BEFORE THE MOON E4 – “Sweetness” – Transcript

ANNOUNCER

This is Consortium Channel 5, Moonbase Reports and Broadcasts – Processed by Zhengzhou Enclave, Communications and Senssuround Capital of the Consortium.

The Consortium interrupts this broadcast for the following sponsored message.

(NOTE – there may be an ad inserted at this point before the episode)

ANNOUNCER

Good day. This is a secured transmission – do not decrypt at any public terminal. As complications have been uncovered in the shutdown sequence for Moonbase Theta, Consortium Communications has been asked to provide archival files for certain active personnel. The following is a report on said personnel activities … Before the Moon. 

The following is file BTM-E4, codeword “Sweetness.”

(We are in a private garden bordered by an orchard, shielded enough that we do not hear any outside sounds. There may be occasional birds, or the hum of insects. We hear the rustle of stalks being parted as Elena and Nessa enter.)

ELENA

Now, before you pass through the secret portal …

NESSA

Do I have to pay a toll?

            (they kiss)

ELENA

I don’t mind at all, but … here.

NESSA

            (bemused)

Another chocolate?

ELENA

How dare you? This is a dark chocolate truffle with ginger … orange … and pomegranate.

            (we hear Nessa react as she bites into it)

I had them made for you just yesterday.

NESSA

Yesterday you were on call in Zhoukou because … problems with the river wall …

            (she realizes the setup)

You’re a devious woman.

ELENA

Eat your chocolate, love. And now …

            (we hear the leaves rustle again)

NESSA

Oh my goodness! How did you even do all this? I had no idea.

ELENA

You may have laid out the garden –

NESSA

Cultivated, watered, pruned, weeded, sang to –

ELENA

But I programmed the gardeners. I love that you sing to the plants.

NESSA

Thank you. It’s a perfect little hideaway. I can’t believe you did all this for me.

ELENA

Oh, I have my ulterior motives, don’t you worry.

            (she laughs, Nessa laughs – a bit uncertain, and they settle into the grass)

Now that I’ve dragged you away from the throngs …

NESSA

            (guiltily)

It is my farewell party.

ELENA

They’ve been holding parties for a week! I needed a few moments with you all to myself.  

NESSA

I’m not really complaining.

ELENA

Good. This is our time, honeybee.

NESSA

            (amused, more at ease)

Honeybee?

ELENA

We’re in the garden. It seemed appropriate.

NESSA

Even if our bees are all nanobots?

ELENA

They hum, they flit about, they make the sweetest things. It still fits.

            (they kiss again)

NESSA

All right then … Mirabilis jalapa.

ELENA

            (enjoying this)

That’s my nickname?

NESSA

Mirabilis jalapa, the four o’clock flower, one of the most beautiful, with the most delectable fragrance.

ELENA

Say it again?

NESSA

            (teasingly)

Mirabilis … jalapa.

            (Elena coos, pleased)

ELENA

That’s my true intent … to get you alone and make you tell me the names of every plant, over and over again.

            (the leaves rustle)
These bushes here, that we passed through?

NESSA

Those are Coriaria nepalensis, masuri berry.

ELENA

And over to the side, the … lilacs, you’d call those … ?

NESSA

Syringa pubescens? The subspecies is microphylla.

ELENA

Oh, I better have that one again.

NESSA

Syringa pubescens … microphylla.

ELENA

Feel my heart. That’s what you’re doing to me.

NESSA

Oh.

            (a little embarrassed)
Oh.

ELENA

I mean, you can keep going, you know I won’t stop you. I didn’t bring you out here for sex …

NESSA

            (playing along)

No?

ELENA

But there’s a blanket and I’m always willing, sugarcane.

NESSA

Saccharum officinarum.

ELENA

Now you’re going to get it.

            (we hear them kiss for a while)

NESSA

What were you saying before?

ELENA

I might have forgotten. But wait, no, my plans shall not be set awry.

