At a nursing home. It is mid-December, and Kate has come to visit her mother. They have not spoken in six months. Kate is sitting by her mother, who is laying in bed, staring out the window at the snowfall.
Kate: You look good.
Mary: (scoffs) I doubt that. The fucking weather keeps us inside all day. My legs ache, and every time I complain they tell me it’s in my head. Can you imagine? Don’t they know I was a doctor?
Kate: Nurse. You said you were a doctor, but you were a nurse.
Mary: Don’t try to be smart.
Kate: I’m not being “smart,” I’m being honest.
Mary: Oh, is that so?
Kate: Mama, don’t start. I didn’t come to fight.
Mary: Then why did you come?
Kate: I was under the impression that you might enjoy my company. Apparently, I was mistaken.
Mary: And that’s my fault?
Kate: I never—
Kate: Hello? Yes. No, I’ll be back a bit later. Yes, that’s fine. There’s formula in the fridge, next to the yogurt, just give her that if she gets hungry. There’s a program recorded on TV if she wakes up. No, her dad should be home before that. Yes, thank you, Lauren. Alright, bye.
Mary: Who was that?
Kate: My babysitter.
Mary: Oh, right, the baby. How is he?
Kate: She is fine, thanks.
Mary: You didn’t bring her?
Kate:…No. She was asleep when I left, so—
Mary: (laughs) Oh, stop it.
Kate: Stop what?
Mary: I’ve always been able to see through your lies. What, you didn’t want her to meet me? Were you scared to bring her? Am I so frightening?
Kate: …Yes, fine. I didn’t want her to meet you. I got the feeling you’re not too fond of babies.
Mary: Oh, don’t you start.
Kate: Start what?
Mary: It’s always this with you. Aren’t you a therapist? I would have thought you more evolved than this.
Kate: (Pause) You haven’t changed. And it seems you have no desire to. Coming here was a mistake.
Kate gets up from the chair, her mother, laying in bed, turns to look at her.
Mary: Running away again. Yes, you’ve always been good at that.
Kate: (Turning around) I know you’re old, mama, but I wasn’t aware that you’ve become senile.
Mary: Don’t you dare talk to me like that. In case you have forgotten, I am your—
Kate: Please. Please. Let me stop you before you make me say something I regret.
Mary: (Sitting up in bed) Oh. I see now. You’ve grown up now, is that it? You’re married now, and you think that you’ve become somebody. In case you’ve forgotten, let me remind you; you haven’t changed. Oh, I know you think you have. You have a man whispering sweet words in your ear and a degree on the wall and a mouth spouting big words to hide the fact that you’re still that little girl hiding behind my skirt and trembling in my shadow.
Kate: Don’t you ever get tired? I imagine it must take so much effort, mama, trying to pull me down and infect me will all the toxic evil that you keep inside your heart.
Mary: (Laughing) Oh, my dear. How bold you’ve become. Toxic, is it? I wasn’t toxic all those years I fed you, clothed you and provided for you, but now I’m toxic?
Kate: Don’t act like you did me any favors. If you didn’t care so much about what other people thought of you, you never would have done any of that. Yes, you are toxic, and you have always been toxic, I just became strong enough to bear it.
Mary: You’ve always been weak, and you’re still weak. Look at you, sitting here teary eyed. You seem to have come here hoping to get something from me, but I’m sorry to disappoint you, you won’t be getting it.
Kate: What could I possibly get from you?
Mary: (Snorts) Aren’t you projecting? That would explain why you’re so desperately seeking some sort of validation from me. Unfortunately, I’ll be dead, soon, and you won’t be able to pin the blame on me for why, despite the man and the baby and the job, you’re still so empty inside.
Kate: Women like you don’t deserve to be mothers.
Mary: I never wanted to be.
Pause. Kate stares as Mary.
Mary: Oh, no, not now. You and I have always shown our real faces to each other, let’s not start to pretend now. You think I wanted this? Wanted you? I would have aborted you in a heartbeat if your father wasn’t so against it. In the end, he convinced me to keep you, and then he died. I thought about killing myself, and you in the process, but one night I had a dream. That I would give birth to a beautiful baby boy that looked just like him, and that made me hopeful. But then five months passed and you came out. This dark, ugly, screeching thing. I contemplated smothering you every time you cried.
Kate: You’re sick.
Kate: So what, you hate me because I wasn’t a boy? Is that it? Because I didn’t come out as some copy of my father that you could use as a crutch?
Mary: No, you don’t look like your dad. But you look like me. Isn’t that funny? Right around when you were three, more and more as the days went past. Then you hit thirteen, and all my men started to think so too.
Mary: No, let’s keep going. I know you. I know you. You think you’re a victim? Oh, I’ve read your fucking book. I bet it felt so good, putting me down like that. You cry abuse and get sympathy from all these strangers. Does that make you feel good? I bet it does. You always did like a little “sympathy.”
Kate: (Pause) So you knew.
Mary: We’re too old to play this game of pretend. I’m not saying anything you didn’t already know. “You knew,” knew what? Look at your face right now, still playing the victim. You make me so fucking sick. You think you’ve wrapped everyone around your little finger. Even back then you’d crawl all over the house in your little shorts, draping yourself over everybody.
Kate: I was thirteen. And you let all those men—
Mary: Shut up. I won’t let you put that on me. Even back then you knew what you were doing. You loved it. You loved every minute of it. Now you want to complain; you want to cry rape? I didn’t see you crying when “all those men” put food on the table. Bought you gifts, took you out. Every night they would crawl into your bed, and you would let them. “You knew.” Yes, I knew. Even back then I knew what you were because you’re just like me.
Kate: I’m nothing like you. I have a daughter. A beautiful, sweet little girl and I would never treat her the way you treated me. You’re not a mother. You’re barely human.
Mary: (Laughs) Oh, child. How old is she, your daughter? Two? Three? Wait until she hits twelve. Then fourteen. You’re still young. I’m sure when you walk into a room, the men still turn to look at you, and their eyes linger. Just you wait. The seconds they linger gets smaller and smaller, and soon it disappears. No, it doesn’t disappear, it shifts. And once you notice who it’s shifted to, you’ll start to get jealous. And soon you’ll realize that you and I aren’t so different after all. I’m just too old to pretend anymore.
The Room is silent. Kate’s phone starts ringing, but she doesn’t pick it up. The phone continues to ring until it stops.
Kate: You’re selfish. And you’re weak.
Mary: You think—
Kate: Don’t interrupt me. You’re a weak, selfish, cruel old woman. Even now you hate that I’m happy and you’re not. You hate the fact that despite everything that was done to you, and you did to me, I didn’t turn out like you, and that makes you sick. I hope you stay sick. I hope that darkness in your belly grows to the point that you can’t sleep at night. I hope it keeps you in constant pain, and I hope your demons eat you alive. And when you’re dead and turned to ashes, in whatever version of hell you end up in, I want you to know that nobody will shed a tear for you. Certainly not me.
Kate picks up her back and exits through the door. As Mary watches the door swing behind her, she looks out the window at the falling snow and cracks a small smile.