A journey discovering life after death and the importance of learning how to laugh.
|It is nighttime, two girls sprint, giggling towards the dividing strip of land between the lake and the river.
Christine: spins around to face Cassie. Cass, are you sure you can do this? I don’t want you falling in or anything. I mean with your balancing skills.
Cassie: Excuse me Ms. I-fall-over-while-walking. Besides, we have walked over this like a gazillion times. Plus, I have wonderful balance.
Chris laughs and heads across the strip.
Chris: shouting behind her. Tell that to your gymnastics coach.
Cassie rolls her eyes and speeds to catch up struggling with the blanket and basket she is holding.
Cassie: Hey, that was like seven years ago. Would you please slow down Chris.
Chris: Maybe you should speed up slowpoke.
Cassie: Well maybe if you would hold something I wouldn’t be lagging behind.
She hears Chris’ laughter from the other side of the strip and laughs to speed across.
Scene up: Chris and Cassie are sitting on the blanket by the lake, talking.
Cassie goes into the basket and grabs another beer.
Cassie: Are you ready for another one?
Chris: shakes her bottle certainly sounds like it. Cassie hand her one. You know Cass, I am certainly going to miss this.
Cassie: Yeah, me too. So how about you don’t go, and you just stay here, and go to college here.
Chris: Well, as good as a plan as that is, I don’t think I will be able to get my money back from the college I already decided to go to, that might be a tiny dilemma.
Cassie: Damn. It was worth a shot.
They are silent for a minute.
Cassie: Why do you have to go, I mean what am I supposed to do with my life now?
Chris: Don’t be silly, it isn’t like I am leaving forever. I am not dying here Cass, I’m going to college, and I will be back in May and we will have all of next summer, and then you will be there with me. You will be fine.
Cassie: Mmkay, whatevs you say. Well, just know that I am going to miss you.
Chris: Cassie, I already knew that. Come on, let’s swim.
The two girls strip down to their underwear and hold hands as they plunge into the cold lake water. Giggling they splash each other and swim around.
Scene up: It is May, seven am. Cassie comes running down the stairs with a huge smile on her face. She skips around the kitchen getting stuff for cereal.
Karen Williams: Well someone is certainly chipper this morning.
Cassie: Hey mom, guess what.
Karen: I think I already know.
Cassie: starts singing off key Chris is coming home today, Chris is coming home, Chris is coming home today. And I am super excited.
Karen: Well isn’t that just fantastic news.
Cassie: Yup, and I don’t have school so I can spend all day with her.
She sits down at the breakfast table and pours a bowl of cereal.
Karen: Is she flying in?
Cassie: No, her new boyfriend is coming home with her and they decided they wanted to drive. They should be home around 9:30; they left last night to get a head start.
Karen: Oh, I see. Well what are your plans?
Cassie: Like I know Mom, as if we plan anywhere near that far in advanced.
Karen: pouring another cup of coffee Right, exactly what was I thinking.
The phone rings and Karen shakes her head, as Cassie keeps singing under her breath.
Karen answers the phone.
Karen: Hello? –Hi Mrs. Williams, its Ben Carpenter- Oh hello Ben. Cassie looks up from her cereal excited.-Hi, is Cassie home?- Yeah, she is right here, would you like to talk to her? –Yes please- Alright, here she is.
Cassie jumps up and grabs the phone.
Cassie: Hey Ben, is Chris home yet? –Um, no. Cass, she…um, well she isn’t coming home.- What are you talking about, she texted me last night, she said that she already left, she has got to be coming home. –Cassie, there was an accident, on the highway.- Well, Chris is alright, isn’t she? –She…Cassie, she died.- Cassie drops the phone and slowly slumps to the floor. It’s a joke, it has to be a joke, she is at home, she is already there. She had Ben call, tell me that, because well she thought it would be funny. Well I’m not laughing Chris. This is not funny. Karen kneels down and wraps Cassie in her arms, rocking her back and forth.
Scene up. Cassie’s room. The curtains are drawn and the floor is covered with clothes and books and plates that once held food. A little bit of light is escaping through the gap in the curtains. There is a fan blowing directly on to the large bed in the middle where you can almost make out a human sized lump. There is a knock at the door.
