Chasing The Way We Were


Podcast Episode

Low hum of a car engine and the car’s turning indicator ticks. After a few seconds, the engine revs up. Multiple cars driving past and wind coming in through the open car window can be heard in the background. All speech and sound effects are slightly muffled. 

Astelle : I can’t believe that a four hour drive has turned into a seven hour one. (sighs)

Cedric : Astelle, you know flights are closed and there’s road closures everywhere— 

Astelle : To discourage people from travelling in this pandemic! But what are all these people around us doing, Ced? Travelling! 

On cue, many cars start to honk. 

Astelle : This is just so… 

Cedric : Frustrating? 

The car’s engine occasionally quiets down alongside the cars around them, signalling a traffic light. A few seconds later, the engine gets louder again, and the cars around them also start to move. 

Astelle : It’s not a waste of time. But… y’know. 

Cedric : I’m sorry, but four years of marriage does not make me telepathic.

Astelle : I think… hm. I miss having time. 

Cedric : Ironic, no? I feel we have too much time on our hands nowadays. 

Astelle : I mean, in the future. (pause) Like, knowing that there’s more in the future. Even if I miss out on something now. 

Cedric : There’s always going to be more in the future. That’s what it is, isn’t it? Besides, there’s going to be so much more to do, especially with your promotion… if you accept it… 

Cars are heard honking. ASTELLE sighs, and clicks a button. The car window is heard closing. The noises of the cars outside soften. 

Cedric : You should call him. 

Astelle : Castor? (sighs) And what? Be an overprotective and really concerned sister? He’s already mad at me. 

Cedric : We’re cutting it close. Castor’s surgery starts in three hours and we’re


Astelle : We were supposed to reach at least three hours before it started! And if it starts before we get there, we’ll have to wait twelve hours to finally see him! 

Cedric : Positive mindset, Astelle. 

Astelle : (sighs) You’re starting to sound like some kindergarten teacher.

Cedric : Nothing new. That’s how I feel when I teach sometimes. 

Astelle : You know, I had always thought that philosophy students in college were mature.

Cedric : I was a philosophy student in college. 

Astelle : And you were mature. 

Cedric : We eloped. You told your mom that you’d be home to make dinner so she (laughs) left Castor alone at home with no food, so— 

Astelle : So he ate cake, I remember. (laughs) A thirteen year old should be able to make dinner himself, okay. It’s not my fault he didn’t understand how to use an air fryer. 

Cedric : Or change the oven settings. You doted on him so much. 

Astelle : He was a child. A tiny child. 

Cedric : Who’s now taller than you. 

Astelle : Wow— 

Cedric : Anyways, you were such a responsible and caring older sister— you still are. 

Astelle : I now care for him all the way from Frankfurt by virtually sending him cute cat pictures. 

Cedric : Dogs are better than cats. 

Astelle : I cannot comprehend why you’d have that opinion. 

Cedric : Are you going to like, take me to your lab and dissect my DNA or something to uncover the secrets of why I like dogs more than cats? 

Astelle : If I wanted to, I would’ve done that before we got married. I’m too used to the comforts of being driven to work every morning. 

CEDRIC laughs. After he stops, the two remain in silence. Cars outside are heard honking for a few seconds, then they stop. The car’s engine quiets down. 

Astelle : We should have left earlier. 

Cedric : We could only get a half-day leave today, this was the earliest.

ASTELLE sighs very loudly. 

Cedric : I know you’re still tense about the promotion and the fight with Castor, but that was three weeks ago and he’s your brother, he doesn’t hate you— 

Church bells can be heard starting to ring, interrupting CEDRIC. 

Astelle : Gosh, it’s 4. We’re not going to make it in time. 

ASTELLE is heard leaning back against her seat, sighing. The sound of rain hitting the car starts, and gradually gets louder. The church bells slowly get louder, over the rest of the audio. Alongside the intense sound of the rain hitting the car, the speech becomes very muffled and indistinct. 

Astelle : Great! More delay. 

