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Sheffield Hallam University City Campus Howard St Sheffield
South Yorkshire S1 1WB
EXT. CHURCH GROUNDS. DAY (PRESENT DAY)
It’s a cold winter’s day. The grounds are surrounded by finely sharpened blades of grass and skeleton trees. The branches whisper under the cover of the light winter-morning breeze.
A decayed, shriveled leaf lets go from a nearby tree, falling gracefully to the ground.
ALAN WATERS (aged 32) is a man who is tired. Bags under his eyes and the odd stray grey hair shows his relentless burdens.
He opens the rusty gate with a slow creak and pulls his black coat tighter around his frail body as he walks up to the grand stone church.
He pushes open the giant double doors into the:
INT. CHURCH. DAY
Inside, there’s a spectral atmosphere amongst the rows of wooden pews.
An angel weeps from the stained glass window, above the altar.
In front of him, below the window, a table, two chairs, and a wooden chessboard is waiting for him. The pieces have already been moved, as if already in the middle of a game.
The left seat is occupied by a man wearing a full black suit, red tie, and matching bowler hat. A leather briefcase
to him. The man’s name is MR. CORAL.
ALAN This is the end.
MR. CORAL I’m glad you came back to finish
our little game. I knew you would.
Mr. Coral gestures for Alan to sit down, and Alan obeys. They stare at one another long and hard.
MR. CORAL (CONT’D) It’s your move, Alan.
Alan hesitates, then picks up a white pawn, pushing it forward, sending it to his death, as Mr. Coral takes it with a bishop.
INT. KITCHEN. DAY (THREE MONTHS EARLIER)
Mr. Coral stands in Alan’s kitchen, with briefcase in hand. There’s tension in the air.
Mr. Coral opens the briefcase. A dazzling golden glow emits from within. Alan leans in, but Mr. Coral snaps it shut before he catches a glance.
He offers a crisp sheet of paper. Alan snatches it, his eyes darting left-to-right across the page.
Moments pass, until he wafts the paper in Coral, then throws it down on the counter
front of Mr. defiantly.
ALAN What is this rubbish!?
MR. CORAL Well, as the contract states,
you’ll be granted a lifetime of good fortune–
ALAN –I can read. Very funny.
MR. CORAL I assure you, this is no practical
joke, Mr. Waters. I’ve heard of your difficulties, and I’m here offer my services.
ALAN Thought you said you weren’t a
salesman. Not in the traditional sense.
MR. CORAL (CONT’D) You don’t need to hide the fact you
can barely pay that electricity bill, or–
ALAN How do you know about that?
MR. CORAL –Or the fact that unless you can
make ends meet…you’ll be facing repossession.
INT. LOUNGE. DAY (MEANWHILE)
In the room directly opposite, Alan’s partner, LUCY (aged 30) is in the middle of sorting ironed washing into different piles. Her naturally beautiful golden flowing hair and deep blue eyes brighten the entire room.
She frowns as she hears Alan’s voice, pauses to listen, then shakes her head and resumes.
INT. KITCHEN. DAY
ALAN (Hushed, through teeth)
How the hell do you know all this!? Who are you?
MR. CORAL My name is Mr. Coral. And I’m just
here to…maintain the balance, so to speak. But keep in mind that signing the contract will halve your lifespan.
(Pointing to page) As stated here.
ALAN I think you better leave.
MR. CORAL (Calm)
Just remember: you deserve better, Mr. Waters.
Silence. Alan glares at Mr. Coral, until he sighs, slowly picks up his briefcase and exits. Alan grabs the contract from the counter and follows him out the front door.
ALAN Here, take your stupid contract.
I’m not interested. Alan holds out the contract, but Mr. Coral shakes his head.
MR. CORAL You hold on to it, in case you
change your mind…you might be glad you have it. G’day.
He tips his hat and leaves Alan standing dumbstruck at the door, contract in hand.
INT. HALLWAY. NIGHT
BETH (O.S) Hello? Is this Alan?
Alan is in the amber glow of the hallway’s lamp. It’s pitch black outside, with rain lashing at door. He stands with the telephone to his ear.
BETH (O.S) Yeah, hi. Listen, I have something
to tell you about Dad.
Alan slowly pulls the phone from his ear. Beth’s distant voice is heard from the speaker, but quiet and incoherent. Slumping against the wall, he drops the phone, leaving Beth speaking to thin air.
INT. HOSPITAL. NIGHT
A hospital room, with the shiny, unnatural surfaces decorated in grey and green.
Alan sits at a bedside, head in hands. There’s a single flower in the bedside vase, illuminated by the small lamp.
ALAN’S FATHER (aged 59) rasps through the machine, accommodated with beeps and exhalations. His pasty, greying face shows he’s at the end of days.
Lucy walks up behind Alan, putting a comforting hand on his shoulder.
