Excerpt From Grace 101; by Maya Jewell


FADE IN:

EXT. LAKE HOUSE - MANY YEARS AGO

YOUNG GRACE(8) runs for the house, screaming. She is
white, with curly hair. We hear the sounds of her
breathing and pounding feet.

An argument in full cry greets the little girl as she
bangs into the house.

The crash of crockery.

JONATHAN (O.S.)
(calmly)
Lena...well...So typical of you. Why
solve a problem, when you can throw a
scene instead?

LENA (O.S.)
Throw a scene! At least I care enough
to "throw a scene". At least--Gracie,
I told you--

YOUNG GRACE (O.S.)
(screams)
They're dying, they're dying!

The child and the couple slam out of the house with
Grace at their heels. YOUNG LENA is (33), black,
beautiful, dramatic. JONATHAN (40) is white, tall
ascetic. Grace stops abruptly, a small statue, watching
as the lanky MICHAEL (13), black, lies immobile on the
dock.

Lena screams.

She streaks toward her son's body; the heavy pendant she
wears bouncing against her shoulder. Jonathan whirls
toward the house, but a sudden thought arrests him. He
stares beyond Michael and Lena.

JONATHAN
(whispering)
Where--where's Seth?

He looks down at his daughter.

JONATHAN
(lowly)
Where is he? Grace...
(roughly)
Grace, where is he?

Her wide eyes are fixed, staring.

He grabs her and shakes her.

JONATHAN
(shouting)
Where is he? Grace, you tell me. Where
is my son!

Lena half-carries a half-conscious Michael.

LENA
Jonathan...Jonathan! Oh my God,
Jonathan!

Jonathan is as frozen in place as his daughter.

JONATHAN
No. No.

He turns on his heel and walks away.

LATER.

The coroner rolls a stretcher bearing a body bag.
Michael looks on from the back of an ambulance.

Grace stares at the ground, eyes fixed on the silver
pendant lying at her feet. The image of the pendant
blurs.

INT. TELEVISION STUDIO - PRESENT - MORNING

A perfectly coifed TALKING HEAD wears an identical
pendant and green blouse.

Grace, now (31); an intellectual beauty who moves
gracefully and with an innate sense of drama, is being
interviewed. Her book rests on the table between Grace
and Talking Head.

The Talking Head's professional smile falters a bit.

TALKING HEAD
Dr. Kimball?

Grace comes back to earth with a thump.

GRACE
I'm sorry, what did you say?

TALKING HEAD
Your family is considered academic
royalty; your father, your
grandfather, even your step-
brother...leaders in their fields.
Your childhood must have been very
interesting.

Dead silence. Grace takes a drink.

TALKING HEAD
How shocked where you to find your
book on the bestseller list?

GRACE
Very. It's an idea whose time has
come. The pipe-smoking old guy in the
tweed jacket is as anachronistic to
the modern idea of philosophy as the
statue of Rodin's naked Italian guy
sitting with his chin upon his fist.

INT. DRY CLEANERS - PRESENT - AFTERNOON

A customer argues with the cashier. Grace attempts to
rub a headache from her temple; ducking the regard of
the smiling WELL-DRESSED MAN. the fluorescent light
above them flickers and buzzes.

The cash register rings and Grace jumps.

INT. GROCERY STORE - PRESENT - EVENING

Grace browses the produce section.

GRACE (V.O.)
Philosophy is a fancy word for the
process by which we make sense of our
world...give it perspective,
scope...definition. Through it we seek
to discover the whats and whys of our
existence.
(beat)
Meaning of life stuff.

A woman recognizes her, but is disinclined to approach.

There is a crash and a child screams its rage. Grace
jumps a foot.

She hands the clerk her card with trembling fingers.
Then, looks down at her hand, takes a breath, stills the
tremors.

INT. GRACE'S STUDIO -PRESENT - NIGHT

THE NIGHTMARE:

Grace sits at her desk. Sunlight streams through a
window over-looking a field. Suddenly it's night. The
shadows grow, darkening the room.

Moonlight streams through the window, a crouching man-
sized figure, rises up in silhouette in the door way,
bent over creeping like a shadow over the wall.

Sitting in a white box is a family Bible; which blows
open. On the inside cover, following family names which
stretch back over 300 years. On the last lines are the
names "Seth Aaron Kimball 1974-1987" and on the next
line Grace's name is scratched through.

The gleam of moonlight reflects off of a knife. Seth's
face, cold and solemn. A thin spatter of dark liquid
across a moonlit wall above a bed, dark liquid soaks the
pillow.

