World to Come, The (2021)

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World to Come, The (2021)

Post by bunniefuu »

[ominous music playing]

[Abigail] Tuesday, January 1st, 1856.

Fair and very cold.

This morning, ice in our bedroom

for the first time all winter.

- [man yelling indistinctly]

- [sheep bleating softly]

The water froze on the potatoes

as soon as they were washed.

With little pride and less hope,

we begin the new year.

[humming softly]

On the porch after sunup,

I could hear the low chirping

of sparrows in the hedgerows

that are now buried in the snow.

[chickens squawking softly]

Dyer has maintained that

with good health and a level head,

there is always an excellent chance

for a farmer willing to work.

[footsteps approaching]

He feels he can never fully

rid himself of his burdens.

And I'm certain that because

his mind is in such a bad state,

it affects his whole system.

He told me this morning that contentment

was like a friend he never gets to see.

- You're late with the milking.

- She wasn't suffering.

And you?


Since our acquisition of this farm,

my husband has kept a ledger

to help him see the year whole.

This way, he knows what each crop

and field pays from year to year.

And Dyer has asked me

to keep a list in a diary

of matters that might otherwise

go overlooked.

From tools lent out to bills outstanding.

That I have done.

But there would be no record

in these dull and simple pages

of the most passionate circumstances

of our seasons past.

No record of our emotions or fears,

our greatest joys

or most piercing sorrows.

[emotional music playing]

With our child,

it was as if I'd found my bearings.

But I too rarely told her

that she was our treasure.

Would you like to try?

Like this, Papa?

That's it.


She often seemed separate from us,

as if she was working

at just fitting in where she could.

"They saw his brothers and sister.

And it was the mouse's family."

[Abigail] There is something so affecting

about mute and motionless

grief and illness in a child so young.

[girl coughing]

She put her arms around me

and said nothing else.

But it felt like we were speaking.

- [humming softly]

- [breathing shallowly]

[Abigail crying quietly]

[melancholy music playing]

[Abigail] I have become my grief.

I have become my grief.

[church bell tolling]

[Abigail] "Welcome, sweet day of rest,"

says the hymn.

And Sunday is most welcome

for its few hours of quiet ease.

As for me,

I no longer attend.

After the calamity of Nellie's loss,

what calm I enjoy does not derive

from the notion of a better world to come.

[Finney] Whoa, whoa, whoa.

[Abigail] I want to purchase an atlas.

[Finney] Jacob, may I offer you a ride?

- [Jacob] It wouldn't be a bother?

- [Finney] No, no, no bother.


[pensive music playing]

Who is that?

[Dyer] His name is Finney.

His wife Tallie.

Met them at the feed store.

They seem to keep to themselves.

They're renting the Zebrun farm.

[Abigail] Monday, February 4th.

Why is ink like fire?

Because it is a good servant

and a hard master.

Did you say something?

I want to purchase an atlas.

I suppose there are

more frivolous purchases one could make.

I've saved 90 cents of my own.

I can't imagine a better way to spend it.

Could buy your husband a gift.

What better gift could I give him

than a wife who is no longer a dullard?

My self-education seems the only way

to keep my unhappiness

from overwhelming me.

[pensive music playing]

[pig squealing]

Easy, girl, easy.

Good afternoon.

I've been using a broom on my porch.

The snow is so dry.

I'm Tallie.


- I hope I'm not intruding.

- No.

I needed to get away for the day.

Our farm is a slaughterhouse right now.

My husband is k*lling his hogs.

Would you like to come in?

Yes, I'd love that.

Or we could just stay out

on the porch, shivering.

I know it's the dullest of all things

to have an ignorant neighbor come by

and spoil a Sunday afternoon.

Oh, no, you're most welcome here.

But I know the feeling.

Sometimes I imagine

during Widow Weldon's visits

that I've been plunged up to my eyes

in a vat of the prosaic.

Widow Weldon.

She got going on a county levy once...

[Abigail] She saw I had noticed her hair

and admitted she had been

vain about it as a girl.

She said that back then,

she'd worn it longer

and plaited in a bun

at the back of her head.

In the winter sun through the window,

her skin had an under-flush

of rose and violet

which so disconcerted me

that I had to look away.

As always,

when it came to speaking and attempting

to engage another's affections,

circumstances doomed me

to striving and anxiety.

