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Stroller (A Screenplay) - The Feminist Wire

Stroller (A Screenplay)

By Roxana Walker-Canton

Toni Cade Bambara Photograph: ©Nikky Finney

Toni Cade Bambara
Photograph: ©Nikky Finney

As a writer, feminist, and filmmaker, I feel a kindred spirit with Sister Toni Cade Bambara.  Sister Toni wrote stories about beautifully flawed, seemingly insignificant, everyday black people who live in communities rich in wisdom and culture. The brilliance of her work rests in the commitment to maintain the humanity of the poor and the oppressed as she and her characters attempt to keep head above water in a place that could kill your spirit if you let it. Using her favored writing tradition, the short story, I submit one of my short unproduced screenplays entitled Stroller to pay homage to She who could see visible and invisible realities of being black, woman, and poor.

The way we use material culture speaks truth to the way we order our lives. So when I think about telling stories about black communities, I look to the stuff that people carry around with them, the clothes they wrap themselves in, and the permanent fixtures like corner stores, train tracks and apartment buildings to serve up the heartbeat of the community. Stroller, a short screenplay reminiscent of the Vittorio De Sica’s 1948 Italian neo-realist film The Bicycle Thief, is a visual snapshot of the power of cultural memory to combat the socioeconomic conditions of black working mothers living in poverty.

Editors’ Note: Stroller is a copyrighted and registered script. The script should not be produced nor reproduced without written consent from Roxana Walker-Canton.

********************

EXT. WEST PHILLY STREET – DAY

NATALIE, a 10-year old African American girl, hums a song as she walks home from school. Every now and then, she looks behind her making sure no one is following her. She passes by a YOUNG MOTHER holding her BABY GIRL in one hand and holding the hand of her THREE-YEAR-OLD SON and two grocery bags in the other hand. A GROUP OF GIRLS walk in front of Natalie giggling as A GROUP OF BOYS across the street laugh and hit one another. JAROD, the loudest of the boys screams out to Natalie.

+++++++++++++++++++++JAROD
+++++++++++Natalie, Ahmed wanna get with you!

AHMED runs after Jarod while the other boys laugh. Natalie smiles to herself. The group of girls in front of her turn around laughing. Natalie stops smiling. RACHELLE, the ring-leader, looks at Natalie.

+++++++++++++++++++++RACHELLE
+++++++++++You should dress like that every
+++++++++++day. You is cute when you fix yourself up.

Natalie smiles at Rachelle and walks past the girls. Jarod screams out again.

+++++++++++++++++++++JAROD
+++++++++++Rachelle you so black you disappear
+++++++++++when the lights go out!

+++++++++++++++++++++RACHELLE
+++++++++++I know you ain’t talking black
+++++++++++nigga!

Natalie goes into the corner store to wait for the kids to pass.

INT. CORNER STORE – DAY

Natalie passes A YOUNG GRANDMOTHER holding her GRANDSON’S hand as she gets her money together to buy her lottery ticket. Her Grandson reaches for his grandmother to pick him up.

+++++++++++++++++++++YOUNG GRANDMOTHER
+++++++++++++++++++(to cashier)
+++++++++++Twenty dollars. (to her
+++++++++++grandson) You have to walk a
+++++++++++little bit. Grandma ain’t like
+++++++++++your daddy. I can’t carry you all
+++++++++++the time.

Her grandson starts crying. She looks at Natalie.

+++++++++++++++++++++YOUNG GRANDMOTHER
+++++++++++++++++++(to Natalie)
+++++++++++Baby, can you help me out. Hold
+++++++++++him for me while I get my lottery
+++++++++++okay.

Natalie picks up Grandson and rests him on her hip as she waits for Young Grandmother to finish. Grandson smiles at Natalie. The CASHIER’S hand reaches out from behind the plexiglass protection separating the him from the customers and hands her the lottery tickets.

+++++++++++++++++++++YOUNG GRANDMOTHER
+++++++++++++++++++(to Natalie)
+++++++++++Thank you little girl.

Natalie puts Grandson down and he starts crying.

+++++++++++++++++++++YOUNG GRANDMOTHER (cont’d)
+++++++++++I know Little Man. You tired.
+++++++++++Grandma tired too.

