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.
Be careful not to trample the flowers, Henriette.
Grandpa, I know.
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.
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.
I’m sorry, Grandpa.
Claude doesn’t seem to hear her as he stares into the crumpled redness of the petals.
EXT. ROAD – DAY
Two soldiers, dressed in First World War French military uniforms, speed in an open jeep towards a farmhouse in the distance.
Come on, hurry.
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.
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.
Ma’am, we must evacuate you.
A poison gas bomb has been released
less than a kilometer from here.
Get your things. You must leave now.
We can’t leave.
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.
At the very least, get in the basement
and cover your faces with damp cloths.
Come on, Claude, we have to continue
We can’t just leave them like this!
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.
I’m staying here. They need help.
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!
You go on ahead. I’ll
meet you at the base tomorrow.
Don’t do this! You need to get out of here.
I will be fine. Go!
Pascal claps Claude on the shoulder before running out the door.
We need to get you both
into the basement.
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.
Push, Celeste. Push!
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.
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.
Excuse me, ladies, but I have to be going.
They both look up at him with gratitude on their faces.
Thank you for your help.
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.
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.
What is your name?
Then I will name her Claudette.
Claude smiles and exits the basement.
BACK TO PRESENT:
EXT. GARDEN – DAY
Claude looks up from the flower into the puzzled face of his granddaughter.
Are you OK, Grandpa?
Yes, darling. I’m fine.
Claude grabs his granddaughter, pulling her in for a hug.
I’m sorry I ruined your flower, Grandpa.
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.