AJA, (50)a brunette woman, youthful looking, with bronze skin and crinkles on her eyelids, and a bit of a muffin-top giving her away, stands at the kitchen sink, looking out the window at leafless trees and a lake directly in front of her. She is drying a dish with a tea towel. She can see two heads, one adult male and one a child, on the living room couch, at an angle in front of her. The kitchen doors are directly to her left, solid glass with wood trim.
Bugs Bunny plays on the tv set.
SYLVESTER THE CAT
Ok, you rascally rabbit...
Something catches Aja's peripheral vision, something stuck between the two glass kitchen doors.
An envelope is stuck between the doors, and the wind is moving it back and forth, threatening to take it away.
Aja puts down the dish and walks two or three steps to the door.
She opens the door and the envelope gets carried by the wind.
Aja follows it in bare feet, on pavers.
The envelope moves down the stairs.
Aja rushes down the stairs.
Steps on the envelope, the kitchen door behind her swings back and forth.
Aja picks it up.
INT. BEDROOM HOTEL SUITE/OUTSIDE VENICE/DAY
A foot lies outside a white sheet. Sounds of birds. Wind pushes a sheer curtain against iron clad windows. Aja (50) lies partially covered by the sheet, tanned skin shimmering as she languidly tilts her head back, her hair spread over the pillow.
The hills of Ravenna are still green on this very warm mid-November day.
You're my first real lover…not an almost lover.
Michael (58) rubs her toes, sitting at the END of the bed. His head is buzzed close, he is fit, with a scattering of chest and leg hair. He is an athlete, with a steady look, kind eyes and an aquiline nose. He looks around Aja rather than directly at her, like he is taking all of her in. Aja's foot is in his hand outside the white sheet.
I was living in a hotel during the divorce, which was in Canada and my house was in the United States. I used to smoke outside the hotel and I met this woman there. She ran a prison and she was training to be inside it for the duration of a strike, should it come. She told me a story of coming home with groceries with her husband and recognized four ex convicts were on the neighbors's roof, across the road. Did you know that roofers don't need much training?
Michael shakes his head and takes the other foot.
She hid her head and went inside and whispered to her husband to bring in the groceries. She didn't want them to know where she lived.
Michael climbs over the white sheet.
INT.HALLWAY/ BEDROOM HOTEL SUITE/BALCONY HOTEL SUITE/OUTISDE VENICE/DAY
An older woman in black, stands outside the thick wood door carrying a glass cup of tea on an elaborate plate. The woman raps the door with her knuckles. There are etched birds in the cornices of the door.
Aja walks to the door and opens it.
The woman scowls at Michael, who is putting on his socks, on the bed.
Grazie, thanks, grazie.
The older woman frowns and retreats, closing the door abruptly behind her.
Aja strolls across the bedroom.
She kicks off her slippers and sits on a chair on the balcony. Rolling green hills frame her feet. Michael sits down with a coffee in his hand.
I remember Tuscany, and driving into Rome, the coastline near Pompeii, how beautiful, the motorcycles whipping by, the drop, but this peaceful rolling grass is new.
She sips her tea. Birds fly overhead and cry out.
When I was little my mother told me old European fairy tales, ones that aren't generally known. This feels like one of them.
Michael looks at her as she speaks.
Aja sits in the gondola, Michael beside her. A tall gentlemen dressed in light colors directs the boat. The light fades as the sun has set. The water and monochrome buildings reflect light.
Porch light falls across layered walls of gold, green, violet, the walls peel layers of art from past centuries.
INT. BEDROOM HOTEL SUITE/DAY
Aja packs her suitcase on the bed. She is wearing a loose silk bathrobe. The phone rings and she picks it up.
Yes, bring it up. Grazie.
Aja strolls to the balcony.
There is a rap on the door. It opens.
A short woman in black SIGNORA COSTELLA carries an embroidered shift dress on a hanger, a scarf with many red threads sits on top.
Allora, posso entrare?
Aja steps aside and the Signora enters with the dress.
Signora Costello walks to the closet and hangs the dress up.
She smiles at Aja.
Una bellissima giornata, Signora.
Signora Costello looks out the balcony doors.
The goddess, Signora, she travels the land, if we see her or not.
Aja tilts her head, looks at her.
