Human longing, and how an individual’s life is shaped by such dreams.
Source: Be Still
EXT. BACKYARD – DAY
LIAM is sitting in his wheelchair on the grass, staring out at the lake in the distance. Behind him is his house — a cabin-looking structure hidden in the trees — and around him is his lawn, which is now filled with people. He’s an older man, around eighty, with a kind face but downtrodden appearance. There is a party going on around him, and his family is bustling about, some with drinks in their hands and others with plates of food. They’re all out of focus, though, almost too blurry to see. JIM approaches his father, a wide smile on his face and a beer in his hand, half emptied. He’s about fifty, with a rough air to him. He is his father’s only child, and looks after him now. He leans over the wheelchair.
Come on, dad. (Pause) Dad? (He notices his father’s expression) Hey, what’s wrong?
LIAM turns slowly, but doesn’t fully crane his neck. After a moment, he turns back around. JIM walks around the wheelchair and finds a patio chair toppled over beside it on the grass. After tipping it back upright, he sits down and looks at his father; they’re both sitting side by side. The same height.
Dad? You have your hearing aids in?
(He turns to his son)
So what’s wrong, dad?
LIAM breaks away from the view of the lake to shift his gaze to his son, who is waiting for his answer. A moment of silence, then LIAM explains.
Nothing… (Beat) Just thinking about your mother.
JIM frowns, then shifts in his chair.
Oh, dad, don’t do that. (Pause) Just enjoy the party, alright?
(Continuing, as if JIM hasn’t spoken)
I want to visit her… (He looks down in irritation at his useless legs) I want to visit her, Jim; can we go when the party’s done?
Dad, we went this morning.
LIAM remembers this and sits back in resignation. A sad look crosses his wrinkled face.
Oh… oh, right.
JIM develops a pained expression, then reaches up to run his hand through his hair. He takes a sip of his beer and sets the can down on the grass, looking around at the other guests to see if anyone is staring. When his father starts talking again, his gaze darts over in shock.
Can she see me, Jim? Across the lake?
(He looks ready to cry)
Yeah, dad. (Beat) Let’s go talk to the guests, alright?
I can see her. There she is, Jim. Look. (Point)
Camera shows the view across the lake. There’s a little island floating on the horizon with a tree growing from the top. The island is mostly a bluff of grass, and behind it is a mountain range shrouded in a thin layer of white mist. JIM looks, then turns back to his father, gently lowering his arm for him.
I know, dad. I can see her.
(Ignoring his son)
She loved the water.
Some guests come over and interrupt, drawing JIM’s attention. He composes himself and begins to talk to them in indistinguishable chatter. Focus on LIAM, who now looks down at the shore. In the next shot, we see the mother sitting down on the beach (this is a daydream) with JIM as a little boy, playing in the water. She turns and smiles at LIAM, then continues to watch her son. After a moment of this, fog begins to creep over the water, swallowing the mother and the boy. We cut to LIAM sitting where he was, but the party is over and the yard is empty. The lake is hidden by mist now, as well as the mountains, and the island sticks up from the sea of paleness. JIM’s voiceover comes in to narrate as we see him walking across the yard toward his father. He grabs the wheelchair handles and pushes him down towards the pier.
He told me he could see her. Every night and every morning, he’d go down to the water to see her. When we’d buried her on the island, he told me he would visit her every day, that he wanted to buy a little boat. That was before he lost control of his body; I was the one who had to row after that. Still, every morning and every night, he’d ask me to help him into the boat, and we’d row.
We see shots of what JIM is describing. He is loading LIAM into the boat, then paddling across the lake, then landing on the island, where the wheelchair is unloaded and LIAM is sat down again into it. The mist has mostly cleared now, and the sun is shining through the clouds.
JIM V/O (Cont.)
It was the only thing he longed for, the only thing he ever asked of me. I just wanted to give him what he wanted… while he could still ask for it, you know?
EXT. ISLAND – DAY
JIM is pushing LIAM in the wheelchair up a little pathway. At the top of the bluff is a tombstone. JIM situates the chair in front of it, then stops pushing, letting go of the handles. He watches while his father stares down at the stone, a smile on his face. There is a long moment of silence before JIM speaks.
Can you see her, dad?
Yes, Jim… I can see her.
They both stare down at it in silence. JIM then walks over to the tree, which is growing right beside the stone, and looks up at the flowers growing from its branches.
When you were born, she wouldn’t let go of you. (Pause) I had to pry you away just to hold you, and even then, she’d peer over my shoulder to make sure I didn’t drop you.
JIM turns around, surprised. His father hasn’t spoken that much for a long time.
She loved you more than anything.
JIM doesn’t know what to say. He walks over and sits down on the ground beside his dad. He almost looks like a little boy again being so low beside LIAM.
Remember when I crashed her car?
LIAM starts to laugh quietly, and JIM does the same.
I thought she was gonna kill me.
He laughs some more, then they both grow quiet. After a long while, JIM gets up and walks around to the handles of the wheelchair.
You ready, dad?
(Pause. He smiles widely)
Yes, Jim. I’m ready.
They turn around and go back down the hill. A little flower falls off the tree and lands on the dirt of the grave. JIM’s voiceover comes in again.
We’d spent the little time we had doing that, every day. (Pause) When he died, I buried him beside her on that island, so he wouldn’t have to look out across the lake for her anymore. He’d just be right there with her.
EXT. ISLAND – DAY (Time Passes)
JIM is rowing the boat. He lands it on the island and gets off, then hobbles up the hill. He is now around sixty or seventy, and has a hard time making the climb up the bluff. When he reaches the top, he sees two gravestones side by side, and sits down in front of them. The flowers from the tree are falling, covering both stones in pink spots of color.