SCENE opens on a family of three, Mr. and Mrs. Valentine (Dale and Gina) and their daughter Becky, in the driveway of their house. To their side a parked ride-share car and its driver wait with the trunk open. The family is going over the final preparations for their daughter’s trip.
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The couple emerges on the inside of their house from the front door, but it’s clearly a different day and they are neither alone nor empty-handed. They are helping an 18-year-old girl Cassie with her many travel bags and suitcases, and all three are chattering excitedly – about how she’s going to love it in the States, about how she loves warm weather and they get so much less of it in Canada, about what food she can’t wait to try, etc. When all the bags are finally inside and the front door closed, Mr. Valentine shrugs and gestures around himself a bit awkwardly. ‘Well Cassie, welcome to your new home!’ he gushes. ‘Yeah! Well, for the next two months, that is,’ Cassie says excitedly, as the Valentines exchange another knowing look between each other
The Valentines seem nervously eager to impress Cassie, the same way a goofy teen boy might try to win over his date’s dad. They tell her about all the amenities of the house, explain to her their ground rules (they insist there aren’t very many – they try to be ‘cool’ parents, after all), and mention that they like Swapping daughters Parents Use Exchange Program To Swap Daughters And Start Fake Family to leave plenty of time for family activities and bonding, and they hope she feels welcome to join them. Throughout, Cassie is endeared by their well-meaning attitude. The whole arrangement seems like a dream come true! She can’t wait to go see her room and unpack – Mrs. Valentine helps her with her bags up the stairs, while Mr. Valentine calls out that dinner’s at six and he hopes she likes hamburgers!
CUT to a few days later, Cassie is in a chipper mood as she emerges downstairs to find Mr. and Mrs. Valentine in the living room. They are in their pajamas and sipping coffee when she arrives, with Mrs. Valentine reading a book while Mr. Valentine is on his laptop. ‘Good morning, Mr. and Mrs. Valentine!’ Cassie exclaims. ‘Nuh uh uh!’ Mrs. Valentine says sweetly, ‘What did we say about that ‘Mr. and Mrs. Valentine’ stuff?’ Cassie giggles and rolls her eyes – she knows they said she can call them mom and dad while she’s staying here, it just feels a little weird. But she’s warming up to the idea.
The Valentines inquire about Cassie’s plans for the day, and gush when she says she’s meeting some friends at the mall – they’re so proud that she’s managed to make friends in so little time here, but of course who wouldn’t love to spend time with a girl as sweet as Cassie. She should feel welcome to invite them over to the house at any time, any friend of Cassie’s is a friend of theirs! Cassie blushes at all the attention. She excuses herself and is about to leave for the mall when she remembers to ask – ‘Oh, by the way, has the internet been down or anything the past couple of days?’ No, they answer, not that they know of, anyway – why? Cassie remarks, a bit let down, that her parents promised they’d call and she hasn’t heard from them once since she got here. The Valentines try to console her – they’re sure she’ll hear from them soon, they’re probably just busy. Parents are supposed to worry about their kids, not the other way around, she should forget about it for now and just enjoy her trip. They manage to cheer Cassie back up by insisting it’s probably nothing. She thanks them, about to call them Mr. and Mrs. Valentine again, and stops herself. ‘I mean, mom and dad,’ she grins and says cheekily, and they look positively delighted to hear the words. In good spirits, she leaves for the mall.
Once she’s gone, Gina turns to Dale and says that they’ll have to tell her soon. Dale nods but says he thinks they should still wait a couple more days. They’ll have to find the right time. Gina says she thinks she’s going to fix herself a snack and gets up off the couch, does Dale want one? Dale says absolutely. Gina leaves the room, and Dale continues working on his computer. Suddenly he gets an incoming Skype call on his laptop – we can see it’s from their daughter, Becky. Dale makes a pained face, sighs, and then moves his mouse over the red button to not accept the incoming call and clicks, ending the ringing. He looks down and sees that now the icon appears that shows she’s typing something. A message flashes on the screen, which reads: ‘Mom, dad, please pick up!!! These people are crazy, they keep saying you made some kind of weird deal with them’. Then another message flashes, ‘PLEASE, answer me, I wanna come home, these people are sick!!!’ Dale sighs, and then starts moving his mouse. A third message flashes, ‘PLEASE, I can see you’re online, PLEASE ANSWER ME!!!!’ Dale right-clicks on the name and selects to block contact. The message appears, are you sure you want to block this contact? Dale selects Block and then closes his laptop with a sigh.
