‘In the Next Room’ (Elizabeth) – “My mother told me to pray”

'In the Next Room (Or the Vibrator Play)' by Sarah Ruhl

From: Play

Type: Dramatic

Character: Elizabeth, an African-American wet-nurse to Dr. and Catherine Givings’ baby. A grieving mother, sensual, self-possessed, full of commen sense. Has the enviable quality of presence and effortless exquisiteness.

Gender: Female

Age Range: 30's

Summary: 'In the Next Room (or the vibrator play)' is a comedy about marriage, intimacy, and electricity. Set in the 1880s at the dawn of the age of electricity and based on the bizarre historical fact that doctors used vibrators to treat ‘hysterical’ women (and some men), the play centers on a doctor and his wife and how his new therapy affects their entire household.

More: Buy the Play

Click here to download the monologue

ELIZABETH: My mother told me to pray each day since I was a little girl, to pray that you borrow everything, everyone you love, from God. That way your heart doesn’t ‘break when you have to give your son, or your mother, or your husband, back to God. I prayed, Jesus, let me be humble. I borrowed my child, I borrowed my husband, I borrowed my own life from you, God. But he felt like mine not like God’s he felt like mine more mine than anything.

God must have this huge horrible cabinet – all the babies who get returned – and all those babies inside, they’re all crying even with God Himself to rock them to sleep, still they want their mothers. So when I started to feel something for this baby, for your baby, I thought no, take her back God.

When I first met her all I could think was: she is alive and Henry is not. I had all this milk – I wished it would dry up. Just get through the year, I thought. Your milk will dry up and you will forget. The more healthy your baby got, the more dead my baby became. I thought of her like a tick. I thought – fill her up and then pop! You will see the blood of my Henry underneath. But she seemed so grateful for the milk. Sometimes I hated her for it. But she would look at me, she would give me this look – I do not know what to call it if it is not called love. I hope every day you keep her – you keep her closer to you – and you remember the blood that her milk was made from. The blood of my son, my Henry. Good-bye, Mrs. Givings.

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