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Orphan Movie Script

Writer(s) : David Leslie Johnson

Genres : Drama, Horror, Mystery

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                                        ORPHAN



                                      Written by

                                 David Leslie Johnson




                                                         February 5, 2007   
          

          FADE IN:
          CLOSE -- KATE COLEMAN (MID 30S )
          She's a simple beauty and very pregnant, propped up in a bed,
          wearing a hospital gown. A heart rate monitor BEEPS. She touches
          her swollen belly, flush with excitement, her eyes full of wonder.

          MAN'S VOICE (O.S.)
          Okayp, just relax.now. This'll be over
          Caitti before you know it.
          Kate looks up. Her smile falters-as we REVEAL:

          INT. DELIVERY ROOM - NIGHT

          Harsh lights overhead. -THUNDER rumbles outside. Kate's on a.
          delivery table, legs already in the stirrups. A sheet hangs-  
          across her belly so we can't see what's going on below her waist.
          A DOCTOR and NURSE snap pn gloves, prepare instruments: SHARP
          BLADES and CURETTES, NEEDLES and FORCEPS. Kate is stricken. She
          tries to sit up.

          KATE
          Wait, I've changed my mind. I don't
          want to do this anymore.
          The Doctor gives the Nurse an exasperated look. The Nurse takes
          Rate's hand, eases her back onto the table.

          NURSE
          Your baby is dead. There's nothing.
          else we can do.
          Kate reels, her world turned upside-dowp. Emotional free-fall.

          KATE
          No, this isn't what's supposed to
          happen. My baby's alive!

          NURSE
          We're so sorry. A terrible loss, we're
          so sorry...

          KATE
          But it's still alive! It's moving!
          Feel it, you can feel it!
          Kate tries to put the Nurse's hand on her.belly but the-Nurse-
          pulls away and hands the Doctor a pair of gleaming.blunt-tipped
          SURGICAL SCISSORS. The Doctor leans between Rate's spread legs,
          disappearing behind the curtain. Rate gasps.

          RATE
          No, stop! I want to be asleep! 
          

          

          2.

          -DOCTOR-
          TOO late for anesthesia.'' The baby's
          coming. You're.going to experience
          some pressure now... -
          Kate winces and bites her lip as the Doctor goes about his unseen
          work. A GOOD-LOOKING MAN in surgical scrubs stands behind him..
          Bizarrely, he's videotaping-the whole thing. He's Kate's husband,
          JOHN (late 30's). He smiles at her from behind -the camera.

          JOHN
          It's okay, honeys You're doing great!
          The Doctor hands the scissors, now slick with gore, to the Nurse.
          H e takes a SUCTION. CATHETER and disappears behind-the curtain
          again. The Nurse - presses a button on a vacuum pump and the
          machine begins to HUM. Kate tightly closes her eyes.

          KATE
          This isn't happening. Wake up, wake
          up, wake up...
          Suddenly -- the thin wail of a BABY CRYING. Rate's eyes go wide
          w ith horror as the smiling Nurse approaches with a wriggling
          bundle wrapped in a blanket. Blood seeps through the pink fabric.
          W e can't see what's inside, but it's moving. And it's CRYING.

          NURSE
          Congratulations, Mrs. Coleman. It's a
          girl .
          The Nurse offers her the bloody, blanketed bundle. Kate screams -

          INT. KATE AND JOHN'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

          -- then snaps awake. She's been having a nightmare. John lies
          n ext to her in bed. Be stirs, but doesn't wake. Kate slips out
          of bed and quickly pads to the bathroom;

          INT. KATE AND JOHN'S BATHROOM - NIGHT

          Kate closes the door. We now see that she's not pregnant in
          reality, only in her nightmare. She slides to the cold floor in
          t he dark, a hand on her flat belly as she starts to cry...

          INT. DOCTOR BROWNING'S OFFICE - DAY

          Water TRICKLES in a little Zen fountain. Kate sits across from
          -DR. -BROWNING, a mousy-haired woman in her 50's.

          DR. BROWNING
          A lot of women experience difficulties
          around the anniversary of the
          miscarriage or the baby's expected due
          date. It's perfectly normal.

          

          

          

          

          3.

          KATE
          I was thinking of" going back to work.
          I really thought 1 was doing better.

          DR. BROWNING
          You are. Think about where you were
          just four months ago. -
          (off Kate's look)
          Are you still sober?
          Kate hesitates. Dr. Browning gives her a penetrating look.

          KATE
          I drove by the wine shop,on my.way.bome
          the other day.

          DR. BROWNING
          Did you stop?

          KATE
          I really wanted to. The thought went
          through m' head, you know. it wasn't
          for me, it just might be nice to have a
          bottle handy in case we had guests.

          DR. BROWNING.
          But you didn't go in?

          KATE
          No.

          DR. BROWNING
          That's all that matters. Let's try to
          stay focused on the. positive. Grief is
          different for everyone. You have to
          take it at your own pace.. Keep writing
          in your journal. You're doing fine.
          Rate smiles weakly. unconvinced.

          INT. LIVING ROOM -.DAY

          Rate hangs curtains over a beautiful picture window. She steps'
          back to admire her work, then sighs. Now what? Now that she s
          done, the house suddenly seems-quiet and lonely and too big.

          INT. NURSERY - DAY

          Kate sits in a rocking chair, gazing out a distinctive ARCHED
          'WINDOW. We realize that she's -In a fully furnished and decorated
          nursery. Crib, changing table, baby swing. No baby.

          EXT. COLEMAN RESIDENCE - DAY

          It's a big, dramatic home in an affluent neighborhood. Kate
          % crosses the backyard into the nearby woods.

          

          

          

          

          4.

          EXT. FOREST - DAY

          After a short walk, Kate sits by a PEACEFUL BROOK lost in her
          thoughts. ,She pulls a JOURNAL filled. with handwritten entries
          from her coat pocket. After a beat,'she begins to write.

          EXT. SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF - DAY

          Class has just let out, PARENTS arriving to pick up their KIDS.
          But the playground is MOSTLY SILENT -- these children an deaf,
          communicating to one another and their teachers by sign language.
          'Kate pulls up in a luxury minivan. Her five-year-old daughter MAX
          runs over togreet her. She's almost- ridiculously cute.
          (NOTE: Max doesn't speak. Her "dialogue" is SIGNED and
          SUBTITLED. She wears a REARING AID- to help her read lips. when
          people speak to her, they must face her and/or sign.)
          Kate kisses Max's'head and helps her into the van, buckling her
          car seat. Max shows her an art project she's bringing home.

          KATE
          Wow, did you make this?

          MAX

          MY TEACHER HELPED.

          INT./EXT. KATE'S MINIM - DAY

          Kate's' driving. She stops at an intersection. A PREGNANT WOMAN
          crosses the street in front of them and stops at the corner. Kate
          watches her for a long beat as if transfixed...
          In the backseat, Max-CLAPS her hands to get Kate's attention.
          Kate turns and sees Max pointing to the traffic light. IVs
          green. A car horn HONKS. Kate snaps -out of it and drives off.

          INT. MUSIC ROOM - DAY

          Kate sits at a baby grand piano,'trying to compose a piece of..
          music. She plays a few NOTES, frowns, tries again, takes a pencil
          and erases what she's written down.
          She pauses to look over-at a beautiful ORCHID in an ornate plants=
          by the window. For a moment, she just stares at it. Then:
          13 1 She's startled by something outside BOUNCING off the side
           of the house. She closes her eyes, frustrated. BANGI EANG1
           BANG! She tries to ignore it, but can't.

          'EXT. COLEMAN RESIDENCE - DAY

          Max is playing basketball in the driveway, but the ball's too big
          for her and the hoop's too.high. Every time she tries to shoot,
          the ball falls short and BANGS against the house.

          

          

          

          

          5.
          Kate opens-the door, angrily signing as she speaks:
          Stop banging that against the house!
          I'm trying-to work!.

          MAX

          SORRY.
          Max gives an abashed look. Kate sighs. She knows she was too
          harsh with her.

          KATE
          -No, I'm sorry.. But just... take a
          break for a little while, okay?
          Max nods. Kate goes. back inside.
          A CAR pulls into the-drive.. It's John and eleven--year-old-DANIEL,
          Rate and John's other child. Daniel's blonde, brash, and-cocky,
          the all-American kid. He's wearing.a Little League uniform.
          Daniel runs toward Max. He steals her ball and dribbles-it around
          her in circles. -Max watches glumly. He offers her the ball, but
          when she reaches for it, he snatches it away and shoots a lay--up..-

          DANIEL
          Boo -yahl He shoots! He scores!

           

          JOHN
          Nice one, champ! -
          Daniel pumps his arm and runs inside. John walks up the drive,
          carrying a bouquet of FLOWERS. He hands Max the ball and lifts
          her up to the basket. Max happily puts the ball-through'the hoop.

          JOHN
          All right! Ginme five!
          She smiles and gives him a high-five as he carries her inside.

          YN'. MUSIC ROOM - DAY -
          Kate has just sat back down at the piano when she hears Daniel
          tear into the house and run upstairs. She slumps her shoulders
          and closes her notebook. No more work today. John enters.

          JOHN
          Drapes look'nice.

          KATE
          Curtains.
          (off his.look)
          They're curtains, not drapes. And haw
          exciting is my life that -I now know the
          difference.

          

          

          

          

          6.
          He offers her the flowers..

          RATE
          .That's this for?

          JOHN
          Just love you.  
          He kisses her as she takes them. Some of her gloomy mood melts.

          INT. MAX'S BEDROOM -- NIGHT

          Kate tucks Max into bed.

          MAX

          READ ME A STORY?

          KATE
          Ore story. Then bedtime. Okay?
          Max nods. happily and picks up a book from her nightstand. Kate
          groans inwardly when she sees what it is. It'.s called. "We were
          Going To Have A Baby, .But We Had An Angel Instead."

          KATE
          You want to hear about the baby again?
          Max nods. Kate hesitates, then gives Max a sad smile.

          INT. MAX'S BEDROOM - HIGHT (TIMECUT)

          Kate sits on Max's bed, reading and showing her the pictures:

          KATE
          "People send us flowers and cards, but
          we still miss our baby. If this just
          happened to you, I'm sorry you got an
          angel instead of a'baby. I.think a
          baby would have been more fun."
          The last picture is a FAMILY WITH A BABY ANGEL watching over them.

          MAX

          IS BABY JESSIE AN ANGEL?

          KATE
          Yes, she is. She's with us every day.
          Kate gives Max a gentle kiss on the forehead.

          INT. KATE AND JOHN'S BATHROOM - NIGHT

          Kate opens a medicine chest 'and shakes a PILL from a prescription
          bottle. She swallows the pill-with a Dixie cup of water.

          

          

          

          

          7.

          INT. XATB AND JOHN'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

          John watches TV in bed. Kate enters from the bathroom in a
          nightshirt and sits on the bed. She.rubs lotion on her feet.
          John watches her, then reaches out, runs his fingers uup and down
          her back. Kate freezes. He can't see the-nervous look that
          crosses her face. He moves closer, pushes her hair aside, kissing
          hex-. neck. Kate responds stiffly, trying to get. in the mood.
          He slides a hand around her waist, moves it up to her breast...

          KATE
          I'm sorry. I can't. Shit...
          She moves away, tears suddenly in.her eyes. He gives a concerned
          look, lets her have her space. A beat.

            KATE
          I'm so sick of feeling like this.
          Christ, the kids must thing I'm crazy.

          JOHN
          Will you stop worrying about what
          everybody else thinks?

          KATE
          How can I? I saw a pregnant woman
          today on the way home and I almost lost
          it. Just burst into tears with Max
          sitting right there. Daniel barely
          talks to me. You and I haven't had sex
          in over a year now. What if I.never
          get better? I don't want to lose you.

          JOHN
          You're never going to lose us. I
          promise you. I just wish...
          (off her look)
          Have you thought any more about
          adopting?

          KATE
          I can't even be a mother to the
          children we already have.

          JOHN
          That's not true. The kids understand.
          They just know you're not happy.

          KATE  
          But I should be.

          JOHN -
          Do you want another child?

          

          

          

          

          B.

          KATE
          You Snow I do. More than anything.

          JOHN
          Even if it can-'t be'biologically ours.

          KATE-

          YES

          JOHN
          Then what are we talking about this
          -for? Let's do it.

          KATE
          You-don't just adopt a child because
          you're lonely and depressed.

          JOHN
          That's not why we'd be doing..it. We
          wanted a child a year ago and we still
          want one, now..

          KATE
          We can't replace our baby.

          JOHN
          No, 'we can't. But we can take the'
          place we made for her in our hearts and
          our home and give it to a child who
          needs a family.

          (BEAT)
          Kate, we love being parents. We're
          good at it and'it makes. us happy. What
          better reason-do you want?
          Kate looks at him for a beat, then smiles and lets her tears fall.

          INT.-LAWYER'S OFFICE -- DAY

          Kate and John are being interviewed by a FEMALE LAWYER.

          LAWYER -
          Are you both employed?

          JOHN
          I'm-an architect at a firm in the city.
          The Lawyer turns to Kate. Kate hesitates.

          KATE
          I used to teach music at Yale. I
          haven't worked for about a year.

          LAWYER -
          (a beat, considering)
           You're sure you want an older child? - -

          (MORE) - - -

          

          

          

          

          9.

          LAWYER (CONT'D)
          With your background, you could have a
          newborn in as little as a year.

          JOHN
          We've'alread y waited a.long time. :We'd
          lake a child as:quickly as possible.

          LAWYER..
          Well, 'getting an older child-As
          definitely quicker, not to mention
          cheaper, but- there's a reason for that.
          A lbt of these kids- have serious
          behavioral problems.'

            JOHN
          We've already signed up for special-
          needs-'adoption classes. Trust me,
          we're ready for anything.  

          LAWYER
          You must have a lot of love to give.
          Are you looking for a boy or a girl?

          RATE

          (SMILES)
          A girl. We'd like a little girl.- - -

          EXT. RURAL HIGHWAY - AERIAL SHOT -- DAY

          CAMERA FINDS John's car winding its way along a tree-lined road... }

          INT. JOHN'S CAR - DAY

          John is driving. Kate is studying pages and pages of photocopied
          records in a manila folder. -John gives her an amused look.

          KATE
          You're not worried about being
          prepared?

          JOHN -
          There's not gonna be a pop quiz.
          Kate smiles. She closes the folder and looks at a Polaroid of a
          happy, seven-year-old Puerto Rican girl stapled to the cover. The
          name next to the photo is YOLANDA.

          EXT. HOME FOR GIRLS - ESTABLISHING - DAY -

          It's a pillared mansion with a large porch. TWO NUNS supervise a'
          GROUP OF YOUNG GIRLS on a playground.- A sign- out front reads "ST.
          CABRINI'S HOME FOR GIRLS." John's car pulls into the parking lot. 
          From-2L SHAKY, HANDHELD POV looking out a second floor window, we
          see Kate and John get out of the'car. Someone in watching them...
          Kate senses movement and looks up... but there's no one there.
          ..y

          

          

          

          

          10.

          INT. HOME FOR GIRLS - PLAYROOM - DAY

          Yolanda; the girl from the Polaroid, is playing with a dollhouse.
          The door-opens. Kate and John are led inside by SISTER ABIGAIL,
          an African-American nun in her 50's.

          SISTER ABIGAIL
          Yolanda, look who's here to see you.
          Yolanda, smiles at Kate and John.. She runs over to greet them, but
          stands just out of their reach. -Kate kneels in front of her.

          RATE
          Don't you look pretty!

          YOLANDA
          6ister Abigail put ribbons in my hair.
          See?

          KATE
          Wow, that was nice of her. Look, we
          brought you something for the trip
          tomorrow.
          She hands her a bag of activity books and a "Travel Turtle," a kid-
          sized lap desk for coloring in the car_ Yolanda's face lights up.

          SISTER ABIGAIL
          What do you.say?

          YOLANDA
          Thank you.
          Kate reaches out to her, but Yolanda pulls-away, focusing all her
          attention on her presents. Rate gives her a sad 'smile.

          IT. HOME FOR GIRLS - PLAYROOM -- DAY (TIMECUT)
          Yolanda is drawing a picture, "Travel Turtle" on her lap. Kate
          and Abigail sit nearby, watching. Kate seems worried. Abigail
          notices. She speaks in a low voice so Yolanda won't hear:

          SISTER ABIGAIL
          Nervous?

          KATE
          Yeah. And happy. And excited. : And
          proud. And scared shitless. It' s
          funny. All the same feelings I had
          when I was pregnant with our others.

          .SISTER ABIGAIL
          That's what really worries you, isn't
          it? Something bad happened, the last
          time you felt this way.
          (off Kate's look)

          (MORE)

          

          

          

          

          SISTER ABIGAIL .CONT'D)
          Yolanda's doing something similar.
          She's afraid of :getting hurt again,.
          .too. Bit I have a-good feeling'about
          you two. You can help. each other heal.
          And you're lucky. You have a wonderful
          husband who can be there for you both.
           A flicker crosses Rate's eyes at the mention of het "wonderful
           husband." Doubt? uncertainty? Abigail.do'esn't see it.
          I h T. HOME FOR GIRLS - CORRIDOR - DAY
          'John emerges frcaitthe HEN'S ROOM. The walls of the hallway are
          lined -with Children's-artwork. He glances at it as he walks by.
          Suddenly, he stops short. Amidst the crude watercolors and
          _macaroni mosaics are several beautiful ain s, s'% surprisingly
          sophisticated, more Like the works of Henri 'R usseahan the
          o crayon-and-stick-figure scribbles surrounding them.
          Then he hears something: a LITTLE GIRL'S VOICE, softly HUN= G a
          tune. We know the words. When I was juuust a lii.ittle yiiir., I
          asked my mother, what will I be?...

          M. HOM13 OR GIRLS - ART ROOM - DAY
          .John follows the HUMMING to a stark, white room. Light slants in
          from a big-window, shining on A LITTLE GIRL in a lacy white dress.
          Her. back is to us, so.we can't see her face, just curls of
          platinum blonde hair spilling to her shoulders. She sits at an
          easel, all alone, painting another extraordinary picture.
          John watches, curious. Suddenly; she senses his presence. She-
          stops humming, the paintbrush freezes mid-stroke. She turns.
          She looks about eight years old, with pale skin and-bright, doe-
          like eyes, her delicate features framed by Shirley Temple curls.
          It's the face- of a porcelain angel, a perfect little laving doll,
          friendly and inviting. She wears a thick black velvet ribbon
          around her neck and one around each wrist. Her'name is ESTHER.

          JOHN
          Hi there.

           ESTHER
          Hello. -
          She speaks with a strange accent. Sounds Eastern European.

          JOHN
          Are these , paintings all yours?

          ESTH ER
          Yes. Do you like them?

          JOHN
          Very much. They're remarkable. -

          

          

          

          

          12.

          BSS
          h T ank :you. My name is Esther. What's
          yours?

          JOHN
          John. It's nice to meet you.
          She smiles and demurely offers her hand, giggling as he takes it.
          She blushes, then turns back to her painting. It's a half-
          finished jungle scene with a SMILING LION crouched beneath a tree.

          JOHN
          So what's this one going to bo? 

          ESTHER
          My paintings are stories that come from
          my imagination. -This one'-s about a'sad
          mother lion who can't find her cube.

          JOHN
          She's smiling.

          ESTHER
          She's dreaming about her babies. It's
          the only thing that makes her happy.

          JOHN
          Well, I hope she finds them.

          ESTHER
          She will. I,bok.
          As she speaks, Esther dabs her brush and paints little lion cubs
          curled up in front of their sleeping mother:

          ESTHER
          They were lost'in the jungle 'and they
          were so scared because they didn't'have
          a mother or father. But just when they
          thought they'd be alone forever, they
          found their mother sleeping under this
          tree. And they felt so safe that they
          fell asleep too. Now when-the mother
          lion wakes up, her dream will have come
          true. She has her family again.

          JOHN
          Where did you learn how to do this?

          ESTHER
           Y've just had lots of time to practice,
          I guess. It's so boring here.

          JOAN
          You don't play outside with the other
          girls? Sounds like they're having fun.

          

          

          

          

          13.

          ESTHER
          I like staying inside. That way I
          don't get my clothes dirty.

          JOHN
          (amused) -
          Well, that's very responsible of you,
          but I'll- bet the sisters could find
          something else for you. to wear.

          ESTEER
          You.don't like my dress? - Don't you
          think it's pretty? -

          JOHN
          Your dress is. very pretty. I'm ,just
          saying. you could -probably go outside if
          you really wanted to.

          - ESTHER
          (a beat, hesitant)
          I don't like laying with the other
          .girls. I'm different from everyone.

          JOHN
          There's nothing wrong with different.

          ESTHER
          Yes, there is. Everybody says there's
          not, but it isn't true. I don't care.
          If I'm sad or lonely, I just come in
          here a nd paint a story with a happy
          endingg And when people say they like.
          my paintings, it makes me feel better.
          (off his look)
          I think.peo le should always try to
          take the bad things that happen to them
          and turn them into something good.
          Don't you?
          John is taken aback. Who j t1m1s )dc? Before he can respond:

          .- RATE (O.S.)
          There you are.
          Rate and Sister Abigail stand in the doorway. John waves for Kate
          to enter and Esther sits up eagerly when she does. Abigail's
          expression darkens when she sees who John has been talking to.

          JOHN
          Hey, I'd like you to meet someone. -
          (to Esther).
          Esther, this is my wife, Kate.
          Kate smiles and offers her hand, but instead of shaking it, Esther
          lovingly presses it to her cheek.

          

          

          

          

          14. -

          ESTIIR -
          Motta...
          Kate'and John exchange a beumsed look'.

          JOHN
          She painted these all by herself.

          ' RATE
          Wow, you're quite the little-artist.

          ESTHE'R
          Thank you. You smell nice.
          Kate laughs. Sister Abigail shifts uncomfortably.

          ESTHER
          Would you like me to paint you a
          picture? You can watch me if-you want.
          I'm normally a little shy, but --

          SISTER ABIGAIL'
          Esther, I'm sorry, they don't have time
          for you to paint them a picture.
          (off Esther's look)
          They have to come with me now.
          Yolanda's going home with them
          tomorrow. isn't that wonderful?
          Esther wilts. She releases Rate's hand and musters a weak smile.

          ESTHER
          Yes. I'm sure she'll be very happy.

          KATE
          It was nice meeting you.

          ESTHER -
          The pleasure was mine.

          JOHN
          (to Sister Abigail)
          You've got a real talent on your hands
          here.

          SISTER ABIGAIL
          Yes, we're very lucky to have her.
          But there's something -strange-in Abigail's voice -- she definitely
          doesn't un -lucky. Esther watches them go.

          INT. HOME FOR GIRLS - ENTRY - DAY

          Sister Abigail walks Kate and John to the front door.

          

          

          

          

          I5.

          SISTER ABIGAIL
          The notary will be here at.ten for-you-
          to sign the placement agreement.

          KATE
          Thank you so much for all your help.
          Kate gives her a warm hug. But mid-embrace, she notices
          something: Esther is at the end of the hallway, peering at them
          from around a corner. Abigail and John see--her,' too.

          KATE
          What did she say to me.back there? It
          sounded like... "motta?"

          SISTER ABIGAIL
          It's Russian. It means "mother."
          INT.JoHN'S CAR - NIGHT
          John whistles "Whatever Will Be, Will Be" to himself as he drives.
          Kate gives him an amused look, then Jokingly sings along:

          KATE -
          When you were juuust a liuittle

          JOHN
          Sorry, I've got that stuck in my head
          now.

