[[Music fades in, somber. Light piano music plays then fades....]]
[[SFX: Peri hums as rain falls lightly outside of the lighthouse.]]
PERI: Do you think Mom and Dad miss the rain?
ACE: I would if I were them.
PERI: I thought they were supposed to visit.
ACE: Dad said that mom couldn’t trust the shop to her assistants, something about “thank goodness their sewing isn’t as bad as their customer service.”
PERI: [sighs] Yep, sounds like mom. Oh, Dad’s not picking up the slack, is he?
ACE: [chuckles] I doubt mom would let him if he tried.
PERI: Can you imagine, dad sneaking into the back room in the middle of the night, referencing mom’s notes, secretly just hemming and tailoring?
[[SFX: They laugh.]]
ACE: If he can read her chicken scratch!
PERI: Oh c’mon, you’d think decades of working together would mean he could read her handwriting by now.
ACE: D’you remember the orange juice incident?
PERI: Mm, yep, yep, that’s fair. Still have no idea how he read goldfish instead of orange juice.
ACE: “At least it’s orange!”
[[SFX: They laugh.]]
[[SFX: Moderately crowded airport. Peri walks, leaning on a cane as passengers load their belongings on the security conveyor belt.]]
TSA AGENT: Next.
[[SFX: Peri steps up.]]
TSA Agent: Boarding pass and ID.
PERI: Um, uh, sorry, um.
[[SFX: Peri unzips her bag and rummages through. She hands over her passport and boarding pass.]]
TSA AGENT: You’re here early.
PERI: I, uh, had nothing else going on.
TSA AGENT: Going home or on a trip?
PERI: Um, uh, a bit of both I guess.
[[SFX: The TSA Agent writes on the ticket and hands it and the passport back.]]
TSA AGENT: Well Hesperia, have a nice flight and be sure to check the boards and listen to announcements for gate changes.
[[SFX: She takes back her passport and continues walking to the security line.]]’
[[SFX: Inside the lighthouse. Rain. Peri sighs.]]
PERI: How long are the candles supposed to last?
ACE: Look, we’ll be fine through the storm.
PERI: How many are left?
ACE: Just one but I doubt we’ll need it.
PERI: Hm, maybe get some more next time you’re in town?
ACE: Alright, worrywart.
[[SFX: Peri makes noises, the intonation mocking Ace's words.]]
[[SFX: Peri sits down. Situates. Takes a sip of tea out of a paper cup. A stranger speaks to her, a perhaps too friendly man. ]]
STRANGER 1: You on flight 405?
PERI: Uh, no.
STRANGER 1: This Gate is for 405.
[[SFX: Peri sips her tea again.]]
STRANGER 1: Alright then, just trying to make sure you’re in the right place.
[[SFX: Peri sips her tea.]]
STRANGER 1: So where ya going?
[[SFX: Peri lets out a huge sigh as a muffled airport announcement plays.]]
ANNOUNCEMENT: Flight 702 will now be flying out of Gate B31. Flight 702 will now be flying out of Gate B31.
PERI: Oh thank goodness.
[[SFX: She gets up and leaves the stranger.]]
[[SFX: Peri makes her way to some chairs and takes a seat. She sips her tea. Another stranger, a young woman who's voice tends to rise at the end of her sentences.]]
STRANGER 2: What’s that?
[[SFX: Peri takes another sip.]]
STRANGER 2: The thing sticking out of your backpack.
[[SFX: Peri sighs.]]
PERI: It’s a walkie talkie.
STRANGER 2: Oh. Cool. Can I look at it?
[[SFX: Peri resumes her beverage.]]
STRANGER 2: Just for like a second? My parents never let me touch their walkie talkies.
[[SFX: Peri doesn’t respond.]]
STRANGER 2: What are you drinking?
[[SFX: Peri takes another sip.]]
STRANGER 2: Is that coffee? My dad doesn’t let me drink coffee but I tried my mom’s and--
PERI: It’s... not coffee.
STRANGER 2: Oh. Is it hot cocoa?
PERI: [sighing, exasperated] It’s not hot cocoa.
