We open up to a cashier desk and two co-workers chatting about their day. A big sign above them reads "Thrift Gifts" in mismatching colors and tilted letters. One of the employees, Josue, looks bored and exhausted. Another co-worker, Anika, seems chipper and ready to continue working. The security guard of the store, Nadir, is seen sweeping up trash and fixing the staunch posts that got knocked down during the rush hour.
JOSUE- So glad the day is almost over. Hey, why do we even need staunch posts?
ANIKA- That's what those things are called? Besides, what's your beef with staunch posts? They're useful.
JOSUE- What's the point of an object if it doesn't serve its' purpose? Those staunch posts obviously suck as barriers. I say let the animals run free every time there's a sale.
ANIKA- I think if we did that to the customers we'd have a whole lot of lawsuits on our hands.
JOSUE- Well you're studying law right? Maybe after an accident or two, you could make a convincing case for the store to get a self-checkout machine.
ANIKA-Then we'd both be out of jobs!
JOSUEWould that be so bad?
Anika punches Josue playfully in the arm. Josue picks up one of the cashmere sweaters from the rack.
JOSUE- I can't believe there's all of this mess over 50% off cashmere sweaters. It's summertime! Besides, look at poor Nadir.
Josue places down the sweater and points at Nadir who is on the side of the stage, dutifully cleaning up the mess and fixing the staunch posts.
NADIR (LOUDLY)- Poor me.
ANIKA- I mean, they were Michael Kors sweaters. I spotted this beige v-neck one that was super-cute. Should've copped one for our date Sunday.
JOSUE- You know we can't be shopping on the clock. Wait... so that's a yes for Sunday!?
Nadir finishes cleaning up and approaches Josue and Anika.
NADIR- Hope you two are doing well.
JOSUE- Yeah we were just in the middle of a very important conversation. But, thanks for working security during rush. No way in hell I'd do that job.
ANIKA- Rude much. Have some manners.
Anika punches Josue, this time in the gut.
ANIKA- Thank you for your hard work Nadir!
Anika hugs Nadir. Josue gestures to him a salute as if Nadir did a service to our country.
NADIR- Haha, it's okay. You know, you two kids remind me of my youth. There is this saying we have in -- Turkey.
JOSUE- Here we go again.
NADIR- The tree branch should be bent when it is young.
ANIKA- Wow that's deep. What does it mean?
NADIR- It means your personality is shaped when you are young. In the case of the customers and our dear friend Josue here, it is too late to teach them manners.
Nadir and Anika have a hardy laugh. Josue chuckles but looks annoyed.
JOSUE- Ehem. Anyway, they really need new staunch posts that aren't made of plastic. What if there's another accident like that again?
NADIR- Agreed. We should bring it up in the meeting. But, after the celebrations.
ANIKA- What celebrations? Oh... no no no no no no.
NADIR & JOSUE- Yes yes yes yes yes.
Josue grabs Anika around the shoulder, attempting to encourage her.
JOSUE- Of course you were going to make employee of the month! After what you did.
Anika pushes Josue off.
ANIKA- I didn't do anything. I found a lot of money in a dusty old lockbox and gave it to Tiana. The money belonged to the store.
JOSUE- It was 20K! If that was me, that money would've belonged to me. I'd pay off my debt and go back to business school.
ANIKA- Okay businessman. What would you have done if Nadir caught you stealing?
JOSUE (SHRUGGING)- I'd make him a deal.
NADIR- Haha. This was a great conversation, but I've got to head to the back to help Tiana. And Anika... what you did was important. It shows character. The tree branch was bent.
Anika and Josue are seen counting the money in the register. It is clear that they are about to close up.
ANIKA- Okay, I wanna see those math skills put to the test Josue. Count this money and make sure it's even.
Josue starts counting the money.
ANIKA-What do you think Nadir was saying back there? About a tree branch being bent?
JOSUE- I don't ever get any of Nadir's weird Turkish sayings. But, what I think that he's trying to say is that you were raised with good morals, and not a lot of people would've done what you did.
ANIKA- Ha! Raised with good morals. Is it $400?
