Passing the Torch

[scrippet]INT. BEDROOM – DAY
PATTIE, a seventy-year-old woman is in bed with the duvet up to her chin. She’s spluttering and takes a sip of an orange juice through a straw. She’s watching ballet on the television across the room. The dancer gracefully moves across the stage. Pattie’s eyes glimmer with the reflection of the television. The doorbell RINGS.

GEORGE (O.S)
I’ll get it.

We stay in Pattie’s room. The door unlocks and Pattie’s eyes shift to the doorframe. We overhear a brief greeting between GEORGE, Pattie’s husband, and TONI, their granddaughter.

TONI
Hi Granddad.

GEORGE
She’s in her room.

The door closes and in comes Toni, an eighteen-year-old in jeans and a colourful top. She heads to Pattie’s side of the bed and kisses Pattie on the forehead. She kneels down and rests a hand on the duvet. Pattie coughs. She’s a bit croaky.

PATTIE
Toni, your hair.

Toni puts a hand to her head. She has bright blue highlights through long brown hair.

TONI
You like it? Cost me a fortune.

PATTIE
I don’t like it.
(beat)

Toni looks to the television.

TONI (CONT’D)
Are you still watching that stuff? C’mon Gran, don’t you want to watch something with a story. Maybe a romance huh? Or a mystery?

PATTIE
Ballet is beautiful. I don’t want any of that cops and robbers rubbish.

TONI
It’s cops and murderers gran. Ballet is beautiful, but there’s no use living in memories past.

Toni picks up a framed photograph off Pattie’s dresser. It’s Pattie in her thirties in a ballet costume standing on one foot with the other leg crossed over to her knee.

TONI (CONT’D)
You’ve been there, done that. Why not focus on something you can do?

PATTIE
Like what exactly?

TONI
I don’t know. Bridge? Make a quilt. That stuff old people like to do.

PATTIE
I wish you wouldn’t call me that.

TONI
Sorry gran. Forgive me, I’m just a rebellious teenager after all.

Pattie bursts into another coughing fit. Toni lifts the glass off the dresser and points the straw towards Pattie’s mouth. Pattie knocks the straw so it points in the other direction.

PATTIE
Get that away from me. I’m fine.

TONI
You don’t sound well at all.

PATTIE
It’s what happens when you get OLD. You get sick, and a lot more often than you would like.

TONI
How’s Pop?

PATTIE
George is… being George. He likes to keep himself occupied and away from me. I think seeing me like this hits him harder than he lets on.

TONI
(fake narrating)
Behind his grumpy exterior there lives fluffy marshmallow.

PATTIE
Don’t tell him I told you.

TONI
Like he would give me a chance to!

Toni stands up and brushes off her jeans.

TONI (CONT’D)
Gran, it was nice seeing you.

Disappointment flashes over Pattie’s face.

PATTIE
Are you leaving already?

TONI
I’ve got to get to recital.

PATTIE
You know I would be there if I could. Would you record it for me?

TONI
Don’t be silly. You need to stay in bed and get better. Tell Pop to get you some Chicken soup or something. I’ll bring back another video. But what do you want my recitals for? Our opening night is in a few weeks. I can get you copies of that, with all the costumes and special effects.

PATTIE
The practice is more beautiful. The big productions tend to take away from what’s important.

TONI
You’re funny Gran. I love you. Get well okay?

Toni kisses Pattie on the forehead and leaves. We’re looking at Pattie’s television. We close up on the ballet dancer’s face. It’s Toni.

INT. DANCE STUDIO – DAY

Toni rushes into the dance studio. Three girls are in black leotards practising dance moves. The teacher glares at Toni. She’s still in her jeans.

TONI
I’m so sorry. I was just seeing my gran–

MISS SLATE
You kept us waiting. You would think we didn’t have our opening performance at the end of the month.

TONI
I know. I know. Won’t be long.

Toni runs off behind the stage to get changed. One of the other dancers, ANNA, comes around behind the curtain. She’s taller than Toni and a couple years younger.

ANNA
Shit Toni. If you keep this up you’re gonna get replaced by a stand-in.

Toni is struggling into her leotard.

TONI
You’d love that wouldn’t you?

ANNA
Of course not. But the way you’re treating practice, it’s like you don’t care at all.

TONI
Of course I care. This is important to me. It’s important to my gran.

ANNA
You have a funny way of showing it. Why don’t you just let the old bird die and get on with your life?

Toni has zipped up her leotard and shoots Anna a stare that could kill. Anna puts up her hands defensively.

ANNA
Just trying to help.

Anna disappears through the curtain and Toni follows after.
[/scrippet]

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