Chapter 23

23-1

“It can’t come to this,” says Tracey to Helene. She’s cautious to move any closer, at risk of Helene reacting fast. “Honey, honey. Please. You’ve fought long and hard. You can’t take yourself down now.” Helene, very matter of fact: “I’m tired of battling the things that will ultimately win. I’m in pain all day. Physical. Mental. Emotional. My entire life is behind me. You wouldn’t understand, Tracey.” // “I’m not Tracey. I’m Alina. It’s me, Helene. It’s actually me. I’m in here, in this body now.” Helene just stares back, speechless, confused. Tracey—or Alina, rather—continues: “I’ve been with Tracey ever since I left Ward. And I was with him ever since I left you. But baby, I’m here. Why would you take your own life when I’ve worked so hard to get back to you?” Helene, finally finding her words: “Bullshit. Tracey. Bullshit. I don’t buy any of that.”

23-2

Tracey lunges towards Helene, to get the pills out of her hand. There’s a brief struggle, but Helene is just too weak to win. She screams in pain as Tracey squeezes her hand and then pries it open. Helene surrenders the pills, and spills her wine all over the floor. She’s just as sad about that, trying to drink what little remains. Then, she speaks again: “You’re not Alina. Stop the act. I think you need help more than me, Tracey. Or perhaps just some love. Something more than the attention you seek.” // “No, Helene. You said it yourself. We made love, you saw me inside Tracey. The way Tracey writes, it’s just like me.” // “It’s so disrespectful, what you’re doing. After all Alina and Ward and I did to help you. Wasting your talent on all this meddling.” // “Ask me anything. Something about us. I’ll answer it!” // “When is our anniversary?” Tracey doesn’t know. She fumbles for an answer… Helene’s questions continue: “What’s my mother’s name?” Still nothing. “My father’s name?” Nothing. “Where did I propose? Where was your apartment when we met? Where did we first live together? What was our dog’s name?” The pace and intensity picks up, as does the fury in Tracey’s eyes: “Why didn’t we ever have kids? Why did we break up 10 years ago? How long before we got back together? How many copies of your first book did you sell? What are you allergic to? How many questions do I have to ask before you give up your ridiculous act? YOU’RE NOT MY WIFE.” Tracey backhands Helene.

23-3

Tracey marches out of the bathroom, tearing art and photos off the wall in the bedroom as she makes her grand exit. Helene crawls out of the bathroom and locates her cellphone on the bedstand, next to the candle she lit. Tracey is in the living room now, breaking things, cursing, shrieking. Helene calls the police. As it rings, Tracey storms back into the room. Helene very quickly sets the phone down beside the table, on the floor. We hear a faint “Hello, 911, please state your emergency…” as Tracey and Helene make eye contact. “All this commotion, and you thought I was the irrational one,” Helene laughs. “So Ward was right this whole time. You’re a liability. A fraud. Too incapable of making your own place; you’ve got to latch onto everyone else’s success, with little regard for their hard work, or the precious nature of their lives.” Tracey makes one last attempt to convince Helene: “I swear. Helene. It’s me. Alina. I’m in here. See? See??” She kneels down to Helene’s level, staring her in the eyes from but a few inches away. “I’m in here… I’m in here! Baby I’m in here.” // “I don’t care if you are. You can never give me what you once did. Not as Tracey.” She pauses briefly, then: “Before I die, I’m going to get your name off that book. It doesn’t belong next to hers.”

23-4

Now Tracey is unhinged. “I’ll help you finish your own job,” she says. In one quick—and somewhat impressive—motion, she grabs and throws Helene onto the bed. She straddles Helene, who doesn’t fight much. Tracey starts choking her; Helene is alarmed at first, but then allows it. She stares painfully into Tracey’s eyes, confused and hurt, but terrifyingly sedated at the same time. Tracey is quiet, too; almost unnerved that Helene isn’t fighting. But suddenly, there’s smoke and a beam of light coming from out of frame. Helene holds the candle from the bedside just below Tracey’s shirt, which has caught aflame. It’s starting to burn Tracey, so she releases Helene from her grip and tends to the shirt. She struggles to peel it off, but now her pants have caught fire, too. She finally strips off the shirt and tosses it onto the bed, which itself slowly catches. The pants are next; Tracey shrieks “You bitch!” at Helene, who can barely move as flames rise around her. The pants are off, and, in nothing but her underwear, Tracey sprints out of the bedroom, out of the apartment, and into the stairwell. Pedestrians marvel as she exits onto the dark, snow-covered street below, and as Tracey exits the frame, we see an orange beacon of light, burning hot in a window, a few stories in the air.

23-5

Tracey runs barefoot and nearly naked to her apartment. She doesn’t have the keys though, and she’s freezing. She rings all the buzzers. One voice comes over the intercom: “Who is it?” Tracey yells back: “LET ME IN! I LIVE HERE!” The voice: “Oh hell no!” Tracey screams in anger. She runs to the side of the building and sees the fire escape dangling maybe seven feet overhead. She tries jumping a few times to grab it and yank it down. She slips once, falling onto her side. Her right leg is covered in cuts now, but she gets up to try again. This time, she clutches the fire escape with a few fingers, and dangles before it gives and comes crashing down. It’d be a success for Tracey if she hadn’t fallen as well: This time, she’s hit her head on the pavement. She’s frozen on the ground—quite literally, too—and we pull close up to her face, as her breath dissipates into the icy air: “Baby. What do we do?” A brief pause. Then: “Alina? … Baby? It’s me. Where are you? Baby? Baby? It’s Tracey. Answer me. Alina…” We pull out, overhead, pitying the poor woman in this miserable, compromised state.

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