[Writer's Block]

Author | Brendan Walsh

About the Play...
*If you read only one note: This play follows two interconnected stories*
A tale of love and loss in a politically charged, plague-riddled, 18th century France.
and
The story of its author, and his journey to complete his work.

Cast:
MATT: A writer first, person second. Awkward. 26?
CHELSEA: An actress with an attitude. Forward. 24.
*THOMAS: A freedom fighter. Young.
*DELL: A proprietor of beauty. Older.
*MINNIE: A truth-teller, even when it hurts. Young.

*These characters - ‘the figurines’ - are Matt’s creations.
Each of them is a piece of a puzzle. Together, they
represent his perfect world. But without the final piece,
they don’t quite live up to their ideals.
They may also play characters in the real world - a
bartender, an editor, etc. The minor parts are loosely
connected to ‘the figurines’, but it’s not a strong
thematic tie. Think of them as a greek chorus of sorts.
(Sue me Paula Vogel!)

These characters can be cast in any way one would like.
It’s a play about love. That is universal.
(Though CHELSEA should look good in red)

Place:
This is Matt’s story: as such, it is set in Matt’s mind.
(Also: a bar, a publishing office, and revolutionary
France)

Time:
Each story is chronological, but time passes differently
between the two worlds. There are scenes almost outside of
time, marked by the ‘blank space’

1.        INT. BLANK SPACE

ACT 1: Another college try.

MATT - 26. Nervous. Alone. He stands center stage with a
decorative red journal in his hands. As he opens the book,
lights raise on the stage. Matt has a very slight accent -
just enough to separate him from the rest of the cast.

The room is dark, characterized only by grey silhouettes of
every-day objects and by large scraps of paper floating
through the air. They read things like "INT. stage -
AFTERNOON," "THOMAS, a young frenchman with a passion
for..." "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

We are currently inside of Matt's mind. He's writing a
play, and he's having a hard time at it. At the opening,
he's talking to the audience as if they were his own mind.

MATT
(seeing audience)
Hi! Er... welcome, I should say. Today, I'm working on something great. Right here. Right now. We've got a wonderful evening planned out for all of you and - oh! I should say something first. Hello. Who am I? What am I doing here? I'm Matt. I wrote this show and—um, well—I suppose I am writing this show.
(nervous laugh)
Wow. Am I really just talking to myself? I guess that's kind of what writing is. So... I'm here to write.

A desk on stage opens, and an assortment of strange figures
step out.

THOMAS
To write about freedom.

DELL
Beauty.

MINNIE
Truth.

MATT
(as if running it through his head for the 100th time)
And love, yes. That's the inspiration—to remember love. My play takes place in the streets of france during the revolution—oh, there's also a plauge. Yeah. I call it: Cette eau Courante, or "this running water." Something to do with love running to the sea, yes? Something fleeting.

DELL
(referencing himself)
It stars Baron Buckner: The devilishly handsome Lord of Bordeaux.

MINNIE
His straightforward scribe, Minnie Minderberg.

THOMAS
And the daring revolutionary, Thomas Valentine.

MATT
...the only problem is that it's incomplete. I couldn't bring these characters to life. I was missing something. This is what we have so far.

Getting the cue, the others hurry to positions onstage.

MATT
In tonight's play, these zany characters will take on a world wrought by plague, madness, and love to save France.
(with gusto)
Without further ado, I give you act 1 of Cette Eau Courante!

2.        INT. BUCKNER ESTATE

Matt raises his book into the air and walks off stage. The "ideas" floating in the air receed, the grey boxes are turned, and a world of vivid color comes to life. We are suddenly in 18th century France. Matt sits at his desk with his book, reading along as the story unfolds before him.

THOMAS
(in character)
Baron Buckner. Listen. Do you hear the people scream?

DELL
Yes, Valentine. I hear. I hear the masses lusting for life. I hear the sounds of the dead scraping toward my estate. I hear France falling.

THOMAS
Then you must lend me your ear, Baron. And then your heart. Can you not help these people. They've lived for you, worked for you. Will you truly make them die for you

DELL
It seems that you are yet immature, Thomas Valentine. You betray the good King - for 'freedom'—and then ask me for help?

