2.8 Ars Memoriae
[[SFX: Music cues in. Peri comes down the stairs of the lighthouse. Sets up to heat more water. A knock at the door. The same pattern from season one. Peri unlocks the door.]]
BENNY: I always feel like a spy knocking morse code.
[[SFX: Piano cues in the theme music.]]
PERI: It’s too short for morse code, though. I mean, that’s not really how it works. It’s a whole thing, nevermind.
BENNY: Looks pretty nice out there. Little chilly so you might want to bring your sweater.
PERI: Want some tea?.
[[SFX: She grabs the kettle and fills it in the sink.]]
PERI: You have a weird look on your face.
BENNY: Do I?
PERI: Yeah, you’re kinda weirding me out.
BENNY: I haven’t heard you...
PERI: Haven’t heard me what?
BENNY: Nothing. Like I said, you’re gonna wanna bring your sweater.
BENNY: Yep. It’s day fourteen.
PERI: Huh. That fast.
BENNY: You ready?
PERI: Hm, what a question. What, what a question.
BENNY: You were the one who told me to hold you to it.
PERI: That was a past me.
BENNY: And that’s what you said when you set the seven day deadline. One extension, that’s all I’d give you.
PERI: Right. Right, right. Right right. I guess… I didn’t think it’d be this hard?
BENNY: To go out again?
PERI: I mean, look I know I was very gung ho about things but then there was this little voice in the back of my head and it--
BENNY: Peri. It’ll be fine. I got your back. Drink your tea and get your shoes on. I’d rather not be the only explorer here.
PERI: (sigh) Fine. But only a quick walk to see what’s what.
[[SFX: Peri and Benny walk the hushed streets of a small town, Peri’s cane clicking on the pavement.]]
BENNY: Look, a beautiful day to walk around.
PERI: It’s overcast.
BENNY: What? And an overcast day can’t be beautiful? Look! No harsh lighting, perfect diffusion, I used to do photography actually. I’d do more portraits than landscapes.You know, I just liked people.
[[SFX: In the distance, a sad funeral march.]]
PERI: Shhh, Benny.
PERI: Over there. Looks like a funeral procession.
BENNY: Am I sensing a follow your nose moment?
PERI: Yeah, hard pass, we almost died in a mountain when we followed my nose.
BENNY: Then we’ll follow mine.
[[SFX: Benny walks away.]]
PERI: Benny! Benny, what are you doing? This is not a short walk, I was promised short! And… an no people!
BENNY: Hurry up!
[[SFX: Peri and Benny open a larg door and walk into a grand space. The area is hushed save for their footsteps.]]
PERI: Benny, I told you didn’t want to check it out.
BENNY: (looking around) Where do you think all the people went?
PERI: This is just bananas. Someone died.
BENNY: I’m following my nose. (back to the funeral procession) Seriously, this place can’t be THAT big...
PERI: Don’t steal my lines and think you can use them against me. I should not have to keep bringing up the Mountain!
MINDER: Hello! I’d like to request you keep your voices down, loud tones tend to upset our patrons.
BENNY: What if we’re patrons?
MINDER: You both sound upset so I believe my point still stands. Now, how may I assist you today?
BENNY: What-what is it you do here, exactly?
MINDER: What I do personally or what does the Ars Memoraie Foundation do?
BENNY: Ars Memoraie?
PERI: The Art of Memory. Ish. Should be Artem Memoraie I think. What? I took Latin in high school.
BENNY: We saw this funeral procession and got curious. Apologies if we were y’know, too loud or--
MINDER: Ah, Tiana Ashlyn’s programme. What a crowd, I had to recall so many other Minders for that one. They’re down below in the large program room, necessary to accommodate a Remembrance of that kind.
[[SFX: Benny and Peri do not respond.]]
MINDER: Which is not helpful if you are unfamiliar with our services. Right! We primarily specialize in the grieving process but we also do counseling for youth groups, couples, friends, coworkers, pet owners, and occasionally assist in the retrieval of lost items. We’re the last place you look to! That’s the slogan for our lost item program.
[[SFX: Benny and Peri do not respond.]]
MINDER: Which is to say that we work with individuals or groups to recreate memories so they may converse with them. People do tend to remember people the best, most of the time they don’t care about the other details. Unless it’s the smell of food. People do tend to care a lot about that.
[[SFX: Benny and Peri do not respond.]]
MINDER: Is that a silence of confusion or silence of amazement? Sometimes I get them mixed up.
PERI: You can talk to people from your memories?
MINDER: Well, we create a semi-physical manifestation of the memory so it’s not really the person you’re speaking to but your memory of them. Individual perception may vary. It’s why we encourage multiple people be present for our grieving program, so that the memory is a bit fuller, a bit more… multifaceted.
PERI: How much does it cost?
MINDER: Oh not much, just a reinvigorating detail or two. We had to lower the price when the flow of people using our services became a trickle. So few want to confront their past these days. At least in this town.
BENNY: A detail? About what?
MINDER: About me of course! My continued existence depends on the collective memory of those who come here.
