S T E P M O M
by Ronald Bass
Second Revised Draft
Previous Drafts by:
Jessie Nelson &
INT. RACHEL'S BEDROOM - EARLY MORNING
A billowy white screen. An alarm clock BLARES. As MAIN TITLES
BEGIN, the lovely sleeping face of RACHEL KELLY rolls into frame.
Then out of it. Alarm keeps BLASTING. Back she comes, pulling the
sheets OVER her head. Motionless now, as we hear...
... the DEAFENING SILENCE of the alarm shutting off. A beat.
Rachel SITS BOLTS UPRIGHT. LEAPS out of the room. From the back
we see that she's dressed only in a pair of men's boxers.
She makes it halfway down the hall, does a U TURN back into the
bedroom, frantically YANKS a robe hanging from the door, taking the
wall hook WITH her. She FLINGS her robe on as she RUNS down the
hall, wall hook STICKING OUT of her back. BURSTING INTO...
INT. BEN'S ROOM - EARLY MORNING
Ben! You overslept again damn it!
The room looks like a 6 (but I'm almost 7) year old exploded.
Posters of MAGICIANS on all the walls. Rachel darts about the room
mismatching the clothes she forgot to arrange the night before.
Get Up Get Up Get Up!
The LUMP under the cover doesn't move.
Ben you're late. I'm serious. I'm
wearing a very serious face. Don't
make me start counting ONE...
No movement. Rachel tugs the sleeve of a shirt hanging on a chair,
and out comes a magician's bouquet of FLOWERS.
She pulls a dirty handkerchief out of the pocket of the shirt --
it's an endless MAGICIAN'S HANDKERCHIEF.
Don't make me say three I'm about to
(a beat, then)
She RIPS the covers off and a blow-up DINOSAUR sleeps in Ben's
Ben I'm not kidding around. You make
yourself appear this instant!
A WHITE BUNNY saunters across her toes. Rachel SCREAMS -- then
gathers her wits and searches under the bed -- under the bureau --
she opens the closet doors and shoving clothes aside.
You might think this is funny but this
is actually NOT funny.
Unseen by Rachel, six-year-old BEN sits, perched on the highest
closet shelf, knees under his chin, holding his breath. His eyes
gleeful as Rachel frantically closes the closet door.
INT. HALLWAY - EARLY MORNING
Rachel hops over the Bunny, navigates through strewn toys and books
STUBBING her baby toe. She limps in agony past a big picture of
the kids with their daddy and heads towards a door with a KEEP OUT
ANNABELLE! WAKE UP!
ANNABELLE'S BEDROOM - EARLY MORNING
ANNABELLE, 10 years old, sits on the edge of her bed, fuming, all
of her limbs crossed. She holds up a filthy purple tee shirt.
You forgot to wash my purple shirt. I
told you a hundred times it was Purple
Day at school today.
I didn't forget. I was up all night
thinking about it and I concluded you're
too special to look like everyone else.
(she grabs an orangey
red tee shirt)
Orange Red. That's your color. Few
can carry it off. Now please. Help
me find your brother.
You lost Ben?!
Of course not. Does he look lost to
INT. SUBURBAN EXTREMELY WELL-STOCKED KITCHEN - EARLY MORNING
Rachel, smoking a cigarette and drinking a diet coke, FLINGS open
pantry doors, closet doors -- looking for Ben -- attempting to put
stone hard butter on toast at the same time. She glances at the
clock -- 7:55. Oh dear. Annabelle sits at the table, in a grumpy
orangey red mood. Rachel hands her what was once a piece of toast.
No. I told you. I like apple butter
not butter butter.
(hands her an apple)
Never mind. I'll just eat my lunch.
I'm almost done making it.
(to the non-existent Ben)
Alright Ben -- you deal with the tardy,
you write yourself a note, your daddy
told you he had an important case this
morning and he had to leave early and
we were AAAAGGGGHHHH!
She has opened a cupboard with a Lazy Susan that turns revealing
BEN sitting there. Rachel screams AGAIN!
Oh my God. That is so not funny. You're
late. You're really late. Now get out
here and have some cereal.
Fine! Eat in the cupboard.
She hands him a bowl of sugared cereal -- puts two spoonfuls of
instant coffee in Barney cup, and sticks it under the faucet.
No! Cocoa Puffs on Top -- Fruit Loops
on the bottom.
Rachel grabs the bowl, turn it UPSIDE DOWN on the table reversing
the order of the cereal. She SWEEPS it back in the bowl and
quickly hands it back to him, the phone RINGS THROUGHOUT...
You touched it.
Then have a donut --
I'm gonna beep daddy at work.
He's badgering a witness. Eat.
But you told us to starve.
(picking up phone)
Hello?...Duncan...The Ad Agency's
already there?...I'm out the door...
(Ben flings a fruit loop
Ben! Knock it off!
It's gonna go beautifully...
(another fruit loop)
Damn it Ben --
Rachel runs around absentmindedly loading out leftover pizza,
Hoho's, and Chips. She glances at the clock again -- 8:00.
You swore. You owe me a quarter. Did
you remember my egg carton? I told
you I needed my egg carton for seed
Absolutely Duncan I'm on top of
Rachel takes the eggs from the fridge, and dumps them -- accidentally
missing the sink. They SHATTER onto the floor. She hands the empty
carton to Annabelle.
...EGGzactly. I'm putting on my coat --
(she hangs up, panicked)
We are late. We are seriously late. Which
means Mister Ben we've got to get you
Ben races away but Rachel LUNGES And CATCHES him. He wiggles in
her arms as she struggles to change his clothes. Just as she gets
his bottoms off she drops his clothes in the pile of gooey eggs
when we hear a loud KNOCKING at the kitchen door. Holding a half
naked Ben in her arms, Rachel looks up at...
JACKIE HARRISON. An immaculately dressed, intimidatingly intel-
ligent, utterly beautiful woman staring at her with extreme
ANNABELLE AND BEN
Annabelle and Ben RACE into their mother's arms like little angels.
Jackie shoots a fiercely protective glare at Rachel. They LOCK
eyes. Enough wattage to light up all of Manhattan.
EXT. RACHEL'S LOFT, SOHO - MORNING
Jackie and the kids exit Rachel's building, onto a bustling Soho
street. The kids clamber into the double-parked Volvo wagon.
Jackie, still pissed, climbs behind the wheel. Drives off.
INT. JACKIE'S VOLVO STATION WAGON - EARLY MORNING
Jackie drives the children down a tree-lined street in Englewood,
New Jersey. Ben is banging Jackie's sunglasses case against the
...it's really not so bad Annabelle -- Red
and Blue make purple.
(yes she does)
I don't care.
I know you don't, but if you had, chrom-
atically you are in the purple family.
Jackie fishes through her purse. Finds a toy airplane for Ben. He
stops banging her glasses case, starts banging the plane.
Why does Rachel wear Daddy's underpants?
Doesn't she have underpants of her own?
I noticed a whopping pile of laundry
sitting on the washer -- perhaps Rachel's
underpants are in there -- Now where are
As if by rote, they hold out their lunches. One is a plastic Vons
bag and the other a crumpled Macy's bag. She collects them and
hands Ben and Annabelle two brightly colored lunch bags.
Annabelle sucked her thumb last night.
I NEVER do that, you ALWAYS lie!
And SLUGS him.
Never say 'never' -- it's not fair to
say 'always' -- and no name calling.
Use your words.
I hate when you say that.
Thank you. Those were all words. I
hate the planet Uranus. Terrible name
for a planet.
Annabelle and Ben look up at her curiously.
I hate snails and blue cheese.
Especially together. Hate.
I have lava.
Lava's hateable. I never thought of
I hate overly ripe bananas -- they make
me want to throw up.
I hate wax lips and red ants and
pretzels without salt...
I hate the crayon Burnt Sienna and
people who spit when they walk.
Jackie nods sagely. Pulls up next to a school playground.
I hate to say goodbye. Eskimo Kiss.
(they rub noses)
Russian Orthodox Wedding Kiss.
They bump foreheads and elbows. Ben runs toward the kindergarten
playground; Jackie watches concerned as Annabelle climbs the steps.
The only orangey red dot in a sea of purple.
EXT. PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIO, TRIBECA - MORNING
Taxi pulls up to a converted warehouse. Rachel BOLTS out,
SPRINTING for the door.
INT. PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIO - DAY
Black and white FILLS the frame. Like a checkerboard. We PULL
BACK and realize we are seeing a group of PENGUINS waddling against
a black and white backdrop. We see a WHITE WAITRE'D in a BLACK
TUXEDO holding glasses on a tray. A BLACK MODEL, IMAN, in a WHITE
DRESS glides through it all.
In the center the only dash of color is Rachel -- who has just
entered and starts expertly directing the action. She calls out to
her assistant, COOPER. Perpetually hip. Perpetually young.
Cooper, back the fill off I don't have
You've got a fruit loop in your hair.
You say that like I don't know that.
I once threw an entire bowl of jello
on my stepmother's head --
And when did that pass?
Actually, never. They'll always hate
you. There's a gene for it.
DUNCAN SAMUELS -- Rachel's boss, an elegant, edgy, Englishman
Congratulations. Only forty minutes
late. You're handling this promotion
really well Rachel.
Duncan. My work is everything to me.
This'll never happen again. Now stand
back -- this session's gonna make you
remember why you hired me even though
I wouldn't sleep with you -- Cooper
let's get these penguins dancing --
Duncan backs off, charmed by her ballsiness. The music BLARES just
then, and a penguin JUTS forward and NIPS the model. The FLASH of
the camera. We FREEZE for a second, seeing the photo Rachel just
took. An Avedonesque portrait of a model being GOOSED by a penguin
COLLIDING with a maitre'd who SPILLS his tray and the penguins seem
to be POINTING and LAUGHING uproariously. It's an inspired photo.
INT. SCHOOL COUNSELOR'S OFFICE - 2:30 THAT DAY
Jackie and LUKE HARRISON -- ruggedly handsome man, mid-forties,
charming, disarming, and smart as they come. They sit side by side
on a couch across from RUTH FRANKLIN, an Elementary School Counselor
Mr. and Mrs. Harrison, while change is
exhilarating for adults, it can be
quite challenging for a child.
Luke's beeper beeps. He ignores it; focuses on Mr. Franklin.
I won't get that...It's fine. Change.
we were talking about change.
The fact that you two are remarrying
obviously has Annabelle overjoyed...
(they look at her,
And she's very excited about your move to
She said we're getting remarried?
Suddenly -- a long bell rings -- Jackie STANDS UP, startled.
Only a fire drill. My concern is that
Annabelle seems apathetic towards her
work knowing she's leaving before the
end of the semester.
Mrs. Franklin we're not --
Planning on getting --
Remarried. There is no move.
(trying to appear unfazed)
Really? Well then my concern for --
Luke's beeper BEEPS again. They talk right over Mrs. Franklin...
Are you here?
Because you don't really seem here.
I'm here. I've got a case where they're
this close to sequestering the jury but
have I answered the goddamn thing?!
Something's up wi...
You think I didn't get that?
She cuts a look at Mrs. Franklin.
Excuse him. He never learned how
to turn the darn thing off.
And reaches. Does it for him.
I'm wondering if there's anything going
on at home that could be intensifying
Annabelle's need to create this fantasy?
Long pause. Then suddenly they both start speaking AT ONCE.
I've been with someone for quite some
time, and didn't feel it was appropriate
for her to move in too quickly. But
after a lot of thought and careful
discussion with her -- and the kids I
might add -- she moved in last month.
Since our divorce Luke has seen a
number of different women in three
short years and without a lot of
warning for the kids, he's now living
with a woman half his age --
Rachel's not half my age.
We're not discussing your age.
Well, we're not discussing Rachel's
They want to be with you Luke, they go
to your house to be with their father.
Jackie, they come to be part of my
life. Rachel is part of that life.
Mr. Harrison, I hear you talking about
your life, your needs, but are you
really in touch with what Annabelle
This man would walk thru fire for
Annabelle, gladly, any day of the week.
Except for last Thursday when Rachel
forgot to pick them up --
Jackie, she was five minutes late --
I'm wondering if Annabelle is responding
to the underlying hostility that exists
between Rachel and Mrs. Harrison...
Of course she's responding to it. You
think it's easy for any of us? You think
it's easy for Jackie to watch her kids
being looked after by someone who has
half the experience she does? Of course
she's going to be hostile, irrational,
Thank you Luke.
Mrs. Franklin doesn't quite know what to say. The bell RINGS.
Thank you Mrs. Franklin. Jackie?
(they get up)
This has been very valuable for us. And
I'll have a serious talk with Annabelle
It's Wednesday night. She's at my
house. I'll talk to her.
I'll call from work. We can have a
You tried that last week and we were
on hold forty-five minutes...
And they're out the door. You can hear the fight as it echoes down
the elementary school hallway.
EXT. SCHOOL, ENGLEWOOD, NEW JERSEY - MOMENTS LATER
Jackie and Luke exit the pleasant suburban school. Head for the
You ask me that counselor's making
a mountain out of a molehill...
Luke, I need to switch next Friday for
Thursday, so why don't you take the
...that way you'll be there, and I'll
pick up Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
Fine. But I wanted to take the kids
to work with me on Wednesday so I'll
take Wednesday, and you can pick up
that Thursday, Friday after soccer,
and Saturday before riding.
As if on automatic pilot they move in to kiss each other goodbye
then stop. Each takes a step back. 15 years of hellos and
goodbyes. A beat. A wave. They head their separate ways.
EXT. JACKIE'S HOME - NIGHT
Establishing shot of Jackie's lovely home on its lovely street.
Old trees. Comfortable front lawns. Safe and happy. A place to
grow kids, dogs, probably walruses, even. We PUSH toward the warm
glow from within this home...
INT. JACKIE'S HOME - NIGHT
Jackie setting the table. Annabelle recording the moment with her
omnipresent VIDEO CAMERA...
I didn't say that. Why would I say
Well Daddy and I were thinking that
sometimes people tell a story about
what they wish would happen.
I don't want that to happen. Why
would I want that to happen?
Well you're telling your teachers and
your friends --
Maybe you're upset that Rachel moved in.
I'm not upset. Why would I be upset?
Look if the truth is you don't feel like
talking about this right now that's fine.
But don't look me in the eye with a big
smile on your face and lie to me.
Cause there are only so many lies you're
allowed to tell before it starts showing
on your face. You wind up looking like...
She stops. It's just too horrible.
Well, he's not president anymore, so
why be petty.
Ben enters in white gloves and Jackie's scarf.
Pick a card. Any card.
Jackie picks a card.
It just slipped out.
What happens when he loves Rachel more
That will never happen.
Never say never you always say that.
I'll bet daddy's mad at me now.
Queen of diamonds.
Seven of clubs. Nobody's mad we just
want to talk about it.
I'm gonna call him.
Annabelle, daddy and I will always be there.
That's one time always is always. You
can call him after dinner but...
Annabelle RUNS out of the room. Jackie watches her sadly. Ben
hits Jackie hard with his magic wand.
Poof! You're happy now.
Thank you Ben.
Ben finds himself alone in the kitchen. He hits himself on the
head, hard. Poof! He begins to serve himself dinner. Alone.
EXT. RESTAURANT, SOHO - NIGHT
Rachel and Luke exit a neighborhood bistro. Stroll down the
Okay, if they're going to have a
sauce, put something in it besides
flour and chicken broth...
It was a veal stock, I thi...
Well, it wasn't a reduction like
you do it! Boiling down half a
ton of bones...
Luke is thinking of something. She's watching that.
The way you cook. If you could
make love, I'd marry you.
We have to talk.
Uh-oh. I mention marriage, all
of a sudden...
(ominous Nazi Baritone)
Ve haff to ta...
I didn't want to spoil our supper...
You'd rather spoil our walk home.
Yeh, it's cheaper.
I just found out I have to go to
Boston to get a deposition. I might
not be back until Saturday.
So I'll have to order in?
(dropping the other shoe)
We have the kids this weekend, so...
He glances over...
I thought it was her weekend. Do I
ever see you alone?
He draws a breath. The concern is behind his eyes.
Anyway, I thought...while I'm
gone...maybe I'll hire in some help.
Just a babysitter -- I mean...you're
I can take them to work with me -- I
can shift things around --
You don't need to. I don't expect you
to handle them yourself.
Can't handle them myself is what you
Maybe she's right. Because he doesn't say anything.
You don't trust me to be alone with
I trust you of course I do but --
But? But what?
But you're not good at this. Not yet.
I know how responsible, caring adults
parent children. I'm bribe 'em. But
'em a dog or something. Maybe a Doberman.
He loves her. But this problem is real.
Look. I know they hate me.
They don't hate you --
And what you're telling them is keep
hating her -- keep up the good work --
Nobody's telling them to hate you --
Really? Look in your ex-wife's eyes.
