Oh I Believe In Yesterday



Scene Title Oh I Believe In Yesterday
Synopsis Addiction is painful.
Date March 11, 2018


The single-space rooms at the Benchmark Center are like a small hotel room. A large window covers one wall, with zig-zagging curtains concealing that it's been left open a crack. A can of air-freshener and glass ash tray sits by the window, littered with cigarette butts. A queen-sized bed makes up much of the room, with rumpled blankets and tangled sheets that haven't been folded in days. On the night stand next to the bed, a small radio alarm-clock shows the hour of night, and plays the opening guitar riff of a Beatles song against a faint backdrop of static.


The door to the room is shut, the only lights come from the street, filtering in through gaps between the curtains. The room's occupant, Martin Cresswell, sits on the edge of his bed, hands over his face, hands shaking. He looks down at his feet, rust-stained shoes that have tracked in dirt from outside. He drags his hands down his face, presses out a wheezing sigh through his nose and scrubs his palms on the rough fabric of his pale jeans. There'a a creak of the bedsprings as he achingly stands, and shuffles over to the window, sliding it shut with one shaky hand. In the glass he sees his own muted reflection; gray hair and tired, sunken eyes. He doesn't recognize himself anymore. The curtain is tugged closed the rest of the way, and he starts to round the foot of the bed.

…all my troubles seemed so far away.

Seated on the edge of the bed, the sunlight has turned her a shade of orange as though she were made of gold. The wavy length of dark hair framing her face only makes her look more like a painted picture. She leans back on her hands, legs crossed, floral print dress popping with vibrant colors. "Have you ever been to France?" Her pale eyes reflect the sunlight, dark lashes shadowing them with ragged fringe. She knows he hasn't, but the coy smile on her lips says she wants to hear him say it regardless. Though the impatient sprite in her doesn't let her wait long enough for him to actually do more than shake his head from where he stands by the window. "I haven't either, but I'd love to see the Rhine some day. There's red-legged partridges that stalk up and down the river in the spring, with their little… fat bodies, like glamorous pigeons." At the notion, she sits forward and sculpts her hands in the air as if defining the plump little shape of a pigeon, an amused and playful look in her eyes.

Now it looks as though they're here to stay.

The bathroom light clicks on, washing away all warmth with a fluorescent pallor. The mirror is broken, has been for a day now, smashed at the center with most of the middle pieces now occupying the drain along with rust-brown stains. Martin can see himself in jagged, broken reflection in the glass. He goes for the cabinet beside the mirror, pulling out an orange pill bottle that reads escitalopram on the label. He unscrews the cap with tired, arthritic hands and pops a pill in his mouth, swallowing dryly. The bottle is left, uncapped, nearby to where he grabbed it. Then, he slowly turns to look at the tub and shower.

Oh, I believe in yesterday.

The front door opens swiftly, and she darts into the small house with fluid grace. One booted foot shoves the door shut behind her. "Hey!" Her voice rings through the cottage, "come downstairs!" His feet thump heavy on the steps, towel-drying his hands as he does. He was leaner then, handsome, could smile at the way her eyes lit up when she saw him. She doesn't want for him to get to the bottom of the stairs, and comes up to meet him, rising up on her toes to accommodate his greater height, arms loosely wrapped around his neck. She presses a kiss to his lips, and he relaxes into her embrace. She smells of lilac and sandalwood, a faint hint of cigarettes in her hair. "I'm pregnant," she whispers against his stubbled jaw.

Suddenly, I'm not half the man I used to be.

The man in the tub is unconscious still, hands bound in duct tape, with an extra strip over his mouth. Both of his eyes are black and the bridge of his nose is broken, he suffers from what will undoubtedly be a concussion. His brown jacket is dirty from the construction site, jeans marked by white paint, boots red with rust. Martin regards him with a nervous anxiety, looking to the extended box cutter sitting on the back of the toilet by the tub. He scrubs a hand over his mouth repeatedly, looks away and goes back out into the bedroom. With a hand at the side of his head, Martin breathes in deeply and exhales a strained sigh. The radio continues to play, heedlessly.

There's a shadow hanging over me.

