NYC Midnight Short Screenplay Challenge: Round 2

> This is my second script (here’s the first, which came 8th in its category!) for the New York City short screenplay challenge.

After writing a comedy in round one, I got a brand new genre, location and prop to use in another 5 minute film script…

• Fairy Tale
• Funeral
• Tree stump

…and again I had 48 hours to write it.

 

POPPY’S FRIENDS

by

Laurie Cansfield

As the world of a single father crumbles after the death of his daughter, the daughter’s imaginary friends witness the destruction of their own world.

FADE IN:

 

INT. SMALL COUNCIL FLAT, LONDON – DAY

 

A tabby CAT washes herself on the kitchen table in a sparsely decorated flat. Early morning light shines through the gaps in the curtains. Bills are stacked on the table. There are dishes in the sink and withered plants on the window sill.

 

The front door opens. JOHN (40) enters, carrying a well used bicycle, wearing a thick padded coat and work boots. He leans the bicycle against a stack of boxes and walks to the table.

 

John gently nudges the cat onto the floor. He scans the bills before going into the bathroom.

 

He runs the tap and splashes some water over his face. He looks at himself in the mirror, then turns on the shower.

 

INT. KITCHEN – LATER

 

John wears a black suit. He fills a glass with water from the tap and drinks it. There’s a knock on the front door.

 

John opens the door. Oliver (40), also wearing a black suit, enters. They give each other a half smile and a nod.

 

Oliver carries a box filled with tinned food, pasta, bottles of squash. He places it on the table. John looks at the box.

 

OLIVER
Jackie and I just thought –

 

JOHN
I’m alright. Take it with you.

 

John pours two glasses of cheap whiskey from a bottle on the table, and gives one to Oliver. They drink, put down the empty glasses, and Oliver walks towards the door.

 

OLIVER
They won’t pay you. Even today.

 

Oliver heads outside. John picks up the box and follows, forgetting to close the door.

 

The flat is silent for a few moments. A bedroom door slowly opens. Golden dust floats through the gap, and a tiny sea-blue fairy, MERIEL, glides into the room.

 

Meriel sees the open front door and flies towards it. She looks back to the bedroom and beckons for someone to follow.

 

A portly skunk, OREO, plods into the room, and slowly walks to the front door with a sleepy smile on his face.

 

John walks back into the flat. Oreo stops in the middle of the floor and observes him. John scans the room, goes back outside, and pulls the door closed as Meriel floats through.

 

Oreo completes his journey to the front door and scrambles through the cap flap.

 

The flat is silent again. The cat walks into the room and jumps up onto the kitchen table.

 

EXT. COUNCIL ESTATE – DAY

 

Meriel and Oreo travel through the estate. Nobody notices them. They pass through a car park, a play area, a pedestrian subway, and cross a main road to a park on the other side.

 

Some of the trees have fallen, leaving shattered stumps in the ground. The pair share a worried look, and pick up pace.

 

A large HARE jumps out from behind one of the tree stumps, and hops alongside Oreo. A jet black CROW swoops down from a dead tree, and circles around Meriel.

 

HARE
They hang the man and flog the woman,
who steals the goose from the common.

 

CROW
But let the greater villian loose,
that steals the common from the goose.

 

MERIEL
Mister crow, please leave us alone.

 

OREO
Miss hare, we are but far from home.

 

HARE
The law demands that we atone,
when we take things we do not own.

 

CROW
But leaves the lords and ladies fine,
when they take things that are yours and mine.

 

The hare bounds away across the dull brown grass. The crow flies into the distance. Meriel and Oreo press on.

 

EXT. CREMATORIUM – DAY

 

An old estate car pulls up to the chapel entrance. A small group of people wait outside. ARTHUR (70) and SALLY (75) are the best dressed, and they stand away from the group.

 

ARTHUR
He knows we could have paid for a bloody hearse.

 

Sally frowns and shakes her head.

