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Pearl (2022) | Transcript

In 1918, a young woman on the brink of madness pursues stardom in a desperate attempt to escape the drudgery, isolation, and lovelessness of life on her parents' farm.
Pearl (2022)

Pearl (2022)
Director: Ti West
Writer: Ti West
Stars: Mia Goth, David Corenswet, Tandi Wright, Matthew Sunderland, Emma Jenkins-Purro

Plot: Trapped on her family’s isolated farm, Pearl must tend to her ailing father under the bitter and overbearing watch of her devout mother. Lusting for a glamorous life like she’s seen in the movies, Pearl finds her ambitions, temptations, and repressions all colliding in this origin story of X’s iconic villain.

* * *

(ROOSTER CROWING)

(LIGHTING FIXTURES CLUNKING)

(DOOR CREAKS)

(SPEAKING GERMAN)

(GOATS BLEATING)

(IN ENGLISH) Eat up!

(SIGHS LOUDLY)

One day you’ll never see me again.

That’s right, Charlie.

The farm life may be it for you, but it sure ain’t for me.

I’m special.

Mama’s gonna feel real stupid when she finds out, won’t she?

(COW MOOING)

One day, the whole world’s gonna know my name.

You agree, don’t you, Mary?

(SHEEP BLEATS)

Oh. Why, thank you.

I do love a good audience.

Y’all see me for who I really am.

A star.

(GOOSE HONKING)

(CLUCKING)

What are you doing in here, Mr. Goose?

(CLUCKING)

(BIRDS CHIRPING)

(SHOUTS) Theda!

Go on, girl.

Take it.

RUTH: You aren’t to indulge in any more such foolishness.

It’s just dancing, Mama.

It’s selfish is what it is.

With all the farmhands gone, I can’t do everything around here myself.

I help.

(SPEAKING GERMAN)

(IN ENGLISH) Anything for me in the post today?

RUTH: No.

PEARL: It says the Allies have taken control of France.

RUTH: You can read it after supper.

But, Mama, this could mean the end of the war!

Do as I ask, Pearl.

I don’t want to hear about any more dead Germans tonight.

Supper’s ready, Daddy.

(GRUNTS)

(BIRD TWEETING)

RUTH: Bless us, O’ Lord, and these thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Amen.

(RUTH SPEAKING GERMAN)

(PEARL SIGHS)

(SLURPS)

PEARL: “My precious Pearl.

“It feels as if it has been an eternity without you.

“All we do is walk, it seems.

“I never know if we’ll get to where they say we’re going.

“They have us chew on bouillon cubes so we don’t notice the pains in our feet.

“I find it most frightening at night in the trenches.

“The mortar shells are deafening.

“Many soldiers have gone mad with the fear.

“Carnage from the gas has shown me things I won’t soon forget, and thinking of you has been my only reprieve.

“I will always be proud to serve my country, but one thing this war has made clear is that I cannot wait to return home and begin our life together.

“I never want to be away from you again.

“Till death do us part.

“Your loving husband, Howard.”

I’ll go to town tomorrow.

Pick up more medicine.

(SLURPS)

Which means I get to stop by the pictures.

Just don’t tell Mama.

They show all the best dancers at the pictures.

I could be on the line with those girls one day.

I know I could.

(GIGGLES)

(FLOOR CREAKING)

RUTH: Pearl.

I didn’t want to waste the hot water.

The money for his medicine is on the kitchen table.

Remember to cover your face.

And don’t linger close to anyone.

Papers are warning of a lethal resurgence.

God forbid sickness returns to our home.

MAN: The time is now…

(CONTINUES INDISTINCTLY)

(DOORBELL JANGLING)

PHARMACIST: Two-bits, please.

(CASH REGISTER DINGING)

(DRAMATIC MUSIC PLAYING ON CINEMA SCREEN)

(AUDIENCE COUGHING)

(JOLLY MUSIC PLAYING)

MAN: ♪ Poor Johnny’s heart

♪ Went pitty, pitty pat

♪ Somewhere in sunny France

♪ He met a girl by chance

♪ With ze naughty, naughty glance

♪ She looked just like a kitty, kitty cat

♪ She loved to dance and play

♪ Tho’ he learned no French when he left the trench

♪ He knew well enough to say

♪ Oui, oui, Marie

♪ Will you do zis for me?

