Painted Rocks



Scene Title Painted Rocks
Synopsis Kaylee is haunted by a memory.
Date March 26, 2021


Kaylee startles awake to a darkened room lit only by the dim, ambient glow of streetlights’ glow bleeding between the blinds. Her chest rises and falls with sharp breaths, and for all that she can see the darkened outline of her bedroom, she does not see what she thought she heard. Carl.

Settling back down onto her bed as the adrenaline starts to fade, Kaylee reflexively rubs a hand over her face and down the side of her neck. A dull, throbbing headache pounds behind her eyes, like she used to feel on days when she’d over-exerted her telepathy. She can’t be sure if the headache is real, or some vestigial ache from the phantom limb that is her lost ability.

Checking her phone on the bedside, she sees the lateness of the hour. But also the 16 missed messages she’s yet to respond to.

Cpt. Wilson
Yesterday at 3:26 pm
Hey Thatcher. I just wanted to check in and see how you were doing and if…

Yesterday at 5:12 pm
Taco night, you should come over. Hugo’s been asking about you. Pip wants to…

Yesterday at 6:46 pm
Hi Kaylee, I wanted to check in and see how you were doing. I know you…

Unknown Caller
1 Missed Call
1 Voicemail

Even just looking at the messages feels like too much.

Kaylee’s Apartment
Raytech Corporate Housing
Raytech Industries Campus
Jackson Heights

March 26th
4:14 am

Kaylee gives a heavy sigh into the near darkness as she clicks off the screen and tosses it on the nightstand, letting her eyes adjust again. Pushing to her feet, she’s hit with an intense need for a stretch, which has her up on tippy toes with arms stretched high above her head.

Of course, Kaylee quickly regrets it when her muscles relax and her head gives a hard throb of pain and starts to ache just a little harder. “Fuuuuck,” she groans and shuffles for the bathroom and the aspirin bottle that holds a permanent spot on her counter.

A tired and graveled chirp inquires at her from the other pillow of the queen size bed where Willy has curled himself up. “No,” his human grumbles knowing what he’s asking without needing it translated. The cat stretches and chirps after her again, notched ears swiveled towards her.

“No. Willy. It’s not time to eat,” Kaylee says loudly, as she continues on the hunt for headache relief.

The bathroom light is caustic and burns when it clicks on as Kaylee enters. The automated lights can be both a blessing and a curse. The buzzing from the bulb above the mirror feels like a chainsaw right now, and as Kaylee reaches for the bottle of aspirin she notices something off about her reflection. A burst blood vessel in her right eye, and subtle bruising around the socket as if she’d been punched in her sleep.

“Oh no…” Kaylee breaths out as she leans closer. “No no no no…” Her voice pitches up into a whine, as panic starts to fill her mind.


She hears behind her, from the bedroom.

Her son’s voice is a much needed reality check. Kaylee straightens with a sharp inhale of cool night air. It clears her head instantly, as concern pushes back the panic that moments ago threatened to consume her.

“Carl?” Kaylee calls out, brows furrowed in confusion.

Was it her turn to have him? Kaylee couldn’t remember and that scared her. Eyes flick back and forth as she tries to search her memory and remember, a hand presses to the side of her head trying to ease the pain so she could think straight.

Still.. She heard him…

The bottle still gripped in her hand, Kaylee returns to the comfortable darkness of her bedroom with her head cocked towards the bedroom door listening for her son. “Carl? You need something, baby?” she asks, managing to keep her voice upbeat.


Clearer, now. And without the veil of sleep so close, Kaylee can make out that it isn’t even her son’s voice. It’s—

T̶̨̧͉͙͖͓̲̖͔͗̀̑͑̌͛̿̚w̵͓̼͕̘̤͆̏͗ȇ̷̲̱̺̟̙ͅn̸̢͇̩̱̈t̷̢̲͚̠̜͙͙̱͌̔̍̈͋y̴͈͇͚̺̥̽̕-̸̨̪̳̳͍͐̽̿͌̓͝Ņ̶̝̑̑̒͝ḯ̵̺̱̖̰̦̲̬̥́̉̅͐̒͋̐͠n̷̨̨̪͇̤̳̥̖͋̕͜ẻ̶̛͙̅̓́͐̍̕͠ ̵̗̩͕͍̤̝̭̲̙͆̏̈̉̓̏Y̴̨̖͓̦͍̟̿̎̈͋͋̚͜͝͝͝ͅȩ̶̣̬͕̮̌͛̿͊͆̂̎à̶͓ͅͅr̴̼͍̣̫͕̗̃̈́̊̌ͅs̶̗̑́̉ ̴̻̝̱͕͍̳̣̑̊E̸̝̿͊̈́̀́̑a̷̘̩̩͛̐̅͐́̄r̷̙͚͇͍̥̼͒l̷̲̰̯̈̿̂̿į̴̗̜̯̝̪̫͓̓͋̅͜͝e̴̠̎r̴̢̨̘̺̫͈̜̉́͒̊̈́̽̅

Look in my eyes, what do you see?