THOMAS
Sir, you have the—

DELL
I know what I have. Minnie, take note of this.
(almost musically)
There's not a single frank or a penny in the bank that I don't count. Not a minute of my hour or a portion of my power you can surmount. So I take it in your best interest, you forget what you have witnessed, and you ditch your revolution and GET OUT.

MINNIE
I'll show you to the door.
Valentinue.

THOMAS
You will regret what you are doing on this day, Baron. The people will remember. They cannot forget, even in death.

Minnie and THOMAS exit to the hallway, lights dim on Dell.

MINNIE
Are you mad, THOMAS? You know the Baron could have you killed.

THOMAS
He could, yes. But I know he loves the people. He loves them...like I do you.

MINNIE
THOMAS, no. Not here. You can't simply say things like that. It's absurd, unreasonable...it's so cute.

THOMAS
(smiling)
Minnie, come with me. We—us—the people of France—we're bound by love.

MINNIE
You know the truth, Tom? The truth is that doesn't matter. You're living in a world in your mind. You think that love will free us all? There are thousands dying in the streets every day. A country falling apart. War—and literal plague—plague our world.

THOMAS
I know that love can save us. I know that because I met you, Minnie. Because for you I have—

Lights shut off on the Estate, leaving only Matt's desk illuminated by spotlight.

3.        INT. BLANK SPACE

Matt stands up from his desk.

MATT
(continuing THOMAS' line)
a love that saved my life.

Matt walks down a ramp from his desk. As he moves, the world completely transitions from the Estate to the Editing Room.

3A.      INT. EDITORS ROOM

The world looks very similar to 'Blank Space', only without the ambient text. We're in a grey, sterile room. There's a large oak desk, with a powerful figure behind it. This is the editor (played by Dell).

MATT
What do you think?

EDITOR
It's a good pitch. I think you're getting close to something great. Tell you what—you fix this up a little better, and we'll get you some money. Can't promise a lot, but I doubt you need much with clothes like that. Now get out of here.

He slams a script into Matt's chest. The editor and his desk rotate around, revealing the bar.

4.        INT. BAR

The bar is a dimly lit, dingy hang-out. There are a couple neon signs designating it as a bar, but things are mostly grey. Behind the bar stands a disgruntled bartneder (played by Minnie).

MATT
With clothes like these? What does that even mean?
(beat)
Say, Could I get a drink?

BARTENDER
Yes. That's what we do here.

MATT
Gotcha.

Chelsea sits next to Matt.

CHELSEA
Could I get a drink?

BARTENDER
What the fuck is going on today?

CHELSEA
Sorry?

BARTENDER
Yes, you can get a drink. That's what we do here.

CHELSEA
Cool. I'm an actress.

BARTENDER
Great. I'm an indifferent bartender with 4 estranged kids and a wife in prison. But I'm glad to hear you're making it big in Boston.

CHELSEA
Oh, I'm not really "making it big," I'm just an actress.

BARTENDER
(handing her a drink)
Alright, look. I'm not here to talk. I'm here to give sorry fucks like you something to forget your shitty lives. Okay? You want to talk to someone, talk to him. Not me. Him. You two fucks come in here every fucking day and fucking say fuck-all that matters. alright? I don't want to hear it. Not me. Him, maybe? Maybe he can use it for inspiration for his fucking fanfiction he's writing over there. Fuck if I know. Got it? Not. Me. Him.

CHELSEA
Sorry, I didn't mean to—

BARTENDER
Not. Me.

He slams two drinks down. Matt's been watching this interation, jaw on the floor. He's still holding his script.

CHELSEA
Well, hi. I'm Chelsea. I'm an actress.

MATT
I heard. That's really neat.

CHELSEA
And you're a writer? Of fanfiction?

MATT
No! I mean, yes. Wait. No. A writer, yes. No fanfiction.

CHELSEA
Oh how neat—are you writing anything right now?

MATT
Uh, yeah I'm working on something.

CHELSEA
What's it about?

MATT
Love.

CHELSEA
Love?

MATT
Sort of. It's about romanticism in France during the plague.

CHELSEA
But it's about love?

MATT
What isn't?

CHELSEA
Okay, you've got me hooked.

MATT
I did...what now?

CHELSEA
Any neat characters in your play?

MATT
Well, a couple. I'd hope.

CHELSEA
Anyone like me?

MATT
Not quite.

