Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Bedtime Story



A street in an older neighbourhood. The houses are all over hundred years old. Many of the houses have large front porches. The street lights are on, casting orange light. No cars are on the road and no people are walking on the street. Only one house has an exterior light on.

A young MAN, in his mid-twenties, sits in an old ARMCHAIR on the lit PORCH. He is drinking a BEER and listening to the RADIO.

As we move closer, we see that he sits slumped in the CHAIR. He is attractive, but his face is pale and he has dark circles under his eyes. His skin glistens with sweat. He wears a faded t-shirt and shorts.

Another record-breaking day on the way. The daytime high will be thirty-five degrees, but with the humidity it will feel more like 50. We’re over 30 days into this heat wave and no relief in sight. Right now, it’s 25.

MAN shuts off the RADIO and sips his BEER. We hear CRICKETS and FROGS in the background. As MAN speaks, we begin to hear birds singing.

MAN (V.O.)
I hadn’t slept in weeks. All I could get were a few restless hours of not awake, not all the way asleep.


Life got strange. Out of focus and lacking all colour. All I could think about was sleep. The one thing I couldn’t get.


So I spent my nights watching the street and listening to the sounds of the river at the end of the street.

I learned what the sky looked like as night lightens towards day, that the birds sing loudest just before sunrise.


I waited for sleep or sunrise. Whichever came first.

MAN looks up the street. He sees a young WOMAN, also in her mid-twenties, walking slowly down the street.

She walks very slowly, with her body held very straight, like a dancer. She is beautiful. Between the orange glow of the STREETLIGHTS, she fades out of view. She wears pyjamas in a bright printed fabric. Her feet are bare. Her face is blank and her gaze is fixed forward. The MAN watches the WOMAN walk by.

MAN stands up and walks to the bottom step of the porch. He watches the WOMAN walk to the end of the street. As he watches, we see his face change from confusion to understanding.

MAN runs out into the street and past the WOMAN. He stands in front of her and places his hands on her shoulders. She stops walking, but her face remains blank and somewhat slack.

Hey. Wake up.

MAN shakes WOMAN gently. Her expression changes as she wakes up. She looks around as if unsure of where she is, but she is not afraid or startled.

I – uh – I, where am I?

Well, you’re on Knox Street. Almost at the river, actually. You were sleepwalking, I think. You just about went for a swim in the river.

I do that. Sleepwalk, I mean.

She smiles at MAN. Her smile is open and friendly.

Thanks for stopping me. Although, you know, a swim would be kind of nice in this heat. Don’t you think?

I guess, but not in there. Smell that? That dead smell? That’s the river. It stinks a bit more every day. I think it’s drying up. You’d end up more dirty than clean in that water.

They say nothing for a few beats. They stand on the street looking at each other. It is not an awkward pause. MAN appears to be sleepwalking now.

MAN becomes alert again and takes his hands from her shoulders.

Can I give you a ride home? Where do you live?

I’m over on Leslie. Usually, I don’t leave the yard, but sometimes – I walk a little farther. But I think this is the farthest I’ve ever gone.

Let me take you home.


The car is stopped. WOMAN is asleep with her head against the window. MAN watches her sleep for a few moments and then wakes her. She stretches and yawns.

We hear BIRDS singing loudly.

Sorry! Since the heat wave started, all I do is sleep. As soon as I sit still, I’m out.

She snaps her fingers.

Like that.

I wish I slept like that. Ever since it started, I’ve had the worst insomnia. Pills, booze, herbal teas, counting sheep, nothing works. Every night, I sleep less.

WOMAN takes his face in her hands and looks into his eyes. They are very close. They look as if they are about to kiss.

You’re the most exhausted person I’ve ever met. I feel sleepy just breathing the same air as you.

She sits back and pats his cheek. She undoes her seatbelt and gets out of the car. She leans in the door.

Good morning! Thanks for saving me from the river.

MAN watches as she walks away. We only see him watching her. We do not see her. He leans his head against the steering wheel.


MAN sits on porch in an armchair. He is looking at the street.

We hear CICADAS buzzing in the background. MAN is tired and sweaty.

WOMAN comes in from off frame. She moves quickly, bounding up the stairs. She carries a PILLOW. She is smiling. She is wearing different pyjamas, but these are also brightly coloured.

Hello, sleepy-head! Or should I say, sleepless-head?

Hi! How are you? Did you sleep OK once you got home?
(He is more energetic as he speaks to her.)
He stands up to greet her.

Yes. But you didn’t.
So I’m here to sleep with you.

MAN hesitates. He looks surprised. WOMAN walks past him and into the house.

Literally, I mean! Where’s your room?

MAN is confused. He pauses to think about what she means, but he’s too tired to understand. He shrugs his shoulders and follows her inside.


WOMAN makes the bed. She tucks sheets in and smooths the surface. She closes blinds so the room is dim. MAN watches her. Her PILLOW is on the bed.

There. The bed is very important. You should feel secure when you’re sleeping. It should feel like the safest place in the world. You should be able to slide into the sheets like a letter into an envelope.

I’m not sleeping because I don’t make my bed?

Well, it doesn’t help.
Now get in.

She past the bed firmly. MAN gets into the bed. WOMAN gets in beside him. She lies on her side, facing the wall. He lies on his back. His posture is stiff. He does not touch her. As she speaks, he follows her directions. She is relaxed.

Come closer. I want you to feel me breathing.
That’s right.
Now, put your arm around me. There.
Now, close your eyes.
Breathe in deeply.
Exhale slowly.
Relax your muscles. One at a time. Let it go. Feel how relaxed I am? How loose? Melt into the bed. Let it hold you up.

Now what?

Pay attention to how I breathe. Breathe with me.

Her voice is slowing her words are harder to hear.

Breathe slowly and relax.

We hear them both breathing together. Their breathing slows as they sleep. We watch them sleep for several moments.


We hear RAIN outside. LIGHTNING lights the room bright blue intermittently. THUNDER rumbles in the distance.

MAN is alone in the bed. His eyes open. He sees that she is gone. Her PILLOW is also gone. For a moment, he lies still, looking at where she was. He appears lost for a moment.

He sits up, yawns and stretches. As he gets out of bed, we see the change in his appearance. He looks relaxed, but awake. He lays his hand on the place in the bed where she was and smiles.


The RAIN continues. MAN is standing on the porch looking at the street. He holds his hand to catch rain. He is smiling.

We hear the RADIO faintly:

As a cold front moves in, we’ll have rain and thunder for most of the evening.

Tomorrow’s high is 23 degrees. Right now, outside our studio, it’s 20 and rain.
We hear faint music on the RADIO.

For the first time in weeks, I could sleep.
For the first time, I was awake.


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