A 16-year-old Blanche DuBois walks dreamily down a long, hot street in Laurel. She is stunning; her neck is as long as a swan’s, her hair the purest kind of blond, her eyes bright blue and alight with a certain kind of youthful charisma that enhances her attractiveness. She holds two cherry cokes in glass bottles, sipping the open one occasionally. Her casual Della Robbia blue evening dress (the blue of the robe in the old Madonna pictures) flutters about her in the faint breeze. Her delicate beauty is magnified in the fading light, as the newly-setting sun casts a golden halo over Laurel. There is something about her youthful grace, as well as her dainty and whimsical clothes, that suggests a butterfly.
A passerby waves at Blanche from across the street, and, upon recognising him, she flashes him a wide smile. Her teeth are perfectly straight and a brilliantly clean pearlescent white-colour.
Blanche sighs dreamily,
“Oh–hello! What a beautiful evening, don’t you think? I simply love sunsets. They are so romantic. Have a good evening!”
The man smiles at Blanche and bids her good bye with a wink.
“Good night, Blanche!”
Blanche smiles to herself softly. She rounds a corner, and makes her way towards a quaint, yet shabby little apartment building. She walks down the cobbled path, and opens the white picket-fence gate. Two women sit on the front porch talking and laughing loudly. Blanche sees them and flashes them a brilliant smile in passing. She makes her way up the steps to her flat only to find upon arrival, that the door is slightly ajar. She pushes the door open, and sets her empty bottle of cherry coke on the floor, the other full and still cold in her hand. The apartment smells faintly of cheap perfume, and the air is stifling in the dark.
Blanche calls out into the dark apartment with a carefree enthusiasm.
“Allan! Allan, where are you, you saintly creature, you? Did you forget to lock the door?”–she laughs–“My love always was awfully forgetful. I brought you a cherry coke–I know it’s your favourite. Allan?”
She proceeds further into the dark house, twisting the cherry coke bottle in her hands. She hears a faint moaning coming from the bedroom, to which the door is open. The creaking of what are sure to be bedsprings are heard from within the room. Blanche walks airily to the door, faintly humming “Paper Moon.” She pushes the door open and flips on the light switch. There is a gasp coming from one of the two men tangled together in the bedsheets. Allan, the younger of the two, stares at Blanche in horror. The older of the two men covers his face, as he weakly attempts to untangle himself from Blanche’s husband.
Allan cries out, mortified.
“Blanche! I can explain!”
Blanche stands stiffly in the door way for a moment, her eyes fixed on Allan without really seeing him. Allan reaches for Blanche in desperation, his eyes wide with horror and humiliation.
Blanche drops the cherry coke that she had been holding so that it smashes on the ground, staining her Della Robbia blue dress, causing her to let out a piercing scream. She runs out of the room.
Blanche speaks to herself in hysterics;
“Blot gently with cold water. Gently. Gently. Gently.”
She is shaking terribly as she tries to get the stain out of her dress. Allan comes out of the bedroom in a tartan dressing gown, attempting to speak to Blanche.
Blanche runs into the bathroom. Once the door is closed, she sobs into her fist as she presses her knuckles to her lips.
“Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out.”
She remains like this for a moment, attempting to quiet herself. When her sobbing has subsided, she gets up and fixes her appearance in the mirror, putting on a dazzlingly fake smile. Determined to not show any weakness, she blots at the black tears that run down her face and dabs jasmine perfume on her temples. She breathes in. She breathes out. Blanche walks out of the bathroom calmly. Allan is waiting for her. The older man has left the house.
“Blanche, listen to me–I need to talk to you about something very important, you hear?”
“I suppose I’d better clean up this mess that I’ve made. I don’t know what got into me!”–she laughs–“I have such an unsteady hand, why, I tremble more than a leaf in the cold! Ha-ha. Isn’t that funny, Allan! I’ll just have to run to the corner store and get you another cherry coke–I know it’s your favourite. Or do you want chocolate?”
Blanche crosses to the bedroom and begins to clean up the broken glass and spilled cherry coke. Allan comes towards her, then crouches.
“Let me help you with that, Blanche. And, a cherry coke would be fine, darling.”
And with that, Blanche floats in a false daze out of the apartment, very much resembling the way that a moth moves when it is drawn to a distant flame. She tries to ignore the rise and fall of sinuous voices in her ears on her way back down the long, hot street, those voices ebbing and flowing with her racing pulse.