From my earliest youth,

I was like a pot-bound root,

all curled in upon itself.

I hope I'm not keeping you from something.


I'm glad you've come.

Finney saw your husband at the cooperage.

He mentioned his new method

for farrowing his piglets.

With some asperity?

My husband mentions everything

with some asperity.

I told him that once,

and he observed in response

that it seemed to be quite a favor

to get a kind word from me.

And I told him

that if he was married to himself,

he'd soon find out what a favor it was.

My mother always said that having children

would resolve that dilemma.

My mother made the same claim.

And yet...

here we are...

both childless.

My daughter Nellie

would have been 5 today.

Oh, God.

How did she pass?

Diphtheria. Last September.

God, I'm so sorry.

[door opens]

- Hello.

- Oh.

Good afternoon.

I'm Dyer.


Well, it's late, isn't it?

I should be getting on.

- Don't go on my account.

- [Tallie] Oh, no.

- [Dyer] That's a nice wrap you have.

- Thank you.

I never receive compliments

for my clothes.

[Dyer coughs]

I'm so glad you've come.

Meeting you has made my day.

It has?

Well, how pleasant and uncommon it is

to make someone's day.

[Abigail] Thursday, February 14th.

Dyer's third night with a fever.

[Dyer coughing]

Drink this.


I plan on getting sick more often.

My wife smiles at me.

[Dyer coughing]

Promise me you're not gonna die.

That would be

the opposite of my intention.

[Abigail] I've restored him somewhat with

an enema of molasses, warm water and lard.

Also a drop of turpentine

next to his nose.

I spent the day reconsidering

my conversation with Tallie.

- We compared childhood beds,

- [Dyer coughing]

mine in which the straw was

always breaking up and thinning out,

and hers, which was as hard,

she claimed, as the pharaoh's heart.

I should be taking care of you.

I agree.

[pensive music playing]

[Abigail] Her manner is sweet,

and calm and gracious.

And yet her spirit seemed to quicken

at the prospect

of further conversation with me.

I find that everything I wish to tell her

loses its eloquence in her presence.

So how did you come to meet Dyer?

He was the oldest son of a neighbor.

He helped out on my father's farm.

And was he instantly smitten by you?

[Abigail scoffs]

He was, wasn't he?

He was instantly smitten by you.

He admired what he viewed

as my practical good sense.

You don't countenance words

like "smitten," do you?

I suspect I use all the same words you do.

I suspect you don't.

In speech, yes, because you're shy.

But I bet you're more accomplished

in your writing.

Thank you.

Your good sense,

that's all your husband was smitten with?

And my efficient habits.

That's all?

My handy ways.

Dyer likes mechanical things.

I have no doubt he would've been happier

had he been allowed to pursue

the natural scientific bent of his mind.

Circumstances forced him into farming.

And despite all of that,

his heart compelled him to you?

Well, you would

have to ask him about that.

And what would you say if I asked you?

I suppose that as a suitor, he was

not generous, but he was just.

And that he was affectionate,

if not constant.

I wasn't sure of his suitability.

But my family felt that more improving

might be in the offing.

After all, it is a long lane

that has no turning.

You both have much to be thankful for.

We do.

It's still too soon.


Tuesday, February 19th.

My reluctance seems

to have become his shame.

His nighttime pleasures,

which were never numerous,

have curtailed even more.

And I have so far refused

to engage his persistence

on the subject of another child.

[clearing throat]

[Finney] Evening.

[Tallie] This is my husband, Finney.

You already know Dyer?

Our paths have crossed.

- This is the Abigail I've been mentioning.

- Evening.

My wife talks about you

as if you're all about the house.

- Everything reminds her of you.

- Well, it's all I can do

but sit cross-legged and morose

whenever she's away.


- Come in.

- Thank you.

[Dyer] It's rained so heavy

that it broke down our mill.

Did you miss me?


You look different.


Finney seems agreeable.

[Tallie] Mm-hm.

Yes, he is when he chooses to be.

[Finney & Dyer speaking indistinctly]


I guess I'm supposed to offer a toast.

But when it comes to the social graces,

I'm about as smooth as coming down

a rocky hill in the dark.

What my husband means is

he's so happy to finally get together

and to see Dyer again.

[Finney] Mm.


Part of what I value about my wife

is how she's taught me to associate

with my fellow beings.

[Tallie chuckles]

Finney, that's a handsome necktie

you've chosen.

