Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Elevator





THE ELEVATOR

FADE IN:


INT. SARAH CARLTON'S CUBICLE - DAY

SARAH CARLTON, early to mid-twenties, blonde, comely, sits
with a cell phone to her ear.

SARAH
I should've called in sick, Emily.
I don't know what I'm doing here...
yeah, whatever. All these rich guys
who think they're so hot cause they
have fancy cars and shit. I almost
feel like just leaving all of this...

A man in his mid-thirties, COLIN MURPHY, dressed in a very
expensive shirt and tie, walks up to her.

COLIN
Ten thirty Partner's meeting in Mr.
Barns' office is postponed until two-
thirty, Sarah. But I need those
reports taken down to the fortieth
floor. Mr. Carter needs them.

SARAH
It would just please me to no end to
make sure Mr. Carter gets them, Mr.
Murphy.

Colin does not acknowledge her impertinence. As he leaves,
she grimaces. Behind her is a calendar. The date is
September eleventh, Two Thousand and One.

SARAH (CONT'D)
You know, I've worked here almost a
year, and I never heard a word from
that man that did not involve
business. What a bore...

Colin Murphy... He's my boss, Emily.
How am I supposed to know if he's
cute or not? Besides, he's like at
least ten years older than I am.

Listen, I gotta go. I'll talk to
you tonight. God I can't wait until
Friday... I know it's only Tuesday,
Emily. Bye.

She hangs up the phone, grabs her cigarettes and lighter,
stuffs them in her pocket, takes the papers and gets up.

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Break Heart Summer Page 2.




INT. ELEVATOR - LATER

Sarah stands alone as the elevator stops and Colin enters.

SARAH
Hi, Mr. Murphy. I went down to take
a cigarette break after I dropped
off the papers.

COLIN
No problem. You should quit smoking.
It'll kill you.

SARAH
What are you? A reformed smoker?

He pulls a pack of unfiltered cigarettes from his jacket
pocket.

COLIN
Not quite so reformed.

SARAH
Do as I say? Right?

COLIN
I actually did quit. Went back to
it.

SARAH
Why?

COLIN
Not important. Why'd you start?

SARAH
I grew up on Staten Island. We call
it Static Island. Not much to do
beside drink, smoke, mess around.
Do drugs. Never did drugs much.
But, I started this when I was
thirteen. Almost ten years.

Suddenly, the elevator shudders and stops mid-floor. They
nearly fall over.

SARAH (CONT'D)
Oh, shit! What was that? It's not
falling, is it?

COLIN
No, it's not falling. Relax. Just
relax.

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Break Heart Summer Page 3.




SARAH
I hate skyscrapers.

COLIN
Makes a lot of sense to work in one
if you hate them.

SARAH
It's where the money is. At least I
thought.

The lights dim. Sarah seems more apprehensive.

COLIN
Just relax, Sarah.

Colin reached for the phone and put it to his ear.

COLIN (CONT'D)
Hello? Hello? Nothing. It's dead.

Sarah against the wall and seems on the verge of tears.

COLIN (CONT'D)
You're not claustrophobic, are you?

SARAH
No! I just hate elevators.

Colin smiles and leans up against the back wall.

COLIN
We'll be fine. Just wait and someone
will come and get us.

SARAH
Wait? What about the trap door?

COLIN
Sarah, it's more dangerous in the
shaft than it is here. Just... sit
down.

He slides down the wall and sits Indian style.

COLIN (CONT'D)
Sit.

Reluctantly, she slides down the wall.

COLIN (CONT'D)
What are you afraid of?

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Break Heart Summer Page 4.




SARAH
That just didn't seem normal. I've
never felt an elevator do that.

Colin studies her for a moment. She seems a bit
uncomfortable.

SARAH (CONT'D)
What?

COLIN
I think you need a smoke.

He pulls his cigarettes from his pocket and extends his hand
to her.

COLIN (CONT'D)
Try one of these.

SARAH
Are you nuts? They're lung rippers.

COLIN
They're very smooth. Better than
those menthols you smoke.

SARAH
It's illegal to smoke in an elevator.

COLIN
I'm your manager. I gave you
permission. Besides, we were both
nervous. And cigarettes calm your
nerves.

SARAH
You're nervous?

COLIN
A little. I don't like elevators
either. Go on. Take it.

SARAH
I can't believe this.

She takes the cigarette and puts it in her mouth. She looks
at him for a moment, then lights it. She holds the smoke in
her mouth for a moment, then, reluctantly, inhales.

The initial inhale jolts her, but she quickly becomes
accustomed to it.

SARAH (CONT'D)
Not bad. Bit strong, but... Smooth.

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Break Heart Summer Page 5.




Colin lights his own cigarette.

COLIN
Staten Island? What's it like there?

SARAH
Told you. Boring. I mean, you can
see Manhattan from there. When you're
a kid, it looks like... I don't know.
Like the promised land. Then you
get here, and you wonder what you've
gotten yourself into. Why you wanted
to come here in the first place.

COLIN
You don't have an accent.

SARAH
I worked really hard not to. I mean,
I went to Princeton. And I just
wanted to sound...

