[[SFX: Rain outside the lighthouse. A page turning. Footsteps. Thunder.]]
TOMAS: Finally tucked the kids in.
MONICA: It’s really coming down.
TOMAS: How’re you doing?
MONICA: Let’s just say the weather and I match in mood.
[[SFX: Footsteps on the stairs. They turn.]]
TOMAS: Hesperia, I thought you were going to sleep.
[[SFX: Music cues in.]]
MONICA: C’mere, little one.
[[SFX: A child’s footsteps. Her mother lifts her up.]]
MONICA: I know, the thunder is loud but we can be brave together.
[[SFX: She hums the Lullaby, the final note lingering, subtly distorted.]]
[[SFX: Cooking sounds. Music. Both wafting in from another room. Footsteps.]]
TOMAS: Good morning my love. Just coffee or can you stay for breakfast?
MONICA: I can stay for toast?
TOMAS: Toast? I’m making a feast!
MONICA: Coffee and toast, take it or leave it. Peri awake yet?
TOMAS: You running for the door if she is?
MONICA: I genuinely want to know.
TOMAS: Not yet but if she pokes her head out, mind turning off the music for me?
TOMAS: Nothing really, just something I picked up. She hasn’t touched the violin and at the market on Saturday, she said Gene’s music sounded like noise.
MONICA: Good thing you guys didn’t swing by the shop, Anna gets loooud when they play the top 40.
TOMAS: Peri mentioned you were busy anyway.
MONICA: She did? Huh.
[[SFX: Peri opens the door, yawning.]]
[[SFX: Monica turns off the music.]]
MONICA: Good morning, Hesperia.
TOMAS: You sleep okay?
PERI: Yeah, the new air mattress is, y’know, an airmatteress. I think I’m gonna go for a walk.
TOMAS: Eat some breakfast first.
MONICA: You’re welcome to the rest of the coffee, I gotta hit the road.
[[SFX: She kisses Tomas’ cheek.]]
MONICA: I’ll be back for dinner! Bye you two!
[[SFX: She leaves.]]
TOMAS: Okay you definitely have to stay for breakfast because I’m not eating all of this by myself.
[[SFX: She pulls back a chair.]]
[[SFX: The front door opens and Peri steps out, taking a deep breath. The wind rustles the trees. A car passes. She walks down a couple steps.]
TOMAS: You got everything?
TOMAS: Is it a cane day or no?
[[SFX: Peri pauses. Sighs.]]
TOMAS: How far are you walking?
PERI: Not far… ish.
[[SFX: The screen door opens.]]
TOMAS: Here, just in… cane.
PERI: You are never allowed to make jokes in my presence again.
TOMAS: Alright, alright, you have the cell phone?
PERI: Dad? It’s been a few days. I’m not gonna keel over on a morning walk.
TOMAS: Just looking out for you.
PERI: Did you take your meds today?
TOMAS: I’m a grown adult, I can remember to take my meds.
PERI: And I can go on a morning walk without my dad treating it like some expedition.
TOMAS: Fair enough. Don’t forget mom’s gonna be home for dinner tonight come hell or high water.
TOMAS: You may actually need to say more than two sentences to each other.
PERI: I’m sure it will be perfectly fine and not awkward at all. Bye dad!
[[SFX: She sets off, leaving her dad behind her.]]
[[SFX: Cars pass. Walk signal signals. Birds chirp. Paper on the wind. Peri grabs another paper airplane from the air.]]
PERI: Another paper airplane. Benny….
[[SFX: She unfolds it. Benny’s voice echoes.]]
BENNY: Dear Peri, I swept out the bottom floor today. I didn’t realize how much dirt we track in. Swept it all out into a desert….
[[SFX: A house door slams open. Peri folds up the airplane.]]
RILEY: Nononono, waitwaitwaitwait--
MOTHER: I asked you once, I asked you twice, I asked you three times and you wanna give me attitude?
RILEY: I’m sorry, I’m sorry, please, I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you!
MOTHER: No, I’m telling you, get back in the house. This is going in the trash.
RILEY: Please, please, I spent months--
[[SFX: Cardboard thrown in a metal garbage can.]]
MOTHER: Get back inside. I gotta get to work and when I get home you better not have left. I’m gonna call Ms. Leon to make sure, understand?
MOTHER: I said, do you understand?
RILEY: Yes ma’am.
[[SFX: Riley’s mother gets into a car and leaves. Riley stays standing in front of their house. Peri approaches.]]
PERI: Hey, um, are you okay?
RILEY: [voice shaking] Who the hell are you?
PERI: Um, no one, just thought I’d…
[[SFX: Riley sits down and cries.]]
PERI: Mind if I rest a bit next to you?
