Chapter 7: The Magic Box ???✨??
In a self-punishing mood, Noa goes to Little God’s to tutor him for his bar mitzvah… but when he charms her into doing a magic trick with him, things take an even darker turn.
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Speaker 2 06:02
No, no, it goes down at the end like like this. […] Why am I even here?
Speaker 8 06:09
Yeah, Noa, why are you here?
Speaker 2 06:11
I don’t know Micah, maybe to help you on your Bar Mitzvah, which is next week. So good luck with that.
Speaker 8 06:17
For the last time. It’s God. And God doesn’t need help reading the Torah.
Speaker 2 06:22
No, you definitely do.
Speaker 8 06:24
Seriously. Why are you here? Is my dad paying you? This is so him. Just hire some help because he’d rather spend an entire day hitting golf balls than a single second with me. How much was the bribe?
Speaker 2 06:39
Nothing. There’s no bribe.
Speaker 8 06:42
Then what, is your dad paying you? Noa, go dig up the dirt and what it’s like inside the home of poor murder victim Julie Nudelman. Well, here’s the scoop. We sit around being sad. Tell your dad to put that in the paper.
Speaker 2 06:56
No one’s paying me, okay? Rabbi Shapiro asked me to help. End of story.
Speaker 8 07:01
Since when do you care about me? I’m nothing but nice to you. And you’re nothing but mean back? I thought you were special. Different. But you know what? You’re just like all the other assholes at school.
Speaker 2 07:17
Your right. I’m an asshole. A big fucking stinky asshole.
Speaker 9 07:27
Who wants snacks?
Speaker 8 07:29
Finally, someone who cares about me. Ooh, chili lime chips, my favorite.
Speaker 9 07:35
And strawberries and carrots and pretzels. I wasn’t sure what our guests would like. You must be Noa. So nice to meet you.
Speaker 2 07:46
Speaker 9 07:47
Oh, sweetie. I’m so sorry. I should have introduced myself, I’m Sara. Micah’s aunt. Julie was my sister. My twin.
Speaker 2 08:00
For a second, I thought you were Mrs. Nudelman.
Speaker 9 08:03
Yeah, I know. It’s weird. People have been doing double takes ever since I got here. I stuck around after the funeral to help out with the kids.
Speaker 8 08:12
I don’t need a babysitter.
Speaker 9 08:14
Yes, Micah. You’ve made that abundantly clear. I don’t know why I carry this monitor around. Maya always tells me when the baby’s awake. Thanks for doing this, Noa. It’s so nice to see Micah have with a friend.
Speaker 8 08:34
I wouldn’t call us friends.
Speaker 9 08:38
Speaker 2 08:41
Speaker 9 08:43
Micah, you don’t have to hide it from me. It’s sweet that you have a girlfriend. Okay, baby I’m coming.
Speaker 8 08:52
What was that?
Speaker 2 08:53
I thought you would be happy. Isn’t this what you want?
Speaker 8 08:58
Yes, but why?
Speaker 2 09:01
Because I’m done. I’m done fighting you. I’m done obsessing over who I like and who may or may not like me. I’m done figuring out who my friends are. I’m done losing friends. And I’m done being an asshole. I’m just done.
Speaker 8 09:19
Noa, you’re not really an asshole. I mean, yeah, you’ve done some assholey things. But wait, are you tricking me? What about Seb?
Speaker 2 09:29
What about him?
Speaker 8 09:31
I thought he was your boyfriend.
Speaker 2 09:33
He’s not my anything.
Speaker 8 09:35
Then. We’re a couple.
Speaker 2 09:39
Speaker 8 09:40
Can I feed you a strawberry?
Speaker 2 09:42
Oh, no, thanks.
Speaker 8 09:44
A chili lime chip? What do you want to do now?
Speaker 2 09:53
Study your Torah portion?
Speaker 8 09:56
No, I mean, what’s our first couple act? Let’s have some fun. Come follow me to my basement.
Speaker 2 10:12
Just a sec, gotta use the bathroom I bet you think I’ve made a terrible mistake. Put yourself in my shoes. You could spend every day at school hiding from God, hiding from everyone because you have zero friends and it’s all your fault. Or you could have a boyfriend, a boyfriend who might be crazy. But at least he’s crazy about you.
Speaker 8 11:27
Welcome to my laboratory.
Speaker 2 11:30
That’s what you call your basement?
Speaker 8 11:32
That’s what I call the best room in my basement. I’ll take you there in a minute.
