Narrator: Pandora Darling had found herself in a lot of strange situations
over the last few days, situations in which she would never have expected
to wind up. She hadn’t expected to find her mother standing over a dead
body in her living room. She hadn’t expected to awaken every morning
locked in a metal box. She hadn’t expected to shoot a woman dead and
fish about in her gullet. She hadn’t expected to have Bobby Kurtzman
over for dinner. However, far and away the most surprising to her was finding
herself riding in the passenger seat of her English teacher Mr. Nielsen’s
car. She’d imagined herself in just such a situation numerous times
since enrolling in the dreamy teacher’s class, but of course, given
her recent luck, she should have assumed it could only actually happen on
the hardest day of her life. Because of this, what should have been unbridled
teenaged excitement-cum-seduction was subsumed under a firm layer of malaise
Nielsen: Comfortable, Pandy?
Pandy: Yes, Mr. Nielsen.
Nielsen: Please, Pandy, we’re not in class. You can call me Tom.
Pandy: Heh heh… Tom.
Nielsen: I’m glad we have this chance to talk. I’ve been hoping
to share some things with you, but class was never the place. How’s
your mother doing?
Pandy: My mother? What do you…
Nielsen: You… said she was sick last time we spoke.
Pandy: Oh, yes… yes, she has been, very, very sick… Except she
won’t admit how sick she is. She just keeps carrying on like everything
is normal, you know?
Narr: The previous evening, for example, had found Hope Darling serving ravioli
to Pandora, Bobby Kurtzman, and her fellow stewardess Annette. Looking at
the others, who appeared to be casually eating dinner as if she and Bobby
had not just emerged from a large metal box, Pandora had begun to wonder if
it was in fact she who was insane.
Annette: Your mother and I were both booked on an overnight flight from New
York to LA, which just happened to be the flight Harrison Ford was taking.
Bobby: Harrison Ford? The Han Solo?
Mom: Such a handsome man. Even in person. Of course, nothing compared to
your father, potato, but had I been a single woman…
Annette: So, of course, both of us wanted to do everything we could for him,
Narr: As Bobby looked on in awe of the story, Pandora noticed her mother
move her hand over the glass of milk she’d brought him. She flicked
at the stone on her right index finger, and a fine white power dropped into
the drink. Pandora’s eyes widened. Hope met her daughter’s eyes,
smiled, and winked.
Annette: … and dropped the ice right in his-
Pandy: Jesus, Mother! What do you think you’re doing?
Mom: I’m sorry dear?
Bobby: What’s the matter, Pandy?
Pandy: Are you trying to kill him, Mother? Is that your solution to everything?
Just kill, kill, kill?
Mom: I don’t know what you’re talking about, Pandora dear.
Annette: Pandora, be respectful to your mother!
Narr: Pandy reached across the table and grabbed Bobby’s milk glass.
Bobby: Hey, that’s my milk!
Pandy: I’m very thirsty.
Mom: I can get you your own, dear.
Pandy: No, Mom, I want this one.
Bobby: But, I already drank out of that one.
Pandy: I… Don’t care. I want a drink right now.
Annette: You don’t want to anger your mother, dear. I’ve seen
Mom: Go ahead then.
Mom: Go ahead. If you’re that thirsty, dear, go ahead. Drink it.
Pandy: Are you… are you sure?
Mom: You’re the one who can’t wait for her own glass. You’ve
made such a show of being thirsty. I think you ought to take your drink.
Narr: All eyes on her, Pandora brought the glass to her lips and downed the
remaining milk. At that point, her memory of the evening became hazy. She
had a vague sense of doing things, she was fairly certain she didn’t
pass out, but she couldn’t remember anything but a cloudy haze until
she awoke in the box the next morning. When she emerged, she could smell bacon
downstairs, but even the thought of food made her nauseous. It was then that
she’d made her decision: she couldn’t take it anymore. She had
to leave, no matter the cost. After packing up her school backpack, she crept
into her mother’s room. In the third dresser drawer, way at the back,
was the money Hope had been saving to get Pandora a used car for Christmas.
