One sheep, two sheep, three sheep, bullshit.\n\nHelen.\n\nGo to sleep. Go to sleep. Gods damn it, go to sleep. Try harder.\n\nTry better.\n\nCome on Helen. Try something new.\n\nOne furry wooly sheep. Two furry wooly sheep. Three furry wooly sheep. Four wooly sheep, jumping over a fence. Five, oh look, it's another wooly sheep, [[launched]] into the air. Six, another wooly sheep, bleating away. Seven wooly sheep waiting nervously in the pen. Eight wooly sheep lining up to go inside. Nine wooly sheep with bullets in their brains. Ten wooly sheep for dinner.\n\nHelen.\n\nCan't you do something nice with the sheep, like spin their fleece and make a blanket? That's what nice girls do with sheep. I guess I'm not a nice girl, if we're [[honest]].\n\nOne furry wooly sheep. Two furry wooly sheep. Three...
If I were getting paid for this, I'd be a millionaire.\n\nCan you imagine my hourly wage for staying up all night?\nWith this kind of expertise? Let's be [[honest]], it would be a lot.\n\nI'm bored, this is boring. I wish I could just sleep.\n\nCan you imagine if I got paid for boredom? I'd be able to buy an island.\n\nCan you imagine what I'd be paid? I can't even [[count]] that high.
[[About Authors & Project]]\n
Paris, I wonder if you were here now – alive, awake, with me – I wonder, if I could tell you all this, if you would listen.\n\nI wonder if you could hold me close and tell me it will be [[alright]].\n\nBut if you were with me now, my favorite man, my true husband...\n\nI would never wake you up.\nI would carry any weight alone all night, before I would think of waking you to help me carry this sadness or this worry. You need your rest, and also maybe you are having a nice dream, and I want to give you all the rest and nice dreams in the world. Sleep as much as you can, be ready for your next day. After all I have taken from you, Paris, at least I can give you that.\n\nPlease, take my peaceful night. Take my beauty rest. Keep them close. I have no use for them anyway.\n\nI miss you so much.
Another night without sleep, I bet. Sitting up all night in the dark.\n\nI know how to sleep. I’ve done it almost every night since I was born. And sometimes in the day. It is not that hard. I must know some tricks.\n\nTake a warm bath. Drink warm milk. Drink herb tea. Too hot. Massage your temples, relax the muscles in your [[face]].\n\nWhat would an [[expert]] say to me. An expert would say "Sleep in a well-ventilated room. Sleep on a good firm bed. Sleep on your back." Wouldn't matter.\n\nIf you can’t sleep, get up.\n\nJust get up and walk around the room.\n\nDoesn't work?\n\nYou're supposed to [[count]] sheep, right?
So what's even honestly, for sure, true.\n\nTrue or false: I am Helen. True.\n\nTrue or false: I am Helen, daughter of Zeus, almighty mountain-dweller, cloud-conquerer, shape-shifter. True.\n\nTrue of false: I am Helen, hatched from an egg, immortal, finding three others new to the sticky world in the shards of shell. Loved and welcomed by Leda, mother of all and Tyndareus, father of half. True. As far as I know.\n\nTrue or false: I am Helen of Sparta, wife of [[Menelaus]], powerful man of a powerful clan, under a powerful curse. True. Once true. Recently true.\n\nTrue or false: I am Helen of Troy, wife of [[Paris]], prince of Illuim, golden son sacrificed to the mountain in order to save his city, now returned home by the gods with destruction snapping at his heels. True.\n\nTrue or false: I am Helen, divine, beloved of all the gods. False.\n\nTrue or false: I am Helen, mother of eight. True.\n\nTrue or false: I am Helen, sister to Clytemnestra, Castor and Pollux, who love me dearly. True.\n\nTrue or false: I have the most beautiful [[face]] on the face of the earth. True, apparently.\n\nTrue or false: my beautiful face is the cause of all this mess. False. I think false. Some say true.\n\nTrue or false: this is the face that [[launched]] a thousand ships. Not sure, ask again later.\n\nTrue of false: I want to go home. True.\n\nTrue or false: I know where that is. False.\n\nTrue or false: The sun is rising?\n\nThe sun is rising.
