Scene Title Soliloquy
Synopsis Jac Petrelli has a lot to say — but finds herself without an audience.
Date October 26, 2020

Dalton School, Manhattan

It’s a dreary, rainy Monday morning as the Petrelli’s driver pulls up to the private prep school Jac attends. It’s close enough to walk, but with the inclement weather and flu season imminent, Kaylee insisted Jac be driven.

Through the rain-dotted windows of the sedan’s backseat, Jac can see the red-brick building with its wrought-iron gates yawning open. Students mill about on the sidewalk in front of the gate or the steps leading up to the doors. Some wear navy blue blazers with the school’s coat of arms, but the school, a progressive one, doesn’t require uniforms. A few choose to wear them as a point of pride, to differentiate themselves on the subway from the public school students.

“There you go, Miss Jac,” the chipper voice of the driver says. “Go knock ’em dead.” It’s said with fondness, and it’s a traditional way for the elderly driver to say goodbye to his passenger.

“Thank you, Henry.” Jac offers a small smile for the driver as she climbs out of the seat. Her protest over being driven had been reserved for her mom only, and she's as polite and respectful as ever to the old man. She pulls her book bag from the seat as well, hangs it from a shoulder, as she starts from the sedan to the school entrance. Today she's opted for a pull-over cardigan in the school's color instead of the blazer, atop a simple off white blouse, and paired with navy blue slacks. Her own flair of personality comes out in her saffron orange Chuck Taylors.

Her smile melts a little as she mounts the steps. The small groups she passes are glanced at, but only for as long as it takes for her foot to find the next step. The strap of her book bag is settled higher onto her shoulder as she reaches the entrance and, like every other day, she pushes through the great door and into the building.

Only once his charge is within the school’s door does Henry pull away from the curb, leaving her to deal with trials and tribulation of a day at Dalton. Within the halls, students cluster in small groups prior to their first class of the day. Hand-painted posters cheerfully advertise such things as the Halloween Dance and the upcoming football game; bulletin boards host bright flyers in myriad colors about club meetings, visits from college representatives, and ACT test dates.

As Jac nears her locker, the couple who share a locker next to hers are, predictably, kissing and giggling. Mariana and Derek aren’t bad sorts, really. They aren’t the most academically minded of Dalton’s students, often choosing to skip class rather than to be parted for an hour or two. They’re nice enough, if not in Jac’s close circle of friends, even asking her to skip with them now and then.

Usually Mari is the one to notice Jac first and say hi, but today she doesn’t notice the petite redhead’s approach, grabbing instead for something in Derek’s hand that he holds out of reach. “Give me! Oh, my God, Derek!” the teenager says, laughing.

The kissing and closeness hasn't ever really bothered Jac before. She's content to go about her business of surviving high school and let them go about theirs with their faces stuck together. Even today, when she turns to face her locker and fuss with getting it open, the couple is given a casual side eye and an eventual smirk at the shenanigans that have already started.

“Jeez you two,” she comments as she finally works her locker door open. A couple of textbooks are pulled from her book back and put into the locker. “Most people at least find a quiet corner to do that in.” She picks out a notebook. As she tucks that into her bag, Jac looks over at the pair. “I hear the band room is empty during third hour.”

Normally, Derek would jump on a set-up like that, asking Jac just how she knows, and even implying she should join them, before Mari would hit him and apologize to the other girl with a roll of her eyes.

Today, neither of them reply.

“C’mon, I need to go return a book to the library before crazy Connelly makes me pay nine hundred bucks for being late a half a minute,” Derek tells Mari, bending down to kiss the top of her head and closing the locker, metal colliding with metal.

“Oh, my God, right? She’s the worst. You’d think she’d appreciate the fact we actually want to read books or something,” Mari says, turning to go. Her blazer brushes Jac’s locker and it nudges toward closing, but she doesn’t speak to or look at Jac as they walk away.

Jac’s brows knit, confused by the lack of… anything. She turns, back pressing into a neighboring locker, as her gaze follows the couple. It's not like she was really close to them, but they'd always been friendly enough that being ignored is puzzling and kind of hurts.

“Weird, but whatever,” she murmurs dismissively. It's a bandaid to whatever just happened, a way to brush it aside and focus with the bigger problem that is Dalton.

A huff precedes her return to her locker. A couple final supplies for her classes are retrieved and tucked into her bag. Jac pushes the door closed and gives the combination a spin before turning into the direction for her first class.