Signora Costello walks to the door.
Mille grazie, Signora. Tante bella cose! Allora.
Signora Costella closes the door.
Aja stares after her then dials her phone.
Hi Daniel, my sweetheart. How are you? ...
I am in Venice....Yes, with the gondolas.
Have you been to one? I have my book. (trails off)
Aja smiles and walks to her dress.
INT. BEDROOM HOTEL SUITE/OUTSIDE VENICE/DAY
The door opens and Michael comes in. Seeing Aja, he walks to her, and pulls the shoulders of her robe down, stepping closer.
INT. BEDROOM HOTEL SUITE/NIGHT
Aja lies in Michael's arms, rubs the back of her hand on his cheek.
(studying them) You have long eyelashes.
Do you shave every day? (not waiting) It is sexy.
Michael moves his head so his lips meet Aja's.
You know, (turning to Aja) I could have used you the last half of my life.
Aja looks at him.
How do you mean?
Aja's phone buzzes on the bedside table.
She looks at it. Sits up.
Have to get it.
She picks up the phone and walks to the bathroom, closes the door.
Sounds of tinkling, Aja's voice.
Hi, Miranda. Not before tomorrow.
Michael closes his eyes, lying on the bed, looks out the window.
INT. BEDROOM SUITE/DAY
Morning light filters through the sheer curtains at the French doors of the patio, across the floor and onto the bed.
There is a knock on the door.
Aja bolts up.
Michael opens his eyes as Aja gets up, putting on her robe as she walks across the marble floor to the door.
Coming. (sing song)
(as the door opens) Buona signora mattina, come stai? Hai dormito bene? (Good morning, how are you, did you sleep well?)
Signora Costella pushes a cart into the room, with coffee, cups, croissants and a hot dish in a silver arched container.
Sto bene, grazie.
Michael sits up in the bed and Signora Costells averts her eyes.
She settles the cart quickly by the balcony.
Signora Costello walks to the door.
Buona giornata Signora e marito.(Good morning signora and husband)
Aja turns to look, a fried tomato in her mouth.
Signora Costella closes the door behind her.
Michael pulls the sheet away and gets out of bed, wearing boxers.
She thinks we're married.
Michael puts his hand on Aja's back, then takes a coffee cup.
She slips through the curtain and sits on a lounge chair outside.
Michael pulls a shirt off a chair and takes it outside with him.
INT.LOBBY HOTEL/DAY~EXT. HOTEL DRIVE UP
Aja stands beside her luggage in the hotel lobby. The valet drives up in a sporty Jeep. Michael is wearing round dark sunglasses and a dark plaid shirt.
The hills surrounding the outskirts of Venice are rolling and gold this time of the morning.
Aja sees Michael walking down the steps to the car, and she throws her bags into the back seat, opens the passenger door, sits down and pulls the door closed.
Michael drives off. A young Italian woman on the pavement watches him.
EXT.CAR/DAY/INT. COTTAGE/ DANIEL'S BEDROOM/KITCHEN
Aja's hair blows in the wind of the drive, watching the hills pass in front of her. Michael drives, looking straight ahead, the radio plays pop music.
She breathes deeply.
DANIEL POV FLASHBACK:
Daniel sits playing on top of his dinosaur comforter. He plays with pokemon characters, making psssssf sounds with his mouth as he plays. The windows along two walls of the bedroom show tress, their leaves in the wind flying off.
Someone screams and then stops in another room.
Daniel picks up one of the yellow figures and holds it in his hand.
Daniel slips off the bed.
He opens the door slowly an inch.
Aja's face silhouetted against a darkly lit room.
TOM, (tall, slimmish build, short cropped hair, fifties glasses frames) walks in front of her, blocking her face.
You and your stupid projects.
Aja looks down and away.
Tom gives her the finger.
Daniel moves away from the door.
His child face shows shadow of the leaves outside moving across his face like camoflage, just a glimpse of his seven year old face, a smile changing to grimace. Eyes watering.
Aja takes Michael's hand, that sits on the leather seat, waiting.
He smiles briefly, then looks back at the road.
They pass a long line of cypress trees at the side of the road, shading them.
Cypress trees are the trees of mourning.
How did you know this?
My daughter studies history.