The Poppy

commonpoppy-400

EXT. GARDEN OF A FAMILY HOME – DAY

A grandfather, CLAUDE, putters about the garden, weeding and carefully tending to his flowers.

Behind him, his granddaughter, HENRIETTE, 10, dressed in bright 1970s garb, plays with a wooden airplane, dive-bombing the various plants that come into her toy’s flight path.

Claude smiles at her as she plays.

GRANDFATHER
Be careful not to trample the flowers, Henriette.

HENRIETTE
Grandpa, I know.

GRANDFATHER
When did you get so cheeky, huh?

She giggles and twirls around, swooping her plane with increased intensity.

As she spins around, her foot catches on a clump of dirt and she topples into the
closest flower bed.

Claude rushes over to help her up.

CLAUDE
What did I say about being careful,
sweetheart? Did you hurt yourself?

As he dusts her off, he sees a lone poppy lays crushed into the damp earth where she fell.

In horror, Henriette looks between the flower and Claude.

HENRIETTE
I’m sorry, Grandpa.

Claude doesn’t seem to hear her as he stares into the crumpled redness of the petals.

FLASHBACK TO:

EXT. ROAD – DAY

Two soldiers, dressed in First World War French military uniforms, speed in an open jeep towards a farmhouse in the distance.

PASCAL
Come on, hurry.

CLAUDE
Cover your face.

EXT. FARM HOUSE – CONTINUOUS

Claude and Pascal jump out of the vehicle and rush toward the house, sleeves over their mouths and noses.

They mount the porch and Pascal bangs loudly on the door. A woman’s screams can be heard coming from inside.

PASCAL
Open up, it’s the French army!

The door opens a crack, exposing the eye of a OLDER WOMAN, 60, who x-rays the two with her gaze.

CLAUDE
Ma’am, we must evacuate you.
A poison gas bomb has been released
less than a kilometer from here.

PASCAL
Get your things. You must leave now.

OLDER WOMAN
We can’t leave.

More screams.

CLAUDE
What is going on in here?

Claude pushes the door open, revealing a YOUNG WOMAN laying on a couch in full labor.

She screams again as a contraction takes over her body.

PASCAL
At the very least, get in the basement
and cover your faces with damp cloths.
Come on, Claude, we have to continue
the evacuation.

CLAUDE
We can’t just leave them like this!

PASCAL
We don’t have a choice, man, come on!

Pascal turns to exit, but Claude is frozen to the floor. The young woman stares at him in blood-soaked terror.

CLAUDE
I’m staying here. They need help.

PASCAL
How can you possibly help them?
The cloud is coming. There is no
stopping it, no matter how many
soldiers are standing in the way!

CLAUDE
You go on ahead. I’ll
meet you at the base tomorrow.

PASCAL
Don’t do this! You need to get out of here.

CLAUDE
I will be fine. Go!

Pascal claps Claude on the shoulder before running out the door.

CLAUDE (CONT’D)
We need to get you both
into the basement.

OLDER WOMAN
This way.

The older woman and Claude carry the young woman toward the basement door.

INT. BASEMENT – LATER

The older woman crouches in front of the young woman as she pushes and screams. Claude holds the young woman’s hand.

OLDER WOMAN
Push, Celeste. Push!

CLAUDE
(whispers)
You’re going to be OK. You’re both
going to be OK. It’s all going to be OK.

Claude looks up to a tiny window at the top of the basement wall. Darkness has fallen.

INT. BASEMENT – MORNING

Celeste caresses her sleeping newborn baby, exhausted and sweaty. She looks up to smile at Claude, who smiles back. The older woman has fallen asleep in a chair in the corner.

CLAUDE
I’m going to go check the air.

Claude places a damp cloth over his face, opens the basement door cautiously and heads upstairs.

EXT. FARM HOUSE – CONTINUOUS

Claude exits the front door with the cloth over his face.

It’s a glorious morning, the sun is shining brightly and the air is completely clear.
Slowly, Claude lowers the cloth from his face to take a quick sniff of the air. He takes a deep breath, detecting no gas, and exhales as if the air has breathed new life into him.

Looking down, Claude sees a single poppy growing next to where he stands. He bends down, plucks it and heads back into the house.

INT. BASEMENT – CONTINUOUS

Claude returns. The older woman stirs and wakes as he enters. Celeste coos to her new child.

CLAUDE
Excuse me, ladies, but I have to be going.

They both look up at him with gratitude on their faces.

CELESTE
Thank you for your help.

CLAUDE
I didn’t do anything. You’re
the ones who did all the hard work.

The young woman giggles and the old woman beams at him.

CLAUDE (CONT’D)
I should be the one to thank you.
You reminded me that beauty exists
in these ugly times. This is all I have
to repay you.

Claude hands Celeste the poppy. She takes it from him and smiles. She brushes the soft petals against her baby’s cheek.

CELESTE
What is your name?

CLAUDE
Claude.

YOUNG WOMAN
Then I will name her Claudette.

Claude smiles and exits the basement.

BACK TO PRESENT:

EXT. GARDEN – DAY

HENRIETTE (O.S.)
Grandpa.

Claude looks up from the flower into the puzzled face of his granddaughter.

HENRIETTE (CONT’D)
Are you OK, Grandpa?

CLAUDE
Yes, darling. I’m fine.

Claude grabs his granddaughter, pulling her in for a hug.

HENRIETTE
I’m sorry I ruined your flower, Grandpa.

