Moving Past

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Charlie and Francesca are a loved up couple looking to spend most of their time playing video games, watching TV, making jokes at each other's expense and their personal favourite: sex. They buy a new flat with Charlie hoping that Francesca can move on from her Mum’s sudden death. A few days into their new life, they meet their neighbour, Luke, who lives alone. At first, he seems perfectly pleasant if not curious about the newcomers. Over time, Luke discovers cracks in his neighbours. Are they protecting something? Or are they hiding something?

Submitted: October 17, 2018

A A A | A A A

Submitted: October 17, 2018



Note: This is an exerpt of the first 4 scenes of my play, Moving Past. The entire piece can be viewed on arrangement. 





Francesca- Twenties. Charlie’s girlfriend. She is an unusually happy soul that is dedicated to smile as much as humanely possible. A breath of fresh air to anyone new she meets.


Charlie- Twenties. Francesca’s boyfriend. Completely devoted to Francesca’s wellbeing, he is often the voice of reason of my problems that arise.


Luke- Thirties. Francesca and Charlie’s neighbour. Although appearing nervous at first, he is very keen to make new friends.




Act 1


Scene 1 – Flat


Interior: Flat. The flat is made up of a large bedroom, a living room, a dining room, kitchen and a bathroom. The bedroom features a window with crudely drawn curtains, a bed and a wardrobe. The living room features a coffee table, an Xbox, TV, and a sofa. The dining room has a small table with some dining chairs around it. The kitchen is modern. By the front door is a long picture frame, brown, with a photo of a happy mother and daughter.


FRANCESCA, in her twenties, wakes slowly. She leaves her bedroom. Upon seeing the picture, she puts it face down on the table at light speed. She gets some food and takes it to the sofa.

CHARLIE, in his twenties, enters carrying four bags of shopping with difficulty.


CHARLIE: Oh, you’re awake. Traffic was horrendous but I got everything.


(FRANCESCA greets CHARLIE with joyful enthusiasm)


FRANCESCA: Hey sweet! I had such a wonderfully good lie in. Did you get everything?


CHARLIE: I didn’t.




CHARLIE: I need a lie down though.


FRANCESCA: I could have helped.  


CHARLIE: You were asleep and I didn’t want to wake you. Plus, I had to get my special chocolate biscuits.


FRANCESCA: Chivalry isn’t dead.


CHARLIE: You… we should eat less. Less baggage.


FRANCESCA: How shall you be rewarded for your efforts?


CHARLIE: I’m sure you can drum up some ideas.  


(Intimate moment)


FRANCESCA: I thought you put all the bananas in the bags? 


CHARLIE: I did. (Pause) Oh. Perhaps we should… unpack.


FRANCESCA: That sounds rather… appealing.


CHARLIE: Change your act, honey.


FRANCESCA: I’ve never had to before. If I remember, it was the reason you begged me on that second date.


CHARLIE: May have been.


FRANCESCA: All it took was me wearing the right dress with the right amount of cleavage.


CHARLIE: Is there ever a wrong amount?


FRANCESCA: It did take you a few times to remember where my eyes started.


CHARLIE: Yes, shouting “not the nipples!” in the restaurant was the highlight of my evening.


(They laugh in reminiscence)


CHARLIE: “You are a rose with very little thorns.”  


FRANCESCA: Please don’t. Still, you were early for every single date. 


CHARLIE: Early bird gets the worm.


FRANCESCA: Fish. (Pause) I’m going to slip into something more comfortable while you deal with the boxes.


(With that, FRANCESCA leaves CHARLIE to ponder her next outfit. He sees the picture on the table. He quietly hangs it back on the wall. He starts to unpack. After a few moments, he hears footsteps outside the front door. He opens it but finds no one there)


CHARLIE: Say, Fran, have you said hello to the neighbours?


FRANCESCA: How do you know we have any? I haven’t seen them.

CHARLIE: I just heard footsteps outside.


FRANCESCA: Well, we must say hello.


CHARLIE: Sure. Oh, your Dad rang earlier.


FRANCESCA: (Pause) Did he?


CHARLIE: Yeah, he just wanted to touch base.


FRANCESCA: Oh. That’s nice.  


CHARLIE: Should I ring him back?


