May 9, 2017

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The Wedding 

The older enters the room. Sees her younger sister staring at the mirror blankly.

OLDER: You want help with your hair?

YOUNGER: I’m fine.

OLDER: Not having second thoughts, are we? You know you two are perfect for each other, right? 

YOUNGER: I’m not so sure about that.

OLDER: Why not? You’re literally one half of each other. 

YOUNGER: Maybe he’s too similar.

OLDER: You’re kidding me! You’ve been dating for how long?

YOUNGER: Almost seven years…

OLDER: Exactly! It’s not just any two people who can stay together for that long. 

YOUNGER: But what if I just settled for the first guy who showed any real interest in me? What if he’s just settling for me?

OLDER: Honey, if I know anything, it’s that that handsome young catch of yours loves you more than his own life.

YOUNGER: You don’t know the whole picture.

OLDER: Girl, you’re an open book. Of course, I do!

YOUNGER: Then you would know that for most of those seven years, he’s been cheating on me. 

OLDER: Nuh uh!

YOUNGER: The worst part is, that I’ve known all along and I still stayed with him and I still said yes to… to all of this.

OLDER: Did he stop?

YOUNGER: Yes.

OLDER: You can’t let the past hurt your future. So what if he’s done something so utterly stupid as a baton my little sister? He stopped and that’s what matters.

YOUNGER: He might do it again. 

OLDER: That’s just speculation.

YOUNGER: No, it’s a pattern. I’ve talked to his ex–

OLDER: No!

YOUNGER: Yes–and she said he’d done the same to her

OLDER: But you’re different. Prettier. Sweeter. You’re anything a guy could ever want.

YOUNGER: I’m just not sure I want the kind of guy he is.

OLDER: What, handsome, strong, hardworking? You’re lucky I found him.

YOUNGER: If you think he’s as great as all that, you marry him! You’d be a great match, a cheater and a stealer.

OLDER: That was once!

YOUNGER: Once is more than enough to leave scars.

OLDER: You’re the one who kept the poor boy depraved.

The younger stares her sister down for a beat. Standing… 

YOUNGER: I need you to leave.

OLDER: Not if you’re gonna be a runner.

YOUNGER: I’ll run if I want to. 

OLDER: Imagine what mom and dad will think. Another daughter might hit her forties without a husband. You know they want to meet their grandkids before they die.

YOUNGER: I think mom and dad will be okay if I wait until I find someone who will actually make me happy.

OLDER: But you’re getting older. You won’t always have the benefit of your youth. And weren’t you the one who couldn’t shut up about “When I have kids…”? 

She taps her watch.

OLDER: Tick tock. Tick tock, little sister. You’re getting old. Soon, kids will be out of the question.

YOUNGER: Why do you even care so much? 

OLDER: I’m just looking after my baby sister. Isn’t that my job?

YOUNGER: I haven’t needed your protection since you betrayed me.

OLDER: Is that what you’re calling it now, betrayal? You always were quite the comedienne.

YOUNGER: I need you to get out.

OLDER: Why, so you can pack your things and leave yet another poor boy depraved? It’s no wonder he cheated.

The younger pushes her sister towards the door.

YOUNGER: He deserves to be depraved. He deserves to be abandoned. He deserves a scheming little wench like you for a wife.

OLDER: Perhaps. Or perhaps he deserves one like you.

YOUNGER: Screw you.

A shove and she slams the door in her sister’s face. 

***

Prompt: A dialogue writing exercise we did in class today.  My (probably laughable) attempt. The prompt was two characters and a location, their motivations, and the protagonist’s secondary (and conflicting) motivation. 

April 1, 2017

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Apparently what I wrote yesterday, I didn’t post. Here it is, a day late.

Stupidity and Humanity 

If one word only must be used to describe Casey Aitken it would be “romantic.” Her heart overflowed with dreams, both plausible and out of this world. She believed wholeheartedly in marriage, seeing it as a beautiful thing. Men made her heart skip a beat; she could see something good and beautiful in every one she met. Most often, she spent her time reading. The classics were her favorites: Little Women, Pride and Prejudice, Oliver Twist, To Kill a Mockingbird. Many of her peers teased her for her seemingly outdated interests and views. They thought she was old-fashioned to the point of ridicule. They laughed at her ideals, saying they were bogus, telling her to give up on them, wholeheartedly believing that she must be wrong. How could a good man and a good woman somehow find each other in this mess of a world, fall in love, and keep their marriage in tact despite all the temptations and catastrophes that life might throw?

