APPLES & LOVE
© 2003
By Michael Benning
mbennin@bgnet.bgsu.edu

EXT. CITY PARK BENCH – DAY
Trees and benches are scattered throughout the sunny green small town park. One bench is occupied by Graham. He stares at his feet while tossing seeds out to the pigeons COOING below him.
A woman, in the distance, is walking her humongous dog. There are FLOPS on the sidewalk as her loose sandals slap against the ground. Graham stares at them slapping along the sidewalk and up into the grass.
JOANNE runs up behind Graham and steals his hat. Graham doesn’t look up as she sits beside him.
JOANNE
(excited)
Graham.

GRAHAM
Joanne. (he doesn’t look up)
Joanne looks Graham up and down, her fingertips running over the arm of his shirt.
JOANNE
We haven’t talked in a while.
GRAHAM
Hmm.

FADE OUT:

FADE IN:
EXT. APPLE ORCHARD – DAY
It is sunny and there are trees in parallel lines running for miles in all directions.
Young Graham and a young and beautiful brown haired Joanne are sitting underneath one of the trees, his head in her lap looking upward. A few apples lie around them.
Joanne runs her fingers over young Graham’s face until she reaches his eyelids. He rubs his arm.
JOANNE
How’s the arm?

GRAHAM
It’s fine, just a little sore.
JOANNE
Betty wouldn’t take her eyes off of you last night.
GRAHAM
Don’t worry about her.
JOANNE
She was gawking at you from the sidelines.

There is a lull in the conversation. Graham rubs his arm and Joanne takes her hands off of his head.

JOANNE
Why are we together?

GRAHAM
What do you mean?
JOANNE
Why do you like me and not some other
girl?
GRAHAM
You just feel right, that’s all.
JOANNE
Oh.
GRAHAM
What are you thinking about?
JOANNE
I’m just taking everything in. You. Me.
GRAHAM
I like us.
JOANNE
I like us too.

GRAHAM
We only have a year left.
JOANNE
It’ll be a quick year.
GRAHAM
I don’t want to have to go away to
school.
JOANNE
I don’t want you to have to go away to school.
GRAHAM
Do you think I should stay here, work on the farm?
JOANNE
Work on me.

GRAHAM
Work on you.
JOANNE
If you stay you’ll get the farm and I’ll get you.
He rolls over and kisses her.
FADE OUT:

FADE IN:
EXT. PARK BENCH – DAY

JOANNE
They have green apples on sale at Smitty’s.
He looks at the seat next and sees Joanne’s white loafers.
JOANNE
I really like them, the green apples. They’re kinda sour, you know. But when they’re really juicy and still sour, that’s when they’re the best. Not like the red apples. The red apples are too sweet and the peels get stuck in my teeth.
Looking forward, Graham sees the woman in the distance, still walking her dog, but near a bush now. It sniffs and lifts its leg to urinate.
JOANNE
How do you feel about apples, Graham?
Graham makes a positive grunt. Joanne drops down next to him and grips his arm as he reaches into the bag for more seed.
JOANNE
You don’t have to answer that question now, I’m sure we’ll have plenty of time now that Betty’s gone.
Graham gives her an odd look.
JOANNE
They also have cherries at the store. Did you see those?
Graham says nothing.
JOANNE
They don’t look as appealing as the apples. I think it has something to do with the size of them. Cherries always taste better, but they don’t seem worth it. Seeds get in the way of the taste.

Graham runs his hands along his head to finally notice his hat missing.
GRAHAM
Can I have my hat back now?
For the first time since sitting down, Joanne is silent. She begins to play with his balding head of hair. After a few seconds of awkward silence, Graham staring in the distance and Joanne staring at Graham, Joanne speaks.
JOANNE
You were always good at changing the subject.
He says nothing.

JOANNE
Was Betty good to you?
FADE OUT:


FADE IN:
INT. LOCKER ROOM – NIGHT
The room is steamy and there are benches and lockers. It is empty except for an 18 year old Graham who is rubbing his right arm. He is wearing a towel and is in good physical condition, muscular but lean. Sitting on a bench he looks up and sees an attractive skinny blonde in a cheerleading uniform. BETTY is leaning against the doorway with a seductive innocent look on her face, one fingernail between her teeth.
GRAHAM
Betty, you’re not supposed to be in here.
BETTY
I just wanted to congratulate you on the game.

GRAHAM
Thanks, the coach pulled out some good plays for us.
BETTY
Well, it was you who earned the win. You threw some great passes.
GRAHAM
Yeah, I had some decent throws.
He stops rubbing his arm and stands to open his locker.
BETTY
You know, I’ve had my eye on you for some time.
Betty begins to walk toward him.
GRAHAM
I’m not quite sure what you mean.
BETTY
Well, it’s pretty easy. I like you. I think you like me.
GRAHAM
You know about Joanne.
BETTY
If you don’t like me yet, you will.
GRAHAM
I don’t know.
Graham is fishing through his locker when Joanne puts her hands on his shoulders. She begins to rub them.
BETTY
How does that feel.
GRAHAM
It doesn’t matter.
BETTY
Forget about Joanne. She’s not here.
She begins to move her lips over his shoulders.
GRAHAM
Please, stop.
BETTY
I mean, it just makes sense. I’m a cheerleader and you’re captain of the football team. What does Joanne do again?
GRAHAM
She’s my girlfriend.
BETTY
You can’t tell me you haven’t thought about me. Every guy in school has thought about me.
GRAHAM
How do you feel about that?
BETTY
It’s flattering, but it takes more than thought to make anything happen.
GRAHAM
You are attractive.
Betty begins to kiss his back.
BETTY
Tell me something I haven’t heard, Graham.
GRAHAM
I have thought about this.
Betty studies Graham’s ears, his neck, and his jaw line.

