Bridges Of Madison County, The
THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY



screenplay adaption by 

Richard LaGravenese 

MARCH 24, 1994, FIRST DRAFT




    Our story begins in 1965, on a hot afternoon in August.

    FADE IN

    EXT. IOWA LANDSCAPE  - DAY

    Rolling green hills, lush farmland, vast open space. Not a 
    house or sign of life in sight. On a long dusty road, a TRUCK 
    is driving across the screen. Clouds of dirt follow in its 
    tracks -- its motor, the only sound we hear.

    INT. TRUCK - DAY

    FRANCESCA JOHNSON is sitting in the front seat of the pick-up 
    truck. Her expression is distant. Her eyes are sad, as if 
    hiding a burden she can hardly bear. Her husband, RICHARD 
    JOHNSON, is driving.

                RICHARD
        You feeling better Franny?

                FRANCESCA
        Yes. I'm fine. It's just this heat I 
        think.

    He nods, satisfied. He turns on the radio as the VOICE OF 
    DINAH WASHINGTON sings a bluesy, haunting love song, "I'LL 
    CLOSE MY EYES."

                DINAH WASHINGTON
            (SINGS)
        "I'LL CLOSE MY EYES... TO EVERYONE 
        BUT YOU... AND WHEN I DO... I'LL SEE 
        YOU STANDING THERE..."
            (CONTINUES)

                RICHARD
            (surprised)
        What station is this?

                FRANCESCA
        It's a Chicago station. I found it 
        the other day.

                RICHARD
        Kinda pretty. Is this uh... jazz 
        kinda singing?

                FRANCESCA
            (nicely)
        I don't know. Can we turn it off? I 
        have such a headache.

                RICHARD
        Sure.

    Richard shuts it off. Francesca turns her face away from him 
    to look out at the vast expanse out of the countryside.

    EXT. JOHNSON HOUSE - DAY

    The truck stops in front of an isolated FARM HOUSE. A wooden 
    gate stands twenty yards from the front door. A barn and a 
    hot house sits on either side, surrounded by acres and acres 
    of beautiful pasture.

    CAROLYN JOHNSON, a sixteen-year-old girl, steps out from the 
    vegetable garden with an arm full of vegetable. She watches 
    her parents exit the truck.

    Francesca carries her groceries, walking briskly through the 
    front gate and entering the house.

    Richard grabs a bag of feed from the flatbed and strolls more 
    leisurely. When he walks through the front gate, he notices 
    something on the ground and picks it up. It is a BUTTON with 
    RED NATURAL surrounding it. As if it had been torn from a 
    piece of clothing. His daughter approaches him.

                RICHARD
        Your mother isn't feel well. I want 
        you to help her out tonight with 
        dinner.
            (she nods)
        Tell Michael to put this feed away.

    He puts the feed bag down. She exits. He enters the house.

    INT. FRONT HALL - DAY

    Richard enters the front hall opposite the stairs to the 
    second floor. To his left is the living room. To his right, 
    through an archway is the kitchen. He moves towards the stair 
    when he suddenly hears the kitchen radio turned on and "I'LL 
    CLOSE MY EYES" continues. It puzzles him. He looks to the 
    kitchen. Francesca is obviously there but we can't see her. 
    He is about to call to her when his son, Michael, yells:

                MICHAEL (O.S.)
        Dad! You bought the wrong feed!

                RICHARD
            (irritated)
        What?!

    He exits through the house to the back door.

    INT. KITCHEN - LATER

    The family-- Francesca, Richard, Carolyn and their seventeen-
    year-old son MICHAEL -- are eating supper. No one speaks.

                FRANCESCA
        So what are you going to do with the 
        prize money?

                CAROLYN
        I don't know. I might save up for one 
        of those hi-fi stereo players like 
        Peggy has.

    Francesca nods. Silence again. She asks her son:

                FRANCESCA
        Are you seeing Betty tonight?