Thank you. But with my neck,

my head sticks out like a chicken

in a poultry wagon.

- Your tart was wonderful.

- Did you like it?

I'm so glad.

I was worried I wouldn't have enough eggs

because we had an accident.

- Oh.

- [Finney] Mm.

My hired hand pulled down a box of eggs

and broke two dozen.

And I announced

that he was unlucky to eggs

and no longer allowed to approach them.

[Abigail] "Unlucky to eggs." I like that.

I told him that his shirt had so many

holes, he can make a necklace of it.

Well, we often wish

we could afford a hired hand.

Mm. We've suffered

from the carelessness of hired hands.

Mr. Holt's hired hand is said

to have swum his horse

over the canal despite the cold.



[Dyer] Winter's been so hard.

Sometimes Mrs. Weldon's son

has had to deliver the mail on skis.

Now our letters can get lost

at breakneck speed.

Did you write letters to Tallie

when you were courting?

[Finney] I did.

And did Tallie keep them?

Only Tallie knows for sure.

- [Dyer yelling indistinctly]

- [sheep bleating softly]

[Abigail] Monday, February 25th.

Finney and Tallie's bond confounds me.

At times, when their eyes meet,

they seem yoked

in opposition to one another.

While at other times,

there seems a shared regard.

There is something going on

between us that I cannot unravel.

Hold this here.


Thank you.

Hello, Dyer.

Well, hello.

You off?

Yes, to town.

Have a good day.

She'll be pleased to see you.

[knocking on door]

Happy birthday.

- I brought you some things.

- What?


- I hoped you'd like them.

- I do.

An atlas...

of the United States of America.

And a little pot of applesauce

with an egg on top.

- My feet are freezing.

- Let me warm them?


How's Finney?

He's Finney.

Uh, it tickles.

My husband records trespassers

in his journals.

And this morning, when I asked him

what he intends to do about them,

his response was so unpleasant

that I resolved to visit you.

So that there would be something in my day

other than his meanness.

Dyer thinks

he has many estimable qualities.

He does, and he also uses a ledger

to keep accounting

of whom I visit and how long I stay.


I have no idea.

As he's gotten more like this,

I've given up trying to figure out

all the peculiarities

of his... odd little world.

I suppose he's especially

unhappy with me since...

I'm yet to give him a child.

What does it feel like?

Like nothing at first.

But then when she began to stir,

it's like butterflies

flapping their wings.

Later, like a rabbit

as she kicked her legs at night.

It frightens me.

The thought of having none of that.

And of giving birth.

Most of us feel that way.


when the time comes,

I will be there to guide you through it.

Dyer must want another child.

I understand.

Birthday gifts.

A box of raisins...

that needle case you've been needing

and a tin of sardines.

You spoil me.


You got gifts from your new friend.

She left hours ago.

I just saw her leave.

[wind howling]

[Abigail] The great storm began

with a faint groaning in the northeast.

It was like the noise of a locomotive.

[dramatic music playing]

[Dyer shouting]


[Tallie] Halt, mare, halt!


Stay there!

[man] Come closer, girl.

It's warmer over here.

[man] Mm.

[matchbook rustling]

[match striking]

Oh, I'm sorry. I'll be going.

[man] You should wait it out.

[dramatic music playing]


Come on, mare.





[Dyer speaking indistinctly]

[Abigail] How long would it be

before I received word of Tallie?

How long could I wait?

How long will the feed in the barn last?

Each cow eats 26 pounds

of forage every day.

You should know that.

They'll start to skinny down

after three days.

Heard the newspaper predicts

the storm will let up by then.

But that's probably based on

an expert's consultation of a goose bone.

In a real crisis of nature,

we're all at another's mercy.


My mother liked to say, "We tumbled

from one mortification to another."

When I was 7, an earthquake

knocked down our house and barn.

Did I tell you?


- An earthquake?

- Yes.

I remember something woke me

before dawn, I don't know what.

My father was calling out.

But I couldn't tear myself

away from the window.

I saw birds fluttering in the air,

afraid to set down.

And the river was roiling,

and I couldn't move.

And then...

finally, I jumped down

through our collapsed stairwell...

as all my brothers had done before me.

And we huddled together

in the dark on the porch.

Later, my mother said that the dread

never fully went away after that.

She said, "What was safe

if the solid earth could do that?"

My mother.