If Casey was a romantic, her sister was the exact opposite. Meg fell more in line with the rest of the world. To her, falling in love was a beautiful feeling but it could hardly last. She had contented herself with dabbling in affairs of the heart, rather than committing herself to one man in particular. If she didn’t believe in the power of marriage, why should she expect her man to? Meg proudly identified herself with the rest of the world, sometimes tossing her own teasing and insults at her younger sister (though typically, her words held much less sting than those of others). 

Despite their opposite views and opinions, Casey and Meg were close enough that people often confused them for twins, when in fact Meg was two or three years Casey’s senior. The two sisters did everything together. They would go shopping together, showing off their possible picks for the other to get her opinion. They would go to the movies together, joking that they were each other’s date, particularly on such romantic holidays as the overly commercialized Valentine’s Day. Every little thing in their lives, they shared, their secrets and their deepest hurts. If Meg experienced heartbreak, which she did more often than a woman of her ideals would prefer to admit, Casey always lent a listening ear and a loving embrace. If Casey had a particularly poor day, Meg always put on her favorite comedy, popped popcorn and poured glasses of their favorite beverage, and forced Casey to watch the movie until she had a smile on her face. The two were practically inseparable. 

When Meg went off to college in Casey’s junior year of high school, Casey found herself lonely, watching her sister from afar as she ran off to study—her dream, like her, practical—and to fall in love with boy after boy. It felt like Meg had met someone new every week, and Casey worried about her sister. Love didn’t work that way, not in Casey’s perspective. Love lasted longer than a few short minutes or hours, weeks if you were lucky. Love lasted a lifetime if fought for like anything worth having deserves to be fought for. She did not see her sister finding any such love in the near future. 

Two years later, Casey followed her sister to college, even to the same one, though their courses of study couldn’t be further from the same. Meg studied medicine, hoping to help those in need, while Casey took a more traditional, intellectual route, spending all her time in the liberal arts, the literatures and the writings and the philosophies. Casey dreamt of a career in writing, or maybe as a teacher, or maybe as an academic. Meg, on the other hand, only attended classes because she needed them in order to follow her childhood dreams. 

Even in their love lives, the two sisters differed vastly. Meg continued to have a new date every week. Sometimes, she brought the same guy home two or three weeks in a row, pleasantly surprising her sister. Those moments gave Casey small bursts of hope–maybe her sister wasn’t as hopeless a case as she had originally thought!–but then Meg would come home the next week with a different guy, shattering all possibility of any change. 

For the most part, Casey didn’t search for love. She believed that love would find her if it was meant to be. She still found herself pining over guys, as all young girls of eighteen or nineteen do, but for the moment, she wished to focus on her studies. A liberal arts program, she found, was quite taxing and it took much of her energy away. Her social life slowly started to disappear as she melted into her studies, sometimes hardly distinguishable from the stack of books surrounding her. 

The only friend she had was a young man, her age and class, named Ian Martz. Ian Martz had big hopes himself, dreaming of big things to come. The two got along famously, similarly minded and tempered. Both believed in the beauty of a lasting love, which would theoretically make them more compatible than any other pair, but neither of them could see it. They viewed their relationship as fraternal, certainly not romantic. Romance would be weird in a relationship such as theirs. It had no part existing there, and they both heartily agreed to stamp it out if it ever arose. 

Ian failed in his task. Day in and day out, he had to watch as his closest friend and the darling of his heart slowly fell for someone else. She became blinded to the man’s faults, seeing only the slim goodness and light that no one but herself could see. The man became a myth in her mind, more fiction than fact. Ian often found himself advising her against any emotional attachment to the man, protesting about his inherently evil self, but Casey could not see what Ian could. 

Slowly, Ian watched as she fell apart. The man toyed with her, playing her like a puppet, playing with her heart like a child plays with his toys: distractedly in spurts, moving on to the next thing that catches his eye. Casey began to lose the vibrancy he had come to associate with her, her life draining as she put herself through the hell that was an on-again-off-again relationship with the man she thought was her future. Her ideals had fallen to the wayside when she met the man, believing that love will work out always, believing that whatever it was she had with this man was love. Ian’s heart broke along with hers as he watched. 

