A screenplay about finding yourself through another.
* Fade in: *
- Direction: Colors are very vibrant and everything seems to sparkle with an ethereal light, the room is seen from the direction of the character RIVER. -
A DINGY LIVING ROOM IN AN EVEN DINGIER APARTMENT, A PARTY, NIGHT
Calliope lies upside down in an overstuffed lounge chair, her long hair falling helter-skelter, partially covering her face. A very thick, woolen, moth-eaten blanket lies on the floor, covering a mound which shudders every few seconds with a silent laugh. Beneath the blanket is Max, laughing very quietly but still audibly. Music is playing in the background quite loudly.
(quietly, with an air of secrecy)
I feel like Frodo in Shelob's lair!
(under her breath at first, voice gradually growing louder until she's almost shouting)
I'm a...I'm...I'm a water droplet. No...no. I'm molten gold!
She giggles. Max's voice chimes in from beneath the blanket and a hand pokes out from under the corner. It points at a solemn figure sitting across the room, completely isolated from the rest of the party-goers. The lone man stares at the hand pointing at him, apparently nonplused.
And River is a hamster!
Calliope's mouth hangs open slightly for a moment, then she slips out from her chair gracefully and twists her face up in a fake frown.
(raising an eyebrow quizzically)
That's not very Christian!
At this she bursts into gales of laughter while she motions toward a giant portrait of Jesus hanging on the wall and dominating the room. Walking across the floor, she gives the mound of blanket a playful kick and then drifts over to River, the lonely young man sitting in a rickety wooden rocking chair, completely secluded. Calliope brushes her hand against the top of his head, clumsily but gently, and exits into the kitchen.
- Direction: Scene now goes into half-color, looking much duller than before. The music slows very slightly. -
(shouted, as if he can no longer contain himself)
The blankets slip off Max's face as he rolls on the floor, laughing while tears stream down his face. River continues to look bored. Max crawls out from under the blanket and makes his way, on hands and knees, into the kitchen which seems to echo with the laughter of the others. As he draws even with River, Max sits up and places one hand on River's knee.
"Raquel, do you love me?"
River says nothing so Max laughs at his own joke and then crawls into the kitchen and is immediately greeted by several friendly cat-calls. River remains in the living room, alone, his back to the party.
*Cut to River's room:*
- Direction: The scene where river is alone in the room is at half-color. -
River sits in his room alone again, the light from the computer screen shining brightly on his yellowed face. His eyes are much too close to the screen and it's obvious he's concentrating very hard. His hands are perched on the keyboard and he looks expectant, but he makes no move.
* Cut to kitchen: *
Several college-age students lounge around a worn-looking table, a few sit on the counters, and two lie side-by-side, obviously inebriated, on the cold tile.
(sitting on the counter and preaching to the other party-goers around her)
But here's the thing! She didn't just, you know, call off the wedding. She totally pulled all that run-away-bride shit on him. He'd already invested, what was it? Eight thousand? And then she just broke it off. And now she's seeing someone else. And it's not the first time she's done it either, it's the second time. Two different men. And she's not even twenty! God, if I could get even one guy to propose to me. She's just being a bitch. She wants the attention, I know it.
Maybe she had a good reason.
Yeah, maybe he didn't treat her very well. Or maybe she realized she was too young to get married.
Max raises a hand as he lays on the floor, as if waiting to be called on by a teacher. Jane looks at him but he refuses to answer until she nods her head at him and calls his name.
Go ahead, Max.
Or maybe he had herpes.
(seconding the suggestion with enthusiasm)
Or maybe he had herpes!
I'll bet that was it.
Maybe she just realized that he wasn't the right person for her and they were moving in two different directions and he was kind of selfish and unstable.
Yeah, maybe that's what SHE was thinking.
(quietly, under her breath)
Yes, I'll bet that was it.
She gets down off the counter top quickly and exits the room.
