2.14 Coalescence Part II
[[SFX: Opening music. Strings and Piano. We return to Peri and Ruth in Ruth’s home. The stars gleaming.]]
PERI: Those are stars.
PERI: They’re hard to look at.
PERI: But I can’t stop.
RUTH: You get used to it.
[[SFX: Ruth places the floorboard over the cache of stars.]]
RUTH: You okay?
PERI: I live in a traveling lighthouse.
PERI: My house. We travel. Just somewhere one day and elsewhere the next. Well, not the next anymore. A few days at a time now. Anyway. That’s why I’m in town.
[[SFX: A moment. They laugh to break the tension.]]
RUTH: Oh god.
PERI: Remember when your aunt would visit and she’d say--
RUTH: Such things happen!
PERI: (sighs) Why do you have them?
RUTH: Why does your lighthouse move?
PERI: Don’t know. Such things happen.
[[SFX: They chuckle and sigh.]]
RUTH: I’ve been trying to figure out how to put them back but it’s just… I don’t know. It’s a lot harder than I thought it’d be. Too many all-nighters I guess.
PERI: Now you have help though.
RUTH: I can’t ask you to do that.
PERI: Well, you didn’t ask. I offered. Plus I get to spend more time with you.
RUTH: Oh. (Beat) You make a compelling argument.
PERI: (laughs) I know.
RUTH: You’re gonna need to borrow my jacket. Desert gets pretty cold at night.
[[SFX: The jars of stars clank and click a bit as Peri and Ruth walk up the desert mountain path. Peri winces.]]
PERI: Can we hold on a second?
RUTH: You okay?
PERI: Yeah, I just… my leg gets tired. Doing my exercises helps but… yeah. But I’m okay to keep going, now. Just needed a second.
RUTH: Right, you said you got hurt.
PERI: Mmm, yep. Fell off the lighthouse.
RUTH: Oh my god.
PERI: I’m mean I’m alive so it all worked out.
JOHANNA: (trying to put a star back) Come. On!
[[SFX: Ruth stops walking, drags Peri behind an outcropping.]]
RUTH: Oh shit, c’mere, hide, quick!
PERI: Why are we ducking?
RUTH: There’s someone over there.
PERI: Who would be out here?
RUTH: You mean besides us?
PERI: Is that… your coworker?
RUTH: Johanna, yeah.
PERI: She has a star!
[[SFX: Peri steps out from behind the rock and approaches Johanna.]]
RUTH: Peri, no!
PERI: Why are you taking that?
JOHANNA: What the- who are you?
PERI: Hand it over.
PERI: It’s not yours.
JOHANNA: What the hell are you doing out here? Are you- have you been snatching these things out of the sky?
PERI: What? No, I just got here.
JOHANNA: Then what are you doing up here?
PERI: I should be asking you that!
JOHANNA: I am trying to put this back!
[[SFX: Ruth steps out.]]
JOHANNA: Ruth. That’s more like it. This your co-conspirator?
PERI: Co-conspirator? Wait, you think she’s the one stealing stars?
JOHANNA: Oh, Ruth, you haven’t told her. You know, stranger, I've spent a hell of a long time trying to clean up your friend's mess.
PERI: You’re the one we caught red handed!!
[[SFX: Johanna laughs, indignant.]]
JOHANNA: Are you fucking kidding me? This is just… perfect. Do you realize what I had to do to get back just this one star? The research, the favors, making sure I didn’t get caught by the person who arrogantly thinks they own the damn thing? And now I’m trying to do the right thing by putting it back and you have the fucking gall to accuse me of taking it in the first place!
JOHANNA: (interrupting) Wonder why she has so many stars?
RUTH: Johanna, please--
JOHANNA: Because she’s the one who’s been taking them.
PERI: Shut up.
PERI: No, I won’t listen as she says all these horrible things about you.
[[SFX: A familiar rumbling.]]
TATTERED WOMAN: But she did do those horrible things, dearest.
PERI: What are you doing here?
TW: To shed some… light on your little predicament.
