[[SFX: Opening music fades in. A bell chimes as Peri enters a music store. She strolls around with her cane.]]
[[SFX: She continues strolling as piano notes of the theme music fade out.]]
CLERK: Hi there, can I help you find anything?
PERI: Oh, um. I guess I was looking for albums and stuff to sample?
CLERK: Old school, I like it. Most people just stream music these days on their computer. Over here.
[[SFX: They walk over to a headphones and screen interface.]]
CLERK: You can swipe through and select what you wanna listen to. Looking for anything in particular? I’m partial to punk electro swing polka from the early 90s myself if you’re looking for recs.
CLERK: I’m screwing with you,
[[SFX: Peri laughs.]]
CLERK: this thing doesn’t dive too deep into the esoteric stuff but if you’re interested in something off the beaten path, we still got ya covered with a lot of our LPs.
PERI: Um, I’m okay, I don’t really like listening to records.
CLERK: I think you just made every hipster with his suitcase record player cry out in horror. Anyway, I’ll be organizing some stuff in back. Holler if you need anything!
[[SFX: She puts on the headphones and clicks through the selection.]]
PERI: Huh, I remember really liking you.
[[SFX: Low key jazz music plays. It’s still distorted. Peri pauses it.]]
PERI: Okay, maybe you?
[[SFX: She clicks through. Plays another jazz selection with saxophone. Still distorted.]]
PERI: Hm. Okay… how ‘bout this.
[[SFX: The music, the crowd. It’s all a little distorted. A glass shatters. Someone yells.]]
SONIA: Don’t fucking touch me!
ROGER: You’re not listening to me!
SONIA: You’re not entitled to my attention, Roger!
BOUNCER: Heyhey, guys, guys, sorry to disturb but you guys need to step stand out side, you guys are making a scene right now.
SONIA: Yeah, whatever.
[[SFX: Sonia brushes by the bouncer.]]
BOUNCER: Thank you.
[[SFX: She leaves the bar, Roger follows.]]
ROGER: You expect me to sit idly by while you tell an audience lies? Is that how it’s gonna be?
[[SFX: Sonia keeps walking then pauses.]]
SONIA: I don’t tell lies, Roger. I tell the subjective truth but I guess that’s too damn nebulous for your puny little brain.
ROGER: There was nothing subjective about what you said onstage tonight. It was an outright lie and you knew it, you-you did the thing.
SONIA: What thing.
ROGER: You know, the thing. That you do, when you lie.
SONIA: For the love of… you don’t get it do you? You don’t understand what you did.
ROGER: I did my part for the show. You put me in the spotlight, it’s not my fault if I did what the show needed.
SONIA: And what about what I needed, huh? If people think I’m a liar, if people think… this is my livelihood.
ROGER: I didn’t realize you made enough to make a living off of this.
SONIA: I don’t but this is what allows me to live.
[[SFX: Roger sighs.]]
SONIA: This is how I express my existence to other people. And you don’t give a damn if you take that away so long as you got to be a part of the show. So long as you got to be in the spotlight I gave you.
ROGER: Then why did you give it to me, Sonia? Why did you tell people to ask me if you told the truth when you knew there was a chance I’d tell them you didn’t!
SONIA: I knew this was the only chance I get to see my brother. The only times you show up is when I ask you to be a part of my show.
ROGER: I’ve shown up for so much--
SONIA: No, you haven’t. I’m the one that shows up, even when I know I’m not the one wanted. There were so many times you could have shown up, Roger. If not for me then maybe for mom or dad but those times were too hard for you to get away from work. Was work too hard to get away from or we too hard to go to?
ROGER: That isn’t fair.
SONIA: Not fair? Not fair was living in a waiting room, not knowing when I could leave. Not fair was having to look over paperwork I barely understood and make decisions I knew I was not qualified to make. Not fair is having a brother who knows how hospitals work but won’t help his own family because he’s too god damn busy taking care of other people.