* Cut: *
INT. OF THE SAME SHABBY HOUSE, INSIDE RIVER'S ROOM
River lies on his bed, a yellow baby blanket draped over his chest. He clutches the corner of it momentarily, then turns his reading lamp off and closes his eyes.
- Direction: The following scenes are shown in an old-style sepia color scheme and the sound is somewhat muted but still audible and clear. The film seems to flicker though it's not film, rather memories revealing themselves to River that he'd long since forgotten or repressed.
* Cut: *
A LONELY BEACH, NIGHT
Two young kids, a girl and a boy, sit on the beach and huddle together against both the darkness and the cold. The stars above them are brilliant and the sea in front of them is wild.
(as if instructing her in a course)
...and the moon actually effects the tides all over the world, which is actually really interesting when you think about it. Or maybe not...
He turns his head toward her, his face drawn up a bit as if he's afraid she'll find him boring.
(almost too enthusiastically)
No, it is interesting! It is!
She takes his hand very suddenly, almost violently. He draws back involuntarily and she looks embarrassed, averting her eyes. He also turns away, looking even more worried.
* Cut: *
IN FRONT OF A SMALL BRICK HOUSE, NIGHT
River stands in front of Calliope and the two stare at each other for several seconds. Suddenly River lunges forward and kisses Calliope on the forehead. He looks stunned at his own bravery, and the two stand awkwardly for a bit.
She turns and walks into the house.
* Cut: *
INT. OF A SMALL CAR, SUNSET
River is driving and Calliope is curled up in the passengers seat, eyes closed but obviously awake. Wrapped tightly around her is the yellow blanket. She gives a little moan, then shivers.
Pay attention to me!
Do you feel any better?
Do you want to stop and get something to drink, or some ibuprofen, or something?
Just keep driving.
You're not going to throw up in my car, are you?
Calliope opens one eye and glares up at him.
I hate you.
A small smile etches it's way across River's face.
* Cut: *
A SIDE STREET IN A SMALL NEIGHBORHOOD
Calliope walks out of the brick house and toward a parked car. A backpack slung over her shoulder, she reaches for the passenger side door and opens it, immediately stumbling back as she sees River inside.
What are you doing?
River sits in the drivers seat, naked except for an anatomy book which is set carefully on his lap. He acts as if everything is normal.
(in a whispered hiss)
Why aren't you wearing anything?
She glances around and makes a point of nodding toward the large bay window in the front of her house.
My parents are right there, you know!
I thought we were studying anatomy! Look!
He gestures to the anatomy book which he's opened to a page featuring a map of the male reproductive system. He grins and Calliope bursts into laughter, shifting from feigning anger to making a mockery of the situation. She stumbles into the car, and puts her head on her knees, closing her eyes.
* Cut: *
A COZY BASEMENT
‘It's a Wonderful Life' plays quietly on the television. Calliope is sound asleep on the couch with River, cuddled into his chest. River turns the television off an stares down at Calliope. He runs a finger gently over her cheek and she stirs slightly, but then falls back asleep.
* Cut: *
INT. OF A DARK ROOM, DAY
The curtains are pulled in dark and musty room. River sits, concentrating on the needle that he has stuck in his arm. He slowly injects the substance into himself and pulls the jab out, moving to set it down. Suddenly Calliope bursts into the room, eyes glowing. River jumps at the intrusion, trying to hide the needle quickly but poking the end deep into his hand accidently with the sudden movement.
He turns toward the door in a rage and the anger on his face matches Calliope's.
What the hell did you do that for, Calliope?
Oh, just for effect, really. I just wanted some attention. What the hell do you think I did it for, you ass?
Well, I was thinking a heart attack might have been your goal.
Yes, that's exactly why I would run around town looking for you when you haven't been back in days. Because I want you to die. Not because I'm worried about you or anything.
No, I wouldn't think that you would be worried, Calliope. When have you ever cared?
Calliope's face falls at this statement and she looks absolutely broken. She pulls her sweater more tightly to her body and pierces him with her hurt eyes for several seconds, then turns and speaks as she walks out the door.
