Volume 6, Issue 1

ESSENTIAL OIL
By Warren Chan


INT. TIGHT SUBURBAN HOUSE – BATHROOM - AFTERNOON

SARAH reclines nervously in her mold-sealed tub. She cups murky water over her shoulders with her hand. All the while, she monitors the disposable razor in the soap tray. She elevates her right leg over the shallow pool and rests that foot on the tub rim. She strokes the prickles in her skin. Reaching over the side, Sarah seizes a can of shaving gel. She rattles the can quickly and spreads some gel over her leg. She sets the can back down. Sarah contemplates the razor in the soap tray for a second before securing a grasp on it. She brings it slowly to the base of her shin and draws the blades to her knee. She pauses, examining the shave, then repeats the motion around her calf.

KITCHEN – EVENING
There are many vegetable peels and cores in the sink, and wet peppers, carrots, onions and broccoli dry on a paper towel. Next to the sink is a wire dish drainer with a ratty towel draped over the edge. On the other side of the room, two beat up old chairs sit by a small table. Sarah arranges her ingredients on the countertop and takes a plastic cutting board from a nearby cupboard. She sets the board down and opens a cutlery drawer. After surveying the lot, she chooses a medium knife in a sheath. As she sets the knife, in its case, on the countertop, a LOUD KNOCK fills the house. A LOW SNIFFLE reprises the knock before a pathetic voice begs –

KAT (O.S.)
Sarah?
Sarah strides out of the room

FRONT ROOM
Kat is letting herself into the house as Sarah enters the room.
SARAH
Kat?
KAT
Sarah! (Sniff) Hey. How are you?
Sarah rushes up to her.
SARAH
I’m okay, but you’re not. Honey - what’s the matter?
Sarah caresses Kat’s shoulder. Kat hangs her head.
SARAH
Kat?
Kat forces eye contact with Sarah. Her shuddering face is blotchy red. Sarah clutches Kat in her arms. Kat bawls, gasping, her face buried in Sarah’s shoulder.
SARAH
Who did this, Kat? Shawn? Your father? Who did this to you?
Kat surfaces for a huff of air.
KAT
It’s not what you think.
Kat’s breathing evens out and she snorts her nose clear. Sarah pulls back to look at Kat.
SARAH
What is it?
KAT
I just missed my second period.
SARAH
Oh God... Why didn’t you tell me you skipped the first?
KAT
I didn’t know what to think then. Sometimes I don’t get ‘em on time; sometimes I get two in one month. I don’t know.
SARAH
Aren’t you on the pill?
KAT
Yeah. I don’t know how it happened.
Kat sobs lightly. Sarah strokes Kat’s hair and nudges her face up.
SARAH
Come on, come sit down.
Sarah leads Kat by the arm into the

KITCHEN
Sarah ushers Kat into a chair by the table. Her neck is limp and can’t support her head; she rests it facedown on her folded arms on the table. Sarah walks to the other end of the kitchen and opens the cutlery drawer. The noise rouses Kat, and she rolls her head to face Sarah. Sarah picks up the sheathed knife and places it into the drawer. Kat sits straight up.

