Scenes from a parallel universe; FF8: Part 3
SCENE 15: Dead Poets Society
[Balamb Gardenís cafeteria. As usual, itís packed during lunch hour. Every table is loaded with as many people as can be seated, save one. Selphie sits alone, brooding, over her lunch. Nobody ever sits at her table. Nobody dares even ask her ďis anyone sitting here?Ē or ďif youíre not using this chair can we take it?Ē She prefers it that way.]
Selphie: Foolish vacuous cattle mindlessly devouring the slop their master dispenses to them in order to fatten them up for the proliferation of his own selfish designs. Only I have the second sight that sees all for what it truly is. I am cursed with my vision of the truth. But I shall not conform to the assembly line and leech myself for the betterment of the selfish human masters. I refuse to devour this ďhot dogĒ which they dispense. I will remain unpolluted by their meaningless trinkets and instruments of conformity and control!
[Enter Seifer, opposite side of the cafeteria.]
Seifer: [ASIDE] Gosh, where did Selphie go? I have been trying to catch up to her ever since homeroom let out, but I lost track of her when she slipped into the crowd entering the cafeteria. This page of poetry must have a great deal of personal significance for her, and she is likely upset over losing it. I would bet she wants to find it...if gambling were not a sin, that is.
[Seifer scans the cafeteria with his eyes and sees the one table with only one person sitting at it. He immediately recognizes Selphie. She stands out in a crowd, after all. Seifer walks over to her.]
[Selphie glares at him coldly.]
[Seifer hesitates for a brief moment, caught off guard momentarily by this reply. But he recovers and continues.]
Seifer: Iím not sure how to go about this, but...
Selphie: Then donít. Go away.
Seifer: Iíve been trying to catch up with you, but you havenít made that easy. Itís as if youíre making a conscious effort to avoid me.
Selphie: I am.
Seifer: You dropped this yesterday, when we bumped into each other. After you walked away I noticed this lying on the ground.
[Seifer hands her the page of poetry, which previously had been stored, neatly folded, in his shirt pocket.]
Seifer: I thought I should pick it up, because if someone else did they might pass it around or share it with their friends.
Selphie: [very sarcastic] Which you would never do, because you are selfless and noble and pure of mind.
Seifer: Also, I donít really have any friends. People think Iím too weird and brainy, and so they avoid me.
Selphie: Liar! You are only pretending to be an outcast to impress me. Itís an insult. I hate you. Go away.
[She snatches the paper.]
Selphie: So, thief, what did you intend to do with this fragment of my soul before your fool mortal conscience enslaved you and dragged you on your abdomen to my domain to return it in shame?
Selphie: You stole it. I am a Kindred, I would never drop anything, we donít make careless mistakes such as that. Therefore, you must have deliberately stolen it.
Seifer: It must have fallen out of your notebook. I honestly didnít notice it was there until after you left. Iím sorry for carrying it around with me for a day and not returning it to you immediately, but I had no idea where you were going, and I was already late to class. So I decided to give it back the next time I saw you, but today you walked away again right away. So I had to follow you here. I hope thatís okay.
[Selphie sneers menacingly at Seifer.]
Seifer: I thought I should return it as soon as possible, because it seems like very deep and very personal stuff.
Selphie: [VERY angry] YOU READ IT?
Seifer: [defensive] Only once!
Selphie: How dare you gaze upon a shred of my ravaged soul? Foul wretch!
Seifer: Iím sorry. I know it was wrong of me to read without permission, but. I couldnít help myself. I really wanted to see what was on your mind. I think youíre fascinating. I wanted to know more about you. I want to know more about you.
Selphie: Shut Up! Liar! You have no such interest!
Seifer: I thought it was really good. I wish I could write like that, but all my poems sound dry and empty and uninspired.
Selphie: Thatís because you are one of the mindless automatons! You donít feel any real emotion! You donít know any real suffering! Not like me!
[She pauses. Her voice gets softer, and loses the edge it has had until now.]
Selphie: You donít...really think these are any good, do you?
Seifer: I liked them. Iím not very knowledgeable about poetic forms and theory, but they evoked a feeling in me, and I liked feeling it. I felt a real sense of isolation and foreknowledge of oneís own fate, and being resigned to accepting it. I feel that way a lot. This garden...itís like a prison term, to me. And all I can do is ride it out, and wait for graduation day, and then I can move on to the next phase of my life. Once that happens, everything that happened here wonít be very important anymore. Iíll be able to put all the uncomfortable moments behind me. Your poems reminded me of that.
