Caitlin's Way


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The Present

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"The Present"

[Scene: CAITLIN is riding BANDIT. Up to sky, which fades into CAITLIN'S face as she sings]

CAITLIN: Hush, little baby, don't say a word. Mama's gonna buy you a mockingbird. And if that
mockingbird don't sing, Mama's gonna buy you a diamond ring. (thinking) You used to sing me that. I really
wish you were still here. I'm too old for lullabies now. I'm gonna be fifteen. I can't believe it. That's seven
birthdays without you. I'm so different. I know so much now. I have a horse, and Jim, and Dori--I guess
they're like parents.

[HORSE whinnies. CAITLIN stands up to see HORSE and RIDER. RIDER and CAITLIN stare at each other a
moment before RIDER turns and gallops away]

CAITLIN: (voice-over) Who is that? Was he spying on me?

[CAITLIN is walking BANDIT back home]

CAITLIN: Well, I don't know when your birthday is, boy, but I have a great idea. How 'bout we celebrate our
birthdays together, tomorrow? I don't know--we could be born on the same day, right? Anything's possible.
C'mon...good boy.

[GRIFFEN, DORI, and JIM are in the kitchen of their home]

GRIFFEN: A surprise party? I can't believe you're making me do this. The only surprise is gonna be that no
one shows up.

DORI: Oh Griff, aren't you overreacting just a little? I'm sure there are lots of kids who would love to come.

JIM: Yeah, I mean, this is the first birthday since she's come to live with us. Think of what it would it'll mean
to her. How would you feel--

GRIFFEN: Ok, Ok, ok! I'll call in some favors. Brett does owe me big time. [bites into miffun]

JIM: I'll see you at the lawyer's office this afternoon.

DORI: Right, yeah, then we can get all of Caitlin's forms filled out.

GRIFFEN: Well, hey--wait, hey--you're not going through with it, are you?

DORI: What's the porblem Griff?

JIM: Griffen?

GRIFFEN: Well, I mean, what's the matter with the way things are? Could she just not steal my t-shirts and
sleep in them? And what about the nail polish on my keyboard? (lowers voice, to JIM) Oh, and--she uses
my razor to--shave her legs.

[DORI and JIM laugh]

JIM: I thought you were all for it. [At that moment, CAITLIN walks into the kitchen]

CAITLIN: All for what?

GRIFFEN: Um....all for one and all for one. Like the three musketeers.

JIM: Exactly.

DORI: Yeah, only with you, it's the four musketeers.

[CAITLIN smiles skeptically. Scene changes to CAITLIN and GRIFFEN walking to school]

CAITLIN: You guys were talking about my birthday, weren't you?

GRIFFEN: No we weren't. And even if we were-- which we weren't-- not even the pain of torture could get me
to tell you anything--if there was anything to tell

CAITLIN: Mm hmm. Yeah. So, are they getting me a present? What is it, c'mon? [laughs]

GRIFFEN: Just living with me is present enough. You should know that by now.

CAITLIN: [sighs] Come ON! Is it a new saddle? Bandit really needs a new saddle. [GRIFFEN is silent]
Griffen! [whacks him with her backpack. GRIFFEN winces in pain; CAITLIN walks ahead of him]

[Scene: BRETT, ERIC, JORDAN , and EXTRA are playing basketball at the high school. The ball rolls out of
bounds near GRIFFEN, who is sitting at a table, mulling over a notebook in his hands]

ERIC: Yo, Griffster, pass the ball.

[GRIFFEN doesn't look up. Two GIRLS walk by him; still no response]

BRETT: Griff. Big event at one o' clock.

JORDAN: [as he and others approach GRIFFEN] What's he doing? [reads off GRIFFEN's notebook] Taylor,
Laura, Victoria, Kim, Lira--what--you steal my phonebook?

ERIC: Oh, all girls who won't go out with you. [all laugh]

GRIFFEN: Party list.

JORDAN: Party?

ERIC: Party? Party.

JORDAN: Party!

BRETT: Party!


GRIFFEN: Yeah, I have to have this birthday party for Caitlin.

ERIC: All right. Put-put Melissa on there.

JORDAN: Yeah, she's hot! Make sure that I'm doin' music though; I gotta be the DJ.

GRIFFEN: [surprised] All right, great.

BRETT: What kinda party is this, anyway?

GRIFFEN: Uh, surprise.

BRETT: Hey, that means nobody can tell her, ok?

[All look at Brett: Duh]

JORDAN: [re: game] What is it, 10-3?

BRETT: 10-5!

[BRETT, JORDAN, ERIC, and EXTRA get up to return to game. GRIFFEN shakes his head, smiles, and
resumes his party planning. Cut to TAYLOR and FRIEND sitting at a table, applying cosmetics]

TAYLOR: It's indelible. And it won't even rub off when you're being kissed.

FRIEND: You think the new guy's gonna kiss you! He is like, ultra good-looking.

TAYLOR: It's not about thinking the new guy's gonna kiss me. It's about knowing I'm kissable.

FRIEND: Lipstick is so empowering.

TAYLOR: I wonder if he's gonna go to the party?

[CAITLIN approaches in time to hear TAYLOR's last sentiments]

CAITLIN: No one's gonna kiss you. You never shut up long enough to have your lips closed.

[CAITLIN walks off; Taylor glares after her and makes the shape of an "L" on her forehead with her fingers]

TAYLOR: I know what to get her for her birthday.

[Scene changes; a WOMAN exits her vehicle outside of the LOWE's ranch. She looks around, then
continues into the barn. She stops, amazed, in front of BANDIT, who whinnies dissapprovingly.]

