Fiction

Shona by Connor Brennan | Pride Month

SCENE 1, SCHOOL TOILETS, DAY, INT

Set in 2020, in an all girls high school in the south of Ireland. 

Cian (13 years old, slim build, short hair and in the process of transitioning into a boy) sits in his school uniform (including skirt) in a toilet cubicle, watching a tiny spider crawl over his hand. 

O.S THE DOOR TO THE TOILETS OPEN. We can hear LAUGHTER and GIGGLING.

Cian pulls his legs up slowly from the floor, curling his body into a ball on top of the toilet. 

CHLOE (O.S) She’s in here somewhere.

BRIDGET (O.S GIGGELING) Come out, come out, freak wherever you are.

Cian carefully lets the spider climb from his hand onto the walls of the cubicle. Then he closes his eyes and waits. 

Two heads peer over the top of the cubicle walls. One head on each side and they simultaneously begin to snigger. 

Bridget Mulligan (13 years, is extremely tall and slim for her age) She peers down the right side at Cian with bulging eyes caused by her ponytail being pulled much too tight. 

Chloe O’Hara (12 years old, with a rounded face and curly locks kept in place by dozens of shiny hair clips) She glares at Cian from the left side, like a wild animal circling her prey. 

BRIDGET (SNIGGERING) Found you, freak.

Chloe lets out an excited laugh. 

CHLOE Come then, show us it.

Cian looks up at them with a sense of fear beginning to fill his face. 

CIAN Show you what?

Bridget uses her long body to peer further into the cubicle. 

BRIDGET Your dick, you freak.

Cian buries his head down into himself, he begins to plead with his captors. 

CIAN (MUTTERING) Go away.

As the girls continue to mock Cian’s plea for help, the tiny spider begins to crawl over Chloe’s hand. 

CHLOE Anyway you can’t do anything about us. Boys can’t hit girls remember, unless you’re not a real…

Chloe stops before the end of her sentence and SCREAMS at the little spider on her hand. Bridget begins to SCREAM from across the cubicle. 

SCHOOL BELL RINGS. The pair climb down from the cubicle and kick the door to Cians cubicle. 

CHLOE (O.S) We’ll get you after school, freak.

Cian sits still listening to their FOOTSTEPS as they leave. Silently Cian begins to cry from how helpless he feels. He catches sight of the spider on the wall, picks it up and puts it beside an open window. 

CIAN (WHISPERING) Thank you.

SCENE 2A, CLASSROOM 2:45 PM, DAY, INT

Cian enters quietly into the small, cramped classroom. The classroom is cluttered with old desks and dusty books and consists of only girls. Pupils all sit at their desks with books open, following the words as one pupil reads aloud. 

Mr Ferguson (45 years old, with a belly that came from years of teaching from a chair) sits with the book in front of his face, attempting to hide the fact he is eating sandwiches from an open drawer in his desk. 

Cian enters the room swiftly and tries to find a seat quickly. He can see Bridget and Chloe staring at him from the back row.

FERGUSON (STERNLY) That’s the third time this week Sophie.

Cian freezes in his tracks, beginning to tense up from being named Sophie. 

CIAN (MUTTERING) I am Cian.

Some pupils in the class begin to snigger. Mr Ferguson slams his book on the desk and, with bits of sandwich spluttering out of his mouth, he speaks. 

MR.FERGUSON (ANGRY) Late is what you are and you can stay behind to explain to me why.

Cian takes a deep breath as his heart sinks. He can see the rest of the girls staring and sniggering at him. He calmly sits down and begins furiously scratching his arm under the table. 

Bridget and Chloe can’t contain their happiness that Cian was told off and begin to giggle loudly.

MR.FERGUSON (ANGRY) Bridget, continue reading!

The sound of Mr Ferguson’s voice makes the pair jump and immediately the giggling stops. Cian continues to scratch his arm under the desk. 

SCENE 2B, CLASSROOM 3:25 PM, INT, DAY

The school bell rings and all the pupils snap their books shut and stampede towards the doors. Cian’s arm is now red from the scratching, with speckles of blood shining through. 

As pupils rush past, some intentionally push against his shoulder. Bridget and Chloe slowly walk past, taking a moment to look at Cian. 

CHLOE (WHISPERING) After class.

Bridget makes a threatening gesture by sliding her finger across her neck. Cian turns his head away. 

MR.FERGUSON Girls, out, now.

Mr Ferguson directs the girls to the door with his hand. Cian sits still at his desk. Mr Ferguson on the front of his own desk in a relaxed fashion. 

MR.FERGUSON (CLAMLY) Now Soph-

Cian quickly glares at Mr Ferguson 

MR.FERGUSON (CONT’D) Cian, why so many lates?