Seifer: Itís like they say what I just said, only in fewer words, and with more emotional strength behind them.
[Selphie, in spite of the imposing coat of pale makeup, blushes. And smiles. NOBODY her age has ever been this genuinely nice to her.]
[They each lean in towards each other a little.]
[They lean in towards each other a little more.]
[Suddenly Selphie backs away.]
Selphie: [upset] IÖI know what youíre doing! You are trying to sabotage my artistic vision! Youíre trying to disprove everything I know to be true! Stop it! Liar! I wonít tolerate your mockery!
[She gets up and leaves, trying her best to look angry and offended, but still emitting an aura of confusion and nervousness.]
[And she left the page of poetry on the table.]
Seifer: Why are you so afraid to open yourself up, Selphie? Are you afraid of rejection? Or have you internalized all the talk of others about you being different and inadequate and given up hope on ever being able to connect with someone else?
[Seifer picks up the page of poetry and tucks it into his shirt pocket again.]
Seifer: I canít make you trust me. But I can do my best to show you that when youíre ready to put your faith in someone, Iíll be worth the risk. After all, youíre worth the wait.
[Enter the two jocks. They laugh constantly, they punch each other, they get in other peopleís faces, they engage in all the typical activities of the lower primates save for actually throwing their own poo.]
Biggs: Ha! Almasy struck out with the loner chick!
Wedge: What a dork! He canít even pick up that lonely, desperate chick! Ha!
[Seifer ignores them.]
Irvine: Ha! What did you do to her to make her so angry?
Seifer: She isnít really angry. Thatís just a persona sheís projecting to the world. Sheís really just confused and nervous because sheís just so used to everybody treating her like an outcast instead of a regular human being.
Irvine: Youíre wasting your time, you know. She hates everybody. Still, thanks for trying. I needed the laugh.
Seifer: Do you laugh at my attempt?
Seifer: Is that because you truly think itís amusing, or are you just trying to relieve the tension you feel seeing someone in a position similar to you trying something you yourself long to try but never dare to, and take comfort in seeing my failure because it simply reinforces your own learned helplessness?
Irvine: Huh? Youíre starting to sound like her.
Seifer: Let me put it this way. Youíre basically a snitch, right? Thatís what everyone labels you as?
Irvine: Shut up. Donít call me that.
Seifer: But thatís not what you really are. You donít really mean to alienate everyone from you. Youíre actually a very nice person who just wants to be accepted by everybody else, but youíve always felt rejected. You keep trying, but it comes out wrong, because your frustration increases every time somebody calls you a nerd, or a snitch, or a dork, or whatever. You actually admire and respect Squall more than you resent him. Your problem is not that he does what he does, but that you feel you canít do what he does. This makes you feel inadequate, so you lash out, even at the people you most want to befriend.
Irvine: How do you know all this?
Seifer: Iím very philosophical. And spiritually attuned.
Irvine: [hopeful] Can you tell me how to get them to like me?
Seifer: No, for two reasons. First, I donít have any friends either. I myself donít have the answer to that question. For me to tell you how to make the people at Garden like you would be like the blind leading the blind. Second, this is the sort of problem we must all find the answers for on our own, because while the life experience of all human beings is basically the same, each of us varies slightly, and so our experiences are all unique. Simply put, I canít answer that question because I am not you, and I donít know what itís like to be you. The only thing I can say is not to give up. Everybody finds these answers eventually. Some of us find the answers earlier than others. Some of us wonít find the answers weíre looking for until long after weíre out of this place. Itís the nature of the universe. We canít make the rules, we can only learn them and learn to play by them as best we can.
Seifer: Although not snitching on people all the time would probably be a good start. Most people donít like that.
SCENE 16: And Now, Because Scene 15 Was Much Too PhilosophicalÖA Little Balance.
[At Lagunaís house. Kiros and Ward-Head, on the couch, dressed as before, watching TV. Ward-Head has the remote control.]
Ward-Head: [laughter] Uh, Hey Kiros! Seiferís a dork. [laughter]
Kiros: Yeah. [laughter]
[Ward-Head laughs some more.]
[Now Kiros laughs some more.]
Ward-Head: [laughter] Selphieís a poet. [laughter] Uh, do you think she has a ďmechanical pencilĒ Kiros? [laughter]
[Both Kiros and Ward-Head laugh very loudly and beyond all control, seemingly at a very inside joke.]
Kiros: Hey Ward-Head. I have a mechanical pencil.
[Kiros continues to laugh. Ward-Head looks puzzled.
