Sjor – A young boy roughly six years old.
Linda – A young girl in her early teens.
Mother – Sjor and Linda’s widowed mother.
(Both of the children are outside walking through a market, crowded with people, they are holding each other’s hands in order to stay together. After walking a short distance Sjor looks up at Linda as if about to speak, she looks down at him and leans her ear towards his mouth so she can hear him over the crowd.)
Sjor: Which one?
Linda: Shush, don’t mess his up, and don’t push and rush me!
(She squeezes his hand and pulls him towards a shop with bread in baskets open to the crowd so they can see it. She approaches the basket with Sjor held behind her to hide him but keep him close. As she gets close enough to take it into her free hand the shop keeper, who was until then was shouting into the crowd to get potential-buyer’s attention and tell of his great deals, sees her and smiles while looking into her eyes. Disarmed by his glare and smile she stops, smiles back at him while backing into Sjor and pushing back into the crowd. They both melt back and get lost in the crowd together.)
Sjor: So, why didn’t you take it?
Linda: He seen me.
Sjor: So? Don’t they usually? We could have ran? No?
Linda: He…smiled at me.
Sjor: You felt bad?
(He strokes her hand that he is holding with his thumb to show affection.)
Linda: A little…
Sjor: Shall we just go home?
Linda: We can’t, well not yet little man. We need to get something for mom…
Sjor: AND US!
Linda: Yes, so we better stay and find some food to eat.
Sjor: Okay, okay…
(Sjor pulls an unhappy face and looks at his feet while walking somewhat slower.)
Linda: Stop that.
(He continues to walk slowly until it gets to the point where she is basically dragging him around, then he digs his feet into the floor to slow Linda’s walking.)
Linda: Are you really doing this now?
(Sjor continues to look at the floor.)
Linda: Fine. We will go home. But, don’t you dare complain about being hungry later!
(He squeezes Linda’s hand, looks up at her, smiles and starts skipping while swinging the arm he is holding hands with back and forth. While Linda tries to guide them Through a crowd and out of the market, and then out of the town.)
(The two children are walking back from the town after failing to steal food. They are walking down a long, wide, horse-trodden path. Sjor is holding his belly and rubbing it in hunger.)
Sjor: I am so hungry!
Linda: Yes, and so am I.
Sjor: I feel like I can barely walk anymore. Do you have any bread crumbs in your pocket?
(Linda digs her hands into her pockets and pulls out some fluff, but no food.)
Sjor: Even that pocket fluff looks tasty right now.
Linda: Don’t be silly.
(Sjor crosses his arms while walking, they both continue to walk until they come to a dirty and ragged looking man. Who is laid face down just off the road and is not moving.)
Sjor: Well, he looks dead.
Linda: Let’s check.
(They both go over to him and roll him over. He is covered in blood, but does not move or even breathe.)
Linda: Yep, pretty dead looking to me.
Sjor: Let’s check his pockets!
(Linda makes a face of disgust.)
Sjor: But…He is dead…And might have food…
Linda: Why would a dead tramp have food?
Sjor: I dunno. Let’s check anyway, we might as well?
(Sjor pulls an innocent face and lets the thought of food sink into Linda’s mind. She then sighs loudly.)
Linda: I guess so…
(She folds her arms to show that she doesn’t really want to, to distance herself from the event.)
Linda: You check, you’re the hungry one.
Sjor: First come, first serve!
(He rolls up his sleeves, leans down and begins to search he dead man’s pockets and then his coats.)
Sjor: Ew! He kinda smells like good cheese! It’s making me feel sick and hungry at the same time!
(Linda begins to feel uncomfortable with watching, so she turns her back and very slowly begins to pace back and forth, but keeps her back towards the events. So she is walking forwards and then backwards, and then forwards again.)
Sjor: (While rummaging) Nothing! Nothing! Nothing!
(He feels a lump in the man’s undershirt, and checks it. He pulls out a bag and very slowly begins to open it. He opens it and a small solid noise is made from the bag.)
Linda: Have you found anything yet?
Sjor: Give me a minute…
Linda: Fine, but hurry. I want to go home, and I thought you did too.
Sjor: To get beat for bringing no food home?
(Linda is silent and waits. Sjor puts something to his face, sniffs it and then puts it in his mouth, and then shovels the contents of the bag into his mouth, making a lot of noise.)
Linda: Oi! Share!
(Sjor does not take any notice.)
Linda: I said! (She says while approaching him) Share!
(She shouts “Share!” as she grabs his shoulders to force him to turn to face her. His face is surprised and his mouth is full. A coin falls from out of his mouth, falls to the floor and spins, making hem both stop in silence. Then he swallows with a face of mild pain.)
Linda: The hell are you doing?!
Sjor: Eating. Obviously. They aren’t very nice mind you.
Linda: That’s because they aren’t for eating…
Sjor: Everything is for eating! Otherwise what good is it?!
Linda: No, no You eat food, you use coins to get food.
Sjor: But, if you have coins, why buy food when you already have coins? Just eat them instead!
(Linda is dumbstruck.)
Linda: That’s…That’s not how it works…
(Sjor leans down to pick up the coin he didn’t eat and passes it to Linda.)
Sjor: See? I do share.
(Linda is reluctant to take it as it has been in her brother’s mouth, but then takes it anyway and puts it in her fluff filled pocket.)
