CUPBOARD GIRL (Excerpt) (Inspired by Ian McEwan) / Yue Ran

INT. BEDROOM – MORNING

We see a 19-year-old girl lying on a double-size bed. This is Tsuki.

Tsuki opens her eyes and lies on her side. She rolls over and looks at the pillow next to her. There is no one next to her, but marks on the sheet show that there was someone else who also slept in the bed.

Tsuki starts looking anxious. She sits up as she looks around.

She cries in a babyish way.

TSUKI (V.O.)

Mama..Mama.

WE SEE A ROOM WHERE THE WALL IS COVERED WITH A CHILDISH PAINTING OF A FOREST.

Toys with their color faded out are placed on the floor.

It is an extremely childish room, but the shabbiness and gloominess make it depressing.

A woman in her 40s walks into the room. This is Tsuki’s mother. Tsuki stops crying and her eyes fix on her mother.

Mom walks across the room while humming a lullaby and heads over to the cupboard. She opens the cupboard.

There are piles of large baby dresses inside the cupboard. Mother takes a whitish baby dress out and closes the cupboard.

Mother turns to the crib bed. She smiles gently and leans over to Tsuki.

MOTHER (V.O.)

Mommy’s here…mommy’s here.

Tsuki bursts into a smile. Mother sits on the bed and dresses Tsuki.

INT. KITCHEN – MORNING

Mother puts a bowl of mushy food in front of Tsuki, who sits at the table in her baby dress.

Mother sits next to Tsuki and feeds her the mushy food with a spoon. There is a strange harmony and happiness during the breakfast.

INT. BEDROOM – MORNING

Mother and Tsuki sit on the sofa. Mother holds a book of LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD and reads it out loud.

MOTHER (V.O.)

But red riding hood thought to her herself: ‘as long as I live, I will never leave the path by myself to run into the woods, when my mother has forbidden me to do so.’

Mother closes the book and puts it on the table.

MOTHER (V.O.)

You see, that’s what happened to the little red cape…but don’t be scared, I will keep you from being harmed by the wolf at anyplace, even in the woods…

Mother turns to Tsuki with a gentle smile and puts her arms around Tsuki’s neck. She starts whispering in Tsuki’s ear.

MOTHER

My baby girl, I love you…I will never leave you…

The background continues to darken as the light is facing the direction of Tsuki and mother.

FADE TO BLACK.

INT. BATHROOM – NIGHT

Mother, in a fancy dress, puts heavy makeup on her face. There is an excitement on her face.

CUT TO:

INT. BEDROOM – CONTINUOUS

Tsuki sits on the floor and plays with the lamb doll.

As Tsuki plays with the doll, there is a sound of a doorbell ringing. Tsuki is startled by this sound and hastily looks over to the door.

We see mother standing in front of Tsuki’s bedroom. She panics and closes the bedroom’s door.

INT. DOORWAY – CONTINUOUS

Our camera slowly moves across the living room as the conversation between mother and the man continues.

MOTHER (O.S.)

Didn’t I ask you to wait outside?

MAN (O.S.)

Sorry. You look amazing!

MOTHER (O.S.)

Thank you. Are we ready to go?

As the man is about to reply, his eyes fix on our camera. He is shocked by what he sees.

We see Tsuki standing in the doorway. She wears the same baby dress with the pacifier in her mouth and the doll in her hand. Tsuki also looks bewildered.

Mother turns around to Tsuki. There is no longer any tenderness on Mother’s face now.

CUT TO:

THE TRAINING SESSION:

INT. BEDROOM – MORNING

We repeat the same shot as the opening scene.

But this time, there is a teenager’s dress next to Tsuki. The other pillow is gone.

Tsuki takes this clothing and sits up. She does not know what this is and looks up. We see mother standing over the bed.

INT. KITCHEN – MORNING

Instead of mushy food, mother puts down a bowl of rice in front of Tsuki, still wearing the pajamas.

Mother also prepares a pair of chopsticks. She teaches Tsuki how to use the chopsticks. Tsuki tries to mimic it. Unfortunately, Tsuki drops the chopsticks, but Mother doesn’t show any anger.

CUT TO:

INT. BEDROOM – DAY

Tsuki tries to get dressed by herself and gets stuck in a piece of clothing. Mother just sits on the bed and looks at Tsuki.

INT. KITCHEN – DAY

Tsuki uses the chopstick clumsily. As she eats the rice, the flavor disgusts her and makes her spit it out.

Mother gets frustrated and looks away.

INT. BATHROOM – NIGHT

Tsuki’s hair band is taken away and Mother puts mascara on Tsuki.

INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT

Mother cuts the lamb doll with scissors.

The plastic bag is already filled with baby dresses and toys, and we see mother throwing the other baby dress inside.

INT. LIVING ROOM – NIGHT

Mother starts teaching Tsuki, who no longer dresses like a baby, on how to read. The textbook is also the fairytale book.