(FRANCESCA gets changed at twice the speed)


FRANCESCA: No! No, please, I’ll do it, okay?


CHARLIE: Sure, he just wanted to know what’s what. We should get him around, see the place. When do you think we --  


(FRANCESCA appears, in her sultriest outfit. She dances seductively, rendering CHARLIE dumbfounded)




FRANCESCA: You were saying?


CHARLIE: I… I’ve forgotten.


FRANCESCA: Good. So, you like?


CHARLIE: I… do I do.


FRANCESCA: Anything in particular?


CHARLIE: Such a lovely shape.


FRANCESCA: Why don’t you impress me with your shape?




(FRANCESCA loiters until CHARLIE re-enters, shirtless, and with an idea)


First, I thought I would impress you with… that song.


FRANCESCA: Oh, really?


CHARLIE: A serenade  


FRANCESCA: Yes please.


CHARLIE: (Sings) When -


 (Then, a knock at the door. FRANCESCA gets changed while CHARLIE opens the front door to find LUKE standing there with his back turned. He jumps as the door opens)


LUKE: Luke, hi. No, I… I mean, hi, I’m Luke. Neighbour.


CHARLIE: Oh, hi! I… We were going to come over at some point. I’m Charlie. 


LUKE: I didn’t want to interfere with your moving in. (Looks behind him) I should probably…


CHARLIE: No, don’t worry, we’ve almost finished unpacking. (Pause) Fran, come and meet Luke.


LUKE: Oh, a roommate?


CHARLIE: Yes, sadly.


FRANCESCA: Hi, I’m Fran. 


LUKE: (Nervously) Hi Fran. Charlie. 


CHARLIE: Is there anything we can get you? Coffee, tea, water?



LUKE: Alcohol?  


FRANCESCA: The best cure for sobriety.


LUKE: Oh… Oh, I get it, that’s… funny. Well, I really need to go, I shouldn’t stay for too long.


CHARLIE: Are you sure?


LUKE: Yes, I need to really go. (Exits)


CHARLIE: Well it was nice...


FRANCESCA: Meeting you.  






CHARLIE: Why did you offer him alcohol?




(FRANCESCA looks for a distraction. She finds one)


Where’s the Xbox?


CHARLIE: In the car. I was going to bring it up later.


FRANCESCA: Could you get it now? Please.




(CHARLIE exits. FRANCESCA gets some snacks. She tries to turn on the TV but it doesn't work. LUKE opens his door and stands in the hallway)


Why does this keep happening?


(LUKE tries to take a step forward. When he hears CHARLIE, he retreats back into his flat)


CHARLIE: (Enters with box) What have you done now?


FRANCESCA: TV won’t work.


CHARLIE: It helps if you plug it in.


FRANCESCA: Nerd. Plug it in and we will play.


CHARLIE: And what will we be playing?


FRANCESCA: Mario Kart! Good, clean, racing to first place fun.  


CHARLIE: I thought we would play... zombies!


FRANCESCA: Zombies... 


CHARLIE: Like we used to.


FRANCESCA: I... Mario.


CHARLIE: I really think you can –




CHARLIE: Zombies like we used to –


FRANCESCA: (Firm) Mario.


CHARLIE: Oh... fine, I guess. 


FRANCESCA: Good boy. 


CHARLIE: So degrading.


FRANCESCA: Isn’t he just the cutest? 


CHARLIE: What about me?


FRANCESCA: What about you?  


CHARLIE: Thank you, honey.


FRANCESCA: You’re cute too. I’ll get some food.


(FRANCESCA gets some food, sees the picture and turns it around again. She gives CHARLIE a tactical kiss to gain the lead. SOUND: Video games noises. Blackout)




Scene 2 – Flat

The next morning. CHARLIE is snoring loudly in the bedroom while FRANCESCA is finishing the last of her huge breakfast, alone. In between bites, she is bothered by the picture. Eventually having enough, she starts to clear up. CHARLIE is woken up by the cleaning up.  


CHARLIE: Could you keep it down, Fran?


FRANCESCA: Close the door!  


(CHARLIE tries to get up, but fails)


Suit yourself.  


CHARLIE: Are you cleaning?




CHARLIE: Oh. Go right ahead then.


