7 minute script: Dear Husband

INT – CINEMA FOYER DAY  – 1.

The foyer is relatively quiet, with some opera playing in the background.

We are tight on the doors of the theatre, and as the music comes to a climax, the doors are pushed open. Four small children and three adults — two women, one man — exit.

We remain at chest/shoulder/head height with the adults while the children walk off and start playing in the background.

The adults are:

MICHELLE – MICHELLE has 3 kids, a catholic husband and lives in suburbia. She tries to be the peacemaker. But the deckchairs are moving around on the boatdeck of her life. She is completely at peace around MICHAEL — there’s no passive-aggression (like with others).

MICHAEL – MICHAEL is one half of a gay couple. The other half, DAVID is working today (much to Michael’s relief. DAVID and MICHELLE don’t get along because she’s a near-christian).

SYLVIA – SYLVIA is a friend of MICHELLE. She has no kids but hangs out with the family. She also likes Anime.

It’s school holidays so they’re all in entertainment-mode.

The kids are SALLY and JASON (Michelle’s) and TONY and PETER (MICHAEL’s). Through the dialogue to follow, we hear the kids playing in the background but NEVER see them,

MICHELLE

(conciliatory)

Well the kids enjoyed it.

She didn’t. She wanted to take them to a Disney movie. She’s not enamoured of Japanese Anime, half expecting them to dispense with clothing at any minute. She hasn’t told her husband the kids came to this, afraid of his reaction.

MICHAEL

It was good — Definitely aimed at kids though.

SYLVIA

Yeah. Miyazaki’s astonishing. I haven’t cried at the end of a movie since Princess Mononoke.

MICHELLE

(calm, forceful)

SALLY! Stop screaming. We’re going in five minutes.

MICHAEL

(looking over with a grin)

Look at TONY looking at that girl on the computer.

They all look over (note: we’re not going to cut to the kids playing because (a) it would be hard, and (b) that’s not what the script is about).

SYLVIA

They’re so cute at that age aren’t they? That’s what I like about Miyazaki — I haven’t seen any other anime that shows kids just as they are. Haven’t seen any other cartoon that shows kids as they are.

She’s hinting generally at Disney cartoons.

MICHELLE

You should have some. You’re not getting any younger you know.

SYLVIA

(taken aback)

I’m twenty five. I’m not that old. You’re only thirty.

MICHAEL

(sotto)

Thirty five.

He gets a dirty look from MICHELLE.

MICHAEL

What? It’s true isn’t it? And you’ve got two kids. You’re not mucking about, creating the next legion of God’s forces!

He grins widely — seriously joking here.

MICHELLE

Yeah, well, we have to procreate to offset all the poofs that are breeding!

With this statement we reveal that MICHELLE isn’t quite the god-fearing woman her husband would like her to be. And this is the reason she is still friends with MICHAEL.

MICHAEL

(still grinning and in a stereotype gay voice)

Oo! How sharper than a serpent’s tooth!

MICHELLE’s coat is yanked a couple of times by her daughter.

SALLY

(out of shot)

Mummy. JASON hit me.

MICHELLE kneels down OUT OF SHOT to speak with the girl.

MICHELLE

(out of shot)

Tell me what happened…

We fade this conversation out so we can concentrate on the two anime geeks.

SYLVIA

Why is it so cold in cinemas and so warm in the foyers?

MICHAEL

That, my dear, is the mystery of our age. If we can cure that then Cancer, AIDS and Nuclear Fusion will be ours for the taking!

SYLVIA

(putting on evil scientist)

Mwaha ha ha haaaa!

MICHELLE rejoins the conversation.

MICHELLE

(disturbed)

What IS that music? It’s awful.

There is silence while they try to work it out.

MICHAEL

I think it’s…

(pauses, listens)

Then they all get it.

SYLVIA

(appalled in a small way)

How very… patriotic.

MICHAEL

I think they’re trying to get rid of us. I mean seriously, who plays the national anthem?

MICHELLE looks circumspect and gets a patient, expectant look from MICHAEL

MICHELLE

(reluctant)

DH is teaching the kids.

MICHAEL lets his jaw drop comedically, then theatrically closes it with his hand.

SYLVIA

DH?

MICHELLE

DH – Dear Husband.  I’m on an online children’s forum.

MICHAEL

Why are you with him? I know you’ve already told me, but it doesn’t get any clearer.

MICHELLE sees something going on — a parents eyes are as sharp as a Jaguar — and moves quickly off.

MICHELLE

(out of shot)

JASON Statham! Don’t you dare!

SYLVIA gives MICHAEL a sidelong glance: ‘Do you believe what they called their son?’

MICHAEL

I know. It’s not a coincidence.

SYLVIA

Why would you do that to a child? It was his idea.

MICHAEL nods, unsurprised and his expression changes to a smile as MICHELLE returns.

MICHELLE

He’s a little demon sometimes. I swear it’s the sugar.

MICHAEL

Yeah, it’s the same with TONY. We just avoid refined sugars.

(proud smile)

He’s actually told us when he’s had sugar — like at a friends place — and apologises in advance for anything he’s going to do.