WOMAN: Hey, stay there, boy. [Pets BANDIT, who calms down some.]

[Outside, DORI has just arrived. She notices the new jeep, makes her way into the barn and comes upon the

DORI: Can I help you? You looking for something?

WOMAN: No. He's a handsome horse. [holds out hand, which DORI shakes] Sarah Finley. You're Dori
Lowe, the local vet. I'm the new horse trainer at Aspiration Farms. I expect we'll be seeing a lot of each other.

DORI: Oh, well, welcome to High River. You're gonna be working with some really fine Thoreaubreds at
Aspiration. Since you're new to the neighborhood, I could show you some of the other breeding stock in the

WOMAN: That won't be necessary, Dr. Lowe. I lived in the next county a few years ago--I'm sure not much
has changed.

[Scene changes to schoolyard. CAITLIN is sitting on the stone siding at the school's entrance, her
headphones in place. Pan back to JORDAN, out of CAITLIN's earhot, practicing his rapping]

JORDAN: Can I HAVE your attention just to show appreciAtion, and offer my present to our good friend
Caitlin. No no no no. Can I HAVE your attention just to show appreciation and offer my present to our good
friend Caitlin. Word.

GRIFFEN: [skeptical] That's a birthday song?


[Cut to TAYLOR and FRIEND. TAYLOR is facing forward while FRIEND glances behind them. Upon sight
of the RIDER from before, presumably also the NEW GUY, FRIEND turns to TAYLOR]

FRIEND: Ok, here he comes. Ok, he's right behind you.

TAYLOR: Now? [holds a book out about a foot to the left of her, waits]


[TAYLOR drops the book just as the NEW GUY reaches her. He glances at the fallen book briefly, then
ignores it, pushing past TAYLOR]

GRIFFEN: I'll get it! [Runs to pick up TAYLOR's book]

[The GUYS stare in shock as the NEW GUY makes his way over to CAITLIN, still sitting, listening to music.
He stares at her; she looks up and stares back without removing her headphones. When he doesn't move,
she rolls her eyes and lowers her headphones]

NEW GUY: You were riding a good-looking stallion, is he yours?

CAITLIN: Yeah. Do you always spy on people?

NEW GUY: How old is he?

CAITLIN: I don't know--maybe, five?

NEW GUY: Where'd you buy him?

CAITLIN: What is this, 20 questions?

NEW GUY: His, uh, right front shoe's loose. You shouldn't ride him until you get it fixed.

[A horn honks, NEW GUY goes to the car ]

CAITLIN: Hey, don't tell me how to take care of my horse! Jerk.

[GRIFFEN and OTHERS approach]

GRIFFEN: So? What's his name?

CAITLIN: Who cares? [puts headphones back on angrily]

[Scene changes to GRIFFEN and JIM preparing for CAITLIN's surprise party]

GRIFFEN: You know what? How come you never threw me a surprise party?

JIM: Ha! 'Cause you always plan yours weeks in advance.

GRIFFEN: Oh. All right. Dad, I just realized--how am I gonna get her out of the house when everyone's

JIM: Why don't you take her to a movie?

GRIFFEN: That is a great idea.

[Scene changes to DORI and CAITLIN outside. DORI is inspecting BANDIT's right front shoe]

DORI: You're right--loose. Ok. Well, I'll call the ferrier in the morning.

CAITLIN: Yeah, I noticed it today and so I walked him back instead of riding him.

DORI: That's good.

CAITLIN: The new guy noticed it too. He was totally arrogant. He was talking to me like I don't even take of

DORI: Oh, well, you know that's not true.

CAITLIN: Yeah, I know. [laughs a little]

DORI: What?

CAITLIN: Nothing. It's just that--Taylor was totally hitting on him, and he just ignored her.

DORI: [laughs] Well, maybe he's not such a jerk after all.

CAITLIN: Yeah, well, I guess I can cut him some slack.

[Scene changes to the LOWES and CAITLIN eating dinner]

GRIFFEN: [stands up with mouth full of food] All right, well, dinner was great; I gotta go.

DORI: Griff, sit down. [He does]

JIM: Caitlin, we wanna talk to you about something.

DORI: Um, do you ever think about looking for your father again?

CAITLIN: My father? Um, well, I-I wanted to before, but I really don't think I'm ready. I guess when maybe
when I get older. Why? Do you guys want me to leave?

[JIM and DORI laugh]

JIM: No no.

DORI: No, Caitlin. No, far from it.

JIM: We know your birthday isn't until tomorrow, but, well, we wanted you to have this now. [gives her a
manilla envelope]

DORI: Happy birthday.

CAITLIN: What is it?

GRIFFEN: Uh, open it.

CAITLIN: [opens it, the top right-hand side reads "Consent by a Child to Adoption"] I don't understand.
W-What is this?

DORI: Your adoption papers, Caitlin. Jim and I--we wanna legally adopt you.

CAITLIN: Adopt me?

JIM: You'd be our daughter.

CAITLIN: Excuse me. [gets up and quietly leaves the table; DORI and JIM exchange a worried look]

[CAITLIN's room. CAITLIN stares at herself in the mirror; the notes of a lullaby in the background]

CAITLIN: Why do things always have to change?

[She opens a scrapbook filled with old birthday cards. She opens one; the signature reads, "To my Little
Mockingbird. Love, Mom." She sits on her bed, puts her headphones on, and turns the music up. A
KNOCK is heard on CAITLIN's door; a second later, DORI enters. She sits in front of CAITLIN, who takes
her headphones off and waits]

DORI: You know we didn't try to upset you.