Josue hands Anika the money.
JOSUE- Yup. $400. Look... Anika. Tiana still gave you $5,000 out of that 20K and you chose to donate it to charity. That's amazing.
Anika forcefully shuts the register after Josue hands her the money.
ANIKA (ANGRY)- You don't get it! The money didn't belong to me in the first place! Besides, I only did it to help the store's publicity.
JOSUE (SARCASTICALLY)- Yeah because overcrowding this store with more customers is exactly what you wanted. You did it because you're a good person. That's why you're in the newspaper!
You don't know my intentions for doing things! You don't know my pastor so-called morals! And neither did that idiot journalist that wrote that newspaper article!
MALCOLM- Yo Josue! I don't mean to interrupt two lovers in a quarrel, but Tiana says we got some heavy lifting to do in the back.
JOSUE- Aight, I gotta head to the back. See you soon Anika.
ANIKA- Whatever. I'll tend to the last few customers. I'll see you later.
We open up to the cashier desk where the store seems desolate and on the verge of closing. The lights are just now starting to go out.
ANIKA- Ugh, I can't believe I have 15 more minutes on the clock. What are they even doing back there?
Anika reaches under her desk and into her purse. She takes a swig out of a whiskey bottle.
ANIKA- Knowing Tiana, she's probably throwing this big celebration. I should've never opened that stupid lockbox. I've gotta take the edge off.
Anika continues to drink the bottle until she sees a shadow approaching her and quickly stuffs it back into her purse and under her desk.
ANIKA- Oh hey customer! Welcome to Thrift Gifts! How may I help you?
The woman is clutching a ragdoll. Her and Anika stare at each other for a long time before making any conversation. They share similar features, both being black women of Carribean descent with curly hair, broad noses, and curvy figures. When comparing their faces, we see that the woman appears to be youthful because of her makeup, but she has wrinkles that clearly define her age.
ANIKA (INQUISITIVELY)- You remind me of someone...
ANIKA (STERNLY)- Hey we're about to close up. So you don't have a lot of time to shop.
WOMAN (REHEARSED, FORMAL)- Oh, my apologies. I didn't mean to be any kind of disturbance. May I leave this with you?
The woman holds out the doll. Anika looks at the doll just like she did the woman, a reflection of herself.
ANIKA (PUZZLED)- Sure, lady. But donations are in the back! Remember that next time.
WOMANOh, how could I forget? Pardon me. By the way, I read the news article. It was so great what you did. I'm proud of you... and the store!
ANIKA (TIPSY)- Yeah, everyone is so proud of me... and the store! Whoopee! I haven't even read this article everyone keeps telling me about.
WOMAN (NERVOUSLY)- I have a copy here in my bag.
The woman pulls out a newspaper from a bag. Anika reads it out loud.
ANIKA (TIPSY & IN A MOCKING TONE)- Connecticut Daily. Thrift Gifts employee Anika Jones finds 20K in a lockbox at her store. Donates $5,000 to New Haven Alcohol Treatment Center. Bla Bla Bla. "Anika Jones is known for her cheerful attitude and lively personality as an employee". I hate it when they add personal anecdotes.
WOMAN- You don't like the praise?
ANIKAI don't like receiving things that don't belong to me.
WOMANWell that's the beauty of a thrift store right? To share things you feel don't belong to you. Maybe your co-workers are celebrating you because they all need something to celebrate about.
ANIKA- It has been a long day. You should've seen the rush hour.
WOMAN- Haha. I used to work at Macy's. I know how it can be.
ANIKA- Which Macy's? My mom used to work at a Macy's.
WOMAN- Oh just one of the Macy's downtown. The only good thing about it was the sales.
ANIKA- We're having a sale tomorrow if you want to come. The whole store is 50% off.
WOMAN- That sounds promising. Might stop by. Anyway, I know you guys are closing up.
The woman grabs Anika's arm as if she wanted to continue the conversation a little longer, and Anika stares at her, bewildered.
WOMAN- I'll see you, child.
ANIKA- Weird lady. This doll looks very familiar though, like something from my childhood.
