Death Day, Louise Douglas

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1. TELEVISION SET. DAY. 1

Quick succession of television talk shows and news clippings.

 

NEWS REPORTER

Growing concerns surrounding the protest today-

 

NEWS REPORTER 2

Fights broke out in Washington D.C. as-

 

TELEVISION TALK SHOW ATTENDANT

It’s absurd! You’re condemning people to die!

 

TELEVISION TALK SHOW OPPONENT

You’re condemning people to live!

 

NEWS REPORTER 3

Experts weigh in on whether medically assisted suicide should be an option.

 

PANEL ATTENDENT

Everyone deserves to die naturally.

 

PANEL OPPONENT

Even if that includes losing all their dignity in the process?

 

NEWS REPORTER 4

California became the fifth state to legalise medically assisted suicide today in an effort to treat-

 

2. INT. SEFRARO LIVING ROOM, SYDNEY. DAY. 2

MIKEY, 17, sits on the floor of the living room, leaning against the lounge. TINA, 45, sits on the lounge, holding the hand of GEOFFREY, 48, who is sitting in a wheelchair attached to an oxygen tank.

 

On the television, an old family video plays.

 

It is Mikey’s first baseball game, age 5. Tina is behind the camera, and Mikey hits the ball with the bat. Geoffrey runs onto the field and lifts Mikey high into the air. Geoffrey kneels down in front of Mikey and grabs the hair on the back of Mikey’s head, and they press their foreheads together, grinning. The camera zooms up close to them.

 

Mikey, real time, turns back to look at his dad who is clenching his left fist in pain; he is wheezing, but tries to smile at Mikey. Tina squeezes his right hand gently. Mikey turns back to the TV. He looks down.

 

3. INT. SIERRA’S OFFICE, SAN FRANCISCO. DAY. 3

SIERRA, 25, wears round glasses and sits at her office desk facing the window, looking at the San Francisco skyline. On her computer screen, she realigns and adjusts graphic images.

 

TRACY, 23, blonde and bubbly, pops through Sierra’s door.

 

TRACY

Did you get Mindy’s email?

 

Sierra shakes her head. She clicks on the envelope icon on her screen.

 

Tracy comes behind Sierra’s chair to read over her shoulder.

 

You are invited to celebrate… mindy.tah@gmail.com.

 

Sierra clicks on the notification and the email takes the entire screen.

 

You are invited to celebrate Mindy’s ReBirthday.

 

TRACY (CONT’D)

She’s not wasting any time.

 

SIERRA

ReBirthday?

 

TRACY

It’s a bit nicer than death day, isn’t it?

 

The phone rings from Tracy’s office. She rushes out to grab it.

 

Sierra’s eyes widen. She blinks harshly and her hand shakes over the mouse. She grabs the small bin by her desk and vomits. She leans back in her chair.

 

SIERRA

Rule number one: No crying.

 

4. INT. MIKEY’S BEDROOM. NIGHT. 4

Mikey sits on his computer. The walls of his room are blue and a big window looks out to native bush outside, surrounding their house. Tina enters. She sits on his bed.

 

TINA

I’m going to hire some help.

 

Mikey swivels in the computer chair to face Tina.

 

MIKEY

Why? We don’t need help.

 

TINA

We do, sweetie. I can’t do this alone.

 

MIKEY

You have me.

 

TINA

Just someone part-time. You go back to school next week.

 

MIKEY

We can’t afford help, Mum.

 

TINA

I know, Mikey, I just can’t do it anymore-

 

Tina starts to cry. Mikey sits next to his mother and puts his arm around her.

 

TINA (CONT’D)

I don’t know how to help him. I know all this sickness and health stuff… It’s really hard.

 

MIKEY

It’s okay, Mum. We can do this.

 

5. INT. SEFRARO CORRIDOR. NIGHT. 5

Geoffrey sits in his wheelchair outside Mikey’s room, able to hear the entire conversation.

 

6. INT. SIERRA’S STUDIO APARTMENT. NIGHT. 6

Sierra walks through the front door and puts her keys in a bowl by the door. Sierra’s housemate, LAURIE, 26, has long ginger hair tied in a top knot. She is chopping vegetables in the kitchen.

 

LAURIE

Hey! How was your day?

 

Sierra sits across from her at the bench.

 

SIERRA

Weird. I got invited to a ReBirthday.

 

LAURIE

What’s that?

 

SIERRA

A friend of mine has ALS and she got prescribed that medication that essentially kills you-

 

Laurie puts the knife down.

 

LAURIE

Well, it doesn’t essentially kill you; it does kill you.

 

SIERRA

Yeah, so I guess she thinks it’s a better way to go.

