Harbinger Vignette 3

FADE TO:

INT. JUNE’S APARTMENT – EVENING

JUNE (mid 20s), a slender, graceful woman in her mid twenties, is nestled on a couch next to Joseph, dressed in sweatpants, and picking through a bowl of popcorn. There’s an historical period drama movie playing on the TV. She releases a heavy SIGH.

JOSEPH

Something the matter with the popcorn?

JUNE

No. It’s good. That’s not it.

June pokes around at her snack, staring blankly into space instead of watching the movie they picked out.

JOSEPH

What is it then?

JUNE

I guess I’m just tired of feeling so exhausted all the time.

JOSEPH

Maybe more rest or a new bed would help?

JUNE

No, it’s not that. It doesn’t matter how much sleep I get – I just feel weak and worn down.

JOSEPH

Ah. Well, you do keep busy all day.

Joseph finishes the last bite of his snack. June still has more than half of hers remaining.

JUNE

That’s because I’m afraid that if I stop for a moment I won’t be able to get up again. If I stay in one position for longer than 15 minutes my joints get really stiff. And my fingers get numb sometimes. 

JOSEPH

I had no idea it was that bad. The doctors don’t have a clue?

JUNE

This has been going on since high school. They think I’m making it up – like it’s just in my head and I’m looking for attention.

JOSEPH

You need to see other doctors. I can say for certain you’re not looking for attention. 

Joseph gets up to clear his mostly empty bowl and glass from the coffee table. 

JOSEPH (CONT’D)

And that thing that happens with your hands turning blue – isn’t just in your imagination. Boy, it just seems like your whole body is out to get you.

Water SPLUTTERS as Joseph opens the kitchen faucet and with a FLICK the garbage disposal GURGLES and GRINDS. 

FADE TO:

INT. DOCTOR’S OFFICE – MORNING – MONTHS LATER

JUNE and JOSEPH are seated in a consultation room with a few padded chairs and a round table. 

JOSEPH

Are you nervous?

JUNE

I’ve been living with this for so long, it’ll be a relief to finally know what’s going on…

DR. REED (in his late 40s) enters the room and grabs a seat. He’s a tall, medium build, well groomed man. DR. REED is looking over results from the blood test and flipping through JUNE’s medical history chart.

DR. REED

Well, your blood work was positive for ANA. Along with the Raynauds in your hands, and the Rosacea on your face, as well as the severe fatigue and joint stiffness symptoms, all signs are pointing to Lupus.

JOSEPH

But you aren’t certain?

DR. REED

Unfortunately, there’s no definitive test yet for Lupus, so it’s a diagnosis by process of elimination. And typically why patients like you, June, go so long without knowing. But we’re as sure as we can be.

JUNE

Is there anything we can do about it?

DR. REED

There’s no known cure for Lupus. But with proper treatment and care most people have long, relatively normal lives. Daily medication can minimize symptoms like the flare ups and some of the skin issues, but it will take time and adjusting to establish proper dosages.

DR. REED scribbles some notes in the medical file and writes up a prescription note. Tearing the note from the pad, which he prepares to hand it to JUNE.

DR. REED (CONT’D)

You’re not pregnant now or planning on getting pregnant in the near future are you?

JUNE

No. We aren’t sure when we might start. 

JOSEPH

Why?

DR. REED

Pregnancy adds a lot of complexity to an already challenging systemic disease like Lupus. Not only for you, but for your unborn child. If possible, I’d advise that you hold off having children for up to 5 years until we can get the symptoms under control.

DR. REED finally hands June the note.

DR. REED (CONT’D)

And then once you’re feeling well enough to try, you should stop taking the meds 6 months prior to conceiving, just to be safe.

June’s eyes well up as she quietly nods in acknowledgment and Joseph looks empathetically at her, gently squeezes her hand, and places a supportive arm across her back.

FADE TO:

INT. HOME OF JUNE & JOSEPH – LATE AFTERNOON

JUNE (early 30s now) has a visible baby bump as she is converting the spare bedroom into a nursery. Soft yellows and greens highlight the walls and fabrics of the baby furniture. June meticulously sponges paint into a stencil border along the chair-rail height of the wall.

The RATTLE of keys and someone SLAMMING an entry door closed are heard from below.

JOSEPH (O.S.)

I’m home! Where are you…?

JUNE

Up here!

Joseph CLOMPS up the stairs and enters the room, suited in casual business attire.

JOSEPH

Oh wow. Excellent progress – it’s really coming together!

JUNE

It’s taking me longer than I expected…

June places her stenciling implements down momentarily and wipes her hands clean from any extra paint.

JOSEPH

It’s still progress, no matter how slow. So…how was the appointment with the doctor today?

JUNE

Good – everything still looks good. We’re both healthy.

June smiles and softly rubs her belly.

JOSEPH

That’s wonderful! Well, I’m not surprised – you look terrific.

Joseph kisses June on the forehead. June smiles coyly.

JUNE

Actually, I feel terrific. I’ve never felt better in my life. I wish I felt like this all the time. Maybe it’ll continue after the baby comes…

JOSEPH

Can you imagine? That would be something! And if that’s the case, we should’ve gotten you pregnant sooner.

Joseph exits the room to the bedroom across the hall and starts changing out of work clothes. June returns to working on the wall stencil.

JUNE

You know, we still haven’t settled on a name for him.

JOSEPH (O.S.)

For him? Are we sure it’s a “him”?

JUNE

About as sure as we can be…

Joseph re-enters the room half-dressed in more casual clothing, astonishment across his face.

JOSEPH

Why didn’t you say that earlier?

Joseph and June enthusiastically kiss and hug.

JOSEPH (CONT’D)

I mean, I’d have been just as thrilled either way. But it’s so good to finally know. Right?

JUNE

Uh-huh. I always kinda had a feeling it was a boy.

Breaking from the hug, Joseph is wide-eyed and smiling as he finishes tucking and buttoning up his clothes.

JUNE (CONT’D)

You don’t think my Lupus is going to be a problem for him do you?

JOSEPH

Why would you think that? 

JUNE

Remember Dr. Reed telling us that Lupus can have an effect on unborn children, particularly boys.

JOSEPH

You said everything looked healthy at the checkup.

JUNE

Yeah, but I don’t know if they’re 100% certain or if it’s too early to tell if there’s anything unusual happening in there.

June visibly concerned, bordering on dismay. Joseph walks over and calmly places his hands on her shoulders and leans his forehead against hers.

JOSEPH

I’m sure he’s healthy. They know about your condition and are keeping a close eye on things.

(Pause)

Even if anything unusual is happening in there, no matter what that might be, we can handle it together. Okay?

June shakes some anxiety away with a restrained nod.

FADE OUT

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