Grace bolts upright from the bed, sweating, clenching
her teeth on a scream.

NIGHTMARE ENDS.

GRACE
(angrily)
Oh...no. God. No.

She tries to lay down, but immediately springs back up.
Picking up her phone, she sits on the window seat and
dials.

INT. MICHAEL AND ANNA'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

On a bedside table the phone ring. The alarm clock reads
3:38 a.m. African American couple ANNA (36) and MICHAEL
HAMILTON (38) lie sleeping. Michael is tall, lanky with
an intelligent face and a dancer's grace. Anna, is tiny,
with natural hair, she is kindness balanced by fierce
common sense. Anna stirs as Michael's hand reaches for
the phone, missing, then finding it.

GRACE (FILTERED)
I'm sorry.

MICHAEL
(whispers)
Hey Little Sister...It's okay...hold
on a sec.

He's up and shrugging into a robe.

ANNA
Grace?

MICHAEL
Yeah, babe, sorry. Go back to sleep.

Anna sighs.

ANNA
Tell her to come home.

INT. DARK HALLWAY - NIGHT

Michael continues on his way. Dim light reveals classic
movie posters mixed among the photos lining the walls.

MICHAEL
How bad?

GRACE (FILTERED)
Awful.

INT. SEMI-DARK STAIRWAY - NIGHT

Michael passes by an antique gramophone at the foot of
the stairs.

INT. MICHAEL'S OFFICE - NIGHT

Michael turns on a desk lamp which illuminates the
picture frame. It features photos of Younger Michael and
YOUNGEST GRACE and Youngest Michael and 4 year old
ALEXIS, (African-American and adorable) smiling in
pigtails and a pink jumpsuit.

MICHAEL
That's what? Three in the past two
months?

GRACE (FILTERED)
(beat)
Yeah.

MICHAEL
Anna says come home.

The bookcases are stuffed with worn books, cds and
albums. In one corner is a digeridoo, a lute and a
couple of guitars, acoustic and electric.

MICHAEL
Can you go back to bed?

GRACE (FILTERED)
No.

INT. GRACE'S STUDIO - NIGHT

Grace blows on the window, doodling on the misted pane.

GRACE
I'm really sorry Mikey.

MICHAEL (FILTERED)
Shut up Pea-knuckle.

GRACE
Don't call me that.

MICHAEL
You don't call me that.

Michael looks through record albums on a shelf.

INT. MICHAEL'S OFFICE - NIGHT

INTERCUT WITH GRACE'S STUDIO.

MICHAEL
Seriously Grace, come home.
(beat)
Maybe it's time to think
about...talking to someone?

GRACE
See someone? I love the euphemism. See
someone...that's all I need. Some hack
shrink rummaging around inside my
head, breaking as many things as they
fix.

Grace re-wraps herself in the blanket and settles into
an overstuffed chair.

MICHAEL
Okay...Okay.
(beat)
how's your love life?

He wraps himself in a blanket and settles into an over-
stuffed chair of his own.

FLASHBACK:

INT. HOTEL ROOM

Grace writes furiously at a small desk in a hotel room.
Her hair tumbled about her shoulders, her dress half-
zipped. A figure moves behind her. And then a MARRIED
MAN'S squeezes her shoulder. He kisses the top of her
head, still she writes.

END FLASHBACK.

INT. GRACE'S STUDIO

GRACE
Fine.

He sighs.

MICHAEL
You need--

GRACE
You know, seriously--

MICHAEL
Grace--

GRACE
Michael!

MICHAEL
Look, I'm only--

GRACE
You know, stop it. Just stop...The
real world is not a fairy tale. In the
real world problems are not fixed by,
'oh, if only I could meet the right
guy.'

INT. MIKE'S OFFICE

MICHAEL
(mildly)
Who do you think you're talking to?

INT. GRACE'S STUDIO

GRACE
(beat)
I have...pieces missing.

MICHAEL
Yeah...well, who doesn't? Gracie, my
darling girl, all we can do, is all we
can.

GRACE
(whispers)
Ever thought I'm not built for love.

MICHAEL
No.

GRACE
(louder)
I got myself--
(beat)
I've been land-locked too long.

MICHAEL
So tomorrow, you'll get on a train.
And Come. Home.

GRACE
Can't. I've got a lecture the day
after.

He laughs.

GRACE
Was looking forward to this one, thank
you.

MICHAEL
Brilliant insight, heh?

GRACE
I thought I'd try out some new
material on a live audience.

GRACE
Live?

GRACE
And your students are all bright-eyed?

MICHAEL
They are actually. But then, I teach a
core course.

