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Hot Desk Extract: Hope to Die

As part of the Wheeler Centre’s Hot Desk Fellowship programme, Amarachi Okorom worked on Hope to Die, a stage play that explores sistahood and what it means to protect your space.

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Hope to Die is a murder mystery drama that takes place in a small town and it follows the lives of three locals whose lives are turned upside down when another woman enters the town along with her secrets. They have each gone through something traumatic and have used their friendship as a safe haven. To them, this new woman is a threat to their bond and they’re willing to take secrets to the grave, even about murder, if it means they won’t lose each other. Hope to Die interrogates how far people would go to protect their own, even if it’s illegal.

 


 

SCENE ONE

It’s a rainy and cold day. Everyone’s in their houses. Or you would think they’d be. Three young women stand in the rain, staring off into the distance. An annoying ticking sound of a clock can be heard. No one is saying a word. The clock strikes 12. The rain stops and it’s like nothing happened.

 

KENNY             To understand what happened

LISA                  You must first take a look at where it all began

POLLY               To this neighborhood nobody had ever heard about

KENNY             The thing about secrets is

LISA                  Everybody eventually knows.

A fourth woman enters, JOANNA, dragging along a suitcase. They all turn to her. She doesn’t seem to notice them.

LISA looks over to fourth woman’s house

LISA                  12.05

Pause.

LISA                  She got here at 12.05 in the morning

 

SCENE TWO

JOANNA is unpacking her bags. Her phone rings

 

JOANNA           What?
No no, you listen –
How can you say that?
Look, I don’t want to fight you…I just
No, it’s not for you –
You’re so full of yourself
Oh so now I’m the –
It’s not fair
She hangs up

 

JOANNA           You live in a nice house
You have some place you truly call home
But what do women like me get?
A pat on the back
A look of sympathy
You’re so strong
It must have been so hard
And I smile
Because if I don’t, they’ll know I’m not strong
Why do I have to be strong?
Why do I have to be the strong woman who took it all and kept going?
While you get to sleep on your silk sheets
With your breakfast laid perfectly on your bed
And your lunch packed and ready right before you leave the house
I see you
Hiding behind the lies
Hiding behind the perfect life you carefully created to keep me out
I see you

JOANNA sits for a while and goes back to packing shortly after.

 

SCENE TEN

POLLY, KENNY and LISA all stand and stare at JOANNA’s HOUSE and watch as her body is being taken away.

When someone dies, your body forgets how to move through space and time. Everything seems to be moving in irregular speeds. When someone who was once here, no longer has breath escaping from their lungs. Your mind replays each and every encounter that led to this moment. You mourn the memories that were taken for granted.

You never truly know how much time you have with someone.

Unless it was calculated.

Every single encounter that led to this moment.

POLLY, KENNY and LISA stare at each other.

And it’s like they know.

 

FINAL SCENE

KENNY, POLLY and LISA stand side by side. A spotlight goes up on KENNY. She takes her space.

KENNY             To understand what truly happened. You must first look at where it all began.

One woman stumbles into a small town – or that’s what we thought.

Why had she chosen this specific town at that specific time?

12.05am.

Lisa remembered it

Lisa mentioned it.

It’s like she knew that someone would notice. Would take note of her.

 

Joanna walked into our town and changed our lives with her secrets that were too         heavy for her to shoulder.

I didn’t kill her.

But I wish I did.

 

The spotlight is now on LISA.

 

LISA                  Where it all began

12.05am

Or was it earlier than that?

Was it when my sister died?

When my parents kicked me out with nothing?

When I couldn’t afford anything other than a place in this town?

Joanna knew why she came here.

She understood how we functioned

Blended in to our dysfunctional lives

Tried to fix it

I think that’s why we trusted her

Because she had solutions

 

But that’s the thing about secrets

They eventually come out.

 

See, I’d never kill anybody – kill her

But I understand why it happened.

 

POLLY is now in a spotlight.

 

POLLY               One day.

All it takes is one day.

I always knew my husband wasn’t the best man

I never gave him children

But he never gave me a reason to

 

I’m not a murderer

But if you were in my shoes

You’d know why I did it.

 

The spotlight stays on all three women

 

KENNY             We know why she did it

LISA                  We would too if it had happened to us

KENNY             So, we’ll take this secret to the grave

LISA                  Cross our Hearts

 

POLLY steps forward.

 

ALL                   Hope to die.

 

 

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