Episode 21 Transcript

21 - friday, coffee w/ sam
By Lauren Shippen

[sfx: iPhone voice memo beep]

Sam: Are you recording this?

Chloe: Uh, yeah, is that okay?

Sam: Um, sure, that’s fine. Can I ask why? Is Dr. Bright’s paranoia rubbing off on you?

Chloe: No, no, it's not that. It was her idea though. After - well did she tell you about the whole debacle with Agent Green?

Sam: Yeah, a little bit. 

Chloe: Right, well, Dr. Bright had me recording my thoughts out loud before it all went sideways and it was kind of fun. When I mentioned that to her, she thought it might actually be a good exercise for me. You know what I can do, right?

Sam: Yeah. It’s pretty cool.

Chloe: Yeah, sometimes. But it also makes carrying on conversation kind of hard. So now if I’m talking to someone, I record the conversation, so I can listen back and piece it together with the thoughts I was hearing from them while we were talking. 

Sam: Oh. Wow, that’s a really good idea. 

Chloe: Dr. Bright seems full of those. Or- ideas at least. I’m not sure they’re always good ones. 

Sam: Yeah, she’s, well, she’s kind of intense, right? I mean, we’ve been spending a lot of time together recently as, I don't know, time travel vigilantes? And she never seems to switch her brain off. I know for a fact that right now she’s sorting through a mountain of dimensional research trying to figure out how I occupy space in the past, or something. 

Chloe: Wow, and you think mind reading is cool? I’d say that’s pretty amazing. 

Sam: It’s starting to be, I think. I mean, it was amazing at first, all those years ago. But then, well, the trips got really hard and started happening all the time, and it became a part of my life that I just didn’t want to participate in anymore. 

Chloe: Why? Oh. Oh, that’s awful, I’m so sorry, Sam. 

Sam: Did you just read my thoughts?

Chloe: Uh, yes. Yeah, I did. Sorry. 

Sam: No, no, it's- it’s okay. It’s actually nice to have someone know without having to go through the whole terrible story again. This is kind of weird, right? I mean, do you know other people like us? Other atypicals?

Chloe: Yeah, a few. 

Sam: Really? How?

Chloe: Well, it’s genetic a lot of the time, apparently. So, I got my power from my mom. She’s not a telepath - she’s a telekinetic. 

Sam: Oh, neat. 

Chloe: Yeah, she’s really great. She’s got the most perfect control over her power - better than anyone I’ve ever met. 

Sam: Who are the others?

Chloe: Well, there’s that other patient of Dr. Bright’s. Damien? Yeah, he’s a piece of work. 

Sam: Dr. Bright has mentioned him. She says she might need to use him to help Mark but that I am under no circumstances to ever talk to him. 

Chloe: Yeah, that’s good advice. I’ve met him a few times - our powers don’t work on each other - and never seeing his face again would be too soon. 

Sam: He’s really that bad, huh?

Chloe: He’s just creepy. Like, I know that he’s potentially really dangerous because of what he can do, but he doesn’t seem to actually use it for very much. And it’s so frustrating talking to him. I’ve gotten kind of used to interacting with people when I can hear their thoughts and it’s really annoying not having my footing with someone, you know?

Sam: Not really. I’ve never felt like I have my footing. Interacting with people isn’t exactly a strength of mine. Or something I enjoy. Or even something I really ever do. 

Chloe: This is going okay, though, right?

Sam: Yeah, yeah, I mean, there’s less pressure than there was before. I’m not so worried anymore that I’m going to disappear at any moment and, well, talking to a mind reader is actually kind of great. Because if I say something wrong, or can’t think of anything to say, you’ll know what I’m trying to say. Does that make sense? 

Chloe: Yeah, I think so. You’ve never really had friends before.

Sam: Is it that obvious?

Chloe: No, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be blunt. I’m just, you know, listening. 

Sam: Right. Uh, yeah, I think the last time I was out for coffee with someone was freshman year?

Chloe: Of college?

Sam: Of high school. 

Chloe: Whoa. 

Sam: Yeah. 

Chloe: Wait, who’s the guy in your head right now? He looks familiar.

Sam: What?

Chloe: You’re thinking of a new friend maybe? Or wait, no- oh sorry, is this a fantasy?

Sam: What? No, no, god-

Chloe: Sorry, I just thought- with the old fashioned clothes-

Sam: No, no, that’s-

Chloe: Oh, that’s Mark! 

Sam: Shh. 

Chloe: Sorry. That’s Dr. Bright’s brother - that’s why he looks familiar. Oh, he is cute. I’d always wondered.

Sam: But if you saw him in Dr. Bright’s head?

Chloe: Right, yeah, I did, but it was the way that she perceives him. So he was a bit younger and I don’t know, I couldn’t tell if he was handsome or not because it’s not exactly like Dr. Bright sees her brother that way. 

Sam: So people’s perceptions of things shape the way you see them? Hear them?

Chloe: Yeah, of course. Don’t worry, you’re basically the same in person as you are in Dr. Bright’s head. 

Sam: Oh, that’s good.

Chloe: I think so. So what’s he like?

Sam: Who? Mark?