          KATE
          She. made quite an impression on.you.

          JOHN
          I wish you co'uld've heard the things.
          she was saying before you c&me in. I
          Jatow adults who aren't that mature.

          (BEAT)
          I wonder' why they didn't show us her
          case file.

          KATE
          She probably wasn't there when we were
          first ,looking.

          JOHN
          It just blows may mind, a kid could go
          through as much-as she must have and
          still turn out like that.

          KATE
          You sound like you're sorry we're not
          adopting her instead of Yolanda.

          

          

          

          

          16.

          JOHN
          No, of course not. I just hope she.
          gets the right break.
          (off her look)
          I wouldn't trade our littl'e' girl for
          the world. You )maw that.
          Rate gives him an adoring look and squeezes his hand.

          EXT. HOME FOR GIRLS - ESTABLISHING - MORNING .

          The sun is just rising,.warming the sky with an idyllic light.

          INT. HOME FOR GIRLS - DORMITORY.- MORNING

          The GIRLS (5-7) are busily getting dressed and making their beds.
          The HOUSEMOTHER inspects each of-them in turn. One bed remains
          unmade, its occupant missing. The Housemother turns to the room,
          ready to give a scolding, but can't find who she's looking for:

          HOUSEMOTHER
          Where's Yolanda?

          INT. HOME FOR GIRLS - WASHROOM - MORNING

          The OLDER GIRLS (8-12) are-brushing their teeth and washing up.
          The Housemother enters and looks around.

          HOUSEMOTHER
          Have any of you seen-Yolanda?
          Nobody has.

          INT. HOME FOR GIRLS -- VARIOUS - MORNING

          Sister Abigail leads the NUNS and LAY ASSISTANTS in a search of
          the home, looking for Yolanda. The playroom, art room, chapel,
          classrooms, laundry room, rest rooms.-- they're all empty.

          INT. HOME FOR GIRLS - BASEMENT - MORNING

          A young-nun, SISTER JUDITH, walks downstairs into -a dark storage-
          area. Lots of hiding places. -

          SISTER JUDITH
          Yolanda? Are you hiding-down here?
          Then she notices a closet behind her. The door. is ajar. She
          reaches out, opens it... and nearly gags at what she sees inside.

          LOW ANGIL - INSIDE THE CLOSET
           A child's bare feet dangle in mi , , a .,im3. The "Travel Turtle" is on
          the floor beneath them. - A chair lies on its side nearby.

          

          

          

          

          17.

          INT. HOTEL ROOM -- MORNING -

          Kate dries her' hair in the bathroom. The PHONE RINGS O.S. She
          pauses, suddenly concerned for some reason. She opens the door.
          As John reaches for-the phone, CAMERA MOVES IN on Kate. She
          watches from the doorway, her  face already registering dread. She
          knows. Even before he answers the phone, somehow she knows.

          JOHN (0,S-)
          Bello?

          EXT. HOTEL ROOM BALCONY - DAY

          The sky has turned gray. Kate stares out at the hotel parking-
          lot, smoking a cigarette.  - Her eyes are red;- but she's long since
          cried-herself out. John stands by the open-sliding glass door.

          JOHN
          .The birth family is claiming her body.
          They're planning a private service.
          He looks to Kate for a reaction, but she has none. He continues:

          JOHN
          Sister Abigail thinks she might have
          been playing something called "The
          Choking Game." It's a kind of
          schoolyard dare. You try to get a rush
          by having someone choke you until you
          almost pass out. There have been cases
          where kids have tried it alone and
          accidentally hanged themselves.
          A beat. Kate's voice is distant, as;

          KATE
          So that's it? She just vanishes from
          our lives?

          JOHN
          We can have our awn-service. I think
          .it's important that we -

          KATE
          I've been' in grief counseling for
          almost a year-and-a-half.. If you say
          the word "closure,." I'm going to-claw
          your eyes out.
          She's not angry, just matter-of-fact. Be wants to say something,
          but holds his tongue. Silence hangs heavy between them.

          KATE
          Maybe we're not supposed.to do this.

          

          

          

          

          18.

          - JOHN..
          No. Don't say that. -

          RATE- -
          we -try to .have a baby and I have a
          'third-trimester miscarriage that leaves.
          me sterile. 'We try to adopt and she
          dies the night before we bring her
          home. That doesn't sound like'
          somebody's trying to tell us. something?

          JOHN   -
          Yolanda didn' t the to.teach us a
          lesson.. We didn't make this-happen.

          KATE '
          It doesn't make.anndifference. I
          can't go through this again.

          JOHN
          so let's not. Let's adopt.Bather.
          This brings Kate back to reality. She eyes him coolly.

          KATE
          Her body's barely cold and you're
          already thinking about replacing her?

          JOHN .
          We can't replace Yolanda any more than
          We can replace Jessie. But we can't
          help her anymore, either. Esther is
          alive and needs a family. Right now.

          KATE
          We have to at least wait until.--

          JOHN
          -Until what? I don't want to waste
          .a nother year of our lives wishing for
          something that we.can't-have.
          (beat).
          I want us to feel like a family again.
          Kate regards him for a beat, conflicted. Then:

          KATE
          Let's see what Sister Abigail thinks.

          INT. HOME FOR GIRLS - SISTER ABIGAIL'S OFFICE - DAY -

          Sister Abigail hands Rate and John a folder with a Polaroid of
          Esther stapled to it. Her- case file.

          

          

          

          

          19.

          SISTER ABIGAIL
          For the most -part, she's an'ideal
          child. She's originally from Russia,
          but her English is flawless, Smart as
          a.tvhip and very mature °for her age. I
          don't think I've-ever had to tell her
          .anything-twice and I've never had to
          clean-up after her.. She's a bit of a-
          nQat-freak.

          JOHN
          I think we can handle that.

          SISTER.ABIGAIL
          She's also fiercely independent.,
          Whatever the other-children want to do,
          she wants to.dc the opposite.

          JOHN
          She told me they make fun of her.

          SISTER ABIGAIL
          I'm sure they do, but she doesn't make-
          things any easier on herself. She just
          doesn't seem interested in friends..
          She doesn't even play like a normal
          child. She just reads and paints.
          Most of the time she barely-speaks.

            KATE  
          Why do'you think that is?

          SISTER ABIGAIL .
          Well, like most of the girls here,
          there's been no shortage of hardship in
          her life.- She's been orphaned twice--
          her birthmother died of AIDS, then the
          American family who adopted her was-
          killed in.a house fire. And I strongly
          suspect that she's been sexually abused
          as well.

          KATE
          By who?

          SISTER ABIGAIL
          I don't know. There's nothing in her
          -history, but that doesn't necessarily
          mean anything. Russian adoption -
          records. are notoriously unreliable.

          JOHN
          Then what are you basing this on?
          Sister Abigail hesitates. Deciding how much to say.

          

          

          

          

          20.

          SISTER ABIGAIL
          I wish I knew. There's just something
          missing with her. A-spark you see in a
          child's eyes that isn't there. I've
          only seen that-before in cases where
          the child had been severely
          traumatized. It might also explain -
          some of her idiosyncratic behaviors.

          JOHN
          Like what?

          SISTER ABIGAIL
          She refuses to shower or change clothes
          with the other girls.' She won't even
          allow the housemother in-the bathroom
          with her. She.'.s also very concerned
          with her physical appearance for her
          age. She's like a teenager getting
          ready for a date every morning. She
          insists on wearing dresses-every day.
          The ribbons around her wrists and neck
          stay on day and night. . The only
          trouble we ever had with her was when
          we tried to take them off. She kicked
          two of Sister Francis' teeth-out.
          Kate and Tohn are taken. aback. Abigail sighs.

          SISTER ABIGAIL
          I'm sorry. I'm 'not trying to
          discourage you. If you're serious,
          I'll do everything I can to-expedite
          the process, given the circumstances.

          (BEAT)
          My one reservation is..this. When-an
          adoption fails, it's usually because
          the parents didn't know what to expect.
          -And'in this case, I can't' tell you what
          to expect because the plain fact of the-
          matter is that-I don't knaw.

          INT: HOME FOR GIRLS - CHAPEL DAY
          Esther is happily-helping a NUN clean the sanctuary. Kate and
          John sit in a pew near the back of the empty chapel.

          KATE
          She really did open up with us, didn't
          she?

          JOHN
          She latched. right onto you. We're
          probably the best chance she has at a.
          normal life.
          Esther looks up from her work and waves at them. They wave back.

          

          

          

          

          21.

          KATE
          A normal life..' That sounds really
          good,',doesn't it? -
          She smiles. and takes John- .'s hand.

          EXT. HOME FOR GIRLS - DAY.

          CAXERA FOLLOWS Esther's feet, saddle shoes CLICKING on -the walk.
          Kate walks beside her, holding her hand. In Esther's free hand,
          she clutches a DOG-EARED BIBLE held together with a rubber band.
          Activity on the playground stops as the girls watch Esther leave.
          None of them look sorry to see her go. She ignores them.
          John puts.Esther's things ---- a small suitcase and her-paintings
          in the trunk of the car.. Sister-Abigail sees them off.-

          SISTER ABIGAIL
          If you ever need anything, please don't
          hesitate to call.
          Before Kate. can respond, Esther tugs on her arm.

          _ESTHER
          Come on! Let's-go)
          Kate laughingly lets Esther drag her away.

          RATE
          (to Abigail)
          We wills
          Sister Abigail happily watches them go.. Rate and Esther smile and
          wave goodbye.' She'waves back... but once the car pulls out, her
          smile fades. She seems'vaguely troubled as they drive away...

          INT./EXT. JOHN'S CAR - DAY

          Headed for home. Kate is showing Esther some SIGN LANGUAGE.
          Esther makes the sign for each letter as she says it aloud:

          ESTHER

          E-S-T-

          KATE
          Put your thumb here.
          She makes the sign for 'T." Esther. sees her mistake, corrects it.

          ESTHER
          T-H-E-R.' E-S-T-H-E-R. Esther.

          RATE
          Perfect l

          

          

          

          

          22.
          Esther smiles and practices=it a few times.- Outside, the LEAVES
          have turned color. Esther gazes out in-wonder. -

          ESTHER
          It's so beautiful, motta.

          KATE
          Sweetie, here we say "Mont" or. "mommy."

          ESTHER
          Kate and John exchange-a warm look.

          EXT. PRIVATE ROAD - DAY

          John's car turns at a GATE and drives down the road leading-to
          their private community. The secluded road winds through the
          forest and crosses the little BROOK we saw earlier.

          EXT. NEIGHBORBOOD' - DAY

          The Coleman's neighborhood 3.s surrounded by forest,-an upscale
          community of big houses and manicured lawns. A POSTMAN delivers
          the mail. A HISPANIC NANNY pushes a BABY in a stroller.
          GARDENERS tend someone's flowers. Esther
          -soaks it all in.

          EXT. COLEMAN RESIDENCE - DAY

          They pull into the driveway and get out. Esther's mouth
          practically hangs open at the sight of their beautiful house.
          The front door opens and Max runs out to meet them. Daniel
          appears in the doorway-with DORIS COLEMAN (arid-60's), their
          grandmother. Daniel stands aghast at the sight of the strange,
          pale girl with the Goldilocks curls and frilly white dress.

          DANIEL

          (SOFTLY)
          -Holy shit:..
          Max. runs straight into Kate's arms and gets a big hug.

          KATE
          Oh, we missed you so muchll
          Kate gives Max a kiss, then turns to Esther: Max hangs back, a
          little shy. Esther signs' to Max without speaking: -

          ESTHER

          HELLO, MAX. MY NAME IS ESTHER.
          Max gives Kate an excited smile.

          KATE
          She's been practicing the whole way.

          

          

          

          

          23.
          Kate takes the girls' hands and they all walk up'to the house.
          Esther notices Man's hearing aid.

          EST-HER -
          What's that?

          KATE .
          That's a hearing aid. It helps her
          hear.a little so she can read lips.
          John gives Doris a Use on the cheek.

          JOHN
          Hi, Mont. Thanks for watching them.
          (to Esther)
          Esther, this is Grandma Doris.

          ESTSER
          A pleasure to meet you.
          Esther surprises everyone by giving her a perfect ltttle rtse
          Daniel fails to suppress a laugh. Kate silences him with a look.

          DORIS
          How precious! It's a pleasure-to meet
          you, too.

          JUN
            (to Esther)
          And this is our son, Daniel.
          Esther smiles and puts out her hand. Daniel grudgingly takes it.

          ESTHER
          Hello, Daniel.

          DANIEL
          Hey.

          INT. COLEMAN RESIDENCE - VARIOUS - DAY

          Esther walks from room to room, in awe of her luxurious new home.
          Kate and the rest of the family follow her.

          ESTHER
          Everything's so bigi
          As Esther moves on to the next room, Daniel hangs back and
          whispers to John, too loud:

          DANIEL
          Why is she dressed like that?

          JOHN
          Don't be rude.

          

          

          

          

          24.
          Esther overhears them, but pretends she didn't. Kate sees this-
          and tries to distract her. -

          KATE
          Would you like to see-your room?
          Esther smiles and nods eagerly. But on the way up the stairs, she
          eyes Daniel furtively, sizing him up...

          INT. ESTHER'S BEDROOM - DAY

          Kate pushes the door open and Esther enters. We recognize the
          room by the arched windows -- this used to be the-nursery.- It's
          been completely made over as a little girl's room, complete with a
          lacy white canopy bed covered with a mountain of STUFFED ANIMALS..
          Esther turns to Kate and John with a toothpaste-commercial smile.

          ESTHER
          It's perfect.

          INT. ESTHER'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

          Esther is in bed, wearing a nightgown. Kate and John tuck her in.

          ESTHER
          I love.you, motta -- I mean, Monmiy.

          KATE
          I love you, too, sweetie.
          She kisses Esther on the forehead. John leans in for a kiss and
          Esther,hugs -him tight. Then he and Kate turn out the light and
          close the door. Esther watches them go...-

          INT. UPSTAIRS HALLWAY - NIGHT

          Kate and John walk to their room, arms lovingly around each other.
          They close their door, leaving the hallway empty and dark. Then:
          CAMERA SLOWLY MOVES back down the hall toward.the closed door of
          Esther's_room, PUSHING IN'on the doorknob, lingering there fora
          long beat... Then we hear the lock CLICK shut.

          EXT. NEIGHBORHOOD - ESTABLISHING -- MORNING

          JOGGERS. PAPERBOY. Lawn sprinklers. KIDS running and -riding
          bicycles. Saturday in the suburbs.

          INT. KITCHEN - MORNING '

          Esther and Max eat breakfast at the table while rate pours their
          juice. Daniel tears through wearing a soccer iuniform.

          KATE
          Good luck II I love you II

          

          

          

          

          25.

          DANIEL
          Love you, tools
          John follows Daniel, kissing Kate on his way out.'

          KATE
          Remember, it's only a game.

          JORN
          I'm a fan. Fans yell. _.I'll call to  
          let you know who won.

          INT. ESTHER'S BEDROOM - DAY

          Kate and Esther are decorating. Esther pins up some of her  
          paintings. Kate spreads out a selection of wallpaper borders.

          KATE
          Okay, which one do you like?

          ESTHER
          These are for a'younger child. Did you
          pick them out for Yolanda?
          Kate is taken aback. She stammers for a beat.

          KATE
          I'm sorry. I'll take them back and
          pick some just for you.

          ESTHER
          It's all right. I rather like this
          one.
          Esther points out her.favorite and goes back to pinning up her
          paintings. Kate sighs. As she rolls up the samples, she notices
          the same Gothic mansion in several of Esther's older paintings.

          KATE
          '1s that a real place?

          ESTHER
          No. I just made it up. It's a haunted
          castle where a beautiful- princess was
          locked away. She waited so long and
          was so sad that she filled the moat
          with her tears, but then a handsome
          prince swam ,across it and rescued her.

          (SMILES)
          I like happy ending's. Don't you?

          INS'. SHOPPING MALL - DAY
          Sliding doors open. Rate and the girls enter. Esther looks
          around, dazzled by three stories of glass-ceilinged extravagance.
          It's totally alien to her. -

          

          

          

          

          26.

          M. CLOTHING STORE - DAY 
          Kate and the girls look through racks'. of children's clothes. Kate
          pulls a pair'of jeans with. flowers embroidered on the pockets.

          KATE
          These are cute.

          ESTHER
          -Jeans are ugly.

          KATE
          But sweetie, you have to have something
          you can play outside in.

          ESTHER
          That doesn't mean I have to look like a
          boy.

          INT. SHOPPING MALL - DAY

          Kate leads the girls through the mall, carrying BAGS of purchases.
          Something catches Esther's eye. She hangs back, distracted.
          It's a pet store. ' In the display is an aguarium filled with
          TROPICAL. FISH, their vibrant colors illuminated by a black light
          in the tank. Esther gazes in, nose practically against the glass.

          RATE
          You like fish?

          ESTHER
          I like all beautiful things.
          Kate taps Max's shoulder and signs to her.

          KATE
          You should show her Hodgepodge when we
          get home.
          Max nods eagerly. Esther givee.them a curious look.

          ESTHER
          Hodgepodge? What's that?

          INT. MAX'S 13EDROOM -- DAY

          HODGEPODGE is a hamster. Esther kneels in front of his cage for a
          closer look. Kate stands behind her. Max beams proudly.

          KATE
          Max. takes care of him all bir herself.
          It's her big girl responsibility.

          ESTHER
          Aaaww,-can I pet him?

          

          

          

          

          .27.

          KATE
          Sure. But you have to promise not to-
          let him out of his. cage .unless- Hcumey or
          Daddy is,here to hold him.

          ESTEER
          Why? -

          KATE
          Because he's very delicate and you
          could hurt him. Okay?
          Esther xiods. Kate scoops.flodgepodge up and kneels between the
          girls. Esther and Max share a  smile as they stroke his-fur.

          EXT. COLEMP RESIDENCE'- POOL -- DUSK

          A banner reading."WELCOME HOME, ESTHERII'" has been hung. John
          sprays LIGHTER rLUID on a charcoal grill and starts the fire.
          Daniel watches attentively at his father's side.

          INT. KITCHEN - DUSK

          Kate and Doris prepare hamburgers and hot dogs for the barbecue.
          They can see Esther and Max laughing and playing horseshoes in the
          backyard, wearing NEW MATCHING SUNDRESSES.. Adorable;

          -DORIS
          They grow up fast, don't they?

          KATE
          Too fast.

          DORIS
          So what are your plans now?

          KATE
          Well, we'll get Esther settled, then
          I'll probably go back, to work.

          DORIS
          Oh, so you think.they'll take you back?
          Kate's eyes flicker with irritation.

          KATE
          I'm not talking about Yale. I'm going
          to teach piano lessons from home.

          DORIS
          I see. That was such a good position
          you had at Yale. It's a. shame.

          KATE
          I didn't quit because I wanted to. I
          quit because.I couldn't work anymore.

          

          

          

          

          28.

          DORIS
          I know. I'm 5o glad you're doing
          better now.

          (BEAT)
          Bow's Maxine feeling?

          KATE
          She's fine.
          Kate's pointedly not making eye contact with Doris now.

          DORIS
          Well, it's a shame that it took
          something like that for you to :get
          help, but I'm glad you did.
          Kate takes. the plate of food and leaves without looking at her.

          EXT. COLEMAN RESIDENCE - POOL - NIGHT -

          Dinner's over. Daniel has changed into swim trunks and SPLASHES
          around in the pool. Everyone else is gathered around Esther,
          who's opening a few small presents. She unwraps a BOOK OF SIGN
          LANGUAGE and gasps excitedly.

          ESTHER ,
          This is perfect! Thank you! Eiow do I
          say "thank you?"
          Kate shows her. Esther turns and makes the sign to Max.

          MAX

          YOU'RE WELCOME.
          Behind them, Daniel climbs out of the pool and runs out to the end
          of the diving board, poised to jump back in.-

          DANIEL,
          Dad! Watch this!
          But John is focused on Esther.- She's opening a big present
          la1aled "FROMi DADDY." Daniel can't get his attention.

          DANIEL
          Dad! 'Dad!! Dad, look!!
          John distractedly glances over his shoulder at him and Daniel does
          a huge cannonball into the pool. SPLASH!
          Suddenly, Esther squeals with glee. She's unwrapped an IIRT EASEL
          and NEW PAINTING SUPPLIES. By the time Daniel-'s smiling face pops
          out of the water, he's disappointed to find that Esther has drawn
          John's attention again, barraging him with-hugs and kisses.
          She looks at Daniel over John's shoulder and hticks her tongue out
          at him. Daniel fumes.

          

          

          

          

          29.

          INT. ESTHER'S BEDROOM -- NIGHT

          John walks behind Esther, his-hands over her eyes. Kate leads her
          into the darkened roam by the hand.

          KATE
          Are you ready?
          Esther nods excitedly. John uncovers her eyes. Esther stops
          short in awe. It's the FISH TAN C from the shopping, mall.
          Esther kneels before it, entranced. She turns the black light on
          and off, marveling at- how it makes her dzess glow and the colors
          in her paintings light- -up. She gives Kate and John a. big smile.

          INT. KATE AND JOHN'S BEDROOM - DAY

          Rate and John get dressed for church. John pulls on a tie. Kate
          searches through a jewelry box. She's missing something.

          KATE
          nave-you seen my pearls?

          INT. CHURCH -- DAY

          Sunday morning in America. Kate and John sit with Doris and the
          kids. -A.PRIEST reads-from the scripture and a SIGN LANGUAGE
          II?TERPRETBR translates.
          Esther follows along in her own Bible and Kate notices aphoto
          poking from between its pages. All she can see is the face of a
          RUGGED-LOOKING MAN in his 40's. She eyes it curiously...

          INT. MAX' S BEDROOM - DAY

          Kate is cleaning, picking Max's clothes up from off the.floor.
          She sees something that gives her pause -- one of Max's STUFFED
          ANIMALS has a STRING OF PEARLS hung around its neck.

          INT. FAMILY ROOM - DAY

          Esther and Max are playing a board game. Kate enters with the
          pearls and shows them to Max. -  

          KATE
          Did you take this out of my jewelry
          box?
          Max shakes her head, confused.

          KATE
          Then-how did it get in your room?

          MAX

          I DON'T KNOW.

          

          

          

          

          30.

          KATE
          Somebody put this around T.J.'s neck.
          Who was it if it wasn't.you?
          Max shrugs. She looks-nervous. Kate sighs.

          RATE
          Go take a time-out and think about it.

          ESTHER
          But we're playing]

          KATE
          She can finish your game later.
          (to Max)
          Come on.
          Max pouts and follows Kate upstairs. Esther watches them go.

          INT. CLASSROOM - DAY

          Esther stands in front of a class full of KIDS. Their teacher,
          MRS. GROSSE, is introducing her. Esther's wearing a pretty little
          dress'and Shirley Temple curls, but her usually unflappable smile
          seems wary, uncertain in the face of these staring third graders.

          MRS. CROSSE
          This is our new student. Her name is
          Esther Coleman and I want you all to
          make her feel very welcome today.
          One of the kids, BRENDA, whispers. a wisecrack to a FRIEND. Esther
          shifts uncomfortably.