STRANGER 2: Is it tea? My grandma likes to make tea all the time. I’m visiting her because my parents couldn’t but my school is on break. She’s really old and lives far away so my dad wanted me to visit her before she kicks the bucket--
ANNOUNCEMENT: Flight 702 will now be flying out of Gate A25. Flight 702 will now be flying out of Gate A25.
[[SFX: Peri sighs in relief, gets up, situates herself and walks away.]]
STRANGER 2: [with attitude] Bye!
[[SFX: Peri takes a seat. Sips. People walk a by. Yet another stranger, a woman with a question.]]
STRANGER 3: So have you--
[[SFX: Peri gets up, tosses her drink the trash bin and walks away as another announcement broadcasts.]]
ANNOUNCEMENT: Flight 702 will now be flying out of Gate C89. Flight 702 will now be flying out of Gate C89.
PERI: This is ridiculous.
[[SFX: The lighthouse. The rain. Peri hums a few bars of a lullaby.]]
PERI: Y'know, it’s nice to listen to the rain.
[[SFX: Ace turns a page in his book.]]
ACE: I mean, yeah.
PERI: No, I mean... it’s nice that I can listen now. I remember rainstorms really freaked me out when we were little.
ACE: What? No they didn’t.
PERI: Yeah, I remember I would sit on mom’s lap and then she’d sing to me.
ACE: Maybe for a huge rainstorm. But most of them you kept asking to go outside. You said you wanted to find out where the water was coming from because [chuckling] you didn’t believe me when I told you it was the clouds.
PERI: Pretty sure mom had to sing to me so I’d fall asleep during storms.
[[SFX: He turns a page in his book.]]
[[SFX: Peri walks with her cane, the airports crowds far behind her. Nothing but the sound of her footsteps and cane on the linoleum. She slows.]]
PERI: Um, h-hey, there’s a lot of construction in this area, this is Gate C89, right? Are you waiting for flight 702?
[[SFX: A woman speaks, her voice... familiar.]]
WOMAN: You’re in the right place. Please, sit.
[[SFX: Peri sits. Unzips her bag to find a comic book. She takes it out, flips through the pages to find her place.]]
WOMAN: Oh, is that one of those Gardenia Plex comics? It’s been ages since I’ve seen one. How on earth did you find it?
PERI: I didn’t.
[[SFX: Peri flips a page.]]
WOMAN: It looks like it’ll be a while. Do you tend to show up early to things?
PERI: [irritated] Sometimes.
WOMAN: Me too. My sense of time is a bit… fluid, so I rarely ever show up at a time that others might consider reasonably prompt. Nice that I’ve shown up today when I did. Pity I’ve had to spend my existence on cracking chairs next to broken outlets though.
[[SFX: Peri doesn’t respond.]]
WOMAN: I’m sorry, you’re not much of a talker are you.
PERI: [sighs] Sometimes?
WOMAN: Wish today was that sometimes. Filling the silence with my own voice isn’t my preferred way of doing things.
PERI: [with attitude] Sorry.
WOMAN: Oh my dearest, don’t be. I always fancied myself as more of a listener, that’s all. When you travel like I do, you meet all sorts of people. I love just sinking into the air and letting those stories seep into my bones. Strangers will tell you all sorts of things when they think they’ll never see you again. Don’t you have a story like that? One you keep close to the chest but lend to a stranger for a short while?
[[SFX: Peri shuts her comic book at the unrelenting words of the woman.]]
WOMAN: You must be the only person in the whole world without something to get off your chest. Well, alright. Something sweet then?
PERI: You’re not wearing shoes.
WOMAN: No, I’m not.
PERI: Do I... know you?
[[SFX: The woman shifts on her seat.]]
WOMAN: You know, interior designers don’t seem to care for form or function in spaces like this. It never truly sinks in how hideous a place is until you inspect the carpet. Garish colors faded in pathways to a diluted brown. I doubt the construction will improve things.
PERI: You didn’t answer my question.
WOMAN: Do you know me? [a smirk] Hm. Never at the front of your mind, no.
PERI: What do you want?
WOMAN: Not even a question of who I am. You’ve gotten better at getting to the point, Hesperia. What do YOU want? The universe plucked you out of your doldrum life and you thought that the voice whispering in your ear to find him was your own.
PERI: It is.
