The Sightless

Based on Maurice Maeterlinck’s play Les Aveugles (1890)

*

EXT. FOREST LAND – DUSK

A small area of illumination. A BLIND MAN stands. He wears dark glasses. He stares into the night. Darkness surrounds. He acts like a theatre performer, overly dramatic, performing a monologue for an audience that can’t be seen.


THE BLIND MAN

Tempt me not to speak of my account for it’s an account for

the seas, and not the jungle.

EXT. FORESTLAND – DUSK

Not too far away, in another small area of light, a BLIND WOMAN stands. She follows his lead.

THE BLIND WOMAN

Annabelle was from St. Lucia. She brought with her island spirit

and a brand of frivolity that was long forgotten. She had the

softest, most beautiful skin. I was a nurse at the hospice.

We inter-cut between the two as they deliver their lines:

THE BLIND MAN

Alas, threatening skies! Hunkered down by the foremast, to my chest

– the writings of Herman Melville. He writes of a beast

and it’s of that beast I dream. ‘Still your fear’ – an American

cadet’s only words to me. He leapt overboard, I was informed,

not four hours after our brief exchange, to be forever lost to

the North Atlantic.

THE BLIND WOMAN

Since her arrival, Annabelle slept with three men. William

Rush, who I affectionately called Billy. Jack DeVille, a man who

most knew little about. And Maurice Serre, a man I was truly

and deeply in love with. His father, Philippe Serre, was a

trader. His mother, Alia, was a painter in Bordeaux.


THE BLIND MAN

Cowering in the shadow of smokestacks, the smell of coal.

Rending their final strings of sanity, the crew, losing sense of

reason, logged of the smell of death and the smell of sorrow.

THE BLIND WOMAN

I, of course, had no idea what Maurice looked like, but he had a

voice that I instantly fell in love with. There was hope.

CUT TO BLACK

Insert intertitle: ‘The blind are taken into the woods. Their scout has abandoned them.’

FADE IN:

EXT. FORESTLAND – DUSK

Inter-cuts continue.

THE BLIND MAN

Shores, the outline of sandy beaches. The smell of decay. The

Marble Lighthouse. The captain’s log: ’the first light in months’.

He was found dead. A single self-inflicted bullet wound to

the head.

THE BLIND WOMAN

Charles Edmund Jr. was ninety four years old. He was resident

at the hospice for two years. The doctors had said he had only

weeks to live. But old Charlie fought. What he fought for, I

don’t know. I told Charlie a story once, a story my mother

used to tell me.

THE BLIND MAN

Petrichor rising from the foreshore, coal and salt brought

from the approaching vessel. I was merely a passenger.

THE BLIND WOMAN

Charlie and I spent many hours talking. I learned about his life
and he learned about mine. On the chilly evening that Annabelle and

Maurice made love, Charles Edmund Jr. died in his sleep. I heard

him breathe. And then I heard the silence.

THE BLIND MAN

A story of the seas that should’ve been left with the

seas. It has no place in the jungle. This is I.

THE BLIND WOMAN

And this is I.

CUT TO BLACK

Insert intertitle: ‘The missing scout is a priest. His name is Ezekiel.’

FADE IN:

EXT. FORESTLAND – DUSK

The blind man and woman stand in a clearing. Around them is darkness. They both face each other. A strange mist covers the forest ground – about a foot high, maybe a bit less.

THE BLIND WOMAN

I can’t hear his breath.

THE BLIND MAN

Maybe it’s getting lost in the sounds of the jungle.

THE BLIND WOMAN

There are no other sounds.

The blind man shushes the woman.

THE BLIND MAN

Hear that. The cool sea breeze, the gentle tide, you can hear it all.

THE BLIND WOMAN

You hear only what you want to hear. We are far from open

waters. There is no ocean here.

THE BLIND MAN

Of course there is. You can tell – breathe in. There’s salt in the air.

The woman sniffs the air.

