By Kevin Kautzman & Abbie Lucas

INT. RITZ GENEVA LOBBY – DUSK

JENNIFER (F 50), a flustered Texan “of a certain age,” enters a bustling hotel lobby. Her flats SLAP against the checkered floor. She checks in with a passport and gold credit card. Très fabu.

Behind her, a polished but anachronistic flapper type FIGURE (F 30) appears and positions herself at the concierge desk. You know her but you don’t. Jennifer DARTS a glance toward the Figure. A faceless hand SWIPES the gold card.

JUMP CUT TO:

INT. THE SUITE – DUSK

The door SHUTS and Jennifer faces Lake Geneva at magic hour: golden, stunning, a heck of a long way from Texas. She reveals and FLICKS a business card: “Thomas Egger Ph.D., Université de Genève.” She places the card onto a surface and takes a toiletry bag from her luggage.

CUT TO:

INT. SUITE WASHROOM – CONTINUOUS

Jennifer faces the mirror and removes her horn-rimmed glasses. Her abundant wedding ring FLASHES in the light. She sets her glasses, the toiletry bag, and her phone on the counter. She looks at her reflection and HEAVES a sigh. She SPLASHES water on her face, considers her crow’s-feet and pulls her forehead up to reveal her hairline.

                JENNIFER
What the heck am I doing?

She deals with a pair of contact lenses. She inserts one and goes to insert another. As she does, the Figure APPEARS in the mirror.

                GABRIELLE
Pink is not your color, darling.

Startled, Jennifer LOSES the contact in the sink. She looks into the mirror through a half blur to see Gabrielle (the Figure) has vanished. Jennifer SPINS around. Nothing. She PEERS into the main room of the suite.

CUT TO:

INT. THE SUITE – DUSK – CONTINUOUS

The room as before. Nobody’s there.

                JENNIFER
Lordy. I’m losing my mind.

CUT TO:

INT. SUITE WASHROOM – CONTINUOUS

Jennifer scrounges for the lost contact in the sink and finds it. She inserts it and considers her reflection, when: a [text message] DINGS, startling her more than it should.

         [ THOMAS PROFESSOR]
Bon soir. I am at the Ritz bar.
See you soon.

Jennifer picks up her phone and taps without sending the message:

                [JENNIFER]
It was nice to meet you on the
train, but I don’t think I can go
out tonight. My husband died

Deleting.

                [JENNIFER] (CONT’D)
I’d like to meet but I’m jetlagged. And I think I’m seeing things so

Deleting.

                [JENNIFER] (CONT’D)
My battery is dying. I’ll be
down in a bit, but I can only
go for one drink tonig

Her phone DIES.

                JENNIFER
Gosh darn it.

                GABRIELLE O/S
(from the other room)
Where did you acquire this awful blouse?

Whoa. Jennifer exits cautiously into the main room, phone in hand.

CUT TO:

INT. The SUITE – CONTINUOUS

Gabrielle RANSACKS Jennifer’s luggage: panties, socks, bras, and shirts all over the suite. Gobsmacked, Jennifer drops her phone.

                GABRIELLE
There is absolutely nothing here for me to work with!

                JENNIFER
Hey! Stop. Hey!

Gabrielle BRANDISHES a long-sleeved, black cocktail dress.

                GABRIELLE
Aha. This isn’t the worst. We will take off the sleeves.

                JENNIFER
Wait, no–

                GABRIELLE
(ripping a sleeve)
Trust me. These sleeves must go.

                JENNIFER
No! Stop. That’s from Bergdorf’s.

                GABRIELLE
(ripping the second sleeve)
Bergdorf’s? Darling, please. Et voila.

                JENNIFER
Oh. Oh, that’s pretty nice.

                GABRIELLE
Of course it is. Now all we need is pearls.
You do have pearls, yes? Ahh, here.

                JENNIFER
Wait. How’d you get into the room?