Linda: That’s so you don’t eat it. It is mine, and you let me keep it, and don’t try to take it from me, okay?
Sjor: Yes, of course.
Linda: Good. Now let’s go.
(They both continue walking down the road in silence, until Sjor grabs his belly.)
Sjor: I’m hungry…
(Linda sighs to herself like a mother over hearing her child say something stupid. She grits her teeth and carries on walking while ignoring his complaints.)
(Sjor and Linda are returning home, Sjor opens the front door and lets his sister go in first. She enters and shouts.)
(Sjor enters the house and closes the door while Linda carries on calling her mother. Noises come from the kitchen, and then a middle-aged woman enters the room, drying her hands on her apron.)
Mother: So, you’re back already?
Sjor: Yes, yes mommy!
(Sjor runs to her while Linda stands in silence and looks uncomfortable. Sjor reaches his mother and hugs her. Their mother pats his head and wraps her arms around his shoulders and holds him close. She then looks up at Linda and catches her eye.)
Mother: So, did you get anything?
(Linda twists her foot into the floor while looking at her other foot, like a young embarrassed child. She then looks as if she is going to speak, hesitates a few times and then finally speaks with a meek voice.)
(The mother leans her chin on Sjor’s head and continues looking at Linda.)
Mother: Nothing? Nothing at all?
(Sjor leans his head up to look at his mother’s face as he speaks.)
Sjor: We tried.
Mother: Tell me how you tried?
Sjor: We nearly got some bread, but the man seen and smiled at Linda, so we couldn’t get it.
(Linda shows signs of being uncomfortable, such as playing with her hands while not being able to stand still.)
Mother: Were you close enough to grab it?
(Both Sjor and Linda speak at the same time.)
Sjor: Yes! Linda: No.
Mother: Is that a yes or a no? Hm?
(Again, both Sjor and Linda speak at the same time.)
Sjor: Yes! Linda: Yes.
Mother: So why didn’t you grab it and run then?
Linda: I…I hesitated and then felt bad, so I stopped…
Mother: So why didn’t you move onto another place with food and try again?
Sjor: That was my fault Mommy.
(Sjor pulls an innocent face while looking up at his mother.)
Mother: What did you do?
Sjor: I wanted to come home to see you.
(Their mother strokes his hair.)
Linda: He dug his feet into the floor and wouldn’t let me go anywhere, but home.
(Their Mother looks down at Sjor.)
Mother: Did you?
Mother: You shouldn’t do that, we need food my little Sjor.
(Buries his head into his mother’s apron.)
Sjor: I’m sorry!
Linda: He was just being a little mommy’s boy, as always.
Mother: And you were being a little girl, as always. Take responsibility of him and return with food, you know and understand we need it to live.
Linda: I couldn’t.
Mother: You mean you wouldn’t.
Linda: I tried!
Mother: Don’t try, make it happen! You felt bad and stopped. Now because of that, you, me and Sjor have less food to eat today. Would you rather feel bad and be a criminal, or be starved to death? Those are our only two choices.
(Linda looks ready to burst into tears, but she steels herself and speaks meekly.)
Linda: I’m sorry.
Mother: Go outside and play Sjor.
(The mother unwraps her arms from Sjor and pushes him to leave.)
(Sjor is interrupted by his mother’s instant anger.)
Mother: Leave! NOW!
(Sjor runs out of the house quickly. Then the mother walks close to Linda and begins to speak to her, looking into her eyes.)
Mother: Do you understand our situation?
Linda: Yes, of course I do.
(The mother begins to get angrier and gets closer to Linda to show her.)
Mother: I don’t think you do!
Linda: I do! I do!
(The mother starts her sentence with gritted teeth and gets louder and angrier as she goes.)
Mother: Then why have you failed to do what I need you to do?!
Linda: I don’t know!
Mother: Not knowing isn’t going to feed us Linda!
(Linda starts to shows signs of being upset and look set to bread down in tears.)
Mother: Crying about it won’t feed us either!
(Linda bursts into tears.)
Mother: Oh stop that! You’re not a child anymore!
(Linda continues to sob.)
Mother: I said stop!
(The mother reaches for Linda in an aggressive manner. Linda thinks she is about to get hit so she steps back, hesitates and then loses her balance. She falls backwards and lands on her back, and then quickly sits up. As she fell a coin came out of her pocket and made a loud cluck noise as it hit the floor.)
Mother: What is this?
(The mother approaches the coin, leans down and picks it up. Linda begins to speak with a weak and sobbing voice.)
Linda: Sjor found it on the walk home…
Mother: Oh, I see.
(The mother begins to pass it from hand to hand, staring at the coin.)
Mother: …This is perfect!
(Linda pulls a confused face.)
(The mother places the coin inside her pocket.)
Mother: Before you came back I found some left over flour and then went next door to get an egg. I started getting to bake a cake to feed us for today, but I couldn’t find anything to put on top of it. This will be perfect! The cake is complete!
(The mother looks pleased with herself and walks back into the kitchen, she begins to whistle to herself. Noise come from the kitchen, like the sound of pans clashing and bowls rolls on surfaces. All this time Linda is sat on the floor still. She wipes away her tears and with a face of confusion she quietly mutters to herself under her breath.)
Linda: Am I the only person in this house who understands the difference between money and food?