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The Whale (2022) | Transcript

A reclusive, morbidly obese English teacher attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter.
The Whale (2022)

Charlie is an Idaho-based English teacher who never leaves his apartment and spends his time hosting online writing courses for college students via video conference, but keeps his webcam switched off; at almost 600 lb, he is ashamed of being morbidly obese and is afraid to show the students his appearance…

* * *

(Hydraulic brakes hiss)

(Somber music playing)

(Music continues)

Man: Like we discussed yesterday, I really want you all to focus on topic sentences more.

Too many of you are rushing into examples in your body paragraphs.

It’d be good for everyone to review the paragraph structure pdf I sent you a few weeks ago.

I know these rules can feel constraining.

But remember, the point of this course is to learn how to write clearly and persuasively.

That’s how you can effectively communicate your ideas.

(Message alert pings)

(Man chuckles)

Chris, I imagine that was supposed to be a private chat that you sent to the whole class. Well done.

And, yes, the camera on my laptop still doesn’t work.

Believe me, you’re not missing much.

Oh, and for those of you who still haven’t given me paper three, I need it by Wednesday, no exceptions.

And remember, the more you revise these essays, the better.

(Waves crashing)

The more you change, chances are you’ll express your thoughts and ideas more clearly and persuasively.

All right?

(Wave crashed loudly)

(Man grunts)

(Rain pattering)

(Groans)

(Heavy breathing) (Continues grunting)

(Men on video breathing heavily)

(Man grunts) (Stroking rapidly)

Oh!

(Grunting)

(Grunting in pain)

(Grunting laboriously)

(Coughs, breathes heavily)

(Gasping and coughing)

“Moby dick… (Wheezes) In the amazing book, Moby…” (Groans)

(Knock at door) Liz?

(Pants) (Knocking continues)

Just use your key, (Wheezes) Open the door!

(Gasps) Oh, my god.

Who are you? (Groans in pain)

Gosh, are you okay? Should I call an ambulance? I should call an am…

(Men panting) (Continues groaning)

Read this to me. Do you have a phone?

My phone’s dead, I need to…

Please just read it! Okay!

(Grunts) Okay.

(Groans)

“In the amazing book, Moby dick, by the author, Herman Melville, the author recounts his story of being at sea.

“In the first part of his book, the author, calling himself Ishmael, is in a small seaside town, and he is sharing a bed with a man named Queequeg.”

What is this? Why am I reading this?

I need to… Just read any of it!

“And I felt saddest of all when I read the boring chapters that were only descriptions of whales, because I knew that the author was just trying to save us from his own sad story…”

(Gasping) Sad story. “Just for a little while.”

Just for a little while.

“This book made me think about my own life… (Wheezes) And then it made me feel glad for my…”

(Panting)

Did that help? (Sighs)

Look, do you have a phone? My phone is dead.

I need to call an ambulance.

You need help. I don’t go to hospitals.

I can’t help you, I don’t… I don’t go to hospitals.

I am sorry, um… You can go.

Thank you for reading that to me.

Are you sure you’re okay?

I’m sorry, who are you?

Are you acquainted with the gospel of Jesus Christ?

What? I’m sharing Christ’s message of love, and I’m showing people… (Sighing) Oh.

Think I should call my friend.

She’s a nurse, she takes care of me.

Yeah. Yeah, I’ll go. Sorry to bother you. Wait.

My phone fell under there, can you…

Yeah, sure.

(Sighs)

(Sighs) Here it is.

(Groans in pain)

(Man grunts)

Hey, listen, I don’t know what’s gonna happen in the next few minutes.

If you don’t mind, could you… (Grunts)

Yeah. Yeah, of course. Thank you.

(Phone line ringing)

(Automated voice speaking) It’s Liz. I’m not around. Leave a message.

What was that thing that you had me read to you?

It’s an essay.

It’s my job.

I teach online college courses.

But why did you have me read it to you?

Because I thought I was dying.

And I wanted to hear it one last time.

(Velcro rips)

You should have called an ambulance.

With no health insurance?

Being in debt is better than being dead.

What’s wrong with you?

Why is there a missionary here?

Someone left the door unlocked.

I left after you fell asleep earlier, I must’ve forgotten.

Good thing, too. If I hadn’t, you might have…

Liz, I don’t like it when you…

Okay, okay. I just hate the thought of you being sealed up in this place when I’m not here.

(Pumping sphygmomanometer bulb) Now shut up, I’m trying to…

(Releases pressure) (Air hissing)

What? Hush.

Tell me what you felt.

Pain, in my chest.

Hard to breathe.

I couldn’t intake air.

(Rips velcro)

How are you sleeping? I’m not, really.

Lean forward.

(Sighs)

(Man wheezes)

You’re wheezing.

I always wheeze, Liz.

You’re wheezing more.

Deep breath.

(Breathes deeply with difficulty)

That hurt?

What was my blood pressure?

Two-hundred and thirty-eight over 134.

(Chuckling) Oh.

Yeah. “Oh.”

(Sighs)

Hey, could you…

I haven’t been to the bathroom all day, I’m ready to explode.

(Grunts)

(Exhales deeply)

(Draws curtain) (Light switch clicks)

(Trash can lid closes)

(Sighs)

(Man grunts) Liz: You need help in there?

Man: No, I’m fine. Sorry.

What are you sorry about?

I’m sorry. I don’t know. Just sorry.

Missionary: I should go. Liz: Thank you.

You must be from new life.

You know Doug, from the church council?

Yeah, I think so?

I’m not entirely sure.

I’m sort of new here, so…

He’s my dad.

Doug and Cindy adopted me when I was a baby.

Oh, that’s great.

I’ve never seen you there before, but, again I’m sort of new, so…

(Sighs) Fucking hate new life. Oh.

My dad forced me to go when I was a kid.

It was awful, growing up with all that “end times” bullshit.

(Sighs) You’re young.

Why the hell would you want to believe that the world is about to end?

I believe that when Christ returns, it’s gonna be beautiful.

Look, you can go.

I know Charlie appreciates the help, but if you’re here to convert him…

Oh, we don’t convert, our message is a message of hope for people of all… Liz: People of all faiths.

I know. You’re sweet. (Clicks lighter) But…

(Sighs)

Believe me, he doesn’t want to hear about new life.

Why?

Because it’s caused him a lot of pain.

How?

It killed his boyfriend.

(Toilet flushes)

You’re saying the church… (Sighs)

Killed Charlie’s boyfriend, yes.

And I should add that new life has caused me a lot of pain in my life.

So, we don’t need you coming over here, especially not now, not this week.

Why?

Because he probably won’t be here next week.

Where’s he going?

I’m sorry you had to come over, Liz.

No, it’s okay.

I’m sorry that I always think I’m dying.

Charlie, your blood pressure is 238 over 134.

I’m sorry. Go to the hospital.

I’m sorry. Stop saying you’re sorry.

Go to the hospital.

You have congestive heart failure.

If you don’t go to the hospital, you’ll be dead by the weekend.

(Sternly) You will die.

Charlie: Well, then, I better get to work because I have a lot of essays this week.

God damn it!