COLIN
Intelligent.

A small laugh escapes her. She nods.

SARAH
What about you?

COLIN
Harvard for me.

SARAH
Really?

COLIN
Grew up in Princeton.

SARAH
No shit. Why Harvard?

COLIN
Princeton was always there. Harvard
was there. Pre-law. Law. Ended up
here. New York.

SARAH
Guess the grass was greener for both
of us.

Colin just nods. Smokes. A vibration shudders through the
elevator. Sarah looks concerned.

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Break Heart Summer Page 6.




COLIN
Guess they're coming to get us.

SARAH
Wait! I have my cell.

COLIN
Might not get a signal this deep in
the building.

SARAH
Gonna try.

After a moment, she closes the phone.

SARAH (CONT'D)
No service. Try yours.

He flips his phone out. Tries it.

COLIN
Nothing. Well, young lady. I guess
we just have to wait.

SARAH
You know, I've worked for you for
almost a year, and I don't think
we've ever really talked.

COLIN
Not exactly like the office affords
that kind of latitude.

SARAH
Well, since we have this time. And
we're not in the office...

Colin considers her.

COLIN
Why not. You first.

SARAH
I told you. Staten Island. Boring.
Princeton. Manhattan.

COLIN
Boyfriend? Girlfriend?

SARAH
Girlfriend?

COLIN
Well, it's the new sexuality.

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Break Heart Summer Page 7.




SARAH
Yeah. I'm not saying I didn't try
it. Kind of did the gay thing in
college. But I want a family. Not
really into adopting. Besides, girls
can be a pain in the ass.

And my father would never understand.
He's very old fashioned. If I showed
up with a chick on my arm, that would
be the end.

COLIN
So, you're single?

SARAH
Haven't met my Prince Charming yet.
I don't even know what he'd be like.
I mean, I'm only twenty-two. Guys
my age are too into themselves. I
feel like I'm wasting my youth on
little boys. Or maybe I'm just too
into myself to...

COLIN
It's okay to be into yourself.

SARAH
You have to be more into the
relationship.

COLIN
That's a very mature observation.

SARAH
Thanks. I just wish I could figure
out what I want out of life.

Colin just smiles at her, lights a new cigarette and hands
it to her.

SARAH (CONT'D)
Trying to give me lung cancer?

COLIN
Just want to share the misery.

SARAH
It feels a bit hot in here.

COLIN
Not enough oxygen.

Sarah kicks her shoes off.

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Break Heart Summer Page 8.




SARAH
That feels better. So, tell me about
you. I don't know anything about
you. Except Princeton and Harvard.

COLIN
Well, I spent most of my time in an
all-boys prep school. Dated a little
when I got to Harvard. First day of
my senior year, I went to my
apartment. As I put the key in the
lock, I looked up and saw...

SARAH
What?

COLIN
An angel.

Colin laughs a little, even blushes.

SARAH
Cupid shot an arrow into your ass?

COLIN
I guess you could describe it like
that. She was a freshman. We started
being serious before we even knew
each other. It was like... I know
this sounds like a cliché, but, I
felt like I was supposed to be with
her. Soul mates.

SARAH
Sounds so romantic.

COLIN
I guess.

SARAH
You moved in together?

COLIN
Not right away. We'd already arranged
for the apartments. But we spent so
much time together, we might as well
have been married.

SARAH
You get married?

COLIN
Over the summer. Even our parents
like us. June wedding.
(MORE)

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Break Heart Summer Page 9.




COLIN (CONT'D)
She was so beautiful. I couldn't
believe no one else had gotten her.
I mean, I had never met a more
beautiful girl, inside or out.

SARAH
You were lucky.

He nods and smiles, remembrance in his eyes.

COLIN
I can remember times when we'd be
studying and I'd look across the
room. Look at her hair. Her face.
Even her toes. She had the cutest
toes. Kind of like yours. You have
cute feet too.

She laughs a bit and covers her toes with her hands.

SARAH
Stop.

COLIN
I just couldn't believe that someone
would be as beautiful as she was.

SARAH
What happened then?

COLIN
Well, I finished law school. Passed
the bar in Massachusetts. Clerked
for a federal judge while she finished
undergrad.

SARAH
Have any kids?

COLIN
We planned on it. But we decided to
work on our careers first. There
would be time for kids. Family.
She started her post-grad studies.

SARAH
So, how'd you get here?

COLIN
I got an offer to here. Huge pay
increase. Work in the Big Apple.
They offered me fast track to
partnership. I couldn't pass it up.
(MORE)

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Break Heart Summer Page 10.




COLIN (CONT'D)
Sarah got a job too. Condo on the
Upper East Side. Everything was
right with the world.

SARAH
Her name was Sarah too?

He nods almost sadly and smiles.

COLIN
It's my favorite name. Was before I
even met her.

SARAH
Wow. So, if you married the girl of
your dreams. Have the dream job.
Why are you so sad?

COLIN
Sarah came to me one night. It was
right after New Years Eve. She told
me that she was going to the doctor
in the morning. She had this coy
smile on her face. Of course, I
asked why. She told me she thought
she was pregnant.