Cian avoids eye contact and looks towards the classroom window. 

CIAN (MUTTERING) I don’t know.

Mr Ferguson looks out of the class window and sees Chloe and Bridget waiting at the school gates. He quietly sighs as he is now aware of what is happening. 

MR FERGUSON Cian please talk to me, I can help.

CIAN (ANGRY) You can’t even remember my name, how can you help me?

Mr Ferguson takes a deep breath.

MR FERGUSON Well maybe you’ll talk to your parents then.

Cian begins to panic.

CIAN What you can’t, that’s not fair.

MR FERGUSON Cian I have to report the lates.

Mr Ferguson turns away from Cian pretending to tidy his desk. Cian‘s eyes begin to become teary, as he leaves the classroom. 

SCENE 3A, SCHOOL LANE, DAY, EXT

Cian storms out of the classroom and rushes through the school courtyard towards the lane. Although upset, Cian keeps a steady pace, still aware that Chloe and Bridget are waiting for him. 

He comes to the end of the building and pauses, taking a quick breath before looking down the lane. With his head barely peeping out from the building, Cian can see Chloe and Bridget with impatient looks on their faces (checking their watches). 

Cian pulls his head back with a sigh of relief, at the thought of them possibly leaving. He peers his head around again quickly to check whether they have left. But this time, Cian and Bridget catch eyes with one another. Bridget begins to point at Cian. 

BRIDGET (HOWLS) There he is!

Like two starving animals spotting their prey, the girls begin to quickly descend upon Cian. Cian is now red in the face from fear and begins to sprint up the lane towards the back of the school. 

SCENE 3B, SCHOOL PLAYGOUND, DAY, EXT

Cian continues running through the school playground, fueled by a fear of what is coming from behind. Behind the playground lies a rusted old metal fence which separates the school grounds from the adjoining forest. The fence is constructed with tiny slots between the bars and weather-worn spikes protruding into the sky. Cian begins to climb the fence by forcing his feet into the gaps. 

Bridget and Chloe are now approaching quickly. In a panic Cian loses his grip and slips down the fence, causing a cut in the palm of his hand. 

CIAN (SCREAMS) Ahhhhhh!

Blood begins to flow from his hand, but he continues to climb the fence, making it to the other side. 

SCENE 3C, EDGE OF THE FOREST, DAY, EXT

Cian tumbles onto the ground with a thud. He lies on his back for a second, looking up at the trees and inspecting his injured hand. 

SUDDENLY CIAN’S LEG IS TUGGED and his moment of reflection is abruptly broken. Chloe and Bridget stand growling with their faces pressed between the bars. Their arms stretch out, swiping like claws at Cian. 

Cian quickly shuffles backwards, in an effort to create distance. Chloe, now red in the face and with drool sliding down her chin, grunts and growls. Bridget attempts to climb the fence. 

Without hesitation, Cian jumps to his feet and begins his descent into the forest. 

SCENE 4, WOODS, DAY, EXT

Cians sprints through the thick forest, clutching his bleeding hand to his chest. The forest foliage is thick and Cian tries his best to navigate his way through it as quickly as possible. 

As he runs, he makes attempts to glance behind. In that moment, his foots trips over a tree branch sending Cian hurtling towards the ground. As he hits the forest floor, his school bag catapults towards the back of his head, forcing his face into the mud. 

Cian lies there silently on the forest floor, covered in mud, with his hands still bleeding and his resilience non- existent. He slowly lifts his head from the dirt with a look of panic and shock. With his frustration at an all time high, he lets out a mixture of silent tears and screams. 

He rolls over onto his back, still clutching his injured hand. His screams have now found their voice and Cians pain echos through the trees. This has all become too much for him. 

RUSTLING – from behind a tree. 

Cian gently tilts his head towards the noise. Fearing the worst, he throws his head back with a thud. 

CIAN (WHIMPERING) No, no. Leave me alone, please.

But there is no reply. Cian begins to slowly sit up, peering towards the mysterious rustling noise. 

A TWIG SNAPS

Cian quickly scampers away from the noise. 

CIAN (SCREAMS) Please, go away.

SCENE 4B, WOODS, LEPRECHAUN ENTRANCE, DAY, EXT

Cian blinks in an effort to dry the tears from his eyes. Through his blurred vision, a small figure begins to appear. 

SHONA (GENTLY) Hello.

Cians blinks to focus his eyes and as they focus, he catches his first glimpse of SHONA (12 cm tall in height. Deep man’s voice. With a scrunched up, yet friendly face. Toffs of hair protruding from her chin. Her body is covered in patches of moss, leaves and branches. These begin to form the base of her clothing.) peering from behind the base of the near by tree trunk. 