I know. I’m sorry, I’m an awful person. I know.

I’m sorry.

(Grunts, pants)

Did you still want to hear about Christ’s message of love and salvation?

No, he does not!

Missionary: Okay. Okay.

I’ll go.

I still don’t understand why you had me read that essay to you.

It’s a really good essay.

Liz: Goodbye. (Closes door)

Charlie, you have to go to the hospital. This has gone way too far.

And rack up tens of thousands of dollars in hospital bills I’ll never be able to pay back, ever.

This affects me too, you know?

You’re my friend.

I know.

I’m sorry.

You say you’re sorry one more time, I will shove a knife right into you, I swear to god!

Go ahead, what’s it gonna do?

My internal organs are two feet in, at least.

(Laughing)

(Coughs)

(Whimpers playfully)

I’ve been telling you this would happen.

(Sighs) I know.

Haven’t I been telling you? You have.

Newscaster 1: A new gop presidential primary.

However, they say absentee ballots are the lowest they’ve seen in recent history.

Newscaster 2: That’s not good.

Newscaster 3: No, it’s not. Get out and vote tomorrow.

If you want to vote in the republican primary.

Our current polls do show, among Republicans, , 30% favor Trump… Liz.

Newscaster 3: Senator Ted Cruz, 17% would vote for Florida senator Marco Rubio, and 5% for Ohio governor John Kasich.

Liz.

Newscaster 3: For someone else, if they could.

Below a percent that just don’t know.

Newscaster 1: Meanwhile, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders is expected to win the gem state on the Democratic side…

Please.

(Newscaster 1 continues indistinctly)

Thank you.

(Crunching)

(Laughter on TV)

Oh, I’ve seen this one, it’s good.

(Indistinct TV chatter)

(Rain pattering)

(Indistinct TV chatter)

(Charlie chokes, coughs)

(Coughing)

(Remote clicks) (Tv switches off)

(Breathes deeply)

(Soft music playing)

Charlie: In the first part of his book, the author, calling himself Ishmael, is in a small seaside town and he is sharing a bed with a man named Queequeg.

The author and queequeg go to church, and later, they set out on a ship captained by the pirate named Ahab, who is missing a leg, and very much wants to kill the whale which is named Moby Dick, and which is white.

In the course of the book, the pirate Ahab encounters many hardships.

His entire life is set around trying to kill a certain whale.

I think this is sad…

(grunts)

…because the whale doesn’t have any emotions.

(Grunts)

He’s just a poor, big animal.

And I feel bad for Ahab as well…

(grunts)

…because he thinks that his life will be better if he can just kill this whale.

But in reality…

(grunts)

…it won’t help him at all.

This book made me think about my own life.

This book made me think about my own life.

(Ocean waves crashing)

(Softly) This book made me think about my own life.

(Sighs)

(Exhales)

(Typing)

(Typing)

(Sighs)

(Typing)

(Exhales)

(Wrapper crinkling)

(Bird chirps)

(Chirps)

(Sighs heavily)

(Line rings)

(Clears throat)

(Line connects)

(Knock at door)

(Chuckles quietly)

Does this mean now I’m gonna get fat?

(Grunts) No, it doesn’t.

I was always big.

I just…

I let it get out of control.

(Charlie exhales)

So, was your mom okay with you coming over here?

I didn’t tell her.

Charlie: It’s really good to see you.

You look beautiful.

So, how’s school?

You’re a senior, right?

You actually care?

Well, of course I care.

I pester your mom for information as often as she’ll give it to me.

(Charlie exhales)

Um…

So… (Grunts)

Why are you… I mean, don’t you have school?

Got suspended this morning.

Oh.

Why?

I posted something about my stupid bitch lab partner that the vice principal said was “vaguely threatening.”

(Grunts)

You don’t like school?

Only idiots like high school.

But you’re on track to graduate, right?

Counselor says I might not.

I’m not worried.

I’m a smart person.

I never forget anything.

High school is just bullshit.

But, Ellie, it’s important.

If you don’t graduate, then…

Are you actually trying to parent me right now?

No, I’m… sorry.

I just… I just thought that maybe we could spend some time with each other.

I’m not spending time with you.

You’re disgusting.

Well, I’m a lot bigger than I was since last time you saw me.

Ellie: No, I’m not talking about what you look like.

You’d be disgusting even if you weren’t this fat.

You’d still be that piece-of-shit dad who walked out on me when I was eight.

All because he wanted to fuck one of his students.

Can I have one of these?

Yeah.

Look, it’s… It’s been a long time.

I just thought that maybe we can get to know each other.

I don’t even know why I’m here.

I can pay you.

You want to pay me to spend time with you?

And I can help you with your work.

It’s what I do for my job.

I can help you pass your classes.

You teach online? Yes.

Your students know what you look like?

I keep the camera shut off.

Yeah, that’s probably a good idea.

My counselor says that if I show a lot of improvement in one subject, I might be able to graduate.

You can rewrite these essays for English.

They have to be really good, though.

Well, look, um… I don’t know if I should write them for you, but I can work with you on them.

How much can you pay me?

Everything I have.

All the money I have in the bank. How much?

$120,000? Something like that. I’d have to check.

I never go out.

All I pay for is food, rent, Internet.

And I work all the time.

And you’d give all of it to me?

Not to my mom, to me?

Yes. Just…

Don’t tell your mom, all right?

And maybe you could do some writing just for me.

Why?

Because you’re a smart person.

And I bet you’d make a strong writer.

Plus, I’m a teacher. I want to make sure you’re getting something out of this.

(Zips bag) I don’t even understand you.

Stand up and walk over to me.

What?

Come over here. Walk toward me.

No. No. Without this thing.

Stand up and walk over here.

Ellie, I can’t really… Shut up!

Come over here.

(Charlie sighs)

(Exhales heavily)

(Breathes deeply)

(Grunts with exertion)

(Grunts, groans)

(Panting)

(Huffing)

(Grunts)

(Charlie yells)

(Groaning loudly)

(Groaning in pain)

(Panting)

(Dog barks outside)

(Whispering) “Celebrate my soul.

“Sell my soul.”

(Knock at door)

Man: Gambino’s!

Yeah, you can, um…

I put a $20 in the mailbox.

Man: Sure.

You can just leave it on the…

Man: Yeah, I, uh… I remember.

Everything okay in there?

Yeah.

Man: You sure?

Yeah.

I’m fine.

Thank you.

(Metal clacks)

(Footsteps)

(Chuckles lightly)

(Car engine starts)

Breathe slowly.

(Device beeps)

(Inhales)

Relax.

(Exhales)

(Device beeps)

It measures perspiration. It’s an indicator of stress.

It’s about establishing a relationship between your brain and your body.

If you know how to make yourself calm, then your blood pressure will…

(Device beeps) Here.

I don’t need a little machine to tell me to take a few deep breaths and stop sweating.

Well, apparently, you fucking do.

(Device beeps) Take another deep breath.

(Breathes deeply)

(Device beeps)

Thank you.

(Charlie exhales deeply)

(Liz sighs)

We’re just gonna try some different methods, or whatever.

