Harbinger Vignette 2


“Each person’s life is made up of otherwise incidental events,

which are transformed into indelible memories to relive many times over

due to one phrase, one action, or one choice…

good or bad.”


A couple of couches are arranged around a television and fireplace in this dated, casual room. A palette of bright autumn foliage peeks through the deeply recessed windows. JOSEPH (early 20s) – a brown haired, brown eyed recent college graduate –  is sitting opposite a cathode-ray tube television which is PLAYING cartoons. He sits at the end of one couch sorting and folding clothes.

Around the corner and down a hallway laundry machines HUM and RUMBLE, processing loads since the last monthly visit home.

ELISE (mid 20s) – the curly headed, strawberry blonde, bright blue eyed, older sister to Joseph – TRODS down the steps to the den and slumps into the beige, overstuffed couch perpendicular to where Joseph is sitting. Cola beverage in hand, Elise SIPS between smirks at the TV.


How was the appointment?


Okay, I guess. They didn’t say much.


That’s probably a good thing, right? 


It’s pretty annoying actually.

Carnival-like MUSIC plays as the cartoon ends and changes over to iconic commercial ads aimed at a younger crowd – classic board games, fad food products, and now collectible toys.


They’re doing testing and x-rays of the glands around my neck and sternum. What do you think that could be…?


Well, there are lymph nodes in that area of the body – your body’s probably just fighting off something.


But this isn’t like when I had mono. What could they be looking for?


It could be anything…


If you have some idea of what it is, just tell me. Please.


You know I can’t stand not knowing!

JOSEPH (reluctantly)

Well…in areas where cells reproduce quickly and can more easily mutate that’s usually where they find cancer.

The laundry machine BUZZES and the rhythmic RUMBLING stops.



A mixture of snow and ice PECK at the window above the sink. The corners of the storm window are encrusted with a frosty glaze.  

Joseph is leaning against the kitchen counter CHATTING with his oldest sister ANN (late 20s), who has short, wavy, dark hair and greenish, brown eyes. Ann is seated at the kitchen table on the opposite side of the room from Joseph with a wall behind her.

Perpendicular to Ann, at the head of the table is their MOM (late 50s) – short stature, medium build, frosted hair, glasses and dark eyes – SIPPING from a coffee mug and slowly puffing a cigarette.


What are you going to do now that college is over?


The job market is tough, plus being an art major doesn’t help. But I’m still working at the picture framing shop. So, it feels sorta related.


Do they have health benefits there…?

All TALKING stops as ELISE enters the room. DAD (about 60) trails behind and hangs his heavy, tan winter parka in the hallway closet. Dad is bald with tight, gray tufts on the lower half of his head – he’s tall and lean with soft, pale blue eyes.

Elise gently PATS her keys and wallet onto the table, her hair dampened by the weather. She crosses her arms, in a self-embrace. Everyone else is QUIETLY waiting and staring. Ann gets up slowing, moving closer to Elise in anticipation.


The tests were positive – it’s lymphoma cancer…

Hugging and quiet SOBBING ensues. Dad finally makes his way into the kitchen.


They caught it early, so the prognosis is good…Treatments are improving all the time…Your cousin had this, too, and she’s recovered and doing fine now…



Serious, dark suits and uncomfortable dresses SHUFFLE in line to make their entry into the guestbook stationed in the foyer. Simple flower wreaths and candle holder sconces adorn the walls.

The building is centuries old, with its high ceilings, tall windows, exposed brick walls, great timber rafters, and classic wrought iron details.

Around the corner festive MUSIC and CHATTER fill the expansive hall where hundreds of cheery guests mingle.

ELISE, dressed in a lace and satin wedding gown, joyously greets attendees. She appears delicate and somewhat frail standing beside her substantially sized husband, J.T. (also in his mid 20s). J.T. boasts broad smiles and bellowing LAUGHTER, along with tight, fiery red locks of hair, bold spectacles, and a traditional long tail tuxedo.

To one side of the dance floor, a DJ (early 30s) operates his sound system. The MUSIC fades and the DJ pulls a microphone up to his face.


Hey folks! Let’s hear it again for the bride and groom – Elise and JT!!

The audience complies with CHEERS.


What a fantastic evening – before the night winds down, the groom has a few words he’d like to say…

J.T. strides over to the DJ who hands him a microphone. 


It’s wonderful to be surrounded tonight by our loving family and friends. Especially those that traveled from so far away. We want to thank you for joining us on this very special day. A day we weren’t quite sure would arrive.

(Clears his throat)

We appreciate your patience and gracious support as we rescheduled again…and again…so that Elise would be strong enough to enjoy it. Like they say – the third times a charm!

(Chuckles softly)

And it was worth it – just look at this beautiful bride, free from cancer!

Elise wipes her watery eyes as JT embraces her. Warm APPLAUSE rises from the crowd.

A woman about the same age as Elise, approaches the bride teary eyed with arms outstretched for a supportive hug. They embrace in celebration of surviving their common foe.

J.T. returns the microphone to the DJ.

DJ (O.S.)

And now we have even more reason to get up on that dance floor and celebrate tonight!

Dance MUSIC starts back up.



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