BENNY: So, what, we just say that a detail about you is that you like peanut butter and you’re good to go?
MINDER: A little more detail than that, dear. Approximately 5,402 people have told me that I like peanut butter and 3,297 have said that I don’t so we tend to avoid food related details of late.
PERI: You like construction.
MINDER: What do I like about construction?
PERI: You…. like the shape the yellow cranes make against the sky. Any angle and still calmly geometric and orderly, like… kinda like their function strives for in creation.
MINDER: Ooo, I like that detail. Alright young man, now your turn.
BENNY: I’m good, I think I’m all confronted out.
MINDER: Don’t you want to help your friend construct a memory?
PERI: Oh, he hasn’t known me long enough, for what I have in mind.
MINDER: Alright. I’ll take you to one of our more intimate rooms. Follow me.
[[SFX: The door opens and they walk in.]]
BENNY: Aren’t you happy we went outside today?
PERI: Shut up.
MINDER: Oh, please stay outside, Benny.
BENNY: I never told you my name.
MINDER: Loud details about a person such as their name tend to leak out in here. I won’t pry, I promise. Now, Hesperia, oh I’m so sorry you prefer Peri, don’t you.
PERI: Uh. Either is okay.
MINDER: Alright, Peri. What I am going to do is give you this piece of chalk. You are going to draw a circle, not too small, it must be large enough for a person to stand in. Once you do that, I want you to think about a person you wish to recall. Take deep breaths. Imagine them saying hello. And as soon as that happens, you’ve done it!
PERI: Okay. Okay, I can do that.
MINDER: Your friend and I will be just on the other side of the glass there. We have to monitor to make sure you’re okay but we won’t be able to hear anything to ensure privacy. Good luck!!
[[SFX: Minder leaves and shuts the door. Peri stands in the room a moment. She kneels, draws a circle with the chalk. She stands. Clears her throat. Takes a deep breath. A soft tone rises and fallen.]]
YOUNG PERI: Hi.
PERI: You’re not--
YOUNG PERI: Ace? I know.
PERI: You’re not a face I’ve seen for a while.
YOUNG PERI: Puberty does that.
PERI: Ace is supposed to be here.
YOUNG PERI: No he isn’t.
PERI: I was trying to… recall him? Not… how old are you? … Okay, a shrug isn’t an answer.
YOUNG PERI: I still go by Hesperia if that’s any help.
PERI: That doesn’t explain why you showed up.
YOUNG PERI: You got scared. You do that a lot
PERI: Yeah, well the world is a scary place.
YOUNG PERI: Not always.
PERI: (sighs) Right.
[[SFX: Benny and Minder stand behind the glass.]]
MINDER: What is it?
BENNY: Nothing, I just thought she was going to remember her brother is all. That looks like…
[[SFX: Back in the room.]]
YOUNG PERI: Why do you do that?
PERI: Do what?
YOUNG PERI: Remember me wrong.
PERI: I’m not remembering you wrong.
YOUNG PERI: You remember me being scared all the time.
PERI: You were… I was scared all the time when I was you.
YOUNG PERI: I get scared sometimes but not always. One time I walked to the grocery store to get ice cream all by myself.
[[SFX: Back in the room, Peri winces.]]
PERI: I don’t remember that.
YOUNG PERI: Another time, when mom and dad had a barbeque, Horace and I threw rocks at seagulls because they stole my sandwich. He saw me yelling at them. I picked up a rock and threw and then he picked up a rock too. One of them pooped on my overalls but we kept yelling and throwing rocks and Ms. Tiongson started yelling at US for throwing rocks and yelling.
Horace yelled back that they stole my sandwich and pooped on me so they deserved being called turd faced gravy thickeners. She said that insult didn’t make sense and then she tattled on us and mom and dad made us shower but the seagulls never came back because they knew we weren’t afraid.
Mom and dad weren’t mad because we had bad aim but I think dad asked if we could be so-so paths and mom said we don’t kill bugs or cats, so probably not.
and then I walked in to ask why someone would kill a cat and they wouldn’t answer my second question about what a so-so path was.
Did you end up finding out what a so-so path was? Because they made it sound like someone who isn’t scared of anything. But I’m scared of some things so maybe I’m a so-so so-so path. Because I am only afraid of some things like Butterflies. I don’t trust them. Is that a leaf? No, it’s a butterfly. Is that an owl? No, it’s a butterfly!
I’m a person and I don’t pretend to be something else. Except when it’s Halloween. You’re allowed to trick on Halloween because the whole point is to be scared. But I don’t get scared on Halloween. Unless someone is a butterfly.
PERI: The whole world is full of butterflies. Things you think are one way and then they turn out not to be.
YOUNG PERI: But that’s what’s happening right now! You keep thinking you’re one way, that I’m one way but it’s different!
PERI: Things happen, things change.
YOUNG PERI: Not me. I already happened.
PERI: Look, I wanna talk to Ace to see if, to see if I can remember anything about what, or where--
YOUNG PERI: You don’t remember things right! You can’t even hear music right! You get it wrong, wrong, wrong!
