INT. a yoga studio. The last few students are filing out, yoga mats under their arms. Blocks stacked around the room here and there. SARA is lying on her back on a yoga mat, limbs outstretched, palms facing up, eyes closed. ELI, the yoga instructor, is packing his things. He doesn’t notice SARA for several minutes, and when he does, stands looking at her for a few moments before approaching her.
ELI. Excuse me?
She doesn’t move.
ELI. (Louder) Excuse me?
ELI. Hey, I’m sorry, class is over, can I help you—?
SARA. I know.
SARA. Could I stay here for a minute?
ELI is silent; he doesn’t know what to do.
ELI contemplates this.
ELI. I can give you a minute, yeah.
SARA. Thank you.
ELI resumes packing his bag. He busies himself with tasks around the room; closing the curtains, taking a sip of water, putting on his shoes and tying them slowly. When he realizes he has run out of things to do, he looks at SARA from his sitting position on the floor.
ELI. (Louder) Hey, I’m sorry, I really have to head out soon.
SARA looks at him, somewhat blankly. ELI shifts his weight.
ELI. I feel bad, you look peaceful. (Silence.) I’m seriously sorry, I have to get everyone out by / eight.
SARA. / Don’t feel bad.
SARA opens her eyes, finally, and sits up. She looks at ELI and they don’t speak for a moment. SARA clenches her shoulders and unclenches them, does a few stretches, and then looks back at ELI. He opens his mouth and breathes, as if to say something, but decides against it.
ELI. No, nothing, I—
ELI. I dunno. (Beat.) I was just gonna ask you something stupid. Heh. (Beat.) Can I?
ELI. Were you? Peaceful?
SARA almost laughs; it comes out like a scoff.
ELI. I mean. You looked it.
ELI. Until I went and woke you up, I guess.
He’s joking; he starts to get up.
ELI. I relaxed you so hard you fell right asleep!
SARA. I wasn’t asleep.
ELI. You looked asleep.
SARA. I wasn’t.
ELI. You weren’t sleeping or you weren’t peaceful?
They look at each other.
SARA. (Standing, beginning to roll her mat.) I’m sorry. You have to be out of here by eight.
ELI. It’s okay. I mean, technically they’d like us out of here by eight, but we’ve got a bit of time. I just, I don’t mean to rush you.
SARA. You aren’t.
ELI. (With a smile.) Okay.
SARA begins to put her shoes back on.
ELI. Sara, right?
ELI. With an H or without?
She looks at him.
ELI. Heh. Sorry.
SARA. Without. And… (She squints at him, thinking.) Eli?
ELI. No, no, no, I mean, It’s so short it’s almost not even there.
SARA. Hm. (Pause.) That’s kind of sad.
ELI. (He thinks about this.) Yeah.
SARA continues to put her shoes on; she slips them on without untying the laces.
ELI. (Almost to himself) Yeah.
SARA. Good class.
ELI. Yeah? I’ve seen you here a couple times. A couple weeks. That’s nice.
SARA. Very good class. Towards the end there I think I could feel inner peace seeping in or some shit. I almost feel rejuvenated.
ELI. Really? Almost?
SARA. Almost. But it was good. You’re a good teacher.
ELI. That’s nice of you to say.
SARA. I mean, not especially. I’m just being honest.
ELI doesn’t know how to respond. Pause.
ELI. Well. Thanks. That’s a nice thing to hear.
SARA. Yeah, well. ‘Almost’ is high praise from me.
ELI. Well, Sara, I’ll take it. Thank you.
Silence as she finishes packing her things. ELI looks around the room & puts his hands in his pockets, unsure of what to do in the silence. He sees a block by his feet; flips it on its side and sits down. SARA sees him, flips her block with her foot, and sits down too. ELI laughs.
ELI. Okay, funny. I really do have to be out of here.
SARA. Okay. Can I ask you a question?
She isn’t taking him seriously. He glances at his watch, then back at SARA.
ELI. Okay. One question and then we’re outta here.
SARA. Are you a happy person?
ELI. (He’s taken aback.) I—don’t know.
SARA. No, really, like with the yoga and meditation and all. Do you feel happier because of it?
ELI thinks a moment.
SARA. It doesn’t make you feel peaceful?
ELI. Ah, that’s not what you asked.
SARA. Does it?
ELI. Peaceful, yes.
SARA. Not happy?
ELI. Happiness doesn’t appear magically from sitting on a yoga mat, I think. Unless you’re, like, like. Uh.
He can’t think of a name.
SARA. The Dalai Lama, or something.
ELI. (He laughs.) I guess.
ELI. But yeah, peaceful, strong, all that. I feel it more in my body than anywhere else, I think. Like getting physically stronger.
SARA. But you wouldn’t call yourself a happy person?
ELI. Is that why you’re here?
SARA. Are you avoiding my question?
SARA. What do you mean ‘is that why I’m here?’
ELI. You come to yoga classes in the middle of Where The Fuck Am I, New Hampshire, because you want to be a happy person?
SARA. Mostly I come here so I don’t kill myself.
Beat. ELI looks at her.
SARA. You were supposed to laugh.
ELI. Does it help?
SARA. Laughing? Helps me.
SARA. I’m here, aren’t I?
SARA. Okay. I’m sorry, I don’t know you. (Pause.) Lay all this mindfulness shit on me. Aren’t you gonna tell me it’s all worth it and it gets better and to do some deep breathing exercises and I’ll be healed?
ELI doesn’t say anything.
SARA. I mean I guess what’s the point then, right? If the yoga guru himself isn’t a happy person.
ELI. Whoa, hey. I’m no guru.
SARA. You’re more guru than any of us.
ELI. Sara, I’m some schmuck from just a little outside Where The Fuck Am I, New Hampshire.
