Helps to Hate You a Little: a Play in 4 Acts of Revenge, excerpt
By Tallulah Crankhead
[It is the center of a Heatwave. The night is quiet like the eye of a storm. Two women are sitting on the floor of an apartment with the lights off. It’s too hot for light. It’s too hot for chairs. We can barely see the women. There is the sound of a fan. Each woman has a glass of water. They are both probably a little bored].
Young Woman: I don’t know how much longer I can take this.
Woman: We’ve only just started. The heat I mean. It’s only just begun. Tell me more, about that book you’re reading.
Young Woman: Oh, it’s just this Buddhist idea, killing your idols. They say that as soon as you come upon the Buddha, the Sage, you should kill him, because anyone who appears to have all the answers, who claims to be the Buddha, isn’t the real Buddha, but only someone setting themselves up to be an idol, waiting to be worshipped.
Woman: That’s interesting. Do you follow that?
[Young Woman thinks for a minute]. Well, no matter how into someone I am, I look for things I can hate them for later.
Young Woman: Killing the Buddha.
Woman: I don’t get it.
Young Woman: It’s best not to build up someone you love too much, you’ll end up creating a fantasy about them and then they’ll intimidate you. You’ll start thinking they are better than you. You will become scared of them, and end up hating them for making you feel like shit.
Woman: So, you have to find a way to destroy them piece by piece?
Young Woman: In your head, just a little, enough to keep them human-size. You should be a little mean to them.
Woman: That sounds dangerous.
Young Woman: It is.
Woman: Let’s try it.
Young Woman: Okay.
…. [There is a long pause and we sense that each woman feels shy].
[Then the Woman makes a decision to speak]. I’m really attracted to you, you know. But once you told me your philosophy, I started thinking you were a little cold.
Young Woman [nods]: I am. I am cold.
Woman: [emboldened] Yeah. A cold, little bitch. And I started wondering what it would take for you to melt.
Young Woman: I don’t melt. I roll out. I’ll hit you like an avalanche. You won’t even see me coming, It’ll just rumble down on you. Do you know how many men I’ve buried with my indifference?
Woman: I’m not a man.
Young Woman [shrugs]: People are people.
Woman: People are people. People are selfish. Men are selfishly impatient. They bark when they get impatient. They are always barking. [She pauses. It is very hot. She dips her fingers into her water and rubs the back of her neck. The water is good, she closes her eyes to absorb it].
Young Woman: And?
Woman: And what?
Young Woman: And women?
Woman: Women are selfishly controlled. They give nothing of themselves away.
Young Woman: Is that it?
Woman: What do you mean is that it?
Young Woman: That’s no revelation. You’re going to have to do better than that.
Woman: What, about control?
Young Woman: Yes, control. Tell me about it.
Woman: Think about how tight you have to make your asshole to be in that much control. Think about your chest. Think about that compression. The carbon in your chest. Think about that little diamond of hate. If you push all your needs down hard enough, if you hate everyone who wants something from you deeply enough, you can make your own need glitter with contempt. It hurts, doesn’t it. Doesn’t it hurt? Where is your diamond? [She lets her gaze fall all over Young Woman] Is it in your ass? In your chest?
[Young Woman says nothing, but swallows audibly. Her gaze is steady].
Woman: Well, we’ll just have to find out, won’t we?
Young Woman [blurting]: You’ll never find it.
Woman: Oh no? [smiling].Why’s that?
Young Woman: Because it doesn’t exist. There’s nothing in there.
Woman: So if I were to, say, hit you, nothing would happen.
Young Woman: Where?
Woman: If I hit your chest, right here [She presses her finger into the sternum of the other, and draws her finger down slow and hard between her breasts], you’re telling me you’d feel nothing.
Young Woman: Can’t you … [swallowing] can’t you feel how cold it is? It’s nothing but bone there.
Woman [Pressing her palm down like a doctor]: Hmm. It feels pretty hot. I know girls whose skin is like cucumbers. But you. [Drawing her fingers up to the base of the throat]. I feel your heart pumping. I feel your blood. Your blood is 98.6 degrees. It’ll be boiling before I’m through.
Young Woman: [She removes the Woman’s hand. The feel of the other’s skin, the warmth and firmness of flesh that is not her own, is a shock.] You’re lying. I’m a cold bitch.
Woman: You know what I think? [Their faces are close]. I think I’m gonna beat the cold out of you. You know how I know I can do that?
Young Woman: How?
