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Natural Causes

Richard Neville

2019


EXT. HOUSE - DAY

Movement seen at the bathroom window... DUDLEY barks.

INT. BATHROOM - DAY

Dog’s view C/U: CLEANING PRODUCTS with dangerous-sounding messages: “Harmful”, “Irritants”, “Killer Powder”, “Dead”.

KEIRA O/S

soothing and gentle
Come on now...
Don’t struggle...
This is for your own good...
Shhh...

Throughout we hear weak splashing.

Out of focus / obscured, we see KEIRA kneeling over the bath, holding something down in there. We cannot see what.

Title: NATURAL CAUSES

INT. BATHROOM - DAY

Intimate C/U on KEIRA’s face, direct to camera - she looks tired, strung out, though she forces a reassuring smile.

KEIRA

That wasn’t so bad was it? It’s just you and me now.

During this monologue, we reveal Keira is talking to DUDLEY, an attentive cockapoo wrapped in a towel after a bath.

KEIRA CONT’D

I know you hate baths. There we go. All done.

MONTAGE - CLEANING SEQUENCE (PART 1)

Keira works hard - lots of exertion. Her cleaning has an OCD edge. It’s also emotionally upsetting for her: she’s making the house her own (now that Granny has gone).

  • BATHROOM: Keira scrubs hard with strong cleaning products.
  • HALLWAY etc: Dudley watches, dodges around while she works.
  • STAIRWELL: Keira carries a used COMMODE downstairs.
  • BATHROOM / HALLWAY: Keira mops the floor.

INT. HALLWAY - CONTINUOUS

Dudley wants Keira to take him for a walk.

KEIRA

Sorry, Dudley. I can’t go out there. I can’t go for a walk. Not yet.

MONTAGE - CLEANING SEQUENCE (PART 2)

  • STAIRWELL: Keira carries loaded BIN BAGS downstairs.
  • KITCHEN: Keira sweeps the floor with a BROOM.
  • KITCHEN: Keira paranoically washes hands, scrubbing hard.
  • STAIRWELL: Keira and Dudley go back upstairs.

INT. GRANNY’S BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS

A bureau covered in Grandma’s personal effects - an ornamental Dudley, pill boxes, hairbrush, photos, etc.

Keira clears it, bin bag in hand.

She pauses (standing) holding a FRAMED PHOTO OF GRANDMA.

Grandma is a bittersweet memory for her, and she misses her. Little Dudley watches.

THE DOORBELL RINGS LOUDLY.

Keira is startled and drops the photo...

... And the glass cracks!

Keira is paranoically anxious. She shushes Dudley.

INT. UPSTAIRS PROBABLY - CONTINUOUS

Keira creeps around to get a view out the front of the house... Dudley follows...

She peeps through the curtains, staying hidden...

CUT TO:

Through curtains, we see TOM is at the front door. He rings the bell again.

CUT BACK:

Keira tries to calm Dudley, keeping a low profile.

KEIRA

Shhh...

Dudley walks to the landing, wagging his tail.

... But Keira doesn’t want him to reveal they’re home.

CUT TO:

From the landing, we see Tom’s shadowy outline through the frosted front door.

He looks through the letterbox.

CUT BACK:

Keira cowers at the top of the landing, clutching Dudley.

TOM O/S

Hello...?

Keira startles again.

KEIRA

whispering
Just go. Please please please...

Tom seems to leave.

Keira is shaking and breathing hard. This has been tough for her.

INT. KITCHEN - LATER (EVENING?)

Tired-out Keira puts the finishing touches on her perfect square sandwich cut into perfect portions arranged on a perfect plate.

She sits to eat alone.

Dudley sniffs at BIN BAGS by the back door.

There are CLEANING PRODUCTS around the room.

Keira lifts a sandwich but can’t eat. Emotion overwhelms her.

Dudley is distracted. At first he growls...

Then he barks, alerted by something in the back garden.

KEIRA

Dudley?

Keira grabs the BROOM, opens the backdoor to investigate.

EXT. BACK GARDEN - CONTINUOUS

Keira clutches her broom. Dudley runs about barking.

