Amanda #7

Author’s Note — This will be the last Amanda post for awhile.   Enjoy!

***

The days before Jim and Amanda were quiet, almost too quiet.   Richard and Dahlia, two young lovebirds, cruising around in a convertible, listening to the sound of wind crash into their eardrums.   At sunset, they’d find a spot off the California freeway, set up camp and start a fire.  After a canned dinner, Richard would pluck his guitar while Dahlia dreamed of a warm place with wall-to-wall carpeting.   Kids would roam the house, books in either hand, a smile planted upon their faces.   After a hard day’s work, Richard would come home, leap upon the trampoline with the kids, then once the rest of the house had settled in, the couple would slow dance to either classical music or jazz.   The next morning, the entire family all dressed in pajamas seated around the breakfast table with an array of smoked salmon, cereals, pastries and tea.   Unfortunately for Dahlia, this family never existed…trouble from the get-go.

Jim possessed the most irritating brilliance to Dahlia.  He seemed to know the answers to rather complicated matters long before her.   It would just blurt right out him.   Dahlia, of course, as his mother, refused to accept that perhaps he was onto something.  Kids, she’d rationalize, what could he, they, any of them know?   Yet a fortnight later and many dollars tossed into the pockets of too many strangers, there arrived the answer.  The same one Jim had blurted out.  He’s a smart one, Dahlia surmised.   Then a week a later, a new problem would arrive and the whole cycle would start over again.

When the problem of Amanda arrived (otherwise known as her birth, according to Jim), neither parent knew what to do.   Even Jim was perplexed.   After many attempts at getting to know and care for his baby sister, five-year-old little Jim suggested drowning “that bitch”.  This would lead to “Jimmy, where’d you hear that word from” but Dahlia knew; from the mouth of a man on the other end of the sliding glass door smoking a cigarette out on the decaying deck.  A hundred and fifty therapists in, not a single one knew how to tend to her raucous daughter.

After one wild lovemaking session, Richard proposed, “It’s time we accept Amanda for who she is.”

“Richard,” moaned Dahlia, “who the fuck is she?  I mean, I don’t know what to say to her half the time.  She freaks me out.  Doesn’t she freak you out?”

Richard groaned, “Sometimes.”

“Sometimes! Sometimes?   She’s impossible.   Maybe Jim was right.  Maybe we should drown her.”

“Are you fucking loony?   Dahlia, seriously…you really think we should drown our own daughter?”

Roaring in laughter, “It would make life easier on us.”  Tears coated Dahlia’s face, “I don’t know how to deal with this, Richard.  It feels like I’m in a madhouse every day.  This isn’t the life I dreamed of.  You know that!”

Lost for words, Richard ran his finger up and down Dahlia’s spine.

Toni Collette

My shrine for Toni Collette exists solely in my mind.   As the day passes, the thought of working with her arrives at least fifteen different times.  She makes the subtlest movements that after a quick examination scream, “I am this character.  I’ve always been this character and will die this character.”   Regardless of the role, regardless of the absurdity, she breathes honesty.

Using Toni as a muse, I sketched out a story for a film that is so personal.   It delineates my discomfort in romance and with family.   I’d be delighted if she played the female lead.   Who knows?

The below excerpt is not (I underlined the word not so that if this happens to be read on opposite day, it’s clear that this is not) from the story; it’s a continuation of the script titled Descent.

               INT. STORE - DAY

               BELLA, a shaking octogenarian, dusts the register.   She
               looks over at Charlie who is sifting through the ladies'
               dresses.

                                   BELLA
                         It's a nice selection here, isn't
                         it?

                                   CHARLIE
                         Sure is.  My wife...

                                   BELLA
                         Try something on.  We got dressing
                         rooms, ya know?

               Bella canes her way over to Charlie.  After examining a
               dress, she violently pushes it away.

                                   CHARLIE
                         Thank you but I'm...

                                   BELLA
                         I think you'd look excellent in
                         red.  Ah, I saw a nice red dress
                         here yesterday.  Where's the damn
                         thing.  Oops, pardon my language.  
                         I used to never curse until my
                         husband died.   You married?  

                                   CHARLIE
                         Not yet.

                                   BELLA
                         Well, be patient.  Someday you'll
                         find a man of your own.

                                   CHARLIE
                         Oh, I get it!  You think I'm a
                         woman because I'm...

                                   BELLA
                         You're a beautiful woman.   There's
                         no reason why you shouldn't be
                         married.

                                   CHARLIE
                         Well, okay.

                                   BELLA
                         Well, I speak the truth.  Ah, okay
                         here's the dress.

               Bella holds the dress up against Charlie's body.

               INT. LOG CABIN - EVENING

               Will downs his glass of wine.

                                   WILL
                         More, please.

               Charlie wearing a red dress refills Will's glass.

                                   CHARLIE
                         That's a ton of wine for a boy your
                         age.

                                   WILL
                         Did I ask for a commentary?

                                   CHARLIE
                         No?

                                   WILL
                         Then step away, woman.

               Shivers run down Charlie's back as he steps away.

               In the corner, Damian whittles a stick and hums.

                                   CHARLIE
                         How long do I have to wear this?

                                   WILL
                         Until either you leave or truly
                         morph into a woman.

                                   DAMIAN
                         Knowing Charlie, he'll fall in love
                         with the dress but never leave nor
                         morph into a woman.

               Damian and Will chuckle.

                                   WILL
                         Woman, refill his glass.

               Charlie refills Damian's glass.  

               Damian joins Will at the table.   He hands Will the whittled
               stick.

                                   DAMIAN
                         What do you think?

                                   WILL
                         That should do.  I'll test it.

                                   DAMIAN
                         On what?

               Will tosses the whittled wood at Charlie's back.

                                   CHARLIE
                         Fucking prick!

                                   WILL
                         Exactly!

               Damian and Will roar in wild laughter.

               BEGIN DREAM SEQUENCE

               EXT. CITY STREET - DAY

               It's clearly winter.  Everyone's bundled up in warm clothing
               including Kate and Charlie.

               Kate fishes in her pocket.  Pulls out a quarter.  Hands it to
               Charlie.

                                   KATE
                         That's all I got.

                                   CHARLIE
                         I'm jonesing for a smoke, Kate.  
                         What the hell will I do with a
                         quarter?

                                   KATE
                         Buy gum.  Kill the boy.

                                   CHARLIE
                         Will?

                                   KATE
                         No.  Not Will.

                                   CHARLIE
                         Then who?

               Kate points across the street to Damian.   He's dressed like
               a schoolboy.  Sucks his thumb.  

               A thick rope unravels in the air.  It falls to the ground.

               THUD

               Damian's eyes widen.

               END DREAM SEQUENCE