The walk down the hallway is a strange one — not everyone is best friends at Dalton, but there are plenty of people who are friendly to Jac, even if they don’t hang out in person. Jasmin, her lab partner from last year, and her trio of lookalikes, pass Jac without looking her way. Usually Jasmin greets her with a loud, “Yo Petrelli! What up!” but nothing today — she’s clearly more interested in whatever Cady is saying about how cute she thinks the new substitute teacher is.

“Gross, he’s like, ancient!” proclaims Jasmin.

“He’s 22. He would have been a senior when we were freshmen,” Cady says back.

“No, when we were in 8th grade. Definitely gross,” chimes in Destiny.

More strange is when she sees one of her best friends, Jean-Pierre, or JP, heading her way. They haven’t, but they’ve been a source of will they, won’t they gossip for the last couple of years. It doesn’t seem like he sees her, even though if both of them keep walking in a straight line, she’ll run right into his chest, tall as he is, and petite as she is.

“Hey,” Jac calls to the group of girls as they walk toward her. A friendly and typical greeting that's meant to draw attention when the usual banter is lacking. This time, she could take it as they're complete engagement in whatever gossip they're engrossed in this morning. But after being ignored once, she’s a little more sensitive when it happens a second time. Especially when it’s without any reasonable explanation. She might even take an unreasonable excuse when Jasmin and company walk right by.

She turns to watch them, taking a couple of backward steps then turning around in the third. Her hands go to the strap of her book bag, shifting it higher onto her shoulder and unnecessarily straightening out the strap. Her eyes dart from left to right, wondering if there's some weird Dalton student body prank she's the unfortunate victim of.

“Must be a glitch in the Matrix,” she muses sourly. As her eyes sweep to the left again, Jac spots JP coming toward her. She stops abruptly, in the middle of the hall. “JP!” Her hands come up in an expectant well? gesture.

No one seems to be watching. If it were a prank, someone might be recording it on their cell phone from behind a locker door; someone would be giggling, unable to keep up the charade.

JP’s face is impassive as he stares down the hallway, before someone behind him yells his name..

“Yo, JP!” Dalton’s class clown, a short boy named Mason, holds up a hand for a high five. JP turns around to deliver. “Great job on that boss battle last night, bro. I thought we were done for, but you really pulled it out. Who knew you had such mad skills?”

The two veer off down a hallway to the right as they continue to discuss whatever video game they had stayed up far too late playing.

The bell rings for first period.

Jac’s hands slowly drop to her sides as she stares after JP and Mason. She turns, after losing sight of them, to search the hallway. Surely someone is looking her way, waiting to catch a reaction, waiting to drag her into whatever joke has been set into motion. She even promises herself she’ll laugh right along with the big reveal, even though it does almost nothing to dampen the tiny smoldering of hurt feelings and undefined fear. Could be one of those terribly awful dreams, the sort where you’re invisible until you realize you’re not wearing pants?

Her eyes flick to the ceiling at the sound of the bell. One hand lifts to rub the space between her eyebrows, the other grips the strap on her bag again. She doesn’t check to see if she’s wearing pants, pride denying that much plausibility, as she hurries to her first period. Whatever is going on, she’ll confront it after class.

English class is a casual affair usually; Ms. Brady is the young, hip teacher that most students want until they realize she’s actually a tough grader and holds her students to high standards. Some students like her even more for this; others less so.

The room is set up in a U-shape so everyone can sort of see one another, and the base of the U is made up of a long sofa that — being first come, first served — encourages students to get to class early for the right to sit on it. The whiteboard at the front alerts students to the topic for today’s discussion in Ms. B’s loopy writing: Was Hamlet right or wrong in postponing killing the king when he sees he is praying?

As Jac enters the class on the heels of a couple of other students, Ms. B gives a general wave from where she is perched on a stool with the play in her hand.

As Jac slips past the pair she'd followed — her path taking her to the sofa as it usually does — she digs into her book bag to find the required material. This class has been one of the best, she thinks, regardless of how tough everyone thinks Ms. B is. And Hamlet, so far, has been one of her favorites even if the language is a little more difficult to understand. She shuffles past the last desk on a long side and turns to drop onto the end seat of the sofa, finally liberating the script from her bag.

She gives a dismissive huff to whatever had been happening in the hall before. That's all put aside, with her believing it couldn't have followed into the classroom. Definitely not this one. Jac takes a quick look at the prompt on the board and begins flipping through pages to find the corresponding verses.

