Fairy Tale Friday – The Bitter Woods – Chapter 5

The Bitter Woods

by Montserrat Mendez

(the following excerpt comes from the screenplay The Bitter Woods, from the novel by Montserrat Mendez. All rights reserved.)

She takes NOTICE of the CHILD.

STEPMOTHER
Such a task is usually the mothers.

FATHER
Her mother is now a child of God.

A sudden PANIC comes into her eyes. She walks over to the child and looks behind her neck.

STEPMOTHER
The lass is…
(with great urgency)
Leave this place, leave it now.

Father is confused.

STEPMOTHER
Do not settle here or your child will be taken from you. Taken to her.

She points with her eyes towards the CASTLE seen from her window.

FATHER
What?

STEPMOTHER
The child is un-registered. She has no mother. She will be taken in service of the queen.

FATHER
No one will dare touch her.

Just at that moment, EIGHT GUARDS BARGE INTO The Shoppe.

GUARD
We heard rumors.

FATHER
Rumors are to be heard.

GUARD
You are new to these lands.

FATHER
I was gifted land here, by a past king; I served him in battle and was justly rewarded.

GUARD
And we welcome you, but you bring with you a female child, she must be registered.

STEPMOTHER
She will be given proper time.

GUARD
Both mother and father must be present.

FATHER
The mother…

STEPMOTHER
…is dead. Has been for quite some time.

An unexpected betrayal.

GUARD
Then the girl must come with us. Until a suitable mother can be found for her.

FATHER
I am her father.

He stands protecting.

GUARD
It is the Queen’s command that all children be raised in a stable home with both a father and a mother.

FATHER
I am a good father.

GUARD
But not a good mother.

The father unsheathes his sword but the Stepmother interferes.

STEPMOTHER
But I will be, for this man was here for the purpose of asking my hand in marriage.

GUARD
Is this true?

Stepmother pleads with her eyes.

FATHER
I’m certainly not here to buy a dress.

He grabs the STEPMOTHER and kisses her.

GUARD
(suspiciously)
Very well.

CINDERELLA
They were married the next day.

INSERT TEASER: A CHAPEL.

INT. CHAPEL — CONTINUOUS

ANGLE ON AN ARCHBISHOP

Blessing the marriage of FATHER and STEPMOTHER. On FATHER’S SIDE stands CINDERELLA, on STEPMOTHER’S side, ALEX and MICHAEL — both giving her discouraging looks.

CINDERELLA
And as it was the law of the land, I was registered.

ANGLE ON CINDERELLA’S NECK

As the TATTOO OF AN APPLE, SYMBOL of the QUEEN CHARMING is burned at the NAPE OF HER NECK. Cinderella fights back tears.

CINDERELLA
The marriage was one of convenience that grew into great love. My father gained a mother for his daughter, and she gained a father for her sons….

EXT. COTTAGE BY THE LAKE — CONTINUOUS

Stepmother hangs clothing out to dry. Ella runs up to her.

CINDERELLA
Stepmother, they put this under my pillow.

She holds up a DEAD BIRD.

STEPMOTHER
Boys… now you know that’s not gentleman behavior.

MICHAEL
We’re not gentle…

CINDERELLA
And I gained my brothers, Alex and Michael.

CUT TO:

INT. COTTAGE BY THE LAKE — DAY

While she reads , ALEX up on the roof, throws string down the CHIMNEY. MICHAEL takes the string and ties it around ELLA’S FAVORITE DOLL. While ELLA isn’t looking, ALEX starts pulling on the string. ELLA looks up.

CINDERELLA
What…?

MICHAEL
ALEX, NOW!

And ALEX pulls the STRING HARD pulling the DOLL up the FIREPLACE. ELLA goes after it, reaches inside the FIREPLACE to get her and comes back with her face covered in CINDERS. Upon hearing the commotion, STEPMOTHER ENTERS and finds ELLA crying.

STEPMOTHER
Your face is covered in CINDERS!

The brothers watch through the window.

MICHAEL
That’s because she’s CINDER ella!

ALEX
Cinderella! CinderELLA!

The mother disapproves, whispers in Cinderella’s ear, then they both pursue the evil little boys. The chase ends in laughter.

EXT. THE BERRY FIELDS — CONTINUOUS

Not far from the COTTAGE by the LAKE there is a BERRY FIELD, all kinds of scrumptious BERRIES can be found there. Today, Ella is fetching some, however, her unfortunate brothers follow.

ALEX
Oh, why brother, there goes that peasant girl.

Alex adjusts his toy monocle to study her.

MICHAEL
Yes, she must be one of the lost ladies of the Berry Fields. Wild Bunch they were, most were eaten by cannibals.

ALEX
What is this survivor up to?

CINDERELLA
I am fetching Berries if you gentlemen must know.

MICHAEL
Must we know?

ALEX
Know we must.

CINDERELLA
Father likes them.

MICHAEL/ALEX
We like them too.

With that Statement Michael trips her, and she falls, spilling all the berries.

CINDERELLA
Michael! Alex!

