Transcript for Chapter 1A
A PHOTOGRAPHER operates a professional-looking video camera. He's shrouded in darkness; the only thing we can really make out is the large, rectangular lens hood in front.
Photographer: Give us your name, your age, and tell us a little bit about yourself.
JADE is seen through the camera's monitor. She is dressed in trendy clothes and has her hair pulled up attractively. She doesn't look attractive, though; she looks angry and resigned.
Jade: My name is Jade Smith, I'm fifteen years old, and I don't want to be doing this.
Title page: PopChromatic
Chapter 1: Jade in the Rough
The chapter begins twenty-four hours prior to the opening scene.
A girl draws beetles, stars, and iconic depictions of the word “Jade” on her arm with a Sharpie marker.
The scene pulls back and we see that the girl is the Jade from the first page. But this time, Jade is dressed in a black t-shirt, black, ripped jeans, and white canvas sneakers. Her hair is unbrushed, she wears a lot of dark-colored rings and bracelets. Her left arm is covered in tiny black pictures she drew on herself with Sharpie. Double-doors nearby burst open and a horde of girls pour out into the hall where Jade is waiting.
Jade's sister, AMBER, is seen among the crowd of girls.
Amber walks up to Jade and Jade gets to her feet. Amber is very cute and blonde, and she wears a stylish pleated skirt and sandals. She has a flower in her hair, above her left ear. She is visually quite opposite from Jade.
Jade: Hey, how'd it go? Did they make you do anything humiliating yet?
Amber: No, that was just the orientation. They taught us the rules of the audition and gave us this.
Amber gets excited and shoves sheet music to a song called “Violet Sky” against Jade's face. Jade's cheek squishes comically into the paper.
Amber: It's the sheet music for the all-new, never-before-recorded song that the finalists get to perform on live TV!
Jade takes the sheet music and studies it while Amber studies her competition, the other girls in the room.
Jade: Are you supposed to be able to read this, Amber?
Amber: Nah, it's just a formality. They're going to teach us the tune when the time comes.
Jade clutches Amber's arm and pulls her closer.
Jade: “When the time comes?” How do you even know you're going to make it far enough to need this music. Aren't there like forty-seven rounds?
Amber holds up four fingers.
Amber: Only four.
Amber leans in toward Jade conspiratorially and points at her competition, all of whom are also cute, happy, and wearing flowers in their hair.
Amber: Some of these girls are really good, Jade. They're practically perfect. Genetically-engineered, even.
Jade: Ha. I'm never taking that back.
Amber: Are you going to keep making fun of Bouquet after I join?
Jade: Again, I draw your attention to the inordinate amount of confidence you seem to have that you're going to be picked.
Jade puts her hand on Amber's shoulder and looks at her seriously.
Jade: So, one more time, let's try to put this back into perspective. Imagine you're a contestant in the Miss America pageant. All the other contestants are just as polished and cheerful and beautiful as you, okay?
Jade: Now, imagine that instead of fifty states and Puerto Rico...
A massive crowd of imaginary Miss America contestants stretches off into the distance. They are wearing sashes that say things like “Miss Panhandle,” “Miss Long Island,” and “Miss Orange County.”*
Jade: ...we've got twelve hundred states.
Amber looks positive and sincere.
Amber: I know I'm going to win, Jade. I can feel it. I've always known it was my destiny to be a flower in the Bouquet.
Jade looks cynical and bored.
Jade: Just bracing you for reality.
Amber points to herself.
Amber: Well, you should be bracing yourself. For having a mega-famous sister!
A man in the background holds a sign that says “Group A” and is trying to get the attention of the contestants.
Amber: Oh! They're calling my group in for makeup and photos.
Amber holds her hand in front of her mouth in a coy way, like she has a secret.
Amber: I mean, according to my non-disclosure agreement, I cannot divulge anything that goes on behind closed doors. Tee hee.
Amber waves and walks away.
Amber: See you later!
Jade: Okay, I'll just be out here drawing on myself.
Jade waves listlessly back at Amber.
Jade: Or trying to find some sort of sustenance so I don't starve to death. Good luck.
Amber: There's food trucks outside!
Jade looks excited.
*Complete list of the “Miss Ridiculously-Fragmented America” contestants that are visible in the picture:
Miss Long Island
Miss West Oregon
Miss Orange County
Miss South Beach
Miss St. Croix
Miss Four Corners
And my favorite: Miss “The Soo”
A crowd of people mill around directly outside of the convention center, eating lunch, waiting in line, and talking to each other. A row of food trucks lines the sidewalk all the way into the distance. A sweaty FOOD TRUCK CHEF wearing glasses and a bandana shouts out an order number.
Food truck chef: Number 53! Cajun kimchi chow mein!
Jade shows him her ticket and accepts the food excitedly.
Jade: That's me!
Food truck chef: Here you go.
A BOY in sunglasses drinks soda through a straw and watches Jade.
Jade wanders through an outdoor eating area, trying to find an empty seat. She finally finds one and places her food on it. Steam from her food wafts into her face and she smiles.
Jade: Mmm, ethnic fusion.
Jade is eating when someone appears beside her table.
Boy: Excuse me.
It's the BOY in sunglasses from before, only now his sunglasses are hanging from the neckline of his shirt. He is dressed semi-professionally, despite the fact that he looks like a teenager, and he's wearing an official-looking badge on a lanyard. His hair is messy but fashionable, and he's grinning. He is holding a small tray of food and a sweating can of soda.
