The Abbess – a strong, mature middle-aged woman who runs the Inn.
Tinker – a man of unknown age (older than mid-20’s) who roams the ice wasteland looking for items of value to trade
Simeon – a older Jewish man who lives at the Inn, hoping for the coming of the Messiah.
Rachel – Simeon’s eldest daughter – a whore
Sarah – Simeon’s younger daughter – a whore
Fen, the Matchstick Girl – the Abbess’ ‘daughter’.
Anno – The Abess’ husband
Woman – a traveler who comes upon the Inn in labor
Man – a traveler, the Woman’s companion
(LIGHTS UP. The room is empty. The chessboard is abandoned, the game not complete. SIMEON and RACHEL must have given up on the game. ABBESS enters from the kitchen, holding the baby in her arms, singing a lullaby. ANNO enters from the landing, takes off his jacket and pours himself some coffee. He sits down at the table.)
ANNO: How is she?
ABBESS: A healthy baby girl from what I’ve seen so far. I think she’s going to make it.
ANNO: Last night you didn’t seem so sure.
ABBESS: Last night I didn’t have any hope. (She is looking at ANNO, her eyes smiling. ANNO realizes the change, and that he was part of it.)
ANNO: I’m sorry I was so harsh.
ABBESS: No, I needed it. You know it takes a sharp pick to cut through hard ice.
ANNO: You were pretty hard.
ABBESS: I was pretty icy.
ANNO: Nothing like a new baby to bring a thaw.
ABBESS: Especially this one. She’s going to be fine, (looks at sleeping child) aren’t you?
ANNO: And what if she isn’t?
ABBESS: Then we’ll have to hope the next one is.
ANNO: Are you just saying that?
ABBESS: Yes…and no. I’m not too good at this hope thing Anno, we’ll have to take it all one step at a time. But I sure want her to live. Only now I understand that I don’t have to die a little bit every time one of these little ones doesn’t make it.
ANNO: I forgot to ask—the father, will he be taking care of her?
ABBESS: That boy who came with the girl? Not her husband. He lived in the same settlement as her. She got left behind because she was a whore. I guess Southtown got self-righteous when they headed for the new city.
ANNO: The new city’ll have whores. All places do.
ABBESS: You and I know that, but you know people. Especially when they’re moving to the ‘city of God.’
ANNO: So she’s got no family at all.
ABBESS: She has us. Rachel mentioned last night she wouldn’t mind taking her as her own, seeing as she’s been unable to have a baby herself.
ANNO: Rachel’s going to the city with that young man she met.
ABBESS: She is.
ANNO: That baby won’t be ready to go for at least a month or two.
ABBESS: Suits me fine. I wouldn’t want to help set everything up anyhow.
ANNO: I’m not sure that would bother Rachel much; she’s never been afraid of hard work, all I’m saying is—
ABBESS: I’m not talking about Rachel. I’m talking about me.
ANNO: But you said we weren’t going—
ABBESS: I know what I said. Now you listen to what I’m saying.
ANNO: I’ll never understand you, ‘Bess.
ABBESS: You don’t have to understand me Anno. Just love me. And help me do this. I’ll need your help, your strength.
ANNO: I always thought you were the strong one.
ABBESS: No, I’m just the loud one. It’s you I lean on for support.
ANNO: I don’t know what you want me to do.
ABBESS: Hold me to this decision. Help me make the journey. And just love me.
ANNO: That I can do…has that child been fed?
ABBESS: She has.
ANNO: Then let’s lay her down for a rest, and I’ll thaw you out some more.
(ABBESS smiles as ANNO places his arm around her and they walk to the kitchen exit. LIGHTS DOWN.)