If you refuse to go to the hospital, then you’ll…

I don’t know.

Where’d this come from?

(Device continues beeping)

Hey.

Was she here?

No, I don’t like this.

This isn’t a good idea.

You know you’re not supposed to be around her.

Does her mom know about this?

I just wanted to see her.

Mary has kept her from me all this time.

Why do you suddenly need to see her so bad, why now?

Liz.

(Liz sighs)

Why the hell do you have her homework, anyway?

Look, I didn’t plan for this.

She needs some help at school, so I’m gonna help her with a few essays.

(Liz scoffs)

You haven’t seen her since she was eight years old, and you’re gonna reconnect with her by doing her homework for her?

It’s fine. It’s not fine.

She shouldn’t be around you when you’re like this.

What if something happens, what if you need help?

(Device beeping rapidly)

Charlie, calm down.

Hey. No. (Beeping stops)

Okay. Forget it, then.

I’m worried about her. Why?

Oh, you’re spying on her now?

It doesn’t look like she has any friends.

I don’t think this is…

(Charlie scoffs) Come on, a dead dog?

I’m worried that she’s forgotten what an amazing person she is.

She’s just a teenager.

Everyone is insane when they’re a teenager.

When I was her age, when my dad would really piss me off…

I’m just lucky I didn’t get arrested, that’s all I’ll say.

Point is, bringing her over here is a bad idea.

You have enough to deal with right now, you hear me?

Do not bring her over here again.

Okay.

Okay.

It’s not like she’s alone, you know. She has her mom.

Liz: Ugh, shit. I have to go soon.

I hate these night shifts. (Utensils clacking)

It’s just a steady parade of dumb, drunk college kids.

(Faucet runs)

(Laughing) Did I tell you about this girl from a few nights ago? (Gags)

The puke was bright purple, I swear.

(Choking) (Liz laughing)

I mean, what is that?

Why can’t these kids just drink beer? You know.

Are you choking? (Continues choking)

Oh, god! Okay, lean on that arm.

Lean on that arm!

Okay, I need you to rock with me.

(Grunts) (Chokes)

(Grunts) (Charlie gasps)

(Liz yells)

(Coughs, wheezes)

(Coughing, wheezing)

(Gasping)

I’m okay. (Gasps)

I’m okay. (Gasps)

(Shouts) God damn it, Charlie, what is wrong with you?

(Hits)

Chew your food like a normal human being!

You could have just died right in front of me!

I’m sorry.

(Charlie whimpers and sobs)

I’m sorry, Liz.

(Object clacks)

(Liz exhales)

It’s okay.

Charlie: I read through some of the posts in the class discussion forum this morning.

In particular, a post about crafting a good thesis, and I quote, “just pick a sentence from the reading and say, ‘it’s good, ‘ or some shit.”

Listen, at this point in the course, I have given you all that I can, in terms of structure, building a thesis, paragraph organization.

But if all of that isn’t built on your own original ideas and truthful analysis, it doesn’t mean anything.

Think about that as you write and revise.

Think about the truth of your argument.

I know this may sound silly, but it’s important.

Promise, it’s important.

(Bird chirping)

(Breathing heavily)

(Straining)

(Key clatters)

(Grunting softly)

(Key clacks)

(Claw clicks)

(Muttering indistinctly)

(Sighs)

This is… (Exhales)

You say that Walt Whitman wrote song for myself.

Yeah?

It’s called song of myself.

My title’s better.

Yeah.

Well…

Okay, I’ll just change it.

“The poem ‘Song of Myself’ is in a book called Leaves of Grass. It was written by Walt Whitman and was published in 1855. He paid for the first publication himself.”

You don’t have to read it out loud. Just rewrite it.

You’re supposed to analyze the poem.

This is just a list of facts.

Yup. Thank you, Wikipedia.

(Smacks lips)

You know, it’s really an amazing poem.

Whitman uses the metaphor of “I” not to refer to himself, but to explode the very definition of self in favor of a more all-encompassing…

I really, really don’t care.

You know, I think you might like it if you actually read it.

You’re just like my teachers. You think just because I’m not losing my shit over the poem, it’s because I didn’t read it. I did read it. It’s overwritten, and dumb, and repetitive. And even though he thinks his metaphor of “I” is deep, it’s actually just a bunch of bullshit. And, in reality, he’s just some worthless 19th century faggot.

That’s an interesting perspective. It would make for an interesting essay. Just write that thing about exploding the definition of self.

My English teacher will love it.

(Charlie sighs)

So, how’s your mom doing? Oh, my god.

Look, if you’re not gonna write these essays for me, then…

Charlie: Ellie, I don’t need you here to write these essays for you.

If you want to go, you can go.

You can still have the money.

I thought you wanted to get to know me. I do, but I don’t want to force you to be here.

It’s up to you.

(Puts bag down)

She’s fine.

Mom. I guess.

She happy? When she drinks.

You guys still live in that duplex over on orchard?

You don’t even know where we live?

You don’t stay in touch with mom?

Yeah, I check in with her as often as she lets me.

She really only tells me things about you.

Why?

Because that’s all I want to know about.

When I was 11, we moved to the other side of town, near the Walmart.

Is your mother with anyone right now? No.

Why, you interested?

(Chuckles) No, of course not.

Why’d you gain all that weight?

(Inhales deeply) I don’t…

If you’re gonna interrogate me, I’m gonna do the same thing.

Why’d you gain all that weight?

Someone close to me passed away, and it…

It had an effect on me.

Your boyfriend.

My partner. Your student.

He wasn’t that young. It was a night school course.

Ellie: Oh, I remember him.

You had him over for dinner once when mom was in Montana, visiting grandma.

You made steaks.

The good kind.

Better meal than you ever made for me or mom.

I remember hearing you two talk after I went to bed.

How do you remember all that?

I told you, I never forget anything.

How did he die?

I… I don’t… I’m…

I really don’t want to talk about that right now, if that’s all right with you.

(Cell phone keys clacking)

I’ll write these essays for you.

I want you to do some writing, just for me.

I hate writing essays.

Just think about the poem for a while, and write something.

Be honest.

Tell me what you really think.

You want me to write what I really think?

I’ll be right back.

Just write whatever you want.

(Charlie groaning with exertion)

(Sighs heavily)

(Continues groaning)

(Breathing heavily)

(Water running)

(Suppressed sobbing)

(Muffled sobbing)

(Water continues running)

Are you okay?

Unless you’re dying, there’s no way I’m going in there.

(Sniffles)

(Exhales) Oh, yeah. I’m fine. I’m fine.

(Brid wings flapping)

(Knock at door)

(Water running) (Knocking continues)

Hi.

I was looking for Charlie?

He’s in the bathroom.

Oh, I can come back.

Are you his friend, or…

I’m his daughter.

Oh. Are you surprised?

Yeah, I guess.

What’s more surprising? That a gay guy has a daughter, or that someone actually found his penis?

I’m kidding.

Jesus.

Um…

Charlie was interested in hearing more about my church, and I brought some literature…

Are you Mormon? No, I’m from New Life.

Oh. That end times cult thing.

(Pours juice) It’s not a cult.

