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Our Thoughts
 
 

 

Stairway to Heaven: A Short Screenplay

by the Outsider

 

 

FADE IN:

 

INT. KITCHEN DAWN

The KITCHEN is an especially bare, lusterless room. It is

small, windowless, and enshrouded in darkness. Two faint

candles dimly unmask its arid, rugged walls.

 

RULA, a playful 10 year old girl, is sitting on a plastic

chair at the kitchen table. She is small and skinny, and

always looks afraid. Her innocence tainted, a million

questions locked away inside her beautiful, brown eyes. RULA

is playing with an old rag doll and is heavily preoccupied

with it.

 

 

RULA

Ziad is going to get me some candy

today. Yes, I know you like candy.

But, it’s for me, you can’t have

any...

 

He loves me you know, not you.

 

 

RULA suddenly stops playing with the doll, puts it on the

table, and runs to her mother, MONA, who is busy preparing

breakfast. MONA is in her late forties, is fully clad in

black, and has an air of hopeless dejection about her. She is

overly immersed in what she is doing, seemingly oblivious to

her daughter’s presence.

 

 

RULA

Mom! Mom! What time is it? Where is

Ziad? Can I go wake him up now?!

 

 

MONA continues to focus on the food, ignoring her daughter’s

many questions.

 

 

RULA

Mom! Mom! Mom!

Answer me...please.

Can I go wake him up now?!!

MONA abruptly stops what she is doing, sighs heavily, and

turns to RULA.

 

MONA

Rula! What’s wrong with you? Leave

him be...let him sleep...

 

RULA

But he’s supposed to get me candy

today...

 

 MONA

I don’t care! Go sit down! You are

so selfish! It’s all your fault...

 

 

MONA stops herself in her tracks, sharply turns away, and

returns to the food. RULA is surprised by her mother’s

reaction. She stares at MONA for a few seconds, and

dispiritedly walks back to the table, unable to hide her

disappointment.

 

 

FADI, ZIAD’s father, inconspicuously enters the kitchen

carrying a small paper bag. He is in his early fifties, short

and stocky, and has the look of a man deflated. Heavy, black

bags underneath his eyes tell the story of a man who has had

to endure many sleepless nights.

 

 

FADI

Mona, I brought some cheese for

breakfast.

 

MONA

(surprised, angry)

Cheese? Where did you get the money

for cheese?

 

FADI

What does it matter to you?

I’m the one who breaks my back to

put a roof over our heads...

You should be thankful!

 

MONA

Thankful? Thankful??!!

Don’t get me started.

If you were really breaking your

back, then Ziad wouldn’t have to...

 

FADI

Mona! Enough. This is not the time

for such talk. Just take the

cheese.

 

 

FADI, noticeably bothered by his conversation with MONA,

angrily sits down on a chair, and lights a cigarette. He

takes a deep drag from it, and begins to stare into space.

 

 

RULA

(tugging on FADI’s arm)

Dad! Dad! Thank you for the cheese!

I love cheese!!

(pausing)

 

Dad...

Why do you look so sad? Did I do

something wrong?

 

 

FADI slowly turns to his daughter, and casts a weary, yet

loving gaze at her.

 

 

FADI

Sweety, you have done nothing

wrong. I’m not sad, just tired...

 

RULA

Oh, ok...

What time is it? You know Ziad is

getting me candy today...

 

 

MONA suddenly drops a knife on the floor. She seems bothered

by something, and pauses for a few seconds before picking it

up.

 

 

FADI

(looking first at MONA)

Candy? Really??

That’s great sweety...

Why don’t you go wake him up?

 

RULA

Mom! Did you hear that? Dad said I

can go wake Ziad up now...

 

MONA

Then go...GO!!

You are so SELFISH!!

GO!!!

 

 

RULA is visibly hurt by her mother’s words, casts her a sad

and confused look, lowers her head, and slowly leaves the

KITCHEN.

 

 

INT. ZIAD’S BEDROOM

Light pierces the BEDROOM through a large, jagged hole in its

ceiling, uncovering clouds of dust, whilst also exposing the

desolate condition of the room. Scattered patterns of bullet

holes and faded bloodstains interlace the walls. A large,

withered and torn Palestinian flag casts a looming shadow

over a thin, fragile figure lying on a shabby mattress in the

center of the room.

 

CLOSE on ZIAD who urgently tosses and turns in his bed. Beads

of sweat cover his pale, frail, yet unmistakably beautiful

face. He is 22, deeply demoralized and inescapably

underweight.

 

RULA timidly enters the BEDROOM. She stands over ZIAD for a

few seconds and hesitates, serenely staring at his face.

 

 

RULA

(faintly whispering)

Ziad...

Ziad...

Wake up...

 

 

RULA pauses for a few more seconds, then begins to weakly

prod ZIAD.

 

 

RULA

Ziad...Wake up...

ZIAD slowly opens his eyes, and looks up at his beloved

sister.

 

ZIAD

(faking a yawn)

Okay, sweety. I’m awake...

I’m awake...

 

 

ZIAD sits up in the mattress and reaches for RULA’s hand,

delicately caressing her fingers. He pulls her closer towards

him, hugs her tight, and kisses her on her forehead. He casts

a loving gaze at RULA, and holds it for a few seconds.

 

 

ZIAD

Are mom and dad awake?

 

 

RULA lifts her head and nods slowly, tears begin to well up

inside her eyes. She starts to sob quietly, and abruptly

turns away.

 

 

ZIAD

What is it sweety? What’s wrong?!

 

 

RULA continues to sob with her back turned away from ZIAD. He

stands up, and delicately pulls her towards him.

 

 

ZIAD

What’s the matter Rula?

Tell me...

 

RULA

Mom shouted at me. She told me that

I am selfish, and she blamed

everything on me...

 

ZIAD

No, sweety. Don’t listen to her.

She has a lot on her mind.

You aren’t selfish...

You’re beautiful. You’re perfect.

Don’t listen to her.

 

 

ZIAD kisses RULA on the cheek, and softly caresses her face,

all the while fixing his eyes on hers.

 

 

ZIAD

I love you so much, sweety.

Don’t ever forget that.

 

 

RULA gradually stops sobbing, and wraps her feeble arms

around ZIAD, hugging him as tight as she can. They hug for a

few more seconds.

 

 

ZIAD

Sweety...go back to mom and dad. I

need to get ready. I’ll be there in

a few minutes.

 

 

RULA finally releases him from her endearing arms, and smiles

at him lovingly.

 

 

RULA

Okay. But don’t forget you said you

were going to get me candy today.

 

ZIAD

I won’t, sweety. I promise...

 

 

RULA cheerfully dances out of the BEDROOM. Waiting until

she’s left the room, ZIAD falls back down onto the mattress

and buries his head in his hands. He lifts up his head, and

casts a long gaze at the flag pinned up on the wall. He is

visibly shaken, gets up again from the mattress and slowly

begins to get dressed.

 

 

INT. KITCHEN

 

FADI

Do you think I am happy about

this??!! Don’t you think I wish

this would never have to happen??!!

 

MONA

(sobbing)

You don’t act like you care!! You

just sit there smoking your damn

cigarettes...

RULA suddenly enters the KITCHEN, her vibrant smile quickly

turning into a puzzled frown.

 

RULA

Dad, what’s wrong with mom? Is she

still angry with me?!!

 

FADI

No, sweety. She isn’t angry with

you. She is just tired. We’re both

tired.

 

 

MONA wipes the tears from her eyes, and hastily reverts back

to preparing breakfast. FADI, meanwhile, lights yet another

cigarette, and wistfully proceeds to watch his wife’s

movements.

 

ZIAD hesitantly enters the KITCHEN. He gloomily sits down

without uttering a word.

 

 

RULA

Ziad’s here!!

Ziad, when are you going to get me

candy?

 

ZIAD

Soon, sweety. Soon...

 

 

MONA stops fixing the food, lowers her head, and hunches over

the counter. She remains motionless for a few seconds, before

returning to the food.

 

 

FADI

Good morning, Son. How are you

feeling today?

 

ZIAD

(unable to look his father

in the eye)

Fine, Dad. Just fine...

 

FADI

Mona, where is the food? Why are

you taking so long darling?

 

 

MONA somberly brings the food to the table, fills everyone’s

plate except for her own, and silently goes back to the

counter.

 

 

ZIAD

(pointing to the cheese)

Dad, what’s this?

How could you afford this?

 

FADI

(sighing deeply)

Son, don’t worry about it. Just eat

it. Enjoy it. You deserve it after

all...

 

 

RULA is the first to begin eating. She enthusiastically dives

into the food, starting with the cheese, and munches away

happily.

 

Breakfast proceeds in complete silence. ZIAD is eating very

slowly, picking at his food, his eyes never leaving his

plate. MONA refills his plate before he even finishes what is

on it.

 

 

ZIAD

What are you doing, Mom? I am full.

Enough. No more food.

 

MONA

Eat, Son. You need strength...

 

ZIAD

Enough. Save it for dinner. Don’t

waste it on me...

 

 

MONA abruptly turns away, she begins to sob quietly, and

pretends to be busy cleaning up. FADI, sitting in total

silence, lights another cigarette, and stares off into space.

 

 

RULA

Ziad, when are you going to get me

candy?

 

 

ZIAD shifts in his seat, he pretends not to hear RULA’s

question, and forces down some more food.

 

RULA

When are you going to get me candy?

You said you would!

 

ZIAD

Very soon, sweety.

Very soon...

