by Patricia Keiller

Short Film
Email: [email protected]



                                                    Patricia Uletilovic

ACT 1                            SCENE 1
                                                AN ELDERLY WOMAN LAYS DYING


MARIE:         For God’s sake,Caroline,draw those damned curtains,so that all   
                           the neighbours won’t be able to see what a shrivelled up old
                           hag I’ve become!And I may be dying,but I don’t want to sit in
                           the dark.Turn the bloody light on!

CAROLINE:     (SOOTHINGLY)There you go,Mum.

MARIE:            Don’t patronize me,Caroline.Don’t talk to me as if I were a child.

CAROLINE      Do you want me to call the doctor,Mum?He can give you something
                          to ease the pain.

MARIE:            No!He’ll only give me loads of painkillers that’ll send me to sleep.I
                          want  to be lucid,and awake in my last few hours in this world.

PAUL:              Don’t talk like that.You’re not going to die just yet,Mum.

MARIE:            I think I know my own body better than you do.I know that time is
                          running out. I’ve only got one or two days left at the most.


MARIE:            Caroline,I’m so very tired.I’ve had a long life,and for the most part
                          it’s been a good one.But there are things I might wish to forget too.
                          Things I haven’t thought about for years.

PAUL:               What sort of things?I thought you were very happy with Dad.

MARIE:             I was happy with your father.No,I’m talking about things that
                           happened before I came over to this country.

CAROLINE:      You mean during the war in France?

MARIE:              Yes,during the war in…….(PAUSES)France.

PAUL:              But that was so long ago……

MARIE:           You  know  Paul,sometimes when you reach my age,you remember
                          things that happened half a century ago,or more, with more clarity
                          than things that happened yesterday.

CAROLINE:     I don’t think you should dwell on the past,Mum.

MARIE:             At this moment in time,the past is all I’ve got left.

CAROLINE:      I wish there was something more we could do for you,Mum.

MARIE:             You mean like call a priest to hear my last confession?

CAROLINE:      Well,yes if that would help to ease your mind.Maybe you would
                            prefer to confide in a priest,rather than Paul and I.

MARIE:             Apart from the fact that I haven’t been a practising catholic for more
                           than fifty years,I don’t have anything I wish to tell anyone.Now can
                           we just drop the subject?(PAUSES)Paul you’re nearest, why don’t
                           you get up.and turn the tv on?

PAUL:                Don’t you have a remote control for the tv,Mum?

MARIE:              Yes,somewhere.Please be a love,and turn the television on.

                                                            PAUL GETS UP AND TURNS ON THE TV.
                                                            JUST AS HE DOES SO, THERE IS A  RING
                                                            AT THE FRONT DOORBELL.

CAROLINE:      Are you expecting anyone,Mum?

MARIE:              No,whoever it is tell them to go away.

                                                            CAROLINE LEAVES THE ROOM AND
                                                            GOES TO ANSWER THE DOOR

MARIE:              (SHOUTING)Who is it?



ACT 1                           SCENE 2

                                                                  CAROLINE OPENS THE DOOR OF THE
                                                                  BEDROOM AND SHOWS IN AN
                                                                  ELDERLY MAN OF ABOUT HER
                                                                  MOTHER’S AGE,MAYBE OLDER.
                                                                  THIS IS HELMUT KAUFMAN.

MARIE:             Who is this man,Caroline?

CAROLINE:      I don’t know.He says he’s an old friend of yours from many
                           years ago.

HELMUT:          Don’t you recognize me,Maria.I am Helmut Kaufman.

MARIE:             (LOOKING  DISTRESSED)Oh,my God.This cannot be!How
                            did you find me?Why have you come to look for me after all these

PAUL:                Now,look here,whoever you are.You are upsetting my mother!Can’t
                           you see,she’s extremely ill. I think you’d better leave.

MARIE:             No,it’s okay Paul,I know this man.Let him be. Let him say what he
                           wants to say.

HELMUT:         How are you,Maria?

MARIE:             I’ve been better.How did you find out where I was?

HELMUT:         I met an old friend of yours,Anna,last year.She told me that you
                           had changed your name,and moved to England after the war.She kept
                           in touch with you for a while.She said you married an Englishman,
                           Jack Donahue.She gave me a Camden address.

MARIE:             Anna never could keep her mouth shut.But even so,we must have
                           moved from Camden in the early seventies.How did you
                           track me down to this address? 

HELMUT:          I got in touch with one of those organzations that helps you find
                           lost relatives and friends,and after a while they found you here.

MARIE:              Why were you so desperate to find me?Didn’t you do enough
                            damage to me back then?

HELMUT:           I didn’t mean to hurt you.


MARIE:            But you did hurt me.I was only seventeen for God’s sake.

HELMUT:        I was young too,I was only twenty two.

MARIE:            You cannot use your age as an excuse for treating me like a whore.

HELMUT:         Maybe in different circumstances,I could have loved you.

MARIE:             And you cannot use the circumstances as an excuse either.

CAROLINE:      Who is this man?What did he do to you all those years ago?

HELMUT:          They don’t know do they?You haven’t told them anything about
                            your past.

MARIE:             This man was my…..(PAUSE)lover.

