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Miller’s Girl (2024) | Transcript

A creative writing assignment yields complex results between a teacher and his talented student.
Miller's Girl (2024)

Miller’s Girl is a 2024 American black comedy drama film written and directed by Jade Halley Bartlett. The film stars Jenna Ortega and Martin Freeman as a student and teacher who enter into a complicated relationship after a creative writing assignment.

The film was theatrically released in the United States by Lionsgate on January 26, 2024.

Cairo (Jenna Ortega), an 18-year-old struggling with college applications, seeks an exciting story for her essay. Influenced by her friend’s pursuit of a teacher-student affair, she targets her literature teacher, Mr. Miller (Martin Freeman). They connect intellectually, but Cairo takes it further, culminating in a kiss and an erotic story. Miller’s conflicted response leads to her manipulating situations to expose their “relationship” and punish him. This act has consequences for both, but also unexpectedly inspires Mr. Miller to write again.

* * *

(KEYBOARD CLACKING)

CAIRO SWEET: Fuck.

(LILTING MUSIC PLAYING)

(KEYBOARD CLACKING)

(BIRDS CHIRPING)

CAIRO: What is an adult? Becomin’ one didn’t suddenly transform me into anything outstanding or significant. I am 18 and entirely unremarkable.

(DOOR CLOSES)

CAIRO: Languishing in the wilds of nowhere, Tennessee. In this tomb of a house left to me by my brilliant and selfish parents. They’re not dead… though they pretend I am. They’re permanently abroad. Literature is my solace in the solitude. And writing is my only means of escape. Because, you see… I’ve never left the edges of this town. It’s positively gothic, really. Lonely girl longs to escape the interminable boredom of her small village. Lonely girl longs to be meaningful. Lonely girl longs to be loved. Books make longing seem romantic, but it’s awful. It’s greedy. And I wear longing like a fucking veil.

(CAPTIVATING INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC PLAYING)

CAIRO: But today? Today comes with something new. Something surprising. Today I meet a writer, like me. A teacher. One who somehow found inspiration in a place like this. If you can believe it.

(SIGHS)

CAIRO: Well… I suppose even graveyards grow flowers.

(CAPTIVATING INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC CONTINUES)

(WHISTLING)

CAIRO: Good morning.

JONATHAN MILLER: (SMACKS LIPS) Morning. You know, class doesn’t start for another hour.

CAIRO: I know. I don’t like crowds.

JONATHAN: Uhuh… Do you live far?

CAIRO: Close enough to walk.

JONATHAN: Oh, where’s that?

CAIRO: Lovell Hill?

JONATHAN: You live in Lovell Hill?

CAIRO: You know it?

JONATHAN: I just didn’t think it was occupied by anything except ghosts.

CAIRO: Who says it is?

JONATHAN: (CHUCKLES)

JONATHAN: You, you really live in Lovell Hill? Wow. It’s enormous.

CAIRO: My parents are lawyers.

JONATHAN: Hmm, what kind?

CAIRO: The expensive kind.

JONATHAN: And you wanna be a lawyer?

CAIRO: About as much as I wanna be a high school student.

JONATHAN: What’s your name?

CAIRO: Cairo Sweet.

JONATHAN: I’m Mr. Miller.

CAIRO: I know. My friend Winnie recommended your class.

JONATHAN: Uhhuh. (INHALES SHARPLY) Uh… Now I’m assuming that you got one of these before… the holidays. Got a chance to look it over?

CAIRO: I read it.

JONATHAN: I, I, I know it looks like a lot, but I promise you we’ll get through it as quickly as we can.

CAIRO: I read the whole list.

JONATHAN: Wait, you read these? Well, like, there’s 12 books on that list.

CAIRO: I party hard.

(FOOTSTEPS APPROACHING)

JONATHAN: Winnie.

WINNIE BLACK: Mm. Hmm, hmm.

JONATHAN: One semester wasn’t enough for you?

Did you miss me?

I did not.

Well, that’s too bad. You’re overdressed as usual, I see.

CAIRO: Your underwear, as usual, I see.

WINNIE: How boring. Censorship is dead. It can’t exist with the Internet.

JONATHAN: And yet it does. Do you know why?

(INHALES DEEPLY)

WINNIE: Yeah. Do you?

(JONATHAN GRUNTS)

CAIRO: Ignorance is a product of laziness. Not limitation.

(WINNIE’S STOMACH GROWLS)

Oh. (BLOWS RASPBERRY) Excuse me, but what’s that you say? (CHUCKLES) You want a chicken biscuit and a Coke? Mm. Well, you heard the boss. It’s chickybikky Cokey time, let’s go.

CAIRO: You want anything, Mr. Miller?

JONATHAN: No, thank you, Cairo. Sweet of you to ask.

(WINNIE CHUCKLES)

WINNIE: I see what you did there. “Cairo, sweet of you to ask.” Not. Good one. Like we’ve never heard that before.

(DOOR CLOSES)

(GENTLE MUSIC PLAYING)

JONATHAN: Jesus. … My God.

(DOOR CLOSES DISTANTLY)

What you reading?

JONATHAN: Uh, nothing.

Doesn’t look like nothin’.

JONATHAN: It’s a student’s.

Oh, yeah? What’s her name?

JONATHAN: How do you know it’s a girl?

Oh, boys are too lazy to read porn.

JONATHAN: How do you know it’s porn?

(CLEARS THROAT)

(READING) “Marcelle wants me to fuck her. She leaps off the couch and pushes herself…”

JONATHAN: Boris.

“…between the girl and me. It’s all so fantastically horrible that I can’t move.”

JONATHAN: Give me that.

“Marcelle stretches…”

JONATHAN: Okay.

“…her tiny split fig.”

JONATHAN: That’s quite enough…

All right.

…of your elocution…

And test tomorrow, kids.

I think. (SIGHS)

Well, “Split fig” is fucking poetry.

JONATHAN: This coffee for me?

Biscuit, too.

JONATHAN: One of yours? (SNIFFS) Oh, yeah, that’s one of yours.

One of mine. Exactly.

JONATHAN: Christ!

(LAUGHS)

I don’t know what you’re doing, but it’s some…

Oh, you know. Come on, now.

I’m trying to just entice you. What the…

Man, that’s good.

“Oh, I read The Paris Review. I’m so smart.”

JONATHAN: Can you not?

“Everybody, I’m in high school. But I read The Paris Review.”

JONATHAN: Boris. Boris. Come on.

“I’m better than most people.”

JONATHAN: Stop, please.

Is this her diary?

Oh, what do we have here? (CHUCKLING) Well, well, well. “Apostrophes and Ampersands…” six abysmally romantic short stories by Jonathan Albert Miller.

JONATHAN: She has my book?

BORIS FILLMORE: Mmhmm. It would appear so. It would also appear she’s the only one who checked it out.

JONATHAN: Yeah, well, don’t you have a class to teach?

Well, you know, I can’t start my day without seeing you.

JONATHAN: No, you really can’t.

Hey, how’d you score the big room anyway?

JONATHAN: (GRUNTS) They cut the theater program.

But they kept you?

JONATHAN: Along with the other props, yeah.

(BORIS CHUCKLING) Damn.

JONATHAN: Mmhmm.


(INSECTS TRILLING)

(PLEASANT MUSIC PLAYING)

(KEYBOARD CLACKING)

JONATHAN: Hello, wife.

Hello, husband.

(BEATRICE JUNE HARKER SIGHS)

JONATHAN: Beatrice.

What?

JONATHAN: Look at me.

(INHALES SHARPLY)

BEATRICE JUNE HARKER: Huh. RedLetter Day. What, your school finally get computers?

JONATHAN: Better.

Indoor bathrooms?

JONATHAN: A writer. One who reads Finnegans Wake of her own volition. Can you believe that?

Well, I’m forever stunned that the children in that backwater shanty can read at all.

(CHUCKLES) And, uh, guess what else?

Naked Lunch.

Mmmm. (SMACKS LIPS) Apostrophes and Ampersands. (CHUCKLING) She… She checked it out of the library.

They carry your book at the library? (CLICKS TONGUE) Aw. Fuck.

(CELL PHONE VIBRATING)

A Confederacy of Dunces.

