Last week two new titles in my Besties series were released into the world. In this series junior readers follow the everyday lives of best friends Ruby and Oliver.
Hmm… everyday lives?
I wrote these books BC – that is, Before Corona. But now, in these AC times – Amid Corona our everyday lives have really changed.
A friend asked me how I thought my book characters might be handling these trying times in isolation. Good question. ‘Many of them would be climbing the walls by now,’ I answered. ‘I reckon Specky Magee’s mother has finally had enough of him kicking a nerf football around the house and taking specky marks over the couch.’
As for the Besties, well, my mind goes to the precocious Ruby. In the books I don’t reveal a lot about the Besties’ extended families, but I thought it would be fun to do so here, to dip into their isolation world. I’ve reimagined this slice of quarantine life in the form of a television script.
So here goes…
Ext. Ruby’s House – Day
Ruby, 8, is jumping on her trampoline. Her Bestie, Oliver, 8, lives next door.
Ollie! Hey, Oliver! You there? Are you in your treehouse?
There’s no response from Oliver. Ruby continues to bounce. Her father, Dave, 42, trudges across the backyard in his pyjamas.
Move over, Rubes! I’m gonna have a go!
Dave hops and wobbles onto the trampoline.
Gotta work off this quarantine weight?
You mean your big belly?
Eh! It’s not that big!
Ruby and Dave bounce on the trampoline. Ruby is having a ball. Dave is struggling to keep his balance.
Higher dad! Yeeeaaah!
Dad, what day is it today?
Friday. No, um, it’s Thursday. Wednesday! I have no idea.
Am I still not allowed to go over to Ollie’s to play?
Sorry, pumpkin. No yet. But it won’t be long. Why don’t you go FaceTime him - see what he’s up to?
Ruby hops off the trampoline and runs inside.
Int. Ruby’s House – Day
Ruby’s mother, TINA, 38, is seated at the kitchen bench in front of her computer, in the middle of a ZOOM session with her work colleagues.
I think if sales drop, then that might be the case. Oh… I think we just lost you, Leanne. Oh, no, she’s back… but I can’t hear her. You have no audio, Leanne. Oops… now you’ve disappeared again!
Ruby walks into shot.
Mum, where’s the iPad? I want to call Ollie.
Not now, Ruby! Mum’s in the middle of a meeting.
Tina’s colleagues call out to Ruby and wave. Ruby waves back. Tina’s colleague LEANNE pops back up on screen.
Oh hi, Ruby! I thought of you the other day and your ukulele playing. Tina, have you seen Sam Neill playing his ukulele on Instagram? He’s adorable.
Tina’s work colleagues respond to Leanne and talk over the top of each other.
Who’s Sam Neill? Does he know how to play You Are My Sunshine?
Ruby, go ask sister about the iPad? And go wash your hands!
Ruby goes off to find her big sister, MADDIE, 13. She barges into Maddie’s bedroom, who is the middle of recording a Tik-Tok dance.
What do you think you’re doing? Get out of my room!
Have you seen the iPad? I want to call Oliver.
I said… get out! Can’t you see I’m social distancing!
Ruby leaves her big sister and makes her way downstairs, only to discover her mother has finished her Zoom meeting and is stepping back inside from the backyard. She rushes to her phone – panicked.
Your father! He’s done his back! Thought he could do a forward flip, silly man.
Tina quickly thumbs a series of numbers on her phone.
TINA Yes, hello. Um, my husband has thrown his back out and… oh, okay… so there’s no need to come in… Telehealth, you say? Okay, um, and we can set up a time with our GP now… great….
Ruby pops her head outside to see her father flat on his back on the trampoline, groaning.
Dad! Do you know where the iPad is?
Pumpkin, I’m in pain!
So am I. I miss Ollie!
Ruby steps back inside and spots a corner of the iPad sticking out from under the couch – and her ukulele.
Ruby FaceTimes Oliver. OLIVER’S MOTHER answers.
Oh, Ruby! Ollie was just asking for you. I’ll pass my phone over to him.
Oliver pops up on screen.
Hi, Ollie! What are you doing?
Mum and I were making Anzac biscuits. We also made scones, carrot cake, and a croquembouche. Hey, can you play me a song?
Ruby strums her ukulele and suddenly stops.
Do you know who Sam Neill is?
RUBY Do you know what day it is?
Yeah, me neither.
Ruby returns to playing her ukulele. She sings “You are My Sunshine” and Oliver joins in the chorus.
For the REAL The Besties stories check out www.thebestiesworld.com
The Besties series are perfect for junior readers aged 4 - 8.