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The Silent Song - Emily Chang

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The Silent Song written by Emily Chang

Screenwriting Honors CTD Equinox 2015 8-6-15

INT. ROXY'S TOUR BUS - NIGHT CU OF ROXY'S COMPUTER A YouTube video begins to play, and a teenage girl, 16, appears on the screen. She's standing on a stage in front of millions of people. The drummer behind her counts off, and the song begins, to the delight of the screaming fans. As the song continues to play, we see ROXY DILLON, worldfamous singer, with coal black hair and eyes that pierce, watching it. She hums along, her voice matching perfectly to the video. HEATHER DILLON, Roxy's mom, a small, petite lady, enters the room, which we now see is part of a tour bus. She holds a bottle of water and a purse. HEATHER How's your set coming along? ROXY Alright. I think I've got it. I'm really excited for this show. HEATHER Me too. You've got quite a crowd today: 18,000 are coming to Madison Park. That's almost the max capacity! What's on your set? ROXY Do I have to pass it by you every time I change it? And why do I have a feeling you're not going to like it? (she sees her mom's face) Ugh, fine. I've got my power ballad, my first single, my two uptempos, my pump up song-HEATHER --You're right, I don't like it. I keep telling you not to do your pump up song! It's a very hard song, and you're straining yourself. Heather sets the water bottle down and begins rummaging through her purse, pulling out tickets and backstage passes.

2. ROXY No, I'm not. I've been singing that song for almost a year, and am I dying? No. HEATHER Don't talk like that, you know how anything could happen. I just don't want you to keep doing that hard song. ROXY I can do what I want, it's my concert! HEATHER You belt that entire song. Can't you at least sing it in mix? Heather picks up an old tissue from her purse and throws it out. ROXY Oh no, no, I see what this is about. This is about how you can't sing opera anymore, isn't it. This is why you don't want me to do that song: because of what happened to your voice. Heather looks up from her purse, setting it aside. HEATHER Look, it just scares me when you do the belt-y thing all the time. That song is rough on the vocal cords. And about the opera thing, I'm only trying to protect you. I don't want you to have to go through the same thing I did. Rox, I blew out my voice. ROXY I know, you've told me the story, but I'm not you! I've worked hard to get to where I'm at. I didn't emerge as a child-prodigy...I worked my way up with my talent. That's enough proof to me that I can sing this song without losing my voice.

3. HEATHER And yet, we are the same! We both started as kids, doing what we loved. But this was the age when I lost it. I guess I'm just paranoid it will happen to you, as well, and I want you to understand how much it will kill you to lose it. ROXY Mom, I won't lose it. I promise. But I'm still going to sing that song...I guess I can sing it second instead of last. (to please) Then my voice won't be AS tired as it would be if I sang it at the end. Fine. Happy now? Roxy flops down on her bed, picking at the comforter. HEATHER I--I...fine. Yes, I'm happier. Now go get ready, you've got an hour till showtime. Heather exits, and Roxy opens her computer again. She plays a different video this time, and watches it for a minute. The Roxy in the video sings an acoustic ballad, and hits the chorus. Just as she does, her voice cracks, making a horrible croaking noise. Real-life Roxy quickly shuts the video and finds another one. Video Roxy is singing the pump-up song, and we fade into real-life Roxy singing the same song in Madison Square Garden. As Roxy sings, we see the audience. Thousands of teens, adults, and kids gather in the Square, cheering and singing along with her. Suddenly, Roxy's voice begins to falter. Her voice cracks and becomes hoarse. She tries to keep going, but when she moves her mouth nothing comes out. She grabs her throat in sudden pain and collapses. Medics carry her offstage in seconds. INT. ROXY'S BEDROOM - DAY

4. SUPER: FOUR WEEKS LATER Roxy, looking small and depressed, sits on her bed, picking at the bedspread. She closes out a video, which we see was the Madison Square Garden disaster. She finds a new one. She clicks local deaf "VOLUNTEER DEAFNESS NECESSARY.

play, and an ad pops up for volunteer work at a center. Roxy pauses on the ad and reads it: OPPORTUNITY! COME DROP BY THE HENDERSON CENTER ON 3444 DUNDEE ROAD. NO PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE COME TO LEARN AND HAVE FUN."

