SCENE FIVE: REVOLUTION 

Barrow

Dargon

Barrow

Dargon

Barrow

Barrow

Woman

Barrow

Woman

Barrow

Woman

Barrow

Woman

Barrow

Woman

Barrow

Woman

Barrow

Woman

Barrow

Woman

Barrow

Woman

Barrow

Woman

Barrow

Woman

Barrow

Woman

Barrow

Woman

Barrow

Woman

Barrow

Woman

Barrow

Woman

Barrow

Barrow

Man

Barrow

Man

Barrow

Man

Barrow

Man

Barrow

Man

Barrow

Man

Barrow

Man

Barrow

Man

Barrow

Man

Barrow

Man

Man

Barrow

Man

Barrow

Man

Barrow

Man

Barrow

Man

Barrow

Man

Barrow

Man

Barrow

Man

Barrow

Man

Barrow

Man

Barrow

Man

Barrow

Man

Barrow

Man

Barrow

Man

Barrow

Barrow

Man

Barrow

Man

Barrow

Man

Barrow

Man

Barrow

Man

Man

Barrow

Man

Barrow

Man

Barrow

Man

Barrow

Kidd

Teacher

Baker

Baron

Pastor

Kidd

Baker

Pastor

Baron

Kidd

Teacher

Baker

Pastor

Baron

Kidd

Woman

Man

Kidd

Barrow

I.

 

(Night. Kidd is asleep. Barrow sits and watches the fire.)

 

Barrow sits beside the fire, though he doesn’t need its warming. His arms are always flush with heat, his legs filled up with burning. The ember lodged within his chest runs hot as any fire’s hearth, so hot at times he wonders why he doesn’t crumble into cinders. Many times he’s wished he would, but still his heart beats on – it pushes, pulls him, sings his praise, fills his head with voices… but none of them his own.

 

Where is Barrow in the ashes of the home he’d never had? Where is Barrow in the story of his valour and his deeds? If the value of our lives is in the value others gave, who is left to speak of him with honesty or truth? Sty can not forget his sins, and Kidd can not forgive. They live here in the ruin that he’s wished for, dreamed of, made.

 

But Barrow – what of him? Who is he beyond the lies we tell ourselves, the ones that hold the world aloft and let us live beneath? Nothing but a dragon’s dream, left too long in sleeping: Mighty, bold, magnificent… and none of it his own.

 

(Barrow lights his lantern with an ember from the fire, stands.)

 

In that moment Barrow understands what’s left for him to do. He’s run until his legs gave out, and for all of it, gone nowhere. He has to find the dragon. He must reclaim his heart.

 

He sets off that night, not waiting for Kidd to wake, no word offered of goodbye. What the dragon stole from him he took a hundred times from her. She lives in the ashes; he burns in their flame. There are things he knows he owes her, and yet can not repay. Not yet.

 

He walks through the night and all through the next day, following a road of blackened trees and flame-scorched stones; the path of a dragon that lead off beyond the hills. In all the time he’s wandered, he’s never thought to walk this road. A shadow runs before him, head bent, its shoulders low. He wonders how he’s come to fear a thing so simply cowed; what once had been a huge, vast shape above him now seems so small and frail.

 

Days and nights he walks the road, until at last, for lack of food, for want of water, exhaustion catches him and claims him. He falls into a deep, black sleep, and dreams he sees the dragon. It soars through the sky above him, billowing, brilliant, bold, great spouts of flame around its head like a dazzling, blazing crown. The dragon bends its mighty neck and brings its eye to his. With iron claws it takes its crown, and puts it lightly on his head.

 

Barrow knows that now the flames will come, to char him to the cinders that he longs, deserves, to be. And yet… no blazing end, it seems, for him, no matter how well earned. Instead he feels the dragon’s touch, like a hand against his cheek, stern as a distant father’s, as warm as mother’s love.

 

“You have saved my life…”

 

/ the dragon says /

 

“… though in truth I never die. The lies you tell ignite me and your dreams sustain my flame; my voice is one you speak with until just my ash remains. I will show you what a dragon is, and what you fear you’re not – for lies are only bred to heal what fear, alone, cannot.”