ROGER: I tried to help out, you know I did. And when I couldn’t you said you had it under control.
SONIA: I thought you could tell I was lying.
ROGER: I didn’t--
SONIA: You did. You did know. I was too hard to deal with. I know that’s what you say about me. I know I’m your unstable sister who lies about her life onstage to seem more interesting. And you, Roger. You are the benevolent hospital overlord–
ROGER: Hospital administrator!
SONIA: –savior of stability and truth. But let’s drop the bullshit. There’s no one but you and me in this alley. Nobody you need to impress except yourself. But I guess that’s who you’ve always tried hardest to convince, huh.
[[SFX: They both fall silent. ]]
SONIA: I’m gonna call a ride. Just… don’t follow me.
[[SFX: She walks away. A pause of quiet. Then a voice as if through a phone.]]
TATTERED WOMAN: Hello dearest.
[[SFX: Peri sharply intakes breath.]]
TW: I’ve missed you.
[[SFX: The Tattered Woman hums a few bars of Clementine.]]
TW: I’ve had your song for company but it’s a paltry substitute.
[[SFX: She continues humming. Chuckles.]]
TW: These notes, though. They led me back to you. Love letters, tracing their way back to a not so secret admirer. Didn’t you miss me, dearest?
PERI: You took her.
TW: Peri, please speak up. You’re quieter than a mouse with a cat on the loose.
PERI: You took her. That man, Roger. You took his sister. On the mountain….
TW: Roger. Roger, Roger, the obligation dodger with the record player, submerged in denial, preferring delusion. Honest Roger who believed his own lies to be truth. Did he tell you his sister’s name? Sssssonia. Sonia Starling as her stage name. [chuckle] They all go back to the bard in the end.
PERI: You keep trying to confuse me.
TW: Do I? Oh, I’m terribly sorry, dearest. I’m trying to paint you a picture of truth like any good artist would do.
PERI: What do you want?
TW: Always back to my wants and desires, those fleeting shimmers of a future I may wish to see. And yet, you seem to have no regard for your own future, Hesperia.
PERI: You did something.
TW: I’ve done many things, you’ll have to be more specific.
PERI: I can’t… I can’t hear things right. I can’t… remember things right, I—
TW: Right and wrong are… how would Sonia put it… nebulous? The quality of that melody, that armor you sought to use, told me everything I needed to know about your desires, dearest. Strike the right chord and you fall into a memory of yourself you don’t care to see so I… took care of it for you. You always flee from yourself, Hesperia, onward and onward and I thought myself charitable in easing you along in your quest.
PERI: That’s not… that’s not for you to decide.
TW: Oh I didn’t decide. You did, Hesperia.
PERI: Then I decide I want them back. I want my music back, I-I want--
TW: Ah-ah, dearest one. You’ve been down this road of self-delusion before. I did you a favor and you throw it in my face?
PERI: You’re not here. You’re not here, your voice may be but I know you’re not.
TW: My manifestation is elsewhere, I’ll give you that. Helping along the ambition of a brilliant mind too long looked over. You’ve tasted what I can do and I hope you’ll grow a hunger for it too. Until the next time, dearest.
[[SFX: Peri rips off the headphones and slams them down on the hook. The clerk comes out from the back.]]
CLERK: Wow, listen to some bad elevator jazz or something? Because I can definitely list some names way better than those snooze trains.
PERI: Um, you know what, uh, no thank, I need to leave now but thank you for the music, bye.
[[SFX: She leaves.]]
[[SFX: Peri arrives at the house. Her father speaks from another room]]
PERI: I’m home.
TOMAS: At the computer.
[[SFX: She walks over to her father at the computer.]]
PERI: Where’s mom?
TOMAS: Working late again but she promised she’d make movie night tomorrow. Here, look at what I found.
[[SFX: He clicks and a home video plays.]]
MONICA: Happy graduation!!
TOMAS: Alright ladies, now that you’ve got your diplomas, what are you gonna do next?