FRANCESCA: Don’t come and help, then.


CHARLIE: Cheers.


(CHARLIE goes back to sleep. FRANCESCA tries to get back into cleaning but has other things on her mind. Frustrated, she has an idea)


FRANCESCA: It’s a shame you can’t come and help; you’d be able to see so much. It’s a shame, really. No one around to enjoy the view. Just… all alone… Walking around the flat the way I am. If I did this out in public, I’d cause so many accidents. People would stumble, crash their cars, wolf whistle, even dogs would stop and stare at my beautifully toned derriere. It’s all yours, Charlie. (Pause)Fine. No sex for a while for you. (Pause) Or ever. (Pause) Or maybe I’ll just take these special chocolate biscuits and eat them myself. Teach you a little bit of respect -


CHARLIE: Alright, alright, wait.




CHARLIE: Knew you wouldn’t.


FRANCESCA: Now that you’re here, we can…


(Knock knock)




CHARLIE: I hope not.


FRANCESCA: Get the door, will you?


CHARLIE: Blow me.


FRANCESCA: No chance.


(CHARLIE opens the door while FRANCESCA goes to the bedroom. LUKE is holding a muffin basket)


LUKE: (Stammers) I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to intrude.


CHARLIE: Luke, hi! No, we’re just sorting out breakfast. Are you alright?


LUKE: Oh, yes, a bit better. Meeting new people is a bit nerve wracking for me. (Long pause) I wanted to welcome you to your flat with these muffins. There’s enough for you both.


CHARLIE: No, it’s no trouble at all, but thank you very much. Fran! Muffins!  


LUKE: Hello. Francesca, Francis?


FRANCESCA: The first one, but everyone calls me Fran.


LUKE: Fran. Yes. Hi. Lovely weather outside, it reminds me of… the rain. Muffin?


FRANCESCA: Thank you very much! Oh Luke, these are amazing! They’re too delicious! Where did you get these?


LUKE: Oh, I… Well, if you must know, my… my mother made them. 


FRANCESCA: Try one, Charlie. 

CHARLIE: What flavour are they?


LUKE: Raspberry.


CHARLIE: Raspberry eh?


LUKE: I hear they are really good for your heart.


CHARLIE: I don’t think I’ve ever had that one.  


FRANCESCA: Well, you know what they say; muffin ventured, muffin gained. (She expects laughter, but none comes) I saw it on an apron. 


CHARLIE: Hail to the chef! New favourite.


LUKE: I’m glad you like them.


CHARLIE: Your Mum could make a business out of it.


LUKE: No. I mean, she wouldn’t be able to.  


CHARLIE: Is she alright? 


LUKE: No, it’s… sorry.  


CHARLIE: Is there anything we can help with?


LUKE: (Swiftly) No. (Pause) Maybe. I appreciate your concern.  


CHARLIE: If there’s anything we can do, just let us know.


LUKE: Thank you, really.  


FRANCESCA: Fucking wonderful! Love ‘em.


CHARLIE: Our very own conversationalist.  




CHARLIE: We’re a real Romeo and Juliet.


LUKE: A pair of… star cross’d lovers.


CHARLIE: Did enough of that at school. Played Romeo, of course.


FRANCESCA: Juliet, actually. Men just made more convincing women back in the day. He had breasts of granite.


LUKE: My mother used to act, she’d have loved to have been Juliet. No, don’t say that. So, lovely weather we’ve been having.  


FRANCESCA: Yeah, the rain’s great. Gives the plants something to drink.


CHARLIE: Absolutely.  


LUKE: (Looks to the front door) I should probably –


FRANCESCA: No, why don’t you stay? You’re more than welcome to.


CHARLIE: Definitely welcome to. I was just going to the shops. We keep running out of food.  


FRANCESCA: Food is made to be eaten, not rationed.


CHARLIE: Would you like anything, Luke?


LUKE: Well... some beer would be nice.


CHARLIE: I’ll... see what they have.


FRANCESCA: We can bond while we wait.


LUKE: Well… I remember her saying I need to make new friends.  


FRANCESCA: There you go! We need new friends too. We can watch some TV, or I can show you the Xbox.


CHARLIE: (To Fran) I’ll be back soon.