She’d thought her daughter had no idea, but she’d found it some
time back. Pandora took it and stashed it in her bag.
Nielsen: Are you sure that’s all it is, Pandora? Just your mother?
Pandy: … Mostly.
Nielsen: What else is it?
Pandy: Just… everything. It all seems like too much, sometimes. I feel
like I’m back in a corner, and I’m afraid of what might happen
if I don’t get out… I just don’t know what to do.
Nielsen: You know you can always talk to me, Pandy. You can share anything
with me, and I’ll never tell. I’m very good at keeping secrets.
I’m hoping you are, too, since I could get into quite a bit of trouble
if anyone were to find out I gave you a ride.
Pandy: I think… things are changing so quickly. Nothing is the way
I thought it was, and now… I just don’t know who I am anymore.
I don’t know what the world wants from me…
Nielsen: I understand. High school can be hard, especially for young women
like yourself. Things begin to change inside you; you feel urges, impulses
you don’t know how to cope with. It can be a struggle, without a strong,
firm influence to guide you. But I think I know something that can help.
Pandy: What’s that?
Nielsen: Let me ask you this: would you say you were a good person?
Narr: It was not the first time Pandora had considered this question recently.
Not even the first time that day, or that hour. She’d questioned her
goodness when lying to her mother that morning after having just stolen from
Mom: How are you feeling, Potato, any better?
Pandy: I’m fine, mother.
Mom: I don’t know why you had make a scene like that, dear.
Pandy: Can we talk about it later, mother? I’m late for school.
Mom: All right, but just remember, sour faces never solved anything. Cheer
up! Oh, Potato! Here, this morning’s paper! I saved it for you. Read
the article on page 13. I circled it.
Pandy: What? Why?
Mom: I think you’ll understand when you read it. Just give it a look.
Pandy: I’ll see you after school, mother.
Mom: Promise me you’ll read it!
Pandy: I promise!
Narr: She’d stuffed the paper in her bag, and walked out the door,
her conscience tugging at her, wishing the last thing she ever said to her
mother wasn’t a broken promise. At school, she’d questioned her
goodness when lying to her best friend.
Tabby: Why are you so distracted today? Do you not even hear me? This is
breaking news, Pandy!
Pandy: I’m sorry… what did you say?
Tabby: I said, Sandy told me that Todd said that George seemed to indicate
he might be thinking about asking you to homecoming!
Pandy: Homecoming… Wait, where’s Bobby? I haven’t seen
him all day.
Tabby: Bobby?! Why are thinking about that losero grande when I am talking
to you about George Bastista? George Batista! Homecoming! Hello?
Pandy: Look, Tabby, I’m just- … I’m not all that concerned
with Homecoming right now.
Tabby: What? What is wrong with you, girl?
Pandy: (trying to sound like her normal self) I’m sorry, Tabby… Look,
I’m just in a bad mood. How about this: you can pump Todd for info for
me, see if you can get some inside intel on this George Batista issue, and
we’ll talk about it tonight, and formulate a stratagem. Sound good?
Tabby: Yes, sir! Agent Wentworth reporting for covert ops! Operation Panda
Hook-Up commences in three… two…
Pandy: (laughs) I… I love you, Tabby.
Tabby: Hey, now! You need to keep that type of thing to yourself until college,
ok? Now, I’ve got a job to do.
Narr: Pandora had also questioned her goodness when lying to her favorite
teacher after school. She’d been standing under the city bus stop just
across from the school when he’d pulled up in his car, rolled down his
window, and called out to her.
Nielsen: What are you doing, Pandora?
Pandy: Just waiting for a bus. I’m supposed to meet my mother at the
airport this afternoon, she’s getting back from a flight to Pheonix.
Nielsen: Need a ride?
Narr: Pandora had been unsure. It was practically a dream come true, Mr.
Nielsen giving her his much attention. On the other hand, she’d likely
never see him again.
Pandy: What the heck. You only live once.
Nielsen: Hop in.
