Harbinger Vignette 5

FADE IN:

INT/EXT. HOME OF JUNE & JOSEPH – VARIOUS

Images of Hazel from infant through the start of adolescence, each scene playful and sweet.

BEGIN MONTAGE:

-Series with Hazel and Ian hugging, tugging, tumbling, and laughing together.

-Series with Hazel posing with her stuffed animals, dolls, and her pet cat.

-Series with Hazel and her friends swimming, drawing, playing games, having birthday parties and party hats.

-Series with Hazel doing activities with mom and dad, finding 4-leafed clovers,  decorating holiday cookies, reading stories at bedtime, and picking flowers.

END MONTAGE.

INT. HOME OF JUNE & JOSEPH – NIGHT

Joseph (age 49), Hazel (age 13), and Ian (age 15) are lounging around the family room in their pajamas and wrapped in fleece blankets watching an action program on television.

A moment later the show ends with MUSIC playing over the end credits. The clock on the wall reads nearly 10 o’clock. Joseph flicks the TV off with the remote and stretches as he gets up.

JOSEPH

All right you two, time for bed!

IAN

Okay.

Ian heads straight off and up toward the bedrooms. Hazel moves significantly slower.

JOSEPH

I’ll be up in a minute to say good night, just need to turn off a few things down here first.

Hazel PLODS her way up the stairs. Joseph catches up easily and sees Hazel slowing down.

JOSEPH (CONT’D)

You okay?

HAZEL

No, my legs are like cement. I don’t even have the strength to get to bed.

JOSEPH

Well, that’s not good. You love bedtime. Need me to carry you?

HAZEL

(Feebly)

Maybe.

Joseph scoops up Hazel carefully and carries her the rest of the way to her bed and PLOPS her on the covers. Hazel manages to RUSTLE herself between the sheets and blankets. Footsteps approach from the hallway, JUNE (age 48) gazes through the open bedroom doorway.

JUNE

Do you need anything sweetie?

HAZEL

A water bottle would be good. My throat has been so dry lately.

JOSEPH

Sure thing. Back in a minute.

June approaches the bed as Joseph leaves and Ian enters just the edge of the door frame to Hazel’s room, waving slightly.

IAN

Good night Hazel. Love you.

HAZEL

Love you, too.

Joseph returns with a water bottle in hand and places the bottle on the nightstand.

JOSEPH

Here you go, honey.

Hazel sits up a bit and GULPS some water with great effort, then nestles back down into her covers, snuggling with a stuffed toy cat. June sits on the edge of the bed and brushes Hazel’s hair with her hand. 

JUNE

I didn’t realize you were feeling the badly. I’ll call the doctor’s office tomorrow for an appointment. Okay?

Hazel nods timidly.

INT. HOME OF JUNE & JOSEPH – MOMENTS LATER

June is at the computer checking out Hazel’s symptoms on the internet. Joseph is hovering nearby her.

JOSEPH

What other symptoms has she been having?

JUNE

Tired, dry throat, some stomach or hunger pains, trouble moving, I guess that’s it.

JOSEPH

And it looks like she’s lost weight, doesn’t it?

JUNE

Maybe, a little. This site shows it could be a urinary tract infection, strep throat, the flu, or mononucleosis.

JOSEPH

She hasn’t had any headaches or fevers, right?

JUNE

Not that she’s mentioned.

Both appear troubled.

JUNE (CONT’D)

Or it could be something to do with her thyroid.

JOSEPH

Hmm. 

JUNE

I doubt it’s the flu or strep. More likely mono or thyroid. Or a slim chance it’s diabetes. What do you think…?

June swivels in her chair to face Joseph.

JOSEPH

(Slowly)

Well, I was thinking “diabetes” all along, but I’m hoping it’s only mono.

JUNE

Me too.

They share an uneasy look between them. After a beat the computer screen dims to power saving mode.