KAT
Oh, I interrupted your dinner.
SARAH
That’s okay.
She starts toward Kat.
SARAH
Talk to me.
KAT
I can talk and cook. It’s the least I could do. Kat jumps up industriously and marches to the counter. She passes Sarah.
SARAH
No - look at you. Just sit down for a minute. Kat examines Sarah’s face.
KAT
You’re hungry, I can tell. Let me earn the time I’m taking.
SARAH
You’re my best friend, Kat. Kat opens the cutlery drawer and digs out the largest knife.
KAT
If I don’t keep myself distracted I’ll be a wreck.
SARAH
Fine.
Kat removes the sheath haphazardly and tosses it aside.
SARAH
Just – be careful, all right?
KAT
I’m fine to chop veggies. I do it all the time. How do you want these carrots?
SARAH
Coined.
Sarah leans back against her stove, hands on the metal rim. Kat swiftly chops the carrots, her back to Sarah.
SARAH
So... Shawn not wanna to use a condom or what?
Kat slices through her thumb and halts chopping.
KAT
Oh.
SARAH
No?
KAT
Oh, shit. Kat turns her thumb and blood runs out. The carrots turn red in the mess.
KAT
Sarah!
Kat turns around, grasping her wounded hand. Blood jettisons onto the stove and Sarah. Sarah digs her fingers into the stove, her whole body tensing. She hardly breathes.
KAT
Fuck, Sarah, I’m sorry! Oh! What do I do? Sarah turns her back to the mess, edging away.
SARAH
Oh... my God... Kat.
Kat squeezes her thumb and pushes her hands into her stomach as her eyes dart around the room. She grabs the ratty towel from the dish drainer and wraps her thumb tightly. It turns red. She grips it fiercely and turns to Sarah, who is drifting to the other side of the room.
KAT
Sarah – Oh! I got blood everywhere... I’m so sorry, I –
SARAH
Call an ambulance. No, I’ll call. It’s okay. I’m calling. Kat examines her hand while Sarah leans into the wall by the telephone.
KAT
You know, it slowed down. I’ll probably be okay. Do you have some gauze, some tape?
Sarah forces herself to look at Kat.
SARAH
Yeah. No. You need to go to the hospital.
KAT
I’m sorry. I should have been more careful. Sarah pivots her pale face until she finds Kat.
SARAH
’S okay; if you’re okay, it’s okay. I’m calling an ambulance. She feebly lifts the receiver.
KAT
I can’t afford that, not now. If we have to go, you have to drive.
SARAH
I can’t drive. Why can’t you afford it? (Pause) No, I can’t drive.
KAT
I need an abortion. Sarah’s head perks up.
SARAH
You can’t do that!
KAT
I’m still bleeding – I need a bandage at least.
SARAH
Okay.
They exit the room together.

INT. CRAMPED EXAMINATION ROOM – LATER
Kat sits on the green patient’s table in a white gown. She pets the bandaged thumb with her index finger. Sarah leans forward in a chair in the corner, quiet and holding her hands. Kat looks at her and looks away twice, then stares at the wall.

KAT
Steve did it.

Sarah faces Kat, aghast. Kat looks at Sarah and whips back to the wall.
SARAH
Steve, like Steve from work, or your…
Kat sniffs back tears and touches her face.
SARAH
When?
KAT
Thanksgiving. I was tired. Ate too much turkey. I went upstairs to take a quick nap, and – shit.
Kat grabs up her gown to blow her nose. Sarah hands over a small box of tissue from the counter in time. Kat takes the box, wipes her face, and snots into the tissue heavily.
SARAH
Oh, God, Kat.
Sarah rises to sit next to Kat. She puts her arm low around Kat’s back.
KAT
That’s why I can’t keep it. What if something’s wrong with it - I mean, already.
SARAH
Oh, Kat.
Sarah rubs Kat’s shoulder.
SARAH
But this isn’t the nineteen hundreds anymore. You can’t get one, anywhere. It’s illegal.
KAT
I have to find someone. I can’t keep it. You have to know how fucked up, and mean, I feel even thinking –
SARAH
I didn’t mean –
KAT
I know you didn’t. But I don’t want to be responsible for getting rid of it any more than I want to be responsible for it having a horrible life.
SARAH
Have you thought about adoption?
KAT
I can’t do it. I can’t have this thing live in me, and come out of me.
There is a long pause. Sarah lowers her arm to Kat’s waist. Kat continues to look down and caress her thumb.
SARAH
I’ll help you find one. You’re right; there has to be someone. (Pause) We’ll take care of it.
Kat turns up to Sarah, her face blotchy again. She nuzzles her face into Sarah’s shoulder and draws a long, full breath.
KAT
Thanks.
Kat and Sarah sit in silence for a few seconds, looking at the ground. Three KNOCKS at the door, and it opens. A physician in a white overcoat, JENNY, strides in with a file in hand. With only a quick glance at them, she says
JENNY
How are we feeling now?
Kat fingers her bandage.
KAT
It’s still numb. It doesn’t really hurt.
Jenny makes a note in her file.
JENNY
Yes. Well the anesthesia will only last another hour or so.
KAT
I, uh...
She grabs a pad from her overcoat and scribbles onto it.
JENNY
I’m writing you a prescription for some mild pain relievers. Take one three times a day, and stop when you feel better. Jenny rips the sheet off of the pad and pushes it toward Kat.
KAT
Okay. I... had another problem I wanted to, uh...
Kat searches Sarah for help.
JENNY
I’m sorry - I’ve got another appointment, right now. You’ll have to come back. We’ll need to see you again in two weeks to check on that cut. Kat eyes Sarah desperately; Sarah shrugs and rises and Kat follows. Jenny rushes out of the room before they are assembled.
KAT
I don’t know what to say.
SARAH
There’s gotta be someone else.