Mmhmm. Well, deep breaths. Happy place.

(SIGHS) My happy place has all their heads impaled on Montblanc pens. Share your riches.

(JONATHAN INHALES SHARPLY)

(CELL PHONE STILL VIBRATING)

Hello, Amy. What? Are you fucking joking? I’ve been back and forth all day with the Nashville office who can’t seem to articulate what it is they want and somehow think they can articulate to me, which is pretty ambitious considering how they think “articulate” is a Danish cheese. So, I’m about to start fucking scooping out my teeth with a baby spoon.

JONATHAN: Mm.

BEATRICE: They can go fuck themselves if they think I’m gonna change the ending. Okay, have a nice day, bye-bye.

(JONATHAN WHISTLES SOFTLY)

(THERE’S A BLESSING BY JOHNNY COPELAND PLAYS OVER SPEAKERS)

(BEATRICE CHUCKLES)

(SIGHS WEARILY)

Here now. Cheers.

Cheers.

(SIGHING) Oh, that’s so good. Hey, you ever read, uh, Under the Roofs of Paris, Henry Miller?

Honey, my first copy got so sticky, I had to throw it away.

(JONATHAN CHUCKLES)

That beginning bit with the prostitute…

Mm. Mmhmm.

…and the cum money? That is choice.

(RECITING) “I take the first bill I find in my pocket and wipe my cock on it.”

(CHUCKLES)

(SIGHS) “And place it crumpled on her bare belly weighted with a coin.”

I love when you do magic.

Mm. You care to reenact? I can papier-mache you… with cum and money.

(GLASS THUDS SOFTLY)

Oh, so you’re expecting a heavy load, then, huh?

Mmhmm. A full body of work. Come here.

(THERE’S A BLESSING CONTINUES PLAYING OVER SPEAKERS)

Dance with me.

(CHUCKLES SOFTLY)

You’re so beautiful.

Shut up.

(CELL PHONE VIBRATING)

Oh, for fuck’s sake. Okay.

(SIGHS IN EXASPERATION)

Will you take care of those dishes?

JONATHAN: Uhhuh.

I’ll give you a handy later.

It’s Pushkin, Amy. Not Pollyfuckinanna.


(BOTH LAUGHING)

BORIS: What a terrible weekend.

Mm.

Come on, why you always gotta hold my coffee hostage?

‘Cause you’re a puritan. I feel like it’s my duty to punish the goodness out of you.

God, you’re a sadist.

I’m a public school teacher.

Amen to that. (CHUCKLES)

Cheers.

Ooh, mama.

(BORIS SIGHS) You think there’s ghosts up in there?

(EERIE MUSIC PLAYING)

(CROWS CAWING DISTANTLY)

JONATHAN: Why don’t you go see?

Mmmm. I don’t go in the kudzu. That feeds on the souls of the dead. That’s why it grows so fast.

(ETHEREAL MUSIC PLAYING)

CAIRO: Good morning.

You always walk through the woods alone?

CAIRO: That’s a peculiar question to ask a young lady, Coach Fillmore.

What, what are you, uh, listening to?

CAIRO: Celine Dion.

Really?

(BORIS LAUGHING)

CAIRO: Really.

But why?

I’m sorry. (LAUGHING)

CAIRO: Because she’s great.

BORIS: Oh. Hmm.

Ignore him. Ignore him. He wept aloud openly…

Hmm.

…at the Titanic theme song…

BORIS: Hmm.

…at my bachelor party. Remember that?

I was drunk.

You were disconsolate.

BORIS: You are a fucking traitor.

And you’re a fucking hypocrite. (CHUCKLES)

BORIS: Mm. Mm, mm, mm. Oh, I’m sorry. Uh, want a biscuit?

CAIRO: Yeah, sure.

There you go.

(ETHEREAL MUSIC PLAYING)

CAIRO: It’s good.

BORIS: Yeah?

CAIRO: Do you make these?

BORIS: Yeah. But you know, don’t tell nobody.

CAIRO: Why not?

Oh, you know.

CAIRO: I don’t.

You’ll figure it out.

CAIRO: I won’t.

JONATHAN: You can’t have the baseball team knowing that he bakes biscuits and cries to Celine Dion.

On that… (GROANS) Take my leave. I shall bid you goodbye.

CAIRO: Okay.

Uh, you, bad bye.

CAIRO: Well, goodbye.

JONATHAN: A bad bye?

BORIS: Mmhmm.

But I love you though.

BORIS: No, you don’t.

Don’t you get scared walking through those woods?

CAIRO: I’m the scariest thing in there.

(CHUCKLES AWKWARDLY)


(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

(HUMMING)

Oldest trick in the book, Winnie.

Ain’t you gonna say somethin’? I dressed up just for you.

(CHUCKLES, SIGHS) What you want? (GRUNTS)

I wanna get into your physics class.

Why? You’d be really behind.

WINNIE: Don’t you tutor?

You don’t need lessons.

Then what do I need?

BORIS: Um…

(MISCHIEVOUS MUSIC PLAYING)

See what I can do.

WINNIE: ‘Preciate ya!

BORIS: Hope so.

CAIRO: You are insane.

(WINNIE INHALES SHARPLY)

CAIRO: Here.

I think I’m seducing Coach Fillmore.

CAIRO: But you’re a lesbian.

I’m an equal opportunist.

CAIRO: Mm.

Are you jealous?

CAIRO: Well, if I say, “yes,” will you lay off him?

If I say, “yes,” will you lay on me? Okay, chickybikky?

CAIRO: Okay.


(STRANGE DESIRE BY ISLA JUNE PLAYING)

So, you’re a smoker now?

CAIRO: I’m smoking now. No plans for it to define me yet.

Where are your parents this time?

CAIRO: Mumbai.

WINNIE: For how long?

CAIRO: Who knows?

Let me dress you up.

CAIRO: Winnie, you know I don’t give a fuck about being hot. I give a fuck about being smart.

You can be both. What are you doin’?

CAIRO: I’m willing my cursor to blink itself into my Yale essay.

You dry?

CAIRO: Unqualified.

What’s the subject?

CAIRO: “What has been your greatest achievement to date?” All right, what the fuck am I supposed to say? Surviving the crippling ennui of growing up in bumfuck nowhere?

I’m sorry. I just… I couldn’t hear you over the high whine of your shining trust fund.

CAIRO: My greatest achievement cannot be that I’ve had no achievement.

Well, you are gonna be valedictorian.

CAIRO: Boring.

You have a 4.6 GPA.

CAIRO: Boring.

And you’ve successfully…

CAIRO: What?

Well… You’ve successfully, um… Well… Shit. I guess you’re just another run-of-the-mill, generationally wealthy gal livin’ in a haunted ancestral mansion.

CAIRO: Fuck.

WINNIE: So…

(CAIRO SIGHS)

Experience something.

CAIRO: Like what?

Something worth writing about. You could write a treatise on teacher-student affairs.

CAIRO: (CHUCKLES) How exactly would that be an achievement, Winnie?

Easy. It becomes a conversation about achieving emancipation from your inherited beliefs about sex and age.

CAIRO: You’re not seriously gonna fuck Fillmore, are you?

(SMACKS LIPS) Haven’t decided yet.

CAIRO: What’s it to you? Like, he’s, like, twenty years older than you.

So? Older men have been harvesting virginity since the dawn of time.

CAIRO: So, it doesn’t mean anything to you?

What?

CAIRO: Your virginity.

Does it mean something to you?

CAIRO: I haven’t decided yet.

Come to Winnie. We’re, like, the fucking American wet dream. Young girls with ambivalent sexuality. Pheromones steaming off our bodies. I don’t wanna drop it for some rando jocktwat whose sexual standards are mandated by the shit porn he downloads. That’s deli meat. I want a dry-aged slab of perfectly marbled hot man meat to take me to pleasure town. (INHALES DEEPLY) Like… Wagyu beef. (SIGHS)

CAIRO: Hungee. You think that’s Boris Fillmore?

Why not? He’s fine. He’s like, really fucking smart. And he’s kind. Which means, as my first time, he’d take his time to get me all good and juiced. And then he’d give me aftercare. You know, the first time you have sex, it’s not supposed to hurt. Right? Like, if you’re properly aroused. You likely won’t even bleed.