WOMAN: [continuing as if she hasn't spoken] Though I suppose it doesn’t matter the progeny of the idea, you’re now dead set on your task of discovering where in the world your dear brother has found himself.
[[SFX: The intercom crackles to life. A familiar voice speaks out.]]
ACE: Hesperia? Is that you? Peri, what are you doing here?
PERI: Stop it.
WOMAN: Oh but how could I forget the woman you tried to wipe from your own mind?
RUTH: [over the intercom] Peri, I can’t believe I found you. I’ve missed you, I never wanna--
PERI: I said stop it!
WOMAN: I’m sorry dearest. I didn’t mean to upset you. I only meant to give you a glimpse of what you’ve been imagining.
PERI: Those aren’t real.
WOMAN: But they could be, Hesperia. After all of your wanderings, you could come to rest in the safe harbor of reality, with only waves of sound from your beloved to crash over you.
[[SFX: Peri holds back tears, her breath shaky.]]
WOMAN: Ah, but perhaps... you’ve lost your taste for the reality so many crave. Perhaps you’ve become like your newfound friend, waiting with eager eyes to see the world with his caring companion who saved his life and soul from the destitution that desert immersed him in.
BENNY: [over the intercom] I wrote you letters Peri, I was hoping--
PERI: I’m not doing this. Not today.
[[SFX: Peri zips up her bag, stands and walks away from the woman whose voice echoes in the space.]]
WOMAN: Hesperia? I did not mean to offend. Please, dearest, don’t walk away. I can feel that [closer] you don’t want to believe me.
[[SFX: Peri hums ‘Clementine’ while the Woman stands and follows her.]]
WOMAN: You can’t drown me out, my whispers still make their way to your ears, tip tapping upon the drums until you realize the only way to quiet me is to let go of whatever you’re holding onto.
[[SFX: Peri stops humming.]]
PERI: [shaking] I don’t have anything I’m holding onto.
WOMAN: What was that melody, dearest? You used it like armor, clutching a shield over your heart, your mind, your memory.
[[SFX: Peri stops walking.]]
PERI: It’s nothing.
TATTERED WOMAN: No, it’s something to you, something to me, something to stitch into my tatters, the beginning of a thread that leads me back to you, my spool.
PERI: Who are you.
TATTERED WOMAN: Someone whose attention you’ve caught.
[[SFX: The Tattered Woman lifts up an intercom and presses the button. Her voice crackles and echoes through the loudspeakers, the voice from the announcements earlier.]]
TATTERED WOMAN: Flight 702 will now be departing from Gate C89.
[[SFX: Peri hits the intercom out of the Tattered Woman’s hands. It shatters on the ground.]]
TATTERED WOMAN: Oh dearest, that wasn’t very kind.
[[SFX: Peri backs up then walks as quickly as she can away from the Tattered Woman. She tries to hum but finds the notes catch. Behind her, the Tattered Woman picks up the melody where Peri can't, a haunting echoing "Clementine".’]]
PERI: She took it from me.
TSA AGENT: Ma’am, you can’t go in there, it’s under construction.
PERI: Sorry, I thought… nevermind.
[[SFX: She continues walking. Wind on paper. Under paper. A paper airplane floats on the air to Peri. She takes it and unfolds it as the credits music cue. The same somber tones from earlier.]]
PERI: Dear Peri, Today I sat in a park for a while, looking for... looking for you in the strangers that walked by...
[[SFX: A moment. The light piano notes. Credits.]]
The Far Meridian
Created by Eli Barraza, produced by Eli Barraza & Mischa Stanton.
This episode was written & directed by Eli Barraza.
Performed by Eli Barraza as Peri, Noah Gildermaster as Ace, Lily Richards as the Tattered Woman, Danielle Shemaiah as Ruth, José Donado as Benny, Natalie Wong as the TSA Agent, Robert Paterno, Ishani Kanetkar, and Sarah Garcia as the Strangers in the Airport. Sound design by Mischa Stanton. Music by Masato Abe.
For more information and transcripts, visit Whisperforge.org/TheFarMeridian, or find us on social media @TheFarMeridian. You can also help support us on Patreon, Patreon.com/TheFarMeridian.
Until next time, may you always find your way.