The Domiciles Project



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Lesson Plan # 5  Developing a Character

Cape Henlopen High School  Lewes, DE


Actor’s Workshop/ Theatre History


Nǐ shūle. First words I'd heard in seven months. That's a long time. For a while I started talking to myself. Little things. Friendly conversation. How's the weather? See the game? Whole little world all up here (points to head). I dunno when I started to just sit there. Waiting. Waiting for something I didn't think would ever come. Time stopped existing after a while. It was dark in my cell. Just four concrete walls. About six feet up, one-side had a metal grate. Maybe eight inches high, a foot and a half wide. The bars weren't spaced out enough for me to even put my fingers through. I dunno what was beyond that grate. It was always dark. The food was thrown down in the dark. Sometimes, I'd wake up and the cell would be a little cleaner. I dunno how they did it without waking me up. Coulda been drugged I guess. Doesn't matter. It was only a little cleaner though. Not spotless like they scrubbed it. Just a little less shit in the corner. Any vomit. Blood. Piss. Enough of it gone that life was almost bearable. The smell was constantly there, but at least it wasn't overpowering. Nǐ shūle. I didn't speak when they got me out. A soldier, or at least I guess it was a soldier, jumped in with me. He hit me in the head. Didn't have to. I don't think I could've fought with him if I wanted to. Woke up on a boat. Maybe five hundred others. I dunno. Couldn't really see. Guy next to me never woke up. You remember learning about the slave ships? How they used to stack 'em on shelves, side by side, shackled. That was us. Luckily, we were on a cargo barge, not some wooden death trap. Trip only took, what, maybe five six days. That's not counting how long I was out for. Couldve been a month for all I know. Imagine my surprise when I found myself stepping off onto American soil. The war was over. We won. I could go home. Can't blame a guy holding onto hope. Didn't pay attention to the flags flying. To the military police patrolling. The signs I couldn't read. The tanks that weren't ours. The air-craft carrier barely floating in the harbor. Nǐ shūle. It means "you lose." That's what that prick said before he knocked me out. I found out from an interpreter at the camp. Don't get me wrong. It could be much worse. We get three meals a day. A bed all to ourselves. A few books now and then. A movie if we're lucky. We even get paid. But I think that more for us than them. They pay us in American dollars. I'm sure they had enough in their coffers from all our debt to pay for the entire damn war and then some. So they pay us all with good 'ole Greenbacks. Bastards. As if it was worth anything anymore.

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