“The Psychoanalyst’s Wife” by G. Oxenberg

An original play written in CW 205:  Introduction to Creative Writing with Dr. Carlos Dews — Spring Semester 2010

 

“THE PSYCHOANALYST’S WIFE”

Characters

LUCY, A slender woman with short dark hair, in her 30’s.

THOMAS, A tall, slightly overweight man in his 40’s. He is a psychiatrist, and Lucy’s husband.

Setting

The kitchen of their apartment in Los Angeles. The present.

Lights up to reveal LUCY sitting alone at the kitchen table. She is hunched over and clearly distraught. The    kitchen is nicely decorated and furnished.

(LUCY can be heard softly singing)

LUCY

“That town will make you crazy
Just give it a little time
You’ll be walking ’round in circles
Down at Hollywood and Vine
You’ll be waitin’ on a phone call
At the wrong end of a broom
Yes, that town’ll make you crazy
Crazy as a loon”

Footsteps can be heard approaching the kitchen.

(LUCY stops singing and looks up at the entrance to the  kitchen.)

(Enter THOMAS, her husband. He is holding some  photographs)

THOMAS

(Hesitantly) I found these in the armoire. I’ve been looking at them since we got back. I just can’t believe he’s gone.

(A brief silence as THOMAS begins to flip through the  photographs.)

THOMAS (CONT.)

Here he is on the day we brought him home from the hospital. So handsome. And here he is with your parents on his first birthday…he looked just like you. Except for the eyes…he had my eyes.

(THOMAS sits down across from his  wife, placing the photographs on the  table)

THOMAS (CONT.)

It’s just so hard to fathom. One day I’m holding him in my arms, singing him lullabies and rocking him to sleep. The next day he’s being lowered into the ground in a wooden box. I can’t even—

LUCY

I wanted to be left alone, Tom.

(LUCY is trying hard to avoid making eye contact with THOMAS, as if doing so would cause her physical pain)

THOMAS

How are you holding up?

LUCY clearly doesn’t wish to talk to THOMAS.)

THOMAS (CONT.)

Lucy, I know how badly you must feel about this, but you have to realize it wasn’t your fault. It was an accident. It’s unhealthy to keep punishing yourself over this. It’s going to drive you mad. Did you call your parents bac—

LUCY

I’m sorry Tom, but I really do wish to be left alone.

THOMAS

I think you should–

LUCY

You’re always telling me what I should or shouldn’t do. How I should or shouldn’t feel. What I should or shouldn’t think. It’s been a very long day, Tom. Please don’t make me ask you again.

(THOMAS reaches to place his hands on LUCY’S)

THOMAS

Lucy, I’ve been a doctor long enough to know that being alone is the opposite of what you need right now. Trust me. You must stop blaming yourself. Grieving is a natural part of the process, but please try to listen to me.

LUCY

I’m tired of listening. You’re always treating me like one of your fucking patients. I’m so sick of it. I’m supposed to be your wife, not some case study.

(LUCY stands up and walks over to the  kitchen counter, her back to THOMAS)

LUCY (CONT.)

You have absolutely no idea how I’m feeling. I don’t care how many diplomas you have or how many awards you’ve won. When it comes to me, you’ve always been clueless.

THOMAS

Lucy…I just want to help you. I think you’re underestimating my experience with these sorts of things.

(LUCY is staring out the window)

THOMAS (CONT.)

Everything you are experiencing is completely normal. I’ve seen so many cases precisely like this one.

(LUCY turns around to face THOMAS. Her hands are trembling.)

LUCY

Have you Tom? Then tell me, since you are clearly so brilliant. What exactly is your assessment? Go ahead. I’m all ears.

THOMAS

Don’t raise your voice, Lucy. Projecting your anger and frustration on to me certainly won’t solve anything.

(THOMAS pauses and stares at LUCY intently. His gaze reflects a mix of both pity and  fascination)

THOMAS (CONT.)

You know, Freud said that in order to fully recover after the death of a loved one, we must be able to detach emotionally from the deceased. Only then can we grieve—

LUCY

What is your fucking problem? Do you hear yourself talk? Our only son is dead and you’re discussing Freud? Is that really all you think about? All you care about? You will never see your son again. He’s gone forever. I don’t give a fuck about Freud.

(THOMAS shakes his head in disapproval.)

THOMAS

Your immaturity truly amazes me sometimes. Listen to me. It wasn’t your fault that he drowned. It was not your fault. Period. You have to let it go.

(LUCY begins to cry extremely hard. THOMAS looks around  the room. He appears almost satisfied with himself.)

THOMAS (CONT.)

It could’ve happened to anyone, Lucy. It was merely an accident. You were bathing him. The phone rang in the hallway…I understand how guilty you feel but it’s over and we have to try and move on. Dwelling on the past is unhealthy.

(LUCY slowly gets herself together. She sits back down at the table. Her makeup is smeared all over her face.)

LUCY

You have no idea what it’s like, Tom. To wake up every morning knowing what I’ve done. Everyone at that funeral looked right through me. They weren’t looking at a person. They all were staring at some great big monster in the middle of a church. I couldn’t look any of them in the eyes. I didn’t want to. I am a monster, and the whole town knows it.