CHELSEA
There's your problem.

Matt is nearly lost in thought. Chelsea smiles, pays her tab, and leaves. Matt noticies just too late.

MATT
Hey! Wait. Dangit. Did you hear her?

BARTENDER
...

MATT
Yeah. Thanks.

5.        INT. BUCKNER ESTATE

Dell and Minnie are in the middle of a discussion.

DELL
Really? With a Pineapple?

MINNIE
Yes, sir. Really.

DELL
That is truly quite surprising. But, in a way, I think it's beautiful. Life always finds a way! Ha-ha!

MINNIE
Yes, sir. Indeed it does.
(she exits)

DELL
Some say that art imitates life. I find that sometimes, it goes the other way around. Imagine the simple things in our world: A bee softly caressing a flower with its touch; a mother looking upon her child; the moonlight reflecting off the water unto lovers in embrace. These stills are humdrum, common. Yet in their plain nature lies something inexplicably beautiful. They simply exist. One doesn't need to read between the lines when the delicacy of it all can be seen without so much as moving the eyes. There is a charm in its restraint—like a king showing mercy to his people.

MINNIE
Sir. There's someone here to see you.

DELL
(reflecting a moment)
Yes. Send them in.

MINNIE
She says her name is Ms. Chelsea—

CHELSEA
Viscounttess Chelsea Turner. It's a pleasure.

Cheslea is an overdramatic character. She seems to be loosely based on the woman from the bar - it's as if one took all of the best qualities and multiplied them tenfold. She holds herself to the highest standard and is willing to take what she wants.

DELL
Oh dear, to what do I owe the honor—

CHELSEA
Please, spare the formalities.

DELL
I meant only to ask why a woman of your stature would visit during this troubled time.

CHELSEA
Well if you must know, the reason for my visit lies in rumors centered around your estate. Are you familiar with what I speak of?

DELL
Sorry, I don't believe I am. I suppose you might have a bad source—

CHELSEA
The I suppose that you've never heard of the revolutionary Thomas Valentine

DELL
No. I've heard of him before.

CHELSEA
Then surely you're aware of the time he spends on your premises plotting the overthrow of the king?

Minnie's eyes widen and she sneaks out the door, unnoticed by the nobles.

DELL
I am very much unaquainted with this information.
(beat)
Besides, there's nothing a peasant could do alone. The revolution lies with the nobility. Not the likes of a Valentine. Your conduct, Madame Turner—

CHELSEA
Viscountess.

DELL
Your conduct, Viscountess, is boorish and—frankly—heresay. If you continue to persue this subject I will have no choice but to report you to the Estates General as an enemy of the people. I wish you the most palcid return home to England and invite you to never return to France. Thank you, and good-bye.

CHELSEA
I appreciate your concern—and the monologue, Baron.
(beat)
I come with support. From the English crown and parliament. The French nobility has been denied its liberties for far too long. Is your King still 'the first among equals?' Or is he a monument to corruption and greed?

DELL
I—I would never betray my country.

CHELSEA
You betray your people through your inaction.

Chelsea unsheathes an ornate sabre, inspecting it.

CHELSEA
This sword was used to cut down the King in the Glorious Revolution. It has been passed down my family line for generations. It is called "Le bec du corbeau," meaning "THE CROW'S BEAK" But I'm sure you can translate. This sword was last used was one-hundred years ago. Have the French learned nothing from us in a century?

Chelsea extends her arm, pointedly. As she does so, the oak doors of the chamber open and Thomas bursts through the door, trailed by Minnie. He has a sword in hand and lunges at the Viscountess. She parries it deftly and disarms Thomas.

CHELSEA
And you are?

THOMAS
Please. The Baron knows nothing of the revolutionary front. We've been using his estate as refuge without his consent. Spare him. You're looking for me.

CHELSEA
Mounseir Valentine? In that case, I withdraw my Support from the Baron and instead offer it to your cause.

THOMAS
Your support?

MINNIE
Your support?

DELL
Your support?

CHELSEA
My support. Myself and the power bestowed upon me by the English parliament. You've heard of King Louis' recent decree, no doubt?

THOMAS
Is there another?

CHELSEA
Yes. Any nobles attempting to usurp power are to have their privilege removed. The decree comes into effect next Sunday. In other words—

DELL
We have ten days.