One day, Casey had had enough. She couldn’t take this anymore! No more of this nonsense, she told him, either they were going to be an actual couple who stayed together or they would never again see each other. Too quickly he chose the latter. He left as soon as the words escaped his mouth, his steps betraying his smugness. He had no shame. Betrayed, Casey sobbed until the sun went down right on that very spot. 

Ian found her as he returned from his final class of the day, standing in the shade of a tree, her eyes red and heavy with the tears still forming behind them. Immediately, he rushed to her side, taking her into his arms, holding her tightly against his chest, his hand cradling the back of her head, his touch gentleness itself. He whispered in her ear, soothing words that passed between them in the relative silence. He didn’t ask what had happened. He didn’t need to. Rather, he took her by the hand and led her back to her room, where they sat in silence until she felt the need to speak. 

“How could I have fallen for him?” she asked, her voice numb as she stared blankly ahead of her at the wall. Ian began to protest, but she interrupted him, “I feel so stupid! You warned me. You knew this would happen. How could I have been so stupid as to ignore you?” 

Reaching out to wipe the new tears on her cheeks, he said, “You weren’t stupid, Case. You were human.”

“It’s the same thing, Ian.” 

That moment, Ian determined to prove her otherwise. “You want to see stupid versus human?” he asked. Sheepishly, she nodded. Clearing his throat, he stood before her. “Exhibit A: stupidity.” He then proceeded to reenact his protests and his giving in too soon, demonstrating for her the thoughts that had raced through his mind that he wished he had found the courage to voice. The doubts and the strengths that flooded through him. 

“Exhibit B: humanity.” Pausing briefly, he took a series of deep breaths: one, two, three, one, two three, one, two, three. He raises his eyes, connecting with hers and refusing to drop the connection. “Catherine Aitken, you are my best friend. You have been since we met two years ago. Immediately, I could see that you were a lovely, independent woman. You didn’t care what the world wanted of you, what it said you should believe or want or ask of it. You had your beliefs and you stuck to them. You’re funny and sweet. You’re the most caring person I’ve ever met. Casey, I…” He let his voice trail off as he took in her face, a confused and tear-stained expression painting it. “Casey,” he continued with another deep breath, “I love you. I love you as my friend and as my sister, but as so much more. I hated seeing you get your heart broken as it happened. Seeing your pain tortured me. I wished I could do something, but I had to let you tackle it by yourself. Now that you’ve seen the real Pfaff, I hope you can turn to me as you always have and let me in. I want to help you, Casey, because I love you.” 

Casey stared at Ian, jaw open and a different brand of tears staining her cheeks. “Ian, we said no romance!” she laughed, wiping her tears away. 

“I know, I know,” he protested, swooping in to take her hands. “But can I help falling in love with the most beautiful woman I know, who just so happens to be my best friend?” He settled his hand on her cheek, cupping it with great gentility. “You deserve so much better than Pfaff. So much better than even I can give you, Casey.”

“No one could give me better, Ian,” she mumbled. “No one.” 

*** 

Prompt: Write a story with a pre-developed character. (From my currently in development miniseries Elegance & Idiocy)

April 2, 2017

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An Except From: The Aurora Project

NIGHTMARE SEQUENCE – EXT. CITY STREETS – MIDNIGHT

REVA NOVAK and her husband, JACOB, dressed to the nines, walk down the strikingly clean street hand in hand, a picture of health and happiness, their love still very much alive. Taking her hand, Jacob twirls Reva under his arm, dipping her and bringing her back to her feet in one smooth motion. He wraps his arms around her waist as he leads them in a soft, simple waltz in the middle of the street. Reva lays her head on his chest, her hands clasped behind his neck, a smile playing on her lips.

As they dance, Reva feels something warm spreading where their bodies meet. Pulling away from Jacob, she gasps, his shirt stained by a spreading spot of blood starting near his heart. He appears paler. Reva glances at the blood on his chest and down at her hands. She stops breathing.

In her hands is a gun, the culprit of the crime at hand.

