Drama. The Hole Thing by Philip Webb Gregg. Image: a silhouette of an open door through which is a black hole sucking in various objects, including a pair of trousers, a cat, a flock of birds and a kettle. Next to the door, a person sits, looking out.

The hole Thing

a monologue

Reading time:


The speaker can be any gender, age and ethnicity. Their attitude should be energetic but awkward. Dressed in warm, worn clothes.  



In the middle of the stage sits a garden shed. Door. Window. Camping stove in one corner and kitchen just big enough for a kettle and some mugs. There are odds and ends hanging from every wall; a rusty saw, the dismembered parts of a bicycle, paint pots and plant pots. Other assorted ephemera. In the middle of the shed sits a black hole. 


Lights up.  


April already. Who would have thought it? I feel like it was Christmas just yesterday. I can practically still taste the snow. Not that there was much, mind you. Never is, these days. (Goes to the stove. Puts the kettle on. Prepares tea things.) It was nice though. Stuck my tongue right into it. The night. The breeze. After a minute I had all these little snowflakes in my mouth. Cold. Almost like ice cream. But not really. (Goes over to one wall, takes pen and writes on a piece of paper pinned to the wall.)  


Things I have been wrong about. One: I used to think the word ‘piebald’ meant the texture of a cat’s tongue. Two: I used to think all rivers would one day grow up to become oceans. Three: I used to think all blacksmiths were called John – not sure where that one came from. (Skips through) Thirty-seven: I used to think the tree ‘eucalyptus’ was actually called a ‘You Could Lick This’ – they have very soft bark, to be fair… Eighty-four: I used to think fresh snow tasted like ice cream. I was wrong. (Kettle boils. Walks over and pours tea, adds sugar. There is no milk.)  


I read somewhere that the closer to the Earth you are, the slower time will pass. I once spent an entire afternoon standing by that window, looking at the rain. And when the storm finally passed, I felt two years older. Two. I had that fresh feeling, like when you’ve learned something new. Maybe it was just the smell of the rain. (Goes over to black hole, still stirring the tea.) Anyway, it’s April now. (Drops spoon into the depthless void of the black hole.) I saw you in my dream last night. Your teeth were bright in the dark, and your mouth looked like Pandora’s box, hanging open. Listen, you said, and I remember writing it down – in the dream, I mean – I had a pen. And this is what you said: We eat flesh because flesh eats grass because grass eats the sky and the sky eats itself. The truth is, you said, everything is always hungry for everything else. When I woke all I could think was: The vegans won’t like it. (Drinks a mouthful of tea, then pours the rest into the black hole and drops the cup in after.) 


So anyway, that day when it rained. I watched it falling. And when the first drops hit the path, they made these little black shadows on the concrete – that was the best bit. The millions of tiny circles, little grave markers, as the water hit the ground. It was perfect. I wrote it down exactly as it was. (Goes over to a different, much shorter piece of paper on the wall.)  


Beautiful things I have seen. One: a magpie caught in the wind. It tumbled in the air like an acrobatic crisp packet, half full of panic, half full of joy. Two: a pool of water – well, a puddle really, in the middle of the carpark at B&Q. Rippling. Like when the breeze strokes your skin and all the little hairs rise up on their toes. Three: a cat, on the pavement as I was cycling past. Our eyes met as she – she looked like a she – ran parallel to me for a few seconds. And I saw she had a mouse, or something like a mouse, clasped in her mouth, and I saw it moving, struggling to escape, thrashing frantically. And for a moment we all three travelled together, this cat and her mouse, and I. Four: the rain. Your eyes. The rain. Your mouth. The rain.  


(Tears paper from the wall, tosses it into the black hole. Walks around the shed, taking things off the wall and dropping them into the black hole. The items get progressively larger. The chair, the table. All the random things from the walls.)  


When I think about us, I think about death. Not just your death. But the death of everything. I don’t know why, but there’s something about being in love that makes me worry about the world. About our future. All our futures. I mean, how are we supposed to talk about it? It’s almost impossible to grasp the understanding of a thing that’s there, but isn’t. The looming presence of such an immense lack of substance. A nothingness. But then I think, it can’t be nothing. Nothing’s nothing. I mean, even emptiness is something. There’s nothing bigger or more important than emptiness. The universe is full of it. Problem is, there is no way to say it in this language. I’ve tried. The words, however I arrange them – you’ll find something living there. But this thing we’re trying to say, it isn’t living at all. It’s the endless swallowing of the world. Our love. This massive keening language full of phrases, and not one word to say how truly fucked we are. 


(Pause. Continues dropping things into the black hole. Takes the window, the door, the floorboards. Drops them into the hole.)  


These days have been long. These hours. Long as winter. But it’s April now. I feel closer to the Earth than ever before. Time stretching out. And I don’t know about you, but from this moment on I intend to live as perfectly full as possible. I will take every mouthful I can get, and still, I will die hungry. Because if there’s one thing you taught me, it’s that the world doesn’t over-complicate its gifts. (Begins taking clothes off.) Here, it says, take a lungful of air. Or here, have this day. It’s full of sunshine. Or how about this nice bit of ground? Take it, it’s good to stand on. Then, at some point, the world says – have you ever noticed how similar ‘word’ is to ‘world’? – the world says, I will take your body now, thanks. I will gulp down your beautiful face. Your limbs will melt in the belly of the Earth. Worms will fill your mouth. Your eyes are for the birds. They were never yours, anyway. (Pause. Naked, about to step into the black hole.)  


April already. I can’t imagine what the rest of the year will bring. 




Philip Webb Gregg

Philip Webb Gregg is a writer and wanderer living between Madrid and London.


His short stories and flash have been widely published and nominated for various awards including the Molotov Cocktail Prize, Bath Flash Fiction Award, Aesthetica Creative Writing Award and the Desperate Literature Prize.


His travel writing usually looks at odd-but-beautiful things in unusual places.


He has a completely wholesome interest in black holes, and he used to live in a shed. 

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