Laura

by Anna Royle

EXT. ROAD NIGHT

LAURA is sitting on a wall by a road, holding a camera. MAX is leaning against the wall, his body titled towards her.

Their car is parked by the roadside, the door is open with the radio playing a SONG, something like “I Got Lucky” by Elvis Presley (1962).

Max stands facing Laura. He leans in to kiss her but playfully snatches a camera from her hands.

LAURA
Hey!

MAX
Say cheese.

Max turns the camera around to take a picture of the two of them.

LAURA
That’s going to look terrible! Give it here, I’ll take a proper one of you.

She jumps down from the wall. Max passes her the camera.

MAX
Make sure to get my best side.

He poses jokingly and over-the-top, pushing his shoulders back, furrowing his brows and pouting, like a model. Laura laughs and snaps a photo.

LAURA
You don’t have a best side.

MAX
Hey!

Laura laughs.

LAURA
No! I meant both your sides are equally the best. Now be serious, I wanna get a nice one.

MAX
How’s this?

He moves further back, into the road, smiling genuinely this time. Laura looks through the lens.

LAURA
Yeah, actually the street lights look really nice behind you. Move back a little more.

Max walks backwards into the road. A car speeds round the corner and slams into him. The car drives on and his body is thrown into the air, and lands on the road with such force that it makes a noise. Laura screams.

 

INT. BEDROOM DAY

Light is slipping in from the gap between the curtains. The bedroom is messy, with labelled cardboard boxes piled high and overflowing with Max’s clothes. There are photos of Max everywhere, including polaroids hanging across the mirror and door.

Laura shoots up, sitting up in bed, panting and sweating. She turns to look at a framed photo of Max and her together on her bedside table. The clock next to the photo frame reads 12.48pm. She throws back the covers, swinging her legs around so she’s sitting on the side of the bed. She catches her breath before sliding her feet into her slippers.

 

INT. KITCHEN DAY

Laura enters the kitchen and opens the cupboard, which is fully stocked with food, so much that multiple boxes of cereal fall out. She picks a box up from the floor, not bothering to pick up the others. She gets a dirty bowl from the sink, that still contains remains of yesterday’s cereal. She sighs and goes to put it back in the sink, but hesitates before deciding it’ll do. She pours the cereal into the dirty bowl.

She opens the fridge to get milk, revealing that the fridge is also packed full. She pours the milk before sitting at the kitchen table and turning on the TV. She flicks through the channels, passing news and documentaries until she stops on the film, “Secret Beyond the Door” (Lang, 1947), although it looks like a romance film from the scene that’s playing.

 

INT. BEDROOM DAY

Laura is sat on her window seat, still in her nightgown, looking out onto the street below, which is lined with green trees.

She sees an old man and woman holding hands. She grabs her polaroid camera and takes a picture.

Laura sniffles as her eyes sting with tears. Before the photo has even developed she crumples it and throws it into the paper bin.

Laura walks over and opens the drawer of her bedside table, taking out pictures from the night of the accident. The same SONG from the night of the accident starts playing, and Laura continues to look at the photos before she realises it’s coming from outside.

She peers out her window, seeing that the music is coming from a car parked at the house across the road. MARTIN gets out. He leaves the car running with the music still playing.

Laura watches him as he opens the car boot, getting out a cardboard box.

He opens the door to the house, setting the box in the doorway.

He heads back towards the car and looks up. He spots Laura looking at him and waves. Laura is startled at this recognition. She slowly sets down the photo she was holding, her eyes stuck to her new neighbour. She timidly raises her hand and waves back at him.

 

INT. BEDROOM DAY

Laura wakes up, sitting up in bed, this time not panting or sweating. She throws back the covers the same as before. This time the clock reads 8:31am. She gets up and opens her curtains.

Laura sits down on her window seat and watches Martin’s house. She stares contently for too long.

Finally Martin walks into view through the window. Laura’s eyes widen and the corner of her mouth twitches, teasing a smile.

Laura watches Martin leave his house and get into his car. She looks at the clock.

 

INT. BEDROOM NIGHT

Laura is sat on her window seat with a sketchpad and a pencil when she hears Martin’s car pull into the driveway. She puts the sketchpad down and watches him enter his house.

 

INT. BEDROOM NIGHT [CONT’D]

Laura is sitting on her window seat, eating a bowl of pasta and looking out. Her bedroom is lit only by the moonlight. She watches Martin who is sat in his bedroom at his desk, typing on a computer.

Once she’s finished eating, she sets her bowl on the floor and picks up her camera.

