Artwork by Garth Laidlaw

Episode 6: I'm Going

Sophea grew up in Haven, but has always felt like she belongs somewhere else. After moving to the big city, she gets herself a job at Real Meals, an up-and-coming company working to combat food insecurity with quality food to meet people's needs and budget. But with her preference for fresh home-cooked meals over the pre-prepared and microwaveable Real Meals, Sophea finds she doesn't quite fit in.

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SOPHEA: I’m going!

JANA: Ok, have fun. When will you be back home?

SOPHEA: Mom, I’m leaving

JANA: Yeah, I know. Can you pick me up some sweet potatoes on your way home?

SOPHEA: Wait, I thought I explained this to you. I’m leaving home for good. Remember? I got a job as a receptionist!

JANA: Oh, right! Silly me. Have fun.

SOPHEA: What is going on? I just told you I’m not coming back.

JANA: Why?

SOPHEA: Because I’m moving away!

JANA: Why would you want to move away?

SOPHEA: Because I got a job... I just told you— Whatever, I’m leaving now. The people I’m traveling with say our window to leave is in 15 minutes. If I don’t hurry up, I’ll be stuck on this side of the wall...I’m moving for good, mom.

JANA: Wait, so you’re actually moving? Why would you want to move away from here?

SOPHEA: Because, I feel like I belong somewhere else. I want to move, I want to explore, I want to be free.

JANA: You want to move away from me? Your own mother?

SOPHEA: Mom, I told you that I’ve been wanting to move away from Haven for a while now. I got a job that pays good money. Why don’t you move with me? That way we can be together...I can give you an allowance. And in the city, everything’s there. Shopping malls, grocery stores-

JANA: I can’t...My home is here...and obviously this isn’t your home anymore.

SOPHEA: Mom, please...

JANA: What did I do to make you want to leave me so bad?

SOPHEA: No, listen to me. It isn’t you. I promise it isn’t.

JANA: No, go. Go! Leave me. Go and live your life wherever you want to be.

SOPHEA: Mom, please! Don’t do this. Mom? Mom? Mom!

SOUND: Door shut.

SOUND: Traffic noises.

DRIVER: Are you getting in or what?


DRIVER: Are you coming or not?

SOPHEA: I-I don’t know.

DRIVER: You’re wasting my time, lady.

SOUND: Car starts.

SOPHEA: No, wait. I need to go home. Wait, please! I want to go home. I want to go home!

SOUND: Car driving. Dream ending. Gradual sound of an alarm clock.

SOPHEA: I want to go home. I want to go home. I want to go-

SOUND: Full sound of alarm clock. Sophea gasps and begins to breathe hard. Dials on her phone, rings.

PHONE: You have reached Hope Industries. You are calling from an unsecured outside line. Please standby for security measures. If you have a security code, please enter it now. (Sound of code being entered) Hello, Sophea Chea. You have clearance to contact one resident. Please state the name of the resident you want to contact today.

SOPHEA: Jana Nok.

PHONE: To connect, answer the following security question. Where does the green glass rise?


PHONE: Connecting.

JANA: (Recorded message) Hi there, this is Jana. I am currently unavailable but please leave your name and number and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. (Phone beeps)

SOPHEA: Hey mom. I got through this time. Finally. I just wanted to call you just ‘cause...I hope you’re doing well. I had a dream that I was still in Haven. You wanted me to grab you sweet potatoes (chuckles) and now I’m craving them. Maybe I’ll get some on the way home and cook that stew you used to make. I think I saw in the flyer that they were about $6 a pound. A lot cheaper than last week. Well, I’ll try to call when I get home. Hope I can get through again. It’s been so long.

SOUND: Phone beeps. Sound of Sophea brushing her teeth, brewing coffee, getting dressed, and then traffic.


SOUND: People talking in the background, phones ringing.

MARIEL: Good morning, Sophea.

SOPHEA: Morning, Mariel. How are you?

MARIEL: Oh good, you know—Oh, you look like you haven't slept a wink!

SOPHEA: Thanks. Sounds about right. Any messages?

MARIEL: Of course.

SOPHEA: Woah, the government? Why?

MARIEL: I guess their team saw the recent sales reports for Real Meals and would like to congratulate Dean and his exceptional new business. I mean, there aren’t really any competitors are there? But, hey!

SOPHEA: It hasn’t even been a full year and already Dean is talking “global market”.

MARIEL: Yup. He’s a genius. Affordable meals for all and with food that’s actually good. He’s going to win a Nobel Peace Prize for sure. Now if only he can manage to give me a raise. Maybe I’ll ask him when he makes an appearance at some point this week...or month...or year.

SOPHEA: (Laughing) You really don’t know when he’s coming?

MARIEL: But rumour is he’s making it a priority to come here...


MARIEL: (Whispers) There’s rumours of someone from Haven working here.

SOPHEA: (Sigh) Not again.

MARIEL: I know you are getting tired of me talking about Haven but I’m just saying, if someone from Haven is in this company right now...then that’s pretty intense, isn’t it?

SOPHEA: And how do you know they are in this exact company? Would anyone really want to leave that place? I heard their system is pretty hard to get into...and also out of.

MARIEL: I’m just saying that if there is someone from Haven here, Dean will track them down...

SOPHEA: I don’t know...I genuinely don’t think that place is real.

MARIEL: Wow, a person from the countryside doesn’t believe that this mystical place is real? (laughs)....What would I know anyway? I’ve lived here my entire life too. I’ve never once stepped foot outside the city.