Narr: Now, nearing the airport, as he asked her flat out if she was a good
person, Pandora found the question harder than ever. She wanted more than
anything to be doing the right thing.
Pandy: I don’t know. I… I try. Yes. Yes, I am. I think I am.
Nielsen: Well, let’s see. Have you ever told a lie?
Pandy: Heh. Yes, lots. Especially recently.
Nielsen: So what would that make you?
Pandy: What do you mean?
Nielsen: If you’re someone that lies, then that makes you…
Pandy: A liar. A big liar.
Nielsen: Have you ever taken anything that didn’t belong to you? Even
when you were young, or if it was something small?
Pandy: Yes… yes, I have.
Nielsen: So what would that make you?
Pandy: A thief.
Nielsen: Jesus once said that anyone who looks with lust has committed adultery
in his or her heart. So have you ever looked with lust.
Narr: Pandora looked over at Mr. Nielsen, and could not deny it.
Pandy: I sure have.
Nielsen: That makes you an adulterer. He also said that to hate someone is
to commit murder in your heart. So are you a murdered, too?
Pandy: I… yes, I’m definitely a murderer, too.
Nielsen: So, by your own admission, you’re a lying, thieving, adulterous
Pandy: When you put it that way, I don’t sound like a very good person.
Nielsen: So, if you were to die today, and God were to judge you based on
the ten commandments, would you be found innocent or guilty?
Pandy: Guilty. More guilty than ever.
Nielsen: So would you go to heaven, or hell?
Pandy: Well... I mean, I don’t know, I guess Hell, if I’m a murderer.
Nielsen: Doesn’t that concern you, Pandora? Because it concerns me.
Pandy: What? Um, you can let me off here; this is Mom’s gate.
Nielsen: Hang on, just a moment, Pandora. It’s important. God sent
Jesus Christ to earth to die for our sins. He shed his precious blood so that
we could give ourselves to him and his blood could wash us clean. If we don’t
accept his gift, we go to hell forever. I don’t want you to go to hell,
Pandora; I wouldn’t lie to you.
Pandy: Well, thank you for that, and thanks for the ride…
Nielsen: Will you at least think about it?
Pandy: I will, sure. Yes. Thanks!
Narr: Pandora shut the door behind her and watched her teacher drive off
away from the airport, and mentally added another entry onto her list of things
she never expected to happen. Then she closed her eyes, took a deep breath,
and headed inside the airport.
Pandy: One-way ticket to Seattle, please.
Narr: They only had first class left, sot it cost a bit more than she’d
have liked, but she needed to go. Her father’s parent lived in Seattle,
and had never liked mother. They had actually attempted to get Pandora taken
from her when her father had died. If anyone would understand her trouble
with mother, it was them. As she made her way through the airport, she felt
a weight lifting slowly off her shoulders. Every step towards her departure
gate seemed to come easier, so that she almost felt like her normal self again
by the time she caught sight of Bobby Kurtzman.
Narr: He was just walking into a men’s room, so she only saw him for
a fraction of a second, but Pandora was sure it was Bobby. She was equally
certain that as he’d stepped into the restroom, he’d winked at
her, and given a gentle nod.
Pandy: What the hell is-
Announcement: Flight 2836 to Seattle Washington is now boarding at gate 17.
Narr: Pandora shook off the odd sighting and made haste to her gate, boarding
and sitting in the large, comfortable seat, stretching out. She’d only
had room to pack a very few items in her school bag that morning, and in-flight
entertainment had not been in the forefront of her mind, so she had to settle
for A Tale of Two Cities, left from Mr. Nielsen’s class. She’d
only gotten about as far as "the worst of times", when…
Mom: (whispering) Glad you made it, potato! I knew you’d decode that
message in the paper! I couldn’t be more proud of you! Bobby should
be here any minute, then we can go over the plan.
Narr: Will Pandora never be able to escape her mother’s madness? What
new scheme of Hope Darling’s had she stumbled into? What did it have
to do with Bobby? The mystery deepens as "Like Mother" continues
next episode, with "Shock and Awe and Amazement".