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Tortoise
by Dragan (dragan_tomasevic@hotmail.com)

Rated: R   Genre: Drama   User Review:
NOT YET
RATED

A short screenplay, about a breif encounter between a muslim woman and an autistic child. The subject matter is subtle, but deep and only fully revealed in the last two pages. Logline: Sometimes we can't change.


This screenplay is copyrighted to its author. All rights reserved. This screenplay may not be used or reproduced without the express written permission of the author.



FADE IN:

INT. BEDROOM -- CONTINOUS - DAY
                                                            
AN OLDER WOMAN [49] places her bedsheet overtop her matress
and pats the pillow, just about finished cleaning her bed.

Her face is clear, the amount that is visible, since a deep
orange veil is wrapped around her head -- She wears a silk
dress like material that is faded around her shoulders. She
is DARK and of medial height. This is ZAYNAB UBEIDA.

She sits quietly on the edge of the bed, staring around the
baron room, with cracked walls and missing tiles on the
floor. A BRIEFCASE sits neatly next to her on the bed. She
IDLES it for a brief moment.

cut to: A STAINED MIRROR, she stands perched over it and
tries to wipe away with her bare hand.

She opens the drawer underneath the mirror, and she notices
a MUSLIM QURAN adorning the empty drawer

As she stares at the quran, we see a brownish plant peeking
from the end of it as a bookmark. Zaynab opens it and inside
is a BROWNED and DRIED PURPLISH PLANT tucked in the corner.
Zaynab slowly and delicately grabs the DRIED PLANT.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
EXT. VILLAGE HUT -- (FLASHBACK) - DAY
                                                            
A CORPSE OF A YOUNG BOY, LIES NEXT TO ANOTHER CORPSE OF AN
OLDER WOMAN. BOTH COVERED IN BLOOD AND TORNED CLOTH FROM THE
APPARENT BULLET WOUNDS.

A TREMBLING HAND -- ZAYNAB'S HAND CARESSES AGAINST THE
YOUNG GIRL'S ARM. ZAYNAB LOOKS YOUNG, WITH FLOWING
HAIR...CLEAN EYE GLASSES ARE BRACED ON HER FACE, CIRCULAR
AND HALF-RIMMED. AS SHE HOLDS THE BOYS HAND SHE NOTICES
SOMETHING GRIPPED INSIDE THE PALM.

AS SHE SHUDDERS AND DUCKS IN FEAR FROM THE LOUD BOMBARDMENT
AND NEAR FIRE OF MACHINE GUN ROUNDS.


INSERT: A BRIGHT, HEALTHY AND PURPLE PLANT, WITH SLIGHT DOTS
OF BLOOD in the hand of the young boy.

Zaynab, SADLY WRESTLES WITH THE GRIP OF THE YOUNG BOYS HAND

2.

AND Grasps THE PURPLE PLANT. Her face, sinks into a vengeful
posture.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. BEDROOM -- CONTINOUS - DAY
                                                            
THE DRIED PURPLE PLANT -- HELD BY ZAYNAB, NEXT TO THE QURAN.


cut to: ZAYNAB places her old eye glasses on. The glasses
are warn and the rim is held together with small amounts of
scotch tape. She prays at the edge of her bed. She chants
deeply, with one hand in the air and the other, tightly
wrapped around the Quran.

cut to: Zaynab, speaks on the old teal coloured rotary phone
next to her bed.
                                                            
                       ZAYNAB
      (On phone - In
       Arabic)
Yes....I feel fine.
(pause)
No, i'm not worried. Should I be?
(stares at watch)
Eleven...I know. Esqelon.
(pause)
Salam.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. HALLWAY - DAY
                                                            
ZAYNAB, shuts her door soundly. She trots through the
hallway, which is covered with younger homeless, injecting
themselves with VILES OF HEROINE. A few, dealt on the side,
run off passed her.

Seemingly, strung out and leaning against the walls. A loud
cry of an infant is heard as well as a loud argument taking
place in a nearby room.

Zaynab, passes a few women PROSTITUTES, all wearing warned
and cheap throw-ons. One follows bare-footed close to
Zaynab, whispering in her ear, ignoring her as she makes the
trip down the stair-well.
                                                            

3.