Cassie rolls over and groans. The knock comes again. Cassie puts the pillow over her face. The knock continues.
Cassie: Mom, go away! I am not getting up today.
The knocking stops.
Oh thank god.
A moment later she hears the door creak open. Mother, I said I am not getting up. Cassie shouts throwing the pillow at the door.
Ben: holding the pillow. Well thanks for this, but you know I have my own pillows at home.
Cassie shoots up out of bed shocked.
Cassie: Ben. Sorry about that, erm. What are you doing here?
Ben: I am here to take you out.
Cassie: Well my mother clearly didn’t tell you, but I am not exactly in the mood for the world today.
Ben: From what she told me you haven’t been in the mood for the world for a while.
Cassie lies back down. Ben walks over by her bed.
Ben: Oh no you don’t, we are going out and we are going to enjoy the sun.
He heads over to the curtains and pulls them open. Cassie groans and rolls away from the sunshine. Ben then pulls the covers off the bed. Cassie rolls over to face him and glares.
Cassie: You are mean.
Ben: Come on Cassie, get up. When was the last time you ate? He waits for an answer and doesn’t get one. How about a shower? Again no answer. Alright, here is the plan, I am going to go downstairs, and if you aren’t down there in an hour I am going to drag you out of this room, give you a shower myself, and then tie you into the flatbed of my pickup.
He walks out of the room and Cassie dives her face back into her bed.
Scene up: Ben is sitting at the table in the kitchen. Karen is making cookies.
Karen: Thanks for doing this Ben, she has refused to leave this house and most of the time that room for the past three weeks. She wouldn't even get up for graduation. It was like pulling teeth to get her to go to school for finals.
Ben: It’s my pleasure Mrs. W. It’s a nice change for me anyway.
Karen stops what she is doing and walks over to Ben and takes a seat across from him.
Karen: How is everything at home Ben?
Ben: Good, considering. My dad has basically disappeared into his work. Charlie doesn't come home anymore, and my mom, well its hit her pretty hard, but we get by.
Karen: Well, you know that if you ever need anything at all, our door is open.
She reaches out and squeezes his hand.
Cassie: Well isn't this just precious.
Karen and Ben turn to see Cassie standing at the base of the stairs, her clothes don't match and her hair is soaked, pulled into a messy braid.
Ben: Wow Cass. You look like a drowned rat, would you like to go back up and try again.
Cassie: Don't push it.
Karen: Well you better get doing before she changes her mind.
Cassie and Ben head towards the door.
Cassie: So Ben, where are we going?
Ben: It’s a surprise, come on, let’s go. Bye Mrs. W.
He pushes her towards the door.
Cassie: This is utterly ridiculous.
Scene up: Cassie and Ben are in the front cab of a pick up.
Cassie: This could constitute kidnapping you know.
Ben: Come one Cassie, you needed to get out of that house. You will thank me for this eventually.
Cassie sighs and stares out the window. Ben looks over at her worried and then starts to fiddle with the radio.
Cassie: What are you doing?
Ben: Finding something to listen too, I mean call me crazy but I like to listen to things when the car is silent. Is that okay?
Cassie shrugs and goes back to looking out the window.
Ben: You know, a lot of people were asking about you at school.
Cassie: Like they care.
Ben: What makes you think they don't?
Cassie doesn't say anything and stares down at her hands.
Cassie: You know Ben, I don't know how you can do this?
Ben: Do what?
Cassie: Act like it’s all okay, like she isn't gone.
Ben pulls into a small parking lot behind a small building and lets the car idle.
Ben: Cassie keeps saying Cassie during her next little speech thing.
Cassie: It feels like you guys just forgot her or something. Like she wasn't a big part of your lives. Like she didn't mean anything. Well she meant something to me. So sorry that I can't just restart as easily. That I can't smile and be happy that I am alive and breathing. Because she isn't, and she made being alive mean something. So I can't forget her easily. She was my best friend.
