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ROSIE

A beautiful story of love and loss.

Source: ROSIE

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DIFFERENCES

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TEARS

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Words…

Our words are not limitless. They are finite. Our hands are not permanent, but dust unmade. And one day we will be remembered for what we have said and for what we have done. So, I ask…what have you said today? What will you do tomorrow?

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SEARCHING THE IMPOSSIBLE

by

JAMES C BURNHAM

INT. BALLET STUDIO – EARLY EVENING

A line of ballet slippers move in time with the music. One by one, they stumble.

Graceful, beautiful FARAH stands out among her peers. Naturally wavy hair is pulled up into a bun, but cascades down her back when she is not dancing. Mild mannered, she struggles to balance her social insecurities with the confidence she feels while dancing. Since the death of her beloved father, however, the insecurities have been given free reign, a fact frequently noticed by her demanding ballet teacher, MADAME PETROVA.

FARAH, trembling, is the only one still holding her pose. The other GIRLS look on with envy. FARAH collapses.

MADAME PETROVA

The moment you think of giving up, you’ve given up. Even the thought feeds weakness.

FARAH

But I didn’t give up. I held it twice as long as anyone else.

MADAME PETROVA

(addressing the class)

Dance comes too easy for some, so  give up comes easy too. Enough! We are finished.

INT. DRESSING ROOM – EARLY EVENING

MIA, seventeen, is FARAH’s expressive best friend. She has short hair and big eyes that sparkle when she smiles, which is often. She excels at wearing hats and different color glasses, just because she can.

MIA

Let it go. Come to the party with me.

FARAH

I can’t.

MIA

But it’s our Senior Year.

FARAH

(sighing)

And I have a private in the morning. You saw how hard she’s on me.

MIA

Two hours. That’s all I ask. You’ll be home by nine. I promise!

FARAH

(giving in to her friend’s infectious smile)

Okay. Let me text my mom.

EXT. HOUSE PORCH – NIGHT

Party goers dance on the porch and in the living room. MIA pulls FARAH through the crowd.

MOVING FROM THE PORCH TO THE INTERIOR

FARAH

(over the music)

So this is what a party looks like?

MIA

We are going to get crazy!

They join the dancers and are offered drinks. Mia accepts, but Farah declines. Music increases in volume and tempo. Farah feels dizzy. Enter the football team. Everyone cheers. Farah finds herself in front of three guys.

PLAYER 1

I know you. We had Algebra together Freshman year. You’re like a crazy good ballet dancer. Right?

PLAYER 2

How much for a lap dance?

The GUYS laugh. JOEY, your prototypical jock quarterback steps between them and Farah.

JOEY

Forget Adam. He got knocked pretty hard in the game. My little sister does ballet. She was in The Nutcracker with you last year.

FARAH

You go to the ballet?

JOEY

Parents made me. It wasn’t all that bad.

FARAH

Gosh. Thanks.

A slow song begins to play. FARAH turns to go.

JOEY

(grabbing her by the shoulder and turning her back)

Don’t be like that. Dance with me.

FARAH

No thank you…Mia?

FARAH sees MIA dancing with a guy. She relents when Joey takes her in his arms. THEY dance until HE kisses her neck.

FARAH

(shoving him away)

I don’t think so!

JOEY

Relax, sweetheart. This quarterback always scores.

FARAH

Yeah? Well I’m not playing.

FARAH takes a couple steps and passes out. JOEY carries her up the stairs.

INT. BEDROOM

FARAH blinks. The room comes into view. JOEY hovers over her. She tries to get up. He pushes her back down.

JOEY

Easy there.

FARAH

Let me up.

MIA rushes into the room followed by the football players.

Mia

What did you do to her?

BOY 1

Crazy bitch don’t believe she fainted.

JOEY

(hands held up in supplication)

We were dancing and she went limp. I carried her up and put her on the bed. That’s all that happened.

MIA

(at Farah’s side)

Are you okay?

FARAH rubs her eyes.

FARAH

Everything’s blurry. My head is pounding.

MIA

Let’s get you home.

(she glares at Joey)

You carried her up here. How about helping her back to my car.

FARAH

I don’t need his help.

(she stands and stumbles)

JOEY

(catching her)

Come on, princess.

EXT. FARAH’S HOME – NIGHT

MIA helps FARAH up the steps and rings the doorbell. Farah’s mother, a pretty, middle-aged woman with a penchant for free-flowing skirts and large jewelry, opens the door. SHE clutches a cloth in one hand, and her cheeks glisten.

LISA

What happened?

(she wipes her eyes and looks disapprovingly at MIA)

What did you give her?

MIA

She didn’t touch a drink. I swear, Mrs. Day.

FARAH

Mom? My eyes hurt like someone’s sticking them with needles.

LISA

I used to get migraines all the time when I was pregnant. They felt just like that.

(taking Farah in her arms…to Mia)

There’s a prescription bottle in the medicine cabinet. And  get a glass of water please. Bring them to Farah’s room.

MIA

Are you okay, Mrs. Day?

LISA

I’m fine.

MIA PASSES THE DINING TABLE ON THE WAY TO THE KITCHEN. ON THE TABLE IS A GLASS, A BOTTLE OF WINE, AND A BOX FULL OF LETTERS. NEXT TO THE BOX IS AN OPEN WEDDING ALBUM. CLOSEUP ON WEDDING PICTURE OF LISA AND HER HUSBAND. CLOSEUP ON LETTER. MIA RUNS HER HANDS ACROSS THE WORDS HAPPY ANNIVERSARY.

BEDROOM – CONTINUOUS

Farah’s room reflects her personality, both girlish and strong. Pink linens and white lace juxtapose with bronze trophies. LISA helps FARAH to the canopy bed.

LISA

Rest. You’ll feel much better in the morning.

FARAH

I have to be at the studio by eight.

LISA

You need to stop pushing yourself so hard.

FARAH

I promised Madam Petrova…

LISA

I’m sure she’ll understand.

GRANDMA enters. Like a tree in winter, she appears a shadow of her once beautiful self. Gray haired and disheveled in temperament and appearance, she seems confused.

GRANDMA

What’s all this racket?

LISA

Nothing, Mom. Go back to bed.

GRANDMA

What’s wrong with her?

FARAH

(weakly)

Hi, Mimi.

GRANDMA

(approaches and pats Farah’s leg)

What happened, Lisa? Did you hurt yourself?

LISA

I’m Lisa, mother. Go back to your room. I’ll bring some tea in a bit.

GRANDMA

(over her shoulder)

No lemon. I don’t like lemon in my tea.

LISA sits on the edge of the bed. She runs her HAND over FARAH’s hair. Farah takes her mother’s hand in her own and touches the WEDDING RING.

FARAH

I shouldn’t have gone to the party. I’m sorry.

LISA

Hush. I’m supposed to take care of you, not the other way around.

FARAH

I miss him so much.

LISA

Me too, dear. Me too.

MIA enters with glass and pills. LISA cradles FARAH’s head as she takes a drink of water with a pill.

LISA

Go to sleep now.

FARAH

Milkshakes tomorrow?

LISA

That was his tradition.

LISA pushes MIA toward the door.

MIA

Text me!

INT. FARAH’S BEDROOM – MORNING

FARAH shields her eyes from the sun filtering through the curtains and rolls over and groans. She opens her EYES and sees CLOCK. 8:20. Gasping, she jumps out of bed and grabs a bag and a pair of ballet slippers hanging on the wall.

EXT. DANCE STUDIO – CONTINUOUS

MADAME PETROVA locks the door and turns to find a frazzled FARAH rushing toward her.

MADAME PETROVA

Too late.

FARAH

I overslept. My mom gave me some medicine last night to help me sleep.

MADAME PETROVA

You know rules. Early is on time. On time is late.

FARAH

I’m here now.

MADAME PETROVA frowns and sighs.

MADAME PETROVA

You think you can bend rules. You think you special like prima donna? Come. We see.

SLOW FADE

INT. DANCE STUDIO – CONTINUOUS

Music plays as FARAH practices. She tries and fails several times.

MADAME PETROVA

Niet! You must have power here.

(tapping stomach)

You have strong leg, yes, but not enough for big jump.

 FARAH falls to the floor exhausted.

MADAME PETROVA

Prima donna give up? Ballerina must be princess on outside and steel inside. You too much princess.

FARAH

I’m trying.

MADAME PETROVA

Ahhh. Yes. Trying is good. But trying is not same as doing. Grand Jette is simple jump anyone do. To make beautiful, to fly, only true ballerina can do. Again!

(speaking as Farah performs)

Chasse, plie, and up! That’s it. Now fourrete! Back straight. Back straight! And, reverse. Xoreshua! Up!

(waits until jump is complete)

Hmmm. Better. Not good. But, better. We finish.

FARAH

But it’s only been an hour.

MADAME PETROVA

Da. But we must talk. Change and come to office.

FARAH

Yes, madame.

INT. OFFICE – CONTINUOUS

Photographs of the ballet fill MADAME PETROVA’s office. She sits behind her desk, a cup of tea in her hands. FARAH enters and waits to be acknowledged.

MADAME PETROVA

Sitdi. How feel you?

FARAH

(sitting)

Fine.

MADAME PETROVA

Da? Then why not you do what I ask?

FARAH

I don’t understand. I try.

MADAME PETROVA

Try? Da. You dance ballet. But you forget what I ask.

FARAH

I don’t understand.

MADAME PETROVA

You win competition. I say not good enough. You must win Grand Prix to become great ballerina. Remember?

FARAH

Yes.

MADAME PETROVA

Then everything changes. It’s anniversary, no?

FARAH looks visibly shaken.

FARAH

Yesterday.

MADAME PETROVA

It’s why you late today, I think.

FARAH’s eyes gloss over.

MADAME PETROVA

No. No. No. No. No.

(she rises and places her hands on Farah’s shoulders)

No tears. This I must teach you, how to be strong like Russian woman.

FARAH

I’m not Russian.

MADAME PETROVA

I know this. But you love your mother very much. She lose husband. You lose father. Now think you lose each other. Not true. With you, she stays weak. With her, you stay weak.

FARAH

I don’t understand. Are you saying I should leave my mother?

MADAME PETROVA

We all leave our mothers. But your mother does not leave her mother.  It’s why, I think, you do not try harder. You afraid of leaving.

FARAH

(standing, pulling away, confused)

But I work harder than anyone else in this school. I’m here six hours a day. On weekends. No one works harder than I do.

MADAME PETROVA

Da. You work harder than anyone in this school, but you do not work harder than you.

FARAH

And what is that supposed to mean?

MADAME PETROVA

That you working as hard as the other girls is same as you not working at all. You have great gift. Can be greatest dancer, but you give up too easy. You must learn to let go. Let go of mother. Let go of father. Then you do something no one does before. Now you…How do you say?… go motioning?

FARAH

Going through the motions?

MADAME PETROVA

Da. You are going through the motions because you are afraid to be what you can really be. Go home. Take time to be with mother. One week. If you want to be great dancer, then come and work hard.

FARAH

But…

MADAME PETROVA

No argument. Be with mother now. Then come back and start again.

INT. HOME – DAY

FARAH enters the kitchen carrying her bag. All of the cupboards are open. Her GRANDMOTHER is standing precariously on a stool reaching for a top shelf.

FARAH

(rushing to help her grandmother down)

What are you looking for, grandma?

GRANDMA

I can’t remember where I put his muffins. I made them this morning. He’ll be home soon and will want his muffins!

FARAH

You don’t bake, grandma.

GRANDMA

Eddie’ll be so disappointed if I can’t find them.

FARAH

Grandpa’s been dead for ten years, grandma. Come on. Let’s see if your shows are on. We can find the muffins later.

GRANDMA

Okay.

INT. LIVING ROOM – CONTINUOUS

FARAH helps her GRANDMOTHER into a recliner and hands her a bag full of crocheting supplies. FARAH then turns on the television and kisses her GRANDMOTHER on the head.

