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THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY (chapter 5)

2006-07-09 16:05

  INT. KITCHEN - LATER

  Carolyn opens the first notebook which is dated AUGUST 1965. Michael sits beside her with a cup of coffee.

  CAROLYN(reads)

  “I suppose his coming into my life was, in many ways, prepared for weeks, maybe even months before. There was a restlessness I feeling. Out of the blue and for no apparent reason. There's nothing more frightening to a woman whose been settled down for almost twenty years than to suddenly feel unsettled. I don't know when it started …… I do remember one night in particular, a little over a week before Robert arrived……”

  CAROLYN'S VOICE BECOMES FRANCESCA'S VOICE AS WE:

  DISSOLVE TO:

  1965

  INT. JOHNSON'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

  Richard is fast asleep while Francesca sits up in bed reading.

  FRANCESCA (V.O.)

  “It was late at night after a long day. Your father was tired —— fighting all afternoon with that new equipment Robert Harrison convinced him to buy. But I wasn't tired. Lately, I could hardly sleep more than two hours a night. I was reading some John O'Hara novel, skimming the words, turning the pages without absorbing what I was reading. My mind was far away. And no matter how I tried, I couldn't call it back.”

  Francesca closes the book and turns off the light. She nestles into the bed and tries to sleep. After a beat, she opens her eyes and turns on the light. As she gets out of bed she awakens Richard.

  RICHARD What time is it?

  FRANCESCA Later. Go back to sleep.

  RICHARD Where you going?

  FRANCESCA I'm not tired. I thought I might finish Carolyn's skirt.

  RICHARD Now?!

  (checks clock)

  It's after eleven.

  FRANCESCA I can't sleep.

  RICHARD Again? Maybe you should see a doctor.

  FRANCESCA I'm not sick, Richard. I'm just not tired, now go back to sleep before you're up for the whole night too!

  Francesca exits. Richard nestles under the covers, mumbling:

  RICHARD If you're not sick, how can it be contagious?

  INT. ATTIC - NIGHT

  Francesca sits at her sewing machine, working on Carolyn's skirt. When the thread runs out, she checks her sewing box for another spool of that color. Not finding it, she raises and walks to an opened closet. She pulls on a light cord and checks her supplies.

  There are shelves of boxes, crates, old clothes and shoes all crammed together. She pulls out one shoe box and an entire stack of items tumble off the shelf onto her head.

  FRANCESCA Damn it! Shit!

  She looks at the mess and decides it's time to re-organize.

  LATER:

  The clock reads 2:30 AM. The closet has been emptied. Francesca rummages through box after box.

  Two huge piles have been created —— one for items to be thrown away, another for items to be kept. Francesca is wiping the bare shelves down with a rag and some cleanser. Looking up to the bottom of the next shelf, she notices A SHOULDER STRAP hanging, wedged between the wall and the shelf. Pulling over a stool, she steps up to be eye level with the shelf.

  It is an OLD HANDBAG —— of a style not seen since the forties when she was a young girl. She pulls it down to examine. It is very dusty and worn, but the snaps still work. She places it against her side to see if it would still be fashionable. She opens it and finds an old lipstick —— reading the bottom where the name of the shade is located.

  FRANCESCA (cont'd)

  Ha, they don't even made this color anymore.

  She exits the closet and moves to an old mirror, trying the lipstick on. As she decides whether or not she likes it, a thought occurs to her…… she remembers something.

  She crosses back to the handbag and feels the inside for a compartment hidden by a flap of material and a snap. She unsnaps it and an old BACK & WHITE PHOTO slips out. She looks at its image —— two young people against an Italian background. Francesca is twenty years younger with her arms around a handsome, black-haired charmer named ——

  FRANCESCA (V.O.)

  “Niccolo. I couldn't remember the last time I had seen that face. And then the memories wouldn't stop. Like an avalanche……”

  CUT TO:

  FLASHBACK -

  EXT. NAPLES COUNTRYSIDE, 20 YEARS EARLIER - DAY

  A hot, breezy summer day. A young vibrant Francesca is storming through an open field, angry, while Niccolo calls after her in pursuit.

  The following scene is played in Italian with subtitles.

  NICCOLO Francesca! Francesca! Where the hell are you going?

  FRANCESCA Leave me alone!

  NICCOLO You play these games and I'm supposed to follow —— run after you like a schoolboy. Well, I'm not! I'm fed up!

  Niccolo stops. Several yards ahead of him, Francesca stops and turns. Suddenly, she storms back towards him until they are face to face.

  FRANCESCA So that's it! You just give up!

  NICCOLO What “give up”? You agreed with them!

  Mommy and Daddy said stay away from me and you said all right. What am I supposed to do?

  FRANCESCA Fight for me!

  Niccolo grabs her violently.

  NICCOLO ENOUGH! You don't know what you want!

  Stop looking for me to tell you! STOP IT!

  Francesca knows he's right. He releases her.

  NICCOLO (cont'd)

  We can go back now and end it or we can go back and you tell them off. This is your choice! Not mine. But I won't do this anymore. This is for children!

  Frustrated and sad, Francesca sits upon the ground. Niccolo knows she cannot face her parents yet he looks sympathetic.

  EXT. JOHNSON HOUSE - DAWN 1965

  Francesca sits on the back porch in her bathrobe, looking out over the pasture as if she were watching the previous scene happen right before her eyes.

  In the pasture stands NICCOLO as he was twenty years ago. Memories have overlapped. A field in Naples is now a pasture in Iowa and Niccolo is as real to her as the grass. He is staring at her seated on the porch of her Iowa home, a woman twenty yards older than when he knew her. He smiles.

  FRANCESCA (V.O.)

  “I had forgotten this. I had somehow remembered it being more his fault,his decision. Then I remembered we made love in that field before we left for home. And I remembered it was my idea. I remembered tearing his shirt and biting his body, hoping he would kidnap me. I had forgotten that too. And I wondered, as I sat there…… how many other things I'd forgotten.”

  RICHARD (O.S.)

  Frannie.

  Startled, Francesca turns as if she were caught in the act. Richard is fully dressed, prepared to start the day. Francesca turns back to the pasture —— Niccolo is gone.

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