Words

Original short by John A. McCaffrey

INT. – NEW YORK APT – PRESENT DAY

The lights in the studio apartment are dimmed. Jack (30)
sits on the brown leather couch in the center of the
apartment, flipping through channels on TV, his feet up on
the coffee table in front of him. He begins tapping his foot
rapidly as he flips faster. Jack takes a look around the
room again. He is alone. He begins flipping through channels
again and settles on a basketball game. He removes his feet
from the coffee table, leans forward and puts the remote
down next to the magazines spread out neatly across the
table. He notices the Women’s Health Magazine and picks it
up and nonchalantly scans the pages. He smiles as he reads.

A beat.

Jack puts down the magazine and scans the apartment again.
He gets up and walks over to the window and sees the
landscape of downtown Manhattan from the 24th floor of the
apartment building. He looks at his watch and rubs his eyes.
Attention dwindling, he paces back and forth until he finds
himself next to the white bookcase. Jack scans the bookcase.
Every book is arranged perfectly and in alphabetical order.
He runs his fingers over the books, finds one he likes and
removes it. Close up on the book — “Accounting for
Dummies.” He smiles again and places the book back neatly in
the case how it was arranged previously. As he continues to
walk past the bookcase, he notices the computer in the
corner of the room. He walks over and tries to log on, but
realizes he needs a password. Defeated, he walks over to the
counter in the small kitchen area and picks up the menu for
Marabella’s Pizza Place. He puts the menu down and walks
over to the fridge and studies the picture hanging from it.
He is with a Chinese woman in the picture. He has his arm
around her, and they are smiling and posing, looking very
much in love. Jack smiles as he looks at the picture, before
proceeding to walk back over to the couch. He sits back down
in the center of the couch and reaches for the remote again.
He notices a notebook under the coffee table. Curious, he
bends down and picks it up and sets it in his lap. He opens
it and begins reading.

CUT TO:

CLOSE UP:

The spiral notebook filled with words. English words. His
native tongue, not hers. The script is military precise, yet
dainty, light, the ends of letters punctuated with upturned
curls. Next to each word is its Chinese equivilant, and
then, in English again, the definition.

CLOSE UP:

Jack’s curious facial expression as he browses the notebook.
He looks confused. Jack scans the words, pages of them, and
begins to realize a pattern.

CUT TO:

CLOSE UP:

The word “possessive” written in the notebook. It is almost
scratched into the paper. There is no curl at the end of the
“e.”

CUT TO:

CLOSE UP:

Jack’s face as he reads the definition aloud: a desire for
ownership, occupancy, hold.

CUT TO:

CLOSE UP:

On the notebook. The word “hold” is underlined. Jack traces
the word with his finger.

CUT TO:

CLOSE UP:

Jack’s face flushing.

CUT TO:

INT. – NEW YORK APT – A FEW DAYS PRIOR

Split screen. Kim and Jack are both on the phone, with each
other, Kim on the left side of the screen and Jack on the
right. Kim is visibly angry, banging pots and pans around in
the kitchen, while Jack sits on the couch in his own
apartment, looking rather annoyed.

KIM
Where were you tonight?

JACK
Huh?

KIM
You no answer my phone calls all
night.

JACK
I told you, I was out with the
guys.

KIM
You lie. You always call when you
out with them.

JACK
Well, we were just down at the pub
watching the game. No big deal.

KIM
Yes big deal.

JACK
Babe, why would I lie?

KIM
Tell me where you really were.

JACK
Why would I lie to you?

A beat. Kim stops banging pots and pans and thinks about the
question, before responding.

KIM
You cheating, that’s why.

JACK
Okay, I’m not doing this. I’m
hanging up now.

KIM
It’s true!

JACK
You’re being ridiculous right now.

KIM
Me ridiculous!

JACK
You’re acting crazy. You know I’d
never cheat on you.

KIM
(Heavy accent)
Some young girl!

JACK
Some young girl? I don’t even know
any young girls. You want me to
call Dave up so you can talk to
him? This is absurd.

KIM
What’s absurd is you no calling me
for hours and hours while I wait
around for you.

JACK
How about you call me when you calm
down, ’cause I really can’t deal
with this.

KIM
I will not call you! You tell right
now.

JACK
You’re crazy!

KIM
You think this crazy? I’ll show
crazy.

JACK
What, I can’t even go have a drink
with the guys now? Why are you
being so possessive all the sudden?

A beat. Silence on the other end from Kim.

JACK
Kim? Can you stop please? This is
nuts.

KIM
I call you tomorrow.