THOMAS
Baron—I was sure you sided against the revolution?

DELL
A bloody revolt is disgusting, yes. But what's worse is for a king to take a despotic stand against nature. Minnie. Write Valentine a writ of my support. Lend the full power of the estate to their cause.

MINNIE
Yes sir!

DELL
And Minnie?

MINNIE
Yes?

DELL
Don't go behind my back again.

MINNIE
(smiling)
Yes sir.

Minnie exits along with THOMAS. The stage fades to black except for a large oak desk.

6.       INT. EDITORS ROOM

MATT
What do you think?

LOUIS
I think it's fine.

MATT
That's all?

LOUIS
Look, Matt. You've written some great stuff. But it just hasn't been the same recently. Maybe take some time to get over whatever shtick you're in, or get out. Find a day job. Right now, you're not pushing out the same quality. Sorry kid. I know it's been hard for you. But, come on.

MATT
Sir—I've put a lot of work into this.

LOUIS
Yeah, and I put a lot of work into my shit every morning. Prick. We all do.

MATT

LOUIS
I'll give you—ten days to fix it up. Don't disappoint me.

Louis exits.

MATT
Yep. Disappointment. I sure do hear that a lot. Usually I just say it to myself though.

He opens his book.

MATT
Viscountess Chelsea Turner. Now that's a cool character. I could use some more of that right now.
(imitating)
"No, Mr. Editor. I'm a hot spy from England and YOU'RE the prick!" Yeah. I could use a lot more of that.

Matt realizes.

MATT
Oh, wait. He scrambles to get ready.

7.        INT. BLANK SPACE

Lights down on Matt, who hastily gets his papers together. The speaking in this scene is done by the Chorus Members, but they have no distinct charactaristics.

CHORUS 1
So there he was. Looking for Love.

CHORUS 2
A vain pursuit, I must say.

CHORUS 3
Quite.

CHORUS 2
And so the hammer of fate fell upon our hero—

CHORUS 1
—thrust into the shoes of those adventurers he loved so dearly—

CHORUS 3
Matt had no choice but to play into the great game of life.

CHORUS 2
For once, he would not be writing his own story.

CHORUS 1
He would become it.

8.        INT. BAR

Matt walks into the bar. Things look similar, but not quite the same. Something is missing. The color (of the neon signs / other patrons) is distinctively toned down. He sits by the bartender, played again by Minnie. A moment passes.

BARTENDER
You gonna get something?

MATT
Yeah—uh. A drink? Isn't that what you sell here?

BARTENDER
Funny guy.

MATT
Say, have you seen that girl around lately?

BARTENDER
Which one? Oh, the girl? Yeah. She's right over there.

He points to an edgy goth in the corner. She's seducing a businessman. (These two could be played by Thomas/Dell) Matt stares.

MATT
Wait, no. not her. I mean the one from the other night? Chelsea?

BARTENDER
Oh yeah, the one who wouldn't stop talking?

MATT
(chuckle)
Yeah, that's the one.

BARTENDER
Because if I remember correctly, you're the one who wouldn't shut up. I mean, how interesting is Louis XVI? Get a life, sheesh.

MATT
Well that's kind of what I'm trying to do here.

BARTENDER
Living? Ha. You think the life you want is just gonna walk through those doors and propose to you?

MATT
Well, if this isn't living, I guess I—

His voice trails off as he sees Cheslea, wearing all red, slip through the crowd. She dips behind a wall. Matt looks like he'd seen a ghost.

MATT
Did you see that?

BARTENDER
(blankly)
Nope.

Matt throws down a couple bills on the counter and gets up to follow Chelsea down the bar.

8A.      THE CHASE

We're in the chase sequence. Matt gollows the girl in the red dress around endless grey pillars. Each time she appears, something is different; more perfect. Each time she disappears, Matt grows more anxious. Hints of France appear and disappear like lightning bugs at night. Whenever she appears, she might say something seductively. At first, it would be a hint: "come and get it," "what are you waiting for?" Eventually, it would build to a siren-like call. Each interaction between Matt and the woman in Red lasts for a few beats: enough time for recognition, understanding, and reaction. As the energy builds, the scene slowly shifts bit-by-bit from the Bar to the world of the Revolution. Colors—and eventually figures appear.

