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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/1441998
Rated: 18+ · Script/Play · Adult · #1441998
the legacy of abuse
                   “SHOTS AT MIDNIGHT”


EXT. BALSAM COURT MENTAL HOSPITAL – MORNING - 1998

A red brick hospital with barred windows lies amidst foliating trees. A NURSE stands by the entrance, smoking.

INT. BALSAM COURT MENTAL HOSPITAL HALLWAY - MORNING

NURSES walk quickly back and forth, in and out of rooms.

INT. BALAM COURT MENTAL HOSPITAL COMMON ROOM – MORNING

A few PATIENTS sit playing cards at a table. NURSE 1 stands in the nurse’s station overseeing the common area. Near the nurse’s station are two enclosed payphones. A WOMAN, in her late thirties, talks on one of these phones.

                   WOMAN
Has she asked about me? (A pause, as the Woman sheds some tears.) You’ve told her I miss her, right. That I wish I could be with her. (A Pause.) Tell her I’m coming home soon. You can bring her by after I get settled back in. She won’t worry as much that way, she won’t wonder about what happened…

The Woman’s voice trails off into the background. Suddenly a TV BLASTS the local news.

                         NURSE 1
Annie, you know the rules!

An overweight woman GROANS, turning off the TV. NURSE 2 enters the room, looking at a clipboard.

                   NURSE 2
E. Constance. Dr. Weymore will see you in his office now. Don’t keep him waiting.

The Woman looks over to Nurse 2, and hangs up the phone.

INT. PSYCHIATRIST’S OFFICE – MORNING

DR. WEYMORE, a heavy-set man, at a large desk, peruses the contents of a manila folder. Opposite him sits ELISE CONSTANCE, the Woman, her wrists clearly scarred.

                                DR. WEYMORE
Well, Elise, it’s been nearly a month since you arrived at Balsam Court and your progress is just remarkable.

Dr. Weymore puts down the folder. He looks up at Elise.
                   
                   DR. WEYMORE
I am quite confident that you are no longer a danger to yourself, nor to anyone else. But these issues we’ve been discussing: your childhood, your mother, they must remain primary in your treatment.

                                ELISE
But I can go home, right?

                                DR WEYMORE
I will fill out a release form for you. However, you must agree to come back once a week to meet with one of our staff psychologists, Dr. Moore. He can help guide you through the tough realities you will face both at work and home. Do we have a deal?

                   ELISE
         (Nodding)
I need to go home. Susie needs me.

EXT. ELISE’S HOUSE – AFTERNOON

A small, white house. The grass is high and weedy, covered with litter. Elise, with a small suitcase, exits a cab and looks around. The cab drives off, birds CHIRP.

                                                                                         DISSOLVE TO:

INT. ELISE’S HOUSE – A FEW MONTHS LATER – DAYTIME - 1999

Elise opens the front door and looks out to a well-kept yard, where a little girl aged 10, SUSIE, skips rope.
Elise stands behind the screen, sipping a bottle of wine.

INT. ELISE’S KITCHEN – LATE AFTERNOON

Elise stands there drinking. A wine bottle CRASHES to the tile floor. She begins LAUGHING. The CRASH resonates.

FLASHBACK TO:

INT. ELISE’S kitchen - 1969

Young Elise, age ten, covers her ears. Her mother, DIANE CONSTANCE, YELLS as she SMACKS Young Elise. The house looks the same as before, except there are much fewer appliances and tacky orange wallpaper replaces the modern white paint.

                           DIANE
How many times must I tell you! No playing near mommy’s special shelf. Now look what you did! Glass everywhere -

                              YOUNG ELISE
         (SOBBING)
But Mommy, mommy, I didn’t mean it. I wanted to get that cookbook back there, but it’s too high, I slipped…

                         DIANE
You’re going to clean that all up. And no dinner for you tonight! NOW HURRY!!!

  FLASHFORWARD TO:

INT. ELISE’S KITCHEN – NIGHT - 1999

Elise sweeps the glass bits and dumps them in the garbage.