RUTH: College! PERI: Nap!
RUTH: Wait, a nap sounds great.
ACE: I took one during the commencement speech.
PERI: Ace! Ruth worked really hard on that speech!
ACE: I didn’t mean that one! I mean the one the old guy said.
RUTH: It’s fine, I wouldn’t blame you if you fell asleep during mine, I almost did too. Mr. Santos made me edit out all the funny parts.
PERI: “Uh, yes, uh, young lady, these jokes are not appropriate for a graduation ceremony.”
MONICA: That’s no way to speak about your teacher.
TOMAS: He’s not her teacher any more. Let them have a little fun.
ACE: Ruth, you’re coming to dinner with us, right?
RUTH: Yeah, if I can find my parents in this crowd.
PERI: Didn’t they leave for the restroom like half an hour ago?
RUTH: Probably got cornered by Mrs. Giff. The woman is still bitter I beat Jessica’s GPA. Ugh, oh my god, I’ll go find them. Catch ya later, starshine!
PERI: Bye! Loved… your speech!
PERI: Oh my god, Heidi!!
HEIDI: Shhhh, I’m hiding from my Grandmother. Oh my gosh, hey Tomas, hello Monica, how are you?
MONICA: Still not not big on you using our first names. How are you?
[[SFX: The video stops. Tomas hits a button on the keyboard.]]
TOMAS: And then that’s the part I had to hunt for the extra battery pack.
PERI: I forgot about that. Geez, that was ages ago, huh.
TOMAS: Feels that way.
PERI: Thanks for showing me though. I don’t really think about those times too much but… thanks.
TOMAS: Me too. But I figured you were home and it might be nice…. To remember a good day. We were so proud of you.
PERI: Before things got to be such a mess, huh.
TOMAS: No, we’ve always been proud of you. Especially during the messy parts.
[[SFX: He stands.]]
TOMAS: Especially right now when it’s hard to talk about the messy parts.
PERI: Do you think… do think I’ll be able to talk to mom soon? Like, really talk to her, not just get shown around the shop and tell her about books over dinner. I’ve been so nervous, a-and it’s like…
TOMAS: Peri… I don’t know. You’ve reached the point in your life when we’re not just your parents anymore, we’re people too. And people… sometimes don’t handle things the way we hope. I hope she’ll be able to open up to you and I hope you’ll be able to open up to her and you’ll both meet each other as the wonderful people you are. But… I suppose it’s not my place to comment on your relationship. You both will figure it out however you will and I’ll be here to support however I can. [takes a deep breath] Now then, if you’ll excuse an old man, my evening regimen is calling me.
[[SFX: He walks away. Peri presses a key. The video comes back to life.]]
ACE: Hey, I’m gonna go catch up with Mr. Santos and Miss Klein.
MONICA: Okay, Ace. (to Tomas) Is it working again?
TOMAS: Yep, fresh battery and this baby is back to life.
MONICA: Too bad Hesperia left.
TOMAS: Let her hang out with her friends. This might be the last time she sees a lot of these people.
MONICA: Did you see the way Heidi bolted as soon as she heard her grandmother?
TOMAS: Looklook, who do you think that is? Looks like Cary I think.
MONICA: Light up cap? No, it’s probably Frankie, got into some New York school for lighting design.
TOMAS: I hope Peri transfers there, give us an excuse to see the city again.
MONICA: May need to find another reason to visit, sweetie.
TOMAS: Monica, we agreed--
MONICA: I know, I know. I’ll stop. Celebrations only.
[[SFX: Peri taps the keyboard, pausing the video. She sighs and leaves, shutting the door behind her. Music queues in.]]
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, Noah Gildermaster as Ace, Danielle Shemaiah as Ruth, Lily Richards as the Tattered Woman, DG Watson as Tomas, Karen Sours Albisua as Monica, Taylor Bennett as Sonia, Ian McQuown as Roger, Celia Rivera as Heidi, Sarah Garcia as Clerk. 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.