CLAUDE
It’s OK, honey. Why don’t
we plant some more together?

Henriette squeezes him back as he gives her a kiss on the top of the head and they stroll off together toward the house.

THE END

Best Date Ever

Best Date Ever

INT. BAR — EVENING

Two guys, JEFF and ADAM, sit at a table. A pitcher of beer and two glasses stand between them.

ADAM
So? How was it?

INT. CAFE — EVENING

Two girls, JULIENNE and CHLOE, sit at a table. A mug of tea rests in each of their hands.

CHLOE
And? How was your date?

EXT. PARK — DAY (FLASHBACK)

Jeff sits on a bench, a large flower in his hand. He fidgets with the flower, sniffs his breath.
Julienne approaches wearily.

JULIENNE
Jeff?

Jeff looks up, smiles broadly.

JEFF
Julienne, right?

Julienne extends a hand. They shake.

JULIENNE
Nice to meet you.

JEFF
Wow, you look even better
than your profile picture!

JULIENNE
Thanks. Uh– you too.

JEFF
So. Oh right! This is for you.

He hands Julienne the flower.

JULIENNE
Thanks. So where are we going?

INT. BAR — EVENING

Jeff exhales loudly.

JEFF
It was… awesome.
Maybe my best date ever.

INT. CAFE — EVENING

Julienne rubs her forehead.

JULIENNE
Horrible. Just awful!

EXT. PARK — DAY (FLASHBACK)

Jeff stands. He is 3 inches shorter than Julienne.

JULIENNE
So, what do you want to do?

JEFF
Your profile says you like art, so
maybe we should go to the gallery?

JULIENNE
That sounds nice.

INT. BAR — EVENING

Jeff pours himself some more beer.

JEFF
She is so smart! She knew
everything about the paintings!

INT. ART GALLERY — DAY (FLASHBACK)

Julienne and Jeff walk slowly in between paintings and sculptures. Jeff stops in front of an Otto Dix painting.

JEFF
God, that’s ugly! I bet I could
paint better than that.

JULIENNE
But that’s the point. It’s
a representation of the
hideousness of post-war
Germany.

JEFF
He could have at least used nicer colors.

JULIENNE
That’s an interesting interpretation.

Julienne walks towards the exit. Jeff follows.

JEFF
Now this kind of modern
art I don’t get at all.

Jeff points to a sign near the door. It says: MAXIMUM CAPACITY 40 PERSONS

JULIENNE
I don’t think this is part of the exhibit.

JEFF
Modern art is shit.

INT. CAFE — EVENING
Julienne throws her hands up.

JULIENNE
It was really embarrassing.
I just wanted to get out of there.

INT. ART GALLERY — DAY (FLASHBACK)

Julienne stands bored and stares at Jeff who is scrutinizing a drinking fountain.

JULIENNE
Should we go?

JEFF
(to himself)
Fucking artists.
(to Julienne)
Ok, let’s go.

INT. BAR
Jeff sips his beer proudly.

JEFF
So I handled myself pretty well.

ADAM
Chicks love cultured dudes.

JEFF
Exactly.

EXT. ART GALLERY — EVENING (FLASHBACK)
Jeff and Julienne stand awkwardly.

JEFF
So you hungry?

JULIENNE
Not really.

JEFF
You’re too skinny! C’mon!

JULIENNE
I should really get going–

JEFF
Pretty please?!

JULIENNE
(resigned)
If you need to beg…

INT. CAFE
Julienne flicks her hair as Chloe sips.

JULIENNE
He could not take a hint.

CHLOE
Can they ever?

INT. DIVE RESTAURANT — NIGHT (FLASHBACK)
Jeff stares are Julienne while she examines the menu.

JULIENNE
I’m sorry, but I can’t eat
any of this. I’m vegan.

Jeff explodes into laughter.

JEFF
I’m sorry. I just thought that was
something they made up for TV.

JULIENNE
No. I actually don’t eat animal products.

JEFF
But why? Animals are delicious!
Waitress! Another beer please!

Julienne rolls her eyes as Jeff grins at her dozily.

INT. BAR
Jeff readjusts himself in his seat.

JEFF
She’s just so different. She’s
like no one I’ve ever dated.

INT. CAFE
Julienne sets her cup down to prove a point.

JULIENNE
He’s a complete animal. Like no
one I’ve ever been out with.

INT. BAR
Adam fills his beer glass from the pitcher.

ADAM
Did you screw her?

INT. CAFE
Chloe pushes her tea cup away.

CHLOE
How’d you get rid of him?

EXT. JULIENNE’S HOUSE (FLASHBACK)

Julienne and Jeff stand in front of the door, Julienne awkwardly so, Jeff confidently.

JEFF
It’s kinda late, I guess I should
probably just crash at your place.

JULIENNE
My mother is staying with me.

JEFF
She can sleep with us, too.

Jeff shoots Julienne an exaggerated wink and laughs to himself.

JEFF (CONT’D)
Seriously though,
can I call you?

JULIENNE
I have your number.

JEFF
Good! Call me.

Jeff tries to kiss Julienne, but she expertly dodges his mouth before heading quickly inside. Jeff takes a deep breath, walks away with a huge smile.

INT. BAR

Jeff leans back, satisfied. Adam stares at him, awestruck.

JEFF
She’ll call.

INT. CAFE
Julienne finishes her tea.

JULIENNE
I already blocked him on facebook.

THE END

©Lauren Greenwood 2013