Coping

By: KT the Shimmer Skank

Rating: R for language and death

Notes: My friend William asked me to write a script for him for a short film, so I did.

[It opens with a shot of an alarm clock that reads 6:15, the alarm goes off, and a few seconds later a hand reaches over and slams down on it to turn it off, resulting in the clock to topple to the floor. Pan out to see that the hand is attached to Andrew, snoozing in his tousled blankets. We watch him sleeping for a few moments. Then a woman's voice is heard off-camera.]

Mom: Andrew! [There is a pause; Andrew doesn't move] Andrew! If you're taking a shower, you have to take it NOW! [another pause.] ANDREW!

Andrew: (barely out of his slumber) I'm not taking one. I can't go to school today.

Mom: Why the hell not?

Andrew: Because I'm mourning!

Mom: Oh. Okay.

[A caption appears: "Step One: Shock." What follows is a time lapse of shots of Andrew sleeping away the day. He progressively shifts in slightly different positions.

Several hours have passed. Andrew crawls out of bed, slowly. He returns the alarm clock to the night stand; it reads 2:16. He lethargically digs through his cluttered floor and finds clothes he deems suitable for wearing to a funeral. He staggers to the bathroom, emotionlessly. His mirror has various photos around it. He looks at himself briefly, then pulls off a particular photo, containing Jodie. He glances at it for a moment, showing no distinguishable sentiment, then puts it pack. He brushes his teeth.

The next scene shows Andrew getting into his car. The radio is on low as he drives. He dials a number on his cell phone as he drives and puts it to his ear.]

Andrew: Hey. Nothing; I just woke up. Um, I'm going to Jodie's funeral. Are you coming? Cool. You need me to give you a ride? Oh, okay. I'll see you in a few minutes.

[This shot lingers for a moment before cutting to the next scene. There is a crowd of mourners in a cemetery at a funeral; the predominate subjects of this shot are four teenagers, standing shoulder to shoulder: John, Andrew, Maggie, and Nick. Their expressions are of awkward confusion; they are not overly emotional, but are clearly trying not to look bored. Occasionally they scratch, cough, straighten their hair and clothing, and otherwise shift uncomfortably as the pastor's voice is heard (not predominately) reading a Biblical passage off-camera. This scene lasts about thirty seconds.

In the next scene, the other mourners are greeting one another/making their way away from the funeral. Our four teenagers are standing around and talking idly.]

John: Did you study for Carter's test?

Andrew: No.

John: Yeah, me neither. Do you think we're gonna need to know the stuff from that hand-out?

Andrew: I don't know. Probably not.

Nick: (after a moment's quiet.) Hey, Andrew, we were talking about getting together tonight. John's bringing beer. Sort of like an 'in-honor-of' for Jodie.

Andrew: Yeah, that sounds good. Where at?

Nick: We were thinking of doing it at your house.

Andrew: My house? Why does it have to be my house?

Nick: Because you're the only one whose parents don't care.

Andrew: (too tired to argue) All right, man. But this is just going to be a few friends, right? For Jodie.

Nick: Yeah.

Andrew: I'm dead fucking serious, man, I don't want any random people from across town showing up at my house tonight expecting a kegger.

Nick: Dude, I know that. Don't worry.

Maggie: (incredulous) Don't you guys think it's just a little insensitive to get drunk in honor of someone who was just killed by a drunk driver?

Nick: Not really. Jodie was probably drunk, too.

Maggie: Whatever, man. I'll see you guys later. [She turns quickly and starts walking away.]

Andrew: Hey, Maggie, are you coming tonight?

Maggie: (still walking) Yeah, maybe.

John: Are you guys hungry? I'm starving.

Andrew: Yeah. You wanna go to Waffle House?

John: Yeah.

Andrew: Nick?

Nick: Nah. I gotta go to work. I'll come by tonight around nine, okay?

Andrew: Yeah, all right. See you later, man.

Nick: Later.

[Nick leaves. The shot lingers, showing John and Andrew simply standing around.

The next scene has John and Andrew at a table at Waffle House, eating. Another caption appears: "Step Two: Denial."]

John: So are you doing anything tomorrow?

Andrew: I don't know. I'll probably just hang around.

John: I was thinking of driving up to the lake or something. You think Nick and Maggie have got any plans?

Andrew: Well, I don't know. It's been a rough week for all of us.

John: Yeah. I had such a killer essay in English, man. And then out of nowhere Ms. Cagle is all, "Get up and present it," and I'm like, "What the hell?" You think she would have told us about having to present it before the day it was due, you know? I'm gonna have to bust my ass to keep an A in that class.

Andrew: Yeah.

John: (waits a beat) These hash browns are awesome. There is nothing better than Waffle House hash browns.

Andrew: Yeah.

John: Yeah. Oh, dude. I wonder who's going to give me a ride to school now... Jodie's the only person I know in my neighborhood.