Ben: Cassandra! Stop talking and listen to me for a second. Cassie stops talking and stares at Ben wide-eyed. You keep acting like you are the only one who lost something. I lost something too. Alright, and I have spent my time wallowing. But I have decided to give my life a try again, to learn how to laugh again. What is so wrong about that? It doesn't mean I forgot her, it doesn't mean I don't miss her. It doesn't mean it doesn't hurt still.
There is silence for a moment. Cassie starts and stops saying something a few times.
Cassie: Ben- I'm sorry. I didn't mean...
Ben: -Lets just forget it okay. Come on, we are here.
He turns off the car and they both get out.
Cassie: You still aren't going to tell me what we are doing?
Ben: Not a chance in hell. Now, close your eyes.
Cassie looks skeptically but closes her eyes, Ben leads her by the shoulders to the back door, and opens it and leads her inside. Standing her in the middle of the room he flips on the lights. The room is filled with toys, and easels. Small tables and chairs. There is an indoor playground built for children. Alright, you can open your eyes now.
Cassie: Oh my god. Ben, what is this place?
Ben: It’s an old day care, my sister used to bring me here when I was having a bad day. He walks over to a mini fridge and pulls out two beers and hands one to Cassie. Of course, we made a few improvements.
Cassie: I'll say.
She walks over to the playground and sits on the swings. Ben comes over and joins her.
Cassie: I wonder why she never told me about this place.
Ben: Eh, you know Chris, she had a special place with everyone. It was weird with her. Like I am sure there is a place that you two went that I have never heard about.
Cassie stops and thinks, a small smile appearing on her lips.
Ben: I remember the last time we came here. It was the night before she left, and you had just left the house, and she was crying so hard she couldn't see straight. So I drove us out here. And we finger painted and talked about a lot of stuff, and then she cried some more. Then by the time we were pretty buzzed and she turned to me and said "Ben, do you think I am making a mistake?" And I could see the fear in her eyes. Cassie, she was scared. Chris was terrified of this, and it scared me, to see her so...weak I guess.
Ben: What if I had told her yes, what if I had been able to stop her from going. She would still be here, you know? I don't know, I think about that night a lot.
Cassie tries to say something but the words won't come. She reaches out with her free hand and grabs Ben's other hand. They sway in silence for a bit.
Scene up: Cassie walks down the stairs in the morning, her hair unbrushed, clearly she has just woken up. Her mom and dad are sitting at the kitchen table. Her dad is eating cereal and reading the comics. Her mom is sipping coffee and reading the metro section of the paper.
David: Karen, Look.
He signals to Cassie who is meandering into the kitchen.
Karen: Is everything alright sweetheart?
Cassie stops in her tracks and looks confused.
Cassie: Of course, why?
Karen: Well, It’s nine in the morning.
Cassie grabs some cereal and milk and sits down next to her dad.
Cassie: Yeah, and?
Karen: Well, you haven’t been up at nine, or before noon for that matter, since you finished your finals.
Cassie: And that means that there is something wrong?
Karen: No, I just…she glances at David.
David: Your mother is just amazed that you were able to roll out of bed before the sun hit the middle of the sky. I on the other hand knew you had it in you. He winks at his daughter and they smile.
Cassie: Guys, everything is okay. I just told Ben that I would be over at ten.
Karen: You two have been spending a lot of time together haven’t you?
Karen: As long as it gets you out of the house.
Cassie: What does that mean.
Karen: Nothing…Its just that you have been spending a lot of time inside this house, and I am glad that you are getting out there. You know, seeing people. Maybe you should give a few of your other friends a call. Brittany stopped by a lot last month.
Cassie: Mom, if I was to call anyone it would certainly not be Brittany.
Karen: Why not, Brittany seems like such a nice girl.
Cassie snorts and takes a bite of cereal.
David: Karen, why don’t we stop badgering the girl and let her enjoy her breakfast.
Karen: What, I am not allowed to ask her questions.
They fall silent. David finishes his food and puts his bowl in the sink and grabs his briefcase.
David: Oh hey kiddo. This Saturday I have tickets for the game, you up for it?
Cassie: You kidding? Of course.
David: Alright, maybe we can grab lunch before as well. See you guys later.
He leaves. Cassie and Karen continue breakfast in silence.