                       PROSTITUTE
      (slurred speech)
Fuck you! Who the fuck do you
think you are!? You whore.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. FRONT DESK -- A FEW MOMENTS - DAY
                                                            
Zaynab signs a few papers handed by the SUPER-INTENDENT.
The super-intendendent peeks over the divider as he signs,
noticing his BRIEFCASE.
                                                            
                       SUPER-INTENDENT
      (staring at
       briefcase)
Where are you going?
                                                            
Zaynab, ignoring the question continues to hastily sign her
papers.
                                                            
                       SUPER-INTENDENT (cont.)
We will be leasing your room
out...while your gone.
                                                            
                       ZAYNAB
      (placing few
       wrinkled bills on
       counter)
That's fine.
                                                            
                       SUPER-INTENDENT
      (Grabs bills,
       folding them)
When should we expect you to be
back?
                                                            
                       ZAYNAB
      (apprehensively)
I-I'm not sure.
                                                            
                       SUPER-INTENDENT
Long trip?
                                                            
Zaynab PLACES HER KEY on top of the counter, snatches her
briefcase and heads out the building.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 

4.

INT. CAB - MOVING - DAY
                                                            
The cab weaves through the crowded streets. Zaynab glares
out the backseat window at the mass of individuals trying to
make their way through the nearby pavillions and markets.

The cab driver [37], a burly and pailish israeili, stares
curiously in his rear view mirror at a quiet and absent
Zaynab.
                                                            
                       TAXI DRIVER
      (staring at Jamail)
Are you from around here?
                                                            
                       ZAYNAB
      (quietly)
No.
                                                            
                       TAXI DRIVER
It gets pretty busy around this
time of day. People need to make a
living...they sell their stock,
nothing really good though,...buy
a few chickens or some fish.
Pretty cheap.
(honks horn)
Son of bitch...Go!
(turns to a quiet Zaynab)
Where are you off to?
                                                            
                       ZAYNAB
      (pause)
Home.
                                                            
                       TAXI DRIVER
Home.
(smirks)
Everyone misses home.
                                                            
Zaynab, eyes glued to her feet as the cab driver tries to
navigate past the large truck shipping - Pigs,
chickens...etc.
                                                            
                       TAXI DRIVER (cont.)
What brought you to this place?
                                                            
                       ZAYNAB
      (hesitantly)
I came to see some friends.
(clears throat)
Here and there.
                                                            

5.

The taxi driver, nods in approval, avoiding to continue the
conversation due to her apprehensive nature.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. ESHQELON - TRAIN STATION - DAY
                                                            
INSERT: GREEN CIRCLUAR DOTS ARE ETCHED ON THE BLANK CANVAS
OF A PAPER. A SHADE OF TURQOUISE FILLS IN THE WHITE BLANKS
BETWEEN.
                                                            
                       BOYS VOICE (os)
...The turtoise fell on it's back
and it drowned....it forgot to
hold it's breath.
(pause)
Things need to breathe, you know.
I thought they could under water,
but they need air like me and you
and them.
                                                            
A SMALL BOY sketches with crayons on a small peice of paper.
He sits next to a young woman train stewerdess who tries to
place the small boy's ticket into her sache, next to his
suitcases.

The young boy is Jamail [11] an autistic child who slightly
clasps his hands and screeches in outburts of laughter. He
then switches to a deep focus into his paper.

The stewardess sticks out her hand, grabbing Jamail's
suitcase in the other.
                                                            
                       STEWARDESS
We better get going now, Jamail.
(pause)
There calling us now, Jamail. We
better get going.
(pause)
Don't want us to be late to see
your mother.
                                                            
After a few deliberations, Jamail holds onto the hand of the
stewardess. Placing his crayons in his jacketpocket. He
places the picture into a notebook of drawings of HOUSES,
SHARKS AND LANDSCAPES. He holds the book in his fist.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 

6.

INT. CAB - NOT MOVING - DAY
                                                            
The cab comes to a halt, next to the trainstation, a group
of civilians moving to and fro, loud bargaining is heard as
an older man releases his sheep one by one, out of the back
of a cramped Toyota 4X4 truck.

