Can you see me?

(IN THIS SCRIPT THE GAPS BETWEEN THE UTTERANCES MATTER AS MUCH AS THE UTTERANCES THEMSELVES. THE ACTOR AND DIRECTOR HAVE COMPLETE FREEDOM IN TERMS OF PAUSE LOCATION AND DURATION. THOSE THAT ARE IDENTIFIED IN THE SCRIPT MAY ALSO BE FREELY INTERPRETED OR OMITTED. THEY ARE JUST SUGGESTIONS).

(CHRIS IS A STUDENT AROUND 20. HE IS AT HOME AT HIS PARENTS HOUSE. HE IS COMMUNICATING WITH SOMEONE BY A VIDEO LINK FROM HIS LAPTOP. HIS OWN CAMERA IS OFF AND HE WEARS HEADPHONES SO WE CAN ONLY HEAR HIS SIDE OF THE CONVERSATION CLEARLY. ON HIS LAPTOP SCREEN WE SEE A YOUNG WOMAN, OF ABOUT THE SAME AGE ATTEMPTING TO CONNECT. SHE IS IN A DRESSING GOWN. SHE INADVERTENTLY MOVES THE CAMERA AROUND SO THAT THE INSIDE OF A SMALL BEDSIT FLAT CAN BE SEEN. IT LOOKS NEWLY PAINTED. PROBABLY STUDENT ACCOMMODATION. OUTSIDE HER WINDOW WE OCCASIONALLY GLIMPSE A NONDESCRIPT URBAN ENVIRONMENT. WE HEAR HER INDISTINCT VOICE LEAKING THROUGH CHRIS’S HEADPHONES BUT NO WORDS CAN BE HEARD. WHEN CHRIS IS ADDRESSING THE YOUNG WOMAN HIS TONE IS PARTICULARLY FRIENDLY AND CALMING. SHE IS ANXIOUS. WE ONLY EVER SEE THE BACK OF CHRIS’S HEAD NOT HIS FACE. THERE IS JUST ONE CONTINUOUS SHOT THROUGHOUT)

AMBIENT SOUND: VERY DRY. A FAINT ELECTRONIC BUZZ. A COMPUTER FAN. A TEENAGE BEDROOM. OCCASIONAL CREEK OF AN OFFICE CHAIR

SOUND: FAINT FEMALE VOICE

CHRIS

I can hear you but I still can’t see you. (PAUSE) I know it’s crap isn’t it. Is the camera definitely turned on? (PAUSE) Can you see me? (EXCITED AND SUPRISED). How are you by the way? Sorry, so…no.

(MORE)

(cont’d)

What? (PAUSE) No that’s no better. Try the settings. Top R on the screen.

SOUND: FAINT FEMALE VOICE

(CHRIS TURNS HIS MIC OFF) TO HIMSELF

I am lying. I can see you perfectly. Every little detail. In fact I can see right through you. In and out, straight to the… You’ve still got it. That look. Right through me alright. (Pause and audible breath) I can see through the window. Even though it’s steamed up. (Pause) That window. Right above the bed. “This bed has a history” you used to say. It wasn’t funny. Why did you say that? Just to make me feel sick. Feel sick that you had a history. You were never funny. Do you know that?

SOUND: FAINT FEMALE VOICE

(CHRIS TURNS HIS MIC ON)

CHRIS

No nothing yet. Let me see if it’s a setting at this end.

SOUND: FAINT FEMALE VOICE (CHRIS TURNS HIS MIC OFF)

TO HIMSELF

I can see that garage across the road. It kept me awake all night. All the coming and going. Where we bought milk in the morning. The Turkish Takeaway.

The noise. The shop with the guys sitting outside on the street. I was scared of them. You were never scared of me. Why would you be. You knew me. You could see right through me. (He realises what he has just said) Huh!

SOUND: FAINT FEMALE VOICE

(CHRIS TURNS HIS MIC ON)

CHRIS

Nope not at this end, nothing so far. (pause) That might work. Don’t worry, don’t rush, I am not going anywhere (laughs).

(CHRIS TURNS HIS MIC OFF)

TO HIMSELF

What have you been doing. Showering I would guess. Every morning a shower. You made me do it. Before I met you I had baths? You stopped all that. Lying in my own dirty water. I stopped all my dirty habits for you. At least you thought I did. (Pause and slight laugh) The windows always steamed up after your shower. You could draw on them. A heart. “I love you“ I wrote. Then the look. I didn’t deserve it. (Pause) That look. There it is. Go on look at me. I am here looking right back this time.

SOUND: CREAKING CHAIR AS HE SITS BACK

Such a tiny flat. It stank. You hated the smell. Mould everywhere, every time it rained, every time we boiled a kettle, every …

SOUND: FAINT FEMALE VOICE

(CHRIS TURNS HIS MIC ON)

CHRIS

Yea! Something popped up for a second. Give it another go. Maybe it’s the camera itself. Plug it again and then unplug it.

(CHRIS TURNS HIS MIC OFF)

TO HIMSELF

The place looks much better now. Perhaps you want to show it off. Show me the the paint job, the new things, the ’accessories.’ You’ve got what you wanted.

SOUND: FAINT FEMALE VOICE

(CHRIS TURNS HIS MIC ON)

CHRIS

Yes it’s working. Hooray! Wow looking really great. I barely recognise it. (Pause) You can’t see me though. Oh no! No you’ve gone again! Let me try something.

(CHRIS TURNS HIS MIC OFF)

TO HIMSELF

I am lying. You’re still there. (Pause) Why me, why after three months. How about all that history.

Where are they? (Like an advert) ‘Lonely?

Call Chris.’ You, now, here, your look, your room, our room. (Pause) Huh! The window ledge that hasn’t changed. still the same stuff. (Pause) I remember that! That’s the bear. You called it..? What did you call it? Something obvious but trying soo hard, but you said it, said it like nobody had… Basil that was it. Basil Bear. “After the brush.” I said. You didn’t get that. You said it looked like me. Said it in your cute voice. The one that… YOU REALLY HURT ME! You are looking now. Looking into the camera.

That look that only I can see. So close I can read your skin. It looks drab. Too long indoors, not enough air, not enough sun. Open the window get some air. Go outside. Oh of course you can’t, the new rules. No open doors, no open windows, don’t go out its airborne. Government says it spreads like pollen. Wear your mask. WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!

(He laughs loudly) I am lying.

SOUND: FAINT FEMALE VOICE

(CHRIS TURNS HIS MIC ON)

CHRIS

No sorry, still nothing. it must be the line. can you see me?

(CHRIS TURNS HIS MIC OFF)

TO HIMSELF

I wish. (long pause) So now you are on your own. Like me. You deserve it.

(CHRIS TURNS HIS CAMERA AND MIC ON)

CHRIS

I can see you. Can you see me? Great! How are you long time no see. Its been an age…

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