          INT. CAFETERIA - DAY

          Esther sits at the end of the table where Brenda and her FRIENDS
          are eating.. They eye her derisively. Esther ignores them- and
          prays over her lunch. The other girls exchange amused looks.
          Brenda folds her hands and makes an earnest, mocking face:

          BRENDA
          Dear Jesus, please help me to not dress
          like such a freak tomorrow.
          The girls laugh. Esther pays no attention.

          INT./EXT. TREEHOUSE - DAY

          Daniel and his friends AUSTIN and TREVOR run down a short path
          through the woods behind.the Coleman's house to a tall tree.
          CAMERA REVEALS an enclosed treehouse about ten feet up -This is'
          no "Little Rascals" job -- this thing was professionally built.
          They climb up to it. Inside, Daniel throws back a rug and pries
          up a loose plank. Under it is a small STASH OF WEED. The other

          

          

          

          

          31.
           boys open their 'video ina" ine s, c
          b o books, and an old a "PLAYBOY'.' w�h Cindy Crawford the c

          TREVOR
          Cindy Crawford? This- magazine's older
          than we axe1 She's probably got Like
          wrinkly-old grandma boobs Howl
          They laugh. Daniel sparks up a joint. Suddenly:

          ESTHER (O.S.)
          Do you want to play?
          The boys quickly waving the wke away. Esther and Max
          are lo king up lat them

          O

          DANIEL
          Get out of here! This is my treehouse.
          Dad built it for mM.
          Esther smiles, then leads Max away. The boys watch them go.

          AUSTIN
          Is your, like, whole family ietarded or
          something?. -  
          Trevor and Austin laugh. Daniel flushes, angry and embarrassed.

          INT. BATHROOM - NIGHT

          Kate finishes drawing a bath for Esther.

          KATE
          I think we should try this with the
          door unlocked tonight. What do you
          say?

          ESTHER

          (PANICKED)
          What if someone comes in and sees me?

          KATE
          Nobody's'going to come in. I'll stand
          right outside the door.

          ESTHER
          I could sing for you. At the home, I
          used to sing so the sisters would know
          I was all right. Please?
          Esther's eyes are desperate, pleading.. Kate sighs.

          TNT. UPSTAIRS HALY,WAY - NIGHT
          Kate closes the door. The lock CLICKS shut. A moment later,
          Esther starts BUMMING. Kate listens fbr a beat,-troubled..

          

          

          

          

          '32.

          .INT. MAX IS BEDROOM - NIGHT

          Esther and Max are huddled in bed and Kate reads-them a story.
          John watches from the doorway. Kate sees him and smiles.

          INT. KATE AND JOHN'S BEDROOM -- NIGHT

          Kate's in bed, writing'in her journal by the light of d bedside
          lamp.. Outside, rain PATTERS-on the window and lightning FL1SHBS.
          John kisses her good night. She smiles and surprises him by
          pulling him close and kissing him more deeply. He responds.. She
          places his hand on her breast and he starts to undress her. Then:.
          A KNOCK at the door. John and Kate cringe at the interruption.

          KATE
          Come in.
          The door opens. It's Esther and Max.

          ESTHER
          We're scared of the lightning.
          Max giggles. Kate and John exchange a resigned look.'

          JOHN
          Okay, come on. But just for tonight.
          Esther and Max excitedly clamber into the bed and snuggle between
          them. Kate and John share amused looks.-

          INT. KITCHEN - MORNING'

          The kids are eating breakfast. Esther reads her sign language
          book at the table. Max signs to Daniel. He turns to Kate with a
          frustrated sigh.

          DANIEL
          Mom, what's she saying?

          ESTHER
          She wants you to pass the milk.
          Kate gives Daniel an admonishing look.

          RATE
          See? If you studied more, you wouldn't
          have to ask all-the time.
          Daniel glares fit Esther, but she doesn't see it. John enters,
          ready for work. He-grabs his travel mug, gives Kate a kiss.

          JOHN
          See you later.

          

          

          

          

          33.
          Esther puts dut her arms for a hug. He leans in to kiss her, but
          she clings to him and won't-let go. She pouts.

          ESTEER
          I want you to take us to school.
          She looks up at him with big sad eye.a. He can't resist.

          JOHN
          I guess I can be late today.
          (to Kate)
          I can take them to school and you can
          pick them up.

          ESTHER  
          Yay! We're going with Daddy! -
          She jumps up from the breakfast table and runs off to get ready..

          INT. FOYER - MORNING  

          The kids are leaving for school with John. Kate sees them off.

          DANIEL
          Bye, Mom.
          Kate-gives him and Max a kiss, but Esther-runs right by without
          pausing, hurrying after John. Esther. takes- 'John 'a-hand, holding
          it on the way to the car. Kate watches them, a little hurt...

          INT. LIVING ROOM - DAY

          Rate sits with Esther, watching her open a gift-wrapped box.
          Inside is a JOURNAL like the one we've seen Kate writing in.

          KATE
          I have a journal just like this that I
          write in every day.

          ESTHER -
          What kinds of things do you write
          about?

          RATE
          what I did that day, how I feel.
          Anything I don't want to forget. I
          thought you and I could spend some time
          together today and start a life book.

          ESTHER
          Whit's that?

          RATE
          It's like an adoption storybook. And
          it's all about you. I did a couple
          pages to gat you started. Look. -

          

          

          

          

          34.
          She opens the journal. Pasted to.the first page is a photo.from

          "HOMMY
          A DADDY GET rMARRIeED ng Esthermarvelskat Kate'sgwedding dress.

           ESTHER
           So beautiful,..   ,
          Kate turns the page to a picture of.Khte and John with Daniel as a
          BABY. Then Kate, John, and SIX=YEAR-OLD DANIEL with BABY MAX. 

          KATE
          This is Daniel when he was born, And
          there's Max; And there's you.
          She turns next to a photo of the-whole- family taken at Esther' s
          welcome home party. The caption reads, "ESTHER JOINS THE FAMILY."

          RATE .
          If you want, we can put your other
          pictures in here, too.

          ESTHER 
          What other pictures?

          KATE
          The ones I saw in. your Bible.
          Esther gives her a dismayed look.

          KATE -
          I'm sorry. They slipped out at church.
          If they're private, we don't have.to ---

          ESTHER
          It's okay.' I want you to -see them.
          She smiles, but it looks forced.

          INT. ESTHER'S BEDROOM - DAY

          Kate and Esther sit on the floor. Esther. removes the rubber band
          from around her Bible and takes out a few battered photographs.
          They're all of Esther with a rural family -- the man.Kate saw in
          the photo at church, his WIFE,. and THREE BOYS, aged 6, 10, and 14.
          In one, they're all posed together in front of a farmhouse.

          ESTHER
          These are the Wallaces. That's James
          and Hannah. And that's Micah, Luke,  
          and Isaiah.

          KATE -
          This is the American family that
          adopted you from Russia?

          

          

          

          

          35.
          Esther nods'. They're candid -family snapshots full -of. laughter and
          hugs. Esther'.s adopted father is in all-of them. The last one is
          of him and. Esther, the same photo Kate. saw part, of at church.

          KATE'.
          They lookvery'n.ice. They must have
          loved you'very much.
          Ksther nods, but Kate-sees that she's holding back tears.

          RATE
          What's wrong?.

          ESTHER
          I hid these because Ididn't want you
          to know how much I miss' them, I was
          afraid you'd think I didn't love you.

          KATE
          It's okay, sweetie... I understand.
          (beat; considers)
          You know, I lost someone who was very
          .special to me once, too.
          Esther wipes her eyes and looks up, interest piqued.

          ESTHER
          Really?

          INT. MUSIC ROOM - DAY

          Kate shows Esther the orchid in its ornate planter.

          RATE
          We don't have any pictures of Jessica
          because she died while she was still in
          my tunny. But we spread her ashes in
          here and as long as. this flower grows,
          part of her will be alive inside it.

          (BEAT)
          It's okay to be sad.about the people
          we've lost.. And it.'s okay to iniss
          them, too.
          Esther nods. They'smile at one another through their tears.

          INT. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL - HALLWAY - DAY

          Between classes, crowded with KIDS.,. Esther clutches her books to
          her chest. Daniel and Trovor are walking the other way and as
          they pass, Daniel dumps Esther's books. Trevor laughs.
          Esther glares at'Daniel and kneels to pick up her books, bitt the
          kids walking by purposefully kick them, laughing faces leering
          down at her. She gathers her books, but one of them is missing.
          She looks around. -Spots it.

          

          

          

          

          36.
          Esther's Bible lies on the floor at Someone's feet. A.hand
          reaches down. and picks it up. It's Brenda.

          BRENDA
          Is this a Bibl?

          ESTHER
          Give it back to me.
          She reaches for it, but Brenda laughs and raises-it over her head.

          BRENDA
          Jesus-freak brought a Bible to school!
          Esther angrily swipes at it again, but one of Brenda's friends
          grabs it first. Esther takes a deep breath, trying to calm down.

          I3STUER
          May I pleas. have my Bible?
          The girl hesitates, shrugs and offers Sather the Bible... but
          snatches it away again at the last second. Brenda laughs. 8sther
          reaches for it, but the girls keep passing it between them.
          Esther and Brenda grab it at the same time. There's a brief tug-
          of-war, then the rubber band SNAPS and the Bible flies apart,
          pages and hp otos scattering everywhere.
          Esther gasps in horror and dives to the floor, desperately
          scooping up the loose pages. A"crowd gathers, watching and
          snickering, Daniel and Trevor among them. Esther looks to Daniel
          for help, but he just stands there, watching uncomfortably.
          Brenda laughs at Esther crawling around on all fours.

          BRENDA
          Look at the cute little doggied Is
          this your collar, little doggie?
          Brenda reaches out and grabs the ribbon-around Rsthdrls neck...
          The-second Brenda touches the ribbon, Esther flies into panic.
          She screams an s Brenda'e hand away, aching h_ex e and
          k coking feet, ster 11 s 5 riekincr At the toy Dg her.lungs.
          Brenda leaps back, wide-eyed and freaked out.
          The kids fall into stunned silence. Esther's screams echo in the
          hallway. A TEACHER comes running. Trevor puts a hand over his
          mouth so the teacher won't see him laughing.

          TREVOR
          Dude, your sister's a.total spazl

          DANIEL
          She's not my sister.

          

          

          

          

          .37.

          1W-. KATE'S MINIVAN - DAY
          The drive home from school. is silent and tense. Esther stares out
          the window. 'Kate eyes her in the rearview mirror, concerned.

          EXT. COLEMAN RESIDENCE - DAY

          The minivan is'parked in the drive and the kids are climbing out.
          As Daniel and Max head to the house, Kate takes Esther-aside.

          RATE
          Mrs. Grosse told me what happened
          today. Do you want to talk. about it?
          Daniel-hangs back to see if Esther is going, to tell on him. She
          "sees him standing there, then turns to Rate with a smile. -

          ESTHER
          There's nothing to talk about. We were
          -just playing a game, that's all.
          She walks away, passing Daniel without, a look. Kate is. dubious.

          INT. MAX'S BEDROOM - DAY

          Max enters, throws down her "Hello Kitty" bookbag ---- and stops
          short. Hodgenodte's-cag .is empty. Max stands frozen for a beat,
          then starts looking for him. Esther appears in the doorway.

          ESTHER
          What's the matter?
          Max turns and tries to block the cage, but Esther sees that it's
          empty. Esther gasps.

          ESTHER
          Where is he? Were you playing with
          him?
          Max frantically shakes her head. Esther quickly shuts the door.

          ESTHER
          You left his cage open! Look!
          Sure enough, the door of the cage is wide open. Max shakes her
          head, frightened tears in her eyes.

          MAX

          I DIDN'T! I PROMISE!

          ESTHER
          Then how did he get out?

          MAX

          I DON'T XNOW41 I DON'T KNOW]

          

          

          

          

          38.

          ESTBER
          You have to think! Mommy's not going
          to believe your. She didn't.believe you
          about the necklace and she's not going
          to believe you about this!
          Max is devastated. She's sobbing now. Esther tries to calm her.

          ESTHER
          It' a okay. Don't cry. Look 'at me.
          She takes Max by the shoulders. Max looks up, breath hitching.

          ESTSER
          I'll tell Monmy-it was-my fault. You
          won't get in any trouble.. I'll tell
          her I took him out of the cage without
          your permission and he ran away, okay?
          Max gives a grateful nod. Esther smiles and strokes Max's hair.

          ESTHER -
          Don't worry. It'll be our little
          secret.
          :Max nods again and gives her a-hug. She doesn't see the
          calculating look in Esther's eyes...

          INT. SUNROOM - NIGHT

          A-glassed-in terrace off of Kate and John's bedroom filled with
          plants. Kate is wearing only a long T-shirt, watering the plants
          before bed. John enters in his pajama bottoms, snuggles into her
          from behind. Kate smiles and.leans into him.

          INT. KATE AND JOHN'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

          The lights - are off. Kate and John are in bed, making lave. Slow,
          passionate, intense. When they're finished,- breathless and
          trembling, she cradles his face in her hands gazing lovingly up
          at.him. Then something catches her eye in the moonlight:
          Ethel Jg.wat ,them fr m the -open b edr door, hgr hen
          frozen 9J1 tth dooxknob.

          KATE
          Oh, my God!
          They hurriedly pull the sheets up and Kate turns on the bedside
          lamp. Esther stares at them blankly.

          KATE .
          Esther, honey? What is it? Are you
          okay?
          Esther just glowers at'her, then turns and walks away.

          

          

          

          

          39.

          INT.'ESTBER'S BEDROOM - DAY

          Esther. Sits at her easel, painting. Kate enters and sits down on'
          the bed. Esther doesn't look:at her. She's painting a
          sophisticated, stylized PORTRAIT OF KATE. -Other PORTRAITS of the
          family -arealready pinned to the wall. Kate shifts uncomfortably.
          We need to talk -about last night.

          ESTU
          Do we?

          KATE
          Yes. There are certain things that.
          grown-ups do. that kids aren't supposed
          to see. And that was one of them.
          Esther keeps painting. She still hasn't looked at her. -

          KATE
          Esther, I need you to listen to me..
          Esther pauses. She deliberately sets her paintbrush down and
          turns to Kate. An awkward beat.

          KATE
          See, when two grown-ups love each other
          very, very much, they like to. show that
          love to each other --
          Iknow.- They fuck.
          Kate is dumbfounded. Esther regards her with a bored, aloof-look.

          INT. JOHN'S DEN - DAY

          John is troubled by what Kate has told him.

          JOHN
          - She could nave picked it up anywhere.
          Bell, she probably heard it at school.

          KATE
          This wasn't something she overheard.
          She knew what it meant. And the way
          she said'it. I don't even think she
          expected to get in trouble over it.

          JOHN
          We'll talk to her about it tonight.

          KATE
          You think that's enough?

          

          

          

          

          40.

          JOHN'  
          What do you suggest?

          KATE '
          I could take her to Doctor Browning.

          JOHN
          It was one dirty word. I don't think
          we need to call in the shrink just-yet.

          KATE    
          Maybe. It just reminded The of what
          Sister Abigail said.. We really don't
          know that much about her.'- The last
          'family she-was with could have been -
          like, "Pass the fucking potatoes" at
          the dinner table for all we know. '

          JOHN
          Iget it, I just- don ''t want to make a
          bigger deal out of it than it is.

          KATE
          If she's saying "fuck" to my face,
          what's she doing when we're not around?
          We have to be thinking about what kind
          of influence she's having-on Daniel and
          Max. Particularly Max.

          JOHN
          I wouldn't worry about it. You're
          right, we don't know how she was
          raised, but we do know she's a good
          kid. if Danny and Max want to start
          acting.like her, that's fine with me.

          EXT. COLEMAN RESIDENCE - DAY

          Esther and Max pick wildflowers along the edge of the forest.

          ESTHER
          Let's pick flowers for Daddy.
          Max.nods happily. 'Then Esther notices something that makes her
          stop short. A girl approaching on a bicycle...
          It's Brenda. She pretends to not see Bather, just rides right by.
          Esther watches, her face strangely slack... then starts to follow
          .her. Max gives Esther a confused look, but tags along.

          EXT. PARK -- DAY

          Esther finds Brenda's bike parked at a neighborhood playground ----
          swings carousel, jun7le gym, and a-tall corkscrew slide made-tor
          look like a rocket ship. There are KIDS playing. MOMS watching.

          

          

          

          

          41.
          A BONELESS GUY with a shopping cart full of stuffed garbage bags
          asleep by a tree. WOMEN. doing pilates. Esther ignores them all.
          Brenda is climbing on the jungle gym with some other kids. Esther
          walks over with Max in tow and just watches Brenda play. Brenda
          sees her and makes a face. Esther just stands there. Staring.

          BRENDA .
          What are you looking at?
          No response. Max tug on Esther's arm, but she's rooted in place,
          staring blankly at Brenda. Finally, Brenda can't take it. She
          climbs off the jungle gym and walks away. Esther watches 'her go..
          Brenda gets on a swing, but just as she starts to get some height,
          Ester' right there,.star n ,_p a her again. Max happily grabs
          a swing for herself, but Esther is fixated on Brenda.

          BRENDA
          Stop staring at.mel Stop ital.
          But Esther is unwavering. Can't take her eyes off of her. Brenda
          gets off the swing and runs
          away. Esther calmly walks after her.

          BRENDA
          Go-away! Stop following me, freak!
          Max sees Esther following Brenda and grudgingly gets off the
          swing, hurrying to -catch up. Brenda gives them an angry look.

          " BRENDA
          Why don't you two,go home and change
          each other's diapers?
          Esther and Max follow Brenda across the park,, Max still uncertain
          about what's going on.. Brenda heads for. the tall corkscrew slide.
          Steep stairs lead to the enclosed top, the tip of the rocket ship.
          Brenda starts up the stairs, then pauses. She turns to Esther.

          BRENDA
          You go first.
          Esther doesn't move, but Max gladly takes her turn. After a beat,
          Esther follows Max up the stairs. Brenda stays behind, watching.
          Max goes down the spiraling slide, but Esther just stands at the
          top, looking down at Brenda.

          BRENDA
          Gol!
          Esther, continues to stare down at her for a beat, then turns and
          -disappears from eight. only. then does Brenda climb up.
          Max runs to the stairs for- another turn. Brenda reaches the top
          and looks around. She sees Max.' But where's Esther? She turns.

          

          

          

          

          42.
          Suddenly, Es er is right in ,AIL of her.   She didn't' go down the
          slide, she was just crouched out of sight. Brenda gasps --
          -- then Este spits Jn her face acrd ush hex dawn the airs.
          Brenda SCREAMS as she falls,-limbs flailing, out-of-control. She
          lands hard in the dirt and just lies there crying, clutching her
          arm and bleeding from a gash in her forehead.
          Brenda's scream draws alarmed looks. The Homeless Guy startles
          awake. one of the playground mothers comes running to help. But
          Max stands frozen, gaping at Esther in total shock. Esther stares
          blankly down.at Brenda from atop the slide. Utterly emotionless.

          EXT. PARK - DAY (TIMCUT)

          BRENDA'S FATHER arrives on the scene. Brenda says something. to
          -him and points at Esther and Max, who watch from a distance.

          ESTHER
          Are you going to tell on me?
          Max shrugs.

          ESTHER
          I didn't mean to hurt her. I just
          wanted her-to stop picking on me.
          (off Max's look)
          Don't you hate it when someone is mean
          to you for no reason? Wouldn't you do
          almost anything to make them stop?
          A best. Max nods. Esther offers her hand and Max takes it.

          INT. DINING ROOM - NIGHT

          Esther and Max sit at the table. Kate and John eye them sternly.

          JOHN
          Brenda says you pushed her.

          ESTHER
          That's not true! We were just playing
          and she tripped! I swear!

          KATE
          (to Max)
          Did you see what happened?
          Esther eyes Max expectantly. Max hesitates. Then:

          MAX

          IT .WAS AN ACCIDENT.
          Kate sighs, not entirely convinced...

          

          

          

          

          43.

          INT. MUSIC ROOM -- DAY.

          Kate carefully tends the memorial orchid, spraying it with a fine
          mist of water.--

          INT. SUNROOM - DAY -

          Kate's watering the plants when she feels something on'her hand.
          There's an ANT on it. She flicks it off. Then she seed ANOTHER,
          this one crawling up her arm. She makes a face and looks down.
          Thg g are ante arwl ng loon a-: arou her feet. She
          quickly steps back,- brushing at her- arms and legs. She looks
          under one of the plant tables to'see what's attracted them:
          It's Hodgepodge. He's been dead for several days, his body
          swarming with ants and MAGGOTS.

          EXT.-COLEMAN RESIDENCE � GARDEN - NIGHT

          A hole has been dug in the backyard flower garden. Kate, John,
          Esther, and Max stand around it. Max places a shoebox with
          "HODGEPODGE" written on it in the hole and lays a flower on top of
          it. John starts shoveling dirt into the bole.
          Esther and Max exchange a knowing look...

          INT. MAX'S BEDROOM - DAY

          Esther and Max are giggling and playing dress-up. Clothes are
          strewn everywhere. They're both trying to look grown-up. They're
          even wearing makeup -- heavy mascara and pink, painted cheeks.
          Daniel walks by and sees Max putting on lipstick. He takes it
          away from her.

          DANIEL
          Hey, you're not allowed to wear makeup.
          Does mom know you have this?

          ESTHER
          Give it-back.

          DANIEL,
          Make me.

          ESTHER
          Give it back'or I'll tell Daddy, that
          you hit her and then you'll be in
          trouble.
          Max smiles. Daniel-scowls at Esther, then gives Max the lipstick.
          He leaves. Max gives Esther a hug. Best friends forever.

          

          

          

          

          44.
          f l iT. SUPERMARKET - DAY
          Kate waits in line -at the check-out. Esther and-Max are with her.
          Aw .Kate pushes her cart up to the-counter, she looks over and sees
          the nearby'"WINE & SPIRITS" aisle. No big. deal, just a passing
          glance, a flash of idle distraction. Her eyes unreadable. Then:

          ESTHER (O.S.)
          What kind of sex do men crave most?
          Kate-looks back, shocked. Esther has picked up a "COSMOPOLITAN"
          from the newsstand and is'reading the cover aloud-to Max.

          KATE
          Put that away. Don't look at those.
          Kate puts the magazine back. There are several others just like
          it at kids-eye level. "Orgasms UNLIMITED!" "Thrill EVERY INCH- Of
          Him J" Kate'sighs and-'starts putting groceries on the conveyer.-

          ESTHER
          "How To Hit Your G-spot Every Time."
          Kate whirls. Esther has picked up the same magazine. Kate
          angrily snatches it and pulls Esther toward her. Max startles.

          KATE
          Stand where I can see yowl

           
          The CASHIER and a couple CUSTOMERS turn to look at her. Kate
          ignores them. Esther can't suppress a little smile.

          INT. DINING ROOM - NIGHT

          The family is eating dinner. Esther makes a face and pushes her
          plate away half-finished.  

          ESTHER
          May I be excused?

          KATE  
          At least eat your chicken.

          ESTHER
          I'm not going to eat something that I
          don't like just to make you feel
          better. That's ridiculous.

          JOUN
          Esther, stop it. Eat the chicken and
          then you can be excused.

          ESTHER
          Yes, sir.
          Esther starts eating. Kate gives John an exasperatedlook.

          

          

          

          

          45.