SYLVIA

(taken aback)

Oh my god, how amazing.

MICHELLE

Much more aware than mine.

(sadly)

I wonder if it’s something I’ve done.

MICHAEL frowns with a ‘you’re joking’ expression.

MICHAEL

(disappointed, worried)

You’ve got to stop doing that MICHELLE. You’re doing your best.

MICHELLE

(unconvinced, thinking of something else)

Am I?

SYLVIA

You are. I’ve seen you with them. You’re giving them plenty of love. You’re keeping them out of harms way.

MICHELLE is pensive. There’s something she wants to say.

MICHAEL

(carefully)

What’s going on MICHELLE? Is everyting all right with you and–

MICHELLE

I’ve got…

She’s in a mind-lock, then speaks fast, as if scared she won’t be able to get it out otherwise.

MICHELLE

I don’t love him anymore.

They all pause to chew this over.

MICHAEL

(slow enunciation)

Oh.

With this floodgate open, she can’t do anything but speak.

MICHELLE

He’s so overbearing with the kids. You know he said once that a child should fear their father.

MICHAEL straightens, offended and horrified. SYLVIA is open-mouthed.

MICHELLE

And I can’t… I can’t stand to see him standing over them like he does.

(justifying)

He had a really bad childhood–

MICHAEL

(sharp)

And that gives him the right to give his own kids one too?

(regrets the outburst)

I’m very sorry, I shouldn’t judge.

SYLVIA

(shocked)

I had no idea. I mean, I saw bruises on Jason’s arm.

MICHELLE goes white.

MICHAEL

Bruises?

SYLVIA

Long thin ones. I asked Jason how he got them but he said it was nothing.

MICHELLE

(unnaturally calm)

When did you see that?

SYLVIA is now a rabbit in the headlights.

MICHELLE

(more forceful)

WHEN did you see that?

SYLVIA

Uh, last week. Upper arm. Looked strange. He said it was nothing.

MICHELLE steps back a little, choking back tears.

MICHELLE

(whispers)

That’s why JASON wanted to wash himself all week.

(starting to collapse, shoulders going in)

He said he wasn’t going to punish them anymore.

MICHAEL steps over and takes MICHELLE’s shoulders in his hands.

MICHAEL

It’s not your fault MICHELLE.

MICHELLE begins to rally. She’s both horrified and furious at the same time.

SYLVIA

Are you okay?

MICHELLE

(to herself)

He knew. He looked me in the eye and he knew.

(tears rising)

Oh you poor little boy.

She looks over her shoulder to where the kids are playing.

MICHAEL

MICHELLE. We’re here to help. What do you need?

MICHELLE isn’t with him initially, then meets his gaze. She is initially destroyed by the revelation that her husband is hitting their son again. But almost like a light going on, she straightens, pulls the energy back to herself and breathes deeply. MICHAEL lets go her shoulders as she does this.

MICHELLE

(very, very calm)

I need to call my sister.

SYLVIA

I can take care of TOBY.

MICHELLE

Thanks

(to MICHAEL)

KELLIE is allergic to cats.

MICHAEL

I’ll call DAVID and get him to come home to look after the kids.

MICHELLE

(passive-aggressive)

Oh, you don’t need to do that.

She knows damn-well that she does need someone else there. There’s no telling what DH will do. MICHAEL isn’t aware of Passive Aggression so hasn’t noticed.

MICHAEL

I am not letting you go into that house on your own. If he hits kids there’s no telling what…

Something has occurred to him. Something that’s just as bad as a boy being hit by his father.

MICHAEL

(hoping he’s wrong)

He doesn’t go after you does he?

MICHELLE

(centered and direct)

Oh, he wouldn’t dare. He’d end up on the floor.

SYLVIA

(grins)

Those self-defense classes were good weren’t they?

MICHAEL is very glad at this, not just because of MICHELLE, but also because it’s one less thing he’d have to deal with if confronted. He doesn’t have much in the way of self-defense.

MICHAEL

Or maybe I should get DAVID to come along.

MICHELLE

You’re joking! DAVID? They’d be at each others throats.

MICHAEL

(reluctantly agrees with a half-hearted grin)

Yeah, fair point.

MICHELLE steps forward, puts a hand on SYLVIA’s shoulder.

SYLVIA

I’m so sorry I didn’t tell you.

MICHELLE

(forgiving)

Don’t be. It’s not your fault.

She touches SYLVIA on her cheek with the palm of her hand — it is at once an intimate gesture that SYLVIA is slightly taken aback by and pulls back, a bit confused.

MICHELLE

(glances to the kids and back)

Can you watch the kids while we make the calls?

SYLVIA nods.

MICHAEL

Thanks SYLVIA

He kisses her on the cheek and he and MICHELLE walk out of shot with their phones.

We remain on SYLVIA, who is now alone and stunned at the events, but she puts on a brave-face, smiles and walks over to the kids while we remain on the closed doors of the cinema and…

FADE OUT

Palace Westgarth

2009

Author: gotheek

Sometime writer, full time human.