Roxy ponders it, then quickly x's out of it just as Heather walks in. HEATHER Roxy, honey. It's gorgeous weather right now, do you want to get ice cream? ROXY No thanks. I'm going to stay here. HEATHER You should really get up and about. I know this has taken a toll on you, but you've sunken into depression! ROXY Well yeah, I'm depressed. How could I not be? Singing was my life, and now it's gone. What else can I do? HEATHER Well you shouldn't give up on life, that's for sure. Come on...let's go! ROXY No. I'm not going. I'd also like some peace and quiet, so if you could leave, that'd be great. HEATHER Excuse me? Did you just tell me to leave? ROXY Yes, I did, Mom. I want to be alone.

5. HEATHER You know, sitting here every day, doing nothing but picking at that dreaded comforter and staring at your computer, won't fix anything. ROXY Well neither will going out. Everyone will recognize me, and then I have to face it once again that I'm not who I was just a couple months ago. HEATHER But you can't stay here forever. Rox, I understand exactly how you're feeling. I went through the same thing-ROXY Oh please. Don't compare me to you for the millionth time. I know what you went through. I don't need to hear it again. HEATHER Roxy Dillon. (sighs) It hurts me, to see you sitting there, depressed. It really sucks. You know, there are nights when I lie in my bed, blaming myself for what happened to you. Thinking what I could have done to deserve this. A second time. What I did wrong. I bet you never thought how I feel, did you? I am hurting too. ROXY I know you are. Look, it's not your fault. I didn't listen to you, and I threw away my fucking voice. It's all my fault. Just blame me. HEATHER I'm not asking you to blame yourself, and watch your language. I just want you to see that you're not alone. Please. ROXY I understand that. But now will you please LEAVE me alone?

6. HEATHER My god, Roxy. It's the summer! Find a summer job, or some volunteer work you can do. Something that will help you get out of this funk you're in. This is only going to make you feel worse. ROXY I don't want to work. And I am very comfortable right here thank you very much. HEATHER I give up. I give up! Fine, if that's what you wanted. But I want to see you out of the house. Tomorrow. And no questions or complaints. You are getting out. ROXY You can't force me to do that. You can't force me to do anything. HEATHER Don't you see what you're doing? This is the exact conversation we had the concert you lost your voice. Will you knock some common sense into that brain of yours and wake up? Tomorrow. Out. No questions. Heather leaves, closing the door. Roxy curls up on her bed, annoyed. Then, she pulls out her laptop and searches for the Henderson Center on Deafness. EXT. ROAD - DAY Roxy walks along a busy road, earbuds in, carrying a purse and a print out of the volunteering ad. She approaches the deaf center but backs away, doubting herself. She doesn't get a choice though - as a petite woman, MRS HENDERSON, ushers Roxy inside.

7. MRS. HENDERSON Hi! Welcome to the Henderson Center on Deafness! Are you the person who responded to our volunteer ad? I am.

ROXY

MRS. HENDERSON It's so nice to meet you. I'm Mrs. Henderson, but you can call me Mrs. H. We love volunteers, and since we just lost two of our staff members, we really love them now. Roxy lets out a small laugh, surprising even herself. MRS. HENDERSON (CONT’D) And you are? ROXY Roxy Dillon. And I don't know sign language. A glimpse of recognition flashes across Mrs. Henderson's face at the name, but she quickly hides it. MRS. HENDERSON Oh, that won't be a problem. I can teach you easily! And I'm sure the kids would love to help out as well. ROXY Thanks for the offer, but I don't even want to be here. My mom made me come, so I could get out of the house. MRS. HENDERSON Don't worry about it! Sometimes mom-motivation is just what you need. Just as Roxy is about to speak again, a 12 year old girl, BELLE, runs up to Mrs. H. She sees Roxy, and her eyes widen. BELLE (signs) Is that Roxy Dillon?! MRS. HENDERSON (signs back) Yes, it is.

8. BELLE (signs, excited) I can't believe it! I never thought I'd get to see her again! MRS. HENDERSON Oh, Roxy. This is one of our oldest students here, Belle. She's 12. She lost her hearing just two years ago. (hesitant) She was a huge fan of yours. You inspired her to write music. She still tries to, although it's...hard. Belle stares up at Roxy, awestruck, and Roxy, genuinely, smiles down at her. ROXY I can't imagine what it would be like to lose your hearing, especially after you had it for so long. MRS. HENDERSON I suspect you might actually know exactly how that feels. Mrs. Henderson walks to her desk and grabs a form before Roxy can ask her any questions. MRS. HENDERSON (CONT’D) Just fill this out, and you'll be good to go. ROXY I'm really not sure about this... MRS. HENDERSON Hey, come on. I know what happened to you, but your mom is right. Getting out of the house will be good for you. It already has been. Mrs. Henderson smiles a knowing smile as Roxy reluctantly begins to sign the form. MRS. HENDERSON (CONT’D) I look forward to seeing you tomorrow. We'll start the sign language lesson then.