          IM. FOYER - DAY
          The doo;rbel]. RINGS. Esther ��dto Esther it. it's Sisttereys. a clipboard
          Abigail. She's carrying

          ESTHER
          Hello, Sister Abigail.

          SISTER ABIGAIL.
          Hello, Esther.

          INT. STA'IRAELL  -- DAY

          Esther leads Sister Abigail upstairs. Kate and John follow-

          SISTER ABIGAIL
          to need updated charts I t¢ also going t
          from her. pediatrician and her dentist
          for my supervision report.

          KATE

          ECK-
          That's no problem. We've got a ch
          up with the dentist next week.

          INT. ESTHER'S BEDROOM - DAY

          .Esther leads Kate, John, and Sister Abigail into her room.

          ESTHER
          Isn't it lovely? Look at my new
          paintings. -I've=done a portrait -for
          everyone in the family.
          She shows sister Abigail the portraits pinned to her wall.
          There's also a painting of everyone together.

          SISTER ABIGAIL
          That's one good-looking family you've
          got..

          ESTHER
          I know. Aren't they perfect?
          Sister Abigail gives Kate and John an amused look-

          INT. KITCHEN - DAY

          Kate, John, and Sister Abigail talk over coffee.

          JOHN
          I swear, we-didn't bribe her to say
          that.
          .y:

          

          

          

          

          46.

          SISTER ABIGAIL
          No explanation necessary. I don't
          think there e'anything that girl could
          say that would surprise me.

          KATE.
          She dropped the 't--bomb on me a few
          weeks ago.
          'Sister Abigail raises her eyebrows in comic, exaggerated surprise.

          SISTER ABYGAYL
          Well. I'm glad to hear she's finally
          come out of her shell.'

          1OBN
          She's just testing us. It's been
          nowhere near as bad as we expected.

          SISTER ABIGAIL
          What kinds of things is she doing?

          -KATE
          Talking back to me. Purposefully
          disobeying. She took Max to the park
          without ppesrmission the other day. That
          was the biggie. A girl they were
          playing with got hurt.
          A beat. Sister Abigail is suddenly apprehensive, tries to cover.

          SISTER ABIGAIL
          Really? is the girl all right?

          RATE
          She broke her arm and had to have
          something like eleven stitches, I
          think. She was lucky.

          SISTER ABIGAIL
          She doesn't. sound very lucky.

          JOHN
          She's lucky she didn't break her neck.
          Sister Abigail seems troubled by this.

          EXT. COLEMAN RESIDENCE - DAY

          Sister Abigail walks out to her car, concerned. She doesn't see
          Esther spying down from her bedroom.window, just staring at her
          with that strange, blank look...

          

          

          

          

          47.

          INT. MUSIC ROOM - DAY

          Kate gives a piano lesson- to a.COLLEGE S7TUDENT, listening as he
          runs. through a finger exercise.

          KATE=
          Relax;. wrists following fingers...

          EXT. NEIGHBORHOOD - DAY

          John leads Esther and Max on a bike ride around the neighborhood.
          Esther speeds-up, leaving Max behind so she can ride next to John.

          ESTHER
          I'm Daddy's little girl, aren't I?

          JOHN
          That's right. You both are.
          As they head home, they see JOYCE 'PATTERSON (late 30's) jogging
          toward them. A blonde with dark roots and an overdone boob job.,
          wearing a skimpy sports bra and mini shorts. She waves to tem.

          JOYCE -
          Look at these three cutiesl

          JOHN
          How're-you doing?

          JOYCE
          Hanging in there. Hey,,. I've got. a
          chair X want moved upstairs. You think
          you could come over and give me a hand?
          John glances toward home. Kate's at the door, waving goodbye to
          the College Student.- She sees John talking to Joyce and gives
          them an unreadable look before going back inside.

          JOHN
          Uh, yeah. Maybe Kate and I -could help
          you -out.

          JOYCE
          Okay, I'll call you.
          John and Max start off again, but'Esther doesn't move. She's
          openly looking Joyce over from head to toe.

          ESTHER
          You have a l ovely body.

          JOHN.
          Come on, Esther. Let's go.
          Esther reluctantly follows. Joyce eyes her dubiously.

          

          

          

          

          48.

          INT. KITCHEN -- DAY

          John acid the girls enter. Kate has juice boxes for the girls. A.
          look passes between John and Rate. Esther notices.

          KATE
          How was the.iide? Did you have fun?
          Max nods'and heads off; but Esther hangs back, eavesdropping:

          KATE
          Didn't waste -arty time-turning that
          divorce settlement-into a tit job, did=
            she?

          JOHN
          I didn't notice.

          KATE
          Yeah, right.
          She's teasing, but there's something biting underneath it. Esther
          walks away, sipping on her juice box..

          INT. HOME FOR GIRLS - SISTER ABIGAIL' S OFFICE - NIGHT

          After hours. Sister Abigail is at her desk. She opens a file and
          reads. We see a Polaroid of Esther stapled to the cover...

          EXT. CARNIVAL - NIGHT

          Midway rides and boardwalk games have been set up in the parking
          lot of Daniel and Esther's school. A banner reads ""EDGAR
          ELEMENTARY ANNUAL HALLOWEEN HOOT." The place is packed with
          excited children in Halloween costumes.
          The school is at the'top of a steep hill. Kate and John walk up
          it with the kids. Daniel's dressed as a ninja, Max is a "FINDING
          NEMO" fish, and Esther's an angel, complete with a shiny halo.

          SERIES OF SHOTS
          John gives Daniel some money to hang out with Austin and Trevor...
          On the BOARDWALK, playing games, winning prizes. Esther shoots
          BBs at balloons with a toy rifle. She's pretty good at it...
          On the MIDWAY, Esther and Max are whirled around on the Scrambler,
          screaming and laughing. Kate and John watch and take pictures..'.

          THE HAUNTED -MAZE
          A cheap fun house attraction. The girls ran up to John and Kate..

          ESTHER
          We want to go in by ourselves)

          

          

          

          

          49.-

          JOHN
          Okay, just make sure you hold her hand.

          ESTHER
          I will. -
          The girls. run inside. John smiles, but Kate watches anxiously.

          INT. HAUNTED' MAZE - NIGHT -

          Esther leads Max through the dark', winding fun house corridors.
          Max starts to look cared. She nearly leaps. out of her skin when
          a RUBBER--MASTED GHOUL jumps out at them. But Esther just laughs
          at it. Max sees that she's not afraid and soon they're both
          giggling at the CHEESY SPOOKS that try to scare them.

          EXT. CARNIVAL - NIGHT

          The girls emerge frtn- the'maze, clutching each other and laughing.

          ESTHSR
          Let's play "hide and seek." You go
          first.
          Max excitedly runs off. Esther watches her vanish into the CROWD.
          Moments later,-Kate and John appear. Rate-nervously looks around.

          RATE
          Where's Max?

          ESTHER
          I don't know. I was trying to hold her
          hand, but she pushed me and ran away.

          KATE
          Oh,.my God...

          JOHN
          It's okay. Did YOU see where she went?

          ESTHER
          This way, I think.
          She points the wrong way. Kate takes her hand and they quickly
          move through the crowd, looking for Max. John stands on a bench
          for a better vantage, Kate grabs passersby:

          KATE
          Have you seen a little girl in-a fish
          costume? She has short brown hair?
          Nobody's seen her. Kate grows frantic. Esther watches with a
          nonchalant smile, enjoying the drama.- She tugs on Kate's arm.

          ESTHER
          i Mommy, I want scene cotton candy.
           - '� 'ti

          

          

          

          

          50.

            ICATS
          Not now, Esther I—

          JOHN"
          Kate, please. Take it easy. She's
          gotta be around here
          Then Kate spots Daniel approaching, holding Max's hand.' Kate
          breathes a sigh of.relief and rushes to give Max a fierce hug.

          KATE
          Are you all right?- Don't you ever run
          off like that[ What were you thinking?

          DANIEL
          They were playing "hide and seek."- I-
          saw Esther let her run off.
          Esther gives him a sharp look. John turns on her, . angry.

          JOHN
          Did you lie to us? What did I tell you
          about'holding her hand?

          ESTHER
          I'm sorry, sir.
          She looks like she's going, to cry. John sighs, then turns to Kate
          and Max. Esther gives Daniel a hateful look through her tears.

          EXT. COLEMAN RESIDENCE - MORNING

          The kids pile into the minivan for school. As Daniel climbs in,
          Esther' drops something behind him and pretends to find it.

          ESTHER
          What's this?
          She shows Kate a little PLASTIC BAGGIE OF WEED. Daniel blanches
          when he sees it.. His.treehouse staah..

          INT. JOHN'S DEN - NIGHT

          Kate and John confront Daniel.

          DANIEL
          I wasn't taking it to school[

          RATE
          Then what was it doing 'in-your
          backpack?-

          DANIEL
          I don't knowl" She just put it there to.
          get me in troubles

          

          

          

          

          51.

          JOHN
          Where would'Esther have gotten pot?

          DANIEL
          (a beat reluctant)
          She saw me wCth it in the treehouse.

          -JOAN
          Is that what...you're doing- out .there
          with Austin and Trevor? Smoking pot?!
          Daniel stammers. John stews-.

          EXT. HOUSE - DAY

          John screws a hasp to the treehouse-door with -a POWER DRILL and
          slaps a PADLOCK on it. Daniel stands below,-watching. John
          climbs down, shows Daniel the padlock key, and pockets it.

          JOHN-
          Off limits until further notice.
          Be heads to the house; Esther is playing in the backyard.. She
          takes John's hand and walks inside with him. Daniel watches them.

          INT./EXT. KATE'S MINIVAN - DAY

          Kate pulls out of the driveway with Esther in the back seat. As
          they leave the neighborhood, Joyce Patterson Jogs by in her skimpy
          workout clothes. She-waves. Kate gives a polite nod.

          ESTHER
          Why does she have to'dress like that?

          KATE -
          She just likes the 'attention.

          ESTHER
          Well, I think it's immodest. I don't
          know why Daddy -likes her so much.

          KATE .
          (a beat, apprehensive)-
          What do you mean?

          ESTHER
          He's always smiling at her and talking
          to her. She wants him to come over to
          her house. Did you know that?
          (off Kate's look))
          Please don't tell Aaddy I told. I
          don't want him to be mad at me.-
          Kate doesn't respond, clearly disturbed.

          

          

          

          

          52..

          I EXT. DENTIST'S OFFICE - PARKING' LOT - DAY

          Kate gets out Of the minivan, but Esther stays put'-in her seat.
          Rate sighs, frazzled and distracted.

          KATE
          Esther, come on.

          ESTHER
          X told you, I don't like the de ntist.

          KATE
          There's nothing to be afraid of.

          ESTHER -
          I know. Because I'm not- going-

          KATE
          Esther, get out of the cart Righ t now!
          For a moment, they just glare at each other. Mexican stand-off..
          Then Esther sticks her nose in the air and does as she's told.

          INT.-DENTIST'S OFFICE - EXAM ROOM -- DAY

          The DENTIST lowers Esther back in the chair, pulls on rubber
          gloves. The HYGIENIST clips a dental bib around Esther's neck.

          HYGIENIST
          She hasn't had a check-up in about two
          years, so she's a little nervous.

          -DENTIST
          she doesn't look to me. Now
          let's have a look at those co ppers.
          Esther just looks at the ceiling with her mouth tightly shut.

          DENTIST.
          Come on, darling, open wide.
          -Esther eyes him anxiously; then reluctantly opens. Just a bit.

          DENTIST
          That a girl: Little wider...
          She opens more. He leans in to take a look...
          Suddenly, she SHdMPS dawnn his jinx s hard Pnou h to draw blo-mss fr
          and locks �n like Rottweile�] The Hygienist is frozen in shock.

          DENTIST
          Aaagh! Goddammit!! Help me with her !
          The Hygienist holds her down while the Dentist tries to pry her
          mouth open. Finally, he yanks his fingers free, cradling them

          

          

          

          

          53.
          painfully. Esther HISSES at ldm like a cat, lips flecked with
          blood. The Dentist and Hygienist exchange a startled. lock.

          INT. DENTIST'S-OFFICE - WAITING ROOM -- DAY

          Canned MUSAK.. Kate bits waiting. The Hygienist enters.

          HYGIENIST -
          Mrs. Coleman?
          Kate gives her a confused look. Then she notices Esther htanding
          behind the Hygienist with a-smug grin on'her face.

          INT./EXT. KATE'S MINIVAN - DAY

          Driving home.. Kate stews, on her last frayed nerve. Esther gazes
          out the window, seemingly oblivious, singing a little nonsense
          song under her breath: "La-la-la, la-la-la-la... La--la-la ..."
          Kate stops at a traffic light. Glances outside.
          She's stopped next to a LIQUOR.STORE. Kate quickly looks .away,
          her temptation real enough to startle her. The light turns green
          and she drives off without looking back. Esther keeps SINGING..
          A few blocks later, they pass a BAR. Then a bus shelter with a
          big ABSOLUTE VODKA AD. Kate probably drives by them every day,
          but now they're popping out at her, sly old enemies that never
          really left, re-emerging from the shadowy recesses of her mind.
          She tries to focus on the road, Esther's VOICE grating in her
          head... "La-la-la, la-la-la-la:.. La-la-la, la-la-la-la..."

          INT. FOYER -- DAY

          Kate and Esther enter. Esther skips upstairs. Kate sighs, angry
          and frustrated. She plays a message on the ANSWERING MACHINE.

          SISTER ABIGAIL (V.0.)
          Hello, this is Sister Abigail calling
          for John and Kate. Please call me as
          soon as you get this message. I have.
          something that we need to discuss in
          person. It's regarding. Esther.

          UPSTAIRS
          Esther stands at the top of the stairs, listening to-the message-
          She's heard everything. And she's scared. Scared and pissed.

          INT. KATE AND JOHN'S BEDROOM.- NIGHT

          Kate and John get ready for bed.

          KATE
          He's been our dentist for ten years.
          Why would he lie to us?

          

          

          

          

          54.

          JQAN
          I didn't say he's lying. I just think
          Ws-blowing it out of proportion,

          KATE
          I saw the bite marks. We're lucky he's
          not suing us.

          JOHN
          Fine, but I don't believe for a"second
          that she just did it for no reason.

          RATE
          That's because she's always on her best
          behavior with you.

          JOHN'
          That's. not true. I've had to deal with
          her at her worst..

          - KATE
          What you think is her worst is what
          she's like with me all the time. She's
          completely- different with me than she
          is with you'.,

          JOHN
          So you've seen her haul off'and bite
          someone like an animal?

          KATE
          No, but she threw that fit at school

          JOEN
          Yeah, because the other kids were
          harassing her. It's the same thing
          here.
          (off her reaction)
          She's from a completely different
          culture Kate. She has to be taught
          that this. behavior isn't appropriate
          but there's nothing malicious about it.
          If'she says she bit him because she was
          scared and he was hurting her, I don't
          see any reason not to believe her.
          A beat. Kate looks at him. She's stewing hbaut something.

          KATE
          So should .1 believe her when she says
          you've been hitting on Joyce Patterson?

          JOHN'
          (taken aback)
          Did she say that?
          t.

           

          

          

          

          

          55.

          ]CATS
          Is it true?

          JOHN
          of course not!

          KATE
          Did-she invite You over?'

          JOHN
          She wanted me to help her move a chair.

          KATE
          Oh, - come on.

          JOHN

          ON
          All right, she was obviously coming
          to me. But I shut her down.

          KATE
          Then why didn't you tell me?

          JOHN
          Because I knew how you'd reactl

          KATE
          Really? You sure it wasn't because you
          were coming-on to her so obviously that
          an eight-year-old picked upon it?
          A long-beat. John sighs, resigned.-

          JOHN
          How-long are you going to keep this
          hanging over me? It was ten years ago.

          KATE
          You keep-saying that. But it's only
          been about two years since you told me.
          (a tense beat)
          Having another child was -supposed to
          bring us together.

          JOHN
          I'm sorry I didn't tell you-about it-
          x just feel like I've earned a little
          trust here.

          KATE -
          I don't know what you expect from me.
          I might never completely trust you
          again. Not like before.

          JOHN  
          I gave you a second chance.

          �4

          

          

          

          

          56.
          Kate stops short. IIis words-are like a phybical blow.

          - KATE -
          That's not fair.

          JOHN
          So-you can keep bringing uP my . mistakes
          over and Over, but we're not even
          allowed to discuss yours?

          KATE
          I was sick! You were just an asshole
          who wanted to fuck somebody else!

          JOHN
          You were a danger to our children. If
          I didn't want to. make this work, I
          could have left months ago and nobody
          would have blamed me.

          KATE
          Nice. Is that-what-your mother told
          you?
          Angry tears well in her eyes. He realizes be went too far.. Kate
          goes into the bathroom and SLAMS the door.

          INT. MAX'S BEDROOM - NIGHT -

          It's late. Esther and Max sit on the bed in their nightgowns.
          Only the bedside light is on. They're signing to one anothe r.

          ESTHER
          THE MAN LADY YS Comm TOMORROW.

          MAX

          I' M AFRAID. I DON'T WANT HER TO TAKE

          YOU BACK TO THE HOME.

          ESTHER

          NEITUER DO 1. WE HAVE TO SCARE HER

          AWAY. WILL YOU HELP ME?
          Max anxiously nods her head. Esther smiles.

          INT..JOHN'S DEN'- NIGHT

          The room is dark. The girls sneak in, still in their nightgowns,
          and close the door. Esther turns on a :reading lamp.

          ESTHER '
          Look for the key to the treehouse.'
          -Max nods and they start searching the room. Esther rifles through
          John 's desk. - Nothing.  She looks in a closet. A DARK PLASTIC
          CASE with Two PADLOCKS on it catches her eye...

          

          

          

          

          57.
          Max opens a. keepsake chest and finds SEVERAL KEYS on:a ring. She
          excitedly shows them to Esther. Esther smiles and takes them. As
          they're about to leave,.Esther. Uses. She looks back at the-
          closed closet. Then looks at the keys. Max eyes her curiously.
          Esther slides a chair over to. the closet and opens it.. She stands
          on the chair, pulls down the case with the padlocks on it, and
          sets it on the floor. She tries a couple of.keys. Then -- CLICK.
          There's a GUN inside. A shiny revolver and a BOX OF AMMUNITION.
          Esther's face lights up. She.carefully picks up the gun{-turns it
          over, looks at it. Max's eyes nearly pop out. Esther gives her a
          sly look, then loads a single bullet, SPINS. the cylinder...
          .and points the cmn at ax. Ri.aht between the Bye

          ESTHER
          Do you -want to_ play? -
          A beat. Max shakes her head. Esther smiles, fingers the trigger.
          After a long, awful, pants wetting eternity, she lowers the gun.

          ESTHER
          You're right. We'd better not.

          (BEAT)
          Not yet. -

          INT. LIVING ROOM -- DAY

          Sister Abigail sits across from Kate and John with a grave look.

          SISTER ABIGAIL
          When you first asked about adopting
          Esther, I expressed some misgivings.
          But I wasn't completely straightforward
          with you. You see, I love children.
          I've worked with them my entire life.
          And the thing about love is that it
          sometimes clouds your judgement.

          (BEAT)
          But the truth is that I knew there was
          something wrong with Esther from the
          moment I laid eyes on her.
          Kate sits up, concerned. John bristles.

          - KATE
          You said you suspected, some kind of
          abuse.

          SISTER ABIGAIL
          Yes, but there was something else. It
          was hard to say chat it was at first.
          Just-a feeling that she was a
          profoundly damaged little girl.

          (MORE)

          

          

          

          

          58.

          SISTER ABIGAIL ' (CONY' D)
          (beat) s eemed
          Then I notaced that she - always
          k_ to. be around whenever ther' wwasa get
          kind of trouble.- Two girls
          iii a fight. And there she'd be .
          Someone would get caught stealing. And ell
          she'd -
          myself it Was But I
          never really. believed it.
           (beat) l who
          After you told me about the gir
          broke her arm, -:E -started wondering
          again. I called the achool:Esther went
          to while she was with the Wallaces and
          asked if there'd been any serious
          accidents while she.Was there.. One
          incident was still fresh in everyone's
          minds. A boy in one of her classes was
          stabbed in the throat with a pair of
          'scissors. All the kids-who saw it
          happen said it was an accident, that he
          was running with the scissors and fell.
          But once again, Esther, was there.

          ANGLE - ESTHER
          is eavesdropping from around the corner. She slips away.

          BACK TO SCENE

          JOAN
          But none of these things were her
          fault.

          SISTER ABIGAIL
          That's; g I was reluc!tant to t
          anything bef ore. Now'I think th at may a
          have been a mistake.
          (off their-looks)
          Children like Esther, who've spent
          their entire lives-in institutions,
            have never had' a chance to 'form normal,
          lasting bonds.. The longterm effects
          of 'this- can be devastating.   In the
          very worst cases, children who fail to
          form early attachments are unable to
          learn the difference between'right and
          wrong. They can lie, cheat, steal ---
          .or worse -and and have no remorse
          whatsoever for their actions.' They
          view other human beings as objects,
          pawns for their amusement. And they
          can-be potentially very dangerous.

          INT. ESTHER'S BEDROOM - DAY

           white s gloves, like she's
          Esther pulls on -a pair of . dinty hurCh services
          dressing for morninga

          C

          

          

          

          

          59.-

          INT. LIVING ROOM'- DAY

          JOEt7-
          This.doesh't sound like Esther at all.

          SISTER ABIGAIL
          A severely character-disturbed child
          can appear to be -completely normal,
          -even exceptional. It's like they have
          two faces one-they show the outside
          world in order'to get what they want,
          and the other, their true face, lying
          just beneath the surface.

          INT. MAX'S BEDROOM - DAY

          Max sits on her bed, wearing a jacket and clutching her "Bello.
           Kitty" backpack. Anxious and waiting. Esther enters. -

          - E5T_HBR
          Let's go.

          INT. LIVING ROOM  - DAY -


          KATE
          What about the orphanage in Russia
          where she was raised? Wouldn't they
          have been able to tell?

          SISTER ABIGAIL -
          I've put in a call to the director
          there, but she could have easily
          slipped through the. cracks.

          JOHN -
          So the bottom line here is that you
          don't have proof of any of this.

          SISTER ABIGAIL
          That's true,-I don't. But I believe
          the circumstantial evidence is enough
          to warrant taking the next step.

          RATE
          Which is what? -

          SISTER -ABIGAIL
          Get Esther out of'the house.
          Kate and John are stunned.

          JOHN
          You want to disrupt the adoption over
          this?!

          

          

          

          

          - 60.

          SISTER ABIGAIL -
          If I'm-wrong, she-can come back home.
          But you need to get her to a therapist
          who can tell you what you're dealing

          WITH

          JOHN
          She's just a kids -  

          SISTER ABIGAIL
          She's also the sole-survivor of a house
          fire that killed her last family.
          (off their looks)
          It was arson. I did some checking.
          Someone deliberately set that fire.
          They-never caught who did it.

          JOHN
          Wait a minute, you're not suggesting --

          SISTER ABIGAIL
          Pyromania is one of the warning signs
          of a character--disturbed child.
          Rate blanches, realizing:

          KATE
          Do you think she had something to do
          with'what happened to Yolanda?
          A long beat. Sister Abigail hesitates, reluctant to answer.

          SISTER ABIGAIL -
          The thought that a child could cougnit
          such a monstrous crime flies in the
          face of everything I hold dear. But in
          my opinion, at'a a possibility that you
          need to take very seriously.