Ward-Head: Uh, Kiros... [laughter] ...I bet you do have a ďmechanical pencil.Ē [loud laughter]
Kiros: Yeah. [laughter]
Ward-Hard: [laughter] So, uh, do you use your ďmechanical pencilĒ when youíre with other girls, Kiros? [very loud laughter]
[Now Kiros gets it. Heís angry.]
Kiros: Shut up bunghole! Iíll kick your ass!
[They begin to tussle violently on the couch.]
SCENE 17: I Have A Cunning Plan...
[Still in the Garden Cafeteria. Quistis, Zell, and Rinoa seated at their table.]
Quistis: Oh, my, gawd, did you guys see that? [high pitched tittering laughter] That Seifer is such a loser! He struck out sooo bad just now.
Zell: Of course, if he keeps failing so badly, heíll end up with you at the dance.
Quistis: Like, do NOT remind me of that? Oh, my, gawd, that bet was sooo totally stupid.
Rinoa: Itís never smart to set yourself up to be even more indebted to the system. But Selphie doesnít seem to want to go with anybody, so you might still luck out.
[Rinoaís face quickly becomes bloated. Her eyes widen and she begins banging frantically on the table with her wrists.]
Rinoa: [mumbles something incoherently]
Zell: [concerned] Whatís going on?
Quistis: Oh, itís, like, her allergy. Sheís like, allergic to something in the Perrier Water. Her pills are in her purse.
Quistis: Like, hurry! She has trouble breathing!
[Rinoa pounds on the table some more and points to her purse with her other hand. Zell grabs her purse and begins fumbling around in it, looking for her allergy medicine.]
Quistis: I guess I shouldnít, like, keep buying her Perrier Water. But, like, you know, she shouldnít just drink anything. I mean, hello! Image!
[Zell finds the medicine, puts it to Rinoaís mouth Ė now compressed to a small opening on account of the swelling in her cheeks and neck Ė and presses the button, and the anti-allergy medicine forces its way into Rinoaís system with a rush.]
Zell: You okay?
[Rinoaís swelling gradually goes down.]
Rinoa: Youíre a lifesaver, Zell.
Zell: [blushes] Eh, yeah, I guess.
Quistis: Anyway, like, back to me. If Selphie doesnít go with anybody, that means than she wonít go with Squall, then...then I would, like, still win the bet. But, thereís like, totally too much on the line. Oh, my, gawd! Can you just imagine what it would be like if I had to be seen at the dance with Seifer? I mean, hello! My life would be like sooo over. I, like, cannot take that chance you guys. You guys have to help me. I know he is like such a total dweeb, but if you guys could, like, give Seifer some help, and like, some tips, we could fix him up with Captain Gloom!
Zell: That wouldnít be fair, would it?
Quistis: Like, so what?
Rinoa: Well, nobody actually specifically said we couldnít when the bet was made.
Quistis: Right! So, like, you can do it. Will you? You guys could, like, work together.
[Quistis winks subtly at Zell.]
Zell: [enthusiastic] Yeah, letís do it! Good idea, Quis.
Quistis: Thank you. Like, I know. I am sooo smart. But not in a nerdy way! You know, like, in a cool way?
Rinoa: Actually, I really should talk to her anyway. Iím afraid sheís allowed the corrupt capitalist society to dictate its corrupt sense of worth to her, and since she of course canít live up to it Ė nobody can Ė she just assumes she canít belong. Damn bourgeois.
[Exit Zell and Rinoa. Fade Out.]
SCENE 18: Help! I Need Somebody (Not Just Anybody).
[Nida and Xu are still in the library. Nida has finally grabbed the book on top without accidentally making embarrassing intimate contact with Xuís hand and has begun to read. Xu has her head buried in another book. Since itís a library, theyíre whispering.]
Xu: I canít find anything in here on how to do the equations.
Nida: I canít find anything in here, either.
[Awkward pause, both too shy to look up from their book.]
Xu: This project is hard.
Nida: Itís really difficult.
[Another long silence.]
[Enter Ellone. She makes a direct line for Nida and Xu. Sheís also whispering.]
[Ellone sits down at the table, with an expectant look on her face.]
Xu: Um, do you know anything about organic chemistry?
Ellone: I know a little.
Nida: Do you think you couldÖgive us a little help?
Ellone: Most of what I know about organic chemistry I got from Learn Organic Chemistry The Easy Way. Itís a great book.
Nida: Do you have it with you? Could we...look at it?
[Ellone reaches into her backpack and, of course, pulls out a copy of Learn Organic Chemistry The Easy Way. She holds it out. Nida and Xu both grab for it, and accidentally touch hands. Again.]