Keira looks around. At first she sees nothing...

... Then she is shocked to find, close by:

Tom climbing precariously on the wall between her house and the neighbouring house.

KEIRA

What are you doing?

TOM

Hi.

KEIRA

defensive
Don’t move.

TOM

Relax. I’m not a burglar. I’m not a burglar.
I’ve got ID. I can show you ID.

KEIRA

Are you the police?

Keira prepares to lunge.

TOM

I live...

Too late! Keira aims her broom and lunges.

Black. We hear a wooden clonk, and the crunch of Tom falling off the wall.

INT. KITCHEN - LATER

Tom holds to his head frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel.

He and Keira both have cups of tea.

KEIRA

So you’re not a burglar or a policeman.

TOM

No.
I didn’t think anyone was in. I don’t have a key. I was trying to get in the bathroom window.

KEIRA

Does that hurt?

TOM

wincing
You know I’ve had worse

They sip tea.

TOM CONT’D

I remember you. You must have moved in just as I moved out.

KEIRA

I think I remember you too.

Despite the strange circumstances, these two people are attracted to each other. Awkward glances. A half smile.

Comfortable lull...

TOM

How is Mrs Berwick...?

KEIRA

She died.

TOM

I’m sorry to hear that.

Keira gets up. She starts washing her hands obsessively - it’s her nervous tic.

KEIRA

Yeah well... She wasn’t very well, and there was no-one else. So I came back.

Water overflowing in the washing up bowl...

KEIRA CONT’D

I didn’t realise how hard it would be.
And then...

TOM

You had to spend months just you and her together.

KEIRA

Yes.

TOM

That must have been tough.

KEIRA

It was.

Having finished washing her hands, Keira continues cleaning, wiping, tidying.

TOM

I’m sure you did everything you could have done.

KEIRA

Did I?

TOM

Of course you did.
Of course you did.
he watches her
You haven’t left this house since then, have you?

Keira reluctantly acknowledges this. Sits back down.

They sit in silence for a moment. Keira picks at her fingernails, looking down.

TOM CONT’D

Well listen, you’ve got a neighbour now. Friendly face. I’m moving back in. Taking the place off the market.

KEIRA

Why?

TOM

I was living at my girlfriend’s. But I realised that...
I realised we really couldn’t live together.
It just wasn’t right.

KEIRA

Sorry to hear that.

Keira is suddenly interested to hear this, looks up.

TOM

When you spend that much time with someone, you learn whether it’s right.
It wasn’t right.

KEIRA

No.

TOM

To tell you the truth, I really couldn’t stand it.
No-one wants to hurt anybody.
I had to end it.

KEIRA

Yes.

TOM

quiet, introspective
I feel so... guilty.

Brief reaction from Dudley: cocks his head, etc.

KEIRA

That’s not so unnatural.

Keira is wringing her ultra-clean hands, OCD style.

Tom looks at Keira sympathetically. Their eyes meet.

Keira stops wringing her hands.

Another lull.

KEIRA CONT’D

shy
I haven’t spoken to anyone since it happened, since she died.
Except the dog.
I feel like... I have a lot to talk about.

TOM

Met too. Funny isn’t it.

Their hands are nearly touching across the table. We get the sense Tom is guiding Keira’s thoughts, as she nods along.

TOM CONT’D

Listen, you, you mustn’t feel bad about what happened.

KEIRA

quiet, introspective
No.

TOM

It’s not your fault.

Tom looks at all the cleaning products. Too many of them!

TOM CONT’D

After a certain point you have to move on.

KEIRA

Yes.

TOM

You can’t feel guilty.

KEIRA

No.

Keira looks at Dudley. Dudley stares straight back.

TOM

It’s not like...

C/U on Keira for the last line. She looks up straight to camera.

TOM O/S (CONT’D)

light-hearted
It’s not like... you drowned her in the bathtub and put her in those bin bags, is it?

Keira’s expression is somewhere between nervousness and an inscrutable smile. She is about to say something...

EXT. HOUSE - NIGHT

... Dudley barks. The house is still.

THE END

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