She peers through the lens and snaps a photo of him. She watches him again, but he doesn’t notice and continues typing.

Laura brings the camera back up to her face and snaps another picture.

 

INT. BEDROOM DAY

Laura watches from her window in her nightgown, seeing Martin sitting on his sofa.

She snaps a photo of him before looking at the clock, confused as she expected him to leave for work.

She looks at the calendar pinned to the wall, realising it’s Saturday.

 

INT. KITCHEN DAY

Laura enters her kitchen. She is out of her nightgown and actually dressed, her hair neater and wearing makeup.

Laura opens the cupboards and starts taking out ingredients.

 

INT. KITCHEN DAY [CONT’D]

Laura is staring into the oven at a pie. There’s flour in her hair and a red stain on her blouse. The kitchen is a mess behind her. She opens the oven and carefully lifts the pie with oven gloves, ogling at it with excitement.

 

INT. HALLWAY DAY

Laura has her coat on and carries the pie from the kitchen. She stops to look in the mirror.

LAURA
[tuts]

She wipes the flour out of her hair before taking a deep breath and opening the front door. CAR NOISES seep into the hallway, Laura freezes from fear and is unable to step across the threshold. She is shaking so much that the pie falls from her hands.

FLASHBACK- EXT. ROAD NIGHT

The car speeds around the corner and slams into Max. His body hits the road.

END OF FLASHBACK

The pie CRASHES on the floor, the pie dish smashing and revealing the red insides.

 

INT. KITCHEN DAY

Laura is sitting at her dining table, still in her coat. She’s digging into the broken pie with a spoon, while reading a romance novel.

There’s a KNOCK at the door. Laura is unnerved by this at first, then closes her book, her chair SCRAPING the floor as she hurriedly gets up.

Laura poorly attempts to clean up the pie, picking out the broken dish bits. There’s another KNOCK. Laura, still holding the broken bits, resorts to putting them back in the middle of the pie and covering it with a tea towel.

 

INT. HALLWAY DAY

Laura jogs into the hallway, whipping off her coat as quickly as she can, getting tangled in the arm. She opens the cupboard under the stairs and throws it in. When she reaches the mirror, she fluffs up her hair before swinging the door open, beaming. Her smile drops.

LAURA
Oh.

JANINE [OFF SCREEN]
Nice to see you too.

JANINE hustles past Laura, heaving full shopping bags with her and making her way to the kitchen.

JANINE [CONT’D]
I was passing by and thought I’d make sure you were stocked up. I won’t be able to make it up for a while, I have a big deadline with wo-

JANINE [CONT’D FROM KITCHEN]
Oh wow! What’s going on in here?

Laura enters the kitchen.

LAURA
I made a pie.

JANINE
What? Why?

Janine opens the cupboards and the fridge.

JANINE [CONT’D]
You haven’t even made a dent in the food that I brought you last week, yet you’re making pies? And quite frankly, making your kitchen even messier than usual.

Janine aggressively rearranges the cupboards, trying to make room for the new groceries.

JANINE [CONT’D]
And Mum’s on at me that you haven’t rang her in ages so can you please remember to give her a ring…

Laura starts to sniffle, getting upset.

Janine turns back around to face Laura, her anger subsiding and her face relaxing.

JANINE [CONT’D]
Oh Honey! I didn’t mean to make you upset. It’s just…every time I see you it’s like you’re getting worse, I’m so worried about you. Please try, at least. For me.

Janine places a hand on Laura’s arm.

Beat.

LAURA
I…I…made the pie to bring to my new neighbour.

JANINE
Your new neighbour?

LAURA
Yeah…a man moved in across the road.

JANINE
And you brought him round a pie?

LAURA
Yeah.

JANINE
You actually walked over and gave him it?

Laura nods.

A smile creeps onto Janine’s face as she looks closer at Laura’s.

JANINE
Why are you all dressed up?

LAURA
I’m not…

JANINE
Should I be buying a hat for the wedding? What’s his name!?

LAURA
He’s only just been here a week…it’s really nothing.

JANINE
You don’t just bake someone a pie out of nowhere, it’s definitely something! So how many times have you seen him?

LAURA
Well… I mean I guess I’ve been seeing him everyday since he moved in.

JANINE
Everyday!

LAURA
Well, not every single day

JANINE
He must really like you.

LAURA
Really?

JANINE
What’s not to like? Honestly, you look beautiful, you’re glowing. Did you pluck your eyebrows? Are you seeing him tonight?

LAURA [LAUGHING]
Yeah, we’ll probably have dinner together.

Janine squeals.

