Volume 6, Issue 1

SOMETHING OLD/SOMETHING NEW
By Greg Palmer


Fade In: INT. APARTMENT - DAY

On one wall of this particular space there is a series of sketches tacked up, creating a border around a window. Each one features a young girl extremely posed and dressed in some sort of carefully chosen clothing. Through the dirty window glass we can see out onto a balcony. Leaning against the metal guard a young man stands with his back to us. Little can be discerned from his profile. He wears brown cloth pants and a blue button down shirt tucked in. This is HENRY. Smoke floats from a cigarette held in Henry’s hand.

EXT. STREET - DAY
Outside it is a gloomy early spring day. There are puddles of dirty water left from the last rainfall.
A teenage girl walks down the sidewalk. She is dressed in jeans and blouse, casual but not entirely innocent. She wears a backpack, filled and sagging on her back, her thumbs wrapped around the straps. This is LAURA.

HENRY (O.S.)
Hey! Excuse me… Miss!

Laura pauses for a few steps and looks around to see who could be calling her. She sees no one.

HENRY (O.S.)
Right here.

Laura looks up the side of an apartment building till she sees Henry’s figure.

LAURA
Who is that?
HENRY
Henry, you don’t know me.
LAURA
Is there something wrong?
HENRY
No, I just wanted to say hello.
LAURA
Hello…
Laura starts to walk away, her eyes furrowed in thought.
HENRY
Wait!
Laura continues on and throws a snooty glance over her shoulder back towards Henry.
LAURA
Why? You’re creepy.
HENRY
I’m not; I swear! Besides, I have to tell you something.

Laura turns around and bites her lip.
LAURA
What’s that?
HENRY
I’ve been up here for hours now... watching people go by; I have got to tell you, you are hands down the most beautiful girl that I have seen walk by. You are gorgeous.

Laura blushes a bit and bites her lower lip a bit. She cocks her head in very matter of fact way.
LAURA
You’re trying to pick me up.
HENRY
Is it working do you think?

LAURA-I think… that I shouldn’t trust the advances of a man watching me from a second floor window box.
HENRY
You’re right, you shouldn’t. Except for today... Have you ever sat for a picture before?
LAURA
I don’t know what that means.
HENRY
I’m an artist; and I need a model. I want to sketch you. If you’re interested, it would only take a few minutes.

Laura looks at her naked wrist, checking for a watch that doesn’t exist.
LAURA
Well... Maybe some other time...
HENRY
If you don’t have anywhere you have to be... you’d be doing me a great favor. After a few seconds of thinking Laura looks back up at Henry and exhales.
LAURA
How do I get up there?
HENRY
Go around to the side stairwell. It’s number 824. I’ll let you in. Oh, by the way; what is your name?
LAURA
It’s Laura.
Laura walks up the sidewalk back the direction she came. As she does she looks up at the apartment building, now looming before her. She opens the door and enters.

INT. APARTMENT STAIRWELL - DAY
The stairs stretch out before her. They are grey and uninviting. She slowly ascends them, curiously taking in all of her surroundings. At the top of the stairs she walks down a long empty hallway. As she does this she glances up at each of the doorways to check their numbers. At the end of the hall she finds the right one, 824. With an unsure look in her face and nearly shaking hand, she reaches out to grab the door handle. She looks up and sees a bright red exit sign hanging from the ceiling. Before she can grasp the handle, the door swings open and revealing Henry standing before her. Henry is in hid mid twenties and has bookish look to him. He is handsome, but in an unsettling way. He smiles at her with piercing eyes.

HENRY
I’d thought you’d forgotten about me. He grabs her by the hands and pulls her through the door frame, shutting it behind her.

INT. APARTMENT - DAY
The apartment is filled, but without any character or personal touches. There are only the usual furnishings that come with an apartment. Henry pulls Laura further into the apartment by her hands. She is very aware of this contact and stares at his hands on hers.

HENRY (O.S.)
Can I get you a glass of water or something?

LAURA
No, I’m fine.
The two pause down a short hallway next to two doors, one leading to another room and one to a bathroom.
HENRY
If you’re ready to get started; you can change in Here. Henry opens the door to the bathroom slightly.
LAURA
Into what?
HENRY
A dress.
LAURA
What’s wrong with what I have on?
HENRY
Nothing; It’s a nice dress.
LAURA
You ask an awful lot of a complete stranger. With his hand on her back, Henry guides Laura into the bathroom.
HENRY
I know. I’ll be waiting. He shuts the door behind her.