CAIRO: Didn’t know that.

That’s because a woman’s pain is valued more than her pleasure. But that’s a conversation for another day. My point… is that Boris has just got it going on. I know what I’m looking for. And I think Mr. Miller knows what he’s looking for.

CAIRO: What do you mean?

I’ve never seen him look at a student the way he looks at you. He sees you even though you hide in plain sight.

CAIRO: Shut up. (GIGGLING)

What? Stop!

CAIRO: No.

Come on. Like you don’t notice, Cairo. It’s like he’s been living in gray scale and you’re the first thing he’s ever seen in color.

CAIRO: No, you’re being… Shut up.

I’d fuck you.

CAIRO: I know.

(AMUSING MUSIC PLAYING)

(CAIRO GIGGLES)


(WHAT FICTION IS FOR BY DYAN PLAYING)

CAIRO: (READING) “I was nothing but a bleached bone monument beneath her. Human ruins of a madman’s love.” “A madman’s love.” God, I’d give anything to feel that. What muse could inspire this deranged yearning?

(WHAT FICTION IS FOR CONTINUES)

CAIRO: To inspire. To be so inspired. Could we be that to each other? What was I saying? Feels like I’m not right. Feels good. It feels pink.

JONATHAN: Never forget. There’s a reason this guy was called romantic. It’s very big, it’s very bold. To us, it might seem a little… much. If we don’t stick to the brief, it gets a little bit woolly.

Uh, can you see me after school, please?

Some of you, as you can see could have done…

CAIRO: It’s like a sugar cube under the tongue.

…a little better. But worth persevering. Colby, what?

CAIRO: I want your attention.

(SOMETHING’S WRONG BABY BY LITTLE MELVIN UNDERWOOD PLAYS)

Uh, how’s Bea?

She’s, uh, she’s Bea.

BORIS: Yeah. How’s the book coming?

It’s not.

You mean you’re not.

No, she’s, uh, she’s occupied.

All right, what time is dinner?

JONATHAN: Seven o’clock. And please take a shower.

Are you worried? Your old lady’s gonna get hot for all this?

Top three worst nightmares.

Yeah. Because you know how nasty she is.

No, because I wanna keep you for myself.

Aw, cutie. Hey.

What?

You remember the Roger Rabbit? Check it out now. … It’s close, right?

To?

Kids ain’t got nothing on me.

JONATHAN: All right, man.

Bye, Professor.

Love you.

(DOOR CLOSES)

(SOMETHING’S WRONG BABY CONTINUES PLAYING)

(CLAPS) Ooh! F… Hi. Uh…

CAIRO: (GIGGLING)

JONATHAN: Hello… Well, that was embarrassing.

CAIRO: I won’t tell.

That’s generous, thank you. Uh, hope I’m not keeping you from anything.

CAIRO: I’m waiting for Winnie.

It’s like you’re always waiting for Winnie.

CAIRO: That sounds like a Gin Blossoms album. Waiting for Winnie.

Gin Blossoms? How old are you?

CAIRO: Well, if you can’t tell, then I won’t.

What’s Winnie doing?

CAIRO: She’s applying to Vandy. You would be pleased to know.

And are you?

CAIRO: Tennessee is a fucking tar pit. No offense.

I think you’ll appreciate it when you’re older.

CAIRO: Maybe. From afar. As it burns. Like Nero.

(JONATHAN CHUCKLES) Well, that’s… So, uh, how far are we talkin’?

CAIRO: Yale far.

Yale far? My God! What, so you can eat pot brownies and read Joan Didion or what?

CAIRO: Because I hear the literacy rate is high.

You ever been to the Scroll Sessions at Sally Bunny’s?

CAIRO: No. What’s that?

Poetry salon every third Saturday. Victorian Village.

CAIRO: What is that?

What’s… What’s that? It’s blank. Ca… How can you disdain of what Tennessee has to offer without conducting a thorough, uh, cultural investigation?

CAIRO: Educated judgment.

(CHUCKLES) Well, I’ve heard things there that haunt me.

CAIRO: Because they’re bad?

(LAUGHS) Sometimes, yeah. Sometimes they’re bad. Most of the time, it’s, it’s kind of beautiful. Yeah.

CAIRO: Maybe you should go this weekend. I think you might be surprised.

CAIRO: (CHUCKLES) You wanted to see me?

JONATHAN: This week’s story, uh, you wrote about a reluctant spider.

CAIRO: I enjoyed this one.

(RECITING) “Survival and desire amalgamated and turned an aphotic eye inward. I saw my expectations dismantled and dismembered by the harsh and starving dogs of reality. Truths that sit in the vacuity of space like a hypergiant star burning to ash. All elements too weak to withstand the awesome heat. We are what we are. (CHUCKLES) And all creatures must eat.”

CAIRO: (CHUCKLES) Um…

Damn. That, I mean…

CAIRO: I was not expecting that. Um… She’s not reluctant. She’s resigned.

To her death?

CAIRO: No. To the order of things. She eats and waits to be eaten.

Phew. It’s dark.

CAIRO: It’s nature.

That’s true.

CAIRO: You memorized it.

Uh… Well, I’m eidetic. It’s a, it’s a cool party trick. You are… You’re exceptionally talented.

CAIRO: Do I get an A?

Well, how about a jumpstart on the midterm?

CAIRO: Are you offering me special treatment, Mr. Miller?

I want you to write a short story in the style of your favorite author. I think it could be the highlight of your portfolio submission to Vanderbilt.

CAIRO: Yale.

(WHISPERING) Vanderbilt.

CAIRO: Yale.

(IN NORMAL VOICE) Come on. I’ve got to have some hope.

CAIRO: I think that’s a terrific assignment.

Thought you would. Good.

CAIRO: I read your book.

Oh, God. Well, uh…

CAIRO: (CHUCKLES)

(EXHALES) Reviewers, of which there were three, found it, uh, “overreaching without ambition,” to quote.

CAIRO: I would call it… grand and tragic.

Okay. (CHUCKLES SOFTLY)

CAIRO: Romantic horror.

That’s, uh…

CAIRO: (RECITING) “She was an electric white noon shadow moon casting cold light like water over the flat earth of my face. ‘Don’t look into the sun,’ they said. But the moon, the moon… I stared until I was nothing but a bleached bone monument beneath her “Human ruins of a madman’s love.”

(GENTLE MUSIC PLAYING)

Well, you memorized that, right?

(BOTH CHUCKLING)

CAIRO: (SUCKS TEETH) That was too much. That was weird. (CHUCKLES)

No, it wasn’t. It’s not. It’s not.

CAIRO: That was really weird. I’m sorry.

That was the first thing I’d ever written… which felt tangible. Like I’d touched somethin’. You know, I haven’t written anything in a very long time.

CAIRO: Why not?

I don’t know. Do I know? Mm? (MUTTERING) Uh… I guess I got married. Started teaching. I don’t have anything else to say.

CAIRO: You’re uninspired.

You judging me?

CAIRO: I am challenging you.

That’s my job. (CHUCKLES SOFTLY)

(OBJECTS CLATTERING)

(DOOR CLOSES)

JONATHAN: Hi, Winnie.

CAIRO: Oh, no.

(SIGHS)

Hungee.

CAIRO: I think she’s hungry. She just doesn’t use real words because she’s a child.


(TO LOVE A MAN BY KELLYEANN KEOUGH PLAYING)

(BORIS CHUCKLES)

No, it’s fine. Your hair looks great.

I knew it.

Please don’t start.

BEATRICE: Don’t.

Your hair looks good.

BEATRICE: I will not go…

I’m more concerned…

…gently into the good night.

No, I know. You look fine.

BEATRICE: Like you have.

I’m just more concerned about the fact that you got two damn phones on the table like you’re a rapper.

This one is my professional phone.

BORIS: And the other one…

(JONATHAN CHUCKLING)

JONATHAN: The other one…

…is for selling drugs.

The other one is personal.

BORIS: Oh, yeah?

That’s why you’re not gonna get that number.

(ALL LAUGHING)

How y’all doin’? That burger treatin’ you well? Sorry, it’s a twoman show tonight.