FARAH

(calling out from the bottom of the stairs)

Mom? You up there?

LISA

(from the top of the stairs)

Where have you been, and why didn’t you answer your phone?

FARAH

I told you I had a lesson this morning.

LISA

And last night you could hardly walk. How are you feeling?

FARAH

(climbing the stairs)

I feel fine.

 LISA feels FARAH’s forehead and face.

LISA

No fever.

FARAH

(pulling away)

Grandma was in the cupboards again.

LISA

Well, I can’t watch her constantly. How was practice?

FARAH

(frustrated…walking away)

Fine.

LISA

Farah!

FARAH hesitates. Looks back

LISA

What happened?

FARAH

Nothing. Mom. I don’t want to talk about it.

LISA

Okay. How about that milkshake?

FARAH

Sure..

INT. FARAH’S ROOM – DAY

FARAH reaches into her bag tosses her clothes in a hamper. She hangs up her shoes and pauses in front of a photo on her wall.

CLOSE UP ON PHOTO OF FARAH HOLDING A LARGE RIBBON AND STANDING NEXT TO MADAME PETROVA.

FARAH reaches and takes the photo off of the wall and slams it down on her dresser, face down.

INT. ICE CREAM PARLOR – DAY

FARAH and her MOTHER in the booth of a retro 50’s style ice cream parlor. A middle-aged bubble-gum WAITRESS approaches carrying two frothy chocolate milkshakes.

WAITRESS

Here you are. Fries’ll be up in a minute. Can I get you anything else?

LISA

No, thank you.

FARAH

(tasting)

Mmmm. Chocolicious.

LISA

You and dad always loved the chocolate.

FARAH

Yeah.

LISA

I’ve been thinking. Why don’t we go to New York City. Take in a couple of shows. Explore Central Park. Tour Juilliard.

FARAH

Juilliard?

LISA

You’re still planning on applying. Aren’t you?

FARAH

Why waste my time? You know I’m not good enough for Juilliard.

LISA

That’s not what Madame Petrova thinks. She told me…

FARAH

(interrupting)

I don’t care what she thinks!

LISA

Where did all this hostility come from?

FARAH

Nothing, mom. Forget it.

The WAITRESS returns with two plates of fries and slides them onto the table.

WAITRESS

Sure there’s nothing else?

LISA

Just the check.

The WAITRESS places the CHECK on the table and departs.

LISA

I think New York is a good idea. Whether you apply to Juilliard or not, I know you want to see it.

FARAH

I’ve always wanted to see the Alice in Wonderland statue.

LISA

And the Starry Night painting.

FARAH

And the Statue of Liberty.

LISA reaches into her purse and pulls out an envelope. She slides it across the table.

FARAH

What’s this?

LISA

An early birthday present.

FARAH

Really? But that’s not for another three months.

LISA

I know. But I couldn’t wait. Go on. Open it.

FARAH opens the envelope and pulls out two tickets. Her eyes widen.

FARAH

No! How did you know?

LISA

I overheard you and Mia talking. If her parents say it’s okay, she can go with us and the two of you can go to the ballet.

FARAH

Oh, my god! She’s going to flip when I tell her. You know who the soloists are this season?

LISA

I have an idea.

FARAH

(hesitating)

But this is too expensive.

LISA

Uncle Dave helped out. You’ll have to send him a thank you note.

FARAH

I’ll do better than that! I can’t believe I’m actually going to the New York ballet. Thank you so much, mom.

(taking out her phone and pushing buttons)

I’m telling her to meet me at the mall.

LISA

I’ll take you home so you can get your car.

FARAH

(putting her phone away)

After we finish our milkshakes.

EXT. HOUSE – DAY

A new Mercedes blocks the driveway. Uncle DAVE, an overbearing, slick-suited lawyer, engages them before they can exit the car.

DAVE

Where have you been?

LISA

(pushing him out of the way with the door)

Out. Why? What’s going on?

DAVE

Mom. That’s what. Did you know she was gone for half an hour.

LISA

(Walking toward the house)

What do you mean gone?

FARAH follows them into the house.

INT. HOUSE – CONTINUOUS

A heavyset NURSE is wiping grandma’s mouth with a napkin.

LISA

Calm down, Dave. We were only gone an hour or so. The nurse was with her the whole time.

FARAH rolls her eyes, having heard these sibling arguments too many times before, and ascends the stairs.

DAVE

Your nurse is an idiot.

NURSE

(with attitude)

Excuse me?

DAVE

I happened on mom a quarter of a mile away!

NURSE

She walked out when I was making her lunch. No one said she’s a flight risk.

DAVE

We shouldn’t have to.

LISA

(checking to see if grandma is okay)

Thank God you found her.

DAVE

You’re lucky we don’t sue.

NURSE

You go right ahead. She’s looks fine to me.

DAVE

I’ll certainly have your job.

NURSE

(heading for the door)

You can have it!

LISA

(following her to the door)

Thank you very much. I’ll make sure you get your full hours.

NURSE

(exiting)

Damn straight you will!

DAVE

I want you to let me know the next time you call that agency. Some of these girls don’t have a clue what they’re doing.

LISA

Sure, Dave.

DAVE

Those nurses aren’t cheap. I’ll make sure we get our money’s worth.

LISA

Why don’t you come and take care of her yourself.

DAVE

Come on, Lisa. You know how busy I am.

LISA

Dammit, Dave! You have no right to criticize us. Especially today!

DAVE appears struck by her words.

GRANDMA

Why are you kids screamin’. I’m trying to watch the television!

FARAH, now dressed for the mall, slowly descends the stairs.

LISA

(quieter)

I’m just saying you’re not the one who takes care of her every day. You go home to your wife and forget about us.

DAVE

That’s why we should put her in a home. I’ve been saying it for six months now.

LISA

You’re not putting our mother in a home.

FARAH kisses her uncle on the cheek.

FARAH

Thanks, Uncle Dave.

(she departs before he can respond)

DAVID

What was that for?

LISA

I gave her her birthday present.

DAVID

(softly)

She knows?

LISA

Yes, David. She knows you pay for everything around here.

DAVID

That’s not what I meant.

LISA

Then what exactly did you mean?

INT. MALL – DAY

FARAH weaves through shoppers and waves when she sees MIA sitting in the food court. She sits across from her friend.

MIA

(sing-song)

Check out my new shoes.

FARAH

(emphatically)

Take them back. Now.

MIA

Are you crazy? They were fifty percent off.

FARAH

You don’t want new shoes right now.

MIA

I don’t, huh? Why is that?

FARAH

I’m thinking you need a new dress.

MIA

For what?

(catching on)

Farah? What are you getting all goofy-eyed for?

FARAH

Maybe… I’ve got tickets to something.

MIA

What tickets?

FARAH

To see some Russian dancers you have hanging on your wall.

MIA

Stop…right…there. Farah Day? Don’t be playing with Niko & Alina.

FARAH

I’m not playing at all. I have two tickets to the New York City Ballet in three weeks.

MIA

Get out!

FARAH

I just have to decide who to take.

MIA jumps up and rounds the table. She kneels before Farah and looks up with pathetic, begging eyes.

MIA

Farah? Look at me. Whatever you want. Just ask. But, please, don’t make me beg in the mall.

FARAH

(laughing)

Okay. Get up before I change my mind.

JOEY, standing a few feet away, laughs. The girls look up. Mia stands.

JOEY

Looks like you lived.

FARAH

(annoyed)

No thanks to you.

JOEY

Hey. All I wanted to do was dance.

MIA

Then how did she end up in your bedroom?

JOEY

Seriously? You think I wanted to take advantage of you? I can have any girl I want at that stupid school. But I’m not like that.

MIA

That’s not what I heard.

FARAH

Mia, please.

MIA

Fine. I’m going to get a pretzel. If you need help, just scream.

JOEY

(after she has gone)

Your friend probably wouldn’t believe me, but that wasn’t even my room. It was a guest room.

FARAH

It had a bed, didn’t it?

JOEY

Where should I have put you, on the couch in the living room? I took you up and sent Matt to find your friend. I swear.

FARAH

(considers)

Are you going to stand there all day?

JOEY

(sitting)

You’re friend has a temper.

FARAH

Why are you here?

JOEY

We didn’t get a chance to finish our dance.

FARAH

Our dance?

JOEY

(smugly)

Your dance.

FARAH rolls her eyes and looks toward Mia.

JOEY

Look. I just thought we’d go out. That’s all.

FARAH

And do what?

JOEY

I don’t care. I like you, okay? No strings. Have a pizza or some coffee with me. That’s all I ask.

FARAH

Okay.

JOEY

Okay?

FARAH

When?

JOEY

Tomorrow night. Mo’s Pizza. How does seven work for you?

FARAH

Fine.

INT. HOME – NIGHT

FARAH LOUNGES NEXT TO HER GRANDMOTHER HOLDING YARN BEING PULLED FROM HER WRISTS AND WOUND INTO A BALL.

GRANDMA

That’s when I met Pete. He was the nicest man you could ever meet, and a stallion in the bedroom.

FARAH

Grandma!

GRANDMA

(giggling)

He wanted to wait until we were married, but I couldn’t. So, I snuck into his bedroom on his birthday.

FARAH

Stop it! I don’t need to hear this.

GRANDMA

(pausing)

He sure loved to watch you dance.

FARAH

You remembered my name.

GRANDMA

Oh, Farah! I’ll never forget you. Even when I’m old and crazy, I’ll still remember you.

FARAH begins to cry.

GRANDMA

Why are you crying?

FARAH

No reason. I’m just happy you’re feeling good tonight.

GRANDMA

Why wouldn’t I?

(indicating the yarn)

Hold your hands higher, dear.

INT. SCHOOL HALLWAY – DAY

Several FOOTBALL PLAYERS huddle around a locker examining a phone.

PLAYER 1

Oh, man! She’s like Kentucky fri’ finger licken’ good.

PLAYER 2

What’s wrong with you. Why do you have to talk like that?

PLAYER 1

I’m just sayin’ she can super-size my Whopper any time she wants.

PLAYER 2

You’re an idiot.

JOEY STROLLS THROUGH THE HALL WAVING AND NODDING AT HIS FANS.

GIRL 1

Hi, Joey!

JOEY

(nodding)

What’s up?

GIRL 2

Great game, Joey!

JOEY

Thanks for coming.

PLAYER 1

Joey, man. Looks like you’re gonna lose.

JOEY

Why’s that? Give it up.

(taking the photo)

That’s fake man.

PLAYER 2

Bullshit it’s fake.

JOEY

Ashley would never let you take a photo like that.

PLAYER 2

She did. Which means you owe me fifty bucks. Unless you have something better.

JOEY

Not yet. I’m still working on it.

PLAYER 1

You should have done it at the party.

MIA, passing by, stops.

JOEY

(back to Mia)

No, man. I thought she was gonna  puke. Don’t worry. I’ll get her before the week’s over.

FOOTBALL PLAYERS cover their mouths, laughing and pointing.

JOEY

What?

(turning to see Mia’s narrowed eyes)

Hey! I didn’t mean it like…

CONTINUOUS

MIA hurries down the hall and meets FARAH rounding a corner. Mia takes her by the shoulders and turns her around.

MIA

This way.

FARAH

But I’m going…

MIA

We need to have a little chat.

FARAH

About what? What’s going on?

MIA

Why aren’t you on the board this week? How come I have to cover all your ballet classes?

FARAH

It’s nothing, Mia. I’m just taking a few days off.

MIA

You? Taking days off? Are you sick?

FARAH

I’m fine. Madam Petrova thought it’d…

MIA

What did she say to you this time?

FARAH

Nothing I didn’t need to hear.

MIA

So… you’re not going to ballet, until when?

FARAH

I don’t know yet.

MIA

You’d tell me if something was really wrong, wouldn’t you?

FARAH

Of course.