♪ Oui, oui, Marie… ♪

PROJECTIONIST: Did you enjoy the picture?

Cigarette?

Oh, go on. I don’t have the bug.

You like the movies?

I like dancing.

Oh, a future Tiller Girl.

I can see it now.

(MATCH STRIKING)

I wish.

Why not? You’re pretty enough.

(PEARL COUGHS)

On account of a husband, I gather?

He’s overseas,

but my father’s infirmed, so I have to help at home.

I’m sorry to hear that.

You want to come watch the second show?

Free admission.

I’m the projectionist.

I need to get going.

Mama’s expecting me, but I appreciate the, um…

Stay there for just one minute, would you?

Okay.

(HORN HONKING)

(SIGHS)

From what you just saw.

Aren’t you showing it again?

Ah… Sure, but it’s only one frame.

Nobody will notice once I splice it back together.

You know, caring for your family

during these times is admirable.

You ought to take pride in that,

but don’t forget to live your life, too.

I wouldn’t mind seeing you

up on that screen one day, missus…

Pearl.

Well, if you come back,

knock on this door. I’m always here, and,

well, I can run the pictures as much as I like.

Thank you.

I will.

(GASPS)

(GRUNTS)

(BIRDS CAWING)

(GASPS)

(BIRDS CAWING)

May I have this dance?

(WALTZ MUSIC PLAYING)

(MUSIC FADES)

(GASPS)

(SCARECROW THUDS)

(BIRDS CAWING)

(SCREAMS) I’m married!

Shh…

(MOANING)

(MOANING AND PANTING)

(SCREAMING IN PLEASURE)

(BIRDS CAWING)

What took you so long?

PEARL: It’s a far ride, Mama.

What is on your head?

Found it along the road.

Do not bring it inside.

It may be covered in germs.

Wash your hair.

If you’re lucky, it’s only full of lice.

When you finish, your father needs changing.

Don’t let him sit in his mess.

(PEARL SCRUBBING)

PEARL: I saw a new picture today.

You’d have liked it. The girls were all flawless.

There’s no room for even the tiniest

lack of precision in a troupe like that.

It takes absolute perfection.

What a charmed life it must be to star in the movies.

(FATHER GROANING SOFTLY)

(WATER SLOSHING)

(WHISPERS) Are you still in there?

(GROANS SOFTLY)

(EXHALES DEEPLY)

RUTH: Bless us, O’ Lord, and these thy gifts

which we are about to receive from thy bounty

through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Amen.

Where is the rest of the money I lent you?

There was none.

I can count, Pearl.

There are eight cents missing.

I may have gotten some hard candy for the trip home.

That is enough, then.

You ate the candy, that was your supper.

The food I worked hard to prepare alone is not.

But, Mama, I rode all that way. I’m starving.

You may have what’s left of it in the morning.

(CHAIR SCRAPES)

Where are you going?

To bed!

I did not excuse you from the table.

(SPEAKING GERMAN)

(IN ENGLISH) I know that.

And I am careful.

(SPEAKING GERMAN)

(IN ENGLISH) Good.

(SIGHS)

(SPEAKING GERMAN)

(IN ENGLISH) Please, Lord,

make me the biggest star the world has ever known

so that I may get far, far away from this place.

Amen.

(BLOWS AIR)

(DOG BARKS IN DISTANCE)

(BIRDS CHIRPING)

(ROOSTER CROWING)

(VEHICLE APPROACHING)

(ENGINE ROARS)

Afternoon, Pearl! (GIGGLES)

Hi, Mitsy! I like your dress.

Oh, thank you.

It feels wonderful to finally be able to

don something pretty again.

It’s the first time we’ve left home in weeks.

Mother is so afraid of getting ill.

Mama, too.

MITSY: Well, we were a bit worried

about the both of you being out here all alone,

so we brought some food.

That’s very kind.

How have you been getting on?

Any new letters from Howard?

Uh-uh.

Oh, well… (SIGHS)

Mother has been riddled with worry.

They say no news is good news, though.

If only his pride hadn’t gotten him

involved in this dreadful war.

You know we had a doctor

willing to declare him ineligible?

Anyone would’ve taken that opportunity.

Not Howard.

