Choices

By Heather Johnson

INT. SUBURBAN HOME. DAY.

The bedroom is immaculately clean and sparse of any personal items. There is a king size oak framed bed where ELIZABETH TURNER and MICHAEL PHILLIPS are sleeping. Elizabeth is twenty eight years old. She is tall and slender with dark hair. Michael is in his mid-thirties. He has sandy blonde hair and has the body of an aged athlete whose glory days are long over.

Elizabeth turns her head and looks at Michael who is still asleep. She moves from between the sheets and places them back where they were before she slips into the bathroom.

The bathroom is spotless as well.

Elizabeth turns on the shower.

She is looking at her reflection in the mirror when Michael appears behind her.

ELIZABETH
(uncomfortable)
Good morning. I didn’t see that you were up-

Michael backhands her across the face. The force knocks her to the floor. Michael grabs Elizabeth by the hair and forces her to meet his eyes.

MICHAEL
(seething)
I saw you with him.

ELIZABETH
Who?!
MICHAEL
At the hospital.

ELIZABETH
(confused)
Carl Jun? He’s my intern!

Michael slams her against the sink.

MICHAEL
You know I will go to the hospital if you try to leave.

ELIZABETH
What do you want from me?

MICHAEL
I gave up a career in the NFL because you wanted to move back to Seattle.

ELIZABETH
(exasperated)
You got cut from the Giants because you couldn’t stay sober.

Michael wraps his free hand around her throat. His eyes are wild with anger.

MICHAEL
(breathing heavily)
You stupid slut..

ELIZABETH
(choking)
I can’t breathe…

MICHAEL
(furious)
You are a horrible liar.

Michael releases her and exits the bathroom.

Elizabeth stands and looks at her reflection in the mirror and takes off her clothes that reveal track marks up veins in both of her arms.

Elizabeth gets in the shower and begins to cry silently.

Elizabeth collapses and falls through the shower door and lies unconscious.

Michael rushes in and begins shaking her.

MICHAEL
(frantically)
Elizabeth! Elizabeth!

Elizabeth slowly regains consciousness and Michael runs his fingers along the fresh track marks in her arm.

MICHAEL
(chuckles)
I should just call the hospital right now. I’m sure they would love to know that their resident trauma surgeon has a drug problem.

Elizabeth shakes him off her and unsteadily stands up.

ELIZABETH
(breathing hard)
Go to hell.
Michael kisses her hard and angrily and then shoves her away.

MICHAEL
You’re going to have to kill me first.

Michael exits the bathroom laughing to himself.

Elizabeth stares at her reflection in the mirror, closely examining her features. She looks exhausted. There are bruises beginning to form underneath her eye and around her neck.

INT. ELIZABETH’S HOUSE/KITCHEN. MORNING.

Michael is sitting at the dining table eating breakfast.

Elizabeth goes to the counter and picks up an orange and a knife and begins to peel the fruit.

Michael brings his dishes over to the sink next to where Elizabeth is standing. He leans close to her. His lips graze the nape of her neck. With deft fingers, Elizabeth adjusts the grip on the knife so that she is holding it like a weapon.

MICHAEL
I’m taking the car. I’m sure you can find another way to work.

Michael exits and Elizabeth drops the knife and vomits in the kitchen sink.

She grabs her hospital badge and bus pass and leaves the house as well.

INT. HOSPITAL COFFEE SHOP. DAY.

Elizabeth takes the lid off of her paper cup and pours some creamer into her coffee when someone bumps into her.

ELIZABETH
Son of a bitch!

Elizabeth slaps some napkins on the countertop and sits down in a corner booth by herself.

She reaches for the sugar packets and tears them apart. One by one she empties them into her coffee cup, careful not to make a mess.
DR. CARL JUN is a twenty-four-year-old intern on Elizabeth’s service. He is young, inexperienced and full of energy. He smiles at her from a table nearby. He is darkly handsome with soft and friendly features. He raises his coffee cup toward her.

DR. JUN
Good morning Dr. Turner.

ELIZABETH
(briskly)
Dr. Jun.
Elizabeth nods a dismissal to Dr. Jun before removing a book titled “Narcotics” from her purse. The pages are weathered and there are highlighted passages and dog-eared pages. She flips through the book as if looking for a specific chapter.

She pulls out a pen and circles a passage that reads:

Suicide by Overdose: Tolerance levels are highest in the home. The same dosage can have lethal effects in unfamiliar surroundings.

Elizabeth slides out from the booth and grabs her coffee cup as she moves to exit the coffee shop.

DR. JUN
See you in surgery this afternoon.

Elizabeth smiles briefly at her intern before continuing on her way.

INT. ELIZABETH’S NEW YORK CITY APARTMENT. NIGHT. FLASHBACK SEQUENCE.

The apartment is messy as a result of a busy work schedule.

There are empty coffee mugs and piles of mail that rests on the counter top.
Elizabeth is hunched over a small dining table with biology books spread in front of her. She is wearing glasses and still has on her ballet practice outfit.

There is a knock at the door and Elizabeth sets down the highlighter and opens the door.

Michael fills the doorway and looks angry.

