Strong Tears

INT. FLOWER SHOP — DAY

A MAN, mid 30s, enters the shop, head hung. The flower shop ATTENDANT busies herself with an arrangement.

The attendant gives a look of confusion as he walks up to the counter.

ATTENDANT
Can I… help you?

Tears stream down the man’s face. He sobs quietly as he speaks.

MAN
One purple begonia, please.

ATTENDANT
Sure.

The attendant reaches for the flower, handing it to him.

ATTENDANT (CONT’D)
Two dollars, please.

The man sniffles as he pulls the money out of his pocket.

MAN
Thank you.

He turns to leave. The attendant leans over the counter to watch him go.

EXT. PARK — DAY
The man hunches on a bench, sniffing the begonia. His tears wet the petals. An OLD LADY hobbles by, stopping in front of him as she sees him crying.

OLD LADY
Are you alright?

The man stands and hands the old lady the flower.

MAN
Please have this.

OLD LADY
Thank you.

She accepts the flower, smiling as she stares into the bloom. The man walks away.

EXT. FAIR GROUNDS — DAY

The fair is dirty and depressing. People mill about, lost amid the carnival music. The man approaches a BALLOON VENDOR.

BALLOON VENDOR
What’ll it be–

The vendor freezes as he sees the man crying.

MAN
One red balloon, please.

The vendor pulls a red balloon down out of his bunch and hands it to the man.

VENDOR
This one’s on the house.
Looks like you could use it.

MAN
Thank you.

The man turns away, ignoring the balloon. Its presence on his wrist makes him cry harder. The vendor, bewildered, watches the man go as children spring impatiently around his feet.

EXT. CAFE — DAY

The man sits alone on the almost deserted terrace, the balloon standing at attention above his head, tied to his wrist.

A WAITRESS in a brightly colored apron half-skips toward the man’s table. She jovially pokes the balloon before seeing his sad face. She stops smiling.

WAITRESS
Oh dear. Isn’t the
balloon helping?

MAN
Not particularly.

WAITRESS
Would you like something
to drink? A whiskey, perhaps?

MAN
No thank you. I’ll just
take a chamomile tea.

WAITRESS
Sure thing.

She hurries back inside, glancing over her shoulder as she goes.

A MOTHER strolls by with a small GIRL toddling beside her. The girl stops and stares at the balloon.

GIRL
Oh mommy, a balloon!

She glances up hopefully at her mother.

MOTHER
It’s not polite to stare, dear.

GIRL
I want a balloon!

MOTHER
Maybe after dinner,
if you eat your vegetables.

The man leans forward, untying the balloon from his wrist. He hands it to the little girl.

MAN
Vegetables are gross.

The girl jumps with glee as the mother stares indignantly at the man.

MOTHER
I don’t know if I should thank you
or slap you. Come on, sweetie.

The girl is completely lost in her new balloon. Her mother pulls her away. The girl turns back smiling and waving. The man casts his head back down.

The waitress returns with a steaming cup of tea.

WAITRESS
What happened to your balloon?

MAN
It blew away.

WAITRESS
What a shame. Red balloons
are the nicest.

The man starts crying again as he picks up the tea to sip it. The waitress makes her way back inside. Teardrops fall into the man’s tea. He leaves some money on the table and abandons the still full cup.

EXT. STREET — DAY

The man sobs harder to himself as he drags his feet forward with an excruciating effort.

EXT. HOUSE — DAY

The man approaches the front door of a row house. He takes a deep breath, wiping his face with his sleeve. He slaps himself. Once. Twice. Three times.

He puts the key in the lock. Out of nowhere, he grins wide.

INT. FRONT HALLWAY — DAY

The man enters with his over-exaggerated smile.

LITTLE GIRL (O.S.)
Daddy!

A LITTLE GIRL, 6, runs around the corner straight into the man’s arms.

MAN
Hi sweetheart!

LITTLE GIRL
Devon threw up.

The man strides down the hall, little girl in tow.

INT. BOY’S BEDROOM — DAY

DEVON, 9, lays in a hospital bed. Toys mingle with medical equipment on the bedside table. Tubes and wires suspend between his small body and beeping machines.

The man enters, smiling, with the little girl.

DEVON
Hi Dad.

MAN
Hi, sport. How are you feeling?

DEVON
Ok, I guess.

MAN
You’re such a strong kid,
you’ll be just fine.

DEVON
And then we’ll play
baseball again, right, Dad?

MAN
Of course.

LITTLE GIRL
(matter-of-factly)
Daddy, Devon’s too sick to play baseball.

MAN
He just needs some more
time to get better.

The door swings open gently as a WOMAN, late 30s, enters with a small paper cup full of pills and a glass of juice.

WOMAN
How are you feeling, sweetheart?
(to man)
Hi honey.

She gives the man a sweet kiss on the cheek before quickly moving to Devon’s side.

DEVON
Daddy says I’ll be OK.

She glances over at her husband, giving him a tired, hopeless smile.

WOMAN
Of course you will be, my love.

She plants a kiss on Devon’s forehead.

INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT

The woman sits on the edge of the bed, weeping uncontrollably. The man, stone-faced, comforts her.

WOMAN
How do you do it?

MAN
Do what, sweetheart?

WOMAN
Stay so strong?

MAN
I don’t know.

WOMAN
I’m falling to pieces.
And you never seem to cry.

He pulls her close. The woman crumbles under the weight of her tears. The man stares off into the distance, gaze fixed, eyes dry.

THE END

©Lauren Greenwood 2013

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