Sarah peeks out into the HALLWAY and A MALE DOCTOR dashes from one door to another. One side of the hall is a row of open doors, leading to offices. Sarah pulls Kat into the hallway and leads her toward the offices.

The first office is empty. They creep forward. A short, older woman, DR. RUSSELL bursts out of the next office as they near it. She exclaims loudly.

KAT
Sorry.
SARAH
Hi. We, uh...
KAT
I have a problem that I need to talk to someone about.
DR. RUSSELL
Do you have an appointment?
SARAH
Well, no, but...
DR. RUSSELL
Well I’m sorry, but I’m very busy
Kat motions with her hand over her stomach.
KAT
I have something that I need to... take care of.
Dr. Russell coolly and quickly scans the hallway. She raises a hand to Kat’s forehead.
DR. RUSSELL
Woo, girl, you got quite a fever. Come in here and we’ll have a look at that.

Dr. Russell motions them into her OFFICE

DR. RUSSELL
Have a seat.
Kat and Sarah sink into the two chairs opposite the desk. The doctor shuts the door behind them and meanders to her side of the desk. Studying them, she plops into her chair and leans into her desk.
DR. RUSSELL
Now – what are you telling me?
Kat glances from Dr. Russell to the ground. Sarah keeps to herself.
KAT
I can’t have a kid.
Kat’s face reddens.
DR. RUSSELL
And how am I supposed to help you?
KAT
I need to know where I can get a (Pause, wipe a tear.) abortion.
Dr. Russell reclines from the desk and exhales.
SARAH
I’m sorry. We don’t know where to go.
DR. RUSSELL
Okay. Just realize what you’re asking me to do.
SARAH
We do.
KAT
Can I get one?
DR. RUSSELL
No. (Pause) Not safely.
Kat buries her gaze in the floor. Dr. Russell, after a sustained silence, concedes. She readies a prescription pad, but reconsiders and grabs a post-it note.
DR. RUSSELL
This is the address of a man who used to work here. He helped a girl before, but I don’t know how. You can try, but he might not wanna do anything. It’s dangerous.
She hands the note over to Kat, who conceals it promptly.
KAT
Thank you.
DR. RUSSELL
Well... I do have to work. Good luck to you. And, don’t tell anyone that we talked.
Kat and Sarah rise.
KAT
Okay.
SARAH
Yeah, thanks.

EXT. DR. WILSON’S HOME – EVENING
Kat stands on the stoop by the screen door, which a stern DR. WILSON props. He is medium tall, balding, and leans to one side. Sarah shadows Kat.
DR. WILSON
Accessory to homicide is 20 years, you know?
KAT
I just need help.
Sarah peeks her head around Kat.
SARAH
But it’s so early; it’s not even a whole... thing yet.
Kat fidgets with her hands, bending her fingers around. She shuffles her feet incoherently.
DR. WILSON
In your eyes.
KAT
Well do you know someone else?
Dr. Wilson drops his vision and sighs.
DR. WILSON
It’s a harsh process, you know. You’re not gonna come out the other side unscathed.
KAT
Yeah...
Dr. Wilson eyes them both before extending the door a few inches.
DR. WILSON
Come in and we’ll talk.
The two girls say nothing and look at him guiltily as they enter.

