Bingo: Bodies; Passport: Contemporary fiction
On the stage a woman is buried up to her waist in a hill of parched grass, desperately cheerful under the blazing light. In the theatre three women watch, their thoughts sliding between the performance, their surroundings and their lives outside.
Margot sits with her “expensive, unobstructed view of the stage” trying not to think about the meeting with the dean, when the prospect of her retirement was spoken aloud. Margot is tense, envious of the woman’s offstage husband and his ability to fall asleep sober, certain she is unlovable, a cough tickling at her throat, her short sleeves, uncomfortably cold in the theatre, reveal the bruises that no one ever seems to see.
Summer stands by the door, the last of the latecomers now in their seats, hungry for the words of the play she’s yet to see the start of. She’s anxious, exhausted by her incomplete performance of being effortlessly cool. She’s trying not to think about the fire on the mountain, the smoke haze invading the city, her mother, her girlfriend, her phone banished to her locker.
Ivy sits between her childhood friend Hilary and a snoring stranger, uneasy with the attention her wealth brings, along with the free tickets and VIP drinks reception at interval. Underneath her joyful midlife motherhood she mourns the child of her youth.
Intersecting at interval, the three women return to their seats and station by the door to witness Winnie now buried up to her neck. Her body is missing, does she exist at all? But still, she remains relentlessly cheerful. “Oh this is a happy day …”