Tell you one thing that I like about religion.

What I like about religion is that it assumes that everyone is an idiot and that they’re all incapable of saving themselves.

I think they got something right with that.

I don’t think like that…

What I don’t like about religion is that when people accept Jesus or whatever, they suddenly think that they’re better than everyone else. (Charlie grunting)

By accepting the fact that they’re stupid sinners, somehow they’ve become better, and they turn into assholes.

I don’t really know what to say.

I have some pamphlets that I think would…

(Camera clicks) Why did you just do that?

Are you coming back tomorrow?

I’m not sure… Come back tomorrow.

I’ll be here around the same time.

I’m sorry, what’s happening?

(Camera clicks)

Oh!

Hi. I was just coming over to share these pamphlets with you.

You’ll have those done by tomorrow?

Sure.

Five-page minimum.

It’ll be good, I promise.

I’m Ellie. Thomas.

(Breathes heavily)

(Slams door shut)

So…

Christ’s return has been promised for centuries.

But there are a lot of clues in scripture that suggest it’s imminent.

So, that means we don’t have time to deny the gospel, we don’t have… Do you really think that the world’s gonna end soon?

Well, the Bible says that no one shall know the day or the hour, but, yeah, I think we’re probably living in end times.

And that doesn’t bother you?

No. It’s the idea

that a better world is coming to replace this one.

That everything terrible about this country, this planet, is gonna be wiped clean, and replaced with something pure and holy, and…

I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be rude, but I know all this.

What do you mean?

I have probably read everything New Life Church has ever written.

Probably every pamphlet they’ve ever published.

Wow, that’s great and everything, but these tracts are just the beginning.

There’s so much more in the Bible that we can… I read the Bible.

Really?

Sure. Couple times.

Did you like it?

I thought it was devastating.

God creates us, expels us from paradise.

We wander around for thousands of years killing each other, before he comes back and saves 144,000 of us.

Meanwhile, seven- and-a-half billion of us fall into hell.

Yeah.

That’s not really how I interpret it, but…

Charlie, you have to understand, God hasn’t turned his back on you.

If you accept him, he’ll release you from this.

(Sipping) He’ll take your soul out of this body and give you a brand-new body.

One made of pure light. I mean, don’t you want that?

I’m not interested in being saved.

(Sighs) I appreciate what you did the other day, but you can go.

This doesn’t sound like something that I…

Look, I really think that god brought me here for a reason.

There’s a reason why I knocked on your door right when you needed someone the most.

Isn’t there any way I can help?

I mean, that’s the entire reason why I became a missionary in the first place, right?

There’s something you can do for me.

What? Um, nothing I just…

I hope you know I wasn’t talking about, um…

What? I’m not…

Oh, my god. I’m… I’m sorry. I just…

No. With what you were watching the first time I came in here, I just…

(Chuckles) I am not attracted to you.

Please, you gotta believe me when I say I’m not attracted to you.

You’re a fetus.

I’m sorry.

(Sighs)

Thomas, tell me the truth.

You find me disgusting?

No.

I just want to help.

Please, just let me help.

(Grunts softly)

Thank you. That’s very helpful.

What happened to your… Sorry. Your friend, Liz, she said that your boyfriend, he used to go to new life?

(Door opens)

Liz: Charlie? Yeah.

I got you this.

I did some asking around, and…

What the fuck is he doing here?

He’s just helping me with something.

Take it easy, Liz.

Okay, well, you can go now.

Liz.

Go home!

Sorry. I’m sorry. Leave it.

(Charlie grunts) I said, leave it!

Charlie: Liz, would you stop?

Actually, stay. We’ll have a little chat.

What’s this?

The fuck does it look like?

It’s a fat-guy wheelchair.

And why do I need a wheelchair?

I was talking to one of the er doctors, he said moderate activity would be a good idea.

Sense of independence might help you out.

And what did you pay for this thing?

Nothing. We ordered it for a patient a few months ago.

It’s just been sitting around.

What happened to the patient?

Just try it out.

Please.

(Sighs)

(Grunting)

(Exhales sharply)

Beep. Beep. Beep.

(Laughing)

Charlie: Can I sit? I gotcha.

(Charlie groaning)

(Chuckles)

Good? Yeah, actually, this is really nice.

Yeah.

Let me clear some space for you.

Charlie: Whee.

Hello?

Charlie: Look, no hands.

Thank you, Liz. This is great, so great.

(Chuckles) See? I told you.

Charlie: I know.

I should go. Ah-pap-pap.

Not until we have our little chat.

What? Liz: Come on.

Liz.

Just gimme a minute with him.

(Dog barks in distance)

Where are you from?

What?

You said you’ve only been here for a little while.

Where you from?

Uh, Iowa. A town called Waterloo?

You asking me?

No. I’m from Waterloo.

Okay.

Your whole family move out here for new life?

No, it’s just me.

I wanted to do some missionary work before school.

(Chuckles)

You’re from Iowa, and you came to Idaho to do missionary work?

Why aren’t you in Africa or something?

Idaho needs the word as much as anywhere else.

Okay, listen.

I know this is fun for you.

You get to travel around, act superior than everyone else, and eventually, you go home, get some boring job, have too many kids.

It’s God’s plan.

But there are other types of people.

People like Charlie, for whom this amazing plan doesn’t fit.

So, just stay away from him.

He doesn’t need this right now.

I disagree.

(Exhales) Excuse me? Sorry, I just, uh…

He’s dying.

He’s refusing to go to the hospital.

What he needs is spiritual guidance.

And you’re gonna give him that?

No. God will.

I see.

My big brother did some missionary work for new life.

Went to South America.

Oh. Yeah.

I was the black sheep.

I refused to go to church ever since I was 12.

Dad knew I was a lost cause, but not my brother, he loved new life.

He wrote me a letter a few months after he left, told me he was tired, and lonely, but he didn’t want to come home because he didn’t want to get married.

He didn’t want to get married?

Dad had set it all up.

Pushed him into getting married to this girl from the church he barely knew.

But when he came back, he met someone else.

Fell in love, started a whole new life.

And dad kicked him out of the church.

And the family.

I thought he was gonna be able to get over all that religious stuff, but it was like a cancer.

He couldn’t shake it.

He just caved in on himself, stopped sleeping, stopped eating.

Lost a ton of weight.

One night, he doesn’t come home.

Couple weeks later, this guy is out jogging on a bike path near the river in Lewiston, sees something washed up on shore, and that was Alan.

The love of Charlie’s life, and my brother.

Oh. Yeah. “Oh.”

To this day, my dad won’t admit it.

Told the whole congregation Alan’s death was…

Just an unfortunate accident.

Denying him to the end.

Look, I know that you don’t trust me.

And I know that I haven’t known him for very long, but I really think that god brought me here, right when Charlie needs it the most.

I just want him to be saved, that’s all… You listen to me!

He doesn’t need saving!

In a few days, he’s probably going to be dead, so what he needs is for you to leave him alone.

I’m the only one who can help him.

You understand me?

Charlie: Liz.

(Liz sighs)

(Cutlery clacking)

(Charlie wheezes softly)

(TV turns on)

You wanna watch some Maury?