                MICHAEL
            (eating)
        Nah.

    Silence. She is used to her son's one syllable answers.

                RICHARD
        Oh! Frannie, is this yours?

    He places the button with red material on the table. Hiding 
    her surprise, Francesca takes the button.

                FRANCESCA
        You found it! I got my dress caught 
        on that damn gate. You must have eyes 
        like a hawk.

                FRANCESCA (cont'd)
        You must all be tired. You got home 
        so early. What time did you leave 
        Illinos this morning?

                RICHARD
        'Bout 4:30.

                FRANCESCA
        Well you should all go to bed early. 
        I'll do the cleaning up.

    This last remark she addresses to her daughter. Everyone 
    returns to their silent eating.

    INT. JOHNSON HOUSE - NIGHT

    The house is asleep and dark except for a bright light coming 
    from the kitchen. Carolyn quietly exits her bedroom in her 
    nightclothes. She was awakened by noises coming from the 
    kitchen downstairs.

    INT. KITCHEN -

    She enters to find the lights are on. An empty cake pan and 
    a half-used bowl of frosting sitting unwashed in the sink. 
    She hears the motor of the truck being turned on. She moves 
    to the front hall and looks out through the door to see:

    The truck driving away. She calls out:

                CAROLYN
        Mom!

    But she gets no response. She stands there wondering where 
    her mother could possibly being going this time of night, as 
    we -

                            DISSOLVE TO:

    THIRTY YEARS LATER - SAME LOCATION

    Carolyn, thirty years older, stands in the same doorway of 
    the same house thinking back to that evening her mother acted 
    so strangely.

    A LAWYER is unpacking a briefcase in the living room off the 
    front entrance.

    Carolyn sees a car with Florida plates driving up to the 
    house. She smiles.

    EXT. JOHNSON HOUSE - DAY

    Carolyn steps out of the doorway and heads for the car, out 
    of which exit her brother Michael and his country girl wife 
    BETTY, a stout buxom chatterbox. Both boast Florida tans and 
    fashion styles.

                MICHAEL
            (to Carolyn)
        Explain to me again why we didn't do 
        this in Des Moines in an air 
        conditioned office?

                CAROLYN
        Mom's orders.

                MICHAEL
        Lawyer here?

                CAROLYN
            (nods)
        I have some sandwich fixings if 
        you're hungry.

                BETTY
            (proudly)
        No, we just had lunch at the hotel 
        with my brother and his new wife. She 
        told me all the dirt. I forgot how 
        interesting things can get around 
        here. It was so good to see them. The 
        last time we visited they were in 
        Europe. He is doing so well. He 
        ordered champagne. For lunch! I 
        nearly died.

                MICHAEL
        I nearly died when we split the bill.

                BETTY
        Michael doesn't understand. People 
        who make the kind of money my brother 
        makes don't carry money on them. They 
        keep it all in various accounts.

                MICHAEL
        Then we should have had lunch at the 
        bank.

    Carolyn tries not to laugh. Betty shoots him a dirty look, 
    then stops to take in the house and its surroundings.

                BETTY
        Boy. It sure has been a long time.

                MICHAEL
            (correcting her)
        We were here two Christmases ago.

                BETTY
        Well, that's a long time.

                MICHAEL
        It's not that long.

                BETTY
            (suddenly upset)
        Well, why don't I just say black so 
        you can say white!
            (to Carolyn)
        Don't be surprised to find your 
        brother hasn't changed an iota. He 
        hardly ever talks and when he does 
        it's in that tone! You should have 
        heard him at lunch -- not two words 
        until the bill came and then he says, 
        "Worth every penny."

                MICHAEL
            (defensive)
        SO!

                BETTY
            (angry)
        You said it in that tone! Like you 
        were angry at me, my brother, at 
        the world for forcing you to eat a 
        nice lunch!

                MICHAEL
        Oh Jesus.

                BETTY
            (staring to cry)
        I simply can not stand that tone!