Scene up: Ben pulls into the parking lot of a pizza place. Cassie glances inside and sees a few of her classmates. She throws a glare at Ben.
Cassie: There is no way in hell you can convince me that this is going to be a good idea.
Ben: Cassie, we need to eat dinner, and this is the best place in town.
Cassie: I don’t see why we couldn’t eat what your mom cooked for dinner. I mean she did invite us in after we went to the mall.
Ben: Did you really think that was a good idea. I haven’t had a home cooked meal in months. Come on Cass. We will just pop in, have a slice of pizza, and we can get a table in the back and no one will bother us.
Cassie: Ben, have you ever seen Grease?
Cassie: You know when Danny and Sandy go out, and they try to avoid their friends.
Cassie: Remember how well that worked out.
Ben: Come on, please. Five seconds, and if you absolutely hate it we can leave.
Cassie groans and Ben turns off the car and gets out. Realizing she has no choice she hops out too. Brittany, near the front of the store spots Cassie from inside and runs towards the door.
Brittany: Cassandra Williams!
She starts jogging towards them.
Cassie: Now this, I cannot do.
She ducks out from under Ben’s arm, turns and starts walking towards the car. He grabs her shoulders and walks her towards the restaurant.
Ben: Just smile and be nice.
Cassie glances at him with a giant fake smile on her face.
Cassie: I hate you.
Ben: Well you got one of them down.
Brittany has finally reached them and wraps Cassie in a giant hug.
Brittany: Oh Cassie, I was so worried about you. I stopped by a few times but you mom said that you weren’t letting anyone see you. Well I am glad that I get to see you know? How have you been? Oh, never mind that, I am so glad that you are here now. We have so much to talk about. And all of the latest gossip, I mean did you hear what Mikey did to Trisha at the graduation party.
Cassie throws a look at Ben, the smile still planted on her face.
Ben: That is really great Brittany, but we are just here to get a pizza to go, maybe some other time.
Cassie: Yeah, some other time. I will give you a call soon.
Cassie and Ben hurry away leaving Brittany looking confused.
Scene Up: Cassie and Ben are standing at the counter of the pizza place, Cassie is wearing Ben’s hat, pulled down over her face.
Cassie: I told you this was a bad idea.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. Aren’t you just Ms. Right-all-the-time?
Cassie gives him a little shove, and then looks around the restaurant.
Cassie: Look at all of them staring. It’s not like I am anything new or special.
Ben: Cass…I’m just going to let that go.
Cassie: No, what?
Cassie glares, Ben pays and grabs the pizza and signals for Cassie to walk towards the door. Cassie curtsies and walks out the door and Ben follows.
Scene Up: Cassie and Ben are in the car.
Ben: So where would you like to go to enjoy this delicious pizza we just purchased.
Cassie: Will you let me drive for a minute?
Cassie: There is somewhere I want to show you.
Ben looks skeptical.
Cassie: If I wanted to drive us off a cliff I would have jerked the wheel a lot earlier. Trust me, it is just a place that was special for Chris and me. You showed me the preschool, now there is somewhere that I want to show you.
Ben concedes and hands Cassie the keys.
Ben: There better not be any cliffs involved.
Scene up: Cassie pulls the truck into a small drive by the woods and turns the car off.
Ben: Where are we?
Cassie: Do you have good balance?
Ben: Its pretty decent why?
Cassie: Stop asking questions and follow me.
Cassie and Ben get out the car and Cassie leads the way to the same strip of land that her and Chris crossed at the beginning.
Ben: We have to cross this?
Cassie starts across and spins to face Ben.
Cassie: You aren’t scared, are you?
He starts across with the pizza box, he loses his footing and drops the pizza box, one of his legs hanging over the side, right above the water the other half way on the land. Cassie races over grabs the pizza with one hand and Ben’s arm with the other and helps him to his feet.
Cassie: So you have good balance huh?
Ben: Shut it. Let’s go.
They start across again going slower. Cassie’s free hand stretched out behind her holding Ben’s hand.
Ben: This place better be worth it.
Cassie: You sound like me the first time Chris took me out here.
They fall silent until they finally reach the other side.
Cassie: See that wasn’t so bad.
