2.13 Coalescence Part I
[[SFX: Peri closes the front door. Locks it. The dog pants next to her. Birds chirp as they stand on a street.]]
PERI: Don’t go leaving on me, okay? I’ve know you’ve been sticking to this two day stay thing for a while now, but I’ve got my eye on you.
[[SFX: She pats the door affectionately. The dog barks.]]
PERI: C’mon you. Let’s get you to a good home where people can take care of you better than I ever could.
[[SFX: They walk. The dog barks again.]]
PERI: I don’t know when he’ll be back, if at all. But… you’ll be okay. I promise.
[[SFX: Music cues in. Light piano music.]]
[[SFX: A door rings as Peri steps out onto the street. She sighs and leans against the wall.]]
NORA: You okay?
PERI: Hm? Oh. I dunno.
NORA: Mmm. Had to drop off a pet at the shelter?
PERI: Yeah. She wasn’t really mine but… I couldn’t take care of her.
NORA: Th-they do a good job at matching families to the animal if, if that’s any consolation. How I got my Clarence! Oh! Here.
[[SFX: Nora takes out their phone to show Peri.]]
NORA: That’s my son holding the little darling.
PERI: He’s really cute. The dog, I mean. But also I guess your son is very handsome? I didn’t mean--
NORA: It’s alright, thank you. I’ll have had Clarence for… three years next month. Hoping my son might come by for the party but we’ll see.
[[SFX: A large van pulls up.]]
NORA: Ah, the shuttle’s here. (pause) Wanna come along?
PERI: Where’s it going?
NORA: Oo! Observatory open house. The ride’s free and you look like you could use some cheering up.
PERI: Okay, thanks.
[[SFX: The shuttle bus pulls over. Everyone clambers out.]]
NORA: I’m just so afraid to call him. What if he hangs up?
PERI: Then he hangs up but, if you want to offer a hand then you have to offer a hand, whether or not you’re afraid of being bitten or ignored, y’know?
NORA: I feel so silly though, I-I just--
PERI: Nora, you are gonna enjoy this open house and then when you get back to cell service, you’re gonna call up Trenton and you are gonna fix things, together.
NORA: You sound like my brother. He’s real keen on the pep talks.
[[SFX: They open the doors of the observatory and head inside.]]
PERI: I’m gonna choose to take that as a compliment.
NORA: It is. Hey, wanna go and enjoy their theater presentation with me? Since you’ve got no one you’re here with either?
PERI: Oh. Thanks but I’m gonna try to find a bathroom. Do your thing.
NORA: Well, it was really nice meeting you Peri, maybe we’ll bump into each other later.
PERI: Nice meeting you!
[[SFX: She walks away, sighing.]]
PERI: People are exhausting. Well intentioned, but exhausting.
[[SFX: She walks the tile floors.]]
PERI: Bathroom, bathroom, where are y-- darn it. Excuse me, is there another restroom?
[[SFX: Peri sighs and heads up some stairs.]]
Peri: Wordlessly pointing up some stairs is not very descriptive but okay.
[[SFX: Peri walks down a hallway. She passes an office. A gleam emanates from an office.]]
PERI: What’s that? Office of Johanna--
JOHANNA: Excuse me? Are you with one of the tours?
[[SFX: Johanna shuts the door.]]
PERI: Oh, no, not yet I mean. I’m uh, I was just looking for the bathroom. The other one was closed?
JOHANNA: Does that look like a bathroom to you?
JOHANNA: Because I fail to see a bathroom sign anywhere near that door.
PERI: S-sorry. I-I
JOHANNA: We prefer to look at the stars here, not at other people’s offices. Bathroom is straight down the hall.
PERI: I can hold it, I’ll just, um, go find the tour now.
JOHANNA: Good idea.
[[SFX: She locks the door.]]
[[SFX: Peri walks up to a group of people.]]
PERI: Oh sorry, pardon me. Oh thank goodness. Oh, this is the tour group spot? Thanks.
[[SFX: Ruth runs up to the front of the group.]]
RUTH: ‘Scuse me, pardon me, comin’ through. Hello everybody, sorry I’m late! If you’re here for the 11:00AM tour, you are in the right place despite the fact it is definitely 11:10AM! I am one of the researchers here who has gallantly offered their poorly managed time to lead you on a grand tour of how we explore the cosmos. (sighs) Let’s see how many to we have, one two three four…… eight nine--
[[SFX: Ruth pauses, spotting Peri.]]
RUTH: Eleven. Great, fun little fact there are eleven main stars that make up the constellation of Centaurus. Oh, and I see we have a few more people joining the group to make fifteen, let’s see what constellation we can make with...
RUTH: That actually has sixteen main stars.
PERI: Fifteen, us plus you, that’s sixteen. You forgot yourself.
RUTH: (with a smile) I stand corrected, our lovely companion would be right, sixteen main stars do make Andromeda. And with that folks, let’s get this tour started, have any questions along the way, just holler my name. It’s Ruth.