CAITLIN: Why didn't you ask me first?

JIM: [enters with a bowl of ice cream] We wanted to surprise you. But I guess we didn't realize it might scare
you, too. [hands the bowl to CAITLIN]

DORI: Caitlin, we're adopting you--it's not gonna change the past with your mother; I mean, that's yours to
keep forever. We just--we want you to share your new life with us, and, we wanna share our lives with you.

CAITLIN: Really?

[JIM and DORI nod]

CAITLIN: Well, what about Griffen?

JIM: Griffen's cool with it.

CAITLIN: Well what do you think my mom would want me to do?

DORI: I think your mother would want you to be safe, and-and happy. Are you happy here, Caitlin?

CAITLIN: I guess, I--You guys, you really care about what I do.

DORI: Yeah. This is a really big decision for you, and, well, you get to choose. You know, I know you
haven't had that very often

CAITLIN: Yeah, you're right.

JIM: You don't have to decide today.

DORI: No, no.

CAITLIN: [takes off headphones from around neck] Well, uh, can I still call you, Jim, and uh, you, Dori?

[JIM and DORI laugh and answer simaltaneously]

JIM: Yeah.

DORI: Sure.

CAITLIN: [stands up] And uh, Griffen, Butthead? [Takes bite of ice cream]

[Scene changes to CAITLIN and BANDIT outside]

CAITLIN: [holding a picture of herself and BANDIT] This'll look really good in your stall. Happy birthday,
boy! Oh, you're so vain. I probably have something you like better. [A pair of binoculars focuses on
CAITLIN and BANDIT. Without noticing, CAITLIN Reaches into pocket and feeds BANDIT something] A
special treat. I bet you wish it was your birthday everyday, huh? You know, in a way, I sort of adopted you.
So, maybe it's okay if they adopt me.

[CAITLIN looks up to see the RIDER/NEW GUY on a horse a few yards away with his binoculars. Angrily,
CAITLIN puts on her helmet and prepares to mount BANDIT; the RIDER realizes her intentions to confront

RIDER/NEW GUY: [to horse] Whoa, come on.

[The RIDER/NEW GUY turns and gallops away. CAITLIN mounts BANDIT and starts to follow, but he has
too much of a head start. Frustrated, CAITLIN gives up the chase]

CAITLIN: What is WITH that guy?

[Scene changes to ERIC unloading things from a truck outside the LOWE's ranch. GRIFFEN meets him in the

GRIFFEN: You're early, man, she's still here.

[ERIC ignores him and moves closer]

GRIFFEN: [smelling something] Oh!


GRIFFEN: What is that?

ERIC: That's my brother's cologne, man, can you smell it?

GRIFFEN: [sarcastically, while picking up two of the boxes] Oh, just a little.

[ERIC takes him seriously and produces the bottle of cologne from his pocket, spraying more on himself and
getting GRIFFEN in the process]

GRIFFEN: Oh, no, no, oh, ohh. Oh, that's great. It smells worse than your B.O. Let's get this stuff inside.

ERIC: Yeah yeah.

GRIFFEN: You can set it up while I get Caitlin out of the house.

[Scene changes to CAITLIN and GRIFFEN outside. GRIFFEN is leading CAITLIN to a large, wrapped box]

CAITLIN: [sniffing] What is that smell?

GRIFFEN: [innocently] Uh, I don't smell anything. Uh, open it.

[CAITLIN procedes to unwrap her gift as GRIFFEN sneaks a sniff at his shirt]

CAITLIN: Wooden hammers?

GRIFFEN: [enthusiastically] It's a croquet set!

CAITLIN: [less than enthusiastically] Oh.

GRIFFEN: See, you get the hammer and the little ball, and you hit it across the grass. And it's gonna be fun
because, we can all play together.

[GRIFFEN tries to demonstrate, but upon swinging back the croquet mallet, the hammer part breaks off and
flies through the air behind them]


CAITLIN: [dissappointed] It's broken.

GRIFFEN: What a rip. Paid good money for this, too. This year's annual auction for stolen goods. [CAITLIN
looks at him] I'm really sorry. I-you know, I thought, if someone stole it, it must be good, right?

CAITLIN: Yeah, well, I'm sure we can glue it back together or something.

GRIFFEN: Hey, don't feel bad, cause there's a second part to your birthday present. You get to spend the
whole day with me. Cause I'm treating you to a bus ride to High River, and a movie.

CAITLIN: Ok, cool. [Leans forward, sniffs GRIFFEN's shirt] That's it; you're wearing cologne! [laughs]
Where'd you get it, the trash?

GRIFFEN: Hilarious. [They start to walk towards the road, their voices fading]

CAITLIN:I don't like it. Really bad.

[Scene changes slightly to CAITLIN and GRIFFEN further down the road, almost at the bus stop]

CAITLIN: So what's playing?

GRIFFEN: Oh, it's this, uh, horror movie called "Croak."

CAITLIN: Everyone dies?

GRIFFEN: Yeah, and, you see, it's a pun, because the killers are genetically mutated frogs.

CAITLIN: Riight. [Both smile]

GRIFFEN: [re: bus] Oh, here is comes.

[They run toward the bus, flagging it down. Bus stops and they get on, depositing change. The bus pulls
away. CUT to CAITLIN and GRIFFEN walking, again, this time through a field of some sort]

CAITLIN: [angrily] Busses, trains, and planes--they all go by the 24-hour clock.

GRIFFEN: [defensively] Now I know!