ELI. No, no, I’m not kidding, I mean. I love it, I love teaching here, I love the way it makes me feel. But I’m about as guru as the homeless man on Sixth. Shit, he might be more guru than me.
SARA. You don’t feel wise?
ELI. (Laughs.) Do I seem wise?
SARA. No. (They laugh.) You seem like a very nice person.
ELI. That’s nice. Don’t judge a book.
ELI. You could be wise, though.
SARA. Yeah, well. Don’t judge a book.
The lights suddenly go out.
ELI. (Standing) Oy, that’s our cue, ha ha. Janitor’s getting pissed.
SARA stands too, and they face each other. ELI puts his hand out and she shakes it.
ELI. You’re welcome.
SARA. Good class.
ELI. Thank you.
A pause. They both grab their bags. ELI watches SARA a moment.
ELI. If you want, stay a sec. He won’t come in here for a couple minutes. He’s only trying to scare us. He’s a nice enough guy.
ELI. It was nice to meet you, officially. I’ll see you next week, Sara. Okay?
ELI walks out; SARA is left alone in the empty yoga studio.
INT. a bar. ELI is sitting at the counter with a drink. There is one other person sitting at the bar, lost in his drink, but the two seats on either end of ELI are vacant. He sits, swirling his drink in its cup. SARA walks into the bar, looks around, sees ELI. She squints and moves around a little, trying to see his face to confirm it’s him; ELI doesn’t look up until SARA approaches him.
SARA. Hello, Zen Master.
He jumps, startled; then looks and realizes it’s her.
ELI. He-ey. Jesus Christ.
SARA. Can I sit?
ELI. Sit! Sit.
SARA. Not waiting for anyone?
He pats the stool beside his own. SARA sits.
ELI. How’ve you been?
SARA. Been good.
SARA. Yeah, good.
ELI. That’s good.
ELI. Good too.
SARA. No, no, you’ve been good. That’s why you’re at Weston’s at six p.m. on a Wednesday night.
ELI. (Laughing) And look who’s sitting next to me!
SARA. Hey. You know this is a usual thing for me. Somehow I get the feeling it’s not so much for you.
ELI. You come every night?
ELI. Well, you must’ve missed me, then.
SARA. Hah. I guess so.
ELI takes a sip of his drink, gently wipes his mouth with the back of his hand.
ELI. What’re you having?
SARA. Nothing. For now. I’m trying to stop, actually.
ELI. Which is why you’re at Weston’s, at six p.m.,—?
SARA. Ha, ha. Shouldn’t you be meditating?
ELI. Who says this isn’t meditation?
SARA. Your doctor. Probably.
SARA. And why’re you alone?
ELI. Oh, y’know.
SARA. Wife didn’t feel like joining?
He’s surprised momentarily.
ELI. I’m not married.
ELI. Why’d you think I was married?
SARA. I heard some of the yoga girls talking after class. Some of them think you’re kind of hot.
ELI. (Laughing) What?
SARA. Hot. Sex-ay. (She shimmies. He laughs.)
ELI. Only kind of?
SARA. Hey, don’t shoot the messenger.
ELI. Oh-kay. But they think I’m married?
SARA. Oh, there’s speculation. And some of them are holding on to the hope that you’re single.
ELI. (Joking, dejected) I’m single.
SARA. There are some beautiful women in the class!
ELI. Hm. I haven’t really been looking.
SARA. Happy and single and spiritually sound. (She presses her hands together and brings them to her chest.)
ELI. Your husband didn’t feel like joining you?
SARA drops her hands.
SARA. Why do you assume I have a husband?
SARA. No. Husband was right. Just, you know. Divorced.
ELI. Oh. I’m sorry.
SARA. It’s okay! I’m over it, basically.
ELI. How long?
SARA. Married eleven years, and we’ve been divorced for three.
SARA. (Laughing) What is this, a census report?
ELI. Mm-hmm. If you wouldn’t mind, please, filling out your mother’s maiden name…
He slides his napkin across the bar to her, and she laughs. She takes it, rubs her hands together, and pretends to be writing.
SARA. Maiden…name…Karrey. Two…kids…boy…and girl.
She slides the napkin back across to ELI. He’s smiling.
SARA. You’re probably too young to have had kids, huh?
ELI. How old do I look?
She squints and looks him up and down.
SARA. I want to say twenty eight.
ELI. Jesus. That’s precise. And nice to hear.
ELI. Thirty two.
SARA. Thirty two! Jesus! I’m not that much older than you!
ELI. How old are you?
SARA. How old do I look?
ELI. This feels like a trap.
SARA. I’ve lost the ability to take offense to anything. Hit me.
ELI. Thirty six.
SARA. You’re lying and being too nice. But it’s sweet; I’m forty-one. Forty-two on the seventeenth.
ELI. Happy early birthday!
SARA. Yeah, yeah.
They sit for a moment in silence. ELI sips his drink; SARA waves the bartender over.
SARA. Do you have sparkling Perrier? Perfect. Just that, please.
She looks back at ELI. He’s watching her. She’s amused and props elbows on the bar, resting her chin in her hands.
ELI. You intrigue me.
SARA. Is that so.
ELI. And I can’t figure you out. And I can usually figure people out.
SARA. What are you trying to figure me out for?
SARA. You’re not easy to figure out either.
ELI. I’m an open book! Ask me anything.
SARA. You’re young and attractive and you have a good head on your shoulders. Why are you teaching yoga to a bunch of teenage girls?
A tense silence. ELI sips his drink.
ELI. Ask me something else.
SARA laughs. The bartender hands her a glass over the bar and she takes it.
SARA. Open book, huh?
ELI. Just not drunk enough to begin telling my whole life story. (He takes another sip.) What do you do?
SARA. I wrote a series of successful children’s books.