MIA

Good. One more thing. Are you really going out with that jerk?

FARAH

Joey?

MIA

Be careful. Something about him gives me the creeps. I don’t know you agreed to go out with him in the first place.

EXT. BALLET STUDIO

FARAH, driving, pulls to a stop across the street from the STUDIO. She watches little girls practicing their ballet moves while MIA instructs. FARAH half smiles, half frowns, and drives on when Madame Petrova appears.

INT. LAW OFFICE – DAY

FARAH approaches the secretary carrying a Tupperware container.

FARAH

Is my uncle in?

SECRETARY

He is. Just a moment.

(she pushes a button on the phone)

DAVE

(over the speaker)

Yeah?

SECRETARY

Your niece is here to see you.

DAVE

Send her in.

FARAH enters the office to find her uncle sitting behind a desk littered with papers.

DAVE

Hi doll. What’s wrong?

FARAH

Nothing. I brought you something.

DAVE

I know that box.

(sniffs)

And I know that smell. You made brownies, didn’t you?

FARAH

Couldn’t sleep last night.

DAVE takes the box and helps himself to a brownie.

DAVE

This is just what I needed.

FARAH

Thanks, Uncle Dave.

DAVE

For what?

FARAH

For the birthday present.

DAVE

It was your mom’s idea.

FARAH

I figured. Can I ask you something?

DAVE

Make it quick. I have a four o’clock coming in.

FARAH

When did you know you would be a good lawyer?

DAVE

Honestly. It wasn’t until I won my first jury trial that I knew for sure.

FARAH

You spent all that money on law school blindly?

DAVE

Not blindly. I had all the tools. But you never know how you’re going to play until you’re in the big game. You work as hard as you can and hope to get a chance to prove yourself. When that chance comes you make the best of it. Why do you ask?

FARAH

School project.

DAVE

Let me know how it turns out.

(phone buzzes)

Yeah?

SECRETARY

Your 4 o’clock is here.

DAVE

Send him in.

(to Farah)

Is that all?

FARAH

Yeah. Don’t eat all those at once.

INT. DINING ROOM – NIGHT

FARAH places three plates on the table while her mother cooks over the stove.

LISA

Only two. Grandma’s still sleeping.

FARAH places one of the plates on the counter and sits down.

FARAH

I was thinking. What if I went to community college next year?

LISA

Why would you want to do that?

FARAH

Save money. Help you take care of grandma.

LISA

What about Juilliard?

FARAH

It’s time for me to grow up and stop chasing dreams we both know will never come true.

LISA

Look at me.

FARAH

I am.

LISA

I mean really look at me. What are these eyes telling you?

FARAH

I don’t know.

LISA

That I couldn’t be prouder no matter what you do with your life.

FARAH

Thanks, mom.

LISA

You were four years old when dad took you to see The Nutcracker. You came home and did nothing but spin for two weeks. When we put you in your first ballet class, you cried every time we took you home. Do you remember?

FARAH

Dad called me his little hydrant. Said he’d take me the next time he needed to put out a fire.

LISA

You don’t know how much the guys teased him because he kept that music box by his bed at the station.

FARAH

What music box?

LISA

The one with the pink ballerina. He wound it up every night before he went to bed. After he died, the guys asked if they could keep it.

FARAH

I gave it to you for Christmas.

LISA

God, how he loved to watch you dance.

FARAH squints, cringes, and brings her hand to her head.

LISA

Another headache?

FARAH

My eyes hurt.

LISA

I’m going to make you a doctor’s appointment tomorrow. It’s been too long since we had your eyes checked.

EXT. FOUNTAIN – NIGHT

FARAH walks into a wide square with a grand fountain in the center. Light reflects off the spray and mist. She sits with her bag in her lap and watches the water. She takes out her shoes, letting them dangle from their ribbons. Slipping them on, she stands and goes on point several time, then twirls. She pulls a music player from her bag and hits the play button. She performs with the fountain in the background.

MIA enters and watches from a distance.

FARAH ends her routine by jumping onto the edge of the fountain and twirling. She stumbles and nearly falls in. Her hand comes to her head as she sits down.

MIA runs toward her.

MIA

I thought I’d find you here.

FARAH

Hey. I thought you’d be at the studio.

MIA

I was. Madame Petrova asked me how you were doing. I think she’s worried about you.

FARAH

What else is new?

MIA

What did she say to you?

FARAH

She told me I wasn’t serious about dancing. She said I was working just hard enough to be the best at the school, but not hard enough to be my best. She said I was afraid of leaving home.

MIA

(hesitating)

We all are.

FARAH

I told my mom I’m thinking of going to City College.

MIA

Why? What about Juilliard or State? That’s what we always talked about.

FARAH

The odds of getting into Juilliard are slim at best. Grandma’s getting worse, and I know mom is still struggling with dad’s death. I hate the thought of losing any more of my family. I want to spend as much time as I can with them.

MIA

What did Mr. Grayson say? It’s better to reach for a star and land on the moon than reach for nothing and go nowhere.

FARAH

Or cross the street and land in the gutter. I’ve heard that one too.

MIA

Or, it is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.

FARAH

Or, good friends are like stars…you don’t always see them, but you know they are always there.

(nudging her friend)

Studio still open?

MIA

Should be. There was another class after I left.

FARAH

Whatever I do next year, I know what I want to do now.

MIA

What’s that?

FARAH

Dance.

INT. DANCE STUDIO – NIGHT

Scattered students gather their things and meet their parents near the door. FARAH passes them as they exit.

MADAME PETROVA

I told you to come back in a week.

FARAH

I don’t need a week.

MADAME PETROVA

You’ve made up your mind then?

FARAH

I want to dance.

MADAME PETROVA

It’s that easy, huh? Make choice and make dance.

FARAH

Isn’t it?

MADAME PETROVA

(regards Farah and smiles slowly)

Da. It is. You make best dance you can. Not best in school. Best in you. You must promise me you will work hard to make dreams come true.

FARAH

I promise.

MADAME PETROVA

Saturday. We have lesson. Be here eight a.m.

FARAH

I will. And Madame, thank you.

INT. HOME NIGHT

FARAH sits on her bed sewing her ballet shoes. She takes her leotard and stuffs it in her bag, then rises and approaches her dresser. She picks up the photo of her and Madame Petrova and carefully hangs it back in its place on the wall.

CLOSEUP ON FACE

FARAH squints and grimaces.

FARAH’S P.O.V.

Images fades in and out, blurry and then clear, light and then dark.

BACK TO SCENE

FARAH stumbles and collapses onto her bed in the fetal position. She clutches a pillow with both hands, pulling it close to her chest, and opens and closes her eyes. She holds a hand in front of her eyes, turning it front and then back, squinting.

SLOW FADE

INT. STUDIO – DAY

FARAH dances across the floor and stops.

MADAME PETROVA

Yes. Yes. Very good. Again. Grand Jete must be stronger. This time fly!

FARAH repeats her steps back across the floor.

FARAH

It’s not high enough.

MADAME PETROVA

No. Not yet. But better than before. That’s all I ask for today. Go. Enjoy weekend. Come back Monday to work hard.

INT. PIZZA PARLOR

JOEY stands when FARAH enters.

JOEY

I went ahead and ordered for us.

FARAH

Mushrooms?

JOEY

And pepperoni and sausage.

FARAH

I hate mushrooms.

JOEY

Mike! No mushrooms on that medium.

MIKE, a skinny teen with thick glasses, leans over the counter.

MIKE

Dammit, Joey. It’s already in the oven.

JOEY

Then make another one!

MIKE

I have a takeout you can have.

MIKE disappears.

FARAH

Friend of yours?

JOEY

My cousin. He’s mostly an idiot, but he makes a good pizza.

FARAH

Big game this weekend, huh?

JOEY

Yeah. We’ve lost to Central three years in a row now. Are you gonna be there?

FARAH

I don’t know yet.

JOEY

I have three scouts coming to watch me.

FARAH

That’s great. Where do you want to play in college.

JOEY

State. Of course.

FARAH

I’ll be right back.

FARAH makes her way to the bathroom. JOEY takes out his phone and dials a number.

JOEY

It’s me. She’s here. I told you she’d come. No. Not yet. I’m working on it now. Get that fifty bucks ready.

(sound of bathroom door closing)

Gotta go.

MIKE approaches the table with a pizza.

MIKE

Here’s your pizza

FARAH pushes the door open half way and stops when she hears JOEY.

JOEY

Cool. Now get out of here, retard!

MIKE

You gonna win the bet?

JOEY

Huh?

MIKE

(grinning, half-whispering)

Matt told me.

JOEY

I’m gonna to kill that loud mouth. Get lost before she comes back.

MIKE

She’s hot man. How much is she worth? A hundred? Two?

FARAH enters, a scowl evident on her face.

FARAH

Well? How much am I worth to your sleazy friends?

JOEY

(standing)

Hold on. It’s not like that.

MIKE

(laughing)

You’re gonna get it now, Joey.

JOEY

Shut up!

FARAH

(pushing past them)

Asshole!

EXT. NYC AIRPORT RUNWAY – DAY

PLANE lands. TIRES smoke and squeal.

CUT TO FARAH, MIA, AND LISA EXITING THE PLANE

EXT. NYC AIRPORT CURB

LISA hails a cab. They hand their suitcases to the DRIVER and climb into the back seat.

MONTAGE OF CITY SIGHTS ENDING WITH THE CAB STOPPING IN FRONT OF A HOTEL

LISA

Where to first?

MIA

Juilliard.

FARAH

We have our tour scheduled tomorrow. How about Times Square?

MIA

Yeah! Then the park.

EXT. TIMES SQUARE – MORNING

GIRLS walk through the crowd looking at the artists and street performers. They stop in front of a ballerina standing on a box. FARAH and MIA  take turns mimicking her pose while MOM takes photos. They drop a bill in the bucket and move on.

EXT. CENTRAL PARK DAY

GIRLS continue through the park taking pictures. Highlight visit to ALICE IN WONDERLAND STATUE.

INT. RESTAURANT – NIGHT

FARAH and MIA are dressed for the ballet.

FARAH

What are you going to do while we’re at the ballet?

LISA

Take a walk around the Lincoln Center and have a cup of coffee. I might go back into the park.

MIA

I can’t believe we’re about to see Nikolai Cherbuski and Nina Trachenko. Don’t even breath. You might wake me up from this dream.

FARAH

All right drama queen.

MIA

You know you’re as excited as I am.

FARAH.

True.

INT. THEATER – CONTINUOUS

The GIRLS find their seats.

BALLET BEGINS.

CUT TO BALLET DANCER PERFORMING A GRAND JETE.

CUT TO GIRLS.

FARAH grabs Mia’s arm when the jump is performed.

FARAH

That’s it! That’s what I have to do.

EXT. LINCOLN CENTER FOR THE ARTS

The GIRLS exit among a throng of spectators. They twirl and giggle. FARAH runs to her mother.

FARAH

Oh! Mom! That was absolutely ah-maz-ing.

MIA

It was, Mrs. Day. Nina and Nicki.

(drawing a heart on her chest)

My soul mates for-ev-er!

FARAH

She did a grand jete and nearly jumped through the roof. I swear she was up for three full counts. She was a feather.

LISA

A feather?

FARAH

You know? Weightless.

MIA

If I never wanted to be a ballerina before, I do now. Madame Petrova  won’t know what hit her.

LISA puts her arm around FARAH as they walk down the sidewalk.

LISA

Aren’t you glad you decided to stay with it.

FARAH

You have no idea. Thanks, mom. Where are we going? The hotel’s the other way.

LISA

I thought we’d see Juilliard at night. Up for it?

MIA twirls on ahead of them.

FARAH

Am I?

EXT. JUILLIARD SCHOOL – CONTINUOUS

FARAH and MIA pose in front of the fountain.

MIA

Now I know why you like the fountain back home so much.

FARAH

It’ll be our little secret.

