This piece is the winner of the The River’s 2018 Dramatic Works Contest!
AURELIA OF THE CROWS
by Carter Aimone
The setting is 1900 New York and centers on the main character, an eight-year-old girl, visiting her favorite haunts in Central Park with her German-American grandfather.
EXT. CENTRAL PARK GATE-MORNING
A lively tune with trumpets starts playing.
Aurelia and Grandpa walk toward the camera. With his blue coat, he stands out from the other visitors. She wears a white sunhat with a black brim, and her otherwise unkempt appearance suggests she dressed herself today.
They stroll down a crowded walk. Aurelia skips ahead. Grandpa lags behind with his walking stick. She stops to lean on the rail and watch the carriages drive by.
EXT. THE MALL-CONT’D
Aurelia carefully studies the Shakespeare statue.
She cocks a knee, sticks a fist to her side, and raises the other to her chest, imitating the statue’s pose.
She proceeds to imitate the Sir Walter Scott statue, sitting on the path and pretending to hold a book.
Finally, she leans forward and pets an invisible dog, in imitation of The Hunter statue.
Grandpa huffs in amusement.
EXT. THE GREEN-LATE MORNING
Aurelia and Grandpa are playing a casual round of badminton. Due to his age, he does not trouble himself to block most of her shots. It’s just as well, as she overshoots the field with every serve. A scorecard (heavily favoring Grandpa) is imposed at the bottom of the screen.
Grandpa attempts to hit a stray birdie. He leans over his knees, breathing deeply.
Aurelia steps up to the net with a look of concern.
Grandpa waves her off and smiles. He rolls his shoulders and readies himself for the next serve.
EXT. SHEEPFOLD-EARLY AFTERNOON
Aurelia eats a bag of peanuts and Grandpa eats a sandwich from a cart as they watch the sheep BLEAT in their pens.
The black sheep climbs out of the pen, runs a few feet over the grass before being tackled by the SHEPHERD.
Aurelia watches with her chin in her palm and sighs; she was hoping the sheep would get away.
EXT. SEVENTH REGIMENT MONUMENT-AFTERNOON
Aurelia sets her peanuts down before the statue of a soldier at attention. She makes to imitate this statue as well, but Grandpa stops her by putting a hand on her shoulder.
Instead, Grandpa faces the statue and performs a sharp salute. He shares a special kinship with the fallen men of the Seventh, as a veteran of the same war, and also as a fellow New Yorker.
Aurelia attempts a salute and smacks herself in the eye with the back of her thumb.
EXT. BETHESDA TERRACE-AFTERNOON
The surface of the water is smooth. A stone skips across, leaving small, perfect ripples behind it. Far off, someone plays a relaxing violin piece to complement the lovely autumn day.
It is all in the wrist.
Another stone follows, this one more precise than the first. Then a rock CRASHES into the water, scattering all the nearby birds and frogs.
CUT TO the fountain’s edge with Aurelia and Grandpa.
A LITTLE BOY with his parents snickers at her clumsy throw.
Aurelia sneers back at him, her feelings hurt.
It is all right.
Aurelia picks up another stone, eyes it skeptically.
Grandpa picks up a larger rock and holds it before her.
Watch where it lands.
He hocks the stone gracelessly into the air. It lands a few feet away with a large SPLASH.
Aurelia leans over the edge to look at the ripples.
CUT TO the ripples spread in perfect circles. The dirt dredged at the bottom spreads slowly through the water. The leaves and the reeds wave hypnotically from the shockwave.
There can be beauty in chaos. It’s all in the way you look at it. Believe it or not, it was you who taught me this lesson.
CUT TO Aurelia staring transfixed at the water. A smile slowly spreads across her lips.
Out of her sight, Grandpa is leaning hard on his walking stick, breathing heavily. He straightens up so she does not notice him ailing.
Shall we start back?
EXT. GATE-LATE AFTERNOON
The sun is just starting to set behind the skyline. The tall buildings of Fifth Avenue cast a slanted shadow over the street and the Inventors’ Gate.
Aurelia leads Grandpa out of the gate by the hand. She starts jaywalking again, but is tugged back by Grandpa.
Grandpa cringes a little, almost tears up, but regains his resolve in front of the girl. He has a feeling this is the last time he will ever see her.
Not this time. I’m sorry. I’m afraid I must be on my way.
When will I see you again?
Let me worry about that, child.
Aurelia skips across the street. The traffic is slower this time of day, so she does not risk getting hit. She climbs the steps of her house, turns in the doorway, and waves.
Grandpa waves back.
INT. AURELIA’S BEDROOM-CONT’D
Aurelia goes to look through her bedroom window. Through the branches, she watches Grandpa hobble away on his walking stick. Her eye follows him until the view is blocked by a tangle of crows roosting in the tree.
About the Author:
John Carter Aimone is a Wyoming native as well as a former student of the elite English program at Utah State University. When he is not writing novels and screenplays, he is narrating or editing others. Whereabouts unknown.