Here’s a fun little screenplay sketch I wrote in honor of all the times I said, “I wish I was the English voice on the metro” while living in Nanjing, China.
A LOVE STORY LIKE NO OTHER
[Enter TABITHA, standing imposingly in front of the Old Capitol. She’s small and cute, but not exactly your typical manic pixie dream girl. She crosses her arms. Tries to look tough.]
IN A CITY LIKE NO OTHER
[Shots of Iowa City on a weekend night: smokers outside Deadwood, guttural yells from Brothers, pulsing music from Union. We see Tabitha, walking the ped mall alone. She approaches someone and taps them on the shoulder.
TABITHA: I’m sorry… can I get one of those?
[The guy nods and immediately starts slinging together a grilled cheese for our main girl.]
TABITHA: I’m just so hungry when I’m stoned! Oops! I shouldn’t have said that!
GRILLED CHEESE GUY: Literally everyone smokes in this town. Because everyone is in college. Or a townie.
TABITHA: Shut up! I won’t stand for your patriarchal, misogynistic explanation!
GRILLED CHEESE GUY is floored. She’s stunning.
IN A CITY OF… LITERATURE?
[All of a sudden, a DRUNK GUY stumbles in and vomits on TABITHA’s shoes.]
TABITHA: Oh. NOOOO!!!!
DRUNK GUY looks up.
DRUNK GUY: Is this heaven?
TABITHA: You are NOT hitting on me!
DRUNK GUY: No… I’m just asking… Is this heaven?
GRILLED CHEESE GUY: No. It’s Iowa… City.
[insert chirpy interlude trailer music with the sound of DRUNK GUY throwing up layered on top of it]
[TABITHA in front of the mirror.]
TABITHA [voice overlay]: I’m twenty-two. It’s getting to be that time. That time when you, well, move on from a place. And I’m about to graduate from the university, sure, but in a way… I’m also graduating from Iowa City.
[Montage of different parts of Iowa City: Prairie Lights, Java House, the record store, the Pentacrest, even the Iowa River.]
TABITHA [voice overlay]: All these places that became a part of me will disappear. And slowly but surely, I’ll disappear. I’ll enter… the Real World.
[Slow motion pan + music of TABITHA walking down the ped mall, looking nostalgic. Then she bumps into GRILLED CHEESE GUY AGAIN. The music halts.]
GRILLED CHEESE GUY: Oh!
GRILLED CHEESE GUY: Um, yeah, it’s me, uh, I gave you, you know… I gave you that grilled cheese.
[We move to faster, more upbeat music and a montage of TABITHA and GRILLED CHEESE GUY spending time together: sharing froyo, skipping down the ped mall, cuddling on painted benches.]
TABITHA [voiceover]: It was like a dream. Or a nightmare. I never imagined falling in love. And I never thought I would fall in love with a straight cisgender heteronormative guy, but it happened.
…TROUBLE WAS JUST AROUND THE CORNER.
[TABITHA and GRILLED CHEESE GUY halt.]
TABITHA: What are those?
[The camera turns to show someone posting a poster with a large, loud, rip of tape about a rival food stand: DRUNKEN DUMPLINGS.]
GRILLED CHEESE GUY: Oh hell no!
[More upbeat music. Montage of TABITHA and GRILLED CHEESE GUY slopping together grilled cheeses.]
GRILLED CHEESE GUY: He’s not gonna outdo me, he’s not gonna outdo me…
CAN LOVE TRULY OVERCOME ANYTHING?
GRILLED CHEESE GUY: I MAKE GRILLED CHEESE! YA HEAR THAT? GET SOME, GET SOME!
[People flock. TABITHA is left in the back.]
OR WILL SOMETHING CHEESY GET IN THE WAY?
[TABITHA and GRILLED CHEESE GUY are alone.]
TABITHA: I just don’t think it’s gonna work out.
GRILLED CHEESE GUY: You’re leaving me because you’re jealous of how much time I’m away.
TABITHA: No… no. Hell no! I’m leaving because I love myself more! I don’t need a man like you!
[We see TABITHA graduate. We see her celebrating with friends and family. We see her making her own grilled cheeses at home.]
TABITHA [voiceover]: What if the best love story… is the one for myself?
NEVER COMING TO IOWA THEATRES NEAR YOU