MIA

Ours and the other twelve lucky girls accepted into the dance program this year.

FARAH

You mean the ten girls accepted with us next year?

MIA

(serious)

You know I don’t have a chance. All that talk I do is just for fun. It’s all about you, Farah. It always has been. And I’m okay with that. This is my dream, but it’s your reality.

FARAH

Could you be any more dramatic? Thanks, Mia. When did it get so dark out?

MIA

What are you talking about?

EXT. HOTEL – MORNING

The GIRLS exit the hotel and turn to wait for LISA.

FARAH

Hurry, mom. We’re gonna be late.

LISA

We have plenty of time. The tour doesn’t start until ten.

FARAH waves her hands toward the sky.

MIA

(looking up)

What are you waving at?

FARAH

Don’t you see it?

MIA

What?

FARAH

Birds or something. Like little black dots way up there.

MIA

I don’t see anything.

FARAH

Weird. Come on.

THEY continue up the sidewalk.

EXT. SIDEWALK, ONE BLOCK FROM JUILLIARD – CONTINUOUS

FARAH stops.

MIA

Farah?

FARAH

I see it again. What in the world is that?

LISA

Are you feeling okay?

FARAH

I don’t know. I feel sick all of a sudden.

LISA

Here. Let’s sit down a minute.

FARAH

No. At the fountain. We’re almost there.

(stepping toward the intersection)

Ouch!

(she slaps her forehead)

Mom? Oh! Shit! That hurts!

LISA

What is it? Tell me!

FARAH

My head hurts so awful. My eyes…Oh, God! My eyes!

LISA

What is it baby?

FARAH’S P.O.V.

THE CITY SPINS. LIGHT FADES IN AND OUT. BLURRY. CLEAR. DARK. DARKER. FLASHES OF LIGHT REVEALING BLURRED IMAGES.

FARAH

What’s happening to me?

(stumbling into the intersection)

LISA

Farah!

A horn sounds. TIRES squeal. MIA screams.

DARKNESS

FADE IN

LISA

Farah!

(pulls Farah back onto the curb as a bus slides by)

FADE OUT

FADE IN

FARAH

I can’t see mom! I can’t see!

FADE OUT

SLOW FADE IN

INT. EMERGENCY ROOM – CONTINUOUS

DOCTOR

There’s nothing more we can do for her here. Except for her vision, she seems perfectly normal. She needs to see an ophthalmologist.

FARAH

What do you mean normal? I’m blind!

FADE OUT

FADE IN

INT. DOCTORS OFFICE – DAY

OPHTHALMOLOGIST sits back and moves equipment to the side.

FARAH

I could see the light that time.

LISA

What’s wrong with her?

DOCTOR

Your daughter’s optic nerves have degenerated. It’s a very rare condition. I’ve never seen it in both eyes at once.

LISA

Will she see again?

FARAH

Doctor?

DOCTOR

Not like before. She might regain some peripheral vision. There’s no way to know without running more tests. Even then, we’ll have to wait and see how far the nerve degenerates.

FADE OUT

FADE IN

INT. BEDROOM – DAY

LISA

Farah? You have some girls from the studio who want to see you.

FARAH

I don’t want to see anyone. God. Do you hear yourself? I couldn’t see them if I wanted to.

(crying)

I’ll never see anyone again!

LISA

What about Mia? She’s here, too.

FARAH

Especially Mia. Don’t you understand?

FADE OUT

FADE IN

INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT

LISA

There’s someone here from the school for the blind. I want you to talk with her.

FARAH

No.

LISA

You can’t live like this forever, Farah. You have to move on. They can help you.

FARAH

What can they possibly do?

LISA

Talk to her. Give her a chance. She’s… like you.

LESLIE enters. She’s a pretty girl a few years older than Farah with long black hair worn in pony-tails. She taps with her cane as she enters.

LESLIE

Hi, Farah. My name is Leslie.

FADE OUT

EXT. SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND – DAY

Picturesque countryside. A CAR drives along a tree lined driveway. SIGN: HUNTER SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND. CAR stops in front of a brick building.

CAR DOOR opens. FARAH steps out wearing dark sunglasses. LISA exits and joins Farah. A MAN with a prosthetic leg leads LESLIE toward the car.

LESLIE

Hi, Farah.

FARAH

Leslie?

LESLIE

Yes. I’m so glad you decided to come. I’ll be one of your counselors. This is Jimmy, your other counselor.

JIMMY, a well-built middle-aged man, reaches out and takes Farah by the wrist and shakes her hand.

JIMMY

Welcome to the best school on the east coast.

(shakes mom’s hand)

We’ll get you settled in and introduce you around. You like lasagna? Tonight’s lasagna night. We got some crazy good cooks here.

(takes FARAH by the arm)

Ready?

LISA

What about her bags?

JIMMY

Someone’ll be down shortly to take them to her room. She’s already enrolled. Paperwork was faxed in this morning.

LISA

My brother must have taken care of it.

JIMMY

Go on Leslie. We’ll be right behind you.

Leslie unfolds her cane and begins navigating the sidewalk. Jimmy leads Farah up the sidewalk. Mom follows. Jimmy stops, turns back.

JIMMY

Oh. I’m sorry. Visiting hours start at eight this Saturday.

LISA

But…Can I say goodbye?

JIMMY

Goodbye? This ain’t goodbye. You’re just droppin’ your girl off for school. That’s all. But you can have a minute, of course.

FARAH

It’s all right mom. I’ll see you Saturday.

LISA

Are you sure?

FARAH

Yeah. I need to do this alone.

JIMMY

Don’t worry. You’ll never be alone here.

LISA watches FARAH walk down the sidewalk and enter the brick building.

INT. DORM ROOM – DAY

FARAH stands in the middle of a small room with two beds and two desks. LESLIE is a few feet away. JIMMY stands in the doorway.

JIMMY

You cool, Lez?

LESLIE

Sure. I got her. We’ll see you in the hall.

JIMMY

If she gives you any grief, you call Jimmy. Hear?

LESLIE

The hardest part for me was learning how to think of the world in terms of steps and height. How many steps are you from the door?

FARAH

I don’t know.

LESLIE

Six. There are seven more to the window. Your bed is three steps to your right. Mine is three to the left. There are desks against the wall between your bed and the window. Go ahead and walk to the window. Count out loud.

FARAH

One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven.

LESLIE

Reach out. Slowly.

FARAH

(touching the window

It’s hot.

LESLIE

The sun hits the room throughout the morning. It’s cooler in the afternoon.

FARAH

I can feel the heat on my face.

LESLIE

Good. What do you smell?

FARAH

What do you mean?

LESLIE

You have to learn to use all of your senses. Smell. Hearing. Even taste. You’ll be surprised how much you start noticing.

FARAH

It’s true then?

LESLIE

Better be. Otherwise we’d really have a hard time getting around.

FARAH

How come you’re so happy?

LESLIE

I’m not happy, Farah. But I’m not sad either. I try to avoid too many ups and downs because I know they won’t change who I am. The sooner you accept yourself, the faster you’ll learn to live with yourself.

FARAH

How long did it take you?

LESLIE

(sighing)

Honestly? Sometimes I’m still trying. I get angry from time to time. But then I’m glad.

FARAH

Why?

LESLIE

Because it makes me feel normal to have good and bad days.

INT. LUNCHROOM – DAY

The lunchroom resembles a large dining hall more than a cafeteria. Students and counselors sitting at tables fill the room with the sound of buzzing conversation.

FARAH sits across from JIMMY. LESLIE is to her left. Dinner plates are on the table in front of them filled with lasagna, salad, and a piece of bread. Glasses and a pitcher of water sit on the table as well.

LESLIE

Think of the plate as a clock. They make it easy for us here. The main item will always be a six o’clock. The vegetable or salad will be at two o’clock and ten o’clock. What does it smell like?

FARAH

I don’t know.

LESLIE

Try.

FARAH leans forward.

FARAH

I smell garlic.

LESLIE

Yep. Garlic bread is at ten o’clock. It’ll make your fingers real greasy, so use your left hand only and you won’t drop your glass. I learned the hard way.

FARAH

Jimmy said we’re having lasagna.

JIMMY

Sorry, Leslie. I screwed it up for you.

LESLIE

No matter. Your glass is at ten o’clock about six inches from your plate. There should be a pitcher on the table too.

JIMMY

Twelve o’clock. Go ahead, Farah. Pour yourself a glass.

FARAH finds the pitcher and glass and begins to pour.

FARAH

How do I know when to stop?

LESLIE

Listen. You’ll hear when the glass is full.

FARAH overfills the glass. Water pours over her hand and onto the table. JIMMY sops up the water with a napkin.

JIMMY

I got it.

LESLIE

No one gets it the first try. Forks on the right when you’re ready. I don’t know about you, but I’m starving.

EXT. CAMPUS – DAY

LESLIE leads FARAH across the campus, passing students and teachers as they go.

CLOSE UP on Leslie’s CANE tapping as they walk.

WIDE SHOT of campus following LESLIE and FARAH. They approach two girls facing one another on a bench with a book between them.

STUDENT

Hi, Leslie.

LESLIE

Hi, Grace. What are you up to?

STUDENT

Reading Little Women.

LESLIE

I love that book! Let me know when you’re done.

STUDENT

Okay!

LESLIE

(continuing on)

Many people think that blind people can’t see anything. It’s not true. You’ll find that some can only see a foot or two away. Others can only see far away. Grace can read a book, but anything more than six feet become a blur to her.

FARAH

What can you see?

LESLIE

In my left eye, not much at all. Just differences in light and darkness. My right eye is a little better. I see blurry shadows when I’m in bright light.

INT. GAME ROOM – DAY

THE ROOM is filled with table and couches. Students and staff are scattered about the room working on various activities. LESLIE helps FARAH to a chair then finds a CD player and CD’s sitting on a nearby shelf. She places the CD player on the table.

LESLIE

This is the game room. I’ll walk you through it later when everyone is gone. There’s a CD player here.

(she helps Farah find the player)

Tell me what you feel. See if you can turn it on.

FARAH examines the CD Player. She flips buttons and turns the knobs.

LESLIE

It’s easier to have someone show you, but it’s good to figure it out sometimes too. Simple devices are always better. And knobs are a blessing. You’ll be surprised how many electronics have only buttons now. It’s infuriating. JIMMY picked out some CD’s for you. Go ahead and put one in.

FARAH struggles opening the CD and placing it in the player.

LESLIE

You got it. The play button is on the front. It’s bigger than the rest and has a side-ways V on it.

FARAH finds the button and presses play. Orchestral music blasts loudly. LESLIE reaches and turns it down.

LESLIE

(to everyone)

Sorry.

(to Farah)

I should have checked the volume first. Your mom said you’re a dancer.

FARAH

Was a dancer. Do we have to listen to this?

LESLIE

No. You can turn it off if you want.

FARAH struggles to find the off button. JIMMY approaches and leans against a nearby wall.

FARAH

I can’t find it.

LESLIE

It’s there. Do you know this song?

FARAH

Of course I know it.

LESLIE

Jimmy’s good.

FARAH

(frustrated)

I can’t find it.

LESLIE

What’s it called?

FARAH

It’s from Swan Lake. Please help me turn it off. I don’t want to hear this right now.

LESLIE

You have to learn to do it yourself. Helping you now won’t help you later.

FARAH

(even more frustrated)

I can’t! Where is it?

LESLIE

You can.

FARAH flings the CD player off the table. The music stops when the chord pulls from the wall.

LESLIE

Jimmy?

JIMMY

Yeah. I’m here. You almost had it, Farah.

FARAH

I’m sorry.

JIMMY

Awe. Don’t worry about it. It’s all part of the process. You’re going to be frustrated a lot the first couple of days.

LESLIE

It gets easier. It really does.

JIMMY

You know what? Let’s get out of here.

LESLIE

Where?

JIMMY

I’m in the mood for Perks.

