2.12 Into The Grey
[[SFX: Benny prepares dinner on the camp stove. Stir fry. Peri hums quietly.]]
BENNY: Dinner’s almost ready.
PERI: Ouch. I should’ve looked for my thimble before I started. [sighs]
[[SFX: Peri gets up, opens a kitchen drawer to get a bandaid. Nothing. She slams the drawer shut.]]
PERI: Where are the bandaids.
BENNY: We’re out.
PERI: You went through an entire box?
BENNY: Pokes from a sewing needle usually don’t need bandaids.
PERI: Fine. Guess I’ll just bleed all over my sweater I’m trying to fix.
[[SFX: Benny plates the dinner and puts their plates on the table. He turns.]]
BENNY: The utensils are in the drawer behind you.
[[SFX: Peri moves to sit down, pulling back her chair. She moves her sewing stuff to the side. Benny gets the utensils out of the drawer, tosses them on the table. Takes his own seat. He eats as Peri picks at her food. He stops.]]
BENNY: Something wrong with your food?
BENNY: Something wrong with your appetite?
[[SFX: He gets up. Grabs a bowl, opens a can. Slops some dog food in it.]]
BENNY: I’ll be right back.
[[SFX: He walks towards the stares as Peri snorts.]]
PERI: Something wrong with the company?
[[SFX: He stops.]]
BENNY: No, not at all. Just trying to make sure our guest doesn’t starve.
PERI: Well that wouldn’t be an issue if you didn’t bring “our guest” inside.
BENNY: What was I supposed to do?
PERI: I don’t know, maybe not be irresponsible?
BENNY: She was following us around, we couldn’t just leave her.
PERI: We could’ve taken her to a shelter or something!
BENNY: That would’ve been a really helpful suggestion about five hours ago.
PERI: I did suggest it.
BENNY: No you didn’t, you just kept whining the whole time.
PERI: Excuse me?
BENNY: Don’t believe me?
PERI: Can’t believe what didn’t happen.
BENNY: [laughs] Okay, I’ll show you.
[[SFX: Benny walks back, puts the bowl down. He opens a drawer, takes out the chalk. Draws a circle. Chalk Benny sounds gallant while Chalk Peri sounds overly earnest,]]
CHALK PERI: Wowee, thanks for getting me out of the house Benny, it’s a beautiful day to look for my brother.
CHALK BENNY: It’s the least I could do. Where are you thinking of looking today? Seems like we’re in a big city. You gonna be okay?
CHALK PERI: With my best friend by my side, I can do anything! Let’s see. The only clue we have to go on is that I’ll find him somewhere my breath fogs. So that means only cold places!
C-BENNY: This place isn’t cold enough for that.
C-PERI: So let’s get creative! Where could a place where breath fogs be in a city that isn’t too cold?
C-BENNY: Maybe we should check really big freezers!
C-PERI: Brilliant idea, Benny! Let’s start with restaurants and meat shops. Maybe Ace could be in one of those places.
C-BENNY: That was kind of a joke! It’s probably not a good sign if your brother is in a walk-in freezer. Maybe today we could just explore and enjoy ourselves. Leave the looking for somewhere colder.
C-PERI: Nope. I’m the one with the lighthouse so I’m automatically in charge. Tally-ho!!
PERI: I don’t say tally-ho.
[[SFX: A dog pants, coming up behind the duo.]]
C-PERI: What’s that noise?
C-BENNY: Aw look! It’s a cute dog.
C-PERI: Leave the dog, Benny. We have a brother to find.
C-BENNY: It doesn’t have a collar, looks like a stray.
PERI: I definitely didn’t say gross!!
C-BENNY: We should get it food, give it shelter.
C-PERI: Nope. I make the rules and the rules say no dogs allowed.
[[SFX: The dog whines.]]
C-BENNY: The poor thing looks hungry.
C-PERI: Benny. Look to my right. Now look to my left. Do you see anything?
C-BENNY: Uh.. no?