JOSUE- Anika, we're having the meeting!
ANIKA (LAUGHING)- Well, better go see what this celebration is about.
Anika takes the doll with her.
JOSUE- Try to act surprised.
JOSUE AND ANIKA EXIT TOGETHER.
We open up to an office at the back of the store where Nadir and Malcolm are sitting at a table. A refrigerator, microwave, and the giant board can be found in the room. On the board is an enlargened photo of Anika, where "Employee of the month is scribbled in marker". Also on the board is the newspaper article. Tiana is seen wearing her infamous toy crown. Malcolm is wearing his trademark red bandana. A cake is seen on the table. Josue and Anika are bombarded by their co-workers as soon as they enter.
TIANA- Now my darlings. We celebrated my favorite employee, Anika Jones!
JOSUE- Good to see you, our highness!
Anika is still clutching the doll. Anika and Josue bow down to Tiana.
TIANA- Yes, we all know you are loyal subjects to Princess Tiana. But today, Anika is the new queen. Because she is an employee of the month!
Tiana places her crown on Anika's head. Everyone applauds.
ALL (CLAPPING) Congratulations!
ANIKA- You guys really didn't have to do this. In fact, I'd appreciate if I could just get my cake and go.
TIANA- No-no-no. Everyone is staying until closing today! Just so we can embarrass Anika!
So we're not doing any real work right now. Just this shit?
TIANA- I have other important announcements to make after this so everyone is staying!
JOSUE- Are we getting new staunch posts?
TIANA- Quiet Josue! I'll do my manager-ing later. Right now, I give my speech and we celebrate!
NADIR- Yes, a speech for the young lady!
TIANA- Anika is a dedicated worker. She comes in on time, every day. And she always does what I ask her to, unlike some No Way Josue's around here. But most of all, she has a big heart. And that's what we at Thrift Gifts are all about.
Tiana pulls out a copy of the check she wrote out.
TIANA- So, I wrote out this check to the New Haven Alcohol Treatment Center, per, Queen Anika's request. And I will be framing it here, on this board.
Tiana pins the check to the board.
TIANA- Any words from our queen?
ANIKA- I feel honored. This means a lot coming from you guys. And as your queen, I order Tiana to let them eat cake!
TIANA- So modest! She only abused her power once.
Tiana takes back the crown.
TIANA- Okay everyone, sit down and enjoy the cake for 15 minutes and then we're doing an inspection of the store before tomorrow's big sale! We can't have customers getting injured!
NADIR- I think Josue mentioned something about getting new staunch...
Tiana ignores Nadir and exits. Malcolm, Josue, Nadir, and Anika are all sitting at the table.
MALCOLM- You see? That's the problem with ya'll. You think you can improve our work conditions and shit. Deal with the fact our job is trash.
JOSUE- And your solution, is what? Do not work at all?
MALCOLM- Well she ain't calling me "No Way, Josue" nigga. She already has low expectations for me.
JOSUE- That's why you didn't make employee of the month.
NADIR- This cake is fantastic! It reminds me of the cheesecake I had when I lived back in Turkey.
MALCOLM- Yo, everything be reminding him of Turkey! The only time I'm that nostalgic is when I'm smacked.
ANIKA- I know exactly what you mean Malcolm.
Anika is seen caressing the doll.
JOSUE-That's a cool doll. Where did you get it?
ANIKA- From the front. A customer donated it.
MALCOLM-Well, we better jet before Tiana gets on her bullshit again.
NADIR- Yes, Tiana is much like a bull. Strong and feisty. We must go.
Malcolm and Nadir get up and exit.
We open up to an empty office where Anika and Josue are sitting.
Anika is still seen caressing her doll. She looks at the tag.
ANIKA- 365 WESTIN RD. That's where my first mom's home was?
ANIKA- My biological mom! I couldn't quite put my finger on it ,but I knew this doll belonged to me.
JOSUE- It's crazy that would even end up here. What happened to your mom?
ANIKA- She gave me away for adoption when I was 10. I don't remember much about her. But this doll... it was special to me.