It's complicated for Jackie. It's
complicated for me...You don't have
kids -- you don't understand --
Oh right...So it's just complicated for
you and Jackie -- for me it's pretty
simple cause I just don't understand...
No you don't. And I'm not gonna
screw with my kids heads right now --
You know I don't need another person in
this family making me feel like an
idiot...your ex-wife's doing a bang up
job and I have to face it every Tuesday
and Thursday and every other goddamn
weekend and I just don't know how the
hell you were married to her for so
goddamn long! Jesus what did you see in
her? I don't get it -- I just don't get
They've reached their building. As they enter...
She's a great mother.
INT. RACHEL'S AND LUKE'S LOFT - NIGHT
The door of the freight elevator CLANGS open. As Rachel and Luke
step out into their loft, the phone is RINGING.
She looks to Luke. Then RUNS to SNATCH it up...
INTERCUT: INT. ANNABELLE'S CLOSET - JACKIE'S HOUSE
Annabelle with a phone in her closet. Hearing Rachel, she hangs
up. A pink POST IT creeps under the door. CAN I JOIN YOU FOR
DESSERT IN THE CLOSET? VANILLA OR CHOCOLATE YOGURT. PLEASE CHECK
INT. RACHEL'S AND LUKE'S LOFT - FRIDAY NIGHT
The most beautiful little puppy in the world -- sitting in a puddle
of pee on a hardwood floor.
Aw George...not again... who wants to
help clean up this time?
She looks around -- completely exhausted. It's late. Annabelle is
video taping the dog pee. Ben's in the kitchen talking to himself.
He pours and sprinkles, working intently on a MAGIC POTION.
Why do you make that face when you talk
(she imitates Rachel)
And that voice you use...you think I'm
deaf or something?
Ben ZAPS the magic potion theatrically with his fingertips.
(reaching for her)
I'm sorry, okay? Let's not fi...
Don't touch me! I'm allergic to you!
She starts sneezing furiously and scratching. Ben comes out of the
kitchen carrying a steaming cup of potion.
"Those who travel far and near this
will make you DISAPPEAR!"
I have to work on my video project!
Don't follow me! I can put myself to
She races upstairs. Rachel follows. So does Ben. And George.
Excuse me --
Annabelle let's get something clear.
I don't have to listen to you! You're
not my mother.
Thank God for that!
She leaves the room SLAMMING the door behind her. Takes a breath,
turns, and walks back in.
What I meant and perhaps I didn't say
it well was you have a great mom. You
don't need another one. But when
you're at this house --
This is my daddy's house --
This is my house too!
And this is my room so get out!
Rachel throws open the door. Ben stands there innocently.
I made you some cocoa. See?
Thank you Ben. That was so sweet of
(pointedly to Annabelle)
Goodnight Annabelle. Sweet dreams.
Rachel leads Ben to his room. With Rachel safe out of sight,
Annabelle takes the puppy into her arms and cuddles it.
INT. BEN'S ROOM - RACHEL'S AND LUKE'S HOUSE - NIGHT
Rachel, dead on his feet, reads "Goodnight Moon" to Ben.
"In the great green room there was a
telephone and a red balloon..."
Aren't you going to drink your cocoa?
It's the good kind.
(faking a big sip)
Mmmm! Tasty. You're a master chef Ben.
Just like your dad.
Ben points to the book -- she 'reads' skipping pages, a hundred
miles an hour desperate to get to the end of the book.
"Goodnight moon, goodnight hush,
goodnight mush, goodnight goodnight
goodnight Gracie -- Goodnight Ben!
No! You're cheating -- you have to start
from the beginning and you have to read
the whole thing I can't sleep otherwise.
Ben's eyes are glued to her. She lays down next to him, yawns.
"In the great green room there was a
telephone and a red balloon..."
"And a picture of the cow jumping over
(laying head down)
That's nice Ben.
Ben reads until Rachel's asleep. He looks at her in AWE.
No response. Rachel's really asleep. He lifts her head. It flops
down! In HORROR he jumps off the bed and with a quick look back,
races from the room, and...
...DARTS down the hallway, BUMPING into walls -- He LEAPS inside
Annabelle's room, SLAMMING the door behind him.
Ben! What's wrong?
I killed her!
Ben and Annabelle gape at one another, stunned.
EXT. JACKIE'S HOUSE - MORNING
Rachel pulls up FAST in Luke's Grand Cherokee. As she SCREECHES to
a stop, the kids pile out with their gear.
Rachel takes an anxious look toward Jackie's place. Here we go.
INT. JACKIE'S KITCHEN - MORNING
The clock reads 8:10. Rachel and the kids enter. Annabelle's hair
is brushed forward, hiding her face. Ben is ebullient. Jackie's
edgy, ready to snap.
How do you hold down a job? It's 8:10.
You were supposed to be here at 7:00.
She's missed her sunrise Groom'n Ride.
This is Friday, her riding lesson is
(pulls out post it)
I got it right here...
Every Tuesday except the 3rd Tuesday of
the month when it's switched to Friday
except in April when she rides on
Thursday. It's not that hard. Didn't
you have a mother?
Can I please have a cup of coffee?
We don't have any coffee.
What is this? The Betty Ford Center?
Annabelle, how's your video rep...
Annabelle RUSHES past her. Ben saunters off after his sister.
Jackie turns to Rachel, accusingly.
What happened with Annabelle? Has
nothing I said gotten through to you?
Maybe you could back off just a little
What did you do?
Nothing. Look, I want to talk to you
about...well...Luke said to ask you...
Jackie's edge sharpened by Rachel's unease.
See, the place where I can connect
with Annabelle is my photography.
Because she loves video and all...
She's been talking about this little
editing machine, it's only...
...a ridiculously expensive and
inappropriate item, which her father
and I have already told her she is far
too young to own. But you apparently
want to buy her forgiveness, with...
Forgiveness? For what, exactly?
How much time have you got? Let's
start with this morning. Why did she
run from this room?
Long beat. Then, Rachel looks dead on at Jackie.
Luke was in the shower this morning and
Annabelle sort of walked in without
I'm sure that didn't upset her.
Everyone in our family takes showers.
I was in there in him.
The air is thick with tension.
Did you or Luke talk to her about it
No. I thought it might be uncomfortable
for her --
You mean for you. A 10-year-old girl is
coping with the fact that her father is
never coming back to live with his
family. She sees her father naked with
another woman for the first time.
And you think it's best for her if every-
one pretends it didn't happen?
This isn't going to work out.
You're damn right. I'm gonna sick of
your imperious bullshit. I never said I
was Betty Fucking Crocker. If every time
life hits her in the face you want to
have a 12 hour talk every third Friday
or the month -- go ahead! I have a life!
Oh and I don't because I have a children?!
The problem is you're too self-involved
to ever be a mother.
Maybe the problem is your kids. Maybe
they're spoiled, coddled brats!
(holding up Post Its)
But it's not on the schedule!
You got to hell!
Jackie turns away, storming out of the room.
Ah Ah Ah! You owe me a quarter --
INT. YMCA KITCHEN - DAY
Luke stands in an apron before Annabelle's Girl Scout Troop,
rolling out a large pie dough. They imitate his every move.
Now Ladies, the secrets to a great pie
is the crust. And the secret to a
great flaky pie crust comes from less
flour and more...what?
Ice cold water.
That's my girl...
Rachel watches from a corner.
Blueberry pie must be topped with vanilla
Haagan Daz and/or creme fraiche...now the
secret to a great creme fraiche is...
ALL THE GIRLS
...which also is the secret to...
ALL THE GIRLS
Now don't forget to teach your fathers
that. Next week...apple brown betty!
He takes off his apron and walks toward Rachel as the girls file
She said no.
He doesn't even know what she's talking about.
The editing machine. I mean,
Annabelle would have really loved it.
She looks down.
It would have been great for us,
so obviously, Jackie just...
Eyes down. Choosing her words.
She's really a difficult person...
Best thing ever happened to you was
her throwing you out on your butt.
Not that I have a personal stake
He comes and kisses her.
Get ready. To get really mad.
Uh. Annabelle's video report has been
Hey, I sold my body to Satan to clear
Friday at two o'clo...
We have the kids. Next weekend.
And it's my call. I promised them
water-skiing, instead o...
Our weekend. At that sweet little
B & B.
He puts his arms around her.
And the evil part is. I am so stoked
about the water-skiing. I can't wait.
He tastes her mouth. And again. A sweet, hot moment. Her fingers
trace up his neck. To his hair.
No, this is good. Celibacy is
healthy. For a guy your age. You'll
get used to it.
From the kiss that follows. He won't have to.
INT. JACKIE'S KITCHEN - DAY
CLOSE ON an ANSWERING MACHINE. IT CLICKS, WHIRLS, and...
Hi, it's the trophy bimbo. Annabelle's
teacher called, and her video report
is being moved up to 8:30 tomorrow.
Sorry to deprive your step aerobics
class of their role model.
Pause. PULL BACK to see...
Anyway. I'm sorry I lost my temper
the other day. And I'm sure you are,
...BEN, looming over the hardware. Fingers poised above the
buttons, and he...
...no, apology necessa...
...strikes! Playing all the keys at once. Like chords on a baby
INT. CLASSROOM - MORNING
CLOSE on a small TV MONITOR, the angelic face of 10-year-old TAMARA,
practicing for the Miss America Diplomatic Interview, circa 2009...
Well, I I had a million dollars...
I would use it to...feed all the
precious hungry children of the world.
And bring about total world peace.
PULL BACK to see the class and teacher watching raptly. Filmmaker
Annabelle in the seat of honor next to her proud father. Rachel in
the back of the room, anxiously looking at the back door. While on
...another face. JARED, bad as he wanna be...
A million big ones. Oh. I'd buy
about a thousand babes. Not to do
anything bad, I mean. Just to hang
Near the monitor, Annabelle's eyes are also furtively cutting to
the classroom's back door. On screen now...
...the handsomest 10-year-old since DiCaprio. BRAD the Dreamboat.
Stares soulfully at the camera. Murmurs...
Well, first off, Annabelle. I'd
give half of it. To you.
The class OOOOOS, WHISTLES. Annabelle flushes, but she clearly
likes it. Brad grins a Redford grin her way. And through the back
...a harried, disheveled JACKIE. Still in workout clothes. As on
There you have it. Now ask yourself
...what would YOU do?
The screen goes BLACK. The class, teacher and especially Luke
ERUPT with APPLAUSE. So does Jackie, who has locked eyes across
the room with her mortally-wounded abandoned daughter. Then
Jackie's eyes CUT TO...
...Rachel, a deer in headlights. Death by Army ants would be too
INT. SCHOOL HALLWAY
Annabelle, Luke and Jackie GLARING at Rachel, who looks awkwardly at
her feet. KIDS stream past, unaware of the gravity of the moment.
Machines do not EAT message.
Of all the cheap excuses. To break a
The jury is in. There is no appeal. Jackie takes her daughter's
Don't worry, sweetie, there's still
the Harvest Pageant. And you are
the lead vegetable...
Said with bottomless pride.
And nothing. And no one. Can
keep me away.
One laser look at Luke. This bitch is your responsibility. And
she leads her baby off.
EXT. JACKIE'S HOUSE - DAY
A parked VAN, packed with SNOWBOARDS and ski gear. No people. PAN
across the suburban lawn to...
...Luke, dejected, at Jackie's door. Rachel nearby, still peers
into the window of an unlit, empty house. A cellular phone RINGS.
Luke WHIPS it out, like the Governor's pardon hangs in the
JACKIE (O.S., from carphone)
You paged us?
Where are you?
INTERCUT throughout...Jackie on her cellular, herding the kids
toward a CIRCUS TENT...
Just outside the big top, we're
At the Big Apple Circus, it's the
only big top I know. I said I'd
get 'em back tonight...
Jackie, we were taking them water-
skiing for the whole weekend!
...until the plan changed, when
Jessie's mom gave us these tickets.
What, Rachel. 'forgot' I told her?
Luke's eyes DART to an uncomprehended Rachel. She's never seen
him this angry.
Don't tell me. Another machine ate
another message? Boy, there's a lot
of that going around! Put her on, huh?
A beat. He hands the phone to Rachel. She brings it to her ear...
Think twice. Before you ever pull
CLICK. The line is dead. And so is Rachel.
EXT. CENTRAL PARK CASTLE - DAY
A glum Annabelle and Ben sitting on a bench watching Rachel at her
photo shoot, George between them.
A beautiful WOMAN appears in the turret -- she lets down her hair --
a modern day RAPUNZEL -- her golden locks fall 17 feet -- now a BURST
of yellow -- as a hundred YELLOW CANARIES fly out from her mane! A
beautiful MAN begins to CLIMB the hair. FLASH! The man DANGLING
in mid air surrounded by canaries.
Rachel works with intense concentration. It's been hours.
Annabelle and Ben are completely bored.
The timing was off -- I need this light.
Just where I wanna be all Saturd...
But we're hungry -- and I have to pick
up my costume for the pageant! It
starts at seven!
It's only one o'clock...Why don't you
get another Fudgesicle -- I'll be done
soon -- really soon.
Annabelle and Ben. Rolling their eyes.
LATER...Annabelle asleep on the bench. Rachel stands over her, a
canary on her finger.
Lunch time Sleeping Beauty. Where's
Ben? Is he in the bathroom?
I don't know...I feel like I'm gonna
EXT. PARK MEN'S ROOM
Annabelle stands with Rachel by a line of empty urinals.
What if he's kidnapped?
He's not kidnapped he's -- he's just
hiding -- he's just -- BENNNN? GODDAMMIT!
Panicked, she grabs Annabelle's hand.
Don't touch me! You bring bad luck!
Rachel. Starting to believe it.
INT. CASTLE TOWER - MOMENTS LATER
Breathless, Annabelle and Rachel CLIMB the castle stairs when they
hear WHIMPERING -- Rachel follows the whimpering -- RUNNING --
Ben! Ben we're here! BEN!
In the corner of the tower we see GEORGE staring up at her. But
Ben is NOWHERE to be found.
He's gone forever and I'm gonna miss
Rachel once more. Her life flashing before her eyes.
EXT. POLICE STATION, CENTRAL PARK - LATER
Jackie BLASTS up in the Volvo, SLAMS to a stop in a non-spot, RACES
INT. POLICE STATION - DAY
Jackie RUNS through the police station moving down corridors past
desks until she sees BEN sitting with TWO POLICEMEN on a bench.
She holds him to her chest, shaking.
Ben! Oh my Ben! Are you alright?
I knew where I was all the time.
INT. AUDITORIUM - THAT EVENING
Ben sits between Jackie and Luke holding each of their hands.
Rachel sits on the other side of Luke; all waiting for the Harvest
Pageant to begin. It's horribly tense.
Jackie? I am so sorry about today I
really fucked up royalty. When you
called Luke I was so goddamn relieved --
Luke elbows her with an "We're in an Elementary School" elbow.
No I did -- I know I did -- I screwed
up. I feel like such an asshole...
Jackie lifts Ben onto her lap, holding him tightly. She turns and
faces Rachel, claws bared.
The lights go down. They sit pretending the other is not there.
On stage -- The class is dressed as the harvest PRODUCE. Annabelle
is the CORN. Each FOOD DISH steps forward and introduces itself.
Annabelle rehearing her line over and over.
"Hello! I am Maze. But you can call
me Corn. Hello! I am..."
Inside her costume, her breathing is sharp. She stands very
straight, very bold. A brazen ear of corn. She steps forward.
"Hello! I am...
Rachel POPS UP next to the stage with her huge PROFESSIONAL CAMERA
and giant flash. Her camera FLASHES three times, quickly. After
each flash, we see the picture for a split second, Annabelle. A
TERRIFIED ear of corn. A LOST ear of corn.
In the audience, Jackie is willing her daughter a recovery. Sees
instead, a completely DEVASTATED ear of corn.
(exploding in tears)
Oh forget it!
She runs offstage amidst laughter and applause. Luke looks over at
Jackie but she and Ben have already left their seats.
EXT. AUDITORIUM FOYER - NIGHT
Jackie comforts Annabelle. Ben watches closely, getting caught up
in his sister's sadness. Luke and Rachel approach.
I hate her. I really hate her.
There you are!
(covering her face)
Don't take my picture!
She starts to cry. Ben's lip quivers, his eyes well up.
Annabelle doesn't really want to talk
to you right now.
I'm sorry I didn't mean to break your
concentration. I thought it would be
a nice moment to rememb...
I don't ever want to remember this!
A TURKEY approaches.
They're taking a picture of the
Produce, we need the Corn. C'mon
See? No one's laughing at you. Your
friends want you to join them, Anna-
belle. Corn is a very important part
of the Harvest Produce. Now Ben, walk
your sister over to the Yams.
Ben takes Annabelle's hand. When they are gone...
