Beth: Week 5, Label

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Script, memory film
Minneapolis, 1996

The curtain rises on an ordinary kitchen, where a young couple sit across from each other at a round pedestal table. Tired and a little bewildered, they are leaden with jet lag. We discover through their smalltalk that they are trying to adjust after moving their two small children from London to Minneapolis. The woman's heavy, satisfied sigh as she sinks a little deeper into the cushion of her chair suggests the baby, at least, has been successfully lulled to sleep.

A gentle thump off camera interrupts their conversation, just for an instant. After wincing through another swallow of boxed wine, a second thump is heard, a little louder this time, followed by a young child's soft frustration.


(thump THUMPthump)
( . . . anguished sigh)



(followed by the loneliest moan of mortal resignation. Mortal recognition.)

The small voice is broken irrevocably, and the universe has resettled itself at a new angle. This 2 year old boy's English accent and slight speech impediment have turned what should have been "can't" into "taunt".

The mother wrinkles her forehead at her husband, too tired to walk into the adjoining room to help her son.

"Honey, what is it? What can't you do?"


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