Mary Had a Little... Bear?

Mary had a little…Bear?

By Emily Marshall

“For all those lambs out there who need protection from wolves.”

Ted Amaro: 38 years old, mean, heartless, abusive, big and burly, black hair, works at a lumber mill
Ruth Amaro: 34 years old, afraid of husband, sweet, caring, petite, red hair
Bear: 14 years old, brown hair, kind, protective, stands up for what is right
Mary Amaro: 13 years old, not afraid to fight back, caring, black hair, petite
Lucifer (Luke) Amaro: 16 years old, mean, heartless, abusive, black hair, very dark eyes

This story takes place in the early 1900’s in Wautoma, Wisconsin. We start out in a hospital and then 14 years later the story takes us to the cabin of the Amaro family, the countryside, and the barn.

Scene 1

(The lights go up in a heavily occupied delivery room. We can hear the screams of a woman whom we cannot see. Nurses are rushing back and forth. We finally see the doctor pass a huge, bloody mess of a baby to the nurse and hear one final cry from the woman as the baby is rushed out of the room)

Woman: (agonizing breathe. Scream.) Bear!!! (She collapses.)

(Doctor checks her pulse, shakes his head, and a nurse covers her with the blanket. They all leave the room as we finally see the bed and the woman covered in a bloody white sheet.)


Scene 2

(Curtains come up on the inside of a cabin. There is a fire going in the fire place. A little girl, around 13 years old, is sitting at the kitchen table eating porridge, while an older woman, 34 years old, is bustling about the kitchen. In the corner near the outside door, stage left, a boy around 14 is sitting, staring at the wall. A man, roughly 38, comes barging in from the outside, slamming the door into the chair the boy is sitting on, knocking it and the boy over. The boy picks the chair back up and sits back down, wincing in pain.)