Boy: Everything's packed. Mind if I sit with you?
Jade looks up at him and sips her soda while she thinks about what to say. Then she uses her foot to push the other chair out for him so he can sit down.
Jade: Guess not.
The boy sits down.
There is a period of silence between Jade and the boy before the boy finally speaks first.
Boy: So, are you here for the auditions?
Jade looks unamused. She is wearing black jewelry and a black paisley bandana on her wrist, and her ears have several piercings. Her makeup is too dark for her to fit in with the stereotypical girls who might apply to join Bouquet.
Jade: Do I look like I'm here for the auditions?
Boy: I just meant, are you keeping someone company?
Jade: Oh. Yeah, my sister. You?
The boy leans back in his chair in a cool, confident way.
Boy: I'm sort of...well, I work for them. For Harrison.
Jade: You work for them? How old are you, dude?
Boy: Sixteen, but I'm like an intern, so...
Jade is focused on her chow mein.
Jade: I guess it's a good place to start. Bouquet is really popular right now.
Jade smiles up at the intern and shows him her chopsticks.
Jade: Personally, I'd rather take these chopsticks to my eardrums. But that's just me.
Jade seems pleased with her own wit and continues to eat while the intern studies her intently. She looks up and notices him staring, right as she takes a bite of noodles. She speaks with a mouth full of food.
Jade: Wuh ih zih?
The intern looks at her very intensely.
Intern: You're beautiful.
Jade looks shocked, and maybe annoyed.
Jade: Excuse me?
Intern: Not right now, obviously, with all the black and the ink, but you could be-
The intern realizes he has said something a little strange and sweats as he tries to back-track.
Intern: I mean, you are beautiful right now, very beautiful, it's just- -it's too unconventional, you know? But tear off all that black stuff and underneath it I'm sure you'd be...
The intern stops and looks introspective.
Intern: What the heck am I saying?
Jade looks disturbed and confused.
Jade: Something like, “I want you to kick me in the crotch, or...?”
The intern points at her confidently.
Intern: You have the look. Cheekbones a little too high; eyes a little too wide; good, strong teeth. Almost straight, but not too perfect. You never had braces, did you?
Jade has her arms crossed defensively.
Intern: Everything about you is like that, perfectly flawed. You belong in a magazine. Or an idol group.
Jade: I can't figure out if you're gay, or if you're hitting on me.
Intern: It's just that I've been doing this job for a long time, so I've kind of developed an eye for what Harrison likes.
Intern: He likes faces with potential, you know? Pretty, but unique. That's the most important thing to him.
Jade: I notice you didn't say the most important thing is musical talent.
Intern: You could learn that, assuming you have a basic ear for music and some sense of coordination.
Jade: I could learn that?
The intern sips his soda thoughtfully for a moment before answering.
Intern: I know the general applications are closed, but I could get you an audition if you wanted.
Jade is shocked. But then shoves herself up from her chair, laughing.
Jade: Oh, I get it!
Jade leans forward onto the table toward the intern in a mock-seductive way. The intern is drinking from his straw.
Jade: You mean you could get me a private audition, right? In your hotel room?
The intern begins to choke on his soda. Without waiting, Jade picks up her food and drink and walks away from the table. She looks bored with the entire interaction. In the background, the intern continues to cough. He gets up and hurries toward Jade, and puts a hand on her shoulder to stop her.
Intern: Jade, wait, I'm not...I'm not messing with you, I swear-
Jade yanks herself away from his hand and glares at him. She's so angry that a black aura seems to be emanating from her. The intern pulls his hand back, surprised and a little scared.
Jade: How the hell do you know my name?
Intern: It's written on your arm like five times.
Jade looks down at her arm, where she had been drawing with the markers.
Intern: See, it's not just your looks, it's things like that. Your whole attitude. I've been telling Harrison...I mean, I really think what's missing from the group is a little bit of cynicism.
The intern is getting more intense as her talks.
Listen, the only girls who audition to be in Bouquet are the ones who listen to Bouquet. That's a pretty homogeneous group of women, if you think about it.
Intern: They need someone atypical and you...I'm not kidding, you're a knockout. I think you could win this!
Jade bursts out angrily.
Jade: I think I don't care!
Intern: Whoa. Okay, I'm sorry.
The intern holds his hands up in surrender.
Intern: I mean, if that's how you really feel, I'll let it go.
Jade: Thank you.
The intern rubs the back of his head, a little embarrassed.
Intern: Want to sit back down and finish lunch? I could hit on you instead, if that would be less annoying.
Jade: It would have been, but I'll pass.
Intern: Well, who's your sister? Maybe I could put in a good word for her.
Jade: Whoa, really?
Intern: I can try.
Jade has forgotten all her anger and is suddenly quite amenable.
Jade: That would be great! Her name is Amber Smith, Group A. She really wants this, man.
Jade points to her own face.
Jade: And she's cute! Way cuter than me.
The intern grins.
Intern: Yeah, I'd have to see it to believe it.
He holds out a hand for her to shake.
Intern: It was nice to meet you, Jade.
Jade takes his hand.
Jade: You, too, uh...whatever your name is.
The intern puts his sunglasses back on.
Intern: It's Justice.
The intern walks away, but as he's leaving he gives her the rest of his name.
Intern: Justice Harrison.