CAITLIN: 1600 hours is when the movie got out. That's four o' clock, or approximately, one hour AFTER the
bus left!

[Scene shifts to the LOWE's, where DORI is baking as incessant drum-pounding is heard from the next
room. JIM walks by, hands full of balloons, and knocks something off her counter to the ground]

DORI: Honey!

JIM: It was an accident! [Both shouting to be heard over the noise]

DORI: I want to break his drums!

JIM: Not if I get to 'em first! Eric, that's enough!

[Exits into the living room. The drums stop. DORI breathes a sigh of relief, but then the drums start up again.
Thoroughly annoyed, DORI marches to the doorway of the living room--and stops in shock when she sees
JIM pounding on the drum-set elatedly]

ERIC: [off-screen] That rocks, Sheriff Lowe!

[DORI shakes her head, resigned, and returns to her cooking]

[Scene shifts back to GRIFFEN and CAITLIN, now walking down a road . CAITLIN is a few feet behind.
GRIFFEN turns to look at her]

GRIFFEN: Can you go any slower?

CAITLIN: Oh, stop showing off.

GRIFFEN: You know what--you'd be a in a lot better shape if you lowered yourself and joined some school

CAITLIN: [off-screen] Ugh!

[GRIFFEN turns to a pouting CAITLIN]

GRIFFEN: You okay?

CAITLIN: No! Tha bird just did it on me! It's my birthday!

GRIFFEN: Well, you know, if you woulda been walking faster, it woulda missed.

[GRIFFEN continues walking; CAITLIN shuffles behind]

CAITLIN: You are so not brother material.

GRIFFEN: You know that whole adoption thing? Feel free to reconsider.

CAITLIN: Oh don't worry. I wouldn't dream of considering.

[Scene shifts slightly; GRIFFEN and CAITLIN are entering the LOWE's]

GRIFFEN: And for the record, no one is allowed to use my razor--not even sisters, which you're not.

CAITLIN: You don't even shave, so what's the problem? [They are walking down the hallway]

GRIFFEN: [shouting] Yes I DO!

[They've come to a stop in front of the living room]

PARTY GUESTS : Surprise! Whoo-hoo!

[Music starts up, lyrics "Stick of butter and a loaf of bread..."]

CAITLIN: [shocked] I don't believe it.

GRIFFEN: So, were you surprised?

CAITLIN: Yeah! Did everyone hear me dissing you?

GRIFFEN: Oh yeah.

ERIC: Oh yeah, listen, Caitlin--brought my drum set!

CAITLIN: [unenthusiastically] Great, yeah.

ERIC: [noticing her stained jacket] Is that--

CAITLIN: No. [quickly moves away] No it's not.

BRETT: So whaddaya say we dance later? [Puts arm around CAITLIN, hand landing on the stained part of
her jacket. He draws it away in confusion. He, GRIFFEN, and CAITLIN laugh; BRETT wipes his hand on
GRIFFEN's shirt]

JIM: [to CAITLIN] Hi. So what do you think of the balloons?

CAITLIN: Oh! They're great, but I-I'm just surprised I didn't see 'em coming in. [Looking around at all the

DORI: [to CAITLIN] Happy birthday! Um, why don't I try to save some cake while you go upstairs and get
yourself cleaned up?

CAITLIN: Yeah. [heads upstairs]

[Scene stays at the party momentarily, focusing on everyone having a good time, BRETT dancing somewhat
spasmodically, then shifts to CAITLIN in her room, outift changed. She puts down a hair brush and looks at
herself in the mirror]

CAITLIN: I definitely look older. My very first surprise birthday party.

[CAITLIN walks out of her bedroom; scene changes to her and BRETT dancing]

BRETT: So were you surprised? Be honest--a little surprised? Did you have any idea it was coming?

[CAITLIN laughs. TAYLOR approcahes them]

TAYLOR: Excuse me, Brett. Here--um, Liz and I chipped in; it's something we both thought you'd really
appreciate.[hands CAITLIN a wrapped gift]

CAITLIN: Mmm. [CAITLIN starts to unwrap]

GRIFFEN: What is it?

TAYLOR: It's a--

TAYLOR AND LIZ: --makeover kit.

CAITLIN: Gee. What can I say?

TAYLOR: You're welcome.

CAITLIN: Thanks.

[TAYLOR and LIZ leave]

CAITLIN: [to GRIFFEN] Hey, uh, thank you. No one's ever done this for me before.

GRIFFEN: [shrugs] Sure.

[Music starts up--the same "Stick a butter and a loaf of bread" song as before. Shot of ERIC playing along
on his drums. JORDAN is teaching CAITLIN some dance moves]

JORDAN: Back. Switch. Punch.

[CAITLIN imitates him and he smiles in approval. They both laugh and then redo the steps in unison. The
doorbell rings, and CAITLIN leaves JORDAN to see who it is. CUT to DORI opening the door for SARAH
FINLEY and the NEW GUY aka the RIDER who's been spying on CAITLIN]


[She and NEW GUY both pause, noticing the party. CAITLIN moves a little closer to them]

SARAH FINLEY: I'd like to speak to you and your husband.

DORI: Uh, yeah, he's in the kitchen, um, can I get you a refreshment or something?

[SARAH shakes her head curtly]

DORI: Ok. This way.

[The two exit. NEW GUY glances at CAITLIN for a moment before turning and exiting to the outside.
CAITLIN hesitates a moment, then follows. NEW GUY leans against the railing outdoors; CAITLIN joins

CAILTIN: Um, can I get you some punch? I don't know your name.

