(Scene moves to a closeup of HENRY as his eyes wobble open. He’s on the couch in the living room of the BROWN’s flat, covered in a blanket and with his head propped up on a throw pillow. Still a little bewildered, he raises back up to a seated position, tests his neck for stiffness, and is finally putting everything back together, sleep still very present in his eyes, as CECELIA re-enters carrying an entire kettle of tea.)
CECELIA: (surprised to see him up) Oh…didn’t know you woke up…I’ll put on some more tea.
HENRY: (still groggy, not sure if he’s seeing it right) But…you’ve got a pot already…
CECELIA: (with a small, sheepish smile) Exactly.
(she exits quickly as HENRY, rubbing his temple, looks over his little newsletter, “Wonderful World,” now with an awake and scrutinising mind. He shakes his head at some things, grimaces at others, but mostly nods and smiles. As CECELIA returns, he gives a little, self-satisfied chuckle.)
HENRY: Didn’t realize I was such a scholar when I’m half-asleep. I should try it more often, eh?
(she plops down next to him and fills a mug with tea, offering HENRY none. He thinks to ask for a cup, but relents. Instead, he resorts to the painful excursion of small talk, the 800 pound gorilla very tangible.)
HENRY: You really love your tea, don’t you?
CECELIA: This is to keep me awake, Walters… (she takes a sip) In case you haven’t realized, it’s two in the morning.
HENRY: Is it really? (He checks at a mantle clock.) Blimey, good thing I don’t work tomorrow… why didn’t you wake me?
(any hopefulness in his voice is immediately dashed by Cecelia’s response.)
CECELIA: Mum said I wasn’t allowed to. And just for the record, she gave you the blanket ‘n’ pillow. I just made sure you didn’t, I dunno, sleepwalk off a balcony or something stupid like that.
HENRY: See, that’s why I like you, Cecelia. You’re not afraid to tell me if I’m being…well…
CECELIA: A right ass?
HENRY: Something like that, yeah…
CECELIA: Well, if that’s what you like, you’re in luck.
(she gives him a knock on the head, but it’s more playful than malicious.)
Honestly, Henry… I’ve known you for, what, almost ten years?
And in that whole time, I’ve barely known you to even complain. Back in school, someone would have had to rip three of your legs off before you’d raise a concern, and now… singing, dancing, fighting, spending a morning in JAIL, for Pete’s sake, and now…now this!
(she grabs at the stack of paper on the coffee table, waggling them in HENRY’s face. He just smiles.)
What’s gotten into you, lately?
HENRY: Things are coming together, Cecelia, that’s all. I’m starting to put my life together, and I guess now that I am I’m seeing what the problems are, and I’m trying to fix them.
CECELIA: Well, brillo bananas for you, Sunshine. Too bad the rest of the world isn’t going to lie down and let you change it so you can “put things together.”
(gesturing to the paper again)
Do you really mean all of that stuff?
HENRY: Except for the grammatical errors and run-on sentences, but I was hoping someone could proofread it…
(Her outburst is most unorthodox for this late at night. Thankfully, her parents sleep like a stone. However, the neighbor lady from downstairs gives a thump on her ceiling with a broom handle. CECELIA, cowed and in a funk, slumps deep into the sofa.)
CECELIA: (arms crossed, addressed to the downstairs neighbor) Nasty old bat, she should mind her own business…
CECELIA: (A little exasperated) What, Henry?
HENRY: Do you… have a problem with the things I’ve written?
CECELIA: (throwing a raptorial arm across her face and snorting angrily)
Henry, it’s just…I…you… blimey, it’s impossible to say anything to you, you know? You’re just so bloody nice all the time!
HENRY: I’ll manage, Cecelia. Tell me.
CECELIA: It’s… it’s not that I disagree with any of the things you wrote, Henry. You’re right, we live by a bunch of rules that haven’t made sense for a few centuries… but that’s the way things are. It’s how people live, Henry. You can’t just go around telling people how to live, you’ll get crushed!
HENRY: (earnestly) Even if what they’re doing is wrong?
HENRY: So I’m supposed to let people keep doing what’s wrong?
