Living in an impersonal room in residential care, Howard, a 92 year old gay man just wants to die. With no friends left, and no family at all, his room represents his life, empty.
He sits with a carer, who tries to lift his spirits by looking through his photo-album, chock full of photos representing his life. His wedding day to his ex-wife when he was in his 20s, her obituary at 51, parties with male friends in the 80s. It's clear, from the photos, he was struggling throughout his life. None of the photos show him without a cigarette or drink.
These pictures hit him hard. He's already struggling to breath with his oxygen tank, and his failing body make it hard for him to do anything else than be trapped here in this moment. He reaches out with a shaking limb to kiss the wedding photo, looks away in shame. The pictures of parties brings tears to his eyes, the carer might not notice that in every new photo, another member of the group is missing, but he does. As for the picture of him with rainbow flag, that the carer thinks is support for the NHS, it's just another reminder of how bad things have gotten for him. That's a pride flag, but in care, he's had to go back into the closet. In his vulnerable state, he doesn't want to risk his safety.
That's when Angela comes in. The carer is surprised. Nobody visits Howard so who is she and what does she want. Angela explains she's from the Clarence Odbody foundation and she's here to help. The carer doesn't really care, and lets Angela sit with Howard, and leaves.
Howard tries his luck with this new face. Maybe she will turn off his oxygen for him and just let him slip away, but she refuses. She's got an opportunity for him.
Taking out her mobile phone, she offers him the chance to make one phone call, to anyone living or dead, anywhere within his lifetime. She suggests he could use it to say the words he once never had.
Of course Howard doesn't believe her, but something in her eyes, and her gentle, ethereal quality makes him give it a go. After all, he's got nothing left to lose.
Together they flick backwards through the photo album, to see who Howard might like to call. He can't decide, but as he flicks back a little more, before he was married, his breath is taken away, by a face from a long time ago. An 18 year old friend called Robert, back in 1947.
She taps her phone. It rings. Howard looks behind the photo. Two things come out. An unsent letter to Robert, and a newspaper clipping reporting Robert had died in action, months after he left.
The line connects. Robert answers.
Howard wants to apologise, but Robert won't hear it. He's angry with his friend “Howie”, for what he did, and vowed never to talk to him again. Howard understands, but begs Robert not to join the army today. Robert's surprised how Howard knows this.
As they talk, Robert explains how hurt he was over Howard's reaction, and public name calling. After all, it was only a kiss, and he never regretted it.
Howard realises he missed out on much more than he ever realised. He begs Robert to not go, but Robert has already signed up. It's too late. Howard begs him to be careful.
Robert softens, and says he will, if there's a chance of something between them. If Howard will wait for him. Howard says he will.
Suddenly the photo album changes. And letters spill out.
Robert asks what their life together might be like, and Howard tells him. He looks through the new photos that have appeared, photos of their life together. A long life. Full of happiness. Howard doesn't drink or smoke in any of them.
Robert has to leave, he made a commitment. Howard can't bring himself to say goodbye, but Robert says it's fine, he will see him soon. He hangs up.
Howard's in tears, but he's thankful to Angela for her help. But she's gone.
Instead, sat beside him is Robert, now 92. The room is no longer bland, it's full of photos of their happy life together. Howard is much healthier too. Without living a life for many years, full of self-hatred that led to all his drinking and smoking, he no longer needs his oxygen tank, and he's physically much stronger then before.
Robert gets Howard to move over. They live here together, very happily. Howard's phone call changed his whole life, and now he has something to live for.
Project Type:Short Script
Genres:LGBTQ+, Fantasy, Magical
Number of Pages:9
Country of Origin:United Kingdom
I have always loved writing and telling stories. I started as an actor and went on to run my own small, Children's Theatre company, writing and touring Maths based plays to schools and small venues. It was here I realised my passion was in telling the stories, not performing them.
I started writing spec scripts for TV. Consuming all the books and courses I could. In 2016 I won the New Writing North Award for Hollyoaks. I was mentored on the soap for a year, culminating in my first ever commission in March 2018.
This experience spurred me on to continue writing. Despite the soap environment not being for me, I continued writing the stories I would like to watch. I focussed on lgbtq+ stories and characters as I felt there were too few own voices queer stories out there. In 2020, one of my scripts got to the top 4% of the BBC Writersroom Drama competition, another was shortlisted for a mentor opportunity, and a queer short I wrote made the shortlist and only just got knocked out the final stage.
Despite the set backs, and coronavirus, I continue to develop my craft, seek out collaborations and opportunities, and most important of all, I keep writing.
I am a queer writer who enjoys going against the usual heteronormative and gendernormative. I like writing about under-represented voices, the power of friendship and community, and the queer experience.