FADE IN:

INT. CAR – DAY

Vibrant, glistening waves crash against the sand, and seagulls fly around overhead, seemingly disturbed and agitated. Rolling, gray clouds meet, and the wind begins to pick up.

RADIO STATION

“Scared of my own image, scared of my own immaturity…”

LAYLA turns off radio and continues deleting her old posts from her social media, including literary quotes and family photos. She then posts a picture taken the day before at a party.

Enter LAYLA, a troubled teen with a “girly chic” look, blonde hair, and blue eyes. She is 5’6, and suddenly determined to change her persona from the reserved, smart girl to the outgoing risk-taker after an event that dramatically altered her life.

Enter JUDE, Layla’s best friend. JUDE is a 5’4 brunette with dark eyes. She is also reserved, but possesses different interests, and chooses to isolate herself from most (Layla being an exception, due to her kind heart). Because of this, Jude wishes to keep her safe, from others as well as Layla’s own, grieving heart.

JUDE

C’mon Lay, let’s just go home. The weather is shit, it’s not safe out here. We could get hurt. You were never like this last year… 

LAYLA

If you want to leave, go ahead, but I’m staying. I need some good pictures. Besides, look at the group of people over there, they look like fun! We should join them.

JUDE

You don’t have to do this ya know. Maggie-

LAYLA

Don’t bring her into this. Stay or go home, I don’t care. 

LAYLA exits the car and wipes a tear off her face before running over to the group of people by the ocean. As Layla is walking towards the water, her phone begins to ring, and she looks at the screen, seeing it’s from her mother. She declines the call, and the camera returns to the view of Jude.

JUDE

(deep sigh)

Oh Layla, if only you knew how worried we all are about you…

EXT. BEACH – DAY

Layla reaches the group of teenagers, and with a smile, 

introduces herself.

LAYLA

Hi! I’m Layla! D’you mind if I join you?

TEENAGER #1

Sure thing. We don’t mind, do we boys?

CLARA

Umm, in case you’ve forgotten, I’m here too. But yeah, sure, let blondy join us. She seems fun. That is why you wanted her to stay, isn’t it?

Clara gives a sly smirk as another one of the boys is caught staring at Layla’s slender figure.

TEENAGER #2

(clears throat)

Uhh, yeah, totally. I like your outfit by the way. Not many girls look good in floral, but you are the exception.

CLARA

Hey! I’ve worn floral outfits before and you’ve never noticed!

TEENAGER #1

Oh we’ve noticed, you just don’t look as good in it.

The boys laugh and tease Clara as Layla giggles, noticing the joking tone behind the tame insults. Clara and Layla then look at each other, and smile.

JUDE then exits the car, and begins to head in the direction of the group.

JUDE

Layla!

LAYLA

Oh, you decided to join us. Guys, this is my friend Jude.

TEENAGER #3

(smirks)

Hey. Lucky for you, I like the whole “edgy” look. You single, sweetheart?

CLARA

Ilugtch! Would you mind not being completely revolting for one second?

JUDE shifts uncomfortably, the toe of her converse twisting in the sand as she darts her eyes downwards.

TEENAGER #1

Leave her alone, dipshit. You make every girl wanna puke.

The group laughs before he speaks again.

TEENAGER #1

Hey Lay. We were gonna head up to Drifter’s Peak. D’you care to join us?

LAYLA

(Glowing)

That sounds great! Exactly the adventure I was looking for today!

JUDE

Umm, Layla… Don’t you think that sounds a little dangerous? It’s a free climb, there’s no ropes, and you’ve never even climbed a tree…

CLARA

Aww c’mon Jude! You’re not scared, are you?

JUDE

Actually, yeah, I am. It’s not safe, and not to be rude and all, but we barely know you…

LAYLA

Jude, that’s enough. If you want to watch from the ground, be my guest, but I’m not letting you ruin my fun. You know I love you, but you need to stop being such a buzzkill all the time. It gets annoying. 

LAYLA turns away from Jude and runs to catch up with the group, who had moved further up the beach towards the rocky cliff.

JUDE

(Audibly exhales)

Wait up!

The girls then catch up with the group at the bottom of the steep rock.

TEENAGER #3

Aww hey look! Little Miss Sunshine and The Rebel are going to join us after all!

CLARA

Oh shut up, would you? Sheesh, it’s like you try to drive away any girl within a five mile radius!

TEENAGER #1

Alright you two. Enough bickering. I think it’s time we embark on this adventure, don’t you? Who wants to lead the group?

He pauses and looks around at the silent group before speaking again.

TEENAGER #1

No volunteers? Okay then, I guess I’ll go first.

The others follow closely behind, with Clara second, Teenager #3 third, Layla fourth, and Teenager #2 last. Jude does not go with them.

JUDE

Layla, are you sure about this? The rain only stopped an hour ago, and it looks like it’s going to start again any minute.

A hint of worry crosses Layla’s face; Jude sees the fear written in Layla’s eyes, before she quickly composes herself and responds.