INT. DR. WILSON’S HOME – FRONT ROOM - LATER
Kat and Sarah occupy a small couch across from the doctor, who is contemplating.
DR. WILSON
So your boyfriend ran off?
KAT
Yeah, I guess.
Dr. Wilson reclines and exhales loudly.
DR. WILSON
And there’s no way you can just put the kid up for adoption?
Kat shakes her head sullenly. Sarah sits huddled together beside her, studying the room, occasionally stealing glances at the doctor.
KAT
So do you perform them?
DR. WILSON
God no.
Kat and Sarah both shift eyes to him, nearly aghast.
DR. WILSON
I performed one and it was the most... awful thing I have ever done.
KAT
How...? But, what –
SARAH
So you can’t help us?
DR. WILSON
I’ll help you, but you take it into your own hands.
SARAH
No – I can’t do that. No.
Kat looks pleadingly at her.
DR. WILSON
Oh, I’m not going to give you tools. (Pause) Have you ever heard of Pennyroyal?
KAT
No.
SARAH
I read about that stuff in an old book. Isn’t it dangerous?
DR. WILSON
It can be if you take too much. But it’s safer than a coat hanger.
Sarah cringes and drops her gaze.
DR. WILSON
Wait here a minute.
He rises and hobbles out of the room with a hand on his hip.
Sarah confronts Kat.
SARAH
Should we try someone else?
Kat stares blankly.
KAT
How dangerous is it?
A cabinet CREAKS in the background.
SARAH
I don’t know, really. This girl died in the book.
A GRUNT sounds from the next room and Dr. Wilson returns with three small bottles in his hands.
DR. WILSON
I grow the Pennyroyal in my basement. Since the ban, they’ve made it illegal, too.
He walks in front of the couch, towering over them.
DR. WILSON
This one (Presents glass dropper) has only a few drops of essential oil in it. You only use two drops, on your skin. It may cause some irritation, but only minor. You can put it on inner thigh, your wrist, or your forehead. This bottle (Presents plastic bottle) contains one pill of Blue Cohosh. It helps your cervix dilate and promotes uterine contractions.
He hands the glass vial and plastic bottle to Kat and presents the last plastic bottle.
DR. WILSON
This other bottle has one pill in it, N-acetylcysteine.
He looks at Sarah.
DR. WILSON
You make sure she takes this if it seems like she’s overdosed. It’ll help, but you’ll still need to go to a hospital immediately. And if you do, my name doesn’t get mentioned. You got it on the street, understand?
The girls nod.
DR. WILSON
Okay.
He makes his way to the door. Kat blindly searches for her purse.
KAT
How much is this?
DR. WILSON
It’s not. Just be careful. If it doesn’t work, come back and we’ll talk some more.
Kat and Sarah stand and adjust their clothing.
SARAH
How will I know if she’s overdosing?
Dr. Wilson inches the door open.
DR. WILSON
Some cramps and nausea should be expected, but if she’s feverish, trembling, vomiting blood, then she needs help, quickly.
SARAH
Okay.
KAT
Um, thanks.

