Episode 28 Transcript

28 - Patient #13-a-3 (Chloe)
By Lauren Shippen

[sfx: click of recorder]

Dr. Bright: Patient #13-A-3, in person session 12. The patient has made enormous improvements in the past few months. While she still gets overwhelmed in crowds or by certain individuals, she is able to filter the incoming thoughts with excellent precision. As such, we conduct many of our conversations over the phone. The patient wants to discuss the obstacles she encounters in her daily life but we find it hard to do so productively when she can hear all my thoughts. However, she still comes in every month or so to check in and flex her ability. We often discuss her friend, Frank, which is becoming an increasingly frustrating topic as I have not yet-

[sfx: knock on door]

Dr. Bright: Come in. 

[sfx: opening door]

Chloe: Hi Dr. Bright. 

Dr. Bright: Oh, Chloe, I thought you were Sarah-

Chloe: Yeah, sorry, I know I’m a little early. 

[sfx: closing door]

Dr. Bright: That’s alright. Why don’t you take a seat and we’ll get started in a second.

[sfx: putting away files]

Chloe: Frank: is in your waiting room. 

Dr. Bright: I’m sorry?

Chloe: We were painting earlier today and I convinced him to come talk to you. But he was so adamant about not taking up my session time so now he’s just sitting in your waiting room. 

Dr. Bright: Okay. Is he-

Chloe: He’ll be fine there.

Dr. Bright: Alright. Well, then would you-

Chloe: Yeah, I figure we can do our usual bit, just shorter and then he can come in?

Dr. Bright: Yes, I suppose that-

Chloe: Perfect, thanks Dr. Bright. 

Dr. Bright: Chloe-

Chloe: Oh, sorry, I’m doing it again aren’t I? 

Dr. Bright: I suppose I should be used to it by now but your ability to cover both sides of a conversation can still catch me off-guard. 

Chloe: Sorry. 

Dr. Bright: It’s perfectly alright. How’s school going?

Chloe: Good! I’m having to make up a couple of the big lecture classes that I dropped out of last semester and yeah, I definitely still get overwhelmed sometimes when I’m surrounded by that many people. But I figured out that if I sit in the front row, then I’m near all the students who are really concentrating on the lecture. And then if their thoughts distract me, it’s okay because it’s about the material! It’s great, I basically don’t have to take notes at all - I’m just recording the lectures and then absorbing all the thoughts around me. 

Dr. Bright: I’m glad recording has become such a beneficial tool for you. 

Chloe: It really has - that was a great idea, thank you. It’s really nice to lie on my bed at the end of the day and listen back to my classes, or conversations I’ve had, and just take the time to process everything. It’s weird, with everyone else’s thoughts coming into my head all day, I don’t really get to focus on my own until I’m by myself. 

Dr. Bright: Have you had any success with shutting off the incoming thoughts completely?

Chloe: Not yet. I keep trying to think of it like you told me - like a tap that I have to turn off but I just, I can’t find the source. 

Dr. Bright: What do you mean?

Chloe: Well, if the thoughts are water coming out of the tap, then I just have to turn off the faucet to stop them flowing into me, right?

Dr. Bright: That’s the idea. 

Chloe: But water from a faucet comes from one place. The thoughts are coming from everywhere. I can’t find the faucet handle to turn them off, you know?

Dr. Bright: Hm, then maybe thinking about the thoughts as water from a tap is the wrong approach. If they are intruding from all sides, maybe it would be better to put up walls, create a fortress around your mind that you can put up and take down as you wish. 

Chloe: That sounds a little extreme. I don’t like the idea of putting up walls. I don’t want to shut myself off from the world. Not now that I’m finally getting comfortable with it. 

Dr. Bright: Of course. 

Chloe: I’m just not that person. I’m not the person who has to put up defenses and be cold to people just to get through the day. 

Dr. Bright: Alright. 

Chloe: No, I wasn’t- I didn’t mean you. 

Dr. Bright: I’m sorry?

Chloe: You’re worried that I meant you. That I think you’re cold and walled off. 

Dr. Bright: And you don’t?

Chloe: Well, you might not be the warmest person in the world, but I understand. I understand why you put walls up. I probably would too if I were you. 

Dr. Bright: I’m not sure whether I find that a comfort or not. 

Chloe: But I didn’t mean you specifically. I’ve just seen so many people hide away and I don’t want to do that. I want to be open to what the world has to offer me. 

