Category Archives: drama

The Award.

CHAPTER 51. Epilogue.

The girl was dark.

I couldn’t put my finger on it. Something about countenance, posture, contraction of the forehead muscles.

There had only been one other student, over the two decades, to carry the color; a penchant for asking that his photo be taken next to the American flag he’d been arrested, in recent years, for going door to door impersonating a police officer.

I’d taken over the after school drama club, established by a beloved fifth grade teacher who’d handmade racks of full body felt and taffeta. Frustrated at the keyboard with the small tape recorder of musical selections played back stage I’d begun to provide live underscoring, followed by interruptive vocal coaching……within two years of dealing with me, our fearless leader – the long line of framed photos across the back of the auditorium her legacy, plus that room full of costumes – retired. By the next school season I’d given the club her honorary name, and assumed the position.

There were no kits, from theater companies, in my sphere of awareness. I’d been driven, as a child, to write, produce, cast, direct (and, star in) school plays; soon, I would be adapting classics, then shorts from Spanky and Our Gang DVDs, and casting dozens.

The auditorium stage, our classroom, had a band of colors – hot, directly above our heads. Blue; green; red. Lights, I would discover, set every mood and greatly supplanted the absence of scenaric backdrop.

Though self conscious and introverted in character, the girl had an eye. Beyond assigning a small walk on part wearing a hat with ribbons, I made her head of the lighting crew.

As leader of illumination, she was stellar. I could rely on her to flick those switches precisely aligned with the action. That countenance proved fully aware of every aspect of the scene and its underpinnings. Though only one other parent would ever play the role of backstage manager through some ten productions, behind the curtain this girl ran the show.

The drama club ballooned into an all consuming undertaking. So many students auditioning, the shows would be double cast. The district having chosen to consolidate school enrollments, progressively adding 6th, 7th then 8th grade to our building, within a few years those who’d repeatedly starred from childhood would reach middle school graduation. It took this tunnel visioned creative a couple of seasons to realize awards were both earned and deserved.

Menopause, care of one 90+ year old father, my response was dismal; only mustering one set of drama club certificates that can even be recalled, seems I’d promised lapel pins but had no memory of their ever being received by the office in mail. What repeats in a loop was the day, during class, I’d announced the winner of Most Outstanding Female, Drama Club.

Presiding in front of the students seated before me in the auditorium, I declared one of the other girls who’d played lead in a few productions the winner. One, singular reaction still plays in that tape. Expectation; momentary hopefulness; furtive glancing about; then, disappointment and, fleetingly, resentment. I had failed my best stage manager, the girl gifted in scenic lighting.

During the days following that moment and well past the graduation ceremony, curious events unfolded. My Gund hand puppet, a gopher, role played across all grades during music class, turned up missing. Parked in the school lot, my car was keyed. Unsettled, I mused; only one face floated into the firmament of suspicion, all too familiar.

In the decade following retirement from public ed, I would search out former students on social media. Amongst the thousands, dozens would appear. Astonishingly this girl, the only one from our entire history of cast and crew, would attend NYU. I perused her albums, discovering that she had focused on photography and stop motion animation. At the Friend Request button, my finger paused.

Black out.




Copyright 6/8/23 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, who published moments ago before adding the copyright and whose name appears above this line. No translating, copying in part or whole, permitted; sharing by blog link, exclusively, with credit. Thank you for protecting original material. Cut!


Last night, CNN aired a special on legendary Hollywood icon, Elizabeth Taylor. Along with references to her many films and philanthropic efforts, she was encouraged to recollect, and comment upon, the numerous men with whom she’d had affairs and had married.

When she reached Richard Burton, the nature of Ms. Taylor’s narrative changed. She could not stop favoring him and their time together with every conceivable compliment. Though they’d notoriously fought throughout both their marriages he’d been, hands down, the love of her life.

Euphoric Recall.

The last point, on the list of symptoms in codependent “relationships” with addicts.

To my mind and heart, it’s the killer.

The biggest stone in the road. The greatest force of resistance.
The devil’s favorite device.

Driving home from Ohio this afternoon, encountering construction and being forced to submit to reduced speed single lane, I had plenty of time to allow this phenomenon to percolate.

So much about failed attempts to establish mutual trust and nurture between myself and the afflicted had been relatively easy to discard: the brutal verbal abuse; the erratic mood ambiance; the gaslighting..; but, walking away from the precious moments – quiet, contemplative evenings; ravenously satisfying gourmet meals; gifts of warm clothing; and, sharing the love of an adorable dog….even the occasional, fruitful conversation, and memories of a physical passion that had always smoothed over everything else in its path…..all this brought the heartache.

Mathematicians are sometimes reviled for their lack of emotionality; but, tonight, I’m betting they have a much easier time compartmentalizing their feelings of longing up against the multiple factors working against what should otherwise nourish and sustain.

One gifted in the numbers might design a pie chart. You know, cutting the diagram of the proverbial dessert into various sized pieces, tabulating and then establishing percentage values for every offense – how many times hurtful words were weaponized; how many hours between good moods and tantrums; how many binges displaced intimacy; how many instances wherein memories of what actually happened were questioned, challenged, or reconstituted until reality warped…..and, lastly, assigning a small sliver of pie to complete the circle, representing euphoric recall.

For those of us not so blessed in the numerical equivalent department, the emotionally hopeful component balloons in our consciousness. Looming lasciviously, licking its lips lying in wait for us, euphoric recall lures us back into the lion’s den. And, no; the Biblical prophet Daniel is most definitely not going to appear to calm the beasts, though we are so SURE we think we see him…..