 

LAURIE

And you’re going to go watch her die?

 

SIERRA

I’m not going to wa-

 

LAURIE

No, you’re going to enable.

 

Laurie picks up the chopping board and pours the chopped vegetables into a saucepan.

 

SIERRA

It’s not my choice whether she lives or dies.

 

Laurie walks back to the bench.

 

LAURIE

It’s your choice to attend.

 

SIERRA

I have to say goodbye.

 

LAURIE

Either you go to that party and I won’t be here when you get home, or you take a stand with the living.

 

SIERRA

She’s going to take the drugs
whether I go or not.

 

LAURIE

You don’t know that.

 

SIERRA

She’s suffering.

 

LAURIE

No, she’s living. And she’s very fortunate to be living. If she doesn’t appreciate that-

 

SIERRA

I would’ve thought you of all people wouldn’t push this ‘God is good’ crap.

 

LAURIE

I just don’t want to see you hurting after your friend kills herself.

 

SIERRA

Well, apparently, I won’t have any support from the people who are supposed to care about me.

 

Sierra gets up from the bench and storms off to her bedroom.

 

Laurie throws the chopping board into the sink.

 

7. EXT. MANLY BEACH. DAY. 7

Mikey sits on the beach wall in his school uniform. There are a few surfers on the waves. A couple walk by, rugged up, with a small dog.

 

KAYLA, 17, has blonde hair, tied back, and also wears a school uniform. She sits next to Mikey.

 

KAYLA

You going surfing?

 

MIKEY

Nah, I have to get home.

 

KAYLA

You didn’t want to come to school today?

 

MIKEY

It just seems pretty pointless. I should be at home.

 

KAYLA

So, why aren’t you?

 

MIKEY

‘Cause Mum wants me to keep going on as normal.

 

Kayla scoffs.

 

KAYLA

Bludging school will do that.

 

Mikey laughs.

 

KAYLA (CONT’D)

How you doing, really?

 

MIKEY

Fine.

 

Mikey shrugs his shoulders. Kayla raises her eyebrows at him. He looks back at the ocean.

 

MIKEY (CONT’D)

I can’t sleep. I can hear him all night in pain, crying-

 

Mikey turns away from Kayla. He is tearing up. Kayla wraps her arm around Mikey.

 

MIKEY (CONT’D)

You know, men aren’t meant to cry.

 

KAYLA

Don’t be stupid.

 

MIKEY

He was the best guy I know, and now he’s an empty shell just waiting to die.

 

KAYLA

It’s not fair.

 

Mikey turns away from the beach.

 

MIKEY

No, it’s not.

 

Mikey presses his forehead into the palms of his hands. He breathes in sharply through his teeth.

 

MIKEY (CONT’D)

I know everyone always says that no parent should have to bury their child, but no kid should have to watch their parent die.

 

KAYLA

Mike-

 

MIKEY

It’s fine. I’m fine.

 

He stands up and picks up his school bag.

 

MIKEY (CONT’D)

I’ll see you at school.

 

KAYLA

Tomorrow?

 

MIKEY

(Chuckles)

Maybe.

 

Mikey walks away from the beach.

 

8. INT. TRACY’S OFFICE. DAY. 8 8

Tracy is typing on her computer. Sierra enters holding an opened parcel.

 

SIERRA

Did you get one of these?

 

She holds up the card.

 

SIERRA (CONT’D)

Please wear to my ReBirthday.

 

Tracy leans back in her office chair.

 

TRACY

Yeah, she sent me this hideous green dress I made her buy four years ago.

 

Tracy laughs.

 

TRACY (CONT’D)

What’d you get?

 

Sierra pulls out a stunning, purple, floor-length dress.

 

Tracy stands up and holds it in her hands.

 

TRACY (CONT’D)

Wow! You lucked out. What’s it from?

 

SIERRA

About seven years ago, I picked her up from a date with some guy that had gone horribly. I said she wasted a pretty dress, and she told me that she’d be buried in it, so it wouldn’t go to waste.

 

Tracy goes back to her desk.

 

TRACY

(Laughs)

Now you’re going to have to be buried in it. She told me she’s going out how she came in: butt-naked.

 

Tracy pulls her chair in and starts typing. Sierra looks at the card.

 

SIERRA

(Under breath)

Rule number two: wear what I send you.

 

9. INT. SEFRARO LIVING ROOM. DAY. 9

Mikey enters the front door in his school uniform. Tina stands looking out the window, her eyes red and puffy. Loud groaning can be heard from down the corridor. Mikey drops his school bag by the door and walks down the corridor.

