Wall Huggers

by Meghann Wu

FADE IN

EXT. COMMUNITY POOL - SUMMER DAY

Area is crowded with family tents, parents, and children running.
Suddenly frantic splashing from the deep end. Young CAROLINE (7) gasping for
air and grabbing for anything nearby; only hitting water. Then grabs for a
10-year-old pudgy boy floating nearby and pulls him down with her.

BOY Hey! What...

EXT. UNDERWATER - CONTINUOUS

Young Caroline is struggling underwater breathing heavily, yet out of
breath. Boy maneuvers to side of pool despite the extra weight, pushes Caroline
back into the water. Sound of lifeguard whistle muffled in the background.
Caroline crying, screaming, and gulping water all at the same time.

INT. PHILLIP’S BEDROOM - NIGHT

Caroline (38) gasps and wakes up in bed sweating. Her boyfriend
PHILLIP (41) is sleeping soundly with his back facing her. She is with him, but
feels lonely.

ROLL CREDITS AND THEME MUSIC

Clips of Caroline avoiding water. Waving from the sand, shaking her
head and smiling, everybody else enjoying the water around her.

Caroline walking down a New York city street in the rain, constantly
moving out of other people’s way and always saying "sorry". Navigates
resentful, young mothers in yoga outfits pushing strollers. Caroline tries to
avoid a blind man with a walking stick, which causes her to keep getting in his
way as he keeps reaching out for a marker.

INT. PHILLIP’S KITCHEN - DAY

Caroline is busy and meticulous in Phillip’s kitchen making breakfast.
And cleaning. It’s a cold New York winter morning. Kitchen is modern, large.
Phillip enters rubbing his eyes and moves in for a kiss.

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 2.

PHILLIP Morning.

CAROLINE Hi honey! I made breakfast.

PHILLIP I can see that.

CAROLINE Fancy egg sandwich, your
favorite.

Phillip takes a bite and frowns, poached egg and residual water from
the washed lettuce and tomato fixings drip down his face.

PHILLIP Umm. It’s a little drippy.

Caroline doesn’t know how to respond to this criticism.

PHILLIP Oh come on. What. Are you upset?

CAROLINE (Pause, turning away) No.

PHILLIP Good because it’s a sandwich.

CAROLINE (Whispers) I made it for you.

PHILLIP And I was just giving you a warning that
it’s drippy. You know before you eat yours.

(Pause) And by the way, people in relationships
do stuff for each other all the time. At least in my family. You know we didn’t
have to praise each other for every little thing we did.

(Changing the subject) Are you excited
about St. Lucia?

Caroline has moved on and is washing the dishes. Phillip waits for an
answer then rolls his eyes.

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 3.

PHILLIP Hey. I didn’t have to invite you.

Caroline glares at him with fake gratefulness.

PHILLIP Look I like this, which is why I’m taking
you with me.

He attempts to hug her, she gives in.

CAROLINE Thanks.

PHILLIP Just relax. Clients will take 2 minutes,
then you and me.

(beat) The water will be amazing.

INT. YMCA COMMUNITY POOL - LATER THAT DAY

Whistle blows. Big sign on bleachers says "ADULT BEGINNER
SWIM". Caroline sitting behind sign, awkward and embarrassed. Teenagers
giggle walking by, old ladies are bobbing in the water. A toddler walks by and
stares at Caroline questioningly, his mother eventually comes by to push him
along.

Caroline stares on with a pathetic look, having been judged by a
toddler. The group begins to gather: GRACE and ANNIE (mid 20s, asian, friends
but personality opposites), RAY (early 60s, dark-skinned Mexican guy, short and
balding but with bravado), LATANYA (40s, overweight, TV producer), PUNEET
(early 30s, lanky Indian guy, investment banker who just got laid off for being
too nice) and his wife PADMA who speaks no English.

RAY Hi! Were you here last week?

CAROLINE Um yeah.

RAY Yeah I remember the yellow swimsuit!

CAROLINE Haha yeah.

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 4.

RAY God I hope we don’t have to get in the water
today.

They swap genuine looks of concern. Whistle
blows, and the swim instructor JESUS strides in front of the group and is all
smiles, mid 20s, good looking and light-skineed with a hint of a Dominican
accent.

JESUS Ok guys. Let’s get the party started.

Jesus jumps into the water Baywatch style. Close up of each face when
called showing their respective personalities. Caroline no emotion. Grace is
reading a how to swim book. Annie checking her phone in a waterproof plastic
wrap. LaTanya is bored. Puneet is all smiles. Padma frowns.

JESUS Come on in guys.

Group edges toward the pool. Everyone looks at each other and all grab
a noodle. And each slowly steps into the pool. Puneet escorts his wife.

JESUS No toys this time.

Looks of despair awash each face.