(THOMAS now remains silent, an inquisitive look on his face.)

LUCY (CONT.)

I didn’t plan for it to happen the way it happened. I loved him so much. And now he’s gone. All because of me. I don’t know how I’ll ever be able to live with myself. He didn’t deserve to die. He was just a baby.

(THOMAS carefully assesses the  situation, waiting for  his opening.)

THOMAS

At the funeral, when you collapsed…er…do you remember what was going through your mind? You kept muttering something over and over again. Something about…hmm. Did you have any strange visions or thoughts that may’ve provoked it? I know that sometimes this can happen to people who have recently experienced very traumatic events.

LUCY

I only saw what I’ve seen every second of every day since…since he’s been gone. I see his body submerged in water. I see his eyes frozen in his skull, no longer belonging to my beautiful son but now completely hollow and unrecognizable. There is no movement at all. The stillness is unsettling. I want to take his body and shake it as hard as I can, but I know there’s no point. He is dead, and I killed him. I…

THOMAS

Don’t be ridiculous Lucy. It’s normal to feel guilt to some extent but by no means did you kill our son. You can’t do this to yourself. I’m going to help you as best I can, but I need you to trust me. Please, try to help me help you.

LUCY

Don’t you get it Tom? You can’t help me. You’re too late to help me, and your help is the last thing that I want. I’m so sick and tired of your help. I can’t take it anymore.

(LUCY’S arms are inadvertently revealed as her body language gets more aggressive and THOMAS notices scars on the inside of her forearms)

THOMAS

Oh my God, Lucy…when did you start cutting yourself again? How many times have we had this talk? Don’t you remember what happened last time? You ended up in the—

LUCY

Yes, I remember Tom. And you know what? I don’t care. I don’t care about anything. I don’t care about you or Freud or the neighbors and the way they look at me. I simply don’t care. Does that make me crazy? Because I have to tell you something Tom, if it does, then so be it.

THOMAS

Lucy, you’re really starting to scare me. You need help. This isn’t a joke. You can’t just cut yourself because you feel guilty about what happened to our son. I’m here for you. We can work through this together. You have to know that things are going to get better, as horrible as they seem right now.

(LUCY begins to smile in a very distorted manner.)

LUCY

You still don’t get it, do you?

THOMAS

Get what? I feel extremely nervous about your mental state.

LUCY

I’m a monster. I don’t deserve to live. I killed our son.

THOMAS

Lucy, I swear to God. I am not going to say this ag—

LUCY

I’m a monster and I killed our son. There’s nothing you can do or say that can ever change that.

(LUCY begins to rise up from her chair. She looks increasingly  maniacal. She walks over to the counter again)

THOMAS

If you’re not going to listen to me, I don’t know what else I can say. Keep feeling sorry for yourself, see how far that ge—

LUCY

You moron! Don’t you see what I’ve done? I killed our son! I took him into the bathroom. I took off all of his clothes. I ran the water until the tub was full–

THOMAS

Stop it!

LUCY (CONT.)

I put him in the bath. And I held him under the water. I held him there, completely submerged in water as his little body thrashed around for its life. And I held him there–

THOMAS

You’re delusional!

LUCY (CONT.)

And I waited until he gave his last kick and all became still. Until all the ripples on the water subsided, and I was staring down into the dead eyes that once belonged to our son. And you know why I did it? Because every time I looked into those eyes I was reminded of you and everything I absolutely hate about you—

THOMAS

This is all a figment of your imagination!

LUCY (CONT.)

How our entire marriage you’ve treated me like some experimental subject, there for you to manipulate and analyze and hypothesize and draw conclusions from. How when I had my miscarriage you acted as though you had no vested interest in the baby that never came, but were only concerned with my emotional reactions and responses to the tragic circumstance—

THOMAS

Stop…

LUCY (CONT.)

How when I got fired from my job you told me not to overreact. To put things into perspective. “Don’t be so childish,” you said. “Don’t get carried away.”—

THOMAS

Lucy…

LUCY (CONT.)

Throughout our entire relationship you’ve been putting me down, putting me under your microscope, under your thumb. In your attempts to fix me, look what you’ve done. Are you happy now? Do you like what you see? I am so unbelievably broken I don’t even recognize myself anymore. And I have you to thank. Go ahead, Doctor. What would Freud have to say about this one? Give it your best shot.

(THOMAS is completely flabbergasted. He cautiously stands up and walks over to where LUCY is standing with her back to him)

THOMAS

You poor, poor thing. It all makes perfect sense now. You’re showing classic signs of posttraumatic stress disorder and paranoid schizophrenia. I can’t believe I let this go undetected for as long as it has. Everything is going to be okay, don’t worry about it. I’m going to help you to the best of my ability, Lucy. I promise. I’m going to call for an ambulance. In the mean time, I think we all need to calm down. Let me get you a glass of water.

(THOMAS turn sand opens a cabinet. He can be seen pouring the glass of water. Before  he gives it to LUCY, he ominously removes a bottle of pills and drops a few into the glass. Lights fade.)

END OF PLAY

—written by Greg Oxenberg

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