                CAROLYN
            (sympathetically)
        Come inside. You're just tired from 
        the trip.

    She comforts Betty who indulges in the attention.

                BETTY
        I am so sick and tired of apologizing 
        and not knowing what I've done!

                CAROLYN
        I'm sure you haven't done anything. 
        Have some iced tea. How are the kids?

                MICHAEL
        He dropped them off at Betty's mom. 
        Where's Steve?

                CAROLYN
            (uncomfortably)
        He's not coming.

    Betty suddenly stops crying and abrasively focuses on 
    Carolyn's problems.

                BETTY
        Aw, is he still cheating on you, 
        hon?

    Carolyn suddenly hoses sympathy for her.

    INT. LIVING ROOM - DAY

    The lawyer hands Michael a document.

                LAWYER
        Just sign here as having received the 
        contents from the safe deposit box.
            (Michael does)
        And this one, which clears the bank 
        of all further responsibility fo0r the 
        contents.

    Betty whispers to Carolyn.

                BETTY
        This is kind of exciting. You think 
        we'll find out your mother had 
        secret millions lying around?

    Carolyn smiles weakly. Michael hands back the papers.

                LAWYER
        All right. Why don't we begin.

    He takes out Francesca's Last Will and Testament.

                LAWYER (cont'd)
        Your mother has been interred at 
        Lakeside Funeral Home until 
        arrangements can be made.

                MICHAEL
            (to Carolyn)
        I thought everything WAS arranged.

                CAROLYN
        Well, there's a problem.

                MICHAEL
        What problem?

                LAWYER
        Your mother left explicit 
        instructions that she wished to be 
        cremated.

                MICHAEL
        Cremated?!

                BETTY
        Eeeww!

                CAROLYN
        I know. I don't understand it either.

                MICHAEL
        When did she decide this?

                LAWYER
            (reading will)
        Apparently just before her death.

                MICHAEL
        Well, that's crazy. I don't know 
        anybody who gets cremated.

                BETTY
        My Jewish friend's grandmother did.

                MICHAEL
        Well, no one in my family did! Dad 
        bought cemetery plots at Oak Ridge. 
        One for him, one for mom.

                LAWYER
        It clearly states in the will --

                MICHAEL
        I don't care what it says! Maybe Mama 
        was delirious, you know. She didn't 
        know what she was saying. If she 
        wanted to be cremated, why the hell 
        did she let dad buy two plots, huh?

                LAWYER
        Well, she was very specific. She 
        wanted her ashes to be thrown over 
        Roseman Bridge.

                MICHAEL
        WHAT!

                BETTY
        How bizarre!

                CAROLYN
        Mr. Peterson, are you sure mama wrote 
        all this?

                LAWYER
        Well, it was notarized, and witnessed 
        by a Mrs. Lucy Delaney. Maybe you can 
        ask her.

                MICHAEL
        Who the hell is Lucy Delaney?

                CAROLYN
        I remember a Mrs. Delaney but Mama 
        told me years ago she died.

                MICHAEL
        Well, I don't care if it's legal or 
        not, we're not cremating her and 
        throwing her all over some bridge 
        where we can't even go visit her 
        because she's going to be blown all 
        over the place like an ashtray.

                BETTY
        Not to mention people driving over 
        her and doggies doing their business --

                MICHAEL
            (interrupting)
        We're not doing it! I'm not even sure 
        it's Christian.

                BETTY
        Maybe it's an Italian thing. Their 
        mother was Italian.

                MICHAEL
        Doesn't matter. Move on.

    The women dare not object. The lawyer raises his eyebrows 
    and continues:

                LAWYER
        Well, we'll come back to that. Shall 
        we open the box?

                            JUMP CUT TO:

    MOMENTS LATER

    C.U. SAFETY DEPOSIT BOX

    A key is inserted and the lid is opened. There are many 
    papers, deeds, et. Michael begins sorting through these.