(CHARLIE goes to exit but FRANCESCA pulls him back)


FRANCESCA: What are you doing?


CHARLIE: What? I’m going to the shops.


FRANCESCA: In your pyjamas?!


CHARLIE: It’s not like I’m walking there, I’m driving.

FRANCESCA: Indoor confinement has changed you.  


CHARLIE: Fine, I’ll put some jeans on.


FRANCESCA: And a shirt! And some new pants for God's sake.


(CHARLIE gets changed. FRANCESCA roots through the fridge. LUKE struggles to make conversation. Instead, he looks around the flat. He sees the picture frame. Before he can get a proper look at it, CHARLIE enters)


Darling, you’re ready for Paris.


CHARLIE: London. Anyway, I’m off. Call me if you need anything. (Exits)


(Long pause)


LUKE: So... you and Charlie... are you enjoying your new flat?


FRANCESCA: Definitely. Had to leave the nest eventually.


LUKE: Kick off and fly.  




LUKE: Hard to do.


FRANCESCA: Yeah. Are you hungry for anything else, Luke?


LUKE: Erm... I’m not sure really. I think I’m fine with muffins for now. Do you cook at all?


FRANCESCA: Sadly, my culinary skills comprise of my phone, takeaway menus and Charlie. I used to make things, but not anymore.


LUKE: Like what?


FRANCESCA: Just... stuff.


LUKE: Oh, okay. Well, with my mother, I made muffins, or burgers for her. I usually end up eating them though. Did you make stuff for other people or just for yourself?


FRANCESCA: I can’t really remember, it was so long ago. 


LUKE: She gave me the recipe. I have never been able to make them like hers. Maybe she put more time into it, maybe a pinch of chocolate or something. She always said it was love but I could never find that in the supermarket.


FRANCESCA: Grouped in with the alcohol. What I was taught.


LUKE: Why?  


FRANCESCA: They cause much of the same effects when experienced in full.


LUKE: So you do stupid things when in love as well?


FRANCESCA: Sometimes.  


LUKE: Like what?


FRANCESCA: I went on holiday with some of my friends for a month and when I came back, he greeted me at the airport, flowers in hand and that stupid grin. Ran towards each other like you do, and we hugged. It was such a wonderful feeling to see and feel him again. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Which I couldn’t. He hugged me too tight and I passed out. So, yeah, that was fun.


LUKE: Ouch.


FRANCESCA: Well intended, poorly executed. Despite all of that, he’s a godsend. When I’m down, he manages to perk me up. (Pause) Plus he does the dishes better than I can so that’s always a plus. He’s an angel, plucked from heaven, that comes with pre-installed instructions on how to satisfy all of my hungers.  


LUKE: Must be nice to not get hungry.

FRANCESCA: Oh yeah. (Pause) So, do you live alone?


LUKE: Yes. I used to live with my Mum.




LUKE: Yeah. Had to cut the umbilical cord eventually.




LUKE: I never thought it would happen to be honest. But it did.


FRANCESCA: Are you happy?


LUKE: I tell myself that I am. I’m sorry, it’s not exactly happy talk.


FRANCESCA: Don’t worry about it. Charlie says it’s how you really get to know someone. I’d much rather do happy stuff but he says that true relationships are built on knowing the nitty gritty. Do you want a drink?


LUKE: Water?


FRANCESCA: I was thinking alcoholic. Will cider do?


LUKE: Erm, sure.


(FRANCESCA goes to one of the cupboards. She pauses, looking towards the front door. She then moves lots of objects before she takes out two ciders and places the objects back)


LUKE: Thank you. (Drinks) Warm.




(FRANCESCA consumes her entire drink while LUKE is more liberal)


LUKE: Why do people drink?


FRANCESCA: Lots of reasons I suppose. Euphoria, enjoyment, socialising, appealing, to escape. Or to dance without music.


LUKE: People at uni would get drunk. They seemed pretty happy.

Mother used to drink a lot too. At uni. And then later on. For such a vice, it’s still a road people go down again and again.


FRANCESCA: Some see it as a nice bit of fun.


LUKE: Of course. My mother did perk up when brandy touched her lips. And I did too, somewhat.


FRANCESCA: Nerves are natural, Luke. There’s nothing to worry about. I won’t hurt you.


