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THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY (chapter 19)

2006-07-09 16:42

  FRANCESCA (cont'd)

  (softly)

  Don't you see, I've got to know the truth, Robert. I've got to know the truth or I'll go crazy. Either way. Just tell me. But I can't act like this is enough because it has to be. I can't pretend I don't feel what I feel because it's over tomorrow.

  Robert, keeping his face from her, tries to tell her:

  ROBERT If I've done anything to make you think that what's happened between us is nothing new for me —— is some routine —— then I do apologize.

  FRANCESCA What makes it different, Robert?

  Robert turns to face her. He is so hopelessly in love he can hardly find the words. His eyes fill up with tears.

  ROBERT Because…… if I even think about tomorrow —— if I……

  (voice cracks)

  even think about leaving here without you —— I'm not sure I can…… that I -(he shakes his head)

  He can't even finish. He kneels down before her wrapping his arms around her and burying his face into her body. Francesca starts to cry —— out of happiness, out of pain —— holding onto him as if for dear life.

  FRANCESCA Oh God…… what are we going to do?

  She kisses him —— over and over, not wanting to be even an inch apart. As if any space between them might separate them forever.

  Suddenly, OS, they hear a CAR DRIVE UP to the house. They panic. Francesca runs to the window to see:

  MADGE, a girlfriend, has come for a visit. Madge is holding a homemade dessert.

  FRANCESCA (cont'd)

  No. No. Where's your truck?

  ROBERT Behind the barn. I better go.

  Francesca turns to him —— speechless —— not wanting him to go.

  ROBERT (cont'd)

  Don't worry. I meant upstairs.

  He exits. Francesca gathers herself and heads for the front entrance, quickly cleaning up the plates.

  INT. FRONT HALL - DAY

  Francesca opens the door to Madge.

  FRANCESCA Madge?

  MADGE Hi. I made some brown betty. I sent Floyd off to town with the boy. I said -(entering)

  “Floyd, I'm going to visit my girlfriend and spend the afternoon and that's all there is to it. He said who's going to make lunch? I said I'm taking a sick day. Eat at the dinner.” Isn't that hilarious?

  (MOVES INTO KITCHEN)

  He didn't dare raise an eyebrow —— I don't even want to tell you how late he was out last night with those good for nothings from the Sandford ranch. I am so sorry, honey, I let two days pass before I came by, but with the boy home the time just escapes me. Have you heard from Richard? How's the fair? God, it's hot.

  Following her into the kitchen, Francesca doesn't know which question to answer first.

  EXT. PORCH - LATER THAT DAY

  Madge and Francesca sit facing the pasture beside a table with coffee and brown betty. We parachute into the middle of the scene.

  MADGE…… I said to her, “what's the point of summer school if all he's going to do are these art projects. The boy needs so much work in math and his spelling is a nightmare……

  (continues)

  Francesca isn't listening. Her mind wanders.

  FANTASY:

  FRANCESCA Madge. Please. Something's happened. I've met someone. I've fallen in love in a way I've never thought could happen my entire life. It's our last day together. I feel like I'm going to die when he leaves. Please. Help me.

  MADGE Oh, honey. I'm so sorry. But you've got to be grateful for even feeling the little you've be given. Believe me. Go to him. Don't let him leave without these new precious hours you've got left. And if you need anyone to cry on, you know where I am.

  END OF FANTASY:

  Madge shoves a plate at her.

  MADGE (cont'd)

  More brown betty?

  Francesca takes the plate. She can't think straight.

  MADGE (cont'd)

  …… Anyway, I'm glad that's over with. Sara doing so well though. Everyone thought I was crazy having them so far apart, but……

  (CONTINUES……)

  FANTASY:

  Francesca stands behind Madge, as the latter chatters on MOS. She calmly picks up the brown betty and, from behind, shoves it into Madge's face and holds it there, trying to suffocate her with it. Madge struggles.

  END OF FANTASY:

  Francesca's mind races as Madge continues.

  MADGE…… without one lesson. The instructor couldn't believe it. So,who knows —— she may have talent. How's Carolyn doing? What are her plans for next year?

  Francesca realizes this is her moment. She holds her head and leans over, unsteadily.

  MADGE (cont'd)

  Honey, what's wrong?

  FRANCESCA I don't know. I woke up a little dizzy. I didn't sleep well. I think I need to lay down.

  MADGE You want me to call the doctor?

  FRANCESCA No, no. I just didn't sleep well. I'm not used to sleeping alone. And this heat. Would you mind?