[both breathing heavily]

Tallie! You're frozen.

Tallie, stay awake. Stay awake.

Open your eyes. Open your eyes.

Keep your eyes open.

Keep your eyes open.

Look at me. Look.

I would die without you.

Then you're safe...

because I am here.

[Abigail] Monday, March 17th.

Half the chickens are lost.

I dug ice and snow

from their dead, open mouths

in an attempt to revive them.


for better traction.

[Abigail] The Widow Weldon's son,

on his rounds, reported

that Tallie had gotten home safely,

with, he thought, only a little frostbite.

We haven't seen your friend

down the lane for a while.

Mm. Finney took her to Oneonta.

And so everything is tedious and lonesome?

[Abigail] Thursday, April 10th.

[pensive music playing]

Biscuits and dried mackerel for breakfast.

Dyer has augmented

the padding in the cattle pens

with his hoardings

of maple leaves and old straw.

It always seems

that Tallie will never appear.

But I remind myself

that time and the needle

wear through the longest morning.

And I have noted

that when she does arrive,

my heart is like a leaf borne

over a rock by rapidly moving water.

[dog barking]

Hello. Oh!


Stay. Sit, sit.

[Abigail] Saturday, April 12th.

I spent the last two days...

[Abigail] Very damp, cloudy and cool.


Perhaps the forest is somewhere on fire.

Your nose is being gracious.

[Abigail] Monday, April 14th.

A terribly bad spring so far,

but the clover has come up through it

and is all right.

And how's Finney?

The soul of patience.

He's mentioning again

the idea of migrating west.

You're planning on moving west?


I had an uncle who moved to Ohio

and came to a desperate end.

Which is what one might expect from Ohio.


[Abigail] Mm.


[Abigail] Thursday, April 17th.

Rain in torrents nearly all night.

The lane is flooded

and the ditches brim full.

This morning, only a slight shower.

Tallie came later

than her usual time today.

She offered no explanation.

I'm sorry that your childhood

was anything less than joyous.

Joyous it was not.

But I made my own happinesses.

My husband says,

"God puts heavy stones in your path.

It's up to us to step over them."

Stones are what the fortunate receive.

My mother's mother was born in 1780

right here in Schoharie County.

I often wonder at the courage

and resourcefulness of those women.

Imagine faring forth into a wilderness,

hoping to build the foundations of a home.

Maybe they had a certain high hopefulness

that we don't have.

[horse whinnies]

When can you come?


- [Dyer] Hello, Tallie.

- Good day.

Your afternoon gladsome?

Yes, it was, very.

- Goodbye.

- Bye.


I felt, looking at her expression,

as if she were in full sail

on a flood tide

while I bobbed along down backwards.

And yet,

I never saw on her countenance

the indifference of the fortunate

towards the less fortunate.

- [Tallie] Good day.

- Good day.

Are you sick too?

Not at all.

I was hoping to compare colds.

I'll make you tea and honey.


Every morning, I wake up and I think

that I never want to be far from you.

And under your influence,

since you're so good with words,

I've composed a poem.

It's entitled:

"Oh, Sick and Miserable Heart, Be Still."

When I was a little girl,

I thought I could cultivate my intellect

and do something for the world.

But my life has surprised me

by being far more ordinary.

You're talking about that moment

that I have dreamed about,

when we're carried in triumph

for having done something wonderful

or received at home

with tears and shouts of joy.

Do you know what I wonder?

Is it possible that such a moment

hasn't yet come for either of us?

I think it has.

Or that it could.

You do?

So, what do you think?

What do you think about us?

- I don't know how to put it into words.

- Well, try.

- I have tried.

- Well, try again. What do you imagine?

I imagine that I love how our

encircling feelings leave nothing out...

for us to want or seek.

I've presumed too much.

[whispering] It's been my experience

that it's not always those who show

the least who actually feel... the least.

[dog scratches on deck]

[in normal voice]

It's my dog's toenails on the wood.

Why didn't you do

what you attempted to do?

[pensive music playing]

I worry you'll catch my cold.

You smell like a biscuit.

I have to go home.

[Abigail] Astonishment and joy.

Astonishment and joy.

Astonishment and joy.

You haven't accomplished

any of your responsibilities.


- Do you need assistance?

- No, I don't think so.

So it's a cold plate for supper tonight?

I'll milk the cows.