CHORUS 2
You'll never find her.

CHORUS 3
You think she's the one?

CHORUS 1
Keep running from the truth.

The figures continue to ad-lib insults/deragatory comments. They are very self-defeating. "What are you doing?/You can't do this" etc. Days on a calandar go flying by. The cacophony of all the screaming voices grows until it's almost white noise. A tone rings out, silencing everything, as Matt finds himself alone on stage with Cheslea.

9.        INT. BAR

But she's not the woman in the red dress. She's more real; almost bland by comparison. The tone begins to fade.

MATT
Cheslea?

CHELSEA
I'm sorry, who are you? It looks like she had a bad night.

MATT
Matt. From the bar? We—

CHELSEA
Yeah, I remember you. Do you...need something?

MATT
Well, you know. I think you're really great.

CHELSEA
Okay.

MATT
And—I guess I was just wondering if you might want to go on a date sometime?

CHELSEA
No.

MATT
(double take)
What?

CHELSEA
See, I don't go on dates with strangers.

MATT
Oh. Right. Makes sense, sorry about—

CHELSEA
I'm kidding, you idiot! How else am I supposed to get to know you? That doesn't make sense.

Chelsea grabs Matt's arm and they walk together.

10.       INT. BUCKNER ESTATE

The Baron, Thomas, and Minnie are gathered around a long table, filled with papers and books. A single light shines overhead. The planning room.

DELL
...and you think that these guards will just lie down and let us in?

THOMAS
No. Not all of them, at least. We've got a couple guys stationed on the inside of the hospital. Maybe—

MINNIE
—Maybe we attack on a low day. Get some of our inside men to distract the others. If they play their cards right, we'll only have to deal with half of the security force.

DELL
Half of them is still too many.

THOMAS
We have more than enough bullets for those guards.

MINNIE
With respect, I think that both of you are simply not thinking this through. We should try this without killing anyone. Remember, we're liberating medicine for the people. No lives should be lost here—only saved.

THOMAS
Then what do you suggest?

MINNIE
I suggest that we find a way to lure the guards out of the hospital.

DELL
And how might we do such a thing?

MINNIE
The hospital is a place for the sick, no? Rumor has it—there's a certain
(nudge nudge)
contagious disease running through the facilities. If the guards found out, I think they'd be more than happy to take a leave of absence.

DELL
...

THOMAS
...

TOGETHER
(ad-lib)
Oh, yes. Yes of couse, that's what I was thinking...

MINNIE
Well, gentlemen, I think that we've got a lot of work ahead. For France.

ALL
To France!

11.        INT. DINER

A diner. Simple. A hint of romance. However, things are not as cherry as it might seem. A storm brews outside. The two laugh as the lights come up.

CHELSEA
Here's one: What do you call a fake noodle?

MATT

CHELSEA
An impasta!

MATT
Ah, yes. That's a good joke...about pasta.

CHELSEA
Have you ever seen the lady and the tramp?

MATT
You know, I have not.

CHELSEA
I didn't know—that's why I asked.

MATT
Oh, I meant that as a transition... thing. Whew.

CHELSEA
Oohokay.

TOGETHER
So- oh. No. You go first. (I was just/well I was)

A moment, they wait.

CHELSEA
Hows your writing coming along?

MATT
It's coming...haha. It's at a little bit of a holdup.

CHELSEA
And what's that?

MATT
I guess it's not what I originally...expected.

There's an uncomfortable pause where neither person knows what to say. This must be the most awkward moment in the entire show.

MATT
(exhales sharply though nose. beat.)
Check, please.

12.       EXT. STREETS

The stage opens on the blank space. Empty. Dark. This part of the story can be told exclusively through sound and light, but is up to interpretation. Invisible footsteps prance across the stage. THOMAS's voice rolls across a set of troops, hiding in plain sight. A drizzle of rain begins.

THOMAS
According to the inside man, these two guards are the only barrier on this entrance. Once we're in, we're safe. The rain will hide our escape.

Several other voices could be included here - as long as they're distinct from our cast.

VOICE
Got it, boss.

THOMAS
You take the left, I'll take the right.

VOICE
Sir.

The guards are grabbed, strangled, and taken to the ground.

THOMAS
Easy. Men, move in. Three doors on the left.

