Chapter 15


Tracey sobs from the bathroom, as Helene rushes out to meet Ward in the living room. “What did you say to her?!” she asks Ward. “Nothing!” he responds. “She just started crying and ran out of here.” // “Well what’s all the fuss about?” Ward shrugs his shoulders, preferring not to enlighten Helene on Tracey’s sudden sixth sense. “I tried calming her down, and it’s not working,” Helene says. “Why don’t you try something? Offer her some Vicodin.” Helene fishes out a bottle of pills as Ward rolls his eyes. “So now I’m babysitting and drug dealing in one fell swoop,” he mutters. “Even Alina was less dramatic than this.” He ponders that thought, then pokes his head back into the living room—shouting towards Alina, if she’s there: “Actually, I take that back!” Helene is perplexed as she pours herself a full glass of wine, as her assistant Kyle awkwardly excuses himself. Ward begins coaching a terrified Tracey out of the bathroom, but he can hardly speak over her melodramatic wailing.


Ward raps at the bathroom door. We hear Tracey’s sniffles on the other side. He knocks again. “What?” she says, in a pained, low voice. “Please let me in.” Tracey keeps her voice low: “Where’s Helene?” Ward lowers his, too: “In the living room. You’re clear.” // “And…?” // “And what?” // “Alina.” // “She’s not here.” // “I can hear her. She’s still there.” // “Let me in, will you?” The doorknob turns with a click, and she slowly opens the door for him. Her eyes are red as they scan the bedroom for any sign of Alina. “Hurry, hurry,” she mutters as he squeezes himself through the door’s opening and into the room. She looks ghostly herself, and she’s reacting to something in real time, like she’s being screamed at from the living room. “How come you can’t see her but I can?” // “What are you seeing?” // “It’s her. It’s Alina. She’s yelling, calling me a ‘bitch’ and saying I’m stealing her wife and her book and she’s going to kill me if I hurt either of them, if I mess anything up.” // “How would she possibly do that?” Ward says, calmly. “How do I get rid of her again?” Tracey asks. “You had better learn to choose your words if you want that answer from me,” he says back. His pity has run out. He leaves the bathroom as she mutters “Please don’t tell Helene…”


Ward and Helene snuggle on the couch with wine, and Helene checks her watch: “Two hours, good grief,” she says, rolling her eyes. “I’m ready to go kick the door down. She storms into the bedroom and shouts to the bathroom door: “Darling. Enough. E-nough. Get out here and explain yourself. I don’t care what’s the matter but stop with the theatrics.” Ward watches from behind; it takes a few moments for Tracey to stop her sniffling and to open the bathroom. It’s clear to Ward she can still hear Alina, and from her stares in his direction, that Alina must be standing in the doorway next to him. “I have to go home,” Tracey says. “What the hell is going on with you?” Helene shrieks. Now, it’s obvious that Tracey can’t walk through the doorway. She’s acting so strange; it’s no wonder Helene is baffled. Ward steps into the doorway, leaving half of it free. He understands that Alina must have been blocking it, that he has to stand there so her specter moves aside. Tracey squeezes past him and hurriedly puts on her parka before sprinting away. Ward turns to Helene, who shakes her head in complete dismay.


“She was saying ‘I have to watch every word you write. You’re going to listen to everything I say. You’re going to do everything I tell you, or I’ll kill you. I’ll kill you the same way you killed me.” Tracey recounts her evening to Ward from a bench in Prospect Park. “She can’t touch you,” Ward says. “Trust me here. You don’t move out of the way for her; she moves for you. She has no physical power over you. She can’t move objects. She can’t KILL you.” // “I didn’t mean for her to die. I didn’t, I swear. And it’s not like I pushed her in front of that truck. It was all bad timing and a total accident and I just freaked out and ran away. I’ll never live with myself for what happened, but I’m trying to make the most of it and get on with my career and with my life.” A pause. “I don’t want to go back to Helene’s apartment.” // “I think we can work that out.” // “But Alina said she wants to watch me. Plus, what about me and Helene?” // “Maybe it’s time to put that to rest.” // “But we love each other.” Ward turns his head to roll his eyes, and to stop himself from choking Tracey.


Now Tracey and Ward are outside Helene’s front door. “I’ll isolate Helene, so that you can have a conversation with Alina. Learn how to control her, OK?” Tracey nods, and waits fearfully as he opens the front door. “Dolls, hello!” Helene says. She’s carefully studying Tracey, nervous for another episode. Helene goes in for a kiss, and Tracey awkwardly moves her mouth to the side, so that the kiss lands on her cheek instead. “OK, well. I’m going to the office myself. Do you two need anything for the day?” Tracey is trying hard to stay poised, despite something across the room giving her strain. “Actually, can I see you in the kitchen, Helene?” Ward asks. It’s part of the plan. She follows him into the kitchen, and he starts: “Tracey’s just… feeling the pressure. Of taking on Alina’s book. Of dating you. Of… becoming Alina, you know? She’s doing such a good job, as you know, and, uh, it’s finally just catching up to her. All the emotions. The pain, the excitement. Bittersweet stuff. She’s going to see a therapist.” // “Now, why couldn’t she tell me this herself? We’ve been intimate in every other way…” Just then, Tracey screams from the other room as something shatters. Helene and Ward rush into the living room, and see a broken lamp on the floor next to Tracey, who herself is lying unconscious, with a bloody welt on her head.

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