A woman is forced to compete with the spirit of a girl for her mother's love.
- Lorna Luft as Christine Matthews
- Coleen Gray as Cecilia Matthews
- Virginya Keehne as Chrissie
- Janet Wood as Toni
- Larry Gilman as Chuck Matthews
Act I Edit
An older woman (Cecilia Matthews) is asleep in her kitchen while a nasty rain storm rages on outside. Audibly a car arrives, parks and a woman (Christine Matthews) gets out carrying a large bag and knocks on the door repeatedly, attempting to get the woman's attention but to no avail, though during this time Cecilia stirs from her sleep hearing the voice of a young girl calling out for her mommy. Cecilia ventures upstairs to check in on the little girl, completely ignoring her daughter's pounding at the kitchen door.
Eventually Christine lets herself in and expresses astonishment that her mother did not hear her cries from outside. Cecilia and Christine exchange hellos, and it is revealed that it has been six years since the mother and daughter had seen on another. The pleasantries are cut short as Cecilia quickly gets to mopping up the rainwater her daughter had tracked in on the floor. She suspects that Christine had to work overtime at the bank, however the latter admits that she would have arrived sooner if not for the storm.
Cecilia expresses disappointment in her daughter's lateness and offers her some cookies and tea, which the latter declines stating that tea "makes her a little nervous" and her mother obliges stating that they can't have that. It is revealed by Christine that she has had a nervous breakdown several years prior, and also that she has since gotten over it. Cecilia however shuts the topic down stating she does not want to talk about it, and Christine apologizes for not calling in advance saying she would be late. At that point Cecilia suggests turning in for the night and notifies Christine that she will be staying in the guestroom, as her old bedroom is now being used for storage, to which Christine expresses obvious disappointment.
In the hallway the door to Christine's old room is open and Cecilia makes a point to close it before her daughter can see. Christine questions if her mother actually is using her old room for storage and Cecilia claims she also uses it for knitting and must have left the light on. She hurries her daughter into the guestroom to get to sleep while a younger girl's voice is singing "three blind mice".
Act II Edit
Christine wakes up in the morning and exits the guestroom, momentarily peering out of the window. A girl's voice can be audibly heard again singing "three blind mice" from within Christine's old bedroom. A voice shushes the girl, but Christine takes notice anyway and calls out to her mother, who comes out of the room to greet her daughter. Christine wonders what Cecilia was doing in her old room, but Cecilia claims that she was knitting and suspects Christine of not getting enough sleep just as the latter tries to inquire about the mysterious voice. Christine decides to take a shower, and her mother says she will get started on her breakfast, which Christine declines but her mother insists on cooking anyway.
After Cecilia leaves the hallway, Christine enters her old room and expresses shock at the sight. Christine's bedroom is decorated as though a child still lives there; with pom-poms, a stuffed unicorn with a tiara, and obviously very childish decor. The rest of the room shows that Christine once had a fondness for horses, books, had won ribbons and trophies as well as a framed diploma adorning the wall. She takes an old high school photo of herself as a homecoming (or prom) queen and lays it face-down and picks up and old diary and reads it;
"Dear Diary, Mommy bought me the most beautiful dress today. It was so expensive; but we're not going to tell Dad, Mommy said. We had so much fun! I love her so much!"
Christine chokes up for a moment exclaiming that her mother has not changed a thing in years. She hurriedly places the diary and other childhood mementos into a drawer when a sudden gust of wind from the window startles her and she leaves the room, closing the door behind her.
Later that morning Christine descends the stairs and into the kitchen where her mother is serving breakfast. Cecilia expresses glee in seeing her daughter attending breakfast and exclaims that she has just finished making her plate, when Christine declines in place of juice but her mother insists claiming she knows how important a good breakfast is. Christine hesitantly asks her mother why she left "all of that junk" in her room? Her mother turns to her with a look of surprise on her face and questions if she was in her old room. Christine notes that her mother has redecorated the rest of the house besides her old room, which Cecilia claims to be redecorating one room at a time and expresses doubts that Christine would ever come to visit. Christine also notes that she thought she had heard voices from within the room, but Cecilia claims to have been listening to plays on the "Public Broadcasting System", though Christine doubts the claim and says that it sounded like she heard her mother and a child's voice.
But before Cecilia can extrapolate the door opens and Christine's friend Toni enters the kitchen, bringing Mrs. Matthews the cosmetics she had ordered. Toni laments on the weather and expresses excitement at reuniting with Christine after several years, going up to and hugging her. Cecilia leaves the women to go and fetch payment for the makeup. Toni inquires about Christine's boyfriend, which the latter admits that they had broken up. The two women talk some more and catch up when Toni exclaims that she has seen Cecilia in Christine's old bedroom a lot at night, which Christine obviously finds strange but assures her that her mother is merely listening to the radio. Cecilia returns with the money and Toni tries making plans with Christine for the night, but she declines due to her brother Chuck coming for dinner. The two then agree on a get-together the next night and Toni leaves saying her goodbyes to Christine and Mrs. Matthews. Cecilia muses that Toni resembles her mother and retires to the basement to the laundry.
Later that evening Cecilia serves slices of chocolate cake to her son (Chuck Matthews) and daughter who are reminiscing over old photos at the table. Cecilia exclaims she is going to bed for the night, leaving her children alone to discuss her behavior. Chuck relates to Christine that their mother worries about her, which Christine denies claiming that their mother has not forgiven her for the nervous breakdown she had years ago, which she perceives as telling Cecilia that she is a "lousy mother". Chuck attempts to rationalize with his sister, but Christine affirms adding that she is not married, does not own a big house nor does she have any children as reasons why their mother hates her. Chuck tells his sister that she has the rest of her life to achieve those things and that everyone is allowed to fail, then tells her to lighten up before playfully poking her, making her laugh and giving her a hug.
