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16/11/2016

From Here

Eleanor Herzog

OVER BLACK:

The sound of running water.

CASSANDRA (O.S.)

You weren’t thinking about us. Nothing you say can change that. Nothing you do will make that better.

INT. HOSPITAL WAITING ROOM – DAY

Doctors, nurses, patients bustle in claustrophobic waiting room lined with peeling NHS posters. In the mid1dle of chaos, sat side by side:

ISLA BLACKBURN, 16, school uniform covered in blood, smart, and a song so tightly coiled inside that she may be the one that stops herself from singing it.

FINLEY BOSKO, 16, her twin, blood covered uniform, charming, and one half of a story that’s lost without the other.

Both ashen, staring straight ahead, ignoring all around.

CASSANDRA (O.S.)

And now a second won’t pass without us being terrified you’ll do it again.

INT. HOSPITAL BATHROOM – DAY

The water sound increases, now with splashing. We see the fluorescent bathroom reflected through a mirror.

CASSANDRA BLACKBURN, 32, Scottish, practical, and a life wrapped around her like an invisibility cloak, appears, face dripping with water and blood.

CASSANDRA (O.S.)

And a night won’t pass without us waking, wondering if you’re still breathing.

She looks at reflection, disappears again, more splashing, reappears with less blood. She leans forward, eyes open, until forehead rests on mirror. She exhales as shock hits her, mouth slack, eyes unfocused.

BEAT

She breathes in again, stands straight, turns, walks out.

CASSANDRA (O.S.)

This is what you’ve done to us. This is the father you’ve become.

She’s left the tap running but as door slams we CUT TO:

INT. HOSPITAL WARD – DAY

CASMIR BOSKO, 50, in hospital bed, thick bandages around both wrists, and a soul burnt by a depression so severe, no one quite realised it was there.

Cassandra perches on edge of bed.

CASMIR

Don’t hate me.

CASSANDRA

That’s not what I’m saying.

Casmir lifts hand to his stubbly face.

CASMIR

The children and the…My heart sounds like an echo chamber.

Cassandra pulls hand away.

CASSANDRA

An echo chamber? You do this to us and then talk about it like we’re characters in one of your stories?

Cassandra stabs a finger at herself.

CASSANDRA

I’m your story.

Cassandra stabs a finger at the door.

CASSANDRA

Those children are you story.

Cassandra stares, then softens slightly, brow furrowed.

CASSANDRA

How did we get here, Casmir?

Casmir shakes head, lost for words. This seems to infuriate Cassandra again. She grabs her bloody clothes.

CASSANDRA

Look at what you’ve done.

Casmir turns away. Cassandra grabs jaw, forces him to look.

CASSANDRA

Look at what you’ve done. Speak.

BEAT. Cassandra releases.

CASMIR

A review. They said my work was devoid of history. Dishonest. They’re right. I’m done writing. I’m done.

Cassandra turns away, thinks on this, stares out window.

CASSANDRA

We need to go home.

CASMIR

They want to keep me in overnight.

CASSANDRA

Scotland home. You’re going to sit with your father and you’re going to finish that book.

Casmir stares at her, incredulous.

CASSANDRA

You need history? He is it.

Casmir dissolves into heavy tears. Cassandra stares, anger rising before…she buries herself in his chest, eyes fixed on the bandages wrapped around the arms that cradle her.

INT. BATHROOM – NIGHT

On hands and knees, Cassandra mops puddles of blood. She picks up dismantled razor blade, throws in bin. She picks up blood soaked notebook full of scrawl, leans back on her heels to flick through. She sighs – she knows it all already.

EXT. SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS – DUSK (1 WEEK LATER)

A murmuration of starlings graces the sky, stretches impossibly thin before reuniting in its endless dance.

Below, a lonely road splits the land. A dot travels along it, disappears behind hill, reappears as a vintage beetle, pulls to a stop. Cassandra emerges from driver’s side.

ISLA (O.S.)

Mum!