NEW GUY: [glances at CAITLIN, then away] It's Will.

CAITLIN: I'm Caitlin.

WILL: Yeah, I know. So, uh, so whose birthday is it?

CAITLIN: Mine. [a beat] Um, you were right about Bandit's shoe. But--I already knew about it.

WILL: So is that what you named him? Bandit?


[Scene shifts back into the party. Over the music, JIM and DORI and arguing with SARAH]

****JIM: And he's been here for a over a year now. You can't just walk in-

[Scene moves back to CAITLIN and WILL outside]

WILL: Yeah, I lived on six different ranches before I was twelve.

CAITLIN: I lived in six different foster homes in a year.

WILL: First day at a new school...

CAITLIN: Ugh. Ugly.

WILL: Yeah. [a beat] You know, I really am sorry about this.

CAITLIN: [confused, smiling] About what?

[JIM, DORI, and SARAH exit the house then and join the two teenagers]

DORI: [gently] Uh, Caitlin, uh, Mrs. Finley here thinks that we have one of her horses.

[CAITLIN looks questioningly to WILL and MRS. FINLEY]

MRS. FINLEY: Four years ago one of my prize mares ran off with her colt. We looked for them everywhere,
and then figured they probably joined the wild herd.

CAITLIN: Well, what does that have to do with us?

JIM: Uh, Mrs. Finley thinks that she's found one of her horses.

CAITLIN: The mare?

DORI: No, Caitlin, the-the colt. It was a buckskin colt; it would be about five years old now.

[CAITLIN stares at them in shock]

CAITLIN: Bandit?

[She turns to MRS. FINLEY and WILL accusingly. WILL looks apologetic]

CAITLIN: No. No, I will NOT let you take my horse!

[CAITLIN runs off. Focus on WILL's FACE as we FADE to commercial]

[Back from commercial. CAITLIN is in BANDIT's stall with him, petting him]

CAITLIN: I won't let 'em take you, boy.

[CAITLIN turns as DORI approaches]

CAITLIN: When we found him he wasn't branded.

DORI: [quietly] Hey.

CAITLIN: I mean, he was with a wild herd. You said he didn't belong to anyone.

DORI: That's what we thought.

CAITLIN: [getting angry] You said we'd have him registered, and he'd be mine. You promised.

DORI: Caitlin, we did register him, it's just that--oh..

[DORI turns away and puts her head in her hands]

DORI: It's just a little more complicated than that. When Mrs. Finley's horse ran away, the colt was too
young to brand. She claims that she owned him first.

CAITLIN: Well, she can't prove it!

DORI: Every horse has a distinct blood type. Now, she's asked us to submit a sample of Bandit's blood. And
if it matches her colt's, then it would prove that Bandit is--

CAITLIN: Well, I won't let her take him.

DORI: She can get a court order, she can force us to give her the sample.

CAITLIN: Can--can she really take him?

DORI: I don't know. But I promise you, we will do everything in our power to fight to keep Bandit.

[DORI puts a comforting hand on CAITLIN's arm; CAITLIN turns away and hugs Bandit. DORI walks away]

CAITLIN: [lowly] Yeah. But you don't keep your promises.

[The scene shifts. A soft, Western-type song plays in the background as the camera pans across the dawn

CAITLIN: [off-screen] All right, boy, you have to be very quiet, okay? Everything's gonna be fine.

[Scene shifts slightly to the later, lighter day, CAITLIN riding BANDIT. BANDIT snuffles]

CAITLIN: Shh. You just have to trust me, all right?

[CAITLIN clicks her tongue against the roof of her mouth once , signaling BANDIT into a trot. The two ride
through a field, getting farther away, the scenery shifting slightly to show that time has passed. CAITLIN
and BANDIT end up in a fenced-in corral hidden from the rest of society by a blanket of trees]

CAITLIN: It's just for a little while. You'll be safe here, and no one will find you. [a beat] There's lots of green
grass. I'll bring you some oats tomorrow.

[CAITLIN loops a rope around the gate of the corral, sealing it shut. She walks a few steps away and
BANDIT whinnies. CAITLIN stops but does not look back]

CAITLIN: I'm sorry, boy. [She continues walking]

[Scene changes to the LOWE's kitchen. JIM is taking out the trash while DORI tidies up. A horn blares from

DORI: Griffen, Caitlin, the bus is here!

[GRIFFEN enters the kitchen and heads straight for the kitchen counter. He picks up a photograph of a
young horse that bears a striking resemblance to BANDIT]

GRIFFEN: This is Finley's colt? It doesn't even look like Bandit!

[The horn from outside honks again]

DORI: Caitlin, c'mon, you're gonna be late!

GRIFFEN: [to JIM, who re-enters the kitchen at that moment] You know, Dad, you should check this woman
out--you know, maybe she has some kind of a criminal record. Maybe she goes around the country stealing
other people's horses.

[GRIFFEN exits; JIM moves closer to DORI]

JIM: Looks like Griff feels everything Caitlin does.

[JIM picks up the photo on the counter, looks at it, puts it back down]

DORI: Jim, what if she can prove ownership? I mean, what are we gonna do then?

JIM: Look, we've been feeding and taking care of Bandit for a year. I think those are grounds we can fight
her on. I'm gonna go through my lawbooks, see if there are any cases like that and see what rulings support

[CAITLIN enters the kitchen]

JIM: You missed the bus.

[CAITLIN ignores him and reaches for a cup of coffee]

JIM: C'mon, I'll drive you.

