Baby Steps

INT. DAY. CLASSROOM.

The classroom of a university. Desks seating two people are arranged in haphazard columns of three or four, with several rows near the front vacant. ALICE sits alone at her desk near the middle of the room. She is an impatient but reserved girl with yellowy-blond hair. RYAN is behind her. He is attractive with light brown hair and blue eyes.

INT. ALICE’S POV.

ALICE taps a pen on her notepad, looking bored.

INT. RYAN.

RYAN leans forward.

RYAN
It’s raining.

INT. ALICE AND CONSCIENCE.

The girl on the next desk leans over to whisper in ALICE’S ear.

CONSCIENCE
Oh my God. He just talked to you!

ALICE
(to RYAN)
Yup.

CONSCIENCE
Try to look indifferent. How?
Um… Stare at your nails!

ALICE contemplates her nails.

RYAN
I think I forgot my umbrella.

ALICE
(still staring at nails)
Damn.

CONSCIENCE
Okay, you can stop staring at your nails now.
Oh for the love of God don’t you dare bite them.

RYAN
Yeah…

RYAN nods his head as he drags the word out.

CONSCIENCE
Now what?

ALICE looks down at her bag, half concealed by the desk.

INT. ALICE’S BAG.

The zipper of the big pocket is open; a pink, polka-dotted umbrella is poking out.

INT. ALICE AND CONSCIENCE.

CONSCIENCE
Don’t say it. Don’t say it!

ALICE
Wanna walk with me?

CONSCIENCE
Damn it! You said it. You idiot. You’re going
to be all tongue-tied for the entire half-hour walk.
Dig a hole and bury yourself in it-

INT. RYAN.

RYAN
Sure.

ALICE digs her fingers through her hair.

CONSCIENCE
Curses on your genetic pool!

INT. CLASSROOM.

The bell sounds. Everyone gets up to leave.

INT. ALICE RYAN AND CONSCIENCE.

ALICE lets RYAN pass and goes to follow him.

INT. ALICE AND CONSCIENCE.

CONSCIENCE
(chasing after ALICE)
Um… okay! You can do this.
Be interesting. It’s not that hard.

INT. DOOR WAY.

ALICE follows RYAN out of the classroom. ALICE clutches the umbrella lethally in one hand.

INT. HALL.

There’s a pile-up at the doors. People are pushing out the girls with the hairspray hair and the skimpy skirts. Little shrieks are sounding every few seconds as a result of this.

CONSCIENCE
Well, don’t all talk at once!

INT. HALL

Marnie Watson and her three followers come down the adjacent hallway.

INT. STUDENTS.

Everyone turns to look at her.

INT. ALICE.

ALICE looks.

INT. RYAN.

RYAN looks.

INT. MARNIE.

MARNIE is a glamorous girl and an extroverted personality.

ALICE
(voice over)
She’s the “prettiest girl in school”, you know?
With wavy, chocolate-coloured hair, hazel
eyes framed by thick dark lashes, perfectly bronzed
long legs and impeccable fashion sense.

INT. ALICE.

Looking jealous.

INT. PINK UMBRELLA.

ALICE
(voice over)
She wouldn’t be caught dead
with a pink, polka-dotted umbrella.

INT. CONSCIENCE.

CONSCIENCE
Serves you right for actually keeping the flaming thing.

ALICE scowls.

MARNIE notices.

ALICE
(voice over)
Oh shit. I’m scowling at her. But it’s Ryan she wants.

CONSCIENCE
N-duh!

MARNIE saunters over to us.

All eyes following her shapely form.

MARNIE runs her hands across one of RYAN’s shoulders, up his neck and down his jaw line before the hands curl off his skin, ever so gracefully.

MARNIE
(purrs)
Baby…

CONSCIENCE
Double-curses on your genetic pool.
Why can’t you look more like her? Then you’d
be confident and talking to him wouldn’t
be like fighting an avalanche.

ALICE
(voice over)
What a bitch.

CONSCIENCE
Oh would you stop looking at her already?
Just because she’s doing some fucked up
tango doesn’t mean that you have to watch,
even if it is with him.

RYAN
Marnie.

INT. ALICE’S FACE.

Hurt.