                         ELISE
Susie, sweetie? It’s time for dinner.

                   SUSIE (O.S.)
Coming mommy! I’m upstairs, one second…

FLASHBACK TO:

INT. ELISE’S BEDROOM – 1969

Young Elise sits on her bed, scribbling in a journal.

                   YOUNG ELISE
Coming mommy! I’m upstairs, one second…

Young Elise hides the journal, and runs out of her room.

INT. ELISE’S KITCHEN – NIGHT

Diane stands by the answering machine, visibly mad.

                   DIANE
Miss. Dumore called. Said you didn’t do your homework last night. Is that true?

                   YOUNG ELISE
Yes, but it was because daddy called and I miss him so much, I wanted to -

                                DIANE
You have to face it: your father isn’t a part of your life anymore. Schoolwork is important. Don’t you want to do well and lead a better life than… than this?

Diane grabs Young Elise’s arm, twisting the girl, who winces in great pain. Young Elise CRIES, as her mother, knocking the little girl down, goes to the refrigerator to get a bottle. Young Elise sneaks out of the room.

  FLASHFORWARD TO:

ELISE’S KITCHEN – PRESENT

Elise reaches into the refrigerator and picks up a wine bottle. She takes a swig, then hides it behind some juice.

Susie enters, and looks across at the kitchen table, where two microwave dinners sit, steam shooting out the tops.

                                SUSIE
Mommy, why do we have to have microwave dinners? When I was staying at Anna’s, we had real meals. Mrs. B. was cooking all day and -

                   ELISE
I don’t have time to cook all day. Darby doesn’t have to work two jobs; Darby has a husband to help her.

                   SUSIE
Where is my daddy? And why can’t you quit your jobs and stay home with me?

                   ELISE
Susie, you know your father left me. But we’ve made it pretty well by ourselves, haven’t we?

                   SUSIE
What about when I was at the Bondetta’s? Where were you then?
         (a beat)
Was it because I was being a bad girl?

                   ELISE
No! Never think that. Mommy just needed a break. Sometimes people just need to rest. I needed to rest. It wasn’t you.

EXT. ELISE’S HOUSE – THE NEXT MORNING

Elise prunes bushes at the side of her lawn. Her neighbor, and only friend, DARBY BONDETTA, leans over the fence.

                   DARBY
You know, Ellie, you haven’t been out as much since - well, since -
                             
                   ELISE
         (emotionlessly)
Since the hospital. Yeah, I know.

                   DARBY
Ellie, we’ve been friends since grade school. I know when something’s up.

                   ELISE
Come on, Darby, Susie and I are fine.

An awkward silence. Elise continues pruning her bushes. Darby still eyes her searchingly. Elise looks back up.

                                ELISE
         (in a serious tone)
Okay, Dabs, I’ll tell you. Remember how things were before the hospital? How I was haunted by memories of my mother?

                   DARBY
Yeah. Is that happening again?

                   ELISE
I’m just so afraid that Susie is going to grow up and be like me – like my mother. I try so hard, just I can’t give her homemade dinners every night; I can’t be with her all day. But I’d never touch her. You know that, right?

                   DARBY
I know. Susie thinks the world of you.
(a beat)
Don’t be mad at me for asking, but have you been drinking again? And you know what I mean.
         
                   ELISE
         (focusing on her bushes)
Dabs, I’m not an alcoholic. I’m not like my mother. I haven’t had a sip in weeks. I don’t even like the stuff.

Darby’s rolls her eyes in disbelief at Elise. A loud HONK.
The two women turn to see a school bus. Two girls jump out: Susie and ANNA BONDETTA. The girls run to their mothers.

INT. BALSAM COURT MENTAL HOSPITAL HALLWAY – THE NEXT DAY          

Elise stands by the nurse’s station with Nurse 2. PATIENTS in the common room work on a puzzle. Annie sits in front of the TV, staring at the blank screen.