First, he runs off to become a farmer.

Now, the army.

The lengths my brother will go to just to spite his father.

All this isolation has been enough

to make one mad, hasn’t it?

(INDISTINCT CONVERSATION)

It really has.

No, we don’t accept charity.

Oh, for God’s sake, Ruth. It’s just a pig.

Can I share a secret with you, Pearl?

Mother would throttle me

if she knew I was planning on attending.

But there’s a dance audition this Saturday at our church

for a Christmas chorus line

to bring merriment to folks

throughout the state during the holidays.

Word is, they’re putting together a troupe

and will be touring seven different cities

before the year ends.

Don’t that sound exciting?

I would love so much to be a part of it.

So would I.

(GASPS) We should go together then.

But you can’t tell a soul.

I would never.

Splendid. It’ll be our secret.

MARGARET: Mitsy!

I better skedaddle.

We got three more pigs to drop off this afternoon.

Saturday at 11:00.

Okay.

Sister-in-laws have to stick together, right?

(PEARL CHUCKLES SOFTLY)

MARGARET: Mitsy!

Time to go!

See you later, Pearl.

Bye, Mitsy!

Charlie, this could be it. (KISSES)

(COW MOOS)

(SHEEP BLEATING)

RUTH: Pearl?

Pearl!

(SIGHS)

(GRUNTS)

(DOG BARKS IN DISTANCE)

(KNOCKING ON DOOR)

(DOOR OPENS)

PROJECTIONIST: Well,

I didn’t expect to see you again this soon.

(DOOR CLOSES)

Have a seat.

PEARL: I can’t believe you get to see

the pictures every day for free.

Yeah, not a bad gig, huh?

Thank you.

(GLASSES CLINKING)

So, to what do I owe this pleasure?

I’ve been thinking a lot about

what you said to me the other day

about not forgetting to live my life,

and, well,

there’s a dance audition coming up at the church.

Oh, I like the sound of that.

So do I…

But I’ve never really danced in front of anyone before.

What if I’m not perfect?

You can do anything if you want it bad enough.

I want it.

Then don’t let anything stand in your way.

What would you like to see?

Palace Follies.

Oh, come on. You saw that already.

How about something different tonight?

How about…

How about a film nobody else has seen?

Okay.

I picked this one up while

I was in the service in France.

(PROJECTOR CLANKING)

PEARL: Do you live in here?

(CHUCKLES)

I lay my head on that pillow from time to time,

but I wouldn’t say I live anywhere in particular.

I’m what more civilized people refer to as bohemian.

I don’t know what that is.

It means I can pack up and leave whenever I want to.

Sounds like a dream.

PROJECTIONIST: Just as long as I can keep from waking up.

(PROJECTOR CLICKS)

(PROJECTOR WHIRRING)

PEARL: What is this?

PROJECTIONIST: Just watch.

Never seen anything like that before now, have you?

There are all kinds of underground stag films

like this out there.

Is it legal?

(CHUCKLES) Doing it, yeah.

Filming it, no.

Not here, anyway. It will be eventually.

People would pay an arm and a leg to see this.

Pictures like this are going to revolutionize the industry

and I, for one, plan on capitalizing early.

It’s reality.

There’s no denying we all share a fascination

in seeing people as they truly are.

I don’t like reality.

Where I live, I mean.

So leave.

It’s not that easy.

Well, sure it is.

There’s a road right out front there

that’ll take you all the way to New York City.

One day my mother and father will be gone.

I can do what I want then.

What if that’s too late?

The fact and truth of the matter is, Pearl,

you only get one take at this life.

And if you don’t make the most of it when you’re young,

you don’t get a second chance.

If only they would just die.

Pardon?

Nothing.

It’s real nice to be able to talk to someone for a change.

Been cooped up on that farm for so long

sometimes I worry that maybe

I’m not the same as other people.

(CHUCKLES SOFTLY)

Why would you ever want to be like everybody else?

I don’t know.

Sometimes it just seems more peaceful, I guess.

(PROJECTOR CLICKING)

Did you mean what you said?

About wanting to see me up on that screen?

Sure, I did.

I’d do anything to be up there.

Well, then, you ought to go overseas

when this pandemic ends.

That’s what I’m doing.

The arts are so much more alive in Europe.