A few others selling cheap beads from cab to cab.
                                                            
                       ZAYNAB
      (handing a few
       bills to cab
       driver)
Thank you.
                                                            
                       TAXI DRIVER
For five...I can wait out here for
a while, just in case you don't
get in.
                                                            
                       ZAYNAB
      (opening door)
That's okay.
                                                            
Zaynab, exits the cab, consumed in the crowd of sheep
herders and buyers. Zaynab dissapears in the abbyss of the
station.

The taxi driver, stares at her, then waves an elderly woman
off displaying no intrest in purchasing her beads.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. ESHQELON - TRAIN STATION - DAY
                                                            
Zaynab, awaits in the line as the passengers ahead are
checked by the gaurd and waved down with metal detectors.

Zaynab - Her face reletively calm, yet her HANDLE tightens
over the briefcase.

As she makes her way up front, a large and apperent higher
ranked OFFICIAL, takes a stare at Zaynab. The official, also
carrying a briefcase, strolls over to her check-out point
and whispers in the ear of the young gaurd. The young gaurd
leaves - called off his post.

As Zaynab slowly approaches the official, he smiles. Zaynab
places her briefcase down.
                                                            

7.

                       OFFICIAL
      (frisking Zaynab)
Destination?
                                                            
                       ZAYNAB
      (hands pass)
Mosul.
                                                            
                       OFFICIAL
      (staring up at
       Zaynab)
Uh huh
(checks through pass)
How long did you plan on residing?
(shuffles even further)
It seems that you extended your
stay. For a period of?
                                                            
                       ZAYNAB
      (pause)
About three weeks.
                                                            
The official, moves CLOSE TO HER EAR and whispers. She nods
hastily, with a sense of vulnerbitly
                                                            
                       OFFICIAL
      (looks around)
Three weeks? Uh huh.
(clears throat in louder pitch)
Your departure is at
eleven...correct?
                                                            
                       ZAYNAB
      (pause)
Yes.
                                                            
                       OFFICIAL
      (placing hands on
       hips)
You can go through. Check out.
(handing pass back to Zaynab)
Quickly.
                                                            
Zaynab begins to shuffle away from the official, yet he
grasps her by the arm. They stare at one another.
                                                            
                       OFFICIAL
      (handing briefcase)
You wouldn't want to leave this
here.
(clinches chin)
You understand?
                                                            

8.

Zaynab takes her briefcase and continues to walkaway from
the official. He eyes her down as the official grabs the
other briefcase next to him and calls back the young gaurd
to his post.
                                                            
 
INT. TRAIN - SEATING COMPARTMENT - DAY
                                                            
Zaynab, enters into the compartment. The compartment is
small, furnished in a DARK RED leather material, adjacent to
a long extended window.

In the compartment sits Jamail, who situates himself in his
seat as the stewardess shuffles with a few of Jamail's
passes and belongings.

Zaynab sits across. Doesn't make a sound. After a few
muffled responses back and forth between the stewardess and
Jamail, the stewardess turns and notices Zaynab.
                                                            
                       STEWARDESS
      (smiles at Zaynab)
I could take that for you if you'd
like.
(pointing at briefcase)
                                                            
                       ZAYNAB
      (quietly)
I'm fine...thank you.
                                                            
                       STEWARDESS
      (assisting Zaynab)
It would be no trouble. Really--
                                                            
                       ZAYNAB
      (moves breifcase
       closer)
I'd prefer to have it here.
                                                            
                       STEWARDESS
      (moves away)
If you need anything. Don't be
afraid to ask.
(turns to Jamail)
And you be a good boy. Make sure
to draw a pretty picture...before
you leave.
                                                            
The stewardess makes her way out of the compartment.

Zaynab, sits tightly. Her breifcase next to her feet. She
adjusts her glasses as she glimpses at Jamail --
concentrating on his drawings.

9.


INSERT: The distant gravel roads lead away from the on-going
tracks.

Zaynab, glued to the view outside. She adjusts her glasses
again.
                                                            
                       JAMAIL (os)
      (drawing on paper)
You look funny.
                                                            
Zaynab, turns slowly to Jamail. Who doesn't even peek from
his paper.
                                                            
                       JAMAIL (cont.)
I'll be gone till November.
(stares up at Zaynab)
I have to take two trains, you
know.
                                                            
Silence.
                                                            
                       ZAYNAB
      (quietly)
Hmmm.
                                                            
                       JAMAIL
My mother is having a party for
me.
(pause)
I have to go far away...two
trains, you know.
                                                            
Zaynab nods, but she stares at her watch and continues to
stare out the window.
                                                            
                       JAMAIL (cont.)
Are you going somewhere?
                                                            
                       ZAYNAB
      (turns back to
       Jamail)
I'm going home.
                                                            
                       JAMAIL
      (continues to draw)
I haven't been home for a while.
                                                            
Pause.
                                                            
                       ZAYNAB
Neither have I.
                                                            

10.

