Friday, July 1, 2016

Episode 5: House of Tears

Thirty-one days hath June--oh, wait.

Friday, July 1, 1966

My name is Victoria Winters.

The grey light of early morning brings no relief from the tension that inhabits the old house on the top of Widows Hill. But at least the night has passed, a night that was loaded(?) with a fear I’d never known before. And now it would be over. Fear would be ended, and so would hope.

Carolyn finds Vicki packing. “Victoria Winters, you’re quitting, aren’t you?”
“But you’ve only been here one night.”
“Well, it seems I can’t take it.”
Carolyn tries to convince her to stay. She says they could have been good friends.
“Maybe you can come visit me in New York.”
Carolyn notes that she hasn’t even met David yet.
“But you’re wrong. I did meet him.”
As the girls do downstairs, David sneaks into Vicki’s room. He opens and closes her window and says “Mother” twice. He begins to bang on Vicki’s suitcase on the bed.

Vicki and Carolyn are having breakfast in a pleasant sunny room. “You don’t know how frightening it was,” Vicki says. “To see that small white form at the top of the stairs. To walk up to it. To hear just three words. Just three. ‘I hate you.’”
“And that’s when you decided to leave.”
Vicki explains that it isn’t just David. It’s everything. Carolyn’s uncle, who may be charming and pleasant on better days—but is terrified. Maybe Vicki is too. And then there’s that sobbing she heard in the middle of the night.
Carolyn says she didn’t hear it.
Roger comes in and apologizes, telling Vicki he’ll throw himself off the cliff if she won’t forgive him. Amused, she says she hasn’t much choice. Roger tells Vicki to give David a kick for him. He brushes off the sobbing as “Dreams, Miss Winters, dreams,” before going off for the day.
Carolyn tells Vicki she’s a coward. “What kind of a person comes all the way up here from New York just to spend one night, and just gives up?”
“The most frightening night of my life, don’t forget that.”
Carolyn says if Vicki is going to just hurry up about it. She thinks Vicki is lucky to be able to go back to a normal family. Vicki wonders why Carolyn doesn’t leave if she hates it so much. She tells Carolyn about how she was left on a doorstep with a note: “Her name is Victoria. I cannot take care of her.” Fifty dollars a month came for Vicki at the foundling home from the time she was two until she was sixteen. When she was offered the job at Collinwood, she thought it might be something to do with her family. “The postmark on the letters said Bangor, Maine, and that’s only fifty miles from here.”
“Oh, Vicki, that’s a stretch.”
“When you’re as desperate as I am, you’ll grab at anything. So—don’t ever envy me, because you know who you are, and you belong, and your name is more than just a season when you were dropped on the most convenient doorstep.”
“Winters? Victoria Winters? I’d never have figured that one out.”
“Yes, well, that’s the sad story of my life, and the reason I came up here, and to pay you back for listening, I’ll do the dishes.”

After doing the dishes, Vicki goes for another walk to the cliff, where she’s accosted by a strange man (again) who, like most people here, warns her to go back to New York.
“Who are you?” she asks.
“That’s a good question, and one I’ve been trying to figure out all my life. Who are any of us? Why are we here on this green and ugly world? Your name is Victoria Winters.”
“How do you know that?”
“When a man has cruised along these cliffs as long as I have, gazed out to sea, feasted his eyes the beauty of [something], and fastened his eyes to the keyhole besides, he knows a great deal. You arrived last night in Collinsport, driven to the hotel by a dark and hungry man. Then a taxi brought you here.”
“Who are you, anyway?”
He wants her to tell Roger Collins that Sam was there. “Tell him, tell him Sam wandered along the shore last night, and came to Widows Hill this morning.”
Vicki isn’t sure there’ll be enough time.
“And tell only him. No one else. Not another soul in that ghost-ridden house of tears.”
Vicki wants to know what he means by “house of tears.” He tells her the story of Josette Collins.
“This is where she stood. Josette Collins, brought here from France to be the bride of the man who built that house. He built it for her. He gave it to her. But he couldn’t give her peace . . . The townspeople hated her because she was a stranger. Her husband’s family hated her because she was different. Even the house hated her, so she would cry herself to sleep, night after night. And then one day, this is where she stood, and that, that is where she jumped . . . Some quiet night, if you listen, listen real carefully, you can hear her crying her heart out.”
Vicki denies having heard the crying. She doesn’t believe in ghosts.
Isn’t Mrs. Stoddard just a ghost? he argues. He admonishes Vicki again to give Roger his message, and no one else.

Vicki returns to the house and finds Carolyn ironing. They all pitch in, you know.
“Carolyn, why didn’t you tell me about your mother?”
“I thought you knew about my mother. Everyone else in town does. She hasn’t been off the hill since six months before I was born. But as you say, I’m lucky. I have a family.”
Let’s hope both of these girls have learned not to make assumptions.
Carolyn’s father left, so, of course, her mother had to wait for him. Simple. Carolyn realizes that her father has been gone for eighteen years and Vicki’s money started coming eighteen years ago. Maybe there’s a connection.

Vicki goes back to her room, where David has horrendously packed her suitcase. He has the foundling letter. (“Her name is Victoria,” he taunts her, over and over. “I cannot take care of her.”) She demands he give it back to her. He finally crumples it up and throws it on the floor. She grabs it up. David says “the widows” told him to send her home. She doesn’t understand. “You’re just like everybody else! Nobody every listens to me!” he shouts, and then runs away.

Carolyn comes in and says David must be on Vicki’s side about leaving, but he needs to learn how to pack. She admits her eighteen-year theory is probably just an attempt to hold onto a friend. Vicki says it is pretty farfetched, and she’d be a fool to stay there. But this is the only lead on her “past” right now.
So she decides to stay.

Cast, In Order of Appearance

Victoria Winters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Alexandra Moltke
Carolyn Stoddard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Nancy Barrett
Roger Collins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Louis Edmonds
David Collins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .David Henesy

Fashion by Ohrbach’s
Directed by Lela Swift
Story created and written by Art Wallace

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