The sound of a button being clicked, then a loud beep is heard. Silence. In the background, very faintly, people are heard walking and talking indistinctly, doors opening and closing, and the occasional chime of an appointment call. Over these sounds rhythmic beeps and soft breathing are heard. Speech and sound effects are not muffled anymore. 

Astelle : (takes a deep breath) You don’t need to hear the rest of it, Castor. 

Castor : (speaks softly for the rest of the scene) Why did you turn it off?


Astelle : I’m here to be with you, okay? We drove for like five hours to get here and I, somehow, accidentally recorded the entire thing on my phone. And I thought, great! We used to love going on road trips, remember? So I thought that if you listened to it, you would, like, experience it with us? Vicariously or something? 

Castor : Hm, got that. (coughs) Appreciate it. 

Astelle : I just wanted to… I don’t know. Remind you of the better times—

Castor : (mumbling) The older times. 

Astelle : Yes, the older times! The past! When I lived with you and mom and could take care of you! I don’t understand why you hate that but— 

Castor : I don’t hate that, Astelle. I just… 

Astelle : I wanted you to forgi— I… wanted to help you pretend we’re all fine.

Castor : It’s impossible to go back to the past. 

Astelle : And it’s impossible to control the future. You were fine and all of a sudden… 

Castor : I’m better now! The surgery went fine, the excision was fine. And it was just pseudolymphoma. It’s not uncommon for it to be mistaken as something more serious. 

Astelle : But until last week, we thought it actually was lymphoma. We thought it was cancer! 

Castor : But it’s not. And it’s been taken care of now! 

Astelle : Anything could still happen! We never know. 

Castor : And mom and I can handle whatever happens— 

A knock on the door is heard. The door slides open and IVY walks in. For that moment, the sound of people walking and talking outside is amplified. 

Ivy : You two are being awfully loud. A nurse told me to check in on you to make sure it was all fine in here. 

Astelle : (whispering) Sorry, mom. 

Door is heard closing. 

Ivy : I had expected this to be a nice reunion. What is going on? 

Astelle : We were just talking. 

Castor : Yeah… And I was saying, Astelle, you don’t need to give up what you have in your life now just for us. Just to have what you had. 

Astelle : What we had, Castor. 


Ivy : I hope I’m not intruding. 

Castor : No, it’s… it’s fine, right? 

Astelle : Yeah, mom, you already know, it’s not a secret or anything. It’s about me wanting to move back here with you two. 

Castor : But you have a career, Cedric has his job and you have a nice house. Don’t let that go for us. 

Astelle : I let so much go for what I have now, and I… I don’t know. 

Castor : You’re scared. That’s fine, I’m scared too. I’m the one that went through this. 

Astelle : (softly) Oh no. I’m sorry. Castor, I’m sorry. I should— I’m so tired, from the drive and we reached after your surgery ended! And I could barely sleep just now, waiting to see you. And now that I see you, it’s just so… 

Ivy : Astelle… 

Astelle : —this reminds me of before but we can’t just go back— 

Castor : Aste- (coughs)– elle! 

ASTELLE goes quiet. Clattering is heard as ASTELLE uncaps a bottle and hands it to CASTOR. 

Astelle : Here. 

A gulp as CASTOR takes a sip of the water. 

Astelle : Sorry. 

Castor : Stop saying that. Sit down. 

A chair is moved slightly and ASTELLE is heard settling in. In the background, IVY opens the door and walks out, then closes it behind her, quite softly. 

Castor : I’m okay. See? 

Astelle : You’re on bed rest. You nearly just coughed your lungs out. 

Castor : That’s not related— 

Astelle : I know, I know! Let me be. 

Castor : Be sad? 

Astelle : I’m just caring for you! 

Castor : If you care for me by being sad, then I get sad. 

Astelle : Don’t make that face. 

Castor: And when I’m sad (coughs) you get sadder— 

Astelle : And it’s a never ending cycle. 

Castor : Yeah, you remember what mom used to say! 


Astelle : Where did mom go? 

Castor : Did she just leave when we were talking? 

Astelle : I guess so… 

ASTELLE’s chair screeches slightly as it is moved back as she stands up.

Astelle : I’m going to talk to her. I’ll be back soon. 

