BLACK SCREEN LIA (V.O.) I hate myself. CUT TO: INT.KITCHEN.

NIGHT White walls dimly lit by a bare bulb. LIA, an average teen with bags under her eyes, sits at a table. Her daze is lifeless. LIA (V.O.) O ay so maybe that's a bit melodramatic. But you must understand that I'm the worst person you'll ever meet. Well, that's what Barney said anyway. Lia innocently brings up a slushie cup, sips loudly from the straw and then puts the cup bac down.

EXT.SCHOOL.DAY LIA (V.O) Before Barney, I guess you could say that I was ind of lonely. Lia sits in the middle of a plain, empty bench with the same blan expression as the opening shot. She innocently brings up a half eaten sandwich with both hands, ta es a bite and then puts it bac down. LIA (V.O.) Don't worry, I'm not one of those people that yearn for sympathy. (Beat) You see, my life is worthy of one thing only. CUT TO: INT.LIBRARY.DAY Lia leans over and scans shelves of boo s. LIA (V.O.) Novels. She grabs a boo off the shelf and starts reading the blurb. LIA (V.O.) They present a life that is far more interesting than reality. CUT TO:

 

 

 

 

 

 

CUT TO:

 

 

EXT.STREET.DAY - MOMENTS LATER Lia wal s down the street with a large stac of boo s in her hands. CUT TO: INT.BEDROOM.NIGHT Lia spreads her newly borrowed stac of boo s onto the carpet of her room while loo ing excitedly at them. LIA (V.O.) Boo s give you a chance to meet people: to have friends - even if they don't really exist.

CUT TO: INT.BEDROOM.DAY Lia sits on a chair against a plain white wall, while she is holding a boo up in front of her face. LIA (V.O.) Such a shame though is that when you finish them, you feel as if someone just died. Lia flic s a page of the novel she is reading.

CUT TO: EXT.PARK.DAY LIA (V.O.) When I feel li e this, I li e to go outside and pretend to smo e. Lia is seen at a small, grassy par which contains a footpath, a few benches and some trees. Lia's profile of her face comes into view. She is seen with sunglasses on and a cigarette dangling out of her mouth. Lia wal s along the footpath at the par . LIA It ma es me feel bad arse.

CUT TO: INT.BEDROOM.DAY Lia reads a boo while seated in chair placed against white wall. LIA (V.O.) The first time I was introduced to

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

Barney was when I was reading Twenty-Five Dares by Eddie Teal. Lia chuc les while she continues to read the novel.

INT.KITCHEN.NIGHT - HOURS LATER Lia is seen sitting at the centre of the itchen table with her boo in front of her as she eats dinner.€ LIA (V.O.) The plot line isn't that great but what I li ed about the novel was Barney.

INT.BATHROOM.NIGHT - MOMENTS LATER Lia is seen sitting down on a chair in her lit bathroom, holding a boo up to her face as water runs from the tap behind her,filling up a bath tub. LIA (V.O.) She was carefree and confident and I envied how she was best friends with Seth and not me. Lia laughs again while she reads the novel. INT.BEDROOM.NIGHT Lia is seen lying on her bed reading. LIA(V.O.) I had never felt so attached to a character before. Lia flic s the last page of the novel and then closes it, putting it down on the bed. Lia's smile fades as she glances at the finished boo , sad, as she realizes that she's, well, finished the boo . LIA (V.O.) And thus, the grieving process began again. €CUT TO: EXT.PARK.DAY

 

 

 

 

 

   

LIA (V.O.) It's about this guy named Seth and his best friend Barney who spend their whole tenth year doing stupid little missions and dares that they assign to each other. CUT TO:

 

CUT TO:

While wal ing towards a par bench and wearing sunglasses, Lia pulls out a cigarette and pops it into her mouth. She sits down. BARNEY Pssst. Lia ignores the sound. BARNEY Pssssst. Lia crosses, her arms, continuing to ignore the sound. BARNEY Pssssssssssssst. Lia spins her head around to face BARNEY crouching behind her bench. BARNEY (hushed voice) Hey Lia! A girl with long pigtails, around the same age as Lia, is seen crouched on the ground, behind the bench. Lia's cigarette drops from her mouth: she is stunned to see that the girl accurately resembles how she pictured Barney when reading Twenty-Five Dares. BARNEY What's wrong? Lia sha es out of her daze.

Barney giggles. BARNEY (voice now at normal volume) How else, we've met before! Barney stands up while Lia stays silent as she realizes the impossible.

BARNEY Jeez Lia, I'm Barney! Lia ta es off her sunglasses in shoc and to get a better loo at Barney while Barney gets up and jumps over the bench to sit next to Lia on the bench. LIA

 

 

LIA N-nothing,how do you

 

 

 

now my name?