    Carolyn notices a manila envelope addressed to her mother, 
    postmarked 1965. She opens it up to find TWO LETTERS and A 
    PHOTOGRAPH -- FRANCESCA standing NEAR A COVERED BRIDGE, her 
    hair wind blown, her expression serene, beautiful and sad. 
    She wears a RED DRESS with buttons down the front.

                CAROLYN
        Michael, look -- I've never seen this 
        picture of mama. Have you?

    Betty and Michael look over her shoulder. He shakes "no."

                CAROLYN (cont'd)
        It was in this envelope from 1965.

                BETTY
        She's not wearing a bra.
            (takes bridge photo)
        This is Roseman Bridge in case 
        anyone's interested.

    Interested yes, but no one thinks anything of it. Michael 
    returns to the other papers. Betty takes the photograph for 
    further examination. Carolyn opens one of the letters and 
    begins to read.

    The following dialogue is heard OS, as CAMERA ANGLES ON 
    CAROLYN reading one of the letters:

                BETTY (O.S.)
        It's a beautiful picture of her.

                MICHAEL (O.S.)
            (to lawyer)
        Why are there two deeds here?

                LAYER (O.S.)
        One of for the original parcel your 
        father bought and this one is for the 
        additional acres he purchased in '59.

                MICHAEL (O.S.)
        And this?

                LAWYER (O.S.)
        Those are bills of sale from the 
        equipment your mother sold in ..
            (CONTINUES O.S.)

    Throughout their conversation, we focus on Carolyn as she 
    reads and her expression sinks into one of shock and 
    confusion. She flips to the last page of the letter to read 
    who it is from. She can't believe her eyes.

                BETTY (O.S.)
        What's that?

    Carolyn jumps a little, so engrossed in her discovery. She 
    lies.

                CAROLYN
        Oh, just a old letter from a friend.

                BETTY
            (laughs)
        No treasure maps, huh?

                CAROLYN
            (laughs nervously)
        No.

    Betty starts inspecting knit knacks around the house she 
    might be able to take. Carolyn looks to Michael.

                CAROLYN (cont'd)
        Michael.

                MICHAEL
            (reading documents)
        Yeah.

                CAROLYN
        Michael.

                MICHAEL
            (irritated)
        What?!

                CAROLYN
        Come here a minute.

    Michael crosses impatiently to Carolyn. Carolyn looks around 
    to the others, then guides him OS into the kitchen for 
    privacy. He protests.

                MICHAEL
        What? Where are we going?

    They exit. Alone with the impatient lawyer, Betty examines a 
    vase as she pumps him for info.

                BETTY
        Did she say anything in there about 
        me? Leaving me anything in particular?

                LAWYER
        No.

    Betty prattles on as she examines each item, much to the 
    lawyer's dismay, hiding her resentment and hurt.

                BETTY
        I didn't expect so. She never liked 
        me. It's okay. I always knew. Thought 
        we married too young. Nobody broke 
        his arm -- that's what I said but you 
        know mothers and their sons. Also, 
        she never liked the fact of us moving 
        to Florida although what's where the 
        opportunities were. Couldn't deny 
        that. Suppose we should have visited 
        more but you know she hardly ever 
        made an effort to come to Tampa. Not 
        even to see her grandchildren. She 
        was a cold woman. They say Italians 
        are hot-blooded but not her. She was 
        cool as ice.
            (picks up a 
             candlestick)
        She leaves these to anyone?

    Michael and Carolyn re-enter the living room. Michael's 
    expression now matches Carolyn in disbelief.

                BETTY (cont'd)
        What's going on?

                MICHAEL
        Um... we were just wondering how it 
        might be better if me and Carolyn 
        went over the stuff by ourselves. Not 
        keep you two waiting around. I'll 
        contact your office about the legal 
        work.

    Grateful, the lawyer packs up to leave.

                BETTY
        I don't mind waiting.