Chloe: Yeah. I can’t even imagine what another Bright would be like.

Sam: He’s- you were right, before. I do consider him kind of a new friend. I mean, I’ve only gone back four times and the first time I came back before I was even able to speak to him, but he’s- he’s really charming. And funny. And smart. 

Chloe: He understands you. 

Sam: Yeah. How-

Chloe: Telepath, remember?

Sam: Right. I’m not like you. My parents weren’t different as far as I know and, well, even if they were...

Chloe: Yeah. 

Sam: I’ve been alone a long time. It’s hard to connect with people when you’ve got this huge thing standing in the way. Even now that I’ve got it under control a little bit, it’s still- well, I’m just used to being a certain way, you know? And Mark gets that. He knows what it’s like to be trapped in the past. To have no control over your own body. Sorry, I didn’t mean to unload all of that on you. There aren’t a lot of people I can talk to about this kind of stuff. I never know when I’m going to see Mark and Dr. Bright is kind of laser-focused on the mission now so…

Chloe: Well, that’s why she wanted you to meet me right? So I could be a sympathetic ear.

Sam: She told you that?

Chloe: No, no, I heard it just now. Don’t worry, I’m not doing this as a favor or out of pity or anything. I wanted to meet you too. And despite what you’re thinking, it hasn't always been easy for me either. Yes, my ability makes it easier for me to connect with people, but only now that I have some amount of control over it. Before it was like having a constant crowd in my head. I thought I was going crazy. And then I thought I was hearing angels and everyone else thought I was going crazy.

Sam: I’m sorry.

Chloe: No, I’m not trying to make you feel bad. I’m just saying, you’re not alone. There’s me and my mom and Caleb and I think a bunch of other people too who understand what it’s like to have something going on in your body that you can’t explain. 

Sam: Who’s Caleb?

Chloe: Oh, he’s the other atypical I know. He’s an empath - he feels other people’s feelings - so we really get each other, you know? I met him a few weeks ago and we’ve gotten to know each other a bit. He’s still in high school but he’s pretty cool. He’s actually going to come volunteer with me at this art therapy place I work at sometimes. 

Sam: Oh, you’re an artist?

Chloe: Yeah, it’s my major currently. But I don’t know, I’m thinking about maybe switching to social work. Or doubling, who knows. Oh, and no, I’m not going to art therapy myself. I have a friend who was in the war and I’ve been taking him. It seems like it’s been helping with his PTSD. I don’t know if it would help with you. I mean, your war experience has been so different, but maybe it’s worth a try? You’re more than welcome to come, I’m sure Caleb and Frank would both love to meet you. Oh, sorry. That was a lot to dump on you at once, wasn’t it?

Sam: I, um, yeah, wow that’s-

Chloe: This is why the recorder helps. Sometimes I don’t realize I’m having a whole conversation with someone without them saying a word.

Sam: Right. It's okay. Um, thank you. For inviting me, that is. That’s really nice of you. 

Chloe: No problem. You’re not going to come, are you?

Sam: It sounds like maybe a bit too much for me right now. 

Chloe: Sure, of course. No pressure. 

Sam: So, is Frank an atypical too?

Chloe: No. Well. No. I don’t think so. I don’t know, it’s strange, but ever since getting to know Caleb - seeing inside his head, what feeling other peoples’ emotions is like- well, sometimes I see similar stuff in Frank’s thoughts. Which isn’t unheard of. You know, everyone is on the spectrum of empathy or whatever and sometimes people are just naturally more empathetic than others but with Frank it’s so strong sometimes. And I didn’t really know what it was at first, but now that I’ve gotten used to the way he thinks and I’m seeing how Caleb thinks about his ability, the two seem related in some way. I don’t know, I’m probably reading a bit too much into it. Frank has a lot going on in his head and sometimes I can’t see the trees for the forest, you know?

Sam: Not really, sorry. 

Chloe: No, that’s okay. I’m babbling.

Sam: So, if he’s not special, how did you get to know Frank?

Chloe: Well, he is special, to me anyway, even if he’s not like us. It’s okay, I know you didn’t mean it that way. But he’s- I mean, he’s been through a lot, so I guess I sort of felt bad for him when I first saw his thoughts but now it’s- he’s a really good guy. And he’s such an amazing artist. I mean, he’s still not painting that much because he has this issue with his hands, but we sit there for hours and he describes these paintings to me and I’m his hands. He’s able to do some of the less specific brush work and I take care of the details. And he’s been so happy with the result so far. I mean, he has no idea that the reason they’re coming out so well is because I can see them in perfect living color in his head, but every time I get something right or he finishes describing a certain piece of it, it’s like a weight is lifted inside of him. And it’s one of the few times during my week where I feel like my mind isn’t being invaded by everyone else’s. Being at home with my mom, being in studio, and painting with Frank - those are the times I feel like my mind is in harmony with itself. 

Sam: That sounds really nice. 

Chloe: It is. Talking to Mark has been like that for you, hasn’t it?