(WINNIE SIGHS)

I’m getting angry now.

BORIS: Well…

WINNIE: (SIGHS) Well, hi.

I don’t see any Michelin stars here, honey. So, what is the holdup?

WINNIE: A fuckup…

Bea. Come on.

…in the kitchen that was entirely preventable. Can I get you anything while you wait? On me.

Another Maker’s.

Okay, you got it. Coach?

BORIS: Blue Moon. Workin’ late on a school night, ain’t you?

Drinkin’ late on a school night, ain’t you?

Oh, you think sassing me is gonna get you a better tip?

WINNIE: Gets me a better grade. Doesn’t it?

That might be true, yeah.

Anything for you, Mr. Miller?

(LAUGHS) I’m good, Winnie. Designated driver.

Oh.

BORIS: Oh, really?

Unless you wanna do it.

First I’m hearing of this.

You know, why can’t you just be a nice, boring teacher like Mr. Miller?

(ALL LAUGHING)

Boring?

BORIS: What? And let my students make their grades with scholastic merit?

Do you really think I’m boring?

In a good way. Like a nice pastoral. I’ll get those drinks for you.

Yeah. “Pastoral.” She just called you a field.

JONATHAN: At best.

She’s cute.

Yeah, and a 4.4 student. And she can paint.

She’s in my morning class.

Oh, is this the last scion of James Joyce?

(CHUCKLING) That’s Cairo.

Cairo?

BORIS: Yeah. Did he tell you that Cairo read his book?

He sure did. Is she pretty?

JONATHAN: Is she pretty? Um, I don’t know. She’s talented.

Damn. Even worse.

Our friend Jon here is prepping her to be his transcendence into the annals of academic glory.

And so what if I am? It’s exhilarating. And it’s rare as well to be so engaged and so…

Hmm. I bet is is. Yes.

So worshipped.

So worthy.

Wanna be like me.

She, in earnest uses words like “vituperation.”

Please. Vocabulary doesn’t make you a writer any more than math makes you a rocket scientist.

Bea, she’s extraordinary. Okay?

But enjoy it while you can. You know, pickings are slim in the boonies.

Rural education not as romantic as you thought it’d be, huh?

No, I thought it was going to be fucking Friday Night Lights, okay?

(BOTH LAUGHING) That’s on you, man.

Just cool stories and, like, sexy guitar riffs. Meanwhile, the professor disapproves of my cynicism.

Oh, he’s judging you.

Yes, he is. I feel it.

No, I’m not.

BORIS: Yes, you are.

BEATRICE: Are too.

(RECITING) “The teacher who attempts to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on cold iron.”

Horace Mann.

Ten points to Slytherin.

That’s so rich. I wanted to be a teacher. You fell back on it.

And by the way, I love teaching.

You’re better suited for it, I think, anyway.

Hey, than what?

Writing.

BORIS: Goddamn, Beatrice.

What does that mean?

BEATRICE: You don’t have kids.

BORIS: You don’t have kids.

BEATRICE: You don’t have brain damage, right? So, um, you stopped writing I imagine, because it wasn’t for you. Otherwise, you’d still be doing it.

I’m a writer.

You haven’t put pen to page since your stories got panned. You’re not a writer.

JONATHAN: Hmm. Well, okay. Didn’t realize you saw me this way, but okay.

BEATRICE: It’s not that you can’t write, Jon. It’s that you don’t. You chose to be a teacher. Why would I see you as anything else?

‘Cause you married a writer.

BEATRICE: I did. Didn’t I?

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

(MYSTERIOUS MUSIC PLAYING)

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

CAIRO: Why am I here? It’s not for the poetry, I’ll tell you that.

(DOOR OPENS)

(PEOPLE TALKING INDISTINCTLY)

CAIRO: It’s for the thrill of something that I’ve managed to go my whole life without knowing. An ache of anticipation that you’ll be here. And it will mean something that you are. Be here. Be here. Be here.

(RECITING) “Stay, illusion. If thou hast any sound, speak to me.”

(SOFT PIANO MUSIC PLAYING)

CAIRO: Hi.

Hi. Can I sit?

CAIRO: Of course.

(PLAYING PIANO)

What’s that you got there?

CAIRO: It’s, um, sacramental grape juice.

Said the barrister’s daughter.

CAIRO: Do you know all these people?

JONATHAN: Uh, most of them. We’ve been doing this for a couple years now.

CAIRO: Like group therapy?

(CHUCKLES) Yeah, exactly that. (CHUCKLES)

CAIRO: Who’s that fellow?

JONATHAN: That’s Elliot. Three-time Ostrander winner. He just finished playing Edmund in Lear. It’s sure to get him his fourth.

CAIRO: Hmm.

(RECITING) “It is my intention to escape you

“and leave you far behind…

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

“…bereft of me and aching.

“Puzzled by the pain in your rib.

“Not quite heartache.

“Not quite homesick.

“Meshaped and filled

“with the remnants of stars.

“You choke up the void with verdurous blooms,

“and the wrap of my veins around you.

(SOFT PIANO MUSIC CONTINUES)

“The hideous pulse,

“the shouting blood,

“the ventricle kudzu smothering you

“with wanting

“is turned hideously soft in reminiscence.

“And yet some part of me stays.

“Some bit,

“some parcel,

“some ash left behind.

“And with it, you will recreate me.

“A moving effigy, a patchwork person.”

“But they are not me.

“And the space I left grows misshapen.”

“I will never fit there again.”

(ALL APPLAUDING)

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

(CAIRO GIGGLES)

What?

CAIRO: I can see. It was really something.

Hot dog. You thought it was gonna be trash, didn’t you?

CAIRO: Yes, I did.

Have more faith.

CAIRO: What is the word? It’s not falling. That’s too stale.

(ETHEREAL MUSIC PLAYING)

CAIRO: It’s more deliberate than that. It’s recognition of what we really are. Ghosts. You do see me. And I see you.


Goddamn, Tennessee, why are you so fuckin’ hot?

Go inside.

And miss Godot?

CAIRO: Gifts for the wallflowers.

JONATHAN: Oh. Okay.

BORIS: Mm. Hmm.

CAIRO: Thank you.

BORIS: What’s this?

CAIRO: Coffee.

No, no. What’s this? What is… What’s with the, uh, new look?

Thank you for this. It’s, uh… It’s very generous.

CAIRO: No one should have to suffer cafeteria coffee.

(BORIS IN SOUTHERN ACCENT) You want a biscuit, biscuit?

CAIRO: What flavor?

Split fig.

Mm. (COUGHS)

(CHOKES) Excuse me.

BORIS: It’s good.

Come on, man.

BORIS: You got a little split fig in you?

Not right now. Really?

Caught in your throat?

CAIRO: You know what you should do?

BORIS: What should I do?

CAIRO: You should make a logo and sell these to raise money for the team.

(BORIS LAUGHS)

CAIRO: Don’t laugh. You’d buy some, wouldn’t you, Mr. Miller?

Oh, yeah.

He doesn’t count.

I can’t resist a cute boy with a biscuit.

CAIRO: Right? Winnie could design the logo.

BORIS: Yeah?

CAIRO: Yeah. She’s really good at that stuff.

BORIS: Really?

CAIRO: Coach. Call yourself the Biscuit Batters. Winnie and I could help you get it off the ground.

What’s in it for you?

CAIRO: What’s in it for me?

BORIS: Mmhmm.

CAIRO: Oh, well, I mean, it’s pleasure, you know? Connection. 5%.

I’m the Biscuit Batter.

CAIRO: No. Once more with pride.

I’m the Biscuit Batter!

Oh. Oh, okay. Okay.

(SHOUTING) I’m the…

(IN NORMAL VOICE) I’m gonna work on that. Um, but I’m leaving before I fucking burn up. Y’all coming inside?

You go ahead.

All right, suit yourself.

I’ll suit myself. See you now.

BORIS: Mm.

Hi.

(ETHEREAL MUSIC PLAYING)

CAIRO: Hi.

You’re sweet.

CAIRO: When it suits.

JONATHAN: Please.

CAIRO: Thank you.

JONATHAN: Mm.