Sounds good, right?

(Indistinct chatter on TV)

Actually, I got another night shift tonight.

I better, uh…

You good for the night?

(Smacks lips) I’ll leave the remote here.

(Door opens)

(Door closes)

(Lock clicks)

(Grunts softly)

(Light switch clicking)

(Sighs)

(Sighs)

(Sniffing)

(Chuckles softly)

(Door shuts)

(Knock at door)

Man: Gambino’s!

Yeah. You can, uh…

Man: Money in the mailbox, leave it on the bench.

Yeah. Thanks.

Man: I’m Dan.

What?

Dan: I just… My name, it’s Dan.

I’ve been coming here for a while now.

Just thought you’d wanna know my name.

Charlie.

Dan: Hey, Charlie.

(Mailbox opens, closes)

Dan: Have a good night, okay?

(Footsteps receding)

It sure did.

More Idaho Republicans want to see senator Ted Cruz in the white house than any other candidate.

Cruz will split Idaho’s 32 delegates with Donald Trump, the only other candidate to clear that 20% threshold.

It was a disappointing night for senator Marco Rubio who failed to win any delegates in the four states that held primaries, while…

(Switches TV off)

(Wheelchair squeaking)

“This apartment smells. This notebook is retarded. I hate everyone.”

(Sighs)

(Syllabically) This apartment smells.

This notebook is retarded.

I hate everyone. (Laughing)

(Coughing, wheezing)

(Grunting in pain)

(Coughs)

(Breathing laboriously)

And I felt saddest of all when I read the boring chapters that were only descriptions of whales because (exhales) I knew that the author was just trying to save us from his own sad story, just for a little while.

(Breathes deeply)

This apartment smells.

(Inhales deeply) This apartment smells.

The author was just trying to save us from his own sad story.

I hate everyone.

I hate everyone.

Do you have it?

Charlie: I’m almost done.

You can wait while I finish it up, print it out.

Maybe while you’re waiting, you can write some more in your notebook. Oh, my god.

You’ve only written a couple sentences so far.

Can you write more?

I kind of hate you. (Chuckling) Yeah.

Well, you hate everyone.

Listen, just keep going.

Forget about the poem.

Write whatever you want, whatever you’re thinking.

(Bag thuds) Okay. Be quiet, just…

(Exhales deeply)

You know, I was in a really strange place in my life when I married your mom. Did I fucking ask?

I just wish…

I’m sor… I’m sorry.

I understand that you’re angry.

(Breathes heavily)

But…

You don’t have to be angry at the whole world.

You can just be angry at me.

(Aggressively) Okay, you know what?

You can’t throw me away like a piece of garbage, and then suddenly just want to be my dad eight years later.

You left me for your boyfriend.

(Sighs) It’s that simple.

And if you’ve been telling yourself anything different, then you’re lying to yourself.

But you know what? I’m glad.

I’m glad, because you taught me something very important.

People are assholes.

Most people learn that way too late.

You… you taught me that when I was eight.

Thank you for that.

You know, you could’ve…

What?

Ellie: You could’ve been sending us money.

If you had all that money saved up, and wanted to be a part of my life so bad, you could’ve been sending money to mom.

I did.

Ellie: Yeah, I mean more than just child support.

I did.

When I left your mom, she did not want me around you.

I hoped that she would change her mind eventually, but she…

You could have just fucking called me.

All this time, you…

You could have been a part of my life.

Ellie.

Look at me.

Who would want me to be a part of their life?

I’m hungry.

There’s some stuff for sandwiches in the fridge.

I’ll make you one, but it’s going to be small.

And I’m only using Turkey, and no mayonnaise.

What? Nothing.

You’re an amazing person, Ellie.

I hope you know what an amazing person you are.

I couldn’t ask for a more incredible daughter.

I’ll print that out for you now.

(Bird wings flap)

(Keyboard clacking)

(Grating)

(Lighter clicks)

(Charlie breathes heavily)

(Lighter clicks)

(Snores softly)

(Pills rattle)

(Door creaks)

(Knock at door)

(Knock at door)

Ellie: Yeah?

Thomas: Uh… hello?

(Knocks) Hi.

Ellie: Come on.

Is he…

Is he okay? I don’t know.

I ground up some Ambien and I put it in his sandwich.

What?

I only gave him a couple. He’s fine.

I can take, like, three at a time.

Thomas: Where did you get Ambien?

I had sex with a pharmacist.

I’m kidding. Gross.

My mom pops them like tic tacs.

I don’t know if he should be taking Ambien.

Does this make you nervous? ‘Cause it’s just pot.

It’s not like I’m smoking meth or anything.

I know. I… I know what pot is, okay?

No. You only think you know what pot is because your parents told you a bunch of lies about it.

Don’t. I know what drugs are.

I’ve smoked pot before. Ooh. Oh, I’m so impressed.

I wasn’t trying to impress you.

You’ve not smoked pot before. Yes, I have. It…

It was kind of a problem.

That is the stupidest fucking thing I’ve ever heard in my entire life.

I was smoking every day. I had a problem.

You were a stoner. You had a hobby.

All right, I’m gonna go. Just tell him I was here and I’ll…

If you leave, I’ll feed him the rest of the pills I have in the bottle.

What? Yeah.

There’s, like, 20, 30 more in here.

I’ll crush them up, I’ll put them in some water, (Puts bottle down)

And I’ll pour it down his throat.

You wouldn’t actually do that, would you? Sit down.

So, why do you keep coming back here?

He needs help.

He needs god in his life right now.

That’s a stupid reason.

Do you think he wants to have sex with you?

That is so gross, oh, my god. Take a hit.

I don’t want… If you don’t take a hit, I’m gonna call the police and I’m gonna tell them that you tried to rape me. Take a hit.

I don’t understand you at all.

Oh, my god.

Is there a carb on this?

Ooh, I’m impressed.

I wasn’t trying to impress you.

There isn’t a carb.

(Sighs)

(Camera clicks)

(Coughs)

Calm down.

(Coughing) What are you gonna do with that picture?

I’m gonna masturbate to it.

Is that what you want me to say?

You’re a pervert. Take another hit.

Look, I’m just fucking with you, all right?

I’m not gonna kill anyone, I’m not gonna tell anyone that you tried to rape me.

You’re not going to give him any more Ambien?

Ellie: No.

(Pills rattle)

(Zips bag)

Why do you keep coming back here?

I don’t know.

Seriously, if you hate him so much, then why…

I’m done answering questions now.

Can I take another hit?

It goes against your religion, and that makes you a hypocrite.

Go ahead.

(Inhales)

(Camera clicks)

I really wish that you wouldn’t do that.

Yeah, I know. I heard you the first time.

Do you find me attractive?

(Hesitates)

Because I’m not attracted to you at all, just to let you know.

I’m not trying to be mean or anything.

I just don’t think you’re very good-looking, or interesting.

Or intelligent.

(Scoffs)

Oh, my god, grow up.

Maybe someone else finds you attractive.

Maybe my dad finds you attractive.

I really wish you… You know, it is so easy to make you uncomfortable.

