Forgot your password?

We just sent you an email, containing instructions for how to reset your password.

Sign in

  • Outside the back of the house. January 13th 1981, 8.03pm. Ray has had one cigarette, and is now starting a second. He rests against the porch post. Caitlyn stands next to him, looking out. It is scrub, initally, before it gives way into the fields, and the Tree.

    RAY
    Snow’s coming in. You see that, up there? I wanted to be able to show you the stars but I’m not going to be able to do that because of the clouds. The snow is going to come in and fall, real hard. You see that?

    CAITLYN
    I can see that.

    RAY
    Ya.

    CAITLYN
    It’s strange isn’t it, that we talk differently, that we sound different.

    RAY
    Well, ya. I smoke, and I’m a man.

    CAITLYN
    I’m from Ireland and you’re not!

    RAY
    Ha, yeah, okay. I see what you mean. Ha. Well you know, people say that the American way of talking is derived quite a lot from the way the first people spoke when they came out here. The pilgrim fathers. Do you know about that?

    (She shakes her head. As Ray teaches her, she closes her eyes and drifts away.)

    Well in 1620, a group of men from Cornwall, in the west of England, came over. And they made a go of life here. They did pretty well. Because before, much earlier, Columbus, yeah, ya? You know about Christopher Columbus? Caitlyn? Caitlyn?

    (He touches her back.)

    Hey. What’s up? Are you ok?

    CAITLYN
    Do you mind if we don’t talk?

    RAY
    Yeah.

    CAITLYN
    I just wanted to stand here with you.

    RAY
    You can stand here. You can stand here. You’re cold.

    CAITLYN
    I don’t feel it.

    RAY
    You gotta watch out for that. We can stand here.

    CAITLYN
    I don’t think you know who I am.

    RAY
    Well, I’m not gonna disagree with that.

    CAITLYN
    I don’t think...I don’t think you’re gonna like who I am.

    RAY
    No. Now, you’re welcome to say things like that because, because I only know you a very little bit, from a long time ago, but I like you just swell. You seem like a good person /

    CAITLYN
    No /

    RAY
    Ya. You seem like a good person.

    CAITLYN
    No I’m a bad person

    RAY
    I’m a good judge of character and I know that. I’m a lot of bad things, I’m a lot of bad things but I’m a good...I’m a good judge of character, and you seem like a good person to me.

    CAITLYN
    You make me feel like I’m a good person.

    RAY
    Well that’s good. Because...because...that’s a good start.

    (Caitlyn pulls down on her t-shirt.)

    Well ok, I’m going to give you my jacket cos you’re gonna be real cold. No wait, wait, I’m gonna go and get you a jacket, are you gonna stay here or / do you wanna stay out here?

    CAITLYN
    No, no I don’t need a jacket. I just want you to say/

    RAY
    What do you want me to say?

    CAITLYN
    (Indicating her breasts) My t-shirt’s getting wet.

    (Pause. Ray is unsure what to make of this.)

    RAY
    I see. Right. Ya. Caitlyn we gotta go inside now, because it’s real cold, and you’re gonna get sick. And you don’t want to get sick, I don’t want you getting sick in my house. In your house. You understand. I don’t want you thinking I’m going to think you’re a bad person. Everybody...everybody has done things, many things, that they are not...proud of. I have done many things /

    (She looks at him right in the face. Robyn has appeared behind them.)

    You want me to light it up?!

    (He lights his lighter, to illuminate his face.)

    You can take a good look at my face.

    (She touches he face. Robyn comes through the door. Caitlyn does not move her hand away. Very carefully Ray takes her hand and brings it down, but he keeps hold of it.)

    ROBYN
    I’m taking the dog.

    RAY
    Well okay. Do you want me to come with you?

    ROBYN
    People need to tidy up.

    RAY
    Yeah, well I said I’d clean up when I get in from having a cigarette, yeah, aha. Where are you going to take the dog?

    ROBYN
    Down to the water.

    RAY
    No, I think that maybe you don’t want to go down there now. It’s too cold. It’s too dark. If you want to...You wanna go down there?

    ROBYN
    I gotta go and take the dog.

    RAY
    Well you gotta be less than ten minutes okay?

    CAITLYN
    I can come with you.

    RAY
    Ya. Caitlyn could go too.

    ROBYN
    No. I’m taking the dog.

    RAY
    Ok, well she’s gonna take the dog.

    ROBYN
    Other people have to tidy up.

    RAY
    Ya well I said that I’d do that. Caitlyn do you want to go inside. Find out what Jimmy’s up to in there? Ya? Okay.

    CAITLYN
    Ok Da.

    (She goes inside.)

    RAY
    Alright. Alright.

    ROBYN
    Well I’m not quite sure about all this.

    RAY
    Well I can understand that. Now Robyn, I just need you to be adult about this whole thing, and I know that that’s gonna be difficult. But you gotta remember that you are my daughter, and I need you very much. Ya? I can understand that these are strange people and that this is our house. That doesn’t change. But while they’re here we gotta be good people. While they’re here we gotta be good people and treat them right. And when the time comes I will make sure you understand everything, that you are wondering about now. And you can ask me questions and I will answer them as best I can. Alright?

    (Pause.)

    ROBYN
    You spent a lot of time on a crib, and then they came early and, well, no baby.

    RAY
    Ya, no baby.

    ROBYN
    So where’s that?

    RAY
    Ya I gotta tell you I don’t know. I don’t know that. I was expecting a child, a baby. I gotta check, I gotta check Robyn, in my...in my head if I got that wrong. I think I might have that wrong. Did I say to you that they were bringing a baby ya?

    ROBYN
    Ya. That’s what you said.

    RAY
    Okay, okay. Ya. I said that, ha.

    ROBYN
    You can just ask. You can just say, “where’s your baby?”

    RAY
    It’s sometimes...sometimes you can’t just say things like that because people suffer tragedy, and you just can’t...you just can’t ask, you can’t ask that. I gotta check that, because you know your father isn’t always right. Yeah? Aha? About things. Your father isn’t always right about things anymore...you know that...don’t you?

    (He lights the cigarette from behind his ear.)

    ROBYN
    I am a kid though. / You said I got to be an adult but I am a kid.

    RAY
    You are. No you are a kid, yes. I asked you to...I said there could be the possibility that you have to be adult. Not an adult. I am not asking you for very much. I am asking you just to do the things that we’ve...that I’ve brought..that I’ve raised you for. You understand? Just...just be you.

    ROBYN
    I always am.

    RAY
    Just be the you that I need you to be.

    ROBYN
    Hmm.

    RAY
    If you want to ask me questions then go ahead, go right ahead, and ask me the questions. I’ll answer them. But I gotta...that thing you said about the child, I gotta check that. You did good, you did good tonight. You did good. That chicken was good. Those beans were good.

    ROBYN
    I’m gonna take the dog out.

    RAY
    Ya. Well you gotta come back pretty soon okay. Then you should go to bed. I’m gonna clean up, yeah? If you’re not back in ten minutes I’m gonna come out. Okay? I’m gonna look for you. Ok?

    ROBYN
    Ok.

    (Robyn calls the dog, and goes out to the barn. Ray stands.)
    • Share

    Connected stories:

About

Collections let you gather your favorite stories into shareable groups.

To collect stories, please become a Citizen.

    Copy and paste this embed code into your web page:

    px wide
    px tall
    Send this story to a friend:
    Would you like to send another?

      To retell stories, please .

        Sprouting stories lets you respond with a story of your own — like telling stories ’round a campfire.

        To sprout stories, please .

            Better browser, please.

            To view Cowbird, please use the latest version of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, or Internet Explorer.