EXT. A SMALL ROADSIDE PETROL STATION. DAY. A NOVEMBER MORNING.

Petrol station building, with large front window allowing us glimpses inside. There’s no noise, until three blue cars pass by consecutively, and bring with them a brief hum of tarmac under tyre. Inside the building is empty, apart from a middle-aged woman, AVRIL, busying herself. She’s too far away to be distinct.

INT. PETROL STATION SHOP. DAY.

Everything immaculately ordered, but faded with sunlight. There is harsh lighting throughout the shop -solid and unflickering. The floor is a particularly glaring shade of blue. A radio is playing, and a man’s laugh sounds in the background for an unusually long time. AVRIL waits behind till. She wears a blue and yellow uniform, including hat. A packet of firework sparklers lie to one side of her. In front of the till is a large poster advertising a bonfire night at ‘The King’s Arms.’ AVRIL looks out the front of the building, watching the approach of younger, tubby girl, NATASHA, in same uniform.

NATASHA

Avril…

NATASHA walks up to AVRIL and sits on front desk. AVRIL continues looking out the front of the shop.

NATASHA (CONT’D)

Worst journey in today, Avril, I’m not even going to tell you about it. But I was cycling behind this absolutely cracked guy wearing blinkers. He had this rusty as hell bike. Couldn’t hold a straight line.

AVRIL

Is this your excuse for being late now?

NATASHA

No. What? How am I late?

AVRIL

What time do we open, Natasha?

NATASHA

I don’t know. Like, Ten ‘o’ clock?

AVRIL

(incredulous)

Ten ‘o’ clock?

NATASHA

I don’t know. Six a.m?

AVRIL

Six a.m?!

NATASHA

I don’t know, sorry, I’m really making all this up.

AVRIL

Eight ‘o’ clock. Natasha, we open at eight ‘o’ clock.

NATASHA

Would have been my third guess.

AVRIL

Natasha, it’s ten-thirty, and you were meant to open shop with me.

NATASHA

Oh, Avril! Don’t be like that.

AVRIL begins rigorously cleaning till with a toothbrush.

AVRIL

There is a bad smell around the toilets. They need cleaning.

NATASHA

Uhh, you sure? Pretty sure I did them, like…yesterday.

AVRIL

Well then they need doing again Natasha. You’ll have to do them again.

NATASHA

Uhh. Okay. Hey!

NATASHA smacks her hand to her forehead in a sudden, dramatic gesture.

NATASHA (CONT’D)

I totally forgot, but I really can’t work this Friday evening.

AVRIL continues to rigorously clean the till.

AVRIL

Well, it’s Friday now, Natasha, how did you forget?

NATASHA

Just been so busy around here, y’know. Slipped my mind. I’m really sorry, you don’t mind do you?

AVRIL

Natasha, no. I do mind. You can’t. You really can’t have this evening off.

NATASHA

What?! Why?

AVRIL

Because this is the fourth time you’ve sprung having Friday evening off on me. On a Friday morning. No, I’m saying no. I was planning on watching the firework display at the King’s Arms tonight, actually, Natasha. Mark asked me to get the sparklers especially.

NATASHA

Ah, you won’t like fireworks, Av. It’s all unexpected noises and sticky kids. And you have to walk in some pretty muddy fields.

NATASHA stares for a prolonged period at AVRIL.

NATASHA (CONT’D)

I like fireworks.

AVRIL

Well, Natasha, really. I said I’d go with Mark, you know. He’s coming to get the sparklers in a little while.

NATASHA

If he’s coming to get them, why d’you need to go?

AVRIL

Well…

NATASHA

Bet I like fireworks more than you like Mark.

AVRIL

(exasperated)

Look – I’ll think about it. Okay? Go clean the toilets. And don’t forget the bleach, before you go out. Behind the counter. Don’t forget it.

NATASHA

Yeah. I’m all over it.

EXT. BEHIND PETROL STATION. DAY.

A white, opaque wall, with the occasional noise of traffic, and overgrown bushes. NATASHA comes through foliage wearing long yellow gloves, holding bleach and plastic bags. She pulls a face at the smell near the toilets. Moving bushes with her feet she discovers a dead fox – flattened and hollow looking with age. She stoops to pick it up, and notices a door handle at about knee height in the wall. She bags the fox and puts it back under a bush. Taking her gloves off, she twists the handle and pushes against the door.

INT. BOX ROOM. DAY.

The door swings open, and NATASHA enters dark room. Light falls from high windows, picking out bits of dust. As door closes, a sign saying ‘Return to Owner,’ shows. The room is incredibly high, and filled with frail looking, tall, wooden shelves, going up to an impossible level, on which are an uncountable number of cardboard boxes. NATASHA takes off her yellow hat. She approaches a nearby box, looks at the label, which reads ‘EDUCATION: Biology, GCSE.’ She takes box off shelf and opens it. Inside are old looking blue files, arranged alphabetically. The first one: ‘Aadams, Amelia; who lives on the corner opposite the haberdashery.’ NATASHA lifts out the file and opens it. Inside is a blank sheet of paper with a nearly empty packet of chewing gum sellotaped to it. She moves to touch the chewing gum packet, when the paper suddenly fills with a moving picture.