Dr. Bright: Okay. If you don’t want to work on blocking out the thoughts entirely, that’s fine. It’s up to you to decide what we work on. 

Chloe: I don’t know. Right now- right now, I feel good. I know it won’t always be easy, but things have been so much better recently. Even being in campus housing this year has been nice - I mean, I have a single but I’m still surrounded by people and it feels okay. I think- I actually think not blocking out the thoughts has been helpful - just letting them in has made it easier to manage. 

Dr. Bright: Sometimes it’s important to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. 

Chloe: Exactly! Once I stopped trying to resist it, it got easier. Like, right now I can sit and have a conversation with you and yes, sometimes I get distracted by your thoughts and I can hear Frank and Sarah out in the waiting room, but I don’t feel like my head is going to explode. 

Dr. Bright: I am very glad to hear that, Chloe. 

Chloe: Oh, Frank is sort of nervous out there. He’s worried he’s making Sarah uncomfortable. 

Dr. Bright: I’m sure he’s not. Sarah is used to dealing with all sorts of people and Frank sounds like a very nice young man. I feel as if I already know him with everything you’ve told me. 

Chloe: I think you’ll like him. Yeah, I know it took a long time to get him in here, but I think you’ll be able to help him too. 

Dr. Bright: I will certainly try.

Chloe: Should I go get him?

Dr. Bright: If you’d like. Was there anything else you wanted to discuss?

Chloe: Not really. I mostly came here today for him. Between talking to you and Sam on the phone every week, I feel like I’m covered. Yeah, I miss her too. 

Dr. Bright: Has she indicated to you when she’s coming back?

Chloe: Not really. Wait, you haven’t talked to her in a while? Why? Oh, you told her about your meetings at The AM. But doesn’t she understand that you’re doing that because you have to?

Dr. Bright: I think she does but- 

Chloe: She’s still not happy about it.

Dr. Bright: To be fair, I’m not exactly thrilled about it either. 

Chloe: But you’ve liked seeing Ellie. Who’s Ellie? 

Dr. Bright: She’s-

Chloe: Ellie Wadsworth? What kind of name is that?

Dr. Bright: A fake one. 

Chloe: Oh. Right. 

Dr. Bright: I haven’t exactly enjoyed seeing Wadsworth again-

Chloe: That’s not what your thoughts say-

Dr. Bright: She was a friend. A very good friend. Or so I thought. 

Chloe: She’s the one that brought Mark in. 

Dr. Bright: She certainly had a hand in it. 

Chloe: Does Sam know that?

Dr. Bright: No. And I would appreciate it if you didn’t tell her. All she knows is that I’ve been forced to go in and give regular updates to The AM. 

Chloe: You really think it’s a good idea to keep more secrets from Sam?

Dr. Bright: Chloe, I understand that you and Sam are friends and that you’re invested in the situation, but with everything that has happened, I’d rather you didn’t get involved.

Chloe: I am involved, Dr. Bright. Even if I wasn’t your patient, even if I wasn’t friends with Sam, there’s still Frank to consider, not to mention the fact that I’m a telepath. From everything I’ve learned in the past few months, it doesn’t seem like any atypical can avoid being tangled up in The AM, one way or another. 

Dr. Bright: That’s what I’m trying-

Chloe: -to prevent. Yes, I know. But you can’t control everything, Dr. Bright. 

Dr. Bright: We really just should stick to the phone - these in-person sessions always seem to lead to you giving me therapy. 

Chloe: Maybe I should follow in your footsteps - maybe I’ve found my calling.

Dr. Bright: No, you’re meant to help people, Chloe, just like you’ve always said. I’m not sure anything I’ve done has actually helped anyone. I’m sorry, that was a very inappropriate thing to say to a patient. 

Chloe: I would have heard it whether or not you said it out loud. I think we’ve moved past the normal doctor-patient relationship at this point. I think we passed it a while ago.

Dr. Bright: I suppose that’s true. 

Chloe: I don’t mean to make you uncomfortable-

Dr. Bright: No, Chloe, you’re not. It’s-

Chloe: You’re not used to people knowing your secrets. 

Dr. Bright: No. I’m not. 

Chloe: I don’t judge you. 

Dr. Bright: I’m sorry?

Chloe: You’re always worried about that during these sessions. That I’m going to judge you. That “Saint Chloe:” is going to to think you’re a bad person. 

Dr. Bright: Chloe, I-

Chloe: You don’t have to apologize. I know you don’t mean it maliciously. I don’t think you’re a bad person, Dr. Bright. I think you’re a complicated person. 