                MICHAEL
        Well, there's a lot of boring stuff to 
        do. Lists of people we have to write 
        to. Find mama's relatives addresses 
        in Italy -- stuff like that.

                BETTY
        Well, I can help.

                MICHAEL
        I said NO!

    That came out a bit aggressively. Betty is hurt.

                MICHAEL (cont'd)
        Why don't you go to your mothers. Or 
        back to the hotel. Sit in some air 
        conditioning. Take a bath.

                BETTY
            (near tears)
        I do not need instructions from you 
        to bathe!
            (gets her bag)
        I knew you'd do this! I knew I'd come 
        all the way here and be shut out as 
        usual! I came to be here for you! I 
        didn't have to come!
            (genuinely hurt)
        Lord knows I was never much welcome 
        in this house before. Apparently dead 
        or alive, nothing's changed.

                CAROLYN
        Aw, Betty.

    Carolyn feels badly for her. An impatient Michael refuses 
    sympathy. Embarrassed, Betty starts to exit then stops at 
    the mantle.

                BETTY
        Carolyn -- you want these 
        candlesticks?

                CAROLYN
        No. You can have them.

    Betty grabs them both and exits. Carolyn looks at him 
    disapprovingly. Michael takes the letter from her hand.

                MICHAEL
        Now what's this about?

                            CUT TO:

    INT. KITCHEN - LATER

    Sitting at the kitchen table, Carolyn is in the middle of 
    reading the letter to Michael.

                CAROLYN
        "-- going over and over in my mind 
        every detail, every moment of our 
        time together and I ask myself, "What 
        happened to me in Madison County?" I 
        struggle to put it together in a way 
        that allows me to continue knowing 
        we're on separate roads. But then I 
        look through the lens of my camera, 
        and you're there. I start to write an 
        article and I find myself writing it 
        to you. It's clear to me now we have 
        been moving towards each other, 
        towards those four days, all our 
        lives --

                MICHAEL
            (rises)
        Goddamn sonofabitch! I don't want to 
        hear anymore! Sonofabitch! Burn the 
        damn thing! I don't want to hear it! 
        Throw it away!

    Carolyn continues reading silently. Michael's curiosity gets 
    the best of him:

                MICHAEL
        What's he saying now?

                CAROLYN
        Well, he just gets on about how if 
        mama ever needed him, she could find 
        him through the National Geographic 
        magazine. He as a photographer. He 
        promises not to write again. Then all 
        it says is...
            (beat)
        I love you... Robert.

                MICHAEL
        Robert! Jesus! I'll kill him.

                CAROLYN
        That would be some trick. He's 
        already dead. That's what this other 
        letter is.
            (takes letter and 
             skims)
        From his attorney. He left most of 
        his things to mama and requested...
            (she stops)

                MICHAEL
        What?

                CAROLYN
        That he be cremated and his ashes 
        thrown on Roseman Bridge.

                MICHAEL
        DAMN HIM! I knew mama wouldn't have 
        thought of that herself. It was some 
        damn perverted... photographic mind 
        influencing her! When did the bastard 
        die?

                CAROLYN
        '82.

                MICHAEL
        Wait a minute! That was thirty years 
        after daddy. Do you think...?

                CAROLYN
        I don't know. I'm completely in the 
        dark here. That's what I get for 
        moving away.

                MICHAEL
        This happened way before we both got 
        married. I... I can't believe it.
            (then, innocently)
        You think she had sex with him?

    Carolyn cannot believe he is this dense.

                CAROLYN
            (sarcastic)
        My Lord. It must feel real nice 
        living inside your head with Peter 
        Pan and the Easter Bunny.

                MICHAEL
        Don't talk to me like that. She was 
        my mother for Christsakes. And now I 
        find out she was... She was a --!

                CAROLYN
        Don't say that!

                MICHAEL
        Well, what am I supposed to think?

                CAROLYN
        I can't believe she never told me? We 
        spoke at least once a week. How could 
        she do that?