  MADGE No, of course not. I'll just clean up.

  FRANCESCA No, leave it. I'll do it later. Listen, maybe you and Floyd can come for dinner on Saturday. I'm sure Richard'll have so many stories to tell you both about the fair and all.

  MADGE Oh, that'll be nice.

  CUT TO:

  INT. BEDROOM - LATER THAT DAY

  Francesca enters to find Richard, laying on the bed fully clothed. She sits beside him. He strokes her arm, then guides her to lay down. Once she's in his arms, he speaks.

  ROBERT Come with me.

  Francesca knew he was going to say this. Either answer she gives frightens her.

  FRANCESCA Hold me.

  She turns to him and they embrace. Robert, however, fears only one response. On the soundtrack, we hear the song “DARN THAT DREAM.”

  CUT TO:

  INT. KITCHEN - EVENING

  The song continues over the next few images. Camera slowly pans from the radio, upon which the song is playing, to a beautifully set table and candles. It arrives on Robert preparing dinner.

  INT. BEDROOM

  Camera pans the room from two OPENED SUITCASES, as Francesca packs to leave. She moves about the room as if with blinders on —— focused on her task, refusing to take in any sign or memories that might hinder her. She is wearing a RED DRESS,with BUTTONS down the front.

  INT. KITCHEN

  Robert stands at the sink rinsing out some utensils. Waiting for the water to turn hot, he looks out through the window above the sink. He sees a beautiful view of beautiful night. He pauses as it strikes him that this is a view Francesca has seen a million times —— that soon she would not see ever again.

  INT. SECOND FLOOR LANDING

  Camera follows her as she exits the bedroom with her suitcases, then walks down the hall to the stairs, then down the staircase to the front hall.

  She quietly sets the suitcases down, hearing the radio and Robert in the kitchen. She pauses, then enters the living room. One of the throw pillows has fallen off the couch. She replaces it then takes a moment to look about the room. She slowly sits down on the couch.

  We hear voices of the past, auditory memories conjured up by each stick of furniture Francesca sees.

  FRANCESCA (V.O.)

  Michael, get off the back of that chair! What did I tell you!

  WE HEAR HIM FALL AND BEGIN TO CRY.

  FRANCESCA (V.O.)

  All you all right, honey. Let me see……

  A sound of Christmas music…… of toddlers running and laughing…… A birthday party for Carolyn……

  CAROLYN (V.O.)

  Mama, look —— look at the dress Aunt Patty sent!

  RICHARD (V.O.)

  Franny, BONNAZA's on!

  ROBERT Francesca?

  Francesca snaps out for it and turns to find Robert.

  ROBERT (cont'd)

  I've got dinner.

  She smiles.

  INT. KITCHEN

  They eat by candlelight. Neither speaks. Neither is very hungry.

  ROBERT Would you like a beer?

  She smiles and shakes her head. Robert opens a bottle and takes a sip.

  ROBERT (cont'd)

  You know what I'd like to do before we leave? I'd like to take a picture of you —— at Roseman bridge. Maybe just as the sun's coming up.

  FRANCESCA Yes. I'd like that.

  Pause. Robert smiles back and takes another sip. Then,knowing full well what hangs heavy between them, he asks:

  ROBERT Tell me why you're not coming with me?

  Francesca stops pretending to eat. She looks at him, having forgotten how well he can read her.

  FRANCESCA No matter how I keep turning it around in my mind —— it doesn't seem like the right thing.

  ROBERT For who?

  FRANCESCA For anyone. They'll never be able to live through the talk. Richard will never be able to. He doesn't deserve that. He hasn't hurt anyone in his life.

  ROBERT(getting aggressive)

  Then he can move! People move!

  FRANCESCA His family's lived for almost a hundred years. Richard doesn't know how to live anywhere else. And the kids……

  ROBERT The kids are grown! They don't need you anymore. You told me that. They hardly talk to you.

  FRANCESCA No, they don't say much. But Carolyn's 16. She's just about to find out about all this for herself—— she's going to fall in love,she's going to try and figure out how to build a life with someone. If I leave what does that say to her?

  ROBERT What about us? What about me?

  FRANCESCA You've got to know deep down that the minute we leave here. It'll all change.

  ROBERT Yeah. It could get better.

  FRANCESCA No matter how much distance we put between us and this house, I bring with it with me. And I'll feel it every minute we're together. And I'll blame loving you for how much it hurts. And then even these four days won't be anything more than something sordid and…… a mistake.

  ROBERT(desperately)

  Francesca, listen to me. You think what's happened to us happens to just anybody? What we feel for each other?

  How much we feel? We're not even two separate people anymore. Some people search their whole lives for it and wind up alone —— most people don't even think it exists and you're going to tell me that giving it up is the right thing to do? That staying here alone in a marriage, alone in a town you hate, in a house you don't feel apart of anymore —— you're telling me that's the right thing to do!?

  FRANCESCA We are the choices we've made, Robert.

  ROBERT(rises)

  TO HELL WITH YOU!

  He turns his back on her.

  FRANCESCA Robert. Please.(desperate to explain)

  You don't understand —— no one does. When a woman makes the choice to marry, to have children —— in one way her life begins but in another way it stops. You build a life of details. You become a mother, a wife and you stop and stay steady so that your children can move. And when they leave they take your life of details with them. And then you're expected move again only you don't remember what moves you because no one has asked in so long. Not even yourself. You never in your life think that love like this can happen to you.

  ROBERT But now that you have it -

  FRANCESCA I want to keep it forever. I want to love you the way I do now the rest of my life. Don't you understand —— we'll lose it if we leave. I can't make an entire life disappear to start a new one. All I can do is try to hold onto to both. Help me. Help me not lose loving you.

  She embraces him. He wraps his arms around her. He whispers.

  ROBERT Don't leave me. Don't leave me alone. Please.

  This breaks her heart, knowing how hard it is for him to say this. She holds him tighter, until -

  ROBERT (cont'd)

  Listen. Maybe you feel this way,maybe you don't. Maybe it's just because you're in this house. Maybe…… maybe when they come back tomorrow you'll feel differently. Don't you think that's possible?

  FRANCESCA I don't know. Please……

  ROBERT I'm going to be here a few more days. I'll be at the Inn. We have some time. Let's not say any more now.

  FRANCESCA No. Don't do this.

  ROBERT I CAN'T SAY GOODBYE YET! We'll leave it for now. We're not saying goodbye. We're not making any decision. Maybe you'll change your mind. Maybe we'll accidentally run into each other and…… and you'll change your mind.

  FRANCESCA Robert, if that happens, you'll have to decide. I won't be able to.

  She cries in his arms. He kisses her as if for the last time. Then, quickly, separates himself and leaves the house.

  EXT. JOHNSON HOUSE

  Robert walks briskly towards his truck not wanting to look back. He gets in, starts it up and drives away.

  Francesca exits the house and watches the truck recede into the distance. She stops when she reaches the front gate,leaning against it. She murmurs to herself -

  FRANCESCA Keep going. Please.

  The truck drives away. Then, suddenly, stops. Francesca's heart quickens. She watches as the truck stands on the road in the distance. As if Robert was deciding to turn around or keep going. Francesca waits. Suddenly, the door to the truck flies open and Robert exits. Francesca loses all restraint.

  She opens the gate but her dress is caught on it. Robert stands by the truck. Francesca tears at the dress, ripping off a button which falls to the ground. She runs down the road. Seeing her, Robert runs towards her as well.

  They grab each other furiously. For these few moments, all considerations are gone. As he kisses her, he murmurs:

  ROBERT I forgot to take your picture.

  She laughs through her tears as they continue to kiss. Camera pans up to the road beyond Robert's truck.

  WE SEE RICHARD'S TRUCK DRIVING TOWARDS THEM. For a moment it seems as if they will be caught until we realize RICHARD'S TRUCK IS BEING SUPERIMPOSED as the LIGHT GRADUALLY BRIGHTENS TO REVEAL:

  MORNING.

  EXT. JOHNSON HOUSE

  Richard, Michael and Carolyn drive down the road toward the house. Robert's truck, and all traces of him, are gone.

  Francesca steps into the doorway in a house dress to welcome her family home —— wondering how this will feel.

  JOHNSON KITCHEN - EVENING

  The Johnson family has dinner as Francesca narrates:

  FRANCESCA (V.O.)

  You all came home. And with you, my life of details.

  EXT. JOHNSON HOUSE

  Everyone is doing various daily chores.

  FRANCESCA (V.O.)

  A day or two past and with each thought of him, a task would present itself like a life saver, pulling me further and further away from those four days.

  INT. LIVING ROOM - EVENING

  Francesca is reading. Richard watches TV.

  FRANCESCA (V.O.)

  I was grateful. I felt safe.

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