INT. DOUGELL HOUSE, TYSON’S ROOM – NIGHT
A basic room with dresser, bed, and clothes lying about. Tyson lays in bed, thinking about what happened.
TYSON’S IMAGINATION – Mi on fire.
The image grows in his mind. The idea of someone being on fire, not burning up, yet still screaming in pain. The thought looms in Tyson’s mind. What is Mi hiding? Will she tell him? These questions linger with the thought. All he can do is wait and see if Mi will answer.
INT. TULSEN FARM, BARN – DAY
Xena eats breakfast by herself. She sees her reflection in her glass & feels her ears again. They are real.
SQUEAL Xena jumps. Baby pigs run through the barn.
Xena eases back into her meal.
INT. DOUGELL HOUSE – DAY
Mi wakes up from her heavy rest. In the room, Daniel plays with a ball. He sees that Mi is up and shows her his ball.
EXT. DOUGELL FARM – DAY
Mi walks onto the front porch. No one is in sight.
Mi walks around the side and proceeds to the back.
In the backyard, Tyson sharpens a cane knife on a sharpening stone. Mi walks up to him and watches him sharpen the knife.
MI: Nice knife.
TYSON (focused): Thanks.
Tyson checks the knife. He’s not satisfied & continues sharpening.
MI: How long have you been at this?
TYSON (focused): About an hour.
MI: Is there a reason?
TYSON: There’s a briar patch that’s sprung up in one of our fields. It’ll wreck the machine so I’m going to cut it.
Tyson checks the knife.
MI: Why do you need to sharpen a sword for an hour?
TYSON: This is a cane knife. It’s very thin and very sharp. Thinner than an eating knife. (sharpens knife) I’m behind on my chores since you got here and this blade is dull.
MI: What’s wrong with a dull knife?
TYSON: Doesn’t cut as well. “An hour of sharpening saves you two hours of cutting.” That’s what my dad says.
Tyson continues sharpening.
MI: Do you need some help?
Tyson stops sharpening and looks Mi dead in the eye.
TYSON: You? Want to help?
MI: Well, I am free loading, aren’t I? Might as well pay you back some way.
Tyson stares at Mi, trying to see why she offered. He flips the knife and hands Mi the hilt.
Mi grabs the hilt.
MI (handling the knife): Lighter than I thought.
TYSON (hand on stone): Place it here.
Mi place the cane knife on the sharpening stone. Tyson guides Mi.
TYSON (slides knife): Always push away. Never bring it to you.
Tyson lets Mi sharpen on her own. Mi sharpens the knife.
INT. TULSEN FARM, BARN – DAY
Xena sits inside the barn. Her plate still sits on the box she was eating on.
GURGLE Xena’s stomach growls.
EXT. TULSEN FARM, BARN – DAY
Xena cracks the barn door open & peers out. No one is in sight. The back door of the house is in sight. Xena scurries with her dishes to the back door.
INT. TULSEN FARMHOUSE, KITCHEN – DAY
The backdoor creeks open. Xena peers around the room. No one is inside. The sink is in view. Xena tiptoes to the sink.
Xena reaches to put the dishes in the sink. She is not tall enough. She tries again. Still not tall enough.
Xena places the dishes on a chair and tries to grab another one. The chair is too big for Xena.
Xena looks around the room. There is nothing she can use to reach the sink.
INT. FARMHOUSE, FOYER – DAY
Xena peers down the foyer. No one is there. She tiptoes to the front of the house.
INT. FARMHOUSE, DINING ROOM – DAY
Xena peers into the dining room. No one is there and nothing in the room can help her.
Something grabs Xena’s leg. Xena turns around and looks down at her leg.
Josiah holds onto Xena. Xena is not comfortable with Josiah on her leg. Josiah laughs.
EXT. DOUGELL FARM – DAY
Tyson drives a tractor down the field. Mi sits inside the cab with him.
MI (over tractor): Didn’t know you can drive a tractor.
TYSON (over tractor): You don’t need a license to drive on. They barely go over 20 miles. (points) See that bush right there?
A few feet up, a tangle of briars dots the field. Tyson puts the tractor in park and shuts it off.
MI: I thought farmers kept their fields intact.
TYSON (grabs knife): This one is tough. (jumps off tractor) We’ve been trying to get rid of it since last year.
MI (to herself): And I thought I was stubborn.
Mi climbs down the side.
Tyson approaches the briar with the knife ready.
MI: Have you considered burning it?
TYSON: The field’s already planted. Pa doesn’t want to burn if it’s in the middle of a crop.