CONSCIENCE
As if he’d care that you’re there.
Even if he remembered your existence
he wouldn’t stop playing with her.

ALICE
(voice over)
Ignore it.

RYAN
I have to go, Marnie. I’ve gotta get home.

CONSCIENCE
Yeah, maybe he cares. But I doubt it.

MARNIE
Oh, sure thing, darling.

MARNIE extricates herself from him and saunters back down the hall to her hangers-on, making sure her hips rotate practically 360° with every step.

CONSCIENCE

She must be trying so hard to look sexy that she’s walking slow-mo.

ALICE
(voice over)
For once, I have to agree.

RYAN
(turning to ALICE)
So how about that walk home?

CONSCIENCE
And so he didn’t forget about you.

RYAN
(half smiling)
You armed?

CONSCIENCE
With an umbrella, if you wanna be specific.

ALICE
And dangerous.

CONSCIENCE
What a retard. I have nothing to say to you.

INT. ALICE POV.

RYAN grins like crazy, turns and starts to shove and push through the crowd.

INT. SCHOOL ENTRANCE/EXIT.

ALICE follows, leaving the umbrella by her side, half-open and prepared for the torrential rain outside.

EXT. SCHOOL STEPS.

ALICE opens the umbrella and RYAN takes it from her hands. CONSCIENCE follows, not really fitting under but still annoyed by the rain.

EXT. ALICE AND RYAN

CONSCIENCE
My God his eyes are practically golden.
And look, you’re totally lost for words.
I so told you this would happen.
Now you’re just going to waste this entire
opportunity staring into his eyes
instead of getting to know him.

ALICE
(speechless)

CONSCIENCE
Say something. Hell, can you even open your mouth?

ALICE inhales through her nose, holds her breath like she is counting to ten and then exhales through her mouth.

CONSCIENCE frowns.

ALICE goes to speak.

RYAN
(unknowingly cutting her off)
What are you thinking?

CONSCIENCE
A little deep for, you know, the first
conversation you’ve ever had with her
!

ALICE
Uh… mostly it’s my conscience yelling at me.

Cricket noise. RYAN looks at ALICE really strangely.

CONSCIENCE
You’re such an idiot. I don’t even know you.
Why couldn’t I be inside Marnie’s head?

ALICE
Yeah, she keeps telling me to
be more like Marnie Watson.

RYAN
Wh-why would it… she want
you to be like… Marnie?

ALICE
(shrugs)
Something about being able to talk to
guys without swallowing my tongue.

EXT. RYAN’S FACE.

He bursts out laughing.

EXT. ALICE’S FACE.

Surprised.

RYAN
Does – your – conscience – have – a – name?

ALICE
Uhmm… I never really considered it.

CONSCIENCE
Amy. I so want to be called Amy.

RYAN
Let’s call her-

Here the humour completely overtakes him and he nearly falls over.

Warnie.

CONSCIENCE
Say what?

ALICE
Okie-doke.

EXT. RYAN FACE.

RYAN gives ALICE a look like ‘Did you seriously just say that?’

ALICE
She was all for Amy but I like Warnie.

RYAN
Hm.. Marnie Watson. Warnie Matson.

RYAN laughs some more and then they turn down a new street.

CONSCIENCE
Seriously, how could you call me,
like, a guy’s name? And how does
he know where you live? And doesn’t
he fully have like a beautiful, black
Mercedes back at the school parking lot?

ALICE
(voice over)
Oh, piss off, Warnie.

ALICE
(still chuckling)
She better not hear about your field day with her name.

EXT. GARDEN PATH TO HOUSE FRONT.

They turn down the garden path and walk up to the verandah where they stop.

EXT. ALICE.

ALICE steps forward and turns around to face RYAN.

EXT. ALICE’S POV.

RYAN
Then it’ll be our little secret.

RYAN smiles into ALICE’S eyes and kisses her on the cheek.

EXT. RYAN’S POV.

ALICE
(shocked)
Thanks for walking me.

EXT. CONSCIENCE.

CONSCIENCE
Well, it was only your cheek.
Don’t let it get to you.
It’s never going to happen again.

ALICE
(voice over)
Baby steps. It’ll happen.

CONSCIENCE looks infuriated.

THE END.

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