The baby squirming in the crib is helpless, tiny hands grasping up toward the looming silhouette of a tall man standing by its side. A little tuft of dark hair springs from the crown of his head, spit on his little lips, blanket not quite fully swaddled around his tiny torso. He reaches into the crib, long and strong fingers curling in the wool fabric of the baby's blanket. For a moment he hesitates, and then just pulls the blanket snugly around the baby's body, tucks him in and scoops him up to be cradled in a two-armed embrace. "Shhh," he huskily whispers at the baby's cooing, lifting a single finger to brush one knuckle against the child's jaw. "Shhh," he urges again, giving the child a little up and down bounce that elicits a wide-eyed smile.

Oh, yesterday came suddenly.

Breathing is hard, and Martin lurches forward when he starts to cough at nothing. Fine one moment, unable to breathe the next. He stumbles forward, grasping at the tissues beside the bed and pulls a handful out as he covers his mouth. His back aches, shoulders shudder, chest heaves in painful inhalations as his lungs rattle like they were a snake's tail. He coughs deeply into the tissues, pulling away pink-stained paper in a drooling tendril of saliva connecting lip to tissue. He can breathe again, though it still has a wet, bubbly quality to it.

Why she had to go?

They're sitting together on a parch bench, she with her cardigan buttoned at the collar, he tiny and excited in her lap. She's careful giving him the binoculars, they're small but still heavy for a toddler his size. She lifts one hand, pointing to a nearby telephone pole and levels the binoculars up as well. "Look, those are starlings on the power lines." There's an amused giggle from the dark-haired toddler in her lap, and her husband leans forward over the back of the bench, smiling as he watches them watching birds. He slips an arm around her shoulder, looking down to the dark-haired boy, then back up to the power lines. "He's got my eye for birds," she says with a teasing tone of voice, looking askance to his wolfish profile. "Best watch out, or he'll marry a sparrow and fly away from the nest."

I don't know, she wouldn't say.

Fingers are trembling as Martin sits down on the corner of the bed again, and he looks to the pale light spilling out of the bathroom. He realizes this was a mistake. After another moment of thought he gets up to his feet and moves across the floor to retrieve his jacket from the hook by the door. One arm after the other he throws it on, feeling the corner of a pack of cigarettes press into his ribs as he does. Then, looking to the bathroom, he breathes in deeply and turns away, starting for the door.

I said something wrong.

Their argument from the kitchen rings off the walls. "I know you have a problem but you told me you had it under control!" She's troubled, tears in her eyes streaking mascara down her cheeks. The ceiling fan overhead spins slowly. He circles the kitchen table to avoid her, dirt under his nails and tracked across the floor from his boots, hair unkempt and beard not trimmed. "You were gone for five days! You didn't say anything to me, you went out for a pack of cigarettes and then you were just fucking gone!" He stops, looks out the window at the darkness beyond, but only sees his muted reflection and hers rapidly approaching him. He turns to look at her, at her need for an answer, but all he sees is the little boy sitting on the sofa through the kitchen doorway, looking hurt and alone. His throat tightens.

Now I long for yesterday.

Hand on the doorknob, Martin hears a noise from the bathroom. A muffled, weary noise of confusion. His eyes close, mouth opens, and he exhales a strained sigh as fingers clutch the doorknob tightly. His head bobs up and down, eyes slowly open and attention squares on the bathroom doorway. There's another noise, a clunk of a knee against the side of the tub, and Martin releases the doorknob and starts to walk through the shadowed room toward the brightly lit bathroom doorway, clenching his hands tightly into shaking fists as he does.

Yesterday love was such an easy game to play.

Steam rises from a bubbling stewpot, where sliced carrots, diced onions, chunks of potato and wedges of celery roil together. She's holding a cutting board, leaning it down to the pot and sliding diced pieces of rabbit down into the pot. He slips in behind her, snaking an arm around her waist and pressing a kiss to the space between temple and ear just below her hair. He looks into the pot, stirring one-handed with a wooden spoon. "Get the… cardamom," hazel eyes regard the spice rack by the sink. "Oh, and the ground cloves." He looks back to the stew pot, smiling fondly as she scent of the cooking meat fills the air. She comes back with the spices, offering each plastic container out to him. Their fingers touch, eyes meet, and suddenly it's not as difficult as it had been.

Now I need a place to hide away.

Leaning into the doorway, Martin sees the balding man in the tub, bound but now unstilled. Martin watches him blearily come to, and on realizing his predicament start trying to scream through the duct tape. "Sssh, shhh," Martin urges, walking into the room. He looks down at the man in the tub, one gray brow raised. "Nobody can hear you," is a bald-faced lie, if he screamed and banged loud enough surely someone in an adjacent room would call for help. "You know, I was… going to…" Martin closes his eyes and rubs his hand at his forehead, looking pained. "Why'd you have to wake up?"