Armed men sneak into the building ahead. Thunder rolls across the field.

MINNIE
I'll go with them—your men would mistake blood for wine.

THOMAS
Minnie, no.

MINNIE
Who's behind all this? That's what I thought. Plus, it would be nice to get out of the rain.

THOMAS
You're right. Just wait one more second.

MINNIE
For?

THOMAS kisses Minnie. They embrace. Minnie's footsteps dissapear into the building. Moments pass, with just the rain and thunder. The calm before the storm.

A gunshot rings out. beat. Then another. More follow. Screams. THOMAS tries for he door. It's locked. A fire begins to rage through the building.

THOMAS
Open the door! Now! Minnie?

Soldiers march to one side of the stage. THE COMMANDER yells something in French. (Abattre tous les derniers! A bas les révolutionnaires!) THOMAS kicks open the door as the army surrounds the hospital. He runs through a hallway, yelling for Minnie.

MINNIE
THOMAS! Thank god. It was a trap. They knew. They've been waiting. The men...they were locked in the room. Burned. Shot.

THOMAS
No.

MINNIE
We've got to get out of here, right now. We should have known/it's my fault. I'm so sorry. I'm sosorry. Sosorrysorrysorrysor—

A final gunshot. Silence. Minnie lets out a scream that transitions into a sharp thunderbolt. The sounds fade back to the rain, the battle seems miles away.

LOUIS
Matt. Ten days. You've got ten days to finish this.

DELL
THOMAS. You have but a moment to save France. Take it.

Then, a door is kicked open - light floods the stage through a frame. A sillhouette steps through: THOMAS. Minnie is slung over his shoulder. Screams and gunfire pour through the open doorway. He lays her on the center stage.

THOMAS
We need a medic. Now. WE NEED A MEDIC!

The sounds of soldiers running across the stage should be heard, though there is nobody there. Marching. Panting. Chaos. THOMAS and Minnie are lost amongst a sea of indifference.

MINNIE
THOMAS? What happened. She doesn't look so hot. He knows it.

THOMAS
We...we won. The battle still rages on.

MINNIE
But—

THOMAS
No. You did it. This is our first step.

MINNIE
I don't feel so good, Thomas.

THOMAS
I love you so much.

MINNIE
I had a dream that they got me.

THOMAS
It's just a dream, Min.

MINNIE
It's so cold.

THOMAS
It's just a dream.

MINNIE
Yeah. But I'm glad you were in it.

THOMAS
Me too.

MINNIE

THOMAS
Minnie?

End of act 1.

13.      INT. BAR

The curtain opens with Matt sitting at the bar. Disillusioned. The bar is completely empty. He takes a long drink.

MATT
What the fuck am I even doing here? Dell enters the bar.

DELL
What was that?

MATT
What am I doing here? Why am I—

DELL
You just got caught up in life. Chasing love, I guess.

MATT
(beat)
I was chasing Chelsea.

DELL
Same thing.
(beat)
Look, Matt. I know you're in a bad place right now—

MATT
You don't know

DELL
I know that you're sad enough to conjure me here. And I know that you already know what I'm about to tell you. But that doesn't mean I shouldn't say it.

MATT
Stop.

DELL
Matthew.

MATT
Jesus Christ, Dell. I'm not going to get a lecture from one of my own stupid characters.

DELL
You're after the wrong thing here. She's a person. You fell in love with an idea. But that's just a lie—

MATT
How fucking depressed am I?

DELL
You're not depressed, Matt. Quit acting like it. Life threw you a curveball, sure, but—

MATT
Life threw me out. It took my whole career, my stories, my dreams—and fucking kicked them to the curb. I can write fucking stories, but I can't live a life. Do you even get that?

DELL
So then listen to one of your stories, Matt. There's a solution to this whole thing that you're not seeing.

MATT
And what is that?

DELL
You'll never know unless you start writing.

Dell smiles. He hands Matt a pen.

14.       INT. BLANK SPACE

Matt starts to write. He really means it this time. The characters in this scene should be more passionate than ever before.

MATT
(writing aloud)
Love is a painting. You start with a picture in your head. And it all goes well until someone else starts painting on your canvas. So you work with them. You paint with passion, and connection and warmth. Each stroke is a moment. And when hundreds and thousands and hundreds of thousands of those little moments come together, the colors burst and pop and dazzle. Together, you made something that’s more than yourself. Something that you can never finish because the beauty comes from the act of creating—not the image itself. And so you keep brushing.