INT. BATHROOM - DAY
Laura looks around the bathroom. It is clean, filled with the bare necessities. Hanging on hanger from the shower rod is a black dress. It is simple and old fashioned. She walks up to the dress and presses the cloth together between her fingers. Next she smells the cloth. Taking it down, she holds the dress up to her body and looks at herself in the large mirror which covers one wall of the bathroom.

INT. APARTMENT - DAY
Laura walks through the bathroom door in the dress. She pulls fabric in certain places, adjusting the way it fits her. Ahead, inside one of the rooms, Henry sits with his back to her. He sits, his legs crossed with a sketch pad. The room is almost empty. there is a mirrored closet and a small window in one corner. Next to this window there is a small chair angled towards Henry. Laura moves into this room and stands behind Henry. At first he does not react. Then, sensing her presence he turns around and looks at her. A smile grows on his face.

HENRY
Perfect…
Laura grins and fluffs the dress out a bit.
LAURA
Where do you want me?
HENRY
On the chair
Laura walks over and sits down. First with her legs crossed, the quickly she uncrosses them keeping her knees together.
LAURA
How should I sit?
HENRY
Just be natural.
Laura crosses her hands across her chest, and then quickly re-adjusts them to her knees.
LAURA
Is this all right?
Henry looks at her for a second and shakes his head.
HENRY
You’re thinking about it too much. Loosen up a bit. Be natural.
LAURA
(Frustrated)
I would never “naturally” sit in an empty room in a dress. I don’t know what that means. Henry drops his pencils and stands up like a conductor before an orchestra.
HENRY
Stand up.
Laura stands up and faces him.
HENRY
Now copy me exactly. Do everything I do. Henry puts his hand in the air and does a small dance accompanied with a series of nonsense noises.
LAURA
This is stupid.
HENRY
Just do it. Please.

Laura mimics his actions while rolling her eyes. Henry comes back with another series of motions and noises. Laura counters that again. Her grin disappears. A series of several of these oddball actions transpires. Henry first, then Laura mimicking after, almost making music. Both are having a lot of fun.
Finally they stop.

HENRY
Now sit back down.

Laura sits, now much more naturally. She is still laughing. Henry begins to sketch. The smile on Laura’s face slowly fades away. Neither speaks for a bit and Laura starts too look around the room, moving not her head but only her eyes. She carefully looks at Henry, from his shoes up to his hair; dissecting each part of his body from the others.

HENRY
How old are you Laura? The sudden question brings Laura back from her thoughts. He asks without looking away from his easel and paper.
LAURA
(Breaking into song)
Sixteen... going on seventeen.
HENRY
(Amused)
I would have guessed a little older; eighteen at least.

Another break in the talk occurs, shorter this time. Laura grins, staring intently at Henry.

LAURA
How old are you?
HENRY
Much older, I’m from a different generation.
LAURA
Pepsi... or Coke?
Henry chuckles, he gets the reference and plays along.
HENRY
Coke.
LAURA
(Joking)
Wow, you are old.

Henry pulls back his hand from the paper. He sets down the pencil and rubs his hands together, as if his knuckles or joints are hurting him. Laura watches this intently.

LAURA
Henry, you look a lot like a guy I used to date. My first kiss actually.
HENRY
When was this?
LAURA
Last summer
HENRY
Did you break up? Why?
LAURA
Because; I’m young.

Henry now continues sketching.

HENRY
Got a boyfriend now?
LAURA
A few.
HENRY
(Laughs)
Lucky guys.
LAURA
What about you?
Without looking away from the sketch, Henry answers quietly.
HENRY
It’s been a while. It’s hard to meet people.
LAURA
What about your models?
HENRY
No... I just draw their pictures.
Laura asks her next question with the skill of a great surgeon, grinning as she does so.
LAURA
What about sex?
Henry smirks but plays along. He’s more than a little uncomfortable.
HENRY
What about it?
There is a beat in their conversation.
Laura bites her lip a bit before her next question.
LAURA
Well... the girls in your pictures?
HENRY
(Anxious)
I don’t... what about them?
LAURA
Ever with one of your models?
Henry’s facial expression changes. He is obviously agitated.
HENRY
No.
LAURA
I don’t believe that. Some young girl, doing whatever you say, being posed. You never seduced one of them? They never came on to you?
HENRY
No.
LAURA
What if one of them really wanted you?
Without looking up from his sketch Henry answers back with surprising sternness and force.
HENRY
No. I would never...
LAURA
I don’t think you could resist...
HENRY
(Sternly)
Stop it!
Laura is taken aback a bit from his response.
A small stream of blood appears on Laura’s upper lip.
HENRY (O.S.)
Your nose is bleeding.

