“Do you know anything I don’t know?” Helene quizzes Ward over a quiet dinner out. She looks more fragile now, be it from ailing or mourning. “In regards to what?” Ward responds. “I can recite all of the James Bond movies in chronological order. Can you do that?” // “Very funny. No, about Alina and Tracey. Why did Alina fire her right before the accident?” // “Oh. Well, I think it was an ego thing. You know, Tracey encroaching on Alina’s space, disregarding her institution, if you will.” // “A shame, then. She’s such a talent.” // “She’s no Alina.” // “But I see it in her. I see Alina in her. I know it seems backwards to have her in my home again, but I just feel like Alina is there again, for some reason.” Helene feels silly for saying this. Ward can only offer comfort: “Well, maybe Alina is there after all.” Helene’s voice cracks, sniffling: “I hope so.” She nods to herself, staring down at her dinner. “Oh, I really hope so.”
Ward sits beside Helene at the doctor’s office, in Alina’s stead. We don’t witness the conversation, but the doctor is delivering sobering news as they look at some scan results. Helene grips Ward’s hand, and tries to stay poised. Cut to: We’re in her apartment, and Ward brings her some hot tea. As is now custom, Alina lingers in the chair across from them. She’s smiling happily though, observing her friend as he helps her wife. Then the front door opens: Tracey walks in with a “Hello!” and struggles for a second to get her key out of the lock. “Hi dear,” Helene says back, suddenly perking up. “So happy to see you.” Then, Alina to Ward, annoyed: “Helene gave her keys.” The two of them observe Helene as she hugs Tracey and offers some tea. The two women chit chat in the kitchen as Alina and Ward sit silently. Then, Alina turns back to him with a slight shrug that says “At least Helene seems happy?”
There’s a manuscript on Ward’s desk that reads “REVISIONS 1, TRACEY GORMAN”. He cracks it open and leafs through. We fade through various shots of the pages turning, turning, turning. Then the phone rings: “Hey. I know. It’s terrific. It’s absolutely terrific.” Cut to: Ward and Tracey at the publisher’s office. Tracey is beaming, as if she’s just heard good news. “Thank you, thank you. So sweet. I’m so humbled.” The publisher, a stodgy, unenthusiastic woman, sits at the edge of her seat. “Listen, I think there’s a place for you here once this is all done. Do you have anything of your own to show, or some pitches we could entertain?” // “Yeah, I can bring you some things next week.” // “Wonderful. And I assume Ward here will represent you?” Everyone smiles, but it feels a little forced. The publisher continues: “He’d be stupid not to, right Ward?” Now he’s really forcing a smile. He wants to disappear.
Ward and Tracey leave the publisher’s office together. He looks indifferent now, but she’s elated. “Let’s get a drink and go over the notes,” Ward says. “I can’t. I have a date tonight,” she replies as she puts on her sunglasses. “Sorry. I’ll look at them later, or tomorrow maybe. I have to put some writing samples together. Anyway, sounds like there’s not much left to do with the book.” // “There’s a lot to do yet, in fact. You’ve got to ground it in Alina’s voice. It’s reading a lot like your writing, not hers.” // “Which will be good since obviously we’ll share the byline.” // “You know damn well that isn’t happening.” // “Look, Ward. I don’t need to impress you. Now, I’m gonna go home and freshen up for my date.” She playfully pinches his cheek and chuckles coyly before walking away; it’s entirely inappropriate and crass. Yet again, Ward is speechless.
Ward and Helene rest on a bench in Prospect Park, sipping coffee on an autumnal morning. “I don’t know if I can walk home; I’m exhausted,” Helene says. “I’m parked just over here,” Ward responds. “Let me drive you back. He helps her walk slowly. “I should be stronger,” Helene says. “But I stayed out late last night.” // “Oh, doing what?” // “Tracey took me to dinner and the ballet.” Ward rolls his eyes, which Helene doesn’t see. He’s terse with his reply: “Sounds lovely.” // “I think it was a romantic thing,” Helene says. “I couldn’t tell, but it felt flirty to me. She’s the one who asked me out, too. And she even paid for everything. She insisted. I said that that was absurd since, you know, she’s probably not too well off. We took a taxi home and she kissed me on the lips. I didn’t know what to do!” // “She’s aggressive. That’s so out of line, considering everything.” // “But you know, I had a lot of fun. She’s a lot of fun! Quite the sense of humor, and worldly, too. Really charming, and so bright eyed. The whole night, I forgot I was even sick.” // “Well it sounds like you two could forge a good friendship, or maybe a mentorship.” // “I don’t know, Ward. She’s coming over tonight. I invited her. And…I might let something happen. Just, for the hell of it. I gotta get on living, you know? I think this is what Alina would want.” Close-up on Ward: He’s fuming.