 

 

..No way..you can't be... Barney rolls her eyes. BARNEY So, I see you're trying to forget about me and Seth,huh? LIA Wha-? BARNEY Well you may have succeeded in forgetting about Seth but I'm not letting you forget about me. I mean, no one forgets about me. Lia stares bac at Barney incredulously for a few seconds and then abruptly slaps herself on the side of her face. BARNEY What'd you that for?! LIA I was chec ing if this was real. Barney chuc les a girly laugh. BARNEY Of course it's real! Honey, it's as real as you want it to be. Lia is still staring. BARNEY …Though I must warn you, the more you read other novels..well, the less and less you see me.. Lia laughs dryly. LIA Isn't that obvious? BARNEY Well, as long as you understand, we're good. Barney innocently swings her legs as there is an aw ward pause. BARNEY So, what should we do? LIA Um...why were you hiding behind my seat? BARNEY Oh that? I just thought it'd be fun

 

 

 

 

to pretend to be a spy and act all mysterious. Lia frowns. LIA (V.O.) That was a very Barney-li e thing to say. BARNEY Race ya to the bushes! Barney promptly gets up and starts sprinting away. Lia stays seated, still very confused. Barney reaches the bushes and turns around. BARNEY I won! (Beat) Come on Lia, get off your arse! Lia hesitantly gets up. BARNEY Good, race ya to the court! Barney sprints away while Lia slowly follows, behind Barney. Barney loo s behind.

BARNEY Oh don't tell me you're going to let me win again! Lia speeds up and the two girls are now sprinting at the same speed until Lia overta es Barney as they reach the court. The girls collapse towards each other, puffing and laughing at the same time. Barney glances at her watch. BARNEY Oh crap, I gotta go meet Seth. LIA ..Bye..? BARNEY Cya around Lia! Barney jogs away. A smile grows on Lia's face. LIA (V.O) It had to have been a dream.

 

 

 

€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€€ CUT TO: INT.LIA'S KITCHEN.NIGHT Lia opens a pac of two-minute noodles while boiling water in a dim lit itchen. As she turns around, she is suddenly faced with Barney. Lia steps bac in surprise. BARNEY Oh no you don't. Barney grabs the pac of two minute noodles and chuc s it in the bin. LIA How did you get in here? How do you now where I live?!

BARNEY Your parents left the front door open when they left earlier. (Beat) Anyway, tonight, I am teaching you how to coo a proper meal. Lia is sha ing her head.

LIA This is insane. Barney laughs as she ta es out a carton of eggs from the fridge. LIA (V.O) Over the next few days, Barney would spontaneously show up wherever I was. CUT TO: EXT.STREET.DAY Lia wal s down street carrying another stac of boo s. Barney appears out of nowhere, running up to her and snatches her hand, dragging her bac up the street. LIA Wha-where are we going? LIA (V.O.) She'd ta e me on these wild adventures to random places that I rarely visited.(Beat)Such as the mall...

€CUT TO:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

     

EXT.BUS STATION.DAY Lia sits on plain bench while sipping a slushie. BARNEY What are you doing?! Lia whips her head around€ where Barney is standing on the side of the bus station. BARNEY Let's go already! Lia wearily gets up to follow. LIA (V.O.) Or to a bar to play pool. CUT TO: EXT.PARK.DAY Lia, wearing sunglasses, stands in the par loo ing around, hoping to see Barney. LIA (V.O.) She visited so regularly to the point where I was hoping for her to appear. Barney appears, slightly breathless. Lia still jumps in surprise but is happy Barney appeared. BARNEY O ay, this is getting really tiring trying to loo for you all the time. Let's just meet at three at this par every afternoon, o ay? LIA Sure. CUT TO: EXT.PARK.DAY - MOMENTS€ LATER Lia and Barney are cheerily playing tag in the middle of the par . Barney is crazily chasing Lia.

LIA Stop being so fast! LIA (V.O.) People would loo at us weirdly.

STRANGER loo s at the girls weirdly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LIA (V.O.) But I didn't care. For the first time in years , I was doing something besides reading and watching - I was living. FADE OUT TO BLACK. FADE INTO: EXT.PARK.DAY

LIA (V.O.) A few days into our daily catch ups, Barney's mood began to gradually grow less confident each day. Barney arrives, wal ing up to Lia and Lia gets up at the sight of Barney. LIA (V.O.) I decided something was wrong when she showed up late for the first time. BARNEY Sorry I'm late. LIA That's o ay, I thought of this awesome place we could gBARNEY Um, could we just wal around instead today? ...I don't really feel li e doing anything. Lia hesitates, smile fading. LIA Yeah sure,I'm fine with whatever. The two start slowly wal ing around the footpath. Barney has her head down, not in the mood to tal . LIA So...What's up? BARNEY ...Not much... The two continue to slowly wal on the footpath in silence. Barney seems deep in thought. LIA What are you thin ing about?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lia sits alone on a par Barney to arrive.