Young Grandmother lifts up her Grandson and carries him out the store. Natalie walks down the candy aisle and spots her favorite Twistlers. She runs her hand across the red and black packaging. She looks toward the plexiglass cashier to see another CUSTOMER ringing out. Natalie quickly shoves the candy in her pocket and walks toward the window to see if the kids had left. She stands for a moment watching them walk farther down the street before returning to the candy aisle where her returns the candy.

EXT.  WEST PHILLY STREET – DAY

Natalie jogs the rest of the way home still looking behind her every now and then to make sure that no one is following her. When she gets to the apartment building with a beautiful mural painted on the side and quick graffiti letters on the front, she quickly enters the front door.

INT. APARTMENT BUILDING HALLWA

Natalie climbs two flights of steps before coming to her door. She take out the key from under her shirt and quickly unlocks the door and slams it shut. We hear her lock and dead bolt the door.

INT. NATALIE’S APARTMENT – DAY

Natalie leans her back against the door and then slowly turns to look out the peephole. She looks left. It’s empty. She looks right. An OLDER MAN looks toward Natalie’s apartment as if he can see her looking through the peep hold. He smiles.

INT. APARTMENT BUILDING HALLWAY – DREAM SEQUENCE

The Older Man takes a pack of Twistler candy from his pocket and holds it toward Natalie who is dressed in nice fashionable hip-hop slightly revealing clothes. Natalie smiles as she walks toward the man. When she extends her hand for the candy, he grabs her arm.

INT.  NATALIE’S APARTMENT – DAY

Natalie watches through the peephole as the door behind Older Man opens and a YOUNG TEENAGE GIRL lets him in. Natalie turns away shaking her head.

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++She just gonna get in trouble
+++++++++++again.

Finally letting down her defense, Natalie removes her backpack. The apartment is very clean and neat. Sparsely furnished—a worn couch, a fish tank, a kitchen table, a television, and one other chair. She washes her hands in the kitchen sink and pours a glass of Kool-Aid. She sits down by the phone waiting. The phone rings but she doesn’t answer it. It rings three times and then stops. Natalie continues drinking the red drink. The phone rings again and she answers it quickly on the first ring.

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++Hi mommy.

Natalie smiles.

INT. NURSING HOME BREAK ROOM – DAY

LESLIE, Natalie’s mother, smiles. Behind her is a long hallway with ELDERLY people in wheelchairs and walkers and NURSE’S AIDES moving about.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++Hey little girl. You make it home
+++++++++++okay?

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE (V.O.)
+++++++++++Yes.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++How was your day?

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE (V.O.)
+++++++++++Good.

Leslie takes a bite of her sandwich and watches PAT, another nurse’s aide, help a PATIENT down the hall. Leslie looks at the clock.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++Have you started your homework?

INT.  NATALIE’S APARTMENT – DAY

Natalie sets her book bag on the kitchen table.

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++Not yet, but I’m about to. Guess
+++++++++++what?

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE (V.O.)
+++++++++++What?

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++Everybody liked my new clothes.

She smiles and looks down at her clothes.

INT.  NURSING HOME BREAK ROOM – DAY

Leslie smiles.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++They did? Good. You did look good
+++++++++++this morning.

MARY, Leslie’s boss, sticks her head in the break room.

+++++++++++++++++++++MARY
+++++++++++Leslie, how much longer do you have
+++++++++++for lunch?

Leslie looks at the clock.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++Just five minutes.

+++++++++++++++++++++MARY
+++++++++++Good. We really need you.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++No problem. Let me just say bye to
+++++++++++my daughter.

+++++++++++++++++++++MARY
+++++++++++Thanks.

Leslie sighs.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++++++++++(to Natalie)
+++++++++++Okay baby, mama has to go. Finish
+++++++++++counting the money for me. And
+++++++++++don’t spill Kool-Aid down the front
+++++++++++of your clothes. I’m going to pick
+++++++++++up Sydney, and when I get home
+++++++++++we’re going to the store. And
+++++++++++don’t answer the phone unless you
+++++++++++get the signal. And don’t answer
+++++++++++the door at all. Love you.

INT.  NATALIE’S APARTMENT – DAY

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++Okay. I love you too.