[pensive music playing]

[Abigail] Friday, May 30th.

The sunshine streaming

through the branches

makes a tremendous farrago

of light and shade.

We hold our friendship between us

and study it...

as if it were the incomplete map

of our escape.

When the day is done,

my mind turns to her

and I think, with a special heat:

"Why are we to be separated?"

[footsteps approaching]

Your smile stopped.

Is it meant for someone else?

Sorry, my mind was elsewhere.

We need calico, and buttons

and shoe thread.

Am I troubling you,

sitting here with you like this?

Not at all.

I may be late coming to it,

but I've learned consideration of others.

I've learned the need

for human sympathy...

by the unfulfilled want of it.

I feel I've provided you with sympathy.

I suppose that's so.

[knock on door]

Her smile returns.

[Tallie] Good day.


I believe that intimacy

increases goodwill.

And if that's the case,

then every minute we spend together

will make us more cheerful workers.

Won't our farms benefit from that?

Won't our husbands?

All our burdens will be lightened.

[softly humming]

[Abigail] When she left,

I was like a skiff at sea

with neither hand nor helm to guide it.

They're cleaning out the drain

under the street along the fork.

And several people are down with fever.

[Finney] Holt came by to hang the bacon.

He still hasn't recovered

from being beaten by two strangers.

He had to be hauled

to his home in his cart.

He said the men who did it

were gonna k*ll him,

but then realized

they were mistaken as to who he was.

Lately, it seems like all you talk about

are highwaymen and housebreakers.

On the contrary.

I often defer to your sensitivities.

I haven't even told you about

all the reports in the county

of men who have poisoned

and k*lled their wives

because I haven't found it

a fitting subject for supper.

[Abigail] "k*lled their wives."

He used those words?

[Tallie] Mm-hm. Those words.

Have you had many disagreements?

Yes, about my wifely duties.

I told him that I was opposed to it,

that I was not willing.

And he accepted that?

Well, he hasn't touched me since, so...

[branch cracks]

But I made myself feel better

by composing a poem.

Can I read you the opening stanza?

You can read me the entire poem.

No, I'll start with the opening stanza.

I love flowering gardens

I love creeping plants

I love walking in the air

But I fear swarming ants

I don't think I can support the rhyme.

[both laughing]

You see why I didn't read the whole thing?

I'm sorry.

I've always been contrary and maladroit.

Earlier, I felt that...

whenever I would draw close to you,

you would retreat,

and that if I kept still, you would

return, but you'd stay at a distance,

like those sparrows

that stay in a farmyard

and won't come into the house.

- That's not how I feel.

- How do you feel, then?

When I was in school,

the teacher had me read Cordelia

to an older boy's King Lear.

Near the end of the play,

the king and his daughter are imprisoned,

but he views it in a positive way.

"Come, let's away to prison," he says.

"We two alone shall sing

like birds in a cage."


In a positive way?

Well, it may be that one

has to read the entire play.

Well, it may be only in plays where people

are imprisoned in a positive way.

You don't think there's a cage

that could work to our benefit?

[emotional music playing]

I just...

I only know that...

[sighs] I've never liked cages.

[door opens]

I hope you had a good afternoon

in Shangri-la or Timbuktu,

wherever it is you've been.

It's been a busy afternoon, yes.

I would think.

Five hours you've been gone.

I went to the drapers.

I couldn't find anything I liked.

I stopped by the tinker

for a sack of coffee,

but he's now asking 60 cents.

I only had 50.

And I thought I would buy you

a treat of some kind,

but Mr. Arnolds reminded me

that I still owed for my last transaction.

So I was forced to close up my purse.


Tell me everything about your day.

Don't hold anything back.

You're not interested in

how your wife spends her time?

I don't feel I have a wife.

I feel I have a selfish whore who...

Who'd rather wander off

to another man's house

than contribute any labor.

Well, Dyer was off in the fields,

and their house

is on the way back home, so...

So it's just Abigail and you tittering

and gossiping away the hours?

Enjoying each other's company.

I have certain expectations

and you have certain duties.

We have talked all night and day

about your expectations.

I will not stay with a woman

if it continually requires contention.

Well, then you shouldn't stay with me,

should you?

Don't ask for more than you can handle.

[Abigail] Sunday, June 8th.

All afternoon, a hawk has been using

a single cloud above us

as its own parasol.


To ward off others of its kind.

