The living room is in semi-darkness, with blinking lights coming in through the kitchen door slits. "Breathe" by Blue Chantrel with Sean Paul is playing in the background, blending in with sounds of laughter, shouting and other party noises. Someone is trying to push open the kitchen door, but it's locked. After pushing the door open forcibly, Liza flicks the light switch. The light doesn't come on.
Liza enters the kitchen door. She sees the room filled with reddish light, but still in darkness. Sighing loudly, Liza locks the door, and throws her bag on the table. She starts dancing in the dark and sings. "Breathe. Breathe. Say you love me, say you love me, but you're never there for me."
She hears someone laughing.
Liza stops singing and dancing in the dark. "Someone?s here?"
A guy?s voice, "No. You're talking to the microwave."
Liza asked, "Aren't you supposed to be in the party?"
The guy replied, "Aren't you?"
Liza rephrases her question. "What are you doing here?"
The guy finally answered. "Repairs. The light's out. You?"
Liza tries figure out who she's talking to. "No choice. Wall-to-wall people. I don't feel like socializing."
The guy agrees. "I'm not particularly sociable tonight either."
Liza sits on the left stool while he stands somewhere in front of her in the dark. "So what do we do now?"
He jokes around while fixing the light. "If you were a guy, I?d ask you to arm wrestle for this territory; but since you're not, maybe asking you to leave me alone would be my next move."
Liza agrees. "Sounds fair. You got here first... even if this is my kitchen."
She's about to leave, but hesitates. "But can I ask you a question?"
He said, "Shoot."
Liz giggles. "Are you hiding from someone?"
"Everybody," he said.
Curious Liza asked, "Why?"
The guy stands up and stops what he's doing. "They look at me. They look at me, they whisper and giggle. It was driving me nuts!"
Liza wonders. "Oh. So why do people do that?"
She pauses and smiles. "I get it; you look like Rob Schneider, right?
The guy laughs. "Close."
Liza, anxious. "C'mon, you're killing me here. Tell me, why do people stare at you? You can't be that ugly?"
He reminds Liza. "For someone who doesn't feel like socializing, you sure ask a lot of questions. Please, just leave me alone. I'm sure you have better things to do."
Liza giggles. "Like what?"
"I don't know." He pauses. "You've already been partying most of the night. If you hurry, you can even catch the Frisbee tournament at the rooftop."
Liza's not impress. "Those showoffs out there don't particularly impress me. And for your information, I just spent the last couple of hours sitting through a movie that bored me. I even preferred seeing the Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes flick twice than to be at this party. I'm here because I live here. I thought Rachel's friends would have killed themselves by now; so I came back."
She sighs. "But I should have known better than to think one of Rachel's parties would be over by midnight."
The guy's smiles. You saw Maid in Manhattan" twice?
Liza giggles. "I know it's gay; but I was desperate."
He asked, "How was the movie?"
Liza glances at the window. "Boring movie. Bad story line. Bad acting. On a scale of one-to-ten, I'd give it a 5.
He walks towards the window. "If it wasn't any good, why did you see it twice?"
Liza remembers Rachel's comment, smiles. "I had some scenes I needed to check out... for my Humanities paper."
The guy grins, sternly. "Sure. Don't tell me you?re another J-Lo fan."
"Hardly." She pauses. "But you can't blame the public for liking her. She's genuinely a nice girl and she looks "decent".
He asked, "Decent?"
Liza takes on an innocent look. "Okay, I think she's drop-dead gorgeous. Satisfied?"
He thinks otherwise. "Her looks are overrated."
A knock on the door is followed by chanting, "Open the kitchen! We want food! We want food! We want food!" The chant repeats and fades.
Liza, after an uncomfortable silence. "Look, it's no use hiding in the dark. If you don't want to be here, you should just go home. It's one o'clock in the morning."
He walks to the window and looks down. "Amazing view your girls have here."
He pauses and admires the Toronto at night from the penthouse. "Shoot! I forgot! How on earth will I get home now? My brother said he could pick me up if I called him before twelve. I hate this! Why did I have to wreck my car? I can't take a taxi."
Liza's being funny. "Why? Too pompous?"
He replied, "No, too difficult. People stare at me in public transportation."
Liza thinks out loud since it seems like she's talking to herself in the dark. "Maybe you're just imagining things. Maybe you don't look all that bad. I think you should let me have a peek."
