Vireo Episode Eight - Girl in the Well

Episode 8: Girl in the Well

Libretto

At a haunted well, Vireo hears the Voice emanating from the figure of a drowned girl. A crowd appears, and Vireo lashes out at them, accusing them all of witchcraft. She is arrested.
 

Featuring 

Alarm Will Sound; Trinity Youth Chorus
 

 

(Caroline leads Vireo and Raphael on a journey through a dark forest. Caroline drags Vireo.)

 

VIREO

(Whispering to Caroline.)

Where are you taking us?

 

CAROLINE

The old farm house.

(They stand at an abandoned well, mesmerized.)

Three children drowned in the well. The witch did this.

(Whispering to Vireo.)

I look right at dead things for you. On our behalf.

(To Raphael.)

Three faces look down and three look up. Two girls and a boy. Two girls and a boy. They were our age when they died.

 

RAPHAEL
Pernette is dead and still the mischief has a shape.

 

CAROLINE
I am very glad you believe in Pernette and the witches. We will have to be examined again.

 

VIREO
Let’s find the Farmer. He’ll bring a team to get the bodies out.

(The three start to leave, Vireo shepherding. A girl’s voice calls from down the well, and only Vireo hears.)

 

VOICE
Stop.

 

VIREO
My name is Vireo.

 

CAROLINE
Vireo, we have to show the people –

 

VIREO
I’ll stay and show the Farmer the way.

(Caroline shrugs. To Raphael.)

 

CAROLINE
I win.

(Caroline and Raphael exit. A dead girl climbs out of the well.)

 

GIRL
Who did you say you were?

 

VIREO
I saw the witch.

 

GIRL
Who are you?

 

VIREO
I named the witch.

 

GIRL
Who are you?

 

VIREO
I killed a witch.

(Remorseful.)

I killed a witch. Who are you?

 

VIREO, CAROLINE
Who are you?

 

GIRL
I am a girl swearing death’s round oath
You are in the roundness –
You hear me

(Raphael records notes.)

 

RAPHAEL

(Quickly.)

The case has evolved to the point where Vireo is imagining herself a twentieth century girl living in the traditions of a 16th century girl from Loire, and all the while she is a 19th century schoolgirl in an asylum in Reims! To the laboratory!

(Back at the well.)

 

VIREO
What sort of voice are you? Have I heard you before?

 

GIRL
Don’t you recognize me?

(She falls out of sight. A block and tackle drops down the well, and the girl is hauled up, very literally dead and dripping. No mask. A Farmer holds the rope.)

 

FARMER
She can’t hear you.

 

VIREO
No sound.

(The girl starts to swing back and forth. A bell.)

 

GIRL
Quit haunting me.
Quit haunting me.

(Vireo runs off. Meanwhile, back at the lab, Raphael examines Caroline, who is trying to remember the fit-dance.)

 

CAROLINE

(To “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring:”)

Prodrome lactose hands-apumping
Union teapot vibraphone

 

RAPHAEL
Wait
Wait
Writing
Down

(Vireo enters, dripping and pale. The drowned girl stands behind her, invisible. Vireo is transmogrified; she’s gene-spliced with a celestial being. She imitates Caroline’s dance, but does it better. Caroline stops dancing and Vireo sings.)

 

VIREO/GIRL
There is an other side
They make me look
How could you treat us
This way
So much is broken there
They say you pay
You pay

 

RAPHAEL

(Insistently.)

She faints!

 

GIRL

She doesn’t!

 

CAROLINE
(Turning away and biting her knuckle.)

She wins!

(Caroline faints. Raphael tends to Caroline.)

 

RAPHAEL
And Caroline - I prefer you too!

(Vireo glows to special brightness.)

 

VIREO
I heard names from the three drowned children.
I heard names.

 

VIREO, GIRL
Witches poured and stamped to
Tokens of certainty
Driven down a belt by
Your engine’s chuff
They sing, they sing:
“Your machine eats itself
And is pounded by a
Higher harder arm.
That’s enough now.
That’s enough.”
Enough, enough...

Saying there are other witches left...

 

VIREO
From the farmer to the mayor.
People who look exactly like you.
The voice is in our ground and in our water.

(The Crowd is at first uncomfortable, then they assume – she is talking about all those other people who are guilty...)

 

OFFICER
Welcome, welcome, welcome
To jail

 

CROWD
Daily, daily, daily, daily
Over, over, over, over
Write it so we know which way is down
That other farmer, that other mayor

 

FARMER
Wellbore
Inkwell
Writing down
Water is Down
Well is writing down
Water is
Down
Well is writing down
Down is where the dead are daily
Daily water dark
Is dark to live by daily
Experience
Is the debris
Of reality
We need a Ruth to gather husks
Dawns from dusks
Dark soon enough and then always
I work days
Daily, daily, daily over dead
If –


FARMER, CROWD
If by accident I live (I live lightly, live for daylight)
Then by policy let’s dig deeply (every well an inkwell:
Write
With
Dark)
Famous accuser, down you go, digging wells, writing down, down

And yes, I can see
How everyone
Else is damned
Damned


FARMER
And meanwhile I am back at work


RAPHAEL

(Newscaster-mode.)

Thank you for your time

Leaving school in search of witchcraft, Caroline leads Vireo and Raphael to an abandoned well where she promises to show them evidence of wrongdoing. Three children have been drowned and their souls linger in the depths of the water. Looking down the well, they see three faces staring back, and the startled youths pull away.

However, before they’ve gone three steps, Vireo hears the Voice calling to her. It’s the same 16th-century Voice from the woods, calling to her from inside the well where the ghost of a young girl, dripping wet, has pulled herself up from inside. Vireo confesses to the figure that she is guilty of killing a witch and her guilt is weighing her down. Raphael watches the exchange with the ghost (invisible to him), and writes of Vireo’s psychosis that, “She imagines herself a 20th-century girl living in 16th-century France, when in reality she’s a 19th-century girl in an asylum in Reims!”

After the conversation with the ghost, Vireo becomes increasingly agitated and angry. She turns to the crowd that has gathered and begins to accuse them all of witchcraft. Vireo threatens to accuse them in the court and lead them to ruin. A Farmer from the village leads a response of self-righteous indignation, pushing communal guilt onto others. The scene ends with Vireo’s arrest for disturbing the peace and accusing innocent people of witchcraft.

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