Wild Things

A 10 Minute Monologue

by Dee Cliburn

 AT RISE: ANGEL marks hopscotch squares, then jumps and chants.

ANGEL (Skipping on sidewalk)


barely missing the cracks. What if I make a misstep? Is that what’s happened already? But when? Which crack? . . . DO IT! GO AHEAD AND DO IT!

(SHE steps on cracks)

THERE! THERE AND THERE! . . . Now. Show me. Go ahead and do it . . . I’VE DONE IT.   I’ll scream out loud to the voice inside me that’s a wild thing out of control and when I get home, probably Mama won’t have any bones at all. They’ll all be white dust inside soft white skin. No, oh, no, not that.

(Calming herself down)

They call me Angel. Short for Angelina Margaret. With legs too long for a fourteen year old, I’m a whiz at hopscotch. This sidewalk is my favorite place to be. With knobby knees and leg muscles as hard as pulled taffy, they say, I move like a spinning top, fast and silent. If it weren’t for the wet crunches while I chew my nails to the quick, they’d never know when I’m near.   I’m a September child. They made me on Christmas Eve, I overheard Mama tell Aunt Jessie, a twinkle in her eyes. “No money for real presents that year.” I’m told I have green show-me eyes that dig into a person when I talk and that my careful words come out troubled while they stretch to keep up with my thinking.


Yesterday on the way home from the store Joey said, “Hurry, Angel, Daddy’s home.

I see his car!” –his little boy pony-tail bounced this way and that; it’s shiny and brown-red from the sun, like mine. Not like Daddy’s hair, black but shiny, too, and so straight it looks ironed, so heavy it seems a magnet pulls it toward the ground from his crown to his shirt collar. Not like Mama’s strawberry blond curls, thick and long enough to sit on her hips when she lets it fly free. “Don’t be like your father and me when we were young,” Mama tells me and Joey. “We were such wild things,” she says down low and smiles, remembering. “No, don’t be like us. I hope you’ll have more sense than us.”

(Pause as SHE sits on the grass)

Daddy’s gone now, took our Joey with him when he stormed out the door and Mama sits and rocks and cries and stares at everything and at nothing, too. YOU CAN’T HAVE ‘EM BOTH, was what he said. The words play over and over in my mind, wild things spat loud and mean into an angry room, dug so deep into my heart they can’t come out. Words with meaning, like He’s a boy, I’ll take the boy. The girl, she’s yours, no problem for me to decide this one, wham! Just like that, he’s decided, so there must be something wrong with me, I figure; this isn’t hard to figure out. So now there’s a new feeling deep inside me. It’s an empty feeling, not so much for Dad . . . he’s left us before and was never home much anyway, but Joey’s gone and there’s a hole where he was and my heart hurts . . . there’s a heaviness deep inside it and Mama’s gone so flat in her eyes it’s hard to imagine she ever was a wild thing. Now she’s a nothing that says nothing, does nothing, won’t eat– just rocks and stares; at a roll call she’d be Not Present. There’s another empty hole where she was.

(SHE stands and paces slowly)

I like to look at the pictures scattered all around . . . Mama and Dad . . . Mama and Dad and me, Angel. Then there’s another face added to ours.–Joey’s little-baby-boy face, dimpled and scrunched into a smile while he holds onto my hair. When I listen, I can hear his squeal as he pulls at it and laughs and someone snaps the picture. Click, we’re a real family now. Not now. Then. Click, then bang! The door slams, and we’re not a family anymore. Just like that, in a day that starts out like any other, still, so still in a sun-hot summer with dried yellow grass and lazy yellow cats, angry black dogs and their harsh, foul-smelling masters, the ocean as green and flat as Mama’s eyes, look at the ships so lazy on its horizon, too hot to move on.

(SHE stops pacing, in reverie now)

Now Joey will be a fisherman like our dad. He’ll learn to sweat and drink whiskey and gut a fish in an instant then throw it over his shoulder into a basket as he picks up another, oh, how Dad’s eyes sparkle while he works and he has that far away look while he thinks of other things. About when he gets home to Mama? Or it could be about the past when they did wild things. In his mind, he must go places I will never see. Maybe in one of the ships that sits on the sunset, resting up for its sail around the world. Will Joey go, too?

(Back to the present)

Gran’s coming tomorrow, to see about Mama. She can smell trouble all the way up to Cleveland.

(Very quickly, sarcastically)

She’ll say, I told you that man would put you in the nuthouse, but no, you wouldn’t listen, would you? You don’t listen, you never listen to me and now look what you’ve done to yourself. ARE YOU DOIN’ DRUGS AGAIN? And who’s supposed to look after Angel while they’re putting you back together AGAIN? And when you get out, that bastard will come knocking on your door and you’ll take him in again and you’ll take Angel away from me and then where will I be? Alone like before that’s where–like when you left me alone to go with that man, me tellin’ you NO, don’t do it, he’s wild, but you ran off with him anyway and had two kids and now he’s got one of ‘em and what’ve you got?. . . oh, you’ll be the death of me yet!


It wasn’t always this way, even Gran says this. At first they laughed and loved, touched and talked, like lovers do when the love is new. Slow touching, soft and gentle like they can’t stop, eyes locked to the other’s, too, like lovers do. Why did it stop? They must wonder about it; I notice how they have that look about them that says What happened?

(Very fast dialogue again)

Like we’re all on a merry-go-round and the music’s playing and they’re laughing, their bodies moving in rhythm with the music, up, gently down, up again, happy music that makes my heart clutch and all the while I think of popcorn and cotton candy we’ll eat later and the barkers’ voices ring off-tune through the night air that’s brisk and clear and black beyond the carnival lights’ glow and Daddy’s suddenly on a real live, bucking horse, pitching and turning and kicking, snorts from his nose like blasts from a fiery furnace and then a final buck and a pitch that throws him to the ground and he can’t get up, can’t figure out what happened, doesn’t care much . . . And the music plays on.

Do somethin’, Mama, don’t sit there! I scream it in my dreams and in my dare-devil daytime thinking, too. Buck and turn and pitch, please don’t sit there, no Mama, don’t just sit there. I’ll buy you a pretty dress, a pink party dress with glass buttons all the way down the front, if you’ll get up, please, Mama, get up. Please get up and then it won’t be all my fault cause Joey’s gone and you’re left all alone with just a girl. Just a girl like me.

(ANGEL stops to look back at the patches of sand on the sidewalk, then walks resolutely back to them. With quick, rough foot-strokes, she erases her footprints on the cracks)

NOW. . . and I’m sure about one thing. When I grow up, I won’t sit there like Mama. No. Never.

(SHE takes lipstick from pocket and fiercely puts it on HER lips. SHE walks away with a sensuous swing to her hips)

OH, what a wild thing I’ll be.



Copyright© 2009-2015 Dee Cliburn


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