ANNIE (under her breath) What a grinch.

Padma whispers to Puneet and shoves him a bit.

PUNEET The water is too cold! For my wife, I
mean...

JESUS It will get warmer when you get in.

Puneet argues with his wife in Hindi, and Padma gives in. Everybody is
now in the pool, hugging the wall. Each displaying fear in their own faces.
JESUS is amused and a bit annoyed, but takes a deep breath.

JESUS Ok guys. Make a circle please.

The class slowly forms a circle.

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 5.

JESUS Nice and relaxed. Great now let’s take a
deep breath. Blow out through your nose.

Caroline closes her eyes. LaTanya breathing, but swatting a fly at the
same time. RAY coughs.

JESUS Relax your body and wiggle your fingers.

Class takes another deep breath. And do visibly loosen up.

JESUS Now keep your feet on the floor and blow
out with your face underwater.

Class awkwardly obliges. Some can only hold their faces down 1 second
and jerk up.

JESUS Alright. Can you keep your face down now
and allow your feet to float up. Keep wiggling your fingers. Go for it.

Some manage to float. Ray accidentally touches Caroline’s hands, and
she pulls back and up out of the water annoyed. Ray doesn’t notice.

JESUS Try again. If you don’t trust yourself, you
can’t push yourself.

Caroline closes her eyes and tries again, then immediately opens her
eyes in panic. Show class all practicing struggling, Caroline is in the circle.

INT. CORPORATE CONFERENCE ROOM - THE NEXT DAY

Caroline in a new circle (circle conference table), surrounded by men
in white or blue collared shirts and khaki pants (a different kind of uniform).
Only other woman in the room is CASSIE, blonde statuesque head of press who got
where she is because the guys like to look at her.

CAROLINE (text on screen) morning hone, hope you
have a nice day xo

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 6.

Powerpoint presentation projected on screen. Her boss DOUG (54 with a
gut) is texting his assistant to bring him starbucks.

CAROLINE So given their significant growth and
traffic, we recommend moving forward with the partnership that takes advantage
of both our strengths in the marketplace. Especially given the low digital
revenues we expect this year.

DOUG Thanks Caroline. Uh. Lots of good work here.

CAROLINE Thanks!

DOUG Well what does everyone think?

Silence. As everybody tries to anticipate how Doug feels.

CASSIE I mean here’s what I don’t understand. How
are we not making money? We have the hottest brands out there. We’ve are the
buzziest brand out there...The New York Times, Wall Street Journal,
Vogue...everybody loves us!

Everybody shifts uncomfortably, as Cassie continues to indirectly
compliment herself.

CAROLINE I hear you Cassie. It’s frustrating that
ad sales has just not caught up with the changes in behavior...

DOUG That’s right.

CAROLINE Which is why we need to work with this
brand to be meaningful.

Silence. Doug pushes out chair and leans back.

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 7.

DOUG Uh huh. Well. Here’s my thing. The numbers
look a little small to me.

CASSIE I totally agree!

Everyone nods, general positive mumbling. Caroline crinkles her brow.

CAROLINE This would be $25 million in incremental
revenue. That’s 10x what we are planning to do alone on a digital basis.

The room is silent. Doug just stares at Caroline, questioning his
point of view.

DOUG Caroline, don’t let your pride or ego get in
the way of the right decision.

Caroline confused as to what exactly is being discussed now.

CAROLINE Ok.

DOUG It’s just feels like it would be. I don’t
know. A little distracting. We have too much to do.

Assistant comes into the room with starbucks, passing a note to Doug.

DOUG Alrighty then. Thanks all. Thanks Caroline.

CAROLINE Thanks.

Everybody exits, Doug saunters out looking at his phone. Caroline
stays back to clean up the room alone.

8.

INT. YMCA COMMUNITY POOL - LATER

Caroline and other students in pool with caps and goggles on. Jesus
dives in.

JESUS How’s everybody doing? Let’s get started.
Take a deep breath and relax your shoulders...

Montage of breathing underwater exercises, floating, and student
resistance apparent through their faces. Intermittently, Jesus saying "go
for it guys!" and "let’s go!".

RAY I like your confidence in us.

JESUS I don’t doubt myself.

Caroline shrugs and takes a deep breath.

DOUG (V.O.) Don’t let your pride or ego get in
the way.

INT. CAROLINE’S OFFICE - LATER

Caroline takes a deep breath in her office. The
office is filled with swag collected over the year, abstract art on the walls,
and a bundle of incense in the corner. Her new assistant RACHEL comes to the
door, she’s a thin brunette dressed in ripped jeans and a crochet top.

RACHEL Caroline?

CAROLINE (startled) Yeah. Hey what’s up.

RACHEL Hi..do you have a minute?

CAROLINE Sure. Sorry tough meeting. Are you
settling in ok?

