Ellen Elizabeth Steves Third Place 2011

Inspiration for 'Holey Smokes'

Thoughts on Writing The Play: Holey Smokes is something very dear to me. Very precious. It is the first play I ever wrote. It is the first thing I can call my own. Knowing that other people have read it and enjoyed it overwhelms me with joy.


The Traveler

Iíve been walking for a long time. It sort of feels like my whole life
but I know that canít be true.
I can remember that other life, the life before walking,
but tha tdoesnít feel like me anymore.
I guess I was just squatting inside that other girl,
waiting to try out my walking legs.
Iíd say Iíve got a long time to go still.
I donít go too much each day.
I just walk as far as I walk, I guess.
People keep offering me rides and such, but I donít know.
It feels like Iím supposed to walk. So Iím walking.
Donít worry. Iíll be safe. Itís ok, really. I dreamed all this.
See, hereís what happened:

We was all sitting down to dinner, and my momma and daddy were talking
about the big gigantic hole that they read about in the paper.
Talking turned to fighting,
and I was just concentrating on putting peas on my fork.
Four at a time.
And my daddy was saying something to me, I guess,
but I couldnít hear him Ďcuz I was filling my head with counting.
1,2,3,4. eat. 1,2,3,4. eat.
And he got real angry, because he doesnít like it when I do things like that.
Heís afraid that thereís something wrong with me
and it makes him really sad.

Anyways, he clocked me right inthe face,
but I wasnít ready for it, on account of the peas,
so I fell off my chair and thatís when it happened.
I kept expecting to hit the floor, but I never did.
I just-kept falling.
Down this long tunnel,
until I came out the other side and I was flying.
I looked down and I saw myself walking.
And then I was by that big gigantic hole
and there were tons of people, andÖ and I was smiling.
I wanted to stay there forever,
but I felt something tugging me back,
and I opened my eyes, my Dad was carrying me up to my room,
and I guess I was bleeding because he just kept whispering,
ďSorry butterbean. Iím so sorry.Ē

I just knew that the hole in my dream was the same one in the paper,
and I was gonna get to it!
I snuck out my back window like Iíve always wanted to do.
So now Iím walking.
Other people are walking, too.
They are going to the big giant hole just like me.
They keep telling me strange, wonderful things.
They tell me that they are going to the hole because
they heard from a friend who heard from a friend that this hole-
it gives you- it gives you love.
All you could ever want! For free!
Can you believe it?
You should come with me- well I wonít make you.
I donít mind going alone.

You want to know a secret?
I donít even care if I get love for myself.
I just want to- to be around it.
See, I got a lot of noise in my head.
Actually, itís more like hate.
Sometimes itís so loud that I think itís going to explode out of me,
and then who knows what would happen.
So, I guess I figured that if I could fill my head with all that love,
then I could sort of- squash it.
And then I could just be still and quiet for awhile.
Sure you donít wanna come?

Judge's comments

Ellen has written a charming play about small-town gossip and rumour. But these words have power. The gossip and rumour become real just by the act of people repeating it, and subsequently, by people believing it. A hole grows in the ground. It is an unfathomable ever-growing hole that sucks people in figuratively and literally. Ellen spins a spell with her words creating a melancholia that surrounds the hole. The dialogue reminds me of Ray Bradbury's short stories. The dialogue reflects the fantasy spun around local small-town folks. Where the hole comes from and where it goes is unknown but its effect on the townsfolk and the reader has staying power.