So this piece was originally submitted to the Great American Short Screen Play Contest on June 17th, 2012. It was very well received and I even won second place but had to decline the scholarship since it still was not enough to pay for classes (especially since I would have had to cut my hours down at work extremely in order to take them).
Still, I had a lot of fun writing it, it was a great experiment and experience and one day it will likely find itself in a full length script. Enjoy!

Reality Not Withstanding
by Kiri Callaghan

EXT. A PARK – EVENING
FADE IN ON A COUPLE WALKING BESIDE THE LAKE, WE JOIN THEM IN THE MIDDLE OF THEIR CONVERSATION.

MARK, a charming young public defense attorney, is walking side by side with a young tangerine orange-haired woman (ELLE). They are both dressed to the nines.

MARK
…It’s certainly nothing like television. You almost never end up defending someone who’s actually innocent. I’m not saying I don’t agree everyone deserves the right to representation… I just wish it wasn’t me that had to provide it half the time.
ELLE
So why do you do it?

MARK
Paycheck is a paycheck.

ELLE
I bet that’s what hookers tell themselves.

MARK laughs.

ELLE nudges his arm with her own.

ELLE
Thank you, again, for dinner.

MARK
Was it too much?

ELLE
Are you kidding? I cleaned my plate. It was like making up for all those months in college when all I had was cup o’ noodles.

MARK
(laughing)
No, I mean, was the restaurant too much? I’m never sure if a place is too fancy for a first date.

ELLE crosses her arms subconsciously as the night chill starts to set in.

ELLE
Nah, it was nice. I liked it. I don’t get to be fancy too often. Gave me an excuse to try out my new dress.

MARK
You mean HAILEY COMET: SPACE DETECTIVE doesn’t have a cocktail hour?

ELLE
Surprisingly, no. Well, not officially, anyway. For a few of my co-stars, I think it’s the last five minutes before we’re needed on set.
MARK laughs and removes his coat, draping it over her shoulders.

ELLE
You’re not what I expected, though.

MARK
What were you expecting?

ELLE
I don’t know… A weirdo?

MARK
A weirdo?

ELLE
I don’t know a lot of grown men who’d recognize me out of costume!

MARK
You have very distinctive hair.

ELLE
It’s not natural.

MARK
(feigning shock)
You’re kidding.
(Beat)
Plus, my daughter’s crazy about your show, so your face is sort of all over her room.

ELLE stops walking abruptly.

MARK
Just her room. I promise I’m not a creepy stalker.

ELLE
You have a kid.

MARK
I do have a kid.
(beat)
Is that a problem?

ELLE
…Yeah. It’s a problem.

MARK
You don’t like kids?

ELLE
I love kids.

MARK
Then where’s the problem?

ELLE
Because I’m going to have to meet her eventually.

MARK
That’s a problem?

ELLE
Yeah, that’s big fucking problem.

MARK
She’s going to love you–she already loves you.

ELLE
No, she already loves Hailey.

MARK
What?

ELLE
What’s her name?

MARK
Amanda.

ELLE
And how old is Amanda?

MARK
She just turned five.

ELLE nods and looks out toward the lake.

ELLE
Did you ever have a hero when you were a kid? Someone you idolized?

MARK
Spider-man, I guess.

ELLE
When I was a little girl, I was obsessed with The Little Mermaid. I knew the songs by heart before I knew what even half the words meant. My mom made me an Ariel costume for Halloween and I wore that stupid red wig until it was ratty. My room was covered in shells and fish and every damn piece of merchandise you could think of. So when my seventh birthday rolled around and my mother announced we were going to Disneyland, I was… ecstatic.

MARK
(unsure)
Yeah, of course…

ELLE
And we went and it was wonderful and I got to meet Ariel and I felt like my little heart was going to burst. I’d never been so happy.

(beat)

But then later I saw Ariel after a parade and I snuck away from my parents to follow her back into the cast area. Do you have any idea what happens backstage at Disneyland?
MARK
No.
ELLE
Things a seven-year-old should never see.

MARK
…are you saying you’ll do unspeakable things in front of my daughter?

ELLE
Not intentionally.

MARK
What?

ELLE
No, I mean–I lost my hero that day. Ariel wasn’t Ariel–she was just some horny college kid trying to make ends meet between semesters. It was like realizing Santa wasn’t real all over again.

ELLE turns back to face MARK.

ELLE
Mark, I’m not an intergalactic pop star.

MARK
I know that.

ELLE
Amanda doesn’t. …And I can’t be the one who breaks that to her. She deserves that suspension of disbelief. And she finds out you’re dating her hero…

MARK
…then I’m banging the mermaid.

ELLE
Yeah…

MARK
We really can’t do this, can we?

ELLE
We really can’t.

MARK
But… Can’t we just see if this even had a chance before we write it off?

ELLE
And do what? Sneak around hoping she’s going to grow out of me? She’s five, my viewer base ranges four to fourteen.

MARK
Yeah, but…

ELLE
And I’m pretty sure you don’t want to lie to your own kid.

MARK sighs, feeling defeated.

MARK
No… I really don’t. Wow. This… Really sucks.

ELLE
I’m sorry.

MARK
No, you’re right. My daughter comes first.

ELLE
You’re a good dad.

MARK
I don’t know if I’d say that. I am still imagining doing unspeakable things to her hero. Reality not withstanding.

ELLE smiles and removes his coat from her shoulders. She holds it out to him.

MARK
So what now?

ELLE
Now you head back to your car and I call my friend to come pick me up and we go back to our lives pretending tonight never happened.

MARK
…No, I don’t like that. What are my other options?

ELLE pointedly looks at the coat in her hand which MARK finally takes.

ELLE
Good night, Mark. It would have been great to meet you.

ELLE starts off down one path towards what looks like the main street.

MARK
(calling after her) I would have had a great time tonight.

ELLE turns around and smiles softly.

ELLE
Best date I never had.

CAMERA ZOOMS UNTIL BOTH OF THEM ARE AT THE EDGE OF EITHER SIDE OF THE FRAME, HIGHLIGHTING THE EMPTY SPACE BETWEEN THEM.

ELLE and MARK share a look before ELLE breaks the tension and walks out of frame.

MARK lingers and then turns back to walk the way they came, shoulders hunched, hands shoved in his suit jacket pockets, coat tucked under one arm.

FADE OUT

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