I sent my first short screenplay off to a competition, but alas, I didn’t even make the top 10%. After crying into my glass of water, okay, I didn’t really cry, but I might have whined a bit and said f*** a few dozen times, I decided I would share it with the world anyway, because all writers really want, (other than bestsellerdom) is for people to read their work and enjoy it.
Unfortunately I can’t share this screenplay on the big screen, but here it is on a little one. You’ll have to read it rather than watch it, but you can’t have everything ;).
An Awakening was adapted from a short story in Dark Spaces. It is the story of a woman faced with a life-and-death decision, but she hesitates. If your partner was about to die, would you save them, or would you rather go on alone?
For those who like to read screenplays, here it is. I think it would make an awesome music film clip as you don’t really need the words to convey the story. Enjoy watching it in your own mind :).
1 EXT SUBURBAN BACK GARDEN—MORNING 1
The sun is shining on an impressive, brick home and landscaped back garden. GRAHAM (70), slender and dressed in a check shirt with the sleeves rolled up, is on his knees on the grass, digging a hole for a small plant in the garden bed while MARIAN (69), dressed immaculately, cuts roses with secateurs. GRAHAM straightens and looks at MARIAN.
Only three weeks, Love, and we’ll be sailing into the sunset. I’m really looking forward to our Fiji cruise.
Me too. It’ll be nice to spend a relaxing two weeks together, away from the housework and grandkids. It’s been awhile since we’ve been on holidays, just the two of us.
MARIAN smiles at her husband.
So, it’s your birthday when we’re away. What would you like?
MARIAN scowls at GRAHAM
Nothing. Don’t bother.
GRAHAM reaches out and holds her hand.
Don’t be like that. I want to get you something. Come on, Love, what would you like?
MARIAN snatches her hand away.
If it’s so important, why did you forget my birthday last year? I don’t want anything. Just forget it.
GRAHAM grunts, falls back to sit on the grass, drops the trowel, grabs his chest and grimaces. MARIAN looks at him, rolls her eyes then turns back to her roses.
(In a strained voice) I think I’m having a heart attack.
How convenient. You’ll do anything to avoid an argument.
GRAHAM collapses the rest of the way to the ground, and MARIAN turns to look at him. She hesitates then rushes to kneel by his side. She taps at his cheek with her fingers.
Graham. Graham, are you all right?
Graham doesn’t respond. Marian leans over him to listen to his breathing. He is not breathing. She sits up, looks towards the house, looks back at GRAHAM, and then stares into the distance.
2 FLASHBACK MARIAN – INT CHURCH—DAY 2
A young and smiling GRAHAM and MARIAN, dressed in their wedding clothes, stand at the front of the church holding hands and facing each other. We can see the priest, standing with the bible open, through the gap between them. The pews are filled with well-dressed guests. GRAHAM slides a wedding ring on MARIAN’S finger.
You may kiss the bride.
GRAHAM and MARIAN kiss. The congregation claps.
3 FLASHBACK MARIAN – INT HOSPITAL—DAY 3
Flowers sit in a vase on the bedside table. MARIAN sits up in bed, smiling and holding a swaddled, newborn baby. GRAHAM kisses MARIAN’S forehead and watches as their TWO OTHER CHILDREN (4 AND 6) climb on the bed and do the same. MARIAN AND GRAHAM share a contented look.
4 FLASHBACK MARIAN – INT MARIAN AND GRAHAM’S DINING ROOM—NIGHT 4
The lights are off. GRAHAM sits at a rectangular dining table, which has silver candelabra in the centre with candles flickering. A small group of friends and family watch as a proud MARIAN enters the room, carrying a cake. The cake says “Happy 30th Graham” and is ringed with lit candles. MARIAN places the cake in front of her husband and everyone starts singing “Happy Birthday”. He grabs his wife’s hand and they smile at each other.
5 FLASHBACK MARIAN – INT GRAHAM’S OFFICE—DAY 5
MARIAN walks along the hallway to GRAHAM’S office, carrying a paper bag, which holds a packed lunch that she’s made for him. (Close up of hand grabbing the door handle and turning it slowly). MARIAN opens the door.
Hi, Darling, I’ve brought….
She sees GRAHAM lying on top of his SECRETARY on his desk, passionately kissing her. MARIAN clutches the paper bag tighter with one hand and covers her mouth with her other. She stands there, stunned for a minute as GRAHAM and the SECRETARY scramble off the desk to stand up quickly, adjusting their clothes. GRAHAM takes a step towards MARIAN and opens his mouth to say something, but she turns quickly and runs out. The SECRETARY grabs his arm, but he pushes her off and runs after his wife.