Natalie hangs up the phone and goes to her mother’s room where a big jar sits on the bed next to stacks of coins lined up on top of two books. Natalie turns on the TV and sits down counting out dimes making new stacks.

INT.  NURSING HOME  – DAY

Leslie and Pat lift MISS HANNA, a white elderly patient, into her bed.

+++++++++++++++++++++PAT
+++++++++++I sure am glad today is payday.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++Who you tellin.

+++++++++++++++++++++PAT
+++++++++++++++++++(to Miss Hanna)
+++++++++++You doing alright?

+++++++++++++++++++++MISS HANNA
+++++++++++Yes. My skin feels fresh. Thank
+++++++++++you for my bath.

+++++++++++++++++++++PAT
+++++++++++No problem Miss Hanna.

+++++++++++++++++++++MISS HANNA
+++++++++++Who’s this new girl? She’s quiet.

Leslie smiles

+++++++++++++++++++++PAT
+++++++++++Miss Hanna, this is Leslie. She’s
+++++++++++been here a couple of weeks now.

Pat looks at Leslie to speak. Leslie gets the cue.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++Nice to meet you Miss Hanna.

+++++++++++++++++++++PAT
+++++++++++Leslie is going to be with us from
+++++++++++now on.

+++++++++++++++++++++MISS HANNA
+++++++++++Oh that’s good. You have soft
+++++++++++hands and, you don’t talk too
+++++++++++loud. I don’t like those girls
+++++++++++that talk too loud.

Pat looks at Leslie to speak. Leslie get the cue.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++Thank you.

+++++++++++++++++++++PAT
+++++++++++Do you need us for anything else,
+++++++++++Miss Hanna?

+++++++++++++++++++++MISS HANNA
+++++++++++How about some lotion on my legs
+++++++++++and feet. They’re so dry and I
+++++++++++can’t reach.

Miss Hanna looks at Leslie and smiles. Leslie obliges. Pat leaves the room.

+++++++++++++++++++++MISS HANNA
+++++++++++So whereabouts are you from?

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++I’m from right here in
+++++++++++Philadelphia. Where are you from,
+++++++++++Miss Hanna?

+++++++++++++++++++++MISS HANNA
+++++++++++Georgia. My daughter brought me
+++++++++++here to be closer to her. Right
+++++++++++there is her picture.

Miss Hanna shows Lest a great American Dream picture of her daughter and family. Leslie smiles. She continues rubbing lotion on Miss Hanna’s legs as she falls asleep. Leslie pulls a light blanket over her and leaves the room.

INT.  NURSING HOME BREAK ROOM – DAY

She peers at the clock. Pat is already gathering her things. Leslie gathers her things as ROSALINDA  and VALERIE, the nurse’s aides for the next shift come into the office.

+++++++++++++++++++++ROSALINDA
+++++++++++Hola Leslie. You decided to stay
+++++++++++with us.

Rosalinda kisses Leslie on the cheek.

+++++++++++++++++++++PAT
+++++++++++Yeah, she’s staying, and I’m
+++++++++++glad. She’s a good worker.

Mary comes in and hands Leslie and Pat their paychecks.

+++++++++++++++++++++PAT
+++++++++++Thank you Jesus.

+++++++++++++++++++++VALERIE
+++++++++++It’s all spent already, ain’t it?

+++++++++++++++++++++PAT
+++++++++++Yeah, but I ain’t complainin.

Leslie opens her envelope.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++I have to pick up my baby. I’ll
+++++++++++see you all on Monday.

+++++++++++++++++++++PAT
+++++++++++Take it easy.

+++++++++++++++++++++VALERIE
+++++++++++Don’t spend it all in one place.

+++++++++++++++++++++ROSALINDA
+++++++++++You have such a pretty face.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++Have a good evening.

Leslie leaves.

+++++++++++++++++++++ROSALINDA
+++++++++++She is so polite. I like that.