Ben just stares at her.
Cassie: All right baby, we aren’t. Done yet.
She leads the way further into the woods.
Scene up: Cassie and Ben are standing at “the spot”. The view= a large lake stretching into the sky, as the sun is setting. Behind them in a river and then woods. Cassie drops the pizza box and then sits down herself. Ben continues standing staring at the lake.
Cassie: You can sit down you know.
Ben: Its beautiful out here.
Cassie: I know.
He finally sits down next to her.
Cassie: Chris used to say she would come out here and imagine that this is what it looks like, standing on the edge of oblivion.
Ben: Yeah, I can see that. There is more silence between them. You know Cassie, its okay to be upset, its okay to talk about it. Just so you know. You shouldn’t have to go through this alone. You shouldn’t have to hurt alone.
Cassie: It doesn’t hurt.
Ben: What do you mean?
Cassie: I don’t really feel anything anymore. I wish I did. I wish I could cry or scream, even feel angry at something. Because I know that I should. But I can’t. I try, I do. Nothing comes though. I haven’t cried since that day. It would be easier if this hurt. It would be easier if I actually felt something.
Now knowing what to say he reaches over and grabs one of her hands, and they sit there together in silence, staring into each other’s eyes. Cassie then clears her throat.
Cassie: We should probably eat this pizza before it gets cold.
Ben: Yeah that sounds like a good plan.
They open the pizza box and start eating the pizza, trying to get rid of the uncomfortableness in the air.
Ben: So, are you ever going to call Brittany back?
Cassie: sarcastically Oh of course. I have to know what Mikey did to Trisha.
They laugh as the scene fades to black.
End of act one.
Scene up: Cassie is standing outside a modest dark blue house in front of a closed white door. Holding a loaf of bread and a bundle of mail. She rings the doorbell with her elbow and slouches down waiting for someone to come open the door. When she hears the door unlock she perks up a bit. Denise Bennet answers the door.
Denise Bennet: Yes?
She asks and then it registers who is at the door.
Cassie, is that you darling?
Cassie: Yes, Hi Mrs. Benet. How are you doing?
Denise: Oh just fine, just fine, come in.
She herds Cassie into the house and Cassie sets the bread down on a table then looks around the house. All the lights are off and the curtains drawn the TV is on in the background. The house looks like it is uninhabited. It is spotless as if someone scrubbed away any human effect. Cassie stops staring at the spotless surfaces and snaps back to the conversation.
Cassie: Um, when I was walking up I noticed that you hadn’t gotten you mail yet so I thought I would bring it in. And my dad made some bread he wanted me to bring over.
Denise: Well isn’t that sweet of you.
Denise takes the mail from Cassie and shuffles into the kitchen.
Denise: Can I get you anything sweetheart?
Cassie: Oh no, I’m fine I am just here to pick up Ben.
Denise comes back from the kitchen.
Cassie: Is everything okay Mrs. Bennet? Do you need anything?
Denise: Oh no, I’m fine. It is very nice of you to ask.
She goes into the living room and sits down on the couch, being sucked into the t.v.
Ben then comes down the stairs.
Ben: Hey Cass, sorry it took me so long, I couldn’t find my shoe.
Cassie: It’s alright. Ready to go?
Ben: Yup, Bye mom.
Denise doesn’t acknowledge anything as Cassie and Ben head out the door.
Scene up: Cassie and Ben are walking down the streets after leaving Ben’s house.
Cassie: Ben, is your mom alright?
Ben: She is fine. Why?
Cassie: Its just, she doesn’t seem all right.
Ben: What are you saying?
Cassie: I was just asking a question.
Ben: Why are you suddenly interested in the well being of my mother?
Ben: Its been a month since Chris died and suddenly you give a damn about my family.
Cassie: Ben, what has gotten into you?
Ben: If you had died Chris would have been the first one over your house making sure your parents were okay.
Cassie: Well I am sorry but I am not Chris.
Ben: You’re right, you are nothing like her, sometimes I wonder why she was ever friends with you. All you ever seem to think about is yourself but then suddenly you show up at my house, and care?
Cassie is standing in the middle of the sidewalk, her mouth open but not making any sound.