[CAITLIN puts down her coffee. She and JIM exit the kitchen. DORI watches, concerned. Scene shifts to
JIM standing in front of the open hood of his truck]

JIM: [to CAITLIN, still in the car] Try it again!

[Offscreen, CAITLIN turns the ignition; no joy]

CAITLIN: Maybe it's out of gas.

[JIM makes an adjustment, closes the hood, and gets back into the cat. CAITLIN slides back into the
passenger seat to let him sit at the wheel]

JIM: Coil wire slipped off; loose connection.

[ JIM turns the ignition and the car starts]

JIM: See? Things have a way of working out.

CAITLIN: Not for me they don't.

JIM: You know one of my greatest memories? Something I'll never forget as long as I live.


JIM: The look on your face when you fought to save Bandit's life. That was powerful love, Caitlin. I think
you found him for a reason. I trust my instincts. My instincts tell me that the love you have for each other
will keep you together.

CAITLIN: If I lose him, I'll die.

JIM: No you won't. We won't let you.

[The two exchange a look, then CAITLIN looks away. The scene changes to High River's high school at
lunchtime. ERIC approaches JORDAN, GRIFFEN, and BRETT with a full tray]

ERIC: Mystery meat. Again. [Bites into a sandwich]

JORDAN: The guy eats anything.

BRETT: Ok, so the party. Out of 10.

JORDAN: Music? Eleven.

ERIC: Definitely, the music's solid.

BRETT: Girls?

ERIC: Eight.

JORDAN: Seven.

[The two look at each other]

JORDAN: Eight?

ERIC: Eight?

BRETT: [nodding] Eight. I'm gonna stick with eight.

GRIFFEN: Well, you know, it's not really fair to rate it. I mean, it was only half a party.

ERIC: Yeah, what happened to you, man? I mean, at first you were dancing, then you take off?

GRIFFEN: The Finley's say they own Caitlin's horse.

BRETT: They're trying to take Bandit?

ERIC: That's totally bogus. She found him; he was wild.

GRIFFEN: [as CAITLIN approaches] I know.

BRETT: Man, she has got to be hurtin'.

JORDAN: Rap song. [quickly stands on top of table] Uh, excuse me! [Other students in the schoolyard stop
what they're doing to look at JORDAN. As he raps, ERIC, BRETT, and GRIFFEN accompany him at different
intervals. CAITLIN, a little ways ahead, turns back to watch as well] Can I have your attention just to show
appreciation, and offer my present to our good friend Caitlin/ Your urban qualities defy what you been
through/ We'll always defend you/ You got human friends too. [a beat] Expressin' art in your pictures like I
do with wordplay/ But sometimes when you look at me I think you wanna hurt me/ You and Griffen at each
other's throats in the worst way/ I should stop jokin' or I'm gonna need First Aid/ Anyways, the reason why
I had this verse made/ Is to say, from the bottom of my heart/ [here all at the table join in] Happy Birthday!

[The students cheer and Caitlin smiles. The scene changes once again to SARAH FINLEY exiting her jeep in
front of the LOWE's ranch. DORI walks out of the barn to greet her. As MRS. FINLEY approaches, she
removes her sunglasses]

MRS. FINLEY: I've come to collect my horse's blood sample.

DORI: His name is Bandit, and he's Caitlin's horse.

MRS. FINLEY: No, his name is Apollo, and he belongs to my son. [a beat] Let's just get this over with.
[Begins to move towards the barn]

DORI: Wait. [MRS. FINLEY turns] I'll buy the horse from you; You just name your price.

MRS. FINLEY: He's not for sale.

DORI: Why ar you doing this? That horse means everything to Caitlin.

MRS. FINLEY: And what about my son? [tearily] His father gave him that colt.[Turns to enter the barn]

DORI: He's not there. He's gone; I don't know where he is.

MRS. FINLEY: I expected more from you, Dr. Lowe. You have 24 hours to produce that horse.

[MRS. FINLEY starts towards her car]

DORI: [calling after her] I'm gonna fight you!

[MRS. FINLEY waves her hand dismissively at DORI and gets in her car]

DORI: Every step of the way!

[Scene changes to the front school yard, after school. BRETT, ERIC, and JORDAN kick around a
hackeysack. CAITLIN emerges from the school's entrance with GRIFFEN]

CAITLIN: Where is that stupid bus?

[WILL approaches CAITLIN angrily from the side of the school. GRIFFEN watches]

WILL: You stole my horse.

CAITLIN: He's my horse.

WILL: Yeah, well, if you don't give him back we'll have you arrested.

CAITLIN: You're gonna have to find him first.

WILL: Oh, I'm sure you'll be all right. I've heard you're used to jails.

[BRETT, ERIC, and JORDAN stop playing to watch the exchange]

GRIFFEN: Take that back.


[GRIFFEN shoves WILL, who shoves him back. A beat, and then a full-out fight ensues, WILL and
GRIFFEN wrestling around on the ground while the other students crowd around and cheer encouragement]

CAITLIN: Knock it off! Stop it! Knock it off! I said, stop it! [CAITLIN literally pulls WILL off of GRIFFEN]
Your fight's with me, not him! [to GRIFFEN] Are you nuts?!

GRIFFEN: [defensively] What? He was...messing with you.

CAITLIN: I don't need you, or anyone else to take of me, all right?

[CAITLIN walks away. WILL watches her a moment, then pushes past BRETT and ERIC to stomp away in
the other direction. Scene changes to DORI and CAITLIN outside of the LOWE's barn]

DORI: Look, I'm a vet, Cailtin; I have certain professional ethics--

CAITLIN: You promised me you'd help me keep him! You have to destroy that file.