INT. CLASSROOM. DAY. AN EARLY AFTERNOON.

Silence. A stern looking teacher is gesturing to parts of the human lung on a screen at the front of a classroom. The attention of ‘Aadams, Amelia,’ wanders to a window.

TEACHER

Amelia Aadams!

AMELIA turns to face TEACHER.

INT. BOX ROOM. PRESENT DAY.

NATASHA replaces the file. She wanders among cardboard boxes, stops at ‘BITS OF PEOPLE: Her Name.’ The first file inside is labeled ‘Ahmed, Aamar; the shortest man in the village.’ The memory plays: CU Young Woman’s face

YOUNG WOMAN

(smiling)

Nikki.

Natasha looks over other boxes: ‘The colour of her eyes,’ is next to ‘Her Name.’ There are various other titles alluding to forgotten memories – under the boxes entitled ‘COMMON OMISSIONS’ there is ‘Where you put the keys,’ ‘Deadline: Office Efficiency Reports,’ ‘Anniversaries,’ ‘Spouse’s birthdays,’ and ‘Birth.’

CUT TO:

INT. PETROL STATION. DAY.

AVRIL is methodically rearranging the chocolate shelf in front of the counter, according to packaging colour.

BACK TO:

INT. BOX ROOM. DAY.

NATASHA peruses the memories. Stops at a box labelled, ‘FIRST TIMES: Flying.’ Inside is a lot of files, mainly named ‘Anon, pigeon; who lives in the village square.’ Attached to the file is some bird seed, which NATASHA reluctantly scoops into her mouth. She swallows, then goes wide eyed, and grins as she processes the memory. The piece of paper from the file drops to the floor, showing a first-person view of a plummeting dive from the branches of a tree.

CUT TO:

INT. BOX ROOM. DAY.

NATASHA is impossibly high up on the edge of a shelf in the BOX ROOM. She is rummaging through a box which reads ‘DANCES: The Foxtrot.’ Inside, she pulls out a file reading ‘Smith, Bess; whose memories are now largely within this room.’ Attached to the file is an old fashioned brooch. NATASHA puts on the brooch, then foxtrots with an invisible partner along the ledge of the shelves. The brooch falls from her, and she stops dancing.

CUT TO:

INT. PETROL STATION SHOP. DAY.

AVRIL leaves the shop in search of NATASHA.

EXT. BACK OF PETROL STATION. DAY.

AVRIL walks past, but doesn’t see, the bagged, dead fox. The back wall of the petrol station no longer has a door leading into the BOX ROOM.

CUT TO:

INT. BOX ROOM. DAY.

NATASHA repeatedly flicks through boxes’ contents to find the files under ‘S’. Eventually, rummaging through ‘CHILD’S BIRTHDAY PARTIES: 6th’ she finds a memory of her own under ‘Seed, Natasha; who is terminally lazy.’She frowns at the label, then eats the banana attached to the file. The memory plays.

INT. NATASHA’S CHILDHOOD HOUSE. DAY. 1990.

A young child’s birthday – balloons, paper cups, party rings, plenty of noise. A 5 year old NATASHA looks at a bowl of lime green jelly and ice cream in her hands and drops it – on purpose. She uses her toes to wiggle the jelly into a navy blue, poor quality carpet. A dark-haired woman is quickly approaches. She grasps the wrist of NATASHA, looks angrily into her face.

CUT TO:

INT. PETROL STATION SHOP. DAY.

AVRIL has finished organising the chocolate bars, they display a kind of rainbow across the different shades of the chocolates’ packaging. She begins cleaning the till, and looks at the petrol station’s clock. It is 11.30 a.m. She makes to move from her position behind the till, but moves back when she sees a car approach.

BACK TO:

INT. BOX ROOM. DAY.

NATASHA rummages through a box which read ‘GREAT CREATIONS: Unwanted.’ She finds her name at the top of one of the files in the box. She eats the grapes attached to her file, and the memory plays out.

INT. ART CLASSROOM. 1998.

A young NATASHA, 13, gazes at an art project. It’s a paper maché piece, roughly spherical, painted violet, very large, with old shoes stuck down messily across its surface. NATASHA’s hand is holding a shoe in place on the violet sphere. A tube of super glue is next to the sphere.

ART TEACHER

Natasha! I told you to use the tape. Oh, bloody hell, show me your hand.

NATASHA goes to move her hand, but finds it stuck to the shoe. A teacher comes into view.

ART TEACHER (CONT’D)

How long have you been holding that thing for, Natasha? You’ve really got to try and reign in your enthusiasm, sometimes…

CUT TO:

INT. PETROL STATION SHOP. DAY.