[Abigail] Our whole house now seems

both angry and repentant.

God help us.

[Abigail moans softly]

When three days went by

without any word from her,

I stole over to her house to look on her

from what I imagined to be

a vantage point of perfect safety.

[pensive music playing]

By turning the lens piece,

I could draw her face nearer

and hold it there until she turned away.

Her image provoked a sensation in me

like the v*olence

that sends a floating branch far out

over a waterfall's precipice

before it plummets.

[Finney & Tallie arguing and dog barking]

[Finney] For the wife does not have

the authority over her own body,

but the husband does.

Do not deprive one another,

so that Satan may not tempt you

because of your lack of self-control.

Ephesians 5:33.

Submit to your own husbands,

as to the Lord...

[Abigail] Monday, June 9th.

[thunder crashing]

[Abigail] Merciful Father...

turn the channel of events.

Wednesday, June 11th.

Dyer has been silent all day,

and I was happy to be left to my solitude.



We haven't seen you for days.

Have you been ill?

- Nothing serious, I hope.

- [Finley] Whoa.

She's been under the weather.

- [Dyer] Good afternoon.

- [Tallie] Good afternoon.

We want to invite you to dinner again,

this Saturday next.

But it's our turn.

We should be feasting you.

In the meantime, please be our guests.

[Dyer] We'd love to.


[Dyer] Six it is.

[pensive music playing]

[Abigail] My mother once told me,

in a fury, when I was a little girl,

that my father asked nothing of her

except that she work in the garden,

harvest the produce, preserve the fruit,

tend the poultry, milk the cows,

manage the household duties

and help out in the fields when needed.

She said she appeared in his ledger

only when she purchased a dress.

Am I anywhere in there?

I'm recording spring expenses.

[Abigail] And how have things changed?

Daughters are married off so young

that everywhere you look,

a slender and unwilling girl is being

forced to stem a sea of tribulations

before she is even full-grown in height.

That's its purpose!


Come on. Come on.

[Abigail] Morning.

Morning, Jim.

Morning, ma'am.

I've got a new book for you.

You know, I'd actually like to see

that blue dress you have there.

All right, lady.

It's two and a half.

I'll take it.

[baby crying]


My change?

Thank you.

The Mannings' eldest daughter tipped over

an oil lamp and it set the house ablaze.

- [woman] Fire!

- [Abigail] Ho, ho.

[man] Fire!

[Abigail] Before she was driven

from the house by the flames,

she heard calls from her sister

who was trapped in the upper loft.

[man] Come on!

[dramatic music playing]

[all clamoring]

[woman wailing] No!

[Abigail] Just another minute.

Just another...

[woman] Get her out!

Get her out!

Get her out of there!

Get her out!

Get her out!


Your wife's to be commended

on her hospitality and cooking.

I can recall the day...

No, thank you.

When every family

was fed, clothed, shod, sheltered

and warmed from the products a good wife

gathered within her own fence line.

[Dyer] I heard down by the loggers

Mrs. Manning's oldest

got fiercely b*rned in a house fire.

- Cassie.

- [Tallie] And d*ed.

[Abigail] Yes, she did.

Well, as my father used to say:

"The supreme disposer of all events does

sometimes disappoint our earthly hopes."

What a marvelous hanging lamp.

Finney purchased it so that everyone could

read with equal ease all around the room.

I wasn't brought up to read over much.

But I do believe a father should give

his children every chance to improve.

Children being

a sore point in this household.

And yours, I'd expect.

You'll have to forgive my husband.

Even so... whatever misfortunes

arrive at my doorstep,

I seek to improve my lot

with my own industry.


I study my options closely,

and I just attend to everything

with more vehemence.

Well, then you should

be commended for that.

I'll give you an example.

When I first began farming,

I was so vexed at my own inability

to stop my dogs barking

that one January, during a storm,

I held the dog around

the corner of the barn in a gale

until it froze to death.

I nearly froze to death myself,

at least froze my hands,

even with my heavy work gloves.

That is reprehensible.

[Dyer] Did I see outside

that you use an old shovel plow?

Well, since you're interested

in my machinery...

I have a hinged harrow

that's been giving me trouble.

The spikes catch the rocks and roots,

and they break off.

Well, our harrow has upright discs.

Work better?

Yeah, it seems to.

Bring the desserts.

I think we're stuffed.