EXT. PHILADELPHIA STREET, EARLY EVENING

Leslie walks to the bus stop with a couple of bags from the drugstore and takes a seat next to NURSE’S AIDE WOMAN holding an ALMOST WALKING BABY and HOTEL HOUSEKEEPER WOMAN holding a CRYING BABY surrounded by grocery bags, baby bags and other shopping bags. THREE TODDLERS stand nearby eating candy. A FAST FOOD WORKER WOMAN approaches carrying her LAUGHING BABY, baby bag and shopping bags. Upon seeing her struggle, Leslie offers her her sea. They all wear their uniforms because they are getting off from work or going to work.

+++++++++++++++++++++FAST FOOD WORKER WOMAN
+++++++++++++++++++(to Leslie)
+++++++++++Thank you.

Leslie smiles. A BUSINESS WOMAN carrying a purse and briefcase walks by strolling her STROLLER BABY in a carriage while talking on the phone. She stops a short distance from the women at the bus top. Leslie watches as Business Woman places her briefcase in the bottom storage area of the stroller and continues on walking with nothing to weigh her down. The woman crosses the street and the bus pulls up obstructing Leslie’s view of the woman. The worker women struggle to get all of their babies and bags loaded on the bus.

INT.  NATALIE’S APARTMENT – EARLY EVENING

Natalie has wrapped about twenty dollars of coins. She sits on her mother’s bed writing her spelling words and watching a talk show. The telephone rings three times. Natalie lets it ring. She goes into the kitchen.

INT. KITCHEN

The phone stops ringing. She waits. It rings three times again and stops ringing. When it rings again, she picks it up and puts it on speakerphone.

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++++++++++(in a witch’s voice)
+++++++++++Whose calling my house in the
+++++++++++middle of the day?

+++++++++++++++++++++WINSTON (V.O.)
+++++++++++Do boogie man.

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++++++++++(laughing)
+++++++++++Hi Mr. Winston. Mama’s not home
+++++++++++yet. Are you going to the store
+++++++++++with us tonight?

+++++++++++++++++++++WINSTON (V.O.)
+++++++++++I might. Ask your mama to call me
+++++++++++when she gets in.

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++Okay. Bye.

We hear the door unlocking and Natalie looks out the peep hole. Leslie enters the apartment with SYDNEY, Leslie’s six month old daughter.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++Natalie, grab the bag. She is
+++++++++++getting so heavy.

Natalie takes the diaper bag and her mother’s purse to the couch. Leslie puts Sydney down on the couch and sits. Tired.

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++Hello Sydney. Hello Baby.

Natalie picks Sydney up and plays with her. Leslie stands to stretch her back.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++She’s about to break my back. Did
+++++++++++you count up the money?

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++Uh-huh. I counted forty-eight
+++++++++++dollars and thirty-seven cents.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++Well that helps a little. Did
+++++++++++Winston call?

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++Uh-huh. He called right before you
+++++++++++got in, and he wants you to call
+++++++++++him.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++Good. And stop saying uh-huh. Say
+++++++++++yes. I hope he has my money. Can
+++++++++++you change your sister for me. I
+++++++++++want to get out of here fast so we
+++++++++++can get back before the sun goes
+++++++++++down.

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++I’ll change her if you let me pick
+++++++++++out the color.

Leslie smiles.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++Fine. You can pick the color as
+++++++++++long as it isn’t pink.

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++I don’t like pink anyway.

Natalie takes Sydney into the room. Someone knocks on the door. Leslie looks out the peephole, steps back smoothing her her, and opens the door for Winston. They embrace and kiss.

+++++++++++++++++++++WINSTON
+++++++++++Hey baby. How was your day?

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++All good. Today was payday.

+++++++++++++++++++++WINSTON
+++++++++++You look good. You smell good too.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++You always trying to get some,
+++++++++++ain’t you?

+++++++++++++++++++++WINSTON
+++++++++++Ain’t nothing wrong with tryin.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++How was your day?

+++++++++++++++++++++WINSTON
+++++++++++Don’t want to talk about it. I
+++++++++++can’t give you back the money right
+++++++++++now.

Leslie deflates.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++Winston, I need that money. What
+++++++++++happened?

+++++++++++++++++++++WINSTON
+++++++++++I’m sorry baby, but I had to buy a
+++++++++++new tire. I got a flat today, and
+++++++++++I wasn’t thinking, and I drove it
+++++++++++about a block to the station and
+++++++++++messed up the rim

Leslie plops down on the couch and scratches her head.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++I have to get this stroller. I
+++++++++++can’t keep carrying Sydney
+++++++++++everywhere.