JANINE
Oh my goodness! Do you have anything to wear? I’m free until two I could take you shoppi–

LAURA
–No, it’s fine, I’ve got something.

JANINE
I can’t believe you’re finally going out.

Janine looks at Laura as if she’s a child who’s painted her a picture.

JANINE
I know he’ll never replace Max, but you deserve to be happy, Laura. This will help you heal.

Janine puts both her hands on Laura’s arms, looking her in the eyes.

JANINE [CONT’D]
This is a big step and it’s okay to feel scared.

Beat.

JANINE [CONT’D]
It’s like my baby sister is growing up on me all over again!

Janine pulls Laura into a hug.

 

INT. BEDROOM NIGHT

Laura carries a candlestick and a plate with steak, potatoes, and vegetables into her dimly lit bedroom.

The table that was previously against the wall has been pulled out in front of the window. Laura sets her plate down and sits down at the chair opposite so she can look out at Martin, who is also sitting down on his sofa with his dinner.

Laura waits until Martin starts eating, and then begins to cut her steak.

 

INT. BEDROOM DAY

The leaves on the trees outside Laura’s bedroom window are brown, red and yellow. The other houses are decorated for Halloween. The bedroom is much tidier than before, with the absence of Max’s boxes. The photos of Max that previously littered the room have been replaced with pictures of the neighbour, all from the angle of Laura’s window, peeking in on his daily life. Even the polaroids that hung across her mirror are replaced with one’s of the neighbour, despite the poor quality of the photographs as they were clearly taken from a distance.

Laura wakes up to an alarm clock that reads 6:59am. She springs up and makes her way to window seat, just in time to watch Martin rise from his bed.

He comes out of the bathroom in a towel and Laura snaps photos of him.

 

INT. KITCHEN NIGHT

Laura is cleaning her kitchen when she looks at the clock that reads, 5:15pm. She rips off her rubber gloves and sprints upstairs just in time for Martin’s car to pull up outside his house.

She gets her camera ready, and takes a picture once he steps out.

 

INT. BEDROOM DAY

Laura is sat cross legged on her bed, searching frantically through a phone book. Her finger scans down the page until it finds its destination, then brushes across the dotted line to the number. Laura picks up the telephone on her bedside table, hooking the phone under her chin as she types the number.

Beat.

MARTIN [THROUGH THE PHONE]
Hello?

Beat.

MARTIN [CONT’D]
Hello?

LAURA
Hello. Who’s speaking?

MARTIN
This is Martin, who is this?

Laura writes Martin’s name in the corner of the phone book, surrounding it with a heart.

MARTIN
Hello?

Laura slams the phone down before excitedly rushing over to the window, grabbing her camera and snapping a shot of Martin looking confused at his phone.

 

INT. BEDROOM NIGHT

Laura walks into her bedroom carrying a bowl of pasta. She sits on her window seat and looks out at Martin’s house. Martin’s lights are out and his car isn’t there.

Laura cranes her neck, looking up and down the street.

She goes over to the phone, quickly dialling Martin’s number. It rings but no answer.

She frantically rings it again, her brow furrowed in frustration and confusion.

Still no answer, so she rings it again.

 

INT.BEDROOM NIGHT

Laura’s bed has been pulled closer to the window, making the room look shabbily uneven. The lights are off in Martin’s house. Laura is sat on her bed in her nightgown, surrounded by a pool of photos of Martin. Sat in front of her is a large piece of card and glue. She’s cutting out Martin’s silhouette and sticking them to the card, forming a collage.

She hears a CAR DRIVE up the street and Laura instantly shoots up, grabbing her camera and sits on the window seat.

Laura watches as Martin and LISA get out of his car.

Martin lifts MATTHEW, a toddler, from the backseat, hanging him on his hip. Lisa kisses Martin on the cheek and strokes Matthew’s cheek.

They head inside Martin’s house.

Laura stares— dumbstruck. Her eyes well with tears. She slowly closes the curtains.

She continues to stare blankly, and then, like a bubbling volcano she finally erupts, and throws her camera across the room.

Laura screams.

She grabs the scissors from the bed and starts cutting up the photos of Martin.

Laura is so distraught and moving so quickly that she chucks the scissors across the room, and resorts to tearing the photos with her hands. Laura screams and yelps with every rip.

 

INT. BEDROOM NIGHT [CONT’D]

Laura’s bedroom is completely trashed. Her mascara is now smeared down her face and her eyes are bloodshot. She looks ghost-like in her nightgown, drowning in the pool of torn up photos.

She gets up and picks the camera from where it landed.

