Lost Crossing

Character: Sheila
Directed by: Eric Blue
Written by: Eric Blue
Premiere date: April 21, 2007
Genre: Short, Drama

Running away from home 15-year-old Marie is befriended by a fellow traveler, Sheila, when they are unexpectedly stranded in the small town of Lost Crossing. Their friendship provides a needed lifeline until a disturbing secret catches up with them and Marie must find a way to escape on her own.



Fifteen-year-old Marie (Carrie Rose Menocal), running away from an abusive home, is stranded in the town of Lost Crossing, Georgia when her bus breaks down. Almost immediately, she finds herself the subject of some unwanted attention from Fin (West Cummings), a local roustabout, and his friends. Marie is rescued from the situation by Shelia Phillips (Melissa Suzanne McBride), a crew-cut, garishly-dressed, middle-aged woman who had been traveling on the same bus. At first, Shelia seems to be a tremendously kind and sympathetic character, concerned with protecting Marie from the dangers she might face out in the world, and also fun to be around (when Fin tells Shelia he likes his women “crazy,” she shrugs, smiles, and pours a scalding hot cup of coffee on the crotch of his pants – probably a little “crazier” than he wanted).

Shelia, learning that the bus will not be repaired that day, proposes to Marie that they share a motel room. She asks the girl where she is going. Marie, perhaps wanting to impress her new friend, or perhaps ashamed to tell her about her situation at home, claims she is going off to college in California.

That night, Shelia is awakened by Marie calling out in her sleep (“don’t….don’t!”) She gently shakes Marie awake and assures her her bad dreams are perfectly healthy (“My daughter used to have nightmares too. It’s just the mind’s way of clearing out the bad stuff.”) She then gives Marie two pills which she says will help her sleep. Marie seems reluctant to take unidentified pills from a stranger. Her trust for Shelia overrides her concerns, however, and she takes them and returns to sleep.

The next morning, Marie – who has found that cell phones don’t work in the isolated town – tries to call her mother from a pay phone. A male voice answers the phone and she hangs up without speaking. Shelia, waiting nearby, tells her that the bus will not be repaired until Monday. The good news, however, is that she has found a bowling alley (“Bowl-o-Rama”) in town. The two spend a happy afternoon bowling. Walking back to their motel, Shelia reveals that she stole a pair of bowling shoes from the alley to “get back” at the manager for “staring” at her. She again asks Marie how old she is – Marie, who barely looks her fifteen years, insists she’s eighteen – and assures Marie that she need not lie to her. Shelia explains that she herself ran away from home at an early age to avoid her father’s sexual advances. Marie, hearing this, breaks down crying, admitting that she is fleeing the same kind of abuse. “We’re survivors,” Shelia consoles her.

Things begin to go downhill that evening. While in a local convenience store, the two women again encounter Fin, who is still smarting (perhaps literally) from the incident with the coffee. Fin accosts Shelia – and her reaction stuns both Fin and Marie: She begins striking at her own face, while daring Fin to “hit me.” She shoves the larger man away, showing herself to be far stronger than she had previously seemed, and chases him down the street, shrieking the words “hit me” again and again.

That evening, Marie asks Shelia about her daughter. Shelia sadly explains that her daugher died in an accident long ago (“it’s a long story.”) Perhaps to avoid telling the story of the accident, she goes out to get them dinner, leaving Marie alone in the room briefly. Marie, bored with watching television, rummages through Shelia’s small suitcase. She finds two items of interest: A photograph of a much younger Shelia posed next to a very small child; and a bottle of pills bearing the words “Wellsworth Psychiatric Clinic.” Marie, for reasons which are not explained in the film, steals the bottle.

