Daisy presents evidence to Amory’s Comm Ev committee
Last Lines: She wonders if there is something else, a vital fact she is missing. She knows what to do, something that always makes her feel better.
Daisy digs for change as she approaches the vending machine. Frosted Flakes are one dollar, but she finds two buried deep in her back pocket. She straightens the bills on the corner of the metal, running them back and forth across the fold. She keeps one box in her hand and puts the extra one in her pocket.
Daisy opens the cereal and tilts her head back to let the sugary flakes spill into her mouth. As she hears the loud crunch, she feels more like herself. Throwing the empty box in the trash can, she marches out of the building and towards the blue dorm where Riley lives now.
Daisy climbs the staircase to the top floor of the housing unit, and must fight her disgust once she reaches her destination. The stench is the first thing that hits her, invading her nostrils in waves of unapologetic assault. She covers her nose in a futile attempt of relief as she looks around and sees broken cots lining the walls under cracked windows, which invite winter gusts into the room. But worse than the physical space are the RPFers themselves—people who have been stripped of all hygiene, decency, shame, all connection to the cause for which they have sacrificed their lives. Daisy justifies the scene by remembering that these people deserve these conditions, and that they are lucky to be given another chance with the group. They are here because they have committed great crimes, and The Church is giving them an opportunity to repent for their sins and prove their loyalty once again.
Amongst the filthy black jumpsuits, Daisy finds Riley shining a man’s boots. She cuts in, indicating that Riley is needed immediately for important business. She notes to bring shampoo next time so that Riley can clean the filthy hair she has not washed during the three weeks she has been in the RPF.
Once they are alone, Daisy extends the box of Frosted Flakes to Riley, offering, “Here, I brought you this.”
Riley’s cheeks are sunken in and her eyes are ringed with black circles. She looks greedily at the nourishment. “Thanks,” she says, about to grab it. But she pulls her hand back and studies Daisy. She continues, “What’s this for?” she knows to be suspicious, even of old friends.
Daisy smiles, trying to ease Riley’s fears. “Oh nothing,” she says. “I just heard you were in the RPF and I thought you could use something to eat. That’s all.”
Riley seems satisfied with her response and takes the cereal. She rips open the box and ravenously devours the food. She then looks up at Daisy, ashamed of her behavior, and says, “Sorry … I’ve just been so hungry.”
Daisy rubs Riley’s arm and asks, “How have you been, anyway?”
Riley jumps at the touch, her first human contact in three weeks. She has no idea how to answer that question and different possible responses race through her head—exhausted, alone, lucky, conquered, starving, hopeful. Even she does not know which one is true anymore, too vanquished to think straight. She looks at Daisy, searching for the correct words.
Daisy sees her friend’s defeat. She wraps her arms around her and reassures her, “It’s okay Riles. I’m here.” The two embrace for a long minute before Daisy grows uncomfortable at the closeness and steps back.
Riley takes five deep breaths, regaining what little composure she has left. She tells Daisy, “I had the procedure. I’m not pregnant anymore.” She does not let herself feel sadness for her loss. Now, it is just a fact. Nothing sentimental. Nothing for her reactive mind to agonize over.
“Well that’s good,” Daisy says hopefully, smiling at the good news. “Now you can rejoin the group and get your life back.” She needs Riley as an ally, so she is glad that her friend is making efforts to atone for her sins.
“That’s what I’m trying to do. I’ll do anything, anything at all.” The desperation on Riley’s face is undeniable.
Daisy feels a stab of pity for her friend. She knows that this is Riley’s first time in the RPF, which is unusual for someone who has been in the Sea Org as long as she has. Daisy says, “You know, I could try and make it easier for you.” She pulls a napkin from her pocket, moistens it with her saliva, and wipes some of the grease and dirt from Riley’s face.
Riley’s skin is eager for the attention, and her eyes grow large with anticipation. She asks, “How could you do that?”
Daisy gives her a knowing look. She lifts her head high and says, “It more about what you can do than what I can do, really.”
Riley is defeated and powerless. Everything has been stripped from her. She has no idea how she could possibly help Daisy. She asks, meekly, “Me? What can I do?”
Daisy’s face turns serious and she gives Riley a razor-sharp look. She says, “You need to convince Amory to leave.”
“Amory?” Riley asks, shocked by the mention of her sister’s name.
Daisy tenderly brushes Riley’s hair out of her face with her fingertips. “I know you haven’t seen her much lately, so you don’t know what’s happened. Amory has become a danger to the group.” She continues stroking Riley’s hair. “She’s a threat, Riles. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true.”
“But Amory? A threat?” Riley steps back from Daisy, searching her face for some indication that this is a bad joke, a falsehood that could never be true. “What has she done?”
Daisy steps away from Riley and looks out of the window as if searching for a different reality. She continues, “She said some things in her sec-check that were suspicious. But her evil intentions really came out when we began her Int Rundown. She kept talking about how she was forced into The Church and is kept here against her will. She wants out.”
Riley shakes her head, refusing to accept Daisy’s words. She asks, “Evil intentions? Amory? How can that be? The Church is her life … I don’t understand … Amory?”
“I wish I were making this up Riles, but it’s true. You can read the transcriptions for yourself if you don’t believe me.” Daisy rubs Riley’s arm again. She tries to give Riley a hug, but Riley steps away.
“No … of course I believe you. It just seems so … so not her.”
Daisy knows she must tread carefully, that Riley and Amory are close. That no matter how committed to The Church she is or how much she believes that the group is more important than her family, it is still hard to intentionally disconnect from her sister. But Daisy also knows that Riley is at her mercy.
“It’s just,” Riley continues, “She’s all the family I have.”
Daisy gives her a sharp look, and responds, “You know that’s not true. And even if it is, what do you need a family for?” She has a hard time containing her growing anger. She expected more from Riley. “You have the group. That’s the most important thing.”
Riley hangs her head in shame. She knows Daisy is correct. She says, submissively, “You’re right.”
“I’ll give you some time to think it over,” Daisy says. “I know you’ll make the right decision.” Daisy leaves Riley alone to consider her options.
As Daisy descends the stairs back down to the street, she quells her growing frustration with the Amory situation. There are more unknown variables than she is comfortable with, but she tries to have confidence in the fact that Riley and Adam will help further the cause of The Church.
Scenes from the Next:
Amory’s Int Rundown continues.