ELI. No shit!
SARA raises her glass; takes a sip.
ELI. Do you write, still?
ELI. Would I have heard of anything you wrote?
SARA. You don’t have kids—? (He shakes his head) So probably not. Uh, Minnie May and the Big Storm, Minnie May’s Day on the Town—? (She laughs.) I didn’t think you’d know them.
ELI. That’s great, though, a children’s book author!
SARA. Yeah, well. I don’t really write anything anymore that’s worth reading. I write bullshit and work part time as a nanny. Y’know. Pays the bills. I can come to yoga classes if I feel like it and come to Weston’s at six on a weekday.
ELI. I don’t know why, and sorry if this sounds rude, or what, but for some reason I didn’t have you pegged as a kid-lover.
SARA. What? I don’t radiate calm and kindness?
ELI. I couldn’t tell you what you radiate.
SARA. I do have kids, though.
ELI. Oh, right. Boy and girl, yeah?
ELI. What are their names?
SARA. Henry and Delilah.
ELI. Beautiful names.
SARA. Their dad picked them out.
ELI. Are they young enough to enjoy your books?
SARA. Too old to care.
SARA. So. How about you? What’s your passion in life?
ELI. Haha. I have no idea.
SARA. Not teaching yoga?
ELI. Definitely not teaching yoga. I mean. It’s like you say, it pays the bills, and once upon a time I loved it, but I think… (He pauses, thinks) I think I got very comfortable and comfort isn’t something I like to let go. (He looks up at her) Maybe that’s a bad thing to disclose to a student. But most weeks when I come into class I am looking forward to it, yeah, but passion—? It’s fun enough. I think I’m decent at it. But that’s kind of it.
ELI. But, you know, where am I gonna be in five years? Ten? Teaching yoga classes?
SARA. What are you afraid of?
ELI. What do you mean?
SARA. Say you let go of your comfort. Okay, you’re uncomfortable, it’s new territory, shit! What happens then?
ELI. (Laughing) I dunno.
SARA. No, seriously!
ELI. I have no / clue.
SARA. / Think about it!
ELI. I never find anything I’m passionate about and end up back where I started. I waste my entire life and die alone.
ELI. Or something less dramatic to that effect.
He laughs; SARA doesn’t.
SARA. I think you’re full of shit.
ELI. Excuse me?
SARA. Completely full of shit. How old did you say you were? Thirteen? You have all the time in the world, your entire life ahead of you, practically, and let me finish, you have so much you can explore and if you find your passion, Hallelujah, and if not, you experience so much! Isn’t that what life’s about?
ELI. Sara. I can’t claim to know for a second what life’s about.
SARA. Eli. And pardon me for being direct—
ELI. —Because that’s so unusual for you—
SARA. —But I think, and I mean this in the nicest way, that you are full of shit.
ELI. You have a pretty strong opinion for someone who found her passion in life and doesn’t know what to do with herself anymore.
SARA. We’re different.
ELI. That’s true.
SARA. I think you’re stronger than I am.
ELI. You don’t know me.
SARA. I somehow feel like I do.
INT. yoga studio. The class has just ended, and the class is empty except for ELI and SARA. SARA sits cross-legged on her mat, and ELI doesn’t see her at first; he’s stacking a few blocks and setting them on a shelf by the back wall. He turns, sees her, and laughs.
ELI. Here we are again, huh?
SARA. Just like the good old days.
ELI. Are you trying to make a point?
ELI. By staying late every week.
SARA. It’s only strike two. I figure, if I’m late every week, I should stay five minutes after class to make up for it.
ELI. It’s true. You are late every week, huh?
SARA. I know! Isn’t that nice, some consistency?
ELI. Why are you late every week?
SARA. I like to make an entrance.
SARA. Yes. (Pause.) Kind of. But I don’t have a good story or anything.
ELI. Do tell.
SARA. Okay. (She adjusts her seating position, stretching one leg out.) Here’s how it goes. Every Tuesday, I convince myself that the drive is ten minutes, without traffic. It’s fifteen. But every week I manage to tell myself the same story. Maybe the roads will be completely clear! Maybe, magically, the yoga studio picked itself up and moved three blocks in my direction.
SARA. And every week I realize I’m going to be late at exactly the same moment, right when I turn the corner that the IHOP is on.
ELI. I know that corner!
SARA. That’s my story.
ELI. I used to work at that IHOP.
ELI laughs, remembering.
ELI. Yeah, yeah, it was my first job when I turned sixteen. Heh. I met my— (he looks at SARA) uh, you know, lots of friends there. I have some good memories in that dingy little place. (He notices his shoe is untied and bends down to tie it.)
SARA. You met your who?
ELI. What? (He looks up from his shoe.) Oh.
ELI finishes tying his shoe and sits on the floor across from SARA.
ELI. A girl I used to go out with.
SARA. (Whispered) Girlfriend isn’t a dirty word.
ELI. Yeah. Well.
SARA. Uh oh. Nasty breakup?
SARA. Commitment issues?
ELI. Not exactly. (Pause.) I asked her to marry me.
There’s a shocked silence.
SARA. I didn’t know you were married!
ELI. I wasn’t. I’m not. (Pause.) We knew each other for twelve years, dating on and off. We, uh… (He looks around, somewhat embarrassed, suddenly.) We used to teach a class here together.
SARA. What happened?
ELI lets out a long breath through his mouth.
ELI. Uh, she died.
SARA. Oh my god.
A short silence. ELI clears his throat, almost laughing to break the tension.
ELI. Not to bring the mood down, or anything.
SARA. Eli. I’m so sorry.
ELI. Yeah. Thanks. It was three years ago.
SARA. (Almost a whisper) How?
ELI. Eh, Sara. You don’t wanna hear about this stuff.
SARA. No, I do.
