Death by Christmas

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DEATH BY CHRISTMAS: A New Year’s Tragedy in Two Insectile Acts

 

Act I. Christmas Eve. The curtain comes up on two young female mosquitoes, in pajamas, yawning and stretching.

“What’s going on with the weather?”

“What’s going on with the calendar?”

“Christmas Eve! When has the weather ever been warm enough to wake us up on Christmas Eve?”

“Can this be right?” (She flicks a wall thermometer with her fingernail, which is painted — of course — blood red.) “This says 70.”

“Fahrenheit?”

“Well, let’s see, Sylvie. If it’s 70 Celsius, it’s 158 Fahrenheit. I don’t think it’s that warm.”

“Haha. Yer killin’ me.”

“I don’t have to kill you, honey. We’ll both be dead in six weeks.”

“You’re right. What a lifespan.”

“What a life! Less than 50 degrees, we’re sleeping. More than 50 degrees, we’re laying eggs every three days.”

“Yeah. To tell you the truth, Delia, I feel cheated. Other species keep making babies, babies, babies. Look at winter moths! But then there’s us mosquitoes. Nature cuts us off after 300, 400, maybe 500 eggs max.”

“Well, at least we get to see the world. Most mosquitoes spend their whole lives within a single square mile of their birth. But we’re marsh mosquitoes. We’re special. We can travel 40 miles over the course of our lifetime! Even a country skeeter from Rowley can see the big city!”

“Well, waddaya say we get out of these PJs and go suck some blood.”

“Yup. Market Street, maybe? Last-minute shoppers?”

“Yeah. Or catch some Episcopalians after their Christmas Eve pageant. They get stranded waiting to cross traffic on County Street on their way to the parking lot. You can get a neck or a wrist before they know what hit ’em.”

“Whatever. Nobody’s going to be looking out for mosquitoes on December 24th.”

“True. Hey, Delia, let’s try Shaw’s. Anybody who waited this long to buy stuff for Christmas dinner deserves to get poked.”

(Curtain.)

* * *

Act II. Five nights later. One mosquito is in a big hospital bed under an enormous pile of covers; the other is standing by, looking grave.

“I’m not gonna make it, honey.”

“Aw, come on, hang in there, Sylvie. Mosquitoes that make it into hibernation mode last until spring!”

“The weather turned on us. Wasn’t it 70 degrees last week? Now it’s so cold, my proboscis is chattering. I didn’t even know a proboscis could chatter.”

“I’ll find us a warmer hole in the ground in the morning.”

“Forget it, Delia. It’s too late for me. Save yourself.”

“It breaks my heart to see you giving up like this.” (She presses a button to call the nurse.)

“I’ve lived a long life. All eight weeks of it. I’ve done my part. My 500 eggs are laid. They’re beautiful. Tough little eggs. They’ll last all winter long, and come that first warm day in April, they’ll hatch. Even sooner, if another freakish heat wave hits: 250 little Sylvies, 250 little Sylvesters.” (She coughs weakly.)

(sensing the end is near, trying to bring some comfort) “Where did you leave your little ones, honey?”

“Outer Linebrook.” (She smiles evilly.) “Between the floorboards under some old fool’s screen porch.” (She laughs.) “Thinks he’s so smart, putting in screens. He’ll have more skeeters inside than out!” (Her laughter dissolves into coughing again.)

“Easy, there.” (patting three of her six shoulders) “Take it easy, Sylvie.” (She presses the nurse’s button again.)

“How cold is it, anyway?”

“Twenty-something.” (She pauses.) “Fahrenheit.”

“I would have liked to see 2016.”

“Stop talking like that.”

“Would have liked to see my children buzzing around all those backyard barbecues, making all those humans yelp and gyrate, running inside and slamming doors.”

“You will, Sylvie. You will.”

“Nice try, friend.”

“You will! At least in heaven!”

“No.” (She closes her eyes and sighs deeply.) “In heaven, nobody has veins.”

(taken aback) “Really? (She pauses to ponder this.) “Then I’m not going!”

(She looks at Sylvie. Sylvie isn’t breathing. Delia, a tear in her eye, sadly reaches over with four of her arms and slowly pulls the sheet up over Sylvie’s proboscis, making a sort of tent over the body.)

(A ladybug in a nurse’s uniform enters.)

“Oh. Are you playing a summer-camp game? Or——?”

(Delia glares at the nurse.)

“Too late, huh? Sorry.” (She shrugs and pulls the clipboard off its peg at the foot of the bed.) “Cold snaps are hell, ain’t they?”

(The scene darkens until there’s only a solitary, faint blue light on the tent-shaped bed sheet, a triangle of hope pointing heavenward in the midst of winter’s despair. Curtain.)

 

 

Doug Brendel, of outer Linebrook Road, is a struggling playwright, and you can see why. Follow him by clicking the “Follow” button.

 

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