Kim hangs up the phone. Jack rolls his eyes and hangs up as
well.

CUT TO:

INT. – NEW YORK APT – PRESENT DAY

Jack continues to study the notebook.

CUT TO:

CLOSE UP:

On the same page, next to “possessive” is the word
“resolve.” The word is stretched on the page, the “o”
oblong, the “v” wide and flat. There were two definitions
next to it, the first: to break up into separate elements or
parts. The second is written all in caps. It says, TO MAKE A
DECISION ABOUT, TO MAKE CLEAR.

CUT TO:

CLOSE UP:

Jack winces.

CUT TO:

INT. – NEW YORK APT – A FEW WEEKS PRIOR

Kim and Jack sit at the table in Kim’s studio apartment,
eating dinner and drinking red wine. Both are silent,
looking down as they quietly chew their food. Finally, Kim
looks up and glares at Jack. Jack feels Kim’s glare and
finally looks up at her.

JACK
What?

A beat.

JACK
What’s the death look for?

KIM
You know for what.

JACK
Not so sure…

KIM
The woman.

JACK
Jesus, Kim, again? What woman.
There is no other woman.

KIM
You know the woman.

JACK
(Angrily now)
There is no other woman!

KIM
Yes, other woman.

JACK
You’re acting crazy again. What’s
getting into you lately?

KIM
You know who I talk about.

JACK
Okay, I’ll play along.

A beat. Jack places his fork down on his plate and picks up
his wine glass and takes a sip. He puts it back down as he
savors the wine in his mouth. He swallows, and proceeds.

JACK
Does this woman have a name?

A beat. Kim also puts down her fork and picks up her own
wine glass. She takes the rest of the wine down in one large
gulp. She does not savor the taste, but quickly swallows it.
She puts the glass down and takes her time doing so. She’s
still glaring at Jack. She slowly smiles.

KIM
The woman who left you.

JACK
Oh, God, Kim. Do we have to talk
about this right now?

KIM
I want to know when.

JACK
I told you already. I don’t know.
It’s not that simple, okay. Can’t
you try to understand?

KIM
I no understand. Why not?

JACK
Because, things don’t work that
way, that’s why!

KIM
No? How they work?

JACK
God, a divorce takes time.

KIM
You take too much time. I waiting
around for you to divorce. I no
wait anymore.

JACK
You’re not waiting. I’m with you.
We’re together.

KIM
I want to start my life.

JACK
Well, don’t you think I do too?

A beat.

JACK
I’m just trying to resolve things.
I’m just trying to resolve things.
I need to resolve some issues
before I move on.

A beat. Kim does not respond.

CUT TO:

INT. – NEW YORK APT – PRESENT DAY

Jack flips to the last page of the notebook.

CUT TO:

CLOSE UP:

On page. The last word entered: “content.” It is written so
faintly.

CUT TO:

CLOSE UP:

Jack lifts the page up closer to his eyes and squints as he
tries to make out the definition.

CUT TO:

CLOSE UP:

Content: happy enough with what one has or is; not desiring
something more or different.

CUT TO:

CLOSE UP:

Jack smiles.

CUT TO:

INT. – NEW YORK APT – THE PREVIOUS NIGHT

Kim and Jack return to Kim’s apartment to the lights dimmed.
Kim walks in first and places her keys on the table close to
her. Jack comes up behind her and embraces her. The two
start to kiss, slow at first, then more passionately. Jack
lifts Kim up.

CUT TO:

INT. – KIM’S BEDROOM – SAME TIME

Jack gently places Kim down on the bed and begins undressing
her. He pauses and looks up at her and smiles.

KIM
What is it?

A beat.

JACK
Nothing.

A beat.

JACK
You’re perfect.

A beat. He leans down and begins kissing her again. He stops
again and continues to look at her.

KIM
There something wrong.

JACK
Nothing wrong at all. Nothing. I
feel so content.

CUT TO:

INT. – NEW YORK APT – PRESENT DAY

Jack closes the notebook and walks over to the lone window
in the apartment. He looks out the window and across at
another building. He watches people behind curtains, near
sinks, in bedrooms, getting dressed, watching television,
talking. He turns around when he hears the door of the
apartment crack open. He sees Kim walking in with a pizza
box in her arms. She sets the pizza down on the table and
begins removing her coat. Kim looks at Jack and smiles. Jack
is frozen in place. He fidgets, with his hands in his
pockets. He looks at her with love in his eyes. He begins to
move toward her, visibly scrambling to try and find the
right words to tell her he loves her.

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