SARA. I mean, if you want to share.
ELI. She overdosed.
SARA puts one hand to her mouth.
SARA. Oh, my god…was it…?
ELI. On purpose? Yeah.
SARA. I didn’t know. I’m so sorry.
ELI. You couldn’t have known. (Pause.) It’s okay. Thank you.
SARA. What was her name?
ELI looks up at her. Blinks. His eyebrows come together slightly.
SARA. Sorry, can I ask that?
ELI. Yes. Yes. Just, nobody ever asks me that.
SARA gives a little, sad smile.
ELI. Uh, her name was Francesca.
SARA. That’s beautiful.
ELI. Yeah. It is. She was.
ELI. I mean, she so was, in a way I’d never really seen in anyone I’d met before?
SARA. That pretty?
ELI. No. I mean yes, yes, what am I saying, of course, but so much more than that. Like, probably the stubbornest person I’d ever met, and kind of hardened from some bad shit when she was a kid, but I don’t know. There was something that kind of coated all the hardness and the coldness that was so light and lovely to me. She loved teaching here, but I think the students were kind of scared of her. (Pause.) Or intimidated, or something. More people showed up to our joint classes than the ones she taught alone.
Pause. ELI is lost in his thoughts.
ELI. I think most people that met her didn’t like her.
ELI looks at SARA.
ELI. Actually, you know what, I think you would have liked her. I think you two could’ve really gotten along.
SARA smiles. Beat.
SARA. Where was she from?
ELI. She grew up here, never left the country, but her dad was Italian—is Italian, and her mom’s American.
ELI. We’re not in touch anymore.
SARA. You asked her to marry you?
ELI. Uh, yeah. Yeah. A couple months before she died. (Pause.) She said yes.
ELI. Yeah. Sad stuff.
ELI looks up at SARA, shrugs, gives a little smile. He shifts his weight a little, seeming to become uncomfortable. He waves his hand as if to end the conversation and clear the air.
ELI. Anyway. Pshhh.
ELI. Okay. (He shakes out his arms, takes a deep breath.) To lighten the mood, you get three questions and we’re out of here.
SARA. Are you sure?
ELI. Hit me.
SARA. What’s your middle name?
ELI. I don’t have one.
SARA. Bullshit! What?
ELI. It’s normal, it’s normal. My mom’s Israeli. Most Israelis don’t have middle names. Just Eli.
SARA. Okay. Uh…
ELI. What’s yours?
SARA. No, but not far off. Generic. Try again.
SARA. Bingo. Uhhh…okay, what’s your favorite smell?
ELI. Oh…I’d have to say gasoline.
ELI. You love it or you hate it.
SARA. I hate it.
ELI. Have you heard of olive theory?
SARA. (Laughing) Yes.
ELI. So, it’s the same thing. Two friends meant to get along with each other can’t both love the smell of gasoline. (They laugh.) Next question, please.
SARA. Okay. Last one, I guess I have to make this good.
ELI. Take your time. I’m gonna pack up a bit.
ELI stands and rolls up the mat he was sitting on, placing it beside his backpack. He puts his water bottle in the side pocket of the backpack, looks around the room, and begins picking up a few stray blocks that students have left behind. SARA stands and rolls her mat as well, and picks up her water bottle, and in a moment the two are standing, facing each other, each with a yoga mat under their arm. ELI smiles at SARA; she studies him for a moment.
SARA. I think I’ll save it for a different day.
ELI. No, come on. Ask me!
SARA. It’s a heavy one.
ELI. It’s okay. We’ve been to heavy and back today. (He laughs a little. His eyes are sad. He looks tired suddenly.) Tell me.
SARA. Is she part of the reason you can’t bring yourself to leave this job?
ELI looks at her, his smile falling slightly as he thinks.
He looks at the yoga mat under his arm.
ELI. This is hers.
He reaches out his arm, displaying a beaded, hippie-esque bracelet on his left wrist.
ELI. This is hers. (He holds out his other wrist. There’s a hair tie on it.) This is hers. (Pause. He looks around the studio.) I do like it here, though.
SARA looks around, too.
SARA. Yeah. Me too.
INT. ELI’s living room. We see a cozy space, dim light, a bottle of wine and one half-empty glass on the coffee table. Books stacked neatly around the room, under the table, lined up neatly on a bookshelf by the couch. SARA and ELI sit across from each other; he on the couch on one end of the coffee table, she in a large armchair opposite ELI, legs crossed. SARA is holding her glass of wine, cradling it with both hands, gently. They both appear comfortable, but their shoes are on. It seems they have just arrived several minutes ago.
ELI. You want music?
SARA. Something calm. My head hurts.
ELI. Any favorites?
SARA. Oy. So many. Such a hard question.
ELI. Top three artists?
SARA. Bob Dylan.
SARA. And, uh…okay, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, The Doors.
ELI. Jesus Christ. Sara.
ELI. Are you trying to be depressed?
She takes a sip of her wine.
SARA. Well, Leonard Cohen, because he’s Leonard Cohen; The Doors… (She pauses and squints at ELI.) Do you even know The Doors?
ELI. I’m not that much younger than you.
SARA. So you know them?
ELI. (Sheepishly) No.
SARA. There’s a gap in your musical education, Eli. But they’re not for tonight. And, Bob Dylan.
Pause. ELI cocks his head, as if suddenly remembering something.
ELI. Hey, you know he wrote a song about you?
SARA. What do you think I’m named for?
ELI. No shit! You’re Sara, Sara?
SARA. The one, the only.
ELI. (Singing) Sara, Sara, Scorpio sphinx in a calico dress?
SARA outstretches her arms and bows her head clumsily, looking after her wine glass only a moment too late; some of it has spilled. It spatters on the couch, a dark stain on brown fabric.
