Out of the Wings

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NN12 (2007-2008), Gracia Morales Ortiz

NN12, translated by Gwynneth Dowling

SCENE THREE

Context:
NN12 recalls being underground in the mass grave with many others, while she watches the pathologist take photographs of her remains.
Sample text

While the PATHOLOGIST takes photographs of the remains, NN talks calmly. At times her speech falters. She is trying hard, but every so often she cannot find the words she is looking for and she has to go back and try again. Not through uncertainty or lack of conviction, however. It is as if her ability to speak has been broken and needs to be put back together.

NN12:

The earth is filled / is filled / is filled with voices. Down there. We talk, to each other we talk. And we say to each other, we tell each other. Name. Age. The city each of us comes from. Why they arrested us. What the look of / that / the look of who / the look. Voices. Broken voices within the earth.

Listening to the voices. Quietly. Carefully.

One man was missing these (She shows her hands.) Both of them. He kept saying, ‘Why did they chop them off? Why? What reason did the bastards have?’ He said it over and over.

Another, older, talks about his wife. Her voice, her laugh. The tiny shape of her / her (She makes movements with her fingers, but cannot find the right word. She goes on.) Remembering her, remembering her and thinking of the child that was coming. When they took him, his wife was already four / five months gone. Might it have been a boy or a girl? Still, 40 or so years later. Boy or girl? Still asking himself that question.

The earth is alive. Filled with / with / stories. And weeping. The recent dead, theirs the loudest, almost deafening. Then they get used to it / to the darkness / and to the damp smell so damp / and they stop weeping and they learn.

Copyright

The above sample taken from the translation NN12 by Gwynneth Dowling is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

SCENE FIVE

Context:
Esteban talks to the skeletal remains of the woman unearthed from the mass grave. It is almost too hard for NN12 to hear him talk about his mistaken belief that he had been abandoned by his parents.
Sample text

ESTEBAN is looking at the skeleton on the table.

NN12:

Not in those bones anymore. Not anymore. No matter how long you look at them.

ESTEBAN:

My name is Esteban.

NN12:

No.

ESTEBAN:

I’m 27… Well, you already know that, of course … I work in a joiner’s. I’m not married. I don’t have a girlfriend either. I’m … quite a solitary person.

NN12:

It’s too much / too much. Late now. Too much!

ESTEBAN:

I … I don’t remember you. Or my father. It would be easier if I could remember something: a smell, a picture, your voice … then I could talk to you … in another way … I don’t know. But I don’t remember anything. They told me in the orphanage that you’d both left me. There were a lot of cases like mine and they told us all that. They’ve gone. They’ve left you. What bastards! I spent my whole childhood ashamed, angry, wondering why my parents hadn’t wanted to stay with me.

NN12: (Going towards him.)

They lied to her, too. Understand? She / she thought / because they told her / She thought that you …

ESTEBAN:

Do you know I wet the bed until I was 11? They used to punish me for it. Even now I sometimes dream that I’ve wet myself while sleeping. And I wake terrified, sweating, waiting for the wood to strike my open palms.

NN12:

She didn’t know!

Copyright

The above sample taken from the translation NN12 by Gwynneth Dowling is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

SCENE ELEVEN

Context:
Esteban now has the name of his father. NN12 does not want her son to know the truth, and Esteban also seems unsure whether or not to believe the letters.
Sample text
ESTEBAN: (After a pause.)

If this man is alive, could we get a DNA test?

PATHOLOGIST:

He would have to give his permission.

ESTEBAN stands looking at the letters. Silence.

PATHOLOGIST:

Do you want to know who he is?

NN12: (Approaching them, as if able to intervene.)

No.

ESTEBAN:

What did you say?

NN12:

No. No. Please no.

PATHOLOGIST: (Passing him a piece of paper.)

This is his address.

NN12:

Don’t listen to her! No! Go! Get out of here!

ESTEBAN:

Did you go and see him? Have you been to see him? (The PATHOLOGIST does not reply.) What did you say to him?

PATHOLOGIST:

I haven’t spoken to him.

ESTEBAN:

I … I don’t know if I want to …

PATHOLOGIST:

Ernesto Navia San Juan.

NN12:

Please! Not him! Not now.

PATHOLOGIST:

He’s married. He’s got three children. And four grandchildren.

ESTEBAN:

That’s nothing to do with me.

PATHOLOGIST:

He’s just turned 62. He lives an ordinary life. Perfectly ordinary.

ESTEBAN:

What it says in these letters might be a lie!

PATHOLOGIST:

His youngest daughter is the same age as you. She’s a teacher. Don’t you think that’s ironic?

ESTEBAN:

Why are you telling me this?

NN12:

Can’t you see that he doesn’t / doesn’t want to?

PATHOLOGIST:

Do you think she knows what her father used to do? Do you think she suspects that she’s got a half-brother out there? And you’re probably not the only one. He probably did this to more women.

ESTEBAN:

It might not be true!

PATHOLOGIST:

They promoted him. To Captain. Now he’s retired and spends his time playing with his grandchildren. And gardening. He’s got a beautiful garden filled with roses.

ESTEBAN:

Be quiet!

Copyright

The above sample taken from the translation NN12 by Gwynneth Dowling is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

SCENE FIFTEEN

Context:
NN12 and Ernesto (here called Elderly Man) confront one another. Ernesto is the only person who has been able to see and talk to the ghostly figure of NN12.
Sample text
ELDERLY MAN: (He goes on burning the pages. He talks to her without looking at her.)

I’ve got nothing to do with this.

NN12:

He was your son.

ELDERLY MAN:

There were a lot of guards there.

NN12:

No, my dear Lieutenant, no. None of them would have dared. They were scared of you.

ELDERLY MAN:

They respected me. It was the only way to ensure they followed orders. Just like I followed mine.

NN12:

Orders. You were only following / orders? That’s / that’s what you were doing? Following orders?

ELDERLY MAN: (Looking at her for the first time.)

What do want, Marlene?

NN12:

No. Don’t you call me that.

ELDERLY MAN:

It’s what I’ve always called you.

NN12:

My name is Patricia.

ELDERLY MAN:

Patricia … I still think Marlene suits you better.

NN12:

Patricia. Patricia Luján Alvares. Me. In those photos. Me! Before all that. Twenty-nine years old. Teacher. One metre 63 centimetres. Blonde.

ELDERLY MAN:

Where is all this coming from? Lots of time has passed. What do you want now? Me to beg for your forgiveness? Is that it? I did what I had to do. I don’t know what you’ve come here looking for.

NN12:

Everything? Everything you did / everything / everything was an order? Who ordered you / who / what you did to me / who?

ELDERLY MAN:

I never hurt you.

NN12:

Fear. Fear is / fear turns you into something else / into another person for a while. The sound of the bolt, remember it? That dry sound and me keeping still, waiting, no knowing what you were going to do. Still. Deadly still, like a doll.

ELDERLY MAN:

No. It wasn’t like that. It wasn’t just fear. I know how it worked. It suited you lot to have someone who protected you. Someone like me. That’s why you always obeyed. That’s why you were so willing with me.

Copyright

The above sample taken from the translation NN12 by Gwynneth Dowling is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Entry written by Gwynneth Dowling. Last updated on 28 October 2011.

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