Dr. Bright: Well thank you.. 

Chloe: Just because you’ve done some bad things doesn’t make you a bad person. My morality isn’t as black and white as you think it is. I’m not naive. 

Dr. Bright: I know you’re not, Chloe. But your ability to stay optimistic about the world is something that truly baffles me. I’m not sure I would feel the same after hearing the thoughts of those around me. 

Chloe: Maybe you’re surrounding yourself with the wrong people then. Optimism is the only way forward for me. If I let other people’s thoughts bring me down, I’d never get back up. I think that’s what happened to Frank a bit. He let too many people in and it dragged him so far under he couldn’t even see the light anymore. He couldn’t find a way to swim up. And now he’s floating around in the dark and just when I think maybe he’s starting to come up for air, he’ll think about something and-

[sfx: knocking on door]

Frank: (through the door) Chloe, are you alright?

Chloe: Oh no-

[sfx: opening door]

Chloe: Frank, I’m fine. 

Frank: I’m sorry to interrupt you but- 

Chloe: I got sad all of a sudden, I know. 

Frank: And you don’t do that a lot. 

Chloe: I know, Frank. I’m sorry. But I’m okay. 

Frank: Okay. I’m sorry for interrupting, I’ll just-

Chloe: It’s okay, Frank. We were pretty much finished anyway. Dr. Bright, this is Frank. 

Dr. Bright: Hello, Frank. It’s good to finally meet you. 

Frank: Yes, hello, Dr. Bright.

Dr. Bright: Why don’t you come in and we can chat for a bit. 

Chloe: I’m going to go talk to Sarah - I need to ask her about something. If you need me just think it, okay?

Frank: Yeah, thanks, Chloe. 

[sfx: closing door]

Dr. Bright: Would you like to take a seat?

Frank: Thank you, ma'am. 

Dr. Bright: Would you like to talk about what just happened, Frank?

Frank: I’m not sure I know what you mean, ma’am. 

Dr. Bright: Chloe was telling me about something that upset her and you knew how she was feeling. Is that something that happens a lot?

Frank: From time to time. It depends on the individual. Chloe’s told you about me?

Dr. Bright: She’s told me that you’ve been having a hard time - that your experiences in the military have had a profound effect on you. But I don’t know the details.  

Frank: Should I tell you?

Dr. Bright: I’m here for you to talk about whatever you’d like. You can tell me as little or as much as you’re comfortable with. 

Frank: I don’t mean to offend, ma’am, but I’m not good at talking about this stuff.

Dr. Bright: I understand that - I don’t really like talking about myself either. Would it help if we structured it? If you thought about it as a kind of debriefing?

Frank: Okay. Sure. That sounds fine, ma’am. 

Dr. Bright: Wonderful. Why don’t we start at the beginning. Why did you choose to join the military?

Frank: My father was a Marine - fought in the Gulf War. And well, there’s a long tradition of service in the Sawyer family. My great-grandfather fought with the 369th in the First World War. 

Dr. Bright: The 369th? Otherwise known as the Harlem Hellfighters, correct?

Frank: Yes, ma’am. 

Dr. Bright: My father was a bit of a war history buff. That is quite the family heritage. 

Frank: Yes, ma’am. Guess we’ve always been pioneers. 

Dr. Bright: Yes, I understand your military experience was different from most.

Frank: Yes, ma’am.

Dr. Bright: Were you excited to join?

Frank: I was proud to fulfill the family duty but it was more my father’s dream than mine. I know Chloe’s told you about our making art together - that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to go to art school. 

Dr. Bright: You paint, correct?

Frank: Yes, ma’am. Oils mostly, though I dabble in watercolor. My grandmother taught me. 

Dr. Bright: But you didn’t go to art school?

Frank: No, I did not. Me and my dad argued a lot about it but finally he agreed to help me pay for art school if I served first. The war had been going for a few years, and my dad wanted me to go over there and do my part while I could. 

Dr. Bright: How long were you over there?

Frank: I was in the Marines for 9 years. Enlisted when I was 18, did three tours before coming back and training with a special unit. I did four more tours with them before getting out last year. 

Dr. Bright: When you say special unit, what do you mean?

Frank: It was a combat unit of nine highly skilled Marines. Seven men, two women. 

Dr. Bright: Two women? In combat positions?

Frank: Yes, ma’am. This was a- a unique unit. Not strictly on the books, you understand? 

Dr. Bright: I do. And you’re comfortable telling me about it?