ELI. Don’t worry about it.
SARA. Can I clean it?
ELI. Leave it, seriously. I’ve had this couch for about a billion years. If you look closely you can see wine stains from every year starting in 2010.
SARA. Okay. (Beat.) Anyway, the song, it came out a couple years before I was born. It was playing in the bar the night my parents met, yadda yadda. It’s a cute story.
ELI. I want to hear it.
SARA. No, I mean, that’s basically it. My mom decided then and there that her first child would have that name. Or so the story goes.
ELI. And if she’d had a boy?
SARA. She’d send him down the river in a little basket.
ELI. (Laughing) So it was either Sara or Moses.
SARA. And so here I am.
ELI. Well. I don’t have any Dylan, but wait. I’ll tell you what I do have…
ELI stands up from the couch, leans down to look through the records on the bottom two shelves of his bookcase. He looks over his shoulder when SARA laughs.
SARA. I thought you’d go for Spotify or something.
ELI. And give up the chance to show off my collection?
ELI looks down at SARA’s shoes.
ELI. You know you can take those off, right?
SARA. Oh. Do you have a preference?
ELI. No, no, get comfortable.
SARA slips them off one after the other, using her feet only. She tucks her legs underneath herself, nestling more comfortably into her armchair.
ELI. Spotify’s good. (He picks out a record.) Joe Pass on vinyl is better.
SARA. Joe Pass?
ELI. Three words. (Holding up three fingers.) Jazz. Guitar. Master. Yes? (SARA nods.) Okay. Just you wait.
He crosses to the record player next to SARA’s armchair, crouches down beside it, and puts on the record. SARA adjusts her position, leaning on the left arm of her chair. ELI looks up and suddenly the two realize how close they are. The first notes of “My Romance” begin to play.
They look at each other for a moment in silence. The record skips and they both smile.
SARA. (Whispered) It’s pretty.
ELI. (Whispered) Jazz master.
SARA leans forward and ELI doesn’t move. Without breaking eye contact, SARA reaches out and places her wine glass onto the coffee table. She leans forward in her chair and rests her chin in her hands. Silence. They are trying to read each other, each trying to understand what the next move is, what might happen. Slowly, tentatively, SARA reaches out and brushes a hair out of ELI’s eyes using the back of her hand. He leans in, fast, and they are kissing. Close-ups of faces, lips, hands. The record skips. SARA pulls away quickly, for a moment.
SARA. How drunk are you?
They resume kissing.
SARA. (Between kisses) Very…drunk?
ELI. Drunk enough.
Together they make their way to standing; the record plays on in the background.
ELI. I’m an adult.
SARA. (Between breaths, between kisses) You’re…just…a…kid.
The record skips again and SARA laughs against ELI’s mouth.
SARA. The music—
ELI. Leave it.
They make their way from the living room to ELI’s bedroom. The camera follows them, dropping from their heads/faces slowly down to their hands on each other’s backs, all the way down their legs until it reaches their feet. His shoes are on; she is wearing only socks. We reach the bedroom door, camera at ground level, and see a sock-clothed foot kick it shut.
There is darkness for a moment, “My Romance” finishes playing, and then silence.
Camera on SARA’s hands, resting on a blanket pulled up over her stomach and chest. It’s clear she’s lying in a bed, on her back. She is fidgeting. Pulling at the skin around her thumb, picking at her nails. A pulled-back shot; we see ELI and SARA laying beside one another in ELI’s bed, both staring at the ceiling.
ELI. That was…
ELI. We just—
SARA. I know.
ELI. So, no, huh?
They look at each other and the tension is broken. They begin to laugh and suddenly they’re both laughing hard. SARA is laughing so hard she begins to tear up, and suddenly she’s not laughing anymore. She covers her face with both her hands, and a single sob stills the room. ELI sits up and leans towards her.
ELI. Whoa, hey.
He puts a hand on her shoulder, moves it to her head, awkwardly pats her; he removes his hand, not knowing what to do.
ELI. Can you tell me what’s wrong?
SARA. I don’t know.
ELI. Did I say something?
ELI. Did something make you sad?
SARA takes a deep, steadying breath. ELI says nothing and doesn’t touch her. Silence except for her breathing. ELI stares at the ceiling.
SARA removes her hands from her face. She suddenly seems very small. She looks at ELI.
ELI. (Quietly) Can I bring you some water?
SARA’s face crumples again. She nods. ELI gets up and returns within a moment holding a glass of water. He climbs into the bed and sits beside SARA in silence as she takes small sips between deep breaths.
SARA. I thought I’d feel different.
ELI lies back and ponders this, confused. Beat.
SARA. I’m stupid. I thought I’d feel different. Not like I ever did, you know, feel different after sex? Not even after my first time. Did I tell you my first time was with my husband?
ELI turns his head to look at her.
SARA. I needed this to— (She covers her face with her hands.)
SARA. (Through her hands) I don’t know. (Pause.)
ELI. Different how?
SARA. Younger and fixed. Or something. I don’t know.
SARA. Fixed. Not broken anymore. Up and at ‘em.
ELI. After drunk sex?
She turns to face him.
SARA. Are you making fun of me?
ELI. (Half laughing) What?
SARA. (Beginning to get up) I need to go home. Right now.
ELI. Hey, hey, Sara. Sara.
She doesn’t stop; she’s beginning to get dressed.
ELI. SARA! What the fuck?
She turns to face him; she’s in her bra and half-buttoned pants.
ELI. What, you thought sex with someone other than your husband was going to be any more revolutionary than the mediocre sex you’ve had before? What’s that supposed to mean, different? Different? What are you, fifteen?
SARA. You’re being mean.
ELI. What the fuck is that supposed to mean, different?
SARA. Hey, at the very least I thought sex with a fucking yoga teacher would be more—
ELI. What, spiritual?
