Scene: NYE Elevator

FADE IN:

EXT. APARTMENT BUILDING ENTRANCE – EVENING

MADELINE GIARDINA, age 29, a passionate gardener of Italian descent, enters the building with a BLOOMING POTTED GARDENIA TREE. Sounds of a party can be heard.

CUT TO:

INT. ELEVATOR

Maddie enters the elevator and presses the 8th floor button.

NICOLA DOBEK, 31, a famous actor of Czech descent, holds the door and gets into the small elevator.

NICOLA

(over PHONE)

… Yes, of course. I’ll be in Amsterdam for the premiere, and then I’ll- hello? Can you hear me?

NICOLA (CONT’D)

Damned phone batteries. Can’t live for six hours straight. Why, hello! Nice bush.

MADDIE

It’s a tree.

The elevator goes up. Around the third floor, it stops abruptly.

NICOLA

Wh- what’s going on?

MADDIE

It broke down.

NICOLA

Oh, really? How do we get out of here? Does this happen often?

MADDIE

Every couple of weeks, it’s quite old and maintenance is terrible.

NICOLA

And can’t we call anyone?

He starts banging on the elevator door.

NICOLA (CONT’D)

Help! Someone, please!

MADDIE

Stop shouting! There’s no way someone will hear you. The guys from the fourth must be drunk already.

NICOLA

Well, it is New Year’s Eve after all.

MADDIE

As if that’s an excuse, these people are always drunk.

NICOLA

Can you call maintenance?

MADDIE

I would but there’s no signal.

NICOLA

Great. Absolutely perfect.

Silence. After a couple seconds, Maddie looks at Nicola through the leaves of the gardenia plant.

MADDIE

I’ve actually never seen you around here before. Are you new? You look familiar.

NICOLA

No, I’m here to visit my parents. And, don’t you know me?

MADDIE

Am I supposed to know you?

NICOLA

I’m Nicola Dobek. From “Beware The Walking Dead”? You know, Ricky, the nice dude from Minneapolis?

MADDIE

I don’t watch it, sorry. No idea.

NICOLA

So… When are we going to make it out of here?

MADDIE

In an hour, if we’re lucky.

NICOLA

At eight?! Wow, I had just promised my parents-

MADDIE

Eight? Is it seven o’clock already? No, it can’t be, I’m sure it’s only…

She checks her PHONE. It says 07:02 PM.

MADDIE (CONT’D)

(raising voice)

I have to be home at seven thirty! The rhododendrons have to be watered by schedule or they’ll die! What am I going to do…

NICOLA

Your… plants? I’m sure they’ll be alright without water for half an hour.

MADDIE

You don’t understand, if I don’t water them exactly at seven thirty they’ll-

NICOLA

(reaches toward her shoulder)

Stop worrying, they’ll be OK.

His arm knocks a flower off the blooming tree.

MADDIE

(screaming)

No! The poor thing! How could you-

NICOLA

I- I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to-

MADDIE

(tearing up)

Look at it!

She picks up the flower and caresses it.

MADDIE (CONT’D)

(to flower)

Shh…

MADDIE (CONT’D)

So, why are you here?

NICOLA

I’m visiting my parents. I haven’t seen them in a year. I promised I’d be here on time. I actually was going to make it! They’re always complaining that I never come to visit.

MADDIE

I’m sure I’d feel that way too if I had a son that I can only watch on TV.

NICOLA

It’s one of the few flaws. But I get to see them from time to time!

MADDIE

If “from time to time” is once a year, they must miss you. My parents live in southern New York and I visit them every month.

NICOLA

Well, they do live nearby, I have to travel hours to get here.

MADDIE

It’s 300 miles to Saranac Lake from here. Takes me seven hours to get there.

NICOLA

Oh… At least you aren’t alone here, are you?

MADDIE

No, I’m not! I have my whole zen garden, the rock garden, my exotic plants-

NICOLA

You’re alone on New Year’s Eve?

MADDIE

No, I already told you.

NICOLA

Don’t you find plants a bit quiet?

MADDIE

I like the quiet. Makes me think.

Awkward silence.

NICOLA

You should come celebrate with us this night.

MADDIE

With you and your family? I don’t want to intrude.

NICOLA

I insist. You can’t stay alone all night.

MADDIE

I told you, I won’t be alone.

NICOLA

Yeah, you’ll have your bush to keep you company. Sounds like fun.

MADDIE

It’s a tree!

NICOLA

Sure. You should really drop by, at least.

MADDIE

I’ll… think about it.

NICOLA

You can bring your bonsai along, if you want to, my-

All of a sudden the elevator starts working again.

NICOLA (CONT’D)

Hey, great! It’s not even seven thirty yet! Really, come on down. We have pudding.

The elevator stops at the fourth floor.

NICOLA (CONT’D)

You never told me what your name was.

MADDIE

Madeline. Maddie, for short.

NICOLA

Okay, Maddie. I’ll tell my parents you’re coming down.

MADDIE

I’ll be sure to stop by.

Nicola picks up the fallen gardenia flower.

NICOLA

See you later. Don’t drown the rhododendron.

MADDIE

I’ll try not to.

The elevator door closes.

FADE OUT.

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And A Hint of Myself

It’s quite ironic that the sound a moving train makes is “track-a-track”, isn’t it?