 

10. INT. GEOFFREY’S BEDROOM. DAY. 10

Mikey stands in the doorway. ESTELLE, 26, is the nurse hired as help. Geoffrey’s body twists in agony as Estelle tries to calmly keep his body down.

 

ESTELLE

Shh, shh, Geoffrey, it’s okay. You’re alright.

 

GEOFFREY

Help me.

 

He sobs.

 

GEOFFREY (CONT’D)

Just make it stop.

 

ESTELLE

I’m sorry, Geoffrey. There’s nothing I can do.

 

Mikey turns away from the room and leans back on the frame of the door.

 

11. EXT. MINDY’S DRIVEWAY. DAY. 11

Sierra parks in front of a quaint house, wearing the purple dress. She turns off the engine and sits in the car.

 

PARKER, 30, dressed in hideous parachute pants and a dark green raincoat, thumps on the car window. It makes Sierra jump. He opens the car door.

 

PARKER

What are you waiting for?

 

SIERRA

I feel strange coming to a party empty handed.

 

PARKER

She’s got no use for gifts where she’s going.

 

She gets out of the car. Parker pretends to faint. He grabs her hand and makes her twirl under his arm.

 

They walk toward the house. CHAD, 23, the nurse, opens the front door. His white uniform is pressed neatly, and a clown flower is pinned to his lapel. He grins, welcoming them into the house.

 

12. INT. GEOFFREY’S BEDROOM. NIGHT. 12

Geoffrey lays in bed as Mikey tries to feed him. As Mikey lifts a spoon to his face, Geoffrey keeps his mouth clamped shut. Mikey throws the utensils down.

 

MIKEY

Come on, Dad. Help me out a little, please?

 

Geoffrey shifts uncomfortably, his face grimacing.

 

MIKEY (CONT’D)

Why are you doing this to me?

 

GEOFFREY

Estelle and I have an understanding.

 

Mikey picks up a cup of water and a spoon and tries to spoon the water into Geoffrey’s mouth. Geoffrey turns his face away.

 

MIKEY

So, you just don’t want me to help you?

 

Mikey looks out the window.

 

MIKEY (CONT’D)

Or you don’t want to eat at all?

 

Mikey looks back at his father.

 

MIKEY (CONT’D)

That’s it? You’re just going to starve yourself?

 

GEOFFREY

(Straining)

It’s less painful this way.

 

MIKEY

For who?

 

Mikey stands, pushing the chair he was sitting on aggressively back against the wall.

 

MIKEY (CONT’D)

You’re not even going to try?

 

Mikey’s eyes are filled with tears. Geoffrey is shaking slightly in pain.

 

MIKEY (CONT’D)

And that bitch knows? Why the fuck did we hire her then? She’s wasting our money and letting you kill yourself?

 

GEOFFREY

It’s the only choice I have.

 

MIKEY

You could fight!

 

GEOFFREY

For what?

 

MIKEY

For me! For Mum.

 

GEOFFREY

I’m sorry-

 

MIKEY

No. Fuck this. Fuck her and fuck you!

 

Mikey picks up the food tray and chucks it at the wall. He goes to storm out.

 

GEOFFREY

Son-

 

Mikey stops in the doorway.

 

GEOFFREY (CONT’D)

I only get worse from here. I don’t want you to remember me more shrivelled up than I am.

 

Mikey pauses for a second. He walks away.

 

Geoffrey sobs.

 

13. INT. MINDY’S BACKYARD. EVENING. 13

Sierra sits on a lounge chair on the porch. The backyard is donned with paper lanterns. There are 15 other guests dancing in the backyard. Sierra watches them.

 

MINDY, 32, is frail in her wheelchair. She has eccentric curly hair and wears a bright orange ball gown. Chad wheels Mindy to be next to Sierra. Mindy struggles to speak.

 

MINDY

You’ve brought a mood with you.

 

SIERRA

I haven’t.

 

MINDY

You’re worried I’ll regret it? I can’t.

 

SIERRA

I guess I’m just confused.

 

MINDY

I’m not.

 

Sierra looks at Mindy.

 

SIERRA

Aren’t you scared?

 

MINDY

Every night I would go to sleep scared-of living. Wondering what new hell I would go through the next day. I got the prescription two weeks ago… and haven’t felt scared since.

 

Sierra nods.

 

MINDY (CONT’D)

Now rule number three: you owe me a joke.

 

Sierra chuckles and looks back out at the party. She turns back to Mindy, smiling.

 

SIERRA

Okay, so-

 

14. INT. MIKEY’S BEDROOM. NIGHT. 14

Mikey sits at his computer desk. The computer screen shows a Google search:

 

How long until someone dies of dehydration?

