Joan MacLeod: Playwright
on drama

The Shape of a Girl

I was thinking of this poet, this poet I have recently discovered called Stevie Smith. Not a guy Stevie, a girl Stevie. I was thinking of this thing she said that I loved, that reminded me of my friends and me This thing about not waving but drowning. I was thinking of that when the rabbit ears on our TV sort of shake, almost like they’re one of those divining things, and all of a sudden the whole scene changes on the TV.
And there we are. A group of girls—just like me and Adrienne and Jackie and Amber. A group of girls with hair and jeans and jackets. They are not waving, they are drowning. And this group of girls on the TV starts waving, right on cue. Weird I'm thinking. This is highly weird.
And what feels even stranger is that the picture is actually clear for once, from the neck down at least. But their faces are blurry, smudged, almost as though someone has taken an eraser and tried to rub them out.

And then I realize who these girls are. They are supposed to look distorted because they are young offenders and we aren’t allowed to see who they are. They are accused of assault, accused of murder, accused of killing another girl—a fourteen-year-old girl. One is wearing these big high heel runners like Amber’s. They are all standing out front of the courthouse while the judge is taking a break. They are laughing like maniacs. Me and Adrienne often laugh like maniacs. Honestly, totally unprovoked.
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