Laura raises her hand to her nose and brings back bloody fingers. She tilts her head back with her hands on her nostrils. Henry stands up and moves towards her.

LAURA
This happens, do you have any tissues?
HENRY
Yeah, let’s go to the bathroom. Henry grabs her spare hand and guides her through the room, across the hall into the bathroom.

INT. BATHROOM - DAY
Henry guides Laura to edge of the bathtub where she sits down on, her head still tilted back. He grabs some tissues from a box and hands them to her. He kneels down to meet her at eye level as she places the tissues under her nostrils.

LAURA
Sorry.
HENRY
It’s all right. Don’t worry about it. Do you want an ice pack or something?
LAURA
No, it’ll stop on its own.There are a few seconds of silence before Henry begins to talk. He moves his hands to his face.
HENRY
Laura, why were you asking me those questions?
Laura plays innocent.
LAURA
I don’t know.
Laura instinctually tries to lower her head, avoiding eye contact, but then moves it back in position because of her nose.
LAURA
I don’t know... I was just trying to keep things interesting.
HENRY
Do you think that’s why I asked you up here?
LAURA
(Sheepishly)
I don’t know... maybe. The thought crossed my mind.

Henry removes his hands on his face; he is obviously concerned by this. He raises his head a bit to look Laura directly in her eyes.
HENRY
Did you come up here to have sex with me?

This stops her cold; she attempts to answer but cannot.
HENRY
Is that why you’re here?
LAURA
No.
HENRY
Then why did you do that?
LAURA
I don’t know.
HENRY
All I want is your picture.

Laura glances back through the bathroom door, into the other room and at the chair. Her facial expression changes to one of understanding.
HENRY
How’s your nose?
Looking back at Henry, he is smiling a little, not menacing at all.
LAURA
Better, I think it’s stopped.

She removes the tissue from her nose. It is no longer bleeding and is actually clean of any dried.

HENRY
Do you want to finish the sketch?
LAURA
Of course; I do.
HENRY
(Smiling)
Good. Henry stands up, offers his hand to Laura to help her up. Once again they move back into the room across the hall to work.

INT. BEDROOM - AFTERNOON
Henry sits down at his station while Laura walks over to her seat. Before sitting down she shakes her arms and makes noises like before. Henry laughs at this.

LAURA
It’s a good technique.
She sits down on the chair in the same pose as before. While Henry continues to draw, Laura sits in her pose silent. Her eyes do not wander about but look straight ahead, not at anything in particular however. This lasts a few minutes.
HENRY
Laura. I think I am all done.

Laura breaks her pose and relaxes.
LAURA
(With Anticipation)
Can I see?

HENRY
Sure. Tell me what you think, honestly.

Laura stands up and walks over behind Henry. She gazes at the picture of herself, her head directly to the left of Henry’s.

LAURA
(Somberly)
I like it.

INT. HALLWAY - AFTERNOON
Laura exits the bathroom in the clothes from earlier. She picks up her backpack from the floor and slings it over her shoulders.

HENRY
Well I guess I’ll let you go now.
LAURA
If you ever want me to model again, it’d be okay.
HENRY
(Nodding his head)
I’ll keep that in mind.
Laura starts walking towards the door, her thumbs wrap up in the straps of her book bag.
Henry opens the door and holds it for her.
LAURA
I walk by here everyday on the way home from school. Will you look for me?
HENRY
Yeah.
She exits back out into the hallway, Henry holding the door open still. She turns around to face him through the door frame.
LAURA
Do you really think I’m beautiful?
HENRY
I couldn’t tell that lie.
LAURA
Thanks.
Henry lets go of the door and it closes between them.

EXT. HALLWAY – LATE AFTERNOON
Laura walks down the hallway lost in thought.

INT. BEDROOM – LATE AFTERNOON
Henry steps out onto the balcony again to have a smoke.

EXT. SIDEWALK – LATE AFTERNOON
Laura walks across the sidewalk on her way back home. She glances up towards Henry’s balcony.

INT. BEDROOM – LATE AFTERNOON
Henry stands in the same pose as earlier, silhouetted, leaning against the guard rail, looking outward.
The pictures tacked around the window keep him company.

Fade Out: