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Portraits of Porcelain
Mr. Gareth: The owner of a quaint porcelain workshop and store; also, the hired assassin for this story.
Mr. President: The well-loved president of the United States.
Shot: Long-shot of a small cottage-like shop. Paint is peeling from the siding, light faded blue, off-white, and cracked shutters. A soft cheery tune plays in the background. Sunlight briefly glints onto the camera lens.
Gradually, the camera zooms in to the cottage. As if situated on the back of a bird, it tilts and glides closer and closer. The audience hears a caw, and the frantic flutter of a bird’s wings.
The camera spins rapidly, nosedives downward, propelled by an unseen force. It is skimming past blades of grass and skidding to a halt at the door when the screen goes black quite suddenly. A bang is heard.
Sideways, the camera lays beside the door frame. It is dusty, old, and creaks when it is opened with vague curiosity. You can see Mr. Gareth’s feet as he leans forward, looks around, and then jumps a bit when he spots a dead raven at his feet.
Shot becomes a medium view of Mr. Gareth, standing in the doorway.
Mr. Gareth: Poor bird… (he whispers to himself, crouching down. His voice is soft, yet deep)
Mr. Gareth picks the bird up gently, and check s its neck to see if it’s alive.
Shot: close-up of the entire bird in Mr. Gareth’s hands.
The bird twitches, and wriggles around momentarily. However, it is quickly stopped when Mr. Gareth breaks the bird’s neck.
Mr. Gareth: I bet you wish you had never flown by here…
Shot: Medium shot of Mr. Gareth as he walks inside the stout building, shutting the door behind him casually. He is looking at the carcass in his hands like he would a letter, as if he is almost bored and burdened.
The camera zooms slowly up to a close-up shot of Mr. Gareth’s kiln. It is large, rectangular, and very long. The audience hears Mr. Gareth’s light footsteps as he walks over to it.
Mr. Gareth: (sighing and talking to the bird) looks like I will have to work on you later.
Close-up of the inside of the kiln. There is a shelf halfway past the top, which is about one foot down. At the bottom is a mysterious collection of grey ash and bones coated in the dusty contents. It is unclear what is inside at first.
Medium shot of Mr. Gareth, now fully visible. He is short, his hair is a salt-and-pepper grey/white, and he has thick squoval glasses. He wears a white flannel dress shirt, high-waisted brown pants, worn dress shoes, and suspenders that he has repaired several times.
He shuts the kiln, dusts off his hands with a few claps, and turns towards a work space off to the right.
Shot: pan to the desk, where a porcelain doll head lays hair-less and half-painted among neatly organized paint bottles and clean brushes. The doll’s extremely tall body is assembled to its limbs, but is unstuffed. It is almost the size of a child. The fingernails are painted a soft, natural pink, and extend past the nail bed slightly.
Paint stains the desk, and the dust from the dolls Mr. Gareth has worked on has collected where the table meets the wall. A foggy window sits directly in front of the desk, slightly above the dusty crevice.
A chair grinds and creaks as Mr. Gareth pulls it back, sitting delicately at his workspace.
Shot: Close-up of Mr. Gareth’s hands as he reaches for the doll head.
Shot: Close-up of the head, which rests between Mr. Gareth’s fingers expertly. Mr. Gareth is out of focus.
Gently, Mr. Gareth turns the head in his hands. Slowly, the focus is shifted to reveal the wrinkles of Mr. Gareth’s face, and the cold stare he offers the doll.
Medium shot of Mr. Gareth from the waist up. He checks his watch. It reads 1:44 pm. He takes a neatly folded polaroid photo from his pocket. It faces him, and the front is not visible to the viewers.
Mr. Gareth: Where were we? (picking up a paintbrush)
The medium shot remains, as Mr. Gareth paints the doll’s face with an extremely light touch.
Shot cuts to a close-up of the doll’s face. The photograph is in frame, but out of focus. Mr. Gareth sweeps the brush in strokes around the left glass eye (icy-blue), creating delicate lashes. The photograph comes into focus as the doll’s face blurs. The picture reveals a woman in her mid-thirties, with bright, blue eyes that match the doll’s.
The scene cuts to a shot of the doll’s head, now fully painted and sitting beside its body. A soft brown, straight wig is also on the head.
The camera pans to the kiln to the of the desk where the doll resides. On top of it sits a pile of broken up bones, which are laid on a white trash bag, and a plastic bag of ashes. Several cleaning agents are set behind these objects, evidently used to clean the kiln.
The scene cuts to a medium shot of Mr. Gareth, as he is standing in front of the bones and ashes. He carefully picks up the bones, and takes them to his desk. The camera pans with him.
As he sits down, the shot cuts to an aerial view of his head, shoulders, and hands. He pulls a stack of thin wool sheets from under the desk. Thick, white embroidery thread sits atop the stack.
He wraps each shard of bone in a strip of wool, and wraps the thread around it to secure it. He places them into the doll’s cloth body, adding a bit of stuffing around it.
He does this once more before the shot cuts to the doll body, showing it in fast-motion as he fills it up again and again, finally placing the ashes inside before the shot cuts again to an old, well-used sewing machine in a dimly lit corner of the workshop. It is a medium shot, keeping the legs of the table it sits on in view. A few scrap pieces of fabric lay beside it, hues of black, white, and blue.
Mr. Gareth walks in front of the camera, blurring the shot. It cuts to a shot of the doll in which she is in a white, sturdy cardboard box. She is completely assembled and dressed in a black dress with a red-ribbon bow around her neck. Strips of blue create a sense of structure around her waist, shirt-front. They also trim the skirt as well as the short, puffed sleeves around her arms.
Mr. Gareth closes the flaps over his creation, sealing it with tape, and then a stately piece of wrapping paper. He smooths out a sticker over the box, labelled as:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
The shot zooms out, revealing the raven sitting on top of the table beside the box. It continues as Mr. Gareth begigns to speak.
Mr. Gareth: (still out of the shot) Mr. President? Yes, it’s finished. I’ll be sending it out tonight…
The sound of a phone being set into the receiver is heard as the zoom fades into a foggy sky.