The guitar riff is a familiar one, and so is the setting. An old model picture-tube television sits on a wooden bench flanked by a pair of windows that let sunlight into a cluttered, but comfortable looking living room. Outside, it's sunny.

The Cult of Personality!

The music is poundingly loud, the world crystal clear and yet, not. There is a blurry distortion to everything, a chromatic aberration that splits the colors into tri-tone shades of red, green, and blue with the subtlest incorrect offset.

I know your anger, I know your dreams!

Kaylee Anne Thatcher wakes up face down on a kitchen table with a bowl of cereal in front of her. The music's slamming drum beats and screaming guitar is what startles her awake and nearly causes her heart to leap out of her chest. She's been here before.

I've been everything you wanna be! Oh!

In the tiny and cramped kitchen, a young blonde woman in her twenties is dancing around in her socks and a pair of cutoff jean shorts, her bright pink tank top decked out with neon green writing on the back that displays the words In Living Color. There's a pan on the old stove, the sizzling sound of something cooking— bacon. She turns around, blonde hair thrashing in front of her face as she skids across the kitchen floor towards the refrigerator, opening the door and pulling out a carton of milk, her lips flashing along to the lyrics of the song.

I'm the Cult of Personality, Like Mussolini and Kennedy!

She pours a little bit into a bowl, then starts cracking eggs on the side of the counter, one by one adding the pair into the bowl with the milk and applying a whisk. The sound of that stereo blasting is absolutely deafening, she's going to go completely deaf listening to it. Bobbing her head up and down, the blonde draws her hair back into a ponytail and pulls a fuzzy scrunchy off of her wrist, tying her hair back from her face as she continues to dance to the song.

I'm the Cult of Personality, the Cult of Personality, the Cult of Personality!

In the living room, the television is on, showing a few people running across a track field. There's a flash of an Olympic logo on the screen, and then aerial shots of the city of Barcelona, Spain. Outside, Kaylee is unsurprised to see the skyline of the city of Boston, Massachusetts.

Neon lights, Nobel Prize!

The blonde dances around, singing into the whisk like it were a microphone. She's younger than Kaylee is right now, and her presence here twists Kaylee's stomach into knots of anxiety the same way the haunting familiarity of the whole apartment does. When there's motion on the periphery, when a tiny little five or six year old blonde girl comes walking down the stairs, Kaylee is ready for it.

When a mirror speaks, the reflection lies!

The woman in the kitchen. Her mother.


You won't have to follow me!

And that little girl… the voice she heard calling from the dark in the bedroom.

Only you can set me free!

Is Kaylee.


Grimacing, Kaylee tucks a finger into her ear and squints an eyes against the pounding rhythm of a song she’s learned to loathe the sound of. It was a song that always reminded her of her mother. A woman who seemed so happy and cheery at the moment.

How many times has she revisited this memory?

Too many times.

This time, however, there was no black-scaled hitchhiker to croon in her ear. While a part of her would always miss that weight around her shoulders, Kaylee was glad it was gone.

Turning a sympathetic eye to the younger version of herself, Kaylee knows full well what was to come next. Climbing to her feet, the older woman quietly moves to stand behind the girl, ready to watch it all unfold again. Knowing what was about to happen, she shifts her gaze to the door, waiting for her father to burst through it.

And just like clockwork: The apartment door bursts open from the hall, and with the music still blasting a frantic Edward Ray comes rushing in.


"Karen." Edward's voice is tinged with panic-laced fear. "Karen, I need you to get Kaylee and pack your bags." Pushing into the apartment, the young Edward slams his briefcase down on the kitchen table.

"Ray, what the hell is going on?" Karen takes a step forward, eyes wide, "what—what on earth are you doing here?" She moves in front of her daughter, and Edward takes a step forward to Karen Thatcher and rests a hand on her shoulder, squeezing once firmly.

"I need you to leave Massachusetts right now, you have to be out of the city by five this afternoon." The demand makes Karen stare with a gaping quality, head shaking from side to side slowly. "I'm sorry—Karen—I'm so sorry but I just—I can't explain right now." Flipping open his briefcase, Edward pulls out a white envelope and offers it out to the blonde. "Take this, take our daughter, and go to New York."

She swats the envelope out of his hand, knocking it to the floor. "What the fuck is going on?" She demands, blue eyes wide and furious. "You just— You can just keep jumping into her life like this and—" Tears well up in her eyes, "For God's sake Ray wh—" she's almost on the verge of breaking down in the kitchen in front of her daughter, "For fuck's sake Ray!" The shout causes little Kaylee to come to a halt, immediately beginning to cry.

"Please you have to listen to me just get out of the State. Go to New York, start over, make sure Kaylee gets into a good school." Ray crouches down, picking up the envelope again before holding it out towards her. "You won't ever have to see me again, I promise."

Just like back then, the slamming of the briefcase is startling and makes the grown woman jump. Kaylee lets out a shaky breath as her parents start arguing, fighting the urge to tear up like the girl standing in front of her watching it. “How did I get saddled with parents like this,” she murmurs under her breath.

Kaylee hated this memory.

