The Artist, Ashley Ward

 

1. INT. CLASSROOM – AFTERNOON

An American HIGH SCHOOL CLASSROOM occupies rows of small, vacant desks. A groomed TEACHER with a striped tie enters with two teenagers and a magazine under his arm. SIMON, a teenage lanky thing with large round glasses, heads to a desk at the back of the room. He sits, submissively. A high schooler with a ‘Go Bulls’ hat, JEREMY, attempts to follow, but is stopped by the teacher.

TEACHER

I don’t think so! I want you up the front.

Jeremy looks at Simon. Smirks.

TEACHER

I won’t condone interruptions during my lessons. Is that clear?

BEAT.

TEACHER

That goes for the both of you. I’ll be right back… If I hear anything coming from this room, you’ll both be back here tomorrow, same time after school.

The teacher leaves. Jeremy takes off his NIKE sneakers one by one. He throws them over his shoulder. One almost hits Simon. Flinches. He stands up and sits on top of a desk next to Simon. Jeremy begins to taunt him.

JEREMY

Pick it up.

Simon hesitates.

JEREMY

I said pick it up, faggot!

Simon doesn’t move.

JEREMY

Don’t make me hit you, aye!

Simon bends down and slowly picks up the shoe. Hands it to Jeremy.

JEREMY

That’s what I thought.

 CUT TO:

2. EXT. SUBURBAN STREET – NIGHT

Stars hide in the evening fog. Lampposts illuminate an EMPTY STREET beside a high school. We see Simon leaving the school. He drifts down the street, breaking stride to adjust his backpack every now and then. Jeremy lurks close behind. Simon, oblivious to him, cuts around a corner street and arrives at home.

3. INT. SIMON’S HOUSE – Moments later

A large front door cracks open, catching on a folded towel. An excited PUPPY bounds towards Simon as he pushes the door open.

SIMON

Helloo?

VOICE (O.S)

Simon? Careful of the towel! Maxi’s peed again!

Simon shuffles into the living room where SIMON’S MOTHER, a forty-something brunette woman, slurps noodles in front of a T.V screen. The house is comfortably messy.

SIMON

Sorry I’m late. I had swim club practice.

MOTHER

…On a Tuesday?

BEAT.

SIMON

Is there a plate for me?

MOTHER (jokingly)

In the dungeon, where you belong!

The two share a smile.

4. INT. CLASSROOM – DAY

The sun shines through a cracked classroom window. Inside, the room is stuffy with teenage angst. Tapping feet, shifting eyes, and creaking desks. At the front of the room, a middle-aged high school ITALIAN TEACHER stands slouched near a chalkboard. Her skin is cinnamon coloured, toughened by the sun. Written on the chalkboard is the word “I BREAK” underlined. The teacher addresses the class.

ITALIAN TEACHER

Can anyone give me the Italian translation for this?

Jeremy chimes in to answer. He gives the wrong answer accompanied with a ridiculous Italian accent. A symphony of laughter from the class follows. Lucy sits at a desk in the back of the class, drawing. Definitely not laughing. Simon cuts in.

SIMON

It’s Rompere

BEAT.

SIMON

… You then have to conjugate it from the infinitive ‘to break’ to the first person… So, ‘I break’ would be io rompo.

Jeremy slouches back in his chair. Shamed and angered. His knees bounce anxiously together. He places a textbook on his lap. Simon glances to the back of the room at Lucy. Their eyes meet – his more eager than hers – and she adjusts her skirt. You can see his heart beat through his neck. School bell rings.

5. INT. BATHROOM – LATER

Simon washes his hands, and pauses. The tap continues to flow. He gazes at his reflection with somewhat needy eyes.

SIMON

Hey Lucy… That notebook new? …. What’s up Lucy? You have nice breasts… Wanna go out with me?

 

The bathroom door flings open. In an instant, we see Jeremy’s fist forcefully swoop in to punch Simon.  Clutches his stomach.

JEREMY

Not so smart now aye, faggot!

 He grabs Simon by the shoulder of his jacket and hauls him out of the bathroom.

 6. EXT. SCHOOLYARD – CONTINUOUS

Jeremy steers Simon to a seedy schoolyard behind the classrooms. He pushes Simon against a wall covered in graffiti. A small gang of TEENAGE BOYS skulk around the corner. Some of them have matching white beanies. Others have more style. On a NEIGHBORING STREET, Lucy meanders towards home. She stops and watches for a moment. Jeremy and the bullies torment Simon. One of the bullies snatches Simon’s backpack. He unzips it and shakes it upside down.

BULLY

Aw sorry bro, was that yours?

SIMON

Common, man… Cut it out.

JEREMY (to Simon)

What are you gonna do?

Lucy continues home at a slight quicker pace. One of the bullies shoves Simon into a nearby dumpster. He falls to his side. Cheek to cement. Some scattered rubbish and a blue SPRAY PAINT CAN lay close to his face. Especially the spray can.

 

7. INT. SCHOOL LOCKERS – DAY

Students are herding through a box-sized hallway. School bells RINGS. Lucy idles at her locker shuffling her books. Background conversations fill the hallway. Two girls talk behind her amongst the herd of students.

GIRL 1

Did you see what they painted behind the school? ..A sky mural or something?

Lucy pauses to listen.