                MICHAEL
        How did she meet him? Did Dad know? 
        Anything else in that envelope?

                CAROLYN
        No, I don't think so. I --

    She dumps it over and a SMALL KEY FALLS OUT. Pause, as 
    Carolyn and Michael look to each other -- they grab the key 
    and run out of the kitchen, almost comically falling over 
    each other in their obsession to put this puzzle together.

    A SERIES OF JUMP CUT --

    From one lock to another as they try to find the keyhole that 
    fits the key -- they try closets, attic doors, jewelry boxes, 
    night tables, vanity drawers... Finally --

    INT. BEDROOM - DAY

    At the foot of their parents bed sits an WALNUT HOPE CHEST, 
    covered with a tapestry. Michael and Carolyn look to each 
    other first, before one removes the tapestry and the other 
    tries the key. It fits. They open the chest to find:

    Camera equipment, a chain with a medallion that reads 
    "FRANCESCA," three leather bound notebooks -- and a sealed 
    envelope with "Carolyn or Michael" written on it.

                CAROLYN/MICHAEL
        You read it!

    Carolyn relents. She takes out the lefter and reads:

                CAROLYN
        "January, 1987. Dear Carolyn. I hope 
        you're reading this with Michael. I'm 
        sure he wouldn't be able to read it 
        by himself and he'll need some help 
        understanding all this, especially 
        the parts about me having sex..."

    Insulted, Michael pulls the lefter out of her hand and 
    defiantly attempts to read it aloud himself to disprove his 
    mother's claim. But after looking at a few lines, he 
    surrenders and hands the lefter back to his sister.

                CAROLYN (cont'd)
        "First, and most of all, I love you 
        both very much and although I feel 
        fine, I thought it was time to put my 
        affairs, excuse that word, in order."

                MICHAEL
        I can't believe she's making jokes.

                CAROLYN
        Sshhh. "After going through the 
        safety deposit box, I'm sure you'll 
        find you're way to this letter. It's 
        hard to write this to my own 
        children. I could let this die with 
        the rest of me, I suppose. 
            (cont'd)
        But as one gets older, one fears 
        subside. What becomes more and more 
        important is to be known -- known for 
        all that you were during this brief 
        stay. Row said it seems to me to leave 
        this earth without hose you love the 
        most ever really knowing who you 
        were. It's easy for a mother to love 
        her children no matter what -- it's 
        something that just happens. I don't 
        know if it's as simple for children. 
        You're all so busy being angry at us 
        for raising you wrong. But I thought 
        it was important to give you that 
        chance. To give you the opportunity 
        to love me for all that I was..."

    Carolyn and Michael look to each other like two school 
    children about to take a difficult exam. They continue.

                CAROLYN (cont'd)
        "His name was Robert Kincaid. He was 
        a photographer and he was here in 
        1965 shooting an article for National 
        Geographic on the covered bridges of 
        Madison County. Remember when we got 
        that issue and looked at those 
        bridges we'd seen for years but never 
        noticed? How we felt like 
        celebrities? Remember when we started 
        getting the subscription?

    They don't remember.

                CAROLYN (cont'd)
        I don't want you to be angry with 
        him. I hope after you know the whole 
        story, you might even think well of 
        him. Even grateful.

                MICHAEL
        Grateful!?

                CAROLYN
            (reads)
        "... It's all there in the three 
        notebooks. Read them in order. 
        If you don't want to, I suppose 
        that's okay too. But in that case I 
        want you to know something -- I never 
        stopped loving your father. He was a 
        very good man. It's just that my love 
        for Robert was different. He brought 
        out something in me no one had ever 
        brought out before, or since. He made 
        me feel like a woman in a way few 
        women, maybe more, ever experience..."

                MICHAEL
        That's it!

    Grabbing the letter, he starts putting everything back in the 
    trunk.

                CAROLYN
        What are you doing?