Jackie, if I thought for one moment...
(lighting into Luke)
You listen carefully because I am only
going to say this once. That woman has
nothing more to do with my children.
Do you realize what could have hap-
pened to your son today? How lucky we
are the police found him before some
lunatic did? He could have been...
But he hasn't. He wandered off. I
know it's terrifying. I can imagine
how you felt when that call came -- But
Not to me.
Jackie, you've made mistakes -- We all
make mistakes --
I'm not gonna wait around to see the
next one. I'm not gonna watch my kids
fall through the cracks of this
arrangement. I'm seeing a lawyer.
Jackie stop. We promised we never go
We've broken a lot of promises,
haven't we Luke?
Why are you taking this out on him?
Rache, get out of th...
(still to Jackie)
You haven't done one goddam thing to
make any of this easier...
I am not here to make it easier for
you. These are my children. They
don't want to be with you.
Well, maybe they would if they thought
it was okay, with y...
(poking Luke's chest)
A court order is gonna say that woman
is never alone with my children! Ever
again! Do you HEAR that?
All of New Jersey heard that. On the silence that follows, she
stalks off. The mother lion. Doing what she has to do.
EXT. NORTH VALE STABLES - DAY
Jackie and her children ride HORSES side by side through a perfect
Fall afternoon. Our riders look about alertly, as if patrolling
Guinevere, Godiva, I sense enemy
I don't want to be Lady Godiva
anymore, no matter how much I like
chocolate. I want to be a stud.
In distance, a gaggle of GROUNDSKEEPERS. Jackie points these out
to Ben, without missing a beat...
Lord Nelson, Napoleon's troops. I
fear for the women and the property
I'll ride ahead. Nelson, protect the
And she canters off, blood in her eye. Alone now with his mom, Ben
has something serious on his mind.
Mommy? It's not Rachel's fault I ran
No, that's your fault. It's her fault
for not watching over my precious son,
as if it were her priority. Which
means, the most important job.
(thinks about this)
Rachel's job is she works.
Ben, mommies work too. They work very
hard. Mommy works harder as a mom
than she did when she was working. I
just don't get paid.
Does Rachel make a lot of money?
People like Rachel who only think about
themselves often do make a lot of money.
I think she's pretty, Mommy.
Yes...if you like big hair...
If you want me to hate her I will.
On Jackie. Stunned. Her lips part for an answer. But she hasn't
EXT. JACKIE'S HOUSE - NIGHT
Luke pacing around on the path through Jackie's front lawn. Jackie
exits the house, alone. Stands on the porch. And they stare at
You know, you can come inside the
He looks at the end of his rope. She walks down to him.
Did you see the lawyer?
Called him. We set an ap...
(almost a whisper)
Don't do this.
So vulnerable. The air comes out of her. We see how much she
still cares for this man.
You're saying, don't make the kids
a football, don't put them through a
war. But I'm doing this for their
Partly. But partly, you're mad.
Staring. At each other.
You know the kids aren't really in
danger. This is about Rachel, and
you're right, I'm disappointed in her
learning curve, and...
Slugs. Have faster learning curves.
He takes a breath.
(here it is)
I'm afraid she's going to walk.
And I'm supposed to care.
He reaches out. Takes her hands.
About me, yeh. Like I care about you.
She looks in his eyes.
Like you cared about me three
He shrugs. Looks saddened by that.
Hey. You kicked me out.
And just this once. With all that's happened. Jackie needs to
Maybe you should talk to your
daughter, about why. She seems to
have missed that part.
Now he looks ashamed. And sorry from his heart.
Forget I said that.
He has to tell her...
This thing with Rache. I need this.
I don't want to lose her. And I will
see to it that the kids don't suffer.
Help me, huh?
I'd do it for you.
Yes, he would. Despite everything, she knows that.
One last chance, don't make me
Her voice tried to be tough. But the tension showed through.
...or you will, too.
A last look. She walks slowly. Back toward the house.
EXT. CAR POOL LINE, ELEMENTARY SCHOOL - AFTERNOON
The last cars are pulling away. No kids left, except the ones
shooting hoops. Except. On the low brick ledge by the flag
...Annabelle sits. Alone. Quietly freaking.
INT. RACHEL'S STUDIO - AFTERNOON
Rachel and Cooper sit on a bare floor SURROUNDED by countless
PROOFS of FLYING CANARIES. An assistant brings a cell phone to
Rachel, who holds it in place with her shoulder, as she frantically
sorts through the prints...
...no, no, that is not possible. You
must have the wrong little gir...
...because Annabelle's mother never
forgets, is never late, is never
imperfect. So that's some other kid
sitting on the curb by the car pool li...
Listen. All the air comes out. She looks around, sadly, at all
the work surrounding her.
May I remind you that Duncan has the
client arriving at exac...
Sure. I was just doin' my nails.
INT. RADIOLOGY LAB - AFTERNOON
A cavernous sterile room. A horrible METALLIC HAMMERING sound.
PAN to see that it comes from...
...a white cylindrical TUBE. Bare feet protrude. An MRI is in
progress. The sound stops. The body SLIDES from the tube, a woman
in a hospital gown. She is Jackie.
She blinks at the light. Her eyes are drawn, a million miles away.
A lot on her mind. A TECHNICIAN enters the room...
Your paper went off during the
procedure. Do you want the number?
Jackie turns, suddenly focusing...
Wait...what time is it?
INT. PRINCIPAL'S OFFICE - AFTERNOON
Annabelle sits glumly, refusing to eat some chips from the bag in
Rachel's hand. Rachel's voice is low, soothing. Dare we say,
Hey, sea salt and vinegar, I know
this is your fave.
Annabelle keeps her eyes down. This is more than a sulk. She
seems fairly unglued.
C'mon, these are the Bomb, I prom...
Now could she just...forget me!
Looks up. Eyes desperate.
I mean, that's something you would do!
Rachel stares back. Eats a chip. Decides...
Tell ya the truth? I did.
The kid blinks. A non-compute.
Your mom had to...help a friend with
this...emergency? And she called me.
And we switched days. Then, I got
stuck on my shoot, and...
Rachel WHIRLS to see JACKIE filling the doorway, Annabelle flying
to her mother's arms. The women's eyes meet. How much did she
INT. JACKIE'S BATHROOM - NIGHT
Jackie brushing out Annabelle's hair. Jackie's eyes are distant.
Annabelle watching in the mirror.
Are you worried about your friend?
With the emergency?
Jackie's eyes come back to focus. Hmmn?
Oh, I'm waiting on some news, that's
all. Say. Can I ask you why you
never asked me something you probably
asked Daddy anyway?
And she smiles. Real carefree. So Annabelle smiles back.
You can try.
More brushing. Gentler, slower strokes.
Daddy was washing Rachel. In the
shower. What did you think that was
Sex. Of course.
Well, not exactly s...
Why does Rachel scream?
Does she mean what Jackie thinks she means?
How would you know sh...
I live. In the same country.
Her mother laughs. Encouraged...
Oh God oh God Oh God oh God oh God
...why do you think?
Because it feels really incredibly
Jackie moves around. Leans to stare in her eyes.
So why are you asking me?
I like talking about it. At least,
The look holds. Almost a bittersweet smile plays on Jackie's lips.
She leans to kiss her daughter's head.
Same here, huh?
INT. RACHEL'S DARKROOM - MORNING
TOTAL DARKNESS -- Slowly an IMAGE APPEARS -- Floating in a pool of
water. It's a photo of a child's FEET. Only the wrong shoe is on
the wrong foot. Suddenly, KNOCKING...
Hold on! Don't let the light...
Jackie enters, leaving the door wide OPEN.
I'm sorry. Look, I'm not real
comfortable being here, but...
I don't recall inviting you.
I overhead what you told Annabelle.
Unreadable faces. What are they feeling?
I have a snoop.
I didn't need you to take the blame
for me, I'm quite...
I didn't do it for you. Believe me.
And Jackie. Finds that interesting.
She already hates me. You've seen to
You're not terribly good at taking
care of h...
I need practice.
Those are my children you're
practicing on. They deserve first-
rate care. Every minute. Of every
night. And every day.
So why did y...
I did it for her.
Straight to her eyes.
Poor kid has to believe in someone.
Even if it's you.
Nothing friendly about it. But Jackie hasn't come seeking
I have an appointment this after-
noon. I need someone to take them
to the park.
What? And have Federal agents jump
out of the bushes with court orders?
How many years do you get in this
state for giving second-rate care to
Hard looks. All around.
However many. It's not enough.
I'm already on thin ice. Yesterday,
I actually thought my boss was going
to fire me.
Fine, forget it.
But neither of them wants her to. A Mexican Standoff. Until
Jackie empties her huge purse on the counter.
Bandaids for cuts. Bandaids for new
shoe blisters. Packet of Wash n Dri's.
Kleenex. Sugar free lollipops, potty
seat covers for public restrooms...
Why not just bring the whole toilet?
Ben likes to be read to. Do you know
Do you have a word limit you need to
hit every day or can I finish?
This silences Rachel. Jackie hands her a Post It.
Here's their schedule for this after-
noon. I'll meet you at the park at
five. All I ask is that they're alive
when I get there.
And scoops up the parenting paraphernalia.
And walks out the door.
INT. STUDIO CORRIDOR - MORNING
Jackie stands outside a door. Deciding. She knocks and enters...
...Duncan's office. He sits behind his desk, across from a client.
Both men looking up at this stranger.
Mr. Samuels? Forgive the intrusion,
I'm Jacqueline Harrison, and...
The sweetest smile she's got. Which is pretty good.
...well, I just wanted to thank you.
For your generosity.
...my daughter had a terrible
emergency yesterday. My husband and I
couldn't be reached, and...your Ms.
Kelly came to Annabelle's rescue.
I'd hate to think what might have
Shakes her hand.
She told me that you were so suppor-
tive, even at great inconvenience to
your business, and...
An amazing smile.
It's wonderful to see a successful
man. With that sense of priorities.
Well...under the circumstances...
If I can ever repay your kindness. It
would be my great pleasure.
Backing out the door...
...and your Ms. Kelly? A remarkable
The client is beaming.
(clearing his throat)
We think so.
INT. DOCTOR'S OFFICE - AFTERNOON
CLOSE on Jackie, looking down. She seems to be staring at
something in her lap...
I don't even know what that means.
Spread. That is very unclear.
...but there is nothing there. Her lap is empty. Except for her
unnaturally still hands.
FEMALE VOICE (O.S., gently)
I means we found some cells. In your
lymph nodes. In three of them.
The hands come together. Slowly, deliberately. Stating to anyone
who would watch that there is no panic here.
But the other time. You said you got
it all. So you could be wrong again.
One time, you say one thing, then...
FEMALE VOICE (O.S.)
The other time. Was a year ago.
The air comes out of Jackie. In a thin, slow, precise stream.
Everything, her very breath. Under complete control.
FEMALE VOICE (O.S.)
That was a tiny lump in the breast.
We radiated, we thought we had it
all. We were hopeful. But there
were no guarantees.
Silence. Jackie's eyes stay on her folded, still, hands.
But we can beat it.
PULL BACK to see the small, neatly kept office. DR. SWEIKERT is
50, slender, elegant, kind. The doctor you want when you're dying.
Jackie looks up to her.
People beat it, don't they? All
Every day. More and more.
Jackie swallows. The confirmation of hope has allowed some of the
fear to show.
So we'll...radiate some more?
At first. Then, after awhile, some
A blow. Jackie absorbs this.
That's necessary, huh?
Let's take our best shot.
Jackie nods. Staring at the woman. Then, to break the spell...
I guess a no-hair day beats a
The doctor smiles. Jackie looks at her watch...
I have to get dressed. My ex-husband
has asked me to dinner. God knows
why, he was very mysteri...
Have you still never told him?
A flash of the anger flickers.
Why would his worry? Or my children's
worry. Or anyone's worry. Help the
Sooner than later. You really need
That brings a silence. A shading of defiance to Jackie's features.
You don't burden others needlessly.
That's how I was raised, Doctor.
Hold the look.
Maybe at dinner tonight. Think
INT. JACKIE'S BATHROOM - DUSK
Jackie is getting dressed in front of the mirror, her eyes distant,
in spite of her attempts at control. Annabelle is watching her
like a hawk. We see Ben in the BACKGROUND -- sawing the BABYSITTER
ALISE in half.
Why are you going to a French
Throughout, Annabelle is trying on Jackie's jewelry, making a pest
of herself. Jackie fights against rising irritation.
Because it's quiet. And he wants to
talk. Alise -- Once he saws you in
half, it's bedtime...
What are you gonna talk about?
Probably you -- your brother -- school --
The solar system...The usual...
Then why are you putting on mascara?
I'm a little tired and it's just a
But you only wore mascara when you and
Daddy went on romantic dates...
Well Daddy and I are just friends
now, and that's no reason not to
Or blush. You look pale.
EXT. RESTAURANT - NIGHT
A Country French place on the West Side. Classy, but inviting.
INT. FRENCH RESTAURANT - NIGHT
Jackie and Luke sit across from each other in the lovely
restaurant. Jackie looks beautiful in the warm candlelight.
...Maybe you don't think three years
is enough for a person to change
but...things are different now Jackie.
Jackie feels her heart beginning to race. They lock eyes for a
moment. He unconsciously begins to eat off her plate. He eats
her chicken, and in the dance they've done a thousand times -- she
reaches for his uneaten vegetables. The WAITER approaches.
Would you and your wife prefer
still or sparkling water?
He doesn't correct the waiter.
(when the waiter leaves)
Annabelle showed me the new dress.
She's amazing in it.
Getting so beautiful...she looks more
like you every day.
(Luke downs Jackie's wine)
Jackie...I've really given this a lot
of thought. A great deal of thought...
Their eyes lock for a moment. Here it comes...
I'm gonna marry Rachel. I know you don't
think much of her but she's a special
person -- she really is. And I love her.
This is a bridge we never wanted to cross
but it's not helping her or the kids if I
don't really commit to that.
Jackie stares at him stonefaced.
I didn't think a phone call was
Tell me exactly how you're different
from three years ago? The music
sounds kind of the same from where
He shifts in his chair. Wants this to sound as authentic as he
I grew up, a little. I'm ready for a
life that's built around commitm...
Just not to me.
The waiter returns with a bottle of red wine. It's horribly quiet
as he pours. Waits, obtrusively.
Thank you, it's fine...
Would you like to taste it?
Can we please have less service, here?
The waiter leaves, taking his attitude with him. Luke sighs...
It's going to be hard for the kids
when I tell them...I'd like you to
To make it easier for them or you?
It's a huge moment in their life --
You can't be an 'us' just when you
want to. You can't play that card
when it's convenient.
WE are over.
WE'RE still their parents for the next
On this, Jackie looks down at her hands.
You're still going to have to be
dealing with me -- with us. We should
tell them together.
No. You think this is going to help
the kids then you do it. You're on
INT. RACHEL'S AND LUKE'S LIVING ROOM - THAT NIGHT
Jackie sits next to Luke on the couch -- looking lovingly towards the
children, who sit across from them. Annabelle is taping this...
The great thing about life is that
things keep changing.
Remember when Mommy and Daddy got
And we all went through that together?
ON Ben. OH MY GOD. He knew it!
ON ANNABELLE -- Behind the video camera -- Where's this headed?
Well things are going to change
Ben LEAPS up from the couch and FLIES into Jackie's arms.
I knew it! I knew it! I knew you
guys were getting back together!
Jackie looks at Luke. Annabelle ZOOMS IN on their faces.
No they're not.
Annabelle put down that camera.
She ZOOMS in on his face.
Put down that goddamn camera!
You owe me a quarter.
Look she's upset --
No I'm not. I don't care. Why should
I care? I mean nobody asked me when
you got divorced. Nobody asked me if
I wanted a new mother. Nobody even
asked me if I like her. If you guys
don't care about our family staying
together, why sh...
Daddy and I tried hard. We really did.
No you didn't! All you guys did was
name call! I heard you! You didn't
even try and use your words!
Ben runs out of the room. Luke follows him.
INT. BEN'S ROOM - CONTINUOUS
Ben pulls his cape over his head and hides in a bundle in the
I'm disappearing. I'm almost
I'll find you wherever you go...my
magic boy...I'm still your daddy...
nothing will ever change that.
INT. LIVING ROOM - CONTINUOUS
Jackie moves to Annabelle who won't put down the camera.
Annabelle...Rachel's not taking my place
as your mother -- it's just Daddy's chance
to be happy again. Isn't that what we
all want for each other?
No answers. Jackie looks at this daughter she loves so much. Pats
the seat beside her...
Something in the softening of the tone changes the atmosphere in
the room. More real. More like equals.
Life is full of hard things. And we
can't always have what we want, you
Don't you? Annabelle nods, cautiously.
But we do have a choice. To make it
better. Instead of worse.
Like seeing the good side of Rachel.
So she'll see the good side of us.
Annabelle's stare is hard and questioning. She didn't expect this.
Because I'm looking ahead. And you
know what I see...?
Annabelle doesn't. But she sure is listening.
Time will come. When we all need to
be there. For each other.
Strokes her baby's hair.
That happens. To families.
I'll be there for you.
Her mother's eyes cloud with feeling. A murmured...
I'm counting on it.
INT. RACHEL'S AND LUKE'S KITCHEN - LATE AFTERNOON
Barely any light in the empty kitchen. PAN to see Ben, alone, in
his cape. Carefully, he sets a cup of saucer atop a cloth napkin
that lies across the butcher block table.
He GRASPS the corners of the napkin. He looks scared. We get
what's about to happen. As he...
...YANKS the napkin, as FAST as he can, the cup and saucer, RATTLE
Ben. Is astounded.
And then he looks up. To a cabinet filled. With glassware and
INT. RACHEL'S AND LUKE'S BEDROOM - LATE AFTERNOON
...Rachel's HAND as a beautiful ANTIQUE RING is slipped on her
finger. She is asleep. Then, she...
...stirs, wakes. Stares at her hand in shock and delight.
Oh my God. Are you serious?
I think so...What do you think?
I think so too...
They hold each other for a long time.
It's forever you know.
(trying to read him)
Okay...Is that the good thing or the
Because I can't hurt anyone like
this ever again.
How did you hurt someone? She threw
you out, remember?
He does. She hugs him tight.
Everything's gonna work out. The
kids and I...we're going to love
Rache, it may take time.
What's eight, ten years? Hell, you'll
still be ambulatory. I think.
She's counting on her fingers. He kisses her.
It's inevitable. Look, I was
defensive, I was insecure. I was
afraid to love first.
Her incredible smile. Filling even Luke with confidence.
But I'm not anymore.
A sudden horrific CRASHING sound. The breakage of the breakable.
Their look holds.
I'll get this.
A quick kiss. And she's gone.
HOLD on Luke's light smile. Maybe this will all work out.
INT. BEN'S ROOM - LATE NIGHT
Ben is cuddled up in his coverlet. Almost as if he's hiding. She
picks up some stray underpants. Actually, three of them.
Are you real mad?
How could I be? We learned some
She goes to his bed. Sits down.
I made all the pieces disappear.
Oh. She leans toward him...
And you learned...
She kisses his forehead. Very sweetly.
...to make that trick disappear,
He nods. Big time. She stands, smiles...
A night. Of learning.
They share the smile. And Rachel leaves, into the darkened hall.
Down it now, only to...
...stop. Open a door, so quietly. Silently enter...
INT. ANNABELLE'S ROOM - LATE NIGHT
...the room of a sleeping child. Rachel moves soundlessly to
Annabelle's side. Stares down. Listens to the soft breathing.
She straightens the covers slightly, in a maternal way. Then, on
impulse, reaches down...
...tenderly smooths back a strand of hair. One last look. And
...leaves frame. HOLD on Annabelle, as we hear the knob turn. The
door close. Alone, now...
Annabelle opens her eyes. She is thinking.
EXT. JACKIE'S HOUSE - DAY
Rachel dropping off Annabelle at Jackie's door. They must be late,
because Rachel is looking anxiously at her watch. Not even
noticing that Annabelle has pulled out a tube of LIP GLOSS, turning
the shaft to reveal a glittering golden-colored gloss. Then...
Uh. Put that away, hon, your mom w...
The door OPENS. Jackie is dressed for riding.
Sorry I'm late, I got lost dropping
Ben off at Kevin's.
It's okay, it's twenty minutes. The
horse'll be there.
Rachel blinks. Is she on the right planet?
Mom, look what Rache got me!
Uh-oh. The kid holds it up.
It's not to wear around, or any-
thing, I'm way too young. It's
just for play.
That is so pretty. You usually only
see that color in people's teeth.
Annabelle has entered the house, to see on a table by the door a
huge, brightly-wrapped PACKAGE.
Wow. Who's that for?
Well. It's for you.
The kid WHIRLS around. Really?
Just because. Just because I love
you. Go ahead...
Annabelle starts to unwrap the present with Christmas-morning-care.
Jackie looks at the glitter gloss...
I'm sorry, I just...
Hey. At least it's not an editing
No way. I told her two, three years,
maybe, for such an expens...
And stops. Because the paper has come off. A giant deluxe model
beginner's VIDEO EDITOR. Annabelle is STUNNED silent. So's Rachel.
(tears in her eyes)
And JUMPS into Jackie's arms, CRUSHING her with the hug mothers
I hope it's the right kind.
Are you kidding? It is so much better
than the one Rachel showed me!
Jackie strokes her baby's head.
Well, I thought. You know, why wait?
The child turns to Rachel, frozen in the doorwary.
I told you I was big enough! Is my
mom the greatest, or what?
HOLD on the look. The women share.
EXT. NORTH VALE STABLES - DAY
Jackie and Annabelle riding. The kid is still on Cloud Nine.
Jackie's eyes are on her.
...I mean, she knows all the music,
and pop stars, and clothes and stuff.
She's like still a kid, herself.
Like a big sister.
She knows every neat junk food place.
Looks to see if her mom is okay hearing...
Actually. She's kind of cool,
when you get to know her.
Annabelle studies her mom's profile.
And don't tell her I told you.
Secret's safe with me.
INT. LUKE AND RACHEL'S BEDROOM CLOSET - NIGHT
Rachel sits cross-legged on the floor of the walk-in closet. Next
to her, a glass and a botle of Stolie, getting toward the bottom.
An ashtray filled with butts, and...
...a card board box. Dragged out of somewhere. Photo albums, loose
snapshots. Vintage stuff. From her face, this is not a carefree
romp down Memory Lane. She takes another hit on the Stolie. More
than slightly intoxicated, weaving, squinting at...
...the next photo. Luke, young, straddling a Kawasaki. Jackie,
just as young, holding him from behind. She wears a halter and
shorts, and looks simply terrific.
Rachel looks drunk and jealous. With an overlay of self-pity.
Brings the photo closer. Squints harder.
What the fuck is that?
Her worst fears confirmed...
INT. HOSPITAL ROOM - NEW YORK - DUSK
The lights are coming on in The City. Jackie sits staring out the
window, as an IV drips into her arm. She is alone, and down. And
fighting the fear of what may come to pass. Her pager goes OFF.
Jesus. She pulls a cell phone from her purse. Works it with one
hand. Brings up...the smile. Showtime.
Hey, good-lookin', I was just
thinking about calling y...
INTERCUT throughout: Ben on the phone in Rachel's and Luke's
kitchen. He is alone. Staring through the glass window of the
Rache says I have to eat lamb. I
told her you're making me spaghetti!
Honey, this is Thursday. I pick you
up tomorrow, and we do big spaghetti.
And many meatballs.
A nurse enters, and Jackie shoots her with a wave of her fingers.
You'll be up to your armpits in
meatballs, I'm flying them in
Is that like Luigi's?
She loves this kid so much.
Not a lot, sweetie. It's a country.
Like Canada. Only smaller.
Where are you, anyway?
And the feeling comes straight to her eyes. She can't fight it.
I'm somewhere, thinking of you. And
meatballs. And you know what?
Of course, you do. Being magic.
Then you know I've got a flu bug,
and I turn green and barf profusely
when I even think about food. So,
all the more meatballs for you. But
you know what.
I did. Do I have to eat lamb?
Daddy didn't cook it, she did.
Do me a favor? Eat it, and then
give me a secret report, okay? Pay
particular attention to whether it's
chewy and if it tastes more like
chocolate or soup.
He laughs. And she can hear that. And her eyes fill. And she
Hey, that's a world-class laugh
you got there. Can I all you
sometime? If I fell blue.
A silence. And for a heartbeat, the fear. Did he hear it in my
voice? But no...
Sure. You got my number.
And now she's crying. But she can't. She can't. Gains control
for a whispered...
That I do. Always will.
I'm fine, ba...
Tomorrow? Can I have one
butterscotch pudding for dessert?
See her relief. Secret still safe.
We can only have two.
INT. SUPERMARKET - DAY
Jackie is pushing her cart. Ben sits in it, pulling things off the
shelves. On automatic she's putting them back.
Mommy, if your real name's Jackie and
I call you mommy; and Rachel's real
name's Rachel...Then when I see her do
I say hi Stepmommy? And if my name's
Ben, how come you don't call me son?
(lost in thought)
Frustrated, Ben CLIMBS OUT of the cart and trails behind Jackie.
He reaches for an apple off the BOTTOM of a huge display of Red
Delicious, and the whole thing comes TUMBLING DOWN. Shaken, she
looks around for Ben. He's gone.
INT. SUPERMARKET MANAGER'S STATION - DAY
Jackie with a Store Manager and a Policeman stand at the front of
the store near the Bakery. Jackie is totally distraught.
I looked away for one second...
Just one second...he's...he's...
How would you describe him?
He's my son! He looks like his
father! His name is Ben -- he
answers to Harry --
Is he wearing a red shirt?
The manager POINTS to the frozen food bin. There, lying on his
back atop dwindling stores of Breyer's ice cream...is Ben. Hands
and beaming face PRESSED to the underside of the glass. Jackie
does the only reasonable thing...
...and FLINGS OPEN Snow White's glass coffin.
ARE YOU CRAZY, YOU COULD SUFFOCATE
Nope. I got my warm t-shirt.
Enough of a non-sequitur to make everybody blink, before Jackie
YANKS him, roughly and tenderly, from the bin. She CRUSHES him in
a violent, desperate hug...
You found me cause I'm your
She kisses him fiercely. At the edge of tears. Whispers...
You got that right.
EXT. SOCCER FIELD - 3 O'CLOCK PRACTICE
Luke coaching the girls team. Annabelle one of many who surround
him for that final word of wisdom...
Alright my Little Warriors, remain
calm; trust that the ball will find
you; remember they're your opponent
not your enemies -- Not kick MAJOR
In the bleachers, Jackie sits alone with Rachel. They are having a
coaching session of their own. Rachel points down to the field,
...Annabelle pushes her hair over her eyes.
She's gonna trip over her own feet,
if she doesn't get her hair out of
Jackie casts a sidelong glance at Rachel. Decides to tell her...
Pushing her hair over her eyes.
Means she's avoiding a confrontation.
Rachel looks over. Really? Jackie decides to share more. Reading
Rachel's reaction to...
If she's twirling it, she's playing
something out in her mind. If she's
stopped combing it, she might be
As Rachel listens she's unconsciously twisting her hair.
What about obsessively picking her
Last week when she chopped her
Barbie's bangs all to hell --
She was angry at herself.
When I twisted hair like this it
means I'm intimidated by you...
Jackie gives her the trace of a smile.
I'll keep it in mind, and use it
She looks back down at the game. Rachel watching her profile.
You feeling all right?
Not great. Plus, I've got things on
my mind. You know.
Things. Rachel doesn't know. Blurts...
Are you...seeing someone?
Jackie snorts a laugh. In spite of herself.
Yeh, that does tend to make me sick
to my stomach. Actually, I'm, uh...
Thinking. Deciding if this is the time to say...
...thinking of going back to Random
House. On a part-time basis.
Wowie. How wonderful!
But Jackie still hasn't turned. Eyes glued to Annabelle, racing
around with determination.
Well, I could do most of it from
home. But, while I'm working it out
with the head editor, I'd need to...
Sighs. Boy, this is tough. Tries for matter-of-fact...
...make some trips into the city.
Hey, any help you need, we'll cover.
Jackie nods. Appreciates that. But she still hasn't turned to
look Rachel in the eye.
Uh. Have you told Luke and the ki...
Let's...hold up for a bit. It may
not happen. Our secret, okay?
A little strange. Particularly the hardness of Jackie's eyes.
Rachel watching her. Something's up.
Sure, if you like.
Jackie looks away now. To the playground just beyond the
bleachers. Kids rise swings, clamber over a jungle gym. But her
eyes are routinely, automatically, zeroing in on one single kid...
...who is climbing his way UP a tall SLIDE. Crouched over as he
inches up the shiny metal surface, using the side rails. Rachel
follows Jackie's eyes, just as...
...Ben reaches the top and STANDS UP, hands OVER his head, Jackie's
breath catching, Ben totters once and...
...FALLS fast, hitting the grass with a thump we can hear, lying
crumpled, motionless, as our two women...
...SPRING up as one, SCRAMBLING down the bleachers, RUNNING toward
the playground, Jackie initially in the lead, but Rachel out-
sprints her, CLOSING on the child, as he rolls over grasping his
leg, and reaching him first...
...some instinct makes her hold back, let Jackie RUSH past her, to
kneel at Ben's side. She lifts her baby in her arms. His pants
are torn, his leg is bleeding. His own concern...
I can still go to Tucker's party,
INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - DAY
A full house of walk-ins with assorted needs, none of which appear
to require George Clooney on an urgent basis. Across the room, an
irritated Jackie finishes the last of the paperwork at the nurses
station. Exchanges a less-than-pleasantry with the less-than-
helpful duty nurse, and...
...heads off through the crowd, DOWN a hallway, TURNS a corner, to
LUKE stands by a doorway. Smiling, as he gazes into a hospital
room. Jackie comes to his side, looks in...
Ben doesn't see them. His back is turned, as he talks to Rachel,
who sits on the side of his bed, feeding him the pudding she got
from a vending machine.
...for Christmas, okay? Every
magician needs a white dove, a
real one, they do!
Well, that's a long way off, sweetie.
We'll talk to Mom and Dad...
Dad! You can talk him into anything!
Unseen by the two, Luke grins. Then, Ben snuggles into Rachel's
arms and kisses her. Jackie stares.
'In the still...still of the
ni-ight...I held you... held you
so ti-ight'...take it, man...
Jackie stands there. Her eyes are difficult to read. But she sure
She steps back. Looks him in the eye.
It is. It's about time.
He give her a goofy give-me-a-break FACE. She twists the corner
of a smile.
She's a charmer, you'll see. In
fifty years, the kids'll love her
ten percent as much as they love you.
Stop. You're making me insecure.
Now they're smiling at each other. In the old way. A nice moment
You changed your hair.
And we notice. It does look different.
It's good. You're not pulling a
mid-life crisis on us, are you?
Her look holds. An odd extra beat.
Not the term I'd use.
He glances back through the doorway...
You want us to take him tonight?
Give you some private time with
Never stand between that kid and
Yet another spaghetti night.
Yeh, better I should forcefeed
him burnt lamb and...couscous,
was it she made him? Boy, kids
go wild for that.
She pats him on the shoulder...
I'll drop him at Tucker's party
Saturday, if one of you guys can
pick him up. I have to go into
And breezes by him into the room. Ben wheels to see her...
You know what happens to spaghetti
when it waits around for you too
He really thinks. Actually...
Pray. We never find out.
EXT. A PERFECTLY MANICURED TWO STORY HOME - DAY
A door with balloons OPENS -- STACY, the birthday boy's mom, stands
there -- children running behind her in party hats, all with their
conservatively dressed SUBURBAN MOMS. Rachel's attire a sharp
Hi, I'm here to pick up Ben.
Does Jackie know this?
No. I'm doing it behind her back.
In seven years Jackie's never
missed one of Tucker's parties.
Where is she?
Something came up. C'mon Ben!
I've got a shoot at three...
Tucker hasn't penned Ben's present
yet -- it won't be too much longer.
Rachel eyes the MOUND OF PRESENTS yet to be opened. DISSOLVE TO...
FORTY-FIVE MINUTES LATER...Rachel, in a pointed party hat, sits
schmushed on the couch in between all the other MOTHERS. A black
jeans stranger in a strange peach land. She eyes that mound of
presents. Not even a dent. She pulls out her cell phone, moves
towards the hallway.
Hey Cooper...pull a number 64 steel
blue gel on the back light...yeah
I'm on my way but...
A piece of CAKE FLIES through the air and LANDS on Rachel.
Now Ben, let Tucker play with his
Ben won't let go of Tucker's presents. Tucker tries to take it.
Ben is adamant. Rachel reaches for him, tousling his hair.
Hey Benjy boy -- chill.
(he shimmies away from her)
He's there already? No I don't want to
talk to him -- Duncan? How are you...
The mothers are all too aware of Rachel on the phone. Two kids
shoot water guns -- Rachel gets drenched. Ben pulls at the toys...
I want it!
Ben I know you're angry and confused
but it's Tucker's birthday party.
Ben and Tucker fight for it -- the mothers all LOOK TO RACHEL.
Duncan I'm aware of that - Goddamn it
Ben! Let go of it. NOW!