[[SFX: Post tour, inside. People chat. Ruth marches up to Peri.]]
RUTH: Excuse me miss, can you help me pick up my jaw? It’s hit the floor.
PERI: (chuckles) Hello to you too. How’s it going?
RUTH: I just… I don’t know…. How are you?
PERI: Oh, um. Good, besides a weird moment with one of your coworkers earlier. That tour was very informative. I’ve never seen a telescope up close.
RUTH: And I haven’t seen you up close in… I don’t know how long. What are you doing here?
PERI: Oh, I heard there was an open house and figured… why not?
RUTH: No, no, I mean, do you live here now, are you visiting, you’re…
PERI: Willingly out of the house?
RUTH: I mean, yeah.
PERI: A lotta stuff’s changed I guess. But look at you! You did it! You’re a researcher with telescopes! You looks at stars ‘n stuff.
RUTH: I mean, we’re all starstuff but yeah, I know what you mean. Anyway, I’m about to come down with a severe case of whatever the hell I can make up on the spot so I can ditch this thing and show you around town. Does that sound good?
PERI: But won’t--
RUTH: They’ll be fine, honestly, Hubert will be happy that I won’t be able to talk shit about the establishment to the “impressionable minds of the public”, gimme a few minutes, then we’ll swing by home so I can change real quick and we’ll grab a bite!
PERI: Um. I don’t think I can answer anything other than okay.
RUTH: Great! Be back in a moment.
[[SFX: Ruth walks away.]]
PERI: You’re fine, everything is fine, just keep pretending everything is fine.
[[SFX: Ruth runs back but bumps into someone.]]
RUTH: Geez! Oh, Johanna. Hi.
JOHANNA: Geez! Hi, Ruth. Was Hubert telling you to stop dragging the institution in front of the tourists again?
RUTH: Actually I’m just leaving. Feeling really sick.
JOHANNA: Right. And I’m sure you were just as convincing when you told the bossman.
RUTH: Can you do me a solid? Just, like, don’t narc on me just this one time? Please? I will owe you a favor of reasonably equal value.
JOHANNA: Fine, fine, fine, whatever.
RUTH: Thank you, you’re amazing, bye!!
[[SFX: Ruth rejoins Peri.]]
RUTH: Ready to go?
PERI: HI YES, I’M GOOD. So so good, yes, good, yes let’s go.
[[SFX: Ruth changes in another room, chatting with Peri on the other side of the door.]]
RUTH: So you just decided to travel the world and look for him huh?
PERI: Pretty much.
RUTH: How long are you in town for?
PERI: Couple days I think. Guessing I’ll leave morning after tomorrow, not sure yet.
[[SFX: A gleaming sound. The same sound from earlier.]]
PERI: Huh, what’s that?
[[SFX: Ruth opens the door.]]
RUTH: What’s what?
PERI: I thought I saw something glimmer under the floorboards.
RUTH: Hm, weird. Probably a wrapper that slipped through.
PERI: Your decor is pretty cool. Lotta color and stuff. Are your curtain’s flags?
RUTH: Yeah, from a bunch of pride parades over the years. Hang ‘em every place I live.
[[SFX: The two sit in a diner. Country music plays softly in the background as they drink milkshakes.]]
RUTH: Okay, can I just put my cards on the table? This is weird. Like, at first I was shocked and happy, and excited and wanted to tell you a million things... but we just ate a late lunch while talking about our waitress’s earrings and I can’t do this anymore.
PERI: To be fair, you mostly did the talking.
RUTH: This… is true. Gosh, it didn’t used to be so hard to just really… talk to you.
PERI: Time and distance do that to people, I guess.
RUTH: It’s weird though, you don’t seem too fazed.
[[SFX: They both chuckle.]]
PERI: I am but… I guess I’ve gotten better at keeping the anxiety on the inside lately.
[[SFX: She takes a sip of milkshake.]]
PERI: So. Uh. You said you wanted to put all your cards on the table but I have a feeling you’re still holding a few.
RUTH: I…. yeah. I am. It’s funny. I, like… I, like, rehearsed what I was going to say to you a million times, if I ever saw you again. Like, I had this crazy notion of going back home and walking up to the lighthouse and knocking and just… apologizing?. Say I’m sorry... About everything. And I had it in my mind that I could convince you to, like… I dunno… run away with me? We’d go down to some research station in Chile and like, sail across the sea or—
PERI: You get seasick.
RUTH: See, that… that is exactly what I wasn’t expecting. Like, this conversation is nowhere near what I thought it was gonna be. Like, you turn up out of the blue, show me up in front of a lot of people and now you’re making quippy remarks while feeding me some crazy story about how you’re looking for Ace.
PERI: That about sums it up.