                       JAMAIL
Are you different too?
                                                            
                       ZAYNAB
      (hesitantly)
No.
                                                            
Zaynab, shuffles with a few of her belongings. Fetching the
Quran. She stares back at her watch.
                                                            
                       JAMAIL (cont.)
That's why they send me away...
Says I need to get healthy. Over
there...were all different.
(pause)
They don't want me to be different
anymore....I just wanted to draw.
                                                            
As Zaynab opens the Quran. Jamail, quickly catches eye of
the BROWNISH-PLANT that sticks out from one of the pages.

Zaynab begins to read, but quickly notices Jamail visual
obession on the dried plant. Zaynab holds up the plant,
Jamail follows the motion.
                                                            
                       ZAYNAB
      (holding up plant)
Beautiful, isn't it?
                                                            
Jamail nods.
                                                            
                       ZAYNAB (cont.)
I have had it in this for over
twenty years...
                                                            
                       JAMAIL
What did it used to look like?
                                                            
Silence, as Zaynab lowers the plant in thought.
                                                            
                       ZAYNAB
It was brighter...purple...It was
clearer.
(pause)
Things change.
                                                            
Jamail, itches to posess the plant. Zaynab hands it over to
Jamail...as he sniffs it.
                                                            
                       JAMAIL
It's still beautiful.
(closes eyes holding plant)
I can see it.
                                                            

11.

                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
EXT. VILLAGE HUT - (FLASHBACK) - DAY
                                                            
THE YOUNG BOY AND THE OLDER WOMAN ARE FORCED BY ISRAELI
SOLDIERS WITH RIFLES. BOTH OF THEIR FACES ARE HIDDEN, FORCED
AGAINST THE GRAIN OF THE CEMENTED WALLS.

A younger Zaynab held back, in a croud. She as well is
completely silent.

INSERT: THE PURPLISH BRIGHT PLANT, HELD BY THE YOUNG BOY -
TIGHT GRIP.

SUDDENLY, A LIGHT SPRAY OF RED FALLS ON THE PLANT -- BLOOD.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. TRAIN - SEATING COMPARTMENT - DAY
                                                            
Jamail, begins to pull the dried plant closer, Zaynab stares
at the plant.
                                                            
                       ZAYNAB
I can see it too.
                                                            
Zaynab, turns back to the Quran as the boy continues to hold
the plant. Zaynab begins to read to herself.
                                                            
                       JAMAIL
What's it for?
                                                            
Zaynab stares up at Jamail. Silence.
                                                            
                       ZAYNAB
I don't know.
(staring away)
But it helps.
                                                            
                       JAMAIL
      (child-like)
Helps what?
                                                            
                       ZAYNAB
      (very long pause)
It helps eat up all the gray.
(moves closer to Jamail)
See, when we get afraid or
confused..Inside...We become full
of this...gray...a dark fog. Or so
I was told, when I was a child...
(looks away)
            (MORE)

12.

                       ZAYNAB (cont'd)
Somethings eat it all up. Makes
you brave again. You can see....
                                                            
Zaynab, begins to stare out the window again.
                                                            
                       JAMAIL
Are you scared?
                                                            
                       ZAYNAB
Sometimes grown-ups get scared
too. Sometimes we need things to
keep us safe....Even the smallest
things define what we do...And for
who....it makes you think that
everything is going to turn out
alright.
(pause)
I've had it for a long time.
                                                            
Jamail, attempts to hand it back, but Zaynab suddenly
refuses. Holding his hand tightly.
                                                            
                       ZAYNAB (cont.)
      (quietly)
I'm not afraid...not anymore.
                                                            
                       JAMAIL
      (pulling plant
       back)
Will you be safe?
                                                            
Silence.
                                                            
                       ZAYNAB
I think i'll be okay.
                                                            
As Jamail, holding the plant closer, smelling it ever so
often. He begins to draw again. Placing the plant next to
him.