INT. SARAH’S HOUSE – BATHROOM – LATER
Sarah leans against the wall by her sink, arms folded. Kat perches on the closed lid of the neighboring toilet, head down and stroking her bandage. The three bottles are lined up on the sink.
KAT
I guess I don’t have a choice.
SARAH
It’s up to you, honey.
KAT
No...
Kat looks up to the opposite wall before facing Sarah.
KAT
Okay. I’ll take the blue stuff first.
SARAH
All right.
Sarah rinses a glass from the sink and refills it with water from the tap. She passes it to Kat, who accepts it with uncertainty.
Kat uncaps the appropriate bottle and dumps the pill into her palm. She examines the pill, sniffs at it, and rolls it between her fingers.
SARAH
You can do it in the morning if you want.
Kat makes eye contact with her.
KAT
No, I’ll do it now.
She returns her gaze to the pill for a few more seconds, and then suddenly pops it into her mouth. She has a moment of coherence before drinking it down.
She replaces the half-drunk glass by the sink.
KAT
Where do you think I should put the drops?
SARAH
I don’t know. I wouldn’t put them on my forehead, if I were you... ya know, just so you don’t have to answer questions about it, which I guess rules out the wrist, too.
KAT
Yeah.
Kat rises and removes her pants. She’s wearing white panties with a light, faded pattern. She sits back on the toilet and rests one foot on the edge of the bathtub, sighing.
KAT
Here, gimme the bottle.
SARAH
Are you ready?
KAT
I guess.
Sarah hands the dropper to Kat. Kat twists her leg so that the inner part faces upward. She breathes deeply and unscrews the dropper. She squeezes the bulb and draws the liquid. Kat poises the dropper over the tendon near her pelvis and pushes out two drops. They sit in bubbles on her skin. She stares at them for a second and her breathing rate increases. Kat, trembling, drops the bottle and wipes the drops away.
KAT
I can’t do this! What, what if something goes wrong? Sarah! I can’t do anything. I’m not gonna die for him, but I’m not gonna bring this thing into the world. I – I don’t know – what to do!
Sarah rushes to Kat and squats to embrace her. Kat clamps her arms around Sarah and bawls. She shoves her face into Sarah’s shoulder, rising after a few seconds for air. She wipes tears from her eyes with her hand.
She continues to cry limply on Sarah for a few more seconds, but then tenses up and pulls away.
KAT
Oh. Ow. What’s going on?
SARAH
What?
KAT
My eye burns really bad.
Sarah holds Kat by the shoulders at a distance.
SARAH
The left one?
KAT
Yeah. Is it bad?
SARAH
Yeah, it’s really red.
KAT
Oh! Shit! I got the drops in my eyes, from my hand! What am I going to do?Kat stands up and shifts in place hysterically and Sarah stands instinctively.
SARAH
Do you think you need a doctor?
KAT
Oh! I don’t know... I’m getting dizzy. Am I supposed to get dizzy?
Sarah’s eyebrows dance in anxiety and hopeless concern.
SARAH
Maybe, it’s a mild symptom. Tell ya what –
Sarah braces Kat.
SARAH
Hey – tell you what. Sit back down and try to be calm. You’re freaking out and that’s not gonna help. Just sit.
Sarah guides her back to the toilet. Kat puts a death grip on the kitchen sink. Sarah touches her arm.
SARAH
Hey – loosen up. You’re too tense to think right.
Sarah grabs the last bottle from the sink and sits on the rim of the bathtub with a hand on Kat’s knee.
SARAH
Do you wanna take the other pill? Would that make you feel better?
Kat trembles fiercely and pulls in shallow, quick breaths.
KAT
Yeah. Yeah, I think so.
Sarah unscrews the bottle and dumps the pill into her own hand. She gets up and unclamps Kat’s hand to put the glass of water in it. Kat grabs it semiconsciously.
Sarah walks in front of her and squats. She takes Kat’s other hand and puts the pill in it. Kat stares off.
SARAH
Go on; take it.
KAT
Sorry.
SARAH
It’s okay.
Kat pops the pill into her mouth and swigs the water. She continues to stare off, wild-eyed. Sarah studies her face.
KAT
I wanna lie down for a bit.
SARAH
I’m not sure that’s a good idea. I wanna be able to keep an eye on you.
Kat searches the room with darting eyes.
KAT
I’ll just, uh – I’m gonna lie in the tub, okay?
SARAH