NESSA

            (a bit nervous)

You keep mentioning these plans …

ELENA

            (she laughs)

At the moment, my plan is to feed you these tomato, mushroom, and parmesan tartlets. And these, I didn’t buy. I made them with my own two hands. You can tell because I burnt my thumb right … there.

NESSA

I’ll take care of that.

            (we hear a kiss, and then the sound of a tart shell being bitten; she speaks with her mouth full)

Oh my, Elena, the taste! The flavours combining so well.  

ELENA

I do enjoy my umami.

            (another kiss)

And my you-mami.

NESSA

            (laughing)

That may be the worst joke I’ve ever heard you make.  

ELENA

But you laughed. That means you’re complicit.

NESSA

            (chuckles again)

I need a drink after that.

ELENA

            (pouring a glass)
A tartlet, a jug of wine, and thou, my love.

NESSA

            (we hear her gulp it down)
Another, please?

(She gets a refill. For a moment, they sit together and listen to the sounds of the garden around them.)

NESSA

I am really going to miss this place.

ELENA

And me.

NESSA

            (a bit embarrassed again)

Of course, and you.

ELENA

I’m just teasing … tartlet.

            (Nessa laughs)

I’ll take good care of your garden while you’re away, I promise.

            (she sounds a bit dubious)

Even though my thumbs are not the greenest.

NESSA

You’re going to do just fine. I’ve left notes for every possible situation, cross-referenced by plant, soil type, pollination and watering schedule and pH balance –

ELENA

            (chuckles)

Yes, they’re absolutely exhaustive. Which somehow makes me even more nervous!

NESSA

And I can answer questions even when I’m up there. I left instructions for that, as well.

ELENA

Yes, you have to promise to send me messages. I want to hear all about life on the moon. And your work. And the plants you grow.

NESSA

            (teasingly)

Each one by their genus and species.

ELENA

If you insist. You know what I particularly like? Those plants with the tiny white flowers down by the riverside.

NESSA

The Alisma canaliculatum?

ELENA

Ahhhh. Yes.

            (after a moment)

Especially as they don’t require much attention. Unlike your poor girlfriend, who will be lingering over every word you twinkle down from above …

NESSA

Twinkle?

ELENA

I was going for a space … thing.

NESSA

I’ll do my best to … twinkle … as often as I can.

ELENA

I know you will. You’re so reliable. One of the many things about you that I adore.

NESSA

            (a little deliberate, changing the subject)

Here! I’ve got a little treat for you. You’ve fed me so many morsels today.

            (we hear vines rustle)

Vitis heyneana. Mao pu tao, wool grapes. I worked with this species when I was a graduate student. The fruit used to be inedible, but I –

ELENA

You sweetened them?

            (eating)

They’re delicious. And perfectly ripe, I could tell as you were picking them.

NESSA

You could not!

ELENA

I could hear it in the way the vine was creaking.

NESSA

I still think you’re making that up.

ELENA

You know you love my special skills.

(We hear Nessa sigh. Another quiet moment, the breeze rustling the leaves around them, the clinking of a glass.)

ELENA

It’s so different, being able to hear it all … the rustling of the leaves as the wind moves them, every syllable, every shade of tone to your voice. I can even hear the music back at the house, they’re listening to blissfunk. I spent years in a world that was muffled … like being underwater, or beneath the blankets in bed. When we met … I had to watch your lips to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. But now I love the details, the music of the Latin, the tumble of sounds and your breathing and the rustle of your clothing as I do this …

(We hear them moving around a bit, and more kissing, and a few quiet murmurs.)

ELENA

Oh, sweetness.

NESSA

            (after a moment)

I … should go back to the house.

ELENA

No. Please, not yet.

NESSA

It’s my party.

ELENA

This is your party too. Ours. I need more of you, love.

            (Nessa sighs again)

You keep flinching every time I say that word.

NESSA

It’s nothing.

ELENA

It’s not the first time I’ve said it.

NESSA

It’s not … I feel like we’re building to something.

ELENA

Something like what?