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 9.

RACHEL Totally. Just trying to track down Eddie
to get my computer and phone up and running...

CAROLINE Hey I’m glad to have you on our little
team. How can I help? Have a seat.

RACHEL Ok thanks. Yes of course. On that. I just
wanted to let you know that I’m a lawyer.

Awkward pause.

CAROLINE I see. Well, Rachel, this assistant
position is the job I have available in the department. But you know there is a
lot of change happening now and tons of opportunity to grow in success.

RACHEL Uh-huh.

CAROLINE We have a strong record of promoting
from within. And as long as you do a good job here, the sky’s really the limit.

RACHEL Ok. That’s good to hear. Thanks.

CAROLINE I don’t doubt you will be great here.

(pause) Do you want to meet people in legal?
Maybe a job there would make more sense for you?

RACHEL Oh I don’t think so. I used to be a lawyer
for this clothing company. I had my own assistant.

(pause) So done that kinda thing.

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 10.

CAROLINE Gotcha. What happened? If you don’t mind
me asking...

RACHEL Well. The owner sexually harassed me.

Rachel is surprisingly nonchalant about this statement. Caroline feels
bad for asking.

CAROLINE Oh my gosh.

RACHEL Yeah. Like he dropped his pants in front
of me and ugh just so many stories...

CAROLINE That’s horrible. I’m sorry. Well, I’m
glad you’re here.

RACHEL Yeah. Thanks.

Rachel saunters out.

CAROLINE Rachel? Can you close the door?

RACHEL Of course sorry.

CAROLINE It’s ok.

Caroline widens her eyes and sighs. Rachel is trouble, but Caroline
can’t quite pinpoint why.

CAROLINE (text on screen) Everything ok? Haven’t
heard from you lately...

INT. YMCA COMMUNITY POOL

Many students stand up and cough out water. Now attempting doggy
paddle.

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 11.

JESUS Keep moving! Did you sink? Yes...that’s why
you have to keep moving!

Everybody is tired, Caroline already exhausted
from work stress. Students clawing, bouncing, bending, grasping to move. It’s
ugly.

INT. CAROLINE’S APARTMENT - NIGHT

Caroline with wet hair eating dinner on a couch in her studio
apartment, watching TV. Text message ding. She checks her phone mid-chew.

PHILLIP (text on screen) Hi. I’m having a hard
time balancing everything right now. I can’t do this anymore. Friends? Thanks.

CAROLINE What.

She is paralyzed and immediately calls her best friend, no pickup.
Calls someone else, voicemail.

FRIEND (V.O.) Hi! Scott and I can’t come to the
phone now. You know what to do. Teehee.

She furiously writes a long text to Phillip, deletes, rewrites, then
settles on.

CAROLINE (text on screen) Ok.

(second text) I’m a little worried about my
period but will keep u posted.

Caroline continues to text friends with no immediate sympathies,
depressing her more. Surrounded by a messy apartment and completely alone.

Caroline sits and stops breathing without thinking. Street noise gets
louder. She takes an anti-anxiety pill and goes to bed. The phone rings so she
frantically looks for her cell phone and answers.

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: 12.

CAROLINE Hi. Hello?

STUDENT Hi, this is Lindsey from King’s College
Athletics. We are so excited about the upcoming sports season and we need your
help. Can I speak to Ms. Chen please?

Caroline hangs up.