Winston is embarrassed. He puts his hands in his pocket.

+++++++++++++++++++++WINSTON
+++++++++++I’m sorry, baby. Let me see what I
+++++++++++can do. Do you have enough to
+++++++++++cover the cost?

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++Yeah, but that’s going to leave me
+++++++++++broke and I need groceries and
+++++++++++Natalie has a field trip next week
+++++++++++that I still haven’t sent in the
+++++++++++money for.

+++++++++++++++++++++WINSTON
+++++++++++I tell you what, you go on out and
+++++++++++get the stroller, and I’ll get your
+++++++++++money.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++That’s alright. I’ll go another
+++++++++++week.

+++++++++++++++++++++WINSTON
+++++++++++No. I said to go on out and get
+++++++++++the stroller. I’ll get the money.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++But Winston, what if you can’t get
+++++++++++the money, then I won’t have food
+++++++++++in the…

+++++++++++++++++++++WINSTON
+++++++++++Trust me.

Winston and Leslie stare at one another. Natalie comes in the room with Sydney.

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++Hi Mr. Winston. I didn’t hear you
+++++++++++come in.

Natalie gives Sydney to her mother and gives Winston a hug.

+++++++++++++++++++++WINSTON
+++++++++++Hey, what’s that in the tank?

Natalie looks at the tank while Winston takes out a pack of Twistler from his pocket to Natalie’s surprise.

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++Thank you!

+++++++++++++++++++++WINSTON
+++++++++++Well, I have to go.

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++I thought you were going out with
+++++++++++us?

+++++++++++++++++++++WINSTON
+++++++++++I can’t this time. I’ll see you.

Winston kisses Leslie on the forehead.

+++++++++++++++++++++WINSTON
+++++++++++Trust me.

Leslie smiles.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++Okay ladies, let’s get the L.

INT. TRAIN

Leslie holds Sydney on her lap and Natalie sits at her side. PEOPLE get on and off the train. Leslie and the girls get off at their stop.

EXT. CITY STREET

Leslie carries Sydney in one hand and holds Natalie’s hand with the other hand and they go into the bank.

INT. BANK

Leslie sits Natalie in a chair with Sydney on her lap and goes to the TELLER.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++Good afternoon. I just need to
+++++++++++exchange these coins for bills.

Leslie unloads the forty eight dollars worth of wrapped coins on the counter and the Teller exchanges them for bills.

+++++++++++++++++++++TELLER
+++++++++++Thank you. Have a nice day.

EXT. BUS STOP #2

They wait on the bus. When it comes they board the bus.

INT. BUS #2

Leslie holds Sydney on her lap and Natalie sits at her side. They watch people get on and off the bus before they get off.

EXT. BUS STOP #3

They wait for the second bus.

INT. BUS #3

Natalie sits in her own seat in front of her mother and looks out the window. Mostly WHITE PEOPLE get on and off the bus now. The bus rides through a neighborhood of single family homes.  A BLACK WOMAN with TWO WHITE CHILDREN get on the bus. Natalie stares at the children.

EXT. SHOPPING DISTRICT

Leslie holds Sydney in one hand and holds Natalie’s hand with the other as they cross a busy intersection to get to the baby store.

INT. BABY STORE

They enter the huge store full of baby items. Most of the CUSTOMERS in the store are white along with the CASHIERS.

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++Mommy, I love this store. When I
+++++++++++grow up and have a baby…

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++That’s a long time from now.

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++I know mommy. But, when I grow up
+++++++++++and have a baby…

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++You have to go to college first.

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++I know mommy. But, when I grow up
+++++++++++and have a baby…

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++And you need to be married first.

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++I know, I know, you won’t let me
+++++++++++say it. After I grow up, go to
+++++++++++college, and get married…

Natalie stops and looks at her mother. Leslie nods her head.

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++After all of that, I’m going to get
+++++++++++all of my baby’s stuff from here.

Leslie looks at all of the rows of items.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++Yeah. One day you’ll be able to.

A SALESPERSON approaches Leslie.