The sofa’s occupants give no glance toward Jac when she joins them. The one closest to her, Stefan, is buried in the book, jotting down his ideas for the ensuing discussion, and doesn’t seem to notice the jostle caused by Jac’s scant weight sharing the same cushion. More students trickle in, taking up the seats around the U-formation — there’s no assigned seating but many of them tend to take the same seat each time.

After the bell rings, Ms. Brady clears her throat to get the students’ attention. “Today we’re taking a look at the end of Act Three, Scene Three, where Hamlet sees Claudius praying and chooses not to kill him. How many of you think he made the right decision? Many of you already know how this plays out, but try to keep that omniscience from coloring your view. In this moment, was he right?”

She waits for a show of hands. Most of the students raise them — some tentatively, only after looking around to see that others have raised theirs first.

Jac’s hand doesn't shoot up, but it's one of the early ones to raise. Her eyes follow, lifting from the page after a quick reminder of where the class had left off in the discussion. Certainty rests in her choice that, in the moment — and with disregard to how the scene and play ends — Hamlet made the right decision. Although she tries to keep an open mind for these types of analyses, there might have been a verse she interpreted differently, or something she missed earlier on that could allude to it being a poor choice.

Ms. B’s eyes scan the room, sliding over Jac’s before her gaze alights on Stefan instead, even though his hand came up after. “Stefan, give us your take.”

Stefan glances at his notes, then clears his throat. “See, like Hamlet thinks he’s doing the right thing, because he doesn’t want Kingy to go to heaven. But it’s not a moral decision, right?”

He looks around, seeing if he has support for his answer. “It’s a vindictive motivation. He wants Claudius to suffer, right? Which puts him in the wrong. Avenging his father and also making sure his father’s betrayer isn’t king is one thing — but now he’s deciding to play god with Claudius’ afterlife. It shouldn’t be up to him if if Claudius is forgiven in heaven or not… and because of the way the monologue ends, we have that… you know that kind of irony where we know shit that the character doesn’t? We know Claudius is full of shit and not going to be forgiven anyway.”

Ms. B smiles. “Valid points. Anyone want to counter?”

“I don't think Hamlet is trying to play god,” Jac speaks up. She glances at Stefan, offers a small grin for her counter argument, then sits up straighter. “Hamlet is refusing to let hubris consume him, unlike Claudius. It's a parallel to the Greek tragedies. Claudius committed this horrible crime by killing his own brother in his brother’s own house after eating at his brother's table.” Three fingers are ticked up for each instance she points out. “Claudius has already cursed the family line for any children he might have with Gertrude, and if Hamlet kills Claudius then, while his uncle is praying, after having food from his uncle’s table, while a guest in his uncle’s home, then he's a victim of hubris too and his whole line is cursed.”

When Jac speaks, no one looks at her, but instead look at their notes or at Ms. Brady. A couple of students raise their hand to speak, and Stefan leans back, crossing his arms as if proud of himself. By the time Jac finishes, no one nods or shakes their head. Ms. Brady taps the coffee cup she’s holding — “I put the lit in AP Lit” — and then turns to one of the students with their hands up.

“Callista, go ahead.”

Callista, one of the students over in the desks, shakes her head. “First of all, it’s dramatic irony,” she says with a roll of her eyes. “It’s not the right decision. He’s accepted the charge of killing his uncle because his uncle did something terrible, and he has a moral obligation to follow through as the rightful heir to the throne, right? His father was wrongfully murdered and it’s usually up to the king to dispense justice — Hamlet should be king, so he should be swift in dispensing that justice,” she says. “Not doing so only leads to complications and ultimately-”

Spoilers. We’ve still got two acts to go, Callie,” Ms. B reminds the girl who rolls her eyes.

“It’s a 400-year-old play and we all saw The Lion King, right?” a boy says with a laugh. “What’s the statue of limitations on spoilers?”

“You mean statute, moron.”

Jac sits, for a breath, poised and ready to defend her interpretation, mistaking the following silence for her classmates gathering notes or deciding if they'll chime in or not. But when no one speaks up, not even acknowledgement from the teacher, she wilts a little. First, her friends in the hall and even her best friend, now class and one of her favorite teachers ever.

Being ignored hurts, but this… this is worse than ten thousand paper cuts being cleaned with vinegar. This feels like a crushing, suffocating thing.

Jac slowly stands, eyes going to faces she's seen nearly every day since school began, searching for any sign that anyone can see her. Even if it's a schoolwide prank, there's got to be someone, anyone, who’s got even the slightest of side eyes, the smallest of glances in her direction. As she looks, her feet move, from the sofa down the center of the U-shaped seating, to stand face to face with Ms. B, quietly pleading, “Please, please, please notice me.”