PAUL:                But he’s German,and you’re French.Were you one of those women
                           who consorted with the enemy?

MARIE:              In a way,but I didn’t do so willingly.

CAROLINE:      He….he raped you?

MARIE:              No….no not exactly.

CAROLINE:      What do you mean by not exactly?He either did or he didn’t.

MARIE:              He didn’t rape me.

CAROLINE:      Then I don’t understand.

PAUL:                 Neither do I.

HELMUT:          Isn’t it about time you told them the truth.

MARIE:             Very well….(PAUSE)I’m not French as I have led everyone to
                            believe.I am Polish.I was born Maria Kocinski in Warsaw
                            in 1923.

PAUL:                 (SHOCKED)Why did you always tell us you were French?

MARIE:               Because I wanted to forget about that part of my life,bury
                             it forever.I wanted to create a new identity for myself.I thought I
                             could get away with pretending to be French.I spent a year in Paris
                             after the war,and I could speak French fluently.

CAROLINE:        I wondered why you didn’t seem to have any real family in France

MARIE:               Most of my real family died during the Nazi occupation of Poland.
                             By the end of the war only my brother,Konrad,survived.Towards 
                             the end of the war,I fled to the West.He stayed behind in Poland.I
                             I begged him to come with me,but he said he didn’t want to.He said
                             that it was his duty to stay behind and help rebuild the country.He
                             said that I had shamed him,and that he no longer wanted anything to
                             do with me Once I left Poland,I never saw him again.

HELMUT:            Maria,one reason why I wanted to see you was because,I wanted to
                              give you this. Your friend,Anna gave me this to give to you.It’s a
                              letter from your brother,Konrad.He died five years ago,but
                              apparently,his dying wish was that you should get his letter.
                              (HANDING OVER LETTER).

CAROLINE:          What does it say,Mum?

                               says,’My dearest Maria,I’ve wanted to contact you many a time
                               over these last fifty odd years.Somehow,my pride always got in
                               the way.I forgave you many years  ago for what happened back
                               then.Besides,your friend Anna,has met Kaufman recently,and she
                               says that he is full of guilt for what he did to you in the war.
                               Perhaps he was a decent man corrupted by what was going on
                               around him Anna tells me that after you fled to France,you
                               eventually ended up in England.She says you were very happily
                               married.I’m glad things worked out for you in the end.I can’t
                               really complain how my life has turned out either.My wife, Aneta
                               died three years ago,and I have four grown up children,plus six
                               grandchildren.Up until  about twelve years ago,I was a doctor,but
                               now I’m retired. I’m writing this letter because I know that my
                               heart won’t last that long,and I want you to know that I am,and
                               always will be,your brother,Konrad, (VOICE BREAKING AS
                               SHE FINISHES THE LETTER).I always thought Konrad hated
                               me for what happened.You don’t know what this means to me,to
                               find out that he had forgiven me after all.(SOBBING).

CAROLINE:          I still don’t understand.What did happen to you during the

MARIE:                 I want to tell you and Paul.It’s just that it’s something that I’ve
                               kept a secret for so many years.It’s hard for me to talk about it
                               all now.

PAUL:                   We want to know.After all, you’ve already revealed that you
                               were never the person we thought you were.All these years we
                               thought you were Marie Dupont,a French woman from Paris.
                               Out of the blue we discover that all that is a lie,and that you’re
                               actually from Poland How do you think that makes us feel?

CAROLINE:          Shut up,Paul! If Mum lied,she had a good reason.She wanted a
                               fresh start.

MARIE:                 Paul is right to be bitter and angry.It’s not good to know that your
                               mother’s life has been a pretence and a sham.But I will tell you
                               and Paul this,my feelings for your father,and for you were never a
                               sham,or a lie.You both need to know the truth,and I’m ready to tell
                               you now.(PAUSE)I was just seventeen in 1940 when I first met
                               Helmut.And although looking at me now,I know it’s hard to
                               believe,but back then I was quite attractive….

HELMUT:              Maria was more than just quite attractive,she was the most
                                beautiful girl I’d ever met.

MARIE:                  Yes,well, I looked older than my seventeen years.

HELMUT:               I didn’t realise she was so young when I first met her.

MARIE:                 Anyway this was a very scary time for me.You cannot imagine
                               what life was like for us Poles during the war.When Germany
                               invaded Poland in 1939,it meant that Poland ceased to exist as a
                               country.The western portion of Poland became part of a Greater
                               Germany.The eastern part of the country was now part of the
                               Soviet empire.The middle section of Poland,which included                             
                               Warsaw,was declared a German colony.This colony was governed
                               over from Krakow by a man called Hans Frank.This Hans Frank
                               had declared that we Poles would be made the slaves of the
                               German Empire.The Nazis wanted to destroy Polish culture,they
                               were aiming to completely eliminate the Polish state by 1975.This
                               was their plan,so they were completely ruthless in their occupation
                               of the country. By the end of the war,Poland had lost more of its
                               citizens than any other European country,6.5 million people lost
                               their lives.The Nazis saw Poland as extra living space for their
                               country,and in order to completely destroy Polish resistance they
                               set about killing as many of Poland’s political,religious,and
                               intellectual leaders as they could..Many thousands of teachers,
                               doctors,dentists,journalists,members of the intelligensia,and
                               anyone caught resisting the Germans were either sent to prison,
                               or to concentration camps. And as if all of this was not enough
                               the Nazis closed down universities,schools and libraries.Children
                               were to receive a very basic education which would last only a few
                               years.They wanted future generations of  Poles to be totally
                               subservient to them,the Master Race.All around me this horror was
                               happening.We lived in an atmosphere of fear.I was afraid,very

CAROLINE:          I had no idea that Poland had suffered so much at the hands of the

PAUL:                  I didn’t know either.

