January 3 & 4: Susan Steudel

January 3 & 4: THE WATCH CHANGE

Susan Steudel

WATCHPERSON 1: in raingear
WATCHPERSON 2: in nightclothes


At a residence. On the rooftop. Watchperson 1 stands in the dark, facing out, as over a landscape. A few erratic lights, far off.

INVISIBLE NARRATOR: Welders’ flames burn: closed, cold comets. Streaks of green light on the horizon. Bright streaks, fire flooding steel. From the roof it is possible to see the lay the pipe wants to take.

Enter Watchperson 2.

A sound. Drip, drip.

W1: Just rain.

W2: What’s the report, then?

W1: The fire leaps from ridge to ridge, in rain. Something unnatural about this fire. It doesn’t burn with the sun’s brightness. This flame doesn’t resemble the sky or the colour of sunflowers. Some unnatural fire. A fear the pipeline is growing.

W2: It advances like warfare, like wildfire.

W1: Like a poor lie.

W2: Then water, water will put it out.

W1: Water cleared of contaminants, flammables.

W2: Rainwater, a storm.

W1: Water from a still pond, a sweet frond, a campy fountain.

Whoosh, wind picks up.

W2: You’re freezing!

W1: I’ll come back in a bit. I need to close my eyes.

Watchperson 1 first dries, then offers, her binoculars. Removes her hat and raincoat. Watchperson 2 receives these articles. Puts them on. Stands at the edge of the roof, the abyss. Lights up, then fade.