IN THE BEGINNING: PART 2

SCENE 1.

(FIRE CRACKLES SOFTLY)

Narrator: I know why you're here. But my stories aren't free. What will you pay me to tell you the story you need? A penny, a dollar? More? How about your mornings as you drive to work? Many people have given me that, but that's nothing compared to what others have given up to hear me speak. How about watching your child grow up: their first steps, their first words? Their last? Will you sacrifice those just to hear one of my stories? I have been given less, certainly, but I have also been given so much more. I only ask for what you think this story is worth. So what will it be?

(PAUSE)

Narrator: This will do. We begin our story with Elda, who is about to make a very sudden crash landing.

(THE SOUND OF SOMETHING MOVING REALLY FAST, A CRASH IN THE TREES. AN OWL SPUTTERS AND STEPS OUT OF ONE OF THEM)

Charlie: Excuse me, but some people are trying to sleep here!

Elda: Sorry Mr. Owl, I'm just trying to fix my wings. Did I wake you up?

Charlie: No, but that's not really... what did you say you were fixing again?

Elda: My wings. 

(UNZIP, ELDA FALLS THROUGH THE AIR, LANDS ON HER FEET)

Elda: A screw fell out and now they're a little touchy.

Charlie: Tut tut. Well clearly nobody's explained flying to you. It's something birds do, not you.

Elda: I had it working for a few minutes. It'll be back to work just as soon as I...

(THE CONTRAPTION FALLS APART EVEN FURTHER)

Elda: ...fix this.

Charlie: Oh yes, that's rich. A little girl makes a machine that can fly which just happens to fall apart whenever anybody looks at it.

Elda:  What if instead of mocking me, you helped find the screw?

Charlie: Listen, girl. The secret of flight is something us birds guard with our lives. Especially from bothersome humans. Now be gone! Shoo!

(SPRING POPPING, A PIECE SHOOTS OUT, HITS A COUPLE THINGS, THEN HITS CHARLIE IN THE STOMACH WHO CRIES OUT IN PAIN)

Elda: Fine. I'll do it myself.

Charlie: (to himself) Good, then it'll be quiet.

(FOOTSTEPS FROM ELDA WHO IS WALKING AWAY)

Elda: (to herself) Well that was a rough start, but I got this. I can do adult.  Adulting is easy. I've got so much adult, I don't eve know what to do with it. Well, hello Mr. Tree. Why yes, this is a screwdriver. Yes, I made it myself. I don't know what a real screwdriver looks like, but it sounds like it would look something like this...

(PAUSE)

Elda: I'm talking to a tree. What's wrong with me?

Tree: (slowly)I think it looks great. 

Elda: Ah! A talking tree!

(RUNNING FOOTSTEPS)

Tree: Okay, bye!

(ELDA PASSING THROUGH LEAVES AND BUSHES, ELDA'S CLOTHING GETTING SNAGGED AND CAUGHT AGAINST BRANCHES)

Elda: I just need to find a screw. Or something that looks like a screw. I'm surrounded by trees. This should be easy. Then I'll be out of this forest and back in the air where I belong. 

(STOMACH GROWLING)

Elda: Oh yeah, food.

Narrator: Almost as if on cue, a smell hit her that she wasn't expecting.

Elda: Cheese and bread? Well that's suspiciously convenient. 

(STOMACH GROWLS AGAIN)

Elda: But I don't recognize any of the plants, here. And I'm not really sure where I am... Eh... Convenience it is.

Narrator: Cautiously, she followed the source of the smell down a hill and around the bend until she found the source. Neatly laid out on a silver tray was a block of cheese, some bread, a glass of milk, and some blueberries. It was also clearly set down on a netted trap.

Elda: Okay, I'll admit, this is new. I have never seen a trap with human food in it. Or human silverware. Or a... Is that a doll?

Narrator: Just then, the net sprang to life and wrapped itself around her. Out from the bushes emerged two ugly old witches.

Thiestra: You're not a servant boy!

Diestra: You've ruined our trap!

Thiestra: Explain yourself, girl!

Elda: Please, I'm just a little girl who's hungry and lost and I can't find my parents!

Diestra: Did you hear that, Sister? 

Thiestra: Of course I heard that, Diestra: We've got ourselves an orphan.

Elda: What? No! I said I do have parents!

Diestra: Just like our old servant boy! 

Thiestra: No parents means no attachments.

Diestra: Easier to fill their minds with candy and stuffing till they do our bidding.

Thiestra: To make them clean our cauldrons.

Diestra: And our to polish our brooms.

Thiestra: And to try our potions. 

Diestra: And to clean our dirty socks.

Thiestra: Oo yes, clean socks would be nice.

Diestra: I bet this one has an extra sweet tooth.

Thiestra: Oh, servant girl! We have a... Wait... Where did she go?

(CUT TO ELDA RUNNING AGAIN, DIESTRA AND THIESTRA CALLING OUT "OH, GIRL!", ELDA PANTING FROM RUNNING SO FAST, STOPS WHEN THEY'RE OUT OF RANGE)

Elda: This is the worst day ever.