          INT. NOW SHED - DAY.

          Esther slides the door open -on SCREECHING rails and steps inside.
          Walks over to John's workbench. Looks at the TOOL RACK above it.

          INT. LIVING ROOM - DAY

          Kate and John are stunned by what Sister Abigail has told them.

          JOHN
          We can take her to Doctor -Browning. -
          Kate suggested doing that weeks ago.
          But I don't want to send her away. Not
          without at least some kind of proof.
          Sister Abigail.sighs, frustrated. Kate turns to him:

          

          

          

          

          61.

          KATE
          But what if 'the doctor says she's
          dangerous?
          A beat. He considers, uncertain and emotional.

          JOH1
          Then I guess we.won't.bave any choice.

          EXT. FOREST - DAY

          Daniel sits near.the brook, sullenly throwing rocks in the water.
          He hears something behind him and turns. Esther and Max are
          running off through.the woods, leaves CRASHING under their feet.'
          Neither of them ree him. He eyes them curiously.

          EXT. COLEMAN RESIDENCE - DAY

          Sister Abigail ie leaving. Rate and John stand by the front door,
          'troubled, watching her go.

          EXT. PRIVATE ROAD -- DAY

          Esther and Max run toward'the bridge where. the road into the
          neighborhood crosses the brook. They climb an embankment and
          crouch. by the bridge abutment, out of breath. Esther looks both
          ways. There's no traffic. She and Max hide behind the abutment.

          INT./EXT. SISTER ABIGAIL'S CAR - DAY

          Sister Abigail drives away., troubled. She takes a pack of
          cigarettes from the glove compartment and lights one.

          EXT. PRIVATE ROAD - DAY

          The girlb wait by the abutment. The only sound is the RIPPLING
          brook. Max looks nervous. Esther gives her a reassuring smile.

          ESTHER -
          It's going' to be fine. Just wave your
          arms and make sure she stops.
          Max nods. Then Esther hears a CAR coming. She peers out'from
          behind the abutment. It's Sister Abigail's car. Esther quickly
          ducks out of sight.

          ESTHER
          Here she. comes. Wait until she gets
          close.
          Max nervously peers out from behind the abutment. Esther stands
          behind her. The car starts across the-bridge. Suddenly --
          -- sthe pusbes Max it into the Load. stumbles and falls
          ri ht ,m. on of the _speed� car.

          

          

          

          

          62.
          Sister Abigail gasps and SLAMS on the brakes, 'TIRES SQUEALING,
          stopping the car mere feet from where Max lies in the road. She
          frantically. jumps out of the car and kneels next to Max.

          SISTER ABIGAIL
          Dear Lord! Are you okay, honey?
          Max looks up at her,-stunned, but unhurt. Sister Abigai1 is taken
          aback. She recognizes her.

           SISTER ABIGAIL -
           Max...?! - -
           A SHADOW falls on Abigail from behind. She turns and looks "up.
           Esther looms.over her, a CLAW HAMMER raised above her head.
          efor is a Abigail Va e a , Esther angrily hits her in tie ' l
           head as hard as she can with the hammer. CRUNCF#.
          Max startles,'eyes wide with shock. Sister Abigail falls and lies
          twitching on the pavement. Eyes staring blankly, one pupil wide
          from the head trauma. Blood trickles from under her headdress.
          As Max stares at. the body, paralyzed with fear, Esther scurries
          into Sister Abigail's car and finds her purse. She flips through
          her wallet. Cash, credit cards. Takes it all. Finds her rosary
          beads. Grabs them, too. Then she hurries back to the body.

          ESTHER
          Help me get her off the road.
          Max looks up blankly, then staggers .to her feet. They each take a
          hand and start dragging Sister Abigail's body, but she's heavy and
          they're little. It's all they can do to slowly move her.
          Then Esther hears something. There's ANOTHER CAR coming. It's
          still out of sight through the trees, but closing.
          Esther and Max hurriedly drag the body, struggling it to the side
          of the road, just as the car rounds the bend. Esther gives the'
          body a kick,, sending it rolling down the embankment.
          The car is almost on them. Esther and Max quickly hide under the
          bridge.. Esther grabs Max's backpack and pulls u wig _cm.
          The car reaches the bridge. Esther listens to it cross, tense,
          gun . ready... . but it passes Abigail's car and continues without
          stopping. Esther breathes a sigh of relief.
          Suddenly, there's a CROARING_noise from behind them.' Esther
          turns. It's Sister Abigail. She's still alive. She's trying to
          speak, but all that comes out is an awful'MOAN.
          Esther scowls and grabs the hammer. Sister Abigail looks up at
          her,' moaning louder. Then Esther brings-the hammer down. CRUNCH.
          The moans stop. Esther hits her AGAIN and AGAIN.

          

          

          

          

          63.
          Ma x 'pr cataton ipes her
          Se p rettysdr sand white glove harernow splaa ered ith blood.
           e s t t

          ESTHER
          Did you get any on you?
          Max shakes her head, pale and shivering.

          ESTHER
          Good. Let's get her covered up.
          Esther starts scooping leaves and debris onto Sister Abigail's
          corpse. Max just watches fora long beat... then shuffles over
          like a zombie and helps her. Esther smiles..

          INT. TREEBOUSE - DAY

          Esther is wearing a clean dress. -- She stuffs Max's "Hello Kitty"
          backpack under the looUe floorboard where Daniel.used to keep his
          weed. Max is huddled in a-corner, still dazed. As the y talk,
          Esther laces the bloody from
          Sister"ibigails car i a lastic grocery bag s ade ties kit.off.

          P

          ESTHER
          If you tell on me, you'll get in
          trouble, too.

          MAX

          YOU, TRICKED ME.  

          ESTHER.
          That doesn't matter. 'They'll send you
          to jail just for helping me bury her.
          Max starts to cry. Esther moves closer, comforting.

          ESTHER
          She wanted to take me away from you.

          (BEAT)
          Now we eau be together forever.

          EXT. TREEHOUSE -- DAY

          Daniel heads home on the path through the forest. Be hears a
          NOISE up ahead and sees Esther and Max emerge from the treeh ouse.
          He quickly hides., 'watching. Esther locks the treehouse_and looks
           around, see him. She and down and walk home
          hol d din in g pe ers out at them...
          g hands. Daniel

          PARK - DAY
          The usual suspects are here. Kids playing. Moms watching. The
          Homeless Guy with.his shopping cart, rooting through a trash can.
          A VENDOR selling a SpongeBob popsicle from a cart. CAMERA FOLLOWS
          the SpongeBob pop as. the vendor hands it to a little girl...

          

          

          

          

          64.
          It's Esther. She smiles  at the. vendor and walks away. She- spots
          the Homeless Guy across the park and casually heads toward him.
          As she approaches, we see that she's carrying the -plastic yrocery
          bag with the bloody hammer and sister Abigail's things in t.
          She carefully looks around to snake sure nobody is watching, then
          nonchalantly tosses the incriminating bag into the Homeless Guy's
          shopping cart and keeps walking, sucking on her SpongeBob pop...

          INT. LIVING ' ROOM -  DAY

          Rate hangs up the phone and turns to John.

          RATE
          She's canceling some appointments-so we -
          can get her in-tomorrow.
           They hear Esther HUMMING upstairs and exchange a disgiuieted look.

          IN . BATHROOM -- DAY
          Esther HUMS O.S. -Her black velvet ribbons have been removed and
          laid out in a row on the counter.' CAMERA MOVES to the bathtub,
          where Esther is taking a bath. The water is faintly red. -She's
          scrubbing under her fingernails. -Humming pleasantly to herself.
          And now we see what the ribbons have been covering: the has
          t ick, knotte t h e wa x u ht.r neck and -wrists.

          INT. JOHN'S DEN - NIGHT

          John sits on his. desk, eyeing Daniel--wearily.

          JOHN
          Esther and Max? You saw them?

          DANIEL
          Oh-huh.

          JOHN
          The treehouse is still locked.

          DANIEL
          Esther had the-keys.

          JOHN
          You mean these keys here?
          He goes over tothe keepsake chest and opens it.. The KEY RING is
          there. He holds it up. Daniel flusters..

          JOHN
          You're not lying to get them in-
          trouble,.are you? '

          

          

          

          

          65.

          DANIEL
          No, I swear!

          JOHN
          (sighs, exasperated)
          I don't know what's got into you
          lately. Just go to your room.
          Daniel leaves, dejected...

          IN THE HALLWAY
           and trudges upstairs. fe doesn't see Esthe em� eras from j -
          a sh dows behin hi�- She glares angrily, after him...

          BACK IN THE DEN
          Alone now, John looks at the.key ring, considering. Be goes to
          the closet, looks at the'gun case. Takes it down. Unlocks it...
          The gun.is right where it belongs. He sighs and closes the case.

          INT. DANIEL'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

          Daniel is in bed, sound asleep The doorknob turns, the door
          CREAKS open. Someone sneaks into his room, approachinbglh1ss-bbed.
          Turns on the bedside light, Daniel stirs, squinting,
          It's Esther. Daniel looks up at her, confused. Ruaaenlv,,shs
          fistful gf i hair and SLAM bis hea hMk.Aqg__inst the
          Before he can cal ou ; $he w o a-PAI OF SCISSORS
          an plunges them tows d his face---
          Daniel gasps, but the gleaming point of the scissors stops short,-
          hovering less than an inch from his wide, staring eye.

          ESTHER
           ssshhh.

           -
           Esther leans in, her face wild-and terrifying. Daniel lies there
           breathless, paralyzed with fear. -The. scissors drift from his eye,
           his between his legs.
          holds fast by his ha ir. er'voiceis an'e
           H il, ssibant bhiss

          ESTHER
          You te.11 anybody what you saw and I
          will cut your hairless little prick off
          before you even figure out what it'-s
          for. Do you understand me?
          She rapidly cuts the air with the scissors -- SNIP-SNIPI Daniel
          frantically nods his head. She twists his hair again.

          ESTHER
          ,= -it

          

          

          

          

           

          66.

          N DANIEL
           I won't tells I won't tell, T xomisel p
           She holds him for a beat, savoring his fear. A DABX STAIN seeps
           through the bedspread. Esther' sees it and grins.

           ESTHER
           You pissed yourself.  
           Daniel is crying, humiliated, belplesa.,'too terrified to dare make
           a sound. Finally, she releases him and turns off the light. As
           ick ad :it bWgan it she's go . up in
           a b all and his faa in his pillow stifl
           e his Bobs

           INT. DOCTOR BROWNING'S OFFICE - WAITING ROOM - DAY.

           A SECRETARY sits behind a desk. Kate flips through a magazine.
           m John glances at his watch. Rate gives him a
           moment later, Dr Browning emerges from r office u with Esther.

           E

          ESTBER
          It was nice talking to you, Alice. I
          I hope we can be friends.

          DR. BROWNING
          I'd like that.
          (to.Kate and John)
          You can come on in-

          INT. DOCTOR BROWNING'S OFFICE - DAY

          Dr. Browning's manner is serious. Kate and John sit, anxious.- '

          DR. BROWNING
          o Well, let's start with what youca me
          here for. You don't have anything'
          be worried about with Bsther.
          John breathes a sigh of relief. Kate gives-a dubious smile.

          KATE
          She's not dangerous?

          DR. BROWNING
          No, of course not.

          JOHN
          Thank God.

          DR. BROWNING
          It's. not all good news . You do have a
          serious problem in. your home..

          (BEAT)
          But the real issue is with you, Rate
          Kate reacts, stunned.

          

          

          

          

          67.

          INT. DOCTOR BROWNING'S OFFICE -WAITING ROOM - DAY

          Esther. fidgets, impatient. She turns to the Secretary:

          ESTRER
          May I go to the restroom?

          INT. DOCTOR BROWNING'S OFFICE.- DAY

          Dr. Browning continues. Kate' can't believe what 'she's hearing:

          DR. BROWNING
          I was able to coax her into admitting
          that there's been some tension between
          the two of-you. She's really tr!ing
          very hard to please you. The problem
          is that you're blocking her attempts-to
          attach-with you. That's why whenever
          something bad happens, you blame her,
          whether it's really her fault or not.

          KATE
          But that's not what's.been happening.

          DR. BROWNING
          I doubt you're even aware that you're
          doing it. But subconsciously you t aunt
          her to be bad because' demonizing her is
          your way of covering your own feelings _
          of inadequacy as a mother.

          KATE
          I don't feel inadequate.

          DR. BROWNING
          But you do have doubts. You worry that'
          you Could relapse.

          KATE
          What does that have to do with'Esther?

          DR. BROWNING
          Frankly, everything. Your guilt over
          what happened with Max is preventing-
          you from bonding with Esther.
          Kate turns to John, aghast, but he's taking this very seriously.

          DR. BROWNING
          It's made you doubt your fitness as a
          mother. And that terrifies you. So
          you're having trouble with Esther,
          alonV comes Sister Abigail with these
          stories about her being some kind of
          monster and you believe them because

          (MORE)

          

          

          

          

          68.

          DR. BROWNING (CONT.'D)
          it f s easier than with yojW fear
          ,that there's something hwrong th you.

          RATE .
          What the hell did she tell you?.

          DR. BROWNING ...
          Let's not m4ke this about herana m a d dne
          real progress with her today
          tell you with complete certainty that
          Esther is not to blame here.

          INTERCUTS

          INT. RESTROOM -- DAY

          in a C AMERA MOVES IN on one- , o 131sthex is
           in a ba11 muttering t herself, her eyes glassy and star

          ING

          ESTEER
          She didn't see. She doesn't know. She
          doesn't knout Ahitl
           She starts POUNDING the walls-of stall th her fists. We CUT
          between her a Dr.-B rowning talking to ltate

           D =

          DR. BROWNING
          She's an extremely bright, thoughtful,
          sensitive little girl going through a
          very challenging time.
          Esther clutches her head, rocking back and forth.

          ESTHER
          Goddamn, coaksucking bitch!! Thinks
          she knows well Doesn't know shit!!

          DR. BROWNING
          You just have to learn to be more
          patient. .You're really very lucky to
          have her.

          END   INTERCUT :
          Esther's fit has passed. She neatly composes herself and emerges
          from the stall... and sees that there's a WOMAN at the sink. She
          eyes Esther warily. Probably heard everything. Esther hesitates ,
          then walks right by with. her nose in the air.

          TNT. GARAGE -. DAY
          John pulls the car in out of the RAIN. They get out and Esther.
          goes Inside. When Kate is sure she's out of earshot:

          KATE
          Thanks for the support back there.  

          

          

          

          

          69.

          JOHN
          Hey, I'm not a psychiatrist. And a lot
          of what she's saying makes sense.
          Before she can respond, Nate's cell phone RINGS. She turns away
          from John' and'answers it. He sighs and goes inside.

          KATE -
          Hello?

          SISTER JUDITH (V.O.)
          is this Mrs. Coleman?

          KATE
          Yes. Who's calling?

          SISTER JUDITH (V:O.)
          This is Sister Judith from Saint
          Cabrini's. I'm sorry to bother you.
          Did-Sister Abigail make.it to 'her
          appointment with you yesterday?
          T tXNDER rolls.

          EXT. PRIVATE ROAD - NIGHT

          CRIME SCENE TAPE flutters in the rain. POLICE CARS are parked-on
          the roadside, lights FLASHING. DETECTIVES shine flashli.ghts'Under
          the bridge. sister Abigail's body- has been- discovered.

          INT. LIVING ROOM - DAY -

          Kate and John sit across from a POLICE DETECTIVE and TWO UNIFORMED
          PATROL OFFICERS. Kate and john-are still in shock.

          JOHN
          We'll help in any way we can. We at
          least owe her that much.

          KATE
          Do you have any idea who could have
          done this? '

          DETECTIVE '
          We have .a suspect in custody based on
          an anonymous -tip. We're just trying. to -
          place ham at the time we think the -
          murder took place. -

          JOHN
          Who is it?

          DETECTIVE
          I can't tell you that right now. But
          he was found with the murder weapon,
          along with some cash and credit cards.

          

          

          

          

          70.

          JOHN
          Jesus..:: at kind of sick' monster
          carjacks a nun?
          Kate glances up, sees Esther crouched on the stairs, watching...
          INT. fAMiLY ROOM - DAY
          Daniel sits in a big recliner, sullenly playing a VIDEO GAME SHOOT-
          EM-OP. Kate is researching- on the Internet. We get CLOSE SHOTS
          of some of her Google.results, INTE Ctfs with Daniel BLASTING AWAY
          at alien baddies, his face angry and intense:
          "Character-disturbed Children." -BLAME.-BLAME-BLAME "Antisocial
          Personality Djsorder." PL f-BLAMI- "C ren o Kfll."
          Esther enters holding Max's handy leadin her around like a pet.
          Max numbly follows. They walk up to Daniel'in the recliner.

          ESTHER
          We want to sit there.

          KATE
          Esther, Daniel was there first. -
          Daniel eyes Esther. Wary, but defiant. She sighs and makes a
          -"cutting" motion with two fingers. Daniel brusquely turns off th e
          game and gets out of the chair. - As' he leaves, Kate calls out,

          KATE
          Daniel? Daniel?
          He ignores her and stomps upstairs. She watches him, concerned.

          INT. JOHN'S DEN - NIGHT

          Kate shows John some pages she's printed out from the Internet.

          KATE
          This is what Sister Abigail was telling
          us about. Character-disturbed
          children, 'Look at the, symptoms.

          (READING)
          "Superficiallycharming. Difficulty
          making and keeping frinnds. Cruelty to
          pets. Bossy and controlling. Overly
          affectionate with strangers."

          JOHN
          "Extended period of bedwetting. Speech
          pathology.  Abnormal eye contact." She
          doesn't have half of these.

          KATE
          I still think Doctor Brow
          have missed something. iner couldd

          (MORE)

          

          

          

          

          71.

          RATE (CONT'D)
          have just told her what she wanted; to
          hear. Look.
          (flips ages, reading)
          "Character-disturbed children are
          adroit manipulators. They can be
          exceptionally charismatic, oftentimes
          playing people off one another to get
          what they want."

          JOHN
          save you showed this to Doctor.
          B±owiiing?

          KATE
          (hesitates)-
          I'm not 'seeing her anymore..  

          JOHN
          You're not going to therapy? When did
          you decide that?

          SATE
          When do you think?
          John sighs. A tense-beat.

          JOHN
          I know you were. upset. But we have to
          at least consider the possibility that
          she's right about this.

          KATE
          No, we don't. Why does everybody
          around here get the.benefit of the
          doubt fro m you except me?

          JOHN
          That's not true. I'm just..worried
          about you, that's all. We can hire
          someone to help you with the kids if
          it's getting to be too much.

          KATE
          I don't need help. All I want is for a
          doctor who knows what they're doing to
          give us a second opinion.

          INTERCUT:

          INT. ESTHER'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

          All the lights are out except for the BLACK LIGHT in the aquarium.
          Bather is touching up the PAINTING OF THE MOTHER LION we saw when
          -we first met her, but we can't see what she's doing to it. The
          black light causes some of the paints on her palette to fluoresce.
          John and Kate's VOICES carry, up through the heating vent:

          

          

          

          

          72.

          JOHN
          We're-not going to.keep taking her to
          doctors until you hear what you want to
          hear.  

           KATE -
          That's not what I'm trying to dal I
          -want this to work just as much as you
          do, but there are. serious questions.
          that we still don't havethe answers
          to. If Sister Abigail was right about
          Esther,. then people are dead because of

          HEAL

          JOHN -
          She didn't really believe that.

          RATS
          She didn't want to believe it. But she
          was worried enough-to think we should
          put her in foster care until we found
          out for sure.

          JOHN
          For all, her good intentions, sister
          Abigail was not a trained psychologist.
          She'had certain suspicions about Esther
          and they turned out to be wrong. Why
          is can't you accept that?

          KATE
          (a beat, thin)ts)
          What if somebody else thought there was
          something wrong with her? Like the
          director of the orphanage in Russia?
          Esther stops painting and listens, suddenly apprehensive.

          KATE
          if it's a dead end, I'll drop it. - But
          if they say the same thine, then we'd
          have to get.a second opinion.
          John considers. He doesn't want to be unreasonable. He nods.

          JOHN
          All right.- See what you can find out.

          END INTERCUT:
          Esther' fumes. She angrily throws her painting across the room.
          rNT. KATE AND JOHN'S BATHROOM - MORNING
          John-is shaving with his shirt off. He sees Esther in the
          reflection, slyly watching him. She smiles at him.

          

          

          

          

          73.

          .  ESTHER
          Will, you take me to school today?

          JOHN
          You'll have to get ready early,

          EST=
          I .don't mind.

          INT. LIVING ROOM - DAY

          Kate is on the. phone. She has pen and -paper ready to take notes.

          KATE
          Sister Judith? Hi, this is Kate
          .Coleman. I teas.wondering if you'd
          heard from anyone at the Sludianka
          Orphan's Shelter in Russia. sister
          Abigail said that...- Oh, you did? _
          (listens, troubled)
          What do you mean?... Well, I don't
          understand. How could they not have
          any record of her being there?

          (LISTENS)
          .Yes, please. Call me the moment you
          hear anything. Thank you.
          She hangs up, disturbed.

          INT. JOHN'S CAR - MORNING

          John drives. Esther rides next to him. She SNIFFLES and he
          realizes that she's holding back tears.

          JOHN
          What's the matter?

          ESTHER
          I don't want to go to school.

          JOHN
          Why not?

          ESTHER  
          I hate it. Nobody likes me there.
          Nobody ever likes me.
          She stares forlornly out the window. Big sad eyes. John sighs.

          JOHN
          You want-to play hooky?
          (off her look)
          I can call in- sick and we'll go to -the
          zoo. What do you think?
          Esther smiles through her tears.

          1

          

          

          

          

          74..

            ESTHER
          I'd like that very much.
          EXT. ME TARY SCHOOL  r MORNING
          Kate drives up the steep hil1 in front of Daniel and Esther's
          school and stops at the end of a long'line of parents dropping
          kids off. Daniel. gets out without looking at Kate.

          KATE
          Daniel, wait a minute.
          He hangs back. Rate gives him and Max a concerned-.look.

          RATE -
          How are you guys getting along with
          Esther? - ,
          Daniel freezes. An apprehensive look passes between him and Max.

          DANIEL
          Fine, I guess.

          KATE
          Does she ever make you guys feel
          uncomfortable or do things you know
          she's not supposed to? Has she ever
          hurt either of you?
          Daniel wants to say something, but the frightened look on Max's
          face stops him. Rate realizes she's struck.a nerve.

          KATE
          Please. You can tell me anything.

          DANIEL
          -I gotta gu.
          Before Kate can stop -him, he closes the car door and runs off.

          EXT. ZOO -- DAY

          John and Esther walk by the LION exhibit.- She takes John's hand
          and presses it to her cheek.

          ESTHER
          You don't know how-long I've waited for
          a 'daddy just. like you.

          JOHN
          And a monany, too. Right?
          Esther hesitates. John notices. She gives a sad shrug.

          ESTHER
          I don't think !'Tommy likes me very much.

          

          

          

          

          75.
          John is taken aback. An awkward beat.-

          JOHN
          That's not true..- Mc=my loves 'you.

          ESTHER
          It's all right. I understand if she
          doesn't. It must be difficult to love
          an adopted child as much as- your own..