DORI: We are going to fight her, tooth and nail.But I have to be very careful--I can't do anything illegal; it'll
weaken our case.

CAITLIN: You don't even care how I feel! I don't wanna be adopted by you.

[CAITLIN walks away, leaving DORI with a frustrated look on her face. The scene changes to JIM and
GRIFFEN in the kitchen of the LOWE's house]

JIM: [pulling a makeshift ice pack from the refrigerator] You're lucky no skin was broken. [He hands
GRIFFEN the ice pack--a bag of frozen peas]

GRIFFEN: So this is gonna bring down the swelling, but--it's still gonna turn colors, right?

JIM: 'Fraid so.

GRIFFEN: [nods in satisfaction] Oh, Dad. You shoulda seen his face when I popped him. He totally didn't
know it was coming.

JIM: You got any homework tonight?

GRIFFEN: Yeah. [examines his injured hand] I don't know, I-I don't think I can type. Can you help?

JIM: No. [GRIFFEN looks surprised] Griff, I can't think of one situation that was ever solved by a fight. And,
I'd be a lousy father if I supported you in what you did.

GRIFFEN: Dad, I was defending her.

JIM: Really. Was she in physical danger?

GRIFFEN: I got in the fight because I care about her.

JIM: Maybe you just lost control.

[GRIFFEN sighs and puts the ice pack back up to his eye. The scene changes to presumably later that night.
A storm is wailing outside. CAITLIN sits on her bed, knees pulled up, looking out the window worriedly]

CAITLIN: [softly] Bandit.

[Scene shifts to the next day. The storm has cleared, and there are sunny skies as CAITLIN makes her way
to the corral in which she'd penned Bandit. Before she fully reaches it, though, she notices that it is empty.
She runs the rest of the way into the corral. After looking around, she gets a determined look on her face.
The scene changes to WILL, outside what it is most likely his house, geared up to go riding. CAITLIN runs
towards him]

CAITLIN: Horse thief! [She pushes him backwards]

WILL: You are unbelievable.

CAITLIN: Where is he? What did you do with him?

WILL: What?

CAITLIN: Tell me where he is, tell me he's all right.

WILL: What are you talking about?

CAITLIN: You give him back!

WILL: I don't have him!

CAITLIN: Then where is he?

WILL: I don't know. Where did you hide him?

CAITLIN: There's an old corral near the river. I took him there, and this afternoon when I went to go and see
him, he was gone. I figured you took him.

[WILL turns, puts on his riding helmet, and mounts his horse]

WILL: You comin'?

[CAITLIN hesitates a moment, then drops her bookbag. WILL helps her on behind him. They ride off, and
the scene fades into that of CAITLIN and WILL in the corral, examining a chewed-up rope]

WILL: He bit right through it. Musta wanted to get out pretty bad.

CAITLIN: But why? He knew I would be coming back for him.

WILL: Storm musta scared him. You know, I don't even know why you brought him here in the first place.

[CAITLIN turns and stalks away]

WILL: Where are you going?

CAITLIN: I'm going to find my horse.

[She walks a few more paces, glances back, and sees that WILL is about to take off in the opposite

CAITLIN: Where are you going? [no answer] You are such a creep!

WILL: He's probably gone to look for some shelter?

[CAITLIN angrily doubles back and pushes ahead of WILL. The scene changes to BRETT, ERIC, and
GRIFFEN walking their bikes down a road]

ERIC: You know, if you put shoe polish on that thing, it'll last a lot longer.

GRIFFEN: Really?

BRETT: Yeah. I bet Finley's hurtin' today.

ERIC: Yeah, it's too bad Caitlin pulled you off, man; you coulda wasted that guy. What is wrong with her,

BRETT: I know--you'd think that she would appreciate what you were doing for her.

GRIFFEN: I don't know, man, I just-I don't get her. It's like, we're supposed to be adopting her, but-maybe it's
a bad idea. A sister? I mean, who cares?

ERIC: She did pop my shoulder back when I dislocated it snowboarding, though.

BRETT: Yeah, and remember when you stole the lizard man's hand and got locked in the theater? She came
back for you.

ERIC: I like her leather jacket.

BRETT: Isn't it cute when she gets upset and her voice squeaks?

ERIC: [laughs] Yeah, I totally noticed that.

GRIFFEN: I thought you guys didn't like her.

BRETT and ERIC: We don't.

ERIC: And neither do you, man, that's- means, she's basically already your sister.

[Scene changes to WILL and CAITLIN on their search for BANDIT]

CAITLIN: Here Bandit!

WILL: Hold on a sec.

[They both stop. WILL bends down to examine something on the ground]

WILL: Yeah, there's been a horse here since the rain, see? Come on, let's keep on going. [to horse] C'mon.

CAITLIN: Bandit!

[WILL's horse neighs]

WILL: [to horse] What do you hear, boy?

[WILL tethers his horse to a tree as CAITLIN walks ahead. The scene goes into slow motion as we see
BANDIT stranded atop some rocks in the middle of a quickly flowing river. BANDIT whinnies fearfully]

CAITLIN: Bandit.

[The scene's speed returns to normal as CAITLIN hurries towards him. WILL follows with a coil of rope.
They both stop at the edge of the river, helpless to do anything]

WILL: He musta tried to cross and got caught by a flash flood.

CAITLIN: Bandit! Here, boy! Swim across, you can do it! He's too scared to cross.

WILL: We gotta get him across before the river rises any more. [Starts to loop one end of the rope around
his waist]

CAITLIN: What are you doing?