FARAH

What’s Perks?

JIMMY

How much do you like coffee?

INT. PERKS COFFEE SHOP – DAY

JIMMY, LESLIE, AND FARAH enter the coffee shop. An acoustical guitar with smooth vocals plays in the background. An attractive young man wearing dark sun glasses sits in the corner fingering the melody. He stops and types something onto a laptop computer.

BARISTA

(waving)

Hey, Jimmy!

JIMMY

Hi Dia.

(to Farah)

We come here all the time. I want you to order three lattes. There is a railing here.

(he guides her hand to the rail)

When you reach the end, I’ll come and help you to our table.

FARAH

I don’t have any money.

JIMMY

Here.

(handing her a stack of one dollar bills)

Call if you need help. I’m just a few steps away.

They leave FARAH at the counter and sit down.

BARISTA

Hi! What can we make for you?

FARAH feels her way down the railing and to the counter.

LESLIE and JIMMY greet the BOY in the corner.

FARAH

Three lattes please.

BARISTA

Sure. That’ll be eight dollars and twenty-two cents.

FARAH places the bills on the counter.

BARISTA

(whispering)

You’re supposed to count them before you give them to me.

FARAH

Oh. Sorry.

(picks up and counts bills as she places them on the counter)

BARISTA

Thanks.

(makes change)

Here you go.

(drops coins in Farah’s hand)

CLOSE UP on hand.

BARISTA

Aren’t you going to count them?

FARAH

(embarrassed)

I didn’t think about it.

BARISTA

You wouldn’t believe how many people take advantage of the impaired. Here. You know quarters are the biggest, then nickles, then pennies. Dimes are the smallest. Feel the edge of this one.

FARAH

It’s grooved.

BARISTA

That’s the dime. Pennies are a little bigger, but not enough to really tell unless they are stacked on top of one another. They have smooth edges. Nickels are thicker.

FARAH

Ahhh. I feel the differences. There is…sixty-eight cents here. You owe me a dime.

BARSITA

Yep. Here you go.

(drops another dime in her hand)

You did good for your first time. I’ll bring ’em to your table.

FARAH moves to the end of the railing where JIMMY is waiting. He leads her to their table.

JIMMY

Cool. That one takes most newbies a couple of tries. I’ll show you later how to fold your bills so you can track them too.

BARISTA

(delivering their drinks)

Jimmy. Got a moment?

JIMMY

Sure. I’ll be right back.

LESLIE

How did it go?

FARAH

I didn’t know what I was supposed to do.

LESLIE

Realizing what you’ve always taken for granted is half the battle.

JIMMY

(calling)

Leslie. Come here a moment.

LESLIE

Ooops. I’ll be right back.

FARAH lifts her cup and smells her latte. She runs her hand over the steam. Her hand begins shaking. The cup ticks against the table whens he sets it down. She sniffles. The strum of a guitar sounds.

FARAH

Hello?

NOAH

Did I startle you?

FARAH

(wiping her cheek)

I didn’t know you were there.

NOAH

I didn’t realize. You’re from the school?

FARAH

I guess.

NOAH

I’m Noah.

FARAH

Farah.

NOAH

Nice to meet you, Farah. Think you could help me with something?

FARAH

I don’t know how I…

NOAH

Which of these do you like better. This…

(plays a melody on the guitar)

Or this…

(plays a second, similar melody)

FARAH

I don’t know.

NOAH

I can’t decide between them.

FARAH

First one, I guess.

NOAH.

Cool. That’s the one I was leaning toward.

JIMMY returns.

JIMMY

Sorry, Farah. Something’s come up and we have to get back to the school.

(picks up her cup)

I’ll have them make these to go.

(returns to the counter)

NOAH

Looks like you have to leave.

FARAH

Noah, was it?

NOAH

Farah.

JIMMY

Don’t work too hard, Noah. Those songs are usually just fine the first time around.

NOAH

I wish it were so easy.

EXT. SCHOOL BENCH – NIGHT

FARAH and LESLIE sit side by side on a garden bench. String lights run from tree to tree throughout the garden.

LESLIE

Beautiful isn’t it?

FARAH

How would I know?

LESLIE

(laughing)

You don’t get it yet. Tell me what you hear?

FARAH

Someone’s talking. There’s music inside. Laughter.

LESLIE

Can you hear the water from the pond?

FARAH

Yes. Something is splashing in the water. A plop! Must be a frog. Yes. I hear the chirps. And the leaves. I can hear the wind blowing the leaves.

LESLIE

That’s my favorite. Wait until it rains. This whole place becomes a drum set.

FARAH

I’ve never noticed before. There are so many little sounds that seem to hum all together.

LESLIE

Most people don’t pay attention to their environment. You’ll have to. Your hearing will become your most important sense for the environment you can’t feel. What time do you think it is?

FARAH

Nine, maybe?

LESLIE

I think so, too. How do you know?

FARAH

I’m not sure. The temperature of the air. The stillness.

LESLIE

I find that night smells different, like the cooling concrete and dewy grass. Ready to go inside?

FARAH

If it’s okay, I’d rather just sit here awhile. If that’s okay?

LESLIE

Perfectly fine with me.

EXT. SIDEWALK, NEAR DRIVEWAY – DAY

LESLIE and FARAH stand on the sidewalk holding white canes.

LESLIE

Tap and slide the tip along the ground.

(taps the sidewalk first and then the asphalt)

Can you hear the difference?

FARAH

(takes a deep breath, frustrated)

Not really.

LESLIE

Listen for auditory clues. You’ll hear differences in timbre and small echoes. I like a solid cane if I’m going somewhere I don’t know very well. You get better feedback than the breakables. Try this. Walk up the sidewalk. Count your steps. And come back. Stay in the middle of the sidewalk.

FARAH

Can we do this later?

LESLIE

It’s not going to get easier later, Farah.

FARAH

The doctor said I might get better.

LESLIE

That’s great. It really is. But what if it doesn’t get better? Are you going to come back here and start all over again? I’ve been where you are. I know what it feels like. I used to hope too, and I was miserable.

FARAH

I hate this darkness. But you know what I hate most? It’s the little bit of light I can see around the edges that remind me of what I’m missing.

LESLIE

It’ll pass.

FARAH

No. It won’t.

LESLIE

Up and back. That’s all I ask.

FARAH

No.

LESLIE

Farah.

FARAH

I said I don’t want to?

LESLIE

(sighing)

Fine. Then sit here by yourself. When you’re ready to use the cane, meet me at the end of the sidewalk.

FARAH

You’re just going to leave me here?

LESLIE

No.

(walks away)

You’re welcome to come with me.

FARAH

Hey!

(no answer)

Leslie!

(folds up her cane and throws it to the side, crying)

I hate you! I hate this place!

LESLIE

That’s the anger talking. When you start bargaining, I’ll know you’re making progress.

FARAH collapses to the sidewalk, racked with sobs, her fist pounding the ground.

EXT. SIDEWALK, NEAR ASPHALT – CONTINUOUS

JIMMY stands with LESLIE watching FARAH pouting, still sitting on the ground and crying.

JIMMY

How long should we leave her there?

LESLIE

Until she finds the cane and comes back under her own power.

JIMMY

A little harsh, don’t you think?

LESLIE

She put herself in this situation. She has to find a way out. If we help her, we’ll only reinforce her dependency. If she can do this, then my work is done and you can take over.

JIMMY

Look who sounds like the counselor now.

(deep breath)

All the same. I’m going to have a talk with her.

LESLIE

Think you can talk her down?

JIMMY

We’ll see.

JIMMY strolls toward FARAH and sits next to her.

FARAH

Jimmy?

JIMMY

How did you know?

FARAH

One of your steps sound different.

JIMMY

You are catching on.

FARAH

Maybe.

JIMMY

I’m not just an occupational therapist, you know? I’m a real therapist, too.

FARAH

Black couch and all?

JIMMY

That’s a psychiatrist. Think of me as a trained listener.

FARAH

(following a long pause)

I was never afraid of the dark before I went blind.

JIMMY

Humor. That’s a good sign.

FARAH

Everyone seems to know what the signs are but me.

JIMMY

DABDA. Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. And acceptance.

FARAH

Aren’t those for grief, like when someone dies?

JIMMY

Sure. But they apply in other situations too. You’re deep into the anger stage. Probably bargained some too. And you definitely show signs of depression. Everyone goes through them in their own way.

A CAB PULLS UP TO A STOP AND THE DOOR OPENS. NOAH EXITS CARRYING HIS GUITAR CASE.

JIMMY

Hey, Noah.

NOAH

Jimmy? What are you doing out here?

JIMMY

Having a chat with a friend.

NOAH

From the coffee shop?

JIMMY

Yep.

NOAH

Everything okay, Farah?

(no answer)

Can’t be all that bad.

FARAH

And what do you know about it?

JIMMY

I just remembered something I need to take care of. I’ll be back in a minute.

(departs)

NOAH

How long have you been out here?

FARAH

I really don’t know. These people are driving me crazy. What do you smell? What do you hear. Isn’t it sooo stinken’ beautiful? Sometimes, I just want to scream.

NOAH

These people, huh?

FARAH

Sorry. I know you’re visiting someone here.

NOAH

What happened to you?

FARAH

(considers how much to share, then opens up)

I was a dancer, a good one. I wanted to be a ballerina. Then my optic nerves disintegrated for no reason. I started getting these dizzy spells and headaches. Then, everything went black. They said the pressure changes in the airplane were the final straw.

NOAH

When I’m having a bad day, I like to play music. Do you mind?

FARAH

No. As long as it’s not swan lake.

NOAH

(taking out his guitar)

I don’t think I could play that on the guitar.

NOAH BEGINS A SWEET SONG, SHORT, AND TO THE POINT.

FARAH

You sound like that guy at the coffee shop.

NOAH

(laughing)

I am that guy in the coffee shop. They humor me by playing my CD.

FARAH

Really? I’m impressed. I like your voice.

NOAH

I like yours too, FARAH

FARAH

Is Jimmy coming back yet?

NOAH

I don’t know. Why?

FARAH

I think they plan to leave me out here until I find my cane and go back myself. Can you find it for me?

NOAH

I doubt it.

FARAH

Why not? Just give me the cane, and I’ll do the rest.

NOAH

You don’t understand. I can’t. I’m not visiting someone, Farah. I live here, too.

FARAH

You mean you’re?

NOAH

Visually impaired? Yeah. Since I was a little kid. My optic nerves detached from my retinas when I was two. Didn’t take my hearing, though.

FARAH

I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to…

NOAH

Please. You have every right to be pissed off. I would be, too.

FARAH

I feel like a total idiot.

NOAH

I tell you what. Why don’t we find your cane together? Take my hand. I know this place pretty well.

FARAH

(taking for his hand)

Thanks.

HAND IN HAND, THEY MOVE STEP BY STEP ACROSS THE LAWN FEELING WITH THEIR FEET.

NOAH

This isn’t gonna work. Come on.

(falling to his knees)

I’m better with my hands anyways.

FARAH

(laughing)

I’ll be honest. I’m kind of glad you can’t see me doing this.

NOAH

(pushing her over)

Don’t worry. I’m sure Jimmy’ll tell us all about it later.

INT. DORM ROOM – NIGHT

FARAH sits on the edge of her bed. LESLIE sits at her desk, chair turned sideways, fingers drumming on the desk. A long, awkward moment continues, heightened by the rat,tat,tat.

FARAH

You’re waiting for me to speak first, aren’t you?

LESLIE

Don’t be angry. We all have that moment.

FARAH

You left me sitting the dark. Alone.

LESLIE

(sarcastic laugh)

I sit in the dark every day. You choose to be alone. You give up too easily.

FARAH

(begins to say something, stops)

It’s true.

LESLIE

Acceptance. The books are wrong. Coping doesn’t come all at once. It comes in little, painful pieces. That was the first time I’ve heard you be honest with yourself.