SARA. Something like that.
ELI. I’m sorry to disappoint. I guess after your years and years of experience you’d know good sex from bad.
SARA. Fuck you.
ELI. Sara, what—
SARA breaks. She sits back on the bed.
ELI. (Softly.) Listen, listen, I get it. I understand. We tried, okay?
SARA. No, okay, you listen. (Through tears.) I don’t know why, and I’m drunk, (Sniffling) and I’m sad, and I thought that I would feel different and maybe I could go on with my life.
ELI outstretches his arms and SARA leans forward, resting her head in the middle of his chest.
SARA. (Muffled) I don’t know what to do.
ELI. Hey. Breathe.
ELI. Another one.
They take a deep breath, together.
ELI. Close your eyes. Be here, right now, feel your weight on the bed.
SARA. Fuck off.
ELI. I’m serious.
SARA. Keep it in the yoga studio.
ELI. I’ll keep it in the studio if you keep it in your pants.
SARA laughs, sniffles.
ELI takes a slow, deep breath. A moment passes; SARA does the same.
INT. Cafe. ELI sits at a table for two by the window, a full cup of tea on the table in front of him. He checks his watch a couple times, looks out the window. It’s raining hard. His hands rest folded in his lap, and he looks up once to give a small smile to two strangers leaving the cafe. The bell on the door jingles as it opens, and as the strangers exit, SARA squeezes past them and enters. She stands in the doorway for a moment, scanning the room, and smiles when she sees ELI sitting to her left. SARA puts a hand to her hair, realizing how comical she must look; she’s drenched and without an umbrella. The two share a smile and SARA sits.
ELI. Are you too cool to carry an umbrella?
SARA. No. Only too stupid to check the forecast, apparently.
SARA. What’re you drinking?
ELI. Green tea.
ELI. You’ve seen me drink coffee!
SARA. You’re a green tea man, through and through.
ELI. Maybe that’s true. (Pause.) You think drinks characterize people that much?
SARA. Are you kidding? Someone’s drink tells you almost everything you need to know about them.
She turns and scans the cafe customers.
SARA. See him?
SARA. No. His friend.
ELI. Oh. Yes.
SARA. Okay, well, I can guarantee you that right now, in that woman’s cup, is a steaming hot chocolate with cinnamon and whipped cream.
ELI. There’s no way to know that.
SARA. Look at her! She’s wearing leg warmers, A; and B, look at how she’s looking around! It’s like she’s never been in a coffee shop before and this is the happiest day of her life. And, C, no one curls up like that in a coffee shop chair unless they’re drinking hot chocolate.
ELI. I think her friend with the glasses is drinking a shot of whiskey out of his espresso cup.
SARA laughs, and then shivers again.
ELI. Order something warm! You’ll catch a cold.
SARA. Yes, mother.
She pulls off her scarf and jacket and stands, draping them over the back of her chair, and makes her way to the cashier counter. She orders a drink and is back within a moment.
ELI. What’d you get?
ELI. I don’t know!
SARA. Just make a guess!
ELI takes a moment to think, and then rattles off SARA’s order:
ELI. Black coffee, room for cream, except you don’t want them to put it in for you, because you’ll add your own cream and sugar.
ELI. Because they always do it wrong.
SARA. Jeez! Is that how you see me? Some kind of control freak?
ELI. Tell me I’m wrong.
ELI. If I’m wrong I’ll Venmo you for it.
SARA. Coffee’s on you?
ELI. Coffee’s on me. Pause.
SARA. You’re not wrong. Asshole.
ELI raises an eyebrow, smiles, takes a sip of his tea.
ELI. Ah. Damn it, it’s cold.
SARA. You should’ve started without me!
ELI. No, no, it’s okay.
He sips again.
ELI. It’s still good.
ELI. Where were you, anyway?
ELI. Like, why were you late?
SARA. Oh, I just bumped into someone.
The barista yells, “Coffee for Sara!” and SARA gets up to get her drink. She grabs two packets of sugar and returns to the table. The two sit in silence for a moment as she pours the sugar and stirs it into her coffee.
ELI. Do you think the people who work here are happy?
SARA turns to look at the employees. She turns back to ELI.
SARA. I don’t know. Would you be?
SARA. Ha! “Are you a happy person?” The beginning of a beautiful friendship, huh?
They smile, remembering. SARA picks up her mug and takes a sip.
SARA. Anyway, I don’t know. They look happy.
SARA puts her mug down.
SARA. Actually, lately I’ve been thinking about doing something new for work.
ELI. Really! What?
SARA. Well. It could all go downhill but I have an interview next week.
ELI. Sara! (He leans back, looking at her.) Good for you! Where?
SARA. A middle school.
ELI. That’s amazing! Really, really great.
SARA. Yeah. Thanks. (A hint of a smile, and then she waves her hands.) Well, anyway. Have you thought about doing something different?
ELI. Not really.
SARA. Why not, if you’re so unhappy?
ELI. I’m not unhappy.
SARA. But not happy.
Pause. A sudden knock on the window beside them startles them both; they look out to see an old man, CHARLIE, wearing a huge smile and waving at SARA. She smiles back in recognition and raises a hand. CHARLIE raises a finger, “Wait a moment,” and slowly makes his way to the front door of the cafe, which he pushes open with difficulty. The bell jingles as he walks in.
ELI. (Through gritted teeth, smiling) Who is that?
SARA. (Whispered, smiling) I can’t remember his name.
CHARLIE approaches the table.
CHARLIE. Hello, you.
SARA begins to get up, vacating her chair for CHARLIE, but he waves his hands, stopping her.
CHARLIE. No, no, no, don’t get up. I’m off in a minute.
SARA sits back down.
SARA. Long time, no see!
CHARLIE. Long time indeed.