She walks towards the cupboard. "I can even talk Rachel into giving you a super-cute makeover. I think there are some candles in here."
The guy runs and stops Liza from opening the cupboard. "Please don't."
Liza squints and tries to look into his face. "Well, at least I know now you couldn't possibly be a dwarf."
Someone bangs on the door again.
Liza shouts. "Go away! We're out of food!"
She then asked the guy. "Let's cut the nonsense, okay? The way you look can't be all that horrible. Zits can be cured. I can give you my dermatologist's number. Noses can be fixed, look at Michael Jackson."
He walks over and leans on the fridge. "My complexion and my nose are okay."
Liza walks by the kitchen door, thinking. "Let?s get this straight. I'm conversing with a guy who is so grotesque that..."
He interrupted. "I didn't say I was grotesque." He pauses. "Although that was exactly how I described myself last night. You see, every time I go out, people stare at me. It's like they're looking really hard, but they're not seeing what I want them to see. How can I make people see that what I look like is not all that I am? You know what I mean?"
Liza's really curious now. "Aren't you being a bit over dramatic here? Look, everybody has problems. Compared to someone else's, your difficulties might not be so bad."
He argues. "And what was the last disaster you survived? A broken nail? A run in your stocking? Crippling dilemmas like that?"
Liza's feisty now! "I don't have to stay here and take this abuse! Why don't you just walk out of my kitchen and haul your self-pity with you!"
The guy argues. "I do not pity myself! I just came in here because I was burning out. I didn't want to be looked at like a freak of nature! Even my own friends treat me weird now!"
There's a long pause. "I didn't mean what I said about..."
Another long pause. "Why are we talking about this?"
"Isn't this a bit too heavy considering we just met?"
Liza, hesitant. "What else do we talk about?"
He grins. "I'm sure we can find something less controversial. You go to U of T, don't you?
Liza grins and steps closer to him. "Yeah. I've probably seen you on campus before. What course are you in?"
He steps back to avoid being seen. "Fine Arts. You?"
Liza tries to figure out his face, but it's too dark. "Economics. Where did you go to high school?"
He says, "Goetz, Mississauga. You?"
Liza and the guy talked at the same time. "St. Francis Xavier, Mississauga."
Liza's perplexed. "How?d you..."
He added. "If you live here, you were probably born here like Rachel, right?
"Right." With a long pause. "I don't believe I'm having this conversation with a total stranger in the dark."
He asked, "What's so unbelievable about it? This is probably the best way for two people to get acquainted. No names. No distractions. No biases. We're transcending the pitfalls of the sense of sight."
Liza argues. "The argument still does not change the fact that you're a man. I don't usually pour myself out to guys."
He thinks otherwise. "So what if I'm male. I could be as trustworthy as any female."
Liza laughs condescendingly.
He asked her a stupid question. "Is it me or am I really talking to a girl who won't as much as let a man help her off a burning building?"
Liza giggles. "It's not as bad as that. In general, I just don't trust men anymore.
He begins to pace around the kitchen. "Why don't you trust men?"
Liza in a soft tone. "I don't believe in making the same mistake twice."
He says loudly. "A-ha! So you have some of your own deep dark secret. So what's your story?"
Liza, shyly, holding herself back. "A guy wouldn't understand."
A look of interest fills his face. "Try me. Remember that I have my problems too."
Liza sighs. "Well, the truth of the matter is, I broke up with someone I was still very crazy about."
There's a long pause and then he asked her, "And why did you do that?"
Liza felt like talking. "Well he seemed to have wanted it. A few months ago, he started to have all of these great things happening in his life like he's acting career, and I felt he just didn't have the heart to break up with me, so I saved him the trouble. I wrote him the shortest goodbye letter I could muster and that was the end of it. I let him go. I've avoided him like the plague, and refused to take his calls. I figured I gave him the ultimate excuse to start seeing these really beautiful women who were just throwing themselves at him."
A long pause again and finally he said, "Let me get this straight. You broke up with your boyfriend because he's an actor and you thought he wanted to?"
"That must be the dumbest thing I have ever heard! Do you know you broke a guy's heart over a guess?"
Liza raising her voice. "If he's so heart-broken, then tell me this. Why is he out with a different girl every night?"