Lights on THOMAS. He's standing over Minnie's grave.

THOMAS
...how do I avenge a love lost? Three years of life—of love. Three years of planning thrown to the wind. One change of plans. One wild storm of love and hate and guilt and chance—one moment of weakness. And it all comes falling down. And then, what? What are you left with? What did I earn from all of that?

TOGETHER
A picture of the past. A memory. Because a painting is just a memory on a canvas.

THOMAS
So what?

MATT
What if the painting is finally finished?

THOMAS
What if the paint's run dry?

MATT
What if there's no hand left to hold the brush?

TOGETHER
Do we keep painting?

MATT
Do we keep doing this?

THOMAS
Can you paint alone again?

MATT
I was hoping you'd know.

TOGETHER
Like (I'd/You'd) know more than me.
(beat)
I just know it hurts.

THOMAS
Because I loved her. And you wrote her. And you took her from me. Why?

MATT
(yelling)
Because I used to know a girl. A girl in a red dress. And we painted together for so long. Maybe we painted France. Maybe we painted a whole world together. And maybe, when she left... she took the painting with her.

Matt turns to THOMAS, but he's gone.

MATT
...

15.       INT. BUCKNER ESTATE

Minnie wears all grey. She's alone, near the fire.

MATT
Hello?

MINNIE
What are you doing here?

MATT
I guess I'm making the rounds.

MINNIE
With a dead person?

MATT
A fictional dead person. You know I can't bring everyone back to life.

MINNIE
But you'd want to?

MATT

MINNIE
Yeah. But you're not going to bring her back. Even here.

MATT
I tried

MINNIE
I know you did. But that doesn't really work, does it?

MATT
She was really perfect here, wasn't she?

MINNIE
She was really a bit much. I don't know what you see in her. Saw.

MATT
I don't remember. Can you believe that? I don't remember.

MINNIE
You remember the end.

MATT
Yes.
(beat)
Hey. How do I finish this?

MINNIE
The story?

MATT
Yeah. I guess.

MINNIE
If you want to go shakespeare on it, we can all die. I'm already down.

MATT
Thanks for the offer.

MINNIE
It's not an offer. You killed me off like 10 minutes ago.

MATT
Right.

MINNIE
You know what I think, Matt?

MATT
Do I want the advice of a dead person?

MINNIE
Things are going to look up. You're a good man. Maybe your heart just isn't in the right place. But at least it's still beating, eh?

MATT
Yeah. Thanks.

MINNIE
And Matt? You never write a character who isn't part of you. Understand that.

16.       INT. BLANK SPACE

Matt stands alone. No fancy tricks, no intricate stage—just a blank theatre. He holds his book.

MATT
I finished the story. I wrote the whole damn thing out. It's all right here. Great. Now what? I send it into the editor, he reads it, sends it back, I change some things, and the process starts over again. When does it stop being mine? This show wasn't supposed to happen like this. There wasn't going to be any death. There didn't need to be any more pain.

Matt opens his book.

It was escape. Right? This whole fucking thing was escape. And for just a moment—for just a page or two—I was free. I had my own world, and it was full and complete and tough—it was always looking up, looking forward. I was always looking forward.

But I guess the past has a way of outpacing you. You don't need to turn around. It catches up.
You see it even when you're looking forward.
You remember when the nights lasted forever

and a hand made the coldest nights warm.
When everything fit like a glove
And you knew who you were

MATT (CONT'D)
The more I write
The less I remember
The more things change
Details: Colors, words

The hand slowly stops squeezing back

But you can never let go.

Matt drops the book to the floor.

MATT
They were just a part of me. If I don't get a happy ending, why should they?

Lights open on Thomas, then Minnie, then Dell.

THOMAS
(timid)
For their Freedom?

MINNIE
So they might know the truth—

DELL
...that life is always beautiful.

MATT
The woman in the red dress appears behind Matt.

WOMAN
And Love can never be forgotten.

Matt looks away. He doesn't want to face the past.