A short silence.
SARA. Oh! I’m sorry. This is my friend, Eli.
CHARLIE. Pleasure. What a lucky friend you are.
ELI and CHARLIE shake hands.
ELI. Nice to meet you. What was your name, sorry?
CHARLIE. Charles. Charlie to friends.
He winks at SARA; she laughs.
SARA. (Warmly) How are you, Charlie?
CHARLIE. Just fine. Better since bumping into you.
SARA. Haven’t let the weather get you down?
CHARLIE. It couldn’t!
ELI. It’s horrible, the storm, isn’t it?
CHARLIE. Oh, this isn’t a storm. It’s barely a drizzle, that’s how I see it.
SARA. Well. It’s good to see you. Staying dry?
CHARLIE. I’ve got an umbrella, somewhere. But I can’t find it, I haven’t used it in weeks. What’s the harm in getting a little soaked, that’s what I think, anyway.
CHARLIE. No, well, I’d better go. Just stopped in, I had to tell you, Sara, just to say thanks a moment.
SARA. For what?
CHARLIE. This morning. Listen, the rain hasn’t gotten me down, but I haven’t had someone to talk to in a very long time.
SARA. Oh. That’s okay. It was my pleasure, really—
CHARLIE. You’re a good one.
CHARLIE. You’re one of the good ones, I know it. There aren’t very many good people left that I’ve had the pleasure to meet.
ELI looks at SARA incredulously. She can see him looking at her in her periphery but ignores him, focusing squarely on CHARLIE.
CHARLIE. That’s what I think, anyway.
SARA. Charlie. I don’t know what to say.
CHARLIE. Ah, nothing, say you’ll let me buy you a coffee.
SARA. Oh, for crying out—
CHARLIE. Please. It’ll make my day.
SARA glances at ELI, then back at CHARLIE.
SARA. Okay. Thank you.
SARA laughs, surprised. CHARLIE winks.
CHARLIE. Sometimes you can just tell.
CHARLIE makes his way to the register, and SARA and ELI are left alone. ELI gives a laugh of disbelief.
SARA. Shush. I just walked with him for a bit. This morning.
ELI. You know him?
SARA. I didn’t, but now I do.
ELI. Care to explain?
ELI throws his arms up in exasperation.
SARA. Look, he was sitting alone, and I was just walking by. I can’t tell you what possessed me. I went back and I asked him if he wanted company.
ELI’s eyes widen.
ELI. What, the fuck? Who are you?
SARA. Shut up, please.
ELI. What in the movie scene shit—!
SARA. Does this surprise you so much?
SARA. Jeez! Thank you!
ELI. No, yes, but in such a good way. (Pause.) Sara, that’s really beautiful.
SARA makes a face at him, but she isn’t offended. She’s smiling. CHARLIE makes his way back to the table with a paper cup in his hands.
CHARLIE. They said it’s hot, hot, hot. Be careful, now.
SARA takes the cup from him.
SARA. This is too much. Thank you.
CHARLIE nods his head in her direction, waves her off with a hand, “It’s nothing.” He turns to ELI.
CHARLIE. You know she’s one of the good ones, huh?
ELI. I know.
CHARLIE. Don’t forget, son.
ELI. I won’t.
CHARLIE exits the cafe. ELI’s smile grows wider and wider as he watches CHARLIE leave. He stares at SARA and leans back in his chair.
SARA. One more word from you and this coffee finds its home all over that white shirt.
ELI raises his hands in surrender and mimes locking his lips, tossing the imaginary key over his shoulder.
A moment of silence passes and SARA sips her existing coffee. ELI opens his mouth, he’s about to speak.
SARA. One. More. Word.
INT. yoga studio. The class has ended and ELI is alone in the studio. The lighting is dim and there are blocks scattered all over the room, left behind by students. ELI is pacing back and forth, holding his phone to his ear. His mat is on the floor, unrolled, and some of the contents of his backpack are scattered on the floor; it looks as if he’s turned his bag inside out looking for something (likely his phone.)
ELI. (To himself) Pick up. Pick up. Pick up.
There’s a beep, and we can faintly hear, “Hi, this is Sara, leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon—” ELI hangs up before the message finishes playing.
He dials the number again, and puts the phone on speaker this time. The ringing fills the yoga studio, echoing off the walls, and ELI’s pacing grows more rapid. There’s a beep, and then, “Hi, this is Sara, leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!” There’s a short silence and another beep, and ELI stops pacing for a moment to record his message, holding the phone to his mouth.
ELI. Sara. Can you call me back? (Beat.) As soon as you get this, please? I’ve called eight times, I’m worried. You seemed off last time we talked. (Beat.) On Monday. (Pause. He thinks for a moment, calculating, and then says almost to himself:) Monday? Four days. (Beat.) Call me back. I’ve left three messages.
He hangs up and looks around, at a loss for what to do. Defeated, he lowers himself onto his yoga mat and sits there a moment, his cross-legged yoga position ironically ineffective in contrast to his rapid breathing and constantly bouncing leg. His fingers tap a constant rhythm on his right knee, and he sits like this for several minutes before he clicks his phone back on and dials Sara’s number again. The message plays, and there’s a beep.
ELI. Okay, Sara, I don’t know what to do, I’ve never been to your fucking house before, I don’t know your address otherwise I’d come, I don’t know where you are and I need you to answer the fucking phone, please.
ELI. (Scoffing, almost laughing.) Jesus fucking Christ. Who am I, your mom? Answer the phone, I’m worried, where are you, who are you with? What are you, sixteen years old? You’re a fucking adult.
Beat. Something shifts in ELI; the sarcasm is gone and his face sinks, making him seem very small. Wide shot. He looks tiny alone in the studio, cross-legged on his mat. Camera cuts to SARA’s phone vibrating in the passenger seat of her car. She’s driving, music is playing, she can’t hear the phone. We hear ELI’s voice as though through a voicemail.