CAROLINE:       We didn’t study the invasion of Poland by the Germans all that
                            much at school. I mean we knew that the invasion was the thing that
                            started off the war,but we hadn’t really gone into it in great detail.

PAUL:                 History was never my best subject anyway.

CAROLINE:        Me neither.

MARIE:               Well.anyhow,I met Helmut Kaufman in 1940.He was a young and
                             fairly low ranking soldier,but he came from a wealthy German
                             family,and as such was able to exert some influence on his fellow
                             soldiers.He told me that he would ensure that nothing bad would
                             happen to me,providing I agreed to sleep with him.

CAROLINE:        And you did?

MARIE:               Yes,I did.

CAROLINE:        He saw to it that no harm came to you after that?

MARIE:               Yes,but our agreement,if you could call it that,was that I
                             continued to sleep with him,and he would continue to look after me.

CAROLINE:        (TURNING TO HELMUT KAUFMAN)Why did you treat Mum
                              like that?

HELMUT:            As Maria said earlier those were dark times.I didn’t like all the
                              terrible things I saw going on around me,but I was a soldier
                              of that regime.How could I not be influenced by it…...

MARIE:                I can say that Helmut was a better man than many of them.
                             A lot of the men he was with were real sadists.

HELMUT:           I forced Maria to sleep with me because I thought I would never
                             normally have the chance to be with a beautiful girl like Maria.
                             I was very ordinary looking.Under normal circumstances she
                             would never have noticed me.

MARIE:               Oh,come on,Helmut!You were rich.You could have used your
                             wealth to get all the beautiful women,you wanted.

HELMUT:           And if our countries had been at peace,would you have wanted me?

MARIE:               No…No,I  suppose I wouldn’t.

HELMUT:           You see!You see! I knew that if circumstances were
                             different you would never have considered me,and I wanted you.

MARIE:              I…..I’m going to have to ask all of you to let me rest now.I
                           suddenly feel very tired.

                                                            EVERYONE STANDS UP AND MOVES
                                                            TOWARDS THE DOOR.

CAROLINE:     You go and get some rest,Paul. I’ll stay here with Mum.Mr
                           Kaufman,please come back tomorrow morning.

HELMUT:         Do you think she’ll survive the night?

CAROLINE:      I hope so.

HELMUT:         So do I.There’s still so much I must tell her.

                                                            PAUL AND HELMUT  LEAVE.
                                                            CAROLINE REMAINS,AND GOES
                                                            TO SIT ON A CHAIR BY HER
                                                            MOTHER’S BED.THE LIGHTS


ACT 1                                  SCENE 3
                                                                   IT IS EARLY MORNING.THE
                                                                   BEDROOM IS FLOODED WITH
                                                                   BRIGHT MORNING SUNSHINE.
                                                                   PAUL AND CAROLINE ARE
                                                                   ALREADY BY THEIR MOTHER’S

                                                                   THERE IS A RING AT
                                                                   THE FRONT DOOR.CAROLINE
                                                                   GETS UP,AND GOES TO ANSWER
                                                                   THE DOOR.IT IS HELMUT KAUFMAN.
                                                                   SHE SHOWS HIM INTO THE

HELMUT:          How is she this morning?

PAUL:                Still hanging on as you can see.

CAROLINE:      I thought we might lose her during the night,but she seems to have
                           rallied round a bit.

HELMUT:          How do you feel today,Maria?

MARIE:             Very tired.

HELMUT:          Do you want me to leave?

MARIE:              No,please stay.

HELMUT:          It’s……It’s a lovely day outside,very bright and sunny.

MARIE:             A perfect day to die then?

HELMUT:          Maria, please don’t.

MARIE:              I’m just being honest. I know I’ve only got a few hours left.

HELMUT:          You always were a very truthful person.It was one of the things
                            I liked about you.I wish I had been more truthful towards you.
                            I want you to know that even though I must have made you feel
                            cheap and dirty,on my part it wasn’t just sex.I did have feelings for
                            you, and I didn’t want to hurt you.

MARIE:              You did hurt me though.

HELMUT:           I know,and it’s something I have felt guilty for all my life.I wish I
                            could make amends now in some way. I did try even back then to
                            make it up to you when I helped arrange for you and your brother,
                            Konrad to leave Poland.

MARIE:              (SOUNDING SHOCKED)You helped arrange for us to leave?           

HELMUT:          You didn’t know?

MARIE:              No,I didn’t realise.

HELMUT:           I managed to make contact with someone in the Resistance,and
                            they arranged the rest.Konrad knew that I’d had something
                            to do with it,and that’s partly why he didn’t want to leave.He didn’t
                            want to take anything from me.