FADE IN
EXT. COMMUNITY POOL - SUMMER DAY
Area is crowded with family tents, parents, and children running. Suddenly frantic splashing from the deep end. Young CAROLINE (7) gasping for air and grabbing for anything nearby; only hitting water. Then grabs for a 10-year-old pudgy boy floating nearby and pulls him down with her.
BOY Hey! What...
EXT. UNDERWATER - CONTINUOUS
Young Caroline is struggling underwater breathing heavily, yet out of breath. Boy maneuvers to side of pool despite the extra weight, pushes Caroline back into the water. Sound of lifeguard whistle muffled in the background. Caroline crying, screaming, and gulping water all at the same time.
INT. PHILLIP’S BEDROOM - NIGHT
Caroline (38) gasps and wakes up in bed sweating. Her boyfriend PHILLIP (41) is sleeping soundly with his back facing her. She is with him, but feels lonely.
ROLL CREDITS AND THEME MUSIC
Clips of Caroline avoiding water. Waving from the sand, shaking her head and smiling, everybody else enjoying the water around her.
Caroline walking down a New York city street in the rain, constantly moving out of other people’s way and always saying "sorry". Navigates resentful, young mothers in yoga outfits pushing strollers. Caroline tries to avoid a blind man with a walking stick, which causes her to keep getting in his way as he keeps reaching out for a marker.
INT. PHILLIP’S KITCHEN - DAY
Caroline is busy and meticulous in Phillip’s kitchen making breakfast. And cleaning. It’s a cold New York winter morning. Kitchen is modern, large. Phillip enters rubbing his eyes and moves in for a kiss.
(CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 2.
PHILLIP Morning.
CAROLINE Hi honey! I made breakfast.
PHILLIP I can see that.
CAROLINE Fancy egg sandwich, your favorite.
Phillip takes a bite and frowns, poached egg and residual water from the washed lettuce and tomato fixings drip down his face.
PHILLIP Umm. It’s a little drippy.
Caroline doesn’t know how to respond to this criticism.
PHILLIP Oh come on. What. Are you upset?
CAROLINE (Pause, turning away) No.
PHILLIP Good because it’s a sandwich.
CAROLINE (Whispers) I made it for you.
PHILLIP And I was just giving you a warning that it’s drippy. You know before you eat yours.
(Pause) And by the way, people in relationships do stuff for each other all the time. At least in my family. You know we didn’t have to praise each other for every little thing we did.
(Changing the subject) Are you excited about St. Lucia?
Caroline has moved on and is washing the dishes. Phillip waits for an answer then rolls his eyes.
(CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 3.
PHILLIP Hey. I didn’t have to invite you.
Caroline glares at him with fake gratefulness.
PHILLIP Look I like this, which is why I’m taking you with me.
He attempts to hug her, she gives in.
CAROLINE Thanks.
PHILLIP Just relax. Clients will take 2 minutes, then you and me.
(beat) The water will be amazing.
INT. YMCA COMMUNITY POOL - LATER THAT DAY
Whistle blows. Big sign on bleachers says "ADULT BEGINNER SWIM". Caroline sitting behind sign, awkward and embarrassed. Teenagers giggle walking by, old ladies are bobbing in the water. A toddler walks by and stares at Caroline questioningly, his mother eventually comes by to push him along.
Caroline stares on with a pathetic look, having been judged by a toddler. The group begins to gather: GRACE and ANNIE (mid 20s, asian, friends but personality opposites), RAY (early 60s, dark-skinned Mexican guy, short and balding but with bravado), LATANYA (40s, overweight, TV producer), PUNEET (early 30s, lanky Indian guy, investment banker who just got laid off for being too nice) and his wife PADMA who speaks no English.
RAY Hi! Were you here last week?
CAROLINE Um yeah.
RAY Yeah I remember the yellow swimsuit!
CAROLINE Haha yeah.
(CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 4.
RAY God I hope we don’t have to get in the water today.
They swap genuine looks of concern. Whistle blows, and the swim instructor JESUS strides in front of the group and is all smiles, mid 20s, good looking and light-skineed with a hint of a Dominican accent.
JESUS Ok guys. Let’s get the party started.
Jesus jumps into the water Baywatch style. Close up of each face when called showing their respective personalities. Caroline no emotion. Grace is reading a how to swim book. Annie checking her phone in a waterproof plastic wrap. LaTanya is bored. Puneet is all smiles. Padma frowns.
JESUS Come on in guys.
Group edges toward the pool. Everyone looks at each other and all grab a noodle. And each slowly steps into the pool. Puneet escorts his wife.
JESUS No toys this time.
Looks of despair awash each face.
ANNIE (under her breath) What a grinch.
Padma whispers to Puneet and shoves him a bit.
PUNEET The water is too cold! For my wife, I mean...
JESUS It will get warmer when you get in.
Puneet argues with his wife in Hindi, and Padma gives in. Everybody is now in the pool, hugging the wall. Each displaying fear in their own faces. JESUS is amused and a bit annoyed, but takes a deep breath.
JESUS Ok guys. Make a circle please.
The class slowly forms a circle.
(CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 5.
JESUS Nice and relaxed. Great now let’s take a deep breath. Blow out through your nose.
Caroline closes her eyes. LaTanya breathing, but swatting a fly at the same time. RAY coughs.
JESUS Relax your body and wiggle your fingers.
Class takes another deep breath. And do visibly loosen up.
JESUS Now keep your feet on the floor and blow out with your face underwater.
Class awkwardly obliges. Some can only hold their faces down 1 second and jerk up.
JESUS Alright. Can you keep your face down now and allow your feet to float up. Keep wiggling your fingers. Go for it.
Some manage to float. Ray accidentally touches Caroline’s hands, and she pulls back and up out of the water annoyed. Ray doesn’t notice.
JESUS Try again. If you don’t trust yourself, you can’t push yourself.
Caroline closes her eyes and tries again, then immediately opens her eyes in panic. Show class all practicing struggling, Caroline is in the circle.
INT. CORPORATE CONFERENCE ROOM - THE NEXT DAY
Caroline in a new circle (circle conference table), surrounded by men in white or blue collared shirts and khaki pants (a different kind of uniform). Only other woman in the room is CASSIE, blonde statuesque head of press who got where she is because the guys like to look at her.