My husband insists on his pastries

and preserved fruits and creams.

Well, good.

What is happening? Are you in danger?

- What happened to your neck?

- Oh, I just took a fall over a fence.

I hadn't heard.

Well, there are many things

about which you haven't heard.

[Abigail] Back at the table,

Tallie kept strict custody of her eyes.

Her husband's mood

seemed to have darkened.

He served

the pastries and creams himself...

leaving only her plate empty.

Saturday, June 21st.

My heart a maelstrom.

My head a bedlam.

A whole week and no visit from Tallie.

No word.

My anxieties often force me

to stop my work

and pace the house like an inmate.

I have to see her.

[pensive music playing]

Ho, ho.




- [knock on door]

- [shrieks]

What has happened?

They're gone.

And no goodbye?

We need to call the sheriff.

And report what exactly?

That our neighbors moved?

It's the Zebrun farm. They were renting.

I'll go, then.

For what reason?

There's blood.

And you never had an accident?

So we'll just do nothing?

I'll make the rounds of the neighbors.

And if we're not satisfied,

we can take your fears to the sheriff.

Thank you.

[Abigail] Monday, June 23rd.

Dyer said Mrs. Nottoway recalled

spotting their caravan on the country road

in the late evening, heading northwest.

[Dyer] Mrs. Nottoway?

[Abigail] She believed she spied

Tallie's figure alongside her husband's

but was unsure.

A hired hand, she thought,

was driving the second wagon.

Sunday, June 29th.

I spotted the sheriff

on his way to church.

- Our neighbors, Tallie...

- I conveyed my accusations to no response.

Dyer said that

no one would investigate a crime

without evidence

that a crime had been committed.

Calm myself?

I refused to calm myself, so he tied me

to a chair and administered laudanum.

Monday, June 30th.

Bleary and short of breath

from the laudanum...

I wake weeping, retire weeping...

stand before my duties weeping.

Sunday, July 6th.

I am a library without books,

a sea of fear, agitation and want.

Dyer speaks of how much we have

for which to be grateful.

I sit violently conscious

of the ticking clock

while he weeps at what he imagines

to be his own poor, forgotten self.

Wednesday, July 9th.

Despite some hours without the laudanum,

I was so befogged and wild with grief

that Dyer left me for the afternoon,

unsettled and wary of my state.

Tuesday, July 22nd.

[horse neighing]


- Good day.

- The renters at Zebrun's farm are gone.

Did they leave a forwarding address?

No. You've got a letter.


Is it from her?

It is.


Onondaga County. Do you know it?

That's north of Syracuse.

You gonna read it?

To myself.

[Tallie] Abigail, Abigail, Abigail.

I'm sorry that all I have to send you

is this letter,

and I'm sorry

for all that a letter cannot be.

Even the best letter

is just a little bit of someone.

I'm sorry I never got to say goodbye.

And I'm sorry that we seem to have

traded one sort of misery for another.

It turns out that houses

deep in the backwoods

always seem to be awful and unnatural

in their loneliness.

If there were only a ruined abbey

around here with bats in it,

the view would be perfect.

Our roof is ramshackle

and sheds water nicely in dry weather,

but we have to spread milk pans

around the floor when it rains.

Still, outside the kitchen,

there are already anemones

and heartsease

and even prettier flowers

which my stupidity

keeps me from naming for you.

I believe I've enjoyed myself less

these last few weeks

than any other female who ever lived.

During what little time I have to myself,

Finney reads aloud instructions for wives

from the Old Testament.

But when it comes to the Bible,

I have to say that there are a lot

of passages he may know word for word,

but which haven't touched his heart.

I can't account for his state of mind

except to say

that my company must be

intensely disagreeable to him.

And if that's the case, I'm sorry for it.

[horse approaching]

[man] Good afternoon!


Whoa, whoa. Hey.

Got something for you.

There you go.

- Thank you.

- Good day.


- Is it for me?

- From Schoharie County.

- Your Abigail.

- Give that to me.

Give it. Finney, give...

- Finney.

- "What's to become

of the thousands of our sex

scattered out in the wilderness

and obliged to tax our strengths?

I feel as if, at that selfsame hour,

when our prospects were brightest,

that in the dim distance,

a black shadow approached.

And yet still, imagine the happiest

of unions for us of the sort

in which two families,

previously at daggers drawn,

are miraculously

brought together on love's account.