WOMAN
You always wanted to live in this romantic world, where love is timeless and truthful. But you don't, not anymore. You looked up from your story and you faced the real world. We all do that.
You live in the real world, where shattered dreams lie in thousands of lifeless eyes.
But you always had life in your eyes. You used to give it to me. Now you can give it to them. You live in this world, but you give life to theirs.

WOMAN (CONT'D)
Will you play the same hand of fate?

MATT
(long beat)
Then they find a way.

17.       EXT. STREETS

Suddenly we're back in the revolution. Thomas is holding Minnie in his arms. Matt stands in the midst of chaos.

THOMAS
MEDIC! We need a medic, right now!

MINNIE
Thomas, What happened?

The scene plays out just like last time.

THOMAS
We won.

MINNIE
I had a dream that they got me.

THOMAS
It's just a dream, Min.

MINNIE
It's so cold.

THOMAS
It's just a dream.

MINNIE
Yeah? I'm glad you were in it.

THOMAS
Me too.

MATT
The lights begin to fade from her eyes. But she looks up.

MINNIE
Thomas?

MATT
She holds on.

THOMAS
Yes?

MINNIE
I love you.

THOMAS
I lov—

They kiss passionately.

MINNIE
If this is a dream, I'm not waking up.

THOMAS
Minnie!

MATT
But they're not through just yet.

King Louis Enters - He's an abominable monster of a king: Did he eat his way to power?

LOUIS
You think this is pain? The fight isn't over yet! I will revel in your misery!

He pulls out an ornate sabre. As deadly as the Guillotine.

MINNIE
Thomas

THOMAS
Don't worry about me. Somebody, get her out of here!

MATT
It would be my pleasure.

Matt helps Minnie up and away while Thomas approaches Louis.

THOMAS
I'm not letting you take everything from me. Not again.

LOUIS
Why must you delay actions with words? En Garde!

Thomas reaches for a sword. Nothing.

MATT
But just in the knick of time, the Viscountess returns.

Chelsea is a little worse for wear. She smiles, and holds out THE CROWS'S BEAK.

CHELSEA
Thomas! You might want this.

MATT
Thomas takes the sword as she collapses. The istrument of revolution is in his hands. He looks down the finely crafted blade and smirks, cooly.

he does so.

THOMAS
Tyranny ends tonight. EN GARDE!

The fight begins! Thrusts, parries, and ripostes galore. The king moves with a terrifying agility for such a large opponent. Thomas fights as hard as he can, but alone, he is overcome. The Beak is disarmed from his hands and Thomas is thrown to the ground. The king looms over, sword to throat.

LOUIS
It looks like it's all over now, Boy.

MATT
Not so fast. Thomas reaches into his pocket and pulls out his trusty pen!

Thomas squirts ink all over the king's face.

LOUIS
Oof! Ouch! My eyes!

Thomas kicks the king, leaps off the ground, pulls the royal cape over the king's head, and holds a sword to his chest.

THOMAS
Pen passant. Checkmate.

Poke!
The king pops like a balloon! He lets off a couple choice words before running offstage, sword still in his side.

THOMAS
And I thought we were revolting.

The crowd cheers! Enemy soldiers stand down, Minnie limps over and embraces Thomas. Suddenly the stage is blue, frozen in a still. Except for Matt. He's hit with a pink special.

MATT
This is nice, isn't it?

Matt is free to move around the frozen stage in this moment. He inspects every last bit of the celebration, content and nostalgic. He forces a smile before looking down at his book. He writes one last note.

MATT
"This is their happily ever after."
(beat)
I guess that's it.
With that, they're done. They keep this forever. This moment of resolution is the rest of their life. They get to have what we never can: a real, cathartic ending. We keep on going, creating, living on after the curtain call. But even that is temporary. They live this moment forever. I guess I do now, too. I'm just part of the page.

MATT (CONT'D)
(a bittersweet laugh)
I couldn't be happier for them.

He closes his book for the last time.

MATT
You deserved this. Take a bow. Goodnight, everyone. Goodnight.

He takes a very small bow.

MATT
This is nice.

END OF PLAY


About the Author | Brendan Walsh is an amateur writer, but a long-time fan of words. He's currently a Plan II student working on a creative writing certificate from UT Austin. When he's not involved in academia, he can be found behind the camera or on the stage, balancing art and angst on a razor-sharp edge. Thanks for reading.