Look in the mirror.\n\nWas this the [[face]] that [[launched]] a [[thousand]] ships?\n\nIt's getting dark.
It's too late to tell you any of this now. I missed my chance.\nThis is what I get.\nFor all the trouble I've caused, this is my punishment.\n\nMenelaus, I could have said anything to you tonight before you fell asleep, but I didn't, and now there's no time left to save the night, I will have to stay up all through the dark to think about everything, because I didn't make you give me peace before I let you go to sleep.\n\nI don't know how you can sleep. You must have all this kind of stuff rattling around inside your head, too. You must feel, deep down, that you could have done something different. That somehow this can all be traced back to you.\n\nAnd me.\nBut, still.\n\nDo you spend hours trying to figure out if this all your fault? How do you stand the noise? How do you turn it off and close your eyes? How do you make it go away and leave your face so peaceful, your breathing so rhythmic, your body at rest? You must have nightmares. You must have things you need to say to me. Maybe you are awake, too. What is going on in your mind all [[night]]?
It's getting light.\n\nAs soon as the sun sets, and I'm alone, I'll just [[Start]] thinking about this over again.\n\nBut for now...\n\nThe sun is rising.
The sun is rising.\n\n\n\nIt keeps doing that.\n\n\n\nLike it would matter to [[Start]] over.
The Helen Project
Harder to see my reflection in the mirror now, in the dark.\n\nEven with the torch on the wall lit and burning, I can just barely make out my reflection.\n\nThe curve of the nose. The firm cheek that promises to yield, that promises to be soft on yours. The light in the eyes which promises it is paying attention, always paying attention to you and you alone. No wonder they all wish to look at me all the time, I am... amazing.\n\nFor your consideration: does Sparta appreciate me enough? I'm not sure they do.\nThey didn't when I left, they don't now that I'm back.\n\nWas this much awesomeness really meant to be born, grow up, get married, and die all in one place? What a waste. I had to leave. How could I have denied Troy the chance to admire me?\n\nThanks, reflection. That’s a really good point.\n\nI can almost always [[count]] on my reflection to be [[honest]], even if I'm not.
Text for "The Helen Project" was co-created by:\n\n[[Megan Cohen|http://plays.megancohen.com/]] (a playwright and game designer)\nand\n[[Amy Clare Tasker|http://www.amyclaretasker.com/]] (a director and devised theater practicioner).\n\n\nThis interactive fiction experience is part of a transmedia project, which also includes a live event.\n\nThe live event is a stageplay written as a modular text for five performers, with pieces you can swap in and out.\n\nWithin the set narrative framework of a dramatic beginning, middle, and end, it offers thousands of possible variations.\n\nA workshop production of live "Helen Project" is happening May 10-25 in San Francisco, CA at [[DIVAfest|http://www.theexit.org/divafest/happening/performances/helen/]]\n\nIf you're interested in bringing a live "Helen Project" to your town, either by building a performance with our text or by producing an event we design, <html><a href="mailto:megan@megancohen.com"><b>Contact Us</b></a></html>.\n\n\nTo read the online story now, choose "restart" on the left menu.
Harder to see out the window, now, in the dark, to see the view of Sparta. So strange to be back, after all this time.\n\nSparta.\nLaunched.\nThe face that launched.\n\nIf you look at any word for long enough it just looks… wrong, and weird, like the letters are out of order, even though it’s actually spelled right? You stop seeing it as a thing, and start seeing it as the pieces.\n\nThe.\nFace.\nThat.\nLaunched.\nA.\nThousand. Ships.\n\n"The face that launched a [[thousand]] ships," what the hell. Does this face look like it does a lot of heavy lifting? What, I untied the mooring ropes with my teeth, and pushed the ships out from the dock with my forehead? I nosed every damn boat out of the harbor, inch by inch? Then I puckered my lips and filled the sails with wind?\n\nThe.\nFace.\nThat.\nLaunched.\n\nWhat's better, though? How would I describe this [[face]], what would I compare me to? I don't know. I'm not really an [[expert]] in how to say things.