Speaker 2 11:36
Woah, your basement has rooms? My basement’s just a basement it floods all the time. I’m sure it’s full of rats. Actually. I have no idea. It’s so gross. I don’t even go down there.
Speaker 8 11:47
When you marry me, we’ll have a fancy basement like this one, We’ll have anything your heart desires. Put this on my boo.
Speaker 2 11:57
A blindfold? Why? What are you going to do?
Speaker 8 12:00
Something I fantasized about for a long time.
Speaker 2 12:03
Oh, can we just I think we should take this slow.
Speaker 8 12:07
We will. We will. Please just put this blindfold on. I’m begging you. As your boyfriend. May I tie it around my lady’s lovely face.
Speaker 2 12:18
I got it. Just don’t like do anything. Okay?
Speaker 8 12:22
You’re in good hands with me. Literally. Give me your hand so I can guide you to my lab.
Speaker 2 12:29
Speaker 8 12:31
That’s it. This way.
Speaker 2 12:39
Can I tell you something I never thought I’d say about God. holding his hand actually isn’t so bad. Especially being blindfolded. I can’t see him so he could be anyone. And it’s like, I can feel through his skin how much he likes me. Like really, really likes me. It’s how I thought things could be with Seb. Before I got dumb and wrecked everything.
Speaker 8 13:04
We have arrived. But don’t take that off.
Speaker 2 13:09
I thought I could look now.
Speaker 8 13:10
You’ll ruin the surprise. No peeking. So what’s your favorite animal?
Speaker 2 13:24
A tamarin. Those red little monkey things.
Speaker 8 13:26
No, no, it’s something else. Something more normal.
Speaker 2 13:31
Okay. A cat.
Speaker 8 13:34
How about a dog? A giraffe or a mouse?
Speaker 2 13:37
Speaker 8 13:38
Now we’re talking. And tada. I can look. Yes, that’s what the tada was for. Remove the blindfold.
Speaker 8 13:59
Okay. Oh, it’s a mouse.
Speaker 8 14:07
I haven’t mastered the giraffe yet.
Speaker 2 14:09
Thanks. I mean, I can’t make any balloon animals.
Speaker 8 14:13
This is my happy place. I’ve got my card tricks. My juggling clubs. My rubber chickens. I juggle these two, and here’s my top hat that I pulled things out of.
Speaker 2 14:35
Speaker 8 14:37
I wish it could have been a bunny. Or a dove. Or my Salamander.
Speaker 2 14:42
It’s still a good trick. Wait, those things in the corner. Are those stilts?
Speaker 8 14:48
Yep, and I’ve got a unicycle too, but it’s in the garage. I’m working on juggling the rubber chickens while riding the unicycle.
Speaker 2 14:56
But you can really walk on stilts.
Speaker 8 14:58
Speaker 2 15:03
Oh, that’s actually pretty impressive.
Speaker 8 15:07
I know. And then we have the peace dairies […] I’ll let you do the honors. Pull the tablecloth.
Speaker 2 15:21
Abracadabra, is that a coffin?
Speaker 8 15:24
A coffin? No, it’s my box. My magic box. My most prized possession. My dear lady, it doesn’t do anything. I’m the magician. It’s about what I do.
Speaker 2 15:40
So what do you do with it?
Speaker 8 15:41
I saw ladies in half.
Speaker 2 15:43
Whoa. I don’t know. It’s just a magic show thing like for professionals? No offense, you do actually seem pretty professional.
Speaker 8 15:50
None taken. I am pretty profesh. Hey, let’s do it. Do what? Let’s saw you in half.
Speaker 2 16:00
Oh, like right now?
Speaker 8 16:02
Come on. It’ll be so romantic.
Speaker 2 16:05
I mean, I have always wanted to know how they do this.
Speaker 8 16:07
And it would be my pleasure to show you. So just climbing through the top. Wait. Allow me to get my lady something to step on. Use this. It’s my levitating chair. Don’t worry. I won’t make it levitate while you’re on it. That’s right. Just ease right in.
Speaker 2 16:34
Wow, this really feels like a coffin in a cool way. I actually, sometimes I wonder what it would be like to lie in one.
Speaker 8 16:44
Trust me. So have I.
Speaker 2 16:47
Sorry, that was a dumb thing to say. With your mom.