LUKE: It’s just that I haven’t been so social since… I left home. Adjusting to life on my own has been difficult. And I’m sure you don’t want to hear it.


FRANCESCA: You don’t have to say anything you don’t want to.


LUKE: I feel that I should. Holding my emotions in doesn’t exactly make me feel better. I used to talk to Mother for hours about my problems and what I should do about them. She’d give me the best advice she could. Her after talk hugs were special. Then, we’d cook, knit, read, so many hobbies we shared. We’re a world away now. (Pause) How about your Mum? I bet you and her talk for hours about everything.




LUKE: Oh, how silly of me, of course you do. All mothers and their daughters get along like snow on dry land.  All mothers love their children.




LUKE: I bet you and her would be talking all the time when they were together, they knitted, drank tea, talked about

men –




LUKE: And I bet that’s how you are with yours because you are such a sweet woman that would call her everyday and let her know how you are getting on in your new flat – 



LUKE: Oh Fran I’m so sorry, did I say something out of place?  I’m really sorry. Sorry.


FRANCESCA: I didn’t mean to react, there’s just stuff. Stuff.

LUKE: I’m sorry, I didn’t know. I won’t bring it up again.


FRANCESCA: It’s okay. Let’s just forget about it. 


(FRANCESCA fetches another drink and food)


LUKE: I’m sorry. Again. I’m so stupid.


FRANCESCA: It’s okay. 


LUKE: Sorry if I’m a bit awkward, this is somewhat new to me. I try to think of happy things to say but I end up talking about the only things I know best.


FRANCESCA: Well, you said you like to knit, cook and read, you could talk about that.


LUKE: They are happy memories.


FRANCESCA: Do you have any current hobbies?


LUKE: I still cook, walking, solitaire, I played poker when I was younger.


FRANCESCA: You had me at food. Perhaps we can have a meal sometime?


LUKE: Of course. Does TV count as a hobby?


FRANCESCA: For me and Charlie it does. Sounds bad, doesn’t it? We need to read more.


LUKE: I used to read a lot. Read so much of Goosebumps when I was a kid. (Shivers) I would read those for days at a time. I was a very pale child.


FRANCESCA: I used to spend a lot of my time reading too. I was more into Tracy Beaker, Harry Potter. Stuff like that.

LUKE: Mother made me read Pride and Prejudice.  


FRANCESCA: Did you like it?


LUKE: Mother kept swooning over Mr. Darcy but it made her happy. She kept quoting him to me.


(LUKE smiles in reminiscence)


Thank you, Fran. For talking to me.


FRANCESCA: No problem, neighbour.


LUKE: You’re very kind.


FRANCESCA: Oh stop, it’s nothing.


LUKE: Very kind. Wonderful. (Pause) Does this make us... friends? 


FRANCESCA: Oh Luke, I thought you would never ask. Yes, a thousand times yes! I will be your friend.  


LUKE: Why?  


FRANCESCA: Well, we’re not strangers, or enemies. I figure if we’re neighbours, we should be pals. And since you don’t really have many friends, why not make a start from across the way?


LUKE: I… yes. And, you don’t mind?


FRANCESCA: Of course not. It would be a pleasure.


LUKE: Thank you ever so much, Fran. I’ll do a great job.


FRANCESCA: Now, as your friend, I would like to show you how we relax in this flat.


LUKE: Sure.


(FRANCESCA turns on the Xbox, then sits on the sofa. LUKE sits close to her. SOUND: video game noises)


So, how does this game work?


FRANCESCA: You just drive around and try to get first place. And try and make other drivers crash. Mario Kart in a nutshell.


LUKE: That sounds nice.


(LUKE notices the zombie game)


What’s this?


FRANCESCA: Oh... Charlie’s game. He wanted to play it earlier.


LUKE: Life And Undeath. What do you do, just... kill the undead? Looks very violent. Is it good?


FRANCESCA: I don’t play it anymore.




FRANCESCA: It’s a great way to just... relax. Do you want to drive?


LUKE: No, it’s okay, I’ll just watch. (Reads the zombie game cover) “From the creators of ‘Teddy Bear’s Tender Kiss’, you must kill everything and everyone in sight. Utilise a vast array of weapons to search for a brighter tomorrow. To survive, you must kill, kill, kill and then kill again.” (Pause) These pictures… my goodness. That poor man. He’s --


(LUKE dry retches)


FRANCESCA: Are you okay?


