[[SFX: Theme music fades in. Strings. Seagulls call. Another dream.]]
YOUNG HORACE: Peri! Peri!
YOUNG PERI: Sh!
YOUNG HORACE: Oh. Mom wanted me to show that really tall lady the hand clapping game but I told her only you knew how to do it so she wanted me to get you.
YOUNG HORACE: Why are you hiding?
YOUNG PERI: A bird took my sandwich.
[[SFX: Piano cues in for the theme music.]]
YOUNG HORACE: Mom and dad can make another one.
YOUNG PERI: The bird’s gonna steal it again.
YOUNG HORACE: No it’s not, it’s probably full from the first one.
YOUNG PERI: It’s big and never gets full and if I go out there it’s gonna eat me too.
YOUNG HORACE: I heard only ostriches are big enough to eat people like Jeremy from my old school? Fell into an ostrich cage and it ate him!
YOUNG PERI: That’s not what happened.
[[SFX: A distortion fades in, a high tone.]]
YOUNG HORACE: Yeah it is.
YOUNG PERI: No, right now, this isn’t what happened--
[[SFX: The distortion grows louder.]]
[[SFX: Peri drives her dad’s truck while he sits shotgun.]]
PERI: You don’t need to hold the handle, dad. I’ve driven before.
TOMAS: Oh, sorry. Habit from when your brother… nevermind.
[[SFX: Peri clears her throat. Tentative.]]
PERI: I always thought Ace was a good driver.
TOMAS: You told us after the road trip you never wanted to set foot in a car with him again.
PERI: No, I said A car, as in any car. Ace was a moot point by then.
TOMAS: [laughing] I suppose you’re right.
PERI: I tend to be about most things.
TOMAS: The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
PERI: Yeah, mom tends to be right about a lot of things too.
TOMAS: Fair, fair.
[[SFX: They settle into an easy silence.]]
PERI: Dad, do you... do you think we’ll ever… I dunno… move on isn’t the right word but…
TOMAS: That’s a big question.
PERI: Yeah, well. I’m tired of not asking I guess.
[[SFX: A thoughtful moment. Only the hum of the truck.]]
TOMAS: You cut yourself off, Peri. And that… You really really hurt us after what happened with your brother. And I know we hurt you too but the thing is… if that was all of it I think it’d be easier but... I think the hurt started earlier. And I think it started with us, whether we meant to or not.
PERI: Mom told me a little bit about it. At movie night. About what happened to her friend.
TOMAS: I’ve just never known Monica to open up about it. All I knew was the episode at work. I never got the details about why.
PERI: She never told you?
TOMAS: Nobody. She didn’t…. couldn’t connect with us, any of us like she used to.
TOMAS: I remember putting in a lotta hours at work to make up the income but… I suppose I didn’t know how to talk to her for a long while. I asked if we should reach out to the rest of the family but she said no, they can’t know.
P. T. S. D. Even the acronym looks like a secret she didn’t want her family to whisper about her. “PSSST. Did you hear about Monica? Can’t keep her job, can’t bring herself to cook for her family.’’ We used to see your uncles and aunts all the time, and your grandparents before they passed but I think when your mother was going through everything, there were other things going on in the family and it was just one huge mess. And it fell apart. The visits stopped, the phone calls stopped.
We moved. Renovated the lighthouse. Your mom did, really. I helped out where I could but after I busted the faucet for the third time, she wouldn’t let me touch a wrench and I had work anyway. She and Ace took on the big stuff. I think once she let you try to haggle down the price of some flooring. Most of the friends we made were because your mom kept asking to borrow tools. It took a long, long time before it was all done. Once we finished, we hosted a big party. Loud music and everything. Partly to celebrate, partly to return all the tools. All these strangers turned friends, replacements for a past we didn’t want to think about.
We hoped that it wouldn’t affect you and Ace and for a while we thought it hadn’t. You both were great kids. Curious and funny. Sometimes troublemakers. We thought we were keeping our family together. But then, as the years crept by and we saw how you… we saw how you shaped your outlook on the world. You liked to be certain of things but there never seemed a rhyme or reason to what you felt certain about. We didn’t understand it enough to stop it or-or help. The world was just this giant question mark for you and you didn’t… couldn’t accept that. And then I got sick and we had to leave but you demanded to stay. Ace promised that he’d look after you. And then Ace was gone and then you were lost to us, in a way. I didn’t think that our family could continue the break into smaller and smaller pieces. But now I’m used to being wrong.
These are the things your mother and I decided not to tell you. It’s not all we haven’t told you but I know if I went further… it’s not my place, not without your mother and… There are some secrets between people that need all parties to tell them.
