For the day that’s in it, Easter Sunday, 2016 – set on the eve of his death, my imagining of Patrick’s Pearse’s final thoughts…
Caroline Farrell, 2016
All Rights Reserved
DUBLIN. IRELAND: 1916 – THE AFTERMATH
INT. CELL. KILMAINHAM GOAL – NIGHT
A PRISONER sits on the floor, a vague shadow, his shoulders stooped; he is muttering into his chest.
…that the slender worm gnaws thee tonight…
He lifts his head, still in shadow until an ethereal glint of blinding sun floods his eyes to the sound of gushing waves lapping over shoal and sand…
EXT. BLASKET ISLAND. SHORE – DAY
An attractive woman, EVELYN NICHOLS, 24, barefoot, her clothing wet and clinging. Skirt hitched high, her shapely legs splash in the water as she frolics flirtatiously with her companions to the sound of rambunctious young male laughter…
EXT. CONNEMARA. MAAM CROSS – DAY
Same rambunctious laughter echoes…
ON the intense gaze of schoolteacher, PATRICK PEARSE, 31. Straight-laced, purist, he disembarks from the train and calmly leads a small group of BOYS aged 14-16 – counting heads as they jostle, buoyant, aboard a hay-lined, horse-drawn cart.
Right, lads. It’s a good ten miles to Ros Muc – so nestle in there now and hold tight.
It is a gentle order, but an order nonetheless as Patrick, holding the animal’s reins, marches alongside the moving cart for the long, picturesque hike…
As the trek through winding country roads progresses, songs are sung, dusk falling around the lake waters…
COLLECTIVE VOICES [singing]
When laws can stop the blades of grass from growin’ as they grow
And when the leaves in summer-time their colour dare not show
Then I will change the colour too I wear in my caubeen
But till that day, please God, I’ll stick to the Wearin’ o’ the Green!
Patrick does not smile, though his eyes are alight with pride.
INT. SAINT ENDA’S BOYS SCHOOL. DUBLIN – DAY
Empty, masculine dormitories; empty hallways; only the sound of female laughter echoes from the second floor of the Victorian mansion…
INT. BEDROOM. SAINT ENDA’S – DAY
WILLIAM PEARSE, 29, is thin, boyish and good-humoured. Covered in patches of sculpting clay and little else in the way of clothing, he works his fingers deftly on a foot-high sculpture of a female form.
A cigarette hangs from his lips as he concentrates on the curves of the FEMALE model draped on his single bed…
A pretty teenager, MABEL GORMAN; naked and purposefully supine.
If only your Brother Patrick could see you now!
She breaks into a giggle as William wipes his hand through his thick unruly hair, depositing yet more of the sticky clay there.
How could you two be cut from the same cloth? The celibate and the sex maniac!
William gives her a wicked grin, abandoning the sculpture to jump on top of her, clay everywhere as she squeals with delight.
EXT. ROS MUC COTTAGE – DAY
Patrick takes a moment to breathe in the fresh morning air and to savour the lush view of lakes and green pastures below…
Evelyn is there, sitting in the grass, her inviting curves bridled within the fitted jacket and skirt uniform of a proud suffragette. She looks directly towards him, a coy smile as she waves her gloved hand…
The boisterous sounds from his male pupils rouse him from the moment lost as tired from their journey, they nevertheless leap excitedly from the cart and enter the quaint and freshly white-washed cottage.
INT. COTTAGE – DAY
The front door leads straight into the main room, bare stone floors, with a large fireplace; a table and some chairs are placed neatly against the walls.
The boys spread out excitedly into two other rooms, to the left and right, depositing their belongings on the single beds.
Patrick sees to the fire, lighting it with old rolled-up newspapers and sticks. He offers a black cast iron pot to one of the boys, JAMES, 16.
Fill this from the pump outside, I’ll be making my famous porridge breakfast.
James makes a face of mock horror, to which Patrick raises an eyebrow. James responds with a soldier’s stance and salute.
Yes, Master Pearse!
In good humour, James runs outside to the water pump as Patrick empties his rucksack onto the table; an assortment of books, pens, paper and a holy bible.
Holy books can’t keep you warm at night, my love.