INT. CAFÉ. DAY
A small café decorated with menus on blackboards and home-made cakes and coffee. Alan and Lucy are inside, sheltered from the continued lashing of rain from the night before. They sit, with hands around their small teacups and saucers, that gently breathe steam from the rim.
LUCY You’re quiet. Talk to me.
Pause. Alan appears conflicted.
ALAN I just cant believe it. I just
don’t know how long he has left…and I don’t know what to do anymore…
LUCY I’m here for you.
Lucy reaches over, pulls Alan’s hand from his cup and takes it in her own.
ALAN I just keep thinking of all the
days we spent, when I was a kid. Going on the bike rides…when he took me to the park…
Alan sighs, his breath shaking.
ALAN (CONT’D) You know, he set an example for me.
He’s the type of father that I’d want to be one day.
the coffee away.
ALAN (CONT’D) I’m going to get a glass of water.
He leaves. Lucy sighs and props her head up with elbow on table. She stares out of the condensed and foggy window to the dreary street.
Suddenly, it all goes quiet. She looks back. Nobody there. The once busy coffee shop now empty. Nobody on the street either.
Suddenly, a figure emerges from behind her. She closes her eyes, dreamlike.
MR. CORAL Hello Lucy…
walks forward and takes Alan’s seat.
MR. CORAL (CONT’D) Love is like a flower, isn’t it?
Sometimes open, sometimes closed. Sometimes it’s weak, withering away.
Lucy doesn’t respond.
MR. CORAL (CONT’D) Soon we’ll know whether Alan makes
the right decisions. And when he does, make sure he hears these words:
Mr. Coral leans in closer now, and whispers in her ear. He pulls back.
MR. CORAL (CONT’D) Don’t forget.
Then, he gets up, and leaves the room. Lucy snaps back out of her trance and the café returns to its busy state.
INT. DINING ROOM. NIGHT
The crisp contract is lying on the dining room table, next to a glossy black fountain pen. The dim light and the continued rain gives the room an eerie ambience.
Alan leans over the immaculate white sheet, eyeing it with dubiety.
He picks up the fountain pen. Alan pauses. His pen hovers over the paper.
Alan holds his breath. It’s so quiet. You could hear a pin drop.
As Alan leaves the pen suspended over the contract, three drops of black ink escape from the tip, staining the virgin page.
INT. LOUNGE. AFTERNOON
Alan is home, dressed sharply in interview. Lucy stands opposite, scowl on face.
LUCY You kept this from me!
black, suitable for with hands on hips and
She wafts a piece of paper in front of Alan. It looks like the contract.
Pause. But it isn’t. It’s something else.
ALAN What is it?
LUCY You know full well what this is,
Alan! You’ve been hiding letters in the drawer, haven’t you!? Why would you keep something this important from me? This is our home!
Because I didn’t want you to worry!
LUCY (Tears forming. Fighting the urge to cry.)
I can’t stand you lying to me and keeping secrets, Alan…Why don’t you ever tell me anything any more? Why won’t you just let me in?
ALAN I can fix everything. Our home, my
LUCY Well you haven’t, Alan! We keep
saying, ’things will get better’, but they never do!
ALAN Lucy…I’ve just been to an
LUCY (Face softens, taken aback. She eyes Alan up and down, taking in his appearance.)
What? I’ve just been to an interview.
Where? Where do you think?
ALAN LUCY ALAN
ALAN (CONT’D) They invited me to a follow
up…But it’s all the way in London.
LUCY We have to travel for a job you
’might’ get? That’s not good, Alan!
ALAN Expenses are paid for, so why don’t
you come on a trip with me?
LUCY Fine…But you need to start
telling me these things.
There’s no arguing with that. Lucy folds her arms in defeat, but she tries to hide a glimmer of a smile.
INT. HOTEL ROOM. NIGHT
Alan is lying on the luxurious king-sized bed within his classy, elegant suite of a room – paid by his recent employers.
He reads the financial newspaper and sips expensive scotch from a crystal tumbler.
Lucy is with him, putting on a pair of expensive shoes and coat. She’s frantically texting on her phone. Alan notices, removes his glasses, and throws his paper down.
ALAN Do you ever stop tapping on that
LUCY Oh, I’m just looking up directions
to that shop. But she doesn’t say it to his face. Alan looks confused.
LUCY You know! The one we passed on the
way, on the high street.
ALAN Hold on, I’ll come with you.
LUCY No, no. It’s fine. You’d be bored
They exchange a kiss and she quickly leaves, closing the door behind her.
INT. CHURCH. DAY (PRESENT DAY)
Back in the church. Pieces are demolished across the board. Alan is losing.
MR. CORAL I have a question.
Alan looks up, fatigued and frustrated.