MI: It’s on the edge of it.
Tyson chops the briar.
TYSON: Doesn’t matter. If it can spread, it doesn’t matter where it starts, edge or middle.
Tyson hacks away at the briar. Mi stands by and watches.
MI: Need some help?
TYSON: Think you can handle this?
MI: I still have my right arm.
TYSON: There’s a spare under the seat. I don’t know how good it is-
MI (turns to tractor): It’s a knife. (walks off) It will work.
Tyson continues to hack at the briar.
WHACK Mi hacks at the briar with another cane knife.
MI: This is kind of easy.
Mi continues hacking away.
TYSON (hacks): You say that now. Wait until we get this thing cleared out. Anything left could damage the machine on the inside.
Mi whacks a thick piece of wood in the briar. She tries to pull the knife out. The knife is stuck.
Tyson sees that Mi has hit something.
TYSON: Want me to help you?
MI (struggles): No thanks. I got this.
Mi pulls harder. Tyson watches Mi.
Mi twists her wrist some to see if the knife will come out sideways. Tyson can’t sit idle anymore.
TYSON: Look, the best way to pull out any blade from wood is-
SWOOSH The knife lodges out of the wood, sending a few pieces outwards. Mi turns, loses her balance, and falls into the briars.
INT. TULSEN FARMHOUSE, FOYER – DAY
Xena hasn’t moved since Josiah grabbed her. Josiah plays around Xena. Xena just stares down at the toddler, unable to do anything.
Josiah sees a ball in the living, runs over, & picks it up.
Xena moves slowly away from her place. Josiah turns around and Xena freezes back into place. She wonders if her saw her move.
Josiah throws the ball to Xena. The ball flies somewhere else and lands behind the couch. Josiah saw where the ball landed and runs over to the back of the couch.
Josiah gets down and crawls behind the couch. His waist goes in and he gets stuck. He just laughs and flails his legs.
Xena watches Josiah flail about. She waits for the right opportunity to move.
Xena watches Josiah. This could take a while.
EXT. DOUGELL FARM – DAY
Mi covered in briars. Some entangled in her shirt. Tyson helps Mi remove them.
MI: This is the worst. And my only shirt.
TYSON: More like “was” your only shirt. This stuff has practically tied & stitched itself all over it. What is this made of?
Mi gets up and takes her shirt off, showing her bandaged body, throws the shirt, picks up the cane knife, and takes her anger out on the briar. Tyson watches Mi go at it.
Mi chisels away the briar.
SQUACK Crows land on Mi’s shirt and fly off with it.
Mi groans in frustration & crashes to the ground.
INT. TULSEN FARMHOUSE – DAY
Xena watches Josiah stuck in the couch. He’s not moving.
GURGLE Josiah’s stomach grumbles. Josiah fusses.
Xena listens to Josiah fuss. She stares at the helpless child stuck behind the couch.
Xena ease towards the child, shaking nervously with each inch she moves.
Josiah sits there, still fussing at his empty stomach. Xena feels uneased by his whining but presses on.
Xena makes it to Josiah.
Xena leans down, extends her arms, puts them around Josiah, and grabs him by the waist. Xena flinches.
Nothing bad happens.
Xena pulls Josiah out from behind the couch. Xena falls. Josiah is free and laughs.
Xena looks at the laughing Josiah. The first stranger she has ever gotten close to.
EXT. DOUGELL FARM – DAY
Mi lies dead on the ground exhausted from all the cutting. Tyson clears away enough of the brier to reveal a decaying stump in the center.
TYSON: Now this is a problem.
MI: What’s a tree stump doing out here?
TYSON: This was here when we got here. I guess dad didn’t get it out.
Tyson kicks the stump. It barely budges. He kicks it again.
TYSON: This thing is turning to stone. Couldn’t move it without a backhoe.
MI: So we did all that just to be stumped? Oh boy, I must really be tired.
Tyson picks up Mi’s knife and puts it back on the tractor.
MI (CONT’D): This is why I don’t do work. You do something and it’s either not right, incomplete, just the start, something gets in the way- UGH! So much. So little.
Tyson passes Mi with a rope in toe & a hoe. Mi looks at what he does.
Tyson wraps the rope around the stump.
MI: Uh, I thought you said it wasn’t going to budge?
Tyson secures the rope. He takes the hoes & digs around the base of the stump. Mi watches in confusing.
MI: Hello? Did you not listen to yourself? (Tyson digs) I’m an expert at not listening but even I know when something is ludicrous. (Tyson digs) Great, now I sound like Kobai.