 

John and Oliver get out of the car, and are greeted by JACKIE (38). She kisses Oliver on the cheek, and hugs John.

 

JACKIE
I’m so sorry John. We’re here for you. Anything you need. This might not be the right time, but Oliver’s company –

 

JOHN
They’re keeping their distance I see.

 

John looks at Arthur and Sally, who avoid making eye contact.

 

He turns back to the car. A child-sized coffin lies inside. Oliver opens the tailgate and waits for John.

 

EXT. CREMATORIUM CAR PARK – DAY

 

Meriel and Oreo arrive at the crematorium. People park cars and walk straight past them. From a patch of wilting flowers they watch John and Oliver carry the coffin into the chapel.

 

OREO
What’s in that box Meriel? Something nice… I doubt.

 

MERIEL
I’ve seen one before. It goes in and doesn’t come out.

 

OREO
Where is Polly? Where did she go?

 

MERIEL
I don’t know, Oreo. I don’t know.

 

The flowers around them wither and die.

 

INT. SOCIAL CLUB – LATER

 

Guests gather in a function room, eating cold food from paper plates. Jackie cleans crumbs from the mouth of an excitable JAMES (6), who runs off to explore.

 

Oreo sits on top of the jukebox, and Meriel hovers above it.

 

John drinks whiskey at the bar. Oliver watches him drink. John watches Arthur and Sally sit at a table on their own.

 

OLIVER
Don’t, John.

 

John downs his drink and shows the BARMAN his empty glass.

 

OLIVER
First their daughter, John. Now their granddaughter.

 

John stands up. Oliver begins to stand, then sits back down again. He lets John walk across the room to Arthur and Sally.

 

JOHN
She’s gone. And now Poppy’s gone. And you’re gone too. Just disappeared.

 

Sally gets up and walks to the exit. Arthur stays.

 

SALLY
Arthur.

 

Arthur looks at John for a few moments, then gets up and follows Sally. Meriel and Oreo look on, open mouthed.

 

MERIEL
If Poppy’s gone we can’t exist.

 

OREO
We’ll disappear into the mist.

 

MERIEL & OREO
Shrivel like the fallen leaves.
There must be someone who believes.

 

John walks back to the bar, where Jackie and Oliver stand.

 

Oliver tries to speak, but Jackie gets in first.

 

JACKIE
It was you, John. You pushed them out. They tried to help. We all have. Why –

 

Arthur walks up behind John. Jackie smiles hello.

 

ARTHUR
Excuse me Jackie. John. I never blamed you. Sally… she’ll need a while. Just know, you’re still a son to me.

 

John stays silent, but nods. Arthur leaves. Jackie hugs John.

 

James walks up to the jukebox and stares at Oreo for a few moments, then smiles. He reaches out and strokes Oreo’s nose.

 

Meriel drifts a few feet away and James chases after her.

 

EXT. CREMATORIUM – DAY

 

Arthur waves at John and Oliver as they drive away. Jackie and James get into a parked car.

 

Meriel slips in through an open window as James closes his door. Then he opens it again for Oreo to hop in.

 

EXT. MAIN ROAD – DAY

 

Jackie drives past the park. Meriel and Oreo look out of the window. The trees are no longer stumps. The grass is green.

 

MERIEL & OREO
We have to stick together.
To give and to receive.
We’ll get through stormy weather.

 

MERIEL & OREO & JAMES
If only we believe.

 

JACKIE
What’s that, son?

 

INT. JOHN’S FLAT – DAY

 

John arrives home, carrying Oliver’s box of food. Oliver carries a tray of leftovers from the buffet.

 

They put it all on the table, and hug each other farewell. Oliver leaves.

 

The cat jumps up onto the table and sniffs at the food. John lets her stay there.

 

He scans the flat, notices the mess, and allows his eyes to fill with tears.

 

JOHN
Okay.

 

FADE OUT.