                GABRIELLE
Hush. Stand here. You came to
Europe to learn from me, non? Come
learn.

Jennifer approaches Gabrielle, who holds the dress to her. Jennifer looks into the mirror at their reflection. This is indeed Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, somehow returned from the dead as ghost or vision.

                JENNIFER
I visited your grave in Lausanne,
earlier today, with the lions.

                GABRIELLE
See: without the sleeves, très bien.

                JENNIFER
Yes, it’s very nice. Umm. I need a drink.

                GABRIELLE
Oh yes! Let’s have champagne.
Pour deux, s’il vous plaît.

Jennifer goes to the room’s phone and dials.

                JENNIFER
Champagne. Pour deux?

                GABRIELLE
Be polite.

                JENNIFER
(Texas accent)
Seel voo play.

                GABRIELLE
(clapping)
Bon! You can learn!

INT. The SUITE – MINUTES LATER

Champagne for two. Jennifer wears the sleeveless dress. Gabrielle is DRAPED over a chair.

                GABRIELLE
(toasting)
To love.

                JENNIFER
Love is overrated.

                GABRIELLE
What do we toast if not love?

                JENNIFER
To my departed husband.

                GABRIELLE
Tchin tchin. To your husband.

                JENNIFER
So, I really should, umm, see you out?

                GABRIELLE
Are you going to meet that lovely man from the train?

                JENNIFER
(plugging her phone in)
Maybe…

                GABRIELLE
He’s handsome. You’re making him
wait?

                JENNIFER
I’m not sure I’m going.

                GABRIELLE
And why not?

                JENNIFER
I can’t go out with a man I just
met on a train. It’s crazy.

                GABRIELLE
Darling, you’re in Genève. At the Ritz.
It’s not the Ritz Paris, but still.
Have fun! You Americans don’t
know how to have fun!

                JENNIFER
I haven’t been on a date in thirty
years.

                GABRIELLE
Ugh! And you’re prudes!

                JENNIFER
Mademoiselle Chanel, please.

                GABRIELLE
Call me Coco.

                JENNIFER
Coco. I’m jetlagged. And I just
want to be alone. So? Do you mind?

                GABRIELLE
I refuse to leave until you meet
this man.

                JENNIFER
(covering her eyes)
Oh Lord.

                GABRIELLE
(standing)
Let me help you. No woman should be this hopeless.

CUT TO:

INT. THE SUITE – MINUTES LATER

In the main suite mirror, Gabrielle applies makeup to Jennifer.

                GABRIELLE
And I always said I would make a
very bad dead person, because once
I was put under, I would grow
restless and think only of
returning to earth and starting
all over again. Ha ha ha ha!

The room’s phone rings.

                GABRIELLE (CONT’D)
That must be your gentleman caller.

                JENNIFER
(into the phone)
Hello? Yes, I can hear everyone.
I’m fine. The battery died. Fine.
Okay, yes, I’m on speaker. Yes,
Switzerland’s lovely. Just like a
fairy tale. Look I’m in the middle
of… I’ll call later! Happy
Thanksgiving! Make sure the turkey
is properly cooked… Okay. Bye!

                GABRIELLE
That was not your gentleman
caller.

                JENNIFER
My family’s worried. You don’t
have Thanksgiving in France, do
you?

                GABRIELLE
We have Bastille Day. And why are
you not with your family on this
“Thanksgiving”?

                JENNIFER
I need time to be me. The children
are grown. I can’t face another
turkey.

                GABRIELLE
It’s a very dry meat, non?

                JENNIFER
Oui.

                GABRIELLE
(finishing the makeup)
Sit. Hold still. There we are.
Bon. Ready for your big “first
date.”

                JENNIFER
(reaching for her mobile phone)
I appreciate all this, but I’m
going to tell him I can’t. It’s
too soon. It’s too much.

Jennifer retreats to the bathroom. Gabrielle pours champagne.

                GABRIELLE
Love is always too much!

CUT TO:

INT. SUITE WASHROOM – CONTINUOUS

Jennifer leans into the washroom vanity and looks at herself, transformed. Who is this woman?

INT. THE SUITE – CONTINUOUS, INTERCUT WITH PREVIOUS

                GABRIELLE
(through the door)
I was in love once. I was younger.
He made me who I was. He was
everything. Muse. Lover. Too much,
like you say. Then he went and
married a British woman, I have no
idea why, but that didn’t change
the truth of things, of what we
were. We were to meet for
Christmas. And he died in an
automobile accident. Are you
listening?

                JENNIFER
Yes…

                GABRIELLE
And just like that my soul mate
was dead. Poof! But did that stop
me? Non! What did I do? You know
what I did. You came from Texas to
my grave because of what I did! I
went on living, which is what you
need to do now. Oui?

                JENNIFER
I don’t know… yes. Oui.

                GABRIELLE
Now you only need perfume.

A moment. Jennifer takes a small box from her toiletry bag and holds it.

                JENNIFER
I don’t have any.

                GABRIELLE
A woman who doesn’t wear perfume
has no future.

                JENNIFER
I forgot to pack it.

CUT TO:

INT. SUITE WASHROOM – CONTINUOUS

Gabrielle APPEARS in the bathroom mirror.

                GABRIELLE
You are a terrible liar. You have
perfume there. Show me.

                JENNIFER
I can’t.

                GABRIELLE
Why?

                JENNIFER
Because I made it. But I’m shy.

                GABRIELLE
Oh, a perfumer! Show me. I want
to see.

                JENNIFER
It’s difficult. My husband called
it a “hobby.”

                GABRIELLE
And what does his opinion matter?
He’s dead!

                JENNIFER
He’s actually not.

A shared look.

                JENNIFER (CONT’D)
I am a terrible liar.

                GABRIELLE
Whether he’s dead or alive has no
bearing on the quality of the
perfume.

Jennifer opens the small box and reveals three perfume bottles, which Gabrielle lines up on the counter.

                GABRIELLE (CONT’D)
No elegance is possible without
perfume. It is the unseen,
unforgettable, ultimate accessory.
It is not a “hobby.” Un, deux,
trois.
Here, Jennifer number one.

                JENNIFER
I’ll admit that’s not my best.

                GABRIELLE
(testing)
A little bitter, non? Not tonight.
And this? Jennifer two?
(testing)
Oh, this is charming. Better than
the first. Warm.

                JENNIFER
Thank you.

                GABRIELLE
Warm but blunt. Too simple. One
note. Truly fine perfume is a
song, oui?

                JENNIFER
Oui. Okay. Here. Jennifer three.

Gabrielle tests the third fragrance and lingers with it.

                GABRIELLE
C’est magnifique.

                JENNIFER
Really? Wow. Thank you. That means
a lot coming from/

                GABRIELLE
You should be very proud of this.
It’s quite delicate. In an
American way. Go on. You can only
keep a handsome man waiting so
long…

Jennifer sprays herself with the approved perfume. She glances from the mirror and when she looks back, Gabrielle is gone.

Jennifer again considers her reflection, pulls at her dress, swishes, and removes the most glaring item from her person: her wedding ring. She SLAPS it onto the vanity and exits.

Lake Geneva sparkles in the background under dusk. Within the room, a necklace of pearls hangs draped over the chair where Gabrielle sat.

FIN

Kevin Kautzman and Abbie Lucas are screenwriting partners in New York and London, working on television and film projects.
Kevin is an award-winning playwright based in New York. He received his MFA in playwriting and screenwriting from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin, and his plays have premiered in the US and UK. More at kevinkautzman.com.
Abbie Lucas is an award-winning director of film and theatre based in London. For over a decade she has forged a wide and varied career in both creative and technical roles. In 2018, Levile TV listed her as one of the Top 20 Rising Female Filmmakers in the UK. More at abbielucas.com.