Speaker 8 16:51
No, I’m saying. I’m saying I get it. Like, what is it like to be dead? I think about that all the time. Because if there’s no afterlife, like in Judaism, then what is there? Christians have it’s so much easier with heaven and hell, you know? So I want to know what it’s like. Not that I want to actually be dead. Okay, maybe sometimes I do. Sometimes I really, really do. But mostly I just want to try it. For like 5, 10 minutes, 12 tops.
Speaker 2 17:39
I feel like that sometimes to like this week. This week. I felt like that a lot.
Speaker 8 17:46
Ah, why don’t have to go so dark. Way to ruin the mood God.
Speaker 2 17:51
No, seriously. Thanks for saying all that. I feel like way less of a weirdo.
Speaker 8 17:56
Noa. Listen to me. Never stop being a weirdo. It’s what I love about you. I’m a weirdo. And tell me I’m not a weirdo. Feeling like a weirdo is great. Feeling like dying, is not. That’s the feeling we have to stop. And that’s what I’m here for. I know exactly how to make you feel better. To feel more alive. First, let’s get you in the right position. Yeah, just like scoot back a little. So your neck is on the cushiony thing.
Speaker 2 18:34
Oh, hang on my hairs. Okay, got it.
Speaker 8 18:42
And then straighten your legs and use your feet to push the fake feet out at the bottom of the box. Well, there’s a few different methods. The thing about this one is if we were doing it for real, we need to make sure your feet and the fake feet were wearing the same shoes. But it’s easy enough to order two pairs. Right? So all you need to do is just keep your bum. Your bottom. Your butt. What do you call it when you’re talking about your girlfriend.
Speaker 2 19:14
Butt, I guess, butt is fine.
Speaker 8 19:16
Good. Okay, so as long as you keep your butt down in that dip, the salt won’t actually hit your stomach, your abdomen, your belly. The part of you that is basically inside the table.
Speaker 2 19:30
But if I move by accident, I’m still safe right?
Speaker 8 19:33
Of course. What kind of magician Do you think I am? Just stay still for a sec while I close the box. Don’t want to hurt my girlfriend’s elegant neck. And then sorry, tickity I’ve got to lock you in.
Speaker 2 19:46
Of course so I could escape
Speaker 8 19:54
I’ll pinch myself in. I just can’t believe this. I can’t believe you’re my girlfriend. I can’t believe we’re doing this. But we are. It’s real. So let’s make the magic happen.
Speaker 2 20:04
And by making the magic happen.
Speaker 8 20:06
I mean, literal magic baby. Okay, so shut your eyes.
Speaker 2 20:12
Again with the eye shutting.
Speaker 8 20:14
It’s our first time, Noa, I want it to be perfect.
Speaker 2 20:19
Speaker 8 20:21
Don’t look all right. No cheating. Okay, okay, here we go.
Speaker 2 20:33
Oh my God, God, just do it. Just do it already. Just kiss me.
Speaker 8 20:37
What? No, I’m a gentleman. I don’t kiss on the first date. You cheated. You promised you wouldn’t cheat. I said not to open your eyes.
Speaker 2 23:12
But that sound, what was I supposed to do?
Speaker 8 23:15
You’re supposed to trust me. I’m your boyfriend.
Speaker 2 23:18
I opened my eyes and you’re holding a chainsaw over my head and you want me to trust you? I can’t believe I fell for you, you lured me down to your basement. Your basement the most cliched place to get sawed up. Wait, you’re him. You’re the chainsaw guy from school.
Speaker 8 23:36
Whatever. Everyone overreacted. Lockdown was so not necessary.
Speaker 2 23:41
I knew it. You brought a saw to school said Seb make fun of me. But I called it.
Speaker 8 23:47
Seb? I thought you instead weren’t a thing. You’re the one who’s picking me.
Speaker 2 23:53
Calm down. It’s not what you think. Let me out. And we’ll talk. Please, God.
Speaker 8 24:00
We haven’t done the trick.
Speaker 2 24:02
I don’t want to anymore.
Speaker 8 24:03
We have to, or I guess I’ll have to cut my head off. Relax. It’s a toy. You thought it was real?
Speaker 2 24:18
Speaker 8 24:23
You really thought I was gonna decapitate myself. You must truly love me then. The way you reacted with so much passion. I’m sorry for doubting you.
Speaker 2 24:35
It’s fine. But can we at least take a break from this?
Speaker 8 24:38
We’re so close. Let’s just finish. Thank you, thank you so much. Might as well keep your eyes open at this point. I was going to have you open them just as I was quote unquote, cutting you, it was going to be this whole moment.
Speaker 2 24:57
No, it was definitely a moment. Do it God.