CECELIA: That’s not what I meant, I–
HENRY: It’s okay for everyone to lie and go through their lives hiding from everyone else, just because that’s the way it’s always been? It doesn’t make sense, Cecelia! If everyone knows it’s a bad idea, why keep doing it?
CECELIA: Because that’s life, Henry!
(she shouts again. The thumps come again. CECELIA angrily thumps back. Once she’s finished venting on the old crone below her, she turns back to HENRY, more serious than before.)
(with a sigh) Like it or not, Henry, there are a lot of people who still believe in the old rules, and the worst part is that they’ve got the biggest mouths. They are the ones who keep it going, and they’re the ones who browbeat the rest of us into feeling afraid that we’ll upset someone.
HENRY: (interrupting her) So you’re saying I can’t browbeat people the other way? It seems to work for these other people you’re talking about!
CECELIA: Let me finish, Henry! They’re dangerous people, they believe in their ideas, and that’s much more dangerous than just having an idea.
(HENRY moves to speak, but CECELIA stops him with a glare.)
And I know you believe in your idea…but you’re just one bug. There’s a lot more people who bully us into following the rules, and there’s a lot, lot more people who follow them. You won’t be able to change the world by yourself, Henry!
(there is a long silence, during which CECELIA downs another mug of tea.)
Look… my Mom married a man she didn’t love, and killed him, because that’s the way things are. Then, she married my Dad, and said that I was from the first marriage, because that’s the way things are. Everyone does it, and things seem to work just fine. I know it’s wrong, we all know it’s wrong… but you can’t just change everyone’s minds overnight, even if you become a martyr to the cause…
(HENRY looks over at her, shocked at what she is implying by the term “martyr.”)
I’m worried about you, Henry. You know I care for you, or else I wouldn’t be saying all of this. You could get hurt if you take this outside of this flat, and outside of your own head.
(she turns to him, her face a little red…maybe it’s from the tea.)
Just…be careful, all right? You may be an ass, but you’re still the nicest man I’ve ever met, and I’d…I’d have a hard time dealing with you being gone, all right?
(CECELIA, now thoroughly flustered, fairly leaps back into her tea. As she’s halfway through the second mug since sitting down, the kettle goes off in the kitchen. She hurries to attend to it while HENRY sits silently, a little dourly, poring over his writings. CECELIA re-enters with a mug of tea that she hands to HENRY. He immediately takes a sip, looking pensively into the cup.)
HENRY: If I could change the way people think around here, would you marry me?
(CECELIA very nearly sprays tea all over again, but catches herself and swallows painfully.)
CECELIA: (spluttering) Come again?
HENRY: (with a small smile) I think you would.
(he takes another drink from the cup, and sets it on a coaster.)
Sorry, but I can’t finish the tea. It is late, and I should be getting home. I’ve got a lot of work to do…
(He moves to the door, and something in the way he said that last sentence upsets CECELIA. She pursues him quickly, slapping a hand on the doorknob before he can.)
CECELIA: (incredibly worried) Henry…don’t be stupid.
(she opens the door.)
HENRY: (grabbing his bowler hat, he heads out. While on the landing of the staircase, he turns to CECELIA.)
You say I can’t change the world by myself, Cecelia…
(he plops the hat on his head, a little rakishly. He grins a mile-wide grin that CECELIA’s never seen from him before.)
Wait and see.
(before she can protest, he’s off and down the stairs, papers in hand. CECELIA stands by the open door, perplexed and worried, before the old biddy of a firefly comes trundling up the stairs, her rear end trying to light with an old and feeble vehemence.)
BIDDY: You! Brown! If I’ve told you once, I’ve told your savage lot a thousand times, keep the noise down at night! I can’t hear my stories on the telly! And who was that man I saw on the stairs? You entertaining this late? Not like a mantis to leave a suitor with his head still attached, now is it? Oi, are you listening to me? Pay attention when your elders speak, you carnivore! And they wonder why the world’s gone to pieces! Keep the racket down, do you hear me, you great spindly murderer?
(CECELIA finally snaps to and looks down at the old BIDDY with a cold, hard stare. With a low growl, she slams the door in the BIDDY’s face.)
CECELIA: Oh, piss off, Grandma!