It’s honestly… It’s a little sad.

You can cash that out.

(Scoffs) If my parents knew I was getting high, getting high while out witnessing for the church…

You’re not from new life.

What?

There’s a kid in the grade below me who goes there.

He told me that they stopped doing door-to-door stuff last year when some woman was out preaching or whatever, and a guy answered the door with no clothes on.

I gotta go. Who are you, really?

Come on, just tell me!

Thomas: Why do you care? Because I think we have a blossoming friendship.

You’re just messing with me.

Ellie: No, I’m not.

You’re not going to tell anyone?

Who am I gonna tell?

I was on a mission.

With a group from my church, back in Waterloo, my hometown in Iowa.

When my dad caught me smoking pot, he thought a mission would be a good idea.

I mean, the truth is, he’s just embarrassed by me and wanted me gone for a while.

Anyway, I just left.

I couldn’t do it anymore.

Why?

The mission leader, this guy, Jerry, all he had us doing was standing on corners and handing out pamphlets.

The end of each day, he’d be like, “look how many people we’re helping,” but…

I tried to talk to him about different ways we can minister.

I mean, different ways that we could actually help people. But…

You could just tell that he didn’t need to earn or prove his faith at all.

After a while, I was just, like, “am I really helping?”

No. You were not.

Yeah, I started to feel that way, too.

I don’t feel that way, I know that you weren’t helping people.

It doesn’t help people to tell them that they should believe in God.

Why would that help people?

Thomas: I just thought…

I see all my family, my friends, they’re all just so happy.

I just want to be like that.

So, why’d you leave, then?

I was worried I was gonna get arrested.

For smoking pot?

For stealing from the mission.

One day, I ditched the pamphlets.

I went door-to-door.

I started actually engaging with people.

Finally. I mean, it felt like I was doing something, helping someone.

(Scoffs)

And that night, I went back to the mission meeting, and I told everyone what I did that day, and Jerry was like, “that’s not what we do, buddy.”

And I was like, “well, why not?”

And we got in this huge argument in front of everyone, and…

(Sighs)

And that night, I decided to leave.

And when everyone was asleep, I… I took the petty cash.

Ellie: How much?

$2,436.

Oh.

Thomas: Yeah. “Oh.”

I got on a bus.

Jerry and my parents were calling me over and over again.

I just tossed my phone.

After a while, I wound up here.

Thomas: I thought I could use this money for my own mission.

You know, see my faith save just one person.

But now I’m almost out of money. I just… I can’t go home, and…

My parents probably wanna disown me.

(Sighs) I don’t know what to do.

You’re more interesting to me now.

Thanks.

So, that’s why you wanna save my dad.

(Door opens)

(Camera clicks)

(Main door lock clicks)

Mom?

Don’t freak out. Shut up.

Liz: You again?

Charlie?

Charlie?

Charlie?

(Softly) Charlie.

(Charlie coughs)

(Lighter clicks)

Not with the oxygen tank.

I’ll stand by the window.

(Liz sighs)

Ellie told you she was coming over?

Liz: No. I did.

And just in time, looks like.

You having any more pain?

(Grunts softly)

(Sighs) How easy is it to move?

Not very.

Any confusion? Have you felt disoriented, forgotten where you are or what you’re doing?

Am I okay? No, you’re not okay.

But as far as the sleeping pills, you’re fine.

I don’t think she gave you much.

Yeah, that’s what I told you.

You know, I was a very angry, very stupid little girl once, too, but if you would’ve given him any more pills than that…

Yeah, but I didn’t give him more pills than that, I gave him two pills. Ellie?

How much money did he offer you?

All of it? How do you know about the money?

You think I’m an idiot?

You think I would believe that you were coming over here out of the kindness of your heart?

(Laughs) Charlie doesn’t have any money.

(Liz continues laughing)

She doesn’t know? Charlie: Mary.

Where do you think all the money from his teaching has been going?

The account for Ellie?

By now, it has to be huge.

Over $100,000 at least, right?

(Wheezes softly)

That’s not true, is it?

Charlie.

We could have gotten you anything you needed.

Special beds, physical therapists, fucking health insurance!

Last winter, when my pick-up broke down and I had to walk through the snow to get your groceries for you…

I offered to get your truck fixed.

Yeah, and I refused because I thought you had $700 in your bank account. The money is for Ellie.

It’s always been for Ellie.

If there was ever any kind of emergency, I would have given you the money. Would you?

Wait.

(Panting)

Wait. (Door shuts)

Mom, you’re not getting any of my money.

Mary: Oh, shut up, Ellie.

Leave, right now.

Wait.

Ellie, I know you didn’t mean to hurt me. I know you didn’t…

Okay, you know what? Listen to me. Listen.

I don’t care about you!

Get that through your fucking skull.

(Crying) Ellie, please. Just fucking die already!

Enough!

Ellie, your… your essay.

(Opens drawer)

So… it’s…

It’s a really good essay!

(Sobs, wheezes)

(Coughs)

(Wheezes) Jesus, Charlie.

Do you have anything?

It’s above the sink, the kitchen counter on the left.

The other one. (Sniffles) Yup.

(Coughing, wheezing)

Mary: Our deal was to wait until she’s out of the house to give her the money.

What’s the difference?

The difference is she’s 17 and still in high school.

She’s gonna spend it on face tattoos or ponies, or something.

I think that she’s a lot smarter than that.

(Mary scoffs)

So…

How’s it been?

Getting to know her. (Chuckles softly)

She’s amazing. (Mary chuckles)

(Sighs) You still do that.

What?

That positivity.

It’s so annoying.

You’re a complete cynic.

Just trying to balance us out.

Yeah. I guess I do miss that.

That one thing.

Just that?

That, and the cooking.

Last month, tried to make a stir-fry thing.

Charlie: Yeah?

Almost set the entire apartment building on fire.

(Laughs)

(Coughing)

(Gasps, coughs)

(Gasping)

(Continues coughing)

(Breathes deeply)

I never knew you were doing this to yourself.

Well, you never asked how I was doing.

You never asked how I was doing either.

Every month, it’s just, “how much money do you need?” Or, “how’s Ellie?”

You didn’t tell me that she’s flunking out of school.

I guess I just didn’t need the lecture about my involvement in her education.

That is not what I… (Exhales)

(Exhales)

How’re you doing, Mary? (Scoffs)

I know I’m not supposed to be around her.

You could probably call the police if you wanted to. Oh, Christ.

You really think I’d do that?

You fought me pretty hard for full custody.

And I don’t blame you for keeping her from me.

Charlie, need I remind you that you left us.

I know.

And I was left raising our kid and explaining to people that my husband left me for a man.

But you didn’t have to cut me out of her life like that.

Oh, please.

You were more than happy to forget about us for a while.

You know that.

I know I made a lot of mistakes.

But I just wanted to see her, Mary.

I’ve always just… Just wanted to see her.

It’s all about you.

Even now, huh?

(Charlie sighs heavily)

Now you know why I kept you from her.

What?

She’s awful. Isn’t she?

She’s a terror. And you think it’s my fault.

Wait, is that why you kept her from me all this time?

