Scripted Life

by Laura Jeliazkov | 9/27/17 2:10am

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Source: The Dartmouth

Scene 1

SETTING: Second floor of small farmhouse, in a small town, where BOY, aged 8 years, lives with mother, father, two sisters and one brother. 23 of April. Slovenia.

AT RISE: The crickets chirp outside. The night has been peaceful — BOY was sleeping and dreaming soundly — until: BOY wakes up to the sound of a voice.

VOICE (soft and gentle, seeming to come from faraway but at the same time having a forceful presence): Come outside.

[Gentle, deep laughter. Footsteps sound beyond the closed bedroom door. BOY sits up in bed, stares into the darkness intently. The sound recedes. Only the crickets chirp again. He waits. Still nothing. Slowly, he slides his feet over the side of the bed. Stands. Pauses to listen once more. Then goes to the door; opens it a crack.

There is no one in the hall. He closes the door, then opens it to check once more. As he pokes his head through the doorframe, a purple light suddenly flashes from past where the hall turns. BOY is scared — his eyes widen — and he pulls his head back in quickly and clicks the door shut. Silence, again. BOY looks down at the floor, breathing hard through his nostrils. Slowly he turns around.

There is a large, bearded man sitting on the chair beside his bed. He sits with his legs crossed and his hands clasped on the knee. His feet are particularly large. The man is old, wrinkled, shrouded in a purple robe and in darkness. But his eyes glitter like sparks from a flint. He fixes BOY with his gaze. The VOICE, it is now clear, is the OLD MAN.]

OLD MAN: Come closer, boy.

[BOY is paralyzed with wonder and does not move. Remains by door. OLD MAN laughs softly. A softer glint shows through the darkness from his teeth as he smiles.]

OLD MAN (soft, but powerful): Four angels will come for you, boy. Do you hear me?

[BOY finds his senses again, slowly allows his head to nod.]

OLD MAN: And you must not go with them.

[The darkness of the bedroom fades to blackout; this is the last thing that BOY remembers. He wakes up the next morning in bed. The room is flooded with light. There is no OLD MAN sitting in the chair beside the bed — not even a trace.]

Scene 2

SETTING: 23 April — 18 years later. BOY is now MAN and is happily married to WOMAN. They live together in a small apartment in the city of Ljubljana, Slovenia.

AT RISE: It is the middle of the night. The crickets chirp outside. All has been peaceful — MAN and WOMAN were in bed, sleeping and dreaming soundly — until: they wake up to the sound of a voice.

VOICE (soft and gentle, seeming to come from faraway but at the same time having a forceful presence): Come outside.

[Both MAN and WOMAN tense. Their eyes are wide in the dark room. Tears come to MAN’s eyes — he remembers right away.]

MAN (in a whisper): It is him again.

[WOMAN nods worriedly. They both sit up, the covers held to their necks. They wait in the silence, for what will come next.]

VOICE (closer — stronger, this time — but still from an undefined point): Four angels will come for you, sir. You hear me? You must not go with them.

[MAN and WOMAN’s eyes search the darkness, but there is nothing. Suddenly, a hazy purple flash diffuses through the blackness. It lasts two seconds, then the darkness floods back.]

WOMAN (whispers, trembling): What do we do?

MAN: Just listen.

[MAN is now calm and collected. He sits up straight and fixes his eyes on a point in the corner. A smudge of purple — a fold of cloth, perhaps — is visible in the reestablished black there. The next thing that MAN and WOMAN remember is waking up, to the soft morning light flooding in through the window.]

Scene 3

SETTING: 23 April — one year later. MAN and WOMAN have settled into their new life in Berlin, Germany.

AT RISE: It is a sunny weekend spring morning. MAN and WOMAN are out for a walk in the center of town. Everything is alive, bustling. People rush to and fro, street market vendors shout their wares and noises spill out from every storefront, every barbershop, every café.

WOMAN (as they walk past a radio shop): Let’s look.

[They approach the window. A record is playing right inside the door. A sonorous voice scratches the air from the plate. When MAN hears what it is, his features soften; tears come into his eyes.

It is the voice of the OLD MAN in purple.]

MAN (in a voice that trembles, to WOMAN): It is him.

[MAN, his hands trembling as well, picks up the record’s empty envelope from the shelf. WOMAN clings close at his side, and they inspect it together. The OLD MAN — that terror of the darkness of MAN’s childhood bedroom, and now of his marital bedroom — is pictured front and center.

The record player is one of a collection of the inspirational speaking of a strong religious leader — one who passed away 19 years back, on 23 April.]

Scene 4

SETTING: Six years later. MAN and WOMAN have since moved back to Slovenia. They have purchased a piece of land in the countryside. They live there with their two CHILDREN. They lead a very peaceful life there.

AT RISE: It is past midnight. 23 April. The crickets chirp outside. All has been peaceful — CHILDREN are in their rooms, sleeping and dreaming soundly. MAN and WOMAN are the same — until: they wake up, to the sound of a voice.

[MAN and WOMAN sit upright in bed, thinking it is one of the children crying, until: they see a white flash from under the door. WOMAN looks at MAN, whose eyes slowly fill with fear. He knows right away.]

MAN (in a voice that trembles, but that grows steadier and steadier): It is the four angels. They have come for me.

[He sits still for a time; then, slowly, slides his feet over the side of the bed. Stands. Pauses to listen once more. WOMAN reaches out to him, tries to pull him back. He walks out of reach, to the door. He opens it a crack.

Immediately, there is a force drawing MAN forward. He is blinded by a sensation of white light. All seems frozen for a moment.]

MAN (distant, calm, mostly to himself): Do I want to leave?

[The angels pull him forward, their grip is strong, he can feel the allure, the temptation, the white light wraps around him gently, his gaze is fixed forward, his eyes are wide, with more and more strength do they pull, he begins to believe that he will go with them, until: a strong force hits him in the opposite direction. And he remembers OLD MAN’s words…]

MAN (with a building resolve, a straightening of the back): No. No. No, I am not to go.

[With intense effort, he pulls himself back from the crack in the doorway. Pushes the door shut. Presses hard against the frame, with all his strength. He has none left, he staggers backwards; WOMAN’s arms catch him, encircle him and pull him back to the bed. Drained, he stumbles face-first onto the pillow and falls immediately into a deep, deep sleep.]

Scene 5

SETTING: On a far corner of the land where WOMAN, MAN and CHILDREN live. Late morning. This is a site where they intend to build a small pavilion for letting the onions dry, and enjoying a glass of wine in the cool evenings. MAN laid the foundation of wide stones the day before.

[MAN and WOMAN have taken a seat beneath the olive tree. CHILDREN are hopping from stone to stone of the foundation, going round and round and round again. They sing to themselves. Suddenly, they call out.]

CHILDREN: Papa, Papa! Look! Look what we found!

[MAN rises reluctantly. He is exhausted from the night before. But with this exhaustion, a new relief, a new calm, has settled over him. He walks over with a faint smile on his face. Upon approaching, what does MAN find imprinted on one of the wide stones that he laid yesterday but a bare footprint — one particularly large.]

The pavilion still stands there today – with one column less than number of base stones.

FADE OUT.

THE END.

*Based on a true story.