PERI: You’re not gonna convince me of your lies, not this time.
JOHANNA: Anyone wanna tell me who this is?
TW: Ah, Johanna, right? There’s a one track mind I’ve yet to dig into.
PERI: (trying to distract) You said you were gonna shed some light.
TW: Oh I’m sorry, Peri, I forgot how you don’t like sharing… attention.
PERI: Stop stalling and get it over with. It’s not like I’ll believe you the more you talk.
TW: You may not believe me but I know you believe in her. Ruth, why don’t you tell your starshine the truth?
RUTH: I… it’s true, I’m the one who took them.
TW: Oh come now, Ruth, it isn’t nearly as fun when you confess immediately.
PERI: Ruth, You...know her?
TW: We go way back, tip toeing to the years of education when Ruth found herself drowning and I offered my help.
RUTH: Stop talking to her. Please.
TW: Why ever not? I do enjoy the company you keep, Ruth. Peri and I have had our own…adventures together.
RUTH: I don’t care, just… don’t bring her into this.
TW: You already did. It’s truly quite the precious picture of your beloved helping put back what you stole.
[[SFX: A pause before Peri speaks, quietly.]]
PERI: Is it true, Ruth?
RUTH: I stopped, a long time ago. I’ve been trying... I’ve really been trying to fix it.
TW: Poor little Peri, finally discovering the truth. You see, sweet Ruth went off to college and found herself adrift in a sea of solitude. Little did she know her lighthouse keeper would turn off the light so she couldn’t find her way back.
RUTH: I never blamed her.
TW: She drew into herself and ignored the monumental waves around her, only finding comfort in the stars above, a way to provide direction for herself when home felt so far away. But the sky grew cloudy and water more rough so I asked her if she wanted to hold a star for herself, to guide and comfort her in the darkness.
RUTH: She doesn’t need to know this.
TW: But your dearest Ruth grew selfish and I, ever the generous one, told her she could not hold the stars for herself, alone for there were so many souls who were worthy as well.
RUTH: I’m putting them back where they belong.
TW: But have you? Night after night, you try to put them back and night after night you fail.
RUTH: You never showed me how and the stars… they were easier to take than put back.
TW: My dearest astronomer, look at yourself. The fault is in you, not your stars.
PERI: No, You’re twisting things. You’re twisting her like you did me and I’m sick of it.
TW: Just like you were sick of your friend? What was it you called him? Another stray?
PERI: That’s none of your business.
TW: Oh but it is. Just like your beloved, you don’t like it when people discover your truth.
PERI: What truth? That I have bad days? That I’ve really messed up a lot? [TW sound grows] I know all that and I.. I… just stop it! I can feel you twisting again.
TW: Old habits die hard, dearest, you know as well as I do.
PERI: I’ll make a deal.
RUTH: Peri, don’t.
TW: What kind of deal?
PERI: You show us how to put the stars back and leave her alone, I’ll owe you a favor.
RUTH: Peri, no.
TW: She’s right. You have no power over our… relationship.
PERI: Tell her to leave you alone then. Make it a part of my deal.
RUTH: I can’t do that.
PERI: Please, just trust me. I know what it’s like with her in your head and I can’t let her do that to you.
TW: You make me sound so sinister, Hesperia. I was merely there for her when no one else was.
PERI: Ruth, I know you’re trying so hard to fix things but… it’s okay to have a little help. I wasn’t able to be there for you when you needed me so let me be there for you now. It’s okay to have someone take care of you. You can trust me.
PERI: Okay. (clears her throat) You heard her. I’ll owe you a favor.
TW: What kind of favor?
PERI: You decide.
TW: Whenever I want?
PERI: … yes.
TW: Fine. Deal.
[[SFX: A low boom.]]
PERI: Show us.
TW: It’s simplicity itself. You take out the star [opens the jar] and you put it back. (DING) Now I’ll leave to commence the rest of my side of the bargain. I’ll see you soon Peri.
JOHANNA: What the hell is she?
PERI: Terrifying, to say the least. You okay?