NESSA

We’ve been … for a few months now, and it’s all so perfect. You’re so nice to me, I can feel it all … deepening. And now I’m about to leave and that’s when there are big declarations, big confessions of … I know I have this perfect family that I really fell into, but I haven’t done a lot of dating really, I’m not good at the whole, “This is who I am” part that should happen at the beginning and now it’s not the beginning anymore and I’m just …

            (she stops to breathe)

I’m sorry, I’m making a mess of things.

ELENA

Oh, honeybee. My dear Nessa.

            (the briefest of pauses)

You can breathe, jujube.

NESSA

            (amused despite herself)

Jujube?

ELENA

My favourite candy. You don’t have to worry, sweetheart, I know what’s scaring you. Yes, I love you, and yes it’s in that way … I can’t imagine not loving you. But no, I’m not sitting here waiting for you to say it back.

NESSA

I … don’t understand.

ELENA

Do you think I’ve spent all this time with you and I don’t know your heart? I love you for who you are, cariño, for the you who can’t focus on people when you see an interesting leaf or flower, the you who has to sample honey from every hive in the apiary. I love the you I see with your kids, with your partners, the you I see when you look into my eyes before we kiss … I love you for your heart, a heart that does feel love, even if it’s not in the ways that the world expects you to.

            (slight pause)
But I’m not the world, cinna-bun. I didn’t come into this with expectations. You’re a joy and a wonder and I love you as you are, without needing a mirror of that love to look back at me.

NESSA

How did you … I never even said it. Not the right way.

ELENA

All I had to do is pay attention.

NESSA

Wow. Elena … wow.

ELENA

You know how my heart works, pumpkin. I love so many people in so many ways, and I don’t need to put it into any sort of frame. I adore your family – but any time people ask when I’m going to settle down, I laugh and waltz to the other side of the room. That’s not who I am, it’s not what I need.

NESSA

You’re a … dandelion, that’s what you are. Your love floats on the breeze to every direction, and grows in every little nook and corner across the world.

ELENA

Soon on the Moon, as well. That’s my way. I love in my way, you love in yours. We’re going to be just fine.

NESSA

I don’t even know what to say after that.

            (after a moment)

I love you, Elena. You’re amazing.

ELENA

Does that mean I don’t have to take care of your gardens? Kidding. You know I’ve got it all under control. Even those really tall trees back along the property line, you know the ones, what do you call them …?

NESSA

The Fraxinus mandschurica?

ELENA

That’s the stuff. Oh, my heart. Are you sure you have to leave?

            (Nessa breathes in to reply but is cut off too quickly)

Don’t say it, it’s not a real question. You’ve crossed continents twelve times collecting greenery, you’ve cultivated gardens in the desert and on at least one mountaintop I know of. How could you resist the chance to grow new life on the Moon? They’re damn lucky to have you.

NESSA

I’m the damn lucky one.

ELENA

I’ll take care of Earth while you’re away. Now, dig down to the bottom of that basket. I brought you one of those green bean cakes you like. These ones were made with a grapefruit blossom essence that – oh, you should be finding out just now what that does to the fragrance.

(We hear Nessa breathing in the fragrance and reacting to it, and the episode ends.)

D.J. SYLVIS

Today’s episode featured Leslie Gideon as Elena, and Elissa Park as Nessa. It was written, edited, and produced by D.J. Sylvis.

Theme music is “Star” by the band Ramp. You can find more information and a transcript of the episode on our website – monkeymanproductions dot com.

Thank you so much for supporting us, for making our stories possible. We’re always happy to see you there. In a brief fortnight we bring you our Ashwini episode “Hearing Voices” with Tau Zaman and Jen Ponton, but.. as who? Tumnus wasn’t born yet. You’ll have to tune in to find out! Until then, true believers.

ANNOUNCER

Consortium Channel 5 ends our broadcast day with a final message: honour all curfews, listen to Security, and KEEP WATCHING THE MOON.

(NOTE – there may be an ad inserted at this point after the episode)

Liked it? Take a second to support us on Patreon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *