Good Night, Ethan
INT. DR. EMANUEL'S HOME OFFICE -- NIGHT
DR. ELIZABETH EMANUEL (early to mid 50s) sits down at her desk. It's a busy space, disgracefully strewn with papers and books, like any respectable academic's. Beside her is an empty computer chair, occupied only by a well-loved plesiosaur Beanie Baby. She fusses with a webcam and a microphone for a moment, and we hear the sound of a Zoom call starting. After a moment, we hear but don't see CAROLINE as she begins to speak.
Dr. Emanuel is becoming visibly annoyed, and just as she opens her mouth to speak again, ETHAN (19) leans in and speaks in an exaggerated stage whisper.
Dr. Emanuel's irritated expression deepens, and she opens her mouth as if she's about to argue. There's a click, and she speaks again, the irritation mostly replaced with a rueful smile. Ethan grins and drops into the empty computer chair beside Dr. Emanuel, moving the Beanie Baby into his lap.
Now we get our first view of Caroline on the PC screen. She's a woman in her late 20s, dressed in flowy clothes that suggest comfort and a kind of expensive spirituality. She's sitting in front of an elaborately embroidered tapestry of trees and flowers, and she smiles beatifically back at Dr. Emanuel.
There's a long pause as Caroline waits for a cue or clue that Dr. Emanuel has no intention of offering. The professor waits instead, a pen in hand and a pad of paper in front of her. After the silence has gone on for a second too long, Caroline clears her throat.
Dr. Emanuel is writing something down on her pad of paper, and she doesn't look up as she replies. Ethan tries to repress a snicker and fails.
Caroline recovers beautifully, and she delicately clears her throat before closing her eyes and lowering her head, as if in prayer.
Ethan scoffs quietly, rolling his eyes.
Dr. Emanuel ignores him and jots down another note. We get the feeling that she is used to working in such conditions. Caroline also performs admirably despite Ethan's commentary and Dr. Emanuel's silence.
There's another brief pause, as Caroline waits for the kind of feedback she needs to make her cold reading work. However, she seems to have accepted her new working conditions, and she pushes on. Ethan finds this hilarious.
Ethan does not succeed in repressing this snort of laughter. However, neither Caroline nor Dr. Emanuel respond to the sound.
There's a brief pause, and Caroline's voice is thick with pain and emotion that do not belong to her when she speaks again.
Dr. Emanuel and Ethan are both quiet for a beat-- she appears stunned for a moment, while he seems quietly furious. Both expressions are replaced by cool curiosity and gleeful mockery, respectively.
For the first time in several minutes, Caroline opens her eyes, so thrown by the question that she breaks her own illusion. But, ever the professional, she quickly closes them again and goes back to work.
Dr. Emmanuel puts her pen down and places her hand on the computer mouse. There's a finality to both actions, like an assessment has been completed and a decision made. Ethan is still quiet, pressing a hand to his chin, like he's trying to repress another snide laugh. A faint chime sounds from Caroline's end of the call, like the opening note of a music box's song.
Caroline opens her eyes again, blinking slowly and rubbing at her temple, as if she's surfacing from a long and lovely dream. She presses a hand to her chest, smiling gently into her camera.
Dr. Emanuel nods.
There's a click as Dr. Emanuel ends the Zoom call. She takes off her glasses and rubs at her temples as a bone weary exhaustion settles onto her. Next to her, Ethan spins idly in his chair, toying with the plesiosaur.
Dr. Emanuel does not respond to Ethan as she goes about shutting the computer down and putting away her notebook.
Dr. Emmanuel stands up, and she turns towards Ethan's chair. It's empty now, save for that worn plesiosaur Beanie Baby. She reaches down and strokes a hand over it fondly.
She walks towards the door and turns out the light. As she closes, we can see Ethan still sitting in the second chair, slumped and sullen. Dr. Emmanuel pauses for a moment and opens the door again, as if she's seen something out of the corner of her eyes. But the light from the hallway only falls on a little toy monster, sitting alone in the dark.
i'm laid up with an ankle injury, so i decided to try and figure out how screenwriting works. this is the result.