(KEYPAD CLACKING)

(CELL PHONE VIBRATES)

(CELL PHONE CHIMES)

(CELL PHONE VIBRATES)

(CELL PHONE VIBRATES)

What did he say about the outfit?

CAIRO: He didn’t have to say anything.

Oh. (GIGGLES) You ready? Can we go?

CAIRO: No. I need to stop by his class.

Can I watch?

(DOOR OPENS)

Oh, hi.

CAIRO: Hey.

How are you, kid?

CAIRO: Are you in a hurry?

Well, I’m just goin’ on a little, uh, weekend vacation with my wife.

CAIRO: What do writers do on vacation?

Uh, excuse me. Um, well, they pretend to write someplace else, I guess. (CHUCKLES)

CAIRO: Uh, can we talk about the midterm?

Uh, sure, what’s on your mind?

CAIRO: I want your approval on my author before I start.

Okay. Who is it?

CAIRO: Henry Miller.

Provocative and, uh… (CHUCKLES) his structure is very challenging to emulate.

CAIRO: It’s not just structural, though, it’s everythin’. You know, his decadence, his total disregard for literary etiquette, his, um, destruction of convention. It’s… It’s all the good stuff.

(BOTH CHUCKLE)

CAIRO: Do you not think I can do it?

Look, Miller is public enemy number one with the censors. I’m not even approved to teach him.

CAIRO: So?

So, it would be like a controversial choice.

CAIRO: If it’s not controversial, it’s not interestin’.

Okay. (CHUCKLES)

CAIRO: Okay, yes?

Okay, I trust you. Write what you know, little ghost.

(ETHEREAL MUSIC PLAYING)

Damn, I gotta go. Uh… Do me a favor. Have some fun this weekend, will you? Take a recess.

CAIRO: Yeah, I’ll rest if you write.

Uh, listen, I’ll see you Monday, okay? Bye, Winnie.

(DOOR OPENS)

CAIRO: Don’t do that.

(DOOR CLOSES)

CAIRO: Don’t look at me like that.

Hmm… (CHUCKLING KNOWINGLY)

(SEDUCTIVE) “Oh…”

CAIRO: No, I never did that.

(MOANING)

CAIRO: Stop.

(WINNIE CONTINUES MOANING)

CAIRO: Wait, Winnie, don’t…

(IMITATING CAIRO SEDUCTIVELY) “Oh, Mr. Miller, I just love the decadence, and the words and breakin’ all the rules!”

CAIRO: Okay, enough, enough. You need to get off his desk.

(WINNIE MOANS)

CAIRO: I did not say it like that.

Oh, but you meant it like that.

CAIRO: No, I didn’t.

You’re seducin’ him, you floozy. (GIGGLING) We make a good double team.

(BORIS BLOWS WHISTLE)

Hi. (CHUCKLING) Am I interruptin’?

CAIRO: We were just leavin’.

BORIS: Where’s Jon? Uh, where’s Mr. Miller?

He left.

Shoot. Oh, while I have you. Cairo. I think your idea is fresh to death. And, uh, Winnie… I’d like your help too.

With what?

Well, can you keep the secret?

Sure can.

I bake biscuits.

CAIRO: He’s gonna have the baseball team sell them to raise money. But Fillmore wants you to design the logo.

I think that’s really cool.

Really?

I’d love to help.

BORIS: Cool. All right. (TAPS TABLE) I’ll call you guys out on your lunch period. We can go over the specs.

Hey, um… I think it’d be easier if you just gave me your phone. I could text you the specs. It’d be faster that way.

Okay. Great.

CAIRO: Hey, can you call me?

WINNIE: Mm. Mmhmm. And now you’ll have Cairo’s number.

Oh, good.

WINNIE: There is no reception in here.

CAIRO: Shit.

WINNIE: Cairo, it’s probably just at the bottom of your bag.

CAIRO: No, I just had it a minute ago.

Well, it’s Friday, and we’re still here. So let’s afucking go.

Oh, uh, Winnie?

Uh, Boris?

(CHUCKLES) My phone.

My phone.

Your phone.

Your phone? (CHUCKLING) Your phone! Right. (SNORTS) Sorry. Okay.

Oh, okay. Okay.

Well, that was my…

Ah.

♪ Danger, danger ♪

♪ High voltage ♪


Baby, I’m gonna need a few more minutes, all right?

Okay. Well, we were supposed to leave 40 minutes ago.

I know. If Amy did her fucking job…

(CELL PHONE RINGING)

…we could’ve left yesterday. … It’s just not enough, Amy.

What the f…?

Yes, I’ll hold.

Hello?

CAIRO: Hi. You have my phone.

JONATHAN: And whose phone do I have?

CAIRO: Cairo Sweet’s.

Cairo. It’s, uh… It’s Jon… It’s Mr. Miller.

CAIRO: Sticky fingers, Miller.

Uh… Uh, how are you?

CAIRO: I’m tethered to a landline. Are you already gone?

Uh, well, should be.

BEATRICE: I don’t give a flying backwards fuck, Amy. Just give ’em the first draft.

Hang on.

They’ll think it’s new.

Honey. Honey, I’ve, I’ve gotta drop somethin’ off at a student’s house.

BEATRICE: All right, take care of it. Oh, get me some tampons while you’re out, all right?

Yeah.

Organic ones, if you can find ’em.

Mmhmm.

Not you obviously, Amy. Fuck. Get me a better deal, and then you can plug my pussy.

JONATHAN: You big time, “road head” owe me.

Are you still there?

CAIRO: I’m still here. You at Lovell Hill right now?

CAIRO: Yes.

Okay. Well, I’ll drop it off before we leave, if that’s okay.

CAIRO: Do you need the address?

I know exactly where you are.

CAIRO: Good. All right, well, drive safe. It’s gonna rain.

CAIRO: How does love come? In the movies, it’s, it’s like a curtain crashing to the stage. But in life, whatever of it is real, it is a quiet thing. Unrelenting. Inevitable.

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

CAIRO: It is a summoning.

(LOVER YOU SHOULD’VE COME OVER BY JEFFREY BUCKLEY PLAYING)

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

♪ Looking out the door I see the rain ♪

♪ Fall upon the funeral mourners ♪

♪ Too young to hold on ♪

♪ And too old to just break free and run ♪

♪ Sometimes a man gets carried away ♪

♪ When he feels like should be having his fun ♪

♪ Much too blind to see the damage he’s done ♪

♪ Sometimes a man must awake to find that ♪

♪ Really he has no one ♪

CAIRO: Come here.

No. You come here.

♪ Will I ever see your sweet return? ♪

♪ Oh, will I ever learn? ♪

♪ Ohoh, lover ♪

♪ You should’ve come over ♪

♪ ‘Cause it’s not too late ♪


(KEYBOARD CLACKING)

(SOMBER MUSIC PLAYING ON TV)

(INDISTINCT CHATTER ON TV)

CAIRO: How can a kiss make every cliche suddenly consequential?

Quite unlike any person I’ve tutored before. I wonder.

WOMAN: (ON TV) Here we are. Oh, excellent.

(KEYBOARD CLACKING)

CAIRO: I didn’t know it was possible to feel this brave.

(WATER FLOWING)

(LAPTOP CHIMES)

CAIRO: Or that I’d ever want to.

BEATRICE: What are you doin’?

(PENSIVE MUSIC PLAYING)

CAIRO: I’m working. (CHUCKLES)

Baby?

Uhhuh?

I know this was supposed to be our weekend together and I’m sorry that my team is the fucking tasteless worst. But I can’t work like this.

(INHALES SHARPLY) Seriously?

CAIRO: A kiss.

I’ll be outside.

CAIRO: A muse. It is a question. It is an unlocked door. It is elation. An anguish.

(KEYBOARD CLACKING)

It is the inch and the mile.

(PRINTER WHIRRING)

(ETHEREAL MUSIC PLAYING)

“Don’t look into the sun,” they say. The fuck do they know? Mr. Murphy drove with the resignation of the already dead. He imagined he felt the way Dylan Thomas did headin’ into the White Horse to take the drink that would kill him. He knew what they were and what they were not.”