WILL: Well he won't come over by himself; I'll swim across and ride him back.

CAITLIN: No, no way He won't he let you--no one rides Bandit except for me.

WILL: Caitlin, we--

CAITLIN: He doesn't know you! And besides, he doesn't like you. I'll go.

WILL: Can you even swim?

[WILL unwraps the rope from around his waist. CAITLIN discards her leather jacket, taking the rope from

WILL: You sure about this?

[CAITLIN starts into the river]

WILL: Keep going. You're good, you're good. Watch your step.

[CAITLIN suddenly slips and plunges into the icy river, shouting something not even my closed captioning
will pick up]

WILL: Caitlin!


[CAITLIN treads water, pulled further down the river by the current. From his bank, BANDIT whinnies]


WILL: I'm coming, Caitlin! [BANDIT whinnies again] I'm coming!

CAITLIN: Will...

[WILL runs alongside the riverbank, trying to keep up with CAITLIN]

WILL: Caitlin, swim for that rock! [as she nears the rock] Grab it! Grab it!

[CAITLIN grabs hold of the rock and takes a second to catch her breath]

CAITLIN: Bandit, c'mere!

[Without hesitation, BANDIT jumps into the river heads for CAITLIN]

CAITLIN: [struggling to stay atop] Bandit!

WILL: Caitlin! Climb on top the rock! You can do it.

[CAITLIN, after much struggling, manages to pull herself atop the rock. BANDIT stops directly in front of

WILL: [in disbelief and relief] She's got him. [to CAITLIN] All right, all right, get on top of him, bring him

[CAITLIN slides the reins over BANDIT and mounts him bareback. She starts to ride him across the river.
WILL is watching, a smile on his face]

WILL: All right.

[CAITLIN and BANDIT reach the shore. CAITLIN dismounts with WILL's help]

WILL: [softly] You made it.

CAITLIN: Together.

[They begin walking away from the river, CAITLIN leading BANDIT by the reins. The scene changes to a
worried DORI and JIM, outside of their house]

JIM: [into a cell phone] Let me know if you see her. [Hangs up his cell phone]

DORI: She wouldn't run away, would she?

JIM: I'll give her a few more minutes, then I'm going looking for her.

[Scene switches back to CAITLIN and WILL, now in the middle of a vast field in front of a campfire]

CAITLIN: He's my horse.

WILL: The blood test'll prove he's mine.

CAITLIN: It won't prove anything.

WILL: My dad gave me that horse.

CAITLIN: He can give you another one.

WILL: No he can't, he's dead. [a moment] My dad gave me that colt before he died. Named him Apollo
because he was strong and golden-- you know, God of Light? But I tell you, when he left? It's like all the
light went out of the world, you know, I-I didn't wanna talk to anybody. I just wanted that colt back. Kind of
figured, you know, if-if I could find him maybe my dad would come back too, you know? But I never found
him. Until now.

CAITLIN: Ever since my mom died I'd had nothing of my own. When I came here, it was completely different
from anything I ever knew. I saved Bandit's life. And he saved mine. Jim says that I found him for a reason. I
love him more than anything in the world. Where'd you get your horse?

WILL: Sinbad?

CAITLIN: Is that his name? Cool.

WILL: I got him six months after my dad died. One of my mom's horse breeder's colt was sickly--his mom
adandoned him, so I-looked after, you know, he got stronger...There's nothing he wouldn't do for me. Me for

CAITLIN: I don't know what to do.

WILL: My mom says Apollo belongs to us. [stands up] But if we took him I don't think he'd ever really be

[WILL walks over to BANDIT; CAITLIN stands up]

WILL: Sinbad and I belong to each other, and Bandit belongs to you. [picks up BANDIT's reins and holds
them out to CAITLIN] Here. Take 'im.

[CAITLIN steps forward and quickly takes the reins from him. WILL puts his riding helmet on and mounts

WILL: Happy birthday, Caitlin. [turns and rides away]

[CAITLIN puts on her own helmet and rides BANDIT away]

[The scene is the next day, daytime. CAITLIN, GRIFFEN, and DORI are sitting outside around a table]

GRIFFEN: Aw, man. I wish I coulda seen Finley's face when Will told her.

CAITLIN: Yeah well, I hope I never have to see her again.

DORI: Yeah, hear hear.

[JIM walks into the scene, behind, CAITLIN, brandishing a brand-new shiny saddle wrapped festively in
colored ribbons]

CAITLIN: [as she sees it] For me?

JIM: You bet.

GRIFFEN, JIM, and DORI: Happy birthday.

CAITLIN: Thanks, you guys. Oh, it's beautiful.

DORI: Yeah.

CAITLIN: [to DORI] Hey, uh, I'm really sorry I didn't trust you. I was just so afraid I was gonna lose my
horse. [a beat] But, I don't wanna be adopted. I mean, I've been Caitlin Seeger my whole life. My name is the
only thing that belongs to me.Um, but uh, the papers aren't dated, are they?

DORI: [shaking her head] No, they aren't.

CAITLIN: Well then, maybe someday.

DORI: We aren't goin' anywhere.

GRIFFEN: Hey, speak for yourself.

JIM: [picking up the saddle] Now, try this on Bandit.

CAITLIN: Right on.

[CAITLIN and JIM walk away from the table. Scene changes a bit to CAITLIN standing with BANDIT, his
new saddle firmly in place]

CAITLIN [voice-over]: I never want another birthday like this again. Except, it's been the best birthday of my
life. Being fifteen isn't gonna be easy. But I have a feeling, it's gonna be amazing.

[The End. Cue credits]

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