C-PERI: Right, because that’s the space my brother should be standing in which won’t happen unless we stop it with this dog business and look for him.
PERI: You’re making me sounds like a total buttface!
BENNY: Maybe because you were acting like one.
PERI: Gimme that chalk.
[[SFX: She grabs it from him. Draws her own circle. Chalk Peri and Benny sounds elegant.]]
C-PERI: Nice to take a stroll out of the house, we’ve hit more deserts than the coyote tryna catch the roadrunner.
C-BENNY: I am absolutely famished. Wanna find a grocery store?
C-PERI: Let’s treat ourselves, find a nice sit down place with pancakes stacks taller than my torso.
C-BENNY: Peri, you’re a genius.
C-PERI: Oh, I know but I try to stay humble about it.
BENNY: Yeah, I wouldn’t call you a genius.
[[SFX: Peri wipes the chalk circle.]]
PERI: This is stupid, we’re wasting the chalk on something stupid. We should’ve taken the dog to a shelter but noooo, you led it back to the lighthouse with scraps from the very meal I wanted to be a treat for us!
BENNY: I wanted to help the stray.
PERI: Right, Benny the Noble, here to save the day! Except, what’s that? Oh right! Your attempt at heroics got me bitten!
BENNY: It’s not the dog’s fault and you didn’t even bleed!
PERI: I know it’s not the dog’s fault Benny. She’s a dog who got startled and acted on instinct. You’re a grown man who could have made the decision to take her to a shelter where she could have been properly cared for!
BENNY: We didn’t have time to look for a shelter!
PERI: Yes we did!
BENNY: Not enough time to do the proper research to make sure she’d be left somewhere safe.
PERI: And how is this place at all safe? Huh? We constantly strategize about food for two people, let’s just add a dog into the mix for fun.
BENNY: I can take care of her food.
PERI: Or maybe let’s think for a moment about the fact that we live in a lighthouse that sometimes likes to land in places that try to kill us.
BENNY: We’ve survived this long.
PERI: I don’t want to take on another stray!
[[SFX: Silence. Peri lets out a breath.]]
BENNY: Did you get my letters?
BENNY: My letters. Paper Airplanes.
PERI: Yes. A few.
BENNY: This isn’t just seeing the sights for me, Peri.
PERI: It’s nice that you’ve convinced yourself of that.
BENNY: I’m taking this food up to the dog. She’s probably hungry.
[[SFX: Peri calls after him as he heads up the stairs.]]
PERI: Maybe you shouldn’t try deflecting on someone who has a lot of experience doing it herself.
[[SFX: Benny comes down the stairs, backpack in tow.]]
PERI: Little early to get ready. We haven’t landed anywhere yet.
BENNY: I know.
[[SFX: Benny puts on his boots, laces them up.]]
PERI: What are you doing?
PERI: I just said we haven’t landed anywhere.
BENNY: And I just said, I know.
PERI: You can’t… Benny, you can’t.
BENNY: I sent so many paper airplanes into the fog. And they somehow managed to find their way. It’s sad, pathetic really. I didn’t know that I was writing letters to someone I didn’t know. Or at least, I thought I didn’t know. See, when you came back, you were different. Something was off. You said someone did something to you. It was almost impossible to get you out of the lighthouse. Then we went to that memory place and it was like ta-da, you were fixed. But then, oh but then something was still off. So a guy gets to thinking hey, maybe it’s me. Maybe I’ve changed but no, nonono, that isn’t it either. We passed that getting to know you period and I got to know the real Peri. The one who’s controlling, stubborn. Who likes the world to fit in the box she made for it and anyone who suggests otherwise be damned. I am tired of trying to push pathetic Peri into finding her long lost brother because she can’t be bothered to do it herself.
[[SFX: He stands. A moment.]]
PERI: Get out.
[[SFX: Benny picks up his backpack. Opens the door. It shuts behind him. Peri’s breath is shaky. She sits in the chair. She gets up, walks to the door. Flings it open.]]