LAYLA

I’m climbing this rock, Jude. Feel free to keep watch if you’re so worried, but you’re the one making the stupid decision, not me.

LAYLA and the others begin the ascent while Jude watches nervously from below. The group scales the first half of the rocky cliff with ease, but as the clouds darken further, the damp grit remains unevaporated the more elevated the five become.

TEENAGER #2

This is getting kind of boring… and my hands are getting scraped up. Maybe we should just bag it… 

CLARA

No way loser! We’re more than halfway there! We can’t give up now!

LAYLA

I don’t know… it might be best to turn around, the wind is picking up, and I don’t want anyone to get hurt.

CLARA

(teasing)

Aww c’mon girly! Don’t betray me now!

TEENAGER #1

Yeah, don’t worry about it. You’re safe with us.

The group continues on, and before long, the top of the cliff is within view. However, just as TEENAGER #1 makes it to the peak, it begins to slowly rain.

EXT. CLIFF – DAY

TEENAGER #1

What’d I tell you! This view was well worth it! Hurry up losers, before the clouds cover up the sky completely.

LAYLA

Woah…

LAYLA looks across the expanse of the beach and out to the ocean, before turning towards Jude looking upwards wearily from the ground.

LAYLA

Jude, you should be up here! It’s amazing!

The others hoist themselves over the edge and gather together to admire their hard work. Layla takes her cell phone out of her bag and snaps a few photos, while the boys discuss ways to tackle the descent. Suddenly, Clara loses her balance.

JUDE

(screams)

CLARA

AAHHH! Help me!

The boys scramble over to Clara, where they find her dangling off the cliff, trying to grip the edge of the rock. They reach over and clutch her arms, trying to pull her back to safety. As a team, the guys manage to lift Clara over the ledge and onto the firmness of the peak, while Layla watches in horror.

TEENAGER #2

(breathing heavily)

Are you okay…? 

Clara

(shakily)

Yeah… I’m fine… Just a little cut up from the rocks, but a little blood won’t kill me. Thanks guys… 

TEENAGER #1

C’mon crew. I think we should make our way back down, before the rain makes the cliff any slicker.

A silent agreement is reached between all but Layla, who sits quietly crying and shaking on the cliff.

TEENAGER #1

(softly)

Hey Lay…? Do you think you can make it back down…?

As the rain begins to lessen, the sun begins to shine through the clouds, forming a rainbow beside the group. Layla manages to compose herself, and slowly makes her way down with the others. After about a thirty minute trek, everyone’s feet are met with the sand, and Layla crumples into Jude’s open arms.

EXT. BEACH – DAY

Clara and the boys begin to say a quick goodbye, checking to make sure Layla is okay. Jude confirms that there’s nothing they can do to help, and the group leaves. Layla cries into Jude’s shoulder.

LAYLA

You were right… I’m so sorry for doubting you… I can’t do this. I can’t keep pretending everything is okay. Like my sister didn’t die, and that I didn’t watch her bleed out in front of me… Jude, it doesn’t even feel real. Life without her. She was always there, and now she’s just not. There are moments at night when I close my eyes and see her, lying there, her blood on my hands. I jolt awake because I can’t breathe, the memories are suffocating… and it’s all my fault.

JUDE

No, that is not true. It was her decision to go out on the ice. Just because you were there and witnessed it doesn’t mean you killed her.

LAYLA

But I should’ve done more, held onto her, called the police… I knew she was intoxicated… I could’ve done more… 

JUDE

You did everything you could to help her, to save her. You don’t need to change your life to live out Maggie’s, especially if it forces you to step outside your comfort zone or to put your own life at risk. Your sister was a great girl, and she loved you, so much. She wouldn’t want to see you like this…

LAYLA

I know you’re right, but I miss her Jude… It’s like I’m living in a nightmare, and I can’t escape. It’s hard to admit that she’s really gone.

The girls embrace, and Jude wipes the tears from Layla’s face.

LAYLA

Will you excuse me? I’m sorry, I just need to do something really quick.

JUDE

Don’t worry about it! I’ll meet you at the car when you’re done, okay?

LAYLA

Okay. Thank you Jude,  for everything.

JUDE

Of course. I’m always here fore you.

LAYLA then walks a few feet away, towards the edge of the water, and pulls out her phone.

LAYLA

Mom? Yes, we’re fine, we’re heading home now. I’ve decided to take your advice. I want to see the therapist… Yeah, I’m sure. I miss her Mom, so much… It’s been so hard, and I’m sorry for making it worse for you… I want to be myself again… For her… I’ll see you soon… Oh, and Mom? I love you.

LAYLA ends the call and puts her phone in her back pocket. She then turns and heads towards the car, and smiles at Jude, a tear sliding down her face. They both silently enter the car.

INT. CAR – DUSK

JUDE

You okay?

LAYLA

Yeah… better than I’ve been in a long time… 

LAYLA then turns on the radio, and the camera focuses on the setting sun.

FADE OUT

~~By Alyssa Rimanthe-Schweiger, Class of 2020

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