Reva panics, the gun droppping from her hands and clattering heavily on the ground at her feet. Jacob takes a step back from her, hands up in defense.

JACOB

How could you, Reva?

Reva wraps her arms around him, sobbing into his shirt. He protests, trying to pull away from her. His weight leans against her as she settles them both down on the ground, Jacob crumbling with the movement. He looks up at her, helpless and betrayed.

CUT TO:

INT. NOVAK HOUSE – REVA’S BEDROOM – THREE IN THE MORNING 

Reva wakes up in a cold sweat. Pushing herself to a sitting position, she tucks her knees up to her chin and sobs.

A KNOCK at her door and her son, PHILIP, enters. Seeing his mother, so helpless and small on her bed, the eleven year old crawls up beside her and hugs her. He wraps her comforter around them both and sits with her in complete silence.
EXT. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL – AFTERNOON 

Philip sits alone on the curb, his chin resting in his hands, propped on his knees. His backpack sits beside him. Everyone else has already left. The only signs of life other than Philip are a few passing cars. With a sigh, he stands and returns inside the school.

INT. NOVAK HOUSE – LIVING ROOM – A LITTLE LATER 

Toys and trash litter the living room floor in the Novak house. It looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in weeks. The pictures on the wall–mainly of Philip, with a few of Jacob and Reva, including their wedding photos–hang on the wall, dust gathering in their glass, some hanging askew.

Reva sits, staring blankly ahead, on the couch, a blanket tucked around her shoulders. Dirty dishes sit on the coffee table in front of her, coffee mugs and soup bowls. Some have sat there for days without being touched. Reva makes no effort to do anything other than stare off into nowhere.

The door flies open and Philip waltzes into the room, knocking his mother back to reality. Reva brushes the tears from her face as she greets her son with a hug. She looks up to see that her mother has followed the boy inside. She frowns.

REVA

Mom, what are you doing here?

SUSANA KUMAR, a nicely dressed woman in her mid 50s to early 60s, plants herself on her daughter’s couch.

SUSANA

You can’t keep doing this, sweetie.

Reva playfully pushes her son towards the hallway.

REVA

Philip, why don’t you go get started on your homework?

Philip glances between his mother and his grandmother before nodding and heading off down the hallway, his backpack still sitting at his mother’s feet.

Reva turns to her mother, sinking further into the couch. Before she can speak, her mother interrupts.

SUSANA

Don’t say you were tired or you forgot. I know that you remembered him.

REVA

Don’t do this, mom.

SUSANA

Why? If I don’t, no one ever will, Reva. You need to wake up.

Reva stands, turns away from her mother, head in hands.

REVA

I just don’t have the energy to do anything right now.

SUSANA

Are you still not sleeping?

Reva stays silent as her mother urges her to sit back down. When she finally gives in, she curls into her mother’s shoulder, like a sorrowing child. Susana instinctively wraps an arm around her.

SUSANA

Reva, honey, I think you need to get help.

REVA

Mom, no.

SUSANA

Sweetie, you can’t deny that you experienced something incredibly traumatic. Witnessing the violent death of your husband–

REVA

I don’t want to talk about it.

SUSANA

And that’s where your problem lies, Reva. You won’t get better if you keep pushing it down instead of dealing with it.

REVA

I said I don’t want to talk about it. I’m fine. Philip is fine. We’re fine.

She stands, pointing to the front door.

REVA

I want you to leave.

Susana reluctantly heads towards the door. She pauses in the open doorway, looking back at her daughter.

SUSANA

Philip isn’t fine, sweetie. If you can’t get help for your own sake, at least do it for his. He needs you.

When Reva refuses to respond, Susana exits. Reva slumps back into the couch, glancing over at the pictures hanging on the wall. On impulse, she runs over to the wall and tears down every picture with her and Jacob, every picture of him alone, throwing them on the ground, revelling in the sound the glass makes as it shatters.

INT. NOVAK HOUSE – PHILIP’S BEDROOM – SAME TIME

His back against the door, Philip listens to his mother’s violence in accepted silence. 

***

Prompt: Share something you’ve been working on. This is an excerpt from the rough draft of a screenplay I’m writing for one of my classes. Formatting is off because I’m  (a) on mobile and (b) writing it not using the software.