(Lights up. A Spanish garden. A guitar is heard. Enter MOTHER, wearing her mourning clothes and carrying a basket of laundry. She hangs the clothes on an empty line. She hums. It is twilight. The moon is yellow. Enter SON, aged 13.)
SON: (weary) ¡Hola!
(She is sullen for her husband was murdered last night by an old disgruntled lover in the village.)
SON: (concerned) ¿Cómo estás?
(She lowers her head. Her chin rests against her heavy bosom.)
SON: ¿Donde esta el baño?
(It has been four years since SON has been home. He joined the army after an argument with his father over his inheritance of land. He learned of his father’s murder while on the front line against the rebels. Reluctant, he must now enter the house as a man.)
MOTHER: (hanging up a pair of stockings) Mi casa es su casa.
(The guitar picks up intensity as both realize the truth in the MOTHER’s words. The SON, overcome, falls to the ground and weeps. The stars flicker.)
(He cries to the sky like a wolf searching for a moon that never comes.)
MOTHER: ¡Mi Hijo!
(She drops to the ground. Her fall broken by the dirt that she has tread for the last fifty years.)
SON: ¡Mi Madre!
(They embrace for the first time since the father’s death. The MOTHER’s tears wet her SON’s face. A crow is heard in the distance. The SON rises from the ground with the help from his mother and takes a package out from his jacket.)
MOTHER: (overjoyed) Me llamo Queso.
(For generations, the family was prominent cheese-makers and ranchers. The gift, thus, acts as both a sign of contrition for his abandonment and recognition of his return to take up the family business. Also, the MOTHER’s name is Cheese.)
MOTHER: (unwraps the package and sees the type of cheese) ¡Blanco!
SON: Dos. (He hands her another package. It is large.)
(She breathes in the night air and accepts the second gift graciously. She opens it.)
(From the paper emerges a live chicken. The MOTHER sets it down. It begins to roam the yard. Since famine hit the small town three years ago, the family has little income to spend on meat, except for holidays. The famine, coupled by a drought, took the life of their youngest daughter Esmerelda, two days before she was to leave the village for government school. The MOTHER weeps. A lone bird sings.)
SON: Te Amo.
(The bird stops. The guitar fades and chimes are heard. The chicken clucks. The joyful MOTHER stares at the moon, which has turned white. She recalls her wedding day, the day after her brother’s murder by their neighbor—a rival ranching family. It was spring. Her hair was long. The lines on her face were non-existent. Her dress flowed. The MOTHER now smiles.)
MOTHER: Me gusta el queso blanco. Gracias.
SON: (kisses her cheek) Eres bonita.
MOTHER: ¿Casa? (she motions to the house.)
(The SON moves from the garden to the door. He turns to face his mother, holding the cheese in her hands.)
SON: (pauses in the doorway) ¿Habla Ingles?
MOTHER: No. Hablo Español.
(The SON cracks a smile. He wants so badly to tell his poor MOTHER of all that he saw on the field of battle, of the death, the carnage, the injustices, man’s inhumanity to man. The SON wants to reach out to her and tell her how at night he shakes, haunted by the vision of killing his first man. He can only think of a poem by Wilfred Owen that so encapsulates the lie of war: In all my dreams, before my helpless sight, He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning. But she would not understand. She couldn’t.)
SON: ¡Buenas Noches!
MOTHER: ¡Hasta Luego!
SON: (opening the door, with a premonition) ¡Adiós!
(The SON enters the house. The lights dim. A wolf is heard. A guitar is strummed. There is a bell. The MOTHER collapses atop of the laundry, weeps, then stops. She holds the cheese up to the sky like a found pearl. A rooster crows. A drumbeat begins. Lights fade. Tomorrow, the SON will die from a sudden bout of tuberculosis. The moon is yellow. Lights out.)