Mother gets impatient and yells at Tsuki, repeating the same words that she has taught her before. Again, Mother drags Tsuki away.

INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT

Mother takes Tsuki to the cupboard and opens up the door and shoves Tsuki inside. Tsuki panics as Mother slams the door shut.

INT. LIVING ROOM – DAY

Tsuki practices writing and Mother stands next to her. Suddenly, Mother grabs the paper that Tsuki has written on and scolds at her while pointing at the paper.

Mother presses Tsuki’s head down hard and demands her to rewrite.

INT. LIVING ROOM – DAY

Tsuki kneels on the floor and is petrified. Mother approaches Tsuki with a ruler in her hand.

The ruler falls on Tsuki’s body who tries to avoid it while she cries.

INT. LIVING ROOM – NIGHT

Mother yells at Tsuki and slaps her during the reading practice.

The clock points at 12. Tsuki still practices the writing by the lamp as Mother stands next to her. Mother grabs a pile of papers and throws them at Tsuki.

INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT

Tsuki is locked inside the cupboard again.

CUT TO BLACK.

INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT

The moonlight shines in and the orange light from the lamp strikes the cupboard and the window.

Tsuki lies on the bed. She reads THE LITTLE RIDING HOOD. At this point, she is capable of reading this story out loud.

Her whole image is changed. We see a teenage Tsuki now.

TSUKI (V.O.)

When Little Red Cap entered the wood, a wolf came up to her. She did not know what a wicked animal he was and was not afraid of him.

MOTHER (O.S.)

Dinner is ready!

INT. KITCHEN – NIGHT

Tsuki walks into the kitchen. There is the man sitting next to her mother and the dinner is already on the table. Tsuki sits opposite to them.

TSUKI

Grace. (Itadakimasu)

Mother slightly sighs with a relief and smiles at the man. The man smiles back awkwardly.

The dinner starts.

Tsuki picks up a small meatball with chopsticks in a less clumsy way. However, when she is about to eat the meatball, the meatball slips from the chopsticks and falls on the table.

Tsuki tries to pick it up again with the chopsticks, but the meatball slips away again. She looks up at her mother, who has little intention to help and so does the man.

Tsuki frowns and suddenly puts down the chopsticks and uses her hand to pick up the meatball and puts it into her mouth.

Tsuki’s behavior certainly startles the man and also disappoints Mother. They stop having dinner.

After chewing, Tsuki spits the food out. The mother is irritated. None of them utter a word for a moment.

At this time, she withholds this anger and gets up briskly and walks out of the kitchen. The man follows behind.

We linger on Tsuki smirking and looking over the yard through the window.

INT. YARD – NIGHT

We can see Mother and the man gesturing in the yard. The conversation between them carries on inaudibly.

MOTHER (O.S.)

(crying tone)

After everything I’ve done for her, she still couldn’t learn.

MAN (O.S.)

It is not your fault.

MOTHER (O.S.)

What should I do?

MAN (O.S.)

She needs to grow up on her own. Besides, you’ve done enough for her. You need to think more about yourself.

There is silence.

Only Mother comes back and sits down. Tsuki looks at her mother like a child who made a terrible mistake​, afraid, ashamed. Mother stares at Tsuki and seems determined to tell her something.

CUT TO:

INT. LIVING ROOM – SUNSET

A painting of “little red cap” walking into the forest on her own. As the camera zooms out, we see that this painting is actually printed in the fairytale book. We see Tsuki’s hand pointing at the story below the painting.

CUT TO:

There are piles of papers scattered on the floor and the writings on those papers are hard to tell that it is written by an adult.

We see Tsuki practicing writing by copying the story. Tsuki’s stomach grumbles. She stops writing and walks towards the kitchen.

INT. KITCHEN – NIGHT

Tsuki opens up the refrigerator and there is nothing except half of a raw pumpkin inside it.

She takes out the pumpkin and puts it on the chopping board. She picks up the spoon from the sink and scoops the seeds out.

She starts to eat. However, she cannot swallow.

Tsuki is frustrated and throws the spoon back to the sink where there are already piles of plates and raw vegetables and meat and a sprouted potato.

INT. BEDROOM – CONTINUES

Tuski opens the cupboard. There are plenty of girls’ dresses except for one baby dress hung among those dresses. She stares at that baby dress and takes out the other clothes instead.

INT. BATHROOM BATHTUB – CONTINUES

We see water running inside the bathtub and Tsuki sitting inside without undressing. Her thoughts drifts as the water keeps flowing.

CUT TO:

The remaining baby dress is in the cupboard.

CUT BACK TO:

Tsuki arrives in front of the door and gazes at the door. Her hand rests on the doorknob for a second and there is a hint of fear on her face. Tsuki takes a deep breath and leaves the house barefoot.

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