Daniel: a treatment for a feature film screenplay This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

May 20, 2010
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Hot, humid afternoon.
Autistic Boy, 9.
Girl, 10.

Summer on the Mississippi River. Hot. Muggy. Watermelon,Coca-Cola and red checkered table cloths. Feet crunch leafs on the dirt ground. Splash. Kids wear bathing suits. Moms and dads talk as they buff smoke into the air. PULL BACK to reveal the whole river. Kids scream.

Slowly ZOOM in on a girl (dressed in a floral dress with a white collar and a white hat), 10, sitting on a beaten up wooden picnic bench in between sister, 18, and mother, 40. Wicker Picnic basket sprawled on table. Black Buick parked askew in the background. The sister in a white summer dress gazed with a blank smile at a young man at play in the river. The mother, old and wrinkled, just sat sipping her lemonade. The young girl, with sadness in her eyes and posture, stared off into the distance.

The camera ZOOMS into the girl’s deep blue eyes to reveal what she is studying, while the sound of the picnic fades. A boy, 9, inside the rustic shack under the big oak tree, looked out the window at the kids at play.

The boy, awkward and shy, makes eye contact with the girl. He is dressed in nothing but a dirt smeared shirt and tighty-whiteys. The girl gives a smile with a tilt of the head. The boy ducks beneath the window. The girl longing for a smile lowers her eyes and frowns.

The boy collapses to the floor and begins to rock and moan. A buzz of noise fills his ears and he begins to moan even louder. He tries to fill all of the outside noise with his own. He gets uncomfortable when there are a lot of people around. The noise of the screaming children, blabbing parents, barking dogs, and sizzling hotdogs pierce Daniel’s ears.

The boy’s mother, Jeannette, runs into the room to give her son, Daniel, his Raggedy Ann doll to calm him down. She had an apron on and was wearing her sunflower dress. She had a look on her face as if all she wanted to do was give him a hug, but she knew she couldn’t because he would continue to moan.

Everyone by the river impedes as they listen to his moan. All the kids in the river stopped playing to hear his cries. The dads stopped grilling the sizzling hotdogs. Everyone stopped. The rustle of the wind came to a standstill. But once Daniel calmed, the world started back into motion, as Daniel lay on the floor breathing heavily.

GRAPHIC MATCH of Daniel on the floor to Daniel laying in bed (Green, yellow and brown striped comforter and green striped walls with small white stripes). The CAMERA studies Daniel’s body as it TILTS up and down his body underneath the sheets. His Raggedy Ann doll sit perched on his wooden shelf. His homemade rocking chair with a teddy bear sprawled over it. His green and gold train set knocked over on the pale green carpet. His bookshelf was full of books, the most visible being the frog encyclopedia that was in front of all the others.
He woke up, walked down the stairs, and got his yellow orange juice, yellow eggs, and yellow corn. He likes yellow and green, nothing else. He sat down at the table and began to eat.

His mother walked in the door in her bath robe with a cigarette in her mouth, “Good morning Daniel, How’s your breakfast.” Daniel doesn’t respond. His mother grabbed her cup of tea in her blue cracked mug, sat and read the newspaper.

As Daniel was separating the food on his plate, he heard a knock at the door. The noise echoed in the house. He got up and rushed to the door, but he didn’t answer it. He looked through the drapes on the windows next to the door. It was the young girl from the river the other day. He began to breathe heavily. His mother followed behind him. As Daniel crouched to the floor, Jeanette answered the door and closed it behind her leaving Daniel inside.

“How can I help you little girl?” asked Jeanette. The little girl just stood there trying to look through the window and spot the boy she saw the other day. Daniel remained sitting under the window. Jeanette explained to the little girl that Daniel was not allowed to go outside and play. She continued to explain that he doesn’t do well with other people.

The little girl was confused, but tried her best to understand.

“Thank you Ma’am. If you could just tell him I said hi.”
“Sure will,” Jeanette looked back at the door, “What’s your name darling.”