          JOHN
          Sweetheart, .you are just as much a part
          of this family- as Danny. and Max are.
          Mommy doesn't love'you any less because
          you're adopted. Do you understand?
          She nods, but doesn't look convinced. John thinks.

          JOHN
          Why don't you do something special for
          her? So she can see what a good girl
          you are. I'll bet she'd like that.
          Esther's face brightens.

          EST LER
          That's a wonderful idea. I think I
          know just what I'm.going to do, too.

          INT. KITCHEN - NIGHT

          After dinner. Kate is loading the dishwasher. John is brig ing
          in dirty dishes from the dining room. Esther enters, all smiles.
          Hands hidden behind her back. John gives Kate an expectant smile.

          ESTHER
          I have a special surprise for you,
          Mommy.
          Kate eyes her warily. No idea what to expect.

          KATE
          You do?

          ESTHER-
          I picked this flower just for youl
          It's Kate's memorial orchid. Kate gasps. John is horrified.
          Kate reaches for the flower.

          KATE
          Estherl Put that down --l
          Esther laughs and playfully pulls it away. Kate grabs her by the
          wrist and Esther suddenly drops the flower, SHRIEKING in pain.

          

          

          

          

          76.

          ESTHER-
          You're,hurting me!
           's eaction. Esther runs
          from the room,-cr her wri wrist-
           e ying, and startled clutching Esther

          JOHN
          What the hell did you do to her?

          KATE
          I just grabbed her arm!
           aohn hurries after Esther. Kate hangs back, picks the orchid-up"
          from off the floor. it's ruined.

          INT. FAMILY ROOM - NIGHT

          Esther sits. on the nofa, still crying. john comforts. her. Kate
          looks in on them. John shoots her an angry look.

          INT. WORK SHED.- NIGHT

          Darkness. Esther slips inside, closes the door, turns on a light.
          Goes to the workbench. There's a VICE bolted to it. She finds
          some rags and wraps them around her wrist where Rate grabbed her.
          Then she places her wrist in the vice, puts the handle of a
          SCREWDRIVER between her teeth, and bites down on it.
          She takes a couple of deep breaths and sta s clo in the yicg of
          her are. Grimacing in agonyy screwdriver clan ed between her
          teeth against the pain, she twists the vice tighter and tighter..

          INT. KITCHEN - NIGHT

          Rate sits at the table. John has calmed down, but is still angry.

          KATE
          She knew what it meant to me. She did
          it on purpose.,

          JOHN
          It wasn't even her idea.
          (off her look)
          I'm the one who told her she should try
          to do something nice for you.
          He leaves.

          INT." ESTHER'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

          It's late, The room is dark.Esther plaintively calls out:

          ESTHER
          Daddy! Daddy!

          

          

          

          

          77.
          The door opens. John,.blearily -enters in his pajamas.

          JOHN
          what in it, sweetheart?

          ESTHER
          My arm huits .'

          JOHN - -
          Okay. Let me see.
          He turns on a bedside lamp and sits on the bed. She pulls up.hex`
          sleeve, cringing. Heir wrist is mottled with HORRIFIC B I

          INT. EMERGENCY ROOM - CURTAIN AREA -- NIGHT

          A camera flash POPS. Esther is in a hospital gown (still wearing
          her black ribbons) while a SOCIAL WORKER photographs the bruises.

          , TNT. EMERGENCY ROOM -- EXAM ROOM - NIGHT
          Rate and John sit across from a harried ER DOCTOR. An x-ray of
          Esther's arm is clipped to a light box. _

          ER DOCTOR
          It's a hairline fracture in her radius.

            KATE
          I swear, I barely touched her.

          ER DOCTOR

          (SKEPTICAL)
          You'll need to talk to the social -
          worker about that. She's going to come
          in here- and ask you some questions.

          JOHN
          But.it was just an.accident.

          ER DOCTOR
          It's routine. We're required by law to
          file. a report. Child Protective
          Services will be in touch to schedule a
          follow-up visit at your home.
          Kate is shocked. John shoots her a dirty look.

          TNT. FOYER --NIGHT
          Home from the hospital. It's very late. The kids are wearing
          coats over their pajamas.. Esther's arm is in a fiberglass cast.
          John is carrying Max, who has fallen asleep..
          As they start upstairs, Kate reaches out to John. He hangs back.
          Daniel and Esther go to their rooms. When they're gone:

          

          

          

          

          78,

          KATE
          You know I would never hurt any of the-.
          kids on purpose.

          JOHN
          I know. It's not what you do on
          purpose that scares me.
          Kate watches him go. ..Be turns away and takes Max upstairs.

          .1

          TNT. MUSIC ROOM - NIGHT -
          Kate site curled up on the window seat by the planter, holding the
          wilting orchid and sobbing inconsolably, old wounds re-opened...

          INT. KATE AND JOHN.''S BEDROOM - NIGHT

          Dark. John is asleep, alone in the bed. The door is ajar.
          Esther appears in the.doorway. She peers in, watching him sleep.
          After a beat, she gathers her courage and quietly enters,
          tiptoeing toward the bed. She pulls back the covers and.climba in
          next to him. John doesn't stir. Esther curls up beside him.

          INT. KATE'S MINIVAN - DAY

          It's raining. Rate sits in the parked van. No sound except
          RAINDROPS TAPPING the roof. She's looking out at something.
          It's the LIQUOR STORE she drove by earlier. She's-parked in front
          of it, staring at it through-the rain-streaked windshield...

          INT. LIQUOR STORE - NIGHT

          Kate puts TWO BOTTLES OF WINE on the counter. The CASHIER rings
          them up. She's anxious, guilty, already hating herself.

          KATE
          We're having guests over for dinner.
          The Cashier nods. Like be gives a shit. Kate lowers her eyes.-

          INT. KITCHEN - DAY

          The two wine bottles sit on the kitchen counter. One bottle is.
          open, a GLASS already poured. But Kate's not drinking it. She's
          just standing these, arms folded, looking at it. The house is.
          quiet. She's alone here. Only her demons to keep her company-
          A long moment of. awful indecision passes,, Kate paralyzed. Then
          she looks up, her gaze moving past the wine glass to the window.,
          Through it, she can see the backyard. It's the swimming pool that
          holds her eyes, its cold-surface rippling in the rain. But- she's
          seeing something else there, something awful. Impossible to know-
          what she's thinking, but whatever it Is, it moves her to action:

          

          

          

          

          79.
          She, abruptly grabs the glass and quickly empties it in the sink
          before she-can change hex mind. -Then she grabs the. open wine'
          bottle and pours it all down the drain. She runs the water and
          scrubs the sink with her fingertips, removing every trace. Tosses
          the empty bottle in the trash and ties up the garbage bag.

          EXT. COLEMAN RESIDENCE - DAY

          Kate hurries out in the rain and stuffs the kitchen trash in the
          garbage can, burying it under-another bag.

          INT. KITCHEN - DAY -

          Kate re-enters, dripping wet. There's still the other wine
          bottle. The unopened one. She 1}esitates.

          INT. KATE AND JOHN'S BEDROOM'  - DAY

          Rate's.in the walk-in closet. She hides' the wine bottle in a
          cubby in her shoe rack and turns out the light.

          INT. KATE'S MINIVAN -- MORNING

          Driving the kids to school. Kate looks drawn and weak. Daniel
          and Max stare off into space. Esther holds a stack of her
          paintings in her lap, obliviously prattling:

          ESTHER
          I can't wait for show-and-tell. I hope
          Mrs. Grosse. likes my paintings. I did
          one especially for her..
          .Nobody responds. Kate's blocking her out. Esther doesn't mind.

          EXT. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL/INT. KATE'S MINIVAN - MORNING

          Kate drives up the hill and pulls to the curb. Daniel gets out,
          but'Esther struggles, her wrist cast making her clumsy, and she
          awkwardly fumbles her paintings.. They land in the gutter and
          start-blowing away. She gives Kate a horrible,-pleading-look

          ESTHER
          Moumiy! My paintings!
          Kate eyes her accusingly.

          KATE
          You dropped them on purpose.

          ESTHER  
          No, I didn't! I swear!. -
          Kate doesn't believe it for a second, but sees a CROSSING GUARD
          and a FEW KIDS hurrying to grab the paintings as they're carried
          off by the wind. Kate shoots Esther a dirty look, then sets the
          parking brake with an exasperated sigh and gets out to help...

          

          

          

          

          80.
          acti But, the second-Rate is out of the van, Esther springs tut
           like a snake that's been poised to strike. sh c� put s s then
          gear shit in'neutral andggrabs the parki ng her
          .an alarmed look. Esther smiles at her... releases t braka.
          Daniel sees Esther jump out of the van, just ag it starts 1 roll
          ._ ba hil

          DANIEL

          MOROI
          Frazzled, Kate turns to. Daniel.. He points. to the van.

          KATE

          SHITT
          she hurries after it, but it's already.inoving too fast, picking up
           speed, rolling into oncoming e goes into a panic-
           fueled 'run,. sure erupting into ic., Kat

           KATE

           MAXI
          Drivers w van a
           of s Parked a ars eSHEERING gerssi door.
           c d
           Max is trapped in her car seat, helpless, eyes wide in mute
           terror,.as the minivan clears the parked cars, head ed for the
           intersection at the bottom of the hill.. Kate chases it, powsrlen s
           to do anything but watch.-

           KATE

           MAAAAAX!1!
           The minivan cams into the intersection. Tires S ► horns
           cars yrgave , and s = hal . T T3 sh - b
          all and 0MV into a streetlight on the opposa.t e corns .
          Kate frantically dashes across the street, hysterical with fear,
          and throws open the back door. Max is crying and terrified, but
          safe. Kate 'scoops Max into her arms, clutching her to her chest.
          It's okay, baby. It's okay, you're all
          right. Mo_irimy' s got you...

          BACK AT THE SCHOOL
          A crowd has out front; horrified,. watching
           breathlesslyguntilehe sees pull u� Max lsafe y � the van.'
           A wave of relief washes over him. Then he whirls angrily, looking
           for Esther. Be blithely headed to
           class, paintings hertarmj,gas if nothing ha pened.

          P

          

          

          

          
          Bl.

          INT .'. LIVING ROOM - NIGHT
           Rate sits across from John and Dr. Browning.The mood fa grim:

           KATE
          I set the brake. . Bven if I hadn'tr the
          police said it wouldn't have.:rolled
          unless it was put in neutral.

          DR. BROWNING.
          But Max says she didn't see Esther do
          anything wrong.
          Max is cover.ng for her. And X don't
          think it's the first time.

          DR. BROWNING
          It also-wouldn't be the first time that
          you've tried to blame Esther for.
          something that was really your fault.

          XATE
          This. isn-'t all in my head. Sister
          Abigail was right. There is something
          wrong with Esther. And I don't care
          anymore if I can't prove it. I'want
          her out of this house.
          John and Dr. Browning exchange a dark look.

          DR. B' OWNING
          So you're at a place where you would
          actually let somebody take her away?

          KATE
          I'll do whatever I have to,do to
          protect my children.

          JOHN
          56 will 1.
          (re: Dr. Browning)
          That's why she's here.
          something in his voice makes Kate apprehensive. An uneasy beat.

          DR. BROWNING
          I have an opening held for you at a
          residential rehabilitation clinic about
          forty-five miles from here. They
          specialize in extended treatment for
          women who are relapsed alcoholics.
          Kate is stunned silent. She gapes at. them. with a mix of anger and
          fear, unable to stop' a flash of guilt. How much do they know...?.

          

          

          

          

          .82..

          KATE .
          What are you talking.about?

          -JOHN
          I'll stand by you through this for as
          long as it takes. My mom'a already
          agreed., to 'help look after the - kids . .

          RATS
          Tell her not to bother.
          (to Dr. Browning)
          I'd like you to leave now.

          JOHN
          Kate, don't.
          John stands and takes something from inside the sideboard. Ile
          : sets it on the coffee table between them...
          qtr, s
          the wine bottl g she hid " he closet. Kate is stricken.
          She looks at it like it was a poisonous spider.

          JOHN
          The girls found it while they were
          playing in your. closet.

          KATE
          The girls?" You mean Esther found it.

          JOHN
          Yes, Esther found it. Does that make a
          difference? Is she lying?
          A beat. Kate's silence-is answer enough.

          KATE
          I didn't... I bought two bottles. I
          poured the other one down-the sink.

          JOHN
          But not this onie.
          Again, no answer necessary.. Kate looks defeated, tears welling.

          KATE
          I'm not going to rehab.

          JQHN
          I'm not going to leave you-alone with
          the kids again until you do. - .

          KATE
          I haven't had a drink in almost a year.
          John sighs, frustrated.- Dr. Browning intervenes, her voice
          infuriatingly even. and calm.'

          

          

          

          

          83.

          DR. DROWNING
          Relapse is very common in early
          sobriety. We can help you. But not
          until you drop the charade. -

          KATE
          It's not a charade. I wanted to- drink
          i t. You have no fucking idea how.badly
          I wanted to drink it. But I didn't.
          (off John's look)
          I know 1 should have told you..  I was
          just afraid of what you'd do.

          JOHN
          I wanted you to come to me. That's why
          ,I didn't confront you with it last
          night. If Max had gotten hurt this
          morning, it. would've been because I
          trusted you tell me if there was a
          problem.

          RATE
          What happened this morning had nothing
          to do with this!

          JOHN
          l f ow do you expect me to believe that?

           KATE
          Max and Daniel are the only reason I'm
          still sober. I would never do anything
          that would hurt them.

          DR. BROWNING
          You don't think this behavior effects
          them?

          KATE
          You know damn.well what I'm talking
          about.
          _ Her voice is brittle now, barely controlled. A beat. The tears
          sta rt to spill.

          KATE
          When I look out at the pool and
          think...
          (to John)
          When I try to imagine what would have
          happened if you hadn't come home early
          that day... it makes me want to kill
          myself. I would the before I let
          something like that happen again.

          JOHN
          Then why-not throw both bottles away?

          

          

          

          

          84,

          KATE-
          Becauso"I need help. i thought I could
          handle it myself, but I can't. I'll go
          back to-therapy. I'll start going to
          A.A. meetings.

          JOHN
          That's not enough anymore.' I told you
          last time what I'd do if this'ever
          happened again. I'm trying to give you
          another chance.

          KATE -
          You haven't heard.a word I've said.

          JOHN
          I've heard enough. If it was just the
          two of us, that would be one thing.
          But I can't let you be in a position
          where you could hurt the kids.

          KATE
          I'm not the one you need to be worried
          aboutt Seven people close to Esther
          have died in the past year. Max was
          almost the eighth. now many more
          coincidences are you willing to ignore?

          JOHN
          Kate, stop it. You're talking about an
          eight-year-old girl. And right now
          she's making a lot more sense than you
          are.

          KATE
          I know I haven't given you any reason
          to believe me. But you have to. I'm
          begging you.

          JOHN
          I'm sorry. Maybe if you'd been honest
          with me from the start. But not now.

          ANGLE -- MAX AND ESTHER
          peer around the corner, watching them argue. Max is crying.

          JOHN
          You either check into rehab this week
          or I leave and I take the kids with me.
          Esther leans close and whispers into Max's hearing aid:

          ESTHER
          I'll kill her it you tell..

          

          

          

          

          85.
          Max gives her a frightened look.- Just then, Doris.appears with a
          bowl of popcorn. She quickly ehoos the girls away.

          DORIS
          Come on, you two. Let's go watch TV.
          Max wipes her eyes. Esther takes her hand and leads her away.

          EXT. COLEMAN RESIDENCE -- NIGHT -

          John walks Doris out to her car.-He gives her a hug.

          JOHN -
          You sure you don't mind? She's not
          going to appreciate your being around.

          DORIS
          .I don't care what she appreciates. You
          can't leave those kids alone with her
          while you're at work all day.
          (off his look)
          You're doing the right thing. Don't
          let her change your mind.

          JOHN
          I'll see you tomorrow.
          Doris gets In her car. John looks conflicted.

          INT. UPSTAIRS HALLWAY - NIGHT

          Bedtime. Esther can be heard HUMMING through the closed bathroom
          door. Daniel listens as he sneaks down the hall in his pajamas...

          INT. MAX'S BEDRROM - NIGHT

          Max's eyes are red from crying. She's drawing a picture, but
          hides it under some other papers when Daniel enters. Be closes
          the door. Esther's HUMMING can be heard O.S. A tense beat.

          DANIEL
          Are you okay?'
          Max nods. Daniel sits down next to her. He lowers his voice.

          DANIEL
          Did Esther do something to the van?
          Max turns away and shakes her bead.

          DANIEL
          It's okay. You can tell no. I saw her
          jump out before .it started to roll.
          Max gives him a startled look, suddenly frightened.

          

          

          

          

          86..

          MAX

          DID XOD: TELL ON !3ER?

          DANIEL
          No way. Dad won't believe me. You
          have to do it with me.
          Max shakes her head and starts signing, but Daniel can't keep up.

          DANIEL
          Slow down, 'I don't understand. Did she
          make the van crash?
          A long beat. Max reluctantly nods'. -

          DANIEL
          Then we have to tell Mom and Dad.
          Max starts crying. She signs, but Daniel doesn't understand.
          Frustrated, Max starts hitting him. Daniel grabs her arms

          DANIEL
          -Stop it!- She's going to kill us if we
          don't tell! Morn and Dad can protect
          us!
          Max. shakes her head. Daniel releases her.

          DANIEL
          Why not?

          MAX

          NOBODY CAN.
          Daniel stops short. Max hesitates, then gets up and shows him the
          pictures that she hid from him when he first came in.
          They're crude crayon drawings of Max and Esther. In the first,
          Esther stands atop the rocket ship slide and pushes Brenda down
          the stairs while Max watches..
          The= next one turns Daniel's blood cold. X &'s of Sister Abigail's
          murder. Esther stands over Sister Abigail with a bloody hammer
          wh e r e Max cowers under the bridge. The last one is of Esther and
          Max in the treehouse. Esther is covered in blood.

          DANIEL
          What did she do in the treehouse?

          MAX

          SHE PUT TEE BAD THINGS THERE.
          Suddenly, Esther's O.S."humming STOPS. Daniel looks up, alarmed.

          DANIEL
          r She's coming.

          

          

          

          

          87.
          'Max quickly hides the. pictures-. Daniel scrambles to the door, but
          -pauses and signs to Max as best he can.

          DANIEL
          Everything's going to be all right.

          INT.'UPSTAIRS HALLWAY - NIGHT

          Daniel hurries back to his room and closes the door, just as
          Esther emerges from the bathroom. She pauses, suspicious.
          INT. KATE AND JOHN'S BEDROOM -r NIGHT
           Kate and John are in bed. It's 3:23 a.m.' They both appear to be
           sleeping. Then Kate. moves. She's still wide awake.
           She looks over at John, slowly push the covers back, and inches
           out of bed so that he doesn't wake u es' p. She quietly dresses.
          INT tIPSTAIRS HALLWAY - NIGHT
          Kate emerges from their bedroom with a small OVERNIGHT BAG and
          cree ps into the dark hallway, careful not to make any noise. She
          stops by the. door of Max's bedroom, and slowly opens it.

          TNT. MAX'S BEDROOM - NIGHT
          Kate slips inside, closes the door; and starts toward Max's bed...-
          Suddenly, a desk light comes on. It's Bather. She's been sitting
          there in the dark. The light casts strange shadows on her face.

          ESTHER..
          Going somewhere, Kate?
          Kate startles and whirls to check on Max. She's. fast asleep.

          ESTHER
          She's fine. Lot's not wake her.

          KATE
          What are you doing in here?

          ESTHER
          1-couldn't sleep. I was-afraid you
          might try to take Daniel and Max away.
          Kate stands frozen, frustrated and'angry.

          KATE
          Go to your room.

          ESTHER

          (LAUGHS)
          Honestly, we're past that now, aren't
          we?.

          

          

          

          

          86.
          t KATE
          I'um not going to let you hurt my
          children. -

           ESTHER
           1m not the one who passedouutt drunk.
          and let
           I hear the first step is (on.ffideannttially) -admitting that.
           you have a problem.

           KATE
           (a beat, stricken)
           Who told you about that. -
           Esther holds up Kate's journal:: Kate blanches.

           ESTHER
           It's in your journal. I found �it a few
           weeks ago.. It's very intimate. 3
          learned so much about you. Your
          marital troubles, your drinking
          problem. Where you hide your wine
          bottles. You have lovely handwriting,
          by the way. Would you like to bear my
          favorite part?
          Esther has a page marked. She reads:

          ESTHER
          "Eight weeks before my due date,
          Jessica died-from several undiagnosed
          birth defects. I hadn't felt her move
          for days, but now that I knew she was
          dead, I started-to feel her kick again.
          It's called phantom fetal movement,
          like the pain felt in a missing limb.
          I was an amputee and my baby was the
          lost part of me. Because of other
          complications, Doctor Kosgrove didn't
          want to induce. So I had to wait to go
          into labor. For sixteen days I carried
          Jessica's body and felt her ghostnow a kicking in my-belly. y womb
          coffin and inside me slept a corpse."
          (to Kate)
          How perfectly hideous. No wonder you
          turned into a nasty, smelly drunk.
          Kate is dumbfounded, trembling with impotent rage and raw emotion.

          ESTHER
          Kate. You don't know how lucky you are,
          I'll never have children of my own. My
          father paw to that while I was still-in
          diapers. I. actually don't"remember a
          7 time when he wasn't fucking.me.

          (MORE)

          

          

          

          

          89.

          E STHER (CONY' D )
          (off Kate's look)
          I don't want your pity.' He did it to
          make me strong. So 1 ,wouldn't turn out
          weak and 'pathetic like you..

          RATE
          I'mi pot weak..

          ESTHER
          Please. You're soft. Like,& worm.
          Losing your baby could have. made you
          stronger. But for you it's alwa s.more
          therapy and more- pills and more booze.
          Anything so that you don.'t have to
          actually face the so state of your
          miserable existence. And why should
          you? You've got John to carry your
          dead weight around.. But you know
          something? You don't deserve him. And
          sooner 'or later, he's going to figure
          that out.
          Esther stands up to leave. Kate-blocks her path.

          ESTHER
          What are you going to do? Hit me?
          -Kate. looks really tempted. A beat. She puts out her hand for the
          journal. Esther gives it to her with a smile. Kate steps aside.

            ESTHER
          See you tomorrow.
          She leaves. Kate glares after her. -

          INT. KATE AND JOHN'S BEDROOM - DAY

          .Kate is on the phone, angry, trying to keep her voice low,

          KATE
          I need to know where she came from and
          I need to know now.

          INTERCUT:

          INT. HOME FOR GIRLS - OFFICE - DAY

          Sister Judith talks. to Rate on -the phone, looking harried.

          SISTER'JUDITH
          I'm sorry, we've called every orphanage
          in Moscow trying to find out.

          KATE
          We adopted her from yquI How can you
          not know anything about her?!-

          

          

          

          

          90.

          SISTER JUDITH
          The Wallaces could have adopted her
          illegally. Are you-sure
          remember anything that could he doesn't?

           END INTERCUT:

          KATE -
          I'll call you back.
          She curtly hangs up-

          INT. FAMILY ROOM - DAY

          Doris plays a game with the kids. Esther feigns' nonchalance, but.
          the tension is thick between Dani?l and Max. Doris is oblivious.

          DORIS
          I say Professor Plum did it in the
          Conservatory with the candlestick...