Frank: It is confidential but from everything Chloe’s told me about you, you’re not overly concerned with having secrets. 

Dr. Bright: I suppose that’s fair. Tell me more about this unit. In what other ways was it unique?

Frank: It was top secret and highly experimental. On my third tour with the marines, a general started coming around and interviewing each of us. Asking us questions about our experience, evaluating our skills. We started getting regular physical exams, getting lots of blood drawn, that kind of stuff. 

Dr. Bright: They were screening you. 

Frank: Yes, ma’am. They wanted to find dedicated, skilled soldiers who were willing to try something new. 

Dr. Bright: And you volunteered?

Frank: I did. I was planning to serve my minimum four years and then get out but I liked it. I guess natural talent for military really does run in my family. I was good at it. Very good at it, actually, if you’ll excuse my lack of modesty. But it was more than that - I liked the people I worked with. It gave me- it gave me a purpose, which I guess I liked. It gave me a family. 

Dr. Bright: How do you mean?

Frank: Growing up it was just my dad, my nana, and me. They both loved me and cared for me, but that sense of family, of being part of something bigger, I didn’t find that until the Marines. 

Dr. Bright: But didn’t joining a new unit mean leaving your military family?

Frank: A part of it, sure. But it’s like leaving your home to go stay with your cousins - it’s just a degree of separation. And I knew this new unit would be doing important work. I wanted to be a part of that; to fight for my family, protect them.

Dr. Bright: What happened after you volunteered?

Frank: Well, I had to meet with a lot more people - doctors, psychologists, folks from the DOD. I was going to be a big investment - they had to make sure they weren’t throwing their money away. Make sure I was fit for it. And I’m proud to say that I was.  

Dr. Bright: Fit for what? 

Frank: The experiments they were doing. It is my understanding that you may know some of the scientists involved - the Hayes.

Dr. Bright: I’ve never met them.

Frank: But you know their boy. 

Dr. Bright: I do. 

Frank: Right, well, um, they were just two of the brains behind the trials. It was a big operation. 

Dr. Bright: And what were these trials for exactly?

Frank: They were an attempt to make small units more cohesive, to create a sort of group-think that would make soldiers more effective together. 

Dr. Bright: An attempt? They didn’t work?

Frank: Well, no, they did, ma’am, but not like they planned. 

Dr. Bright: Would you mind walking me through these trials? What exactly did they do?

Frank: Well, Chloe told me the Hayes were working with an organization called The AM - some kind of group that works with people like her. 

Dr. Bright: That’s right. 

Frank: I didn’t know that at the time and- all I knew was that the DOD had created a chemical compound that was supposed to enhance empathy and higher brain functioning. 

Dr. Bright: Enhance it how?

Frank: I’m not a scientist, ma’am. I’m not sure how it worked. But it made us more connected. 

Dr. Bright: “Us” being your unit?

Frank: Yes, ma’am. The experiment was called Project Unity. The idea was that we’d function better if we were all connected on a neurological level. They injected all of us with this compound. I guess it was made from people like Chloe and Caleb. Not from people- from their blood or their DNA or something. 

Dr. Bright: They took a piece of the atypical biology and then manufactured an artificial strain of a Class A power. 

Frank: I don’t know that I follow completely, ma’am, but that sounds about right. 

Dr. Bright: I’m sure Chloe told you that I used to work for The AM. I remember hearing about this kind of work, though I wasn’t aware it had made it to the human trial stage. 

Frank: It did. And by all accounts, it worked. 

Dr. Bright: You felt connected to your fellow soldiers?

Frank: Yes, ma’am. The experiment was done in stages. Injections and training, then more injections and more training. By the time we were redeployed, we had a kind of mind meld going on. 

Dr. Bright: Could you describe that for me?

Frank: It was very useful to have in combat situations. 

Dr. Bright: Useful how?

Frank: We barely had to use radios, we could be out of each other’s sight lines and still be able to communicate. 

Dr. Bright: Telepathically?

Frank: I wouldn’t say that, ma’am. We weren’t reading each other’s minds. Maybe it seemed like that at the time but now that I’ve met Chloe, I know that’s not what we were doing. We were just able to anticipate each other’s movements, know when someone was in a bad spot, that kind of thing. 

Dr. Bright: How did it feel to be able to do that?

Frank: Like I said, it was damn useful. 

Dr. Bright: Frank, I know I said to treat this like a debriefing, but you’re not talking to one of your superiors. You can tell me how things affected you, how you feel - I want to know. 