Castor : Of course. She’s probably not that far. (softer) Besides, you always come back soon. 

ASTELLE picks up her things and walks, opens the door and leaves. Sound of people walking around and talking are louder, and the beeping of the machines is not heard any more. Occasionally, a chime is heard, signalling someone being called for an appointment. 

Astelle : Mom. Did you just leave to sit outside Castor’s room again? 

ASTELLE’s footsteps stop and a chair creaks a bit as she sits down on it.

Ivy : I felt like you two needed to talk that out on your own. 

Astelle : I couldn’t even get to the point of our conversation.

Ivy : Wasn’t the point you wanting to come back? 

Astelle : It is. Sort of… 

Ivy : Do you really miss us that much? 

Astelle : Of course! And Castor was sick! I was so scared I wouldn’t be there for him. 

Ivy : You’re always there for us, Astelle. But you have your own life now and it’s in Frankfurt, a four hundred kilometre drive away from Dresden. It’s fine that you weren’t physically here. And you still came today. 

Astelle : What if I can’t? What if I’m too far? 

Ivy : Astelle… 

Astelle : I used to live in the same house as you. Then, a five minute walk away in the same city. Now, a few hours away in Frankfurt. And everything is changing so rapidly. What if… one day I’m really far away? 

Ivy : I feel like you have something to tell me. 

ASTELLE is silent for a few moments. 

Astelle : I… I’m getting a promotion. 

Ivy : That’s great! (pause) Isn’t it? 

Astelle : It’s… on a different continent. It’s in Australia. 

Ivy : Oh. So this… this was meant to be the point of the conversation. 

Astelle : Yes. Except I wanted that conversation to be three weeks ago but I couldn’t bring myself to tell Castor. So it’s been dragging on till now. Cedric is the only one I’ve told. And now, you. 

Ivy : I see… how do you feel about it? 

Astelle : Honestly? I’m really happy! I’ve been waiting for this. And it’s also good for Cedric. There are much better opportunities for him there. (pause) But I don’t want to leave you guys. 

Ivy : Which is why you suddenly wanted to move back here? 

Astelle : And Castor told me not to. 

Ivy : He meant the best for you. 

Astelle : But I’m so scared that I’ve ruined our relationship. 

Ivy : Astelle, I don’t think a disagreement like this can come in between what you two have.

Astelle : I know but we used to be so close. And now… 

Ivy : You’re still very close. 

Astelle : We just fought. We haven’t fought since we were kids and that was over chocolate. This is about… life. And we couldn’t resolve it. And when we met now, I literally made him listen to a recording that I accidentally made of the drive here. I tried to remind him of— 

Ivy : Our road trips? 

Astelle : Yeah! Remember the fun times, y’know. 

Ivy : That’s thoughtful. 

Astelle : It did seem thoughtful at first, but later I realised I was… forcing my opinions on him. Of the past and how it’d be great to be together again. And all this started because of that. 

Ivy : You should talk to him. Properly, this time. 


Ivy : Don’t linger on this. I’m sure Castor is worried too. 

Astelle : I know and I do want to talk to him, and fix this… but what do I say? I wanted to return, he told me not to, so now I’m just leaving the country? And you two! 

Ivy : Astelle… this is exactly what Castor meant. Your life is your life. Not anyone else’s, not even ours. You have this opportunity to grow and you can’t let it go for anyone else that’s not you, Astelle. 

Astelle : You raised me to take care of the people important to me. 

Ivy : I think you forgot the most important part of that lesson. Take care of yourself. Then, us.

Astelle : (pause. softly) You’re right. 

Ivy : I’m always right, I’m your mother. 

ASTELLE laughs. 

Ivy : What are you going to do now? 

Astelle : I think… I’m going to talk to Castor. Properly, this time. 

Ivy : Tell him what you really want to say, okay? I’ll be here. Come back if you need me. (softer) Though I doubt you will. 

ASTELLE stands up, and starts to walk, then opens the door, slowly. It closes softly. The sounds of people walking and talking get soft again. Rhythmic beeping of machines is heard. 

Castor : Astelle! Did you find mom? 

Astelle : Yeah. She left because she wanted us to talk on our own. 

