These characters are fictional, any similarity to any persons, living or dead, is probably intentional…
The scene is an old fashioned hospital ward with high ceilings, big windows and curtain rails above each bed. It is mid-February, but a weak winter sun lights up the room. It is quiet, a lull in the middle of the afternoon. The only sounds are the quiet beeping of a monitor and the low murmuring of some staff at the nurses’ station. There is a rumble of distant traffic.
There are about 10 beds, only a few with any occupants. All are asleep or unconscious.
Three women sit by one of the occupied beds, Molly’s bed. One holds the old lady’s hand, the other two are talking quietly, heads close together.
There are some more figures around the bed, but none of the living can see them.
BRIDGET: Come on here Maeve, what the hell are you doing over there? Let that poor boy die in peace.
MAEVE: But he’s got no-one Bree, he’s confused, like our wee cousin Paddy, remember him? His name is Simon, surely it wouldn’t do any harm to just hold his hand until his Ma and Da come? I heard that nurse say they’re on the way. That one, with the red hair.
BRIDGET: Oh, bring him over here then, but stay behind me, I don’t want him confusing poor Molly. It’ll not be long now, maybe once Christine and Frances get here.
MAEVE: Oh, are they coming then?
BRIDGET: Audrey got a text message, they’re on the way from the station now. Which you’d know if you weren’t so busy poking your nose in other peoples’ business.
LIAM: Girls! We’re supposed to be here for Molly, not bickering like children.
MAEVE: Ah Liam, you always were the peacemaker. Sorry Bree. What about the grandkids, will they be here, and the little ones?
BRIDGET: Honestly Maeve you’ve a head like a sieve! The boys were here yesterday, don’t you remember? And the girls brought the wee ones in last week.
MAEVE: Ah, was that yesterday? I DO remember, it’s just this time thing, it’s a bit hard to get used to when you’ve come back from eternity. Those boys are fine young men, sure, one of them even has a tattoo.
LIAM: Ah, that’ll be young Joe, Vera’s boy, did you see the muscles on him? He’ll soon be rowing for the University I wouldn’t wonder. Or boxing.
MAEVE: Oh no, Vera wouldn’t like that, I think.
BRIDGET: Well Vera will just have to lump it. And who cares what YOU think anyway? You always did want to be the centre of attention, right from when you were a child. Ma and Da were far too soft on you.
MA and DA: No we weren’t!
MA: She was poorly as a baby. She was the wee lamb you needed to wrap in a blanket and feed with milk drop by drop.
BRIDGET: Ahh, maybe so, but she could always wrap you round her little finger so she could! She was the favourite.
LIAM: No, Da’s favourite was always Molly, remember how he’d always take her with him to mend the walls?
SIMON (whispering to Maeve): Is that your Mum and Dad? How come? You seem so… sorry… old. And they seem younger. I don’t understand.
MAEVE: Yes, that’s me Ma, and me Da. They died when they were a lot younger than me. I was older when I passed. You see?
SIMON: No, not really. They died? You died? And me? Did I die?
MAEVE: Yes son, you were in a crash, don’t you remember? Your motorbike? I heard the doc telling the nurses, massive brain trauma they said, no chance of survival, and sure enough you just slipped away before they could even stick a needle in you. Look that’s you over there, they drew the curtains around you when you stopped breathing.
SIMON: That’s…me? I don’t remember anything. I want to see.
MAEVE: They’re just waiting for your Ma and Da to get here and then a porter will take you to the Mortuary. You can go in and look – just pass through them curtains, that’s it.
GRANNY: Hello Simon
SIMON: Granny? But, but…
GRANNY: Come here my lovely boy, let me give you a hug. We’re just waiting for Betty and Alan so you can say good bye, I heard that red-haired nurse say they were stuck in traffic.
SIMON: Mum and Dad? But, Granny! You’re… I mean, I was at your funeral… is that really you? You’re just the same as I remember you, you even smell the same. You feel like granny. Mum and Dad, will… Will they see you?
GRANNY: It’s only spirits that can see spirits Simon. But we will all meet up again, eventually.
MAEVE: I’m away back to Molly now Simon, you’ll be fine now your gran’s come.
SIMON: Thanks Maeve, for helping me understand. And Molly, is she…?
MAEVE: My sister, she called to us. It’s the ties that bind, you see, the blood ties. And the one true love, of course – that’s yer man there at her head. Jack. She’s missed him every day for 30 years. And he’s missed her too, and all the family. He’d have loved to have been a great grandad, there’s nine little ones now you know.
SIMON: Why are there so many of you here? I’ve just got Granny.
MAEVE: Ah sure, her passing’s not been as sudden as yours, she had a big stroke and she’s been unconscious for a month and more. And she’s a very old lady, the oldest of us. 95. Her mind has been wandering all over the place for years. She’s even forgotten the house she lived in for 50 years. Her thoughts just go back to Ireland, and to Jack.
Ah, here’s Frances and Christine arriving at last. I need to be there, Molly will maybe be able to let go now. You can come back over and watch if you like…
SIMON: Granny? Do you mind…?
GRANNY: Away you go, I’ll just stay here and watch over you until your parents get here.
SIMON: I’m sorry, Granny, I guess you’re not supposed to die when you’re only 19.
GRANNY: Things are as they are Simon. And I have you now, it’s Betty and Alan who have lost you, who have to say goodbye to their child.
There is a murmur of voices as Vera, Audrey and Lizzie greet Christine and Frances.
LIAM: Look, she’s stirring a little, I think she can feel those kisses on her cheeks.
MAEVE: And the tears.
BRIDGET: Come to us Molly, we’re waiting for you, dear sister.
MOLLY: Bridget? But…
LIAM and MAEVE: Hello Molly.
MOLLY: Liam! Maeve! And Mam and Da! I’ve been dreaming about you all.
And Jack! My poor dear Jack!
JACK: You’ve been asleep a long time darling Molly, but now the girls have set you free, free to fly to me again. Look at them, they’re holding hands just like they did when they were children.
MOLLY: Oh Jack, have you been there this whole time? Look at poor Lizzie, she looks worn out.
JACK: She’s come here faithfully first thing every morning and sat with you all day. And Vera and Audrey have come after work and made her rest and eat. And Frances and Christine would come up from London when they could.
MOLLY: Our girls, so full of love. They’ve always made us proud. And Jack, we have grandchildren, and they have children.
JACK: I know Molly, I’ve only ever been a whisper away from you, and now you’ve come back to me.
MOLLY: Oh, but I’ve got so old, so very old!
JACK: Nothing like that matters any more my darling. And anyway, you are the same to me as that day we first met. You were the best thing that ever happened to me, in life and in death. I loved you then and I love you now and I will love you forever.
MOLLY: Oh Jack….