The following is a dramatic monologue read by one actor.
I lost my mother because I couldn’t talk yet.
I don’t mean “lost” is the usual, euphemistic way. My mother took me to a shopping mall when I was 3. We were in the food court. She did most of the talking; I had not learned to talk yet. I heard a buzzing sound from a toy store next door to us. My mom was on the phone, in her own world. I jumped from my seat, navigated the hive of people eating at the food court, blocked my ears as I ran, stepped into the toy store, turned down the first aisle, found the insect action figure producing the buzzing noise, and stepped on it. The buzzing sound stopped. All of this may sound unbelievable, but I have a good memory.
I’ve always been sensitive to sounds. If I could talk back then, and if I had an impressive vocabulary when I was 3, I would’ve described the insect action figure as piercing, digging, screeching, so annoying that I could hear it even above the droning of the crowd. The toy aisle I found myself in was crowded. And strange. And hypnotizing.
When, after dark, the attendants found me, a child with wet hands, wet crotch, and wet eyes, I couldn’t speak, I could only cry. So they said.
That was then. Now, I’m older, I’m articulate, I’m the second place finisher at the Iowa Speech State Finals. Now I’m going to ask you all: have you seen my mother?
(The speaker gestures to the empty space next to her) I want you all to imagine my mother.
My mother, Diana Armistead, was born on October 10th. My mother lived in Cedar Rapids, in a green house. I’ve seen her wear a business casual suit before. My mother answers to certain nicknames, like “Momma” or “Mommy.” At least, I assume so.
My mother is Caucasian— ethnicity from Greeks and Italians, yet cultured and bred in America. She has black hair, thick like a horse’s hair. My mother’s hair falls to her shoulder and chest in layers. (gestures to the empty space next to her) My mother’s right there. Can you see her?
My mother is about as tall as a sunflower plant. Wait. I read somewhere that sunflower plants can grow up to 20 feet high. That’s not an accurate representation of my mother. Maybe a sunflower plant cut in half? That’s still unacceptably high. All right, she’s as tall as a malnourished sunflower plant. That’s better. (gestures to the empty space next to her) My mom’s as tall as a sunflower plant, but when you think of her, think of a malnourished sunflower plant cut in half.
My mother is as thin as a beam of light. My mother’s favorite color is the baby blue and baby pink. My mother’s dresses go down to her ankles. She will not admit this, but her legs are quite hairy. My mother wears high heels. My mother’s breasts were, according to the common metric I’ve seen in popular culture, a size C.
My mother’s face is like… well, here’s where it gets complicated. In 5th grade, a friend of mine said I had a face only the angels could love. I didn’t know what an angel was… I had never met anyone religious before. So I googled on the school computer what an “angel” is, and I received results for a teenage vampire, a pornographic actress, a river in Germany, a luminescent being from the Christian Bible, a game show, a superhero, a statue, a singer, a telecommunications company, a being that looked like a UFO, and many more. So if I said “my mother had a face like an angel,” that would be an inaccurate and ambiguous statement, reflective of poor communication skills.
So her face… my mother had eyes like big ovals, with long eyelashes, green. My mother’s nose was angular. My mother had red cheeks. My mother wore hoop earrings. My mother had lips, red and soft, just the right size. (puts on paper mask) This is what she looks like. When you look for my mother, look for this. Look for an angel.
My mother, from my knowledge, does not have any tattoos, birthmarks, scars, recreational drugs, education, philosophical beliefs, religious beliefs, or habits. My mother’s personality traits… are motherly.
There are no pictures of my mother. Anywhere. You may think this fact odd, given the 21st century we live in. I don’t know why there are no pictures of my mother, and the authorities don’t know why either. So they say. My mother has… a father? A relative? Even a mother of her own? I don’t remember. We seemed to live in our own world, my mother and I, when I was young. Now she has her own world, and I have mine.
My mother, when angry, looked like a tiger. My mother, when sad, collapsed like a building in the rain. My mother when happy, smiled like a sunrise.
My mother when I saw her last, talking on her phone in the food court, looked annoyed, like a cat.
Is this helping you? What a silly question, of course it is. You will find my mother. If we get the entire world looking for her, then, why, she can’t hide in her own little world forever. I’ve been told that I have to stop living in the past. They’ve said it before, so they will say it again. But when we meet, my mother and I, I will take her back to the food court, where the people buzz and the masses stumble, where there’s a white ceiling and golden garbage cans, where the air freshener smell covers up the rotting food. My mother will look at me. My mother will shed a single tear. I will look her in the face and say, “You are here. I am here.” And then I’ll never have to say anything else again.