But she closes door, looks around with her treacle eyes. On one side, the Scottish Highlands: hilly, wind battered, wild. On the other, a defunct steel works and adjoining town, the starlings disappearing towards it. She knocks on window.

CASSANDRA

Let’s do Belleville here, get it out the way.

Casmir and Finley fall out, stretch. Finley points to town.

FINLEY

Isn’t that where we’re going?

Casmir walks away to edge of road, looks in opposite direction at the hills.

Cassandra opens boot. Inside, a series of labelled boxes. She heaves out one labelled BELLEVILLE, pulls out matching jumpers. She throws them to Finley and Casmir. Casmir’s lands in dirt next to him.

Cassandra walks around to side door, opens it, looks at:

Isla, oversized headphones, ripped jeans drawn to chest, sketching something she quickly hides.

CASSANDRA

Isla, get your jumper on.

Isla shuts eyes.

CASSANDRA

We can’t do this picture without you. They want a family shot.

Isla opens one eye to peer at Cassandra.

CUT TO:

Cassandra attaches phone to selfie stick. She lines up the family so the hills are in background.

CASSANDRA

Belleville want energetic and warm. Hashtag is love these three humans more than anything. I’ll add something about family adventures. Trip to see Grandad.

Their arms snake around one another as they morph into a perfect poster family: healthy, happy, bohemian. As they stare into phone, we see they have Cassandra’s treacle eyes, except Casmir, whose are blue sky winter’s day.

Cassandra sees Casmir’s bandages. She laces fingers in his, moves bandages out of shot. The shutter sounds 1, 2, 3, unnatural in landscape, and then they’re done.

CASSANDRA

I’ll upload to Jenny for sign off.

The family melt away, pulling off jumpers.

INT. BEETLE – DUSK

The shadow of rain falls inside the car. Cassandra, in driver’s seat, navigates The Highlands.

CASSANDRA

We’ve got to do the Kinspeckle pictures again.

No one responds. She flicks on windscreen wipers.

CASSANDRA

Jenny e-mailed. She said they won’t pay until we get them right. They think there’s something missing.

Her words hang unanswered, dissected by squeak of wipers.

EXT. PERIOD HOUSE – EVENING

A vast house shrouded by ivy and crowned with storm clouds. A gravel drive stretches away from it, lined with giant yews pruned into marching men. The beetle crunches up drive, rolls to a stop. No one gets out.

INT. BEETLE – EVENING

Cassandra puts hand on Casmir’s. He doesn’t look up.

CASSANDRA

We’re going to fix this.

An alarm goes off. Casmir silences, takes out bag of pills. His throat works overtime as he dry swallows 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. The family watches.

EXT. PERIOD HOUSE РEVENING

The family from behind, bundled together on doorstep. Cassandra reaches for Casmir’s hand, clasps it firmly.

BEAT

All looks to Casmir. He does nothing. Cassandra leans forward and bangs door knocker. Casmir drops Cassandra’s hand.

The door clanks as it’s unlocked and opened.

ON ARTUR BOSKO, 80, glass eye, cane in hand, and a ferocity that would prefer to die alone than burn out. He fixes his good eye on Casmir, speaks in sceptical, thick Polish accent.

ARTUR

So the heir returns.

INT. KITCHEN – EVENING

Artur stands at table head, carving pink flesh. The knife grates on bone but he saws on. Casmir passes plates around.

All served, the family waits for Artur to start. He doesn’t.

CASSANDRA

Smells great, Artur.

ARTUR

(too loud)

What?

CASSANDRA

I said smells great.

Artur leans over to Casmir conspiratorially.

ARTUR

(too loud)

Your wife got fat.

Cassandra freezes. Artur, oblivious, takes a bite, chews slowly, mouth open. His false eye rolls in socket and the other comes to rest on Casmir.

ARTUR

So you became a famous novelist?

Cassandra pushes plate away. The others tuck in.

CASMIR

Not famous but I get paid.

CASSANDRA

Got.

ARTUR

What? Use your voice.

CASMIR

I sent you my books.

ARTUR

They arrived.

CASMIR

I dedicated one to you.

Artur takes bite, chew slowly, swallows.

ARTUR

Your wife seems to think you need me for your writing now. Your next big novel the world’s waiting for.

CASMIR

I don’t need you. My novel is about a father and son and you could be useful to use as a case study.

ARTUR

So you’re writing about me?

CASMIR

No. About immigrants and fatherhood. You have an interesting story. I want to use it.

Artur tuts. Cassandra leans in, touches his arm.

CASSANDRA

It’s more than that, Artur. We’re family and we want that to start to mean something.

Artur’s good eye flicks between Finley and Isla. They look down at plates. He moves his arm away from Cassandra.

ARTUR

Better you don’t try to explain what family means.

Cassandra, chastised, looks down. Artur stands, clears plates even though they’re not finished. He pauses, plates in hand.

ARTUR

You hear?

The family look at the deaf old man.

ARTUR

My wolves.

ISLA

I don’t hear anything.

FINLEY

Real wolves?

Artur dumps plates, forces open cobwebbed window. And, coming in on wind, faint howling. The twins’ eyes light up.

ARTUR

(mutters)

These hills and glens and wooded wilds can tell, how many wolves and boars and deer then fell.

CASMIR

You’re re-introducing?

CASSANDRA

Are they safe?

ARTUR

We’re going to send their children’s children back into the wild.

CASMIR

You got government funding?

ARTUR

I’m using the steel compensation.

ISLA

I want to see them.

CASSANDRA

Only if it’s safe.

ARTUR

My boy will show you.

Artur returns to seat, looks Cassandra up and down.

ARTUR

What do you do now, Ms. Blackburn?

Cassandra speaks well-rehearsed lines.

CASSANDRA

Well, I’m a mother first and foremost and I’m also a brand ambassador. Casmir’s fans follow him on Instagram as they’re interested in how we make space for creativity in our lives and –

CASMIR

I thought we could start interviewing tomorrow morning.

Artur doesn’t look at Casmir.

ARTUR

I’m not going anywhere.

EXT. WOLF ENCLOSURE – MORNING

Isla sits cross legged on ground, sketches wolves in book. She looks up, eyes lingering on:

GRAHAM, 22, floppy hair, light in eyes, and tripping on the tightrope that stretches between boyish honour and manhood. He’s inside enclosure throwing food to the wolves. They jump at him, snarl, bite protective clothing. He flashes wide grin at Isla. She smiles shyly back.

GRAHAM

You don’t look like him.

ISLA

I try not to look like people I hate.

GRAHAM

No one hates Artur.

Graham laughs as wolf nearly floors him. Isla goes back to drawing. Graham walks over to the mesh, closer to Isla.

GRAHAM

Let me see your pictures.

Isla shakes head, moves book out of his view.

GRAHAM

I can see from here. You’re good.

ISLA

(pleased)

I’m not.

GRAHAM

Can’t be easy.

ISLA

What?

GRAHAM

Having a famous writer father.

ISLA

It’s not like anyone buys him anymore. Mum makes all the money now, just pretends she doesn’t.

Isla stands, walks to cage, wraps fingers through mesh.

ISLA

Let me in.

Graham shakes his head.

ISLA

You’ll stop them if they try to hurt me.

Graham threads fingers through mesh just above hers.

GRAHAM

They don’t hurt me because they know me.

ISLA

They can get to know me.

GRAHAM

I hand fed cubs that the alpha females gave up on. I’m kin. You can’t fake that.

Isla smiles, eyes glowing.

GRAHAM

You’d like them when they’re young. They’ve got these dark blue eyes that only harden to their proper colour when they get old. Remember that when you’re colouring in.

ISLA

I do more than colouring in.

GRAHAM

So show people. Then they’d know.

Isla shakes head. Graham presses forehead to mesh, stares at her, eyes like Autumn leaves.

GRAHAM

Come to a party with me tomorrow.

ISLA

You know I’m sixteen?

GRAHAM

Yeah.

 

END

 

Eleanor Herzog was published in this year’s UEA Creative Writing MA Anthology: Scriptwriting

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