Zaynab, STARES at the plant. She becomes ancy, as she stares
at her watch. Her breathing increaes, the INHALE AND EXHALE
become even stronger. Zaynab, stands slowly. As she begins
to walk out of the compartment, Jamail snatches her hand.
                                                            
                       ZAYNAB (cont.)
      (staring at
       jamails hand
       across her wrist)
Don't worry. I'll come back.
                                                            

13.

As Jamail, lets go of his grip. He continues to draw.
Zaynab, stands and reflects. She leaves the compartment.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. TRAIN - PASSAGEWAY - DAY
                                                            
Zaynab, makes her way through the empty passageway. Passing
the other seating compartments and booths.

Zaynab, takes a seat at the only SEATED PHONE BOOTH. She
breathes heavily - uncomfortably.

She shuts the sliding door of the booth. Fetches the reciver
and begins to dial. She waits a moment.

She begins to speak on the phone.

Note: We don't here the first part of her conversation.

She seems to be nervous, yet she still sustains to glue the
receiver to her ear.

THE REMAINDER OF CONVERSATION:
                                                            
                       ZAYNAB
      (quick breathing
       pattern)
I think....i'm scared. I could
be...I don't know. I don't want to
stop, but--
(strong exhale)
...I don't think i'm capiable. Not
now.
(listening deeply as the other
side of the coversation seem to be
dominant)
I've been having trouble...I can't
breathe anymore.
(pause)
If I could--
(She becomes defeated, half way
placing the reciver down)
Salam.
                                                            
Zaynab, sits quietly in the booth, as a strong force
movement and slight screetching seems to give us the sign
that the train is coming to a stop, shortly.

Zaynab, slides the booth door open after sitting for a
remainder of time. Reflecting.


14.

She stands and walks back down the passage way to her
compartment.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. TRAIN - SEATING COMPARTMENT - DAY
                                                            
Zaynab, lays her head against the large angular window. She
doesn't speak. She glances over to Jamail, who seems to be
focusing on his drawing.

Zaynab, shuts her eyes as the train begins to slow down;
entering the station.

POV: ZAYNAB, HER EYES CLOSED AS HER BREATHING TENSES. SHE
HEARS THE CLAMMER OF PEOPLE GRABBING THEIR LUGGAGE. THE
SOUND OF THE STEWRDESS. As Zaynab, sinks in the atmosphere
with her eyes shut she FEELS SOMETHING PLACED ON HER LAP.

Zaynab, opens her eyes. Passengers, are moving quickly
through the passageway. Jamail, is gone.

On Zaynab's lap; A folded peice of lined paper. Zaynab
unfolds the paper and stares. Her face freezes.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. TRAIN -- WASHROOM - DAY
                                                            
Zaynab, sits on the closed toilet and WEEPS uncotrolabley.
Tears ripple across her warn cheek as she GRIPS the sheet of
paper.


INSERT: Drawn Picture: A roughly sketched picture of a sad
woman with glasses and in orange cloth -- Suitcase in hand;

The picture is covered with a grayish background -
Note: The gray that has left her.

Zaynab, CONTINUES TO CRY.

cut to: She stares at the mirror, face dried -- Yet,
eyelashes still MOIST. She reaches into her pocket and takes
out the QURAN placing it on the nearby sink. She takes
Jamail's picture folds it and places it into her pocket,
replacing the Quran.



Zaynab, places the briefcase on the sinks counter. With a

15.

few nudges, OPENS IT SLOWLY. We notice a small wrapped
contraption, piped dynamite and clay -- intertwined with a
few wires obtruding from the device. A SUICIDE BOMB.

She reflects -- shutting the case slowly. She leaves the
washroom.
                                                            
                                         CUT TO:
                                                            
 
INT. TRAIN -- SEATING COMPARTMENT - DAY
                                                            
Zaynab, stands staring out the compartment window. She
notices Jamail, he stares enchantingly into the STALE PURPLE
PLANT given to him by Zaynab.

Jamail, stares up and notices her. He begins to wave at
Zaynab as the train begins to depart down the rails.

Zaynab, slowly lifts her hand... They both gradually
disappear in the distance of the track. The train continues
ON.
                                                            


FADE OUT.


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