+++++++++++++++++++++SALESPERSON
+++++++++++Hi. Can I help you find something?

Natalie smiles.

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++We want to buy a stroller for my
+++++++++++baby sister Sydney.

+++++++++++++++++++++SALESPERSON
+++++++++++And are you a good big sister?

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++The best there is.

+++++++++++++++++++++SALESPERSON
+++++++++++I could almost guess that. Okay,
+++++++++++the strollers are all the way in
+++++++++++the back and to the right. If you
+++++++++++need any other help, Melissa will
+++++++++++be there to assist you.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++Thank you.

Leslie and Natalie try strolling Sydney in numerous strollers. Leslie reads the descriptions. MELISSA walks over.

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++I like the green one.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++Can you assemble this for me.

+++++++++++++++++++++MELISSA
+++++++++++No problem.

INT. BABY STORE CHECK OUT

Leslie hands the money to the CASHIER and the wait up front until Melissa rolls out the assembled stroller. Leslie gets Sydney strapped in, and they leave the store.

EXT. BABY STORE

Leslie and Natalie push Sydney in the stroller

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++I’m glad we saved all that money.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++We have a couple of extra
+++++++++++dollars. Wanna go to our special
+++++++++++place?

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++Yeah! I mean Yes!

Leslie and Natalie get on the bus headed to the bookstore.

INT. BOOKSTORE

Leslie parks the stroller with the other strollers in the stroller parking area. They browse the bookshelves. Natalie chooses a book and sits down to read by herself. Leslie walks down the aisles stopping to read the backs of a few books. Everyone in the store is white. Finally, they sit in the cafe to share a cup a tea and a pastry.

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++When I grow u and go to college and
+++++++++++get married and have a baby, we’re
+++++++++++going to go to the bookstore all
+++++++++++the time. Mommy, can I buy this
+++++++++++book?

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++How much is it?

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++Nine dollars and ninety-five cents.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++Not this time
+++++++++++Natalie-Patalie. Wait until I get
+++++++++++paid again.

Leslie sips the tea watching WHITE WOMEN with their babies.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++We need to get going.

Leslie gathers their things while Natalie puts the book back. Leslie walks over to the stroller parking area. No strollers are in the space. Leslie looks around. She panics and goes over to the Cashier.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++Excuse me. My stroller. My
+++++++++++stroller isn’t in the parking.

+++++++++++++++++++++CASHIER
+++++++++++Are you sure you left it there?

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++Of course I’m sure I left it
+++++++++++there. I know where I left my
+++++++++++stroller.

+++++++++++++++++++++CASHIER
+++++++++++Let me go see.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++I just told you that it isn’t
+++++++++++there. Look. There are no
+++++++++++strollers there.

+++++++++++++++++++++CASHIER
+++++++++++Let me get the manager.

Natalie approaches her mother.

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++Mommy, what’s the matter?

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++Our stroller. It’s gone.

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++It’s gone? Who took our stroller?

The MANAGER approaches.

+++++++++++++++++++++MANAGER
+++++++++++Ma’am, I hear that we have a little
+++++++++++problem?

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++Someone has taken my stroller.

+++++++++++++++++++++MANAGER
+++++++++++Sometimes people mix up strollers.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++If someone mistaken mine for theirs
+++++++++++then one would be left, right?

+++++++++++++++++++++MANAGER
+++++++++++Have you looked around the store?
+++++++++++Maybe you forgot to park it.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++I didn’t forget to park it. I left
+++++++++++my green stroller right her about
+++++++++++thirty minutes ago.

Leslie, carrying Sydney, with Natalie not far behind, walks throughout the store looking for the stroller. The Manager and the Cashier look at one another and follow behind them. Finally Leslie sits on a bench.

+++++++++++++++++++++MANAGER
+++++++++++Ma’am, come back tomorrow. Your
+++++++++++stroller will probably turn
+++++++++++up. I’m sure. I’m sorry.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++Are you really sorry?

+++++++++++++++++++++MANAGER
+++++++++++Yes, we are really sorry.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++Can you replace my baby’s stroller?

Leslie looks the manager in the eye.