Woman: Because you are going to let me. I can see in your eyes you want to be broken. Everyone wants to be broken. To be dogged until they can’t take it anymore and they have to give in. I’m going to beat you, and you are going to let me [She leans back, observing the other]. Beneath every ice-queen is a bitch in heat.
Young Woman [Mildly curious but unconvinced]: How are you gonna do it?
[The Woman combs her hair with her fingers. She is wet. Pensive, she takes a sip of water].
Woman: Come here [She speaks with authority. Her legs are wide].
[Young Woman goes to the other like she doesn’t have a choice. She stands over the Woman, who is still sitting. Even though she towers over her, the sitting Woman has all the power].
Woman: Take off your shirt. Let me touch you.
[Young Woman shakes her head]
[The Woman reaches out, and rips her blouse open. Young Woman falls to her knees from the force of the ripping].
Woman: You nasty little cunt. Do you see what happens when you disobey me?
[Young Woman nods]
Woman: Now your shirt is ruined. It isn’t worth shit. [She spits on the blouse]. Now. Let me touch you.
[Young Woman offers her breasts to her].
Woman: Come closer. I don’t want to have to reach. Don’t make me ask you again.
[Young Woman shuffles forward on her knees and the Woman inspects the breasts, pinches the nipples, then leans forward to flick each one with her tongue. Young Woman shudders slightly].
Woman: Don’t get excited yet. I want to know, are you wet?
[Young Woman shakes her head].
[The Woman jumps to her feet and roughly takes Young Woman’s chin, which is trembling slightly, in her hand] Are you lying to me? Are you sure you’re not wet?
Young Woman: No. I’m not wet.
Woman: You’re a cold, lying, little bitch. And you deserve everything I’m going to do to you tonight. Do you understand me? Take off your shorts.
[Young Woman obeys]. What are you going to do?
Woman: I want to see if you’ve been lying to me. Put your hand in your cunt.
Young Woman: No. This is humiliating.
[The Woman slaps her across the face]. You don’t even know what humiliation is, you little bitch. You humiliate people all the time. You think you’re so much better than everyone. You think your cunt stays dry? You think you don’t stink and wretch and fuck just like everyone else? Open your legs and feel how soaked that pussy is. Touch your wet cunt.
[Young Woman does. She is wet].
Woman: You see? You see what turns you on? Doesn’t it make you sick that you have to be slapped to get turned on? Doesn’t it make you sick how you lie? How your body betrays you? How you can’t control that little cunt? It’s because you go around thinking you’re made of ice. Now lick your fingers.
[Young Woman is trembling now, visibly. She sticks her fingers in her mouth. She moans a little].
Woman: Go on. You see? See how easy you melt? Aren’t you ashamed? Didn’t you think you’d be stronger than that? Now you have proof that you’re a weak little bitch. Proof you can feel, smell and taste. That’s called incontrovertible evidence.
Young Woman [still trembling]: O-of what?
Woman: Of what? [there is a moment where the woman considers violence but decides to answer instead]. It’s proof… that you’re a selfish little snatch sniffer! Are you ready for me yet?
[Young Woman nods slowly]
Woman: Is that all you can do? Lay there and nod? [sighing] Close your eyes. If I catch you peeking, I’ll leave you here alone all night. [She EXITS the stage and RETURNS with her cat of nine tails]. Here we are. [She hovers it just above Young Woman’s lips]. Stick your tongue out and see what I have for you.
[Young Woman lets out her tongue and is surprised to feel leather. The Woman brushes it gently against her tongue and lips, swaying it back and forth a little].
Woman: Doesn’t that feel nice? It’s soft leather isn’t it? [She sweeps it all along Young Woman’s body, swishing the nipples a few times, down her belly, then letting it rest on Young Woman’s cunt. She swishes it back and forth along her outer lips]. Feel how soft it is. [Young Woman nods]. Isn’t it funny how something so soft can cause so much pain? [She begins a soft, rhythmic swinging against Young Woman’s thighs]. Get up. Stand against that wall.
[Young Woman does, arms and legs slightly spread apart, as if she were pinned there]
Woman [following her]: I think you’re ready. [She continues the slow rhythmic swinging, almost bored, as if she were doing the dishes, but this time on Young Woman’s chest. YW moans softly. The Woman does not let up, and gradually the swings land with more weight and purpose. We begin to hear the slapping now. And light pink welts begin to appear on the surface of Young Woman’s skin].
Young Woman [cries out]:Oh, stop. Stop, please.