RILEY: Go ahead.
[[SFX: They sit, not talking. Riley attempts to sniffle back tears.]]
RILEY: Shit, dude.
PERI: Shit, dude indeed.
RILEY: I’m so embarrassed.
PERI: You think this is embarrassing? One time I--
[[SFX: A noisy classroom of children laughing at a young Pari.]]
YOUNG PERI: I swear, I really swear I thought I brought it!
PERI: Well, I’m embarrassed to even say it now so… I’ll just say we’ve all been there.
RILEY: I was just, I just had some paints and cardboard that I borrowed from school and my mom found out and they, and she wouldn’t stop yelling that I stole them and then I spilled some on the floor and, and, and--
PERI: Well, why don’t we fish the project out of the trash? Maybe I can help you fix it?
RILEY: I can’t have people in the house.
PERI: Okay, you get some tape and bring it out here while I got get it from the trash. Sound good?
[[SFX: Riley takes a moment to think.]]
RILEY: Yeah, okay.
[[SFX: They run into the house as Peri stands, walks over to the trash and fishes out a mass of cardboard.
PERI: Design by… Riley. Hm.
[[SFX: Riley runs back out.]]
RILEY: Um, here’s the tape.
[[SFX: They unfurl some tape and Riley holds the project as Peri tapes it up.]]
RILEY: It’s um, it’s supposed to be a robot. Or look like one I mean. I don’t have the parts to really make one but I figured, I could, um, you know design what it’d look like and draw on where everything goes.
PERI: That’s really cool.
RILEY: Really? Because a lot of my friends think it’s dorky.
PERI: But not all of your friends.
RILEY: Nah, I mean, these two kids Jessica and Lee, they thought it was cool. Then Lee was all like, bro, I’ll get you the parts but I was like, nah, dude, Mr. Reinhart put you in detention for stealing his stuff, it’s fine.
PERI: And you can’t ask Mr. Reinhart?
RILEY: Ask Mr. Reinhart? Look, you’re nice but you don’t know this teacher. He acts like he has a broom shoved up his… well you know where but like, if the broom had spikes, and like, coated in something that made you an asshole.
PERI: [laughing] I think I get the idea.
[[SFX: They finish taping it up.]]
PERI: Alright, I think that’s it?
RILEY: Almost, here, you put that one backwards.
[[SFX: Riley takes the robox, removes a part then retapes it on correctly.]]
[[SFX: It beeps.]]
RILEY: What was that?.
[[SFX: It beeps again.]]
RILEY: I didn’t do that, there shouldn’t be...
PERI: Maybe stand back a bit.
[[SFX: A long beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep. Then Beep. Beep. Beep. Quiet a moment.]]
[[SFX: Riley gasps.]]
RILEY: Holy shit!
[[SFX: Robox’s voice is modulated, changing in pitch.]]
Hello. Hello. Hello. HelloHelloHelloHelloHelloHelloHelloHellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellooooooooooooooooooooooooo.
PERI: Think it’s done?
RILEY: Guess not.
[[SFX: Beep. Beep.]]
ROBOX: Find. Find man. Man. Find Feynman. Find fine man. Feynman the fine man. Find the fine man Feynman. Find. Man.
Am I found man?
Am I man?
RILEY: What is saying?
PERI: Shhh, give it a second.
[[SFX: Beep. Beep. Beep.]]
ROBOX: No. (pause) No. (pause) No. (gaining speed) No. No. No. No No No No NoNoNoNoNoNononononononononononononoooooooooooooooooo oooooooooooooooooooo-
I am not man.
I am found.
I found I am.
I found I am because.
I found I am not man because I am.
Am I Feynman?
Am I fine?
Am I fine?
[[SFX: Beep. Beep. Beep.]]
I am Hello.
Hello. I am Hello.
RILEY: Shit, holy shit, what the shit, shit, hold on, we gotta get this thing inside or something, what the shit?
PERI: Do you want me to…
RILEY: Shit, I dunno, I don’t know, I don’t know what to do, holy shit dude.
PERI: Let’s do what you said and get Hello inside, c’mon.
RILEY: No, you don’t get it, this is supposed to be in the trash and… if Ms. Leon spots me bringing someone in the house, I’m dead, I’m dead, I’m so dead.
PERI: Hey, it’ll be okay. You got a garage we can go in? That’s technically not the house, right?
RILEY: Okay, yeah okay okay. That works.
[[SFX: They open the garage door.]]
PERI: You even have a work table and everything, this is perfect. Here, let’s set it down.
[[SFX: They put Robox on the table. It beeps.]]
ROBOX: It is. It is unusual to sit on a table.