FARAH

(after a moment)

What do you know about Noah?

LESLIE

He’s been here longer than any of us. Doesn’t have a family to go home to.

FARAH

What happened to them?

LESLIE

No one knows for sure. He won’t talk about it. How did he get you to find the cane?

FARAH

I’ve always been a sucker for music. And, he made me laugh.

INT. GAME ROOM – DAY

JIMMY stands with FARAH (cane in hand) at the entrance to the game room. SARAH, a young girl of seven with red hair and freckles, works with yarn at a nearby table. Other students busy themselves with activities throughout the room.

FARAH

Are we meeting Leslie?

JIMMY

Not here. She’s working with a new student today. That’s kind of her specialty.

FARAH

So, I’m in second grade now?

JIMMY

I guess you can say that. See if you can find your way to our table.

FARAH

Okay.

(tapping the cane, she strikes a young girl’s leg working with yarn)

Sorry.

SARAH

That’s all right, Farah.

FARAH

Sarah?

SARAH

You remembered! I made you a present. Here. Hold out your arm.

(puts a bracelet on Farah’s wrist)

It’s a blue bracelet.

FARAH

(taking the gift)

Blue’s my favorite color. It feels so soft. Thank you, Sarah.

SARAH

You’re welcome.

FARAH continues to her table where NOAH sits with the broken CD player. He looks up and listens when she approaches.

NOAH

There she is.

FARAH

Noah? I didn’t know you were here.

NOAH

Someone broke my CD player. I’m trying to put the pieces back together.

(snaps a broken knob back in place)

There. That does it.

FARAH

Sorry about that.

NOAH

Why? Things break. We make them work again and move on. How about some music?

(before Farah can answer, he presses play.)

Elevator music.

FARAH

(Dance of the White Swan)

Turn it off, please.

NOAH

What is it?

FARAH

Swan Lake.

NOAH

The ballet?

FARAH

You already knew that, didn’t you?

NOAH

You know I did.

FARAH

Why is everyone pushing me? Can’t I have just one day without the pressure.

NOAH

It’s nice outside. How about a walk? Have you been down to the creek?

NOAH

(standing)

Take my shoulder.

(louder)

Bye, Sarah. Thanks again for the bracelet.

SARAH

Bye, Noah! Bye, Farah!

EXT. CREEK – CONTINUOUS

NOAH and FARAH approach a wooden bridge spanning a bubbling creek. Multi-colored Koi play in and around lily pads. Weeping willows dress the far bank. They stop half way across the bridge.

NOAH

This is my favorite spot on campus. I do a lot of writing here.

FARAH

How long have you played the guitar?

NOAH

Since I was a kid. How long have you danced?

FARAH

(after a long pause)

My dad took me to see The Nutcracker when I was six. The next week I went to my first class and never looked back.

NOAH

Someone asked me once if I’d rather be deaf than blind. No way. Take away my music and you take away my soul. I bet dancing is the same way for you.

FARAH

Doesn’t matter. I won’t ever be able to dance again.

NOAH

Why not?

FARAH

You have to hear the music. I need to see the floor.

NOAH

I get the music part. But you can  learn the environment just like you learn any room. As long as nothing changes, you could still dance.

FARAH

You don’t understand how hard ballet is. You have to see to have balance.

NOAH

Have you tried?

FARAH

I don’t have to try.

NOAH

Then you’ll never know for sure, will you? Something to think about. Let’s get our feet wet.

FARAH

What?

NOAH

(laughing)

Come on!

THEY take off their shoes and wade into the creek, holding hands. FARAH slips, catches her balance, falls into NOAH’s arms and laughs. She stops laughing and runs her HAND across his chest, then steps back, embarrassed. NOAH nearly falls and grasps for her hand. They both laugh.

FARAH

(screams, laughs)

Something just touched my foot.

NOAH

Goldfish.

FARAH

You mean koi? That thing was big!

NOAH

It’s all the same to me.

FARAH screams and laughs again, jumps, loses her balance and falls into the water, pulling NOAH after her.

INT. HALLWAY – AFTERNOON

FARAH approaches the office door. She can hear the conversation within.

JIMMY (O.S.)

You really think there’s a chance? That’s better than none at all. False hope can kill these kids, and Noah has had false hopes before. All right. Thanks doc. I’ll talk to him again.

FARAH waits a moment, then knocks.

JIMMY

Come in!

SLOW FADE

INT. OFFICE – CONTINUOUS

The office is small with a desk and several book shelves filled with therapy and occupational medicine texts. A window overlooks the campus. Jimmy sits in a chair across from FARAH.

JIMMY

And how did that make you feel?

FARAH

Angry, I guess.

JIMMY

I can see why. You’re being honest with me, which means you’re being honest with yourself.

FARAH

It’s not easy, Jimmy. I wake up sometimes in the middle of the night and find myself reaching for the light. Then I remember…

JIMMY

I get it. I still reach to tie my other shoe.

FARAH

What happened?

JIMMY

I was the guy they called in to disarm the mines. Bastards buried two right next to each other. I found the first easily enough. The second one found me.

FARAH

How long ’till you felt normal.

JIMMY

Hell, Farah. I never feel normal. But I’m okay with that because I get to help people like you. If I hadn’t lost my leg, I never would have become a therapist.

FARAH

(long moment of silence)

I think I want to go home this weekend, but I’m afraid. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me.

JIMMY

Going home will do you good. When you come back, you’ll feel different.

(sighs)

You can’t control how people feel. You have to let them feel sorry for you. It’s their way of coping. They’ll adjust in time, just like you have.

FARAH

You know what terrifies me the most? Seeing my ballet teacher. I know I have to say goodbye. But I don’t know how to. Thank god I won’t have to see the disappointment in her eyes.

JIMMY

People will surprise you, Farah. Don’t assume you know what people will do.

FARAH

Is Noah okay?

JIMMY

(surprised)

Why do you ask?

FARAH

It was something he said.

JIMMY

You two have been spending a lot of time together.

FARAH

He’s been nice to me.

JIMMY

You know I can’t speak about him. Confidentiality and all.

FARAH

Why won’t he go to the doctor?

JIMMY

Farah. That’s something you’ll have to ask him.

EXT. GARDEN – NIGHT

NOAH plays his guitar. FARAH sits next to him, her head on his shoulder.

FARAH

That’s my favorite one yet.

NOAH

It’s getting there.

FARAH

I think it’s perfect the way it is.

NOAH

Maybe. You’ve been quiet today. What’s going on in that head of yours?

FARAH

(bluntly)

Why won’t you go to the doctor?

NOAH

(pulling away, surprised)

How do you know about that?

FARAH

I overheard Jimmy talking on the phone. He didn’t know I was there.

NOAH

If I know Jimmy, he waited to be sure you were there before he made the call.

FARAH

Why?

NOAH

So you would do exactly what you’re doing now.

FARAH

I don’t understand, though. Why not go to the doctor.

NOAH

Because they’re filling me up with ideas. I told you. Hope kills around here. I’m perfectly happy the way I am.

FARAH

But if there’s a chance…

NOAH

Some miracle cure that makes me see? Come on. It’s a dream, Farah. This surgeon wants to turn me into one of his monkeys, that’s all.

FARAH

(rising)

I can’t be here right now.

NOAH

Where are you going?

FARAH

Away.

NOAH

Why?

FARAH

Because I can’t stand to be around you right now. You’re so full of bullshit. You had me thinking I might actually be able to dance again. So much for hoping.

NOAH

(softer)

Hey. Wait a minute. I’ll make you a deal. If you dance again, I’ll go see that doctor.

FARAH

I can only promise to try. I don’t know if it’s possible or not.

NOAH

Fair enough. Make a good effort, and I’ll do the same.

FARAH

(sitting back down)

Ballet was hard enough when I could see. Come home with me this weekend. I want you to be there when Madame Petrova thinks I’m out of my mind.

NOAH

Fine. And you’ll go to the doctor with me when it’s time.

FARAH

Deal.

EXT. SCHOOL DRIVEWAY – DAY

A CAR pulls to a stop. Farah’s MOTHER and MIA exit.

LISA

(running to Farah and engulfing her in a hug)

Oh, sweetie. I missed you so much.

FARAH

I missed you too, mom.

LISA

(holding her at arms length)

I brought someone with me.

FARAH

Who?

MIA

Hey nerd.

FARAH

Mia!

MIA

I couldn’t wait.

FARAH

(they embrace)

I’m glad. I want you guys to meet someone. This is Noah.

LISA

Hi Noah.

MIA

Hey.

(shaking hands)

FARAH

I asked him to come home with me. Is that okay?

MIA

(curious, teasing)

Really?

LISA

Ummm…sure.

FARAH

I want him to meet Madame Petrova.

JIMMY approaches carrying their bags. Leslie is a step behind him.

JIMMY

I’ll just put these in the trunk. You kids have a good time.

FARAH

Thanks, Jimmy.

LESLIE

And bring us some of those brownies you’re always talking about.

FARAH

If I don’t eat them all.

FARAH and MIA turn toward the car.

MIA

(whispering)

He’s cute!

FARAH

Really?

MIA

O.M.G. This is gonna be fun.

FARAH

(half serious)

Stop it! Now!

CUT TO JIMMY CLOSING AND TAPPING THE TRUNK.

FARAH

(yelling out the window)

Bye!

INT. CAR – CONTINUOUS

FARAH and NOAH sit in the back seat of the car. MIA turns and looks back when Farah begins speaking.

FARAH

My grandmother has Alzheimer’s. When she’s having a bad day, she gets frightened easily. We have to stay out of her way then. When she meets you, she probably think you’re someone from her past.

MIA

A movie star if you’re lucky.

FARAH

That’s her favorite association.

MIA

And she’s always right. If she likes you, you’ll get a good one. If she doesn’t, watch out.

NOAH

Great. I can’t wait.

FARAH

She’s going to love you. She the sweetest grandma ever.

INT. HOUSE – DAY

THEY enter the house. Lisa and Mia place the bags to one side.

LISA

Mom? We’re home.

The NURSE enters.

NURSE

She was real good, Mrs. Day.

LISA

Thank you. We’ll be all right now.

NURSE

See you tomorrow, then.

The NURSE exits. GRANDMA walks in holding a photo album

GRANDMA

I was just going through the old albums. Do you remember that Buick we had when you…

(seeing FARAH)

Farah! You’ve been practicing too much lately. I feel like I haven’t seen you for days.

FARAH

Hi, Grandma.

GRANDMA

Take off those glasses in the house.

FARAH

I can’t grandma. Remember?

GRANDMA

Oh. Yes. I forgot, sweetie. I’m sorry.

FARAH

I want you to meet someone. This is my friend, Noah.

GRANDMA

(to lisa)

What’s wrong with him?

LISA

He’s blind, too, mom.

NOAH

It’s a pleasure to meet Farah’s favorite person.

GRANDMA

How sweet. You know…you look just like James Dean.

MIA laughs and winks at LISA.

NOAH

(whispering to Farah)

Didn’t he die young?

FARAH

Hush! She likes you.

EXT. STUDIO – DAY

MIA WALKS A STEP AHEAD OF FARAH AND NOAH AS THEY APPROACH THE STUDIO.

MIA’S P.O.V. LOOKING THROUGH THE WINDOW AT THE STUDIO FILLED WITH CHILDREN PRACTICING.

INT. STUDIO – DAY

MIA holds the door open for FARAH and NOAH. The DANCERS scream when they see FARAH and mob her.

GIRL 1

You’re back!

GIRL 2

We missed you!

GIRL 3

I prayed for you every night.

FARAH

(taking them in her arms)

Thank you so much girls.

MADAME PETROVA claps her hands.

MADAME PETROVA

That’s enough girls. Get your things.

(crossing her arms, to Farah)

I was worried about you.

FARAH

Sorry I couldn’t come sooner.

MADAME PETROVA

Nonsense. Wait in my office. We’ll talk.