MICHAEL
(upset)
I’m in love with you. You asked me to move to Seattle with you and I said no because of the Giants.

Michael takes a moment to compose himself.

Elizabeth looks confused.

MICHAEL
So before I give up an amazing
opportunity to be with the woman that I love, I need to know, who were you with today? Don’t lie to me.
ELIZABETH
(incredulous)
My cousin? He’s visiting the
university… Michael, have you
been drinking…?

Michael slaps her across the face. Her glasses fall to the floor. She grasps her cheek and backs away from him.

His expression immediately turns remorseful as he gently approaches her.

MICHAEL
(apologetically)
Honey, I’m so sorry… I didn’t
mean to, I-I…

Elizabeth backs away from him and runs to the bathroom and locks herself in. The bathroom is barren and brightly lit which casts ghostly shadows across her face.
She stares at her reflection. There is a dark bruise forming underneath her eye. She begins to cry as she runs her fingers over the bruise.

INT. EMPTY CORRIDOR/STORAGE ROOM. DAY. BACK TO PRESENT.

Elizabeth is walking down an empty corridor. Her pace is hurried as her heels echo in the silence. She holds her head high as she walks purposefully. Her brown hair bounces in a ponytail that cascades down her back.

Elizabeth slips into a room filled with medical supplies. With her back against the door. The lights are off and she is alone.

After a moment, she is in action as she begins opening and closing drawers frantically.

Elizabeth pulls a packaged syringe from a drawer. She leaves the drawer open as she wanders deeper into the room. In the furthest corner, she takes the rubber band from her pocket and tightens it around her arm. Next she pulls out a vial of diacetylmorphine. She rips the packaging off of the syringe with her teeth and dips it into the fluid with concentrated effort.

She flicks the needle.

The door opens. There is a sharp brightness as light fills the room. Elizabeth squints as her eyes adjust.

NURSE
Doctor, we need you in surgery.

Elizabeth nods and stands up. In a smooth motion she pulls her coat sleeve over her arm and shoves the vial back into her pocket. She exits the room with the nurse who hands her a patient chart.

ELIZABETH
What’s happened?

NURSE
Car accident. Internal injuries.
Patient is in CT right now.
Abdominal cavity was punctured by
what appears to be debris from the
collision. Blood alcohol content is point four.

Elizabeth flips through the chart.

ELIZABETH
Patient name?

NURSE
Michael Phillips.

Elizabeth pauses and she looks like the wind got knocked out of her.

NURSE
Dr. Turner are you okay?

Elizabeth runs a shaky hand through her hair.
ELIZABETH
(smiles meekly)
Yes. Sorry. Get OR four prepped.

INT. OPERATING ROOM. DAY.

Elizabeth enters the OR and stands over Michael, holding her gloved hands over his body. He is already unconscious from the anesthesia. He looks peaceful. There is a dark laceration underneath his right eye.

ELIZABETH
Scalpel.
The surgical nurse places the instrument in her hand and Elizabeth slowly pulls it across the dressing over his abdomen.

The ANESTHESIOLOGIST adjusts the anesthesia levels and his chair scrapes against the heart rate monitor creating a loud grating sound.

ANESTHESIOLOGIST
I’m sorry.
INT. ELIZABETH’S BATHROOM IN HER NEW YORK CITY APARTMENT. FLASHBACK SEQUENCE.

Elizabeth is staring in the mirror when Michael begins pounding on the door.

MICHAEL
(muffled)
I ’m so sorry Elizabeth. I never meant to hurt you.

INT. OPERATING ROOM. DAY. BACK TO PRESENT.

Dr. Jun enters, gowned, and ready for surgery.

DR. JUN
Turner, thought I’d scrub in.
Figured you could use the help.

Elizabeth glances up at him through her surgical glasses.

ELIZABETH
Thank you but I’m fine.

DR. JUN
(joking)
Oh come on. Someone’s gotta make
sure you don’t kill the guy.

ELIZABETH
(sharply)
Was that supposed to be a joke? This is a hospital Dr. Jun. As a doctor-as a surgeon, you do NOT make jokes about killing a patient. Do you understand me?

DR. JUN
(embarrassed)
Y-yes, I understand. I’m sorry Dr. Turner. It was a joke… I-I didn’t think you were really going to purposefully kill a patient.

Elizabeth looks down at Michael’s body.

INT. ELIZABETH’S SUBUBURAN BATHROOM. FLASHABCK SEQUENCE.

Michael kisses her hard and angrily and then shoves her away.
MICHAEL
You’re going to have to kill me
first.

INT. OPERATING ROOM. NIGHT. BACK TO PRESENT.

There are four nurses and an assisting doctor. Elizabeth is staring at Michael’s stats that are displayed on the monitor.

ELIZABETH
Go ahead and call it Dr. Jun.

DR. JUN
Time of death sixteen forty-two.

Elizabeth removes her gloves and pulls off her gown as she exits the operating room. Dr. Jun follows her. As she begins to scrub, she looks back up as the nurses cover up Michael’s face.

Elizabeth stares straight ahead, her expression indecipherable.

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