She sets it on a tripod before stepping back and smiling wide. The flash goes off.

 

INT. BEDROOM DUSK

Laura is asleep on her bedroom floor. She wakes to a KNOCK at the door. She stirs awake, rising steadily.

She slowly walks downstairs, her face expressionless. She opens the door. Martin and Lisa are standing there with Matthew. All dressed up for Halloween.

MARTIN,LISA & MATTHEW
Trick or Treat!

Beat.

LAURA
Hi…um…I don’t…I don’t know if I…if I have anything.

Beat.

MARTIN
Never worry it’s all part of the fun.

Beat.

MARTIN [CONT’D]
My name’s Martin by the way, and this is Lisa and our son Matthew. I can’t believe we’ve been neighbours for this long and we haven’t met yet.

LAURA
I’m Laura.

MARTIN
It’s lovely to finally meet you, where’re you headed tonight?

LAURA
No…no where.

MARTIN
We’re having a little get-together, half-Halloween party, half celebrating Lisa coming home. You’re more than welcome to come by. It’d be a shame to waste such a cracking costume.

Lisa laughs.

LAURA
Coming home?

MARTIN
Yeah, Lisa and this little devil were away staying with Grandma while I was busy with work. I went ahead and moved in but they’re here for good now, thankfully.

Martin ruffles Matthew’s hair.

LAURA
For good?

LISA
Yep!

Beat.

MARTIN
Long-distance was so difficult, especially with a little one.

Lisa leans into Martin, her arm hooking around his.

LAURA
So you just got back last night?

MARTIN
Yeah, the flight got in pretty late, I hope we didn’t wake you.

LAURA [LAUGHING]
No…not at all.

Beat.

LAURA [CONT’D]
You…You must be tired then.

LISA
Yeah, thankfully I was able to sle–

LAURA
— Can I take a photo?

Beat.

LAURA [CONT’D]
Of the three of you?

MARTIN
Eh…we rea–

LAURA
— that’s what I do. I’m a photographer. Sorry. I probably should’ve said. You just look so…happy.

LISA
Oh. Well okay, how kind of you.

Laura turns around, leaving them standing in the doorway as she makes her way upstairs.

LISA [CONT’D]
How nice is that, Martin?

Lisa lifts up Matthew, rocking him on his hip. Martin pretends to steal his nose and Matthew laughs.

Laura comes back downstairs with her camera.

LAURA
Ok. Smile.

Laura brings the camera up to her face. The family bunch together and smile wide. The flash goes off.

LAURA
Great.

MARTIN
Maybe you could bring it round later then?

LAURA
Yeah.

LISA
Well we better get going. We’ll hopefully see you later. You might scare the kids, mind you!

Lisa and Martin laugh.

Once the door is closed, Laura turns to look at herself in the mirror. She doesn’t react to her freakish appearance.

 

INT. BEDROOM NIGHT

Laura is sat on the window seat with a tub of ice cream, watching people arrive at Martin and Lisa’s house.

Martin opens the door to his guests and steps back to let them in.

Before he closes the door, he sees Laura at her window and waves. She waves back. Martin beckons with his hand, signalling for her to come join. Laura sniffles with tears in her eyes, waving her hands in rejection.

Laura closes her curtains. She moves over to the messy pile on the floor from the previous night. She begins cutting out the photos of herself, which look eerie as her smiles do not match her dishevelled appearance.

She uses tape to stick the photos of Martin back together again.

Laura is obviously doing lots of cutting and sticking but what she is creating cannot be seen.

 

INT. BEDROOM NIGHT [CONT’D]

Laura hangs a large piece of card over her window. On it is a messy collage-style collection of photos of Martin and Laura, clumsily taped together. It is obvious that the ones of Martin were previously ripped apart, but are taped back together.

Laura lies on her bed on her back. The phone RINGS. Laura doesn’t move.

The phone stops ringing and goes to answer machine.

JANINE [THROUGH THE ANSWER MACHNE]
Hi Honey. I know you said you were spending Halloween weekend with Martin, but if you can spare a moment apart from one of your hot dates, please give me a ring. I feel like I haven’t heard from you in ages. Ok? I love you! And say hi to Martin for me!

Laura rolls over, reaching towards the phone on her bedside table, only for her hand to land on the framed photo next to it. It is now the photo that she took of Martin, Lisa and Matthew earlier, but a shabbily cut picture of Laura’s head covers Lisa’s.

Laura takes the photo and lightly kisses Martin’s face, before setting it back. Laura closes her eyes, smiling very slightly.

The same SONG plays.