Wind in a Violin

Claudio Tolcachir

Illustration by Andrea Popyordanova

The actress playing CELESTE enters the playing space, walks downstage, looks at the audience:

CELESTE:  Everything I see is in your eyes. Look . . . look . . .

The music from a Bach partita explodes and all the actors enter, taking their respective places.

LENA and CELESTE are in bed, their heads at opposite ends. They inhale and hold their breath. CELESTE exhales; she can’t hold it in any longer.

CELESTE:  Lena, Lena, exhale.

(LENA keeps going.)

CELESTE:  Exhale, Lena. Your veins are going to burst. Lena, exhale. Lena, your veins. Lena.

(CELESTE punches LENA, she tickles LENA.) 

LENA:  Hey. The way you talk, your veins Lena, your veins Lena. I could have gone on longer. How long was it?

CELESTE:  I don’t know. A bunch.

LENA:  I could have gone on longer. But you had to talk.


LENA:  What?

CELESTE:  What did you see?

LENA:  Nothing.

CELESTE:  You didn’t see anything?

LENA:  No, I don’t think I . . .

(She turns over in bed.)

CELESTE:  You didn’t see anything?


LENA (jumping up and grabbing her):  I’m lying. Of course I saw something. You know what I saw? A big fat, dark one with chubby cheeks. And really black eyes.

CELESTE:  And was I there?

LENA:  Yeah, you were letting him suck your tit.

CELESTE:  And was I pretty? I’m scared you won’t like me after the pregnancy.

LENA:  You were beautiful.

CELESTE:  Boy or girl?

LENA:  Boy, really dark.

CELESTE:  Black?

LENA:  Yeah.

CELESTE:  Pitch black?

LENA:  No, ha.

CELESTE (pointing to LENA'S skin):  Dark like that?

LENA:  Sure.

CELESTE:  Then he was in your belly.

LENA:  No, in yours.

CELESTE:  In my belly he’d be like this (pointing to her own skin). If he’s like that (pointing to LENA'S), then he’s in yours.

LENA:  Um, in yours.

CELESTE:  Period?

LENA:  Period.

CELESTE:  And you were there?

LENA:  I have to go to work, I’ll come back later, I have the car.

CELESTE:  What about me? I have to stay home, with my mom?

LENA:  Hmmmm . . .

CELESTE:  I’ll go with you.

LENA:  Noooo . .  .

CELESTE:  I stay home alone?

LENA:  Well, I wouldn’t work for a while.

CELESTE:  No, you can’t do that.

LENA:  Bossy.

CELESTE:  Are my tits big?

LENA:  Huge.

CELESTE (pausing):  And the dad?

LENA:  Huh?

CELESTE:  Did you see him?

LENA:  No, I did not.

CELESTE:  Did you see some ugly dad?

LENA:  No, I didn’t see him.


CELESTE:  How are we going to do it?

LENA:  I don’t know, we’ll figure it out. Give me a kiss, you’re so gorgeous. I’m going to eat your eyes up. (CELESTE laughs like a little girl.) Give me those eyes, I’m going to eat 'em up. Yummmmmm. What yummy eyes.

(CELESTE doesn’t stop laughing. Pause.)

CELESTE:  Do it again?

LENA (they both get comfortable on the bed):  One, two, three.

(They inhale. The light changes.)

DORA:  Señora, Señora. It’s 10:15. Señora. The alarm clock already went off. Good morning, Señora.

MECHA (suddenly waking up from a deep sleep, disheveled):  STOP IT. I already know. Fuck. (Can’t even get up out of bed.) Dora, what time is it?

DORA:  10:15. Do you want some breakfast?

MECHA:  Oh, no, I’m not going to get there on time, goddammit.

DORA:  I’ll put the kettle on just in case.

MECHA (still can’t focus):  Can you turn the light on for me, Dora? I’m all fucked up. Is it cold out?

DORA:  A little. Take something with you, you never know.

(The room’s a mess.)

MECHA (trying to stand but still half-asleep):  Can you look for a piece of paper in the dining room with today’s schedule on it? (Looks around for her clothing and puts on a pair of ripped pants.) Did you find it?

DORA:  Hold on, you’ve got a lot of things here. I found it.

MECHA:  Is my green skirt there?

DORA:  The one that goes with your suit?