SOPHEA: What’s stopping you?

MARIEL: I don’t know. My family lives here and they depend on me a lot. Besides, how would I even get there? Last time I checked, there aren’t any bus routes that make a quaint countryside stop.

SOPHEA: Bus? What’s that? I can’t even manage to get on a streetcar. Every one that passes me is full.

MARIEL: Tell me about it. And don’t even think about hiring a car. Getting permission to drive outside the city requires so much time and paperwork. Like I said, I need a raise, but I don’t think Dean’s going to give me that much!

SOPHEA: (Laughing) Yeah, and I suppose if I want any money, I’d better get to these messages.

MARIEL: You, ma'am, are no fun! Still good for lunch?

SOPHEA: As always.

PHONE: (Beep) You have 3 new messages. First message.

RECORDED MESSAGE: Hello, this is Joan Miller speaking on behalf of the Head of Food Security. I am calling to arrange a meeting with the CEO of Real Meals to discuss expanding your company across the country. We have reviewed your media package and have also seen satisfaction all over the city with this incredible and cheap source of nutrition. We are all fans over here in the Department. Please give us a call back and we’ll arrange a meeting at some point in the near future. Thank you. 

SOUND: Phone beep. Computer typing. Phone ringing.

SOPHEA: Hi, this is Sophea Chea from Real Meals returning your call. I’m looking at Dean’s calendar right now, and it seems like he should be available in exactly... two weeks from today. So, if you want to arrange a meeting, our business hours are Monday to Friday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. I’m glad to hear that you’ve been enjoying our food. As always, our company strives for quality food to meet people’s needs and budget. Please give us a call back at this number and we hope to see you soon. Bye.


SOUND: Chatter, and microwave sounds.

MARIEL: Hey Sophea! Over here.

SOPHEA: Wow, Mariel, you actually saved me a seat this time

MARIEL: Ok, in my defence, people were asking me questions about the latest food we’re making. I would never not save you a seat...except for last time.

SOPHEA: (Laughs) Ok, ok. I believe you.

MARIEL: Um, hey, is it cool if I ask you some things?

SOPHEA: Go for it.

MARIEL: How long were you in the countryside?

SOPHEA: My whole life.

MARIEL: That’s so weird. You only moved here... like what? 6 months ago?

SOPHEA: More like 8. I always wanted to move here...I researched for so long, signed with the temp agency before I even arrived...

MARIEL: And we’re lucky you turned out to be so good at the job. But what was it about the city that you wanted? It’s so hard to move now with the checkpoints and all...

SOPHEA: Actually, when I was about 16-years-old, I saw this magazine... really it was a page torn from an old magazine, from before the famine. There were these pictures of city skylines and I knew that’s where I wanted to live when I grew up. It’s like I knew in a place so different from home, I could be anything I wanted to be. And it finally feels like I am living that life.

MARIEL: Do you miss home though?

SOPHEA: I miss my mom, my friends, the people there. It’s been tough to meet people here. Everyone has their own lives and friends going on.

MARIEL: Well, that’s the city for you.

SOPHEA: Yeah...

MARIEL: Do you regret it though?

SOPHEA: No, not really...I like working here, and being independent...and I guess you’re alright.

MARIEL: (Laughs) Thanks.

SOPHEA: All jokes aside, I’m so glad that you and I get along. Having you has kept me in check. You’ve been my voice of reason.

MARIEL: That’s not terrifying at all! But if I’m your voice of reason, I’d advise you to eat your lunch. We only get a 20-minute break...  

SOPHEA: Oh, no. I actually forgot my lunch at my place.

MARIEL: Well, you can just grab a meal here. The employee discount is great. Makes a Real Meal even cheaper.

SOPHEA: Yeah, no wonder everyone’s eating it.

MARIEL: C’mon let’s go. I was going to pick one up to take home for supper anyhow.

SOPHEA: It’s ok, I’ll pass. I’m good with water.

MARIEL: You know, you should at least try it.

SOPHEA: What makes you think I haven’t tried it?

MARIEL: Because you’ve been working here for almost 3 months and I haven’t seen you pick one up.

SOPHEA: Ok, ok, I haven’t tried it. Microwave food isn’t my kind of meal.

MARIEL: So what are your kind of meals then?

SOPHEA: Well, my mom was really good with foraging and cooking with what she had. She used to make this soup—it’s a clear soup but inside were all the vegetables we grew just outside our backyard. It was so good. I tried making it here but it was never right. I feel like all I’ve been doing is dreaming of my mother’s food. Cooking on my own is great and all, but a home cooked meal made by your own mother really hits the spot.

MARIEL: That sounds amazing. You know, when I first met you, and saw you eating your own food, I thought, “Wow, is this girl rich?” But then I realized you came from the countryside and it all made sense

SOPHEA: (Pause) How did people know I was from the countryside? I never mentioned it anywhere before or told anyone.

MARIEL: Oh, uh, I don’t know. We all just assumed that you were. Everyone who’s from the city likes convenient stuff, like Real Meals, but we never, uh, saw you try them. So we just put two and two together and BAM, you are from the country!

SOPHEA: Oh, weird. I guess I never noticed that kind of thing.

MARIEL: Again, this is the country girl in you. We city folk notice right away.  Alright, you enjoy your H2O and I’m going to get myself some real food.

SOUND: Footsteps. Phone dialing.

MARIEL: Hey, we’re being serious about tomorrow right? Ok, you have to be here tomorrow. I think I’m getting closer to finding out for sure.