Castor : Oh. I hope she’s not worried… 

Astelle : Not anymore. I talked to her. And she explained some things to me… 

As ASTELLE sits on a chair, it creaks a bit. ASTELLE shifts it a bit closer to CASTOR’s bed, it scrapes against the floor. 

Castor : Like? 

Astelle : Like, we should talk this out properly and say what we really need to.

Castor : That’s what we’ve been trying to do. 

Astelle : Hm, yeah. But, uhh… I think I know the reason we haven’t been able to resolve this. 

Castor : You do? 

Astelle : (deep breath) I really need to tell you something, but I haven’t been able to…

Castor : What is it, Astelle? 

Astelle : Castor… I’m leaving. 

Castor : Huh? That’s it? But you just got here. 

Astelle : No, I’m staying for now. I mean, (pause) I got a promotion. 

Castor : That’s great! (pause) Right? 

Astelle : It is but… it’s not in Frankfurt. Or Germany. 

Castor : Somewhere else in Europe? 

Astelle : Australia… 

Castor : Oh. So you’re gonna… leave? 


Astelle : I am. 

Castor : I— I am so happy for you (pause. softer) but I’d be happier if it wasn’t like this though. 

ASTELLE stands up, her chair moves across the floor a bit. As ASTELLE hugs CASTOR, the pillow and blanket on his bed are shifted slightly. 

Astelle : I know. It was such a hard decision to make. But I have to do this. 

ASTELLE sits back on the chair. CASTOR adjusts the blankets a bit. 

Castor : When did you find out? 

Astelle : Quite some time ago, actually. I wanted to tell you that day when… when we fought. But I couldn’t and all I could say was how I wanted to come back, to you and mom. 

Castor : You mean the day when I told you that returning to us and leaving what you have behind would be the worst decision ever. That was really not what you needed, huh? 

Astelle : No, don’t worry… 

Castor : Well, I didn’t want you to leave either! I wanted you to… I don’t know. Do what you want to do. For yourself. I didn’t want you to leave what you’ve built up in your life for me and mom. 

Astelle : And I will be doing the opposite in Australia. I… I will be making great leaps in my career. 

Castor : Yeah, I’m sure you’ll be doing great. You’ll discover some new DNA or something.

Astelle : I doubt that, but I’ll do my best. I’ll name it after you, okay? 

Castor : No, name it after yourself, you found it. 

Astelle : Naming a discovery after myself won’t sound as good as naming it after my brother. 

Castor : Hmm, good point, actually. Immortalise my name. 

Astelle : (laughs) Why don’t you do that yourself? 

Castor : I’ll probably have to graduate from college for that. You’ll attend my graduation ceremony, right? I sat through all of your ceremonies and whatnot. 

Astelle : I wouldn’t miss it for the world. But… I can’t guarantee anything.

Castor : Oh. Don’t worry, you can attend them online! 

Astelle : (shaky voice) Yeah, I can… 

Castor : Astelle… I know this is so tough for you… But, mom and I and Cedric, we’re all here for you. Like we’ve always been. And like you’ve always been for us. We may never have been physically as far but emotionally… we’ll all still be there for each other. Especially you, Astelle. You’ve never failed to be there for us and I doubt you ever will. (pause) I may not be the most inspirational speaker but I think that was what you needed to hear. I hope it was. 

Astelle : (laughs) It actually was, Castor. 

Castor : When will you be able to visit? We should make plans already. 

Astelle : Uhh, not every week like now, of course… And I doubt I can afford to every month. But once a year? 

Castor : You and Cedric can visit mom and I once and we’ll visit you two once, so we’ll meet twice a year! And… (pause) when will you be leaving? 

Astelle : I’m not entirely sure… but anytime in the next four months. 

Castor : That’s… not far. 

Astelle : It is quite close, yeah— but, I’ll be back soon. 

Castor : Of course. It may be kind of— actually, very far, but… you always come back.


Man Kiran Kaur (Class of 2024) believes love and happiness, as cheesy as it may sound. She tries to incorporate this into her writing, alongside sometimes unnecessary jokes and conversations that she came up with while looking outside the window.