Speaker 8 25:09
Speaker 2 25:12
Speaker 8 25:14
You’re too beautiful. I can’t cut you.
Speaker 2 25:19
It’s not real. But it looks so real. I can tell you for a fact it’s not my butt is falling asleep from lying in this pit.
Speaker 8 25:28
I don’t understand. How did he? How could he do it?
Speaker 2 25:36
What are you talking about? Do what?
Speaker 8 25:38
Killed my mom. Like, what was going through his head? What kind of a monster does that? It just doesn’t make any sense. I just wanted to make sense.
Speaker 2 25:53
I guess some things just never make sense.
Speaker 8 25:56
It has to though. It has to. I want things to go back to normal to before. I mean, before she died. Things weren’t perfect. They were bad. Really, really bad. But after, has been a literal nightmare. A nightmare I can never wake up from.
Speaker 2 26:19
Speaker 8 26:20
You don’t. Nobody does.
Speaker 2 26:23
No. I mean about the before times, and the after times, is exactly how I think about my mom. Like, before she left. I was more fun. Louder. I laughed a lot. And then after I was, I don’t know this. All these years, I’ve been waiting for her to come back. So I can like, Be myself again. The before times me.
Speaker 8 26:49
I love you so much. Even when you’re just a head sticking out of a box. Do you think your mom loved your dad?
Speaker 2 27:01
Who knows? They weren’t actually married. It’s not like I think you have to be married to be in love. But the thing I wonder sometimes is would she have stayed with him if I wasn’t born? Was it him she couldn’t deal with or was having kids?
Speaker 8 27:19
Don’t say that.
Speaker 2 27:21
It’s true, though. It was a choice. She chose to stop being a mom. She wanted to not be a mom so much that she let me go through my entire childhood without her. So who am I supposed to be now? I can’t just go back to before time’s me because that person was a child. Sorry, that was a lot. I’ve never actually said all that to anyone.
Speaker 8 27:45
But this is what it’s supposed to be like.
Speaker 2 27:47
What do you mean?
Speaker 8 27:49
With couples. They’re supposed to have deep conversations. They’re supposed to connect and understand each other better than anyone else.
Speaker 2 28:01
Is it ever really like that though?
Speaker 8 28:03
It has to be, when you make a commitment to someone, it’s your job to be there for them. Through everything.
Speaker 2 28:15
I don’t know. Maybe things would have been worse if she stayed. If she just forced herself to stay when she didn’t want to. Then maybe I’d have a mother but I’d have a terrible mother. Maybe leaving wasn’t the worst thing she did. Maybe the worst thing was holding it all in and not telling my dad she was unhappy with it but because then it was too late to fix things. Or even try.
Speaker 8 28:44
Noa, I feel like we should. Let’s make a new after times.
Speaker 2 28:52
New after times?
Speaker 8 28:53
Yeah. Fresh starts. New before and afters where it’s not about our moms anymore. It’s about us. We need a ritual. Something to mark this moment in time. Actually, what we’re doing right now is perfect. I’ll saw you in half. And once I’m done, that’s it. New afters.
Speaker 2 29:21
Okay, yeah. I like that.
Speaker 8 29:25
Here we go. You do after could be anything. Think about what you want.
Speaker 2 29:35
Okay, here’s what I want. I want my friends back and want Livi but Livi before O, I want Dani but Dani before she had a boyfriend and want Seb ack. No, I want Seb to want me back. But I can’t have any of that. So what do I want? I want to know what I want. I want to be able to say it out loud. I want to be able to say what I’m thinking. I want to be able to say it when I first think it. And right now, I’m thinking I can’t be with God. He’s cooler than I thought. But he’s still intense and honestly kind of creepy. I have to end it with him. And I will just as soon as, God, yeah, I have to tell you something about my new after.
Speaker 8 30:38
Not yet. I still need to split you in two, the saw was just the first step. Now I’ve got to put the slicer things in, the metal plates. One here, and one here. Right down the middle. And pull you apart.
Speaker 2 30:56
Is it done? Did you do it?
Speaker 8 30:59
Yes. Yes. I’m so sorry, Noa. I’m a monster. I don’t know how I could. How can I do this to you? Split you in half. You look torn apart.
Speaker 2 31:17
It’s an illusion. I kind of feel torn apart.
Speaker 8 31:23
I’ll put you back together though. It’s gonna feel so good to do that. To make you whole.
Speaker 2 31:28
I’m already whole.