It isn't funny anymore. Not that it was funny to start with, but now it's just seeming mean. Jac is stricken by a sudden impulse, maybe from fear, but she slaps at the cup in the teacher’s hand and yells anxiously, “Look at me!”

The cup falls to the floor, spilling out coffee on the linoleum, cracking in two. “Clumsy! It’s okay!” Ms. Brady calls out, as she jumps up off her stool. She dashes to the closet, pulling out some paper towels. She returns and drops down to her knees to wipe up the mess, carefully gathering the broken mug in her hand.

She doesn’t look up at Jac. Neither does anyone else.

Instead she turns to another student who had her hand up, though now everyone’s eyes are on Ms. Brady. “Carry on. Lucia, go ahead.”

Lucia hesitates, and then finds her place in her notes to speak.

“I just wanted to say I think he’s right not to kill him but not for the reason he doesn’t kill him there, like Stefan said. At the end of Hamlet’s monologue, he says he wants to wait until he’s doing something sinful so that he’s sure to go to hell and not heaven — ‘trip him that his heels kick at heaven, and that his soul may be damned and black as hell, whereto it goes.’ I think this makes Hamlet as bad as Claudius, you know?” she says, staring, it seems, right through Jac.

“By killing him, he’s damning himself anyway, since he believes in that, is worried about sending his uncle to hell and thinks the ghost might be a demon to tempt him.” she points out.

Jac, as Ms. B rushes to clean up the mess, takes a few hesitant steps back. Her heart hammers against her chest, breaths come shallow and shaky. “What's going on?” Because someone should have noticed her yelling at least. She turns slowly, looking at the faces of her classmates all so focused at the front of the room now. “Why is everyone ignoring me?”

Her hands raise to the sides of her head and push through curly red locks with frustration. Why? What is even going on? Half way turned, she looks at the classroom window. For a second she weighs the more drastic approach of throwing a chair into it. The teacher’s stool is temptingly close…

But instead of throwing it, Jac kicks it toward the whiteboard wall. She doesn't wait to see what the outcome of that is, but turns to shove her way through the door in a hasty escape.

No one chases after her. When she rushes through the halls, there aren’t any students to dodge around — or to be ignored by. As she hurries for the front door, one of the custodians steps out of a supply closet, her sleeve brushing his, but he gives no notice.

Outside, the rain pours down and her shoes slap the wet sidewalk as she puts distance between herself Dalton. Down one block, and then around the corner, heart pounding. If she’s crying, at least the tears are obscured by the fall of rain against her face.

Eventually she stops for breath, closing her eyes and trying to will herself calm.

A filthy gray tennis ball drops at her feet. When she opens her eyes, Jac sees a golden retriever, excitedly wagging its tail waiting for her to throw the ball.

Lifting her eyes, she sees its owner, an elderly man with a kind face.

“Baxter, leave the poor young woman alone. How many times have I told you, we can’t play fetch in the middle of Park Avenue?” the man says, reaching down to pat the dog’s side. “Sorry, miss. You okay?”

Jac struggles to find words and comprehension for this man who's actually looking at her, and even talking to her. She wrestles to keep something of her composure, even though she's obviously distraught. Tears well in eyes already reddened, thankfully any tracks from crying are mixed with the drizzle that's soaked her throughout. The urge to tell the man everything, about being ignored and looked straight through at school no matter what she did is powerful, but so is her fear of being turned away. What if it happened again and this man with his dog are the last two to ever see her again?

“I was… I ran…” She sinks to her knees and lifts her hands to cradle and scratch the dog's cheeks and neck. Baxter seems friendly enough, and she has a need to feel something warm and alive. Jac’s eyes, troubled and afraid, look up at the dog’s owner. “Could I… could I borrow your phone to call my mom?”

The dog is only too happy to provide the warmth and affection Jac seeks, even if it comes in a wet and slobbery lick from the retriever before it bends to pick up the ball in its mouth.

“Of course.”

The man finds the phone in his pocket and holds it out, not seeming to worry she might be a phone thief — sporting the school color as she is. It’s also very possible that he recognizes her, given her unique look and her parents’ renown — given he lives nearby.

When Jac calls her mother, the most reassuring sound in the world is that of her familiar voice and a worried tone and that she’ll come right away to pick her up.

It’s enough to assure her she isn’t invisible, that she hasn’t been forgotten by everyone in her life.

But it isn’t enough to erase the fear that she will be.

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