Ted: (shouting) Where’s the boy? (Crosses to Ruth, grabs her shoulders, and shakes her. She starts crying and is in too much distress to answer)
Bear: (stands up and steps to other side of chair.) Mr. Amaro, I’m right here. Please don’t hurt her…
Ted: (Shoves Ruth into counter. Crosses over to stage left while talking.) You listen here boy, tell me what you did to Luke. I know you done something ‘cause he wasn’t like that yesterday. Tell me! (Grabs his shoulders and shakes him.)
Bear: I done what he deserved! He was pushin’ Mary around and I was just protectin’ her, sir! I weren’t tryin’ to hurt him much… (Ted pushed Bear away and starts walking toward Mary.)
Ted: Mary, is this true?
Mary: (She looks up from her porridge and we now see that she has a black eye and a swollen lip.) Pa, we was just playin’ around. It’s nuttin' much. Bear just wanted to join in on the fun. Right? (She looks pleadingly at Bear.)
Bear: Y-yes, sir. That’s what I was doin’. We was just havin’ fun.
Ted: (Sits at table.) Well boy, don’t go havin’ no more “fun” with Luke or I will have to have “fun” with you! Ruth, where’s my coffee?
Ruth: C-c-coming T-ted. H-here you are… (Sets coffee on table in front of Ted as Luke runs through the door and grabs Mary’s arm. We can clearly see that he isn’t hurt at all apart from a slight bruising to his jaw.)
Luke: C’mon, Mary! We are gonna be late for school!
Mary: Lemme go! I’ll be right out; I just need to put my bowl away.
Luke: Well hurry it up. I’ll wait outside fer ya. (He releases Mary’s arm and glares at Bear as he walks out the door.)
Mary: Mama, I’ll be home right after school to help you with the laundry. (She goes over to Ruth and kisses her cheek.) I love you. See ya later! (Goes to the door and motions for Bear to follow her shortly. She leaves the house.)
Ted: Don’t just stand there, boy! Go do your chores like yer sposed to!
Bear: Yes, sir. (Goes outside.)
Ruth: (Ruth sets food in front of Ted and in front of her own chair.) Must you be so hard on the boy? The world has been hard enough on…
Ted: (Interrupts in a mocking voice.) ‘The world has been hard enough on him.’ Bah! It’s been hard on us too! We wouldn’t even have to take care of the boy if your minx of a friend hadn’t gotten herself knocked up by who even knows! He got no father and no mother and of course she just HAD to write a letter leaving the brat to you. If it weren’t for that letter we’d be a much happier family!
Ruth: I-I only m-meant that maybe, since he’s gettin’ older, we could give him th-that loft in the barn, ya know where the cats sleep, t-to sleep in. Th-then at least he’d be outta our h-hair in the h-house…
Ted: (For the first time, a smile brightens his face.) Why, Ruth! That’s a wonderful idea! Sometimes I can barely tell you think, but this idea is perfect. (Kisses Ruth.) Outta our hair… I gotta get off to the mill. You tell the boy when he comes back from his chores that he’s now stayin’ in the barn. No more of this mat being a nuisance on the kitchen floor.
Ruth: I-I will. G-good bye! (Ted leaves. Ruth begins to clean up the kitchen. She puts plates in the dish water and starts to sweep. She lets out a sigh.) Oh, Lily. I wish you were still here. Life has been so terrible without you. Ted was nicer to me and actually loved me… We had so many plans! (Pulls crinkled old letter from her pocket.) ‘My dearest Ruth, Oh how I miss you so! I hope little Luke is growing big and strong. My child will be so lucky to have a playmate around the same age as he! I strongly believe he will be a boy though my doctor told me not to get my hopes up as it could very well be a girl. My due date is soon coming around soon. When is your child due? I’m sure you are so excited to bring another little one into the world! I know that I’m excited for my first. Please let Ted know that I’m doing fine. I know he disapproves of me having this child since I’m not married but what can a girl do? I love this child more than anything and he isn’t even born yet! Oh what a large capacity we humans have for love! The main reason I’m writing to you is if something should happen to me, I would like you to care for my little one. I trust none but you to take care of him. I have named you the Godmother. I doubt anything will happen, but I want this security just in case. I don’t think I would be able to stand seeing my child mistreated at an orphanage! Please take care of him as if he were your own. With deepest love, Lily.’ Oh, Lily! How I wish with all my heart you were still here! (By this time she is sitting in a chair with broom still in hand. The letter is placed over her heart as her last lines are delivered.)


Scene 3

(The curtains open on a countryside scene. Rolling hills, a wooden fence, and a pasture full of sheep line the road as Luke and Mary enter stage left.)

Luke: C’mon Mary. You walk too gosh darn slow.
Mary: My shoe needs tied! I’ll get there when I get there. (She bends down to tie shoe.)
Luke: I said c’mon! (Grabs her arm trying to pull her with him but she refuses. He pushes her away, knocking her down, and walks off the stage going to school.)
Mary: I’m a tough girl, I don’t need to cry. I’m a tough girl, I don’t need to cry. (Spoken as she brushes off and ties her shoe.) I’m a tough girl, I don’t need to…
Bear: (Enters.) Mary! (Interrupts.) What happened?
Mary: It was nothin’. I’m fine, Bear. (Stands up and leans against fence.) You know what I think? I think we should all be like sheep. They just get to mosey around all day, livin’ the good life; no worries, no fear, and the only pain is gettin’ caught to get sheared. Yah, that’d be the good life…
Bear: But ya know Mary, the wolves sometimes come an’ grab the sheep up at night. Farmers find bloody sheep all the time.
Mary: There are plenty of wolves going after us, too. (Bear looks confused.) I’m so happy I have you to talk to Bear! Luke is too much like Pa and gettin’ meaner every day. I just don’t know what’s wrong with him.
Bear: Don’t worry Mary, I will keep you safe. I’m… (Looks at sheep.) I’m a farmer! And sometimes the farmers have to shoot the wolves to protect their sheep.
Mary: Are ya sayin’ I’m a sheep? (Chuckles.) I think this sheep can protect herself mostly. It’s Mama who may need more protectin’. Wolves don’t scare me. ‘Specially when a Bear goes after the wolves. I best be gettin’ to school. Thanks fer meetin’ me ‘cause I know it cuts into yer chore time.
Bear: It’s nothin’ Mary. I get my chores done well before Mr. Amaro gets home. Don’t ferget to bring your reader home so I can look at it, please.
Mary: Bye, Bear. (Hugs him.) I won’t ferget it. (Bear exits stage left. She looks after him.) I love you. (Exits stage right.)