[[SFX: She takes another sip. Plays with the paper in the french fry basket]]
PERI: I… have no idea what I’m doing either. I feel like I’ve pictured this moment a thousand times too and I just… I really wanted you to think I was cool and that I had it all together and… and… I don’t. Not at all. Ace left years ago and I’ve been looking for him for a while but then I… got hurt and then I was with my parents and learned about a ton of baggage they had but then one of my friends said some really mean things and basically abandoned me but then I said some awful things too and I was hoping if I could pretend it was fine, if I could convince you I was fine, I’d be fine but… that’s not how it works at all, everything is just so messed up because I messed it up and…and I don’t want to go back to how it was but… I don’t know how to move forward from where I am.
RUTH: Shit dude.
[[SFX: Peri takes a breath.]]
PERI: Wait, did you say you wanted to run away together? I just processed that.
RUTH: Um. Yeah, I mean, you know, like running away together! Not running away together.
RUTH: Unless that’s what you want! I mean, I-I don’t know if that’s what you want, or if you’ve ever wanted a thing like that, or, you just never seemed interested in running away with any of the guys back in high school so I figured maybe you didn’t like guys for running away with so maybe….
PERI: Don’t you like guys to run away with?
RUTH: What? No! I-I mean, I dated a guy back in college, just to try it and we’re actually really good friends now but no I do not wanna run away with guys. Just, uh, like, cool girls and people who don’t really subscribe to that whole gender thing? I mean, as far as I can tell? The evidence seems to say so but… yeah. Wow, okay, wow, I’m gonna stop putting my foot in my mouth now.
PERI: Oh, right, the curtain flag. Oh my god, I feel silly.
RUTH: Oh my gosh, don’t! Please, seriously, it’s fine. It’s not like bisexuality gets mad amounts of press or whatever. I mean. Lately it’s been a lot more prevalent in the media—
PERI: Right, gotcha.
RUTH: Have you, have you… ever thought about….
PERI: It never seemed important. I mean, I um…. I just liked you.
PERI: Yeah. I mean, do I have to… know? Like, do I have to know what I am? I-I’m okay with not…
RUTH: Peri, it’s fine, it’s so fine. I mean, some people are gonna put labels on you no matter what but if you don’t wanna subscribe to them, then don’t! You do you, I mean, that-that came out wrong, I mean… however you view yourself when it comes to that stuff, only your opinion matters. End of story.
PERI: Okay. Cool. Cool. Can we just… sit here? For a little while. I think I need…
RUTH: Another round of fries and shakes?
PERI: Yeah, yeah, that’d be nice.
RUTH: You got it, starshine.
[[SFX: Peri and Ruth sit in Ruth’s car as Ruth drives.]]
RUTH: So where am I dropping you off?
PERI: Dropping off?
RUTH: Yeah, like, where are you staying? Maybe I can grab breakfast there with you tomorrow?
PERI: Oh, um, I thought, maybe we could…y’know… hang out more.
RUTH: Right, tomorrow morning.
PERI: Oh it’s just there’s this star party at the University, I saw a flyer for it. Maybe you and I--
RUTH: I can’t.
RUTH: Not because of you or anything, I just…. Have to take care of something.
PERI: Right, right.
RUTH: Look, Peri, look, I just… I thought about you. A lot. Almost every day actually. And like I said, I imagined us running away together but… you just showed up and… it’s not the best timing and I’m trying really hard not to mess anything up and you’re definitely a part of what I don’t want to mess up but there’s something else, something I gotta do. Tonight actually. And I just… can we please just get breakfast tomorrow?
PERI: Can I help at all?
RUTH: No, no I don’t think so, I just, it’s kind of a me thing at this point and i don’t wanna get you involved…
PERI: Ruth. You sound like me.
[[SFX: Ruth lets out a breath, thinking a moment. She turns on her turn signal.]]
RUTH: Alright but… don’t… just let me explain. When you see it. Lemme explain.
[[SFX: Ruth opens her front door and they step through. She strides over to the floorboards. That same glimmer sound from earlier.]]
RUTH: Look, I’ve been… kind of doing… additional research at the observatory.
RUTH: I, um…
[[SFX: She kneels down. Removes a floorboard. The gleaming glimmer sound grows louder. Peri gasps]]
PERI: What on earth…
[[SFX: She pulls up another floorboard.]]
PERI: Ruth, are those?
RUTH: Stars? Yeah. Someone’s been taking them and I’m trying find a way to put them back.
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 and Danielle Shemaiah.
Performed by Eli Barraza as Peri,
Danielle Shemaiah as Ruth,
Thea Rodgers as Johanna,
And Lisette Alvarez as Nora.
Editing by Danielle Shemaiah.
Sound design by Mischa Stanton.
Production help from David Rheinstrom [RINE-strom], Ryan Schile [SHEE-lee], & Dean Yeager.
Music by Masato Abe. Additional music by Blue Dot Sessions via the Free Music Archive.
For more information, transcripts, and links for tickets to our first ever live show, this Friday April 5th at Dixon Place in New York City, visit TheFarMeridian.com, we can’t wait to see you there. 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.