TYSON (pause): Want to learn how to drive a tractor?
Mi looks at Tyson as if he is crazy.
INT. TRACTOR/EXT. DOUGELL FARM – DAY
Tyson shows Mi how to drive the tractor.
TYSON: If you want to know when to shift gears, all you need to do is feel it.
MI: “Feel it.” Very sound advice.
TYSON (gets out of cab): When I say so, put it in gear & just pull.
Tyson jumps down from the tractor and heads for the stump.
Mi tries to remember what Tyson told her.
Tyson tugs the rope.
TYSON (shouts): She’s good. Let her rip.
Mi starts the tractor. She pushes the gear stick and the tractor drifts back.
Mi moves the stick and the tractor moves forward. The rope tenses up. Tyson digs some more around the stump.
MI (to herself): Calm down Mi. It’s just like the arcade. It’s just like-
The tractor jerks to a halt. The stump resists. Mi looks back at the stump.
Tyson signals to Mi to keep going. Mi puts the tractor in a different gear and pushes the gas. The tractor struggles to pull the stump out.
Tyson digs a little more in front. The stump tilts & Tyson pulls away.
TYSON (shouts to Mi): Keep going.
Mi pushes the tractor harder. The stump starts to come out of the ground.
The stump slides out of the ground. The tractor keeps going.
Inside the tractor, Mi jerks her head onto the cab & looks back to see the stump finally out. She laughs in victory while the tractor keeps rolling forward.
Tyson waves out for Mi to stop.
Mi sees Tyson, realizes that she is still moving, and brings the tractor to an immediate stop, throwing herself into the windshield.
Tyson runs up to the tractor.
Mi pulls herself up back into the seat.
TYSON (CONT’D): Not bad for a first time.
Mi tries to smile over her pain.
INT. TULSEN FARMHOUSE, KITCHEN – DAY
Xena opens the refrigerator and pulls out a bowl of chopped carrots. Josiah laughs in excitement.
Xena grabs a small bowl from one of the lower cabinets. She turns around to find that Josiah has removed the lid & eats straight out of the bowl.
EXT. DOUGELL FARM – DAY
Tyson loads the briars onto a trailer.
MI: I thought we were done.
TYSON: Works only just started. Want to help me with the stump?
MI: Doctor said I shouldn’t strain my left arm.
TYSON: Guess we’re dragging it. (hops on tractor) Want to drive back up?
MI: You’re asking me, a twelve-year-old woman, to drive?
TYSON: So. I’m 13 and have been driving this think since I was 9.
MI: Wait, you’re only a year older than me?
TYSON: How old did you think I was?
MI: 16. Maybe 18. I mean I only pulled a stump out. You drive this thing like it’s nothing.
TYSON: Because it is. You don’t a license to drive a tractor on a farm. The road is different, but who says you need a road. Come on, (starts tractor) Give her a spin.
Mi looks at the wheel of the tractor. She has been given the opportunity to operate a vehicle. She grabs the gear stick and puts it in gear. The tractor moves forward & Mi takes the wheel. The tractor rolls down the field.
INT. TULSEN FARMHOUSE, LIVING ROOM – DAY
Josiah plays with some toys on the floor. Xena sits on the other side of the room watching him.
Josiah picks up a rubber duck and throws it towards Xena. Xena picks up the duck & stares at it.
Josiah tires to quack like a duck. Xena looks at Josiah. Josiah tries to quack. Xena looks back at the toy.
Josiah laughs and tries to quack.
XENA: Quack… Quack.
Josiah explodes into laughter. Xena sees that Josiah is having fun.
XENA: Quack Quack.
Josiah bursts into another fit of laughter.
Xena continues quack & Josiah dances in laughter. The two of them have finally having fun together.
EXT. DOUGELL FARM, HOUSE – EVENING
Behind the shed, Tyson dumps the briers and stump into a pile in the middle of a barren part of the yard. A pile of straw on the side of the shed lies in front of the pile. Mi sits on the tractor.
MI: SO why couldn’t we burn them back where we cut them? We had a clear space to burn.
TYSON: Ma makes fertilizer with ash and other stuff. She wants us to burn as close to the house as possible.
Tyson stuffs some cotton at the bottom of the pile.
MI: And I guess we’re making fire by rubbing two sticks.
Tyson pulls out a small knife and some flint. He strikes the flint with the knife and the cotton catches fire. He piles a ton dry grass onto the fire. Mi wonders why he’s smothering the fire & walks up to the shed.
Tyson backs up.