Anika starts sobbing. Josue tries to console her.
ANIKA- She was an alcoholic. My mother. She beat me whenever I'd ask for her help. She'd say, "Get used to being alone in this world. So you can grow up to be a strong woman!" She only took care of me because she had to and only loved me when I made her proud. But, man could she sew. When I graduated from middle school, she made me this doll. It was the one thing she ever gave me that I felt like was mine.
ANIKA- It gave me a lot of comfort as a kid. This doll. But, I have to get rid of it.
JOSUE- Why? It's the one thing your mother ever gave you. You can't just get rid of it!
ANIKA- I don't want to. I just have to get used to being alone.
JOSUE- Loneliness just brings regret. The one who enters a Turkish bath sweat.
Ugh. Another Nadir quote!
Josue grabs Anika's hand. He tries to console her.
JOSUE- You're going to regret pushing people away. And if you let go of this doll, you're going to regret pushing that piece of your mother away.
ANIKA- Watch me. I'm putting this up on display for tomorrow's sale.
ANIKA TOSSES HER DOLL INTO A CARDBOARD BOX LABELED "VALUABLE ITEMS FOR SALE."
JOSUE- Once it's in that box, it's gone for good. 50% off everything tomorrow.
ANIKA- Just goes to show how cheap that doll was.
Anika grabs her purse and exits. Josue sits and thinks for a minute, then follows.
We open up to a big sale day at Thrift Gifts. Josue and Anika are working cashier again. A group of items are seen on a display. Included are a guitar, boxing gloves, signed soccer ball, and Anika's ragdoll. The label above the objects reads "Valuable Toys 50% Off"
JOSUE- Man that guitar looks sweet. I hope nobody buys it.
ANIKA (DROWSY)- It's just a stupid guitar. Ugh, I can't wait for this day to be over.
JOSUE- You sound hungover. Go to some party yesterday after work? Why wasn't I invited?
Josue tries to flirt with Anika like usual but she isn't having it.
ANIKA- Get off me! You know what, our date is canceled!
JOSUE- I'm missing the part where you have a reason to be mad at me.
ANIKA- Just leave me alone, okay. I just want to get through this sale day.
Anika reaches into her purse and drinks a swig of whiskey right in front of Josue.
JOSUE- What the hell are you doing? You can't be drinking at work!
ANIKA- Yeah, and what are you going to do? Get me fired? You're in love with me.
A little boy and his father approach the register. The little boy is holding the doll and an action figure.
ANIKA & JOSUE- Welcome to Thrift Gifts! Everything going well?
FATHER- Why yes, I just came to purchase this doll for my son.
SON- Yes, I just found this cool doll! It's so pretty.
FATHER- I meant it for his little sister, but good to see he gets some enjoyment out of it. How much?
Josue rings up the item.
JOSUE- That'll be $2.99.
ANIKA- $2.99! That can't be.
FATHER- What a steal!
The son is having a battle with the doll and his Thor action figure.
SON- Yay, Thor and he can do battle. Doosh Doosh! Kabloom!
ANIKA- Woah! Careful with that doll there kid! No damaging store property!
Anika attempts to pull the doll out of the kids hands. He's holding on with one arm and can't fight back.
JOSUE- They're trying to buy the doll Anika. Just let it go already!
ANIKA- NO! I NEED TO HOLD ONTO IT! IT'S MINE!
SON- Daddy, the crazy girl is scaring me!
FATHER- Hey, let go of the doll. We want to purchase the thing.
ANIKA- I'm not letting this little brat get the doll! He doesn't deserve it.
The son bites Anika's hand.
SON- It's mine! You're too ugly to have it!
ANIKA- The doll is me! It looks like me, it was made for me, It belongs to me!
TIANA (WALKIE-TALKIE, OFF-SCREEN)- I hear a commotion. What is happening back there!?
JOSUE (WALKIE-TALKIE)- No Tiana! You don't have to come over, everything is fine.
JOSUE- Yo Anika. Chill the fuck out! Tiana is coming.
ANIKA- NO! You can't take it away from me.