6 FLASHBACK MARIAN – INT GRAHAM AND MARIAN’S BEDROOM—NIGHT 6
Both bedside lamps are on. The bed is immaculately made. MARIAN is wearing the same clothes from when she took the lunch to the office. MARIAN and GRAHAM stand facing each other next to the end of the bed. GRAHAM is gripping her arms and staring into her eyes.
Please believe me. She means nothing. I love you. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. It was a big mistake. Say something, Marian. Please.
MARIAN stares at him for a moment then spits in his face. GRAHAM hangs his head and lets go of her arms.
How could you? I’ve devoted my life to you, given up everything. (Whispers to herself) I can’t believe this is happening. (To GRAHAM) You make me sick. Get out.
GRAHAM walks to the door and hesitates as he looks at MARIAN one last time, but she has her back to him. He leaves. MARIAN sits on the bed, takes her wedding ring off, throws it at the wall and cries.
7 FLASHBACK – INT MARIAN’S KITCHEN—AFTERNOON 7
MARIAN sits at the kitchen table with her best friend, BETH (69). MARIAN looks tired and pale. They both cradle a cup of tea in their hands. A plate of biscuits sits ignored in the middle of the round table.
So, what are you going to do?
I don’t know. If I left, where would I go? I don’t have any skills: I pulled out of the secretarial course when we got married. I have no money. And how would the kids handle it? I just don’t know…. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to do what I want, when I want—not to have to answer to anyone. To be free.
Look, I’m sure this sort of thing happens all the time. You’ll be okay. I don’t think you should make any rash decisions. Maybe just forgive him and get on with it. It’s better than being alone.
MARIAN shakes her head.
I don’t know if I can forgive him. God I wish I had the courage to leave.
8 FLASHBACK MARIAN – INT MARIAN AND GRAHAM’S DINING ROOM—MIDDAY 8
A “Happy 21st” banner hangs from the wall above framed family snapshots. MARIAN and GRAHAM’S daughter sits at the head of the table. MARIAN, twelve years older than at her husband’s thirtieth birthday, stands and watches her daughter blow out the candles on her birthday cake. GRAHAM, standing next to MARIAN, puts his arm around her shoulder. She flinches, but he keeps his arm there and holds her tighter. Her smile is sad.
9 FLASHBACK MARIAN – EXT RECEPTION VENUE—NIGHT 9
A string quartet on a slightly raised stage plays romantic music. Fairy lights hang from trees. A close up of a card on a present on an outdoor table says “Happy 45th Anniversary Marian and Graham”. Dining tables ring the perimeter of the dance-floor where guests sit eating dessert and chatting. MARIAN is in GRAHAM’S arms as they slow dance. She looks lovingly into his eyes and he whispers in her ear.
Thank you for staying with me. I love you. I’ve always loved only you. Are you happy?
I love you too.
But are you happy?
Mmm (pause) I think so.
She places her head on his chest. He looks worried. GRAHAM places his cheek against her hair, closes his eyes and breathes in.
10 EXT MARIAN AND GRAHAM’S YARD—MORNING 10
MARIAN blinks and looks down at GRAHAM who is lying on the grass. She stands, slowly (as she is almost seventy). GRAHAM lies in the foreground while we watch MARIAN walk slowly to the back door in the background. She goes inside.
11 INT KITCHEN IN MARIAN AND GRAHAM’S HOUSE—MORNING 11
MARIAN reaches the phone, removes her gardening gloves and dials 000.
MAN’S VOICE ON PHONE
Fire, police or ambulance?
MARIAN grips the phone cord with one hand as she waits for someone else to come on the line. The female dispatcher comes on the line and asks MARION who she is, what is her address, and what’s happened.
My husband’s had a heart attack. He’s not breathing. I need an ambulance. Please hurry.
Do you know how to perform CPR?
The dispatcher explains how to do CPR and suggests MARION perform it until the ambulance arrives. MARION starts crying as she hangs up the phone and walks as fast as she can back to GRAHAM.
12 EXT GRAHAM AND MARIAN’S BACKYARD—MORNING 12
Marian kneels down next to GRAHAM and kisses his forehead, her shoulder-length hair falling gently against his face. She sits up, places her hands on his chest and starts chest compressions before breathing into his mouth. She stops briefly, tears on her face.
I’m here, Darling. I forgive you. Please don’t die. I love you, Graham. Don’t leave me alone.
MARIAN continues CPR and sirens wail in the distance, the sound getting closer. The shot pulls back and high, showing the backyard, MARIAN working on GRAHAM—they look small, isolated and alone. The shot encompasses the street. The ambulance arrives at the front. The shot pulls back further as the ambulance officers get out of the ambulance, and the scene recedes into the