CAROLINE (text on screen) morning hone, hope you have a nice day xo
(CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 6.
Powerpoint presentation projected on screen. Her boss DOUG (54 with a gut) is texting his assistant to bring him starbucks.
CAROLINE So given their significant growth and traffic, we recommend moving forward with the partnership that takes advantage of both our strengths in the marketplace. Especially given the low digital revenues we expect this year.
DOUG Thanks Caroline. Uh. Lots of good work here.
CAROLINE Thanks!
DOUG Well what does everyone think?
Silence. As everybody tries to anticipate how Doug feels.
CASSIE I mean here’s what I don’t understand. How are we not making money? We have the hottest brands out there. We’ve are the buzziest brand out there...The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Vogue...everybody loves us!
Everybody shifts uncomfortably, as Cassie continues to indirectly compliment herself.
CAROLINE I hear you Cassie. It’s frustrating that ad sales has just not caught up with the changes in behavior...
DOUG That’s right.
CAROLINE Which is why we need to work with this brand to be meaningful.
Silence. Doug pushes out chair and leans back.
(CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 7.
DOUG Uh huh. Well. Here’s my thing. The numbers look a little small to me.
CASSIE I totally agree!
Everyone nods, general positive mumbling. Caroline crinkles her brow.
CAROLINE This would be $25 million in incremental revenue. That’s 10x what we are planning to do alone on a digital basis.
The room is silent. Doug just stares at Caroline, questioning his point of view.
DOUG Caroline, don’t let your pride or ego get in the way of the right decision.
Caroline confused as to what exactly is being discussed now.
CAROLINE Ok.
DOUG It’s just feels like it would be. I don’t know. A little distracting. We have too much to do.
Assistant comes into the room with starbucks, passing a note to Doug.
DOUG Alrighty then. Thanks all. Thanks Caroline.
CAROLINE Thanks.
Everybody exits, Doug saunters out looking at his phone. Caroline stays back to clean up the room alone.
8.
INT. YMCA COMMUNITY POOL - LATER
Caroline and other students in pool with caps and goggles on. Jesus dives in.
JESUS How’s everybody doing? Let’s get started. Take a deep breath and relax your shoulders...
Montage of breathing underwater exercises, floating, and student resistance apparent through their faces. Intermittently, Jesus saying "go for it guys!" and "let’s go!".
RAY I like your confidence in us.
JESUS I don’t doubt myself.
Caroline shrugs and takes a deep breath.
DOUG (V.O.) Don’t let your pride or ego get in the way.
INT. CAROLINE’S OFFICE - LATER
Caroline takes a deep breath in her office. The office is filled with swag collected over the year, abstract art on the walls, and a bundle of incense in the corner. Her new assistant RACHEL comes to the door, she’s a thin brunette dressed in ripped jeans and a crochet top.
RACHEL Caroline?
CAROLINE (startled) Yeah. Hey what’s up.
RACHEL Hi..do you have a minute?
CAROLINE Sure. Sorry tough meeting. Are you settling in ok?
(CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 9.
RACHEL Totally. Just trying to track down Eddie to get my computer and phone up and running...
CAROLINE Hey I’m glad to have you on our little team. How can I help? Have a seat.
RACHEL Ok thanks. Yes of course. On that. I just wanted to let you know that I’m a lawyer.
Awkward pause.
CAROLINE I see. Well, Rachel, this assistant position is the job I have available in the department. But you know there is a lot of change happening now and tons of opportunity to grow in success.
RACHEL Uh-huh.
CAROLINE We have a strong record of promoting from within. And as long as you do a good job here, the sky’s really the limit.
RACHEL Ok. That’s good to hear. Thanks.
CAROLINE I don’t doubt you will be great here.
(pause) Do you want to meet people in legal? Maybe a job there would make more sense for you?
RACHEL Oh I don’t think so. I used to be a lawyer for this clothing company. I had my own assistant.
(pause) So done that kinda thing.
(CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 10.
CAROLINE Gotcha. What happened? If you don’t mind me asking...
RACHEL Well. The owner sexually harassed me.
Rachel is surprisingly nonchalant about this statement. Caroline feels bad for asking.
CAROLINE Oh my gosh.
RACHEL Yeah. Like he dropped his pants in front of me and ugh just so many stories...
CAROLINE That’s horrible. I’m sorry. Well, I’m glad you’re here.
RACHEL Yeah. Thanks.
Rachel saunters out.
CAROLINE Rachel? Can you close the door?
RACHEL Of course sorry.
CAROLINE It’s ok.
Caroline widens her eyes and sighs. Rachel is trouble, but Caroline can’t quite pinpoint why.
CAROLINE (text on screen) Everything ok? Haven’t heard from you lately...
INT. YMCA COMMUNITY POOL
Many students stand up and cough out water. Now attempting doggy paddle.
(CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 11.
JESUS Keep moving! Did you sink? Yes...that’s why you have to keep moving!
Everybody is tired, Caroline already exhausted from work stress. Students clawing, bouncing, bending, grasping to move. It’s ugly.
INT. CAROLINE’S APARTMENT - NIGHT
Caroline with wet hair eating dinner on a couch in her studio apartment, watching TV. Text message ding. She checks her phone mid-chew.
PHILLIP (text on screen) Hi. I’m having a hard time balancing everything right now. I can’t do this anymore. Friends? Thanks.
CAROLINE What.
She is paralyzed and immediately calls her best friend, no pickup. Calls someone else, voicemail.
FRIEND (V.O.) Hi! Scott and I can’t come to the phone now. You know what to do. Teehee.
She furiously writes a long text to Phillip, deletes, rewrites, then settles on.
CAROLINE (text on screen) Ok.
(second text) I’m a little worried about my period but will keep u posted.
Caroline continues to text friends with no immediate sympathies, depressing her more. Surrounded by a messy apartment and completely alone.
Caroline sits and stops breathing without thinking. Street noise gets louder. She takes an anti-anxiety pill and goes to bed. The phone rings so she frantically looks for her cell phone and answers.
(CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 12.
CAROLINE Hi. Hello?
STUDENT Hi, this is Lindsey from King’s College Athletics. We are so excited about the upcoming sports season and we need your help. Can I speak to Ms. Chen please?
Caroline hangs up.