He stares at her. It looks like he's gonna let go --
On the mothers -- impressed, not to mention surprised. When Ben
suddenly HURLS the toy onto the floor SHATTERING IT! A horrible
SILENCE falls over the room. Broken only by the sound of Duncan
SCREAMING from inside the phone.
DUNCAN IN PHONE
Rachel...This is a big bloody account --
If you don't show up in five minutes...
Rachel takes Ben and leads him into another room.
Ben I'm sorry. It's been a hard day.
Now would you do us both a favor and
take this phone and...
She SLAMS the phone SHUT. Hands it to Ben.
...make it disappear.
Okay. He SHOVES it down the front of his pants. The peach moms
are taken aback. Rachel nods, you got it. Delighted, Ben turns,
scampers off, as...
...his pants start RINGING. He stops dead. Looks down at them.
Still RINGING. He turns around and waddles delicately back to
Rachel, as if he's carrying nitro in his shorts. She holds out her
Breaks out the geiger counter, the
man is radio-active!
He pulls the ringing phone from his pants. She grasps it without
hesitation, while peach moms wince in disgust. SNAPS it open...
Get over it, Dunc...
...whoa, whoa, Annab...
Listens. While everybody watches.
Could it be, maybe...anywhere else?
Like...another galaxy would be more
Listening, listening. Everybody really watching. Even Ben.
Okay, don't cry. Flunking science
is not happening. On my watch.
EXT. STACY'S YARD - LATER
All the kids are running around crazily in a hypersugared frenzy.
Peach moms drink diet sodas and chat. Rachel making a call by the
phony little carp pond...
...just that her daughter left a
science book somewhere at her house,
and I need t...
INTERCUT throughout: a starchy, powerful, crisply intellectual
SENIOR EDITOR, in her early fifties and her Jil Sander outfit. The
East Side below her window.
I'm sorry, Ms. Harrison is not here.
I think I mentioned that. Twice.
Well, she's been meeting with the
head editor for the last few w...
Miss, I am Senior Editor. Ms.
Harrison left Random House eleven
years ago. We have not had the pleas-
ure of a visit from her in that time.
Actually, she's going back to
work with your company on a part-
Excuse me. If Jackie Harrison were
coming back to the editorial staff,
I would be frankly delighted. And I.
Would be the first. To know.
Silence. In the midst of hysterical children.
Thank you for your time.
Don't mention it.
And Rachel's line. Is dead.
EXT. JACKIE'S HOUSE - DAY
Rachel alone at Jackie's front door. Staring at the key in her
hand. One last chance to back out.
What the hell.
OPENS the door. Enters the empty home. Walks slowly, self-
consciously, down the hallway. Kitchen, kids' rooms...
Now, if I were a science book,
where would I...
And stops. At the doorway of the master bedroom.
Who am I kidding.
And goes straight to Jackie's desk. Starts rummaging through the
incredibly neat stack of papers...
Great, I'm leaving prints.
The open appointment book. Today's date. Just says, NEW YORK.
Nothing more. Opens a drawer. Stapler, clips, neatly-stacked
stationery. Opens the bottom drawer, and...
...stops. She pulls out...AIRLINE TICKETS. Opens the folder.
Continental Airlines. Newark to San Francisco. And tucked
...a fax, neatly folded. Rachel opens it. The letterhead says,
NORTH POINT PRESS, 134 Sutter Street, San Francisco, California.
CHARLENE DRUMMOND, Editor.
Jackie. Can't wait to see you here.
I know you're anxious. But it's going
to work out wonderfully, I promise.
Til then. Charlie.
HOLD on Rachel. Trying to put this together.
INT. JACKIE'S KITCHEN - NIGHT
Jackie takes a kettle from the stove. Pours the water into a tea
cup. Then, fills a second cup. Drops a tea bag into each.
Carries both cups to...
...the kitchen table. Where Rachel is waiting. She looks more
than tense. Actually, scared. Jackie taking this in, as she sets
down the tea.
Okay, what is this? If you want to
dump Luke on me, no sale. You're
stuck with him.
And before she can sit...
I know your secret.
Jackie FREEZES. To stone. No one says anything. Two hearts
beating at red-line.
I don't know wh...
I was looking for Annabelle's book,
and I found your tickets. And the
note. From your new boss.
My what? Jackie leans forward. Her hands resting on the back of
the chair she never sat in.
You're not working at Random House,
I talked to them.
You're taking the kids. And moving
to San Francisco.
And Jackie has to laugh. Cold. Bitter.
Look, you've never liked me...
Don't flatter yourself.
And I know checking into your life
Nobody likes a snoop.
But I came here to...
All the air comes out of this young woman. so vulnerable, so real.
...to beg you. Not to do it.
And at this. A look of intense interest crosses Jackie's face.
I'd have thought this was the
answer to your prayers. Lose the
witch, and her two brats, in one
swoop. Problems solved.
Rachel is clearly distraught. This is no act.
You can't take Luke's children
away from him.
Jackie thinking. Reading this girl's face.
Bi-coastal parenting. Happens every
day. Luke gets the kids every other
summer, every other holiday, it's not
ideal, but people make it work, and...
We can't live like that.
And Jackie straightens. Cocks her head.
Did I hear the word...
Luke. Can't live like that.
Then let him talks to me. We don't
need you to solve our prob...
...it's my problem, too.
And Rachel's eyes. Fill with tears. She hates that. Jackie won't
take her off the hook. Stands waiting, until...
I got used to...thinking of them.
As...my kids too.
Really. By what right? Six months
of part-time screw-ups?
Rachel lifts her chin. Defiant and tender at once.
No right at all. I just love them.
Now it's Jackie's eyes. That begin to fill. And she hates that
There's so many publishing houses
in New York. Surely, you could find
a good one?
Jackie takes a step back. Shakes her head. Goddammit, life is
full of surprises. She walks around in a little circle. Turns
Sure, I could. If I was looking
Rachel's turn to be surprised. Confused.
You're a moron, kid. You guessed
the wrong secret.
An odd, almost defiant look. Jackie reaches up to her own head,
...slowly, holding eye contact all the way, she slips the wig from
her head. Her scalp covered by the partial regrowth that chemo-
therapy has left her. You can hear Rachel's GASP clear to Kansas.
Charlie Drummond used to be a
colleague at Random House. I'm
crashing at her place, while I take
some new protein injections my
oncologist recommended. I can only
get them in San Francisco.
Rachel's lips part. But no sound comes.
Life's a trade-off. You get cancer,
your hair falls out, but you do get
to smoke dope.
You're not dying.
The kid so painfully sincere.
No such luck. I'm beating the shit
out of this. Pardon my French.
Rachel can't find her breath. She is clearly the worse off of the
two, in this moment. Then she starts to nod...
You bet you are.
How the hell would you know?
I don't, but...
How would you know anything?
That was sharp. Rachel startles slightly.
I exercise, I eat the healthiest
foods, you live on pork rinds and
Ho-Ho's, and I've got cancer!
That leaves a silence.
And cigarettes. I smoke, too.
You are marrying the greatest guy
who walks this earth. Who I have
loved from my heart for twelveyears!
And you walk in. You smile that
smile. You move that boy. And
he's yours for free.
She sags back against the counter.
And you. Love my kids. How fucking
Comes forward. Stalks her.
They came out of my body!
See, I know that.
I have given them morelove and
more care every fifteen minutes of
their lives, than you could manage
in the next fifty years!
Leans over the table. Rachel looks scared to death.
Okay, I'm undeserving.
And staring in Rachel's eyes, Jackie's fierceness fades.
Ironic, that I'm gonna need you.
All the air comes out. Her heart as naked as her skull.
To be a little less. Undeserving.
The look holds. And holds.
Drink your tea while I go vomit.
And turns, goes to the door. Turns back.
You love my kids, that's a start.
We'll work on it.
And gone. Hear her footsteps. Climbing stairs. Rachel lifts her
cup. Looks at it.
This is very good tea!
Then tastes it. Makes a face.
EXT. BAR - EVENING
A graceful stone building with arched windows. Gas lanterns on the
exterior wall and burning dimly inside. Stone gargoyles smile down
on those who enter the heavy, bright red wooden door.
INT. BAR - EVENING
Drinks hour. Upscale crowd. Dim lights, clink of glasses, the hum
of private conversations side-by-side. Civilized as hell. And at
the deuce by the window...
...the man's head is down. We can't see Luke's expression, as he
stares at his clenched hands. We don't need to.
I thought a phone call was
No one smiles at the irony. Not much to smile about.
I could have taken you to that
restaurant, but it would have
been a waste of money.
He loos up. She studies the pain.
I know. I wouldn't know what to
say. If it were you.
We're going to win this.
Walk in the park. And thanks for
Tears fill his eyes. None in hers.
You're not alone in this. You're
not alone. Jesus, you're not alone,
Jackie swallows. Tries a smile that doesn't get halfway there.
What happens next?
I live or I die.
Looks straight in his eyes. We don't need the bullshit. Not us.
Tell the kids together?
She thinks. A barely perceptible nod.
Want Rache someplace else?
On that one. She has to smile.
My compliments. On your learning
INT. JACKIE'S KITCHEN - NIGHT
Jackie carrying two steaming MUGS from her stove. These have
marshmallows floating in them. She sets them down in front of her
children. Ben starts plucking the marshmallows out of Annabelle's
mug. Annabelle doesn't care, too busy video taping...
...her father. Who sits with this tender, compassionate, and
therefore rather ominous smile. Doesn't take a smart kid like his
daughter to guess...
So what's up? Who's marrying who
Mommy's marrying Rache!
He's happy. Jackie reaches and shuts OFF Annabelle's camera. And
the directness in her gaze keeps the child from complaining.
Mommy's sick, guys.
You have the WORST flu since...
I have cancer. Do you know what
He doesn't. Someone else does.
It's what Grammy Lil died from.
Ben's eyes WHIP OVER to his sister. He sees the cold fear in her
face. BACK to Mom. She seems fine, calm, smiling even.
Grammy had a different kind.
There are lots of kinds. Hers
was very bad.
Is your bad?
Shut up. She's going to die.
But the anger in her eyes isn't for Ben. She is glaring. At her
Actually, I'm getting better already.
Straight. As if to an equal, an adult.
I had a lot of treatments, and
they weren't any fun, but the
tests show the cancer got smaller.
A lot smaller.
Annabelle cuts him an angry look. He's on her shit list, too.
So you're okay.
I'm still sick, but I'm better.
You lied to us when you nevertold us!
Ben hadn't thought of that. Nods now, yeh.
That's right. And you're mad.
Annabelle just glares with all the hatred she can turn her fear
I know how scared I get when
you're sick. So I waited to tell
you. Until it was getting smaller.
I thought that was best, maybe I
You lied. If you lied then,
maybe you're lying now. I can
never belive you again!
Annabelle, never say 'nev...'
But Jackie's raised her hand. Jump back, Jack. The eye contact
with her daughter never breaks.
We make mistakes. And we forgive
each other. Because we love each
other, very m...
Where's Rache? It's Thursday,
we get to be with Rache!
I'd rather be with Mommy.
She's dying and Rache is your
She jumps up from the table. HISSES at her brother...
You are so STUPID!
And she RUNS, halfway to the door...
She turns, STARTLED at the anger in that.
You do NOT run out on your moth...
YOU'RE WORSE THAN SHE IS! WHY
DON'T YOU JUST DIE, TOO?
And BOLTS from the room. In the silence she's left behind.
Annabelle's worse than everybody.
INT. LUKE AND RACHEL'S BEDROOM - NIGHT
Rachel and Luke cuddled in bed, watching a video in the darkness.
At least, she is. Just now, he's watching her.
Well, I think you should tell him
you changed your mi...
It's no biggie.
She's still watching. It's a French-language comedy. She can feel
his eyes on her. Never turns...
It's just an assignment.
It's Anna Sui, you should be
Are you hungry? You could make
She's still never looked at him. He can see she's getting irritat-
ed. He says nothing.
It's two solid months, around the
clock, Jackie needs some cover-
age, you're in a trial, what are
we talking about? There'll be
He kisses her hair and flinches slightly. Tries to pretend it's
because she's concentrating on the movie.
They're my kids.
Great, wallow in guilt, you sure
you're not Jewish?
A long beat. He snuggles closer. They watch together.
She's not gonna die.
I know that.
INT. JACKIE'S BEDROOM - NIGHT
Jackie and Ben cuddled in bed, watching a video in the darkened
room. It is not a French Comedy. They are, however, eating
The door opens. Annabelle stands motionless, composed. Her face
looks like she's been crying. She clears her throat...
I'm sorry you're sick.
From across the room. Jackie stares at her.
I can't hear you.
THEN TURN OFF THE CARTOON!
Jackie cups her hand to her ear. Shakes her head, can't hear a
thing. Waves, come on over. And slowly...
...Annabelle does. Crawls up into the bed, on the opposite side
from Ben. Into her mother's arms. Jackie kisses her head, strong.
...I'm not deaf, y'know.
They grin at each other. Like equals. Jackie picks up the remote,
cuts OFF the sound. And when Ben turns to her...
In the still...still of the
ni-ight...I held you...held
you so ti-ight...
That's Rache's song!
Sugar. I was slow dancing to that
song before Rachel was even born.
Wow? Really? You bet. Annabelle chuckles.
You think she's the Queen of Cool?
Jackie shakes her head. Pulls down the covers, pulls up her
Does she have a tattoo?
The butterfly. Just below her navel. Ben has seen this before, of
course. Touches it, with his small hand.
He wouldn't know. I saw her
in the shower!
Ben looks to his sister. For the verdict. Annabelle shakes her
She is only the Princess of Cool.
Mommy is the Queen!
She is but an arriviste.
A new word, apparently.
A newcomer. She's still got a
thing or two to learn.
Annabelle nods. You betcha.
I held you...held you so ti-ight...
You sing lead, you've got the voice...
She bumps head gently with Ben.
The stud and I will doo-wop.
And as they doo-wop the back-up...
For I love...lo-ove you soooo...
promise I'll never...Let you go...
In the still of the ni-ight.
EXT. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL - NIGHT
Parents streaming slowly in for a PTA night. They are chatty,
tired, preoccupied. And 95% female.
INT. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL COMMON ROOM - NIGHT
Folding chairs set in rows. Parents taking their seats with coffee
and cookies. Up front, a table where a panel of speakers are
beginning to gather. A faded banner says PTA -- TENAFLY DAY SCHOOL.
Jackie is nibbling at a single cookie, when...
...a figure slips into the seat beside her. Rachel is juggling a
coffee and maybe nine cookies. Drops one. Picks it up. Dusts it
off. Jackie is repelled, but has to smile.
Luke's depo ran late. I promised
I'd take notes.
To prove it, she balances the cookies on her thighs, and produces a
notebook. Looks around, and in a conspiratorial near-whisper...
So I have to tell you something
You're a cross-dresser.
That. And. Annabelle is over
her head. With Brad 'The Dreamboat'
Does a Groucho eyebrow move.
She hasn't mentioned this.
She was afraid you'd make a big
deal out of it.
Jackie is hurt. Covers...
Toi. They've been 'going out'
for two weeks.
Rachel breathless and happy. Jackie attentive.
As you may know, 'going out' in the
six grade doesn't mean shit. They
don't actually go to a movie or
anywhere, they don't even eat lunch
together, it's just a declaration to
the world that they're...
...going out, yeh. I had kids of
my own, once.
Anyway. He walks up to her on
lunch yard today. And tells her...
publicly...that they're 'breaking up.'
Jackie's mouth drops.
Oh, my God.
Right. Which is the whole point of
this 'going out' thing, so one of them
can dump the other one, and they can
imitate the whole passionate adult
soap opera tragedy, without ever
having to actually date.
Doesn't begin to describe it.
I mean, you've got cancer, this
Rachel GRIPS Jackie's arm.
She spent an hour in the girls' bath-
room, crying with eight of her closest
friends, who are sending the message
to every boy in the grade that Brad
Kovitsky is yesterday's toast.
Devours an entire cookie in one gulp.
So here's the point. I pick her up
from soccer, she tells me the whole
mess, and asks me what to do.
How about that?
And you said...?
Beats me. Ask your mom.
So she's gonna. Tomorrow.
Leans closer. Whispers...
Don't fuck this up.
INT. JACKIE'S KITCHEN - DAY
Jackie and Annabelle are sitting at the kitchen counter with maybe
twenty hardboiled eggs. They are cracking the shells gently, and
carefully peeling them.
Well, did you really think you'd
meet someone at eleven that you'd
spend the rest of your life with?
Annabelle keeps her eyes on her eggs. A craftswoman.
No, but I thought till Thursday.
A debate. Man's inhumanity to
woman. He's pro women. I'm con.
Ms. Flannery is twisted.
I could help with the debate.
(thinking it over)
Actually. I could only help him.
Every time I'm on the lunch
yard, and he's with twelve of
his retarded dorkface little
adoring out-crowd henchmen...
