Ella Bathory-Peeler

(An audience waits surrounding a

small circular stage. Beat. A

WOMAN, enters through the

audience, smiling. She

approaches the stage. She wears

black heels and a tight, short

red dress. Her long hair is

pulled up into a messy bun on

top of her head, exposing a

fresh undercut. She is made up,

wears deep red lipstick; very

put together. She mounts the

stage and addresses one section

of the audience and only that

section until otherwise



It’s a Tuesday morning and you have two options: the low cut beautiful red dress in your left hand or the classy pinstriped suit and tie in your right. You know which one you want to wear but you can’t seem to relinquish the silky fabric of the dress you know will get you the job. So you hang the suit and tie back up. You assure yourself that someday you’ll brave the public.


And so you slip into the dress you’ve worn so many times. Zipping it up on the left. Smoothing out the wrinkles, pulling it down. But not too far down. Positioning...everything


(She winks at the audience and

gestures towards her breasts,

much of which are exposed for

the world to see.)




You smell good.


And you slip into heels. Your black ones. Tall enough you look vulnerable when you walk. But also strong enough a man knows he can trust you. You like these heels.


And with a heavy coat of blood red paint to cover your “irresistible” lips, yes he had called them “irresistible,” you leave for the subway.




Sitting among the other women, all wearing clothes decided for them by the other “them,” the displayed “them.” You take a glance at yourself in the black window across from you. And realize your hair is still knotted on top of your head. Panicking, you wrench out the hair tie,

(she does, positioning hair around her face)

hiding what you just aren’t ready for the world to see.

(She makes sure her undercut is

covered and examines her

reflection in the window.)



You need to smell good.


(Beat. Time passses. She walks

deliberately to face a new

section of the audience.)



The interview goes well and you get the job. You knew you would. I mean...

(laughing, of her body)

How could you not? And you’re getting your boss coffee on the first day of work and brushing a little too close - everything you’ve always done. Just what your mother taught you to do; making him feel “special.” But you notice he’s calling you ‘honey’ and ‘sweetheart’ with a little too much intention and you’re not sure he’s ever thanked you for his coffee. He’s thanked about seven inches south of you many times but he’s never thanked you: your face. He’s thanked your breasts, your stomach, your ankles, your ass, between your legs - but never you. Does he know your name?


Your boss is talking at you. He thinks he’s talking to you but he’s still staring seven inches lower than where you are and you can’t hear what he’s saying because he can’t even see you.


You realize he’s made plans for the evening. With you. But it can’t be you because he’s never seen you. He has plans with this “you” that he sees. This you that isn't the self you know but the body that he wants to get to know more than he cares about who you are. And somehow by saying nothing you’ve agreed. You spend all day answering to him and it’s never occurred to him that you didn’t intend to be loyal after five p.m. when you leave your desk.


(She moves to address the

audience in full. She is more

sharply illuminated than ever





When you told your last boss you weren’t interested in dating him...or other men...if he knew what you meant, the only thing he said before firing you was, “That’s a shame. Too bad a body like yours is going to waste.” You think he thought he was giving you a compliment.


And so you run...As fast as you can in your heels which, you realize now, just make you look vulnerable and scared...but your mother told you to always wear heels to work...


And you tremble...curled up for days in the pile of dresses and brand new suits trying to find this you that aligns with the you your boss sees and the’ll never be.