An Exit Ritual

AGoodbye something I can’t say no to Goodbye a sharp pain between my shoulder blade and my spine Goodbye acid reflux after beer lunch after hard morning after long night after no sleep after long day after cold pizza for breakfast after the flu don’t worry I’m fine it’s not the flu

Goodbye Health Services!

Goodbye “I’m not sick I’m just tired” goodbye hard work versus hard work versus hard work versus “real” work versus

Goodbye that sinking feeling that “I’m not good enough” feeling that “what even is good enough” feeling that “who decides what’s good enough?” Feeling that sorry feeling that “I’m so so sorry” feeling that “I’m not sorry suck my entire dick” feeling that always saying “goodbye” feeling that why even bother saying “goodbye” feeling that deep deep sigh that I can’t breath deeply enough try again deep breath(deep breath)

I can’t. breath deeply enough. try again. deep breath (deep breath)

Goodbye(deep breath)

Goodbye

Ann and Gwyneth 3

Gwyneth almost screams from a sudden, painful contraction. She bites her lip. She groans. Ann watches her intently.

ANN: You can scream.

GWYNETH: I don’t need to scream. I’m in control I don’t need to scream!

ANN: That’s it, girlie, let it out.

GWYNETH: I DON’T NEED TO SCREAM I’M IN CONTROL OF MY BODY I DON’T NEED TO SCREAM.

ANN: Tell me. Tell me.

GWYNETH: I AM HEALTHY I AM PURE I AM A GODDESS I AM A GLOWING BEACON OF LIGHT I CONTAIN THE UNIVERSE I AM A GARDEN AND GARDENS ARE PEACEFUL I DON’T FUCKING NEED TO SCREAM.

Gwyneth screams. There is blood on the floor. Gwyneth crouches, clutching her abdomen. Ann goes to her, wraps her arms around her. Ann dabs Gwyneth’s brow and guides her gently to the floor. She smiles.

ANN: That’s it, sweet. Now, push.

Gwyneth pushes. She screams. Ann smiles.

ANN: You’ve got it now, love. You’ve got it now.

Gwyneth births an Apple. Ann takes a bite.

Ann and Gwyneth 2

ANN: Oh no? My mistake.

GWYNETH: I’m doing my breathing. I’m in control of my body and life. I’m the goddess of the universe that is me.

Ann raises her eyebrows.

ANN: A goddess would be free to scream. If there was pain. If she wanted to scream.

GWYNETH: I don’t want to scream.

Ann shrugs.

GWYNETH: Where is my doula.

ANN: I’m here to help, love.

Gwyneth grits her teeth. Deep breath through the nose.

GWYNETH: You’re not helping.

Ann rubs Gwyneth’s back. Her touch is soothing. Gwyneth leans into it. The pain passes. Gwyneth leans back. Ann dabs Gwyneth’s head with a damp cloth. Ann lights some sage on fire and waves it gently around the room.

ANN: What’s her name?

GWYNETH: Apple.

ANN: Unusual.

GWYNETH: It’s gender-neutral.

ANN: It’s…?

GWYNETH: Good for a boy or a girl.

ANN: She will bear fruit. She will be sweet but also bitter, sharp but also soft,

Gwyneth opens her eyes. She really looks at Ann.

ANN: A good name.

Ann and Gwyneth 1


Ann is Ann Boole, 1695 midwife. American. A witch? Gwyneth as in Paltrow. Gwyneth is hugely pregnant, surrounded by linen. She paces. She breathes. The light is soft. Gentle music plays. Gwyneth grits her teeth. She dabs her forehead with a cloth. Sweat. Dab.

ANN: You’re doing well, sweet.

GWYNETH: You’re not my Doula.

ANN: I’m here to help you bring her into the world. That’s what I’m here to do.

GWYNETH: I don’t know the sex.

ANN: Oh no? Not a girl?

GWYNETH: Maybe a girl.

ANN: She’ll tell you what she is soon enough.

Gwyneth grits her teeth against a contraction. Deep breath through the nose. It passes.

GWYNETH: My doula is supposed to be here.

ANN: You can scream if you want. Don’t have to hold tight like that on my account.

GWYNETH: I don’t need to scream.

Ann wets a cloth with warm water from a bowl and dabs Gwyneth’s forehead. Gwyneth closes her eyes.

Apocalypse 54

JON: That’s really sweet, Lisa, but it’s bullshit. If everyone dies, it’s just…then it’s nothing. No one remembers. No weight. No pain. It’s just nothing.

LISA: I don’t believe that.

DEE: You don’t want to survive? You don’t want us to survive, together? You don’t want to….have kids, leave something behind, to…?

JON: No, I mean. I do. But. I don’t know if I believe I’m in control of that. Anymore.

KAY: It matters, Jon. If we all die. It matters.

JON…yeah. OK. Yeah.

Everyone stares at the fire.

KAY: Eat.

Kay pulls the fish off the fire. She hands it around. She keeps none for herself. She watches them eat.

JON: You’re not—[having any]?

KAY: Eat. Live.



Apocalypse 53

JON: So, I mean, basically what is the difference, really, if it happens how and then, here and there, to this person, and then that person, and then that one, or all at the same time? None of us will know the difference! You know? If we’re all already dead?

LISA: It matters

JON: But why?

DEE: Don’t you believe in…legacy? In leaving something behind that lasts longer than you?

JON: Isn’t that kind of narcissistic? Like why do we care about our own personal legacy so much? What are we leaving behind that’s so great?

DEE: Art? Culture?

LISA: It’s pain. It’s…when one person dies the people immediately around them, feel it. And when a group of people dies it’s bigger, there’s a ripple, people farther and farther away, they feel it. The pain, the legacy, the memory—it connects them. And the weight of it, it brings them down, but there are other people around them…who are alive? And the network. It buoys them up? Too? And if uh…like if everyone dies…except maybe somehow just one person survives….then it’s too much pain, it’s too much memory, there’s no network, it’s just weight. And it crushes them. And the last thing that is humanity? Like the last thing that is us? Is just this crushing weight of nothingness? And even if. Even if. It’s actually no one, no one survives. Don’t you think the weight? Will still be there somehow? Crushing the earth, and the universe, the pain it will just be this big black hole of nothingness and pain and that will be what the universe is. And it will be our fault.

Dee kisses Lisa.

DEE: We’re not gonna /let that happen-



apocalypse 52

Shift. Lisa, Dee, Kay, Jon. In the woods. Around a fire.

JON: Maybe it doesn’t matter.

LISA: It matters.

DEE: Of course it does, Leese.

Dee grips Lisa’s hand. Kay cooks fish. She is sad. She cooks.

JON: But why though? Really?

LISA: It just does.

DEE: The human race.

LISA: Our mothers. Our children!

JON: They’ll die eventually.

Jon glances at Kay. He looks away.

JON: They just will. I’m not trying to be…I mean we all do. Like at some point everybody goes through this weird, private horror of dying, of like being dead, of going from not dead to dead, or alive to not alive, or— Like, sometime or other, sooner or later, you get hit by a bus or you get cancer or the pox or the flu or you die in your sleep or your plane crashes or you step off a bridge or you get in a car crash or you get arrested by a crooked cop and burned in your cell or you get beaten on the street by a crooked cop or you get shot on the street by a nervous cop when you’re reaching for your ID or your lover stabs you or poisons you or pushes you into traffic or a stranger shoots you in the face at the movie theatre and you die. And then you’re dead. And you had a life and it was good that you had a life but now it’s over and ultimately that’s not surprising. Because it happens to everyone. Right?

Everyone just looks at him.