[HARRY, ZAYN, LIAM, LOUIS, AND NIALL frolic under a grey sky, over a grey sea, on a grey, Victorian pier]
HARRY: Hey Niall, want to play a bit of footie on the pier with this bright balloon, inexplicably the only thing of colour in this monochrome landscape?
[NIALL looks up and scampers towards HARRY]
HARRY: Haha, great, we sure do love to have fun like normal guys when we’re not entertaining the masses right?
[HARRY kicks the ball for NIALL to chase. LIAM, ZAYN and LOUIS watch]
LIAM: Harry, don’t you think this is all a bit strange?
HARRY: Haha, you sure are right, Liam, it’s crazy. It seems like only yesterday I was just a normal cheeky lad from Holmes Chapel fingering teenagers in the back of the bakery, and now my whole life has changed!
ZAYN: Exactly, everything’s different now, Ha-
HARRY: Like, once upon a time I was just your regular mischievous, devilishly-handsome young guy, eating Wotsits in my boxers and wanking, and now hordes of screaming girls fight to the death for the very cheese-dusted boxer-lint I leave behind in dressing rooms the world over and every child in our world knows my name…
LIAM: No, Harry, not anymo-
HARRY: I mean, I can’t believe it, we’re just five normal lads and look where we are now!
LOUIS: Yeah—where are we, Harry?
HARRY: What do you mean where are we?
[Silence. HARRY looks around]
HARRY: Um… well… I guess we’re alone on a dilapidated Victorian pleasure pier.
HARRY: Haha, the crazy places you go when you’re just a regular global mega-star…
LIAM: This is what we’ve been trying to tell you, Harry. We’re not mega-stars.
[There is a solemnity in LIAM’s eyes that disturbs HARRY, but, then again, he always was the serious one.]
HARRY: What are you talking about, Liam, we’re the biggest boyband the world has ever seen, look at the flood of screaming girls just at the other end of this very pier-
[HARRY gestures towards a long line of young women, alternately crying and ripping out each others’ hair and teeth to present as tokens of affection for the five boys]
LOUIS: There are no girls, Harry.
[The crowd of prepubescent girls dissolves before HARRY’s very eyes.]
HARRY: W-what’s going on… I don’t like this… Where’s Simon?
ZAYN: There is no Simon, Harry.
HARRY: What? You’re being stupi-
ZAYN: He’s gone, Harry! He’s not here to suckle us anymore, not since the Great Wanted-Direction-Union civil war of 2016. They killed him, Harry, don’t you remember! They killed everything! Together, they watched everything that was so carefully planned collapse. They smiled at the beauty of destruction.
HARRY: I don’t know what you’re talking about – we’re just five normal international teen pop sensations, tell them, Niall!
[NIALL scratches behind his ear with his left foot, walks around in circles for 30 seconds, and curls up on the cold wooden floor]
LIAM: This is what I’ve been trying to tell you Harry – all that’s gone now, they took everything. I know it’s hard for you, but we really thought you’d have accepted it by now.
LOUIS: That life is over, Harry, we’re just trying to survive as best we can, on this deserted 1860s seaside structure, it’s one of the only safe places left.
[Silence. When HARRY finally speaks, his voice is high-pitched, manic]
HARRY: Haha, ok, so the band is over, but we still have each other, right, lads?? The five of us, doing crazy impish but normal working-class larks like…y’know, swinging our t-shirts over our head and twerking-
ZAYN: No, Har-
HARRY: and kicking things that aren’t footballs as though they’re footballs—RIGHT GUYS??
LOUIS: You knew this was coming, mate…
ZAYN: Didn’t you ever wonder why we’re all wearing the same clothes? Or why we were always simultaneously occupying the same point in the frame?
HARRY: What? We’re a boyband, I-
[HARRY sticks his fingers in his ears and loudly hums “Live While We’re Young.” LIAM moves over to him and pulls his hands from his ears]
LIAM: It’s not the five of us any more, Harry. We didn’t all make it.
[The boys fracture, splintering into several, translucent versions of themselves, and begin to fade]
LIAM: It’s just you now, Harry. It’s been that way for a while now. You must know that.
[NIALL fades away completely, ZAYN and LOUIS rapidly disappearing]
HARRY: Please don’t leave me.
LIAM: I have to leave, Harry, you know I do.
HARRY: I- … I know.
LIAM: Why, Harry? Say it.
HARRY: Because… because we’re the same person.
LIAM: You couldn’t cope without us, Harry, so you became us. We’re a fantasy. We only exist in your mind. But now it’s time to let go.
[HARRY is still holding the pink balloon. LIAM tries to prize it from his fingers but HARRY clings on tighter. LIAM is the only bandmate left now, and he is fading fast]
LIAM [whispers]: Let go, Harry…
[LIAM fades. HARRY is alone. He’s been alone for 7 years. He looks straight ahead, acknowledging a despair deeper than anything he’s ever known. As he walks alone on the pier, a pink balloon flies away over the ocean.]
Anna Leszkiewicz is a writer and literature student who spends most of her time over-analysing pop culture and thinking about dogs she doesn't own (yet.)