Three Selections from Movies I Never Wrote
A family lives in an old farmhouse in a somewhat rural area of Massachusetts. They have three young daughters. The father is a poet and the mother is an artist who makes and sells pottery. In the old farmhouse, they are able to do both activities and still afford to support three daughters, which is why they moved there. A forest abuts the house. The daughters are convinced the house is haunted by the ghost of a ship captain who died at sea. They found love letters under a floorboard in the attic from the ship captain to a woman who lived in the house. He must be haunting the house looking for the woman, who died long ago, but ghosts don’t know such things. At night they hear whistling on the stairs. The parents insist it’s the wind. In the morning they smell fish in the hallway. The parents insist it’s the musk of an old house. During the day, the father locks himself in his office to write. The mother hikes out to her pottery wheel in the woods. The daughters are left alone. They tear up more floorboards in the attic to find any other evidence that the house must be haunted. They do find things like old trinkets from past owners, but nothing definitive. The parents are growing increasingly frustrated that the daughters won’t drop the search. They feel like the daughters are trying to get them to leave the house, but the parents need to live there. They forbid any more talk of the haunting. But the daughters won’t drop it. The next day they go to the library in town to find more clues that the house must be haunted. While they are away, the parents are in their respective places. The father starts to hear whistling in the house. He goes to explore. The mother smells fish in the forest. She ignores it. She has wet pottery she needs to take to her kiln. She puts the pottery in the kiln, lights it, and walks away. The father is walking through the house, following the sound of the whistling until he turns a corner and there is a ghost of the ship captain standing in front of him. The father is confused at first, not afraid, because the captain seems harmless. Then the captain lunges at him, strikes him with supernatural force. The force is so strong it causes a wind through the forest, where the kiln is ablaze. A spark from the kiln is blown into the forest. A fire begins. The last scene is the daughters walking up to the house with their definitive evidence of the haunting and they see the entire forest on fire, the brightness of the fire contrasted with the gray of the sky.
A woman leaves her family to live in a redwood forest by herself. This happened long ago. She has one daughter and every summer the father brings the daughter to the mother’s house to spend the summer there. They’ve done this for years, but now the daughter is 14. The opening scene is the father sitting in the car while the daughter stands at the head of a trail, waiting for the mother to appear. The father is angry because the mother is late. The daughter is starting to realize how unusual this arrangement is. Then the mother appears from the woods. They hike to her house together. The mother is a writer and a baker and jewelry maker, a general eccentric who is happy in her house in the woods. The daughter is starting to process that her mother left her and she doesn’t understand why. She’s angry. The mother starts to realize that she doesn’t know her daughter any more. As her daughter’s becoming a woman she’s becoming a different person. This is a critical juncture in their relationship. There’s a town below the woods. The daughter starts to explore the town on her own, meets a group of friends and has a crush on one boy in particular. Something happens with the friends and the boy that puts the daughter in danger and then the mother must come to her rescue, thus forcing a serious conversation about their relationship and how the daughter needs her mother. The daughter needs to know why the mother left and the mother explains. The summer ends with the daughter leaving as usual but with a new understanding of her mother. There is a distance that will always be between them and that will likely continue to grow, but they know each other better now. It’s unclear if the daughter will keep coming to the woods each summer. It is a bittersweet ending.
A young man lives in San Antonio, TX where he grew up. He drives one of the Riverwalk boat tours, but really he’s trying to be a stand-up comedian. He tries out jokes during his boat tours but the tourists never get his humor. He’s in love with a waitress in one of the restaurants he passes. At night, he does 5-minute sets at various comedy clubs in San Antonio. He lives with his parents. He feels like he’s going nowhere. He’s drinking too much. One night, he’s totally drunk after a bad set and he gets picked up by a fancy Texas socialite who invites him back to her place. He decides to go because, “why not?” but it turns out she owns an illegal gaming site where people can pay thousands of dollars to hunt endangered animals. He gets lost on the site and has run-ins with a tiger and an ostrich and other such animals until he finds his way out. This is a wake up call for him. He curbs his drinking, asks out the waitress and gets rejected, and his comedy improves. He’s invited to host for a week at a local comedy club and George Lopez is the headliner. George Lopez sees his act and after the week tells him he’s really funny. George Lopez encourages him to move out to L.A. if he’s serious about comedy because there’s a limit in San Antonio. No one in his life supports this decision except for George Lopez. He figures, “what do I have to lose?” and so he moves out to L.A. The movie ends with him arriving in a dumpy apartment but he’s smiling. He is at a new place, literally and figuratively, and he feels he’s made the right decision.
Rebecca Farivar is the author of Correct Animal (Octopus Books, 2011) and chapbooks Sudden Lake (Dikembe Press, 2017), Full Meal (BOAAT, 2015), Am Rhein (Burnside Review, 2013), and American Lit (Dancing Girl Press, 2011). Am Rhein was translated into French by Souffle Editions. She lives in Oakland, CA.