                   NURSE 2
         (looking at clipboard)
Constance, Elise. Yes, Dr. Moore will see you in… let’s see… room 5. It’s right around the corner there, honey.

Elise nods. She walks down the hall looking for room 5.

INT. BALSAM COURT ROOM 5 – A FEW MINUTES LATER

DR. MOORE holds a leather-bound notepad. He reclines in a vinyl chair across from the worn couch that Elise sits on.

                         DR. MOORE
How are you today, Elise?

                         ELISE
I think Susie’s mad at me.

                         DR. MOORE
What makes you think that?

                         ELISE
She wants a dad. And She thinks my neighbor can take better care of her than I do. If only she didn’t remind me so much of myself when I was her age.

                         DR. MOORE
I think I’m missing something here -

                       ELISE
It’s just sometimes I feel like Susie is my second chance at life. I had a terrible childhood; my mother treated me horribly. I don’t want that for Susie. I want her to have everything she needs – everything I needed.

                       DR. MOORE
You’re taking too much blame. You’re not at fault for being abused. You were a victim. But you can fight back now, by being tough, by providing for Susie.

                       ELISE
But what if providing for her means giving her up?

                       DR. MOORE
We all want a mom: let Susie have one.

EXT. ELISE’S HOUSE – AFTERNOON

Elise sits on the porch step watching Susie do cartwheels.

                       SUSIE
Mommy, did you see that! I did a double cartwheel! No one else can do that!

                       ELISE
                 (monotonously)
That’s great honey.

                       SUSIE
You aren’t excited, mommy?
         
                       ELISE
I just have a headache, Susie. A real bad headache.

                       SUSIE
               (sitting down next to Elise)
I could get you some aspirin, mommy.

                   ELISE
No. Just keep playing, I’ll be fine.

Susie looks at her mother sadly.

                   SUSIE
         Are you gonna send me next door again?

INT. ELISE’S KITCHEN - EVENING

Susie sits at the table, eating chips. She gets up and goes to the refrigerator with her cup. She picks up the juice, and notices the wine behind. Susie pours some into her cup.

Elise walks in and sees Susie tasting the wine.

                   ELISE
Susanna Louise Constance! What in the world do you think you’re doing?

                   SUSIE
I-I-I was just trying some, mommy. I just wanted to know how it tasted.

Elise knocks the glass away from Susie, letting it CRASH to the floor. In a sudden fit of rage she grabs Susie’s arm.

                   SUSIE
         Mommy! That hurts. Please, stop. I didn’t mean it. I was only tasting -

                   ELISE
You should never do that. What did I tell you? What did I tell you? I want to hear you say it. SAY IT!

                   SUSIE
                 (through her sobs)
You-you said that-that those bottles are bad. They are only for-for mommy. I can n-never touch them.
                (her voice fading)
Never touch them.
                   
                   ELISE
How do you expect your life to be better than mine if you don’t listen? How? Tell me!
                             
                   SUSIE
Mommy, it hurts! It hurts. I’ll never do it again. I’ll go to Anna’s, just let go of me, please, let go of me.

Elise drops her hands by her sides. She looks down and sees red marks all over Susie’s arm. Susie trembles and runs out of the room, without looking back at her mother.

Elise sits down at the kitchen table, her head in her hands. The empty bottle rests in the background.

                   ELISE
What have I done? What have I done?

                                                 FLASHBACK TO:

INT. ELISE’S BEDROOM – NIGHT - 1969

Young Elise lies in her bed. Diane sits by her feet.

                   DIANE
         Elise? Can you hear me? Are you awake?

                   YOUNG ELISE
         Is that you, momma?

                   DIANE
         Yes, darling. I want you to know something, Elise. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I didn’t realize what I was doing.

                   YOUNG ELISE
         Why did you do it? Don’t you love me?

                   DIANE
         Of course I love you, darling. I don’t mean to hurt you. I’ve never meant it.

Young Elise rolls away from Diane.
                   