It is your face I bear through the night.

It is to you I devote a dreaming space

before I turn myself to sleep,

but there is no sleep.

It's as if within me

everything clamors for air,

and I think if it's like this now,

what will it be like later?

I send you what love and support I can.

I send you all my heart's hopes. Abigail."

[Tallie] Please know that force alone

couldn't have gotten me here

to a place like this.

I was told that I had to act

in support of interest, happiness

and the reputation

of someone I once loved.

As far as I can figure,

we're now still only about 85 miles apart.

But of course,

people like us don't go on long visits.

[dramatic music playing]

[Abigail] Dyer refused first to permit

my departure, and then to accompany me...

and only caught up to the cart at the end

of our property and climbed aboard.

We were the very picture of anguish,

rattling along side by side.

The night was fair and warm with

the appearance of a coming rain, a shower.

[Tallie] It's so hard to write about

how much I want to thank you,

but I have to start somewhere.


I want to tell you that being with you,

even alone,

has been like

being a part of the biggest

and most spacious community

I could ever imagine.

I feel closer to you

than I would to a sister

since everything amazing that I feel...

I chose to feel.

And do you know what memory

it is that I most cherish?

It's of your turning to me

with that smile you gave me

once you realized that you were loved.

I have no way of knowing what is to come.

But I do know that all of the trust,

and care and courage we shared,

that will all shine on us

and protect us.

You are my city of joy.

You are my city of joy.

[wagon approaching]

[Dyer] Whoa.

[Finney] Might I ask your business?

[Abigail] I've come to see Tallie.

Where is she?

I heard you on the road. You made such

a racket, I took you for the tin knocker.

We've ridden for three days.

We're not leaving without seeing her.

I'm not concerned with

what you will or will not leave without.

- [Dyer] Keep a civil tongue, friend.

- Where is she?

I treated her with tea of soot

and pine-tree root to good effect.

But sickness always tests our willingness

to bow before the greatest authority.

My guess is that it was diphtheria.


[Finney] There is some alienation

from marital...

[Abigail whimpers]


[emotional music playing]


What time is it?

I don't care.

- I have to go.

- You're gonna make a mark.

[Dyer] Come on.

Come on.

Come on.

[church bell tolling]

[Abigail] Sunday, August 31st.

Weather very hot and sunny.

I cleaned out the shed,

which was full of rusty and dusty rubbish,

washed the windows

and preserved apples for the winter.

Fourteen dollars from the sale

of our milk and butter.

I have cut my hand with a paring Kn*fe.

I console myself with the conviction

that someday in the future

when Dyer is forced to travel

to Syracuse for feed or supplies,

I will join him, and take his r*fle

and go to Skaneateles

and k*ll Finney where he sits.

Dyer has been at work on the barn.

Each day, we enact our separation.

Sometimes after it gets dark,

we walk over the hills across

our upper fields for the wide, wide view.

And Dyer tries to imagine us as we were...

while I try to imagine Tallie

in that cordial and accepting home

that existed solely in our dreams.

I imagine Tallie and Nellie

somewhere together,

and Nellie running her brush

through Tallie's hair.

I imagine banishing forever

those sentiments of my own

that she chastened and refined.

I imagine resolving to do

what I can for Dyer.

And I imagine continuing

to write in this ledger,

here, as though this was my life.

As though my life was not elsewhere.


I've always feared that I would

bring misfortune to those I loved.

Are you really saying nothing to that?

I don't know where to start.

I can't imagine what more

we could do for one another...

with our constraints.

You can't?

I can't.

You can't?

Well, then...

it's a good thing we remember

that our imaginations

can always be cultivated.

[pensive music playing]

["The World to Come" playing]

And well beyond

The world to come

I'll section my heart

For my own sympathies

And I believe

We shall receive

Surrendering hope

For a true sovereignty

'Twas like a dream

You came to be

Then happenstance drew you

Next to me

Are you the one

To whom I belong?

'Cause this day

It's resembling

A lonely song

In my world to come

Fated to be as one

In some

Deep oblivion

Two sweet lovers

Will succumb

Will succumb

That view upon

Delights us more

Pale wings carry thee

Back to me

To begin it means



Unfathomless destiny

In my world to come

Fated to be as one

In some sweet oblivion

Two sweet lovers

Will succumb

And well beyond

The world to come

A deafening heart

Beats fast for thee
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