[Ellone sets the book on the table, gets up, and leaves. In the background, Xu and Nida both reach for the new book simultaneously, again, and touch, again, and apologize, again. Ellone watches them, and smiles.]
[Enter Irvine. Heís also whispering.]
Irvine: Shame on you!
Irvine: Youíre helping them cheat.
Ellone: What makes you say that?
Irvine: Loaning them that book. Youíre not helping them learn anything. Youíre just giving them the answers and telling them where to look. Thatís wrong.
Ellone: Why is it wrong?
Irvine: Because itís cheating. Youíre not part of their group. They should do it on their own. Without you and your books.
Ellone: But wonít they have to find the answers in a book? A book written by someone else? Wouldnít that be getting help from someone else, as well?
Irvine: Because...uh...because...thatís different. Thatís research.
Ellone: But what is research but taking other peopleís answers and using them yourself?
Irvine: Research is an important skill for finding information.
Ellone: Yes, it is. But so is asking other people for help, is it not?
Irvine: ...I guess so.
Irvine: But nobody ever helps me. I have to do these things by myself. So should they.
Ellone: But youíre very smart, right?
Ellone: And you are already acing the organic chemistry class, right?
Ellone: So do you really need someone to help you with organic chemistry?
Irvine: No. But...
Ellone: But there are some things you do need help with, right?
Ellone: And do you ask people for help with that?
Irvine: No. But nobody would ever help me. Everybody dislikes me.
Irvine: Well, everybody Iíve talked to.
Ellone: And have you talked to everybody? Have you asked everybody? Have you asked anybody?
Irvine: Well, no.
Ellone: So, can you really be sure that everybody hates you and nobody would help you?
[Irvine begins to ponder this idea.]
SCENE 19: Two Guys, A Girl, and a Shakespeare Play [No Pizza Place, Unfortunately]
[Squall has digested (in a literary sense) The Taming of the Shrew and now is once again brimming with confidence in his advanced player skills. Waving the book demonstratively, he brags to Fujin and Raijin.]
Squall: I think I be trippiní for saying this, but, maybe I ainít gonna need my beats to win this bet. Yo, check this! P-Dawg be doing the same thing I be trying to do, yo!
Squall: Petruchio. P-Dawg. He be this player in this play, right? And he trying to get his mack on with this honey that donít want to go with no dudes. But by the end, he gets that hook-up. That be me, dawgs! I be trying to get my mack on with Selphie, but she be a crazy foo with her vampire goth thang, and not wanting to hook up with nobody. Itís the same song, foo! I just gotsta do what P-Dawg do!
[The Voice of Head Matron Edea breaks over the loudspeaker, only it sounds different from before. Approximately 75% more demonic and multi-toned.]
Edea: Squall Leonhart, please report to The Headmasterís Office Immediately. Squall Leonhart, please report to The Headmasterís Office Immediately. And bring your soul, so that we can devour it.
Squall: What? My soul? She trippiní!
Squall: Didnít you hear that? Some wack ass thing about eating my soul?
Raijin: I thought that was fairly standard talk for authority figures?
Squall: [laughs] Oh I HEARD that!
Raijin: Actually, she did sound kinda weird. Donít you think so?
[Fujin looks to her left, then to her right. Nobody but Raijin is in earshot.]
Fujin: Normal human voices just donít sound like that. I think she might be possessed again.
Raijin: You think so?
[Two random students walk by, together. Fujin notices them out of the corner of her eye.]
Raijin: Maybe we shouldnít have let him go in there alone. I mean, if Edea is in the control of demonic forces.
Fujin: Eh, better him than us.
SCENE 20: Clash of the Rhetoric
[Selphie is on the south side of the quad, leaning against a cold, dull, gray mass of rock. Itís not actually a tombstone, but itís the best she can manage at school.]
Selphie: Why does he have to tease me like this? What dark and perverse joy does he derive from pretending to like my poetry? I know heís not really a fan. Nobody is. None of these foolish mortals can ever possibly have the mental acumen to understand my complex emotions.
[Enter Zell and Rinoa.]
Zell: Hi. Selphie, isnít it?
[Selphie, still looking the other way, sneers.]
Selphie: Go away. I am not in the mood for any of your infantile gamesmanship.
Rinoa: [Aside to Zell.] Just leave this to me. [Exit Zell. Rinoa turns back to Selphie] Could I talk to you for a minute? Sister to Sister?
Selphie: Youíre not my sister.