PERI: You were right about one thing.
PERI: It’s a lot easier for you talk about things in a car.
TOMAS: [laughing again] It is.
PERI: What if… what if there was a way to find Ace?
PERI: No, I mean. I just… I was looking for him, okay? That’s what I was doing when I… when I fell. And, and you’re right. The world is one big question mark for me and most of the time there’s no answer only perspectives and it’s confusing but I’ve been able to… I’ve been able to do better about that because I had a way to… to navigate through all that. Looking for Ace matters more than a question mark and I could feel that I was onto something but then it slipped through my fingers and [she sighs] there might be a chance for me to get back on track. But I’m not sure when it’ll happen but if, when it does… I might not get the chance to say goodbye.
[[SFX: Her father sniffles and takes a deep breath.]]
TOMAS: Alright Peri. Just… do whatever you need to.
[[SFX: The festival. Peri uses her cane.]]
TOMAS: How’re you doing kiddo?
PERI: I might need to step to a quiet place in a while but for now the overload isn’t too bad.
TOMAS: What was that thing you used to do? The countdown?
PERI: Oh yeah. Five things I see, four things I hear blah blah blah
TOMAS: That still work?
PERI: I haven’t needed to do it in a while but probably.
TOMAS: I know there’s a lot going on here so if you need to, just let me know.
PERI: Cool. Will do.
TOMAS: What’s the deal with the walkie-talkie?
TOMAS: I can see the antenna sticking out of your backpack and I noticed all of our AA batteries went missing.
PERI: I left four!
TOMAS: The walkie?
PERI: Um, well, like I said in the car. If I need to leave…
TOMAS: That thing will tell you.
TOMAS: You are one weird kid.
TOMAS: Hey, you’re a grown-up now, you get the honest version of dad.
[[SFX: Amidst the crowd, Monica walks up to the two of them.]]
MONICA: Hey, you two, what’s this about the honest version of dad?
PERI: Dad says I’m weird.
TOMAS: What? She is? So are you. I’m the only normal one in this family.
MONICA: Right, says the man who swore his grandmother’s ghost would visit him at night to make sure he brushed his teeth.
TOMAS: It’s true! Every night she’d stand there for the full two minutes of brushing and I have never had a cavity.
MONICA: Okay, where do you guys wanna start? Hesperia?
PERI: I dunno, you guys are the ones who have been here before.
TOMAS: When do your dancers go on?
MONICA: In a couple hours.
PERI: Are they the ones wearing the costumes you showed me?
MONICA: Yep! Finished them just in time.
TOMAS: Let’s do some games! Maybe the ping pong bowl one?
MONICA: Just so long as the prize isn’t a goldfish considering what happened the last time you brought one home.
[[SFX: A voice from far off.]]
ACE: “At least it’s orange!”
TOMAS: Peri? You okay?
PERI: Yeah, yeah. I just thought I heard something.
[[SFX: Carnival. Noises. Laughter. Later.]]
MONICA: Just one more time, my love? Make those all you can ride wristbands worth our while.
TOMAS: I can’t, I can’t! You’re kidnapping my appetite with all that spinning!
MONICA: Fine, then I’ll take just Peri.
PERI: Woah, I was looking forward to sitting for a while.
MONICA: I am surrounded by--
PERI: Party poopers?
MONICA: I wouldn’t say that but…
TOMAS: Let’s just sit, eat and wait a little while to digest so we don’t spew our dinner everywhere. You guys have a foodtruck in mind?
PERI: Dealers choice, I gotta sit.
MONICA: Same for me, I’ll wait with Peri.
TOMAS: Alright, I see you’ve tricked me into covering the bill, clever, clever. I’ll be right back.
[[SFX: He leaves. They sit.]]
MONICA: Have you been having a good time?
MONICA: Good, good.
PERI: Those dresses were really beautiful.
MONICA: Thank you.
PERI: I kind of miss you making my clothes, teaching me and Ace how to patch up tears and stuff.
MONICA: Me too. I didn’t like how you two used each other as pin cushions though.
[[SFX: They chuckle.]]
PERI: I miss him.
MONICA: Me too.
PERI: Do you think he’s gone? Like, gone, gone?
MONICA: No, not at all. We’d know.
MONICA: We just would. Peri, I--
[[SFX: Peri’s walkie-talkie. Benny’s voice comes through, distorted.]]
BENNY: This is Benny to Peri, Benny to Peri, over.
[[SFX: Peri scrambles for her bag.]]
MONICA: What is that?