Frank: It’s not- it’s not easy for me to talk about, ma’am. 

Dr. Bright: I understand. But I think it’s important to try. That’s how we begin to heal.

Frank: Of course, ma’am. And I’m aware that I’ve got my fair share of problems but I’m doing much better now.

Dr. Bright: I’m very glad to hear that, Frank. You’re staying at the VA?

Frank: I was. They helped me get back on my feet. I saw a counselor there for a bit but they couldn’t fully understand what happened to me. Chloe thought you might have a better chance. 

Dr. Bright: I certainly hope to be of help. 

Frank: I’m afraid I can’t pay you, ma’am. Chloe’s offered but I’m already staying at her house and I don’t want to demand too much of her generosity. 

Dr. Bright: That’s alright, Frank. I take on pro bono patients from time to time - you don’t need to worry about it. You’ve been staying with Chloe?

Frank: At her house, yes. She’s in dorms for the semester and so Mrs. Turner offered to put me up while I look for a job. She’s letting me stay in Chloe’s room.

Dr. Bright: That’s very kind of her. 

Frank: There’s nothing untoward, ma’am. Chloe’s a very beautiful young woman but I’m not- you don’t have to worry about me. 

Dr. Bright: I wasn’t worrying. 

Frank: Because Chloe doesn’t do that sort of thing. 

Dr. Bright: Well, that. But also, she’s a very good judge of character. If she trusts you, then I do as well. 

Frank: That’s good. I didn’t mean to be defensive, but I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. Some of the folks in her studio have- well, they’ve made some off-color comments. About our relationship. I guess they don’t know Chloe all that well. Or they just don’t get it. 

Dr. Bright: Some people find asexuality a difficult concept to grasp.

Frank: I imagine that’s true, ma’am. They mean well - her art friends. But I don’t think they understand our relationship much and the lack of understanding is mutual. I may paint, but I don’t have a lot in common with college art kids. 

Dr. Bright: No, I suppose you don’t. Have you been socializing with anyone else? People at the VA - other soldiers?

Frank: I go to meetings at the Vet center sometimes, hear other peoples’ stories. It helps. 

Dr. Bright: How about your old unit? Do you still talk to them?

Frank: They’re all dead, ma’am. 

Dr. Bright: I’m- I’m very sorry to hear that, Frank. 

Frank: Thank you, ma’am. 

Dr. Bright: Would you like to tell me what happened?

Frank: I think I should get going now. Let you get back to your patients. 

Dr. Bright: Frank-

Frank: Thank you for listening to me, ma’am. It was nice to meet you. 

Dr. Bright: I- I’d be happy to listen more. I think it would be good for you to come talk to me.

Frank: I’m not special like your other patients-

Dr. Bright: But you said yourself that a standard counselor couldn’t quite understand what happened in those trials. I’ve worked with many empaths - it sounds like you have a similar disposition. Whether genetic or engineered, it makes no difference to me. 

Frank: You’d have to hear a lot of very bad stuff, ma’am. I don’t want to burden you with it. 

Dr. Bright: You shouldn’t have to carry that burden alone, Frank. I’m offering to help lighten the load. 

Frank: Alright, ma’am. Thank you. 

Dr. Bright: Would you like to sit back down, talk a little more?

Frank: I- I need a little time. Maybe some other day.

Dr. Bright: Okay.  

Dr. Bright: Let’s go talk to Sarah about setting up a regular appointment time. 

[sfx: opening door]

Dr. Bright: Sarah-

Chloe: Dr. Bright:, look who’s back. 

Sam: Hi, Joan. Oh, and you must Frank. Hi, I’m Sam. 

[music & credits]

Lauren Shippen: Episode 28 was written and directed by Lauren Shippen, and produced by Mischa Stanton. You heard the voices of Julia Morizawa as Dr. Bright, Anna Lore as Chloe, and introducing the voice of Phillip Jordan as Frank. Our music is composed and performed by Evan Cunningham. The original Bright theme was written by Lauren Shippen. To hear the full theme and for other bonus content, please visit thebrightsessions.com and follow us on tumblr and on twitter @brightpodcast. And, if you haven’t already, please rate and review us on iTunes. The Bright Sessions would like to thank Elizabeth Laird, Anna Lore, Elizabeth and Matthew Harrington, Ken Hertz, Oswaldo Rossi, and Authentic. The Bright Sessions will return on December 14th with Episode 29. Until then, thanks for listening and stay strange.