Mar 092016
 

Alan-Cunningham-03 19.33.08

 

Idea for a script, no, play.

No, idea for a novel.

A man – no, woman – too many men in literature, opens a suitcase in a living room of a building apartment, starts to place all these, like, well, all these different objects into it. Not sure what they could be – yet. She puts all these – well, things – she puts all these things into the suitcase, leaves her apartment in a city – let’s say, London – and starts walking.

 •

EXT. LONDON

If script – I see a scene now where a camera has been placed at one end of a very long road, and it is filming. I see this road as a road – as the road, sorry, this is a memory – the road I once walked along in Stratford, a – the – road I once got lost on during a walk to see a friend, the road beside the Olympic stadium, you know, no, not the Stadium but the place where the bicycles race around, what’s it called – the Velodrome?

Anyway – we see the woman in the distance now, a speck, tiny and she’s walking toward the camera, lugging the suitcase behind her. There’re no cars on the road, it’s all very quiet, maybe it’s early in the morning and we see her getting closer to the camera, closer, closer and as she gets closer – and this takes a very, very, very long time – we start to see the details of her face and in particular all the effort she’s putting into walking and pulling the suitcase along behind her and she gets even closer, and closer still – she’s almost right by the camera now, almost parallel to it – then she just walks right past it – yeah, fuck it she says, and then she just fucking disappears.

Maybe she just keeps on walking? Maybe she walks eastwards out of London, keeps on walking, turns north, into the countryside? Still don’t know what’s in that suitcase though. (Does it have to be a suitcase? Now I’m writing this I see it more as like a military duffel bag, you know, you know the type I mean?). Or maybe at that moment when she leaves the shot, no, just after it, we see a close up shot of her face, with her eyes closed – yeah, she’s lying in a field.

I mean, there’s some grass in the background, that much we can see – I guess that’s why I – I guess that’s why we – why we would think she’s in a field.

She opens her eyes, gets up and looks around. We see what she sees – trees, other fields, mountains, the occasional bungalow house. She looks confused, but then something in her movement – the ways she gets up, for example, the way she opens her eyes – seems to indicate an acceptance of her predicament, if that is what it is, if it is indeed a predicament, you know, and then she lifts up the handle of the suitcase – lifts the suitcase up, indeed – and starts with walking once again.

Not sure where she’s going. Still not sure what’s in the suitcase (duffel bag?)

How did she get there? I don’t know. Maybe she doesn’t know either. Maybe she just woke up like that – if this were a film we might see a shot of her eyes just gently opening, again, right now – lying in a field, her suitcase right beside her, I don’t know, where could this be shot if it had to be a place, I mean where could we shoot this, easily, Ireland? So she wakes up in Ireland?

Not sure why not England. Could be England. Plenty of fields there too. That might make more sense. Ok, maybe there’s a reason why it’s Ireland.

Anyway she wakes up in a field (ok) in Ireland (all right), the suitcase (duffel bag? Still not sure) full of all these – all these things – beside her.

But she doesn’t know how she got there.

 Ok let’s go back a bit.

 •

A scene, in a bathroom in Copenhagen. The sound of music and dancing can be heard through a slightly open window – one of those frosted windows one almost always finds in bathrooms. She opens the bathroom cabinet, selects a few things – perfume, lipstick, some golden tweezers – and drops them into a tote bag. She stops, though, after that – she hears the music too. She leans back, peers out through the slightly open window.

CUT TO an image of the cityscape of Copenhagen, buildings, blue sky, trees. The camera searches as her eyes search, and then she (camera) finds it – the source of the music. A dance class in a loft nearby. A loft with huge, transparent windows, the loft of all our dreams. She looks at them all, all the women dancing.

Then she remembers the bag in her hand and why she’s in the bathroom.

Next thing we see she walks into the living room, just like we described at the beginning. There’s a duffel bag (forget the suitcase) in the middle of the room and she drops the tote bag into it. Then she pulls the rope tight around the duffel bag, swings it over her shoulder and she walks out.

Still don’t know why though. Does it really matter?

Anyway, back to LONDON.

What does she do there, before her walk to camera? ‘Cause after that it seems like she just appears in Ireland, somehow, right? Need to give her something to do in LONDON. I’m thinking, something to do with space? Before we talk about how she got there, how she got to LONDON?

Those things, remember those things that were all in her suitcase, duffel bag, all the things she packed inside? I think one of them is a deck of cards. I think we might be able to do something with all those things. In a bit though. Wait a bit.

Ok, something to do in London. How about this? The camera looks at a photograph – of the mountain, just like the mountain in the magazine. (What magazine, you’re thinking, just wait will you.) One difference though – loads of military bases. You know, like military buildings installed on mountaintops. It’s a photograph located in, let’s say, the flat of her father. He lives in LONDON. Maybe he stayed there, when she and her mother went to live in Denmark. I’m guessing her mother is Danish, right?

Anyway, this photograph. It’s on a wall. And she looks at it and it reminds her of something else, the mountain in the magazine, something we haven’t seen yet though – but guess what, it’s something really, really, really important.

Before she arrived in London, right, she boarded a train in Copenhagen. Before she boarded the train she bought some typically Danish food products at the train station.

On the train, though – on the train she fell asleep watching the train pass quickly by buildings, then houses, then fields. The man who sat beside was a large but friendly man. She woke up some time later, the train deep within the Danish countryside.

In the pouch situated on the seat in front of her there was a magazine. She pulled it out and, flicking through it, she came across an image of a mountain.

That’s where I’m going, she thought – yeah that’s where I need to go.

 —Alan Cunningham

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Alan Cunningham is a writer from the north of Ireland. His books include Count from Zero to One Hundred (2013), New Green Fool: 7 Essays After The Green Fool and Sovereign Invalid (both forthcoming). Currently based in London he has previously lived in Belfast, Berlin and Melbourne. In 2013 he was a Resident Fellow at Z/KU in Berlin, Germany, funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI). He was also the recipient of a general ACNI arts award in 2014. 

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  2 Responses to “Tentative Beginnings: Fiction — Alan Cunningham”

  1. Terrific!

    I must say, I really love the short fiction that has been featured at Numéro Cinq lately. And I’m not just say that because I am on “staff”, but damn… there is some fine work here.

    • Joseph, I’m pleased you noticed. I really look hard for fiction that has something extra going on. We have some fine work coming as well.

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