You don't like his friends.
...they all yell 'There goes the
Virgin Queen' or the 'Ice Princess',
or some really clever cut like that.
Like it hurts my feelings.
They keep peeling eggs.
You wouldn't kiss him, huh?
Not with my mouth open.
Annabelle's eyes well up. She covers by concentrating all the
And what do you do wh...
I call him a fartface or a pervert,
or something equally lame.
You have to ignore him.
And on this. Annabelle looks up.
He's not even there. You don't
see him, you don't hear him, you're
just too much of a woman to bother
with little boys.
This is a joke, right?
Jackie shakes her head. Nope.
All he wants is the attention.
When he can't get to you, he'll try
harder for a little while. Then,
he'll give up. It'll be no fun.
The kid blinks.
You think Rache would do that?
Takes Mom back a bit. Enough for her daughter to notice.
It's just she's younger. Maybe
she remembers how to do this.
Jackie shrugs. Maybe. Annabelle studies her.
This'll work, huh?
Annabelle takes heart from her mom's confidence. Nods, with her
How many devilled eggs can
Jackie surveys the table.
We can always go to the store,
A sudden BANGING on the screen door. They turn to see...
...a breathless six-year-old TUCKER through the screen. The
birthday boy at the recent party.
Tucker, is something wr...
How tall is your tree? The really,
really, really, REALLY big...
How bad would it hurt? If you
fell off the top?
EXT. YARD - DAY
AERIAL VIEW of Jackie, Annabelle, Tucker and assorted neighborhood
looky-loo kids from SEVENTY FEET in the air. Everyone looks like
TINY DOTS running around the lawn. We realize that we are almost
at the TOP of a giant EVERGREEN TREE.
We see a patch of red. And now a blue stripe. The wind reveals
more -- It's BEN CLIMBING to the very top of the tree. The calling
of his name becoming more and more faint in the distance -- His leg
MISSES a branch -- causing a cluster of PINE CONES to FALL in front
of Jackie -- she looks up screaming --
Jackie's POV -- Ben crouched at the top of the evergreen -- as the
wind sways the tree perilously back and forth.
SMASH CUT TO LATER, as...
An enormous CRANE moves through the sky. Jackie holds tightly onto
JESSICA, a diminutive five-foot-tall Firewoman, as they soar skyward
towards Ben. A slightly condescending tone to...
That's quite a grip you have there
Ma'am. Do we have an issue with
Patronized the wrong gal. In a crisis.
(looking her up and
I don't care if you're a dwarf,
so long as you do your job.
BEN! I'M COMING! STAY THERE!
Ma'am, my arm's going numb, maybe
you could loosen your grip just a
That's absolutely out of the question.
BEN! I'M HERE!
The crane STOPS. Ben has climbed to the top branches of the trees;
they SWAY from side to side like a METRONOME.
Hello Ben. Your mother says you're
real good at disappearing --
Ben tries to climb a little higher -- Branches SNAP.
Ben! Mommy's so glad to see you -- Now
(He keeps climbing)
Ben listen to me...
No! I have to get there.
Ben where do you have to get to?
Heaven. I have to tell him he's made
a mistake. He should take Grammy
Martha first. Or Grandpa Norman.
Jackie's heart breaks, unable to speak.
Ben. God doesn't like visitors.
How do you know?
Ask her, she's a heroic Fireperson.
She does this twenty times a day.
Jessica begins to crawl out to him on the limb.
Oh yeh. It's in our official manual.
That's right, Ben. That's why Firemen
have giant ladders and climb up
and down poles. They're like...
messengers... carrier pigeons...
between heaven and earth.
That's good cause we need to hurry.
My mom doesn't have very much time
Then you know what we should do?
We should go to the Fire Station
together and ring the firebell to
get God's attention.
Cause it's an emergency.
Ben opens his arms, teeters, and Jessica HAS him. She reaches him
...HANDS him to Jackie, alone in the cherry-picker. Jackie GRASPS
Ben, pulling him FIERCELY to her arms in a death grip.
From down below, the kids CHEER. The worst is over.
HOLD on Jackie, clutching her baby for dear life. Knowing it isn't.
INT. BEN'S BEDROOM - NIGHT
Jackie stands in the doorway watching her son -- her baby boy --
sleeping. She looks drawn, but even if her body would let her
sleep she couldn't.
God...I will do anything...I will
go through any amount of pain you
give me. If you'll just let me
see them grow up.
A slow ragged breath.
Is that asking so damn much?
She leaves the room soundlessly. Ben stirs.
ANNABELLE'S BEDROOM - LATER THAT NIGHT
Annabelle sleeps soundly in the glow of a night light. Jackie
appears, leaning down to rouse her gently.
Annabelle...wake up honey...
Mom? What's wrong?
Jackie sits on the edge of the bed, stroking Annabelle's head.
I got Ginny Weintraub to come stay
Annabelle's puzzled look. Why would you do that?
How'd you like to go someplace
special with me? Right now.
EXT. NORTH VALE STABLES - NIGHT
The light of the full moon illuminates the night and we see Jackie
and Annabelle sitting on a horse. Annabelle in front, Jackie with
a strong hold on her. Both have their nightgowns tucked into their
jeans, coats over them.
Hold tight, sweetheart.
She KICKS the horse forward and they HEAD OFF toward the rolling
hills in the distance. Jackie and Annabelle ride faster and faster
along the trail. Jackie has one arm firmly around Annabelle's
waist and controls the horse with the other. Jackie closes her
eyes for a moment, allowing the wind to wash over her. The smells
and sounds of the night seem to free her, give her strength.
Annabelle relaxes against her mother and giggles with delight.
Jackie soon joins her, and the sounds of their laughter break the
silence of the night.
They come to a stop at the crest of a small hill and we now see the
tears on Jackie's face. Annabelle can't see, and stares out at the
moonlit valley before them.
I'm never, never going to forget this.
Annabelle snuggles back. Happy.
Never say never.
Jackie kisses the top of her baby's head.
You're old enough to learn the
loophole. You can say 'never,
never'. If you mean it enough.
To say it twice.
Annabelle yawns. So content in her mother's arms.
I'll remember. Always, always.
So Jackie grips a little tighter. Breathes a single word, just
loud enough to hear...
EXT. JACKIE'S HOUSE - DUSK
Rachel and Luke heading up the path to Jackie's door. It is early
winter. Stark trees, a light snow on the ground. Rachel pulls her
coat tighter around her.
INT. JACKIE'S FRONT DOOR - DUSK
Ben rumbling down the hall to the door. Stands in front of it, as
the bell RINGS again.
IS THAT YOU?
IT'S YOUR GIRLFRIEND, BIG GUY,
So he does. Gives her a sweet hug.
Hey. Remember me?
He enters behind her. SCOOPS his body in the air.
Listen up. That's a pretty big love
you're givin' my best girl, pard.
Listen sideways. I love her and
you love her. Now what are we
gonna do about it?
They follow Rachel down the hall...
We'll share. Like good neighbors.
They enter the living room. Annabelle sits sullenly in front of
the TV. Her overnight duffle and book bag and coat piled beside
Hey, gorgeous, where's Big Mama?
No answer. Annabelle worried about something.
She still packing for her trip?
I killed my math quiz, A-minus.
They slap FIVE. Go through the ritual of a three-step black guy
And...other things? At school?
Annabelle cuts a look in Luke and Ben's direction. Please not in
front of the menfolk.
We'll talk. I'll go check
Annabelle frowns at Mom's name. Rachel strokes her. Heads down
Knocks at the open door to Jackie's bedroom, where Jackie is
calmly, meticulously, laying out things beside her large open
suitcase. She waves Rachel in, and keeps working.
(checking out the
It's gonna be cool, huh?
Bulky sweaters. Wool things.
I can never figure weather. Last
trip, I made all the wrong choices.
Rachel and we have a better angle now. Jackie looks awful. Drawn,
weak, masking pain with obvious courage.
Rachel sits on the edge of the bed. Jackie turns away, goes to her
open chest of drawers.
Even her voice is carefully under control. Awkward, Rachel looks
around the room. A stack of photo albums, scrapbooks, open. Works
Can I look at the pictures?
It's a mess, right now. That's
my project when I get back.
So quiet, we can hear a clock TICKING nearby. Rachel's gaze
returns to the bulky sweaters. Holds there.
See, I'm not going to Houston,
Like you obviously figured out.
There's this clinic in Montreal.
We've studied their process, we
like their success rate...
Two women nodding, in a calm, matter-of-fact way. As if discussing
They combine some compounds that
have been getting results in France,
with vitamin injections. Seems to
activate the chemo...
It's promising, this one. We're
Rachel swallows. She's out of words.
I really look like shit.
You look sick. But you look...
together. Mentally tough.
Yeh, that's bull. I'm going for
serene, they say some actually get
A shrug. The first bitterness to seep through.
Prob'ly low percentage on mothers.
She sits, unceremoniously, right on the floor. Pantomimes a smoke.
Rachel goes into her bag.
You try to center on the big issues,
y'know. What it's all about. What
this whole trip has meant. But then,
the really big issues keep swamping y...
Tosses Jackie a pack. Matches next.
You don't have any pot, I s'pose?
Rachel's eyebrows head north.
The primo stuff is great for pain.
I think my 'primo shit' got left
in my 'bellbottoms.'
Jackie lighting up. Deep soulful drag.
So. She ignores this little Kovitsky
punk, takes the high moral ground...
Reading Rachel's face. Who is already wincing.
He's relentless. A major asshole.
And you said...
What else? Keep on keepin' on.
Oh. Rachel tries to hide her disappointment.
She has to stick with it. Have
the patience, the guts, to ignore
the pain. You disagree?
Half a beat. Rachel shakes her head, nope.
Hey. You oughta know.
INT. LUKE AND RACHEL'S DEN - NIGHT
Luke sits with Ben, building a gigantic magic castle from a million
Leggos. I's architecturally interesting. Through the window
behind them, a cold winter rain.
God, sorry I'm so late...
She is entering, peeling off her jacket. Tired as hell.
Duncan is doing his Himmler
imitation on this gig. I got
yelled at for quitting at eight.
Under Luke's patient exterior, the stress is showing. As Ben
watches, he replaces a key piece of the turret...
Yeh, well, I'll be up all night
on this brief. And then...
He shoots her a really sorry look...
I've got a morning plane to Boston
for the depo. Back Sunday night.
Wow. They lock eyes in the bond of 'what are we gonna do?'
I made that paella you liked.
It's on the stove.
She kisses Ben's head, Luke's mouth, that one lingering a little.
Then, down the hall to...
...the kitchen. Annabelle sits with her homework stacked,
untouched. Staring out the dark window. Clearly, this is worse
Lemme guess. A bad hair day.
Annabelle TURNS like a hunted animal...
She told me to keep ignoring him!
So I did it!
Not a good result, huh?
You know what that creep and his
frogfaced footmen are calling me
now? In front of the whole world?
Frosty, the Snow Bitch!!
That's so weak.
Here's weak...Mom said she was
gonna talk to the teacher and
Brad's parents!! Can you believe
Honey, she won't d...
I told her if she pulled that,
I'd kill myself, and she could
go to my funeral for a change!
For a change. That's where this is coming from. Rachel reaches
her arms around her...
Hey. Hey. I've personally never
gone to a funeral. And I'm not
starting anytime soon.
The phone begins to RING...
Specially not in this family.
Keep RINGING. Rachel checks her watch. Shit.
Nine o'clock. That could be your
mom from Montreal. Now you need t...
But Annabelle BREAKS LOOSE from Rachel's arms and BOLTS out of the
room. Rachel watching in despair. Lifts the phone on the sixth
(bright and soft)
Hi. How's the vitamins up there?
Having big fun?
INTERCUT throughout: Jackie in a hospital gown. At the window of
her room, rain pouring down on Montreal.
Eat your heart out. Is Annabelle
Yeh, she's...I'll get you Ben
first, it's past his bedti...
How's she doing with Brad?
Can I say one thing? I mean, the
last thing I want to do is inter-
fere on the Brad thing, b...
Thanks, but it's under control.
A shorter beat.
Yah? Well, even the best mom in
the world, the smartest, the wisest,
whatever. Needs to know when to
find a Plan B. Cos Plan A is not
and will n...
It's covered, okay? I appreciate
your concern. Can I talk to her?
And real quiet...
I'll get Ben.
INT. ANNABELLE'S ROOM - MOMENTS LATER
Annabelle lies on her bed in darkness. Clutching her pillow.
Lights streams in as Rachel enters. Sits on the bed, next to this
furious child. Puts the cordless phone by the pillow.
Annabelle, I know you miss your
mother. So why don't you say hello.
Why don't you say hello?
Annabelle pick up the phone.
Annabelle pick up the phone.
That doesn't bother me.
That doesn't bother me.
You think this is funny?
You think this is funny?
No. I think it's ugly.
You're just a stepmother. So stop
bossing, cos nobody's listening!
(even, in control)
June 3rd, God willing, I'll marry your
Dad. And then I will be your stepmom.
And right now, I'm not looking forward
Suits me fine!
Rachel cooks her head to one side, like she's seen Jackie do.
Stepmother. You think that means
you can step on me? Over me? That
you're one step ahead of me? Well,
Strong voice. No smile at all.
You know when girls grow into women?
When they have to. And this is your
moment, kid. Ready or not.
Picks up the phone.
Your mama is in a hospital, far away.
She needs you, right now. She needs
you to be big. To put the kid aside,
and help her get well. Now. Fucking.
CLICKS the phone ON. Hands it to her.
(tears on her face)
Hi, Mom. How are you feeling?
As Rachel leaves, silently, we...
INTERCUT throughout: Jackie at her clinic window. Cellular at her
Darling, I've been thinking about
our little Brad problem? And I
think it's time we move to Plan B...
You cannot believe what he said,
it was the worst instant of my
total life on Earth!!
I know. I know how rough life can be.
And how unfair. So here's what we do.
Tomorrow, on the lunch yard, you walk
straight up to that little jerk...
And bring my knees up, real hard, yeh?
No, that never solves anything. You
talk like the big girl you are. About
what you feel. And how he's hurt you.
You know? You tell the truth.
Nodding to herself. Knows this is right.
You use your words.
EXT. SUBWAY CAR - DAY
An actual SUBWAY CAR filled with PAIRS of animals, cats, rabbits,
dogs, two horses peeking out a window, peacocks. Noah's Subway, so
Duncan and his client watch as Cooper assists Rachel, who SHOOTS
the menagerie from low ANGLES. At last, she lowers her camera.
Check her watch. Shoots Cooper a knowing look. And HANDS HIM the
camera. WAVES to her subjects...
I love you guys. You're animals!
And starts WALKING OFF down the tunnel. Duncan looks at his
watch, then JUMPS up, TEARS after Rachel, GRABBING her arm,
SPINNING her around, he faces...
...someone ready for this.
It's 1:45, I told you there's no
one to pick up Annab...
But you're not done!
She licks her lips. Stands her ground.
I've got it. It's in the can,
Cooper can wrap th...
We don't KNOW if you've got it, we
haven't SEEN it yet! Now go back
Her glare says do NOT fuck with me. The mother lion look we've
seen on Jackie.
Which part of no don't you
Look, I will send a P.A. to pick
up the children. There are agencies
that supply sitters, nannies...
They're losing one mother. They
can't lose two.
The bottom line. He looks as freaked as she is determined.
You're making a career decision
here, I would strongly sugg...
Duncan. I've got an even better
She leans forward. In his face. So she barely has to murmur.
You can't do that, I won't let you!
No, no, no, this is a job that's
hard to keep, not a job that's
hard to lose, can't be both.
Rachel, don't do this, you will
never forgive yourself!
She thinks that over. For half a second.
Actually. I just did.
And without further fond farewell...
She is gone.
EXT. CAR POOL LINE, ELEMENTARY SCHOOL - DAY
The last cars are pulling away. Some kids are still playing
sports. And sitting on the ledge by the flag pole...
...two children. The little boy is reading his Garfield book for
the three hundredth time. His big sister is simply crying, openly,
for a disinterested world to see. A car SCREECHES up. The driver
BLASTS out the door, RUNS to us...
Then crouches slowly. At Annabelle's feet.
Oh, baby, I'm so sor...
IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT!!
Rachel is dying inside. Reaches to brush at Annabelle's tears, but
the child SMACKS her head away.
Ben, go sit in my car right now,
and I will bribe you big time.
Excited, he runs off.
I did what she said. I used my
words, I told him what I felt,
...laughed, yeh. They laughed
Annabelle nodding BIG, gulping back tears.
That's because men can be scum,
your precious father excepted,
may you live to find one like him,
it is damn hard.
And wraps her arms around the girl...
Now is that little prick still here,
because if he is, I'm gonna rip his
fucking heart out!