You can be whoever you want to be there.

Really?

You could even be in pictures like this.

I know I’d watch you.

I should go now.

Thank you.

What for?

For seeing me tonight.

(RUTH SOBBING)

(DOOR CREAKING)

(RUTH CONTINUES SOBBING)

(SOBBING)

PEARL: What are you staring at?

(BIRDS CHIRPING)

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

PEARL: Theda!

(BREATHING WEAKLY)

I’m leaving soon.

(WOOD CREAKING)

I can’t stay here any longer.

Howard was supposed to take me away.

It’d be easier for me

if I didn’t feel like I was abandoning you.

You understand that?

(WOOD CREAKING)

I love you, Daddy, but this is no way to live.

RUTH: Pearl?

What are you doing?

Talking with Daddy.

We need to get him back to the house.

Why do you hate me, Mama?

I only want what’s best.

When do I get what I want?

One day you’ll understand

that getting what you want isn’t what’s important.

Making the most of what you have is.

Life rarely turns out how you expect.

You need to be prepared for that

if you ever want to be happy.

Come back inside.

(SIGHS)

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

Where are you?

(WATER SPLASHING)

(WATER SLOSHING)

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

(COW MOOING)

Stop staring at me.

(FOOTSTEPS APPROACHING)

(THUNDERCLAP)

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

How’d you find that?

I am not blind to what goes on around here.

Take your dinner. Stay in the bunkhouse.

But it’s freezing out there!

You should’ve thought of that before putting me at risk.

Isolate yourself until we know you’re not ill.

That is what’s right.

There’s a dance audition in town tomorrow.

I’m going to it.

No, you’re not.

Yes, I am.

Why?

Find out if I’m good enough.

Good enough for what, Pearl?

Something more than this.

(THUNDERCLAP)

Where does all this ungratefulness stem from?

How is it you find our life so beneath you?

You’ve always had a roof over your head,

food in your belly.

Do you not think that came at great sacrifice

from your father and I?

Or do you think we are beneath you, too?

If I’m meant to live out the rest of my days

with you and Daddy on this farm,

then so be it.

But I’m only young once.

If I go to this audition and I don’t get picked,

then I’ll come home

and I’ll never speak of it again, I swear.

But I have to know that I tried

or I’m gonna regret it for the rest of my life.

Please, Mama. You have no idea what I’m capable of.

(THUNDERCLAP)

Oh, yes, I do.

I’ve seen the things you’ve done in private,

when you believe no one is watching.

You think others won’t notice?

You can’t keep your true self hidden forever, Pearl.

They will notice eventually, and they will be frightened,

just as I am.

You’re wrong.

Am I?

(CHUCKLES) Then what a fine woman you hope to become,

leaving your mother alone to rot

so you can dance with a bunch of city whores.

Let alone the illness you may contract and spread.

You’ve seen what it does to your father.

That’s what you want for yourself and others?

And maybe that is what you wish for me.

Of course not.

Stop lying!

I can’t stand the sound of it anymore!

It’s almost as abhorrent as your sinful behavior!

You are not well, Pearl!

It’s only a matter of time before you hurt someone else.

Malevolence is festering in you, I see it.

And I will not, in good conscious,

let you leave this farm again.

You can’t stop me.

Oh, yes, I can.

You don’t want to know what I could do to you.

I shoulder a burden you will never understand,

spend my days feeding and wiping the snot

off the face of the man I married.

You dare sit there and talk to me about regret?

I was supposed to be his wife, not his mother!

Don’t you ever speak that way to me again!

Do you hear me?

I’m sorry.

No! You’re not!

Or you would stop all this!

(GASPS)

Here! Take it!

That’s what you really desire, isn’t it?

Perhaps I should kill him for you?

That way you don’t have to care for him any longer.

Would that suit your selfish dreams better?

Then we can both go to the dance audition!

Your husband is gone. So is mine.

Why should we be saddled with caring for them

or the work of this farm?

What about us getting what we want?

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

(EXHALES)

I won’t suffer for you any longer.

You want to leave? Go.

But when you fail…

And you will fail…

I want you to remember what it feels like

because that’s how I feel every time I look at you.

Nearly everything I ever had has been taken from me, Pearl.

What more do you want?

I just don’t want to end up like you, is all.