MARIE:             You must have put yourself at risk.What would have happened if
                            anyone found out?

HELMUT:          I would probably have had to face the firing squad.

MARIE:             You took this risk for me?

HELMUT:          Yes,like I said,I felt bad about how I had treated you,I didn’t want
                            you to hate me.I didn’t want to carry around all that guilt for the
                            rest of my life.(PAUSES)Did you hate me?

MARIE:              (PAUSES) No…..At the time I did not hate you.I think that my
                            instinct to survive managed to overide everything else.I switched
                            my emotions off.I didn’t allow myself to feel love or hate,I just
                            wanted to live.But after the war,when I had time to reflect on things,
                            I began to demonize your memory,and it is only now that I can see
                            who you really are.

HELMUT:           (HESITATING)What……..What do you see?

MARIE:               I see a man who is neither saint nor sinner.

HELMUT:          Maria,I have to know.Do you forgive me for what I did?Don’t let me
                            take this guilt to my grave with me.

MARIE:              (PAUSES) I have forgiven you as a person.I cannot forgive the
                            regime  you were a part of.

HELMUT:          I was just an ordinary soldier.I had no choice but to obey orders.
                           It doesn’t mean I thought that every thing going on around me was

MARIE:             But surely with your wealth,you could have got out of serving in
                           the army anyway?

HELMUT:           Maybe,I’m not sure if my family’s wealth would have helped.The
                            thing is though, my father wanted me to join up.

MARIE:              Why?

HELMUT:           Because when the Nazis first came to power,my father thought they
                             were a good thing.They gave Germany pride amd belief in itself
                             after the country had been brought to its knees following the First
                             World War.And even after the beginning of the Second World War
                             my father supported them.You must understand that during the war,
                             German civilians did not know the full extent of what was going on.

MARIE:              You know,I could have found out most of these things about you
                             back then,but I never bothered to ask.I didn’t want to know.I just
                             saw you as the enemy.

HELMUT:           That’s the nature of war I suppose.You stop being able to see
                             others as people and start to see them as belonging to an alien
                             race or ethnic group,People become poisoned by the propaganda
                             they hear,and committing attrocities then becomes easier.

MARIE:               War is a disgusting thing.(PAUSES)Tell me,what happened to you
                             after the war?

HELMUT:          My father wanted me to come and work in the family business,but I 
                            didn’t want anything to do with it.My father’s factory had helped to
                            make arms during the war.As far as I was concerned all the money 
                            he’d earnt in the war years was blood money.

MARIE:              So what did you do?

HELMUT:          I became a dentist.I married a very nice girl from Cologne.
                           Elena’s parents were intellectuals,her father was a poet,and her
                           mother  was some sort of artist.They weren’t terribly well off,but
                           very good people.My father rather disapproved of our marriage.
                           He wanted me to marry into money,but I wanted to be with
                           Elena so I married her regardless.It was only when we had children,
                           our two boys,Kurt and Hans that he slowly began to come round to

MARIE:              So you were happy?

HELMUT:          Very.

MARIE:              Did she know about me,and what happened during the war?

HELMUT:          My wife knew all about you.

MARIE:             And didn’t she mind.

HELMUT:          At first she was shocked.Then she slowly came to terms with it.
                            Don’t forget she had lived through the war too.Elena knew the
                            war made people do things,things that under normal conditions
                            they would never do.Somehow in the turmoil of war the boundaries
                            between right and wrong seemed to get blurred.Elena knew all this
                            and she understood.(PAUSE)What about your husband,Jack.Did
                            you tell him about your real identity?Did you tell him about us?

MARIE:              No,I…..I couldn’t.I was scared that if he knew about  who I
                            really was,and what I’d really done during the war,he wouldn’t
                            want to stay with me.

HELMUT:           He did know,Maria.He knew all about your past.Your friend, Anna
                             told him.She told him about us.She even told him about that other
                             secret,you seem to want to take to the tomb with you.

MARIE:               (SHOCKED)She…..she told Jack about Peter?

PAUL:                (VERY ANGRY)Who the hell is Peter?Honestly,Mum,I don’t think 
                            I can take anymore of your revelations!

MARIE:              (PAUSE)Peter was the son I gave away for adoption just before I .
                            left Poland.He was the son I had with Helmut.

HELMUT:           Maria became pregnant with our child.I begged her to keep it,but
                            she didn’t want to.She said that the best solution for her and the
                            child was adoption.

MARIE:               How could I keep this child.If he stayed with me,not only would he
                             grow up with the label of being illegitimate,but he would also have
                             the stigma of being a child conceived with a German soldier.I
                             wanted my son to have more.To have a better life than I could offer

CAROLINE:        So you put him up for adoption and then left the country?

MARIE:                Yes,I did give him up for adoption,and yes,I did leave Poland
                              shortly afterwards.But you make it sound like it was easy to take
                              the decision  to give up my baby.I went through hell afterwards
                              wondering what had happened to him.There’s hardly day gone
                              by without me thinking about him.

CAROLINE:         And your telling me,Dad knew about all of this and never let on?

MARIE:                 I didn’t know that he knew.He never said anything.

