The living room. Several hours later. All is quiet. Enter BETH and JERRY. They’re exhausted.
JERRY: Worst yet, if you ask me.
BETH: You’re memory’s not so good. It wasn’t as bad as last time. Anyway, it’s done.
JERRY: It’s always bad.
BETH: Her judgment: it’s improving, a little. I’m talking about after we got her there. You think?
BETH: She’s more familiar with the routine. But I guess it doesn’t help much.
JERRY: Did you see the stars outside? It’s a clear night.
BETH: What’s happened to my life?
He doesn’t hear her.
JERRY: You saw the stars, didn’t you?
BETH: I think it’s a ruined life.
BETH: I can’t believe I’ve let it happen. I gave it to you, and now it’s gone.
JERRY: Please, Beth. We’ve gotten through this before.
BETH: I’m not talking about Jodie.
JERRY: Of course you are. Too many stresses. Your mother…we’ll just have to see what the doctor says.
BETH: I’ll check on her in a minute. I’m talking about what you did.
JERRY: And Charlie. This was an icebreaker. He’ll be back. Everything will be all right.
BETH: I’m talking about Charlie, either. You.
JERRY: Did what?
BETH: My father was an intelligent, talented man. He sacrificed everything for me.
JERRY: And you did okay.
BETH: No I didn’t. He was disappointed. I’ll bet it shortened his life by fifteen years.
JERRY: Don’t be ridiculous. He was proud of you.
BETH: He wanted more. He didn’t want me to stay in this town forever. He just stopped here by accident himself. I was an honor student.
JERRY: You still are.
BETH: I’m through with families. I want to go off somewhere.
JERRY: Who says you can’t?
BETH: I’m too old now.
JERRY: Anybody can go anywhere. You know that. You’ve told me that.
BETH: No, I’m starting to see what caused all this. This home broke a long time ago, and we never repaired it. It’s too late.
JERRY: Listen, this genetic thing of hers came from your side of the family. I didn’t know that before and neither did you. But we’ve done our best.
BETH: Jodie is not a gene.
JERRY: You know what I mean. My family is normal. I’ve done everything I can for her, and I’ll keep doing it as long as I can.
JERRY: I never expected it to turn out this way. At my age, I shouldn’t be taking care of a forty-fiveyear old child – but I will.
BETH: We’ve done a bad job.
JERRY: We’ve done a good job. We took her to the hospital in time, didn’t we?
BETH: We don’t know, really, if it was going to get out of hand.
JERRY: We both know where it was headed.
BETH: We can’t be sure.
JERRY: I’m sure.
BETH: She might have been fine. Maybe she could have helped me with mother in the morning.
JERRY: She would have made it worse. We would be listening to her right now. Neither of us would have gotten a minute’s sleep. This way, Jodie’s better off, and Clemmie can help.
BETH: Clemmie’s not going to live forever.
JERRY: Your mother’s not going to live forever.
BETH sits down. She relaxes, exhausted. She closes her eyes.
BETH: Jerry, tell me the story.
JERRY: The story?
BETH: Yeah. You always tell it to Jodie. Tell it to me.
JERRY: The same as with her?
BETH: Please, Jerry.
JERRY: Well. I think, if I recall, there were no clouds in the sky. Or, if there were, they began to clear. We were on Highway 912, between Elbeeton and Rakefield, doing fifty-five in a forty-five – and there wasn’t another damn car on the road. You said, “You think we ought to turn back?” And I said, “After that scene with your father? Turn back to where?” And you said, “Good point.” So we kept going.
BETH: And where did we go?
JERRY: You know where we went.
JERRY: Well, we went…here.