PERI: Someone took it from me, okay! She, she just appeared and she said things and then before I knew it, it all was gone and she won’t leave us, she won’t leave me alone!
YOUNG PERI: She tricked you! She tricked you! It’s still here, I’m here.
PERI: Hesperia, I-I can’t. I don’t know what you want me to do.
YOUNG PERI: Remember me right!!
[[SFX: A crack in the floor.]]
TATTERED WOMAN: But she is remembering right, sweet little Hesperia. I opened up her mind to the truth you always chose to ignore.
[[SFX: Other side of the mirror.]]
MINDER: Oh no, nononono, she can’t be here, why didn’t you tell me your friend had gotten her attention!
BENNY: What, who’s attention? I have no idea what you’re talking about.
MINDER: I need to get her out of there.
YOUNG PERI: Go away! Go away! You lie, you’re a liar! I know who you are and I won’t believe you. (to Peri) Peri, don’t believe her!
PERI: I don’t know… I don’t, I can’t…
YOUNG PERI: Sing the song!
PERI: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
[[SFX: Banging on the door.]]
MINDER: (through the door) Open this door, Peri.
YOUNG PERI: Sing the song Ruth sang!
TATTERED WOMAN: She doesn’t remember Clementine, little Hesperia. Let her go.
YOUNG PERI: No! (singin) Oh my darling…
MINDER: (through the door) Open the door!
PERI: (singing) Oh my darling.
YOUNG PERI: Oh my darling, Clementine.
MINDER: (through the door) Open the door!
YOUNG PERI/PERI: You are lost now gone forever, dreadful sorry Clementine.
MINDER: Open this door right now, Peri!
[[SFX: Their voices distort. Peri winces.More knocking.]]
MINDER: (through the door) Hesperia, open this door!
YOUNG PERI/ PERI: Light she was and like a fairy and her shoes were number nine/ Herring boxes without topses/ Sandals were for Clementine.
[[SFX: The distortion lessens.]]
YOUNG PERI/ PERI: Oh my darlin’ oh my darlin’, oh my darlin’ Clementine, You are lost now gone forever, dreadful sorry Clementine.
[[SFX: Minder breaks in.]]
MINDER: Get out of my facility, you wretched excuse for a being!
TATTERED WOMAN: Oh Minder, you must be terribly upset I slipped in. Don’t worry, I wasn’t planning on tip toeing up to any of your other little patrons though… now that I think of it…
YOUNG PERI: You heard him! Get out! No one's gonna listen to you.
TATTERED WOMAN: You better keep a closer eye on who comes in here, Minder. Else I might just slip in again. Hesperia, I’ll be missing you ‘til we meet again.
[[SFX: She hums the final line of Clementine. Chuckles. Then...Quiet.]]
MINDER: Get out. Both of you.
[[SFX: Peri and Benny walk on gravel.]]
BENNY: You know I need to ask.
PERI: Ask what.
BENNY: What all that was.
PERI: You don’t want to know.
BENNY: You’re right, I don’t but I should. Seriously, first remembering your brother goes haywire and then, it looked like you were yelling and then a crack showed up?That minder went nuts trying to break down the door, you all were talking to someone who wasn’t there or at least I couldn’t see…
PERI: She’s… Hm. Earlier today. You said you hadn’t heard something. You were gonna say you haven’t heard me hum in a while, right?
PERI: The… whoever it was you couldn't see, she’s responsible for that. And some other things too. It’s why I’ve had more bad days than good lately. It’s like, I can hardly bring myself to get out of bed sometimes. You know when you… set arbitrary goal posts for yourself? Like, if I get a new haircut I’ll finally be pretty or if I get a new job I’ll be happy or… if I get back to the lighthouse I’ll be okay. Except, you still have your dumb face, you still have the same problems at the new job and… I still wasn’t okay even here. It’s like she magnified the worst parts of myself and even though I could still do a lot of the things I’ve been doing, they’re just… so much harder and I didn’t have… my tools to help me do it all. And I hid the fact I was angry at myself for that, that I let her take all of that away from me.
BENNY: But you got it back, I mean, you were singing in there, you got it back.
PERI: Yeah, I did. But how long will it be until she shows up again?
BENNY: You’re not alone, bud. You got me. You got Mo. You’ve got people to help you. We can sing and make music all day if that helps keep her away.
PERI: Thanks I…
[[SFX: She trails off and takes a piece of chalk out of her pocket.]]
PERI: Oh shoot, I forgot to give back the chalk.
BENNY: Think it still works out here?
PERI: Maybe. I’ll try another day though. Hopefully it’ll go right that time around.
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,
Danielle Shemaiah as Ruth,
Lily Richards as the Tattered woman,
Betty Xavier as Young Peri,
And Sheldon Brown as The Minder.
Editing by Eli Barraza. 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, where we just updated our feed with brand-new rewards, and where we’re halfway to our goal of our first live show. If you’d like to contribute monthly, check out Patreon.com/TheFarMeridian.
Until next time, may you always find your way.