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

(PEARL SHRIEKS)

I hate you!

(GASPING)

RUTH: You harlot!

I won’t let you flaunt your arrogance in my face!

You are not better than me!

Yes, I am!

(RUTH GRUNTS)

I’m going to be a star!

The whole world is going to know my name!

(RUTH SCREAMING)

(SCREAMING)

(RUTH GASPING)

(GROANING)

(GASPING)

(GRUNTS)

(THUNDERCLAP)

(PROJECTOR WHIRRING)

(AUDIENCE APPLAUDING)

(GASPS)

(SNORING)

(BREATHING SHAKILY)

Where are you going? It’s not even 6:00 a.m. yet.

I have to practice my routine.

I need to be perfect for my audition today.

You still think I’m pretty enough?

Oh, not much has changed in the last 24 hours.

Yes, it has.

Oh. You forgot this last time.

I’m glad you came back.

So am I. (SQUEALS)

Let me at least drive you home.

PROJECTIONIST: Somebody you know?

I’m not really sure.

Well…

It’s hard to know who anyone is nowadays

with all these masks people are wearing.

(TIRES SQUEALING)

(INSECTS BUZZING)

Wait here a minute.

(BREATHING WEAKLY)

(SOFTLY) Daddy, I’m so sorry.

I’m going to get you cleaned up real soon, okay?

I just have a guest right now.

(BIRD CHIRPING)

Shh!

Ah. Ah.

(GULPS)

(INSECTS BUZZING)

PEARL: Okay, come in!

This is my father.

(BREATHING WEAKLY)

Pleased to meet you, sir.

PEARL: Want to go up to my bedroom now?

I want off this farm forever.

PROJECTIONIST: I don’t know. It doesn’t seem so bad.

PEARL: It is.

(THUDDING)

What was that?

Nothing.

(THUDDING)

Tell me more about Europe.

When can we go?

(THUDDING CONTINUES)

PROJECTIONIST: Don’t you think you should go check?

No.

(THUDDING)

PROJECTIONIST: All right. I’m sorry.

Whatever that is,

we can’t just ignore it.

(GRUNTS)

It could be your father, for Christ’s sake.

It’s not my father.

(THUDDING)

Please don’t go.

What’s the matter with you?

Nothing.

(SIGHS)

(THUDDING)

(GASPS)

It’s our dog.

She made a mess in the kitchen while I was away,

so I put her in the root cellar.

(SIGHS)

I want to show you something.

(SHEEP BLEATING)

That’s Charlie!

She’s always hungry.

We can’t afford to feed her like we used to.

And over here, this is Mary.

Ain’t she a dish?

Mmm.

This is Francis.

They’re my best audience.

I named each of them after my favorite picture stars.

I’ve put on so many shows for them over the years.

It’ll be sad to say goodbye, but like they say,

“If you’re not moving forward in show business,

“you’re moving backwards.”

We used to have many more animals,

but they all died.

What about your dog?

Huh?

What’s its name?

We don’t have a dog.

I thought you said you, uh, did?

In the cellar?

Oh.

Right. Yeah.

Yeah, well, um… (SIGHS)

(SNIFFS) Oh, boy.

Oh, I better be getting back, you know?

(SMACKS LIPS)

What?

Oh, I’ve got to go

and screen the matinee, you know,

but you gotta practice, remember?

You gotta get those dance moves perfect.

Now’s not the time to be

resting on your laurels, is it?

(KISSES) Nice seeing you, Pearl.

Did I do something wrong?

No.

Then why did you just go cold on me?

I don’t know what you mean.

What did you see?

I didn’t see anything.

You’re lying.

No, I’m not.

Yes, you are.

I know because I feel things very deeply.

Look, I’ve got to get back to work, all right?

I’ll… I’ll see you later.

When?

What?

When will I see you?

I don’t know, Pearl. It’s just an expression.

You’re not going to take me to Europe, are you?

Tell me the truth.

What did I do wrong?

Nothing. Calm down.

(SHOUTS) No!

Why are you leaving me if I didn’t do anything wrong?

I don’t understand! I thought you liked me!

I do like you. I just…

Tell me the truth!

Why are you leaving me? What did you see?

Why did you change?

You’re scaring me, Pearl.

Okay?

I wish you the best of luck with your audition.