The next morning, Marie is awakened by Shelia, who demands to know what she did with her medication. Marie, pretending innocence, denies knowing what Shelia means. Shelia – up until that morning very considerate of Marie’s feelings, angrily tells her not to lie. “I told you to stay out of my things, Katie,” she says before stalking into the bathroom for a shower. A little later, Shelia further worries Marie by telling her that she loves her. Marie, by this time afraid to be alone with the older woman, suggests they go to breakfast. On the way to a nearby cafe, she briefly leaves Shelia, returns to the pay phone, and calls the phone number on the Wellsworth Psychiatric bottle. The hospital operator explains that no one is there who can take her call. Marie puts the pills back in her pocket, and turns around – to find Shelia right behind her. Marie claims that she was simply trying to reach her mother again. Shelia does not seem to believe her.

Over breakfast, Shelia seems restless and irritable, much like a person experiencing drug withdrawal. (“I buy you breakfast and you’re not hungry. I try to help you and you lie to me.”) Marie, not sure how to cope with her friend’s sudden transformation, and by now afraid of what Shelia would do if she admitted to stealing the pills, excuses herself, saying she needs to use the bathroom. Instead, she returns to the motel room and begins packing her own bags. As she finishes, however, a shadow crosses her path. She looks up to see Shelia, who seems surprised and hurt that she would want to leave. When Marie tells her that she simply wants to go, Shelia – revealing a side of herself she has only hinted at before – attacks the girl, throwing her across the room, striking her head against the bedpost. “Katie,” she tells her, “you’re not leaving this house!” Grabbing the frightened, crying Marie by the hair, she pulls her into the tiny bathroom and locks the door.

Much later that night, Marie, still locked in the bathroom, hears Shelia – deprived of her psychotropic medicine and now completely mad – calling out to someone who perhaps only she can see, who perhaps exists only in her own mind. From her ravings, Marie begins to understand what happened to Shelia’s daughter Katie – and what it did to Shelia herself. “Why did you have to let her go! Katie — get back here NOW!” As time elapses, Shelia calms down somewhat. She tries to sleep – lying against the locked bathroom door – but the nausea and discomfort of withdrawal is too much for her.

Finally, Marie hits on a plan of escape. She begins making coughing, choking noises, while calling for her new “mom” to please help her. Shelia responds at once, bringing her a can of soda and asking her, in the much gentler tones she used earlier in the film, if she is all right. Marie asks Shelia for something from her purse to help with her condition. Shelia briefly leaves the bathroom and returns with an object from her purse. Marie then asks Shelia for a moment alone. Shelia, taking the soda with her, agrees and closes the bathroom door. Shelia drinks the soda and looks at herself strangely – perhaps with anger or loathing – in the mirror over the dresser. Sitting down on one of the beds, Shelia breaks down in tears of remorse over having attacked “her” little girl and begs her forgiveness. Marie, joining her on the bed, assures Shelia that she loves her and that she will not leave her. Shelia, seeming suddenly drowsy, assures Marie that she was never mad at her.

Marie stays with Shelia until she is satisfied that the older woman is sleeping soundly. She then finishes packing her bags, walks quietly across the room, and leaves, closing the door behind her. We then see the reason for Shelia’s sudden exhaustion – the almost-empty bottle of pills on the bathroom floor, most of the capsules opened by Marie and put into the soda.

Early the next morning, the bus is preparing to leave. Marie – who had been hiding behind a parked car – tells the driver that Shelia is not coming. For a moment, she sits in fear as the bus stays still, its front door open. The bus begins to move but then stops in front of the motel. Marie’s apprehension gives way to relief – and perhaps a little remorse of her own – as the bus pulls away from the town.

In an epilogue, set to Gary Jules’ song “Mad World,” Shelia sits on a bench in a train station in an unidentified city or town, trying to make eye contact with a young, and possibly disabled, girl who had been sitting by herself. She seems about to approach the girl when a young woman, perhaps the girl’s mother, bears her away. Shelia, looking wistfully at the girl, blinks back tears. The camera pulls back, showing her all alone in the station – and also perhaps in life.