(THUNDER RUMBLING)

(ETHEREAL MUSIC CONTINUES)

(TELEPHONE RINGING)

(OMINOUS MUSIC PLAYING)

“Hello,” she said.

JONATHAN: I’m here.

CAIRO: “Alice thought immediately of a slaughtering lamb as she couldn’t be certain which of them was meant for sacrifice. He was outside. He was inside.”

JONATHAN: It excites you, doesn’t it? The surreptitiousness of it all.

(OMINOUS MUSIC CONTINUES)

(PLEASANT MUSIC PLAYING)

CAIRO: “Mr. Murphy smiled wide. The lines around his mouth deepening into parentheses that framed his perfect lips into a punchline. Smoke drifted from her mouth with practiced, cinematic effort.”

CAIRO: Is it more romantic for you that way?

This is no romance. I’m sorry to disappoint you.

(OMINOUS MUSIC PLAYING)

(DRAMATIC MUSIC PLAYING)

CAIRO: “Alice opened her mouth to say something, but the words fell away. Mr. Murphy loomed over her, his Cadillac eyes hungry and bored.”

I want you to read to me.

CAIRO: “Alice watched in slow motion as Mr. Murphy’s tongue undulated when he spoke.”

Read it to me the way you read it to yourself.

CAIRO: “Pink tide against the bone shore of his teeth.”

Yeah.

CAIRO: “Alice took the tattered Henry Miller paperback off the bedside table, and spread it open on the comforter of her bed. “Page 13,” he said, behind her, one hand slid up the front of her cotton dress. The other pointed to a sentence on the page.”

JONATHAN: Begin… (EXHALES) here.

(DRAMATIC MUSIC CONTINUES)

(PANT UNZIPS)

JONATHAN: “He was against her then, and Alice felt a push of muscular wetness between her legs.”

CAIRO: “Mr. Murphy placed his slender hand over hers and guided her to the mound at her center pressin’ her fingers into the dark fold there.”

JONATHAN: “Just behind the damp fabric of her panties…”

CAIRO: “Feelin’ her feel herself.”

“… he found his way around the elastic at her leg, and slid two deft fingers into the warm darkness of her virgin cunt.”

CAIRO: “She felt him shift.”

JONATHAN: “He peeled the wet cotton down her legs and pressed into her from behind.”

CAIRO: “The width of his face…”

JONATHAN: “The thousand years of violence and conquering boiled within him as he held the mouth of her pubis like a hooked fish.”

CAIRO: “Searching for the answer to a question he’d doubted.”

JONATHAN: “But there it was.”

CAIRO: “The answer and the question.”

JONATHAN: “The cicatrix that will never heal.”

CAIRO: “The serpent’s apple.”

JONATHAN: “Her cul was slick against his fingers.”

CAIRO: “Just as he imagined it was when she was alone.”

JONATHAN: “Maybe in her bedroom…”

CAIRO: “Her own fingers knuckle deep.”

JONATHAN: “Trying to rub out that itch.”

BOTH: “The ache inside.

“He saw himself burying his cock in her brutally fucking away the exigency that swirled her clit and choked her better judgments.”

CAIRO: “He would fill her up with cum.”

(GRUNTS)

(PANTING)


(INSECTS TRILLING)

(SOLEMN MUSIC PLAYING)

(FOOTSTEPS APPROACHING)

CAIRO: Good morning. Are you okay? What’s wrong?

Your story.

CAIRO: Oh. (CHUCKLES) You didn’t like it?

You have to choose another author.

CAIRO: Why?

This is inappropriate.

CAIRO: “Inappropriate.” What does that mean?

Why did you write this?

CAIRO: You asked me to.

Uhhuh. Okay. Why did you choose that material?

CAIRO: You said, “Write what you know.”

And this is what you know?

CAIRO: This is… us.

No. This is… This is you. I don’t… I don’t understand this.

CAIRO: Are you being serious?

(SCOFFS)

CAIRO: Okay. It’s… It’s about two like people abnegating social convention. You know, it’s commentary on the sexual anesthetization of a culture that’s super saturated with pornography. It’s about the inefficacy of romantic dogmas on young people’s expectations. It’s about inexorable attraction. It’s layered.

This is pornography.

CAIRO: Yes.

So put it in your diary, not on my fuckin’ desk. Write a new story with a new author. I’m not gonna indulge this.

CAIRO: Are you talking about the story or us?

Both.

CAIRO: You already have. You inspired it.

I can’t accept it.

CAIRO: But you can’t or you won’t?

(PENSIVE MUSIC PLAYING)

CAIRO: Because it sounds like you’re scared…

Hey. Hey.

CAIRO: …and it looks like you’re measurin’. Stop talking to me like a stranger, and say what you mean.

Rewrite it.

CAIRO: Why?

You know why.

CAIRO: Tell me. Say it.

If you don’t rewrite this, I’ll have to fail you for the midterm.

CAIRO: Tell me why.

I don’t have to tell you a goddamn thing.

CAIRO: It made you feel something that scared you.

Don’t put words in my mouth.

CAIRO: Then say them yourself. Tell me what it made you feel.

Incredibly foolish for havin’ trusted this material to a child.

CAIRO: What was I before you read it?

(JONATHAN SIGHS) … A student.

CAIRO: (SNIFFLES) You built the world. You built the fantasy, not on the page, but in real life. You can’t blur the lines and then expect me to see a boundary when I suddenly cross it.

(PENSIVE MUSIC CONTINUES)

Let me be very, very clear…

(DOOR OPENS)

…with you.

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

You’re my student. And I’m your teacher. That’s all. Any misconception of that is something, regrettably, that you have to shoulder… alone.

(PENSIVE MUSIC CONTINUES)

CAIRO: “Write what you know” is what you said.

Yeah, I know what I said.

CAIRO: You don’t know anything you say. This is good.

Mmhmm.

CAIRO: And you know it is. So, let’s examine the real issue. It’s not my writing. It’s yours.

(CHUCKLES SOFTLY)

Good try.

CAIRO: You thought you were gonna be hot shit, didn’t you?

What?

CAIRO: You thought that you were gonna be somebody. Right? “Overreaching without ambition.” Do you know what that means? It means you weren’t brave enough to be better. Means you’re deliberately impotent. It means that you, Jonathan Miller… are mediocre. You wanna fail me? I fucking dare you. But you better make it mean somethin’ to you. And you better know what it means. Because the cost is very high, Mr. Miller. And if you’re not very, very careful this banality, this falsity that you wallow in, it will devour you until you are as small as you pretend to be. And you will disappear. And no one will pay any more thought to you than they do an unread cookie fortune. … How disappointin’ you must be to those who had believed you’d be more. No wonder you’re here.

(DOOR OPENS)


(SOMBER MUSIC PLAYING)

CAIRO: Heartbreak is a slow-motion car crash set to Mozart. You know the one. The Requiem.

(DOOR SLAMS)

CAIRO: It tastes like graveyard dirt. It smells like burnin’ flowers. It feels like violence.

(OMINOUS MUSIC PLAYING)


BEATRICE: How you doin’, Professor?

(SIGHS) Had a bad day.

CAIRO: (CRYING) (SNIFFLES)

Oh, you want a drink?

Thank you. (SNIFFLES)

WINNIE: What? So, he was offended?

CAIRO: He was affected. (SNIFFLES)

Are you still into him?

CAIRO: He’s a pretender. You know, at least what you see with Boris is what you get. You know, Jonathan Miller is like… He’s like fuckin’ imitation crab and gas station sushi.

Aren’t you in love with him?

JONATHAN: Mm.

(BEATRICE CHUCKLES)

BEATRICE: What happened?

(JONATHAN SNIFFLES) (EXHALES) I had a very unpleasant conversation with a student about the midterm assignment.

Was it with her? Your acolyte?

She drafted something to make Henry Miller look like Dr. Seuss.

Well, you let a teenager run with Miller, and you’re surprised it’s vulgar?

She was supposed to use his literary structure, not his subject matter.

Oh. What’s the subject matter?

An English teacher and a student who have an illicit affair complete with “precum” and “cherry popping.”

Oh.

Those words exactly.

(BEATRICE GASPS) Show me right now.

Don’t…

Come on. Tell me what shocked you.

CAIRO: You fuck Fillmore yet?