 

When Barrow wakes, the dragon is gone. At his feet lie the bones of some huge and ancient beast, bleached of its might by time and wind and rain. The sun is setting; a day has passed, and Barrow feels it die. He feels the weight of all the days that died to bring him here. Where have they gone? For what purpose have they died? They have led him to the end of the road of fire-blackened stones, to a small farm house on a rolling green hill; ordinary, average, unmarked by fear and flame. A sight so strange and distant to him… it could only be a lie.

 

II.

 

(Sunset. Barrow has come to a cottage. A Woman sits on the doorstep, singing softy to a baby in her arms.)

 

Excuse me /

 

Shhh. (she sings softly again until the baby is asleep) Can I help you, young man?

 

I’m sorry to disturb you, but I’m afraid I’ve lost my way. I walk the path the dragon made, with the hope to find its maker. I’ve walked so far, through many lands, but found no sign it dwells here but some cast-off, weathered skin. Please, do you know where I might find the dragon?

 

Dragon? I’m afraid I know nothing of a dragon hereabouts, but if I should encounter one, you can be sure I shall enquire. Whom should I say is seeking?

 

Barrow.

 

Barrow the Bold.

 

(She looks at him politely; the name means nothing)

 

You don’t know my name?

 

I shouldn’t think so. Why – have we met?

 

No. It’s just… my deeds, sometimes, precede me.

 

Well well! Good be the deeds that precede a man, and especially so for one so young. What qualities are these that have earned you such praise?

 

Though many credit them to a dragon, they are human to a fault: Weakness, loneliness, pettiness, hate.

 

Strange things to be held in such noble renown.

 

Stranger still to speak them, but it’s the truth.

 

Yet you are owed some renown, I feel. Boys are seldom noted for their tendency for truth – though shame, and pain, and pettiness come as easily as breathing.

 

You seek a dragon, did you say? What business has a boy with a dragon?

 

We made a trade between us, him and I. One I wish undone.

 

It would be some noble soul indeed to repeal a bargain made in trade, let alone one made to a dragon! I’d expect he’d eat you up for asking.

 

Still, I have to try.

 

Aren’t you afraid?

 

Of the dragon? Not so very much. I’ve lived so long with fear, I fear for how I’d live without it.

 

That sounds like an exhausting fear. Come. Sit by the stoop. Warm yourself in the doorway. I have little use for dragons, and less so for their deeds. But loneliness I can’t abide, least of all in children… and you look like you could do with the company.

 

(A beat. Barrow sits. The Woman hums to the baby. A silence.)

 

What’s his name?

 

He hasn’t told me. He’s too new to the world. I’ve yet to learn his qualities, and therefore find his name. They’re linked, you see. They carry weight. None more so than yours, I think. “Barrow,” yes? A sturdy name. Secure. I’m sure your parents saw in you a gift to struggle and endure.

 

I hope you cherish what they gave you. You are young in mind and body, and so vulnerable to change. Our bones grow hard as time moves on; should we bend too much, we break. Some days I envy what is lost to me, and long for all he has. For what is “youth,” at its heart, but another word for “change”? (she holds the baby out for Barrow) Don’t be scared. He won’t break.

 

(A beat. Barrow takes the baby, holds it. Silence.)

 

He’s so small.

 

He’ll grow before I know it, and soon become a stranger in my life and to my heart.

 

What then is all your hope and pride, but a wasteful sense of feeling?

 

What do you mean?

 

Aren’t you scared to lose him?

 

We lose the things we love the most; that’s how the world is made. The heart of a child bears no weight of its own – like all children, it’s born empty, and must be filled with things we gift it. The value of our lives is in the value placed by others… or so my husband’s fond of saying.

 

I’ve heard those words aloud before, but not said with that same meaning.

 

I’m not sure how you could – such a sentiment is singular, and so very much my husband. It was him I thought you meant, at first, when said you sought a dragon. His name is not so far removed… in sound, if not in meaning.

 

Dargon?

 

Could it be you’ve met before?

 

I don’t see how I could.

 

(taking back the baby) The day’s nearly reached its end; he’ll be back from the field in a moment or two. You’re welcome to wait for him, if you like. I should put this one to bed.