EXT. COMMUNITY POOL - SUMMER DAY
Area is crowded with family tents, parents, and children running. Suddenly frantic splashing from the deep end. Young CAROLINE (7) gasping for air and grabbing for anything nearby; only hitting water. Then grabs for a 10-year-old pudgy boy floating nearby and pulls him down with her.
BOY Hey! What...
EXT. UNDERWATER - CONTINUOUS
Young Caroline is struggling underwater breathing heavily, yet out of breath. Boy maneuvers to side of pool despite the extra weight, pushes Caroline back into the water. Sound of lifeguard whistle muffled in the background. Caroline crying, screaming, and gulping water all at the same time.
INT. PHILLIP’S BEDROOM - NIGHT
Caroline (38) gasps and wakes up in bed sweating. Her boyfriend PHILLIP (41) is sleeping soundly with his back facing her. She is with him, but feels lonely.
ROLL CREDITS AND THEME MUSIC
Clips of Caroline avoiding water. Waving from the sand, shaking her head and smiling, everybody else enjoying the water around her.
Caroline walking down a New York city street in the rain, constantly moving out of other people’s way and always saying "sorry". Navigates resentful, young mothers in yoga outfits pushing strollers. Caroline tries to avoid a blind man with a walking stick, which causes her to keep getting in his way as he keeps reaching out for a marker.
INT. PHILLIP’S KITCHEN - DAY
Caroline is busy and meticulous in Phillip’s kitchen making breakfast. And cleaning. It’s a cold New York winter morning. Kitchen is modern, large. Phillip enters rubbing his eyes and moves in for a kiss.
(CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 2.
PHILLIP Morning.
CAROLINE Hi honey! I made breakfast.
PHILLIP I can see that.
CAROLINE Fancy egg sandwich, your favorite.
Phillip takes a bite and frowns, poached egg and residual water from the washed lettuce and tomato fixings drip down his face.
PHILLIP Umm. It’s a little drippy.
Caroline doesn’t know how to respond to this criticism.
PHILLIP Oh come on. What. Are you upset?
CAROLINE (Pause, turning away) No.
PHILLIP Good because it’s a sandwich.
CAROLINE (Whispers) I made it for you.
PHILLIP And I was just giving you a warning that it’s drippy. You know before you eat yours.
(Pause) And by the way, people in relationships do stuff for each other all the time. At least in my family. You know we didn’t have to praise each other for every little thing we did.
(Changing the subject) Are you excited about St. Lucia?
Caroline has moved on and is washing the dishes. Phillip waits for an answer then rolls his eyes.
(CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 3.
PHILLIP Hey. I didn’t have to invite you.
Caroline glares at him with fake gratefulness.
PHILLIP Look I like this, which is why I’m taking you with me.
He attempts to hug her, she gives in.
CAROLINE Thanks.
PHILLIP Just relax. Clients will take 2 minutes, then you and me.
(beat) The water will be amazing.
INT. YMCA COMMUNITY POOL - LATER THAT DAY
Whistle blows. Big sign on bleachers says "ADULT BEGINNER SWIM". Caroline sitting behind sign, awkward and embarrassed. Teenagers giggle walking by, old ladies are bobbing in the water. A toddler walks by and stares at Caroline questioningly, his mother eventually comes by to push him along.
Caroline stares on with a pathetic look, having been judged by a toddler. The group begins to gather: GRACE and ANNIE (mid 20s, asian, friends but personality opposites), RAY (early 60s, dark-skinned Mexican guy, short and balding but with bravado), LATANYA (40s, overweight, TV producer), PUNEET (early 30s, lanky Indian guy, investment banker who just got laid off for being too nice) and his wife PADMA who speaks no English.
RAY Hi! Were you here last week?
CAROLINE Um yeah.
RAY Yeah I remember the yellow swimsuit!
CAROLINE Haha yeah.
(CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 4.
RAY God I hope we don’t have to get in the water today.
They swap genuine looks of concern. Whistle blows, and the swim instructor JESUS strides in front of the group and is all smiles, mid 20s, good looking and light-skineed with a hint of a Dominican accent.
JESUS Ok guys. Let’s get the party started.
Jesus jumps into the water Baywatch style. Close up of each face when called showing their respective personalities. Caroline no emotion. Grace is reading a how to swim book. Annie checking her phone in a waterproof plastic wrap. LaTanya is bored. Puneet is all smiles. Padma frowns.