Because you thought that I would think that you’re a bad mother?

At first.

But later, when she was 15, 16, I was worried she would hurt you.

Hurt me?

It’s ridiculous.

I don’t take any pleasure in admitting it.

I’m her mother, for Christ’s sake.

You know, I spent way too much time telling myself, you know, “she’s just rebellious, she’s just difficult.”

Charlie, she’s evil.

She’s not evil.

What are you doing?

(Mary typing) You think it’s just me?

“There’ll be a grease fire in hell when he starts to burn.”

Don’t feel bad.

I’ve made quite a few appearances on that thing.

She’s a strong writer.

(Raises voice) That’s your response?

This isn’t evil.

This is honesty.

Do you know how much bullshit I’ve read in my life?

My god, I don’t understand you, Charlie!

Every time I call and ask you how she’s doing, you say, “she’s fine.”

If she’s so evil, then…

(Mary shouting) What was I supposed to tell you?

Huh? That she was off making her classmates cry or slashing her teachers’ tires?

You didn’t want to hear that stuff!

I could have helped her!

She doesn’t want your help! She doesn’t want anyone!

You think I didn’t want her to have a dad?

She adored you!

The only reason you married me in the first place was to have a kid, I know that!

Mary, please!

(Mary sighs)

Well, this brings back memories, doesn’t it?

(Sighs)

(Wheezes, coughs)

Listen.

I never got to say that I was sorry.

What would you have to be sorry about?

That’s not what I mean.

I mean…

About your friend.

Oh.

His name was Alan.

I know his fucking name, Charlie.

I saw him once, in the Walmart parking lot.

He wasn’t looking too good, and I don’t think it was long before he…

Anyway, I had all these things that I… I wanted to say to him, you know, hurl at him like bricks. (Sniffles)

But I… I asked if he wanted some help.

He let me carry a couple of bags to his car, he said thank you, and I left.

I never even told him who I was.

(Wheezes softly)

(Wheezing)

You’re wheezing.

Yeah, it’s gotten worse.

Should I call someone?

No. Um…

You’ll let me hear?

(Grunts)

(Hoarsely) How do I sound?

That was the first time we’ve all been together in almost nine years. Do you realize that?

(Chuckles dryly)

When Ellie was little, when we took that trip to the Oregon coast together, Ellie played in the sand, and…

(Sniffles)

We laid out on the beach.

I went swimming in the ocean.

That was the last time I ever went swimming, actually.

I kept cutting my legs on the rocks.

The water was so cold.

(Ocean waves splashing)

And you were so mad that my legs bled and stained the seats in the minivan.

(Chuckles)

And you said, for days after that, I smelled like seawater.

(Charlie laughs)

(Sniffles)

(Wheezes) You remember that?

(Coughing)

(Sniffles)

You sound awful.

(Sighs) I’m dying, Mary.

Fuck you.

I’m sorry.

Fuck you.

(Crying) For sure?

Yeah. For sure.

(Cries, sighs)

Charlie: Listen to me.

I need to make certain that she’s going to be okay.

We can’t give up on her.

You already gave up on her!

You gave up on her when she was eight years old!

I wish I could have been a part of her life, Mary, a part of both of your lives.

Go to the hospital.

You have money, just go to the hospital!

We both know that that money is for Ellie.

But beyond that, I need to know that she’s gonna have a decent life.

Where she cares about people and other people care about her.

(Crying) And she’s gonna be okay.

I need to go. Mary.

She doesn’t have anyone else! I have to go.

(Crying) I need to know that I have done one thing right with my life!

We both played our parts.

I raised her, and you’re giving her the money.

It’s the best we could do.

(Sighs)

Do you need anything before I leave?

Water, or something.

(Coughs)

(Sighs)

(Coughs)

(Phone button beeps)

(Snoring)

(Thunder rumbles)

(Rain pouring)

(Thunder rumbling)

(Coughs)

(Water trickling)

(Knock at door)

Dan: Gambino’s!

(Charlie coughing) Yeah.

Dan: Charlie?

You okay?

Charlie: Yeah. (Clears throat)

The money is in the, um…

Dan: Sure.

(Mailbox opens)

Dan: You sure you’re doing okay?

Yeah. Thanks, Dan.

Dan: Have a good night, okay?

(Mailbox closes)

(Rain pouring heavily)

(Mumbles)

(Intense music playing)

(Breathing heavily)

(Thunder rumbling)

(Typing)

(Whispering) Fuck these essays.

Fuck these readings.

Just write something fucking honest.

(Banging keyboard)

(Slams laptop shut)

(Sighs)

(Intense music continues)

(Retches)

(Spits)

(Coughs, wheezes)

(Gasps)

(Coughing)

(Continues coughing)

(Stifles sob)

(Sobbing)

(Coughs, sobs)

(Continues sobbing)

(Coughs)

(Knock at door)

(Gasps) Liz?

(Knocking continues)

Thomas: Can I come inside?

It’s not locked.

Hi. What’s wrong?

Thank you. For what?

Look, I’m not exactly who I said I was.

I’m not from new life.

What? I… I don’t…

I’ve been in a pretty bad place recently.

I… I stole some money, and I ran away from home a few months ago.

And your daughter, she took these pictures of me smoking pot, and a recording or something like that, and she found my church in Waterloo somehow, and then she sent it to them, and they sent it to my parents… Wait.

And you know what they said?

“It’s just money.”

And they forgive me.

And they love me, and they want me to come home.

How awful is that?

Ellie, she… She did all that?

I can’t tell if she was trying to help me or hurt me or…

Do you ever get that feeling from her? (Chuckles)

How did she even… she…

She found your church, she tracked down your parents.

She really did all that?

Yeah. I mean, I’m going home tomorrow.

But, Charlie, before I go… (Laughs)

I have to show you this.

(Breathes uncomfortably)

What… what’s wrong? (Grunts heavily)

Wait, are you okay?

It just hurts. Charlie, I want to help you. I know I can help you.

I’m not going to the hospital.

No, I know. I’m not gonna make you go.

But I can help you.

“Therefore, brothers and sisters…” What are you doing?

“We have an obligation, but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die. But if by the spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, then you will live.”

I… I don’t understand.

Charlie, when I read this, I finally got it.

I finally understood why god brought me here to you.

So I could help you understand what happened to Alan, so it doesn’t happen to you, too.

How did you get this?

Charlie, Alan tried to escape god’s will.

He chose his life with you over god.

But this is why he was so obsessed with this verse.

He knew that he was living in the flesh, and not in the spirit.

He never prayed for salvation, but it’s not too late for you.

Through the spirit, you can put to death the misdeeds of the body, and you will live.

You think Alan died because he chose to be with me?

You think god turned his back on him because he and I were in love?

Yes.

(Sighs)

You know something? I wasn’t always this big.

Yeah, I know.

I mean, I wasn’t the best-looking guy in the room, but…

Alan loved me.

He thought I was beautiful.

Okay.

Halfway through the semester, he started meeting me during my office hours.

And we were… We were crazy about one another.

But we waited until the class was over before…

This isn’t, uh…

It was just after classes had ended for the year.