RUTH: Trying to be.
[[SFX: A moment of quiet.]]
JOHANNA: There are more stars out there, you know.
RUTH: I know.
JOHANNA: You gonna help me find them?
RUTH: You asking to peek into my little black book?
JOHANNA: Would make things a lot easier.
PERI: Hey. What about the ones we have right now?
RUTH: We put them back.
[[SFX: They put them back, each placement ringing out a note creating something like the TFM opening music.]]
[[SFX: The next day. Peri and Ruth rustle under the covers of Ruth’s bed.]]
PERI: Good morning.
PERI: Thanks for letting me borrow pajamas.
RUTH: Thanks for helping me put the stars back.
[[SFX: A moment. They laugh.]]
PERI: You should’ve told me.
RUTH: Told you what?
PERI: About what was happening when you were off at school.
RUTH: I didn’t know how.
PERI: You could’ve tried.
[[SFX: Ruth sighs, sits up. Peri sits up as well.]]
PERI: I just… I guess a part of me still feels… hurt. About what happened. And I know you were going through things so I don’t wanna… blame you but… I can’t really ignore my feelings either.
RUTH: I know. When I got to college, it was… hard. And I was used to working hard but it was different without anybody from home. It took me so long to make friends and find people I could ask for help. I drew into myself and when I came home, it seemed like you were doing that too and I… I didn’t know how to reach out anymore.
PERI: I guess I didn’t know either.
RUTH: I’m sorry, I really am. I’m… I’m trying to fix it, all of it.
PERI: I’m proud of you, you know.
PERI: Yeah. Not that you need it or anything but… I’m really happy that you’re doing better.
RUTH: Thanks. I’m proud of you too.
PERI: (laughs) For what?
RUTH: For going through everything you have…. and still choosing to be brave.
PERI: Come with me.
PERI: The lighthouse is probably leaving today so… come with me.
RUTH: I always thought I was gonna be the one to ask you to run away with me.
RUTH: Peri, Peri I….
[[SFX: She turns over, sitting up, and getting out of bed.]]
PERI: Nevermind I asked. It was silly.
RUTH: It’s not silly. I want to, I just… I can’t right now.
PERI: Helping Johanna with the stars, right.
RUTH: And my research and a whole host of other things. There’s a lot in my life I need to figure out before I go running off.
RUTH: You could… stay.
PERI: I can’t.
RUTH: I know. It was nice to pretend for a second.
PERI: I don’t wanna say goodbye though. I’m not ready.
[[SFX: Ruth gets out of bed and goes to her.]]
RUTH: Hey there, starshine. It won’t be goodbye. It’s just, until I see you again. I got a feeling even the entire universe couldn’t keep us apart unless we wanted it to.
PERI: I just wanna… I dunno… try being together? Y’know, go on dates and talk on the phone. I mean, maybe we try just long distance or...
RUTH: I… How about this. We write, and call each other whenever we can. Once you find Ace and I sort out these stars, we can give us a shot..
PERI: I really hope you find all your stars.
RUTH: And I really hope you find Ace.
[[SFX: A moment.]]
RUTH: Let’s get you home, starshine.
[[SFX: Peri and Ruth approach the lighthouse on a quiet street.]]
RUTH: It’s one thing for you to tell me but it is another to see it in person.
PERI: Wanna come in for a minute?
[[SFX: They go inside the lighthouse.]]
RUTH: It’s a lot different than I remember.
PERI: We had to do some… renovations is the nice word for it.
RUTH: What’s with the dog food?
PERI: Oh, that was… temporary. Gave her to that animal shelter.
RUTH: Peri… thank you. For what you did.
PERI: Thank you.
RUTH: For what?
PERI: I… wasn’t in a great place after my friend was gone and seeing you again… it was both harder and easier , than I thought it’d be and I’m…. gah. I don’t know how to do words right now.
RUTH: Then no more words. How about you show me your room? I’d love to see how different it is now.
PERI: I’d say yes but I can see the fog outside.
RUTH: You gotta go.