          INT. ESTHER'S BEDROOM - DAY

          Kate rifles. through Esther 'a things. She finds the life book that
           e fli it.The p i till blank
          exce forstherfaamily photos that fate put ingforahers
          Then she notices that the first page has been torn out. And on
          the page. captioned '"ESTBER JOINS THE FAMILY," P.sther's face has
          been et cu oval cut out Df "h farm of r Creepy.
          Kate ransacks the room,. searching for something,, anything. Then
          she notices a.stuffed doll that she just knocked over. Its dress
          has been flipped up, revealing ,g slit, cut in he doll's pack.
          grabs it. Something has been hidden in the stuffing...
          Tt's a '� Bible. Kate pulls it out and quickly looks through
          the pictures that-Esther keeps inside. They're the same photos of
          the Wallaces that we saw earlier. With one new addition.
          It's the missing page from Esther'.s life book, the picture of Kate
          and John at their wedding. But the face that Esther cut out, from
          the other picture has been glued over Kate 'a.face here, p 3t
          loo like JTobm DDd $ her are eg�S markied.
          The caption is still "MOMMY & DADDY GET MARRIED." Kate shudders.

          KATE
          Jesus Christ...
          She flips through the: Bible and shakes it, but there's nothing
          else. She notices that the Bible -is in a foreign language.
          There's an ink stamp on the inside cover. it's in the sa me.
          language as the Bible. "See on saarne rnatituat omand."
          She focuses on two words: seamne.Inatituut.

          

          

          

          

          91.

          INT. FAMILY ROOK! - DAY

          Daniel gets up from the.game.

          DORIS
          Where are you going?

          DANIEL
          Bathroom.
          Esther eyes him as he leaves.

          INT. DOWNSTAIRS HALLWAY - DAY -

          Daniel hurriedly sneaks toward John's den, but stops just outside.
          Be hears a keyboard CLACKING and warily peers around the. corner.
          Kate ia'working on John's computer. Daniel eyes the KEEPSAKE BOX.
          .No way to get to it unseen. Be thinks a beat, then slips away...

          'INT. JOHN'S DEN - DAY

          Kate googles "SAARNE INSTITUUT." All the sites that come tap are
          in the same language as Esther's Bible. She sighs, frustrated.
          Then she sees something -- a photo of a Gothic mansion. The sign
          out front reads: "Saarne Instituut." Kate recognizes it   -
          instantly. It's the same Gothic mansion from Bather's paintings.
          She scours the web site for anything' decipherable. There's a -
          link: "KONTAKT JA XNFO." She clicks it. There's a phone number.

          INT. GARAGE -- DAY

          Daniel looks around, finds what he's looking for: a TIRE IRON.

          INT. JOHN'S DEN - DAY

          Kate is on the phone, anxiously 'listening to the TONE of a foreign
           telephone ringing.- Then:

          RECEPTIONIST 01 (V.0.)
          Saarne Instituat. Xas ins -eaan teid

          AIDATA7

          KATE
          Uh, hello.- I'm sorry, do you speak
          English?

          RECEPTIONIST #1 (V.0.)
          Ruidas, palun7

          KATE
          Do you speak.English? Does anybody
          there speak-English? This is very-
          important.

          

          

          

          

          92.

          RECEPTIONIST #1 (V.0.)
          Ma ei sac aru. Dote Like silmapilk.
          Kate starts to-say somethf.ng, but she's interrupted by HOLD MUSIC.

          EXT. TREEHOUSE - DAY  

          I)aAje runs
          lookslaround. o The coast is clear. Hetstarts�climbing...

          INT. JOHN'S DEN - DAY

          Kate is still .on -hold. , Finally-, a MAX' picks up. Be speaks
          English with the same ACCENT as Esther.
          RECEPTIONIST #2 (V.a.)
          Hello?

          KATE
          Is this the Saarne Institute?

          RECEPTIONIST #2 (V.O.)
          yes.

          KATE
          I need to talk to someone about one of
          your children. She was adopted by.an
          American family about a year ago.

          RECEPTIONIST #Z
          I beg your pardon?

          KATE
          A little girl, possibly adopted from
          your orphanage. I'm trying to find
          somebody who might remember her.

          RECEPTIONIST #2 (V.O.)
          This girl, she is -not come from here.

          KATE
          Can't you at least check?

          RECEPTIONIST #2'(V.0.)
          No, I am sorry.

          KATE
          Please, I know she at least spent some
          time there.'

          RECEPTIONIST #2 (V.O.)
          No, 'ou not understand. Saarne
          Institute is not orphanage. It is
          mental hospital.
          Off Rate's shocked reaction:

          

          

          

          

          93.

          V. INT. /EXT. TREEHOU SE . -:-'DAY.

          CRAAAACK! Daniel uses the tire iron'to pry the hasp off the
          treehouse door. The wood SPLINTERS and the hasp comes free.
          He enters and looks'around. Nothing unusual. He throws back the
          rug and pulls up the loose plank. Max's "Hello Kitt l" backpack is
          stuffed inside. He unzips it, his, eyes going wide with ho or...
          r r
          he pulls Bsther' blood-stained d ess fro t L e �c ck.

           ESTHER (0.S.)
           I couldn't have,done it by myself, you -
          know.
          Daniel whirls around. 'CAMERA REVEALS Esther standing in the
          doorway behind him.- She's holding something behind her back.

          ESTHER -
          Max is just ag-guilty as I am.
          She steps toward him'and he backs..away, angered by her words, but
          wary of those hands-behind her back. What's she biding...7

          DANIEL
          You leave her alone.

          ESTHER
          Think about it. Somebody had to have
          helped me. If they find that dress,
          they won't just be coming for me.
          They'll becoming for Max, too.. Is
          that really what you want?
          She's maneuvering him away from the door. Daniel screws up-his
          courage and stands his ground.

          DANIEL -
          You're full of shit. I'm telling Mom
          what you did and you're gonna fry for
          it.

          ESTHER

          (SIGHS)
          All right. I was just trying to be.
          nice.
          And with that: she takes a can CHARCOAL, LIGHTER FLUID from
          behind her back and tazts snravina the-floor At Daniel's feet
          with Al. He gasps' and jumps back as it SPLATTERS in. front of hire.
          She douses the floor from one side to the other.
          Then she opens a BOOK OF MATCHES and lights one. Daniel blanches,

          ESTHER
          Goodbye, Daniel.

          

          

          

          

          94.
          She drops the match. - The lighter fluid IGNITES 'and a
          wall between Daniel the door, Esther smiles at
          him through fire the ER Tgl,pp3ES trapped.

          INT. JOHN' S DEN - -.DAY .

          Kate talks on the phone. She's e-mailing a picture of Esther.

          KATE
          It's called the Saarne Institute. S-A -
          A-R-N-E. it's in Estonia:

          INT. HOME FOR GIRLS - OFFICE - DAY

          Sister Judith jots down the info.. -

          SISTER JUDITH
          Estonia? This can't be right. All he r
          paperwork is from Russia.

          INT. JOHN'S DEN -.DAY


          KATE
          Please, just try to find out if sh e was
          ever a patient there. I'm sending them
          a-picture of her right now.

          INT./EXT. TREEHOUSE - DAY

          SMOKE pours from the treehouse. Esther has climbed down and is
          watching it burn . Inside, Daniel is surrounded by FLAM ES, choking
          on black smoke. He stumbles to a window and sticks his head out.

          DANIEL

          MOMI HELP! M0000MI
          The fire closes in. The place is going up like a tinderbox. He
          carefully climbs out the window and stands- on the sill, fifteen
          feet off the ground.

          DANIEL

          MOOOOM!1
          He hugs the side of the treehouse, panicked. The FLAMES grow
          higher, licking at his feet. No place to go now but up.
          He reaches for the edge of the roof and struggles to pull himself
          onto it, his legs kicking out over empty space. He gets an elbow
          on the sloped roof and starts wriggling up onto it...
          .suddenly -- he sue. He glide dawn, arel grabbing the q2 9
          t h e with his fin e s aJ the last seco Esther gasps,
           excited, like she's the front row of a great sports event.

          DANIEL

          MOMMYI HELP MSEEII

          

          

          

          

          95..

          `.. INT. JOHN'S DEN DAY

           Kate's still on the phone. She glances out window
           backyard and the woods beyond. Suddenly, her eyes wide. theA
           COLOMN OF SMOKE rises above the treeetop s. Realization- and horror
           slam home at the same time. t.

           EXT. TREEHOOSE - DAY

           Daniel fights desperately to hang on. Bother watches, eyes wide
           with exhilaration. For alone, breathless beat ��ajustt.�gs a
           there, dangling helplessly, fingers slipping y.
           hen hg loses ,dg l b ur[-gts to ou d.
          He lands hard and doesn't move. Esther walks over and crouches
          next to him. She touches his neck for a pulse. He's still alive.
          Esther pouts, disappointed. She- looks around, finds a HEA VY ROCK.
          She lifts it over her head, ready to cave. in Daniel's skull...
          Sudde l Y, Max rus e innc3 ushe gsa�► knck
          from her hands. Esther whirls on Max, eye s flashing i rage. g
          But then Kate is there, running up the path with Doris not far
          behind. Kate sees Daniel's rumppledabodyta and his her world collapses,
          everything else falling away.

          KATE
          Oh, my God! Daniell Baby, can you
          hear me? Please, baby! Wake up.
          He doesn't move. Kate calls out to Doris:.

          KATE
          Call nine-one--onel
          Doris hurries back to the house. Kate catches Esther watching her
          warily.. Kate glares at her with pure hate.

          EXT. COLEMAN RESIDENCE - DAY'

          FIREFIGIITERS have arrived to put out the treehouse. NEIGHBORS
          gather to gawk. Max is in the house, watching from the window as
          EMTS load Daniel into an ambulance. He's still unconscious an d in
          full cervical immobilization. Doris bowers nervously.- gby Kthe atewrist.
          climbs in with Daniel, angrily dragging Esther

          KATE
          Get in here.

          DORIS
          She can ride with us.

          KATE
          I'm not letting her out of my sight..

          

          

          

          

          96.-

          INT. HOSPITAL - WAITING ROOM - NIGHT

          Hours later. The-whole-family-waiting fpr-news  Kate and John
          sit across from one another; The silence and tension heavy
          between its with irls- DOC WAN)
           en ers. Kate a drthesothers are inst ntly on eir feet:

           DR. RAJAH. '
           Me stopped.-the abdominal bleeding. -
           Ue1B should
           consider b yourselves ery lucky

          V
          Relief 'floods over .Kate and John. Esther listens, intent...

          JOHN
          Can we see him? -

          DR. RAJAN
          In a little while. He 'a resting in

          ICU. -

          KATE
          Will he be able to tell us what
          happened?
          A pointed glance-between Kate and John. Dr. Rajan doesn't notice.

          DR. RAJAN
          It's possible. There's no way of -
          knowing for sure what he'll remember
          until he wakes up.
          Esther shifts nervously. Not the answer she was hoping for...

          INT. HOSPITAL -,WAITING-ROOM.- NIGHT (TIMECUT)

          Rate has taken John aside, voices low, out of earshot of the
          .others. She's shown him two pieces of paper: One is'a pa inting
          Esther did of the old Gothic mansion.. The other in a printout of
          the photo from the-Saarne Institute's web site.

          _ KATE
          She-told me she just made it up, but
          it's.a real place.

          JOHN
          There has to be some other explanation.
          She didn't come from an insane asylum!

          KATE
          How do we know? The orphanage we
          thought she came from has never even'
          heard of her[- Everything. about her
          could be a lie!  

          

          

          

          

          97.

          JOHN -
          We have her passport, her birth
          certificate, her school and medical- .
          records --

          KATE
          It's just paper, JohnI From halfway
          around the world!-- This isn't last me
          being paranoid. Call. Saint Cabrini's
          yourself. if 'you don't believe me.
          A beat. John looks like he's wavering.

          RATE
          Your own mother was there this time.
          Only Esther or Daniel could have
          started that fire. I know who I think
          did It. Do you? .

          JOHN
          I don't know what to think anymore.

          KATE
          Well, I'm done connecting the dots for
          you. You can believe what you want
          about me. Blame me for everything.
          I'll leave tonight if you want me to,
          on one condition.

          (BEAT)
          Esther goes, too.

          ACROSS THE ROOM
          Esther watches Kate and John. She can't hear what'they're saying.
          She looks worried. She turns to Doris.

          ESTHER
          Can I have a dollar for the pop
          machine?
          Doris gives her a dollar.from her'purse. Esther smiles and heads
          toward the vending machines.. Max watches her go.
          But as soon as Esther's out of sight, her cheery face turns to
          graiii.te. She puts the dollar in her pocket and sneaks away...

          INT. FOYER - NIGHT

          Back at home, the phone RINGS. The answering machine picks up. A
          MAN with an Estonian accent (DR. VARAVA) leaves a message:

          DR. VXMVA (V.O. )
          I'm.calling for Katherine Coleman. -
          This is Doctor V.rava from the Saarne
          Institute in Tallinn. Please- cill me
          immediately;..

          

          

          

          

          98.

          INT. HOSPITAL - ICU - NIGHT

          Esther peers through a door.and sees Daniel lying unconscious with
          a rigid A traction, both
          his arms by wires heart rate monitor BEEPS
          Esther approaches his bed like the angel of deaths slowly drawing
          the CURTAIN around them. The HEART RATE MONITOR Is clipped to his
          finger. Esther slips .it onto her own finger. The machine
          continues to BEEP, registering her heartbeat instead of his.
          Slowly, she climbs up onto the bed, prowling like,a cat. She
          carefully straddles him and takes a pillow from under his head.
          The movement causes him to stir. His eyelids flutter. At the
          last moment, he sees her looming, over him...
            Then s 'ash s the ' i� 1 down ova hin face. he al
          Daniel struggles,. but he can barely move, traction wires JANGLING
          as he thrashes helplessly. His SCREAMS are muffled under the
          pillow. Esther viciously presses down with all her strength...

          INT. HOSPITAL - WAITING ROOM - NIGHT

          Max sits next to Doris, staring at. the hallway that leads tor-the
          .vending area, waiting
           She get s s p. walk toward iit, re d aounting.�looks worried.
           t u and s d a
          Maxine, where are you going?
          Max turns the corner. The vending area is empty. Esther isn.'t
          there. Max's eyes go wide with fear.

          INT. HOSPITAL -- ICU - NIGHT

          Daniel has stopped struggling. When Esther finally lifts the ,
           pillow, his eyes are
          them a and slid s the pillow d u is headr gently closes
           e nderneath h
          Then she climbs down from the bed and slips the heart rate monitor
          back on his finger. FLATLINE. An ALARM sounds.

          IN. HOSPITAL - WAITING ROOM - NIGHT
          Max runs up to Kate and John. She urgently yanks Kate's arm.

          KATE
          What-is it, sweetie?
          Suddenly, a CALL comes on the overhead speakers:

          HOSPITAL OPERATOR (V.0.)
          Code ninety-nine, ICU. Code ninety-
          nine, ICU.

          

          

          

          

          99.
          .Dr. Rajan runs by at top speed. Kate gasps, panicked.

          RATE
          Oh, My. God... Daniell
          She and John run after Dr. Rajan. Doris quickly grabs Max to keep
          her from following.
          INT. HOSPITAL -. lCD - NIGHT
          Kate and John follow Dr. Rajan.to the room where a CODE TEAM races
          to resuscitate Daniel.

          KATE
          Dan.iL-I!
          Kate and John try to enter the room, but the ICU NURSE stops them.

          KATE
          What's happening --?1

          ICU NURSE
          You have to stay out here. _
          They catch a glimpse of Dr. Rajan picking up defibrillator paddles
          before the door is SLANHEI) in their terrified faces.
          INT. HOSPITAL - ICU - NIGHT (TIMECtT)

           
          Rate and John sit outside, waiting. Dr. Rajan emerges. His face
          tells.them everything. Rate's crying before he even says a word.

          DR. RAJAN
          I'm sorry.. His injuries were more
          severe than we first thought.
          John chokes back tears. He holds Kate close as she sobs.

          KATE
          Oh, no... Oh, no... Oh, my baby... _

          DR. RAJAN
          We're so sorry. A terrible loss, we're
          so sorry...
          Kate gets up and rushes into Daniel's room in time to see the ICU
          Nurse cover his body with a sheet. Kate collapses to the floor,
          weak with horror and grief. John tries to comfort her.
          Then slowly, Kate's eyes turn steely and her grief burns into
          rage. She pushes. John away and stands up.

          RATE
          Where is she?

          

          

          

          

          INT. HOSPITAL -- WAITING 'ROOM NIGHT

          Kate storms in and looks-'around, her-face a mask, of fury. John
           hurries after her. She spots Esther. returning from ding
          machines, - innocently sipping a. e c h t e 'ven

          KATE
          What did you do?!
          Heads'turi. Doris and Max are taken aback. Kate looks insane.
          She strides.toward Esther, gaining momentum with every step, but
          Esther just looks up at her with a half-hidden smile on her fa ce.

             RATE,
           What did"you do to him, you bitch?!.
          Them ,he slaps sE ther As ha as she. cmn h t e face, sending
           her reeling to it fioot  Everyone is-horrified.

          JOHN
          Kate! Stop it!
          Rate looks ready to hit her again, but a NURSE holds her back.

          WAITING ROOM NURSE

          ORDERLY I
          Esther touches her mouth. She's bleeding. For a beat, she just
          lies r sr - uina
           shock he Th o John u and-in g bursts a into tear sen
           en-shewsees stantly

          ESTHER
          Daddy! Daddy! Help me!
          John scoops her into his arms; Kate is apoplectic. It takes TWO
          ORDERLIES to hold her. Max watches, crying.

          KATE
          She killed him! He was going to live
          and she killed him!1

          JOHN
          She was out here the whole time!
          Dr. Rajan rushes in, readying a syringe.  

          KATE  
          No! Get away from me l i!

          DR. RAJAH
          Hold her still!
          A small crowd has gathered, watching with horror and pity as the
          Orderlies overpower her. Dr. Rajan-grabs Kate's arm, quickly
          hunts for a vein, then jabs the needle-in. Kate screams.

          

          

          

          

          101.
          Pleaeet Somebody listen to me! She
          killed. my. babyI She killed my baby...
          But her eyelids are already. drooping . John watches, nearly
          overwhelmed with emotion. Kate goes limp in the Orderlies' arms.

          INT. HOSPITAL ROOM - NIGHT

          Kate lies in a bed, barely conscious. A NURSE. pushes -a 'sedative
          into an IV tube taped to Kate's arm. Rate looks -up 'groggily. and
          sees John talking to Dr. Rajan.

          DR. RAJAH
          We can keep her sedated overnight.
          John nods. He waits for Dr. Rajan and the Nurse to leave, then
          walks over and looks,down at Kate. She's fighting to stay awake.

          JOHN
          Mom's driving us home. I think it's
          better if you stay here tonight. I
          don't want you around the kids like
          this.
          Kate weakly grasps his hand, her voice a thready whisper:

          KATE
          John... Please... Please don't let
          her take my family...
          A long, emotional beat. John hesitates, conflicted.
          Then he places her hand back on the bed and turns away. She tries
          to call out, but doesn't have the strength. - She sees the girls
          waiting in-the hallway. Max has been crying. She looks scared.
          John leads them all away. And the last thing Kate sees-before
          blacking-out again is Esther's devious smile...

          EXT. COLEMAN RESIDENCE - ESTABLISHING - NIGHT

          LIGHTNING flashes in the distance. There's a storm coming.

          INT. MAX'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

          John tucks Max into bed. When he leans down to kiss her, we see
          Esther watching from the doorway. Max eyes her warily...

          JOHN
          What's wrong, sweetheart? -

          ESTHER
          She's thinking about Daniel.
          (to Max)
          Aren't you?

          

          

          

          

          1.02.
          Max reluctantly nods. John gives her a sad look.

          JOHN
          Me, tQO.
          Esther enters and stands next to john at Max's bedside.

          BSTHER -
          Sweet dreams. -
          As she kisses max good night, Esther fuitively redches out and
          grabs Max's HEARING AID from off her.nigbtstand...
          l f 7T. ESTHER'S BEDROOM - NIGHT -
          Esther stands at her closet, 'looking through-her pretty dresses,
          leasantly.SUNG to herself. She holds one up to her chin,
          looks at herself in the mirror. Then another. She chooses a
          RUFFLY DRESS and lays it out on her bed. Shersands ov er it with a
          a pair of-Scissors in her h a nd , e y eing -it app g y.
          After -a thoughtful beat, she starts cutting its rufflesoff...

          INT. FOYER - NIGHT

          Esther's HUMMING can be heard O.S. John trudges downstairs,.
          exhausted and emotionally devastated. He-goes into the, living
            room, slumps in a chair, buries his face in his hands, and cries.
           CAMERA PULLS BACK, revealing the unnoticed answering machine in
           f.g. The light on it is BLINKING. One new message...

           TNT. UPSTAIRS HALLWAY - NIGHT
           walks down the hall,�ray with her dress draped over h er-army
           stillHUM MING. goes into the bathroom and c oses doo

          L

          INT. HOSPITAL ROOM - NIGHT

          Esther's HUMMING continues, no other sound here at'all...
          Rate comes to, fighting her drug-induced stupor. She forces
          herself to sit up and gingerly pulls the IV needle out of her arm.

          INT. HOSPITAL - ICU -- NIGHT

          Esther's HUMK NG.continues, still no sound. Kate stands in rthede.
          doorway. The bed Daniel was lying in is already-empty and
          as if -he was never here. RAIN streaks down the window.
          ]Cate enters and sits down heavily next to the bed. She touches
          the place where her son lay dead only bourn before. She brehks
          down and sobs inconsolably, but we can't hear it, only the SUMMING
          of Esther's lighthearted, melodic tune.

          

          

          

          

          103.

          INT. FAMILY ROOM - NIGHT

          Back to NORMAL SOUND. John sits on the sofa, eyes red anti teary,
          watching a videotape-of Daniel pla'irig soccer. There's a NOISE
          from the kitchen.. Be_pauses the video, listens.
          A moment later, $OFT'KUSIC starts vlayin3 Q.S. An old, crackly
          recording from the forties of The Ink Spots singing "I'M MAKING
          BELIEVE." Sentimental, bittersweet, and a little creepy.
          Baffled, John goes to the kitchen...  

          INT. KITCHEN - NIGHT  

          ... and stops short at what he sees.
          Esther stands on a chair, cutting slices of cheese with a LARGE
          KNIFE. -She's prepared a plate of fruit, cheese,-and-crackers.
          She's wearing the dress we saw her choose, but with some
          alterations. The ruffles are gone, so are-the sleeves. It's low
          cut and too grown up. Her hair is perfectly curled and her face
          is caked with makeup --- powder, red lipstick, thick mascara, dark
          eyeliner -- giving her a grotesque, woman-child, eight-year-old-
          beauty-queen look. JonBenet Ramsey by way of Angelina Jolie.
          John is stupefied. She szailes at him. Outside, THUNDER RUMBLES.

          ESTHER 4
          Hello, darling.

          JOHN
          What are you doing?

          ESTHER - -
          Making you a snack. You skipped your
          dinner.

          JOHN
          Get down from there. That knife's too
          sharp for you to be playing with.
          Esther climbs down from the chair and nonchalantly carries the
          cheese and cracker plate to the dining room, as-if he hadn't said
          anything. John follows her, dumbfounded...