Christine awakens in the middle of the night and exits her room overhearing her mother talking to the mysterious voice, and complimenting saying; "you're such a talented little girl." Christine quietly pulls open the door to her old room to peer on her mother sitting on the bed next to a young girl she referred to as "Chrissie", and sharing an affectionate embrace after declaring she loved her more than anyone in the whole world. Christine quietly looks on in horror.
Act III Edit
The next morning Cecilia is dressing up in a coat and asks Christine if she is sure she does not want to go along with her, which she says no. Cecilia tells her daughter she will be home around 4:00 PM and leaves. Christine promptly heads upstairs and storms into her old bedroom and calls out to the little girl, exclaiming she knows she is there and demanding that she show herself. Christine finally threatens to take Cecilia with her, implying that the little girl will never see her again.
The little girl (Chrissie) manifests in a rocking chair and rebuffs Christine's threat and mentions that she wasn't supposed to let her (Christine) see her. Christine asks the girl what her name is, and she replies with "I'm Chrissie" and implies that Christine should have already known. Christine asks what Chrissie is doing there, and the little girl responds saying that she lives there. Christine repeats what Chrissie said in disbelief and asks where her parents are, which Chrissie states that; "My mommy is Cecilia (Lucille?)". Dumbfounded, Christine rejects the notion that Cecilia is the little girl's mother, which Chrissie insists that she is and that when she (Christine) left, she came back and that loves the way Chrissie is and the way she has stayed. Christine informs Chrissie that she will have to leave the house now, but Chrissie insists that she will be staying because she likes it there. Christine again demands that the little girl leave the house, but Chrissie eggs Christine on declaring that Cecilia is now hers alone, and that she no longer loves Christine. Angry, Christine marches up to Christine only to see the little girl vanish into thin air. After a second Christine seems to suspect that she is experiencing yet another nervous breakdown before the girl "Chrissie's" disembodied voice echoes through the room taunting her with "nah nee nah nee nah nee" and causing a gust of wind to knock papers around and mess up the room. Causing Christine to collapse onto the bed crying "NO!" sobbing.
Later that night Cecilia and Chrissie can be heard audibly singing "Frère Jacques" together while thunder bellows outside. Cecilia comments that Chrissie sings like an angel and Christine steps inside her old bedroom, calling out to Cecilia in a vain attempt to capture her attention. Chrissie again taunts Christine, stating that she is Cecilia's baby now and that Christine is merely a visitor. Cecilia suggests to Chrissie that they both sing Frère Jacques, which they do all the while ignoring Christine. Christine approaches her mother and continues to try and get her attention and yells at Chrissie who once again disappears into thin air. Visibly stressed Christine yells at them to shut up and begins trashing the bedroom, first by knocking the horse collection off of the bookshelf then tries appealing to her mother by proving she is real, when that fails she screams at Chrissie demanding to know if she will grow up to be "miss know-it-all" or "miss popularity" and how many awards she will win and reiterates that Chrissie is not real before shattering the mirror with a trophy.
Christine again tries appealing to her mother, but Chrissie again manifests and exclaims that she is too late and that she had stayed away for too long. Desperate and visibly shaken, Christine goes to knockdown more childhood items and says that she and Cecilia can start over, but Chrissie aggressively interjects stating that she has already started over with her but Christine challenges her and again Chrissie disappears and Christine denies Chrissie's existence stating that the little girl is not real, but she (Christine) is. Cecilia appears to wake from her trance and calls out to "Chrissie", which both Christine and the girl respond. Cecilia takes the little girl's hand and says that they can go now, and Chrissie adds that they will "never, ever go back". Having enough Christine screams at the pair as they leave, prompting Chrissie to conjure another storm inside the room. Christine ignores the wind and calls out to Cecilia and tearfully admits that she needs her, which then snaps Cecilia out of the trance and she acknowledges Christine, who approaches her. Worried, Chrissie tries interfering by suggesting that they sing "three blind mice" and begins singing on her own. Christine and Cecilia reach out and hold each other's hands, this presumably weakening or breaking Chrissie's thrall over "her mother".
This causes Cecilia to faint and collapse but Christine catches and holds her, which causes Chrissie to emit a blinding light and scream and eventually cease to exist as she is ignore by both women. After Chrissie dissipates, Christine is left with her unconscious mother whom she cries after sobbing "don't leave me". Cecilia comes to emotionally answering her daughter "I'm here!" The episode ends with the two continuing to hold hands, with Christine resting her head on Cecilia's chest, having won her mother back.
- This episode is based upon a short story of the same name written by Pamela Sargent in 1982
- While it is never explicitly stated or explained exactly what Chrissie is, the implication is that she is a figment of Chrissie's past; specifically her childhood self that has gained some semblance of sentience due to her mother's unwillingness to let go of the past.
- Another interpretation is that Chrissie is a poltergeist manifested from Cecilia's nostalgia and choosing to present itself as a young Christine.
- Cecilia could possibly be suffering from empty nest syndrome, which is why she dotes on Chrissie and talks to her as though she were her only child
- It can be implied that Cecilia is the cause of Christine's nervous breakdown six years prior, possibly due to being a controlling mother, which can be pointed out by the many awards and ribbons Christine mentions during her confrontation with her mother & Chrissie.
- The episode itself is symbolic of a mother finally recognizing and accepting their daughter as a grown woman, after finally letting go of the past
- It sounds like Chrissie is saying "Lucille is my mother", despite the mother's name being 'Cecilia'.