                   DIANE
         I won’t do it again, darling. I won’t do it again. How about that?

                   YOUNG ELISE
         You always say that, momma. You always say it.          

                   DIANE
         I mean it this time, Elise, I promise.

Diane tucks Young Elise in bed and exits the dark room. 

                                               FLASHFORWARD TO:

INT. SUSIE’S BEDROOM – 1999

Susie is in her bed. The lights are off. Elise enters the room and sits at the foot of the bed.

                   ELISE
Susie, sweetie. Are you still awake?

                   SUSIE
         (half-asleep)
Mommy, is that you?

                   ELISE
Yes, Susie.

                   SUSIE
What is it, mommy? What do you want?
         
                   ELISE
Today, when I grabbed you – well I shouldn’t have. It wasn’t your fault.

                   SUSIE
It hurt, when you grabbed me.

                   ELISE
I’ll never do it again honey. I promise, I’ll never do it again.

Susie falls back asleep. Elise kisses her head.

INT. ELISE’S HOUSE DEN – LATE NIGHT

Elise sees a picture of Diane and Young Elise on the mantelpiece. Elise, shaking, holds a bottle of white wine.

                   DIANE (V.O.)
         I mean it this time, Elise, I promise.
                   (a beat)
         I mean it this time, Elise, I promise.

This line resonates in Elise’s head. Elise grabs her ears, trying to block it out, as tears flood her eyes.

                   ELISE
         No, no, no! I won’t let this happen.                    

Elise lifts a picture of her and Susie off the wall. Staring at a small safe, she turns the dials to: 513. A news clipping falls to her feet. It reads: ‘May 14, 1969. Single mother kills self last night before her child.’

Elise, still holding the picture of her with Susie, pulls a dark object out of the safe. She weakly walks to the couch.

                                                 FLASHBACK TO:

INT. ELISE’S DEN – May 13th - 1969

Diane sits on the same couch, holding a small gun. Young Elise, unaware of her mother’s presence, reads in a chair.

INT. ELISE’S DEN – 1999

Elise begins talking to the photo of Susie and her.

                   ELISE
Susie, I am sorry for what I’ve done. I’m sorry I hurt you. I’m sorry I can’t be like Darby. You deserve a mother like her.

INT. ELISE’S DEN – 1969

Diane holds the gun to her own head and SHOOTS.

INT ELISE’S DEN - 1999

                   ELISE
I don’t want you to suffer what I have. Things will be better for you this way. You can have a good mother; Darby will come through for us. Love you, sweetie.

Elise places the photo on her lap face up. She holds the object to her head. Light reflects of the metallic object.

                   ELISE
Don’t make our mistakes, Susie. You can do better. I have faith in you.

Elise pulls the trigger. BANG! The picture of her and Susie slams to the ground, blood spattered all over it.

INT. ELISE’S DEN – 1969

Young Elise turns around, horrified. She runs over to her mother’s limp body, crying. She touches her mother’s arm, as if trying to wake her.

                   YOUNG ELISE
Mommy, mommy! Can you hear me? Please, say you can hear me. Please, just be alive. Please! I don’t know what to do.

                                               FLASHFORWARD TO:

INT. SUSIE’S BEDROOM – 1999

A loud BANG! Susie, startled, sits up quickly.

                   SUSIE
Mommy? I heard a noise. Mommy?

Susie runs out of her bedroom.

INT. ELISE’S DEN

                   SUSIE
MOMMY? MOMMY! MOMMY!

Susie runs into the room and over to the body of her mother. Crying, Susie sits there, embracing the corpse.

                   SUSIE
Oh, Mommy, I don’t know what to do. I’m scared. Please don’t leave me –

Susie picks up the wine bottle. The contents gently SWISHES back and forth. She reads through the liquid to the date stamped on the bottle: May 13, 1969.
                             
                   ADULT SUSIE (V.O.)          
My name is Susanna and I am an alcoholic.

                   THE END
© Copyright 2008 CareBearLes (lesb at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/1441998