Gathered around the half-light of the open fire, the boys huddle in blankets as Patrick regales them…
What story shall I tell you tonight, boys?
Diarmuid and Grainne, Sir. Love that one!
An enthusiastic murmur abounds from the testosterone-fuelled adolescents.
Ah yes. Grainne, the very beautiful, and wilful daughter of Cormac, King of Tara.
Wilful – and gorgeous!
As the boys snort through their laughter, Patrick ignores the comment.
She was a temptress who seduced the warrior Diarmuid, despite her having just married Fionn.
Ah yeah, Sir, but Fionn was an auld fellah by then, and Grainne was ripe-
Patrick suddenly leaps to his feet, and yet, as the collectively shocked intake of breath at James’s cheeky comment fills the space, Patrick doesn’t seem to have heard it; his vision is suddenly overtaken by Evelyn…
Thrashing on the choppy sea waters… She is DROWNING…
Patrick suddenly runs from the cottage, retching as he exits. The boys all look to James, who shrugs his shoulders.
INT. COLLEGE HALL. DUBLIN – DAY
Patrick addresses a large crowd.
We must accustom ourselves to the thought of arms, to the use of arms.
We may make mistakes in the beginning – but bloodshed is a cleansing and a sanctifying thing.
And a nation which regards it as the final horror has lost its manhood!
As the words spill, he is distracted by the vision of Evelyn… there in the front row, wearing her Pankhurst portrait badge. Hanging on his every word; oozing with sorrow.
There are many things more horrible than bloodshed; and slavery is one of them.
As he falters on his own words, she fades before him. Patrick wipes the sweat from his brow as he sits down, a glazed look in his eyes…
EXT. PARK – DAY
Patrick and Evelyn walk together, a civilized distance between them, though he can barely take his eyes off her.
You are so right, Paddy. It hurts my heart to think of the cane striking tender young skin in the name of education.
How can one be expected to learn anything when one is too frightened to be wrong?
Will you marry me, Evelyn? Will you?
Dear heart, we’ve been over this before, please don’t spoil our perfect time together.
A dark mood flushes over him.
You break my heart, Miss Nichols. And for what, to end up a lonely spinster?!
Evelyn stops, wounded by such insensitivity.
Paddy! How cruel?
Contrite, he kneels before her.
Can’t you see, it is one thing to be a champion of feminist rights, and how I adore you for that.
And it is another noble disposition to maintain such focus on feminist education-
Evelyn cuts him off.
It has nothing to do with being noble – it is my right!
Feminist education is the root of all education, of all improvement .
And who, above men should know this better than the man before me now?
She places her hand on his chest, and he holds it there, over his heart.
Yes, yes of course, but-
You, Paddy Pearse – surrounded and nurtured by the most matronly and wise feminist intellects-
He trembles with frustration.
And even they have their place!
Fire lights up in Evelyn’s eyes. She pulls her hand away.
Shackled to a homestead and endless childbirths? Forbidden to work, to possess, to debate, to contribute?!
Is that what you want for me? Paddy, is it?
There is grace in motherhood. And there is duty to family. That is nobility in its purist-
Stunned, Evelyn bites back tears.
Purist! You bloody hypocrite!
How do I love such a man who praises my hungry mind and yet preaches nothing but slavery for me?!
She turns on her heels so he cannot see her fight tears.
I will give you my heart, and my body, Mister Pearse.
But I will not give you my youth and freedom while you recklessly sacrifice yours. I will not give in to your prudish double standards!
She waits for his reply, but none is forthcoming. Evelyn marches away.
Patrick lets her go as sunlight glints strongly to blur his retreating vision of her until she fades from his sight
INT. CELL. KILMAINHAM GOAL – NIGHT
Patrick sits on the floor, shoulders stooped, muttering to his chest.
Reality returns with the sun’s whitening
EXT. COURTYARD. KILMAINHAM GOAL – DAY
Patrick stands tall, his back to a blood-spattered, bullet- riddled wall. As the blindfold closes in, he sees Evelyn there, moving closer, her hands reaching out, close enough to touch…
FADE TO BLACK.
Sun’s Whitening is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used in a fictitious manner for the purposes of drama.