This screenplay is a modern adaptation of the ancient Greek myth Persephone and her mother Demeter. It looks at a parent’s guilt and denial of the traumatic event of losing their child. It’s set up in a contemporary time with plants and death playing as the symbols of the mythology.
SCENE 1 INT: DEMETER’S LIVING ROOM MIDDAY
Demeter (70) is sitting in an armchair in the far end of the hallway staring at the front door. The chair is facing away from a window which is the only source of light. Demeter is worn out and sagging deep into the chair her brow furrowed. On a table beside her there is a photograph of a young woman carrying a pot of flowers.
EXT: DEMETER’S BACKYARD (FLASHBACK) DAY
Demeter is sitting in her garden at a table with a tea set and cakes. The garden is full of life, all green, covered in flowers. There is classical music playing and laughter coming from other party guests. Across from Demeter at the table is her daughter Persephone. Persephone’s face is not seen, and her body is motionless while Demeter is roaring with laughter dressed brightly in jewel toned attire.
INT: DEMETER’S HOUSE MIDDAY
A close-up on Demeter with the window light creating shadows on her face. A figure appears outside at the front door. Demeter starts to cry silently as she glares at the silhouette at her front door.
EXT: OUTSIDE A CHURCH (FLASHBACK) DAY
Persephone’s hand takes a man’s hand. There are people cheering and church bells can be heard as the shot drifts to Demeter peering from behind a tree sobbing. Dressed for a funeral.
INT: DEMETER’S HOUSE SUN SETTING TO NIGHT
Demeter is still sitting in her chair, the light through the window has dimmed into night. Demeter is staring across the hall at the front door. A haunted look stains her face.
Demeter finally gets up and gets ready for bed. She passes through a corridor and walks upstairs, passing by lots of empty flowerpots to her bedroom.
Demeter closes the bedroom door.
SCENE 2 INT: DEMETER’S HOUSE EARLY MORNING
Demeter opens the bedroom door in the same drab attire. Demeter cleans up around the house. She checks her front door is locked. It always is.
Demeter walks past more empty pots around the house. Demeter normally avoids looking out of windows at her decrepit yard. But Demeter is paranoid that she is being watched and looks out at her neighbour’s house. A child is watching her from over the fence. Demeter is disgusted by the mess and the mud smudged onto the little girl’s face and hands. The child leaves handprints on her side of the fence.
EXT: DEMTER’S HOUSE FRONTYARD MIDDAY
Demeter storms outside with a bucket and sponge. There is nothing but dirt. Demeter furiously starts cleaning off the dirty fingerprints left on her fence. She observes the little girl running rampant in the garden with the mother sitting on the porch texting. Demeter glares at the young mother then at the kid still running wild, screaming and then rolling around in the grass.
The girl pauses and looks at Demeter. The girl walks up to the fence and keeps looking up at Demeter. A stare down is happening.
It’s impolite to stare.
You were staring first.
Little children should not be telling lies.
Creepy old ladies shouldn’t be peeking over fences.
How dare you?
Why is your garden so dead?
I am not creepy.
You look like the grudge.
Who are you to insinuate that I hold grudges?
The mother appears beside her kid oblivious to the tension.
Demeter flares her nostrils and mother stays polite and continues to smile.
Keep to your side of the fence.
SCENE 3 INT: DEMETER’S BEDROOM NIGHT
Demeter is lying in bed and thinking about Persephone. There are scrunched up tissues around the pillow. She’s sniffling.
It’s all his faut. If-if he hadn’t shown up…
EXT: FOREST (DEMETER’S IMAGINATION) DAY
Persephone is walking through the trees in a bright jewel tone dress.
If he had just left us alone.
Persephone is still walking; she is light on her feet. She is like a ghost in limbo. Persephone comes across a road. A cloaked figure is waiting for her in the middle of the road and welcomes her with open arms. We can’t see their faces. Only them embracing then blinding white light.
INT: DEMETER’S BEDROOM NIGHT
Close up on Demeter’s face, she is sobbing. There is a knock on the front door and Demeter stiffens. She looks at her clock, it’s still early but she pulls the covers up to her chest. She looks uneasily at the bedroom door. There is another knock at the front door. She shuts her eyes tightly willing for the knocking to go away.
SCENE 4 EXT: DEMETER’S BACKYARD DAY
Demeter has brought out a mug of tea onto the back porch. It’s a cold cloudy morning and her back yard is all dirt, junk and dead plants. An old table is knocked over with two chairs still standing. The same furniture from the first flashback.
Someone’s at your door.
Demeter jumps in fright and glares at the little child from next door.
Get your hands off my fence.
Someone is always at your door.
The child climbs down the fence and disappears back inside her house. Demeter enters her house and stumbles as she sees the silhouette at the front door. She doesn’t dare say a word and hangs back in the kitchen with her tea. The figure knocks. It sounds like a thunder.
Another knock sounds louder and closer. Demeter shifts her position and leans back against the kitchen bench.
Demeter drops her tea, the house starts shaking, the earth starts to groan and rumble. Demeter imagines the Grim Reaper at her door, imagines naked branches from the forest shifting with the wind. The wind is howling. Demeter is fretting and runs back out into the corridor to glare across the hallway at the silhouette.
Silence. The figure disappears. Demeter walks to the front to check if it’s locked. She unlocks it and steps outside.
EXT: DEMTER’S HOUSE FRONTYARD DAY
Demeter steps out into the mud and looks around at the street for anything suspicious. The mother and child walk past and wave hello. Demeter still can’t stand the sight of them. The child jumps in a puddle and dirty water splashes everywhere.
What have I told you about my fence?
The rain will wash it off
How about you teach your child some manners? Hm? Do you even give her baths or just let her roll in mud like a pig? I would never raise my daughter in such a manner!
(embarrassed and furious)
Yeah, well, when she comes around next you can belittle her all you like!
SCENE 5 INT: DEMETER’S LIVING ROOM MIDDAY
Demeter is back in her chair staring at the front door. She is exhausted from crying and has left the door ajar.
I’m ready for you.
She imagines the Grim Reaper gliding across the muddy front yard and up the porch stairs. She stares dazedly down the corridor as the front door opens letting in blinding white light. The light dims down back to normal and silhouette splits into two. Demeter tries to focus onto reality and suddenly the clear faces of a man and a little girl are looking at her with concern.
Demeter doesn’t see her granddaughter as the little girl is shyly standing behind her father’s leg. Demeter is too busy glaring at her son-in-law.
I know you don’t want to see me-
Demeter is ready to interject.
I want you to meet someone.
The granddaughter Melinoe steps around and waits for an encouraging nod from Hades before she walks over and hands Demeter a bag of seeds. Demeter stares at the girl. She stunned by the resemblance to Persephone. Demeter touches Melinoe’s hair and smiles.
EXT: DEMETER’S BACKYARD DAY
Hades is sitting at the table watching on as Demeter teaches Melinoe how to plant the seeds. Demeter is happy and wearing a jewel tone coloured dress.
I am Elektra Orfanos she/they, I study a Bachelor of Creative Arts majoring in creative writing at Latrobe University. I enjoy writing urban fantasy novels for young adults and new adults, and I also love Greek mythology, science fiction, and the feminine gothic. I will be running a writing workshop in this year’s Arts Festival as well as displaying some of my works from throughout my writing course. During the pandemic I have had to find new ways to motivate myself and I am currently working on my own novel. After this festival I plan to keep on writing in an effort to someday be published. I am hoping to incorporate myself into Victoria’s writing community as I am eager to be a part of Australia’s writing world.