Matching up to Liza's loud voice. "Maybe he doesn't want the world to think he's become suicidal because one girl thinks he's worth zilch. Maybe he just wanted to prove a point."
Liza speaks even more loudly. "Oh, he's proven it alright! He's proven that he was just itching to break off with me! Now, he's hanging out with the most gorgeous girls in the city, while I stay home miserable, praying he'll call me."
He asked in disbelief. "Call you? But you were the one who broke off with him! You were the one who kept avoiding his calls!"
Liza, still intense. "Don?t you know anything about girls? We do things and say things to find out if a guy is really tuned into our feelings. Sometimes it helps to know how much we mean to our guy by seeing what they'd do given the freedom of choice. Not just by relying on what they say they'd do. And I thought he knew me well enough to know how I felt. How I really felt."
The guy, calmly. "Well, you can give me credit from being consistent. That is still the dumbest thing I have ever heard!"
"Now isn't that exactly what I'd expect a guy to say?"
Liza walks around, fuming. "I've been telling you the disaster of my life and you come out pointing a finger at me! At me! Whose side are you on anyway? Oh, I forgot! Men always stick together. It's a brotherhood thing. The Knight of Columbus." She leans on the table and screams! "The Klu Klux Klan!"
He stands up to Liza, nose-to-nose. "Will you calm down? I wasn't taking sides! I just feel sorry for the guy you crushed!"
Liza's angry. "The guy I crushed? You got the story all mixed up! I'm not the one with the instant replacement for my ex!"
He turns around. "Well, I'm sorry! That's how I see it. From what you said, it seems you made the decision to end your relationship! You practically shooed him out of your life! And you are the reason why probably both of you are miserable!"
Liza stands besides him. "Oh! So I'm a wrecker of relationships now! I'm a little crazy person who drives a guy away at gunpoint and cries when he doesn't call?"
"Precisely," he said.
Liza swings her arm and hit the guy squarely across the face.
He steps back. "Hey! I think you just gave be a black eye!"
Liza, madly say. "Well, then, come a little closer and let me finish the job! I was hoping I could give you two!"
Someone screams from outside the door. "Open up in there!"
He shouts. "Go away! We're trying to fix the lights!"
He looks at Liza, smiling. "Where were we? Oh yes, our first fight."
"You were about to go for a knockout."
Liza, with a long pause. "Look, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have hit you. Believe me that was the first time I ever laid a hand on anyone. You just got me so mad. I got carried away. I'm sorry. Are you okay?"
He chuckles. "Just do me a favor. If the eye shows sore, never say I got hit by a chick. I mean, a woman. Okay? And I'm sorry too... about upsetting you. I should have stopped when things got too heated."
Liza finally agrees. "No, no. You made sense. I just didn't want to admit it, at first. Maybe, I am the reason why I'm miserable."
She thinks. "But it's too late for my ex and me. I don't think he'd even want me back... not anymore."
He sits on the floor. "You won't know that for sure until you talk to him. Who knows? Maybe he's not all that happy with the 'great things' in his life, like you said. Maybe he's just waiting for you to save him."
Liza walks slowly and sits on the stool. "You have no idea who he is. He is soon out of reach for me. He's kind of a big movie star now, I heard. He has first movie coming out or something."
He stands up and walks towards her. "This boy may not be the smartest guy in the world for not having a clue to what you were feeling; but I'm sure he'll know how lucky he is for getting back a girl as intelligent, warm and sensitive as you." He puts his hands on Liza shoulders.
Liza shrugs him off. "Wait a minute!" She springs up, runs to left, by the window. "I'm starting to understand what this is all about!"
"The sad story, the advice, the sympathy. You were trying to build me up for... this!"
He raises his voice. "You're out of your mind!"
Liza raises her voice. "Take another step and I'll throw you out of the window so far you won't need a taxi to get home."
Liza tries to push where he thought his chest would be.
Empty air. Thrown off balance, she topples to the floor.
She scuds away on all fours, across the kitchen floor to the right while he walks left.
The guy asks, "Did you just fall?"
He gropes for her. "Stay put, will you? I swear. I never had any funny ideas."
He shakes his head, smiling. "You are conceited! You... sensitive? Demented is more like it! Listen you... you need psychiatric help."
Liza walks on all fours, backwards, towards the sink. "I've heard enough from you. Just shut up and let me get out of here!"
She tries to get up but slips all over again. She screams!