 

Thank you. You’re very… kind.

 

(The Woman takes the baby inside the house. Barrow sits on the porch. The sun is setting. A Man approaches, out of the setting sun. He is dusty from field work, carrying an axe on his shoulder and an armful of wood.)

 

(Barrow stands. The Man sees him and stops. A beat.)

 

Dargon?

 

Barrow.

 

You’ve grown.

 

So have you. But in… different directions.

 

Please. Let me wash the working day away and then we’ll sit and speak.

 

(The Man washes himself with a cloth from a bucket of water. Barrow sits. A beat.)

 

This farm is yours?

 

Yes. I keep and tend it, best I can.

 

And… this is your home?

 

It is. I placed every brick myself.

 

The woman, and the child…

 

She’s my wife, and he my son.

 

And you, Dargon. You are…

 

Yes, Barrow? What am I?

 

Not what you appear to be.

 

I have always been many things. Even more, now, since last we met. Does it surprise you? It astounds me. I think there’s not a morning I don’t wonder at who I am, and an evening I don’t reflect on who I’ve been. Reflection is important, I think, though I confess, I own no mirror.

 

Does she know what you are? Your wife?

 

She knows… who I was. That I’ve made… mistakes. She understands I’m not the man I used to be. I’ve raged and rampaged. I’ve hurt, and caused others to hurt in return. I have been… cruel. But there is more to me than my nature allowed. More than you know. More than I knew myself. Here I stand, weary from work, covered in dirt and dust, a husband, a father, a man… less than I am, true, but more than I ever was.

 

How?

 

My story’s not remarkable – no different in its detail to another boy or man. What do you hope to learn in its telling?

 

I want what I’m owed. What I deserve.

 

And what is it you think you deserve?

                       

(Barrow does not reply. A beat. The Man sits on the stoop beside Barrow, a small space between them.)

 

There was a time – longer and darker than I would care to remember – when all the world was on fire. Houses burned. Cities fell. People ran, crying, to dissolve in smoke and shadow. I was the shadow, and the fire spread with me. It was fire for the hurt they had caused to my heart. Fire for the cuts they’d made with words and with their looks. Fire for an inexcusable pain, for the beast they had awoken in my heart.

 

This time spread out, so that it seemed to have no start, no end, no time before. The world was owed vengeance; I was its fury. Then, one day, I opened my jaws to roar, but found my voice had gone. My chest heaved to unleash fire, but there was no fire there. All my rage. All my anger. It had burned itself to nothing.

 

Imagine, Barrow! What sort of dragon was I to grow tired of rage? Was I not mighty, a terror for all to behold? Was I not magnificent, inexhaustible, a lord of earth and sky? How could my fire fail me, and – far worse – the thought of its burning bring me no satisfaction?

 

I fell to earth in despair, rending a forest to splinters in my torment. My rage had subsided, but the pain at its centre endured like a shard of ice. What was this lonesome pain, so vast, it seemed, not even a dragon could contain it? I shed the trappings of rage I had acquired – the baubles of glory, the hollow talismans of might. They fell from me like scales as I flew, and when I found I could fly no more, they littered the road behind me as I walked. On and on I walked, knowing pain, knowing fear, two twin hungers that would not stop. I came to a farmhouse in a place beyond the hillside. A man there took me in. In front of his fire, fed modest broth of such splendid princely flavour, wrapped in blankets spun from calloused hands, sitting long nights with the stories told by his wife to their children, I awoke to my new self – a self no longer hollow, as my raging self had been. My heart drank in their kindness. For the first time, it was grateful. For the first time, I felt full.

 

I stayed at the farm. Worked for my keep. Fell in love. Felt as if my heart would burst, so filled was it with feelings – first among them fear, but in time came many more. Some were frightening, some were strange. All of them were new. There was pride to be found in the logs I cut and the soil I tilled – worth in the meal I earned each sunset, at the close of every day – satisfaction in the sunrise, in the promise of days to come.

 

These things you claim – the things you’ve had – the things you say you are. How do I believe you? You’d have me believe we’re so easily changed?

 

Am I not proof enough that any man may change?