PERI: Benny? BENNY I DIDN’T MEAN IT! Benny? Come back.
[[SFX: Peri starts awake from her spot at the table.]]
PERI: Mm, Benny?!
[[SFX: She sighs and gets up. She lights Mo.]]
PERI: I…I don’t think he’s coming back, Mo but I’ve lost track how long we’ve been in the fog. Longer than usual. If we stay here, what happens?
[[SFX: She sighs.]]
PERI: I have a little light/ to fight against the night/ and I hope that Benny might…. I hope he might come back if he sees it in the fog.
[[SFX: Peri wakes up. Yawns. Stretches. Pauses. Sharp intake of breath. Stands up quickly, knocking her chair over. She opens the front door. A beautiful day. Wind whispering through the grass. Birds chirping. The far off sound of surf.]]
PERI: No. No. No! Take me back!!
[[SFX: She slams the door and bangs on it.]]
PERI: TAKE ME BACK, PLEASE!! WE CAN’T LEAVE HIM THERE, PLEASE.
[[SFX: She slumps on the ground. The dog whines. Peri turns around.]]
PERI: I’m sorry, he’s gone. But I promise I’ll get you somewhere safe, where they’ll take care of you and give you lots of love. I didn’t mean to leave him there. The lighthouse could’ve waited. Right, Mo?
MO: We’ll wait until the night, Peri. He’ll come back.
PERI: We don’t leave at sundown anymore, Mo. That’s… so much time, he’s just wandering there, in the fog.
MO: There’s nothing more we can do, Peri.
[[SFX: She stands up. Opens a kitchen drawer and pulls out the piece of chalk. She draws a circle on the ground and sits down. A deep, focusing breath.]]
RUTH: Hey there, starshine.
PERI: Hi, Ruth.
RUTH: Been a while.
RUTH: Bit of a bumpy ride?
PERI: (quite laugh) That’s one way of putting it.
RUTH: Cute dog.
[[SFX: The dog barks.]]
RUTH: I’m sorry your friend left.
PERI: My friends tend to do that.
RUTH: That’s valid.
PERI: I’m sorry.
RUTH: Me too. But you knew that already.
PERI: Yeah. I remember. [pause] You always made me feel braver than I was.
RUTH: I only reminded you to give yourself the credit you deserved.
PERI: I ran into Heidi. At this diner.
PERI: Yeah, she hadn’t changed much. Her grandma’s still alive.
RUTH: That old crocodile? She’s gonna outlive us all.
PERI: I keep thinking about that diner lately. About how there was something about it… something I can’t quite put my finger on.
RUTH: How’d your friend feel about the diner?
PERI: I dunno. We didn’t really talk about it. He got seated at a booth and I… he met someone. Someone who made him quiet. He was so silly heading in there but on the way out…
RUTH: Who’d he meet?
PERI: I don’t know. But I guess ever since then he’s been acting… odd… oh no.
[[SFX: She remembers the Tattered Woman humming. Peri’s breathing speeds up.]]
PERI: (whispered to herself) Strangers will tell you all sorts of things...
RUTH: Who are you talking about?
PERI: I don’t want to say it out loud. She might...
RUTH: You’re okay Peri.
PERI: No, I don’t want to see her again, I can’t, I won’t.
[[SFX: She wipes away the circle, cutting off Ruth. She settles back down, letting out a breath.]]
The Far Meridian
Created by Eli Barraza, produced by Eli Barraza & Mischa Stanton.
This episode was written by Eli Barraza. And directed by Eli Barraza & Danielle Shemaiah.
Performed by Eli Barraza as Peri,
José Donado as Benny,
Danielle Shemaiah as Ruth,
And Lily Richards as the Tattered woman.
Editing by Jose Donado. Sound design by Mischa Stanton. Production help from Ryan Schile & Dean Yaeger. Music by Masato Abe.
For more information, transcripts, and links for tickets to our first ever live show, Friday April 5th at Dixon Place in New York City, visit TheFarMeridian.com, 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.