He asked. "What happened? Will you please let me help you? I heard you hit your head on something? Are you still conscious?"
He takes three steps towards Liza.
"Ooooooh... stars..." She rubs her head.
He stands there looking at her. "Look, I won't come any closer unless you ask me to."
Liza shouts. "Will you just shut up and help me!"
Someone bangs on the door. "Food!"
He says, "Go away! Pigs."
He walks to Liza. "Don't move. I'm coming."
He finds Liza. "Did you hurt anything badly?"
Liza chuckles. "Yup, my pride."
Big grin on his face. "You are one crazy female. Dp you know that?"
Liza agrees. "It's a genetic flaw."
He pulls Liza up with one of her arms around his neck. "And you're also very beautiful."
Liza blushes. "Liar! You can't see two inches in front of your face."
Confidently, he says, "There?s more than one way a woman can be beautiful." He leans forward for a dramatic kiss but knocks Liza's head instead.
Liza screams, "Ouch! What was that?"
He apologizes. "Ooops, sorry. Bad sense of direction."
Liza breaks away and walks the middle of the room, self-conscious. "I really think we should get out of this kitchen. Things are happening too fast in here."
He's standing and looking at her shadows. "I didn't mean to be... I just..." He follows her and they stand face to face. "I just think I?d like to get to know you better. What do you say? Friends?"
Liza with a long pause. "You want to know something weird? I've known you for less than an hour. I have no idea what you look like. I don't even know your name. But yeah, I do want to be friends."
He wonders. "We're like "Beauty and the Beast."
She raises her eyebrow. "Don't say things like that about yourself."
"I didn't mean I'm a beast. I just meant that we're like the story. You know, our looks don't matter."
Liza thinks otherwise. "That not quite an accurate analogy. We're more like, Cupid and Psyche actually."
He says jokingly, "Okay, as long as I'm Cupid and you're the psycho."
Liza smiles. "You are something else."
He asked, "Does this mean you've overcome your distrust of guys?"
"Well, one guy, at least."
Someone knocks loudly.
Liza and the guy turn their heads and shout together. "Go away!"
Liza added. "The light's burned out."
Rachel from outside. "I know! I burned it out! Liza, is that you in there? I've been looking for you all night! There's this guy I want you to meet. If only I can find him in this mob. Great party turnout, huh?"
Liza shouts, "I've seen it, Rachel."
Rachel suggests. "Liz, just light some candles and open up, will you? We're running out of food in the buffet and people might leave. Do you hear me in there?"
He looks at her. "You heard the lady. Light some candle."
He walks to the cupboard and hands a candle and a match to Liza.
Liza hesitates. "Whatever you... however you... it won't change what I think of the guy I met tonight. I promise."
He just lights the candles himself.
Liza walks around the table, left, takes a deep breath, sets the candle on the table and lights it. The room lights up. She looks at the guy and gasps.
"Oh, my gosh. You... you... you!"
Her expression changes from a scowl to a smirk to a smile. She giggles and breaks into a hysterical laugh."
The guy follows to laugh with her. "Disappointed?"
Liza giggles. "You dirty *censored*ing son-of-a-bum! Unfair, you knew it was me!"
He smirks. "Hmmm... I had clues."
As the laughter dies, the two look intently at each other from opposite sides of the breakfast table.
Liza asks, "You didn't go to Goetz.
He says, "Just trying to throw you off track."
Liza says, "Your voice changed."
He talks about his voice. "My manager told me I had to regulate my voice better for the screen. Two months of speech and drama coaching worked too well, I guess."
There's a long pause. "Did you mean it when you said nothing will change even if you knew what I looked like?"
Liza with a big grin and lost of words. "Well, I said that because... the only reason... was... ah... you know... when I..." She stops. "Yes."
Rachel peeks under the door. "Liza? Are you in there with?
Liza whispers, You better walk out of here before my cousin starts spreading nasty rumors."
He looks at the door for a moment. "Sure, if you'll walk out of here with me. And I do mean, with me."
He watches Liza smile and start walking towards the door.
"Wait a minute, Liza."
He stops her, pulling her hand.
Miguel looking at Liza's eyes. "I really, really love you. Do you see that now?"
Liza, you can see her eyes smiling. "More clearly than I ever did."
They embrace in the middle of the kitchen.
The candles went out.