Sincerely.

(BREATHING HEAVILY)

(ENGINE STARTS)

PEARL: You’re not gonna leave me here!

I’m not staying on this farm!

(GRUNTS)

Nothing’s going to keep me here!

(PEARL SCREAMS)

(COUGHS) -PEARL: (SHOUTS) You hear me?

Nothing!

Not you! Not Howard!

Not Mama! Nobody!

(COUGHS)

(WEAKLY) No. No.

(SCREAMING)

(GASPING)

I want you to remember what it feels like.

‘Cause that’s how I felt every time you looked at me.

(BODY THUDDING)

(SIGHS) Okay, Daddy.

Let’s get you cleaned up.

(BIRD CHIRPING)

(FATHER BREATHING SHAKILY)

I wish you wouldn’t look at me like that.

(BIRD CHIRPING)

What do you think?

Thank you for everything.

I know you’ll look down on me proudly.

You are loved.

(BIRD CHIRPING)

(MUFFLED GRUNTING)

Au revoir, poor Johnny!

MITSY: Oh, thank goodness you came.

I was beginning to think you weren’t going to show.

Sorry.

I had some chores to do around the house.

Well, I’ve been in such a flap all by myself.

I feel worse than I imagine I would

had I contracted that awful flu.

What’s in the suitcases?

All my things I need for going on the road.

(CHUCKLES) Wow. You’re confident.

Rumor has it they may only be taking one gal per town.

It has to be me.

(LAUGHS)

I don’t think you meant to say that out loud, Pearl.

Well, if it’s not me, then I hope it’s you, right?

It has to be me.

WOMAN: Next.

(WOMAN CRYING)

That’s Dorothy Collins.

Can’t say I’m too saddened for her.

Some people just think they’re God’s gift, you know?

But they always get what’s coming to them eventually.

I feel bad saying that, actually.

She’s a nurse.

I don’t know how to do something like that.

Oh, Pearl. I’m so nervous.

What if they laugh me right off stage?

I don’t think I could handle that. (SIGHS)

How are you not scared?

I guess I’m just more used to the feeling.

(DOOR OPENS)

WOMAN: Next.

(MITSY INHALES)

Oh, Lord.

Switch places with me.

I don’t think I can do this. I’m too frightened.

What?

Come on, Pearl.

Switch before they open the doors again.

Come on. Move.

(SIGHS)

Thank you.

You’re a good friend.

Am I?

Of course you are.

Sister-in-laws have to stick together, right?

(CHUCKLES)

WOMAN: Next.

Your turn, Pearl.

Time to show them what you can do.

I’m gonna show them all.

Break a leg.

(SIGHS)

(FOOTSTEPS BOOMING)

(MUFFLED) Ready, miss?

(PIANO WOOD CLUNKS)

(UPBEAT PIANO MUSIC PLAYING)

(JAZZ MUSIC PLAYING)

(DISTANT EXPLOSIONS)

(AIRPLANE ROARS)

(FIREWORKS WHISTLING)

(MUSIC STOPS)

(APPLAUSE)

(BREATHING LOUDLY)

DIRECTOR: Thank you.

But it’s gonna be a no.

Pardon?

Sorry, you’re just not what we had in mind.

Well, that was the best dancing I’ve ever done.

Yes, it was very nice.

But we already have plenty of gals like you in the troupe.

We’re looking for something different today.

You know? More all-American,

younger and blonde.

Someone with X factor.

(CRYING SOFTLY) What?

Next!

(SOFTLY) Come on.

Come on.

No.

I’m afraid so.

WOMAN: Come on, miss. Time to go.

(PEN SCRATCHES)

Please. (BREATHING SHAKILY)

You don’t understand. I need this.

Next in line, please.

(BREATHING SHAKILY) I can make it better.

Come on now, darling.

You don’t want to make a scene and spoil everything.

Please! Just give me one more chance.

Come on, now.

No.

I’m a… I’m a star.

(SOFTLY) Come on. Come on, miss. I’m sorry.

It’s time to go.

No, I’m a star!

Come on.

Please! I’m a star!

I’m sorry. It’s time to go.

PEARL: Please, somebody help me!

Please! Help me! Help me!

No!

(WAILING)

(CONTINUES WAILING)

MITSY: Pearl?