Speaker 8 31:32
Now you are. Okay, let’s take out the slicer things. Wallah. Good as new. No better than new. Because nothing is holding you back. I can’t wait to hear what you wish for. Let’s say it at the same time. Okay? One, two, three. I wish we’d stay together forever.
Speaker 8 32:01
What? You can’t break up with me.
Speaker 2 32:36
I wish we’d break up.
Speaker 2 33:24
Why not? It’s my after.
Speaker 8 33:26
But it’s my after too. And you already said You’re my girlfriend. You can’t just take it back the same day. This can’t be happening. This is exactly. This is what my mom did. I mean, she betrayed my dad. She was cheating.
Speaker 2 33:44
I’m not cheating on you. I just don’t want to be with you. Will you unlock this box already?
Speaker 8 33:50
Yes, if you promise to stay with me? You want to hear insane. I’ll tell you insane.
Speaker 2 33:57
Micah, stop. You’re scaring me.
Speaker 8 33:59
Everyone thinks they’re so smart. They think they’re detectives. Oh, it was Scotty Randall coming for a bench because my mom was gonna cancel him. Well, guess what? Nobody knows shit. They have no idea what goes on in this house. Or what used to go on. My parents thought I didn’t know either. But I could hear them. Sometimes. I thought about going in the room and stopping him. But then I also thought he has a right to be mad. She flirted a lot.
Speaker 2 34:29
What are you saying Micah? God, what are you saying?
Speaker 8 34:34
I’m saying flirting is what got her in trouble. It’s what got her in that Scotty Randolph mess to begin with. And our sex life is all over the news.
Speaker 2 34:45
Didn’t that whole thing? Wasn’t that before your dad.
Speaker 8 34:49
But you know, it wasn’t before my dad when she started texting some ex-boyfriend of hers. Some dude from high school, a gas station attendant of all things, what was wrong with her? Why did she have to do that? And why did my dad have to ask me to go into her phone and find the texts? Why did he? Why did he have to?
Speaker 2 35:15
Have to what? No, you don’t know it was him. You can’t know that for sure.
Speaker 8 35:25
I’m God. I know everything.
Speaker 2 35:31
Okay. Okay. Where’s your dad? Like right now? Where is he?
Speaker 8 35:36
I told you before playing golf, or that’s what he tells me.
Speaker 2 35:42
Okay, so let me out.
Speaker 8 35:43
Noa, you can’t tell anyone.
Speaker 2 35:47
But we have to. I have to tell my dad.
Speaker 8 35:49
You especially can’t tell your dad. You cannot do that. What? So the police find out and the whole town finds out. You know what will happen then? They’ll take my dad away. And then I won’t have a mom or a dad. My siblings won’t have a mom or a dad. There’ll be orphans. We’ll be orphans. Is that what you want?
Speaker 2 36:13
All right. I won’t tell.
Speaker 8 36:15
Speaker 2 36:16
I promise but you have to let me out now. Now, God.
Speaker 8 36:21
Then promise you’re not leaving me. Promise you’ll never leave.
Speaker 2 36:28
Speaker 8 36:32
There you are. You’re free my love. Why are you still lying there?
Speaker 2 36:40
It doesn’t feel real.
Speaker 8 36:42
I know. It feels like a dream. But it’s real. Come on out. And let’s begin our new after together.
Speaker 8 37:11
HERE LIES ME is a Lemonada Media original in collaboration with the longest shortest time. Executive producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Jessica Cordova Kramer and me, Hillary Frank. I also wrote and directed the show. Hannah Boomershine is our producer. Peter Clowney is our story editor. Ivan Kuraev is our audio engineer. Music by Casey Holford with drums by Sasha. Our artwork which changes every week is by Lindsay Stripling. Thank you to the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston, Texas where we found our team cast and to the spruced in and space on writer farm, where I developed the pilot for this project. Special thanks to Val Bodurtha Eartha, Xorje Olivares, Jonathan, and Michael Raphael. The voices you heard today are Ollie Grishaber, Grant Eason, Rafael Pina, Rebecca Lembcke, Anna Marie Tobin, Emma Ogier, Vineeth Nadella, Julian Cotom, Anna Grace Hethcox, Savannah Coyne, Luca Jarosz, Chloe Vuong, Sasha Menjivar, Matt Hune, Judith Miller, Stephanie Wittels Wachs, with special guest W. Kamau Bell and Rob Huebel. For fun facts about our cast plus resources on harassment and bullying.