9. Suddenly, Belle appears by Mrs. Henderson's side and signs something. MRS. HENDERSON (CONT’D) Oh, and Belle says she'll be happy to help teach you. (to Roxy privately) She's a very sweet girl. Just give the kids a chance, and I promise you won't regret it. Roxy gives in, and lets a smile onto her face. Belle seems to already be infecting Roxy with joy. INT. DEAF CENTER - DAY BEGIN MONTAGE: -- Roxy and Mrs. H sit across from each other, Mrs. H demonstrating different letters in sign language. Roxy imitates them, studious and determined. -- Mrs. H teaching in a classroom as Roxy walks in, signing something to some kids who run up to her and hug her. -- Roxy having her first long conversation in sign language with Belle, who is giggling at Roxy's attempts to contort her hand. -- Roxy and Belle, grinning at each other, signing back and forth successfully. END MONTAGE. EXT. DEAF CENTER - DAY Roxy tosses a ball back and forth with some kids, seemingly distracted. Belle bounces into view, running to hug Roxy. Roxy lets the ball go, hugging her back. The other kids join in, and soon it's a dog-pile on top of Roxy. She tickles the kids, and they scream and yelp with laughter. Mrs. Henderson walks out just as the kids are jumping and burying Roxy beneath them all. Mrs. Henderson smiles a knowing smile, turns on her heels, and walks back into the center, satisfied.

10. INT. DEAF CENTER CLASSROOM - DAY A new day, Roxy walks into the classroom, greeting Mrs. H and some of the kids. Belle runs by Roxy, holding something behind her back. Roxy sits down at a desk, rummaging through some alphabet cards and math sheets as Mrs. H comes over. MRS. HENDERSON Good morning! You know, I've been meaning to let you know that I really appreciate all this help you've been giving me. It's the summer, and you could be doing many other things than helping me out here. Thank you. Roxy smiles. ROXY Oh no, Mrs. H, it's totally fine. I love it here. It distracts me from everything else. The center has actually helped me, a lot. MRS. HENDERSON Well I'm glad. Oh, and the kids wanted to show you something, so you better get in Classroom 2. It's a surprise, for the both of us. INT. CLASSROOM 2 - CONTINUOUS Roxy sits down on the floor next to Mrs. H where the kids are standing in a clump in the corner. One by one, the kids file out, and split to reveal Belle. She is holding a picture of her and Roxy from three years ago. Belle runs up to Roxy and holds out a pen. BELLE (signs) Will you sign it, please? Shock registers on Roxy's face, she pushes Belle's hand away and gets up to leave. Mrs. H is suddenly in front of Roxy, guiding her back to Belle, but Roxy ditches her grasp and runs out of the classroom. Belle looks as if she is about to cry, but runs after Roxy instead.

11. EXT. DEAF CENTER - CONTINUOUS Belle stops Roxy just as she is leaving, and Roxy tries to push past her. BELLE (a little slow in speaking) I didn't mean to hurt you! I'm really sorry. It's just a picture! She gets no response from Roxy, who has slipped back into shutting everyone out. BELLE (CONT’D) I've looked up to you since I was little! You're my inspiration. Roxy is still unresponsive, but she stops walking. She turns to Belle, about to say something, but doesn't and begins walking again. Belle finally gives up on stopping Roxy, but quickly slips the photo into Roxy's back pocket before running off back to the school, where Mrs. H watches sadly. INT. ROXY'S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS Roxy sits on her bed, angrily picking at her comforter. She gets up and thumps to the kitchen, where her mom is cooking. HEATHER Why are you so thump-y today? ROXY I'm never going back. What?

HEATHER

Roxy's mom stops chopping fruit and goes over to Roxy. ROXY Yeah, I said I'm not going back to that center. I'll be down for dinner in a little bit. Roxy stomps back upstairs, as Heather shouts.