HELMUT:            He must have loved you very much,Maria to have kept all this
                              knowledge to himself.He must have wondered                      
                              why you never told him about your past yourself
CAROLINE:        What I don’t understand is how you could have lived with
                              Dad and us for all these years without saying so much as a word
                              to us about any of it.I mean I can understand how you might
                              want to hide your real identity,and your liason with Helmut,but
                              how could you keep the existance of a brother from us.

MARIE:                It’s all right for both of you to sit in judgement,you weren’t in my
                              position.I thought that if I told the truth I might lose my husband,
                              and the new life I had made for myself in England.

PAUL:                  You and Dad always seemed so ordinary,and normal.It’s hard to
                              believe that you were keeping all these secrets.

CAROLINE:         It’s hard to believe Mum had this other life neither of us knew
                              about,and that Dad knew of all of this,and kept it to himself.

HELMUT:            I have found from personal experience  that one’s children always
                             find it hard to comprehend their parents having had emotions or
                             feelings,or ever having been young for example.They always think,
                             that their parents are passionless and boring.

CAROLINE:         That’s true,my own kids are always telling me that I’m completely
                              out of touch with what they’re interested in.I think they don’t
                               believe I could ever have done anything exciting in my life.
                               (PAUSE) Getting back to this brother we knew nothing of until
                               now.Didn’t you ever want to trace him,Mum?Or wonder if he
                               might try to find you?

MARIE:                 In the early days,I did think about trying to trace him.But in the
                               end I decided that maybe he wouldn’t want to see me.He would be
                               all settled into his new life,I couldn’t disrupt that.Then as time
                               went on,and I had you and Paul,I found the whole idea of looking
                               for my lost son more and more impossible.How could I introduce
                               a new person into the family?Even if I were able to trace Peter,
                               which would have been extremely difficult anyway,letting you
                               children and your father know about my illegitmate son would
                               have meant telling you the truth about my past.

CAROLINE:          Couldn’t you have tried to trace him once he grew up?I mean
                               you would have had plenty of time to do that.If you had Peter
                               during the war he’d be sixty or so by now.A good ten years older
                               than us.He would have been in his twenties by the mid 1960’s.
                               You could have started looking then.

MARIE:               (ANGRY)You don’t know what you’re talking about! I had no idea
                              if Peter wanted to see me.What if he had grown up thinking of me 
                              as a cruel and callous mother who had abandoned her baby?What if
                              he turned away from me once he knew the truth about his origins?
                              I could not face the possibility that he might reject me,that he
                              might not want me in his life at all.

PAUL:                  Doesn’t it bother you that you will never know now,you will never
                              know  what became of him?

CAROLINE:         Stop it,Paul!You’re just rubbing salt into the wound.Of course
                              it bothers her.Do you really think Mum wants to die
                              not knowing what happened to Peter?

PAUL:                  No,of course not.But I can’t bear the idea of having a half brother
                             out there somewhere,and not knowing anything about him.

HELMUT:            I shouldn’t have come.If I’d have known that you had kept all of
                             this from your family I would not have come to see you.I didn’t
                             want to upset you,or cause such distress to Paul and Caroline.

PAUL:                 (BITTERLY) We were just an ordinary family before you came
                             along,now our world has been shattered.We are not who we thought
                             we were a few days ago.All our lives we’ve believed ourselves to
                             be half French.Now we find this isn’t true at all.Our mother isn’t
                             who we thought she was.And now we discover that we have a half
                             brother.How can we ever be the same again as a family?

HELMUT:           I’ll go.None of you want me here.

MARIE:               I don’t want you to go.Please stay,Helmut.(PAUSES) If you had not
                             come  the other day I would have died knowing that I had
                             deceived my family.I wanted them to know the real me,but
                             fear of losing what I had prevented me from ever saying anything.
                             To know now that Jack knew all along,and still wanted to be with
                             me despite everything is such a relief. I’m glad Paul and Caroline
                             know the truth.It’s better that they know.Even if the truth is
                             uncomfortable,it’s better than the lie I had created.

PAUL:                 I,for one,was happy living that lie.

CAROLINE:        No,I agree with,Mum.I think it’s better that we know.I just
                             wish she’d told us earlier.

MARIE:               I…….I’m feeling a little bit tired.Would you all let me just rest for
                            a few hours.

CAROLINE:        Of course,Mum.We’ll just be in the next room.

PAUL:                  I’ll stay with her this time.

ACT 1                           SCENE 4

                                                               IT IS NOW SEVERAL HOURS LATER.
                                                               IT IS LATE AFTERNOON/EARLY
                                                               EVENING AND THE LIGHT IS
                                                               STARTING TO FADE.MARIE IS
                                                               LOOKING NOTICEABLY WEAKER.
                                                               SHE IS NOW AWAKE.HELMUT,
                                                               AND CAROLINE ARE BACK IN THE

                                                                HELMUT,CAROLINE AND PAUL
                                                                ARE STANDING IN A GROUP
                                                                DISCUSSING MARIE.

HELMUT:          She seems a lot weaker now.

PAUL:                I don’t think Mum’s going to make it
                            through the night..

MARIE:              (IN A HOARSE WHISPER)Please don’t talk about me as if I’m not
                            here.I’ll be gone soon enough.