[[SFX: Impulsively, she grabs Mo from the counter.]]
RUTH: A… candle?
PERI: I named him Mo, short for Guillermo. Gotten me through some rough patches and… well, I want you to have something to remember me by. Light it when you miss me.
RUTH: So every day?
PERI: Okay, light it when… you feel like you really need me. And know that I probably feel the same.
[[SFX: Ruth pecks Hesperia on the cheek]]
RUTH: I’d kiss you on the mouth but i think you might have a heart attack.
PERI: I think I’m having one right now.
[[SFX: They laugh.]]
RUTH: This is really hard, you know that, right?
RUTH: I’ll see you, starshine.
[[SFX: She opens the door and steps outside.]]
[[SFX: Peri runs out, pulls her into a kiss. They break apart.]]
PERI: Find your stars as fast as you can, promise?
RUTH: I promise.
PERI: And I promise too. (beat) I really do have to go now.
RUTH: Bye Peri.
PERI: Until I see you again.
ACE: Hi Peri.
PERI: It’s you.
ACE: You needed to talk to me.
PERI: But you’re not really you.
ACE: No. But, that doesn’t really matter right now, does it?
PERI: I guess not.
[[SFX: She pauses. Uncertain.]]
PERI: I miss you.
ACE: I know.
PERI: Do you think you miss me?
ACE: Yeah. I do. You know I do.
PERI: Then why didn’t you come back?
ACE: Because… because life is complicated. People stay gone for all sorts of reasons.
PERI: Do you think you’ll be gone forever?
ACE: No, I think… I think we’ll see each other again.
PERI: I’m sorry.
ACE: About what?
PERI: I’m sorry I… that things turned out the way they did. No. That isn’t right. I’m sorry for what I did. The stuff that I knew… wasn’t good even when I pretended I didn’t.
ACE: Like I said, life is--
PERI: Complicated, I know. But there are parts that are my fault and I’m sorry for those. Not for everything but just… what I had control over. And even maybe a little bit for what I didn’t. I’m sorry, Ace. I’m gonna do better, I promise. And not because I want you to forgive me even though I do but because… I just need to. (pause) I really, really miss you.
ACE: More than issue seventeen of Gardenia Plex that Ms. T’s dog ate?
[[SFX: Peri laughs.]]
PERI: Yeah, a lot more than that.
ACE: Peri, you’re alone right now.
PERI: I know.
ACE: And you might be alone for a while.
ACE: But look at you. Look at how you’re feeling. You have the tools to get through this, you know you do.
PERI: Even though it really really sucks?
ACE: Yeah, even though it really really sucks. You’ll see Ruth again and as for Benny… what he did was… foolish is a mild word for it. But he’s gonna be back just as sure as you’ll find me one day and you will find me. You’ve moved mountains to do it and the universe doesn’t just overlook a thing like that. You’re going to keep going and see what tomorrow might bring. I have a feeling the lighthouse will make sure it’s extraordinary.
PERI: It has a way of doing that, huh. (beat) Ace?
PERI: I hope you’re somewhere extraordinary.
ACE: Me too. You’re finding your way, Peri. And I can’t wait to see you again.
The Far Meridian
Created by Eli Barraza. Produced by Eli Barraza & Mischa Stanton.
This episode was written by Eli Barraza. And directed by Danielle Shemaiah and Eli Barraza.
Performed by Eli Barraza as Peri,
Danielle Shemaiah as Ruth,
Lily Richards as The Tattered Woman,
Thea Rodgers as Johanna,
And Noah Gildermaster as Ace.
Editing by Eli Barraza and Danielle Shemaiah.
Sound design by Mischa Stanton.
Music by Masato Abe.
Thank you for wandering with us for another season. We'll be back with our third and final season in January 2020. You can find more information and transcripts at TheFarMeridian.com. Or you can find us on social media @TheFarMeridian. You can also help support us on Patreon even in the off-season, at Patreon.com/TheFarMeridian.
The fog's rolling in. We'll be back next year. Until then, may you always find your way.