Shona, smiles at Cian and attempts to introduce herself again. 

SHONA (WAVING) Fáilte.

Cian pauses for a second, then shuffles himself back from the tiny figure and lets out a short scream. Shona begins to LAUGH and POINT at Cian. 

SHONA (LAUGHING) Your face.

Cian still in shock.

CIAN You’re , you’re ……

Cian begins to inspect the figure. 

SHONA (PLAYFULLY) Drop dead gorgeous, I’m aware.

CIAN No you aren’t real, Leprechauns don’t exist.

SHONA (LAUGHING) Yes I know, we started that rumour.

CIAN (PUZZELED) But why?

SHONA (LAUGHING) To avoid paying tax on our gold, of course.

Cian lets out a short laugh and begins to slightly relax. 

Shona moves towards Cian, but still unsure Cian shuffles back. Shona gently raises her hands as a gesture that she will not come any closer. 

SHONA (CONT’D) Ok the truth is, we are everywhere, we are the wind, your neighbour’s dog, a flower in a garden. Even a tiny bathroom spider.

Shona gives a little wink towards Cian. 

CIAN But you chose to look like this?

SHONA (PLAYFULLY) Ok steady on. This is the authentic me, the one I usually have to hide.

Shona takes a breath, then looks Cian in the eyes. 

SHONA (CONT’D) I thought you of all people would understand that.

THERE IS A MOMENT OF SILENCE. Shona begins to HOP up the branches of the tree.

SHONA Come on, follow me.

Cian hesitates. 

CIAN But you’re just my imagination.

SHONA (LAUGHING) Then imagine yourself moving.

SCENE 5, TREE BRANCH, DAY EXT

Shona zooms up the branches of the tree, while Cian struggles with his injured hand behind. Shona stops on a branch and pears out over the city. 

SHONA Look out there Cian, what do you see?

Cian finally sits up and joins Shona on the branch. 

CIAN Houses, cars, people.

Shona looks up at Cian with a big smile.

SHONA Wrong, so wrong.

CIAN (LAUGHING) Then what is it?

SHONA That my friend… By the way, we are friends now, that is thousands of people terrified to be themselves.

Cian peers closer at the tiny, grubby streets of his town. 

CIAN (PUZZELED) What do you mean?

Shona walks over and sit beside Cians hand. 

SHONA (SOFTLY) Cian, it’s easy to conform. That’s why we Leprechauns change our appearance. You see, there’s safety in conforming.

Shona takes a deep breath and looks up at Cian. 

SHONA (CONT’D) But there is no happiness.

Cian lets out a deep sigh. 

CIAN I don’t feel very happy. It would just be easy if I was normal, I feel so broken.

SHONA Cian the acorn isn’t broken for knowing that deep inside it is a tree. You are that acorn.

CIAN But there’s so many of them and only one of me.

SHONA They are only leaves, yes there are many but leaves are weak in the winter winds. It is the tree that stands strong till spring.

Cian stares out into the city, watching the life unfold in the streets. Cian reflects on Shonas words. 

SHONA (CONT’D) It’s getting dark, I think we both should be going home.

Cian snaps out of his gaze. 

CIAN I think you’re right… But what do I do next, how do I start making it better?

SHONA I’m not sure, but something tells me your parents may be a good place to start.

Cian looks down into the streets and sees the outline of his mother pacing around their living room and his father on the phone by the window. 

Cian looks at Shona and nods his head. 

SHONA Follow the trail of mushrooms from the tree trunk, they’ll lead you to the forest’s edge. I’m sure you can work it out from there.

Cian begins to climb down the tree, but stops momentarily. 

CIAN (CONT’D) Thank you ……. Oh wait I don’t your name.

SHONA (LAUGHING) It’s Shona.

CIAN (PUZZELED) You’re a girl?

SHONA (LAUGHING) No, I’m just me.

With that Cian climbs down the tree and Shona watches from her branch as he makes his way from the forest. 

THE END


Born in Belfast, Connor studied Film Studies at Queens University in 2015. During his time at Queens, he worked on developing his script writing with his final year film “The Mountain”, winning Best Student Drama at the N.I Royal television awards 2016. This went on to be selected as part of the Belfast Film Festival.

After that success, he developed his second script, “My Sweetest Sin” that was funded and produced by Belfast based production company Cinemagic. This was shown as part of their Dublin festival. Since then he has been working as parts of writer groups in England and Berlin, with a focus on continuously improving his writing.

Follow Connor on Instagram @irishstories26

 

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