CAROLINE:        Mum!I didn’t realise you were awake.Can I get you anything?

MARIE:               Could you get me a glass of water,Caroline,dear?

CAROLINE:        Of course,Mum.

                                                                 CAROLINE LEAVES THE ROOM.
                                                                 SHE COMES BACK SHORTLY
                                                                 WITH A GLASS OF WATER.

                             WATER) Is Helmut still here?

PAUL:                 Yes,here he is,Mum.

HELMUT:           (APPROACHING THE BED)I’m here,Maria..

MARIE:               I just want to say I ….I don’t hate you anymore,Helmut.I have
                             come to realise that in a way I owe you my life.

HELMUT:           It’s a shame I asked you to pay such a high price for it.I just want to
                             say that I am truly sorry for all the wrong I have done. I wish now
                             that you could and your family could consider me to be a friend.

PAUL:                 You march in here and turn our lives upside down,and expect us
                             to offer you the hand of friendship?

CAROLINE:        Paul,it took courage for him to come here,he didn’t have to,but
                             maybe he felt that he needed to.

HELMUT:           I did feel that I had to come.Not only because I felt such guilt and
                            remorse,but also because Maria’s friend,Anna had told me all those
                            those things.Things that Maria needed to know.
PAUL:                I still don’t think I can accept Kaufman’s friendship.

MARIE:              Well,I can,and it was me he wronged.If I can then so can you two.

CAROLINE:      I’m willing to let bygones be bygones,Mum.Paul is finding it hard to
                           adjust to all this new information. He’ll come round in the end.

HELMUT:          Maria,I have something here you might all like to see.

                                                                   HELMUT PULLS OUT A COUPLE OF
                                                                   FADED BLACK AND WHITE
                                                                   PHOTOGRAPHS FROM HIS WALLET.
                                                                   MARIE TAKES THEM IN HER HAND.
                                                                   HER HAND TREMBLES AS SHE DOES

HELMUT:         That is a photo of Maria when I first knew her.

MARIE:              You kept it all these years?

HELMUT:          Yes…..I wanted something to remember you by.

CAROLINE:       You’re right Mum was very beautiful when she was young.

HELMUT:           This is Peter at a couple of days old.

MARIE:               (SOBBING)Peter! Oh,Peter!(KISSING PHOTO)

PAUL:                  You kept a photo of your son?

HELMUT:            He was my child…..Our child.I couldn’t just pretend he’d
                              never existed.

CAROLINE:         Our half brother….(TAKING PHOTO IN HAND,AND
                               TURNING IT OVER) There’s the name of a hospital,and a
                               date on the back.Mr Kaufman,would you mind if we
                               borrowed this photo to try and trace Peter?We could use
                               the place name and the date of birth as a starting point.

HELMUT:             I was hoping that you might want to try to track him down.
                              It’s something I had thought of doing myself many years ago.
                              I convinced myself not to because I wondered what I would
                              be able to say to my son if I found him.How would I explain the
                              circumstances of his birth?

CAROLINE:         So you’ll help us to trace Peter,Mr Kaufman?

HELMUT:             Yes,I will help you in any way I can.Although,I’m afraid I
                               don’t have much more information than I’ve already given you.

MARIE:                I want you all to try and find him.It is my one regret that I will
                              never know Peter.I will never know my son.He doesn’t know how
                              much I loved him.How much it pained me to give him away.At
                              least if you find him,you will be able to tell him about me,about his

CAROLINE:         I promise I’ll look for him,Mum.I won’t rest until we find him.
PAUL:                   If he’s about sixty,he could even be dead.Have you thought of that,

MARIE:                He’s not dead.

PAUL:                  How do you know that,Mum?

MARIE:               A mother’s instinct.I just know he’s still alive.

PAUL:                  I hope you’re  right.

CAROLINE:       It would be heart breaking to track him down,only to find that he is 
                            already dead.                                                                    

MARIE:             He won’t be.

CAROLINE:      We’ll find him I’m sure of it.

MARIE:             (FEEBLY)Caroline.go….go up to the master bedroom,open the top 
                           drawer of the chest of drawers,pull….pull out a yellowish sealed
                           envelope and bring …..bring it down here.

                                                                              CAROLINE GOES OUT OF THE
                                                                              ROOM.THE SOUND OF
                                                                              FOOTSTEPS ON STAIRS CAN BE

MARIE:               I hope she can find it.

PAUL:                  Do you want me to help her look?

                                                                              CAROLINE CAN BE HEARD
                                                                              COMING BACK DOWNSTAIRS.
                                                                              SHE IS HOLDING A FADED
                                                                              YELLOW ENVELOPE.   

CAROLINE:       Is this it?

MARIE:              Bring it over here so I can have a look at it.

                             MOTHER) Here you are,Mum.

MARIE:               (MARIE TAKES IT,AND EXAMINES IT) Yes,that’s it.Would
                             you be a dear,Caroline,and open it for me.

                                                                                  CAROLINE CAREFULLY
                                                                                  OPENS THE ENVELOPE,
                                                                                  AND HANDS IT BACK TO
                                                                                  MARIE,WHO BEGINS TO
                                                                                  TAKE OUT THE CONTENTS.