SARAH
That's fantastic! Was it a boy or a
girl?

Colin shakes his head from side to side.

COLIN
They did the blood test. There was
something wrong. I went back to the
doctor with her. The look on her
face wasn't good. She told us that
Sarah had leukemia. Rare form.

Sarah's face turned crestfallen.

COLIN (CONT'D)
I asked her if we had caught it in
time. She shook her head. Then she
told us that Sarah had about a twenty
percent chance of seeing next
Christmas.

SARAH
Oh, my God. I'm sorry. How is she?

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Break Heart Summer Page 11.




COLIN
They started chemotherapy two weeks
later. It seemed to be okay. We
searched for a marrow donor. She
had a rare blood type. It took weeks.

SARAH
What about the baby?

COLIN
The chemo killed it.

Sarah is nearly on the verge of tears.

COLIN (CONT'D)
It wouldn't have survived anyway.
Had they not started the therapy
when they did, Sarah would have died
before the baby could be born.

SARAH
I'm sorry, Mr. Murphy.

COLIN
Why don't Colin? We're not in the
office now.

SARAH
Okay, Colin. I almost don't want to
ask you...

COLIN
A month after the first course of
treatment, she developed a chronic
fever. They put her in the hospital.
Pneumonia came next. Her lungs --
she was a heavy smoker -- were
damaged. She had decided to quit
when we started trying to have a
baby. I did too.

SARAH
But you're smoking now.

He holds up the cigarette butt and tosses it away.

COLIN
In June, the doctors told us that
Sarah's lungs and heart were failing.
Somehow, and we don't know how, they
found a matching donor. She had a
double lung and heart transplant.

SARAH
That must have been hard.

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Break Heart Summer Page 12.




Colin nodded. He lit another cigarette.

COLIN
For about two months, she seemed
okay. She came out of the hospital.
Went into remission. She even
regained some weight. We knew she
could never have children again. We
talked about adopting. We even
considered using another woman's egg
to have a baby. At least it would
be genetically linked to one of us.

SARAH
If you need somebody, I can donate.

COLIN
Her fever came back. They put her
back into the hospital. For the
next few months, she ran a low grade
fever. Her body began fighting
itself. The leukemia came back.

SARAH
She okay?

COLIN
I was sitting in a chair next to her
hospital bed. It was eleven-thirty.
December Twenty-Fourth. She looked
up at me. Slipped her hand in mine.
She had almost no strength.

I felt her die. I looked into her
eyes. She wasn't there anymore.

Tears flow from Sarah's eyes.

SARAH
I'm so sorry.

It takes a moment for Colin to regain his composure. He
lights two more cigarettes. Hands one to her.

COLIN
I went down stares. Was in a daze.
I couldn't even cry. I couldn't
believe she was gone. I hadn't smoked
in over two years.

I walked into the gift shop. Bought
a pack. Went outside. I had just
watched my wife die. And all I wanted
to do was smoke.

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Break Heart Summer Page 13.




He begins to laugh. A nervous laugh. It turns into crying.
But he controls it quickly.

COLIN (CONT'D)
Two packs a day ever since. I know
it's stupid. But...

Sarah slips her hand into his. He smiles.

COLIN (CONT'D)
I go to work. I go home. I go to
work. I go home. She died a year
and a half ago.

SARAH
You haven't been out since then?

Colin just shakes his head from side to side.

COLIN
You look so much like her.

SARAH
Is that why you didn't talk to me?

COLIN
I guess. It was too hard to talk to
you when all I saw was her face.

SARAH
I'm glad we got stuck in the elevator
together. I really am.

COLIN
Me too.

SARAH
I almost wish I could be your Sarah.

COLIN
There's no reason we can't be friends.

SARAH
None at all.

COLIN
It would sure make life easier in
the office.

SARAH
Colin Murphy, I think it's about
time you rejoined the world.

COLIN
Excuse me?

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Break Heart Summer Page 14.




SARAH
Why don't we go to lunch together?

COLIN
When?

SARAH
Today. This afternoon. We can go
to the Russian Tea...

COLIN
Are you hitting on me?

SARAH
No, no. I'm not hitting on you.

COLIN
Cause you know, it's against company
policy...

SARAH
We could go as friends.

Colin smiles sardonically.

COLIN
You were just playing with me.
Weren't you?

He laughs warmly.

COLIN (CONT'D)
Just a little.

He laughs a little more.

SARAH
Must be a Harvard thing.

COLIN
I don't know about that. I just...
I haven't laughed in a long time.

SARAH
You need to laugh.

COLIN
Sarah and I laughed all the time. I
miss that.

SARAH
I think I understand you now. And I
hope, maybe, I can help you recover
from losing her a bit.

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Break Heart Summer Page 15.




COLIN
Thanks.

SARAH
Maybe we can be friends.

COLIN
I'd like that.

Sarah smiles, then kisses him gently on the cheek.

SARAH
So, what's for lunch?

Suddenly, the building begins to shudder. Sarah screams and
leaps into Colin's arms.


EXT. NEW YORK CITY - CONTINUOUS

The first of the Twin Towers begins to crumble and fall to
the ground.

FADE OUT: