PATTERN FOR TWO

by

Clement Ng


ext. campus. day

The sun is alone in the sky, voices fill the air.

Lectures have just finished, and students are pouring out all over the place talking in numbers of two or more.

CAMERON walks out of an archway, strolling alone. He looks around, and sets his path towards an empty bench. Unpacking his lunch he starts to eat.

Engaged, he is soon startled by a loud sigh and a person collapsing on to the empty bench space beside him. He turns to find a MICHELLE frowning softly ahead. Eyes still fixed on her, Cameron continues eating his sandwich.

To his fascination, Michelleís gaze soon breaks, and she notices Cameron next to her.

michelle

Youíre doing Commodity Cultures this semester, arenít you?

CAMERON

(swallows)

Mm. Are you?

michelle

(frowning)

No. I remember seeing you in City Cultures last semester, thatís all. I see the people who continue on, and I wish I was doing it too.

cameron

I know. But you canít sit in a room and listen to what others say forever.

michelle

(laughs)

Itís a bit like that. Iím doing an environmental studies major. Itís nice here (GESTURES AROUND), but I should be moving along.

cameron

Actually, Iíve almost spent all my elective points as well. Iím doing agriculture.

michelle

Well, getting plenty of cultural studies subjects into the diet. Itís good that youíre interested in who youíre feeding.

cameron

(laughs)

And you know who to protect, then, I take it.

michelle

(looks down)

I guess I should have decided before I even enrolled, but...

cameron

You knew youíd never turn down what you would find out. (SMILES)

michelle

Itís so weird. I feel that all I wanted was the stereotypical life at uni. Yet I was too scared to detour from the field I want to be in, eventually.

cameron

We get a taste of doing arts, without needing to return wholesale what we have taken. Itís good, we keep our minds as the audience and speaker.

michelle

Mmm. I miss it.

cameron

You know what Iím doing now?

michelle

What?

cameron

ďBrand PowerĒ as an example of cross-surveying domestic unrest in the 20-30 year old bracket.

michelle

(laughs)

You liar.

cameron

Itís my final semester doing it, Iíve got nothing to lose.

michelle

Then, it wonít turn out as bad as my last semester. Global middle-class consciousness through suburb pattern signalling visible from outer space.

cameron

Clearly we are in need of growing up and getting out of here.

michelle

I thought I had already. Somehow I canít get away from mixing with subversives. (GRINS)

cameron

Well, if youíve developed a nose for it, you donít need to be in a lecture theatre to know how to create trouble.

Michelle

Itís nice to know you can take some things with you.

 

They laugh together.

cameron

For some subjects, you find there is only so much uni can offer. But they force you to stick around class after class. Get a bunch of people tired and disenchanted and stuck in a room, and only then do you see what they are trying to do.

michelle

Yes. Give them a clue.

cameron

Yes. (LAUGHS)

michelle

But some of us remember it is for our own purpose.

cameron

(lighting a cigarette)

The ones who leave?

michelle

The ones who take things with them.

cameron

(pause)

Hmm.

michelle

You doing anything? You wanna get coffee?

cameron

Yeah.

michelle

My nameís Michelle.

cameron

Iím Cameron. Do you like going to Blue Heartís?

The two stand and are seen make their path into the distance.

FADE out

Sound in

int. kitchen. day

A MAN is standing by a bench preparing coffee. The kitchen is medium sized and wood varnished, with ecletic decorations strung throughout. A door is heard to slide open, the man turns to the sound of footsteps. A WOMANís voice is heard. They dress casually, and appear late thirties.

woman (O.S.)

Hello.

MAN

Hey. How are you?

Camera pans slightly as the woman enters the kitchen.

woman

Good. You been here long?

man

I just got back.

woman

I see.

The two embrace quickly and exchange kisses on the cheek.

man

Iíll make one for you.

woman

(putting away her coat)

Oh, thank-you sweetie.

man

You know, the body is just about finished passing word on the harvester.

woman

Thatís... unexpected, pleasantly.

man

(pouring)

Everyone in admin is whispering encouraging remarks into my ear. Like they know what has been going on.

woman

Maybe one or two of them do.

man

One or two of them wouldnít be enough to spread that kind of confidence around the room.

woman

Theyíre excited...

Man

They should know whatís at stake!

woman

...you donít want to let them down, either.

man

(pause)

I donít want to let you down.

woman

Honey...

The couple embrace. The man offers a cup to the woman and they make their way into the next room.

man

I am excited.

woman

Thatís good to hear.

man

How has your side been going?

woman

We finished mark one.

man

Thatís great!

woman

I know, Iím not even sure what we are supposed to do at the lab anymore, we are only waiting for last of the confirmations to come in... after submitting the work, the last two hours today were some of the edgiest we had ever experienced!

man

Canít you think of what youíve achieved? Get used to the work that youíll be doing from now on, maintaining the project.

woman

(sighs)

We are so lucky.

man

The world gets luckier and luckier.

woman

Oh, who would have ever been sure things would turn out this way.

man

You asking me what people do in their spare time?

woman

(laughs)

You going to give thanks to our ancestors since the dawn of time, rubbing their sticks together grunting to each other that one day the spirits would appear from within to appease the hum of hunger all around.

man

Thanks Ancestor-Jones.

The Woman gives her husband a whack.

Woman

No need. Youíre right, we are all the same. It will take time for that to settle into the team at work, that theyíre not separated from the fun.

man

Itís been fun all the time.

woman

Since the dawn of time.

man

Since the first living-cave was created.

They snuggle up and lie across the couch.

woman

Think things will change by the time of the living-cryochamber?

man

If all weíre doing is slowing down time, then they wonít.

The couple embrace.

ext. campus lawn. day

Michelle and Cameron sit on the campus lawn in the beautiful weather facing each other. Cameronís face is sullen, his stare becomes momentarily distracted. Other students are seen running throwing a frisbee to each other at the end of the lawn. His hand clutches at blades of the grass beneath him and tears them off.

cameron

Oh, Michelle. Exam preparation is killing me.

michelle

Mmm. Iíve still got to finish my sustainable development report before I can start on the geo exam.

cameron

Iíve got three though! One of my classes has still got two more topics to lecture. I donít know how they are going to set out the exam.

michelle

Itís crappy, isnít it? I do want to go over the stuff... just donít want to be distracted about what they might include and what they might not.

cameron

Exactly. I think of what I could be doing...

michelle

(grins)

You mean, what we have been doing.

Students continue their frisbee run, sit in groups eating ice-cream, walk with no apparent destination. Even the birds seem to have time to sit and shoot the breeze.

cameron

I canít seem to recall us ever...

michelle

Oh, Cameron, has it been all work for you and no play for you this semester?

cameron

(pauses)

You know, thatís easy for you to say, I bet you could happily be joining all the other assignment people happily picking berries in the forest. This time is different for those of us with exams.

michelle

There are no berries around here. You know I want to do everything with you. Even when we have to be alone, we know we are doing it for each other. It makes me understand things. I think we should take the time to do some housekeeping. Routines arenít all that bad.

cameron

Well. So long as youíre not happy about it.

michelle

Iím not happy, I just know itís my own responsibility. The things in the past catch up to us by nature. Itís our business to clear it all out.

cameron

And then we get our choice.

michelle

And then we get our freedom.

The two sit contemplating this in the sun.

michelle (CONT'D)

You know where that freedom brings you back to? This loneliness again. You pick a path which you feel bridges territory. Iím beginning to wonder if it was worthwhile after all, coming up with my own topic for this project. No one can be expected to be waiting out there. You are the one telling people behind you what is out there. Maybe not blindly, though. You think about the details. Just sit and think . Meanwhile the semester wants to end...

cameron

But thatís true, isnít it. It wants to end with or without you. If you can time things right, I think itís good that you go along with it. What you choose is what you wish to strengthen, right? this way youíll always continue where you left off. No matter how far it stretches. No matter hhow many times you stop.

michelle

I wonít feel alone?

cameron

Not if you see how special you are.

Michelle smiles.

cameron (CONT'D)

The kinds of formulations that your interests are leading to are important, Michelle. Even I can see how vital this area in sustainable development is. If I could ever engineer a resourcing machanism to complement it, I would be so happy.

michelle

(reaches for Cameronís hand)

Then, stay connected to me. Iíd like to think that weíll be able to catch up with the future too. If we can prove to this great unknown object force around us that we stand worthy as individuals.