FADE TO:

EXT/INT. JOSEPH’S OFFICE BUILDING – MORNING

Joseph exits his vehicle, bundled up to face the bitter breeze blowing across the lot. The early morning sky emits a dull bluish-gray light upon the granite building. As he slides his keycard across the security panel and grabs the metal handle to the entry door, his mobile phone RINGS. Fumbling with both the door and his phone he answers as he enters the lobby.

JOSEPH

Hi hon. What’s going on?

JUNE (V.O.)

We just left the doctor’s office. We’re headed to the emergency room. They told us to take her there straight away to have her admitted for diabetes.

JOSEPH

Emergency room…? At which hospital?

Co-workers passing by throw concerned gazes. Joseph inspects his watch.

JOSEPH (CONT’D)

Okay, I’ll be there in a half an hour.

Joseph turns about face and exits hastily from the building. The glass doors BANG closed behind him.

CUT TO:

INT. HOSPITAL ROOM – NEXT MORNING

The cold winter light cast from the wide windows adds further harshness to that of the overhead fluorescent bulbs in the small, private room. Hazel (13 years of age) appears ghostly pale, with a meager smile, and lays semi-elevated in the adjustable bed that’s strewn with sheets and blankets. Attached to one of her hands is an IV. A hospital gown covers her torso.   

Ian is seated in a lounge chair to one side of the bed, positioned as optimally as possible to watch the ceiling mounted television. Joseph rests awkwardly on the arm of the same chair.

June, balanced on the edge of the bed, holds Hazel’s hand in support. Behind them a NURSE (in her 30s) in mismatched scrubs is busily checking equipment on a cart and CLACKING away at the attached laptop.

The Nurse then approaches the bed with a blood pressure cuff. June stands aside to allow the nurse better access.

NURSE

(Nonchalantly)

You know, my daughter has type 1 diabetes, as well…

The cuff HISSES and SCRUNCHES around Hazel’s arm as the pressure builds up.

NURSE (CONT’D)

I’ve had Celiac disease for years now, and sometimes it’s hard because you can’t eat everything you want. But, you know, I think it’s much better to have diabetes than Celiac.

The Nurse releases the pressure from the cuff and TEARS the Velcro strap from around Hazel’s arm. June clears her throat with a CROAK.

JUNE

I have celiac, and I don’t think that’s true. I mean, I didn’t have to be admitted to the hospital for treatment or anything.

Unfazed, the Nurse pricks Hazel’s finger for a blood sugar check. Hazel flinches and cowers slightly. 

NURSE

Well, at least you can still eat anything you want.

The Nurse TAPS the rest of Hazel’s vitals into the computer and exits the room. Everyone is relieved that they have the room to themselves, but the silence is uncomfortable, too.

HAZEL

It could be worse. Uncle Ernie is going through colon cancer surgery right now. I think I can manage this. 

Joseph and June proudly give Hazel a reassuring hug and kiss.

Shortly thereafter Nonna and Nonno enter. Heavy coats on and bearing gestures of well wishes for Hazel. June and Joseph shuffle around the room to greet the familiar visitors.

Handing over the coats to Joseph, he hangs them on hooks near the bathroom. Upon returning from his small task, he catches a glimpse of Nonna fighting back tears. Joseph approaches her.

JOSEPH

(Quietly)

You okay?

Nonna can’t speak and turns her back to Hazel, tears spill down her face.

JOSEPH (CONT’D)

All right, let’s get some air.

(Loudly)

Ah, we’re going to make a little trip to the cafeteria to get some bottled water. Be right back!

Joseph wraps his arm around Nonna to lead her out of the room and to shield her from Hazel’s line of sight.

They exit the room and head down the hall. They stop in front of an elevator door. Joseph depresses then releases the down button.

NONNA

I’m sorry. She looked so tiny and helpless on that bed.

Joseph turns squarely to face Nonna, holding her shoulder.