BENNY: This is Benny to Peri, Peri are you out there? Over.
PERI: BENNY! BENNY IT’S ME, I’M HERE!
[[SFX: The static of the walkie for a moment.]]
BENNY: Holy shit, I, sorry, sorry, I got so excited I didn’t press the button Peri! Pri! Oh my god, I’m so happy to hear your voice, holy shit, holy shit. Okay, um, uh, um, w-where are you?
PERI: I’m at a festival in a town. Where are you?
BENNY: Probably on the outskirts of that town. Listen, Peri the lighthouse has been acting strange it’s--
[[SFX: He distorts then the walkie-talkie goes dead.]]
MONICA: Peri, what was that all about.
PERI: I knew I should’ve taken those last four batteries, dangit, stupid, stupid.
MONICA: Peri, Peri, look at me. What is happening?
PERI: I can’t explain right now, I have to… the Ferris Wheel. I might be able to see it from the Ferris Wheel.
[[SFX: She abruptly gets up and runs as fast as she’s able.]]
MONICA: Peri wait!
PERI: Excuse me, I need ot get thorugh, oh I’m sorry, I need to get on the Ferris Wheel.
PATRON: Hey, wait in line!
FESTIVAL WORKER: Calm down, she’s got a cane, she can use the handicap line.
PATRON: That’s not fair!
FESTIVAL WORKER: Don’t be an asshole, dude. Get on, kid. Enjoy the ride.
[[SFX: Peri gets in. The ferris wheel creaks as it ascends.]]
PERI: Oh, I did not think this through.
[[SFX: Through the walkie talkie.]]
RUTH: I’ll hold your hand, dummy. We can just sit back and count the stars in Andromeda and maybe sing--
[[SFX: Peri clicks switches and pushes buttons. TW’s voice emanates from the walkie.]]
TATTERED WOMAN: Oh my darlin’ Oh my darlin’ Oh my darlin’ Clementine
[[SFX: The Ferris Wheel stops.]]
TATTERED WOMAN: Stop what, Peri? I thought you liked music to calm you down and make you brave or have you forgotten?
PERI: I said, stop it, leave me alone, why won’t you leave me alone?
TATTERED WOMAN: Poor little Peri, if you wanted to be left alone then why are you trying so desperately to get to your friend? Is it because you can’t stand the looks on your parents faces as you remind them of their eldest they lost? Or is it because you’re more comfortable searching for family than appreciating those you already have?
PERI: You have no idea-- wait. You’re trying to distract me. You’re trying to distract me from…
[[SFX: She trails off and looks around, the compartment swinging.]]
PERI: There! There it is, you terrible, whatever you are!
[[SFX: She throws the walkie talkie on the metal floor of the compartment. It breaks. The ferris wheel moves again. Her parents call from the ground.]]
TOMAS & MONICA: PERI!!
[[SFX: TW’s voice still emanates from the walkie talkie.]]
TATTERED WOMAN: Whatever I am has no bearing on whatever you will do, Peri. You can wander the world in search of a sibling who might never be found or stay with your parents who will only ever see dear Horace’s absence in the space beside you?
PERI: I’D LIKE TO GET OFF PLEASE, I THINK I’M GONNA BE SICK.
[[SFX: The ferris wheel slows then stops.]]
FESTIVAL WORKER: Hey dude, you okay?
PERI: Uhm yeah, thank you, I need to get to my family, they’re over there.
FESTIVAL WORKER: Here’s an arm, ally-oop, there ya go. Right as rain.
PERI: Thank you!!
FESTIVAL WORKER: Yeah!
[[SFX: Peri stumbles down the ramp to her awaiting parents.]]
MONICA: Peri, you just ran off, what the hell is going on?
PERI: Dad, I need to borrow the truck.
MONICA: You can’t just tell dad--
PERI: Mom, I love you and there are so many things I wanted to talk about before I had to go but this may be my only shot at trying to find him again. I can find Ace, mom, I know I can, and I’m sorry that I have to leave to do that.
MONICA: I don’t understand…
PERI: You know as well as I do that there are parts of the world, the Just-Around-the-Corner parts, the cigarette pack that flew too far parts, where things just happen and we don’t know why but we have to choose what to do with them. This is me choosing to do what good I can.
MONICA: Let’s take the car, it’s faster than my stupid truck.
[[SFX: They’re stuck behind traffic.]]
TOMAS: This town doesn’t have traffic.
MONICA: It’s the damn lights again, someone probably crashed.
PERI: We don’t have time, the sun is almost gone.