Pearl?

(SNIFFLES)

How about I take you home?

(INSECTS BUZZING)

Is that our pig?

Should I go and fetch your mother?

No.

How about I get you something nice to drink?

Mama was right.

(LIQUID POURING)

I’m never getting off this farm.

And where would you want to go?

Europe.

Europe?

What on earth for?

It’ll be in ruins

and you’ll never get Howard back there, I’ll tell you.

(CHUCKLES)

Oh, come on, now.

I know you’re disappointed,

but there’s no sense in taking it this hard.

It’s just a lousy old church group.

Those old dolts,

they don’t know the first thing about quality dancing.

You don’t understand.

What don’t I?

Come on, Pearl.

What’s really the matter?

I don’t feel

well.

You’re not coming down with something, are you?

No.

It’s nothing like that.

Oh, thank goodness.

If I snuck out of the house

and ended up bringing home nothing but the germ,

my mother and father would just kill me.

I’m worried there may be something

real wrong with me, Mitsy.

How do you mean?

Seems like there’s something missing in me

that the rest of the world has.

Have you told Howard?

I’ve never spoken about it out loud to anyone.

So afraid of what people might think.

Pearl…

Howard’s your husband.

He adores you.

You shouldn’t be afraid to tell him how you feel.

I’m scared of what I might say.

Well, practice on me first, then.

Pretend I’m Howard,

and you just say whatever’s on your mind.

I can’t.

Yes, you can.

Go on. Get it all out.

Really?

Yes.

Trust me.

(CLOCK TICKING)

Howard…

Go ahead, Pearl.

I hate you so much for leaving me here,

sometimes I hope you die.

I’m sorry.

I feel awful admitting that, but it’s the truth.

(SNIFFLES)

I was curious

about other men.

I’m sure you don’t want to hear about

a stranger satisfying your wife,

and I swear it was only once.

It was a mistake.

It wasn’t him that I wanted. I know that now.

And I wish things could just go back

to the way they were before,

but I don’t see how they could,

not after the things I’ve done.

What else have you done, Pearl?

Oh, Howard.

I realize how this all must sound.

Honestly, there was a time I was flattered

to have someone as handsome as you pine over me.

You’re such a good person. I know that.

I made sure to always be mindful with your heart.

I never wanted you to feel jealous.

It’s an awful feeling like a rot,

the way it just twists and turns at your insides.

I know that aching so well.

I feel it.

Whenever I see others whose lives come easy

because the truth is, I’m not really a good person.

Pearl, I think I should just…

The reason I kept my eyes to the ground around other men

was never to avoid hurting you.

It’s because I understood how lucky I was

to have your attention.

I may be a poor farm girl, Howard, but I’m not stupid.

I spotted you the moment you came to live with us.

You worked hard like the other farmhands,

but you were different.

You’re from somewhere.

A nice, comfortable place

that you could return to whenever you wanted.

I’m so desperate to have that.

All my life, I’ve wanted off this farm

and you were my ticket out.

So…

I made sure to never let you see who I really was.

It worked like a charm, too.

Then when you finally brought me back

to your home to meet your family,

it was just as I hoped.

A life straight out of the pictures.

At least that’s what it felt like to me.

And you didn’t want it.

You just wanted to stay here on our farm,

and that made me so angry.

How could you?

I’m certain you knew I hated it, you must’ve.

How could you be so selfish and cruel

after all I’ve done to make you happy?

(BREATHING SHAKILY)

I was even pregnant with your baby.

I never wanted to be a mother.

I loathed the feeling of it growing inside me.

It felt like sickness.

Pulling and sucking on me like some needy animal in a barn.

How could I be responsible for another life?

Life terrifies me.

It’s harsh, and bleak, and draining.

I was so relieved when it died.

It was one less weight keeping me trapped here,

but then the war came and you left me, too.

Why did you leave me, Howard?

(SNIFFLES)

I hate feeling like this.

So pathetic.

Do people like you ever feel this way?

I figure you don’t.

You seem so perfect all the time.

Lord must’ve been generous to you.

He never answers any of my prayers.

I don’t know why. What did I do?

What is wrong with me?

Please, just tell me so maybe I can get better.

I don’t want to end up like Mama.