 

You haven’t changed. You’re still a liar, and a thief. You were the voice inside my head and the fire in my heart. You were supposed to make me bold. You were supposed to make me brave.

 

Have I failed in this regard? Are these not the very titles that precede each place you go? The Barrow I once knew could neither claim nor dream such privilege. These were things he feared he’d never own.

 

What you think you gave me was far less than I deserved. The things I have are hollow. They bring no relief or joy. Everything you have is what you promised would be mine.

 

And what is it that I have, you think, by rights, belongs to you?

 

Happiness.

 

(A silence. The Man puts his hand to his chest, where his heart is.)

 

So that is what this is – this pain still in my heart. Not a need, a hunger… just the fear that all I have and love could one day all be gone.

 

You, too, are afraid?

 

Of course.

 

Everything I have, I have because of you. To know that these things were given to me and not found within myself… How could I not be afraid?

 

Did you know that this would happen, when you took my heart from me?

 

I longed to be the fire that you longed yourself to be. I never dreamed that afterward there’d come something I could hold. And grow. And need.

 

Will you give it back to me?

 

Give what?

 

My heart? The cinder that you gave to me is more than I can bear. The life lived by its light is one that just reflects mistakes.

 

But this is the nature of every heart, Barrow! It bends, it breaks, it twists itself, it makes itself again. Sometimes it shows us ugliness so we can dream of something new.

 

All I dream of is you, and the things I have done. And I’ve done… horrible things. I’m the worst I saw in others that was always in myself. I’m a failure and a fraud. I am shameful. I am weak. I am everything my family feared, what they knew I’d always be.

 

Yet here you are, for all your fear. You’ve walked upon your own two feet to bring yourself this far. You’ve faced your pain – a dragon – and that took courage, that was brave. Is none of that your own?

 

No. You gave me pride and purpose, but that wasn’t yours to give. But it could be. I could change. If you give me back what’s mine.

 

(A beat.)

 

What you gave me, Barrow, was a simple thing to give. Hearts are given freely… but less easily returned.

 

You said yourself the heart of a boy was filled with things that nobody would want…

 

Yes. But a boy is just a tiny thing, his potential unresolved. What am I but the life you longed to give away? What is left to return, now that heart is all but filled?

 

Doses it matter? Why do you care? Without it I am weak, I am petty, I am afraid…

 

So were they – all those people – the ones you trusted and did you wrong. Yes, you are these things you say, but what were you before? If you turned to a dragon, then you did so with good cause. Who was Sty to add to your pain? Who was Kidd to try and explain it? None of them helped. None of them cared. They watched you bend until you broke. Didn’t they get what you thought they deserved?

 

Yes. That’s what I wanted. It was justice. It was… wrong. But what I want and what you made… these things weren’t mine to have. Sty might have been cruel, and callous, and young; to me he was a bully, to Kidd he was burden, and to his father… he was a son. He might not have been good, but he could have been better. What is he now? What are they all? Broken and blind. And that’s all they’ll ever be.

 

If this is what I am – if it’s all I’ll ever be – then help me. Take away what’s yours, at least!

 

(A beat.)

 

If I do this thing – if I take this pain… what do you think will be left? What remains to feed you? What may grow in its place?

 

Something. Nothing. Everything.

 

What’s left… at least it will be mine.

 

(A beat. The Man places his hand on Barrow’s chest, reaching into his heart. Barrow gasps in pain. The Man withdraws his hand, opens it. The fragment of Barrow’s dragon heart crumbles into ash.)

Thank you…

 

You say this now, but live a day. You might not feel the same. (Looking at the ash on his hand) It seems a tiny thing, a heart. We measure time inside our hearts, you know, and in time, all things are made the same: children grow to live regrets, and adults fail to forget them…

 

(The Man reaches inside his own chest, and takes out a tiny glowing fragment.)

 

I believe, Barrow, that there is a heart within us all that longs to be who we really are. We hold it in the dead of night and listen to it beat. Secrets, fears, deceptions, lies – these are our hopes, unwashed, unseen by you and me. If we’re careful, we can hear it. It speaks quietly, with great fear. (Holds the fragment out to Barrow) Listen. Listen hard. What does it say to you?