AVRIL scowls, looks at clock. It’s 12.05 p.m.

BACK TO:

INT. BOX ROOM. DAY.

NATASHA is looking over a selection of memories from a cardboard box labeled ‘SENSATIONS.’ She swallows a jelly bean attached to the memory ‘Sliding into a hot bath. Ricketts, Jenny; who sings like a lark in the shower.’ Afterward, she pulls an incredibly content face. She takes a further memory ‘Listening to the Beatles on a summer’s day: Dover, Craig, who still lives with his parents,’ in the form of a chocolate covered peanut, and grins further afterward. She looks at a third, which is labelled ‘Feeling invincible: James, Peter; who works at the post office.’ Rather than swallow this one, Natasha watches the memory play out.

EXT. A STEEP HILL IN THE VILLAGE. DAY.

A thin looking POSTMAN on a bicycle riding downhill. It’s early morning, and intensely quiet, as he flies at an incredible speed down the hill.

INT. BOX ROOM. DAY.

NATASHA places the chocolate biscuit attached to this memory in her breast pocket, and hurriedly leaves the room.

EXT. BACK OF PETROL STATION. DAY.

NATASHA walks into PETROL STATION SHOP.

NATASHA

Avril!

AVRIL

Natasha.

NATASHA

Hey, I gotta question. Right? Okay, so, you know how you forget stuff? That’s not a dig at your age. I mean, people can forget stuff, but the actual memory’s not really gone. It’s kind of there, because stuff reminds you of it? Like, y’know, liking a weird smell, like marmalade, and you can’t actually remember why, but it was actually because your mum used to make marmalade on toast every morning, when you were young. Too young to remember it now – but part of the memory still exists because of your feelings towards marmalade.

AVRIL stares at NATASHA for a very long time.

NATASHA (CONT’D)

I don’t know. But it’d be cool if you could get hold of that stuff, huh? Remember it. It’d be kind of satisfying. You could –

AVRIL

(interrupting)

Where’s your hat?

NATASHA

Eh? Oh, I don’t know, sorry.

AVRIL

Natasha, what time is lunch break?

NATASHA

Aw, not this game again, Avril.

AVRIL

My lunch break is twelve ’til twelve thirty. But I couldn’t take it – because you weren’t here to cover the till.

NATASHA

Oh. Is it my lunch now, then?

AVRIL

Yes! Well. And when am I going to eat? And why does it take two hours to clean a toilet?

NATASHA

It doesn’t. I –

AVRIL

It doesn’t! It doesn’t! Oh. You can forget about this having tonight off. You can. No way.

NATASHA

Avril, I really –

AVRIL

No! You really can’t. Why I even considered it…

NATASHA

Avril – Go take my lunch break. Go on. I’ll let you. And I’ll make you tea. And don’t worry, I’ve got the till covered. And we’ll talk about tonight’s shift later.

AVRIL

You’re not having it off. Watch the till. You’re not having it off, mind. I’m going to watch the firework, I am.

EXIT AVRIL into room behind till.

INT. BOX ROOM. DAY.

NATASHA, again impossibly high up in the BOX ROOM, peruses through a section where all the boxes’ labels begin ‘PHOBIA ORIGINS:’ and searches through ‘Spiders,’ ‘Balloons,’ ‘People,’ ‘Coffee rings,’ and ‘Hairy men,’ to ‘Fireworks.’ She takes the ‘Fireworks,’ file out, which has a shortbread biscuit attached to it. NATASHA takes the memory, without watching it play, and leaves the room.

5. INT. STAFF ROOM. DAY.

The staff room is bare and grey. AVRIL is at the far end of the room, eating bland looking sandwiches. NATASHA pours hot water from a kettle over a tea bag in a cup. She places the shortbread biscuit on the rim of the teacup’s plate.

AVRIL

Is that for me?

NATASHA

Sure is.

AVRIL

No sugar, mind.

NATASHA

Okay.

AVRIL

I’m on a diet.

NATASHA puts tea down in front of AVRIL

NATASHA

Why?

AVRIL takes a sip of tea. Then, absent-mindedly cupping under her chin to catch any crumbs, bites into the biscuit.

NATASHA (CONT’D)

You’re tiny. And you’re eating biscuits.

AVRIL

Well.

NATASHA

(hesitantly)

And that’ll be a drag at the fireworks. All they have to eat is hot dogs and toffee apples. It’s all carbs and sugar there.

AVRIL

Fire works?

NATASHA

Yeah. You know. Tonight.

AVRIL

(putting down biscuit)

Oh God. Did I say I’d go with you?

NATASHA

Well…

AVRIL

(horrified)

Oh God. You go. I can’t. I’m really sorry. I couldn’t.

NATASHA

Well, if you’re sure. Mark will miss you. I’ll give him the sparklers if you like.

AVRIL starts at the word sparklers, then looks unhappily at the wall opposite her, tea and biscuit in her hands.

AVRIL

I’m going back to the till.

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