Just because I'm not as good at displaying my emotions as you are, River, doesn't mean that I don't care.
River turns away from the door and looks extremely guilty as her words reach her ears. He sets his needle down and unwraps the belt from his arm, throwing it violently at the ground. He begins to shake and sits down on the floor, pulling his knees up to his chest.
- Direction: End sepia color scheme. -
* Cut: *
A SECLUDED BEACH VERY NEAR THE HOUSE WHERE THE PARTY IS STILL ON-GOING, EARLY MORNING, STILL DARK
River sits in the sand with his head down and his hands buried in the sand. His body heaves as he cries silently. Unnoticed, Calliope approaches him from behind. She sits down next to him quietly and it's several seconds before River addresses her.
- Direction: When River spots Calliope, the scene explodes from half color to full color and the sound of the ocean lapping up on the beach can be heard much more clearly. The sound is no longer fuzzy but pleasant and relaxing. -
Calliope bobs her head in greeting.
(she says this playfully, though she wears a sad smile)
He looks over his shoulder at her, aiming his body back and looking right into her face, almost begging her to say more to him. When she doesn't, he does.
Could we be real for a little while? I haven't really talked to anyone in ages and I'm afraid that I might be going insane. I really mean that, literally.
Calliope heaves a sigh and takes a seat next to River, digging her fingers into the sand as her legs fold underneath her. She then turns her body toward River, speaking to him very candidly and openly.
I think we could be real if we tried. Do you want to try? Because most of the time I just feel like you want to hibernate inside yourself.
River recoils slightly as if her words have been a physical blow, but he forces a nod.
(he struggles to find the words and speaks slowly)
I'm just so dead, all the time, Calliope. Nothing seems real anymore, and I feel like time is just skipping by and I'm not doing anything, and I can't do anything. I don't have an ounce of creativity left.
(speaking quickly so as to reassure him)
Yes you do, you'll always have your creativity. You're just bound up because you've been through a low point lately, that's all. It's just a rut. It'll be fine once you feel better.
But happiness is only temporary. I just keep falling back on all these depressing thoughts that are always in my head.
Probably we just focus too much on depressing thoughts. That's our nature though. I understand what you mean, I just...I don't know. It just makes me not want to grow up anymore.
(softly, almost embarrassed)
I miss you.
I miss you too. Very much. You know that. If I didn't I wouldn't even bother talking to you.
I know. I'm just so insecure. I don't know what to think about anything, really. I just need to know that the things I thought were true are. I'm confused. I'm probably confusing too.
What are you confused about?
I don't know. Recently, for some reason, I've been kind of on edge. Overanalyzing everything. All of my friendships, things people say. I don't know. I've been finding meaning behind things people say when most likely there's no meaning at all, I guess. And worst of all is that I don't have anyone who wants to listen to this shit. No friends that I can really talk to. Not like I used to be able to with you. It makes me feel very isolated.
Well, you know that I over-analyze everything, so welcome to my world. For me though, it's more like I know that my friends are invested in me and care about my feelings, but I just don't really want to be that open with them. I don't know why.
I just feel like an un-eloquent sap every time I try to talk to anyone about my feelings. I mean my important feelings. So I stopped talking.
Calliope leans over and gives him a peck on the cheek.
- Direction: When Calliope gives River a kiss, the scene immediately bursts into even more vibrant color, the saturation doubled. -
Don't stop talking. You've got too much to say.
River looks stricken by this statement but remains silent. Calliope stands and leaves the beach, her hand once again gently drifting over the top of River's head. His eyes close with her touch and he draws a breath in, holding it for several seconds before he releases it and speaks in a soft voice.
River sits on the beach for himself for a few minutes, and when he hears the door of the house slam he stands and walks toward the edge of the water. The sea sparkles brilliantly and he slips his Chuck Taylors off and wades out into the tide, deeper and deeper.