JOSEPH

(Earnestly)

She’s going to be alright, you know? This is treatable and she’s a tough kid. Maybe tougher than all of us. But we have to be strong for her, too. It’ll be easier on her if she sees all the support from us. She’ll be able to do anything she has her heart set on. Okay…?

The elevator announces its arrival with a PING and the doors slide open.

Nonna sheepishly bobs her head while she wipes the sogginess from her face. Joseph gives her an encouraging embrace and leads her into the brightly lit conveyance. They muster a smile between them as the compartment doors close.

FADE TO:

INT. KITCHEN OF JUNE & JOSEPH’S HOME – EVENING

The BEEPING of the microwave beckons Ian (now 19) to the kitchen in anticipation of sustenance. He takes a quick assessment of the area and realizes there is more time before eating. The island counter has all the makings for a taco dinner. June checks on the food items in the microwave, toaster oven, and cooktops.

Joseph slides the flatware drawer out and collects a handful with a CLATTERING, then proceeds to set the nearby dining table.

Ian paces breezily around the island.

JOSEPH

Ian, do you mind telling Hazel that dinner’s about ready?

IAN

(Brightly)

Okay.

Ian TROTS out of the room and up the stairs to retrieve his sister. June stirs a pot of Spanish rice and CLANKS the serving spoon against the pot edge to shake off any grains.

Ian returns a moment later.

IAN (CONT’D)

She said she’ll be down. She’s finishing something.

June starts assembling the plates for dinner.

Hazel (now 17) BOUNDS down the stairs into the kitchen. She’s brimming with energy and delight. She bounces lightly on her feet, bursting to share some news.

HAZEL

I did it!

June and Joseph share a befuddled look. Hazel begins pacing excitedly and continues her animated gestures.

HAZEL (CONT’D)

I’ve been thinking about it and putting together ideas for months now and just thought it was important to get it out.

Her parents are still uncertain what they, too, should be excited about. 

HAZEL (CONT’D)

Well, you know I’ve always been interested in writing stories. But I never thought I had something big enough to share. My earlier stuff was okay, but didn’t feel true to myself.

A slight glimmer of understanding comes at the phrase “writing stories”. Hazel pulls out her blood glucose reading kit, pricks her finger and places a drop of blood in the device.

HAZEL (CONT’D)

I emailed you all with a link to a doc I shared with you, that I hope you’ll all read when you get a chance.

The glucose device gives off a subtle TWEET. 

JUNE

Really? What’s it about?

HAZEL

It’s a memoir. It’s not completed yet. But I have the first 4 chapters done. And an outline for the next 7 chapters. And I would like your feedback before I share it with other people. And before I get too far.

JOSEPH

Wow, a memoir. That’s unexpected for someone so young.

HAZEL

Well, I’ve been through a lot already in my life and I think it could really help other people.

JUNE

Having both Celiac and type 1 diabetes is pretty rare.

HAZEL

I meant the mental health aspects of dealing with life changing events – that affects far more people and no one talks about it.

June hands plates of food to Joseph to put on the table. 

HAZEL (CONT’D)

(Passionately)

I mean we have mandatory health classes in school starting in 5th grade, but we barely talk about how to deal with mental health issues. Think about how many kids suffer from anxiety or self-harm and don’t get the help they should. And that’s just not okay.

The family seats themselves around the now prepared dinner table.

JOSEPH

Agreed – there’s a real missed opportunity with teenagers in those classes.

HAZEL

So, I really think this memoir could help. Do you mind reading it and letting me know what you think?

IAN

Sure. No problem.

JUNE

Of course – it’ll be interesting. 

JOSEPH

When do you want us to read it and get back to you?

HAZEL

It’s okay if we eat dinner first. But right after that would be nice.

Hazel CRUNCHES into her taco between grins.  The family shares smirks and SNIGGERS between them.

FADE TO:

“It is the storms we encounter that remind us that life is a journey of change.

And with each passing storm we may be surprised by our mere survival.

However, that combination of experiences is essential to our adaptation and in revealing the unique beauty within each of us.”

FADE OUT.

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