(SUDDENLY, WOOSH! DOWN COMES THE HEAVIEST, LOUDEST RAIN YOU HAVE EVER HEARD IN YOUR LIFE)

Elda: eeeeeeeeEEEEEEYAAAA! Gotta get out of the rain, gotta get out of the rain!

Narrator: Elda bounded from tree to tree in search of cover, but it was to no avail. within only a few short seconds she was entirely soaked and the cold was beginning to get to her.

Elda: (teeth chattering) Don't you worry, I'm perfectly fine. Just a little, tiny sprinkle. Huh?

Narrator: Just then, Elda noticed a light appear in the distance. without even thinking, she ran as fast as her wobbly legs could carry her.

(RAPID SLOSHY FOOTSTEPS AND HEAVY PANTING FROM Elda)

Narrator: As it got closer, she could see the light was coming from the opening to a small cave. Not even caring about the consequences, she ducked inside before noticing who else was inside.

(RAIN IS SUDDENLY MUTED, A CRACKLING FIRE CAN BE HEARD. SOMEONE STOKES THE FIRE. THE DRIP-DRIP OF ELDA'S SOPPING WET CLOTHES)

Gwendelock: What the?

Elda: It's raining outside. I'm going to join you you two, please and thank you.

Owl: Hoo!

Gwendelock: No, no it's fine, there's plenty of room for all of us.

(RUSTLING OF FEATHERS SOME MORE HOOTING)

Gwendelock: Quit complaining, you need the company. Sorry (TO ELDA), he's just shy.

(HISSING)

Gwendelock: What's your name?

Elda: Elda.

Gwendelock: Mine's Gwendelock. Where are you from, Elda? 

Elda: Well, you know. Hey what's that?

Gwendelock: Uh... That? That's just his pile of junk. No idea where he gets it all, I imagine most of it's stolen. If he starts leaning in just smack him on the beak, he'll stop bothering you soon enough.

Elda: Is he your friend?

Gwendelock: Yeah, I'd say that we're friends.

(SNAPPING AND HISSING)

Gwendelock: Or... Well... Something along those lines.

Elda: How come he doesn't talk?

Gwendelock: Ahem. Redford's right there. He can hear you perfectly fine.  And yes, he can talk, he just chooses his words wisely -- a lesson more people could really learn from. Anyway, have a seat! You look absolutely soaked.

(REFOCUS ON THE CRACKLING FIRE, THE RAIN OUTSIDE INTENSIFIES, Elda SITS NEXT TO THE FIRE)

Gwendelock: Well, it looks like we're gonna be here a while so we may as well get cozy. You know, I've never met another human in this forest. Usually it's just Redford and I. We like to keep each other company when we're sick of our families.

Elda: Oh! Do you still live with your parents?

Gwendelock: (PAUSE) No.

Elda: Sorry, was I not supposed to ask that question?

Gwendelock: No, you're fine, you didn't mean anything by it. I live with my two great aunts. They're... all I have left. 

Elda: I see.

Gwendelock: I know I should be grateful they took me in. I just wish they weren't so infuriating all the time!

Elda: Are they mean to you?

Gwendelock: No, not intentionally. They just... They don't think about how their actions affect other people. They live in this bubble of magic and mystery and if something doesn't...

Elda: Wait, magic?

Gwendelock: Yep.

Elda: Does that mean...?

Gwendelock: Before you ask, yes they're witches. No, I'm not a wizard. At least not yet. I might be, maybe, in the future, someday, who knows?

Elda: I think I may have ran into them a while ago.

Gwendelock: Wait, they're here?

Elda: Yeah! They had this trap laid out with berries and cheese and...

Gwendelock: No...

Elda: I accidentally got caught in it and they threatened to stuff my head with fluff!

Gwendelock: No... That... I... Can't they leave me alone for just one day? Ugh. Honestly it wouldn't kill them to scrub their own cauldron pots for a change.

Elda: You were their servant? But you're so nice!

Gwendelock: They can be nice, too. They're just complicated. They say things before they think about it and sometimes they get carried away with their magic and make ridiculous decisions. They would have turned you back to normal once they realized what they'd done. They're good people, honestly, they just... Berries and cheese, really? You can't be serious.

Elda: And milk.

Gwendelock: Milk?

Elda: Were those meant for you?

Gwendelock: What? No, of course not. Probably for salamanders or something. Definitely not for me. Nope. Crazy aunts. I can't believe they did that. I mean what kind of salamander drinks milk from a... Wow. Look, it's already stopped raining!

(INDEED THE RAIN HAS STOPPED AND NOW THE SOUNDS OF SPRING START ROLLING IN)

Gwendelock: You know, I think I'm ready to go back. For good, this time.

Gwendelock and Elda return to the witches who apologize for their insensitive behavior. They also encourage Elda to return to her home, that there's no shame in not being ready to grow up yet. They tell her The Grand Duchess can probably help her and they magic her to the back of Charlie so that he can guide her through the forest. Cue trombone whah-whah-whah.

Inside a nearby cave, trolls poke and prod at an old man in a cage. They mock him and offer him meat of unknown origin. They tell him it's time for work. He begs for no more, he's already given them enough. They laugh. Machinery is heard turning. He screams.