INT. STUDIO OFFICE – DAY

FARAH and NOAH sit in the chairs facing the desk. MIA stands behind them.

MADAME PETROVA

(entering and sitting)

Well then. Who is this handsome young man?

FARAH

Noah’s a friend from the school.

MADAME PETROVA

I see. Come to say goodbye, then?

FARAH, nervous under the attention of her teacher, wrings her hands.

FARAH

Not exactly.

MADAME PETROVA

No?

FARAH

You told me to push myself, to do something no one has done. I know what this is now. I want to dance.

MADAME PETROVA

(stony facade cracking)

Ballet is not for the blind.

FARAH

Maybe not. But it is for me.

MADAME PETROVA

Hmmmm. I see. You finally understand what I say. Xoreshua. Then make best dance for Grand Prix.

FARAH and MIA gasp.

NOAH

What is the Grand Prix?

MIA

Only the most prestigious ballet competition in the world.

MADAME PETROVA

How fortunate that The Grand Prix is in New York this year. We don’t have much time. We start tonight.

INT. STUDIO – NIGHT

Music plays as FARAH, dressed in her leotard, spins and stumbles. NOAH stands near the stereo.

MADAME PETROVA

No. No. No. Same as before. Keep your head straight. Whip. Spot. Whip. Spot. You don’t need to see to find spot.

NOAH

(turning off the music)

Your ears will find your balance. Trust yourself.

FARAH

It’s harder than it looks!

(sighing)

Sorry. I’ll get it.

The door opens. MIA enters carrying a large roll of butcher paper.

MIA

I hope this works.

CLOSE UP OF PAPER BEING UNROLLED AROUND THE EDGE OF THE DANCE FLOOR.

NOAH

You have three feet before the wall. When you hear the paper. Stop.

MADAME PETROVA

It not big problem. Dancer controls her body. She knows how far she go.

FARAH

Forty steps side to side. Thirty front to back. I won’t need the paper long.

MADAME PETROVA

Good. Again. This time with the jump.

MUSIC BEGINS. CLOSEUP ON FARAH’S FACE DEEP IN CONCENTRATION.

CAMERA ZOOMS OUT AS SHE BEGINS THE DANCE SEQUENCE.

CLOSEUP ON MADAME PETROVA WATCHING, ANTICIPATING.

FARAH JUMPS AND LOSES HER BALANCE ON THE LANDING. SHE FALLS HARD TO THE FLOOR AND LIES STILL.

CLOSEUP OF MADAME PETROVA FROWNING.

EXT. FOUNTAIN – NIGHT

MIA’s P.O.V watching FARAH and NOAH approach the fountain.

MIA

Okay. I’ll go pick up the pizza. By myself. You two have a good time…

FARAH

Thanks, Mia! You’re the best.

MIA

Yeah…

FARAH and NOAH sit on the edge of the fountain. Light plays on the water behind them.

FARAH

I thought I had it. You have no idea how long I’ve been working on that jump.

NOAH

You’ll get it.

FARAH

I hope so.

(reaches over and traces her hand over the water)

When I was a kid, my dad would bring us here. There used to be a farmer’s market on Saturdays. This guy would sit by the fountain here and make balloon animals for all the kids. My mom would set up her easel and paint. God, I miss those days.

NOAH

What happened to your dad?

FARAH

He was fighting a fire on top of one of those truck ladders when a propane tank exploded. He fell into the burning house.

NOAH

I’m sorry.

FARAH

Yeah. Me too. What about you? What’s this big secret about your parents?

NOAH

(hesitating)

I never knew my real parents. They left me at the hospital. I was adopted but given back when I went blind. I never knew any of them, really.

FARAH

I didn’t know you could do that.

NOAH

Give a kid back? I didn’t know it either. It’s not all bad though. I guess they felt guilty. They gave me a sizable trust fund as an apology.

FARAH

Do you know what you look like?

NOAH

Not really. I have an idea in my head, but who knows.

FARAH

I hate not knowing. Is my hair messed up? How does my lipstick look?

NOAH

You wear lipstick?

FARAH

Not everyday.

NOAH

Now?

FARAH

Yes.

(hands touch)

Thank you.

NOAH

For what?

FARAH

For believing in me.

He takes her HAND and smells her wrist.

FARAH

Do you want to feel my face?

NOAH

(laughing)

Why? Did you see that in some movie?

FARAH

Isn’t that how you know what I look like?

NOAH

Farah, I could care less what you look like. Everything I need to know I can hear in your voice.

FARAH

Can I touch your face?

NOAH takes her hand and brings it to his face. She traces the contour of his jaw. He kisses her palm then reaches and cradles her face in his hands. He pulls her closer and kisses her.

A football flies close to their heads and lands in the fountain. A group of FOOTBALL PLAYERS laugh.

PLAYER 1

You almost hit ’em!

PLAYER 2

Oh, shit! It’s Farah Day. Sorry man. We didn’t know it was you.

JOEY

Shut up!

FARAH

(standing)

So you throw footballs at blind people now, huh?

JOEY

What? Didn’t you see it coming?

PLAYER 1

(mocking)

Ohhh! Someone’s jealous.

NOAH steps forward.

NOAH

No harm done. It’s all good.

NOAH pulls out his collapsible cane, straightens it, and finds Farah’s hand. He leads her away. JOEY reaches out with his foot and trips him. NOAH grunts when he hits the ground.

FARAH

Noah?

(kneeling and feeling with her hands)

Are you okay?

NOAH

I’m fine.

(standing and pushing Farah back)

Only a coward would trip a blind man.

FARAH

Too bad that bet’s over. Screwing a blind chick would have been worth double.

NOAH lashes out with his cane and strikes JOEY on the side of the head. He then steps and sweeps Joey’s legs out from under him with the cane. JOEY falls hard to the ground, rolls over, coughs, and slowly comes to his feet.

JOEY

Blind or not. I’m going to kick your ass!

MIA

(screaming as she runs toward them)

Farah! Why is your phone off? Your mom’s been trying to call you. It’s your grandma!

SLOW FADE

INT. HOUSE – NIGHT

FARAH RUSHES THROUGH A DARK HOUSE FEELING THE WALLS AND FURNITURE AS SHE GOES.

FARAH

Mom? Mom? Mom!

Her MOTHER rises from where she’s been waiting on the couch.

LISA

I’m here, Farah.

FARAH

What is it? What happened?

LISA sobs in her daughter’s arm.

LISA

(still hugging)

I found her on the floor in the bathroom. She wasn’t breathing.

FARAH

Why?

LISA

She had a headache and was getting aspirin. They think it was an aneurysm.

FARAH

I should have been here.

LISA

There’s nothing you could have done. It was her time. It was her time.

SLOW FADE

EXT. CEMETERY – DAY

FARAH STANDS NEXT TO LISA AND UNCLE DAVE IN THE RECEIVING LINE

GUEST 1

We’re going to miss her so much.

FARAH

Thank you.

GUEST 2

Bless you. She loved you so much.

FARAH

Thank you for coming.

A burly MAN dressed in a suit with a badge pinned to his chest approaches carrying a small bag.

LISA

Don. Thank for coming.

DON

Anything you need, Lisa. Anything at all. Firefighters take care of their own.

LISA

I know. Thank you.

(crying, kisses him on the cheek)

DON

(to Farah)

This is for you.

HE gives FARAH the bag. She reaches in and pulls out her dad’s MUSIC BOX. When she opens the box, music plays and the ballerina twirls.

DON

We gave him such a hard time about this pink ballerina. But every night since he left us, someone has wound it up and let it play. We thought it time that it goes home.

FARAH

(clutching him, crying)

Thank you, Uncle Donnie. Thank you so much.

INT. HOUSE – NIGHT

LISA sits on the couch with a glass of wine in her hand. FARAH is next to her, her head leaning on her mother’s shoulder. MIA and NOAH sit nearby.

MIA

She would have liked the flowers.

FLOWERS

They did smell nice, didn’t they?

Her MOTHER reaches for the bottle of wine. She frowns, finding it empty.

LISA

(with slurred speech)

Who drank all the wine?

MIA

You did, Mrs. Day.

LISA

I’m so sleepy.

FARAH

Go to bed, mom.

LISA

I think I will.

(she rises and falls back down to the couch)

MIA

I’ll take you up, Mrs. Day.

FARAH

Thanks, Mia.

MIA helps LISA up the stairs. FARAH finds the music box on the coffee table and opens the lid. She hums along with the music.

NOAH

How you are doing?

FARAH

Okay. You’d think we’d be used to death around here.

NOAH

Your grandma was cool.

FARAH

You just like that she called you James Dean.

NOAH

She was smart, too.

MIA descends the stairs.

MIA

Do you need anything?

FARAH

No. Go home. Get some sleep.

MIA

I’ll come back in the morning and help clean up.

FARAH

Thanks for everything.

MIA

Don’t mention it.

MIA kisses FARAH on the cheek and messes NOAH’S hair.

O.S. sound of door closing.

FARAH

Where are you?

NOAH

Right where you left me.

FARAH

Well come over here.

FARAH stands. NOAH bumps into her.

NOAH

Sorry.

FARAH

Shhhh. Come on.

(she takes his hand and pulls him toward the stairs)

NOAH

Where are we going?

INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT

NOAH

Where are we?

FARAH

My room.

FARAH turns on music. She returns to him, and puts her hand on his chest, finds his face and kisses him. She takes his HAND and moves it to her breast.

NOAH

Farah. You’re upset.

FARAH

I know. I have all these emotions swirling around inside swallowing me. I don’t want to be alone in the darkness. Not tonight.

NOAH

(nose to nose, whispering)

I love you, Farah Day.

FARAH

I love you, too.

INT. DOCTOR’S OFFICE WAITING ROOM – DAY

Patients wait to be called, flipping through magazines and punching buttons on their phones. JIMMY sits with NOAH and FARAH. A NURSE opens a door.

NURSE

Noah? We’re ready for you now.

JIMMY

Do you want to go in alone?

NOAH

No. Farah’s coming with me.

FARAH

Are you sure?

NOAH

Positive.

JIMMY

(watching them go with a hopeful smile)

I’ll just wait here then.

INT. DOCTOR’S OFFICE – CONTINUOUS

NOAH sits on the edge of the bed. FARAH stands with her hand on his knee.

Enter the DOCTOR, a tall, good looking man with salt and pepper hair. HE sits on a stool and punches on the keyboard.

DOCTOR

You are a hard one to get in here.

NOAH

I’m not sick.

DOCTOR

I reviewed your recent MRI. You are a very good candidate for a new procedure.

NOAH

I don’t want to be a Guinea pig, doc.

DOCTOR

We’ve had success reattaching partially severed nerves. Your right eye will be challenging, but we have a good chance with the left.

NOAH

What do you call success?

 DOCTOR

You’ll be able to see again. Not perfectly, but there should be something. It’s hard to know. Every case has been different so far.

NOAH

How many cases have you had?

DOCTOR

Three. Two experienced some improvement to their vision. One significantly did.

FARAH

That’s good.

NOAH

Significant?

DOCTOR

Comparatively. Something is better than nothing.

NOAH

Not always.

FARAH

Noah. Give him a chance.

NOAH

I just don’t want to be disappointed.

DOCTOR

I can’t promise there’ll be any change. But I can say you won’t get any worse. Why don’t I give you a moment to think. If you want to do this, I have a cancellation an can do the procedure day after tomorrow. We’ll check you into the hospital and get you started on the antibiotics today.

The DOCTOR departs.

FARAH

What do you think?

NOAH

It’s sending the wrong message to every blind person who can’t have a surgery.

FARAH

I think we’ll understand.

NOAH

If this works, we won’t be a we any longer.

FARAH

God willing.

NOAH

You really think I should?

FARAH

My grandmother once told me the only thing she regretted in life was having to many regrets. She was a dancer too, you know? But she left New York to have a family. She loved us, but I know a part of her regrets giving up her dream. What happens when you’re seventy and wondering what you missed the last fifty years?