12. HEATHER Change your clothes and put them in the wash. We can talk at dinner. INT. LAUNDRY ROOM - NIGHT Heather sits, scrolling on her phone as the dryer tumbles. It stops, and she takes out the clothes. A crumpled photo sits among the dry clothes, and Heather picks it up, looks at it. She leaves the clothes and quickly runs upstairs. INT. DILLON'S LIVING ROOM - CONTINUOUS A cute, rustic set up, with cozy looking furniture and a wide-screen TV. Roxy watches it, slumped on a couch. Heather appears, holding the photo. She shows it to Roxy, waiting. When Roxy realizes what picture it is, she just slumps more and turns away, turning the TV on louder. Heather sighs, puts the picture on the couch next to Roxy, and is about to leave. HEATHER Honey...this little girl. Where did you get this? ROXY She must have slipped it in my pocket or something. She's at the deaf center. HEATHER Well then you can't quit! There's got to be someone you care enough about there. You can't let them down. You just got out of your funk. Don't let it come back. Loss...reveals something. Opportunity, I guess you could say. Take it. The photo...and the opportunity. Roxy shuts off the TV, taking the picture. She stares at it as her mom exits. Roxy gets up, runs up the stairs, and into-

13. INT. ROXY'S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS Roxy flops on her bed, still looking at the picture. She opens her laptop and finds a YouTube video, one from the same concert the photo was taken at. She watches herself sing, but doesn't get emotional this time. She sets the photo down and grabs her bag, slipping it in to pack for the next day. EXT. DEAF CENTER - DAY As Roxy walks in the center, some of the kids stare while others cheer. Mrs. Henderson appears, and sees Roxy. MRS. HENDERSON You came back. ROXY I did. And I'm here for good. MRS. HENDERSON What made you change your mind? ROXY There were too many people here I cared about, enough not to let them down. Mrs. Henderson smiles, and Belle runs up behind Roxy, tentative. Roxy hands Belle the signed picture, and Belle beams. INT. SMALL STAGE/DEAF CENTER - CONTINUOUS A small stage, complete with a thin red curtain and folding chairs. Roxy and the kids are sitting in the chairs, and some kids, including Belle, run off behind the stage. MRS. HENDERSON Welcome to our talent show! I am so pleased to present some of the best talent we have here at the Center. With no further ado, enjoy the show! Roxy grins, clapping. The lights dim and cheesy music begins to play as the curtains open. BEGIN MONTAGE:

14. -- BOY 1 steps out with scarves and juggles them. Another BOY comes out as well, and begins juggling rings. Soon, the boys begin partner juggling, ending in a flourish. -- A GIRL walks onstage holding a board with a bulls-eye on it. She also carries a bow and arrow. She begins to set it up, but Mrs. H hurriedly rushes, alarmed, onstage and ushers her off. -- 3 GIRLS come out, and do a series of gymnastics tricks and moves. They fly around, doing somersaults and aerials. END MONTAGE. Last, Belle walks out holding a piece of paper. She stands center stage and begins signing the words. BELLE (signing) Things in life are not easy. They don't come in little fortune cookies, telling you to count your lucky stars. Things in life are not happy. They push you down even in your darkest times. Things in life are not nice. They kick you over and over again. And things in life are not slow. They come and go as fast as a blink of the eye. But things in life are precious. If you hold on to them long enough, they will never ever leave. Belle looks out at the audience, and shifts her gaze to Roxy, who has happy tears in her eyes. Belle breaks into a smile and hops off the stage to hug Roxy. INT. DEAF CENTER - DAY Roxy sits at a desk, rummaging through papers and flashcards. Suddenly, Belle runs up to Roxy, in tears. ROXY What's wrong? BELLE I can't--I can't-ROXY You can't what? What's wrong? BELLE I can't hear them anymore!

15.

Who?

ROXY

BELLE My melodies. My music. When I lost my hearing two years ago, I promised myself I would never forget how they sound, and so everyday when I wake up I sing them to myself. ROXY And now you can't hear them anymore? BELLE Last week I started not remembering the last few notes, and as the week went on, I lost more and more. Today, I woke up and was about to sing them, but I couldn't remember anything. I forgot them. I forgot them! ROXY Belle, honey, it's okay-BELLE No, it's not okay! What am I going to do? My music...the one thing I had left that connected me to it is gone now. Belle breaks down, and Roxy pulls her into an embrace. ROXY Hey, hey there. I understand how you feel. You do?

BELLE

ROXY I do. When I lost my voice, it was so sudden, I didn't get a chance to think about it. I didn't get a chance to change it. You lost your music in the same way, in the blink of an eye. But-BELLE But you can sing again, can't you? You haven't lost your voice forever, right?