 

On the wall behind the screen is a photo of Mikey aged three atop his dad’s shoulders. He sobs.

 

MIKEY

(Under breath)

Fuck.

 

He clasps his hands together. He breathes deeply.

 

MIKEY (CONT’D)

Maybe I should’ve turned to you earlier, and I have no idea why you do the things that you do, but he’s going to go soon and I just pray you do what’s right by him.

 

He leans back in his computer chair.

 

15. INT. MINDY’S BEDROOM. DAY. 15

 

The nurse picks up Mindy from her wheelchair and positions her sitting up in her bed. Mindy’s friends gather around the bed. Mindy starts to cry.

 

CHAD

Thank you everybody, I think it’s time to go.

 

Parker squeezes Mindy’s hand.

 

PARKER

Bye, Minds.

 

MINDY

Wait-

 

The guests turn back to the bed.

 

MINDY (CONT’D)

Thank you, everyone, for coming. Not to the party-into my life.

 

Sierra holds back tears. She forces herself to smile. Mindy smiles back at her.

 

MINDY (CONT’D)

I couldn’t have killed myself without you.

 

Sierra lets out a stilted laugh. Parker wraps his arm around Sierra.

 

PARKER

One more joke for the road.

 

The group walk out of the bedroom.

 

16. INT. GEOFFREY’S BEDROOM. DAY. 16

Geoffrey rolls around his bed in pain. He is screaming. Tina is trying to get him to be still. He rolls off the bed and lands heavily on the floor. Tina runs to the door.

 

TINA

(Screaming)

Estelle!

 

Estelle runs into the room. Estelle and Tina try to lift Geoffrey back into the bed. He cries.

 

Mikey appears in the doorway.

 

ESTELLE

Come on, Geoffrey. You’re okay.

 

Geoffrey thrashes in the bed. There is a large cut in his leg, bleeding. Tina backs into the corner of the room, hyperventilating and crying. Estelle injects Geoffrey in the leg with a needle.

 

Geoffrey cries and blubbers.

 

ESTELLE (CONT’D)

I’m sorry.

 

Mikey comes into the room. He gets into bed with his father and grabs the back of his head. He pushes their foreheads together. Geoffrey stops shaking aggressively. His breathing is shaky but calmer.

 

17. EXT. MINDY’S BACKYARD. NIGHT. 17

The guests sit on Mindy’s back porch. They are silent. Chad comes outside. The guests all turn to look at him.

 

CHAD

Mindy is in a coma. It may be a few days before she passes, but it was a success. She’ll die pain free.

 

Tracy exhales heavily. Sierra wraps an arm around her. Tracy collapses into Sierra’s chest and cries. Sierra looks out across the backyard. Her eyes are filled with tears.

 

18. INT. GEOFFREY’S BEDROOM. DAY. 18

Geoffrey breathes heavily and slowly in his bed. Tina lays with him rubbing his arm. Estelle monitors his IV and oxygen tubes. Mikey sits in a chair in the corner. Geoffrey grits his teeth. He squeezes Tina’s hand and nods.

 

GEOFFREY

(Weakly)

Son-

 

Mikey gasps. His breathing becomes shaky.

 

GEOFFREY (CONT’D)

I’m going to close my eyes.

 

A sob escapes Tina’s mouth. Mikey stands and opens the blinds more.

 

MIKEY

I’m going to tell you what’s outside.

 

Geoffrey lets out a weak laugh.

 

MIKEY (CONT’D)

Remember that tree? And I’d collect the leaves in Autumn. Then you cut it down because it wasn’t native? The stump is still there.

 

Mikey laughs.

 

MIKEY (CONT’D)

You know, that was my favourite tree, and you had to explain to a seven-year-old that it had to go. I thought I’d never forgive you for that.

 

Mikey turns to his dad. Geoffrey’s eyes are closed. He isn’t breathing. A small smile on his face. Tina is cuddled up tightly to him.

 

MIKEY (CONT’D)

But I do.

 

Mikey collapses back into the chair. Estelle pulls the oxygen out of Geoffrey’s nose and the IV drip from his arm. She leaves the room.

 

Tina sobs. Mikey continues to stare at his dad.

 

Finally, he screams.

 

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Louise Douglas

Louise Douglas is currently a student of engineering and creative writing at Macquarie University. Her passion lies in screenwriting, drawing upon her ability to binge watch television shows and movies without a break. Her love for cinema and travel led her to pursue screenwriting studies in the United States and she hopes that one day her career will find her living back overseas. She thoroughly enjoys the way that film is able to cause people to think and change, and wishes one day to be able to do the same.

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