Andrew: [He shrugs] Are you... gonna be okay, John?

John: Huh? Oh, sure. It's not big deal; I'm sure I can find someone to give me a ride.

Andrew: (looks at John for a moment.) Um... yeah.

[This shot lingers, then cuts to the next scene. Andrew is walking through the door into his house, looking exhausted. He tosses his keys onto a table by the door and rubs his hands over his face. He is soaking in the mental and physical exhaustion of the day as it hits him. He stands there for a moment, slightly uncomfortable. He feels like there is something he should be doing, like this is the part where he has some kind of emotional epiphany. After a moment's more blank contemplation, he plops down on the couch. By reflex, he picks up the remote and turns on the TV.

Another caption appears: "Step Three: Anger" What follows is another time lapse of Andrew sitting on the couch, barely changing his position, as the glow of the TV reflects on his face and the sounds can be heard. The light coming from outside progresses from day to night. At one point, Andrew's Mom comes home carrying groceries. A few shots later, she is seen leaving, wearing a waitress's uniform; Andrew and his mother never acknowledge each other. Finally, by the last shot, Andrew has nodded off to sleep. The phone wakes him.]

Andrew: Hello? [Upon finding out who it is, he sits up straight and becomes noticeably more eager.] Oh, hey, Maggie. Nothing. I've been at home. How are you feeling? That's good. (pause) So... are you coming over tonight? Oh... Well, whenever you can make it is fine. Um, okay. I guess I'll talk to you later, then. [He hangs up the phone; his mood has visibly gone down.]

[Next scene: Andrew is opening the front door; he finds Nick, and two unfamiliar people are with him.]

Nick: Hey, man! What's going on?

Andrew: Uh, nothing, I guess... who is this?

Nick: (looks back at his two companions) Oh, these are just some friends of mine from across town.

[Nick invites himself and his companions inside. Andrew looks outside and sees two more cars pulling into his driveway. He sighs and goes back inside, defeated.

Cut to the next scene, an hour or so later. Loud music and talking can be heard in the background. Nick is standing in the center of a small crowd, laughing with a drink in hand. He is in the middle of telling a story. Another caption appears: "Step Four: Guilt." Throughout his story, Nick continually laughs and uses animated gestures, working the crowd and getting them to laugh at Jodie's expense, feeling no remorse.]

Nick: And so it's, like, six in the morning. I'm totally not awake, and I'm lying in bed talking to Jodie, thinking like, "What the fuck does she want?" and she's all, "Hey," like it's totally normal. And I'm like, "Are you okay?" and she's like, "Well, not really. We've been out all night and the cops almost caught us." And I'm like, "Where are you now?" And she, she says, "We're behind the tree." And I'm like, "What tree?" And she's just, like this is still all completely normal, "The tree, man. In your yard." So then I get up, walk to the window, and sure enough, I can see like Jodie and four random people squatting behind the tree in my yard. And I mean, it's been raining off and on all night, I know they're back there all wet and muddy and freezing their asses off. So I'm like, "What the hell are you doing?" And she's like, "We came and hid in your yard when the cops started chasing us. So we were just gonna wait until curfew was over." And so I'm like, "Well, why are you still out there?" And she's like, "Um, there's this guy... and he's shooting at us. And then I'm like, "What?" So I go to the window, and I look next door, and I see, like, my ninety-year-old neighbor, sitting in a lawn chair on his back porch with a shotgun in his lap. So then I tell Jodie, I'm all, "Let me go talk to my neighbor, and then you guys come to the front door and act like you came over for breakfast or something." So then Jodie's like, "Aw, thanks, man. But, uh... there's one more thing I gotta tell you about." And I'm like, "What?" and Jodie's like, "I hate take a shit last night so um.. I had to go in your yard... but I put a brick on top of it so you can't see it or anything. I just though you should know."

[He and several others, including John, laugh at the conclusion of this story, but none as obnoxious as Nick himself. Andrew just sits there.]

Nick: (continuing) Oh, man, that was probably the most fucked up thing ever. And she's all like, "Please don't tell anyone I had to shit in your yard." She did some of the stupidest shit when she got plowed...

[The shot moves to Andrew, who is not amused. He sighs and leans over to John.]

Andrew: Hey, have you seen Maggie tonight?

John: Uh, no... I don't think she's here yet.

[Andrew nods and sighs in disappointment. He takes a large gulp of his drink as Nick prepares to regale the crowd with another story.

Cut to the next scene, a few hours later. Andrew enters his bedroom, exhausted, clearly trying to escape the events going on in his house. He discovers there is a couple making out on his bed; Brodie and Jane. They break apart when they notice him enter. Another caption appears: "Step Five: Bargaining."]

Brodie: Andrew? What are you doing here, man?

Andrew: This is my room, Brodie.

Brodie: Oh, for real? Sorry 'bout that, man. So this is your house? What's the occasion?

