INT. LIVING ROOM LATE NIGHT
Alice lies on the couch. The living room is scattered with garbage and the Christmas tree’s pine needles litter the floor. The clock above Alice chimes 3 a.m. Her parents fall into the living room from the front door, drunk. Alice sits up.
Her parents hap-hazardly climb the stairs, Karen stops and looks at Alice.
ALICE: I’m hungry.
KAREN (slurring): Well, eat something.
ALICE: There is nothing.
KAREN (slurring): Eat in the morning then.
ALICE: But what?
Karen hits the banister with the palm of her hand.
KAREN(slurring): God, I don’t know. Just go to bed.
Alice lies back down on the couch, her stomach growls. She cries and falls asleep.
INT. SCHOOL COAT CLOSET AFTER SCHOOL
Alice stands behind Lora gripping a composition notebook to her chest. Lora organizes a pillow, a blanket, a flashlight, books, sandwiches wrapped in aluminum, two shirts, and two pairs of pants in one of the larger cubbies.
LORA: I’ll bring you new stuff when you need it.
ALICE: Will you stay here with me?
LORA: My mom would get mad.
ALICE: I know. Don’t tell her about this, okay?
They hug and Lora shuts the door, leaving Alice standing alone.
INT. COAT CLOSET NIGHT
Alice lies on her blanket, reading a book by flashlight. The light in the classroom comes on and she scoots as far back into the cubby as she can go. She clicks off the flashlight as the door opens and the JANITOR turns the light on.
JANITOR: What do we have here?
Alice tries to scrunch herself into a tighter ball. He steps closer.
JANITOR: A little girl, hmm. Who are you?
He walks over and grabs her leg gently to pull her out.
ALICE: Alice Burkholder.
JANITOR: Well, Alice Burkholder, let’s call your parents and get you home.
Alice frantically scoots back into the cubby.
ALICE: No…I’m fine here, really.
He bends down to her level and smiles.
JANITOR: I’m just going to have to call the police on you then.
Alice leans out of the cubby and snatches up her notebook. She flips through, looks up, and smiles weakly back.
ALICE: Yes, let’s do that.
INT. POLICE CAR MID AFTERNOON
Alice sits in the back seat with a raggedy bag of clothes and she holds a pretty dress, gingerly, over her lap.
FEMALE OFFICER: That’s a pretty dress, Alice.
ALICE: My best friend gave it to me. It’s for when I meet my new mom.
MALE OFFICER: Hope it still fits you when you do.
The female officer whacks him in the arm. The car pulls up to a sign next to a big building that resembles a school. The sign reads: Children’s Safe Haven. Alice is let out of the back of the car and she follows the female officer to the entrance where a tired looking woman, JOAN waits.