‘Do Not Disturb’
INT. SUBURBAN HOUSE – STAIRWELL – LATE AFTERNOON
(Muffled rock music can be heard from the landing above)
INT. MEL’S BEDROOM – CONTINUOUS
Rock music is blaring. The room is a chaotic mix of black and purple. The floor cannot be seen for layers of clothing and magazines. It resembles a bomb site. Come up on MEL, a sixteen year-old girl hidden under a curtain of black hair and make-up. She is hunched over a laptop.
INT. ANNA’S BEDROOM – CONTINUOUS
Even in the next room the noise is inescapable, as if backstage at a rock concert. Sat upright on the bed is a young girl, ANNA, of about 12 years old. She is bespectacled and absorbed in a book.
Anna looks down at her book and notices the pages are quivering with each vibration. The words begin to dance off the page. Anna closes the book and instead turns her attention to a wall chart beside her. Even this begins to ripple with the vibration. Deciding it’s the breeze, she gets up to shut the window and slouches back on her bed.
Anna removes her glasses to massage her temple. When she replaces them, a GUITARIST is sitting at the foot of her bed. He is playing in perfect synchronization to the music coming from Mel’s bedroom. The performance has come to life. Anna blinks but the MUSICIAN has moved even closer towards the top of the bed. The guitar is now inches away from her face.
She gets up hastily and runs to her desk chair. The music is now deafening. She tidies some papers to make room on the desk and uncovers a foot. This turns into a leg and a man screaming into a microphone. Anna jumps back in her chair only to find a DRUMMER staring back at her from beneath the desk. She runs to the other side of the room and slumps down in the corner, head in hands.
INT. CAR – MORNING
Anna stares thoughtfully out of the window. She leans in closer pressing the window button with her elbow. Within seconds she’s confronted by all manner of car alarms and distant thumps of music. Anna panics and watches the window wind up, far too slowly. Silence again. She stares straight ahead, inhaling deeply.
In the driver’s seat is Anna’s mother. She is attractive with short dark hair. She turns around, beaming affectionately towards Anna. Anna gives an awkward smile back.
INT. SCHOOL CORRIDOOR – DAY
A large sign outside the hall reads ‘TEST IN PROGRESS’
INT. EXAM HALL – CONTINUOUS
The hall is filled with low murmurings and laughter. Sitting in the front row is Anna. She sways her pen impatiently between her fingers, awaiting instructions. As the hall becomes gradually hushed, a faint tinny sound of rock music can be made out a few metres behind Anna.
She turns around in her chair to strain her ears but is thrown off by two loud taps. Her attention is brought to a large board at the front of the hall – ‘Switch all mobile phones/mp3 players off’
A BEARDED MAN in his late fifties is standing directly under the board. He repeatedly checks his watch is in sync with the wall clock above. Anna looks on anxiously as the second hand approaches twelve.
Your time starts…now. Best of luck everyone.
Anna turns the page, warily. Staring back at her is a dense, unending block of verse with a feeble dotted line at the bottom of the page. She frowns, studying the opening line carefully. A loud cough echoes from the back of the hall. This puts Anna off kilter. Frustrated, she leans in closer and returns to the first word.
She gives a nervous glance at the clock. The methodical ticking appears to be louder with each stroke. Anna stares back down at the text and picks up her pen. The pen sways back and forth restlessly in her hand, producing three sharp raps in quick succession on the wooden desk.
The silence is punctured by the collective screech of violins. A row of MUSICIANS have occupied the empty stage space behind the examiner. Anna has conjured up an orchestra. She removes her glasses but the blurred outline of a band remains on stage. The examiner is slouched casually against the stage with his arms folded. He hides a yawn with the back of his hand.
Anna looks sharply to the left and right of her, hoping someone can confirm her visions. Nobody looks up from their desk. She spins around frantically, scanning the entire hall but the room is a sea of hunched shoulders. She looks back down at the block of text. The words begin to unravel before her very eyes, forming a line of musical notes. They dance about the page, animated in time with the music.
Anna looks up again at the stage and does a double take. The examiner is now conducting the orchestra. She gives in and buries her head in her arms.
INT. BEDROOM – AFTERNOON
CAPTION – A MONTH LATER
The above words sit neatly on the dotted line of a page. They are hastily erased out, creating several creases in the paper. Mel is sitting at her bedroom desk, surrounded by half-open textbooks.
INT. KITCHEN – DAY
Anna’s mother is stood behind the counter stirring pasta.
A Grade D means you’ve passed. Don’t beat yourself up.
Anna shrugs glumly. Her mum smiles, squeezing Anna’s shoulder sympathetically.
Can you tell your sister her tea’s ready?
INT. LANDING – DAY
Anna appears slowly at the top of the stairs. She rubs her eyes and widens them, trudging slowly towards Mel’s room. She stops, noticing the door has been left slightly ajar. Pinned on the outside of it is a handwritten note – ‘Mel’s big exam – Do not Disturb!’
Anna rolls her eyes and scoffs. She reaches her hand out to push the door and hesitates, peering through the gap. Mel’s face is a picture of concentration. Anna steps back into the centre of the landing and grins. She disappears into her room and returns to the landing, carrying a portable stereo in one hand.
She places the stereo gently by the foot of Mel’s door and aligns it, ensuring one speaker is in the doorway. Anna treads softly back across the landing and stands by her bedroom door. She aims the remote control carefully at the stereo.
James Brown’s “I Feel Good” blares over the stereo.
INT. MEL’S BEDROOM
James Brown appears on Mel’s desk, screaming at her. The force of his voice sends Mel out of her chair and into one corner of the room. A sea of papers flutter around her like confetti. She sulks.
(The music continues into the credits)