ELI. Sara. I feel like a fucking moron.
ELI. Please, please, please answer the phone.
Cut back to the studio. There’s a knock, and ELI quickly hangs up, startled. He looks up to see SARA standing in the doorway of the studio. SARA tilts her head to one side. She holds up her phone, displaying all the missed calls, and smiles a small smile, apologetic, soft.
SARA. Eight calls?
Pause. ELI stands and is still looking at her.
ELI. Where were you?
SARA. (Laughing) Eli, what the fuck, eight calls—?
ELI. (Shouted, sudden) Where, the fuck, were you?
Silence. His shout echoes in the studio.
SARA. (Quietly) What the hell?
Angrily, losing patience, ELI turns and begins haphazardly shoving items into his backpack. SARA slowly approaches him and kneels beside him, confused and wary of his outburst.
ELI doesn’t look up at her. He’s shoving things into his bag with a quiet rage now.
SARA. HEY. I had a fucking job interview.
ELI stops abruptly and looks up at her.
SARA. A job interview. I drove here as soon as it was over because I haven’t missed a class yet.
ELI. I know.
SARA. So I didn’t want to start today.
SARA. I wanted to say hi. And see you.
SARA sits beside ELI on the floor and puts a hand on his shoulder. He shakes her off and resumes shoving items down into his backpack.
SARA. Hey. You were that worried?
ELI. You didn’t hear my voicemails?
SARA. I didn’t.
SARA. I’m sorry. I came straight here, I was driving. (Pause.) Hey, what’s up with / you?
ELI. / I thought you did something to yourself.
SARA. Oh. Eli.
SARA puts a hand to her heart and looks at ELI for a long while.
SARA. I’m sorry.
ELI. It’s fine.
SARA slides closer to him but doesn’t touch him.
SARA. I’m really sorry.
ELI moves things around in his backpack for a moment and then stops. The two sit beside one another in stillness. ELI looks down at his hands; SARA looks at ELI, her eyes sad.
ELI. I’m glad you’re okay.
ELI. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to yell at you. You could have left a voicemail. Or something.
SARA. I know. I’m really sorry.
ELI. I don’t know why I thought that.
ELI looks up from his hands and looks around the studio, as if seeing it suddenly for the first time. Silence. SARA watches him. When ELI finally looks back at her, something has changed in his face.
ELI. I think I need to quit my job.
SARA. How’d we get from point A to here so quickly?
ELI. I think this place is really bad for me.
SARA. The studio?
ELI. The studio, the town, the state of New Hampshire.
SARA. Oh, everything?
ELI. You know what, no, it’s good. I think I need to quit and move.
SARA. That’s it? Just like that?
ELI. Just like that.
ELI looks up at SARA.
ELI. I’m sorry I yelled at you.
SARA. It’s okay. Really.
ELI. I kinda thought I’d be over this by now.
SARA. Over—oh. Francesca?
SARA. I think that’s not something you really get over.
ELI. Yeah. I guess. (Pause.) Just, I thought I’d be more over it than I am.
SARA. (Quietly) I know.
ELI. I think moving is going to be really, really good for me.
SARA. I think so, too.
ELI shifts his seating position.
ELI. Tell me about your interview?
ELI. Quick, quick, before I get all mean again.
SARA. Uh, okay, okay, I think I told you about it like a billion years ago, it was this pipe dream I had when I first started writing the kids’ books—
ELI. The teaching thing?
SARA. Yeah, exactly. The teaching thing. So, I went and I got an interview. And I did the interview. (Pause.) Turns out having “children’s author” on your resume can help you get a job at a middle school.
ELI is still staring at her expectantly, blankly. SARA raises her eyebrows and waits, a small smile growing on her lips. After a moment ELI realizes there’s no more to the story.
ELI. You got it?
SARA nods excitedly. ELI jumps up and ‘HURRAH’s, ‘WOO’s, or something to that effect. SARA laughs, looking around and shushing him.
SARA. Shhh! You’ll give the janitor a heart attack.
ELI. You got the job?
SARA. I got the job.
ELI pulls SARA to her feet.
ELI. This is huge! Wait a minute.
ELI steps back and looks SARA up and down.
SARA. What are you doing?
ELI. Nothing. Just seeing if you look different as a middle school teacher.
ELI. Nope. Exactly the same.
SARA laughs again.
ELI. But you feel different, I bet, huh?
SARA. I feel different. (She gives a childish giggle.) They have to call me Miss Sara.
ELI. Miss Sara—? What kind of Waldorf Montessori hybrid school did you interview for?
SARA. It’s more personal if we use first names, they say.
ELI. Well, Miss Sara. (Pause.) This is really, really great. I’m really proud of you.
SARA. Thank you. Mister Eli.
SARA. Seriously. It means a lot.
A comfortable silence grows between them. ELI sits back down, and the two of them sit for several moments, looking around the yoga studio.
SARA. I guess it’s kind of goodbye to this place then, huh?
SARA. Kind of sad.
ELI. A little.
SARA. But kind of not.
ELI. (Smiling) But kind of not.
SARA. Damn. And I was just getting good at yoga!
SARA. Yeah, yeah, I feel stronger. And, wanna know what else?
SARA lifts her shirt to reveal her stomach.
SARA. Abs. Of. Fucking. Steel.
ELI. Oh, ha, ha, ha.
SARA. Ha, ha. But it was fun.
ELI. It was fun.
They look around the studio again. Silence.
ELI. Can I ask you a question?
ELI. Are you a happy person?
SARA looks at him. Smiles.
Blackout. “Sara” by Bob Dylan begins to play.
© User:Colin / Wikimedia Commons