Josue holds Anika back. In the struggle, the doll breaks in half and falls to the floor.
FATHER- This is unacceptable customer service! Let's go son.
SON- HAHAHA crazy lady.
FATHER AND SON EXIT. TIANA ENTERS.
ANIKA- Stupid brat!
TIANA- What the hell is happening up here? I heard there was some fight with a kid over a purchase.
JOSUE- It was nothing. The kid was just being annoying and harassing me. I lost my temper.
TIANA- Josue don't be causing trouble up here. It's a big sale day and I don't need parents complaining because you're fighting with their kids.
TIANA- Okay, Anika you're off the clock in case you didn't notice. Josue, you can take your lunch break.
Josue picks up the two pieces of the doll.
Josue and Anika are having lunch together in a park bench right outside the store. Josue is wearing a backpack. Anika is holding the two broken pieces of the ragdoll and her purse. They talk about what happened. Anika is drinking whiskey again. Josue is having a sandwich.
ANIKA- I'm sorry that I caused that commotion. It's just that, the doll meant a lot to me and...
JOSUE- You didn't want to let go of something that meant so much to you. I know the feeling.
ANIKA- I broke it Josue. This doll is as broken as I am.
Drinking on the job. What am I thinking?
Josue grabs the bottle out of Anika's hands and throws it in the garbage.
JOSUE- You weren't.
ANIKA- So what now? You just going to take the fall for what happened?
JOSUE- I'm used to Tiana not liking me. I'm more worried about you.
ANIKA- I'm sorry about what I said about canceling our date and just being a jerk altogether. I need time before I get... attached to anything again.
JOSUE- It's okay. I'll always be here for you.
Josue and Anika hug. Josue starts rummaging through his backpack.
JOSUE- Shit. I think Nadir has it. I'm going to head back inside, I've got a surprise for you.
ANIKA- Josue, wait!
Josue exits the scene. The woman enters. She recognizes Anika on the park bench.
WOMAN- Hi. Anika?
ANIKA- Hey, you're the woman from yesterday.
WOMAN- We meet again. I was just on my way to come to check out this big sale and hope, fully bump into you again. What happened to the doll?
ANIKA- Some bratty kid was going to buy it and ended up breaking it before his dad bought it. Go figure.
Anika cups the broken doll in her hands. She's visibly upset.
WOMAN- Well I can mend that for you, you know. I always keep a threading needle on me. Knitting is my hobby.
ANIKA- Yeah, it would be great. If you could put the two halves together.
The woman grabs the two halves of the doll and starts knitting them together.
WOMAN- You know, it usually takes a long time to mend things. But, when they're mended. All the pieces just seem to come together.
The woman hands Anika the doll and she begins caressing it.
ANIKA- Thank you. For fixing me.
WOMAN- Girls aren't meant to be broken. Goodbye, child.
The woman mysteriously disappears. Anika is laying on the bench sleeping. Josue enters.
ANIKA (WAKING UP)- Wha-wha happened? There was that same woman from the store, and she was here, but now you're here? And you're 30 minutes over your lunch break.
JOSUE- Relax. Tiana hasn't noticed me or your new status as a homeless person yet.
ANIKA- I just knocked out. From all that alcohol...
JOSUE- Yeah someone has to drive you home. My shift ends soon. By the way, I got the knitting spool thingy from Nadir. Remember that time I split my pants at work?
Josue hands Anika the doll.
ANIKA- You pieced the two halves of the doll together.
JOSUE- Thank Nadir. You know how old people always have the hook-up.
Anika holds the doll up to her head.
ANIKA-I've not broken after all.
JOSUE- No, but you are very drunk. Wanna sit in the break room and have some water? You can chill there for a bit before I drive you home.
ANIKA- Sounds like a plan
JOSUE EXITS. ANIKA REMAINS BEHIND TO STARE AT THE DOLL FOR A SECOND.
ANIKA- You're a mess. Just a raggedy doll that was poorly put together.
ANIKA- But you still work. You still serve your purpose. You're still you.
ANIKA IS SEEN CARESSING THE DOLL.