 

(Barrow takes the fragment carefully. He raises it to his ear. A long beat.)

 

I hear a voice, but not its meaning.

 

You will. It’s yours – what’s left of it. Whatever else it’s left to be.

 

Is it better or worse than it was before? Is it dragon, or is it man?

 

It is… changed. It is more than it was yesterday and less than it will be tomorrow. Does it matter, in the end?

 

Who I am matters.

 

(A beat.)

 

Majesty, magnificence… It’s clear to see in others what we lack within ourselves. You weren’t the first to fear you lacked them, and you will not be the last. You were just a boy. A boy who dreamed he could be more – more than small, or weak, or fearful. Who tried to speak and was denied. That’s who you were, once upon a time.

 

But who I was… Who I am. Was he forgiven?

 

I don’t know. What does your heart say?

 

(Barrow stares intently at the glowing fragment in his hand.)

 

It’s getting late. It’s cold this time of year. Will you come inside? It’s warm at least, and welcome, and we’ve food and company to spare…

 

(A beat.)

 

I remember this… this moment. I know it’s happened once before. The time and place is different, but the feeling… that’s the same. My heart was such a tiny thing – I felt it in my hand – its steady beat so shallow, like that of a tiny bird. Yet inside its chambers ran flame as hot as molten lead, blood as rich and wild as the core of the earth. It wasn’t afraid at the smallness of its size, but seemed to grow large in its certainty, its heat.

 

In it I saw something I had felt but never seen; a truth we keep inside ourselves and hope we have the strength to find. It told me my words, my wish for the future, the road I will walk to arrive in the world, and it spoke with the voice of… of…

 

(A beat.)

 

Barrow. Will you come inside?

 

You’ve built your home, and earned it. I need to do the same.

 

Do you know your way home?

 

Yes. I know it, though I fear it.

 

You’re still afraid, even now?

 

Of course. I fear for what I have to lose… and what might again be mine. That’s how I know it’s home.

 

(A beat. The Man looks at Barrow for a long moment; he understands. The Man goes inside his house and closes the door.)

 

 

III.

 

(Barrow looks into the heart in his hands. The farm begins to recede around him. Kidd and the Townsfolk watch him.)

 

Barrow holds the tiny fragment of a heart not yet fully lived. He holds it and he listens and he waits to hear it speak. He waits to hear it tell him of a life he’s yet to live. It says /

 

Once upon a time there was a boy who couldn’t read.

 

Who hid his flame /

 

And set a blaze /

 

And lost everything he had.

 

And he thinks of all the times he’s heard this story told before: of the long nights and the school days that he lived to this same silence. And he knows that /

 

Hearts are given freely.

 

That hearts are dreams.

 

That hearts are shields.

 

And that every heart beats similar, for each heart can go unheard.

 

They are broken.

 

They are fire.

 

They are silence.

 

They are rage.

 

We can’t always hear their pain for all the silence they provoke.

 

And he knows it shouldn’t be this way; that a heart should not be separate, that it shouldn’t beat alone. He knows life should be an equal prize – though some seem full and others not.

 

So he holds that small and tiny part he thought he was denied – a heart filled up with futures, of a life not fully lived. He holds the tiny fragment and he knows it’s not deserved. It’s weak, and small, and wounded – it knows loss, and pain, and fear. It whispers to us, always, and what it says cannot be heard. But sometimes /

 

Sometimes /

 

Sometimes /

 

We hear it whisper all the same. It says, “Kindness is a virtue that we give and soon forget; a gift we lavish kindly out of fear, of loss, regret.” But it says it just in silence, so that only we can hear. And so he holds the tiny fragment of a heart not yet fully lived.

 

He holds it, and he listens, and he waits to hear it speak…

 

He holds it, and he listens, and he waits to hear it speak…

 

He holds it, and he listens, and he waits to hear it speak…

 

(The Townsfolk slowly recede, leaving only Barrow in growing darkness. He stares intently at the fragment of heart in his hands. After a long time, it begins to glow.)

 

 

(The End.)

  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter Black Round
  • Instagram - Black Circle