THE BLIND WOMAN (Softer)

Nothing. Do you know where the priest went? It seems to me he’s

left us alone too long.

THE BLIND MAN

We hardly spoke, he and I. He didn’t talk much to the men.

THE BLIND WOMAN

There were twists and turns in the pathway. We can’t make it

back on our own.

THE BLIND MAN

I know.

THE BLIND WOMAN

There were rocks and thorns all around. We can’t make it back on our own.

THE BLIND MAN

Do you know where the jungle ends and the shoreline begins?


THE BLIND WOMAN

No.

THE BLIND MAN

At the Marble Lighthouse. That’s the border. That’s the border to cross.

PAUSE.

THE BLIND WOMAN

We shall wait here for him.

EXT. GRAVEYARD – NIGHT

A PRIEST sits by a grave stone, using a knife to carve two planks of wood. They are positioned to look like a cross. As he carves the plank:

THE BLIND WOMAN (V.O)

He will return for us.

The noise of the carving gradually increases in volume –

CUT TO

EXT. FORESTLAND – DUSK

The two blind people. We focus on the man:

THE BLIND MAN

Can you hear it now? The waters?

THE BLIND WOMAN

No. We’ve never come as far as this. Why did he bring us so deep

into the jungle?

THE BLIND MAN

You seem to doubt him.

THE BLIND WOMAN

I shall wait. We all wait for something. Sometimes, we don’t know it. A strange silence.

THE BLIND WOMAN

What time is it?

THE BLIND MAN

I can’t tell.

THE BLIND WOMAN

Is it daytime?

THE BLIND MAN

I can’t feel the sun.

THE BLIND WOMAN

Night-time then.

THE BLIND MAN

I can’t feel the moonlight.

CUT TO BLACK

Insert intertitle: ‘Hours pass like centuries.

FADE IN:

EXT. FORESTLAND – DUSK

The blind man paces.

THE BLIND MAN

We were in the eye of a hurricane. The smell of sorrow

was inescapable. I knelt by the foremast and with the pages of a

story I was reading, I made this.

The blind man reaches into his pocket and fishes out a little paper boat. He bends low and drops the boat, letting it disappear into the mist. The blind woman just watches.

THE BLIND WOMAN

I am afraid to sleep because I am afraid to dream. I am afraid to

sleep because I am afraid I won’t wake.

THE BLIND MAN

I dreamt once. It was a dream about a beast.

CUT TO BLACK

Insert intertitle: ‘The stench of death.’

FADE IN:

EXT. FORESTLAND – DUSK

The blind woman retches.

THE BLIND WOMAN

What is that god-awful smell? The blind man thinks, looking extremely worried.

THE BLIND MAN

I know that smell.

As the woman continues to retch, she walks a little further away –

THE BLIND MAN (Whispers)

Sorrow. Death.

THE BLIND WOMAN (O.S)

Oh my!

THE BLIND MAN

What is it?

THE BLIND WOMAN (O.S)

It’s him.

THE BLIND MAN

Where?

THE BLIND WOMAN (O.S)

By my feet.

THE BLIND MAN

I can’t hear him.

THE BLIND WOMAN (O.S)

He isn’t breathing. Come over here.

We follow the blind man’s feet as he wades through the mist. Footsteps. Then a dull thunk.

THE BLIND MAN

What was that?

THE BLIND WOMAN

It’s him.

THE BLIND MAN

It can’t be.

The blind man crouches low and dips his hands into the mist, searching.

THE BLIND MAN

Oh my!

THE BLIND WOMAN

Is it?

THE BLIND MAN

There is no breath. And there is no pulse.

CUT TO BLACK

Insert intertitle: ‘The blind woman waits for death.’

FADE IN:

EXT.WATERS – NIGHT

A little paper boat floats over black water.

THE BLIND MAN (V.O)

I wait for my ship.

Darkness surrounds the little boat.

*

Gautama Ramesh
BA (Hons) Media, Writing and Production

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