In one big gulp, euphoric recall swallows up every negative second of however many months or years we’ve devoted to exhaustive misery, leaving us bereft, devoid of any resolve to remain free. This not so little demon convinces us that the addict is truly worthy, a classically good person who wants desperately to both care and be loved. The translation is complete.

The only way we reach any realization to the contrary is to do the very thing we are convinced must be done: return. We cave. We go back, for more.

And, that’s exactly what we get.

I don’t know how Elizabeth Taylor felt the day Richard Burton passed. I wasn’t there. I never knew her, and she never told me. I do suspect that she felt a whole pie chart of emotions, from rage to devastation to grief to relief.

I said relief. I said it, because I meant it.

Years later, reflecting on the whole of their life together, she remembered only what she loved about him, about being with him, about their life as man and wife. To the interviewer, she insisted; they’d had a world of fun, and she’d do it all again.

I’m not at all sure how I’ll feel, in my own retrospect. Perhaps I’ll pass before he does, and he’ll have the story to tell. I do know that, tonight, I’m no Elizabeth Taylor and he’s no Richard Burton. Strip away the glamour, the glistening, and the guise; we’re just two crippled people, addict and codependent, and if there is anything at all to remember about us I hope our feeble memories can retain something good.

The love of my life?

At this point, I just cannot recall.




Copyright 5/15/23 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. No copying, in part or whole or by translation; sharing by blog link, exclusively. No AI lifting of contents. Thank you for respecting original works by humans.

The Martian on the Attic Loft Floor.

[ formerly titled: The Top Stitched Blue Denim Dress. ]

The old, bright red stuffed Martian doll with its assortment of Velcroed noses, mouths, and googly eyes stared up at me from its cast off pose on the attic floor, resembling a mutated flounder soaked in Red Dye #4.

This attic treasure, unearthed alongside equally ancient, Spanky and Our Gang hand lettered school musical posters, cheap heeled shoes, the chunks, pieces, and too-skinny stems of a long discarded Shark vacuum, seemed to taunt me. I, on my birthday no less, had trudged up the too-steep stairs to tackle my loft’s hoard with only one, elusive find in mind: my precious sleeveless, top stitched denim dress.

Mum had made all our clothes, growing up. A master tailor and expert dressmaker, she’d created pleated cuffed slacks, purses, hats, fully lined three piece suits, wedding and ball gowns, drapes, sofa slip covers, and bedspreads. When I moved out at the tender age of nearly 26, most of my wearables came off the rack and not without accompanying angst; diagnosed with adolescent ideopathic thoracic scoliosis at age 13, I would forever be forced to buy ready made clothes that never quite fit.

Never, that is, with one exception: my favorite denim dress.

Mail order catalogs populating my PO Box for so many decades, this garment had likely originated at Newport News or some similar bargain outlet. But, the fabric was solid, hardy, stretch denim; the dress wore well and, most importantly, it seemed designed with my warped body in mind. Boat neck, vertical top stitching slenderizing the line and belted with a slim, faux alligator belt at waist, the dress hugged my wide hips only to flare out toward the hem in a flirty skirt just meeting midway through my knobby knees.

But, because my hips were wider than my compressed, crooked upper back, the excess fabric above the waist served to blouse out over the shoulder blades, masking their uneven protrusion to the right of my spinal curve. So few pieces of clothing – be they sweaters, blazers, or vests – so effectively concealed the deformity I grew to favor this frock, appearing in it everywhere all summer.

In recent years, and largely due to the pandemic, most of my clothes had hung unworn. Now, I’d been sorting through by color and cut, and noticed that my favorite denim wasn’t on any rack. Neither could it be found folded among the rest of the jean jackets and pants. And, this being the one outfit I always chose first, its absence was baffling.

Until today.

Let fate on the day of birth remind an aging woman of her mortality. Add to that one orphaned at the vulnerable age of menopause, celebrating alone after yet another fractured, intractable disagreement with the man who couldn’t love her, I had plenty of time to contemplate and reflect. This dress, its absence looming with prescience, filled the firmament with telling import; I could trace back one wearing, to Miami, in 2015 and there’d been no man in my life since until he who had sent me tearing home from his place twenty odd minutes south, aborting our plans for the day. I calculated, realizing that dress had been in my possession from 2015 through til 2017 until now. From whose house had it disappeared?

We’d spent the past six years breaking up, reuniting, wrenching free again, meeting to eat. His mother ailed; his mother passed; he returned, this time to stick. Over all those years, more than one strange article of clothing had tempted question – tossed casually on an unmade bed, folded in clean laundry, or stuffed under a sofa cushion during a drunk. Had my best dress been flat out stolen, or just relegated to the suspected cheat heap?

Seven hours remained, of this solitary birthday. Carol Burnett was turning 90, and the world of celebrity had a big TV party planned for the evening. Carol was my kindred; she’d famously declared, on The Tonight Show, that yes, she’d be more than happy to get married again – as long as he lived in his house, next door.

I’ll crawl back up to the attic, then back down through the bedroom for one, last meticulous treasure hunt before curtain time. If the missing denim does turn up, he’s off the hook; if it doesn’t, I’ll finally have all the proof I’ve been seeking for so long that the truly loving man I deserve is somebody else, out there, dressed and ready.


The Martian on the attic floor won’t have to say a word.





p.s. but if, this summer, you see a sleeveless denim with flirty skirt and a sq………. call me.

(I think it’s an Allegra K.)

UPDATE: Pulled out the last plastic bin, known to contain only dad’s old things. Hanging behind it – in the dark – was the denim dress.

Thanks, Mum. You’ve done it, again.

Copyright 4/26/23 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. Happy Birthday, to Carol, to Channing, Melania, and me. All rights reserved.