Ben: You know, I don’t think I am really in the mood to do anything. I’ll talk to you later.
He walks away and a few silent tears roll down Cassie’s face.
Scene up: It is nighttime and Cassie and her mom are eating dinner.
Karen: So where has Ben been lately? You two were starting to seem inseparable.
Cassie: He’s been around I guess. I don’t really know we haven’t been hanging out lately.
Karen: Shame, I was so glad when he came by, getting out of this house. It was good for you, and he is such a nice boy.
Cassie: Yeah, it was great. Could we please not talk about Ben right now.
Karen: What happened, did you two get in a fight?
Cassie pokes at her barely touched dinner.
Cassie: I would really prefer to not talking about this.
Karen: Alright, I can take a hint. But sweetie if you ever do need to talk, you know you can come to me right?
She takes a few bites of her food then stands up and puts it on the counter.
Cassie: I think I am going to go for a walk. I’ll be back soon.
She walks out the front door before her mom can say anything.
Scene up: Cassie is lying in the grass next to a grave. She is facing the stars.
Cassie: They are beautiful, aren’t they Chris? I wish you could be here to see them. For all I know you are up there, but they would shine ten times brighter if you were. There is a pause. Its not fair Chris, you somewhere beautiful where life makes sense, and me stuck in the middle of this. Things are supposed to make sense, aren’t they? Or am I being crazy for thinking that. I mean, hey, I am lying in a graveyard talking to myself. Crazy. You are probably up there somewhere laughing at me right now. She stops talking, closes her eyes and sighs. Chris I knew this would hurt, but I didn’t think it would hurt this much. She says that in a whisper. The camera shows Ben walking up. When he hears Cassie he stops behind a tree.
I went by your house last week and saw your mom. She didn’t look good Chris. And maybe Ben was right, maybe I was being selfish. Maybe if I had gone over there before, she wouldn’t have gotten like that. I just feel so lost you know? Well no, you probably don’t. You always knew what you wanted or where you were going. Now, no one knows. Its like you were holding everything together, and now that you are gone, well everything has fallen apart. Ad you know, I’m trying hard to be strong, but I don’t want to be anymore.
She sits up and stares at the headstone, tears running down her face.
It hurts to miss you Chris, I’m not strong enough for pain.
She just sits there, staring. Ben takes this moment to walk up. Cassie hears his footsteps and spins her head around.
Cassie: Oh, she wipes her tears away, I was just leaving. She stands up and walks past Ben, he grabs her arm.
Cassie: Don’t what?
Ben turns to face her, a bruise visible on his face.
Ben: Don’t go.
Cassie: Ben, what happened?
Ben: Oh this? Signaling to his eye. Well remember that day I got mad at you?
Cassie: Its not exactly something one easily forgets.
Ben: Well my brother came home that day and got in a fight with my mom and then stormed out. That is why I was so mad that day. And then this weekend he came by again and picked another fight. Then I did a fairly stupid thing and got in his way when he tried to leave. Long story short, lots of things were said and then he threw a punch and hit me in the face.
Ben: Yeah, you know Cass, what I said that day, well I didn’t mean it.
Cassie: Its already forgotten, don’t even think about it.
Ben: But I do think about it. I was so angry that day. I think mentally I was yelling at him, not you.
Ben keeps talking but Cassie interrupts him by pulling him into a hug and she whimpers in his ear.
Cassie: Its okay, I understand. She pulls away. Well I should let you get going with whatever it was you were going to do.
Ben: Actually I was looking for you. I went by your house to apologize and you mom was in a tizzy going on about how you left the house to go for a walk hours ago and you were answering your phone. Speaking of your mother, you should probably give her a call before she forms a search party.
Cassie: Yeah, that sounds like a good plan. She pulls out her phone. How did you know where I was?
Ben: I didn’t, I think I drove everywhere in town looking. I almost called Brittany, thinking that you had properly lost your mind. But then I realized there was one place I hadn’t looked, and there you were.
Cassie: dialing her phone and holding it up to her ear. Well I am glad you thought of this because I wouldn’t want to have to explain this to Brittany.
Laughing they walk away into the dark.