A Christmas Tail
A one act play set in the bedroom and bathroom of a house in Staffordshire in the early nineties.
Cast of Characters
Just Her and Him and the Narrator who is also Props.
Props: small sound, maybe soft scraping
Narrator: There is a small unfamiliar sound from somewhere in the distance: Something has woken her, she turns to face him, keeping her nose under the covers, she thought it was him snoring so she watches him for a while. No, there is no sound, she closes her eyes, it is so warm in the bed, go back to sleep, but she is sure she heard it again
Props: Again we hear a small unfamiliar sound from somewhere distant:
Narrator: Yes, there is a sound, an unfamiliar sound, not the usual house at night sound like creaking boards, central heating pipes or the wind at the windows.
She looks at him again, definitely not the poor tired soul lying beside her. He is working so hard lately; he is so looking forward to the weekend and the lovely day planned for their little boy. Don’t wake him. It’s nothing, just the house in the night.
She snuggles in to his back and thinks about the day ahead.
Narrator in her soft sleepy voice: We are taking our little four-year-old son to see Father Christmas in the morning. We are going to a heritage railway station about an hours drive away to see Father Christmas arriving on a steam train. The forecast of heavy frost will add beautifully to the drama of the morning.
Narrator: She remembers steam trains of course, that is what trains were when she was a girl. The boy has no idea what she has been talking about this past week. He will just enjoy his daddy being home.
Narrator in her soft sleepy voice: After the train pulls into the station we will all climb on board and begin our journey that will take us a few miles along the track. There will be warm mince pies and sherry for us and then Father Christmas will call by our carriage. He will stay a while and ask our little chap what he is hoping for this Christmas, he will leave a special gift for the boy before he goes on his way to say hello to the other children on the train. It is going to be a perfect start to Christmas.
She whispers to herself “What is that noise?”
Narrator: She pushes the duvet from her face.
She listens hard but can’t make it out.
She sits up in bed and really concentrates her mind.
She: whispers to herself : Is there someone in the house?
Narrator: She is sure there is no one there but she just can’t work it out. She will have to get out of bed.
Reaching for her dressing gown and slippers she softly leaves the bedroom to walk into the quiet, dark and chilly house; the heating hasn’t switched on yet, she shivers and pulls the dressing gown tight around her.
Narrator: She doesn’t want to wake her son, as good as he is in the mornings, four am is a little early for the start of his funny but non-stop chatter. As she passes the bathroom the noise seems to be coming from there, she can hear her heart beating as she pushes the door open but the room is empty and the noise has stopped.
She leaves and walks into the other rooms in the house, nothing, no sound, no person.
She goes back to her bed.
He disturbs now as a slightly cooler body slips in beside him.
Him: “What’s the matter? Can’t Sleep?”
Her: “I thought I heard a noise and I got up to investigate, but I think it’s gone now.”
Her: “Yes I checked him” he didn’t need to ask the question. “He is sound asleep.
Cuddle me? I am cold now”.
Narrator: She tries to settle back into her safe and warm place.
Narrator in her soft sleepy voice: Where was I? Oh yes, on the train we have just seen Father Christmas, the mince pie is warm and spicy and so delicious.
Narrator: There it is again, the noise is back.
Props: very quietly in the distance Splish splish splash splish
Her: shaking him: “Wake up I hear the noise again, I am sure it is coming from the bathroom but I have been in there and there is nothing!”
“Please, come with me this time.”
Narrator: They get to the bathroom, together this time and yes there is a noise, a kind of splish splash noise.
Her: “It is water, something to do with water, but where? There is nothing here.”
Splish splash splish splash,
Her: “Oh my life, it is coming from the toilet bowl”.
Narrator: She feels giddy and sick with fear and returns quickly to the safety of the bed.
Narrator: She is listening, thinking. What is he doing? Nothing is happening, he is quiet, too quiet, she has to go and look. From the safety of the bedroom she sees him. He is standing, very still, naked, in front of the toilet; chin in hand, just staring, staring down at the toilet.
She is terrified now.
She watches as he very carefully lifts the lid of the toilet and in an instant it is back down again.
He returns to her in the bedroom, finds his dressing gown, sits on the edge of the bed.
Him: “There is a rat swimming around in our toilet bowl! Fetch me something to put down the toilet to block it.”
Yes we did still go to see Father Christmas, He arrived on his train at the Foxfield Railway musuem at Stoke on Trent and it was every bit as wonderful as I had hoped. In the afternoon we all went to a little friends birthday party where we took it in turns to tell our friends, ever so quietly, so as not to upset the children, what we had been up to in the early hours.
And yes it is possible and it did happen. The very cold weather had brought the rat along the drains and up in to the house via the u bend in the toilet, hoping to find some warmth. The rodent inspector called regularly over the following weeks to lay poison and eventually we felt happy that it (and any family) had vacated our loo and our drains. Christmas 1993
I have just read The Ramblings of a Little Old Lady and was reminded of this post that I published in November 2010.
Thank you Sian for this lovely series of Christmas Stories.