CUT to two days later, in the late evening. Cassie and the Valentines are playing a family/party game on their phones together in the living room. It’s clear they’re all having a great time together. After the round, Cassie yawns and puts her phone on the coffee table. She remarks that it’s getting late, and she was planning on meeting her friends early tomorrow so she thinks she’ll head to bed early. ‘Actually,’ the Valentines say as they look at each other then back to Cassie, ‘before you go, there’s something we need to talk to you about.’ They pat the seat in between them as a gesture for Cassie to come sit next to them both. Cassie looks taken aback but acquiesces. Once seated, the Valentines try to ease in to the topic – they’ve so enjoyed having her here, they all get along so well, it’s been the best weeks of their life… Cassie looks confused and upset, they’re talking like they’re about to kick her out – did she do something wrong? Nervously they try to calm her down, no, in fact it’s the opposite, they want to offer her a permanent home here, as her new parents. Cassie looks relieved, and says that she’s loved being here too, but she of course can’t accept their offer – she has a life back in Canada, friends, a home and a family. Mrs. Valentine takes a breath and explains that actually, she doesn’t. Cassie looks confused, and Mr. Valentine steps in to explain that Cassie’s parents made a deal with them to give Cassie to them. ‘Cassie, sweetie… they don’t want you anymore.’
Still seated, Cassie looks shocked and upset – what is he talking about? What does he mean a deal? The Valentines explain to her that Dale has certain… needs… needs he couldn’t get from his home life with Gina and their daughter Becky. But Gina wanted to help, so together they searched the internet and discovered a small group of like-minded fathers with similar problems. That’s how they met Cassie’s parents, and together they came up with a solution to help both families. They made a deal to swap their daughters. The two families convinced their daughters to sign up for a cultural exchange program so they could ease them into the idea of a new family after the swap had already happened. That way there would be no turning back.
None of this is making sense to Cassie, who shakes her head hurt and confused. What does ‘swapping’ their daughters help? What needs are they talking about? Gina explains that Dale was feeling unnatural urges towards their daughter Becky. Urges he knew was wrong. He knew he couldn’t act on those urges, but the temptation was too strong. It was actually Cassie’s dad’s idea, for them to swap daughters so they could each start a new ‘family’, a perfect family like the one they always wanted. A family they could fuck.
Cassie gets up from the couch, disgusted. What kind of fucked up plan is that? This whole thing is sick, they’re both sick! Mrs. Valentine looks distraught, and Mr. Valentine speaks out uncharacteristically angry in defense of his wife. ‘Now stop that, Cassie, look how upset you’re making your mother.’
‘She’s not my mother!’ Cassie shrieks. ‘And you’re not my father! And you’re not going to FUCK me, you disgusting creeps! I’m getting my stuff and I’m getting out of here and going HOME!’ But the Valentines try to reason with her – she doesn’t have a home to go back to. Her old family gave her up, they don’t want her anymore. And because she’s over 18, they don’t legally have to take her back in. He and Gina are the only family she’s got now, so she can either agree to their terms or try her luck on the streets. Defiantly, Cassie pouts that she wants to call home. Mr. Valentine sighs defeatedly – they won’t want to talk to her. But Cassie insists. Mr. Valentine hands her her phone from the coffee table and Cassie rapidly types in a number and dials. After a couple of rings, a grown man’s voice answers. ‘Dad,’ Cassie starts, ‘Dad it’s me, I-‘ but the voice cuts her off. ‘Who is this?’ Cassie tries to tell the voice that it’s her, it’s Cassie, but the voice nervously says he doesn’t know a Cassie, clearly lying. She tries one more time but he cuts her off saying ‘L-look… whoever you are, I don’t want you bothering my family, we’re very happy together. Just… don’t call here again.’ Cassie tries to say something more but the man hangs up.
Cassie is unable to move, stunned into silence clutching the phone to her ear. After a few seconds, her arm falls to her side, still clutching the phone loosely. Dale slowly gets up from the couch and gently takes the phone out of her hand, putting it back on the coffee table. ‘See Cassie?’ he says sympathetically but with an I-Told-You-So vibe. ‘Those people aren’t your family anymore. We are. And we care about you.’ Cassie looks at him bitterly – ‘you just want to fuck me’, she says through gritted teeth. Dale looks hurt, that’s not true. He wants to love her, to be a family to her. He just wants them to be a closer family than most. Gina points out that it took her some time to understand it too, but she’s come to accept it. She thinks Cassie could too.
There is a look of defeat on Cassie’s face – she doesn’t want to be homeless, she says. She wants to stay. The Valentines look relieved, and say of course she can stay. She’s their daughter. They’ll take great care of her. As long as she understands that means they get to fuck her too. ‘Yes,’ Cassie says defeated. ‘Yes, what?’ Mr. Valentine says coachingly. ‘Yes… daddy,’ Cassie says obediently. Good, Mr. Valentine says with satisfaction. Of course, they still have to deal with the whole business of Cassie’s little tantrum. Good girls obey their parents, and if Cassie is going to be their daughter she has to learn to obey. He tells Cassie to pull her pants down and bend over his knee to get punished. ‘…yes, daddy,’ Cassie says obligingly as she timidly strips out of her pants and walks over to assume the position.