JESUS Come on in guys.
Group edges toward the pool. Everyone looks at each other and all grab a noodle. And each slowly steps into the pool. Puneet escorts his wife.
JESUS No toys this time.
Looks of despair awash each face.
ANNIE (under her breath) What a grinch.
Padma whispers to Puneet and shoves him a bit.
PUNEET The water is too cold! For my wife, I mean...
JESUS It will get warmer when you get in.
Puneet argues with his wife in Hindi, and Padma gives in. Everybody is now in the pool, hugging the wall. Each displaying fear in their own faces. JESUS is amused and a bit annoyed, but takes a deep breath.
JESUS Ok guys. Make a circle please.
The class slowly forms a circle.
(CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 5.
JESUS Nice and relaxed. Great now let’s take a deep breath. Blow out through your nose.
Caroline closes her eyes. LaTanya breathing, but swatting a fly at the same time. RAY coughs.
JESUS Relax your body and wiggle your fingers.
Class takes another deep breath. And do visibly loosen up.
JESUS Now keep your feet on the floor and blow out with your face underwater.
Class awkwardly obliges. Some can only hold their faces down 1 second and jerk up.
JESUS Alright. Can you keep your face down now and allow your feet to float up. Keep wiggling your fingers. Go for it.
Some manage to float. Ray accidentally touches Caroline’s hands, and she pulls back and up out of the water annoyed. Ray doesn’t notice.
JESUS Try again. If you don’t trust yourself, you can’t push yourself.
Caroline closes her eyes and tries again, then immediately opens her eyes in panic. Show class all practicing struggling, Caroline is in the circle.
INT. CORPORATE CONFERENCE ROOM - THE NEXT DAY
Caroline in a new circle (circle conference table), surrounded by men in white or blue collared shirts and khaki pants (a different kind of uniform). Only other woman in the room is CASSIE, blonde statuesque head of press who got where she is because the guys like to look at her.
CAROLINE (text on screen) morning hone, hope you have a nice day xo
(CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 6.
Powerpoint presentation projected on screen. Her boss DOUG (54 with a gut) is texting his assistant to bring him starbucks.
CAROLINE So given their significant growth and traffic, we recommend moving forward with the partnership that takes advantage of both our strengths in the marketplace. Especially given the low digital revenues we expect this year.
DOUG Thanks Caroline. Uh. Lots of good work here.
CAROLINE Thanks!
DOUG Well what does everyone think?
Silence. As everybody tries to anticipate how Doug feels.
CASSIE I mean here’s what I don’t understand. How are we not making money? We have the hottest brands out there. We’ve are the buzziest brand out there...The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Vogue...everybody loves us!
Everybody shifts uncomfortably, as Cassie continues to indirectly compliment herself.
CAROLINE I hear you Cassie. It’s frustrating that ad sales has just not caught up with the changes in behavior...
DOUG That’s right.
CAROLINE Which is why we need to work with this brand to be meaningful.
Silence. Doug pushes out chair and leans back.
(CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 7.
DOUG Uh huh. Well. Here’s my thing. The numbers look a little small to me.
CASSIE I totally agree!
Everyone nods, general positive mumbling. Caroline crinkles her brow.
CAROLINE This would be $25 million in incremental revenue. That’s 10x what we are planning to do alone on a digital basis.
The room is silent. Doug just stares at Caroline, questioning his point of view.
DOUG Caroline, don’t let your pride or ego get in the way of the right decision.
Caroline confused as to what exactly is being discussed now.
CAROLINE Ok.
DOUG It’s just feels like it would be. I don’t know. A little distracting. We have too much to do.
Assistant comes into the room with starbucks, passing a note to Doug.
DOUG Alrighty then. Thanks all. Thanks Caroline.
CAROLINE Thanks.
Everybody exits, Doug saunters out looking at his phone. Caroline stays back to clean up the room alone.
8.
INT. YMCA COMMUNITY POOL - LATER
