----- Original Message -----
From: "Deborah Birkett" firstname.lastname@example.org
To: "'Sarah D. Bunting'" email@example.com
Sent: Wednesday, November 17, 2004 9:48 AM
Subject: Kleenex stipend
Joan's managed to emerge from the car now, looking like nine kinds of hell. When she gets to where Grace is standing, waiting for her, Grace says, "Sucks." They stop on the sidewalk in front of Luke and Friedman, who says, still crying, "I coulda done the play for her tonight. I should've just asked her." Joan: "Are you saying it's your fault?" Friedman doesn't know how to respond. "Is that what you're saying, Friedman? What, do you think you're God?" Grace looks concerned for Joan. He replies, "I just meant, if I would have asked -- " Joan, angrily: "How about me, huh? Maybe if I hadn't gone on that stupid date -- maybe I killed her!" Grace: "Dude, chill." Joan shrieks: "Why? Why should I chill?" Friedman wipes away some more tears. They stand there in the damp night, trying to cope with their grief, without a clue in the world of how to do it or even how to help each other.
Inside, Helen walks over to Will, who's having a good stiff drink. "All we've been through with Kevin…he's still here." They hug each other.
Out on the porch, Grace says, "You know what I hate? Monday morning, there's going to be all these…memorials, and flowers, and stupid-ass teddy bears." I'm with her. She sits on the steps between Luke and Joan. Friedman's leaning against a short wall, looking broken. Joan agrees: "From a bunch of people who didn't even know her." Luke says Judith told him she collected PEZ dispensers. Grace smiles ever so slightly at him. Joan looks at him, not knowing what to make of this information she herself seems not to have known. Adam approaches the house slowly, and sees the four of them sitting there: "Hey." Joan, who's changed from high heels into running shoes, gets up and marches toward him. Fresh tears in her eyes, she shoves him hard and demands, "How could you? How could you just leave me?" Grace and Luke stand up, worried about just how completely Joan's going to lose it. Adam says softly that he's sorry, and walks toward Joan to make amends. She's not having it; when he comes near her she grabs him and shakes him a little: "No! How could you just leave me there?" Adam says softly that he tried, and then reiterates that loudly: "I tried, okay? I couldn't do it! Not after my mother...I couldn't…I just couldn't see someone throw her life away like that. Not again." Joan, through her tears: "She didn't…she didn't kill herself." Adam replies, "Some people do it all at once…and some people do it a little bit every day." Joan needs to remember that this is November, too. There's the faint sound of barking in the distance as Joan struggles with that: "I…I loved her. I…" Adam: "I know. And I don't know why that doesn't matter." God, neither do I. Joan sighs and lets herself fall into Adam's embrace. Friedman: "'Doubt thou the stars are fire; / Doubt that the sun doth move; / Doubt truth to be a liar; But never doubt I love. / O dear Ophelia, I have not art to reckon my groans: but that I / love thee best, O most best, believe it. Adieu.'" He puts his hands over his face and sniffles. Not to, like, ruin the moment, but didn't he miss a line in there? "I am ill at these numbers," right after "dear Ophelia"? Then again, it's not like I've more or less memorized Shakespeare's longest play, so maybe I should shut it. Grace gives Friedman the most sympathetic look he's probably ever going to get out of her. Adam strokes Joan's hair and holds her. Friedman walks off the porch, telling Grace and Luke, "Just give it up. Hold hands or something." He physically puts their hands together. Then he hugs them both at the same time. Boy…is that a strange picture. But wait! Did Joan see that? Was she even looking? I don't think so. Maybe she still doesn't know about Grace and Luke. Oy. Grace finally gets a little weepy, and complains, "Okay, this is just weird." Friedman lets go, smiling awkwardly through his tears.
Adam pulls something out of his pocket to show Joan; he's got some small plastic balls that light up when you switch them on. They're a light, bright blue colour when lit. "I was gonna give them to Judith for your project." Joan starts crying again. "Kind of a…thank-you…you know, for our date." He hands her the three balls, all lit up. Joan takes them and looks at them, and looks at Adam with appreciation. Dog Walker God comes cruising past and stops in front of Joan's house. Joan walks over to him with no explanation, as Adam stands there watching her. He eventually wanders back to the porch, in the standard "no curiosity whatsoever about what my wacky girlfriend Joan is doing" trance. Joan asks God, "What are you doing here? Haven't you done enough?" He says, "She loved you, Joan." Joan says she loved Judith, too: "What am I supposed to do with that now?" Dog Walker God wants to know if she ever heard a riddle about a man, his boxes, and the bridge. Joan has no patience for conundra: "S-s-s-stop. I…just want my friend back." Dog Walker God is persistent: "A man had three boxes. Each box weighed five pounds. The man weighed 190. The bridge could only support 200. How did the man make it across the bridge with all his boxes?" Joan cannot believe God is putting her through this: "This is just cruel." He insists: "How did he get across, Joan?" She waves the light balls around furiously: "He juggled. Yes. Okay! I get it! He keeps one box in the air the whole time. Yes, I get it. What -- what -- what are you saying? That if -- that if I juggled boxes across a bridge I'll see Judith again?" She's really angry. Personally, I hope if I start seeing God, and God asks me riddles, they're those ones that go, "Mr. Brown lives in a blue house with a green car. Mr. White lives in a brown house with a grey car. There's a white house next to the blue house…" You know those ones? I'm good at those. ["I wish I'd had you in my pocket for the GREs; I hate those." -- Sars]