to their ways. They act so nice all the time but I know the truth. I keep… I don’t… It’s hard for me to explain it, but lately… I’m already dying, it’s near, I can tell. Probably their stupid medication… I feel blurry all the time, like I’m not really me, like I’m somebody else acting out my own life… It’s weird, and some days I forget my own name! I’ve been getting awful flashbacks also, as if I’m reliving them. My days consist of flashbacks and dizzy blurry episodes, but that could just be the effects of the medication. The other night, Barbara, over there; was screaming out and her body was flailing on the bed. At first I thought she was having a nightmare. The nurses came and tried to calm her down but she was still screaming. ‘Take me away! Make it stop!’ In the end they had to isolate her from the rest of us. How weak, she’s already succumbed. Everyone here is so weak and fickle, but that will never be me, I’m strong enough to resist.

Three nurses enter the room and approach Eleanor.

Here they come again, probably to increase my medication by MORE. One of these days I’m going to drop dead, and when they do the autopsy they’ll see the truth, the cause of death will be an overdose…They just give us medication so they can forget about us I swear, it’s like they’re switching off a light, in all of us. One by one they’re killing us. I’ll be next, I’m telling you.

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