• 91.

    My name is not Emily Dickinson. My name is not Virginia Woolf. My name is not— Well, geez, that would be too long an undertaking. There are too many names that are not my name, I could devote the rest of my life to listing them, and I could not list them all. It is possible that there are also many names that are my name, and I could not list those either, but only because I don't know them. Let's make this a tiny play, shall we? You are the witch at the crossroads, that is the character you will play. I am the wayfarer who meets you at this crossroads, which is 91. Dialogue, dialogue, then I press a few gold (cold) coins into your palm, and then you tell me one of my secret names. But not before some dialogue devoted to your warning that to know will be most probably to imperil myself, a warning I disregard because I'm greedy for knowledge and power. 

    WAYFARER: I promise to use it well, and with caution.

    WITCH: You are a fool to think you can. 

    Nevertheless, because we have made the transaction and the coins are now warm in your palm, you write a name in the air, where I have but a fraction of an instant to catch it before it blows away. Is it my bad fortune that I'm swift? End of Act One. Unfortunately, it's not the end of the play. I say unfortunately because at some point before I quit playwrighting I lost the ability to finish plays. You can see why I quit. So that was a bear, a mean, blood-hungry bear I really struggled with for quite some time, so I have no intention of poking it with a three-pronged burning fork—I will not attempt to write the second act of our little old-timey-crossroads play, but I will tell you this: The ending is ambiguous. And there is some suggestion, I think implicit rather than explicit, that it is not answers we must beware of, but the questions we think to ask, for they are what unlock the vaults where we are hidden, and we are as monstrous as we are beautiful.