16. ROXY No, no. I can't sing again. If I do, it makes a horrible sound and it will just make my nodes worse. I'm sorry.

BELLE

Roxy frowns; she seems to hear herself talking. ROXY Funny...this is the same thing my mom... Roxy's face begin to light up; she realizes her mom was right. Belle is still looking at Roxy, teary-eyed. Roxy shakes the feeling. ROXY (CONT’D) It's okay, but this isn't about me. I want you to know that you're not alone. I've gone through the same thing you did. I lost my music. And neither of us can get it back. I'm here, for you. BELLE Thanks, Roxy. Belle smiles, then suddenly gets up. BELLE (CONT’D) I need to finish something. You better be here tomorrow...I have a surprise for you! INT. DEAF CENTER - NEXT DAY As soon as Roxy sets down her bag, Belle appears, holding something behind her back. It's a piece of paper. ROXY What's that? BELLE The surprise. I've been working on it a while. I almost stopped yesterday, when I woke up without my melodies, but you made me realize I couldn't let you down. You helped me, so it's my turn to help you.

17. ROXY What do you mean? BELLE Well, you've been my inspiration for so long, and seeing you all depressed isn't making me happy. So I thought up a way you could still have music in your life. ROXY You did? What is it? This.

BELLE

Belle holds up the piece of paper. It has an empty music staff. Underneath the lines are words: lyrics. ROXY Is this...for me? Duh!

BELLE

ROXY You wrote these lyrics for me? Why? BELLE So you can write your own music. It's time you create your own melodies, and write them down. Instead of, you know, singing. ROXY Oh, Belle. I--I really don't know if I can do this... BELLE I know you can, Roxy. You've done so many amazing things in your life, and you can add this to your list! ROXY I--Wow. This...Belle, thank you. Roxy kisses Belle on the cheek.

18. ROXY (CONT’D) The only problem is...I've only sung music. I have only a little bit of an idea how to write it. BELLE Well lucky for you, I know. I'll teach you. It's really simple, actually. You just let a melody start writing itself, and it carries you through the song. ROXY You'd do that? For me? BELLE Of course. Rox, you're my bestest friend, ever. I want you to be happy. ROXY You're the best, Belle. But I--I have to go. I promise I'll come back, but I need to go. Now. Roxy gets up and exits, leaving Belle confused. EXT. ROAD - CONTINUOUS Roxy walks down the street, away from the center. When we see her face, she has tears in her eyes. INT. DILLON HOME - CONTINUOUS Roxy runs in the house and straight into her mom. HEATHER Roxy? Oh my gosh, what's the matter? What happened? ROXY Nothing. Nothing bad. I just...I need some time. HEATHER Will you tell me what happened? ROXY Belle, the girl in the photo you found, gave me a piece of paper I could write my own music on. (MORE)

19. ROXY (CONT’D) But it was too much...I started remembering who I was before, and I felt the depression coming again, tugging at me. I--I don't know-HEATHER Shh, honey, shh. Roxy, Roxy look at me. I still feel the depression. It's not going to go away. But you can make it as small as possible. And the writing music thing. That's amazing. You can bring music back into your life, with just a pencil and a piece of paper. Do you understand? ROXY Yeah, yeah I think I really do. You know, today I was talking to Belle, comforting her, and I realized I was turning into you. I literally said the same things as you told me. But I realized you were right. All along. I'm sorry, Mom. I should've listened. HEATHER I'm glad you finally got through to that brain of yours. It's a smart one. And you will become me. It's your destiny. Roxy laughs, and is about to escape to her room when her mom hugs her. Roxy, relaxing, hugs back. INT. ROXY'S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS Roxy sits on her bed, watching old YouTube videos. She reminisces, tapping her foot to the beat. Her pump-up song comes on, and she stares long at the screen before shutting it. Roxy takes out the piece of paper that Belle gave her, and slowly unfolds it. She picks up a pencil and writes a single note on the page. Her hand shaking, she writes another one. A single tear drops on the note, and smears it, but as we see Roxy, it's not a sad tear. Roxy stares at the paper, and a smile breaks onto her face.

20. INT. WALMART - DAY Roxy and Heather roll a dilapidated shopping cart down the aisle labelled, "MATTRESSES/BEDSPREADS". Roxy scribbles away in a notebook, while Heather runs her hand along the different comforters. HEATHER What about this one? Roxy looks up briefly from her notebook, which we now see is a filled with sheet music. Huh?

ROXY

HEATHER This comforter. What about this blue one? It matches your pillows. ROXY I don't care. HEATHER Yeah, you really don't. You shred them all, anyway. ROXY It's a habit. HEATHER It's weird. ROXY Well you have weird habits, too! HEATHER Ohh, like what? ROXY I--I don't know. Whatever. It helps me relax, and think. HEATHER Whatever you say. Mother and daughter share a glance, then break into laughter. ROXY I love you, Mom. HEATHER I love you, too.

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