Scene 4

(We are inside the cabin once again. School has just let out. Ruth is sitting in a rocking chair by the fireplace, knitting while watching the soup cook. Mary walks in holding her arm, her hair in her face. Luke walks merrily in after her, kissing Ruth on the cheek as he heads stage right, to his bedroom.)

Ruth: Well your brother seems awfully cheerful t’day. How was school, Mary?
Mary: I-it was f-fine, Ma. (She looks up and we see she has a bruised cheek as well as her black eye and swollen lip.) I-I f-fell d-during lunch hour. I th-think my arm i-is broken. (Tears in her eyes.)
Ruth: (jumps out of her chair, setting the knitting on the table as she goes to her daughter.) Mary? Are ya sure ya fell? This don’t look like a fall coulda done it. (Gets a wet towel and wiping dirt of her arm.)
Mary: (pulls arm away.) Ow! That hurts, ma!
Ruth: My poor baby! Did yer brother have anything to do with this? You can tell me. Yer pa ain’t around right now.
Mary: (sees Luke in the doorway of his bedroom, peeking out.) N-no, m-ma. I t-told ya I f-fell. (Openly crying.)
Ruth: Okay, I’ll believe ya this once. Let me know if ya fall agin. (Grief stricken.) Now go out ta Bear. He can fix ya up a sling in no time.
Mary: (Wipes off tears.) Okay, ma. I’ll help set the table when I git back. (Exits.)

(Ruth sits back down and starts her knitting again, staring blankly into the fire.)


Scene 5

(The barn. We see Bear setting up his living quarters in the middle of some bales of hay. He is whistling and humming, Buffalo Gals.)

Mary: Bear? Are you there, Bear? (Enters the barn.)
Bear: (wipes hands of dust.) I’m over here! (Still whistling, and then he sees Mary, abruptly stopping.) M-Mary??? What happened to you? (Brushes hand across her bruised cheek.)
Mary: I f-fell during lunch today. (She says this as she refuses to look at Bear.)
Bear: I don’t believe a word of that bull. Your brother did this to ya, didn’t he? Tell me, Mary. (She is looking at the ground, not saying anything.) Look at yer arm! Ya couldn’t of done that by just fallin’. Stay here while I go get ya somethin’ fer that. (Mary watches as Bear goes into one of the closets, looking for cloth and some wood. Luke enters the barn.)
Luke: Why hello, Mary! Didn’t fancy on seein’ you out here. Don’t ya got some places to set at the table? Oh, ya gettin’ yer arm fixed? Won’t do you no good ya know. It’ll probably jest break agin knowin’ how clumsy ya are. (Grabs her arm.)
Mary: (Screams in pain.) Luke, let go of me!
Bear: (from inside the closet.) Mary? Mary, are you o… (Comes back into the main area of the barn and sees Luke.) Luke.
Luke: Hello there, Bear. Gonna fix up my dear old sister’s arm are ya? What else do ya do for my dear old sister, huh?
Bear: I don’t know what yer talkin’ about. (Stares at Luke as he walks over to Mary and pulls her arm out of his grasp.) Go to yer ma and stay there.
Mary: No, Bear! I won’t leave ya! (Grasping her arm.)
Bear: Mary, go to yer ma.
Luke: (Sneering.) Ya, Mary, go do what yer “husband” says.
Mary: But… Bear? (Pleading look from Bear.) Okay, fine. (Next line is spoken as she leaves.) Ya know, Luke? Yer jist like pa. (Anger is on her face as she spits at his feet and leaves the barn, running for the house.)
Luke: Alone at last. What should we do first? Send each other tokens or just git down to it? I vote fer the last one.
Bear: We don’t hafta fight, ya know.
Luke: Oh the big bad Bear is afwaid of a little bitty wolf. (Grins maliciously.)
Bear: I never said I was afraid. How did you end up like this, Luke?
Luke: Oh, I think it just came naturally ya know, with my pa bein’ how he is.
Bear: I’ve heard yer pa wasn’t always like. Ya don’t hafta be like him.
Luke: Oh yes, I do. Yer the reason fer all our troubles. If yer whore of a mother hadn’t of gotten pregnant, she woulda never died and pa wouldn’t have taken his frustration of her dyin’ out on ma and me. Yer mother didn’t want to be married, oh no, that wasn’t fer her. So she decided bein’ friends with pa was better than nothin’. Pa didn’t know how much he loved her and not my ma until she got pregnant with you. That was when he became how he is now. All because of you. (Lunges for Bear. An epic fight takes place, involving a pitchfork, some hay bales, and many fists colliding. The fight ends with Luke lying against a hay bale, knocked unconscious. We can see that Bear has scratches here and there, along with a bloody lip and a torn shirt and pants. He limps out of the barn and heads for the house.)


