EXT. JENNIFER’S LIVING ROOM (2007) – NIGHT:
In a dark living room with just the fireplace lighting up the room, two best friends sit on their sleeping bags, drinking hot chocolate. The lights are out due to a bad thunderstorm happening outside, and everyone else in the house are sleeping. JENNIFER, a spunky, 15-year old red-head tomboy with a tough-as-nails demeanor, plays with the spoon in her mug while her best friend, MILO, an awkward, long haired, soft-spoken boy, tries to turn on his Sidekick phone. He fails.
Jennifer watches Milo, now frustrated, drops his phone on the ground and looks at the fire; the battery’s dead.
Jennifer: She’ll still be on the other side to talk to you when the power goes on.
Milo: Yeah, whatever.
Silence joins the darkness of the living room. Jennifer rolls her eyes and sets her mug down on the floor.
Jennifer: I really don’t know what’s your problem, buddy.
Milo: I always talk to Gwen at this time. I call her and we talk and we carry on with our nights. I haven’t missed a night since we started doing this five months ago. That’s my problem.
Jennifer: (annoyed) Well shit happens, Mi.
Milo: Of course, why would you understand how an actual functioning relationship works…
Jennifer: Right, getting Gwen knocked up is how “actual functioning relationships” work.
Milo turns his head towards Jennifer; furious.
Milo: That’s all you’ve got? You’ve been using that comeback ever since I told you she was pregnant. I don’t know what the hell is your problem with Gwen. Nicki likes her, Danny likes her–
Jennifer: Look, Gwen is a nice girl, whatever, my problem is the way you’ve been treating me. It’s like I don’t even know the person you’ve become ever since you guys got together!
Milo: I’m still me, Pep.
Jennifer is taken back at the nickname. Pep. She had met Milo when they were in kindergarten during a school rehearsal for the Little Tot’s version of Annie. She had gotten the role of one of the orphans, “Pepper”, for being fearless, headstrong, and the loudest one out of all the kids. Since then, Milo has called her “Pepper”.
Jennifer: Don’t do that.
Milo: (confused) Don’t do what?
Jennifer: That. That “Pep” thing.
Milo: Your nickname?
Jennifer: You don’t get to call me that.
Milo: You’re kidding me right?
Jennifer: My best friend gets to call me that.
Ouch. Milo laughs in disbelief.
Milo: Wow, you know if my parents weren’t outta town, I wouldn’t be spending my night in the dark, here, next to you. You’ve been nothing but hot and cold with me these couple of months. One day you’re nice to me and Gwen, and the next day you act like we don’t exist. Even Gwen doesn’t know how to talk to you because you treat her as if she’s not in the room! I don’t know what’s going on with you, but a true best friend would at least tell me what’s going on.
Jennifer: What’s going on? What’s going on?! Milo, how am I suppose to talk to you when you’re never around? When was the last time you’ve been to band practice on time? Our last show sucked because you didn’t tone your guitar strings before! It’s like whenever I do get the chance to hang out with you, Gwen calls and BAM!
Jennifer swings her arm and accidentally spills her mug of her now “cold” chocolate. She quickly gets up and pats down her shirt with her napkins. Milo attempts to help her, but she nudges him away.
Jennifer: I don’t need your help.
Milo lets Jennifer have her way and goes back to where he was. He looks up at a frustrated and annoyed Jennifer, who now has a big chocolate stain on her shirt. He hands her his napkins to clean up. She accepts his offer.
Milo: I’m sorry that you feel like that. It’s just hard sometimes.
Milo releases out a big sigh; he starts playing with the hem of his t-shirt.
Milo: There’s just a lot going on, Pep. I don’t know how to explain it.
Jennifer: Then just tell me.
Milo: I can’t.
Jennifer: Why not?
Milo: I just can’t.
Jennifer: But why not?
Milo: Pep, please.
Jennifer: How am I suppose to help if you don’t tell me?
Milo: (yells) I don’t need your help!
Ouch again. Jennifer tightens her lips. He’s not worth exploding for. But then again, he is.
Jennifer: That’s what I’m talking about, Milo! We’re supposed to be best friends, we tell each other everything! We’re suppose to let each other know what’s going on have each other’s backs, and be the first to know these things! I’ve told you everything I’ve been going though these last few months! You know that my dad is now back in my life after leaving us 11 years ago! You know he’s marrying my mom again, you know they’re having a baby! You know that baby is gonna grow up with a dad in their life! You’ve known me long enough to know he’s missed my dance recitals, my sister’s soccer games; he never was around long enough to be proud of a good grade on a math test! I never had that and nobody is talking about how I feel about this! Nobody cares how I feel but you know all of that because I tell you everything! You’re my best friend, Milo!
Jennifer quickly covers her face with her hands, and begins to breathe heavily. Milo just stares at her. Thinking. Watching. Witnessing. Realizing. Milo stands up to sit next to Jennifer. He rubs her shoulder. The room is silent for a moment.
Milo: Gwen has cancer.
Jennifer slowly looks at Milo; the mood changes but it’s still dense.
Jennifer: I’m… sorry, Milo.
Milo: She found out about a year ago. It’s why she always wore that black wig in school. Her hair was thinning. She felt ugly. Diana and them kept teasing her because she was an easy target. I was the first one to see her short blonde hair. I told her it was beautiful. Because it is, she is. It’s why she wears my favorite beanie. It makes her feel normal. But she’s not normal. She’s a cancer victim that somehow is pregnant. With my child. I feel like I ruined her life every single day. I try to make it up to her as much as possible. I try to be there for her whenever she feels lonely, whenever she has to stay home because her body is not feeling right that day. I try to make her smile because I feel like I’m the reason why she doesn’t anymore.
Jennifer sits there, speechless.
Milo: She knows that she’s slowly dying. There’s nothing more they can do. But even before she got pregnant, she knew she was gonna die one day. The first night we ever spent together, she told me accepted the fact a long time ago that one night she’ll be one of those kids in the hospital, hooked up on all the possible IV’s, sleeping their one final sleep before they die. And I just don’t know what I’ll do if she–
Jennifer: It’s not your fault.
Milo doesn’t hear Jennifer, and continues to gather his thoughts and confess.
Milo: She told me she loved me, Pep.
Milo: And I think I love her back.
Jennifer takes in everything that Milo released out into the air. All of a sudden, her issues were nowhere in sight. Whatever made her sad before was long forgotten.
Milo: And she’ll be gone one day.
Milo and Jennifer look at each other. The fire begins to dim. The room remains silent.