TOMAS: I don’t know what to tell you, Peri--
[[SFX: Peri unbuckles and gets out. She moves as quickly as she can, breathing hard. Her mother gets out behind her.]]
MONICA: Take the wheel, I’ll go with her!
TOMAS: What? I- okay.
[[SFX: They make their way through the streets.]]
PERI: I just need to see it, I just need to see where it was.
[[SFX: More running.]]
PERI: Just a couple more blocks.
[[SFX: Her mother trips and cries out.]]
MONICA: I’m okay, I’m okay. Hard to see the cracks without the streetlamps. They’re supposed to turn on automatically.
PERI: No. No. No. NoNoNononono! I didn’t even get to… I don’t know, gah, stupid stupid stupid STUPID
MONICA: Oh, Peri…
[[SFX: Her mom embraces her. Peri calms down. A call in the distance.]]
BENNY: Peri! Peri!
PERI: Wait a second.
MONICA: What is it?
PERI: There’s no fog.
MONICA: No, we don’t usually get fog here.
PERI: No, I… let’s keep going.
MONICA: What are we looking for, Peri?
PERI: The lighthouse.
MONICA: I’m sorry?
PERI: Just… follow me, mom.
[[SFX: They walk. Round a corner.]]
[[SFX: Her mother stops. Peri keeps walking, gaining speed.]]
MONICA: P-Peri, what is our lighthouse doing…
[[SFX: The door opens.]]
BENNY: Peri? PERI!
[[SFX: They hug.]]
BENNY: Oh my god, Peri, I thought we were gonna leave without you
PERI: Why do you have rope tied around your waist?
BENNY: Oh, um. Well I wasn’t sure when the lighthouse was gonna leave but you still hadn’t shown up so I thought I’d go out but still tied to the lighthouse and…
[[SFX: Peri cracks up.]]
PERI: That is.. Wow. Okay. But why hasn’t the lighthouse left? Sundown happens, fog, boom, middle of the inbetween place, I—
BENNY: That’s what I tried to tell you, the lighthouse has been acting weird after you… well while you were gone. It’s like it… slowed down? Now the fog arrives during the night and sometimes we spend longer in the inbetween than before. It’s like, you left and it’s freaking out. Oh. Who’s that?
PERI: Oh, that’s my mom.
[[SFX: A car arrives. Her dad steps out.]]
PERI: Aaaand that would be my dad.
BENNY: The whole family’s here. Well, I mean, I… I’m sorry.
PERI: It’s fine… huh. Fog’s coming in now.
PERI: I’m gonna say goodbye. Before we go inside.
BENNY: Okay. Oh, uh, Here.
[[SFX: He unties the rope and then ties it around Peri.]]
BENNY: Just gonna tie this around your waist there and okay. Just in case so we don’t lose you again.
[[SFX: Peri turns around and heads for her parents.]]
MONICA: I never thought I’d see it again.
PERI: Mom, dad, I know this looks…. How it looks. But. I gotta go.
TOMAS: Promise us, we’ll see you again, Peri.
PERI: I promise.
TOMAS: And find a way to write, or call. Please.
PERI: I will. Things can get a little sideways but… I’ll see what I can do.
TOMAS: I love you, Peri.
[[SFX: He hugs Peri.]]
PERI: Love you too, dad.
MONICA: This is how you’ve been looking for him.
PERI: Um, yeah. It just sort of shows up in new places.
MONICA: Take this.
[[SFX: Her mother takes off her sweater.]]
MONICA: In case you show up somewhere cold. I made it myself. Stitched with love so--
PERI: It’s extra warm.
[[SFX: Peri hugs her mother.]]
PERI: I love you mom.
MONICA: I love you too.
[[SFX: They break apart.]]
PERI: Well, um. [she sighs] Didn’t think goodbye would be this hard this time around.
MONICA: I’m glad we got another chance to do it right this time.
PERI: Bye dad, bye mom.
TOMAS: Goodbye Peri.
MONICA: Goodbye little one.
[[SFX: She turns back to the lighthouse and walks away. She shuts the door behind her. Puts down her backpack and cane.]]
PERI: It’s good to be home.
[[SFX: Theme music comes in, light piano.]]
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, José Donado as Benny, Danielle Shemaiah as Ruth, Lily Richards as The Tattered Woman, DG Watson as Tomas, Karen Sours Albisua as Monica, Betty Xavier as Young Peri, Benjamin Xavier as Young Ace, and Robert Paterno and Natalie Wong as People at the Festival. Editing & sound design by Mischa Stanton. 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.
We’re going to take a short break, we’ll be back on January 21st. Until then, may you always find your way.