Scene 6

(Mary and Ruth are both sitting nervously at the table, waiting to see who won. Bear enters and goes to the nearest chair and sits down. Mary gets him water.)

Bear: Luke is out in the barn. I made sure he weren’t dead. (Exhausted.)
Ruth: Let’s just pray that Ted don’t come home anytime soon. (Whistling is heard in the background.) Well speak of the devil.
Ted: (Barges into cabin and sits at table.) Well where’s my food, woman? Where are all the plates?
Ruth and Mary: One s-second. (Ruth goes to get the soup off the fire and Mary gets plates and sets the table with her good arm.)
Ted: Well what happened to ya, Mary? Fall agin? (Chuckles.)
Bear: (Speaks from his chair.) Well actually, no sir. It was Luke. He done that to her.
Ted: Speakin’ of Luke, where is that fine son of mine? (Everyone goes quiet. He becomes angry) I said, where’s my boy?
Mary: He’s in the barn, pa.
Ted: And why’s he in the barn?
Mary: (Stares at floor.) B-Because he…
Ted: Because he what, Mary? (Grabs her chin and makes her look up. We see that Mary is crying. He pushes her away.) Boy, where’s Lucifer? (Goes over to Bear.)
Bear: (Looks right into Ted’s eyes.) Like Mary said, he’s in the barn.
Ted: Then maybe you can give me a better answer. Why?
Bear: Because that’s where I left him. (Pandemonium breaks loose as Ted goes to hit Bear. Throughout the scene, Ruth has been inching her way towards Bear. Instead of hitting Bear, we see that Ted has actually hit Ruth, knocking her to the floor. Mary goes over and helps Ruth stand up. Ruth is looking angrily at Ted)
Ruth: I’m done bein’ afraid of you Ted Amaro. I’m done sittin’ here bein’ silent as I watch you corrupt our son and hit me and Mary and Bear. We don’t deserve this. My baby don’t deserve to be raised by a father like you.
Ted: You’re pregnant?
Ruth: That news don’t involve you. You may be the father but you sure as hell won’ be the pa. Goodbye, Ted. I’m takin’ Mary and Bear with me. You can keep Luke with you here so I don’t hafta worry about this startin’ all over agin. Come on you two. (They walk out the door. Ted sits down in front of the fire and stares blankly into it.)
Mary: (Offstage.) Can we raise sheep, ma?
Ruth: (Offstage.) Sure can, with a Bear like this to protect them from wolves.


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