No, his mother's always on time.
And Mom says anger never, never
solves anything. It makes every-
That's because your mother is a
fine person, finer than I will
ever be. Now, just this once...
Just this once.
If I tell you what to do. Can we
cut a deal?
Annabelle stops crying. This is what she has prayed for.
Tomorrow is Friday, your mom comes
home. You tell her you did what she
said. It didn't work yet. But you're
gonna talk to Brad again on Monday.
And youdon't tell her. What
you're going to say.
Not use my words, please!
No, baby. You're gonna use
The sun dawns. On a child's face. Rachel brushes the tears away.
They won't need them anymore.
Okay, let's start with looks. I
know he's handsome, but the best-
looking people are so vain, there's
always something they're insecure
Annabelle shakes her head. Nothing.
Does he have zitz? We can call
him Pizza Face.
Help me here...
Uh. He thinks his nose is too
big. But it's not.
Great. Big ears, too?
No. But they stand out, a little.
Done. He's a dead man.
Rachel stands up. Walks in circle, thinking. Comes back.
Strikes a pose.
Monday lunch, you walk up with
attitude, you hear me?
Finger STABS out...
Hey, Ear Boy!
(does the ears)
Listen up, Rhino Face, because I'm
saying this one time! So your
pathetic, no-life, ass-kissing little
groupies here, better take notes!
Annabelle is swooning with joy.
I dumped you, limp dick, when I
got a peek at your deformed unit,
which is sadly microscopic!
Annabelle laughing, applauding.
As for your pitiful knowledge of
sex? I'm not wasting my time with
some loser who doesn't even know
what snowballing is!
Annabelle raises her hand.
Uh. What is it?
Oh. It's an incredibly disgusting,
and not remotely sexy thing, that
they described in a movie I'd never
let you go to. But it's real. Does
he have an older brother?
In high school.
He'll be impressed. The clincher is,
you walk away, then whip around...
The guy I see is in the eighth grade
at Prep School, and he laughs his ass
off every time we talk about you.
A suitable boy, will be at this
flagpole, on Monday, with a very
expensive bike, and he will be a
stone FOX if I have to call an
The kid. Is breathless.
Now let's go stuff you full of
Wraps an arm around her.
I've had the worst day. Till now.
INT. NEWARK AIRPORT - DAY
Arriving PASSENGERS are filling through the gate. Last, is a female
FLIGHT ATTENDANT, WHEELING a gray-faced Jackie in a collapsible
wheelchair. The woman leans to her...
We'll get your bags, and the taxis
Jackie GRIPS the wheel, STOPPING them. Stares, frozen, as across
the way...three faces stare back.
And Jackie LEAPS out of the wheelchair, RUNS across the distance,
runs to SCOOP her babies in her arms...
It's a miracle! I can walk!
Annabelle laughs. Ben covers Jackie with kisses. Rachel watches.
From the crowd.
INT. JACKIE'S HOME - DAY
Rachel carrying the suitcase, Jackie has each kid by the hand, as
they troop through the house to arrive at...
...Jackie's bedroom. Where Jackie freezes. Her mouth OPEN. For
...HUNG striking black and white PHOTOS of the children all OVER
the room. One is of Ben's FEET, left shoe on right foot and vice-
versa. Another glimpses Annabelle's beautiful FACE hidden in her
hair. Ben sitting in a cupboard. Annabelle a bold ear of corn.
Ben sitting on the bottom limb of the huge evergreen. Annabelle
kissing her horse's muzzle.
Jackie just stands. Trying not to cry.
Okay. These are good.
She know he did. Looks across the room at Rachel. No more words.
Let's go to the park!
Jackie sighs. Smiles down at him.
I've got a lot of medicine in me,
sweetie. And I'm a little wobbly for
driving or running ar...
Rache can do that part.
Jackie absorbs that. And all it portends.
Hon, maybe your mom would like t...
...go to the park. In the worst way.
Well, with Rachel driving. That's
how we'll go.
EXT. PARK - DAY
LONG ANGLE...five swings in use. In four, the kids are pushed by
moms or nannies. In the fifth, Ben is pushed by Annabelle. Guess
who's going the highest. PULL BACK to...
...two women on a bench. Under a starkly bare tree. Jackie is
drinking in the air, the cold, the day. Rachel watching that.
Serene. You're getting the hang
Jackie doesn't answer for a beat. Almost as if she hasn't heard.
Serene means you accept.
Shakes her head.
Part of me hasn't quit yet. And
the other part is still pretty
When it's not terrified.
Watching the world of moms and kids. Who are not terrified.
I'm thinking. Do I know you well
enough to really chew you out?
Jackie turns to her. Diamond laser glare...
Have you lost your mind?! You fought
years for that job! And you quit??
It's just not the right time t...
Do what you've worked your whole
life to do?
It was just a job, there'll be plenty
You mean, after I'm dead?
Hey, you haven't quit on you, I'm
sure as hell not gonna. I just
mean, I'm juggling a lot right n...
Juggle it! Move the darkroom into
your house. You've got that room
downstairs with the treadmill Luke
never uses anyway. Don't lose your
confidence. Don't lose your edge.
It's the same choice you made.
Yes. I made the choice that was
right for me. And I don't regret
it. But even for me, there were
days when I felt so lost, so invis-
ible. And then I'd hate myself for
the kids not being enough.
Reading Rachel's face.
I know you, huh? The car pools,
he measles, the PTA. It's not
gonna be enough for you in the long
run. You have to think long term.
I just want to spend time with
them when I'm not rushing or on
the phone or tired or...
That's motherhood. That's the
job, with or without a career.
I'm telling you the biggest gift
you can give them is your happiness.
They need you to be happy.
Can you hear me?
Cause if you're not, the easiest
person to blame is the guy sleeping
next to you. And you'll push him
away, and then hate him even more
when he goes, until finally you have
no choice but to leave. And that
Rachel's turn to wonder. She starts to say something, thinks
better of it. Asks instead...
That's the bottom line, isn't it?
I can't make a mistake. Because
it'll screw your kids.
My advice to you? Don't die.
Feeling the pressure?
Rachel's eyes move across Jackie's face. Then, out to Ben, on the
Last time I pushed him? He said,
'Higher, Rache. It makes my penis
Thin smile. Now it's Jackie watching Rachel's profile.
I'm gonna buy him that white dove
for Christmas. If I don't, you'll
get him a fucking eagle!
Jackie keeps watching her. And in a quiet voice...
Ben was born in two hours, went
right to my breast and camped
there for three days. Always with
Watches Rachel nodding, absorbing.
Somehow, his blanket always looked
like a cape, even the nurse said
that. He loves to hear that story,
over and over. How he was born a
(softly, never turning)
Took 28 hours. She just wasn't
sure about entering this world.
Watches the feeling well in Rachel's eyes.
The doctor wanted to go in and get
her, but I knew she'd come in her
Rachel nods. It fits.
That's who she is. Don't let
anybody rush her.
Silence. A murmur...
I'll keep that in mind.
Rachel settles back. Her eyes now locked away somewhere private.
Rache smiles. That Jackie sensed something.
It's not about the kids.
Looks over. Decides whether to ask...
That thing you said before. Pushing
the guy sleeping next to you away.
Because of what you gave up for
Is that what he told you?
He won't discuss it. Just calls it
A trace of edge to Jackie's smile. But no real anger.
Well, he got that part right.
So what's the part he got wrong?
An urgency in that.
I got all day.
EXT. COURTHOUSE STEPS - TWILIGHT
Luke and his bulky briefcase, coming down the stone steps two at a
...he sees her. In her winter coat. Smoking as if it could keep
her warm. And despite her tension, he grins, heads over.
What a great surpri...
Hold your applause. We're not
having fun, here.
And from her face. She means every word.
Is Jack okay?
Great. Just what she wants to hear.
Oh yeh, she was cracking me up.
Dishing details of her sordid
Ah. A beat. To assess the damage.
And you freaked. A little.
Just like to make sure. That your
past. And my future. Are real
Well, they will be.
(hard and low)
Imagine my relief. So what's for
He sighs. Jesus.
Why in the world would she t...
You took a fishing trip with the boys.
Liked it so much, you took another.
I needed some time away.
...while she watched the kids. Then,
you booked this flat in Paris for your
family's summer. But she said...
'...the kids have camp. Their friends
are here. Over there, I'll just be
shopping in a language I don't even
know. My life, and the kids' lives,
aren't here to service your mid-life
crisis.' Did it go like that?
It did. People are passing them. They do not notice.
She called it a fight. The fight.
What do you call it? You told her
you had doubts.
He looks around. People are moving on. Toward their drinks, their
dinners, their lives.
Can we go sit somewhere?
Let me put it this way. Hell, no.
And takes out her cigarettes. Her fingers fumble slightly. It
isn't the cold.
I told her I loved her.
By way of saying you were unhappy.
Excuse me. 'Things are so confusing
for me, Jack. Our life feels too
comfortable, too safe, too predict-
able. It's a partnership, it's
juggling schedules. When I think of
playing that out, every day, for the
rest of my life...'
Dead at his eyes. And he nods. Once.
'...I don't know if I can make it.'
That's what I said. But I didn't
No, she threw you out. What a
Pulls out her box of matches.
So now I get to wait...
A single match...
For the first sign. The first
STRIKES it. Shields it from the wind.
What do you figure, Luke? When
am I too old to be exciting? When
your daughter brings home her college
Lights her cigarette. As he watches.
That's a pretty ugly thing you
No, here's ugly. 'I love you, babe.
It's just our life together I'm not
so sure about...'
Big draw. Never wavering from his eyes.
'But keep dancing, and if you're
lucky, I might just never leave,
That's not us.
Because you've changed so much.
He puts his hands on her, gently. But she flinches. So the hands
You want me to show you the future.
Well, I can't darlin'.
I can't. She searches the lovelight in his eyes. As if she could
We make our lives, one step at a
time. We do the best we can. The
truth about the future? A promise.
Is only a hope.
How about the promises we make to
our kids? About their future. Do
we shrug those off, just that easily?
That slows him down.
Maybe Annabelle deserves to find
out who really broke up her family.
While her mom is still around.
Stops him. Cold.
Hey. Just a thought.
Flips her cigarette to the gutter. Shrugs...
You got one less for dinner.
Takes a step back. Only one. But it registers.
Where you goin'?
I'm gonna get me a drink.
Nods, to herself.
And I'm gonna drink it alone.
And she walks off. Slow.
EXT. CAR POOL LINE, ELEMENTARY SCHOOL - DAY
Ben alone in the back seat. Reading his beloved Garfield book.
Shift ANGLE to see...
...the women standing by the car. Rachel looks a little anxious...
You really didn't have to come,
you know. I'd have brought them
(staring at something)
Who in the world is he?
See now, across the way. A gorgeous BOY, dressed cool, stands
holding an expensive bike. And chatting happily with Annabelle.
In the distance, other kids pretend they aren't watching.
Looks nice enough to m...
He looks familiar. Did he do a
Calvin Klein ad?
Across the way, the boy leans, kisses Annabelle sweetly on the
cheek. Waves to her. Peddles off. In distance, kids are dying.
Annabelle pretends not to know that. Just walks casually toward
us, but as she approaches, she can't help breaking into a RUN,
...into RACHEL'S ARMS.
It workeditworkeditworked! Omigod,
you can't believe the look on his
SQUEEZING Rachel tight enough to crush her bones. And although
Rachel hugs back, although she kisses Annabelle's hair...
Her eyes are locked to Jackie's.
Houston. We have a problem.
EXT. JACKIE'S YARD - DAY
Rachel alone by the weathered redwood swing and slide set. She
is pacing in a circle, looking like a kid waiting to see the
principal. Sucking her cigarette like smoke was oxygen. She picks
a bottle of beer off the grass. Twists the top. Settles awkwardly
on the seat of the taller swing.
HEAR the screen door open. Bang shut. Rachel takes a sip. Before
she looks up...
Now we're going to have a fight,
you and I.
And I'm going to win.
(straight to her eyes)
Don't be too sure.
No anger in Jackie at this moment. The ferocity of that mother
lion. The strongest face we'll ever see.
Now, 'limp dick', I know. What.
It doesn't matter, I didn't tell h...
Because there'll be, oh, 20 or
30 mothers phoning me in the
next hour or so. And they'll b...
Give 'em my number.
Jackie on the prowl around this swing. Stalking her prey.
Actually. They'll want Annabelle's
Is that what you're worried about?
Looking bad at the PTA?
You are defending what you did?
Right down to the ground. Let's
get to it.
Not quite what Jackie expected.
You put filth in my child's mouth.
You had her lie about that...
that fancy-boy model!
Worked. Like a charm.
Jackie cannot even believe this.
She was beaten, and bloodied, and
it was going to go on, uni...
So you became the hero. And I
became the schmuck.
Straightening her spine...
You taught my child that I am some
limp dick loser. Who didn't care
about her pain.
That's not wh...
You think I didn't have some dirty
words for that little putz? You think
I couldn't figure out some low blows?
You weren't passing 'em out.
Well, maybe your version of growing
up is 'Just win, baby'.
Stalking. Closer. Fierce.
Mine. Is a little different.
Right there. At the swing. In her face.
See, in that crisis, I saw an
opportunity. For some real growth.
Shut the fuck up. I didn't go
behind your back.
The one scored. Rachel sips her beer.
Doing the right thing. Knowing who
you are, inside. Not caving to peer
pressure, or lowering yourself to that
level, steering your own course...
She wasn't steering her own course,
she was steering yours.
Well, that's what parenting is about,
little girl. They are pleading to
know how they are supposed to do it.
And you sure as hell showed her.
And there will come another moment.
When the stakes are really there.
And she will look back on this. And
remember how good it felt. How easy
And she'll fight back again. God help
me, what have I done.
Jackie's voice drops. The softness makes it somehow more
You've turned her into you. And
I may not get another chance. To
turn her back.
That's what it is. And that's all
The hand with its cigarette STABS out...
You won't get the chance.
Jackie back on her heels. Thinking. A mile a minute.
You've got a point there, for a
change. Oh, yes you do.
HER finger stabbing out.
You didn't get morning sickness for
seven months, you didn't breast feed
till your nipples fell off, you didn't
spend every minute of every day
thinking and planning and knowing that
your decisions were shaping the people
they were going to be...
And now Rachel. Has nothing to say.
You are gonna be taking Ben's training
wheels off. You are the one my little
girl will confess her first love to.
You will see them married, you will
play with their babies, you fucking
BITCH, I hate your GUTS!
The blast washes over Rachel. And in the silence...
Now you're talking sense.
She looks down at her beer.
All year long, I've been watching how
you do this. The worries, the sacri-
fices, the signals you give them...
Thinks. Really thinks. Wants so much to say this right.
And I admire you. More than you'll
ever believe. And yet...this...
thing...has been growing. Inside me.
Looks up. Straight to her eyes.
For better or worse. I'm not you.
And so she stands up. The swing shimmies in her wake.
I can't live my life channeling the
One True Mom after you're gone. I
can't do it. I can't do it. I can't.
Sets the beer down. Stabs out her smoke.
We have to deal with that.
And walks off, slowly. Across the yard.
INT. INDOOR RIDING RING - TWILIGHT
Huge indoor space. Wood-sided walls, dirt floor. High corrugated
metal roof, with birds flying, roosting in rafters. A little GIRL,
under the keen eye of her TRAINER, puts her mount through its
paces. In the cold air, steam rises from the horse's body. It's
late, no one else around. TRACK now...
...down a walkway. Toward the stables. A barn cat is crouched,
stalking prey. We hear a soft voice, speaking. One we know...
It was like telling her...
See him now. Standing awkwardly, against the side of a stall.
...that I didn't love her anymore...
See the horse, still steaming. Standing patiently.
...if I could be sure I'd always
Circling the horse now, we see Annabelle's back. She is slowly
brushing out the sweat mark. Where the saddle used to be. Her
movements are stiff, mechanical. The soft voice continues...
She said, 'This thing you call a
partnership. The schedules, the
chores, all the things we have to
Our ANGLE CIRCLING to see at last Annabelle's face...
'...for the kids.'
The tears that stand in her eyes. The set line of her small mouth.
'...that's the life I dreamed of.
And it's all I ever wanted it to be.'
She swallows. Because she will not cry.
That's the kind of person your mom is.
She's the best.
Annabelle says nothing. She drops to her knees. Begins to clean
out one of her horse's hooves with a metal pick. The only sound
against the stillness.
And her father watches. His heart pounding.
I complained a lot, baby. We couldn't
travel, we'd lost our privacy, our
chance to do things on the spur of the
moment. To live for...ourselves. The
way we'd started out.
He goes to her. The sound of his feet on the straw.
And she said. Sounds like you'd be
happier. If the kids weren't around.
Crouches down. Very close to his child.