It was perfect temperature outside.

We took a walk in the arboretum, and we kissed.

Charlie, stop.

We would spend entire nights lying together, naked.

We would make love.

We would make love.

Do you find that disgusting?

Charlie, god is ready to help you.

Oh, I hope that there isn’t a god, because I hate to think that there’s an afterlife, and that Alan can see what I have done to myself.

Charlie… That he can see my swollen feet and the sores on my skin, and the patches of mold in between the flaps. Stop.

The infected ulcers on my ass, and the sack of fat on my back that turned brown last year.

Okay, stop! This is disgusting?

Yes! I’m disgusting?

(Shouting) Yes, you’re disgusting! You’re…

(Breath shuddering, whispering) I’m sorry.

What?

Go home to your family.

(Charlie coughs)

(Door opens)

(Door closes)

(Continues coughing)

(Coughs heavily)

Charlie: Well, your complaints have been heard.

I’ve been replaced by someone who will, no doubt, have you rewrite, and rewrite, and rewrite, be more objective, less authentic, less you, with every draft.

But some of you saw my post about writing something honest.

And…

(Sighs)

The things that some of you wrote…

Kristy, you wrote, “my parents want me to be a radiologist, but I don’t even know what that is.”

Julian, you wrote, “I’m sick of people telling me that I have promise.”

Adam, you wrote, “I think I need to accept that my life isn’t going to be very exciting.”

You all wrote these amazing, honest things, and…

You’ve been so honest with me that I… I…

(Grunts softly)

I just want to be…

Honest with you, too.

(Exhales)

(Breathes deeply)

(Sighs heavily)

These assignments don’t matter.

This course doesn’t matter.

College doesn’t matter.

These amazing, honest things that you wrote, they matter.

(Laptop crashes)

(Charlie wheezes)

(Charlie coughs)

(Wheezing continues)

I’m sorry. Don’t.

(Breathes erratically)

(Suppresses grunt)

I really hate you for putting me through this again, you know that?

Those last few months before Alan…

I’d come over here, shake him, scream at him, just trying to get him to fucking eat something.

God, that was awful! It was awful for me, too.

Yeah? Well, you weren’t the one who had to identify his body, all bloated… They wouldn’t let me.

I wasn’t family.

(Sighs)

(Charlie coughs and wheezes)

I got you two meatball subs. Extra cheese.

(Sighs, sniffles)

I don’t know what I’m doing.

(Breathes heavily)

I’m not going to the hospital.

I’m not asking you to.

I can’t do this anymore.

I tried to save him, Liz.

I thought that if I just loved him, that he wouldn’t need anyone else.

I told him he didn’t need god, he didn’t need anyone but me.

Charlie, all I know is that you gave Alan the best years of his life.

If it weren’t for you, he would have jumped off that bridge years earlier. (Shudders)

Nobody could’ve saved him.

Believe me, I spent years trying.

(Breathes heavily)

I don’t think I believe anyone can save anyone.

She saved him.

She wasn’t trying to hurt him. She was trying to help him.

Who are you talking about?

He’s going home. She did that.

Charlie… She didn’t do it to hurt him, she did it to send him home.

Do you feel light-headed? Charlie, look at me.

She was trying to help him. Who?

Ellie. She was trying to help him, she just wanted to send him home.

Do you ever get the feeling that…

People are incapable of not caring?

People are amazing.

(Door opens)

What the fuck did you do?

What’s wrong with him?

He’s dying.

So, call someone.

(Softly) No. Call a fucking ambulance!

Liz.

I need to talk to him.

I’m not leaving you alone with him.

I need to talk to him alone.

(Softly) Liz.

Please.

Okay.

(Stifled sobbing)

Liz: I’ll call someone.

Charlie.

I’ll wait downstairs.

Why did you do that? (Chuckling) What?

I failed.

It’s a really good essay.

Are you just trying to screw me over one last time?

I don’t care about you! I don’t care that you’re dying.

Do you want me to fail out of high school?

Is that why you did this? I didn’t write it.

This is the essay that you gave me yesterday.

You didn’t read it. I don’t need to read it.

Read it.

(Breathing laboriously)

This is…

I know what this is.

(Chuckling) I knew you would.

I wrote this.

You never forget anything.

I wrote this in eighth grade for English. Why do you…

“And I felt saddest of all when I read the boring chapters that were only descriptions of whales, because I knew that the author was just trying to save us from his own sad story, just for a little while.”

(Charlie chuckles) (Sniffles)

How do you have this? Your mother, she sent it to me four years ago.

I wanted to know how you were doing in school, and she sent it.

And it’s the best essay I’ve ever read.

(Sobbing) Why are you fucking with me like this?

I’m not.

(Sobs) I’m sorry for leaving you.

I was in love, and…

(Inhales laboriously) I left you behind.

You did not deserve that. I don’t… I don’t know how (Inhales laboriously)

I could have done such a thing.

You’re so beautiful. (Sobs)

You’re amazing. Stop.

You’re amazing. (Sobs)

This essay is amazing.

This essay is you.

Stop saying that.

This essay is you. Stop saying that!

You’re the best thing I have ever done.

(Cries out in pain)

(Coughs) What’s the matter?

Ellie!

No. Okay, I can’t be here right now.

I have to go. You’re perfect.

You’ll be happy.

You care about people. (Sobs)

The ambulance is coming, they’ll help you.

No. They won’t.

You’re going to the hospital. No.

You just need surgery, or something!

Read it to me. (Grunts) What?

(Struggling) If you want to help, read it to me.

You’ll help if you read it.

You asshole. You fat fucking asshole!

You’ll help… Fuck you.

Please. Fuck you!

Ellie!

(Sobbing) Daddy, please.

(Ellie sniffling)

“In the amazing book, Moby dick, by the author Herman Melville, the author recounts his story of being at sea. In the first part of his book, the author, calling himself Ishmael, is in a small seaside town and he is sharing a bed with a man named Queequeg.”

“The author and Queequeg go to church and later set out on a ship captained by a pirate named Ahab, who is missing a leg, and very much wants to kill the whale which is named Moby dick, and which is white. In the course of the book, the pirate Ahab encounters many hardships.” (Grunts)

“His entire life is set around trying to kill a certain whale.”

(Panting) “I think this is sad because this whale doesn’t have any emotions, and doesn’t know how bad Ahab wants to kill him.

“He’s just a poor big animal.”

(Charlie gasps for breath)

“And I feel bad for Ahab as well, because he thinks that his life will be better if he can just kill this whale, but in reality, it won’t help him at all.”

(Charlie breathing shallowly)

“I was very saddened by this book, and I felt many emotions for the characters. And I felt saddest of all when I read the boring chapters that were only descriptions of whales, because I knew that the author was just trying to save us from his own sad story, just for a little while.”

(Gasping)

(Waves lapping)

(Emotional music playing)

“This book made me think about my own life, and then it made me feel glad for my…”

(Breathing erratically)

(Laughing)

(Chuckles)

(Music swells)

(Gasps)

(Waves crashing)

(Emotional music continues)

(Grim music playing)

(Waves crashing gently)

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