All right.
Sarah rises and takes Kat’s hands, pulling her up and supporting her. She pivots her body in the tight space to aid Kat into the bathtub.
Kat lies on her back, pulls up her knees and leans to the side in a skewed fetal position. She continues to take quick breaths, but less violently. Her eyes perceive nothing in particular.
SARAH
Are you going to be okay?
KAT
I, yeah, guess so. Don’t know. I just need to stay right here.
SARAH
I’m going to run downstairs and grab the phone, just in case. I’ll be back in just a sec, but if you need anything, just call my name, kay?
KAT
Okay.
Several FOOTSTEPS and BUMPS are heard as Sarah crashes around off screen. She returns quickly, bursting into the bathroom. She ogles Kat as she pants.
SARAH
You’re all right, right?
Kat looks at Sarah this time.
KAT
Yeah, I’m all right.
LATER
Kat is sitting upright in the bathtub, facing the toilet. She has composed herself considerably. Sarah is slumped against the opposing wall, her head sunk.
Kat leans forward and looks at the fallen dropper. She picks it up, places another drop on her thigh, and leans back.
LATER
Sarah is suddenly torn from sleep by Kat, who is vomiting in the toilet. With one arm, Kat clutches her abdomen. She bridges the toilet bowl with her other arm and rests her forehead there.
SARAH
Kat! Oh my God, are you okay? Should I call the doctor?
Kat GROANS and turns her face.
KAT
No. I think that’s all that’s coming.
Kat reaches up to flush the toilet. Sarah tries to peek over the rim.
SARAH
Was there blood?
Kat pulls her head up.
KAT
No. But my stomach really hurts – not like tummy hurt, but like period hurt... but so much worse.
Sarah cocks her head and reaches up to feel Kat’s forehead.
SARAH
Oh... you’re burning up.
KAT
I don’t want to go to the hospital, not yet.
SARAH
Are you sure?
KAT
I just – oh!
Kat buckles in pain and jumps up onto the toilet, pulling her panties down on the way. There is a spot of blood in the middle. Sarah pulls near Kat, who MOANS desperately.
KAT
Oh Sarah, oh it fucking –
She moans more and Sarah grasps her hand.
SARAH
Is it coming?
KAT
God, I hope so. I think –
Kat crushes Sarah’s fingers and Sarah winces silently. She loosens her grip for a second and peeks between her legs, immediately averting her face from the sight.
KAT
Oh, God.
She reaches around and flushes again. She clenches her eyes and squeezes Sarah’s hand again, GROANING. This lasts a few seconds and then she loosens up.
KAT
That’s all. I guess that’s it.
SARAH
Do you feel better?
KAT
A little.
The two share a short silence in which Kat lets go of Sarah’s hand and leans forward. She then tears off a handful of toilet paper and carefully cleans herself. She peeks at it.
KAT
Ugh.
SARAH
It’s just what was supposed to come out, right?
KAT
I think so.
She finishes wiping and stands up, pulling her panties up. She shifts in them with a look of discomfort for just a moment before she wavers.
KAT
Whoa. Oh – hold on.
SARAH
What’s wrong?
KAT
I’m really dizzy and there’s spots. Oh.
Sarah holds her up and Kat falls into her.
SARAH
Come on.
Sarah leads her back into the bathtub. Kat curls up inside it. Kat looks over to the toilet.
KAT
But –
SARAH
Don’t worry about it. I got it; just lay down.
KAT
Okay.
Kat crumbles into a heap at the bottom of the tub. Sarah pulls back, studying her friend. She looks at the toilet hesitantly. Sarah crawls over to the toilet and peeks inside. Some blood has turned the water a sick pink and a few dark clumps float around. Some blood is spattered on the walls of the bowl.
Sarah takes a deep breath and continues to look at the mess inside. There are a couple drops on the inside rim of the bowl. Sarah rips off a few squares of toilet paper and wipes them away, tossing the wad into the water.
She flushes without looking away.
Kat GROANS from the bathtub and VOMITS.
KAT
Sarah?
SARAH
Yeah? You okay?
KAT
There’s blood in this.
Sarah breathes deeply.
SARAH
What do you want to do?
KAT
I think I should go to the hospital.
SARAH
Okay. Can you stand?
Sarah leans into the tub and puts her arms under Kat’s, hoisting her.
SARAH
Don’t worry; we’ll get you there. Come on.