Wednesday, August 20, 2003

play-in-progress: the butterfly emporium

Here's part of a scene I'm working on. Right now, everything's raw, unadorned. Stage directions and descriptions are not even there yet.

This is the rawest unit of material for me - just dialogue, awkward and unedited. Basically, I'm just letting the characters do the talking.

I just have two of the lead characters, Max and Chloe, talking for the second time outside on a terrace. There has just been a whirlwind dinner at Chloe's family, where Max and Jean announce their engagement. The family takes the news in odd ways. Chloe goes out for a smoke.

MAX
You okay?

CHLOE
Yeah. Just out for a smoke. You know.

MAX
Mind if I join you?

CHLOE
It’s an open terrace.

MAX laughs

CHLOE
what?

MAX
It’s just-

CHLOE
What?

MAX
I love your family.

CHLOE
You only think you do.

MAX
No, really. I do.

CHLOE
We’re all a little crazy.

MAX
Aren’t we all?

CHLOE
Not like my family.

MAX
I was telling Jenny, I wondered if everyone talked like her, you know?

CHLOE
Surprise. We all do.

MAX
It’s freaky. In a good way.

beat

CHLOE
So, do you really love her?

MAX
Jenny?

CHLOE
Why do people do that?

MAX
Do what?

CHLOE
You know, state the obvious. Of course, Jenny! Who did you think I’m talking about?

MAX
I do. I really do.

CHLOE
My sister is as crazy as they come.

MAX
I can handle crazy.

CHLOE
Maybe.

MAX
What makes you ask?

CHLOE
Nothing. Nothing really.

MAX
She reminds me of a butterfly.

CHLOE
Oh please.

MAX
No, really, she does.

CHLOE
A butterfly? Could you, I mean, could you be any less original?

MAX
There's a reason why I think of her a butterfly, you know. It, it isn't something, I don't know, poetic or something.

CHLOE
Being compared to butterflies is not a particularly great thing.

MAX
Why’s that?

CHLOE
Short lifespan.

beat

CHLOE
We all die young.

MAX
But –

CHLOE
But what? But butterflies are beautiful? So delicate and precious and wonderful? Spare me. Spare me the comparison.

MAX
She’s different.

CHLOE
Oh, now she’s a different butterfly. What’re you going to do when she dies? Mount her on velvet and frame her in your memory?

MAX
Has anyone told you you’re quite morbid?

CHLOE
Everyday of my life.

beat

CHLOE
Insects. You’re thinking about insects.

MAX
You’re too young to be thinking like that.

CHLOE
And you’re too old for me.

beat

MAX
Ah.

beat

MAX
It’s you’re sister that I-

CHLOE
Right, sorry. Something came over me. Forget it.

MAX
Chloe, I-

CHLOE
Forget it.

beat

MAX
I thought I knew everything there was to know about people. Until I met Jean.

CHLOE
Are we still having this conversation?

MAX
Why are you so-

CHLOE
What?

beat

MAX
I’d like, I’d like for us to be friends. You and me.

CHLOE
Just like that? Is that the way you think it works?

MAX
Jesus.

CHLOE
You want to be my friend? Then listen. Say goodbye to her. To my family. To all of us. There is nothing for you here.

MAX
Why?

CHLOE
Because I know how things end.

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