“She won’t listen to you,” Kaylee blurts out over the thump of music and bickering, not caring if he listens to her. “She’ll never listen to you after you hurt her so bad! You should have done it yourself!” She sniffs and fights the growing pressure of unshed tears.

“Wake up,” Kaylee murmurs to herself, trying to ignore what was happening, rubbing her temples as the first tear starts to slide down her cheek.

"Ray you're a son of a bitch! Where the hell do you get off telling me to do anything after you just bailed on us!?" Karen comes to take several steps forward, hands balled at her sides into fists. "Get the hell out of our house, get the hell out of my daughter's life! You never wanted her why the hell— why— " Tears stream down Karen's cheeks as she winds up and smacks Edward across the face, sending the younger man staggering back. He holds his cheek, jaw working open and closed as blue eyes angle back towards the somewhat younger woman.

"Karen… Please, you have got to get Kaylee out of this city. She's going to— " he cuts himself off, a hopeless and equally helpless look crossing his face. "Karen please, I know I hurt you but I didn't have a choice, I have to— I had to do what is best for her. That much elicits Karen taking a step forward, picking up the briefcase and slamming it into Edward and sending him staggering back against the apartment door.

"You son of a bitch don't you dare try to tell me what's best for my daughter!" All the while, Kaylee's just watching them argue, crying in the kitchen while her mother and the man she doesn't even really recognize as her father shout at each other. "You are a bastard Ray, you are a heartless bastard and you can't just buy us out of your life! Where'd you even get that money from!? Did you steal it!?"

Edward's blue eyes stare up widely at Karen, tears in his own eyes not from the pain of being hit with the briefcase. "I— No I did not steal it. It's— " saying he won it at the horse races would be a bad idea, "it's from my savings. Just— God, Karen please listen to me. If you don't get Kaylee out of here she's going to hurt someone."

A look of abject confusion and disbelief comes from Karen as she stares at Edward after what he said. Her brows twitch and her mouth opens, but words just don't come. "Yy— " the first sound is a croak of emotion and shock, "Get the fuck out of my house!"

And that's when Karen punches Edward square in the mouth, sending him down to the floor. "Don't you ever talk about my daughter again! Don't you ever! Don't you even so much as talk about her! Don't come near us, don't call us!" She's grabbing for the door, opening it out into the hall and sending Edward tumbling into the carpeted corridor. "I don't want you near my daughter ever again!" Her voice rings off of the walls, her scream cracking at the end.

Edward scrambles to his feet, one hand out to try and shield his face when she throws the briefcase at him. The envelope lays on the floor behind her, money having spilled out of it, a stack of hundred dollar bills fanned out from it. He looks like he wants to apologize, to say he's sorry or to explain. But he just can't. Instead, he crawls up to his feet, eyes glassy as he takes a step back and away from the hall, before Karen slams the door on him and turns her back, slouching against the door and breaking into a sob.

Unable to escape the horror of the moment, Kaylee can only wrap her arms around herself and look down at her younger self crying as her parents fight…. Fight over her. It never got easier with each time it plagued her. Neither parent handled the situation well and she remembers not understanding what was wrong with her.

There is some pity for her mother, so young and left to raise a girl who’d never make it easier on her.

Kaylee can’t help but huff out a laugh, only to have it catch in her throat. Her emotions were always conflicted about her mother. Loving the sobbing woman enough to ask the wishing star to make her go away so her mom could be happy again.

Watching her mother sob, Kaylee waits. The memory never lasted long, but in the back of her mind is a nagging worry.

Why? Why was she there? Her being there wasn’t a good thing.

Karen crumples, sliding down until she’s sitting on the floor in a heap, sobbing. Little Kaylee, tears still in her eyes, comes walking over to her mother. She settles on the floor next to Karen and wraps her arms around her and buries her head in Karen’s shoulder.

“Don’t cry mom,” Kaylee says in a small whisper. “It’ll be ok.”

Kaylee’s older self, watching this, only now realizes she’s never remembered this far before.

Karen loops her arms around her daughter, pressing her nose into the part of her hair. She apologizes, mumbling and emotional sorries that flutter out between hiccuped sobs. “It’s nice of you to say,” Karen adds, her voice hoarse.

Tiny little Kaylee looks up, defiant and confident, and shakes her head. “No, it’ll be ok.” Then, she fishes around in her overalls, pulling out a round, flat rock with something painted on it. Kaylee can’t remember what it is, and she can’t quite see it from the angle she’s standing at.

As she creeps closer, she hears her younger self say words she only barely remembers.

“It’ll all come back around.” Kaylee says, giving the painted rock to her mother.

A rock decorated with a snake swallowing its own tail.

Kaylee’s Apartment
Raytech Corporate Housing
Raytech Industries Campus
Jackson Heights

March 26th
4:27 am

The flush of fluorescent bathroom lighting feels jarring, as does the cold feeling of ceramic tile under bare feet. It’s the bathroom. Her bathroom.

Kaylee jolts, knocking over the bottle of painkillers to the floor. Her reflection is wide-eyed, she is trembling.

The broken blood vessel in her eye has spread.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License