The Soliloquy of a Button

[Dark room, there is no light]
Good evening. [Pause] How do you do? [Pause.] You may wonder why the lights are turned off. You can´t see me, can you? Well, excuse my dramatic gesture, but I left the lights off, because you don´t even notice me when the lights are on, so why give you the chance to overlook me? [Pause.] This is about me, after all. [Pause.] And there is no light switch nearby. [Pause.] You may wonder what I look like. [Laughs.] Well, I´m not so different from others of my kind. Usually, we´re round or square and have two or more holes. We come in different colors and styles, we are attached to different pieces of clothing, we are held in place by different threads. [Snorts.] Yes, of course, I am a button. [Angry.] If you don´t want to hear a button´s story, you might leave at once. [Pause.] You want me to describe myself, don´t you? I can feel your anxiety for the knowledge of my appearance. I shall not disappoint you. [Pause.] I was made in Italy from the hands of a very renowned button maker. He is the best at what he does. He designed me and my brothers for a very outré suit. That is, for its jacket. Although designed to fit with a skirt, the lady that bought me never wore the skirt with the jacket. She did not like skirts, but she loved the jacket. [Pause.] I was shipped over to France, where a talented seamstress sewed me to aforementioned jacket made in Paris. I am of exquisite color, a wonderful mixture of grey and green, with two thread holes. On the periphery I have a wonderfully shaped pattern of half circles. [Pause] You could say I am a beauty. [Pause.] Not just because I was handcrafted, but because I am unique. My brothers have flaws from being used so much. One has to hold together the jacket at the waistline; the other fixes the jacket at the hip. I, however, have a splendid position right between them two. Not only am I less worn out, but I also have the best position. [Pause.] See, you may think that buttons are illiterate and do not care about anything at all, but you are severely mistaken. I am a well-read button. Everything my owner reads I read. And she did indeed read a lot. She is an old lady who loves literature more than anything. She lives off her deceased husband´s fortune and spends it on books and books and books. She loves to wear the suit´s jacket while sitting in her big armchair. She always reads there. [Distressed.] See, I do not know how to say this, but something went very wrong. I was not designed and handcrafted and sewed to a fancy suit´s jacket just to spend the rest of my life in this cave! [Shrieks.] This godforsaken darkness! [Shouts.] This grave!! [Pause.] I always knew that they would kill her, but why did she have to be buried wearing this jacket?! Why would she damn me, the loyal button, to such an excruciating and distressful live?

That dreadful morning, she opened the wardrobe and went straight for the jacket. Her favorite jacket, she always said. She put it on and went to the kitchen to make herself a cup of tea. She always had a cup of tea when reading. She always wore the jacket when reading, even though it might be too fancy for a derisory activity such as reading. [Offensive.] But let me tell you, there was nothing else in life that she enjoyed as much as reading a book. So others might call this a preposterous outfit to be worn while reading. She simply called it her reading outfit. [Pause.] That shall be settled, then. [Pause.] I was quite happy with being out of the closet. I knew that any minute now she would take the cup of steaming hot tea into her office, the room with the numerous shelves containing books of all sorts, literature of every genre. She would pick a novel, a drama, a romantic story. She would sit down and open the book. I, being closer to the book on her lap, would hear the soft cracking of the book binding, the ruffle of the pages, while at the same time hearing her heart beat with pleasant anticipation. [Pause.] While I was already reading the first sentence, she shifted in the armchair to find a comfortable position for reading. Then she reached for the cup of tea. I had to stop reading, even though the first sentence was more than promising. But her shifting in her chair made it impossible for me to go on reading. Impatiently I waited for her to take a sip and then move back and reopen the book. She took her time blowing on the hot tea, hesitantly slurping her first mouthful. Finally, finally, she put down the cup of tea and found a cushy position for reading. Then she reopened the book and smoothed the first page out. At last I was to continue reading, but … [Breathes heavily. Desperate.] I do not know what happened. She choked and reached for her throat with her free hand. She made terrible noises and did an unpromising attempt of getting out of the chair. [Crying.] She fell. She fell and the book flew across the wooden floor and the pages got creased and crinkled. [Devastated.] She fell and I could not see anything anymore. She blinded me. [Sobbing loudly.] She blinded me.