MI: Trying to kill it al-
Thick smoke billows from the grass. Fire breaks through the grass covering and erupts into a burning inferno. Mi is dumbstruck by this amazing recovery.
MI (beat): Wow. I didn’t know fire could do that.
TYSON: Ever pour gasoline on one? This is the same. Just have to make sure you use dry stuff. Otherwise, you’ll just smother it out.
Mi stares at the fire, thinking about what happened that day. The fire that day was out of control. This one sits peacefully, burning warmly in one place.
TYSON (beat): Hey, you okay?
Mi stands ghostly quietly over the fire. Tyson wonders what she is thinking.
MI: Six. I actually have six sisters. My second oldest sister, the one who’s a year older than me, is in a coma. We’ve never seen her awake. Always asleep in that bed. Never even moved an inch. I could have killed her. My dad always told me that my attitude would go against me one day. I didn’t know what he meant. The night before, my dad was scolding me for my grades. I was failing everything. I got mad at him & decided to skip school the next day. Since that night, I’ve been thinking about what I did. (rethink) No. I have been trying to run away from it. The fact that I have been the worst child out of the seven of us. The fact I am lazy. The fact that I am selfish. The fact that I burnt our house and a present my youngest sister was about to give me. (pause) The fact that I almost killed my sister before I could even talk to her.
The air goes still. Only the sounds of the burning fire fill the air.
Tyson walks to the straw pile.
TYSON (beat): So that’s why you ended up on our yard. (plops in pile) Boy, mom was right. Teen years are the most exaggerated times of your life.
MI: Did you not hear? I almost killed my sister.
TYSON: And you think I don’t care about something like that? If you haven’t realized, my older brother is needs just as much attention as a toddler. Doctor says he has Down Syndrome or something like that.
MI: But you didn’t almost kill yours.
TYSON: But she’s still alive, isn’t she? Stop wallowing in the past. You’re not a pig in summer. It happened. Alright. Now what? Quit hitting yourself if you didn’t mean to do it in the first place.
Tyson’s words hit Mi hard enough in the right place.
TYSON (CONT’D): She’s alive. You’re alive. Your dad’s alive. You can’t make up with a dead man. My mom has a grudge against my grandpa & he’s already six feet down.
Mi stands solemnly.
TYSON (CONT’D): Point being, if you regret something, don’t run away cause regret ain’t something you can see, it’s on you like a tick. Or fleas if left untreated.
Everything Tyson has said hits Mi harder & harder with each sentence. She can barely hold herself up.
TYSON: Want to take a seat?
Mi lifts her head up. Tyson has left enough room for one other person to lay in the straw. Mi walks over to the straw. She sits down. She lays back & sinks into her hair. Tyson can’t help but chuckle.
Mi breaks a place in her hair to poke her face out.
TYSON: Boy, you have some hair, dontcha?
Mi brushes her hair away from her body. Tyson can’t help but chuckle. Mi just looks up at the colorful evening sky.
MI: Never knew that the sky was this beautiful.
TYSON: Can’t see much when the stars are on the ground.
Mi & Tyson gaze up at the sky, almost as if they are the only ones in the world.
MI: Do you mind if I stay here a bit longer? Until I feel like talking to my dad?
Tyson can tell that Mi is being sincere.
TYSON: As long as you help, I’m sure mama & pa would be willing to put you up for a bit. Move you off the couch. Give you a shirt. I have seen ma around the fields without one when it’s boiling out. At least tell them, okay?
Mi looks at Tyson.
Mi turns back to the sky and her & Tyson continue to look at the coming night sky.
INT. TULSEN FARMHOUSE, KITCHEN – NIGHT
Shiro & Gale walk inside from the back.
SHIRO: Have you seen the girls today?
GALE: I heard Kobai & Ni earlier today. I haven’t seen Calif today.
Mayla walks downstairs. Gale & Shiro are not facing her.
GALE (CONT’D): Mayla offered to watched Josiah.
MAYLA: I thought you said I can start tomorrow?
Gale rushes to the living room. Shiro & Mayla follow.
INT. TULSEN FARMHOUSE, LIVING ROOM – NIGHT
Gale slides around the corner, followed Shiro & Mayla. They can’t believe what they see.
On the floor, Xena & Josiah take a nap together with the duck next to them. They both look sound asleep together.
Shiro smiles with a gleam of joy. Gale fawns over this scene. Mayla cries happy tears.
GALE: Isn’t that just sweet?
Mayla wipes her face but can’t stop the tears of joy.
Shiro takes in this moment. For the first time, Xena has made friends with a person.
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