Winter’s End One Act Synopsis

Early in the morning, a screaming and panicking Cassie runs into the living room of the Husband and Wife’s house. The Wife greets her and comforts her, seemingly unsurprised at the sudden appearance of a stranger in her home. Cassie begs her to call the police. The Wife is distracted by Cassie’s swollen ankle. It seems she slipped on the ice while running. Annoyed, the Wife tells Cassie just to sit down while she gets some bandages. As Cassie waits for the Wife to return, the Husband enters, wearing nothing but a bedsheet. The encounter is awkward for both of them. They make some idle chit chat about the weather. The Husband comments that spring is on the way. This leaves Cassie confused. She thought it was still winter. She tries to settle the matter by having the Husband go look out a window, but he tells her there are no windows in the house. And as she looks around, there are certainly none in the living room. It creeps her out horribly and she starts to get up to leave, suggesting he look out the door. The door doesn’t open. The Husband explains that it’s one-way.

The Wife returns with bandages and insists Cassie sit down to have her ankle bandaged. Cassie tries, unsuccessfully, to convince the Husband to leave her alone with the Wife. None of it works, though. The Husband is too enamored with his spouse. The Wife soon realizes that Cassie is afraid of the Husband. She sooths and comforts her, promising that he’s really not that bad. She speaks as if Cassie should know who he is. Cassie points out that she doesn’t even know his name. Or the Wife’s name. Before either of them can supply one though, there’s a banging on the door. Without waiting for an invitation, the Mother storms in. She ignores Cassie, treats the Husband coldly, but greets the Wife with warmth and affection. Cassie is feeling remarkably uncomfortable with all of it and tries to excuse herself to use the phone. She’s stopped by an offhanded remark that they don’t have any phones in the house anyway. The Mother tells the Wife it’s time to go. The Husband is adamantly against this, wanting nothing more than for his wife to stay with him. The Husband and Mother get into a shouting match over it, much to the Wife’s chagrin.

The Wife puts a stop to the fighting, but the tension remains in the air. When Cassie asks what the issue is, the Wife, Husband, and Mother realize that Cassie, as an outsider, is a neutral party. Without consulting her, they decide that she will be the one to decide whether the Wife stays with the Husband or goes with her Mother. Cassie loses it. She doesn’t have time to participate in a petty squabble that she doesn’t even understand. She reveals that she was involved in some gunfire, and that she’s worried the armed men are coming after her. Cassie bursts into tears, falling into the Wife’s lap. The Wife tries to calm Cassie down. As they talk, Cassie reveals that she was walking into an abortion clinic when the gunfire started. She’s pregnant, but she and her boyfriend just ended their wild affair. She was going to the clinic to find out about her choices. The Husband turns this around, arguing that the Mother wants to take the Wife outside, where there are guns. The Mother counters that she’s no safer in the house, where random strangers are always wandering in. Once again, they both demand that Cassie settle the debate.

The Wife stands up. Her nightgown is covered in blood. Everyone is horrified. The Husband and the Mother wrestle with each other, each one eager to help the Wife. They realize that she’s not bleeding, however. Cassie is. There’s a gaping bullet wound on the back of Cassie’s head. Cassie is shocked. She feels no pain and doesn’t understand how she could be bleeding. The Husband and the Mother both get mad at her for getting the pristine Wife filthy. Angrily, Cassie suggests the Wife choose where she wants to go. Everyone is startled by the idea. They don’t know what to make of it. The Wife has never made a choice before. Cassie encourages her to start making choices. The Wife points out that Cassie’s choices led to her being killed. It’s safer not to make any choices at all. Cassie agrees: It is safer, yes. But not making choices doesn’t amount to a life. The risk of making the wrong choice is worth living for. The Wife finally agrees. And everyone turns to watch her, expectantly.