I was in shock. I was emotionally distressed. I was paralyzed, stunned. I was torpid. I was unable to maintain my pristine mental condition. The lady was dead and when they finally found her, she had already started to have an odor of death about her. [Loud sobbing]. Do you want to know what the worst part is? [Pause.] They never asked me. They never asked me to tell the story. They made assumptions. I heard their muffled voiced when they found her. I heard that they suspected she died a natural death. They did not bother to question me, I, who observed it all. [Pause.] No one came to grieve her. None of her sons came. [Aroused.] Those little gold-digging, money obsessed, non-caring cretins! [Panting.] No one showed. No one. [Crying. Pause.] They came to her funeral, though. The all gathered around the lady´s lawyer like eagles circling their prey. I know him. I know him, because he came over a lot. He has hold of the lady´s last will. I knew that they would be satisfied. I must admit that I dozed off during most of the lady´s meetings with her lawyer, but I stayed awake long enough to learn that her sons would become rich after her death. [Pause.] Do you see where I´m going? What terrible accusation I am about to make? [Pause.] The lady´s last will was read before her open casket. I was finally let out of the plastic bag I was held in for days, my brothers and I alongside the jacket were washed and some man I do not recall helped the old lady into her jacket. This was the first requirement. She wanted to be buried in her favorite outfit, her hands gently folded on her chest, not too much make-up, her hair washed and tightly pinned up just as she used to wear it. [Pause.] I am getting sentimental here. [Suddenly enraged.] Had I known that this would mean for me to be buried with her, I would have tried to get away! I would have fled! I would have broken my chains and got away! [Panting heavily again.] But oh, on this terrible, disastrous day that I learned of my fate I was paralyzed. I almost overlooked the satisfied, gloatingly malicious faces of her sons who looked at each other conspiratorially. I was concerned with my own fate. I was to be buried alive. Do you hear me? Buried alive! [Pause.] For all my life, I was happy being attached to the lady´s jacket; being in the company of my voiceless brothers; being able to read and consume literature. That is what I want to do! [Sorrowful.] But now, that the casket is closed and we are all in the darkness, I have to be honest with you. I have to accept my fate. I will never read a book again. I will be deprived of my most enjoyed pastime. Never will I smell a books distinctive odor again, never will I hear the cracking of the back of the book again or hear the rustle of the not yet read pages. I will only smell her decaying body and after that I´ll be surrounded by earth and darkness. I will rot in this dark hell. [Silence. Audience is in total darkness.]

It stinks. [Pause.] I forgot to count the days, I lost count. [Pause.] How could she do that to me? To her most loyal companion? To the one who always stood by her side when needed? [Pause.] Did she ever really notice me? [Angered.] Did she overlook me? [Appalled.] Did she not recognize my outstanding qualities? [Angry.] Did she not know of my fascinating origin? [Mad.]Did she not see that I am the most beautiful button there is?! [Furious.] The old hag! The mad, masochistic, doddery, eccentric, addlebrained witch! How dare she damn me like this? How dare she damn me to a life in this dark, rotting hell? [Panting. Silence.] My thread gets loose. I can feel hit. My back is no longer firmly attached to the jacket. I can feel that there is air between my back and the button hole. Now I can wiggle a bit. Though I am still held in place by the sad remains of the thread, I know that it will decay before I do. It will decompose. [Pause.] How long has it been? How long has it been since I last saw daylight? I cannot tell if it is night or day. I cannot count days. [Pause. Sadly.] But what does it matter now? She has cursed me. I cannot escape. [Pause.] I do not hear any other sound but my own thoughts. Sometimes I imagine hearing the earth move, but that must be my mind fooling me. [Pause.] I am going crazy in this foul-smelling darkness. It is so malodorous here. How could one live here? [Suddenly laughs crazy.] Live here! [Giggles madly.] As if anything could be alive down here. [Laughs madly, then giggles. Then sighs.]
I started counting. Nothing specific, just numbers. Once I lost track. But I started all over again and counted and counted and counted. I gave that up. Now I am just staring into the dark. I can´t see a thing. [Pause.] What is this? What is going on? [Pause. Excited.] I can hear noises! I can hear things! [Heavy breathing.] What now? [Yells surprised.] The thread has decomposed. I can feel it! I can feel it´s gone! I am sliding sideways and …. [Pause.] I did not imagine these noises. There is someone coming down to me. [Screams.] I´m down here! [Pause.] Do you hear it, too? [Pause.] Can´t you hear the faint noise of metal hitting against the sturdy earth? Can´t you hear the distant chatting of working men, sweating in the cold weather as they shovel aside load after load? Can´t you hear the ripple of loose earth? [Pause.] Did you hear that? [Shouts excitingly.] The hit the casket with their shovel! Do you feel the sudden movement, the shifting? [Pause.] I am sliding sideways and further away from that dreadful thread and the rotting being that used to be my owner. I can smell fresh air. [Shouts.] I am here, in here! Get me out! [Pause. Long Silence.] I´m free! I´m freed of this hell. I´m blinded by the light, by the milky beam of sun shining down on the scenario. I can smell the fresh, icy cold air and I breathe it in greedily. [Breathing. Then silently and with disbelieving gratitude] I´m free.


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