They said their goodbye’s and Jeanette went inside. Josephine tried to catch a glimpse of Daniel, but never did. She walked away. Daniel got up and looked through the drapes on the window as he watched her walk away. Josephine, crunching leaves beneath her feet, looked back and saw Daniel peeking in the window. They made eye contact. This time they both smiled. Josephine gave a little wave next to her face and walked away. Daniel stood at the window and watched her. He could not stop smiling.

The mom leaned in the doorway to the kitchen watched this all happen. She took of her apron. Her little boy met a girl.

Josephine continued to visit Daniel’s house. She would come by each day asking, “Can Daniel come out and play?” But every time his mother told her that he could not come out and play.

Daniel so desperately wanted to go and play, but Jeanette didn’t want him to get hurt, or scare the little girl. Daniel would wait by the window everyday to see Josephine at the door.

It was the afternoon. The river was silent except for the flowing river, the chirping birds and the occasional squirrel or chipmunk running by. The sky was beginning to turn pink. The sun beamed through the windows.

Daniel put on his hat, walked up to his mom and said, “I am going outside to play with Josephine.”

Jeanette just stood there and smiled. Josephine was at the door and Jeanette did nothing to stop Daniel from going outside.

Daniel slowly inched open the door, breathing heavily. He walked out onto the porch as with every step the wood creaked.

“Hi,” Daniel dryly said.
“Hi,” In a dainty high-pitched voice, “want to go play?”

Daniel ran off, Josephine followed. They crossed over the river and laughed the whole time. Not once did Daniel have an attack. He was completely distant from his autistic behaviors. Josephine talked the whole time, while Daniel listened. They rested on the log 20 minutes from his house on the river. They skipped rocks. Josephine sat and watched as Daniel played in the river. It was starting to get dark and Josephine told Daniel it was time to go home, she was older anyways.

As they passed over the river to go back to Daniel’s house, Daniel screeched, “An Angola river frog! A Bornean Flat-headed frog!” He was ecstatic at these two discoveries. He crouched down in the water disregarding the fact that his butt was completely submerged in the water.

“Daniel get out of there you’re going to catch a cold,” Josephine exclaimed. It was dark and the sound of frogs filled the river. She began to become nervous and kept urging Daniel along. She just wanted to go back.

“Daniel, come on let’s go. Please!”
“The Bornean Flat-headed Frog (Barbourula kalimantanensis) is a species of toad in the Bombinatoridae family. It is the only frog known to have no lungs.”
“The frog breathes entirely through its skin, and its internal organs (the stomach, spleen and the liver) take up the space which normally would be filled by the lungs.”
“Daniel! Let’s go.”

Daniel became frustrated, and started to scream. Josephine was confused. She went up and grabbed him. He moaned. “Daniel! What’s wrong?” She became worried. She didn’t know what to do. Should she go and get his mom, just leave him, or try and help him herself? She was completely petrified.

Daniel stuck his head in the water trying to block out all the noise. Josephine tackled him. She thought he was trying to drown himself. She pulled him up out of the river. Daniel kicked and screamed. She laid him under the stars. Daniel curled up into a ball, moaned, and rocked his body.

GRAPHIC CONTRAST of him rocking on the dirt to him in the light smiling. He was waiting for Josephine to come over again, while he separated his breakfast. Jeanette proclaimed to Daniel, “Honey, you know how your corn and eggs don’t mix. That’s sort of like you and Josephine. You two are very different.”

Daniel’s smile turned to utter madness. He busted out of the house and ran to the river and stuck his head in the water. He wanted to get those words out of his mind, but he couldn’t. He spit out the words. He started ripping at his skin.

He waited the next few days at the window. He was waiting and hoping for Josephine to turn that corner, but she never did. TIME LAPSE
of Daniel waiting at the window. It was the last day before he was going to give up, and then she came around the corner.

He smiled. She smiled. They said hello.

She walked up to the door and asked, “Can Daniel come out and play?”

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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

Day-Dreamer17 said...
May 23, 2010 at 11:10 am
That was sweet! Adorable! write more, please!
katie-cat replied...
May 31, 2010 at 7:31 pm
 I liked this.  Is was very unique and well-written.  Keep it up! :)
agsmiley888 said...
May 22, 2010 at 9:30 pm
aww that was cute
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