(CHUCKLES) You know when I’m in my luteal phase, I tell you everything.

BEATRICE: “For Jonathan. Love, Cairo.” Baby, it’s a love letter. She’s got it bad. Tell me how she describes you.

You can read it right there.

No. You tell me. Because I know that you remember it word for word. And I want you to do the thing.

No. No.

(WHISPERING) Tell me.

(EXHALES) Uh… “Mr. Murphy…

Oh.

“…clever and carelessly attractive… kept his thoughts to himself, and his eyes at half-mast.”

CAIRO: Distract me.

What would the lady have?

JONATHAN: “One might assume his drowsy appearance to be symptom of some vague institutional ennui.”

CAIRO: Text Boris.

JONATHAN: “But Alice saw it mostly to hide the shock of indecency he felt when he lay his eyes on the young, unripened bodies of his female pupils. And none were exempt from his salacious reveries. All cunts were created equal and magnificent in his mind.”

Are they? Are all cunts equal?

(GRUNTS SOFTLY)

Or are some cunts…

(GRUNTS)

…remarkable?

Come on, you’re, you’re, you’re drunk.

I’m indecent.

(MOANING)

(JONATHAN BREATHING HEAVILY)

(CELL PHONE BEEPS)

CAIRO: Yeah, tell him you’re drunk textin’ him. That way, he’ll imagine you drunk, and what you might be doin’ drunkenly.

Serious?

CAIRO: Ask him what he’s up to.

(CELL PHONE BEEPS)

Oh, we’ve got company.

(KNOCK ON DOOR)

They what?

Hey, seriously. Stop leaving this door unlocked. For your own safety, okay?

Mmhmm.

Hello.

(JONATHAN GROANS SOFTLY)

BORIS: Get a room!

BEATRICE: What up, player?

BORIS: Slang? Get out.

Fuck.

Do you think he likes me?

CAIRO: Well, do you wanna be liked, or do you wanna be fucked? ‘Cause those are very different things for girls who look like you.

I want both.

(KEYPAD CLACKING)

(CELL PHONE BEEPS)

CAIRO: You should tell him you’re with me. And that we’re doing what all girls do when they’re alone at night.

(KEYPAD CLACKING)

(CELL PHONE VIBRATING)

Who is she?

Not telling.

(BOTH LAUGHING)

(CELL PHONE BEEPS)

“We are measuring the depths of our sexuality within the safe confines of our friendship.”

(LAUGHING) Why are you so mean? Goddamn.

Can I help it if every girl you’ve ever dated owned a pair of five-inch Lucite heels and was named after a character in The Babysitters Club? No, I can’t.

No. You can’t.

But you know what? Your life, your choice.

Yeah, you bein’ a snob.

(CHUCKLING)

You and I know Kristy was great.

CAIRO: He hasn’t said anything?

(CELL PHONE BEEPS)

Oh, well, he said, “Go to bed.” So…(CHUCKLES SOFTLY)

(EXHILARATING MUSIC PLAYING)

CAIRO: Take off your shirt.

What? Why?

CAIRO: We are gonna make out. For him, not for you.

Well, it can be a little for me.

CAIRO: How is this?

Yeah, good.

CAIRO: Your turn.

(EXHILARATING MUSIC CONTINUES)

CAIRO: Here ya go. Be a little closer when I take this photo. Not like that. What, are you a fucking Dutch clock? I meant like this. Close. … Ready?

(MUSIC FADES OUT)

(MARIANA TRENCH BY DWARA AND KHOTTON PALM PLAYING)

(CAMERA SHUTTER CLICKS)

(BOTH PANTING)

(WINNIE WINCES)

♪ Whisper sweet nothings ♪

♪ Tell me everything that’s wrong ♪

CAIRO: Send it.

♪ While I lead you to your end Listen to the sweetest song ♪

♪ Listen to the sweetest song To the sweetest song, hey ♪

(MARIANA TRENCH CONTINUES PLAYING)

(CELL PHONE BEEPS)

Are you gonna text Mr. Miller?

(CELL PHONE VIBRATING)

CAIRO: “All warfare is based on deception.”

Hello?

CAIRO: “Move your enemy, but don’t be moved by him.”

(MARIANA TRENCH CONTINUES PLAYING)

♪ Lead you in Pull you down ♪

♪ All your weight Lifted off ♪

♪ Lead you in Pull you down ♪

♪ All your weight Lifted off ♪

(MUSIC STOPS)


BEATRICE: You’ve been summoned to the principal’s office.

Mmmm.

(CLICKS TONGUE)

BORIS: You got a title yet?

BEATRICE: Lesser Expectations of a Greater Love.

(DOOR CLOSES)

BORIS: I mean, I don’t know.

(BEATRICE LAUGHS)

(BORIS SPEAKS INDISTINCTLY)

Hi, Joyce.

(LAUGHING) Another beer?

Mm. No, I should go. I should get outta here.

Oh, come on. Don’t be boring.

No. No. I got 45 pop quizzes on thermodynamics to fail. And we haven’t even gotten to fractals yet. Goddamn hopeless youth of America.

Well, you’re the one who wanted to make a difference, remember?

(CHUCKLES) Hey, fools rush in. Where’s Jonathan?

Tithing.

All right, well, look, tell him I had to run. Bye, kiddo.

BEATRICE: Bye.

(DOOR CLOSES)

Joyce got the story.

What?

Well, it had a “For Jonathan. Love, Cairo…” (GRUNTS) …written at the top, so, you know… there’s no mistakin’. And she’d like to speak to me formally about the necessary paperwork.

(CHUCKLES) Paperwork for what?

An incident report. Uh… I think she did it.

Who did what, huh?

Cairo. Cairo turned it in.

It’s a short story, Jonathan. It’s not The Communist Manifesto.

Mmhmm. I know. But, yeah, but, it’s the, uh… it’s the implication. Why if she can convince them that somethin’ happened between us, then, uh… (CHUCKLES NERVOUSLY) Well, I could lose my job.

That’s not all you could lose. … Did somethin’ happen between you?

Nothin’ I invited.

(BEATRICE SIGHS) Teenage girls are dangerous, Jonathan. They’re full of emotional violence and vituperation.

Mmhmm.

I hope you know what you’re doin’.


(SOLEMN MUSIC PLAYING)

(BELL RINGS)

(INDISTINCT CHATTER)

(BREATHING HEAVILY)

Have you seen Cairo?

I haven’t.

I haven’t seen her. And I just thought… maybe you had.

I haven’t. No.

You don’t text?

She tell you we do?

Well, you know… Cairo says everything… And nothing. I don’t understand what’s happening.

Don’t you, Winnie?

(GENTLE PIANO MUSIC PLAYING)


How did it start? In your own words.

CAIRO: We recognized each other.

She’s exceptionally talented. Uh, she’s singular in that at this school.

Did you exhibit favoritism? Give special mentorship?

Of course.

CAIRO: He was excited to give me the midterm assignment in advance.

JOYCE: And the midterm is what percentage of the final grade?

It’s 25%.

CAIRO: Enough to destroy my GPA.

JOYCE: You do know that Henry Miller is not an approved author for public school study, right?

She’s better than the curriculum, Joyce. You know that. I wanted to help her stand out.

CAIRO: I think he was impressed I knew who he was. Have you read his work?

How often have you been together beyond the classroom?

CAIRO: We would see each other before school, uh, in class, of course, and sometimes after.

And what would you do?

CAIRO: We would talk about literature and things that we cared about. Sometimes we’d share a cigarette.

We happened to be smoking in the same place one time. And that, well, that… That’s how it started, I guess. Not… I mean, that is how we started smokin’ together. (CHUCKLES NERVOUSLY)

Do you see each other socially?

Absolutely not.

CAIRO: We went to a poetry reading together.

JOYCE: Would you consider yourself friends?

CAIRO: Without question.

We are as close, uh, as is appropriate for a student and a teacher.

Have you ever been alone together outside of school?

CAIRO: Only a couple of times.

Y… Yes, sort of. Uh, I mistakenly left with her phone from the classroom, and I returned it to her, uh, before my wife and I went on a business trip to Nashville. We didn’t actually go, but, you know, we were going to go.