A surge of students hustle noisely behind the two.

cameron

(getting up with a meek grin)

Class.

ext. sidewalk. day

The two adults walk out of a shopping arcade, busily conferring with each other over what they have just been presented while carefully balancing coffee cups in hand. They walk shortly to a table on the sidewalk of a cafe. Sitting, they spread a fan of newly collected travel brochures on the table.

man

Is it just me, or does this seem like an awfully large amount of work for something that is meant to spell out the end of it.

His wife calmly flips the page of the brochure she is reading.

woman

Maybe, but this was all part of the packaged deal, honey.

man

That we work so hard we are obligated to make our precious holiday time succeed like it was ten times as long?

woman

Itís possible that the motivation for the last few weeks effort is trickling over to our travel planning, but in the end itís for the same purpose of getting what we want, isnít that fine?

man

I guess it is like automatic work, of course we should have these kinds of tolerances built up by now, the skills come hand in hand with the results. The back of our brains have probably been anticipating this moment.

woman

Who knows how long, huh.

The two laugh.

woman (CONT'D)

If this is the way the brain is receiving it, itís a sign that we are getting where we told ourselves.

man

Maybe youíre right. But, Michelle, maybe we are there now, you know. All this time, and we never even knew it. We could start the holiday now, you know, go straight home.

michelle

(laughs)

Honey, our time is not disappearing into a sink. Think of how freely we are going to be able to move when we know what destination follows the next. Donít you want to experience that kind of freedom? Itís the kind of freedom we just donít have our whole lives to spend.

cameron

So youíre saying, Iím somewhere in there in your thoughts?

michelle

Cameron... (GRINS COYLY) Wouldnít you rather me surprise you with the words you want to hear?

cameron

Not all the time...

michelle

I will, once I get the chance to find a way, alone.

cameron

At least itís something thatís always familiar.

michelle

Thatís why you should be so grateful I know you well enough to come up with these things by myself.

cameron

(confirming)

Iím there with you.

michelle

Youíre there with me. I know it looks like such an indirect way of discovering things about a country. Itís not pointless, itís not random. Even buried beneath this pile of leaflets are the results of other individualsí research, decisions what to leave in and what to leave out. One glance at it and you can tell. We all engage in this kind of private work, but there is a connection.

Cameron reaches for her hand.

cameron

Thatís my university-sponsored girl. Iíll wait for the results.

int. tutorial room. day

The student Cameron and Michelle are sitting next to each other in a tutorial room, amongst 18 or so other students. The TUTOR has mustered only a flat resonance from his students.

tutor

If we look at the response over the last five years to public suggestions that agricultural exports take a back seat to pastoral distribution...

Privately, Cameron and Michelle are seen making occasional glances towards to the other, and then to the other people around the room taking turns to be quizzed by the tutor. Cameron busies himself with some note-taking when the tutor asks another question.

tutor

Michelle, what do you think results if the publicís current expectations are continued to be met in a free market?

Cameron looks up at the tutor, and then to Michelle, who rests her pen on her cheek for a moment.

michelle

Fertile land that might otherwise be sown locally in the absence of wage differences could be claimed for residential or commericial use instead in an irreversible process.

tutor

Yes, thatís an interesting point. Should the produce market ever reach saturation will transport lines be required to endlessly flow...

Cameronís patient stare returns to the tutor, and he jots down another couple of lines. Michelle flips through some pages of the reading material. Cameron leans in, eyes still on the tutor.

cameron

It sounds like heís at his sonís funeral, and heís reading an epitath explaining how he wished heíd spent more time over all those years.

Michelle giggles.

int. cameron and michelleís living room. night

On the coffee table lies the remains of two slices of cake. Cameron and Michelle are seated on their couch, steadily facing each other. Each of their gazes move from one part of the body to another and back to the other personís eyes, but stays within the boundaries of the body. The rest of their bodies are kept similarly still and confined. They are transfixed in thoughts, flowing around each otherís form.

int. johnís dining room. night

Four adults, Cameron, Michelle, JOHN and KATIE are seated around a dining table in an apartment talking excitedly to each other as they help themselves to the food prepared in the centre.

john

Didnít I tell you, when it comes to souffle I am number one.

katie

I can only wonder how many hours Johnís spent worrying about whether he could follow up that big mouthing.

michelle

(laughs)

Heís such a good guy, working hard for his friends like that.

john

Itís not work, itís pride of artistry; and love! You would do the same for me, if you could, right Cam?

cameron

(mouth full)

Yeah right, right. Love of the open variety.

katie

Is that how it is between us? Mich, you never told me about this! Is there something I have been missing out on?

michelle

(staring at Katie)

No.

John laughs out loud.

katie

Now thereís the kind of feeling which you can disguise. I could stare through those steely eyes for an hour and get no betrayal of her husbandís secret identity. It becomes more marvellously ambiguous every year.

john

So, thatís what itís like being on the closed side? I feel naked all of a sudden for some reason.

cameron

Yet you still like to call people for a show.

John catches Cameronís eye pretending to be hurt.

john

Hey! Donít get the wrong impression Cam! Or you might be the one to betray your wifeís secret identity.

Cameron swaps a look with Michelle. She gives a small smile.

michelle

Youíre right John. But youíre completely transparent honey, no oneís examining you donít worry. (WAVES FORK) Itís good. Itís great.

john

Ah, there, you see? Thatís why I love cooking for you guys, only you could take the time which suits the richness of my cuisine to chew thoughtfully before regurgitating a considered response.

katie

Now I see why he does it.

cameron

Love may be shared here but itís rarely free.

john

Agendas, agendas! Is it not pleasing for the Alexander couple to recharge a little after a hard day working on the valuable harvesting project!

michelle

Yes.

cameron

Hey, we said it was good already, you donít think that Iím cleaning up this plate as a mere service to your valueless product here?

John and Cameron look at each other and grin, sharing some small part of the past.

katie

Itís true, though, isnít it. Our company intends to order five-hundred automation systems. Thatís enough for pastures in six countries that we oversee. And I know that other companies have all made similar preparations, this is before the standards group has even certified your technology!

john

Itís come a long way. When you first pointed out the merging of nanotech factories with sensory recognition programs as an upcoming field of research I thought you were mad. So much work, so little financial backing... I donít know what you said to the government to give us the opportunity to start work in the labs.

cameron

It was after hearing Michelleís message, she looked like an angel to them.

john

Such a nice human backstory to this project.

cameron

Katie, you know, the shipping arrangements for the systems youíve ordered, what are people saying about whoís going to transport the systems?

katie

Mmm... we think itís best we keep the channels weíve been using all these years to transport them, that will probably involve less adapting than a new company like yours having to figure out a new method to distribute stuff. What we were thinking of requesting is local storage space, since it takes a while to figure arrange for a receiver internationally.

cameron

That sounds like a plan. If this is what most companies are thinking Iíll be relieved, not having to shop around for a transportation contractor.

katie

Iím glad too, to see the pieces fit together happily.

michelle

Cameron, you have to arrange this at work Ė during business hours, you know...

katie

(interuptting)

Oh no, this is my life, Mich. Especially ever since weíve been trying to implement your harvester. I can talk to anyone about it, and we all know what is going on. I feel further and further... like my day is fluid, now. Like the years have been, even.

michelle

(smiles)

I know.

Cameron looks on with interest. Michelle turns to him.

michelle

This is the kind of patience which instills a sense of freedom in people. Do you know how many times we refused to see past single points of interest, avoiding the chance to see things one step at a time?

cameron

(smiling)

I know. I see.

Michelle, half-satisfied, turns to John.

John

(pretending to be defensive)

What?

michelle

Nothing. Physics is mysterious work, isnít it? And it involves a work removed from the outside world.

John nods.

michelle (CONT'D)

Well, when this is over youíve got visit the production facility. Youíll be the first to personally inspect what your team has been crunching numbers for. Staring at paper all day will only give you so much feedback on where youíve arrived.

John laughs.

Cameron

I think he knows what you mean. (LOOKS UP AND MICHELLE)

The fact that heís come to the end shows what he believes in. Wouldnít you say?

Michelle looks for the answer in Cameronís stare. John watches bemused in the background.

 

CUT TO black

ext. city street. day

The two students Cameron and John are hunched over arrays of mobile phone parts at a street store in the city.

john

How Ďbout this, is this cover too bright?

cameron

Yeah, uh, blueís no good with this, John.

john

I see I see...