          INT. DINING ROOM.- NIGHT

          There are TWO GLASSES and a bottle of SPARKLING WATER on the
          dining room table. Dim lighting and romantic MUSIC. John is
          completely nonplussed. 'Esther sets the cheese plate on the table.

          JOHN
          What is this? -

          

          

          

          

          104.

          ESTHER.--
          I wanted to do something special for
          you. I don't like my daddy to be
          unhappy.

          JOHN -
          But why are you dressed like that?

          $STHSR
          Don't you like it?

          JOAN
          No, I don't.- You're not supposed to
          play with Mommy's makeup.

            ESTHER
          I'm sorry, sir. I.just want to be as'
          pretty for you-as she is.

          JOHN
          You don't need makeup to be pretty.
          Esther is touched. She gazes up at. him lovingly.

          ESTHER
          You really mean that, don't you?

          JOHN
          of course. Why don't you go wash your
          face and we'll tuck you back into bed.

          ESTHER -
          But-1 worked so hard. Can't we stay up
          just a little longer?
          She gives him the big, sad eyes. They're a little disconcerting
          under all the makeup.. John sighs.'

          JOHN
          -All right. We'll have a little snack
          and then off -to bed.
          Esther beams. John sits down, reluctantly humoring her. Esther
          starts pouring sparkling water into the glasses.

          ESTHER
          We really. should be drinking that
          bottle-of wine, but I couldn't find it.

          JOHN
          Little girls aren't allowed to drink
          wine.

          ESTHER.
          I'm not so little. To family..

          

          

          

          

          105.
          She raises a glass in toast.: John gives her a sad look, but goes
          along with it. They-CLINK their .glasses together and drink.
          But. instead of sitting down,'Esther continues to stand next to
          'him. She picks up a piece of cheese and tries to feed it to him.
          John eyes her uneasily'. 'Be takes the cheese from her.and eats it.

          JOHN  
          Why don't you sit down?

          ESTBER
          I like being close to you.
          She gazes into his eyes and.touches his face. John moves her hand
          away, suddenly very uncomfortable. She hesitates, nervous...
          then eans saes Qn h. John grabs her
          arms and abruptly pushes. her away xn-shock and near-panic.

          ESTHER
          What's wrong? 

          JOHN
          Don't ever do that again.

          ESTBSR
          I. thought you loved me. You said I was
          pretty.

          JOHN
          Of course, I love you. But not...
          it's different than how I love Mommy.
          You're my little girl.

          ESTHER
          Will you stop saying that? We can be
          together now, don't you see? She can't
          come-between us anymore.

          JOHN
          Who can't? You mean Mommy?

          ESTHBR
          She's not my inormyl Please, sir, I'll
          do anything for you...
          She reaches out to touch his face again, but he grabs her hand.

          JOHN
          Esther, stop it! I mean it. This is
          wrong.

          ESTHER
          Am I being bad? -   You can spank me. it
          you-'.d like. I'll let you. I won't,
          evn cry. Unless you want me to.

          

          

          

          

          106.
          John gapes with-disgust and horror,. He looks like he-might vomit.

          JOHN.
          God ouoin 
          A beat. Esther looks heartbroken. Suddenly, she tries to kiss
          him again, desperate this time, throwing herself at him,
          pushes her to the floor. She frantically crawls back to him. Be
          hurries to the other side of the table.

          ESTHER
          Please! Please! You're ruin.ing it!

          JDHN
          Jesus Christ, lust stop talking! Go
          upstairs and wipe that shit off your
           facel Right nowt
          Esther runs upstairst crying.- John just gapes in utter disma and
          revulsion. He runs Into the kitchen and throws up in the sink.

          INT. ESTHER'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

          Esther situ at her little vanity table, looking at her overly made-
          up face in the mirror, and sobs hysterically...

            INT. HOSPITAL - ICU - NIGHT. -

          Kate is still sitting at Daniel's empty. bed, eyes red and puffy
          from crying. Outside, it's RAINING HARDER. Lightning FLASHES.
          Her CELL PHONE CHIMES. She eyes it wearily, considers not
          answering. 'After a few RINGS,-she picks up.,

          KATE
          Hello?

          DR. VARAVA V.O.)
          is this Katherine Coleman?

          KATE
          Who's calling?

          INTERCUT:

          INT. SAARNE INSTITUTE - MORNING

          -Doctor Varava is a craggy-faced an in'his 50's. His manner is
          urgent, almost desperate. as he speaks on the phone.

          DR. VARAVA .
          My name is Doctor Varava from the
          Saarne Institute. I got your mobile
          number from Sister Judith.
          Kate sits up, suddenly roused.

          

          

          

          

          107.

          RATE
          Did you get the picture I:sent? Did
          you recognize her?

          DR. VARAVA-
          Yes, X did. Where is she now? Is- she.
          with you? -

           KATE
           No, she's at home with my husband.

           DR. VARAVA
           Neetudl Call him ut and to
           get your family of � e ush er
           call the police. -

          KATE
          He won't do it. He's not going to do
          anything without some kind of proof.

          DR. VARAVA
          Then tell him that the little girl in
          that picture isn't a little girl.
          Kate stops short, confused and suddenly frightened.

          KATE .
          What are you talking about? The
          picture I sent, you was of our adopted
          daughter. She's only eight years old.

          DR, VARAVA.
          -No, she's not. She has a pituitary
          disorder that causes proportional
          dwarfism. She only Jcz Tike a child.

          INT. ESTHER'S BEDROOM -- NIGHT

          We're intercuttinq now with Esther at her vanity, her crying
          building to a MANIACAL WAIL, her MAKEUP STREAKING. from her tears.

          DR. VARAVA
          Her real name is Veera Klammer, she
          escaped from here eighteen months ago
          and she's thirty-two years old!
          Esther SCREAMS, slowly scratching her face with her fingernails..

          RESUME KATE AND VARAVA
          Kate's mind is reeling.

          KATE
          This can't be. There has to be a
          mistake.

          

          

          

          

          108.

          DR. VAPAVA
          Does she have the scars?

          RATE
          What scars?

          ESTHER

          -
          has stopped crying, her sorrow burning into blind, monstrous rage.
          She glares at her reflection, her mascara smeared down her cheeks.

          DR. 'VARAV-
          We'had to keep het .in a restraint
          jacket when she was here to stop her
          .from hurting' our staff, but she was
          constantly fighting against it until
           the collar and cuffs began deep into
           her skin. She wound up p scars
           from it. Around her wrists and neck;
           Esther black from her wrists and
           neck, revealing althe ly r scars over sew

           RATE AND VARAVA

           RATE

            E
           Oh, my God... - ow could this have
           happened? H

          DR. - VARAVA
          She's been passing herself off as a
          child for most of her life. 'She worked
          as a prostitute for years, catering to
          wealthy pedophiles.

          ESTHER
          curls her upper lip, looking at her top teeth. She reaches up,
          pulls on her teeth and -- RA-CLICK. y come out

          DR. VARAVA
          She even had a dental.appliance'made to
          complete the illusion by disguising her
          adult teeth.
           Re r- gerfect, earl white }aabY Beth e- d8rn at a
          f, e s t of- CRgmp, Eoia,
          fTx.
          DR. VtAVA
          When she was finally arrested, she
          continued the pretense to stay out of
          jail and: was sent to an orphanage.

          

          

          

          

          109.

          A K TE .AD VARAVA

           DR.' VARAVA
          You're not the first to have been
          fooled. She's even-been adopted
          before. A family here in Estonia took
          her in.and lived with her fog over six.
          months. They never suspected.
          Kate-hesitatesa'b.eat, almost afraid to ask:

          KATE
          But why was ahe at your hospital?

          DA. VARAVA
          Veera is dangerously insane.. She was
          molested by her father and sexualized
          at a very early age. When. he. took
          another lover, he told Veera it was
          because she could heverbe a real
          woman. Veera murdered them both.

          ESTHER
          just stares at herself in the mirror. With her scars revealed,
          her face scratched, her mascara streaked down 'to her chin, and her
          awful, yellow, snaggletoothed sneer, she looks like a monster.

          DR. VARAVA
          She now sees herself as trapped in the
          body of a. child and it disgusts her.
          She wants to. be what her father
          considered to be a "real woman." She t
          wants o be a wife, a mother, a lover.
          She wants to grow up. -
          Suddenly, -she grabs her chair and SMASHES the mirror with it.
          Then she whirls and swings the chair into her aquarium with a
          'feral scream --= CRASH! Water-and fish flood onto the floor.

          DR. VARAVA
          When she was adopted here in Estonia,
          = she tried to find love where she had
          found as a child. With her new lather.
          When he refused her, she bordered the
          entire family in, their sleep.

          END INTERCUT:

          KATE
          And then she burned the house down...

          DR. VARAVA
          Yes. How did you know?
          off Kate's horrified look --

          

          

          

          

           110.  

          4,. INT. ESTHER'S BEDROOM - NIGHT.

          John pushes the door open and looks inside.

          JOHN
          Esther? Are you-all right?
          She's not here. The light is on, but the room is empty. Fish are
          still FLAPPING around on the floor,-mouths. gasping. John gives
          the-broken aquarium an unnerved look.

          JOHN
          Esther, where are you?
          No answer. He turns off the light, about to look "elsewhere...
          then stops. With the overhead light off, the room is lit only
           by the black light in Either ' s broken aquar i u m, t 7UVALI ma
           Esther s p a n i tin ha a chap n S 's painted t = that they
          ook f een vri d er black h - - - John takes a closer look,
           turning the black light on and o ff.
          Unde gal lights the painting he saw when he first met Esther,-
          a mother lion and her sleeping cubs. .[Inds black Limos the cube
          are now dead and 'the mother's mouth .s dripping with blood.
          The paintings that looked like typical family portraits in normal
          light are now nightmarish visions of death and violence. In one,
          Kate's eyes have been gouged out. In another, Daniel's throat has
          been slashed. In the picture of the whole family, John- and Esther
          look normal, but Kate, Daniel, and Max are all decomposed corpses.
          John staggers back in shock. The telephone RINGS, startling him.
          The answering machine picks up. He hears KATE.'SVOICE,

          KATE (V. 0.
          John? Are you there?

          EXT. HOSPITAL PARKING LOT -- NIGHT

          Kate is on her cell., running to the- car. -

          KATE -
          John[ For God's sake, pick up the
          fucking phone!

          INT. ESTHER'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

          John turns to leave  -- suddenly, th r bursts out mom undo her
           pile "of stuffed animals with ,s, 3ILD SC   Sj3g a n he he�se�lf
          at John If rom the bed, } labs her scissors into his eve.
          John screams and throws herto the floor. Be stumbles out of the
          room, blood streaming down his face.

          

          

          

          

          UPSTAIRS HALLWAY
          John staggers to the stairs, the handle of the scissors jutting
          from his eye socket. But just as he hits. the first step, Baer
          rushes out and pushes tine cMm  the etz{rs.

          FOYER
          John-goes flying, head over heels, crashing into the railing hard
          enough to SPLINTER it, and lands hard at the foot of the stairs.
          Be lies there in a heap, too stunned. to move. Esther appears at
          the top of the stairs. looking down at him. She. has a JU} P ROPE
          in her hands and starts slowly walkinq toward him, softly singing:

          ESTHER
          When I was juuust, a lifitle g .iirl
          I asked'my mother, what .will I be...
          leg is broke John tries to stand, but cries out in agony. Big
          He looks up, sees the table with the PHONE on it. As he painfully
          crawls toward it, Esther closes in on him, singing and winding the
          jump' rope around her fists like a garotte.

          -ESTHER -
          Que sera, sera, Whatever will be, will
          be... The future's not ours to see...
          John reaches for the phone, actually touches it, when Esther
          straddles him from nd,- the iump rope around his neck,
          and starts strangling with it. The phone.falls out of reach.
          John itoo dazed from the fall to fight.

          EST[3ER
          When I grew uuup and feeell in looove
          I asked my sweetheart what lies ahead
          Will we have rainbows, day after day
          Here's what my sweetheart said.-..
          John chokes t clawing at the rope as she twists it tighter aid
          tighter. Finally, his head droops his remaining eye goes blank.
          Be'a dead. Esther gently lowers has body to the floor, a tear
          running down her cheek. She kisses him. Whispers in his ear:

          ESTHER
          Qua sera, sera.
          Suddenly -- a GASP from upstairs. Esther whirls.
          I 's 5 N ax.. She stands atop the .stairs,- paralyzed- with fear. She's,
           seen everything. Esther, looks-u at her with a reassuring smile
           on her awful, mascara-streaked, blood-splattered monster face.

           ESTHER
           It's all right, baby. -Come to Mommy.

          

          

          

          

          312.

          I
          Max runs away. Esther scowls.

          ESTHER
          Shit l.
          She scrambles to her feet..

          INT. JOHN'.S DUN NIGHT

          'Esther Pulls John's gun case down-from the closet shelf,
          frantically unlocks it, and grabs the }.

          INT.TEXT. JOHN'S CAR -.NIGHT

          Kate is speeding home, talking on her cell phone.

          911 OPERATOR ' (V . 0. )
          Dracena nine-one-one. What is-your
          emergency?

          KATE
          I need the police. There's an intruder
          in my home. _

          INT. MAX'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

          Esther enters, gun in hand, turns on the light. Max isn't here.
          Esther looks under the bed, opens the closet. Nothing.

          UPSTAIRS HALLWAY
          Max carefully peers out from.around a corner...
          Suddenly -- no sound.. This is how Max experiences the world. A
          silent vacuum. Her perspective is shot MOS.
          The hallway is empty and Max cautiously maces her way toward the
          stairs. Suddenly, Esther emerges from Max's room. Max quickly
          ducks into Daniel's room. Esther doesn't see her:

          DANXEL'S BEDROOM
          Max looks around for, a place to hide. She sees a TOY ROBOT lying
          on the floor amongst Daniel's things...

          KATE AND JOHN'S BEDROOM
          Esther is searching the walk-in-closet when she hears a LOUD NOISE
          from Daniel's room - something heavy falling over. She smiles.

          UPSTAIRS HALLWAY
          Esther edges toward Daniel's room, gun raised. There's a STRANGE
          GRINDING SOUND coming from inside...

          0

          

          

          

          

          7I

          113.

          DANIEL'S. BEDROOM
          Esther enters and looks around, confused. There's a PM OF BOOKS
          that.have been knocked to the floor, but Max isn't here.
          Then she sees what's making the GRINDING noise.' It's the TOY.
          ROBOT. It's been placed atop a bookshelf, motor grinding, walking
          on wobbly legs. As it walks, it pushes books off the edge of the,
          bookshelf- onto the floor. That's what made the noise that lured
          her here. Esther scowls furiously at the robot and SHOOTS it.
          Her back is to.the doorway, so she doesn't see Max emerge from her
          hiding place in the bathroom. and slip- past.
          INT.fEXT. JOHN'S CAR -.NIGHT
          Racing through. the streets, running stop lights. Rate is still on
          her cell. -

          POLICE OPERATOR (V.O.)
          we have officers on the way, ma' amn.

          RATE
          Well, where the hell are they? Jesus
          Christ, I'll be there before they will

          POLICE OPERATOR (V.0.)
          Ma'am,- I need you to stay calm. 'Do not
          approach the house. Let the officers ---
          Rate hangs. up.

          INT. BATHROOM - NIGHT

          Esther enters, looks in the linen closet, pulls back the shower
          curtain. Nothing. she's getting frustrated.

          SUNROOM
          Streaking rain casts frightening shadowa in the glassed-in
          terrace. Max quickly sneaks in and crawls under one. of the
          numerous plant tables. Hanging leaves droop almost to the floor,
          hiding. her. But as she curls up in the shadows, she bumps into a
          table leg and unknowingly knocks over a FLOWER POT.
          MOS: -The flower pot SMASHES TO PIECES on the floor directly
          behind Max.' Naturally, she doesn't bear it.

          BATHROOM
          But E e does. She turns. Eyes narrowing, suspicious.

          SUNROOM -
          Max cowers underneath the table with her back to the door. She
          oesn gee Esther enter.

          

          

          

          

          114.
          Esther looks around. The room is dark and- still: She starts
          looking under the plant tables, vne by one,.HUMMING to herself.
          Max is facing away from Esther and. doesn't see her-approaching
          Can't hear her HUMMING. Es er 19 a ogin -,is ...
          Suddenly, TIRES can be heard SQUEALING- out on the street. Esther
          stops and hurries to look outside. She.stands right acr oss from
          where Max ia hiding and seen her. Max presses 'her knees
           to her chest, trying to di sappe4r wMa under the table.
          Esther doesn't notice. Max is-right behind her, there are pieces
          of BRO=N POTTERY right by Esther's feet, but she hhassher.face
          pressed to the rain-streaked glass, trying

          EXT. COLEMAN RESIDENCE -- NIGHT

          Fate 's the house. durb
           and SKIDS to a stop on the wet law n She jumps o of the ar and
           sprints to the house. c

           INT. SUNROOM - NIGHT

           Esther sees Kate and leaves. Max breathes a sigh of relief-

           INT. FOYER - NIGHT

           Kate bursts through the front door and-runs insider from
          the rain and s es'John�'s crumpled on t e floor.
           e h

          KATE
          John! Oh, my God! John!'1
          She rushes to him, but it's obvious that he's dead. She leans
          over his body and bursts into tears, aching at what has been done
          to him... then stop and steels herself for what ]sh jds to do..

          JOHN'S DEN
           Kate hurries to the keepsake box and rummages for the.keys. Can't.
           find them. She. quickly looks around. Her breath catches. The
          CASE l ies empty on t floor, u let sca tered around it.

          KITCHEN
          Kate. runs in, sobbing She sees the big knife that Esther was
          using earlier, grabs it. Reconsiders. She throws it aside an d
          instead draws a huge goddamn BUTCHER'S KNIFE from the knife block.

          MAX'S BEDROOM
          Kate throws the door open. Max's bed is empty.

          KATE
          No!!

          

          

          

          

          115.

          UPSTAIRS HALLWAY,.
          Kate runs back out, - crying, frustrated, knife' trembling in- her
          hand. She calls Esther out,.voice thundering with rage;.'

          KATE

          VEERAI VEERA KLAMMHRI -

          'DOWNSTAIRS
          Esther hears her real name and freezes. Realization bits. Gig.'s
          up. It's over. Her eyes flit, panicky. She quietly darts away.

          BASEMENT STAIRWAY
          Esther opens the- door to the basement. She pulls open the breaker
          box and starts flipping SWITCHES.

          UPSTAIRS HALLWAY
           Kate cautiously moves down the hall suddenly, he lights go
          plunging - tlw o se into darkness.

          KATE AND JOHN'S BEDROOM
          Max freezes.- Now-she's blind as well as deaf. The only light
          comes from the FLASHES OF LIGHTNING through rain-streaked windows.

          KATE AND JOHN'S BATHROOM
          Max hurries inside and hides in the linen closet.

          UPSTAIRS HALLWAY
          Esther sneaks upstairs, hugging the wall, gun held ready. She
          pauses at the top of the stairs, waiting. Lightning FLASHES.. 'The-
          hallway is empty. She sidles along the wall...

          LINEN CLOSET
          MOS: Max is huddled on the floor, terrified. Suddenly, there's a
          FLASH of lightning --'mid Bhe A= fiba movement t�mn qb The
          7oUvered slBts-.in .t225 t efo8�.

          KATE AND JOHN'S BATHROOM
          Th& shadowy fizmre is fate. She's within feet of Max's hiding
          place and doesn't know it.

          LINEN CLOSET
          MOS: Max watches the shadowy figure, nearly hyperventilating, not
          realizing that it'e Kate. It's coming closer, closer... then
          moves away. Max catches her breath.

          

          

          

          

          116.

          UPSTAIRS HALLWAY

           -
           Kate heads back toward the stairs'. 
          Esther raises the gun and --
           BLAM!  The knob on top of the bannister EXPLODES. Kate startles
           and whirls' to see Bather, just as she pulls
           frantically crawls/crabwalks into Esther's room, ehr teas ianother
           SHOT blows a chunk out of the moulding by

          ESTHER'S ROOM
           Kate stands by the door with her back to the wail, holding her
           bloody shoulder. Her eyes flit, searching for a weapon. Nothing.

           She's standing right outside the door. Kate breath.
           .Esther takes a wary step into the room, gun holds .her
          Suddenly, Kate lunges body checking Esther against the door.
          They struggle for the gun. It GOES OFF. Kate kno cks it out of
          Esther's hand and slams her to the floor, but Esth er is like a
          wild animal, kicking and shrieking and clawing at Kate'a face.
      
          For a moment, they're locked li ke that, Ka te's
          hand wringing Esther's neck,  Esther's thumb into Kate's
           wound. Kate screams in agony, twisting.
           Esther wriggles out from under her and scrabbles/slides into the
           hallway,-quickly scoops up the gun --

           FOYER
           =-bnt Rate mat-out TA S her 'and the tw-q of i o.tvmbl n
           down the s. They-hit the already splintered secon of the
           mailing and t gives way- -- CRASB 1   Rate and Esther fly through
           the smashed railing and fall a tangled heap. Kate
           cracks her head. The gun goe toSthe floor s
          They're both stunned by the fall, breath knocked out. Kate is
          dazed, unable to move. Esther recovers first, looks around for
          the gun, can't find it. Kate stirs, fighting to stay cons cious.
          Esther squirms away from her crawls over to John's body, and
          wrenches the scissor from his eye so ket. Kate sees her
          but can only watch helplessly as Esther stagg p towa-rd
          her, bloody scissors clutched in her little fist like a dagger,

          

          

          

          

          117.
          Then. TSOi hits Es a i�g the ' the head.
          ad and clocked her with a heavy Piece of Max 'has snuck up from be 1i
          Way to go, slugger ! the broken railing stung like a .basebal l bat.
          Esther stumbles to her 7mee6, but manages to shake it off. She
          slowly rises and turns on Max with a feral snarl.
          Max tries to- hit. her again, but Esther is ready this time and
          swats the blow aside. She rips the piece of railing from Max's
          bands and .tosses it across the .room. Then.she knocks Max to the
          floor with a fierce backhand from her fiberglass cast..

          XATE'
          eees this and desperately searches fot the gun. She spots it under'nder a nearby table and starts dragging he rself toward it...
           the Esther hears gun S he- es Y%ate
          for the guw,tnd at her, scissors raised above head g
           screaming with hate. Kate reaches whi the n. Esther 's ,
           almost-on her. Kate grabs the gun, ls a nd �

          Esther staggers back with a bZ hole an ehr the t .
          Max watches, wide--eyed, as Esther limply drops the scissors and
          gives the smoldering bullet hole in her chest a surprised look.
          Blood.trickles from her mouth. She looks up at Kate, frightened
          tears welling in her big, sad eyes.

          ESTHER
          Please" don't hurt me, Mommy.
          rat fucking chance, bitch. Kate SHOOTS her again. This one goes
          right between those pretty eyes.
          Esther falls to the floor, dead gaze staring at the ceiling, a
          pool of blood .expanding around her pretty Shirley Tem ple curls.
          Kate drops the gun and crawls over to Max, scooping her into her
          arms and hiding her face from the horrible sights all around them-
          For a long moment, mother anddaghte r o just�holdaeacheother close.
          Kate strokes Max's hair, cry ng u
          What Kate can't see"is the'slack, traumatized expression on Max's
          bloodied face. .vacant and emotionless. That spark you should see
          in the. eyes of a"child, gone forever.
          CAMERA PULLS BACK and we

          FADE - OUT .



                                         THE END