FADE OUT:
FADE IN:
EXT. THE PARK – DAY
The woman with the dog is pulled toward some bushes as the dog growls. It is inches from the leaves of the plant before jumping excitedly.
Joanne stares at Graham’s aging ears, his neck, and his jaw line. Graham is still staring out at the woman with the dog.
JOANNE
I think we would have worked out.
Joanne smiles. She takes one of her fingers and puts it into the collar of Graham’s shirt, running it along his neck.
JOANNE
I think we would have been good for each other. I really do.
Joanne leans her legs in towards Graham.
The woman’s dog snarls and jumps into the bushes, pulling the leash with it. Watching this, Graham tosses some more seed to the birds in front of him.
The dog is really dirty now, caked in mud and leaves. It jumps out of the bush. It runs at the woman who stands, hands over her mouth.
JOANNE
I think about it all the time.
GRAHAM
Joanne –
She cuts him off.
JOANNE
Shush. I’m picturing it all right now.
She stands up and moves in front of him. The woman, in the distance, is running away from the dog.
JOANNE
It would have been beautiful. We could have been married right out of high school. You would take over your father’s orchard. I’d go to secretarial school. Everything would be wonderfully simple.
He looks down at the birds and throws some more seed.

JOANNE
I mean, think about it Graham; you and I spending our whole lives together without Betty to worry about. That would have been perfect. I would wake up in the morning, early before going to work for Dr. Jones.
Joanne places her hands on his head and pulls his face until it’s facing hers.
JOANNE
I would make you breakfast. We would have the same lives, but better. Better because we’d be together.

Joanne sits down and runs her fingers over his face, his eyelids.
FADE OUT:
FADE IN:
EXT. PARK – DAY
Back at the bench, Joanne is looking into Graham’s eyes.
JOANNE
You’re fifty now, right?
He nods.
JOANNE
Wow. A lot of that went by slowly. But, I guess that’s what happens when you wake up at 6:30 every morning and drink your coffee alone.
The woman with the dog is running in the distance. She runs to a large tree and places it between her and the dog. The dog barks at her from one side, but she keeps moving around each time the dog inches closer.
JOANNE
Was it hard on you when she died?
Graham looks at the ground. His bag is half empty and most of the birds have left.
JOANNE
She was your wife for over thirty years.
GRAHAM
I’m not sure how I feel about it.
JOANNE
We made it through your entire marriage without getting caught.
Graham looks over as if he missed something.
JOANNE
It happened a few times a year, rather consistently.
He looks back at the ground.
JOANNE
Everything happens for a reason.
GRAHAM
Can I have my hat back now?
JOANNE
I think it was supposed to be a reminder.
Graham rubs his head, and looks back towards the woman in the distance who is running. The dog is following close behind.
JOANNE
I still love you.
Graham sits.
The woman in the distance falls. She tries to scream but her mouth is filled with grass. She smacks the dog with one of her hands and it bites back.
Joanne takes the bag of seeds from Graham’s hands and places it on the ground. Her fingers wrap around his. Graham stares toward the ground, into the bag of seed.
JOANNE
I’m going to propose something.
Graham raises his view and stares at the woman in the distance.
JOANNE
We need a new start, right now. Forget about Betty, your kids, and everyone else.
Graham leans in to hear Joanne better. She grips his face with her hands, pulling it close to hers.
They stare directly at each other. Graham shows no emotion. Joanne gazes with a tilted head.
JOANNE
It’s awful that she came between us. Her being a cheerleader and you being the quarter-back, what was I supposed to do?
Graham lets out a frustrated sigh. His foot knocks over the bag of seed and he looks at Joanne with a sad look of confusion. He looks into the distance.
The woman’s hair is being chewed by the dog. No sounds come from her, though breathing ensues.
Joanne takes one of Graham’s hands with both of hers and wraps her fingers together around his.
JOANNE
But now she’s gone. I still like us. The same as in high-school.
Graham looks over at her with sad emotion.
GRAHAM
I like us too, the same as in high-school.
JOANNE
Then it’s settled.
She links arms with him as they stand.
JOANNE
I think that we should run away together.
GRAHAM
Where to?
JOANNE
Let’s go to your orchard. I want to see if it’s just as beautiful as it was.
GRAHAM
All right, but can I have my hat back?
They walk off through the park. As they leave, the woman in the distance is lying crumpled and bloody. The dog is running off in another direction. It seems happy with itself. The bag of seed lies by the bench.
FADE OUT:
FADE IN:
SILENCE. A large fruit orchard with various trees all lined symmetrical and parallel. The sun is bright and the apple trees look almost too real.
FADE OUT:

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