Caroline and other students in pool with caps and goggles on. Jesus dives in.
JESUS How’s everybody doing? Let’s get started. Take a deep breath and relax your shoulders...
Montage of breathing underwater exercises, floating, and student resistance apparent through their faces. Intermittently, Jesus saying "go for it guys!" and "let’s go!".
RAY I like your confidence in us.
JESUS I don’t doubt myself.
Caroline shrugs and takes a deep breath.
DOUG (V.O.) Don’t let your pride or ego get in the way.
INT. CAROLINE’S OFFICE - LATER
Caroline takes a deep breath in her office. The office is filled with swag collected over the year, abstract art on the walls, and a bundle of incense in the corner. Her new assistant RACHEL comes to the door, she’s a thin brunette dressed in ripped jeans and a crochet top.
RACHEL Caroline?
CAROLINE (startled) Yeah. Hey what’s up.
RACHEL Hi..do you have a minute?
CAROLINE Sure. Sorry tough meeting. Are you settling in ok?
(CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 9.
RACHEL Totally. Just trying to track down Eddie to get my computer and phone up and running...
CAROLINE Hey I’m glad to have you on our little team. How can I help? Have a seat.
RACHEL Ok thanks. Yes of course. On that. I just wanted to let you know that I’m a lawyer.
Awkward pause.
CAROLINE I see. Well, Rachel, this assistant position is the job I have available in the department. But you know there is a lot of change happening now and tons of opportunity to grow in success.
RACHEL Uh-huh.
CAROLINE We have a strong record of promoting from within. And as long as you do a good job here, the sky’s really the limit.
RACHEL Ok. That’s good to hear. Thanks.
CAROLINE I don’t doubt you will be great here.
(pause) Do you want to meet people in legal? Maybe a job there would make more sense for you?
RACHEL Oh I don’t think so. I used to be a lawyer for this clothing company. I had my own assistant.
(pause) So done that kinda thing.
(CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 10.
CAROLINE Gotcha. What happened? If you don’t mind me asking...
RACHEL Well. The owner sexually harassed me.
Rachel is surprisingly nonchalant about this statement. Caroline feels bad for asking.
CAROLINE Oh my gosh.
RACHEL Yeah. Like he dropped his pants in front of me and ugh just so many stories...
CAROLINE That’s horrible. I’m sorry. Well, I’m glad you’re here.
RACHEL Yeah. Thanks.
Rachel saunters out.
CAROLINE Rachel? Can you close the door?
RACHEL Of course sorry.
CAROLINE It’s ok.
Caroline widens her eyes and sighs. Rachel is trouble, but Caroline can’t quite pinpoint why.
CAROLINE (text on screen) Everything ok? Haven’t heard from you lately...
INT. YMCA COMMUNITY POOL
Many students stand up and cough out water. Now attempting doggy paddle.
(CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 11.
JESUS Keep moving! Did you sink? Yes...that’s why you have to keep moving!
Everybody is tired, Caroline already exhausted from work stress. Students clawing, bouncing, bending, grasping to move. It’s ugly.
INT. CAROLINE’S APARTMENT - NIGHT
Caroline with wet hair eating dinner on a couch in her studio apartment, watching TV. Text message ding. She checks her phone mid-chew.
PHILLIP (text on screen) Hi. I’m having a hard time balancing everything right now. I can’t do this anymore. Friends? Thanks.
CAROLINE What.
She is paralyzed and immediately calls her best friend, no pickup. Calls someone else, voicemail.
FRIEND (V.O.) Hi! Scott and I can’t come to the phone now. You know what to do. Teehee.
She furiously writes a long text to Phillip, deletes, rewrites, then settles on.
CAROLINE (text on screen) Ok.
(second text) I’m a little worried about my period but will keep u posted.
Caroline continues to text friends with no immediate sympathies, depressing her more. Surrounded by a messy apartment and completely alone.
Caroline sits and stops breathing without thinking. Street noise gets louder. She takes an anti-anxiety pill and goes to bed. The phone rings so she frantically looks for her cell phone and answers.
(CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 12.
CAROLINE Hi. Hello?
STUDENT Hi, this is Lindsey from King’s College Athletics. We are so excited about the upcoming sports season and we need your help. Can I speak to Ms. Chen please?
Caroline hangs up.


Writer's excerpt courtesy NYWIFT (NYWIFT.ORG)