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- Joined: Nov 09, 2010
INT. THE ANDREWS HOME, 17 YEAR OLD NATHAN’S BEDROOM.
The truth is, if I was a selfish person, I’d be dead by now.
We see photos on the wall—Nathan and his dad going fishing, Nathan and his parents on a family vacation, Nathan and his friends at Junior Prom.
It’s not that I have a bad life—I have two really good parents, and I have friends. I’m not a social lemming or anything. But for some reason I still wake up in the morning and wish I had hadn’t.
Cut to Nathan waking up in the morning, smacking the alarm on the table next to him. He rolls over. Let’s out a breath. Disappointment obvious on his face. We get a good look at him. Decent looking, smattering of freckles. He’s not ugly, but he definitely isn’t Brad Pitt.
INT. WALLBRIDGE HIGH – DAY
Nathan rummages through his locker, looking for his Anatomy book.
NATHAN (V.O. con).
And I mean, high school’s high school. I’m getting through it. It’s not like I’m bullied, and its not like I’m failing. I wouldn’t say I’m one of those kids who hates everything. I get good grades, I work hard.
But if I’m being truly honest—(locker door slams)—I just don’t really want to be around anymore. If I didn’t know how it would make my parents feel, my friends, I’d have done it ages ago.
INT. MRS. PETERSON’S ANATOMY CLASS.
Okay, layers of skin? Nathan?
Nathan struggles to remember what he’d memorized the night before. Peaks at the worksheet he has in front of him.
Erm... Stratus corneum, Stratus lucidum... um... Stratus Basale...?
Not quite, but nice try.
Nathan slumps further in his seat.
INT. LUNCH TIME.
Nathan sits with LUCAS, BEN, ADAM, JIMMY at a round table. The four of them are chatting, happy. Nathan is quiet, more reserved with his friends. He smiles, laughs, but doesn’t seem to be truly participating.
INT. LOCKER ROOM - apparently after football practice.
God, that was frustrating. Coach probably thinks I just don’t give a shit.
LUCAS, 17, stands at a locker a few down. He’s Nathan’s good friend, personable, good-looking.
Dude, just chill out. The only time you’re gonna play well is if you stop caring about what he thinks. Play for you.
Nathan shrugs him off. He cares what other people think. A lot.
Yeah, whatever dude. Hey, are we still on to watch the game tomorrow?
Oh, shit dude, I’m hanging out with Lauren. Rain check?
Nathan just shrugs. He’s used to this.
INT. NATHAN’s BEDROOM – DAY.
Nathan is laying on his bed, no emotion, staring at the phone in his hands.
Scrolling through his text messages. Nothing new. His hands drop, and he sighs deeply. Rolls over. His face is empty, he’s obviously consumed in his own thoughts.
INT. NATHAN’S BEDROOM – EVENING.
Nathan staring at his phone, visibly shaken. His thoughts are scaring him.
Rolls over. He’s upset.
ABRUBT KNOCK ON THE DOOR.
MRS. ANDREWS (O.S)
You going to bed, Nathan?
Yeah, mom. Goodnight.
MRS. ANDREWS (O.S)
This isn’t fair to them. This isn’t fair to him.
It sounds like you have trouble expressing yourself to the people you care about. Do you think that’s true?
INT. NATHAN’S BEDROOM – NIGHT.
Nathan has been on the phone this entire time—it is HOPELINE, a 24-hour crisis number. We see his computer screen:
What to expect when you call a crisis line.
1. These people are generally volunteers—imperfect, real people, who have probably had encounters with suicide before, whether themselves, a friend, or relative. They only want to help you.
The voice on the other end is unsure—she wants to help, but obviously she don’t know what the right thing to say is.
When you say you want to die, can you tell me if you have any immediate plans...
I... I don’t think so.
I can hear that you’re very upset. I’m wondering if you can explain to me more of why you’re feeling like you want to die.
Have you been listening? I don’t want to be here. But I feel too guilty to leave.
When you say guilty...
It wouldn’t be fair... I don’t want them to blame themselves... but I don’t know if I can stand this much longer...
If you can stand... Okay, listen, there are places you can go... if you feel like you’re a danger to yourself, you need to see get some—
Nathan hangs up abruptly. His head is down and his shoulders are shaking. He is sobbing.
INT – ANDREWS FAMILY DINING ROOM
Dinner is quiet, but not entirely uncomfortable. Nathan is there with his parents, MR. and MRS. ANDREWS (mid 40s). Nathan’s parents love him, but they don’t seem to connect verbally.
How was school today, sweetheart?
It was fine.
Any news on college apps?
Not really... I’m still figuring it out, I guess.
Mr. Andrews clears his throat, with little else to say.
INT. – WALLBRIDGE HIGH SCHOOL.
Nathan is standing with a group of friends, and looks like he’s going to approach ANNA (17), a girl we may recognize from the Homecoming photo hanging in Nathan’s room.
Before he can go speak to her, another boy approaches her—she smiles widely, and they walk off together.
INT. – WALLBRIDGE HIGH, CLASSES
Nathan is sitting in his one seat, as everything is moving quickly around him, as he just slumps lower and lower. He interacts with no one.
INT. – THE NEXT DAY, NATHAN IS IN WITH A COUNSELER
Nathan, does anyone know you’re here?
Nathan shakes his head.
So what made you decide to come in today?
I... I don’t really know. I just don’t want to
feel like this anymore.
And how do you feel?
Montage, Nathan continuing his day-to-day, with his alarm clock, slamming his locker, eating lunch, in the locker room after football, talking on the phone, or to the counselor, over and over and over again. His face is progressively unhappier, frustrated, and more and more isolated.
INT. COUNSELING OFFICE.
I just feel like... like I need to be there for people, and be a good person, and be someone my parents can be proud of.
Nathan, you don’t need to do anything. I think that you need to realize that the only person who you have to try and please is yourself, and hopefully everything else falls into place.
I... I don’t know. I just don’t really feel like there’s anyone I can talk to. Or like I’d have anything to say, even if I did.
Nathan, we’ve been seeing each other for a few weeks now, and I still don’t think either of us have a firm idea of how you’re feeling. What I’d like you to do for next week is really think about that.
Take stock of yourself... try to get a handle on how you’re feeling, so that maybe you can start working on feeling better.
Nathan has nothing to say.
INT. NATHAN’S CAR – After the session.
He is visibly upset, the counselor was hard on him... he doesn’t know how to reconcile the way he feels with the things she says. He is frustrated and pained, but a feeling of resolve appears to settle over his features.
EXT. ROOFTOP – NIGHT.
Nathan is standing on the roof of a building, on the ledge. He looks down, deep breath, eyes closed, shoulders shaking. He is going to jump.
He stands on the ledge, deep breaths. Looks down, and a peace has settled over him. This decision is entirely his, and he has made up his mind. He stands over the ledge, ready to give up.
But his eyes snap open. Understanding. Thoughts. Deep Breath.
He steps down. Deep breaths. Half smile.
There are no words, but you can hear him, in his head. This is freedom. This decision was entirely, 100% his own. In being willing to jump... he doesn’t have to anymore.
EXT. NATHAN’S BACK PORCH – SUNSET.
Nathan is sitting on a swing by the door. We don’t see his face, just his back.
I’m not really sure how I ended up there that night. It was like something inside of me broke, and suddenly I was okay to just fuck everyone else over and go.
I wanted it. My head was just tension, and noise, and a feeling in the pit of my stomach that made me want to shout, or cry, or crumple up on the floor and never move again.
Or I could jump. Jump, and breathe, and feel like the fall was never going to end. Like I could stay suspended in air, in perpetual motion, and not ever feel anything again.
But what made this different than all the other times I had thought about it was suddenly... it was tangible. The decision was mine.
I was looking down, and my ears were ringing, and heart pounding, and I was ready. And as soon as I felt that... As soon as I realized...
I realized I could do it. I could jump, I would be okay with that. Because it was my choice. And it wasn’t because of guilt, or pride, or necessity. I was ready to jump for me. Because I wanted to. And maybe my logic is all backwards... but for the first time in a long time, I think I felt like I was really in control of something.
Of myself, and my life, and where it was going to go next.
And for now, maybe that was enough.
When my fortune cookie read, "Do not kiss an elephant on the lips today," I was indignant for the elephant.