G. Scott Eldredge

Writer

Spare Change

What if you changed everyday but only your wife knew how? And what if she changed and only you knew what was different? What if you didn't see eye to eye anyhow?  

Spare Change explores “you’re not the person I married” with dark humor. The microwave-sized time machine Alex built has a side effect—it changes he and his wife Rachel, their differences perceivable only to the other person. Seduced and alienated by its benefits, they struggle in a marriage that was shaky before it became unstable. Like a recipe with too much salt, attempts to fix their relationship only make it worse, until in one last desperate attempt, Alex accidentally drives it out of existence. His new life holds promise, but ultimately Alex wants what he destroyed.

Synopsis

After months of compulsive and reclusive work on a small time machine, Alex finishes it. He finds a mold-fuzzy breakfast on the counter, which he brings back to life by running back in time, and as he does so, he remembers that Rachel made him that breakfast the day she left to visit an old college friend, a trip to relieve the strain his compulsion has put on their finances and her marriage. He meets Rachel at the airport. She's restrained, but compliments him on noticing she was gone. On the way home she comments on how tired he looks. He says he's been working hard, on his project, but he's finished it. It works. What works? That's right, a miniature time machine. Her attempts to humor him fail, and they finish the trip in a cold silence, broken when they arrive home and he lurches from the car exclaiming “the bananas are rotten.”

A frenzied Alex forces an unnerved Rachel to sit while he demonstrates his machine with a variety of rotten food and curdled milk, which comes out of the machine fresh and ripe and delicious. The strain of their relationship and vanished savings disappear with Rachel's realization of what Alex has done. They enjoy a few minutes of happiness together before she says the wrong thing and brings to light their different desires. He wants Alex to patent his invention; he wants to keep it away from the powers that would corrupt it. He wants to drink beer with Shakespeare. Rachel wants to invest without worrying if past performance is an indication of future potential.

However, the bubble of happiness temporarily reinflates with alcohol, and they rediscover some of what got them together in the first place. Reminded the next day that they're out of money, Rachel has an idea. She wants to run their checkbook back to payday, and forces Alex to show her how to work the machine. Unlike with rotten fruit, they both get dizzy as the machine runs. But their checkbook now indicates they have money. Alex can't understand how. Rachel doesn't care. More disturbing to Alex is Rachel's appearance. She has a mole on her face, and her hair is a different color, and she denies anything is different. Rachel goes shopping. Alex studies herself in the mirror. Her eyes have changed, but he doesn't notice. Later Alex tries some other personal items and gets dizzy, and figures out that the machine has side effects.

Rachel comes home and is different again, and denies it. Alex is also different, but he doesn't notice. Rachel doesn’t say anything for fear of what Alex will do, which he does. He runs the checkbook back to the present. The once-paid bills return, and a few more episodes confirm the side effects to Alex, who decides they have to stop using the machine, maybe even get rid of it, before someone ends up with a third eye or something. In the ensuing argument they reestablish their alienation from each other. Rachel wants to push ahead. Alex says she only wants money. She sees no future in being the first homeless couple with a time machine. Eventually she gets him to compromise and just put the thing away for a while until he can think things through. They live an uneasy peace, but temptation gets the better of Rachel. She uses the machine again, and she changes more than he can stand. He tries to set things back to what they were, but the machine malfunctions and he passes out, waking to find nothing of Rachel’s in the house, and no one that remembers he was ever married.

Alex, stressed at the loss of her marriage, confides in Nina at work, and even tells her about the time machine. She likes Alex, so she supports his fantasy and whatever this thing is he's going through, even getting a physicist friend involved to get the project back on track. New seductions play on him, but a photo reminds him how things once were with Rachel and gives him an idea how he might get Rachel back, and hopefully their marriage. He does. Things aren't the same, and the time machine may have burned itself out, but they're together again.

Coverage:

This is an ingenious idea... a time travel story that can be done on a microscopic budget without losing one bit of impact. It could all be done with makeup and a few props - and maybe a couple of actors that look almost-but-not-quite-exactly alike for some of the more drastic changes to Rachel and Alex. ...It's actually a very refreshing twist on the time travel genre. Your dialogue is relaxed and natural, with some funny bits - "Tesla, and Einstein, and this alien with an unpronounceable name who worked with Spielberg on Close Encounters" and "Welcome to Survivor: Marriage. You're Fired!" ... It's nice to see some attention paid to witty throwaway lines, especially in a script that has enough other things going on that most people wouldn't even notice if the dialogue was a little drab. Alex and Rachel are just perfect characters for going through this sort of story... they're the modern Everyman and Everywoman - not generic; they have their own personalities and they both grow and change throughout the story - but they're very relatable, and their problems are the type that face many couples. The supporting characters you've created follow the same pattern... they have personalities and a spark to them but aren't so quirky that they take away from what's important: the storyline.