LUKE: Yes, don’t worry. Just not to my tastes is all.


FRANCESCA: Don’t worry, we won’t be playing that one.


LUKE: Thank goodness.


FRANCESCA: Are you sure you don’t want to play Mario?


LUKE: (Long pause) I’ll play. Although I have no idea how.


FRANCESCA: I’ll show you. It’s easy when you get the hang of it.

(Although hesitant at first, LUKE soon starts to play. He smiles and moves closer to FRANCESCA while she gets lost in the action. Blackout)




Scene 3 – Flat


An hour later. FRANCESCA is now alone, drinking. Aside from her current bottle, two other bottles are out, both empty. A knock at the door.


CHARLIE: Fran? The door’s locked, are you in?


(In a moment’s notice, the bottles are hidden, alcohol drunk and anything connecting to alcohol is binned. She uses minty products to hide the smell. She composes herself as the door is unlocked)


FRANCESCA: Oh sorry, I forgot.


CHARLIE: That’s alright. Luke still here?


FRANCESCA: No, he left a while ago. An urgent matter.


CHARLIE: Oh right. Did he say what it was?


FRANCESCA: No. A bit sudden really. Was kicking his dirt ridden face at Mario Kart. When he left, I thought it was because he was a bad loser. So, what did you buy?


CHARLIE: Everything two lazy people could ever need. And I got Luke what he wanted.  


  (CHARLIE goes to LUKE’S door and leaves the beer)


So what did you two talk about?


FRANCESCA: Jealous are we?


CHARLIE: Does it show?


FRANCESCA: A little. In the eyes. He’s our new friend! Charlie, isn’t that exciting?


CHARLIE: Yeah, it’s good. Now you can hang out with him instead of me.


FRANCESCA: Let’s not get that far ahead. He was nervous but he got better after a while. It’s funny how much he changed from yesterday. We were talking about hobbies, about his Mother…

Say, you know what I did while you were out? I finally finished that level I was stuck on. Such a difficult one. Anyway, I should get back to it.


CHARLIE: I was thinking of playing zombies after this. As a break from racing.  




CHARLIE: Do you want to play?




CHARLIE: You used to play it all the time.




CHARLIE: You haven’t played it since-




CHARLIE: Fran – 


FRANCESCA: I said stop.


CHARLIE: It isn’t healthy.


FRANCESCA: I know what’s healthy and what isn’t. Having this conversation is not.


(FRANCESCA goes back to her game. CHARLIE backs off and turns the photo frame around)


Take it down, sweetie.


CHARLIE: She wouldn’t want you to feel this way, she would want –


FRANCESCA: Take it down.


CHARLIE: Honey, we’re all worried about you.

(FRANCESCA takes it down)




CHARLIE: What happened was not your fault.


FRANCESCA: I said don’t.


CHARLIE: Jackie loved you, Fran, ever so much, but you have to accept that she’s –-




CHARLIE: I thought we could move here, you could do some more knitting, cooking, and just -–


FRANCESCA: Take your trousers off.




FRANCESCA: All I need you to do right now is shut up and take your trousers off.


CHARLIE: Fran, I –-


FRANCESCA: Take them off.  


CHARLIE: No, Fran –-


(FRANCESCA looks close to bursting with emotion. CHARLIE gives in and passion takes over. Blackout)





Scene 4 - Flat

Night. The lights and TV are still on. CHARLIE and FRANCESCA are in the bedroom, fast asleep. LUKE enters his flat and turns the light on. After a few moments, LUKE pushes the ajar front door open. Holding the beer, he eavesdrops. He goes to the door to leave, but ends up staying.  As he does, he sees the photo frame. Careful not to wake anyone, he takes it to the sofa. The view is good. He belongs.


FRANCESCA: Love you.  


(LUKE is ice)


Love you.




FRANCESCA: Love you.


CHARLIE: Love you too.


(FRANCESCA and CHARLIE go back to sleep. LUKE goes to the bedroom wall)


LUKE: Love you too.


(He cries then exits, taking the picture frame with him. Blackout)

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