MR. CORAL (CONT’D) Why are you here? Because if it’s a refund you want, then you’re out of
ALAN Do you have family, Mr. Coral?
MR. CORAL I did once…But that was a long
ALAN Then you’d know you’d do anything
MR. CORAL (Coldly)
I didn’t have the luxury. So don’t feel too bad about it, Alan.
ALAN What happened?
MR. CORAL Like I said…It was a long time
Alan looks back down at the board, advancing his castle forward, directly in line with the black king.
Mr. Coral also looks down at the board, pushing his king forward and destroying the castle.
looks Alan up and down, as if X-raying him.
MR. CORAL She doesn’t even know about the
ALAN No…But soon.
MR. CORAL So that’s it then? Happy ever
ALAN After everything that’s happened, I
don’t think there are any happy endings…but I can try.
Alan rubs his chest uncomfortably, near his heart, and then holds it there, clutching, trying to maintain frame.
MR. CORAL Painful, isn’t it?
ALAN Do you know why I signed your
MR. CORAL Enlighten me.
ALAN I signed it because of my father.
But after signing it, I realised some things just can’t be changed.
Alan pushes his knight forward, galloping over a pawn and taking the black king. Mr. Coral raises his eyebrows, appearing genuinely surprised. Alan looks up from the board, and glares at Mr. Coral.
MR. CORAL Good game, Mr. Waters.
ALAN I’ve made a decision. Despite what
you believe, I didn’t come here to beg for your mercy. I didn’t even come here to try and persuade you to change the contract…I came here to tell you I’ve signed another.
A pause, and Mr. Coral’s face crumbles further into confusion. Alan takes the black king and pushes its crown, knocking it over.
Alan gets up from the table, and walks away, leaving Mr. Coral dumbstruck.
INT. BATHROOM. MORNING (PRESENT DAY)
Lucy is in the bathroom. She closes the cabinet full of cosmetics and medicine, and examines her shaken and distraught expression in the mirror. She presses her hand against the glass.
Lucy takes a seat on the toilet lid and examines the pregnancy test clutched in her hand.
She stares long and hard at the result, and then bursts into tears.
INT. RESTAURANT. NIGHT (PRESENT DAY)
A candlelit dinner, with Alan smartly dressed with black shirt, and Lucy, in a long royal-blue dress. The orange glow restores colour in Alan’s pale cheeks. A waiter briefly interrupts their moment, as he whisks away their finished dinner plates.
Alan gestures for Lucy to close her eyes. With a swift motion, he pulls a small ring box from his pocket.
Lucy opens her eyes. She gives a gasp as Alan leans in and presents the ring.
LUCY Is this…?
There’s an unspoken sentiment between them, and tears begin welling up in Lucy’s eyes.
Lucy props a hand on her forehead, elbow on table, and she shakes her head slightly.
Alan reaches over and takes hold of Lucy’s hand, and she looks back at him.
LUCY (CONT’D) Alan…I-I don’t know what to say.
ALAN I don’t want you to say anything.
Just say you feel the same and say yes. Will you marry me, Lucy?
A long pause. The whole room appears to fall silent, despite fellow diners oblivious to their conversation.
The hope melts away from Alan. Shock. He drops Lucy’s hand, pulling away.
LUCY (CONT’D) I don’t want us to rush into this.
ALAN I’m not, I–
LUCY Let it go, Alan. What does it
matter if we’re married? As long we have each other, nothing else matters.
Lucy reaches forward and takes Alan’s hand rejection.
again. It’s not
Lucy holds Alan’s hand. He leans forward and they share a kiss in the candlelight.
INT. BEDROOM. MORNING
Alan is at the end of his bed. Spring sunlight seeps through the cracks of half-drawn curtains. There’s no mist outside now.
He stares at the contract, now signed with his name at the footer in black ink. He folds it carefully in two, creasing down the centre, and then stuffs it into his jacket pocket, uncaring as to whether it gets crumpled or not.
Alan stands, glancing out the window as he does so. He catches sight of something.
In the distance, outside his house, a tall man in black, carrying a polished briefcase and felt bowler hat. It’s unmistakably Mr. Coral.
Looking back at him, Mr. Coral tips his hat to Alan. Nervously, Alan clutches his chest once again.
(O.S) a moment. Neither of them move.
Alan holds the stare for Lucy enters the room.
Alan! Alan turns around, facing Lucy.
LUCY (CONT’D) What are you doing up here?
Looking back over his shoulder to the window, Mr. Coral has vanished, as quickly as he arrived.
ALAN Just thinking.
LUCY About what?
Come here. Alan takes her
I’ve kept so much I
I know. I too.
ALAN (CONT’D) things from you. I have need to tell you.
LUCY have things to tell you
Lucy’s ring – now on her finger – shimmers like the sun of euphoria in their longing, everlasting embrace.