I want to be dancing up on the screen

like the pretty gals in the pictures.

I want what they have so badly,

to be perfect,

to be loved from as many people as possible

to make up for all my time spent suffering.

Sometimes I wake in the middle of the night

and the fear washes over me, ’cause what if this is it?

What if this is right where I belong?

I’m a failure.

I’m not pretty

or naturally pleasant, or friendly.

I’m not smart,

or funny, or confident.

I’m exactly what Mama said I was, weak.

I don’t know why. What did I do?

Why wasn’t my family like yours?

I hate what it feels like to be me and not you.

I’m so scared that when you finally come home,

you’ll see me and be frightened

like everyone else is.

I know what I’ve done,

the bad things,

terrible, awful, murderous things.

I regret them now, but I liked how they felt.

I wish I didn’t, but I did.

At first, it was only animals smaller than myself.

Nothing with feelings.

Nothing that could hurt me back.

It felt good.

Killing’s easier than you think,

till recently with Mama

and the boy from the picture house.

They were different.

They were more meaningful.

I hurt them so they too might know

what it feels like to suffer,

but poor Daddy didn’t deserve that.

I wish I hadn’t done what I did.

Mama meant well.

She had a hard life.

She only wanted a home to feel safe in.

I can see that.

I thought I hated her,

but I just want to feel safe, too.

Lord…

(SNIFFLES) I made such a mess of things.

I don’t know how much more I can take.

I need to clean this up.

All of it.

I need to make things right before you see me again.

Maybe if I can turn this farm

into a home for us like you wanted,

things will finally be different.

(SNIFFLES) I can forgive.

I can be who you want me to be

if you’ll just stay with me.

Would you do that, please?

(CRYING)

I can’t be all by myself anymore.

It’s too hard.

(SNIFFLES)

We can love each other.

I’ll do that for you

if you really meant all that “till death do us part.”

It’d be enough,

just you and me here on this farm.

All I really want is to be loved.

I’m having such a hard time without it lately.

(CLOCK TICKING)

I should probably get going now.

Mother will be wondering where I am if I’m not home soon.

PEARL: Are you frightened of me?

No.

Of course not, Pearl.

Do you think I’m sick?

No.

Thank you.

I’m happy for you.

What?

For getting the part

in the dance troupe. You deserved it.

I didn’t get the part.

It’s okay.

You don’t have to pretend anymore.

My feelings won’t be hurt.

If it wasn’t me, I’m glad it was you, right?

But, Pearl, I…

Please…

Don’t lie to me.

(SIGHS)

Well, yes.

Thank you.

It’s going to be real swell,

dancing around the state.

I hope you can come see the show sometime.

You always get everything you want.

You’re younger and more blonde.

I have to go now.

You’re not gonna say anything, are you?

No.

I really do love Howard.

I know.

Nobody has to know.

I can fix things.

It can be our secret, Mitsy.

(BIRDS CAWING)

(SIGHS)

(INSECTS BUZZING)

Help!

Help me!

Somebody, please help!

(CRYING) No!

No, please.

Help! Help!

(SCREAMS)

(GRUNTS)

(SCREAMS) Help!

(SCREAMING)

Help me, please!

Help! (SCREAMING)

(AX SLASHES)

(SCREAMS)

Please, no! No!

I won’t tell anyone!

(SOBBING) Please, I swear!

No!

Please! I’ll do anything you want.

It’s not about what I want anymore, Mitsy.

MITSY: (CRYING) Please.

It’s about making the best of what I have.

MITSY: (SOBBING) No! No!

(SCREAMS) No!

(DOOR CREAKING)

(FOOTSTEPS APPROACHING)

(RUTH SINGS IN GERMAN)

(RUTH CONTINUES SINGING)

(SINGING STOPS)

(INSECTS BUZZING)

(SPEAKING GERMAN)

(SPEAKING GERMAN)

(MAGGOTS SQUIRMING)

(IN ENGLISH) Bless us, O’ Lord, and these thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

(INSECTS BUZZING)

(VEHICLE APPROACHING)

(TIRES SQUEALING)

(MAN SHOUTS INDISTINCTLY)

(SOLDIERS CHATTERING)

SOLDIER: So long, y’all.

Pearl?

Pearl?

PEARL: Howard?

I’m so happy you’re home.

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