When I was in Colombia during the fall of 2010, I listened to the album All Those I Know by the Milwaukee indie-pop band Eric & Magill a lot. I was particularly fond of the song “Old Man Winter,” which to me embodied the album’s ethereal, melancholic style. I was so inspired, in fact, that I wrote a very short story/script based on that song about an unnamed couple that reconnects for the first time after a falling-out.
I wanted eventually to turn it into a short film, with “Old Man Winter” serving as the short’s bookends (I copped the story’s title from the song lyrics). The short film never happened, but the story remained buried in my personal files – until now. Maybe the short film will happen one day. But until then, here is the story in its script form.
Winter Has Come For The Young
Midday. Overcast. Snow. The woman sits inside, holding her book on the stairs near the door, aloof. The man comes out of the stairwell and walks toward the door. He sees her and pauses for a moment, then continues out the door.
She sees him as he walks outside. As he walks down the front steps she packs up quickly and follows him out. He’s gearing up outside when she approaches. He’s cold to her.
WOMAN: I hate the cold.
MAN: I know. Once you’re outside, there’s no escape. Some people don’t like that feeling. … But I’ve learned to live with it.
WOMAN: I’ve seen you around.
MAN: Just trying to crowd the hours.
She wants to say what she wants to say but holds back.
WOMAN: Would you want to get a coffee with me?
He thinks about it. What does she want? Is this a good idea? Better than the status quo.
They start walking. Cut to walking out of a coffeehouse with their drinks.
MAN: Where to?
WOMAN: I know a place.
They walk around the corner. He keeps his distance. They arrive at the river. They stand in silence, looking at the snow and the river.
MAN: Why did we come here?
WOMAN: It’s beautiful.
MAN: Why did we really come here?
WOMAN: I want to talk to you.
MAN: So talk.
WOMAN: How are you?
MAN: As good as can be expected.
WOMAN: I love you.
MAN: (coldly) As much as can be expected.
WOMAN: I said I love you.
MAN: I heard you.
WOMAN: I mean it.
MAN: Actions speak louder than words.
WOMAN: I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. It makes me sick and ashamed and cold. I can’t work. I can’t sleep. … God, I hate the cold.
MAN: I know. There’s no escape, is there?
WOMAN: What can I do? I’ll do it. What can I do?
She looks at him. He looks at the river. Is it worth it? Is she worth it? She gently takes hold of his face. They’re eye to eye. He makes his decision.
He breaks her grasp and turns around and walks away, leaving a trail of his fogged breath. She’s surprised and her face drops. As he walks away, she blurts it out.
WOMAN: You left your jacket at my place. I sleep with it every night just so I can feel close to you. It smells like summer at the cabin.
MAN: We were in love then.
He turns around to look at her. She approaches.
WOMAN: I’m no saint. And neither are you. I made a mistake that I’ll regret as long as I live. But it taught me that real love is about crawling through all the shit together, no matter how dirty it gets.
They’re standing face to face.
WOMAN: Your move.
They look at each other. Finally:
MAN: I’m freezing. Let’s get out of this cold.