 

 

ZIAD glances across at all three members of his family,

pausing at each one. Tears persistently battle to emerge from

his eyes.

 

 

RULA

I want some lollipops, some

chocolate, some...

 

FADI

(throwing his cigarette to

the ground)

Rula, be quiet!! I have had enough

of your selfish questions!! Can’t

you just be quiet?!! All the time

candy, candy, candy!! Go wash your

hands!!

 

 

RULA is clearly alarmed by FADI’s verbal assault on her, and

lowers her head. She begins to cry, and looks to ZIAD for

support.

 

 

ZIAD

Dad, what’s wrong with you??! Calm

down. Don’t shout at her.

 

 

MONA drops her utensils, casts FADI a sharp, piercing look,

and rushes towards RULA. She bends down, and hugs her

daughter tight, kissing her on the forehead, lovingly

consoling her.

 

 

MONA

Rula, sweety, don’t cry. Your

father is just tired.

Now, go wash your hands.

 

 

RULA looks up at MONA, her sobbing diminishes, and she

gingerly leaves the KITCHEN.

 

All of a sudden, a loud knocking on the front door penetrates

the room.

 

 

ZIAD

Mom, Dad, it is time. I must get

ready now.

 

 

The knocking persists, becoming increasingly louder and more

frequent.

 

FADI stares into space for a few more seconds, turns to his

son, his eyes tearing, and slowly nods. MONA turns away,

saying nothing. ZIAD goes to the door, and opens it slightly.

 

 

VOICE (O.S.)

Ziad, come on. We must go now.

 

ZIAD

Okay. Give me a few more minutes.

 

 

ZIAD nods at the man outside, and hastily closes the door. He

then begins to make his way to the BEDROOM, when FADI

suddenly grabs his arm.

 

 

FADI

Must you leave now. Stay longer.

Have some more cheese...

 

 

ZIAD stares at FADI sadly, pulls his arm away, and leaves the

KITCHEN. FADI falls down on to a chair, casts a hopeless look

to the ceiling, and begins to cry.

 

 

FADI

(placing his hands on his

head)

God, forgive me..Forgive me!!

Please...

 

 

MONA goes over to FADI, tears fluidly flowing down her

cheeks, and takes his hand in hers, caressing it softly.

 

 

MONA

Don’t despair, darling. It is

done...You are not to blame. Be

proud of our son, be proud...

 

 

RULA hastily returns to the KITCHEN, and sees FADI crying.

 

 

RULA

Mom, what’s wrong with dad? Is he

still angry with me?

 

MONA

No, sweety. He isn’t angry with

you. He is just tired.

We’re both tired...

 

RULA

Where did Ziad go?

 

MONA

He went to get ready. He’ll be back

in a minute.

 

ZIAD reluctantly reenters the KITCHEN, carrying the

Palestinian flag.

 

 

RULA

Ziad, where are you going? Are you

going to get me my candy?

 

 

Just as RULA finishes uttering these words, the knocking on

the door returns, only this time it is louder and more

urgent. ZIAD, repressing tears, nods slowly to RULA, walks

over to the front door and cautiously opens it.

 

 

ZIAD

One second. Let me say goodbye...

Do you have what I asked for?

 

 

The man outside hands ZIAD two small, plastic bags. ZIAD

closes the door once more, and walks over to RULA. He kneels

down before her, hugs her tight, and kisses her on the

forehead.

 

 

ZIAD

(handing her a bag)

Here is your candy, sweety. Just as

I promised..

Always remember...I love you.

 

 

ZIAD walks over to MONA, hugs her deeply, and kisses her on

the cheek. She grabs him tight, tears continue to flow from

her eyes. ZIAD tries to pry himself away, eventually does,

and walks over to FADI.

 

 

FADI

Forgive me, Son. Forgive me...

 

 

ZIAD, holding back his tears, places his hand on FADI’s

shoulder, and affectionately stares at him for a few seconds.

 

 

ZIAD

This is my decision, not yours.

Thank you for everything...

(lovingly addressing his

whole family)

The money should be coming in a few

days...I love you all...

 

 

ZIAD turns away and slowly walks towards the door. Just as he

reaches the door, he pulls seven sticks of C-4 from the

second bag, and straps them around his chest. He drapes the

flag across his body, and carefully puts on his jacket. Tears

begin to flow from his eyes. He steals one last look at his

helpless family, walks out the door, and is greeted by the

bright glaring sunlight, as he finally departs.

 

RULA, meanwhile, is visibly preoccupied with her candy,

nonchalantly walks to the kitchen table, and starts to play

with her rag doll once more.

 

CLOSE on RULA who is animatedly chatting to her doll.

 

 

RULA

Look at all my candy..

Lollipops AND chocolate...

See, I told you he loves me...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright Kompashun 2006

Creative
                                    Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.