Andrew: My friend Jodie Collums died on Tuesday.

Jane: Heh. Bummer.

Brodie: For real? Man, I hated that bitch. She stole my parking spot. I mean, it sucks that she died and all. But I mean, she was a bitch.

Jane: I liked her enough. She has this tattoo of a goth frog she showed me once. It was rad.

Brodie: How did she die?

Andrew: She was in a car wreck. The other driver was drunk.

Brodie: Oh, dude. Ouch. That's gruesome.

Jane: Heh. Gruesome and ironic.

Andrew: No shit. If she had to go... I wish she could have gone some other way. This just gives people an excuse to turn it into a joke.

Jane: Mmm, yeah. That sucks. [She stands up and tugs Brodie with her] Come on, babe, let's jet; Andrew needs to cope.

Brodie: Catch ya later, man.

Andrew: Yeah, whatever.

[Jane and Brodie leave the room. Andrew sits on his bed and looks gloomily around the room. He picks up his phone and dials a number. He waits as it rings, but no one answers. He leaves a message.]

Andrew: Hey Maggie, it's me, Andrew. I was just wondering if you were gonna make it over tonight... I, uh, guess it's getting kind of late now, though. Um, give me a call some time tomorrow. Bye.

[He hangs up and tosses the phone onto his already cluttered floor. He retrieves a remote control and turns on a stereo; the music is rockish and fairly upbeat. Andrew lies back on his bed. In a few moments, he has fallen asleep. He looks entirely content in his dream world. A new caption appears: "Step Six: Depression." Another time lapse take place; snippets of each upbeat song on the album are heard from the stereo in each shot as time progresses.

It is obvious that a few more hours have passed. There is a banging on the door in the distance, and it wakes Andrew. He gets out bed, groggily, and heads toward the front door; as he walks through the house, we see that the visitors have all gone, and that it is in a slightly disheveled state. He arrives at the door and opens it. Maggie stands there, falling to pieces. She looks nothing like the witty, cool-headed girl we saw earlier that day.]

Andrew: Maggie? Is everything all right?

Maggie: (obviously drunk) Yeah, yeah, I just... I don't want to go home, you know? And there's nowhere else to go.

Andrew: Oh, well, come on in. [Maggie steps inside and Andrew shuts the door behind her.] Are you okay?

[Maggie sits down on the couch.]

Maggie: No, I'm okay. I'm fine. [She lays down and curls up in a ball.]

Andrew: Okay... well, I'm going to go make some coffee, okay? And then we can talk some.

[Maggie does not reply. Andrew walks into the kitchen and goes through the steps of starting a pot of coffee. By the time he returns to the living room, Maggie has gone. In the next shot, Andrew is entering his bedroom; there he finds the stereo has been turned off, and Maggie is sitting on the floor, slowly spinning a CD around her finger.]

Maggie: Is this yours?

Andrew: No... um, it's Jodie's.

Maggie: (laughing weakly) I guess it's yours now, huh? [Andrew shrugs. Maggie is steadily becoming tearful.] She left a pair of jeans at my house. What am I supposed to do with them? I can't keep them. You know? I can't keep Jodie's pants. [She gives a heavy sniffle and runs her hands through her hair.] This is just so weird.

Andrew: Yeah, it is weird.

Maggie: (now unable to stop herself from crying) I hate it. I just want to wake up tomorrow and find out that this is all a bad dream. She's just gone. She's gone and she's never coming back. I hate it. I can't stand it.

[Andrew clearly wants to comfort her, but can think of nothing to say.]

Andrew: Yeah.

Maggie: And you know what I really hate? I hate how it's just... so.. normal. Everything just feels so God damn normal. I woke up this morning and I had fucking Fruit Pebbles for breakfast, and I went to school and took a math test, and then, and then I went to my best friend's funeral and I didn't even cry. I didn't cry. I went home and watched fucking Spongebob Squarepants. Nothing makes today any different except for the fact that Jodie's dead. It's so normal... And this so should not be normal. [She lays her head on Andrew's shoulder and sobs. Andrew wraps his arms around her and lets her cry.]

Andrew: But isn't that a good thing? It means things are going to be okay.

Maggie: But that's just it; it shouldn't be okay. I mean, it's like Jodie doesn't even matter. Everyone can just go on with their lives like there's nothing missing at all.

Andrew: I know, but... I think it's supposed to be that way. It'll take awhile before it really sinks in that, hey, you know, she's gone. But right now, people just have to cope. They do what they can. It's different for everybody.

Maggie: (after a pause) You know what?

Andrew: What?

Maggie: I wish she was here right now.

[They sit together quietly. The alarm clock on Andrew's nightstand goes off. He looks up and sees that it is 6:15 yet again. Instead of getting up to turn it off, he simply reaches over to yank the plug from the wall. It ends with a shot of the alarm clock, as in the beginning, just as it goes blank. A final caption appears: "Step Seven: Acceptance."]