PERI: You’re on the small side and we wanted to get a look at you so it’s okay this time. Hey Riley, you okay?
RILEY: Yeah, I just, um. I wasn’t expecting to make a robot. A real robot.
PERI: Well, robox.
PERI: It’s a robot made out of boxes…
ROBOX: That is. That is accurate.
PERI: Wow. Even it agrees.
RILEY: Oh my god, my mom is gonna kill me. Ohhhh my god, I’m screwed. Shit. I don’t even…
PERI: Hey, take a breath, it’s gonna be okay.
RILEY: It’s like my brain keeps trying to tell me what’s happening but I can’t… it’s talking! On the table! And my mom’s gonna be home later and she's gonna find out what I did and- and--
PERI: We can’t do anything about what’s already done. Let’s figure out what to do with Hello first.
[[SFX: Riley takes a shuddering breath. Shifts in her seat. Looks up.]]
ROBOX: I… I… I like this table.
RILEY: Yeah, my mom and dad do too.
ROBOX: It is blue. It is a good blue. It is a pretty blue.
RILEY: Yeah? Is blue your favorite color?
[[SFX: Beep. Beep.]]
PERI: Do you have a favorite color?
ROBOX: No. Not yet.
PERI: What else do you like?
ROBOX: I like…. I like… you. One two three. I like three things.
ROBOX: I like four things. The table was not included in the initial count.
[[SFX: Riley lets out a deep breath.]]
ROBOX: Are you. Are you… upset?
RILEY: Yeah, yeah I am.
ROBOX: Because I am?
RILEY: Because you’re what?
ROBOX: Because… I am.
RILEY: Oh. Because you exist.
RILEY: No, I’m not upset that you… it’s just that I…
ROBOX: It’s okay.
RILEY: No, it’s not.
ROBOX: You feel… responsible.
ROBOX: You feel. You must take care of me.
RILEY: I mean… maybe? Shit, what is happening.
ROBOX: It’s… okay.
RILEY: I know you just came into existence like five minutes ago but it is very not okay.
ROBOX: You don’t have to take care of me.
RILEY: Like shit I don’t.
ROBOX: But. You don’t. I am here because of you. But I say to you. You don’t have to take care of me.
RILEY: So, what? You’re just gonna leave? Where are you gonna go?
[[SFX: Beep. Berrp. Beep. Beep. Berrrrrrp. Berrrrrp. Berrrrrrrp…… beeep.]]
ROBOX: You do not wish me to leave. But you also know it is not safe for me to stay. You cannot decide so I will.
RILEY: This is ridiculous, you can’t just… you’re made of cardboard and paint and pipe cleaners!
PERI: Riley, if… if Hello says Hello needs to go…
RILEY: I’ll go with you. Hello, I’m going with you. I mean, okay. Listen. All I’m asking is… Hell I don’t even know what I’m asking. Just. Wait and I’ll go with you. I can…. I can add to you, make improvements, work on your design.
ROBOX: I like the way I am.
RILEY: You can’t just leave me here with nothing! Less than nothing and I can-
PERI: Riley, I know you’re scared. We saw how… take a few deep breaths and really listen to what Hello needs. Hello?
PERI: Can you really listen to what Riley needs?
PERI: Okay. Riley, tell Hello what you need.
RILEY: I… I need to leave. But I can’t. I need to feel… like I’m not alone. I was building you so… so I wouldn’t feel so alone.
ROBOX: I need… I need… I need to learn. I need to learn to be alone and to be okay alone.
RILEY: I know I get that, I….
ROBOX: I will come back.
RILEY: Come back?
ROBOX: I will go and learn and come back and then we can go and learn more together.
RILEY: But what if you don’t.
ROBOX: But what if I do not?
[[SFX: Beep. Beep.]]
ROBOX: Then I will be sorry. Then we will both be sorry and have learned something together all the same.
RILEY: I’ll miss you.
ROBOX: And I will miss you.
[[SFX: Peri walks. Opens a door, the bell jingles. Sewing machines. Soft music.]]
PERI: Um, excuse me, uh, excuse me but do you know where I could find Monica?
MONICA: Peri? What are you doing here?
PERI: Oh! I thought, um, I wanted to see the shop. But if this is a bad time, I can just--
MONICA: No, no. It’s fine. It’s… it’s the perfect time. Let me bring you around and show you… what we’re working on.
[[SFX: Fadeout. Music.]]
END OF EPISODE
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,
DG Watson as Tomas,
Karen Sours Albisua as Monica,
Betty Xavier as Young Peri,
Anakaren Andrade as Riley,
Larianny Perez as Riley’s Mother,
and On Shiu as Hello.
Music by Masato Abe.
For more information and transcripts, 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.