+++++++++++++++++++++MANAGER
+++++++++++Unfortunately, ma’am, we post a
+++++++++++sign that says that we are not
+++++++++++responsible for the strollers left
+++++++++++in the parking area. But I tell
+++++++++++you, the stroller is bound to turn
+++++++++++up. People usually don’t steal
+++++++++++around here.

Leslie doesn’t respond.

+++++++++++++++++++++MANAGER
+++++++++++Again, we’re sorry for the
+++++++++++inconvenience.

The manager walks away. Natalie watches her mother. Leslie looks at Natalie and smiles.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++Let’s go.

Leslie carries Sydney and holds Natalie’s hand heading toward the door. Leslie spots a pink stroller parked in the stroller parking area. As she continues walking, she looks around to see if anyone is looking at her. She exits the store.

EXT. BOOKSTORE

Once outside, Leslie reaches in her pocket and takes out two dollars.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++Hey pretty girl, you want some ice
+++++++++++cream?

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++That’s okay mommy. I know we have
+++++++++++to save again to get another
+++++++++++stroller.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++I have two dollars for my girl.

Natalie smiles and takes the money.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++Can you go over and buy your own
+++++++++++ice cream? I’m going to go back
+++++++++++inside to go to the bathroom before
+++++++++++we leave.

+++++++++++++++++++++NATALIE
+++++++++++Okay.

Natalie goes to the ice cream store while Leslie goes back into the bookstore.

INT. BOOKSTORE

Leslie goes to the stroller parking area where the pink stroller remains. No one is around. She looks around and then places Sydney in the stroller. She rolls the stroller backwards a couple of feet and then stops. She looks around before unstrapping Sydney and leaving the store. Outside she leans against the building and sighs.

+++++++++++++++++++++LESLIE
+++++++++++Damn it!

Leslie, carrying Sydney, goes to get Natalie who has bought a big ice cream cone. The walk down the street and board the bus.

INT. BUS #3

They look out the window watching MOTHERS walking and jogging with their babies in their strollers.

EXT. TRAIN STATION – EVENING MAGICAL REALISM

As Leslie, holding Sydney, walks toward the train station, Leslie slows down when she sees THREE AFRICAN WOMEN dressed in African clothing, gelee and all, with their babies on their backs standing in front of a line of twenty or so women including Fast Food Worker Woman, Nurse’s Aide Woman, and Hotel Housekeeping Woman, among other women dressing in work uniforms. The Three African Women help each woman tie her baby on her back while singing a song that says “Put Your Baby on Your Back.”

+++++++++++++++++++++THREE AFRICAN WOMEN
+++++++++++++++++++(singing)
+++++++++++Put your baby on your
+++++++++++back. Mama. Woman’s work is
+++++++++++hard. Travel a long road. Put your baby on
+++++++++++your back. Mama.

Leslie joins the line and they tie Sydney to her back. Leslie, with Sydney tied to her back, holds Natalie’s hand as the walk up the stairs to get the train.

The End.


roxanaweb-252x380Roxana Walker-Canton is an award-winning independent documentary-maker and video installation artist.  She earned her B.A.  from Spelman College in Atlanta, GA, an M.A./M.F.A. in Black Studies and English/Creative Writing from The Ohio State University in Columbus, OH, and an M.F.A. in Film and Media Arts from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. She is the director of The Living Thinkers Project, and served as the producer/director/co-editor of Living Thinkers:  An Autobiography of Black Women in the Ivory Tower, the documentary, distributed by Women Make Movies, which won the Audience Choice Award for Documentary at the 2013 BlackStar Film Festival in Philadelphia and was a finalist for the HBO Award for Documentary at the 2013 Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival. She installed Living Thinkers—Harriet Jacobs’ Attic and Living Thinkers—Harriet Jacobs’ Attic 2, two video installations connecting contemporary Black women’s education narratives to the 19th century slave narrative written by Harriet Jacobs. Her last documentary about post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans titled Belly of the Basin won First Place for Documentary at the Hollywood Black Filmmakers Festival 2008 and screened at numerous festivals and universities across the country. She has received numerous grants and has presented her work nationally and internationally at festivals, conferences and universities. She teaches Documentary Production, Screenwriting and African American Cinema. She is married to history professor David A. Canton and has three children, Imani, Kefentse, and Montsho.