Rinoa: We are all sisters. You, me, everyone in our social class.
[Suddenly, Selphie angrily stomps down with her boot very close to Rinoaís leg.]
Rinoa: What are you doing?
[Selphie, demonstrating unexpected flexibility for someone who claims to be undead, lifts the sole of her boot far up off the ground, near Rinoaís eye level, revealing the squished remains of a baby Malboro, one of the most lethally poisonous creatures known to this world.]
Rinoa: Oh my God...
[Selphie lowers her foot.]
Selphie: [mildly irritated] Youíre welcome.
Rinoa: I didnít even notice that thing! Thank you SO much, Selphie, you just saved my life!
Selphie: Hmmph. Very well. Since you are suitably grateful... 60 seconds, no more.
Rinoa: That Seifer guy really seems to like you.
Selphie: You donít know anything. He is obviously perpetuating a fraud only to make fun of me. Nobody ever understands my kind, and hence we are ridiculed and made outcast. He doesnít really like me.
Rinoa: Ah, you see, thatís what THEY want you to think.
Rinoa: The power-elite that profit from the insecurity and fear they foster in the populace via their advertising campaigns for their products that nobody needs. They want you to feel insecure and different and lonely so that youíll be more likely to think ďgee, maybe if I buy this product, people will start liking me just like in the commercial.Ē The problem is, those people in the commercial arenít real.
Selphie: They are worthless posers.
Rinoa: No, theyíre not even real people, theyíre just computer graphics. Theyíre the representation of a warped ideal, an unattainable standard of what it means to be attractively feminine, or masculine. The whole point is to get you to think that you donít belong and that only through their brand-name indoctrination that you can belong, and that you are a worthless outsider unless you belong.
Selphie: I am an outsider. But Iím proud of it. I am not like any of you mortals. I am outside your society. I am one of the ancient Kindred. But I canít expect someone like you to understand what it is like to be one of us...
Rinoa: No, no! Youíre exactly like us! They WANT you to think youíre different and alone. They want everybody to think that, because if everybody feels alone and isolate, they will never unite and rise up and overthrow the corrupt bourgeois! The truth is weíre all sisters and brothers. We are all facing the same struggle, and the sooner we all realize it and come together and unite against our mutual oppressors...
Selphie: Whatís your point?
Rinoa: My point is that right now, youíre playing by the power-eliteís rules. And I know youíre smarter than that. Also, I think that Seifer genuinely likes you. ďTheyĒ would say to not give him a chance, because you do not conform to their ideal and hence nobody could possibly like you. But youíre too smart to be suckered by their gamesmanship, right?
Selphie: Whatís your ulterior motive, Rinoa?
Rinoa: I donít have an ulterior motive. Iím just trying to do my part.
Selphie: Why suddenly now, and not before? Doesnít this have something to do with your... [snide tone] sister... Quistis?
Rinoa: She didnít put me up to this at all.
Selphie: Oh really? Her little bet has nothing to do with this, Iím sure.
[Rinoa canít reply.]
Selphie: Listen well, mortal. I am nobodyís pawn, and I will not be moved around and sacrificed at anyone elseís whim. Not hers. Not Seiferís. Not this ďBourgeoisĒ you speak of. And not yours.
Rinoa: Exactly. You shouldnít be used or exploited by anybody. Thatís what Iím trying to help you avoid! Theyíre taking advantage of people like you. You donít conform to their status quo, so they try to cast you as a scapegoat group and keep all of us divided and fighting amongst ourselves instead of contributing to the great struggle against them!
Selphie: If only your high ideals were your real motivation.
Zell: How did it go?
Rinoa: It went awful. Theyíve really gotten to her. Undermined her ability to trust her class allies. I couldnít make a dent.
Rinoa: She thought Quistis put me up to it, and because of that she wouldnít listen to anything I said. Which is a shame, because I really think she needs to hear what I had to say.
[Zell tries to look Rinoa in the eyes, but canít quite summon the nerve.]
Zell: ...I thought what you said sounded really smart. I never thought about things like that before.
Zell: Could I join your revolution? I mean, these Bourgeois sound like real bastards.
Rinoa: They are.
Rinoa: Is there anything else you wanted to ask me?
[Rinoa looks Zell in the eye, and steps closer.]
Zell: Actually...Yeah. I just thought itíd be cool if I could, like, help out.
Rinoa: Oh. Sure! Yes. Thanks.
Zell: Youíre welcome. [Aside to audience] ARRRRGH! What happened to me? I just couldnít...I just didnít have the guts...this never happens to me on the field! Why now?