As The Wanderer is loosing hope and patience, he stumbles across a boar with a broken leg. He is face with the choice of staying true to himself, or giving in to his exhaustion.
Written and Sound Designed by T.H. Ponders. Produced by Jordan Stillman. Music and Score by T.H. Ponders. Additional Vocals by Jeanette Berry.
[Sounds of the forest late at night. Crickets and the dullest of campfires.]
I remember waking up from nightmares when I was a kid, drenched in sweat, head pounding. My ma would come and hold me and tell me it was just a dream, that I was safe and sound, that if I could think of someplace sunny and warm, those terrible visions wouldn’t return. She’d hold me until I fell back to sleep and then slowly sneak away.
As I grew older, I realized it’s not the sunny fields or warm beaches that help you keep the nightmares away. Not really. It’s having someone to hold onto.
Before I met Andrew, I learned the true power of nightmares. When you’re asleep all they can do is scare you. But once they’ve got you awake, they can keep you that way. Close your eyes for a moment, and the darkness comes rushing back, reminding you that terror lies just on the other side of consciousness. And so your eyes whip open, you trace the shadows in the corners, make note of every creep and crack, and hope your fatigue can outweigh your fear.
I had a lot of sleepless nights before I met Andrew. But knowing he’s there, an arm’s length away—that’s enough. Enough to put me at ease. Enough to let me rest.
I’ve had many sleepless nights in this forest. And they’re only getting worse. Not to mention the increasingly late evenings.
I’m…. tired. I’m running on embers. I… don’t know how much longer it’s physically possible for me to keep going on like this. There’s… one thing. One thing I’m holding onto. One thing that’s keeping me going.
[We hear a gust of wind, and The Wanderer moving through the forest. The Wanderer hears a squeal to his right and stops. The Wander begins to move on.]
Keep going or…
[Another squeal. This time, clearly in pain.]
Let it go… What? What do you want from me? Is this another test? Haven’t I…
[A breath of wind. The Wanderer sighs. The pig squeals.]
No. You’re right. I’m sorry.
[The Wander passes into the distance. The Wanderer carefully makes his way over to the pig.]
Looks like a trap, and not a very kind one. I get that people need to eat, but do they have to be such brutes about it, leaving the poor thing out here in pain and agony for the last hours of its life?
[We hear The Wanderer use the hatchet to cut the boar free. It stops squealing, but it huffs as it lies there.]
Oh, you poor thing. Let me…
[A snort and a squeal.]
Easy there. Easy, girl. I’m just going to take a look.
[More snorts and labored breathing.]
Definitely a broken leg.
You know, anyone else, any other sorry Wanderer chasing after their lost love, and you’d be left for bacon. But you happened to be found by…
THE DEVIL [sarcastically]
The only one who can help…
THE FOREST [a whisper]
The only one who can help.
The… only one who can help. [Beat.] But… a broken leg is a lot… and I have so little magic left. This… this would be it. No more magic until we get home. No more… no more magic if Andrew needs it…
Need. Need. Need. Need. Need… So it seems you need me here after all? Need someone to talk some sense into you. Put this poor, wretched creature out of its misery. Lift that silver hatchet up above your head and bring all of your force down on its neck. You might even get a meal out of it. It’s been days since you’ve eaten… You need food more than it needs its life… And what does Andrew need? Need. Need. Need. Need.
You’re… [Beat.] you’re not wrong. I don’t have enough magic. I need the food. But it doesn’t seem right.
THE FOREST [assuredly]
Right. Right. Right. Right. Right. You want to consider what’s right? Is it right that the hunter set such a cruel trap? Right that you’ve been pulled from the wander to care for this thing? Is it right that you’ve been out here for so long with no end in sight? Right. Right. Right. Right.
Well, then, maybe it’s not about what’s right. Maybe it’s about who I am. Who I want to be. I want to be the kind of person that helps, even when things are bad, even when I have to dig deep. Even when I have nothing left to give.
Give. Give. Give. Give. Give it up already. There won’t be any more of you left. If you can’t kill it, then just leave it. Let nature take its course. But don’t waste your magic.
It is not a waste…
IT IS A WASTE. And you’ll know I’m right when you find Andrew and he has a broken leg, or worse, and there will be nothing you can do to help him. And then who will it be that finds Andrew?
WANDERER [angry, through gritted teeth]
It will still be me.
WRONG. If you’re the person who helps, if you’re the person who [flippantly] digs deep, and you have NOTHING to give him when you find him, did you even find him? Or will that be someone else standing before him? Could he even still recognize you? Could he actually be your Andrew, if you’re not still his Wanderer?
I GAIN NOTHING BY GIVING MYSELF UP BEFORE I’VE EVEN GOTTEN THERE.
[Silence. Except the labored breathing of the pig. The Wanderer pulls out his guitar, tunes it up, and begins the song of healing.]
[The Forest begins to hum along, an additional harmony to the song of healing, and The Wanderer notices. The song grows and the boar is healed. It stands up, happy-squeals, and runs off into the woods.]
Ummm, thank you. That… left me just a little magic. If… if I can ask you for one thing more—please, please let me hold onto this last bit. In case he’s hurt when I find him. I need to be able to help him, for both our sakes.
THE FOREST [a hushed command]
[The Wanderer catches it, as if it had never left, and journeys on.]
I’ve had a lot of sleepless nights in this forest. And they’re only getting worse. I’m tired. I’m running out of energy. I’m running out of me to give. But there is one thing I’m holding onto. One thing that’s keeping me going.
Someday I’m going to wake from this nightmare, and he’ll be right there, an arm’s length away, and I can go back to sleep. I can rest.
I don’t even think that’s a memory. Sure, it’s happened before, but it’s one of those little mundanities that blends into the song two lovers compose in their goings-on. No, not a memory. A hope. A past still echoing forwards. A future I wander towards. Each morning when I wake. Each day as I wander. Each night as I close my eyes and hope for any amount of repose. That hope carries me on. I’m holding on to that hope.
For now, I wander. I wander. I wander my way back to you.
[“Peaks and Waves”]
Snow-capped peaks rise sharp, bold, and strong;
Weathered and sturdied o’er the bustle and the throng.
When you need to find west, listen for their solemn song,
‘til the mountains are there, no more, no more-
‘til the mountains are there, no more.
Foam-capped waves rise fast, cold, and strong;
The place we all begin, the place we all belong..
When you need to find east, listen for their ever song,
‘til the ocean is there no more, no more-
‘til the ocean is there no more.
By the peaks and the waves, the cardinals decree,
That this is the land, ever more it shall be,
But their laws break like stone and like waves and like me,
Since the mountains are there no more, no more,
And the oceans are there no more,
And you are there no more.
The moon rises forever, not knowing where to set,
Without peaksor waves, memory’s all we get.-
I’ll be aimless and rambling and filled with regret.
‘Til you are there once more, once more,
‘Til you are there once more.
And the waves will roar once more, once more,
And the peaks will cut the sky once more,
And the land will know east once more, once more,
The moon will know west once more,
And you’ll be in my arms once more, once more,
And you’ll be in my arms, once more.