MECHA:  Yes, the green one, the only green one I have, Dorita . . .

DORA:  I’ll bring it to you.

(DORA brings her the skirt and the piece of paper. MECHA tries to take off her pants, but they’re too tight.)

MECHA:  Help me out of these.

(She throws herself onto the bed with her legs in the air. DORA grabs onto her heels.)

DORA:  Here’s your skirt.

MECHA:  What a piece of shit, throw these away or take them home with you. Maybe you can fix them . . .

DORA:  It says you have a board meeting at 9:30. The Palermo Building.

MECHA:  9:30? What time is it now?

DORA:  Around 10:20.

MECHA:  Good God, what a mess.

DORA:  Here’s your skirt.

MECHA:  Help me. I’ve got to call them. What should I say?

DORA:  Train strike?

MECHA:  Idiot. What should I wear on top?

DORA:  Your little white blouse is ironed.

MECHA:  Hold on, can you find me the number, I can’t see a thing.

(She hands DORA her cell phone.)

DORA:  What am I looking for?

MECHA:  Esteban.

DORA:  Esteban, okay. But there’s more than one.

MECHA:  Esteban in Logistics.

DORA:  Here he is. Should I dial it?

MECHA:  Yeah.

(DORA hands her the phone.

DORA:  I’ll go get your blouse.

(While MECHA talks on the phone, DORA gets her dressed. Out of that initial, destroyed impression, we need to build an image of MECHA the executive.)

MECHA:  Esteban, Mecha here. How are you, yes, keep it short, I’m stuck at school with Darío, no, nothing serious, he got into an argument with one of his teachers and he’s all worked up, I’m here with the department chair and can’t get away. I understand, I’m not trying to make any excuses. Anyway, everything’s in the e-mail I sent you last night, I sent it to you last night, that’s really weird. I don’t think it’s the right time to start keeping score. All I ask is you explain it to them. So it doesn’t look like I wasn’t planning to be there. You understand? I don’t understand you. I understand perfectly, you are a piece of shit and you’re so used to being a piece of shit that you don’t even feel bad about it. Are you going to explain it to them or not? You’re going to try. Why don’t you go clean your own ass first, you fucking, shitty asshole?

DORA:  10:25.

MECHA (now starting to look like an executive, putting on her makeup):  Can you take a look in my briefcase? (DORA goes.) Is my dayplanner there?

DORA:  The blue one or the red one?

MECHA:  Put the red one in my purse, leave the blue one in my briefcase.

DORA:  Your mother’s hearing aids are still here.

MECHA:  Oh, I didn’t take them, I forgot. Well, I didn’t make it.

DORA:  Don’t they work?

MECHA:  I was supposed to take them in, but it’s in Ballester, fucking end of the world.

DORA:  That’s near where I live.

MECHA:  Could you help me out then?

DORA:  Certainly.

MECHA:  Thanks, Dorita. Is there a file there?

DORA:  No.

MECHA:  Look on my bed.

(DORA becomes a little disoriented.)

MECHA:  On my bed, you blind idiot.

DORA:  Here’s a file.

MECHA:  What does it say?

DORA:  Business percentages.

MECHA:  Perfect, put it in my briefcase. Can you look for my other shoe?

DORA:  Where did you leave it?

MECHA:  Everything’s going to be okay.

DORA:  Where did you leave it?

MECHA:  What.

DORA:  Your shoe.

MECHA:  I came home, I went into the kitchen, I still had them on. I went into the bathroom, I still had them on. I went to give Darío a kiss goodnight, in the hall, next to the bathroom next to Darío’s room.

DORA:  Found it.

MECHA:  They hire kids right out of college who think they can tell you how everything’s done.

DORA:  Here it is.

MECHA:  I’m off.

DORA:  10:30.

MECHA:  GOT IT, thanks, Dorita. Purse, briefcase. You’ll take care of the hearing aids. I’ll leave you some money. Ready. Gotta fly.

(She heads for the door.)

DORA:  And Darío? Should I wake him up?

MECHA:  He’s still sleeping?

DORA:  I think so.

MECHA:  He didn’t go to school?

DORA:  No.

MECHA:  What about his ride?

DORA:  They come by at 8:00, I’m not here yet.

MECHA:  I didn’t hear them. Darío! Well, will you get him up? Give him something for breakfast, please. Make sure that he gets to class so he’s not on his own. He can be late but he can’t miss class. I think he has an exam in something, I don’t know. Ask him. But don’t let him miss class, please, I beg you. Maybe you can take him. Make sure he goes in, that he doesn’t just hang out somewhere nearby. Afterwards, he has therapy. Beso.

DORA:  You don’t want any coffee?

MECHA:  Give it to Darío. I don’t have time. Can you call my mom to tell her about her hearing aids? Be sure to talk loud.

DORA:  Darío. Let’s go . . . school.

DARÍO: This bothers my head a bit, don’t you have a pillow?


DARÍO: A pillow, for my head . . .

SANTIAGO:  You never told me before that it bothered you . . .

DARÍO: It never bothered me before. This is the first time.

SANTIAGO:  Strange.

DARÍO: Can I sit then? (Sits.)

SANTIAGO:  Do you want us to return to the chair? Is that it?

DARÍO: No, I like the sofa, but it strains my neck.

SANTIAGO:  Your choice.

DARÍO: You don’t have a pillow?

SANTIAGO:  No, there’s no pillow. Do you want to return to the chair? You want to stay on the sofa. Whatever you want.

DARÍO: Well, you’re the one who suggested the sofa. It seems that for some reason you thought it was better. Let’s stay here. (Lies down.)


(DARÍO: goes into contortions because he’s uncomfortable.)

SANTIAGO:  What’s going on.

DARÍO: Nothing, it’s okay. I’m fine.

SANTIAGO:  You’re uncomfortable.

DARÍO: No, not at all.

SANTIAGO:  I’m asking you, are you uncomfortable?

DARÍO: In general, you mean?

SANTIAGO:  Are you uncomfortable, Darío?

DARÍO: Not at all. Just the opposite. (Sits.) I feel that lately I’ve been more centered, more present, with things.

SANTIAGO:  Lie down, Darío. (DARÍO lies down.) Are you still smoking?

DARÍO: Weed? Hardly any.

SANTIAGO:  Hardly or any?

DARÍO: A lot less. Than before.

SANTIAGO:  Do you still have your plants or . . .

DARÍO: They dried up.

SANTIAGO:  So now you buy.

DARÍO: Yeah, but just a little.

SANTIAGO:  Just a little, but you’re still buying.

DARÍO: But I don’t need it like I used to. That’s what I mean. (Sits down.) Having a job has somehow gotten me organized.

SANTIAGO:  Lie down, Darío.

DARÍO: And so I need less now, I’m calmer and I don’t need it, and anyway my plants died on me.

SANTIAGO:  Everything’s coming together, or it seems to be coming together.

DARÍO: What do you mean? That I let them die? The plants?

SANTIAGO:  No, I didn’t say that.

DARÍO: Oh, okay.

SANTIAGO:  But it’s not bad, that idea. Not bad at all.

DARÍO:  Uh, thanks.

SANTIAGO:  You have a job, and your plants dry up.

[ . . . ]

DARÍO: You’re a good psychologist, seriously. Really good.

SANTIAGO:  Well, thanks.

DARÍO: Are you happy?

SANTIAGO:  With what.

DARÍO: With yourself.

SANTIAGO:  No, it’s not about whether I’m happy . . .

DARÍO: I know, but at times I feel like you’re interested in talking to me. Like you’re happy to have me as a patient.

SANTIAGO:  I like all my patients . . .

DARÍO: But you must be into some more than others. I feel like you’re interested in what I say. And like I know where you’re headed . . . 

SANTIAGO:  I don’t understand.

DARÍO: No, I like the work you’re doing, but sometimes I feel like some things get by you and my take on them helps you to understand me.

SANTIAGO:  Your take is very valuable. Especially for understanding you.

DARÍO: I noticed. Both of us have a learning curve.

SANTIAGO:  Both of us?

DARÍO: Don’t get me wrong. But . . . like the thing with the job and my plants. That they happened at the same time. You remember? Just now?

SANTIAGO:  Yes, I remember . . . 

DARÍO: Well, it didn’t occur to you, it occurred to me, and you thought it was a good idea . . .

SANTIAGO:  That’s very good, and so then?

DARÍO: That. You should feel comfortable calling on me if you need any help with your other patients . . .

SANTIAGO:  Oh . . . and how would you help me?

DARÍO: Look: if you want, we can get together, you can show me your notes. Do you really take notes or . . . ?

SANTIAGO:  Of course I take notes, that’s my job.

DARÍO: Even better. So we get together, grab some coffee and I give you a hand with your tougher cases.

SANTIAGO:  Thanks, but I already have my office.

DARÍO: I won’t charge, just being a pal, helping you out.

SANTIAGO:  I think we’re done for today, Darío. I’ll see you next week.

DARÍO: Did I upset you? I’m not saying you don’t know what you’re doing, okay?

SANTIAGO:  I understood you perfectly. But I don’t need any help for now, thanks.

DARÍO: Because if you taped the sessions and we listened to them together, I could toss you some pointers.

SANTIAGO:  Let’s see, Darío. You’re the patient and I’m the doctor.

DARÍO: Yeah, but as far as our actions are concerned, we’re kind of the same, right?

SANTIAGO:  What do you mean?

DARÍO:  Hold on, hear me out. Instead of paying you for our sessions, I can help you with the others and that way we’d be even . . .

SANTIAGO:  Like a trade?

DARÍO: Yeah. Because it seems to me that we both don’t have to be here. The patients will be inhibited, but if we did it another way . . .

SANTIAGO:  Let’s just leave our roles the way they are . . .

DARÍO: It’s that, sincerely and with all due respect, Santiago, it seems unfair for me to pay you when we’re almost at the same level, of analysis. But this other way . . . I give you a hand, you give me a hand . . .

SANTIAGO:  Darío, you have a completely immature mentality, you’re a mythomaniac in denial. You are entirely dependent upon and subjugated to your mother. Your sex life is completely defective. You’re incapable of any professional or even human development. You don’t have any sensitivity or understanding of the human soul. I don’t see how you can help me.

DARÍO: Maybe as your secretary?


DARÍO: The girl you have now is kind of dumb, isn’t she?


DARÍO: You’ve seen how she gets the schedules mixed up, it’s like she’s embarrassed to charge you.

SANTIAGO:  I’m happy with that girl and I wouldn’t give any kind of responsibility to a clumsy and scattered type like you who doesn’t have the least bit of tact with others.

DARÍO: Well, I could handle your appointments. Set up your calendar, whatever.

SANTIAGO:  Not even in the worst moment of my life would I leave my business in your hands. What are you asking me?

DARÍO: It’s that with all the pain in this world. I can’t keep coming here like this. Sorry, but . . .

SANTIAGO:  Don’t come here anymore, Darío.

DARÍO: We’re playing out roles that are a lie . . .

SANTIAGO:  Fine, don’t come here anymore.

DARÍO: You’re losing me as a patient, that’s what I want you to understand.

SANTIAGO:  I think I can handle it.


DARÍO: I was also thinking, I dunno. Redecorate a bit. A little freshening up wouldn’t hurt this place . . .

SANTIAGO:  You know what, Darío? Pay me for this session and we’ll end this lie. Sound good?

DARÍO: I don’t have any money.

SANTIAGO:  You don’t have any money?

DARÍO: No, I don’t have any money, I don’t have a job. I lied to you.

SANTIAGO:  You lied to me?

DARÍO: Yes, I lied to you, and you should have figured that out. Now you understand me when I say that some things get past you?

SANTIAGO:  Honestly, Darío. Get out. I don’t want to listen to you anymore.

DARÍO: Okay, I’m gone.

SANTIAGO:  Get out.

DARÍO: Anyway, I already had plans for next Thursday, I wouldn't have been able to, I wasn’t going to be able to . . .

SANTIAGO:  Don’t come back, Darío.

DARÍO: Bye, Santiago. It was a pleasure having you as my . . . what do you call it?

SANTIAGO:  Bye, Darío.

DARÍO: Bye, doc. I mean, Santiago, now that you’re not my . . . (Heads for the door.)

SANTIAGO:  Bye. Darío?

DARÍO:  What?

SANTIAGO:  Now that you’re not my patient, could you give me the number of the person who sells you your weed? Ha ha.

DARÍO:  It’s terrible, isn’t it? The present is black and the future is, too, you know, you know what that feels like. So what do you do to keep going? I’m sick. But you’re worse.

translated from the Spanish by Jean Graham-Jones