Peter Rose: Witness

The Gift

A radio play for three voices (1993)

Once upon a time, there was a girl with no name. It was not that she had forgotten her name. She had not misplaced it, or lost it, or exchanged her name. It was just that she had no name. And when the roll call was taken, each day, she would raise her hand in the silence.

One day the girl with no name was walking down a road. It wasn’t any particular road but on that day it was very special. Everything seemed to glow with a most wonderful inner light. It had just rained. The sun was high in the sky, a few fleecy clouds wandered about, the air was fresh and clean, and she could see the individual drops of water falling from the edges of the leaves on the trees to the ground.

All at once, the girl with no name had an extraordinary thought. Everything was the only example of itself that there was. Every cloud was the only cloud that was that cloud; every pebble on the ground was the only pebble that was that particular pebble; every drop of water was the only drop of water that was that distinct drop of water. And with this thought she was filled with a magnificent happiness. The world was radiant and bright and special for her and she was ecstatic.

The girl with no name walked with a more sprightly step. She skipped and danced and turned and frolicked and... all at once she heard a voice. She looked down, and there, at her feet, was a small green snake who had just slithered out from beneath the stones lying along the side of the road.

“Hi, my name’s Ralph,” he said. “What’s yours?”

“Hi, my name’s the girl with no name,” she said. “But what a strange name for a snake!”

“Oh, no. Not at all. It’s quite a popular name. There is a sacred river named Alph, and a sacred letter named Alpha, and a sacred number named Aleph,...I could go on. Ralph is really quite distinguished,” he concluded.

“Well, that’s very interesting,” she said, and after a few pleasantries about the weather and about friends they had in common she began to tell Ralph about how wonderful she felt, and about how special the world now seemed to her, and about how every little drop of water was the only drop of water that was that drop of water, every speck of dust was the only speck of dust that was that speck of dust....., Ralph listened to her enthusiasm for a few minutes without expression. Soon he grew impatient.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” he said. “You have got to be kidding.”

“What do you mean?”

“Nothing is special. Everything is like everything else. That cloud over there is like every other cloud. They’re just clouds. Every pebble is like every other pebble. They’re all pebbles. Every drop of water is like every other drop of water. It’s just water. I think you’re getting a little carried away.”

The girl with no name was stunned. First she was stunned. Then she was shocked. Then she was hurt, and then she was very sad, and then she grew furious, for the snake had stolen her joy from her. With just a few words he had robbed her of her vision and had taken her happiness away. She saw a heavy stone lying at her feet. She bent down and seized it and lifted the rock high over her head and bent backwards and went to smite the snake with all of her strength when suddenly

“NO-PLEASE-DON’T KILL ME.”

“Why shouldn’t I?”

“I’M THE ONLY ONE OF ME THAT THERE IS; ONLY I AM THE I THAT I AM; I AM I THAT I AM THAT I AM,” cried Ralph.

She put the rock down.

“Oh, so we’ve made a little mistake,” she said. “You admit that something is special. So surely you must see that everything is special.”

“I was just pulling your leg,” he said. “I was just playing a trick on you. I was just in a bad mood. I was just being sarcastic. I was just tweaking your nose. I was just being an idiot. I’ll tell you what-”

And with that he leaped up from the ground and wrapped himself around her wrist. And he said, ”I have wrapped myself around your wrist. And if ever you have need of me, you need only turn your wrist and I will be there.”

She admired the green circle of snake now entwining her arm. Ralph began to hum, muttering under his breath every now and then about things she needed to remember, appointments to be met, promises she had made. As she turned her wrist to look at him, she heard the sound of ticking.

He began saying, “Tsk, tsk.....Tsk, tsk....Tick, tick...Tick,tock...”

And that was how Time entered the world.

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