 

I’m sitting in the dusty train, thinking about that. How does a thought like this one all of a sudden form in my head? Look at my friends, sitting there, laughing. I was having fun with them just a moment ago, sitting on the dusty cushion of an old, moth-eaten chair in the train. I’m sometimes moody like this. Especially in situations that require so much self-control. Traveling to Bucharest, being completely alone for a week, with no family, no relatives and no “coincidentally” close family friends nearby. The train was shaking away the slight fear of the unknown. Their laughter helped. Writing was another option I had stuck to, spending an hour alone in the neighboring compartment of the train, building a syllabus of a blog post I was planning to write about the week to come. But I can’t do that for the whole eight-hour trip. All I had was isolating myself for a moment, to clear my thoughts out. And I was thinking about the damned rails of the train. I guess I’d be going back to my friends. Gosh, how I love these people. We had worked so hard the last months and we would finally be getting our reward. We crushed competition with our performance, our text adaptation, and our bold direction choices. We had won. I still can’t believe it, even two months later, even while we’re traveling that way. Ah, how fun this week will be. I could see myself meeting the family that’d be taking me in for the week. I wonder what their house looks like, what they look like… I know that I don’t actually care about that. I’m not sure if it’s selfish to say it, but having a great week is much more important than the social or financial status of the family. I was also excited to see the city. I’d heard it looks like Paris. I’ve never been to Paris. Based on my experience in Vienna, though, I know it’s going to be spectacular. I’m really curious about the tour of the Palace of Parliament – I heard it’s the second biggest in the world! I should really stop daydreaming… “Get up, Martin. Go to them. Attaboy.” I think I’ll sit over here for a second. I love these people. I’m so used to them. Yet right now, I feel like thinking. Just staring out of the window and processing everything that’s going on. We’re going to spend time together all week. We’re going to get to see Dracula’s castle! And the next day, we’ll be performing! I can’t imagine the nervousness when it’s our turn to get on the stage. I remember three years ago, when it was our very first time acting together. This was going to be our third play. Wow, how fast time flies! Yet we’re still together, bound by the Art. We have different endevors outside of It. One plays the guitar, his life is all music. Another‘s a book worm. She’s a total party animal, while she had just performed “Swan Lake” at the National Ballet. I hold that tiny blog and write about what I feel. It’s crazy how the arts are all parts of our lives. That’s what’s keeping us together in this train. Outside of it. We all need time to think, and we all need time for ourselves. But when we collide on stage, there’s no stopping us. No matter where, we’re united by this force. Except maybe on stage. I remembered the story our Drama teacher had told us. The story of how an actor gets on the stage, gives his heart to the audience, and then forgets about it. A “blackout”, she calls it. When an actor isn’t himself, when he drowns so much into his character that he doesn’t even remember his time on stage. In those moments, we were not ourselves, we were not together. But it’s for our own good. I’m sure this separation from reality is going to happen to me this week. I will give every single piece of myself and dissolve in front of those people from all around Europe, until I’m nothing more than the dying scum that my character is. Honesty and sincerity are things I like and I don’t plan on lying to people. So I’ll show them the self-indulgent, awful human being that the Baron is. I’ll make them hate me.  And then, I’ll be back, as that other person, that other guy that’s traveling and thinking. The guy who’s standing in the train, hesitating for a moment whether he should go and talk to his friends or drown in his own thoughts. I should go and laugh with them. I need a gulp of fresh air that isn’t contaminated by my feelings. After all, after a week in the capital of Bucharest, after such a majestic performance, I deserved a rest. I was going towards them, as myself minus one hour.

 

And the train was still going “track-a-track”, “track-a-track”…

Silver Linings

And who could understand her?

She closed her eyes and jumped. For half a second she flew and landed on the cold, wooden floor.

She jumped again. And again.

Not once had she managed to do it properly. She could feel something was wrong. Sweat was pouring from her brow as she flew once more. What was she doing wrong?

The face – calm. Her feet – steady. Her mind – determined. Her heart was set to this thing as much as she could allow it to be.

She was crazy to try this. “It’s too difficult”, people said. “You’ll never manage to get it right.” She knew she was crazy, it’s what the doctors had said.

And what of that? She was going to try. A diagnosis won’t stop her. As bad as it may be, she had one thing in her life and she wasn’t about to lose it too.

She jumped again. Five, six, seven, eight… And to think people don’t understand… She stumbled and fell.

Getting up, she felt tears run down her face. The little droplets crashed onto the wood. Two and three… She knew it was too difficult. Too new. Too advanced. But when did that ever stop her?

It was next week when she was going to show them all that she could. Alone. She was going to prove what she could do.

A lunge and, stop. Sixth, forth, seventh.

She fell. The tears kept rolling down. From the start, now…

She remembered the seashells. Her eyes while she was smiling. The laughs, the smile… She hadn’t forgotten. The good feeling, the feeling she knew she provoked in so many others… in her eyes.

Seven and, eight. Why not stop? For that last look, for that last smile. The tears hadn’t stopped. One, two, three… They would understand. She’ll show them.

Because she can. Because it’s the only thing that keeps her sane. The only thing that makes her breathe properly, that makes her get away from the hard wooden floor…

She jumped and landed on her feet. She could do it. Perfectly. She had to do it, for that feeling of having something come to life. For that feeling of accomplishment. For herself… and for her.

And to show them. Vulnerable, crazy, ill she might be, but she was doing it. What was wrong then?