Episode 14: A Haunting Prospect

[SCENE I. The main street of Portland. The leaves are beginning to turn and some of the storefronts are beginning to see the slow encroachment of Hallowe’en decor. SARAH and MELISSA are walking.]

MELISSA: Have you ever seen one of those fake spiderwebs that actually looks remotely realistic?

SARAH: Maybe! Maybe you can’t just tell that the realistic-looking ones are fake.

MELISSA: . . . point taken.

SARAH: Also, realistic spiderwebs are kind of hard to see. The dirty cobwebs are the ones that aren’t being used anymore.

MELISSA: Mm. I realize you are probably trying to frighten me, small friend, but I am good at overcoming my arachnophobia for Hallowe’en.

SARAH: Why do you call me that?

MELISSA: What? Small friend? You’re small, and you’re my friend. Small friend.

SARAH: (Thoughtful.) I think I’m going to start calling you large friend.

MELISSA: But I’m not large.

SARAH: Whatever, fatty.

MELISSA: Tall, maybe. You could call me tall friend. (Beat.) Wait, no, don’t do that. That’s awful. (Beat.) You’re making me seriously reconsider my life choices here. (Beat.) Do you really care what I call you?

SARAH: Oh, no, I was just curious. (She notices a poster on display in one of the windows and runs over to it.) Oh, a haunted house! They opened this weekend!

MELISSA: (Walking up slowly behind.) It’s funny. When I was a kid this was my favorite time of year. Ghosts and goblins and jack o’ lanterns. You know, spooky things.

SARAH: Goblins?

MELISSA: I always wondered about that. It was just a stock phrase, I think. I didn’t even know what a goblin was until we read the Hobbit in middle school. I don’t think anyone has ever dressed as one in the history of time.

SARAH: Except for all those extras in the Lord of the Rings movies.

MELISSA: Pretty sure those are actual goblins. (Beat. She reads the poster.) This sounds creepy.

SARAH: I know! Can we go tonight?

MELISSA: I mean creepy in a bad way.

SARAH: You take things too seriously.

MELISSA: It has fine print. (Leans in to read it more closely.) You apparently have to sign a waiver.

SARAH: That just means it’s really good!

MELISSA: No, Sarah. It does not.

SARAH: But there’s never any good haunted houses here!

MELISSA: This is probably because they are all actually haunted, operated by a cult, or otherwise incredibly sinister.

SARAH: Not all of them! There was the one a few years ago.

MELISSA: They had an actual werewolf in a cage.

SARAH: But apart from that!

MELISSA: Sarah.

SARAH: You never let me have any fun.

MELISSA: Oh, we should definitely go. But there will be blood, and possibly tears.

SARAH: It’s fine. I’m used to Melissa-tears when there are spiders involved.

MELISSA: And the bloodshed?

SARAH: Everybody bleeds. (Beat.) We should make a children’s book about it!

MELISSA: “Everybody Bleeds: The Melissa Xenakis Story.”

SARAH: It’s perfect!

MELISSA: You are once again causing me to seriously question my life choices.

SARAH: Sorry. (Beat.) So, haunted house tonight?

MELISSA: It feels sort of inevitable at this point.

SARAH: Also a good title for your memoirs.

MELISSA: I hate everything.

SARAH: I’m going to start writing these down.

MELISSA: You do that. I’m going to stop talking now.

SARAH: Right.

 

[SCENE II. MELISSA and SARAH’s house. MELINA is lying on the couch eating dinner as SARAH and MELISSA arrive. MELISSA enters wordlessly, waves at her sister, and sits down at the end of the couch, staring blankly. SARAH is as exuberant as ever.]

SARAH: Lina! We’re going to a haunted house. You should come.

LINA: Didn’t you almost die last time?

SARAH: We’ve almost died lots of times!

LINA: And you think this makes you immortal?

SARAH: No, I just think haunted houses are fun! So does Melissa but she had to swear a vow of silence on the way home.

LINA: What? (She turns to look at her sister.)

(MELISSA nods wordlessly.)

SARAH: She kept saying things that I thought should be the title of her memoirs, and I kept writing them down. (She shows off a small notebook with a page full of very neat handwriting.) Then she decided that she was cursed and swore a blood oath not to speak again until sunrise tomorrow.

LINA: A blood oath.

(MELISSA sighs theatrically and makes a ‘what can you do?’ gesture.)

SARAH: I think she means it. I even set her up for some perfect zingers and she didn’t say anything. She just gave me this really heartbreakingly sad look.

LINA: I see. (She gives MELISSA a long, hard look.) Are you actually, physically restrained from saying something?

(MELISSA shifts uneasily.)

LINA: Like, if I were to start calling you Mel–

(MELISSA cringes.)

LINA: Or Melly.

(MELISSA looks about to say something, but stops. She looks puzzled, tries again, then looks panicked.)

LINA: Sarah, give her that notebook. (SARAH hands MELISSA pen and notebook. She eagerly takes it.) What  were you thinking?

(MELISSA begins trying to write, cringes in pain, and drops the pen and notebook. She looks genuinely distraught now.)

LINA: Okay, so no writing, either?

(MELISSA shakes her head.)

SARAH: This is my fault, isn’t it?

LINA: No, something seriously fucked up is going on. Lissa, try typing something. I don’t care what.

(MELISSA hesitantly gets up and makes her way to the computer, and waits for it to turn on as the following exchange happens.)

LINA: Are you two still going to the haunted house?

SARAH: I mean, she doesn’t need to talk to enjoy a haunted house, right?

LINA: Are you cool with that, Lissa?

(MELISSA gives a thumbs up from the computer, and begins trying to type. She manages to get a keystroke in before recoiling from the computer as if it has burned her.)

LINA: I’d better come with. I’d hate for something bad to happen to my genetic copy if I could have prevented it with my encyclopedic knowledge of her mannerisms and facial expressions. (She gives SARAH a stern look.) But just because we are identical and have eerily similar quirks doesn’t mean I am your Melissa surrogate tonight, got it?

SARAH: Oh, of course.

LINA: Fine. Let’s get this terrible idea over with. (She puts on her coat and opens the door.) Ladies? After you.

(They all file out into an increasingly cloudy autumn’s evening. TBC.)

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