bench, reading and waiting for

 

 

 

BARNEY Nothing in particular... LIA (V.O) We wal ed in complete silence for two hours. BARNEY Loo s li e I have to go, I'll see you tomorrow. Barney quic ly wal s off before Lia can reply. ...O ay. LIA (V.O) The same thing happened for the four days that followed. CUT TO: EXT.PARK.DAY - A FEW DAYS LATER Lia sits alone on the par bench again while waiting for Barney. She fiddles with her zip to pass the time and then sighs, and ta es out her novel. Barney wal s up to Lia and apologizes for coming late and they get up to start wal ing. LIA (V.O) This wasn't the vibrant and wild Barney that I had hung out with last wee . Barney tells Lia she has to go and wal s off.

INT.LIA'S HOUSE.DAY Lia enters her house, climbs up the stairs and then goes into her bedroom to continue on reading her new novel. She sits on the carpet floor instead of her chair and leans against her wall while reading. LIA (V.O) Nor was this the Barney that Eddie Teal had described. FADE OUT TO BLACK. FADE INTO: EXT.PARK.DAY Lia and Barney are casually strolling on the footpath.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

LIA

 

CUT TO:

Barney is loo ing at the ground. LIA (V.O) On the fourth day, I tried as ing Barney what was wrong again. BARNEY Nothing. LIA Is it Seth? BARNEY No. LIA What is it then? BARNEY Nothing. LIA O ay then...do you wanna race around the oval? No. LIA Barney, you've been acting li e this for half the wee . Let's do something already! Lia playfully nudges Barney to the side of her forearm. Barney responds by loo ing over at Lia, eyes sad. LIA €€ (gently) What's wrong Barney? Barney hesitates as the girls slow to a halt a bench where they fist met and Barney stands to face Lia. BARNEY €€€ (quietly) You're forgetting about me...No one forgets about me. There is a pause as Lia registers Barney's words. LIA Barney - how could I be forgetting about you? If anything, you're the one who's been ignoring me lately. BARNEY €€€€ (sadly) I'm as real as you want me to be. You see me as often as you want to see me.

BARNEY

   

 

 

 

 

There is a pause as Lia loo s confused. BARNEY I warned you about reading other stories.

LIA What does that have to do with anything?! BARNEY Don't you see, Lia? Because you didn't listen, now you're forgetting about me! LIA (V.O) In Twenty-Five Dares, Eddie Teal had specifically described Barney as wild and unforgettable. BARNEY (hurt) Which ind of ma es you the worst person I've ever met. Lia bites her lip, slightly annoyed and hurt. Finally, Lia sighs and sits down on the bench. LIA (small voice) O ay...So where does that leave us? Barney sits. BARNEY That's up to you to decide. If you want to eep on meeting up with me,then you can't eep immersing yourself in other worlds with other characters.

LIA (quietly while loo ing down) Then I have to give up reading...? Barney nods. LIA And I can't just...re-read Twenty-Five Dares? BARNEY You've already read it. You've already met me. Li e with all the

 

Barney gestures Lia's bag where her boo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

lies inside.

people you've met in your life, you can't be newly introduced to them again if you already now them. Lia laughs dryly and leans her head bac . LIA I finally meet someone and now I have to pay a price. Barney loo s sadly at Lia.

LIA (V.O.) In the whole sixteen years of my existence, I'd never thought I would ever choose to give up the one thing I truly enjoyed in my life. BARNEY (gently) What's it going to be, Lia? Lia stares at Barney for a long moment with a pained and sorry expression, then reaches into her bag for her boo and ta es it out. She turns away from Barney and opens the boo on her lap, beginning to read where she left off.

CUT TO: INT.KITCHEN.NIGHT White walls dimly lit by a bare bulb. Lia sits at table with a lifeless daze. A slushie cup sits on the table, untouched. LIA (V.O) After that, I never saw Barney ever again. CUT TO: EXT.PARK.DAY - A FEW WEEKS LATER Lia is sitting on the par bench, wearing sunglasses and with a cigarette dangling out of her mouth. LIA (V.O) Sometimes I thought I caught the tiniest glimpse of Barney right in front of me. A shot of Barney's figure running wildly through the par is shown for a split second.

 

Lia gets up and starts wal ing towards that area of the par

 

 

Barney, clearly hurt, nods and gets up to leave and wal away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

but is so focused that she bumps into another GIRL carrying a pile of boo s, wal ing past. LIA Crap, sorry. Lia bends down to pic them up and notices that one of the novels is Twenty-Five Dares. Smiling, She slowly rises, returning the items, with Twenty-Five Dares stac ed on top. GIRL Than s.

FADE OUT TO BLACK. LIA (V.O) ...But I shrugged it off as my imagination.

END.

 

Behind the girl, Lia catches another quic smiling and nodding towards the girl.

 

 

 

 

 

glimpse of Barney