NOAH

You might be right. But not now. We have your competition to get ready for. Once that’s done…

FARAH

I’ll do the competition with or without you. This is more important.

NOAH

Nothing’s more important to me than you.

FARAH

Then don’t make me think I’m keeping you from this.

NOAH kisses her then opens the door.

NOAH

(yelling down the hallway)

Doc? Where do I sign?

INT. HOSPITAL ROOM – DAY

CLOSEUP on NEEDLE being inserted into ARM.

NURSE hangs a bag on a metal hook.

NOAH lies in the hospital bed with JIMMY, LESLIE, and FARAH nearby.

NURSE departs.

NOAH

Well. This is it.

LESLIE

I’m so excited for you. Everyone at the school is too.

NOAH

Really?

LESLIE

Of course!

JIMMY

Make a list of anything you want us to bring you. I’ll be back this evening.

(leading Leslie toward the door)

We’ll wait outside, Farah.

NOAH

Thanks for everything, Jimmy.

FARAH moves around the bed after they have departed.

FARAH

Call me as soon as you can.

NOAH

The first thing I want to see is you. Then I want to see you dancing.

FARAH

I’ll miss you.

NOAH

Me too.

SLOW FADE

INT. DANCE STUDIO – DAY

FARAH stretches on the floor next to MIA.

FARAH

What time is it?

MIA

Only three minutes after the last time you asked. Jimmy said he would text as soon as the surgery’s over. Worrying about it won’t make any difference.

FARAH

I’m going crazy waiting.

MADAME PETROVA enters and claps her hands.

MADAME PETROVA

Let’s go. Much work to do.

FARAH and MIA move to the mirror. FARAH counts her steps from the wall and waits.

MADAME PETROVA

Start from beginning.

MIA starts the music and FARAH begins her routine. She dances close to the mirror.

MIA

Watch it!

FARAH stops and reaches for the mirror.

FARAH

(breathing heavily)

That was close.

MADAME PETROVA

Don’t worry. The stage will be much bigger. Now. We talk about jump. If it’s too difficult, no need try. You make statement enough with beautiful dance.

FARAH

I can do it. I want to. I need to.

MADAME PETROVA

Then do it. No more practice. Mia! Music please.

FARAH begins her routine again. When she reaches the dance sequence, she lands, stumbles, and falls hard to the floor. She grabs her ankle. MIA runs to her.

MIA

Are you okay?

FARAH

Yeah. Just rolled it a little. Can you tape it up for me?

MIA

Sure.

MADAME PETROVA

No tape! Ice. Rest. No more practice today.

FARAH

But we have only three days before the Grand Prix.

MADAME PETROVA

And you know routine. Problem is not dance. Problem is mind. Go home. Clear mind. Come tomorrow and make good jump.

MIA

She’s right, Farah.

FARAH

Fine. Mia?

MIA

Yes?

FARAH

What time is it?

INT. HOME – DAY

FARAH enters the house with a slight limp, bag over one shoulder, cane in her hand. She raises her nose.

FARAH

Mom?

LISA

In here.

INT. KITCHEN –  CONTINUOUS

LISA sits before an easel. Brilliant colors cover the canvas.

FARAH

What is that smell? Paint?

LISA

It is.

FARAH

You’re painting again?

LISA

With mom gone and you dancing or going back to school, I thought I’d do something productive.

FARAH

I think it’s great. What is it?

LISA

Do you remember that lake we went to for your ninth birthday?

FARAH

Do I? Dad taught me to fish in the red canoe.

LISA

That’s what this is. That canoe is down by the water.

FARAH

I wish I could see it.

LISA

Any word yet?

FARAH

(taking a water bottle from the fridge)

Jimmy texted a few minutes ago. The surgery went fine. Noah’s in recovery.

LISA

When do the bandages come off?

FARAH

A couple of days. Will you take me back to the city?

LISA

Of course. Are you limping?

FARAH

Just a bit. It’s not a big deal.

LISA

Uh-huh. Come on. You elevate. I’ll get the ice.

INT. STUDIO – NIGHT

FARAH dances her routine alone in the studio. SHE tries the jump sequence, fails, and collapses against the mirror, panting and frustrated. Her PHONE rings.

FARAH

Yeah?

NOAH O.S.

Are you dancing?

FARAH

Noah! Yes. How do you feel?

NOAH

Good. Considering. I’m going crazy with anticipation. They’re going to take off the bandages tomorrow morning.

FARAH

I’ll be there.

NOAH

I miss you.

FARAH

I miss you too.

NOAH

I’ve got to go. The nurse doesn’t know I have my phone. She’s a grouch and coming back any minute. I’ll see you in the morning.

FARAH

I hope so.

FARAH drops the phone into her lap and leans her head against the mirror.

SLOW FADE

INT. HOSPITAL ROOM – DAY

FARAH stands before NOAH holding both of his hands.

NOAH

I’m nervous.

FARAH

Me too. If you can’t see, then you haven’t lost anything.

NOAH

(letting out long, slow breath)

I know.

The DOCTOR enters and turns off the lights. Some light from the window filters into the room.

DOCTOR

Ready?

NOAH

Let’s do it.

The DOCTOR sits down and reaches for the bandages.

DOCTORS P.O.V.

The BANDAGES unwind and fall away.

DOCTOR

I want you to keep your eyes closed until I say.

NOAH

Farah?

FARAH

I’m right here.

The DOCTOR steps aside. She takes her place again in front of him, hand in hand.

DOCTOR

Very slowly, I want you to open your eyes. If there’s any change in light, slow down.

NOAH’S P.O.V.

The world, at first black, becomes gray then bright.

NOAH

There’s light.

DOCTOR

Good. Real slow now.

A blurry image begins to take shape. FARAH comes into focus. Filtered light falls upon her face.

DOCTOR

Noah?

NOAH’s bottom lip begins to quiver.

NOAH

Oh, God. You’re so beautiful.

(crying, his hands cradle her face.)

You are so, so beautiful.

FARAH begins to cry too. THEY kiss and embrace.

DOCTOR

There are a lot of people waiting to see you. Shall I let them in.

NOAH

Yes. Yes! Let them all in!

JIMMY, LISA, MIA, AND LESLIE ENTER.

NOAH

I can see!

(jumping into Jimmy’s arms)

I can see!

CLOSE UP ON JIMMY’S SMILING FACE.

SLOW FADE

EXT. NEW YORK – DAY

STOCK FOOTAGE OF NEW YORK CITY.

THEATER MARQUEE – YOUTH AMERICA GRAND PRIX BALLET CHAMPIONSHIPS.

DANCERS and parents file into the theater.

INT. THEATER – DAY

NOAH leads FARAH, wearing her leotard and tutu, down a hallway. Gasps and whispers can be heard.

DANCER 1

Look! It’s true.

DANCER 2

There’s no way she’s actually blind.

DANCER 3

Mom! Watch out.

MOM

I swear, if she steals a scholarship because she’s handicapped…

VOICE O.S.

Go home!

NOAH

Ignore them.

FARAH

Ignore who? I’m in my space right now. No one gets in unless I want them too.

A young GIRL approaches.

GIRL

Miss?

NOAH

She’s talking to you, Farah.

FARAH

Can I help you?

GIRL

I think what you’re doing is so cool. I’ll be cheering for you.

FARAH

(dropping to one knee)

Thank you very much. What’s your name?

GIRL

Misty.

FARAH

Well. I’ll be cheering for you, too.

The GIRL throws her arms around FARAH and runs off. FARAH slowly rises, clearly emotional.

FARAH

So much for my space.

NOAH

Come on.

INT. THEATER – STAGE LEFT – CONTINUOUS

FARAH stands with NOAH and MADAME PETROVA just off stage. Music plays as a girl performs in front of them. The audience applauds.

MADAME PETROVA

(turning to Farah)

Your turn. Listen to music. Forget jump. Make beautiful dance. You already do something no one ever done before. Now is time to enjoy.

FARAH

(nervous)

Thank you. Thank you for everything.

ANNOUNCER O.S.

Now performing, Farah Day.

NOAH leads FARAH to the center of the stage and turns her toward the audience.

NOAH

It’s all about you now.

FARAH

(taking a deep breath)

I’m ready.

NOAH kisses her softly on the forehead and departs.

THE CROWD IS SILENT. THE AUDIENCE IS FULL OF CURIOUS AND SKEPTICAL ONLOOKERS.

CUT TO LISA AND MIA IN THE BALCONY.

MIA

(screaming)

You rock, Farah!

FARAH SMILES AND ASSUMES HER STARTING POSITION.

FARAH BEGINS DANCING WITH THE MUSIC. FOUR JUDGES WHISPER TO ONE ANOTHER, POINTING TO THE SCORE SHEETS, IGNORING FARAH. ONE LOOKS UP AND LOWERS HER CLIPBOARD. THE OTHERS FOLLOW HER GAZE TO THE STAGE.

FARAH DANCES HER HEART OUT. THE MOMENT FOR THE JUMP SEQUENCE APPROACHES.

MADAME AND NOAH HANG ON HER EVERY MOVE.

MADAME PETROVA

You can do it.

FARAH EXECUTES THE JUMP FLAWLESSLY. THE CROWD GASPS.

NOAH

Was that it? Did she do it?

MADAME PETROVA

Perfectly.

THE CROWD BURSTS INTO APPLAUSE. FARAH BOWS, TEARS STREAMING DOWN HER FACE.

INT. THEATER STAGE – EVENING

The stage is filled with dancers. On stage right is a TABLE filled with AWARDS. JUDGES wait in front of the table.

ANNOUNCER

In the senior division, the bronze medal goes to… Julianne Perkins.

The jubilant WINNER takes her trophy and lines up at the front of the stage.

ANNOUNCER

The silver medalist, and winner of a twenty-five thousand dollar scholarship and contract with the Paris Ballet, is… Oksana Kartooshka.

The WINNER hugs surrounding GIRLS and runs to the judge holding her trophy. She takes her place next to the bronze medalist.

ANNOUNCER

This year’s gold medalist, and winner of a hundred thousand dollar scholarship and contract with the San Francisco Ballet is…

FARAH shifts her feet, though it is clear that she does not expect to win.

ANNOUNCER

…Alexis Storiano!

The WINNER collapses to her knees, hands covering her face. She is mobbed by dancers and helped to her feet.

FARAH applauds and fights back tears.

The WINNER takes her trophy and a grand bouquet of flowers, walks to the front of the stage, bows, basking in the applause, then takes her place in line.

ANNOUNCER

(slowly)

For the first time in the history of the Youth America Grand Prix, the judges are also giving an Inspiration Award to…Farah Day!

CLOSE UP ON FARAH AS SHE IS MOBBED BY THE DANCERS.

TEARS flow freely as she is led to the line and presented with a crystal trophy. The crowd stands and cheers.

SLOW FADE

INT. BEDROOM AT THE SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND – MORNING

Warm sunlight shines through the window. The room is covered with open boxes. FARAH kneels and reaches into one.

FARAH

There you are.

NOAH enters carrying a box.

NOAH

That’s the last one. Did you leave anything at home?

FARAH

I don’t think so. My poor mom.

NOAH

Everyone is waiting in the game room to officially welcome you back.

FARAH

Okay.

SHE pulls out her MUSIC BOX from the box and stands.

NOAH

Did you know there’s an envelope on top of your clothes here?

FARAH

Yeah. Mom told me.

NOAH

It’s from Juilliard. Do you want me to open it?

FARAH

No. Not yet.

FARAH winds the MUSIC BOX and places it on her desk. She opens the lid and stands back. The ballerina pops up and begins to spin to the music.

FARAH holds out her hand, and after NOAH (dropping the letter on the bed) takes it, leads him from the room.

PAN TO MUSIC BOX. CLOSE UP ON SPINNING BALLERINA.

FADE OUT.

THE END

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