GRACE
Brag away Big Dog.

MICHAEL
The usual?

GRACE
Yes, please.

Michael takes down a record and goes back to his chair.
He puts it on, Billie Holiday sings and Michael sings
along.

The music plays, Grace lays in her chair, the phone to
her ear, eyes open.

INT. LECTURE HALL - EARLY AFTERNOON

Grace speaks before her class. She is intent,
passionate.

A student listens to music on an unseen mp3 player;
another is texting.

HANDSOME STUDENT and his POSSE, sit talking about Grace.

GRACE
Finally...I wish all of you a good
holiday and that you carve out for
yourselves a little peace and quiet.

Grace steps behind the podium and gathers papers, then
stuffs them into her shoulder bag. The rectangular white
box peeks out of the top.

INT. HALLWAY OUTSIDE OF GRACE'S OFFICE - DAY

A nervous-looking ASSISTANT watches Grace attempt to
lock the door without her keys. She swears under her
breath and goes back inside to look for them.

ASSISTANT
I--it's about tenure.

Grace returns, waving the Assistant out of the way.

GRACE
(mutters)
Yes...well when isn't it?

Handsome Student is down the hall with his Posse,
watching the conversation. He starts for Grace.

She closes the door and turns to the Assistant.

GRACE
After. The break.

The Assistant huffs off.

She turns to find herself face to face with Handsome
Student.

HANDSOME STUDENT
(flirtatiously)
Dr. Kimball? I was hoping we
might...discuss my work.

Grace rummages through her bag for keys.

GRACE
That would be my TA you need.

HANDSOME STUDENT
Yes...But I just think if I had some
face time--you know.It might be good
for me, for both of us.

She smiles a little and shakes her head as she continues
looking through her bag. Then remembers the keys in her
other hand.

GRACE
Is that all you need? Keep in mind I
read your last essay.

Grace locks the door.

GRACE
As I said before I don't see students.
And you know that. Which is why you
brought your posse with you.

HANDSOME STUDENT
(mockingly)
Excuse me? My...posse? And seriously
(beat)
you read my essay?

GRACE
You know, your boys...your dawgs.
Whatever you crazy kids call it these
days when you wander about in packs.
(beat)
And I do periodically read the
essays...do a little 'In Search
Of'...in search of original
thought...indications of a mind at
work.

Grace walks away, calling over her shoulder:

GRACE
It's called curiosity Mr. Duncan, you
should try it sometime.

Grace tips a nod in the direction of the Posse.

INT. ON THE TRAIN - PRESENT

Grace's face in the window, the passing scenery reflects
on her features.

INT. LAKE HOUSE - MANY YEARS AGO

A crowd of PEOPLE mill around the house. Looking
beautiful and tragic, Young Lena she plays hostess.

EXT. LAKE HOUSE - MANY YEARS AGO

Grace watches Jonathan drink scotch in his study.

PEOPLE (O.S.)
They say the boy jumped in to
save...brave kid...a hero...so
young...gave his life.

Michael walks up and takes her hand. She leans against
him.

INT. ON THE TRAIN - PRESENT

A lively PASSENGER looks for an opportunity to strike up
a conversation.

Grace shifts away dropping her eyes to the book in her
lap; a copy of Milford's 'Zelda'. Her bag sits atop the
white box.

The train stops and OTHER PASSENGERS shuffle for the
exit.

PASSENGER
We're here dear. You're getting off at
Camden, aren't you?

Grace continues to read, she waits until the train
empties and then disembarks.

EXT. MICHAEL AND ANNA'S HOUSE - MANY YEARS AGO

A car unloads Young Michael and Young Grace.

Jonathan watches from the doorway as Young Lena kisses
the children good-bye. She meets Jonathan's brooding
gaze.

YOUNG LENA
I'll be back for them on Monday.

Grace grabs Michael's hand, he detaches it. She fastens
on to his shirttail as he hefts a duffle bag.

INT. THE FOYER OF ANNA AND MICHAEL'S HOUSE - AFTERNOON

Grace bursts in bristling with irritation. Anna and
Michael jump back to give her room.

GRACE
Forty-six dollars!

Grace rummages through her overstuffed bag.

MICHAEL
It's alright, I got it.

GRACE
No...it's not alright. I have the
money.

She takes things out of her bag and sets them on the
table. Anna catches a few things as they fall.

GRACE
Somewhere...it's...in here.

Michael claps the driver on the shoulder and walks with
him to the cab.

Grace looks through her bag.

GRACE
Forty-six dollars. For Pete's sake!
Where is my wallet?