Sam: Um, yeah. Yeah, it has. I hate that he’s trapped there but whenever I do manage to get back, he always greets me with the biggest smile and jumps right back into where we left off in our conversation. And then we just talk for hours. I’m able to tell him things that I haven’t told anyone else. And I don’t mean the really bad stuff - he doesn’t know about my parents or the trenches or how bad the attacks get sometimes - but it’s everything else. All those thoughts and secrets I’ve been keeping to myself for all these years. I can tell him because he understands. And not just because he’s time traveled too. He just understands. 

Chloe: It’s a good feeling, isn’t it? Having someone know you?

Sam: Yeah it is. Telling Mark about me, talking to him, has made me more me in a way? I know that sounds stupid, but I think- I think somewhere amongst all the tragedy, and the panic, and the loneliness, I forgot how to be a person. Or, at least, the person I can be. And now I feel like I’m waking up for the first time in a decade. Does that- do you get that at all?

Chloe: I really, really do actually. Except sometimes I feel like I’m too many people. If I spend a lot of time around someone, their thoughts will sink into my head and kind of take over when I’m not paying attention. Like, I’ll have dreams about Caleb’s boyfriend or nightmares about the war. I’ve even found myself wondering about scientific questions that I don’t even have the necessary knowledge to ask. And it’s easy to lose myself in all the noise. But then I realized, that’s who I am now. This current version of me, this right-now Chloe, is the girl that has a bunch of other peoples’ thoughts in her head. And that’s okay. 

Sam: I like that. That’s a good way of looking at things. 

Chloe: So what version of Sam are you?

Sam: I’m not sure yet. The Sam who’s learned to live with her unique situation? Sam who actually maybe wants to spend time with people? The Sam who’s going to bring someone back to the future? Whatever I am, I think what’s important is that I finally have options. 

Chloe: And that’s terrifying on it’s own. 

Sam: Right. 

Chloe: But it’s not terrifying in the same way as before. 

Sam: You read my mind. 

Chloe: This is pretty heavy coffee conversation. Do you ever stop and wonder when your life got so weird? No, right, of course not, you’ve been dealing with this for practically your whole life. God, I can’t imagine that. 

Sam: I don’t know, my life has definitely increased in weirdness in the past few months. I never thought I could tell anybody about my ability, let alone that I would find other people who are like me. It’s, well, it’s really nice actually. This has been really nice. Talking to you. 

Chloe: Yeah, it has. Caleb’s great but he’s still basically a kid. It’s nice to talk to another woman around my age about this stuff. Actually, it’s just nice to talk to another woman around my age in general. I haven’t been spending a lot of time with my peers since the voices started up. 

Sam: But you’re still in college right? Is that going okay?

Chloe: It’s starting to. I’ve been easing back in but it’s still hard to be in large groups of other students. And, honestly, even hanging out with my old friends one-on-one is sort of impossible. They don’t know about what I can do but they can tell that something is off. I can hear everything they’re thinking and I just- I feel so guilty about it. 

Sam: That sounds tough. 

Chloe: Yeah, but at least I have my mom, and Dr. Bright, and Frank, who’s too focused on getting better to notice that I’m a little weird. And now I know you and Caleb too. There are a lot of people out there struggling with things who have a lot less. I’m lucky. 

Sam: God, I don’t know how you do it. 

Chloe: Optimism isn’t your go-to is it?

Sam: Definitely not. Do you think you’ll ever tell your friends about you?

Chloe: I don’t know. I mean, I’m not sure they’d understand. I know they love me but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried they would freak out and leave.

Sam: Sometimes it’s easier to just not take the risk, right?

Chloe: Right. I keep waiting for a moment when I’m going to feel comfortable with the way I am. Like, I’m just going to wake up one day and be completely in control and have everything back to normal. But that’s never going to happen is it?

Sam: No. Dr. Bright and I have spent a lot of time talking about acceptance. She’s told me that, even if I do get my ability totally under control, I might still have the occasional panic attack and leave without meaning to. And that I should try to accept that. Life is going to be stressful. Bad things are going to happen. It’s about how you respond that matters and that’s- that's what I’m trying to figure out. Hey, are you okay?

Chloe: Uh, yeah, sorry, someone over in the corner has started doing their taxes? Or balancing their budget or something? Whatever it is, it’s giving me a headache. I hate math. 

Sam: I’m sorry. Should we- should we go?

Chloe: Do you mind?

Sam: No, not at all, let’s-

[sfx: iPhone voice memo beep]

[music & credits]

Lauren Shippen: Thank you for listening to The Bright Sessions. Today’s episode was written and directed by Lauren Shippen and produced by Mischa Stanton. The voice of Chloe is Anna Lore and the voice of Sam is Lauren Shippen. The Bright Sessions is made possible through listener support on Patreon. On Patreon, you pledge an amount that is only paid when we release an episode. So you only donate when we have new content for you - plus, there are some pretty cool bonuses that are exclusive to our patron. To become a patron, visit Patreon.com/thebrightsessions. Also go check out our website thebrightsessions.com for information about the cast and crew and for extra multimedia content about the characters - including mixtapes, instagrams, and character blogs. And make sure to follow us on tumblr and twitter, @brightpodcast. As always, thanks for listening and stay strange.