Oh, I believe in yesterday.

"I just want to grab a coffee," he's saying with authority, looking into the rear-view mirror where his son sits in the back seat. He looks to her in the passenger seat, brows furrowed and lips down-turned into a frown. This wasn't a planned stop on their trip. "Look, it'll just be a minute ok? I'll take the boy with me, and we'll be out in a jiffy." She looks back around her seat, to her son holding a comic book in his lap, and then over the top of his head and out the rear window to the diner beyond. "Trust me, it'll be fine."

Why she had to go?

Seeing the panic in the bound man's eyes, Martin wets his lips and slowly pulls the bathroom door closed. He can see himself, still, in jagged reflections of the shattered mirror. The radio is still loud, even with the door closed, loud enough to muffle the mumbling cries for help from the man in the tub. Martin kneels down beside him, pushing the small bulls-eye carpet aside. "I need help," Martin explains, unable to make eye contact with the man duct-taped and helpless in front of him. "Now, I'm trying to get it, but… but nothing's working. I've tried everything, but I just can't… I can't."

I don't know, she wouldn't say.

She was already looking at him in the rear view mirror when he walked out of the diner, jaw set and eyes downcast at the dirt parking lot. Her dark brows were furrowed, eyes wide, shoulders square and he knew what was coming. As he opened the car door she was already shouting. "What are you doing? Why is he still in the diner!?" She lunges forward between the seats, fingers wrapping in the collar of his jacket. "Where is our son? What— what the fuck did you do?" He can't look her in the eyes, and she doesn't wait for him to answer. She winds up and slaps him once across the face, twice and he takes her wrist in his hand and shouts back angrily at her. Not words, just noises, like an animal.

I said something wrong.

It's a one-sided conversation that Martin's having as he hauls himself up to sit on the side of the tub. "I've tried cold turkey, but we all know how that goes." Martin's brows furrow, hands folding in his lap. "Tried therapy— trying therapy. It's only…" he wobbles his hand from side to side in a see-saw motion. "Drugs aren't hard enough, and I'm… I'm falling apart." Hazel eyes square on the man in the tub. "Therapist said that placebo treatments work wonders. Exchanging gum for cigarettes…" Martin makes a face. "Couldn't kick that either," is only a little rueful. "But, I'm willing to try anything. I'm— pretty desperate." He brings a hand up, claps it on to the bound man's shoulder. "I'm… really hoping you can help me."

Now I long for yesterday.

Rocking back and forth on the floor, he has his fingers curled into the wavy locks of his hair. His eyes are puffy from crying, tears streaming down his cheeks and an anguished, animalistic cry escaping his lips. Why is the only thing he can say, over and over again, in different qualities of regret and anger. The house around him is trashed, a china cabinet tipped over and dishes shattered on the floor. A table is upended and smashed against the wall, chairs shattered, pictures knocked off the wall. All except one, her, sitting in a pretty faux-gold frame, smiling serenely the day she gave birth to their son. The glass is cracked, though, a jagged line that cuts across her brow from left to right. Screaming sobs fill the air, anguished and painful things.

Yesterday love was such an easy game to play.

In a single, slow motion Martin points two fingers at the bound man's head and splits the skin at his brow like a saw. The scream is muffled beneath the duct tape, the thrashing in clunks and thumps against the vinyl liner noisier than he'd like. "Shh," 'Martin' urges, tracing his finger back across the cut to score through bone, and then back again, a sawing motion that makes the man's eyes roll back in his head as blood runs down his brow and face.

Now I need a place to hide away.

Why didn't you stop me, he'd asked his son. The response was as cold as the ice around them. "No take backs." It's a sort of damning frame of mind. He takes a breath, one that sits shallow and high in his chest. "What's done is done. Re-configuring the timeline wouldn't have changed me. Just you. Just her."

Oh, I believe in yesterday.

Bone splits, a wet snapping sound. There's no satisfaction to be found inside, no discovery, no thrill. Just an empty promise. Samson Gray wipes a bloody hand down his face, through his gray beard and into his lap. Addiction is hard, but he's trying to get help.

Mm mm mm mm mm mm mm.

In his own way.


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