Scenes from Orbital Brides: The Lady’s Request (Daniel East)
A cream-coloured door with two deadbolts ajar; through it walks a young woman in blue trackpants, her strawberry-blonde hair pulled into a ponytail, three shoeboxes in her hands, nails unpainted. She enters a room to the left of shot. A man in jeans climbs three front steps, boxes obscuring his face. Bumps into the doorframe, swears, then walks toward camera down the hall and exits to the right.
PAN LEFT. Scuffed floorboards, high wooden ceilings, lopsided venetians, a citrus tree and a fence.
‘Ran into the door.’
‘Be careful, honey.’
More boxes, a purple futon, another doorway leading to a linoleum kitchen.
CUT TO: the woman is standing at the sink, kettle boiling, stacking plates into the cupboard, hanging spoons on a cutlery tree. She wipes beads of sweat from her neck. Turns around, opens the uncurtained window, stops. Her face hardens, softens, her top lip twitches.
‘Tom?’ With urgency. ‘Tom!’
BACKYARD: two eucalypts, a steel Hills hoist and a clearing beneath it in which can be seen a tribe of tiny aborigines. They hunt through the lawn, pushing through overgrown buffalo grass with twig spears. Thumbnail-sized babies suckle at freckle-sized breasts, mothers crosslegged under the wavering shadow of the clothes line.
The couple on the back verandah. Tom scratches at the wristband of his watch.
‘Come on in, Jen. I’ll call the real estate in the morning.’
Jennifer’s hair is pulled over one shoulder like a question mark.
LOUNGE ROOM. TIME LAPSE: Tom moving through the room, boxes appear and disappear, Jen huddled on the couch, on the phone, then with a cup of tea, an argument, a cuddle – behind the futon, the lemon tree glows green, yellow, purple, now the window mirrors the room. Time lapse over, they eat a pizza from the box.
‘What do they want?’
‘Babe, don’t worry. Eat my artichoke.’
‘I don’t want it.’
They are lying in bed. She is staring at the ceiling. He mumbles in his sleep. A windy night, trees whistle, sirens wail, midnight to predawn to sunrise.
FLASHCARD:THE NEXT MORNING
A cluster of chest-high skyscrapers, paddocks of clover extending from the suburbs to the soil quarries by the back door. A red helicopter swoops past the space needle. She speaks with choked pauses.
‘It all looks so small from up here.’
‘They’ll send someone out this afternoon.’ He goes inside.
FLASHCARD: THAT AFTERNOON
The suburbs deserted, shattered glass and overturned cars. Burnt homes like teeth with the crowns rotted through. Fields empty and torched. Cables reach up to the arms of the Hills hoist, red and green lights affixed to the four cross beams. He stands alongside, rubbing her shoulders. She puts her ringless left hand on his to cease his idle movement and says:
‘Tom. I want a baby.’