They straighten up and walk towards the next candidate shop.

john

I think we need a different plan for next thursdayís game against Weston. Maybe we could put Harry in midfield to make us more mobile in transition.

cameron

Ah. Itís going to be damn tiring.

john

Theyíre always relentless in D. For three seconds of the game maybe youíre ecstatic at how fast we both are, and the rest youíre just too preoccupied.

Cameronís walk slows as he begins inspection of the next window.

cameron

...What about spacing out centre with just two, and give them more pass options foward?

He rummages through products on a rail, John comes to a halt.

john

Sounds good, doesnít it? We can be fast enough. Cycle the two midfield for breathers.

cameron

Yeah. (SMILES) Heh, another reckless match.

John watches Cameron examine item after item. He walks to an adjacent basket of accessories and picks something up.

Cameron ceases his search and gets up, making his way to a store next door. John follows.

cameron

Argh, Iíll be too dead by the end of the game. Thereís no way I can prepare my presentation for class the next day. Well. Guess Iíll pretend Iím just having a conversation over peopleís eating habits, and ask lots of rhetorical questions.

john

Sure. Hopefully theyíll be too stunned to be concerned over what youíre saying.

Cameron stops in front of a window.

cameron

(defeated)

It will be difficult making friends in that class from now on.

They search the rows of accessories on display.

john

You know, even when something like that shipment of food rotting away on the coast gets a front page section, you hardly hear it come up in conversations.

Cameron stops his inspecting and seems to stare through the window. Noticing his silence, John looks at his friend as hhe begins to talk.

cameron

That ship is run under the same company which grew that produce. They look after all points of distribution, (TURNS TO JOHN) from plantation to retailer stocking and even have a restaurant in their home country which they are well known for. It was started by a farming family. Can you imagine how it would feel trying to protect a basic service you are providing, when all the retailers can think of is to not upset their daily routine? (LOOKS AWAY) To stand as one retailer sprays you with manic denials of ever having ordered the shipment in the first place. To hear from no other retailer happy to purchase the food, knowing that it wonít survive another trip.

john

Mmm.

cameron

Like your effort is just as replaceable as the physical earth.

John nods.

cameron (CONT'D)

(looks at John)

How must it does it feel to not have that serviced honoured? Have the product of your work considered materially worthless?

John considers Cameronís stare for a moment.

john

I would never give up on the usefulness of your work, no matter what anyone tells you. There are other feelings, in your gut, which give you an impression of what people are working for in their lives. The physicality of our world is attainable everywhere.

Cameron gazes at his friend for a while longer.

int. japanese cafe. day

Michelle and Katie as students are eating lunch together at a bench by the window in a small Japanese cafe.

katie

I can finally feel the wind behind this level of work that I have chosen. It makes me so happy to see everyodyís decisions stirring up outcomes possible in the future.

michelle

I know. Being part of something that involves so many people...

Her voice trails as she messes with the fried noodles before her. Katieís chopsticks dangle above her plate.

katie

Mich, do you think that, sitting here, talking about the things which we had supposedly left behind in the lecture behind us, our work is demanding the free time in our lives?

michelle

Iím not sure, Katie. When Iím in class, and I get to talk to you and my friends... I feel that is play, too, you know.

She eats a mouthful of noodles.

michelle (CONT'D)

Whatever the reason, I am happy that I get to have people around me. Maybe this course has transformed the way I look at things, but, to know that I will always have a kind of family alongside me, I begin to see the beatuy in people finding their path, and resting alongside of it whenever the sun begins to set. (WAVES CHOPSTICKS IN AIR) To me, it doesnít matter which intersection I am at, even if itís always on the way to work, or on the way back.Every moment that I am caught by someoneís inquiry makes me feel like I am home.

Katie nods, watching her continue her noodles.

katie

(coyly)

What about the places you assign to meet?

She is faced by Michelle.

michelle

Well... They are the places which we build on, which we create.

int. laboratory. day

Michelle as an adult is inside the lab where she works, silently storing away test tubes. Her mobile phone starts to ring, and anxiously but carefully she sets down the test tube in her hand and delves down into her deep lab coat pocket.

michelle

Yes honey. Iím on my way now. Iíll see you outside in 10 minutes.

Hanging up, she shoves a tray of tubes into a cupboard, places a diary inside her bag and walks out of the room.

ext. lab courtyard. day

Cameron is sitting at a kiosk outside the laboratory in the sun, having a cigarette. Michelle makes her way towards him, and they order coffee from a waiter doing some cleaning outside. After Michelle puts down her handbag, Cameron gives her a long look.

michelle

Looking for cracks in the skin or expression?

Cameron leans back and exhales his cigarette.

cameron

No, just offering some water in case you should be worried about drying up.

michelle

In that case, I always welcome your lotion massages.

They hold each otherís hand across the table. The waiter returns setting the coffee on the table.

michelle (CONT'D)

How did the final confirmation go?

cameron

Itís all been set.

Michelle leans her neck back a little and breathes in.

michelle

This day... doesnít it seem out of place when itís not inside a dream?

cameron

(smiles)

The executive didnít hold back. Heís planned harvester production dates for the 11 affiliated countries, and has signalled to the remaining recepients their modules will start production in 12 months.

michelle

12 months? It hits the free market in 12 months? Thatís...

cameron

(leans forward)

Do you feel like cracking?

michelle

Theyíve taken a stance, now, havenít they? Theyíre beginning to claim humanless plantations as another tool of society.

cameron

No single society either. 60 different design implementations have been drafted by interested independent nations. The technology will be recognisable only by its bare sensory components one day.

michelle

... Is this really the end?

cameron

Does it feel like the end?

michelle

It doesnít, and in a way, it does.

cameron

What kind of things are you reminded of, when you feel it does?

michelle

(laughs)

Arguments. Project stress. Dreams. Hurdles. Some fun times.

cameron

Well, I am reminded of them, too.

Michelle smiles at Cameron.

michelle

It doesnít feel like the end when I think of the beginning. Is this what the project was meant to be about?

cameron

What?

michelle

(pauses)

To enter a world which changes as a result of it.

cameron

(smiles)

Itís like that, huh. The project was never about trying to reach any certain state. That is simply an image presented to us, if we ever choose to look back at how we are.

michelle

If we choose to keep working, then...

cameron

Itís for no-one to take from us.

michelle

I can be assauaged by that, for a moment.

cameron

(smiles)

We live through those moments, and we live through their ends. I donít care how many many of them have to get restarted. When I want to know when Iíve arrived, I know what to look for.

They maintain their stare for a while, before returning to sip their coffee.

michelle

We assured each other the future would benefit from what we did, in some way.

cameron

Itís what we hope for, because the future is all we have to look at.

michelle

(looks steadily at Cameron)

For a moment.

ext. shopping arcade. day

The students Cameron and Michelle, shopping in one hand and the other around each otherís waist, are laughing to each other as they slowly make their way through the busy arcade. The bustling sounds of the arcade completely overpower any noises that the two make from the camera watching them, yet the mirth on their faces is unmistakable. They chat and point items on display out to each other.

Cameron appears to ask Michelle a question, and she stops to try and confirm the sense of it. His mouth returns the gesture, and amazed she turns to him, sliding her hand with the shopping around his back and states her view. They laugh together, and lock eyes briefly. They lean in to each other for a kiss.

THE END

 


luffy (at) diamondsky.org

<back>

Comments

ninj: good...a little too unclear - where is it going, it finishes so happily yet the whole narrative has this apocalyptic undercurent, the end of work (and posibly time - a la pomo end of history)isn't necessarily positive - i'd like to see more hints as to what is about to happen - mebbe the tech stuff just went over my head. also the abbr. for michelle sh/could be spelt mish (phonetic)
(26.08.2005, 15:22)

islisis: thanks, that's more feedback than i ever got from my tutor. i have a long attention span for certain things... certain things... so i guess the point of the story for me being the constancy of things we need from people close throughout a lifetime doesn't come through for others with an eye for other things. to me it's meant to float on dialogue, when people don't see that as a strength then it fails. i wrote a sort of spiritual voice over for this to tune in with the apocalyptic type thing to try and please my tutor, but actually the apocalyptic thing is just cooincidence
(26.08.2005, 23:38)

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Script by Alex