I said. I love them more than
anything. But sometimes... I do
miss what I've lost.
Annabelle stops working. Turns her faces away.
She said she could never feel that
way, not for one single second.
So he leans closer.
She didn't want to be with someone.
Silence. He's staring at the back of her head.
You know, this horse smells
There's worse things.
At least she can talk. If only just above a whisper.
Do you know why I never told
you all this before?
A beat. She doesn't look at him.
Sure. You wanted me to blame her.
Instead of you.
Waiting to hear...
She hears honesty. And heartbreak. It makes her turn...
How come you're telling me now?
He gets lost. Looking in those eyes.
I don't want to be wrong anymore.
I want to say I'm sorry, because I am.
And let you hate me. If you have to.
She swallows hard. Her eyes moving over his face.
See that feeling? Where you feel
two different things at once?
That's a grown-up thing. It's
not a lot of fun.
She shakes her head very slightly. And her eyes water.
Know why your mom never told you?
She knew that you and her were
so...solid. Nothing could rock that.
But she didn't want to risk...
The hardest thing. He's ever had to say...
...your hating me.
Cos she loves you.
Cos she loves you. She wanted you
to have a daddy to love. Even if
he didn't...completely...deserve it.
Now the tears in his eyes. And she's watching that.
You know how much love that is?
That she has for you.
There's going to come a moment.
When she'll really need you to
give that back. And you're just
the girl that can do it.
The way he says this. Makes her ask...
Now do I know when?
He reaches. First time. Strokes her hair.
That moment will come. And your
heart is going to whisper, 'here
Winds his fingers. Around her hand.
And you'll come through.
She stares in his eyes. And dead straight.
If I miss it, daddy? You clue
Okay, he nods. That's a plan.
INT. BAR - NIGHT
The dimly chic bar. With its soft upscale buzz. Where Jackie
told Luke she had cancer. Tonight, she waits alone. Watching the
entrance. Nursing her drink. And then...
...Rachel comes into the place. Spots Jackie across the room.
Weaves her way through the tables.
And she is there. Slipping into her seat. Not knowing what to
Thanks for coming out.
Neutral ground. What's up?
Jackie stares evenly. Her chin rests across the back of her
knuckles. She looks tired, but okay. Fueled by adrenaline.
Luke called. He says you're
checking out. Of the Heartbreak
The waitress appears. Rachel too locked into the moment to notice.
She likes a Stolie, no ice.
As the woman leaves...
What's this about? Because
Don't flatter yourself.
I always liked that line.
I love Luke, I love the children.
But there is more to life than
No, there isn't.
And I have looked down the road.
At what my life will be. And I
can't handle it.
Jackie unblinking. Focused, strong.
What do you see? Down that road.
No answer. Then...
I never wanted to be a mom. Then,
sharing it with you was one thing.
Carrying it alone, the rest of my
Is scary. But you want it. Gimme
some truth here.
The Stolie arrives. They wait a beat. The waitress disappears.
Well, it's the Jack Kennedy Syndrome,
huh? You die young, you always look
golden. Perfect. The memory kind of
burnishes the image, and...
Come on, a wuss like me? The stiff
who wouldn't help her own daughter
Maybe I was wrong on that one.
That sits there. In its sincerity.
Well, maybe you weren't.
And so does that. Tears are forming in Rachel's eyes. Here, in
this public place.
Look, when I said I couldn't channel
you. That didn't mean I wouldn't give
my right arm to do just that.
Shakes her head.
Maybe I don't want to be looking over
my shoulder. Every day for twenty
years. Knowing someone else would
have done it right. The way I can't.
Jackie waits. Thinks.
Trade you a smoke. For a secret.
The way she said that. Something weighty behind it. So Rachel
reaches into her purse.
You know, I lost Ben awhile back?
In a supermarket.
Rachel's hand freezes. In mid-course.
I lost him. I was panicked.
You are lying, you never lost that
kid for 4 seconds, you could find him
from a coma, there is no WAY!
I was running around like a chicken
with my head chopped off. Doing my
imitation of you.
Rachel still not buying...
Ben never mentioned it.
He only remembers I found him. My
point is, telling you this story would
have been the kindest, most helpful
thing I could ever have done for you.
The smile fades.
Why didn't I?
Uh. You hate my guts?
Passing the cigarettes over.
We were competing. Even then.
Yes we were.
Instead of being partners. Watch-
ing each other's back. Seeing things
Pulls out a smoke. Offers the pack...
You're not scared you'll think you
don't measure up. You're scared
they'll think it. That's the JFK
Rachel takes one. Eye contact holding.
With good reason. They fucking
worship you as it is.
What do I have that you don't?
Everything. You're...the Earth
You're the hip and fresh.
You ride with Annabelle...
You know every story, every wound,
every memory, their whole life's
happiness has been wrapped up in
you, every moment...
I have their past.
STRIKES the match.
You. Have their future.
Rachel stunned. By the simplicity of it all. Slowly, she leans to
accept Jackie's flame.
Don't you get it? You look down the
road to her wedding. You're in the
room alone with her, fitting her veil,
fluffing her dress. Telling her no
woman was ever that beautiful.
Tears now. Standing in two pairs of eyes.
And your fear is. She'll be
thinking. I wish Mom were here.
Jackie lights her own.
And mine is. She won't.
Her hand trembles as she takes a drag.
Now that's enough fear for either
one of us to kill the other. And
no jury in the world would convict.
Jackie raises her glass.
We're guilty, girl. Of being human.
And we can't forgive ourselves.
Holds it forward. In a toast.
But I forgive you.
And slowly, Rachel lifts her own glass. CLICKS it with Jackie's.
Don't rush me. I'm deciding.
SLOW DISSOLVE TO...
INT. JACKIE'S LIVING ROOM - CHRISTMAS MORNING
White Christmas outside the window. Richly trimmed tree, presents
everywhere, carols softly playing. The whole nine yards. Luke and
Ben standing at a wrapped bird cage, where a dove is cooing inside.
Annabelle is setting out the cocoa with a uniformed NURSE.
Rachel enters. Kisses Annabelle's head.
I'm gonna check on Mom.
Goes down the hall, every emotion in the world is playing across
her face. Into...
INT. JACKIE'S BEDROOM
Jackie lies on her death bed. She is beautiful and near the end.
Despite the IV tube, the monitor, she's gotten to serenity after
all. As close as any of us will ever get.
Hey, gorgeous. Time for the
Jackie licks her lips. Pretty dry. Rachel takes a cotton lemon
swab from the nightstand. Tenderly, cleans Jackie's mouth.
Now Edna says you short-changed your
last meds. You can do presents and be
comfortable at the same time, y'know.
(clears her throat)
Just want to be a little sharper.
For a few minutes.
A few minutes.
Some things to say. To the kids,
Then, bring in the presents. We'll
have big fun.
Rachel can't really bear this.
You know, there's nothing you
have to say. Because they know
your heart. You don't have t...
Just sit me up. Nice and tall.
Bring Benjamin first.
Staring at each other. Then Rachel reaches her arms around
Jackie, and as gently as she can manage, lifts her to a full
Rachel brings the big book. Lays it on the bed. And goes.
Jackie begins to turn the pages. Her life with these children
passing before her eyes. No tears. No smile. Just full
attention. Fingertips touch the one she was looking for, as...
The door OPENS. Ben, hesitant, enters alone. His mother's face is
fine and strong and smiling.
Find the bird cage?
Rache says it's from you.
Well, don't make him disappear
before I see him.
Ben nods. Okay, I won't. She glances to the scrapbook...
Oh, look at this.
And forgetting his uneasiness, he runs over, climbs ONTO the bed.
Jackie doesn't wince, doesn't even blink. Nothing for his memory
bank but smiles. He looks at the photo...
...Jackie holding a spunky newborn.
That's you and me. Our first photo
as a couple.
He nods. Really staring at it.
Did you know I was good-looking
She reaches to hold his face in her hand. Stares in his eyes.
This good-looking. Was beyond
She leans. Kisses his lips lightly. How many more times will she
get to do this?
So what do you think we're gonna
She nods. Her smile is right there.
The secret of it. That only
magicians. Can ever understand.
His eyes brighten. The sadness pushed aside.
See, when we die. Our body goes
away. Our body. But we...we are
not our body, are we?
He doesn't know. Maybe he thought we were.
If a soldier loses his legs in a
war. Is he the same guy? Sure
But you can still see him.
Half. Of him.
This is so fucking hard. But her eyes stay dry.
Dying. Is where the whole body
goes away. So you can't see any
of it. But...
Rests her hand tenderly. On his hair.
What do magicians know?
Leans forward. Here's the secret...
Just because you can't see it.
Doesn't. Mean. It's gone.
Does it? And Ben smiles. He is inside the secret.
The world. Thinks I'm gone. But
only the magician. Knows better.
So where are you?
She was waiting for this. For a long time. She wraps her hand
around his fist. And puts their hands against his heart.
Right here. Right here. Inside
the magician. Shhhh.
Can I talk to you? When you're
Always. Always. And you won't
hear a voice. But in here. You'll
know. What I'm saying.
Yes, you will.
It's not good enough.
No, it isn't. Because it isn't
everything. And we want every-
thing, don't we?
He nods. They do.
But God does let us keep the one
best thing we have together. The
one best thing we've always had.
Know what it is?
He doesn't. But he wants to.
I love you. And you love me.
Comes closer. Nose to nose.
It's worth a lot. Will you keep it?
He answers. With a kiss.
INT. LIVING ROOM - MOMENTS LATER
Luke and Annabelle are doing a hugely complex jigsaw puzzle. Ben
runs in, falls on his knees by the puzzle. Without looking at
Annabelle, he tells her...
Your turn. It wasn't bad.
Annabelle looks straight to her dad. There is a moment, a silence,
that no one else could ever understand. She leans to him and
Here it is?
His eyes water. He takes her in his arms. Whispers close to her
ear, only the words...
Here it is.
She smiles at hi. Fear gone, filled with resolve. Gives him a
kiss. Rises, to...
...follow Rachel down the hall. Rache wraps an arm around her big
girl. No words, except a murmured...
You can do this.
Voice cracking. She's not as good at it as this girl's mother.
You can do anything.
At the door. Open it, and...
INT. JACKIE'S BEDROOM
...Annabelle enters alone. The door closes behind her. Her eyes
lock with her mother's. No words. Annabelle's eyes filled with
tears, and Jackie's arms...
... REACH out, and Annabelle RUNS to them.
They hold each other. For a forever moment.
I don't want to say goodbye.
Don't. Take me with you.
And Annabelle looks up. Tears on her face.
Thank God. I got to see you.
Let me be the judge of that.
And Annabelle climbs onto the bed. Their hands never stop touching
each other. Saying I love you.
There's an amazing thing when a
woman has a daughter. One day you
look up, and you see...a sister.
Someone. You can say. Anything to.
I wrote a whole lot of letters. To
each of you. And the envelope says
when to open it. Like, which
birthday. Or...when you get your
driver's permit. First time you see
Rome. Things like that.
Things like that. Annabelle is beginning to lose it now. So
Jackie says only...
Keep Ben's for awhile, okay? Until
he's old enough to not open them all
Until he's old enough to read.
Tears on Annabelle's face. Her mom wonders...
Are you afraid for me? Where
Don't be. I'm going. Where we
all go. Now how can that be bad.
I'll miss you so much.
Good. That's very good.
She nods, yes it is.
What you're grown-up enough to
know. Is that people. Can do
two things at once. Okay?
She brushes at her baby's tears. Then tastes her wet fingertips.
Mmmn, surprisingly good. Annabelle sort of smiles.
You can miss me. And. Take me
Hold the child's face. In her hands.
When you're in trouble. Have me
there. When you fall in love.
Have me there. You can.
Said with such absolute assurance.
That's how we go on, you know.
Forever. Because someone takes
Annabelle swallows hard.
On your wedding night. When your
babies are born. I want to be
there. Will you take me?
A straight question. It needs an answer.
Always, always. Always.
A sigh. A shared smile.
You made my life wonderful.
Take that with you, too.
Hold. On Annabelle.
INT. JACKIE'S BEDROOM - LATER THAT MORNING
The presents are here now, they fill up the room, spill over the
bed, where both children sprawl.
...Ben RIPPING the shit out of wrappings like a wolverine,
Annabelle carefully saving her gift paper as if she were going to
hang it in the Louvre. She holds a tank top up to her chest, for
her Mom's approval. Jackie's not sure. Rachel handing up more
boxes, Luke in charge of bagging trash...
Ben's white dove, flying free around the room, zipping and diving.
No one cares. It's Christmas.
HOLD. Hold. And CROSSFADE TO...
EXT. CHAPEL - NIGHT
Family and friends are leaving the wake, exiting the softly-lit
chapel into a snowy night. They are saying goodbyes, kissing one
another, going to their cars. And saying her last goodbye...
...Rachel turns to Luke. Whispers, close to his ear. He looks at
her for a beat, then leads Annabelle and Ben toward the car, as...
Rachel goes back into the chapel. Alone.
INT. FUNERAL PARLOR
The room is nearly dark. One soft spot plays on a simple CASKET.
No canned organ music, no sound at all. As Rachel enters.
She goes to the casket. Stares down at it for a beat. And just
above a whisper...
See, I told you I'd do this.
Only. Now I don't know what to say.
Her hand reaches out. A finger absently traces the edge of the
wood. It seems a gesture of unconscious affection.
You'd have written it down, so you
wouldn't blow it.
A slight smile. Here's where the love shows.
Maybe we should change places.
Nods slightly. Maybe we should. She takes a step back now, to a
Sits. Her hands folded in her lap. Thinks.
Well. We were less than friends, I
guess. And more.
We were never...girlfriends, we
never dished. That wasn't. What
No apology there. It's just the truth.
We had some battles, man, they
were...world class, huh?
And I don't regret a one of them.
Sad little shrug.
I miss them.
Thinking. Of how much more she'll miss.
We've got our secrets, we have.
And I'll keep 'em if you will.
Crosses her arms. Lost in the moment.
But I wish we had one more night.
In that little bar, remember?
Remember that toast? Sure, you do.
Her voice wavers. But the eyes are dry.
Know what? I forgive me, too.
See? You're the magician.
Don't worry, partner, I've got
your back. We're covered.
It's what she came to say. CROSSFADE TO...
INT. BALLROOM - NIGHT
Lights and music and laughter. They're in black tie tonight. It's
a wedding party. Up on the stage, at the head table, some guy is
finishing a toast, and as everyone ROARS and CLAPS...
...so TO THE BRIDE! Thank GOD
she's more than he deserves!
Everybody shouts THE BRIDE. Everybody drinks champagne.
And the bride stands up. In her white gown. In her hand, an
envelope. She goes to the mike, and waits for the raucous cheers,
the calls of SPEECH!, to die down.
Leans to the mike. Flushed and happy. And, oddly, nervous.
Now I know the tradition, so
this isn't a toast. At least...
not for me.
The guest list is 114. But we
all know there's one more here,
Looks down the table at her children. Dressed to kill. Enjoying
...my two sidekicks there always
bring her along. Wherever they go.
So Jackie and I were sitting
around. On New Year's Eve. And
she said, 'You're not gonna talk
at my funeral, are you?'
And now. It is quiet indeed.
And I said, 'I've never been to
a funeral. I'm not sure I'll know
how to act...'
Her sweet smile. Keeps the mood right.
'...but I'll prob'ly sneak into
where you are. Just before it's
Nods to herself. Fights back the feeling of that moment.
'...say something. Just to you.
Get the last word in, when you
can't talk back.'
There is laughter in this room. Gentle, loving.
So she says, 'No way.'
Holds up the envelope. Holds it tight.
She wrote this. She sealed it
up, I didn't see it. She made
me promise to read it. At the
And slowly, Luke begins to CLAP. And others join. And when it
I told her she'd better make it
dirty, or make it funny. Because...
no way...on my wedding...
No way in hell.
...could she make me cry.
APPLAUSE. They are loving it.
She says, 'It's a deal'.
The band plays an impromptu FLOURISH. Rachel begins to carefully
tear open the envelope...
Now, if it's too raunchy, we may
have to excuse the kids...
SHOUTS from everyone, ESPECIALLY the children.
She has it open. She looks at it.
And everything. Stops.
The world watches her sway, watches her eyes fill as she stares at
the small card in her hand. She can't believe this...
(mouths to herself)
The tears are welling. Everyone SCREAMS for her to read it. She
leans to the mike, shaking her head...
It's...no big thing, really...
it's just...five words, it's...
The place goes happily UP FOR GRABS. A joyful RIOT of demand.
Tears STREAMING now, Rachel fumbles to pull up her white beaded
bag. As she puts the card inside, we alone can read the words...
MY BABIES. ARE SO LUCKY.
HOLD on this. And...
FADE TO BLACK. ROLL END CREDITS.