The Wilted Sunflower by Markham Byron Isler

Play summary

The Wilted Sunflower is about a young girl who is struggling with memory and identity loss after suffering a TBI (traumatic brain injury), while her mother tries to help her remember.


 

 

WOMAN : Do you remember?
CHILD : No.
WOMAN : Nothing? You don’t remember anything at all?
CHILD : No.
WOMAN : Do you know your name?
CHILD : …Nightingale. Diana Nightingale. I think…
WOMAN : That’s a very pretty name.
CHILD : Thank you. My mother gave it to me.
WOMAN : Do you remember your mother?
CHILD : No. I mean, not really. I know I had one.
WOMAN : Had?
CHILD : Yeah. I don’t anymore.
WOMAN : Why not?
CHILD : She left. She gave me my name and then left.
WOMAN : Where did she go?
CHILD : She said, “You have a strong name so be strong -”
WOMAN : Where did -?
CHILD : “- It’s not enough to just stand tall, even tall things fall.” Have you ever seen a sunflower?
WOMAN : …Yes I have.
CHILD : They can get pretty big.
WOMAN : Yes they can. Where did your mother –
CHILD : She said, “You’re a sunflower. Tall, beautiful, strong like the sun. But remember that even a sunflower can wilt.” Have you ever seen a wilted sunflower?
WOMAN : …I don’t think so…
CHILD : They’re still tall, but they don’t look strong anymore. They look sad. Beaten.
WOMAN : Sweetie, can you tell me where your mother is?
CHILD : That’s me.
WOMAN : …What’s you? Sweetie, what’s –
CHILD : I’m the wilted sunflower.
WOMAN : Why do you say that?
CHILD : I lost.
WOMAN : What did you lose?
CHILD : Everything.
WOMAN : Oh, no, that’s not true.
CHILD : Yes it is.
WOMAN : Sweetie, do you know where you are right now?
CHILD : No.
WOMAN : You’re in a hospital.
CHILD : …Why?
WOMAN : You had a very serious head injury.
CHILD : How did I do that?
WOMAN : You don’t remember anything?
CHILD : No.
WOMAN : Did you fall? Did you maybe fall while you were playing outside?
CHILD : I said I don’t remember. I don’t want to talk anymore. I’m going to sleep.
WOMAN : You can’t sleep right now, you’ve got a concussion.
CHILD : Ugh, can I watch TV at least?
WOMAN : Yes. What do you want to watch?
CHILD : …I don’t know.
WOMAN : What’s your favorite show?
CHILD : …I don’t remember.
WOMAN : …Ok. Brianna, I am going to talk to the doctors and see if –
CHILD : What?
WOMAN : I’m going to talk –
CHILD : No, what did you call me?
WOMAN : …I don’t know what –
CHILD : You called me “Brianna.”
WOMAN : …
CHILD : Why did you call me “Brianna?”
WOMAN : …
CHILD : My name’s Diana Nightingale, why did you call me “Brianna?”
WOMAN : …Because that’s your name, sweetie.
CHILD : What?! No it’s not!
WOMAN : You fell and hit your head when you were playing outside –
CHILD : I think I would remember my own name!
WOMAN : – It was like slow motion, you just cascaded down the bars like –
CHILD : – My mother gave me a strong name before she left –
WOMAN : – Sweetie, I’m your mother!
WOMAN : Don’t you remember me?
CHILD : …You’re not my mom. She left after she…
WOMAN : I never went anywhere, sweetie, I’m right here.
CHILD : …When did this happen?
WOMAN : Just the other day. The doctors said that with a traumatic brain injury like yours that there might be some memory damage and that in time it might –
CHILD : There’s nothing wrong with my memory, I know exactly who I am! Now get the hell out of my room and stop PRETENDING TO BE BY MOM!
WOMAN goes to the door briefly, then returns to her seat.
WOMAN : … Do you remember?
CHILD : No.
WOMAN : Nothing? You don’t remember anything at all?
CHILD : No.
WOMAN : Do you know your name?
CHILD : …Nightingale. Diana Nightingale. I think…
WOMAN fights back tears.
WOMAN : That’s a very pretty name.
CHILD : Thank you. My mother gave it to me.

Lights fade as the conversation continues to repeat itself.

The End


 

 Artistic career

 Markham Byron Isler is an American actor, director, and playwright currently teaching in the Applied Drama/Theatre for Young Audiences program at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, MI. He studied at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York, received his B.A. in theatre from Hiram College, and his M.F.A. from Eastern Michigan University.