(bitter)Sweet Thing

I hate that I haven’t been able to do my writing exercises, but I have the best reason. Been too busy with being creative! I’ve had SO much to do lately, with writing and recording things (like interviews with Holocaust survivors), that I haven’t had time to come back here. But this is here and I like doing things here, so I’m gonna post something here every, max, two weeks. Sometimes it might be a writing exercise, sometimes it might be a poem, or a short story, or maybe even an essay. I’ve wanted to write a few pop-culture essays for a long time, but talked myself out of them for one reason or another. Anywho, I have something new to post: a short film script I wrote for someone. The only rule was that I had to use elderly characters.
EXT. PORCH – NIGHT

We catch an elderly man and woman in the middle of their
conversation. The woman, MEREDITH, stands on the steps. She
wears a sweater, silver necklaces, a long, floral skirt,
flats, and an aura of happiness. She carries a take-out bag.
The man, JACOB, stands on the sidewalk. He wears a t-shirt
under a frock coat, slacks, loafers, and puckishness on his
sleeve.

MEREDITH
It’s been so long since I’ve been
on a date.

JACOB
It’s been so long since I’ve had a
reason to go on one.

MEREDITH smirks at his uninhibited flirting.

MEREDITH
Men I spent time with usually got
all the flattery out of the way
before dinner.

She gestures towards her bag.

JACOB
Well… They’re suckers, aren’t
they?

MEREDITH
In a rainbow of ways.

JACOB attempts seriousness.

JACOB
I’m glad you said “yes,” finally.

MEREDITH
With the way you’ve been hounding
me, Jacob, I felt you’d be asking
me out even at my wake.

JACOB
Yup.

MEREDITH
I was half-joking.

JACOB
And I’m completely serious.

MEREDITH
Why?

JACOB
Because lying’s for suckers.

MEREDITH
I mean, why me? Why so strongly?

JACOB
There’s so much road behind me that
I basically have a ditch left, so I
better take advantage of any
precious moment I can.

MEREDITH leans forward teasingly.

MEREDITH
You think me precious?

JACOB crosses his arms.

JACOB
I think you know what I think.

MEREDITH
An aged lady likes to hear thoughts
aloud. Helps her know which voices
are hers.

JACOB
Like anyone would believe that
you’re senile.

MEREDITH
Humor me.

JACOB
Three guys walk into a bar. Fourth
one ducks.

MEREDITH
You know what I mean.

JACOB takes a step towards her…

JACOB
Do you believe in love at first
sight?

…and she avoids him.

MEREDITH
No.

He takes another step…

JACOB
Love?

…and her another sidestep.

MEREDITH
No.

He stomps mock-angrily…

JACOB
Not even a little fate?

…and she playfully spins in place.

MEREDITH
Not even a horoscope or a fortune
cookie.

JACOB
You know, you really know how to
rob a romantice of his bag o’
tricks.

MEREDITH
I was never a modern woman.

JACOB
Well, call me crazy if you want–

She points at him.

MEREDITH
Crazy.

JACOB
At least let me finish, Meredith.

MEREDITH
Oh, alright.

JACOB
Some fellas, like the one standing
in front of you, believe in love.

And points again.

MEREDITH
Crazy.

He moves her finger down to her side.

JACOB
(sing-song)
I’m not done yet.

MEREDITH
Mm-hmm.

JACOB
Do I love you? At this moment? No.

MEREDITH
Way to make a aged lady feel
wanted…

JACOB
Hound you as I may have done… it
was never out of love. It was about
a maybe. I COULD fall in love with
you, and that, frankly, was enough
for me. I’m old– We– You and I,
damnit, we’re old. But that doesn’t
mean we can’t love.

She turns around solemnly.

MEREDITH
It does for me. I’m not who you
think I am.

JACOB
Who do you think I think you are?

She looks at him over her shoulder…

MEREDITH
A decent woman.

JACOB
What, did you sell secrets to the
Reds?

…then looks away.

MEREDITH
No… Just myself, and failed at
it.

JACOB
…what?

MEREDITH
When I was growing up, it was just
my aunt and myself. Aunt Helene.
She got sick on my 19th birthday…
and never really got better. Soon,
it became clear that I was gonna
have to take charge and–

JACOB
What about her husband?

She faces him.

MEREDITH
I told you: it was just she and me.
What also became clear was that
jobs weren’t throwing themselves at
19-year-olds. Good ones, anyway. I
had to take drastic measures to
make her better. Luckily, it was
the Swinging Sixties. I don’t
regret having sex for money. I regret
it not being enough to save her.
(remembering)
Tuberculosis. That’s what it was.
At least she didn’t die on my
birthday, too. But she lied. When I
was a little girl, I asked her to
tell me what it was like after she
died. In all my nights at her
grave, arms wrapped around her
tombstone, I only heard my sobbing.

JACOB
I don’t see how that keeps you from
being a decent woman.

Her gaze turns frustrated.

MEREDITH
How could you not? I wasn’t able to
save her.

JACOB
You weren’t able to save a lot of
people in this world.

MEREDITH
I only set out to save one of them,
and I couldn’t do that.

She starts to drift into sadness, and he gives one loud CLAP
that startles her out of any malaise.

JACOB
Self-pity doesn’t suit you.

She regains her composure.

MEREDITH
Oh, be quiet.

JACOB
It’s the truth. You’re too strong a
woman to STILL let that burden drag
you down.

She looks at him with a smirk, then shakes her head with a
sigh.

MEREDITH
Most men would let a woman cry,
then try to be a hero.

He puts a hand on his hip like Superman… and falters.

JACOB
I’m too old to embarrass myself
with derring-do’s. Reading Batman’s
enough for me.

MEREDITH
Ha, you still read those funny
books?

JACOB
(pridefully)
I never stopped.
(humbly)
Speaking of… I’d like to kiss the
hand that would stop me.

She playfully takes a few steps away from him.

MEREDITH
Before your confession, I was gonna
suggest more than a kiss.

JACOB
Don’t be that way, you’re too
beautiful a woman to be cruel.
Besides, don’t you wanna dust off
your Swinging Sixties bag o’
tricks, Bettie Page?

She opens her door and stands in the doorway.

MEREDITH
Come on, then, Mr. Sinatra.

He happily follows her while rolling up his sleeves.

JACOB
Ring-a-ding-ding.

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One Response to “(bitter)Sweet Thing”

  1. As always, I look forward to your next post. And I’m glad you’ll be posting more than your daily writing exercises. I enjoy them, but man, do you write some powerful prose.

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