PAUL:                More photographs?

MARIE:              These are of your grandparents, my sister Silvia and my brother

PAUL:                 My God,this lady,your sister,I suppose she is,looks so much like

MARIE:               Caroline has always reminded me of my sister.

CAROLINE:         I actually think,Paul looks quite like your brother Konrad.

MARIE:                Paul’s like him in so many ways.Konrad was stubborn,and once he
                              made a decision about something or somebody,he very rarely
                              changed his mind.(PAUSE)I wanted to show you these photos.
                              These people are your family.When you start looking for Peter,
                              you must trace them  too.It’s too late to find Konrad,and Silvia,
                              they’re both gone,but you must look for Konrad’s family.They are
                              your cousins.                                                                                

HELMUT:             It shouldn’t be so difficult to find them,Maria’s friend,Anna still
                               has their addresses.

MARIE:                 Konrad’s family are part of who you both are.You will try to get
                               in touch with them,won’t you when I’ve gone?       

CAROLINE:          Of course we will.I want to know more about our family.

MARIE:                 I suddenly feel a lot better.Maybe tomorrow you could get my
                               grandchildren to come round.

PAUL:                   Do you think that’s wise, Mum?

MARIE:                It’s been so long since I’ve seen them,and it will be my last
                             chance to talk to them.

CAROLINE:        Actually,I don’t see why they can’t come round for an hour
                             or two.It might be a bit traumatic for Phoebe though,I mean
                             she’s only seven.And Luke’s only eleven.It might be a bit hard
                             on him too.

MARIE:                The older two will be okay though,won’t they?

CAROLINE:         Oh,yes,Matt’s seventeen,and Martha is fifteen,they should be able      
                              to cope.

MARIE:                What…..what are my grandchildren up to these days?

CAROLINE:         Luke is still waiting to hear which secondary school he’ll be going
                              to in September.He’s worried he won’t get into the one he wants.
                              It’s a nerve racking time for all of us,not just for him.Hopefully
                              it’ll all turn out all right in the end.

PAUL:                  Martha’s doing her GCSE’s and Matt’s doing his A’levels.Matt’s
                             teachers say he should do very well.He might even get offered a
                             place at Oxford.

MARIE:              I’m so proud of my grandchildren,I really am.I don’t want them to
                            reject me.

CAROLINE:       Why should they reject you?

MARIE:               Because of what you now know about me.

CAROLINE:        Don’t worry,Mum we will break it to them gently.Maybe at first
                             we’ll only tell them about you being Polish and not French.We
                             won’t mention anything about Helmut or Peter.Then when we think
                             they’re ready we’ll tell them the whole story.

MARIE:               I’d…..I’d like to have a little sleep now.

PAUL:                 I’ll stay with her this time.

HELMUT:          ( GETS UP TO LEAVE) It’s getting late.I’ll come back tomorrow
                            morning,if that’s okay with everyone.

                             DOOR)I’ll be in the next room if you need me,Paul.

HELMUT:           Goodbye,Maria.I’ll see you tomorrow.

MARIE:               Goodbye,Helmut.

                                                                               CAROLINE AND HELMUT
                                                                               LEAVE THE ROOM TOGETHER.
                                                                               WE CAN HEAR THEIR VOICES
                                                                               OFF STAGE.

CAROLINE:       See you tomorrow,Mr Kaufman.

HELMUT:          Yes,I’ll be over as soon as I can.

                                                                               THE FRONT DOOR BANGS
                                                                               SHUT.PAUL IS LEFT ALONE
                                                                               WITH HIS MOTHER,SEATED BY
                                                                               THE BED.THE LIGHT DIMS.




ACT 1                         SCENE 5

                                                                     PAUL IS STILL SEATED IN THE
                                                                     DIMLY LIT ROOM.HE IS DOZING
                                                                     IN HIS CHAIR.HE WAKES UP WITH
                                                                     A START.HE LOOKS AT MARIE,AND
                                                                     AFTER FEELING FOR A PULSE
                                                                     REALISES SHE IS DEAD.

                                                                     HE GETS UP AND RUNS TO                                                                        
                                                                     THE DOOR,PUTS HIS HEAD ROUND
                                                                     IT,AND STARTS SHOUTING VERY

PAUL:                  Caroline!Come quickly!It’s Mum,I think she’s gone!

                                                                      CAROLINE RUSHES INTO THE
                                                                      ROOM.SHE TOO EXAMINES THE

CAROLINE:       You’re right,Mum’s dead.(PAUSE)  I don’t understand,she
                             seemed quite lively earlier on.Do you know what happened,

PAUL:                 She was sleeping quite peacefully at first.Then her breathing
                             became a bit more laboured,I suppose,but not drastically so.
                             I just dozed off for five minutes or so,and when I woke up,
                             she’d passed away.

                                                                          PAUL AND CAROLINE BOTH
                                                                          SLUMP INTO THEIR CHAIRS.
                                                                          THEY BOTH CRY QUIETLY
                                                                          FOR A WHILE.

                                                                          SLOWLY THE ROOM GETS
                                                                          LIGHTER.DAWN IS BREAKING.