CAIRO: He came to my house.

Were you alone?

Yes.

CAIRO: My parents were out of town.

What happened?

Why? She say somethin’ happened?

CAIRO: Nothin’ that didn’t seem okay at the time.

I returned her phone.

JOYCE: Did you go inside the house?

I didn’t touch her, okay? Um… When she sent the story, I told her it was not appropriate for school.

(SIGHS)

(GULPS) I’m gettin’ the impression there’s nothin’ I can say, uh, to defend my position here.

JOYCE: ‘Cause there isn’t.


(PENSIVE MUSIC PLAYING)

BORIS: Jonathan… are you in love with her? Fuck Almighty. Are you?

It’s not about my feelings. It’s what she implies. And you know I could get crucified for this…

BORIS: Oh, fuck me.

…while you’re sittin’ there swiping through pictures of naked students.

Oh, he’s so smart, everybody. That’s why I deleted it.

You deleted it. Oh, good.

No. No.

(SARCASTICALLY) Well, as soon as you delete somethin’, of course, it means it’s really deleted, right? Come on. Jesus.

Oh, I’m shakin’ in my fuckin’ boots. You know the difference between you and me? You cannot identify the line. So, you cross it.

Right.

That’s why you’re sittin’ here scared, defensive. You are the adult. Show some responsibility.

You can’t be serious. Like you?

Yes. I know where the line is, Jonathan.

Mm.

I don’t cross it. You see, knowin’ the line is knowin’ the risk. You tryin’ to make me your collateral damage.

You don’t know… Oh, man, you think you’re my collateral damage? (SCOFFS)

All right, man. Just go, man.

All right. No, no.

Yeah, all right. I will.

All right, yeah.

Cool, bro. Mmhmm.

Thanks for your help. Appreciate that.


(PENSIVE MUSIC PLAYING)

JONATHAN: I’ve been suspended.

Did you fuck her?

No. (SNORTS)

Then what happened?

She impressed me. I gave her preference. She handed in the story, which I obviously could not accept. Her feelings got hurt, and she lashed out. That’s how I understand it.

Hm. So you flirted with her, and then, you rejected her.

JONATHAN: No, it wasn’t flirting.

What was it then?

It was affection!

(CHUCKLES)

Well, are you attracted to her?

(JONATHAN EXHALES SHARPLY)

I’ll tell you. This is about a girl who flattered you, who read your little book, and your inevitable surrender to adulation. You fucking fell for it. Finally. Finally! Someone gave your reductive short stories a second glance. And you can’t help but get hard for it because, what, now suddenly you feel worth somethin’, is that it?

Yes! She made me feel worth something. What does that tell you?

Was it her sycophancy that got you hard? Or was it the smell of teen spirit?

Fuck you.

Oh, be my guest.

Stop. (PANTS)

Did you?

No, I didn’t fuck her.

Why do you look so guilty?

I haven’t done anything wrong.

Oh, didn’t you?

(BREATHING HEAVILY) God, I’m in hell. (CHUCKLES)

Well, make yourself at home.

Why are you so punishing?

You wanted her. I can read it all in your face.

How can you see anything in this state, you fuckin’ alcoholic?

It’s the only thing that makes you bearable, baby.

You are a cunt.

And you’re a liar. Liar! You’re the banner boy for mediocrity, waving your flag of spotless virtue like some middling American hero. But, Jon, baby… you’re the villain. But you can’t even see that, can you?

Don’t you worry for me at all?

What would I possibly worry about other than dying of boredom having to listen to your inventions of conflict?

You… are… vile.

(SOMBER MUSIC PLAYING)

Why don’t you write about it?


CAIRO: Spit it out, Winnie.

What are you doing?

CAIRO: I’m completing my admissions essay.

Is that all?

CAIRO: Well, I’m smokin’ a cigarette, if you wish to be very literal.

What are you doin’ to Mr. Miller?

CAIRO: I’m testifyin’ against him in front of the school board.

Why?

CAIRO: He underestimated me. I overestimated him.

Are you okay?

CAIRO: I’m inspired.

That’s not funny.

CAIRO: It is. A little.

Please don’t do this.

CAIRO: Why?

You’re gonna ruin his life. And for what? To avenge your rejection? To punish him? Because he didn’t wanna fuck you?

CAIRO: He wanted to fuck me, Winnie.

(SCOFFS) Yes. But he didn’t leave his wife for you. I’ll testify against you.

CAIRO: No, you won’t.

Excuse me?

CAIRO: I’ll show them the evidence I have against you and Boris. And not only will your credibility be shot to shit, but you’ll incriminate him as well. Two teachers can lose their jobs.

(BREATH TREMBLING)

CAIRO: Oh, hey, maybe we can double-team.

You played me.

CAIRO: You knew what we were doing.

This is not what I meant.

CAIRO: Isn’t it, though? Didn’t I play it out exactly like you imagined?

This isn’t a fucking game, Cairo.

CAIRO: You’re right. This is, to date, my greatest achievement.

(SOLEMN MUSIC PLAYING)

CAIRO: (READING) “In the end, ultimately, I understood our mutual naivete, my trust, his arrogance… Exposed us to the caprices of society and rendered us defeated, suddenly alone in separate camps. What will become of us? Will he measure himself an unwitting participant? Falsely banished and beggared? No job, no wife, no forgiveness, or will he be brave enough to accept his complicity in a way that is meaningful? In a way that changes him, as it has changed me?

(SOLEMN MUSIC CONTINUES)

CAIRO: “The answer evades me. I wanted to experience somethin’ I didn’t understand. I reached for it and was made a fool by my own childish notions of love. But where was my error? Was it in the reaching or the wanting? Is this what it is to be an adult? The same exquisite longing of adolescence, but with a burden of constant accountability? No excuse is to be made for your choices for they are yours alone. I cannot say whether or not I’m grateful for the experience, for the knowledge. (SNIFFLES) The felicity of youth has been ripped from me like skin. (TEARFULLY) “And exposed as I am, sore and open as I am. (SOBBING SOFTLY) I can feel it shape me into somethin’ new. Hero. Villain.

(MOUTHING) Hi.

CAIRO: “Writer. Grown… from the human ruins of a madman’s love.”

(AT SEVENTEEN BY JANIS IAN PLAYING)

♪ I learned the truth at seventeen ♪

♪ That love was meant for beauty queens ♪

♪ And high school girls with clearskinned smiles ♪

♪ Who married young and then retired ♪

♪ The valentines I never knew ♪

♪ The Friday night charades of youth ♪

♪ Were spent on one more beautiful ♪

♪ At seventeen I learned the truth ♪

♪ And those of us with ravaged faces ♪

♪ Lacking in the social graces ♪

♪ Desperately remained at home ♪

♪ Inventing lovers on the phone ♪

♪ Who called to say, “Come dance with me” ♪

♪ And murmured vague obscenities ♪

♪ It isn’t all it seems At seventeen ♪

♪ A brown eyed girl in handmedowns ♪

♪ Whose name I never could pronounce ♪

♪ Said, “Pity, please, the ones who serve ♪

♪ “They only get what they deserve” ♪

♪ And the richrelationed hometown queen ♪

♪ Marries into what she needs ♪

♪ With a guarantee of company ♪

♪ And haven for the elderly ♪

♪ Remember those who win the game ♪

♪ Lose the love they sought to gain ♪

♪ In debentures of quality ♪

♪ And dubious integrity ♪

♪ Their smalltown eyes will gape at you ♪

♪ In dull surprise when payment due ♪

♪ Exceeds accounts received At seventeen ♪

♪ To those of us who knew the pain ♪

♪ Of valentines that never came ♪

♪ And those whose names were never called ♪

♪ When choosing sides for basketball ♪

♪ It was long ago and far away ♪

♪ The world was younger than today ♪

♪ When dreams were all they gave for free ♪

♪ To ugly duckling girls like me ♪

♪ We all play the game, and when we dare ♪

♪ To cheat ourselves at solitaire ♪

♪ Inventing lovers on the phone ♪

♪ Repenting other lives unknown ♪

♪ They call and say, “Come dance with me” ♪

♪ And murmur vague obscenities ♪

♪ At ugly girls like me At seventeen ♪

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