ALEX
(mocking her.)
Michael! Alex!

She stands up but ALEX pushes her back down. She pushes him away with great force and rolls, standing up in one swift motion. The Brothers are surprised, and exhilarated as they go at her. By instinct she defends herself with all that her father has taught her. She uses her BASKET as a shield and weapon. She twists and turns this way, that way, deflecting her brothers attacks while at the same time, getting in some of her own blows. Finally after Flipping ALEX up in the air, she makes MICHAEL kiss dirt. ELLA looks like a wild cat in attack stance. Alex RUNS!

CINDERELLA
Are you all right?

MICHAEL
I think so. Where did you learn to do that?

CINDERELLA
Father taught me.

MICHAEL
Can you teach me?

CINDERELLA
Perhaps.

MICHAEL
I’m sorry. I mean, sorry that I called you Cinderella.

CINDERELLA
It’s all right, I like it.

She picks him up and hoists him to her side. He is heavier than expected

CINDERELLA
You have to stay away from mother’s apple crisps.

They smile at each other.

INT. COTTAGE BY THE LAKE — LATER

When Cinderella and Michael arrive, Father and Stepmother sit waiting for them. ALEX terrified stands behind his mommy.

EXT. THE LAKE — CONTINUOUS

FAVORING THE COTTAGE.

FATHER
That was quite a beating you gave them.

CINDERELLA
Alex’s tears made it seem worse.

FATHER
Still, it was not the time to prove yourself.

CINDERELLA
If I don’t fight for myself then no one will.

FATHER
Knowing that you can fight, does not give you the right to do so. Look to me when you wish to fight, I will let you know if it’s time.

CINDERELLA
Obey you I must, but not because you’re my father, but because you have never led me astray.

A thoughtful silence between them.

CINDERELLA
You fought many battles, did you kill?

FATHER
I killed many, too many in fact. It’s a dangerous thing war, you go to war to defend something you love, but once you spill that first ounce of blood you forget what you loved and then the blood lust takes hold.

CINDERELLA
I wish I could have been a knight and seen all these dark things you speak of. My lot in life is to have the adventure of all women

FATHER
There is adventure in a knight’s life, yes. But there’s also great loneliness.

Cinderella thinks about this.

CINDERELLA
Will I ever be beautiful?

FATHER
You are beautiful.

CINDERELLA
Stepmother says I must never be. If I can help it.

FATHER
I know.

CINDERELLA
Must she be so…cruel…

FATHER
Is she a cruel stepmother?

CINDERELLA
For the most part, No…

FATHER
Michael and Alex have made great sacrifices as well.

CINDERELLA
I have yet to see any.

FATHER
They are not what they wish they could be. In this land, you cannot be yourself without being punished for it. The winter is almost upon us once the spring returns, I will take us far from here, and then you can be anything you like.

The father smiles. Snowflakes begin to fall.

FATHER
For now, go inside, and prepare for the storm, I can smell the ice forming in the clouds, soon all will be frozen, and escape an impossibility.

We are back at the WINDOW. Watching it all fade away as WE —

DISSOLVE BACK TO:

EXT. CABIN/CAVE — CONTINUOUS

Cinderella and the Huntress now lie in the CAVE BED CHAMBER, CANDLES lit, preparing for sleep.

THE HUNTRESS
Those were his last words to you?

CINDERELLA
(whispers to herself.)
Escape an impossibility.

INSERT FAST TEASER: The father’s FACE as it floats under the ice. BIRDS are reflected on the ICE flying overhead, and we follow the reflection until we —

CUT TO:

EXT. THE BITTER WOODS — AFTERNOON

ALEX’S P.O.V. of exotic birds flying overhead. Lost, he looks around, then…

GLASSISTER
You there!

Alex turns to see the Prince and Hunter headed in his direction. Guards follow.

ALEX
(bending at the waist)
Prince Charming…

GLASSISTER
I know you.

THE HUNTER
This is Alex DeLamare, Son of the Dressmaker.

GLASSISTER
You attended the ball. Did you have a agreeable evening Dressmaker’s son?

Alex does nothing more than nod his head.

GLASSISTER
Tell me Dressmaker’s son, what brings you to the woods?

ALEX
(a nervous stutter)
I’m traveling west, a ship from the Orient docks there, mother wanted me to pick up fabrics from a merchant. I lost time in travel so I hoped to find a way through the woods.

GLASSISTER
It’s best to find yourself a way out of the woods. These woods are treacherous and do not look well upon the weary traveler.

ALEX
I would sir, but at the moment I seem to be lost.

GLASSISTER
Then I suggest you find yourself. Move on Men.

He waves the men and they RIDE away from ALEX.

ANGLE ON GLASSISTER AND THE HUNTER

THE HUNTER
The boy lies. There is no ship west.

GLASSISTER
How do you know?

THE HUNTER
Because the sea lies east of here you nitwit.

GLASSISTER
Follow him, he might just find my misplaced trinket.

The Hunter breaks from the pack of HORSES.

TO BE CONTINUED:

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