                                                                          HE DOORBELL RINGS.
                                                                          CAROLINE GETS UP AND GOES
                                                                          TO ANSWER IT.IT IS HELMUT
                                                                          KAUFMAN.CAROLINE SHOWS
                                                                          HIM INTO THE ROOM.

CAROLINE:       Mum died during the night.

HELMUT:          (SHOCKED) But she seemed almost better yesterday evening

CAROLINE:       I know,we all thought that.Apparently she took a turn for the worse
                            during the night.She passed away in the early hours of this morning.

HELMUT:          Poor,Maria.

CAROLINE:       She didn’t always show it,but I think she had been in a great deal of   
                            pain these last few months.

PAUL:                It was a release from suffering for her.

HELMUT:          I wish I’d had a bit more time with her in her last hours.(PAUSE)
                           May I sit with her awhile?

CAROLINE:      Yes,of course you may.

                                                                                    HELMUT SITS BY THE BODY
                                                                                    OF MARIE HOLDING HER
                                                                                    HAND.HE IS CRYING.

                                                                                    CAROLINE AND PAUL ARE
                                                                                    STANDING SOME DISTANCE
                                                                                    AWAY TALKING TO EACH

CAROLINE:      He seems very upset.

PAUL:               Are you sure he isn’t putting on a bit of an act?

CAROLINE:      No,I think his sorrow is genuine.You know,I think he loved Mum.

PAUL:                His was a strange kind of love.Trying to dominate her,control her,
                           make her do what he wanted all the time.Forcing her to sleep with
                           him,even if she didn’t want to.

CAROLINE:      Sometimes love can be controlling and domineering,full of jealousy
                           and negative emotions.Just because you love someone it doesn’t
                           mean they’re good for you.We both know from personal
                           experience that some relationships can be extremely

PAUL:                Do you think Mum loved him?

CAROLINE:      No,I don’t think she did.In the end she forgave him,pitied him,and
                           even felt friendship for him.But I don’t think she ever actually loved

                                                                                      HELMUT STANDS UP AND
                                                                                      WALKS TOWARDS PAUL
                                                                                       AND CAROLINE.HE IS
                                                                                       LOOKING TIRED AND

HELMUT:         You will try to find Peter and your other relatives in Poland,won’t

CAROLINE:     Of course we will.Now we know the truth about our background
                           there can be no going back,we must look for our family.(PAUSE)
                           I suppose we should thank you in a way,Mr Kaufman.Without
                           your arrival here the other day we would still be in the dark about

PAUL:                As it is you and Mum have left us a bloody great mess to sort out.

CAROLINE:       Don’t look at it like that Paul. All our lives we’ve had no family to
                            speak of outside of our immediate family,our Mum and Dad.
                            (TURNING TO HELMUT KAUFMAN)Our Dad was an only child,
                            so as a result we didn’t have uncles and aunts and cousins on his
                            side of the family.And we just believed all of Mum’s family had
                            died in France during the war.Suddenly we find that we do have a
                            family out there,a half brother,and cousins,nephews and nieces.We
                            have a whole new family and a whole new culture to explore.We
                            should see it as a new exciting chapter in our lives,and not be
                            shaking in our boots,Paul.

PAUL:                 I suppose you’re right,Caroline.

HELMUT:           Caroline is right.You must see this as a new beginning.It’s what
                             Maria would have wanted.

CAROLINE:         And you will help us,Mr Kaufman, to find our Polish family?

HELMUT:              I will help you as much as I can,in whatever way I can.

CAROLINE:           Mr Kaufman………

HELMUT:              Yes.

CAROLINE:            I know you wronged Mum in the past,but I think you’re truly
                                 sorry.And I believe that in your own way you loved her.I just
                                 want to say that I hope you will feel part of our family now.

PAUL:                      Caroline……

CAROLINE:             Now listen here,Paul.Mr Kaufman is the father of our half
                                  brother,and I’m sure it was Mum’s dying wish that we should
                                  unite around this new found family.Mr Kaufman is part of that

PAUL:                      I didn’t like you much to begin with Mr Kaufman,however
                                 Caroline is right.You are family.And this is not the time to fall
                                 apart. We need to unite as a family if we’re  going to get through
                                 all of this.
                                                                                 HELMUT KAUFMAN,PAUL,
                                                                                 AND CAROLINE ARE
                                                                                 STANDING AROUND MARIE’S

HELMUT:              Maria looks at peace.

CAROLINE:           You’re right,she does.I think that in her last hours she was
                                at peace with the world.Those secrets which had weighed so
                                heavily on her mind for more than fifty years were at last
                                revealed to us.The thought that Dad never knew about her past,
                                must have caused her feelings of guilt too.To find out that he
                                knew all about her deep,dark secrets,and still chose to stay with
                                her,and to love her must have been a great relief.In her final
                                moments all the  guilt was gone,melted away.

                                                                                   A SHAFT OF SUNLIGHT
                                                                                   FROM THE WINDOW
                                                                                   ILLUMINATES THE BED
                                                                                   AND MARIE IN IT.

                                                                                   SO THAT THE BED LOOKS
                                                                                   AS IF IT HAS BEEN TOUCHED
                                                                                   BY A HEAVENLY LIGHT.


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