Once and Again
Chaos Theory

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Chaos Theory

Cut to the auditorium, where the dress rehearsal is underway. Jessie strolls around the stage in a peasant blouse, reciting her lines to some kid with a newsboy cap and a walking stick. This play looks bad, and I base that judgment solely on Grace's costume, which is the embodiment of a bad French stereotype: striped boat-neck shirt with a black vest, a black beret jauntily tipped to one side, and a messenger bag slung across the shoulders. Grace and another kid creep onstage and take their positions. It's Jessie's turn to deliver another line, but she goes blank. A few kids in the audience giggle. Creepitri snaps his fingers to silence them, then leans over to mutter, "Line," to Alexa. She feeds it to Jessie, who finishes it but then draws another blank. Grace makes a point of leaning against the scenery and swiveling her eyes with exaggerated boredom. Jessie throws up her hands, sighing, "What's wrong with me?" Alexa reads off the rest of the line, and Grace pointedly mouths along with her, showing that she knows Jessie's part as well as her own. And that she's a bitch. Jessie sees her doing it, and her confidence takes another dive. She picks up her line and pushes on, though. When she's finished, Grace takes her cue and strolls forward, reciting her line in an inflated voice, like she's Olivier or something. Jessie looks positively wretched, and I don't think Grace's rotten hamming is the cause.

Karen, meanwhile, is having an introspective moment in her kitchen. She pulls some books from her satchel, and triggers her Soliloquy Self.

Up on the Stool, Karen hugs an armload of books and muses that everyone signed her yearbook, "Don't ever change." She thinks that's the worst thing you could say to a person. "But, what's really frightening is, I haven't changed," she says. She shakes her head regretfully and adds, "Not really, anyway."

Back in her kitchen, Karen twists the phone cord around her finger and says into the receiver, "Is your mom there?" She greets her friend Deborah and then proceeds to fib her way out of coming for Thanksgiving, claiming that she's come down with a cold. She forces a weak cough for good measure. She assures Deborah that she's just going to rest and "lay low," and that she'll be fine. She hangs up, looking a little disappointed with herself.

Meanwhile, over at Manning Manor, Lily's still in the kitchen, sporting her apron. She's tearing up a loaf of bread for stuffing. Judy wanders in through the back door, and Lily swoons, "My hero! You've saved me!" Judy shrugs off her jacket and warns, "Just don't force me to make pies, okay?" Lily counters that Judy always loved helping their mother make pies. "That was you," Judy argues. Lily gets wistful, remembering how good the kitchen always smelled. "Mom never let me in the kitchen," Judy kids. She says Babs called her, and Judy has never heard her sound happier -- she's volunteering at a homeless shelter for the holiday. "They'd better like pie," Judy adds, picking up a knife and attacking celery with it. "Have you ever noticed that store-bought stuffing tastes just as good as homemade?" she teases. She can't be serious. "Judy!" Lily scolds. Judy asks where all Lily's "little elves" are. Lily rhymes off their various locations: slumber party, work, and rehearsal. At the mention of Rick and Sam battling a deadline, Judy tries to stay calm and casually asks whether Lily has seen their drawings. She has. They both agree that the drawings are "amazing," and the "space" will be "amazing." After an awkward second of silence, Judy asks with faux nonchalance, "So, is he doing okay?" Lily slowly says she doesn't know. Judy leaps to the defensive, insisting that she's "not obsessing"; she was "just wondering how he is." Lily tries to insist that she wasn't thinking anything of Judy's question -- she really doesn't know how Sam is. She slips in, "You can ask him yourself, I suppose, since Rick has invited him for Thanksgiving." Judy's stomach clenches. Lily admits that she wasn't going to tell her because she didn't want to upset her. Judy continues chopping the celery with her big knife, which makes me really nervous. People shouldn't handle sharp objects when they're that distracted. Lily says, "Knowing Sam, he won't show up anyway, but I was going to have Rick dis-invite him." "Why, because I can't handle it?" Judy asks, sounding offended. "Well, can you?" Lily demands.

Judy's spared from answering when Grace and Jessie drag themselves through the back door. Grace immediately makes with the complaining, saying, "You're not going to believe this." Lily interrupts to ask whether they're hungry. Jessie groans that she's not, and says she's just going to go to bed. Lily watches her slump off, concerned. "Grace, is she okay?" she asks once Jessie is gone. "None of us are!" Grace whines. She adds, "We stunk so bad tonight that he's making us rehearse again tomorrow. And he's completely right." Lily's mouth falls open in horror. "You have to rehearse on Thanksgiving?" she squeaks. She wonders, "Who is this Dimitri person?" and voices her outrage that a holiday could be so callously dismissed. She then demands to know who's going to help her get dinner ready. Judy takes it as her cue to leave, which doesn't sit well with Lily. Grace sips at a glass of juice and waits for Lily to calm down marginally. She tells Lily that she's really tired. Lily says she knows, and assures her that the play "is going to be great." Grace says that she's sorry she can't help with dinner. Liar. She heads off to bed. Lily slips into another flashback of herself as a girl, staring adoringly at her mother's hands and working a piece of pie dough, and sighs over the elusive dream.

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Once and Again

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