GIRL 2

I heard that geek from Italian did it!

GIRL 1

Oh my god what a loser. Cry for attention much?

Girl 2′s giant handbag scuffs Lucy’s shoulder. She looks at Lucy in disgust.

GIRL 2

Excuse me!

Lucy’s gaze falls down and she apologizes.  She grinds her teeth, dressing her anger with a half smile.

 

8. EXT. BUS STOP- NIGHT

Simon waits at a bus stop near the side of the school. In the distant foreground, we see the same wall he was pushed against. A painting of a BLUE SKY with MELTING DIAMONDS covers the wall.  Simon looks at a sign with a bus timetable. He glances at his watch. Sighs.

9. EXT. STREET PAY PHONE – MOMENTS LATER

Simon feeds the machine some coins and dials. Ringing. A soft voice answers.

V.O

Hello?

SIMON

Mom! The buses have stopped running. Can you pick… -

A hand reaches behind Simon and ends the call. Simon turns around, where Jeremy stands with his unfashionable gang. His eyes widen.

JEREMY

Did you do that painting?

BEAT.

SIMON

Why?… Did you… like it?

Jeremy nods in thought.

JEREMY (CONT.)

You ever tag anything before?

Simon’s fingers brush his bluish purple chin.

SIMON

Here and there…

Simon breaks eye contact in anxious spurts. Jeremy holds out a spray paint can to Simon.

 

10. INT. CAR – NIGHT (DAYS LATER)

A white van occupies an empty street by the high school. Inside, Jeremy, the thugs, and Simon all cluster in a circle. A heavy bass blares through speakers in the background. Jeremy exhales perfect circular smoke rings. His eyes tango between his burning joint and Simon. He holds out the joint to Simon.

SIMON

Oh, I don’t smoke…

The group laughs.

SIMON

I mean… I don’t like it spun…

There’s a BEAT before Simon takes the joint. He takes a deep draw.

VOICE (O.S)

So we ready for tonight?

Jeremy looks at Simon, who’s coughing smoke.

SIMON

Y…yeah!

11. INT. LIBRARY – NIGHT

Books line the shelves of an empty library. At a large white study table, sketchbooks are sprawled messily. Lucy’s hand moves fast, scribbling and erasing in a frantic rhythm.

 

12. EXT. SCHOOLYARD – NIGHT

Outside a familiar schoolyard, a wire fence rattles. Simon climbs up and over the fence. He peers back through the diamond-shaped wire gaps. Jeremy and his gang merge into the darkness behind the fence. Tosses a can of spray paint over to Simon. Simon drops the can, and fumbles nervously. He arrives at a familiar blue wall with painted stars and melting diamonds.

 

13. INT. LIBRARY – CONTINUOUS – NIGHT

Lucy continues to scribble. A round-bellied LIBRARIAN at the help desk assists an ELDERLY WOMAN with a large book. They talk about this and that. And probably Dancing With the Stars. Lucy’s pencil punctures through her drawing paper. ZOOM IN on a perfect replica of the diamond painting on the school wall. Except Jeremy is in it, holding Lucy’s hand under the melting sky. She tears the paper in half.

14. EXT. SCHOOLYARD – CONTINUOUS – NIGHT

Simon smiles at the sky painting on the wall. Sirens sound, WHOOPING closer and closer to the schoolyard. Jeremy and his gang disperse. Flashlights shine on Simon and his spray can. An OFFICER holding a flashlight approaches him.

OFFICER

Hi there.

Simon squints, frozen in panic.

SIMON

Hi…

 

OFFICER

Do you realize this is school property?

C.U. on Simon nodding and smiling simultaneously.

 

15. INT. SCHOOL OFFICE – NEXT MORNING

A neatly arranged office with the occasional potted plant detains a row of students. Simon fidgets amongst them on the end chair. Biting his nails to the skin. Jeremy sits at the end of the row, glancing over at Simon periodically. Lucy enters, rushed. It’s apparent she’s late. Her handful of books and loose sketches fall scattered along the floor. A sketch falls near Simon’s shoe. He fumbles nervously.

SIMON

Uhh… Here let me!

Simon picks up the drawing of Lucy and Jeremy. Stares at it. Shocked. Hands Lucy the sketch.

LUCY

A…actually… this is for him.

Lucy motions to Jeremy. Biting her lip seductively. Simon glares at Jeremy through the corner of one eye. Stands up to confront him. Tight clenching fist. And then…WHAP! The boys fight.

CUT TO:

16. INT. CLASSROOM – AFTERNOON

C.U on Jeremy’s bruised cheek. ZOOM OUT to see rows of small empty desks. Except two. And a teacher reading a magazine at the front of the room. Jeremy sits at the back. Head down. Simon’s at a desk in the front row. He takes a blood stained tissue out of one nostril. Examining his busted knuckle with pride. There’s a crack in the glass that splits the penetrating afternoon sun on separate parts of his face. Simon continues to look forward despite the sun in his eyes. He doesn’t flinch. Not even once.

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Ashley Ward

Ashley Ward is an emerging screenwriter and aspiring filmmaker studying Creative Writing at Macquarie University. Ashley’s love for writing began as a means to remember her dreams, which later became muses for her stories and visions. After her degree, Ashley aspires to travel as much of the World as she can afford to harvest inspiration she can paint on the big screen.

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