ANNA
It's...

Anna makes a motion at Grace's coat. Grace jerks around
to face Anna.

GRACE
What?

ANNA
It's there...in your pocket.

INT. THE FOYER OF ANNA AND MICHAEL'S HOUSE

Grace gives a small scream.

GRACE
How did it get there?! Okay...now
fine, where is that bandit? Forty
bloody six dollars.

Grace turns, knocking the contents of her bag off of the
hall table in the process.

Anna takes her shoulders and turns Grace to face her.

ANNA
Michael is taking care of the cab.

GRACE
I didn't want him to--

ANNA
Hey! It's okay.

Grace falls into Anna's arms and cries.

GRACE
Oh Anna....

Michael comes through the door.

MICHAEL
What's this? Where's the fire? We got
the waterworks.

Grace hits out at him.

GRACE
Shut. Up.

Michael grabs her hand and drags her into his arms.
Grace leans against him and rubs her face into his
chest.

GRACE
(muffled)
I hate everybody.

Michael and Anna exchange an amused glance, Grace still
holds one of Anna's hands in her own.

MICHAEL
Aww...ever'body?

GRACE
Shut. Up.

The head through the foyer arm in arm. Grace kisses Anna
and Michael. Michael kisses the top of Grace's head.

LENA (O.S.)
Grace!

Grace stops dead. Anna starts to speak.

ANNA
(whispers)
I was going to tell you.

Grace's face has frozen. Michael's sheepish grin changes
to real concern.

MICHAEL
Ohh crap. Chere, I'm so sorry.

LENA (55), a strikingly beautiful African American stage
actress, 'appears' in the doorway and takes Grace into a
superficial embrace.

LENA
Ma chere 'tite fille, it's been too
long.

Grace tolerates Lena's greeting but remains linked with
Michael and Anna.

LENA
Let me look at you. Gorgeous as
always. But so serious! You must meet
Harry.

Lena leads the way back toward the living room.

ANNA
Why don't we leave introductions for a
bit later Lena? Grace's had an awful
trip.

LENA
Of course, my dear.

Lena and Anna walk away. Michael starts picking up
luggage as Grace wanders off.

IAIN (40 tall, reasonably handsome, physically
compelling professor from the UK) watches Grace from the
doorway of the living room.

INT. HALLWAY

Grace runs a finger over the aged sign on Michael's
office door.

MICHAEL (O.S.)
How long are you staying again...a
year?

INT. HALLWAY - MANY YEARS AGO

Young Grace looks up at the sign on Jonathan's office
door, "Interrupt At Your Peril".

YOUNG MICHAEL (O.S.)
Hey, Pea-knuckle...Grace
(beat)
Gracie!

She turns and hops away.

YOUNG GRACE (O.S.)
I'm not a pea knuckle!

MICHAEL (O.S.)
Yes you are. You're a sweet pea and a
knuckle-head.

YOUNG GRACE (O.S.)
(yelling)
No, I'm not!

YOUNG MICHAEL (O.S.)
You're not sweet?

Silence.

YOUNG GRACE (O.S.)
Shut up, Mikey-Pikey!

Sounds of a scuffle and shrieks of laughter fade away.

INT. HALLWAY - PRESENT

Grace pushes the door open.

INT. MIKE'S OFFICE - MANY YEARS AGO

Jonathan and Michael sit at the desk reading from the
same book. The room is an older, slightly messier
version of Michael's office.

The top of Young Grace's head appears and disappears
over the arm of a sofa on the other side of the room.

Jonathan watches her. Finally, almost against his will,
he goes to where she sits reading an old book with
ferocious attention.

He starts to speak, to shoo her out, and instead looks
at the book's title, "Human, All Too Human" by Fredrich
Nietzsche.

His hand comes up to touch her cheek and stops short.

INT. MICHAEL'S OFFICE - MANY YEARS AGO

Jonathan and Young Michael talk and read while Maria
Callas plays on the gramophone. Young Grace sneaks in,
heading for the bookshelf. Jonathan taps an old copy of
Rene Descarte's "Discourse on the Method" which sits on
his desk.

Young Grace picks it up and retreats to her corner.

INT. HALLWAY - PRESENT

A fully-loaded Michael nudges Grace with luggage.

MICHAEL
These aren't feathers, you know.

GRACE
You are such a maiden aunt.
(beat)
You should die, you know that? 'A pox
on your house', et cetera.

She walks away as Michael calls after her.

MICHAEL
I am not...I am not a maiden aunt!
And I didn't know she was coming
until--

GRACE (O.S.)
If the corset fits...

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