                MICHAEL
        This is crazy. She waits till she's 
        dead to tell us all this. Well, I got 
        news for you. She was my mother. 
        That's enough for me. I don't have to 
        know who she was.

                CAROLYN
        Well, I'd like to read them.

                MICHAEL
        No. We're going to lock this up and --

                CAROLYN
        STOP IT!
            (Michael freezes)
        I want to read them! If you don't 
        want to, then just leave. But don't 
        you push me around like I'm some mule 
        you paid for -- I already GOT A 
        HUSBAND!

    Michael is stymied.

    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.

                            CUT TO:

    INT. JOHNSON HOUSE - EVENING

    It is a week later. Francesca is making dinner. A COUNTRY 
    STATION is tuned in on the radio.

                FRANCESCA (V.O.)
        "The following week was the Illinos 
        State Fair. The two of you were going 
        with dad to exhibit Carolyn's prize 
        steer. It was the Sunday night you 
        left. I know it sounds awful but I 
        couldn't wait for you all to leave. 
        You were going to be gone until 
        Friday. Four days...
            (beat)
        Just four days..."

    Francesca's expression looks as if she needs a break from her 
    family for more like four years.

                FRANCESCA (cont'd)
        Michael! Carolyn! Richard! Dinner!

    She sets down a bowl of potatoes, a plate of sausages, coffee 
    and corn as one by one her family enters and sits down.

    Michael enters through a screen door from the back, letting 
    the DOOR SLAM SHUT.

                FRANCESCA
        Michael, what did I tell you about 
        that door?

    Richard enters after Michael, letting the door SLAM THE same 
    way. Francesca is about to say something, but gives up.

    Everyone begins eating -- in complete silence.

    When Michel can't open the ketchup bottle, Francesca grabs 
    it, palms the top skillfully and twists it off. She hands it 
    back to Michael who makes no comment.

    When Richard scans the table for something that obviously 
    isn't there, Francesca is up out of her seat before he can 
    ask, at the fridge, grabbing the sour cream, closing the 
    fridge and back at the table with incredible swiftness.

    When Michel moves his big arm to reach for the salt, he 
    knows over his cup and saucer, which Francesca catches with 
    both hands before they hit the floor. Her reflexes are like 
    a trained athlete.

    Finally, Francesca is able to sit and sip her coffee. She 
    watches her teenage daughter fill her plate with a blank 
    expression that lets nothing slip through -- no indication of 
    all the tempests of emotions that go through a teenage girl.

                FRANCESCA
        You excited about going, Carolyn?

    Without looking up, Carolyn fakes a smile. Looking at her, 
    Francesca remembers Carolyn as a three-year-old girl:

    FLASHBACK.

    In the same kitchen, THREE-YEAR-OLD CAROLYN runs around her 
    mother's feet completely naked, squealing with delight as 
    Francesca flicks her water from the tap.

    FLASHBACK ENDS.

    Francesca watches as Carolyn eats in silence, distant, locked 
    in her own secret teenage thoughts and dreams.

    Francesca then looks to her son, shoveling food into his 
    mouth at an alarming rate. She attempts a conversation.

                FRANCESCA (cont'd)
        How was your date last night?

                MICHAEL
            (w/o looking at her)
        Okay.

                FRANCESCA
        What's her name?

                MICHAEL
        Betty.

                FRANCESCA
        What's she like?

                MICHAEL
        Okay.

    Silence. Frustrated, Francesca has a fantasy -

    FANTASY:

    Francesca picks up a blunt butter knife, rises out of her seat, 
    grabs her son and shoves the knife at his throat:

                FRANCESCA
        Do you like her?

    Michael finally reacts with more than one word -- frightened 
    for his life.

                MICHAEL
        Uh... Yeah. Yeah. She's real nice.

                FRANCESCA
        Well, what's nice about her? Tell us!

                MICHAEL
        Well, she's... she's real pretty and
        ... and she's got a cute shape... 
        she's a good sport, ya know, for 
        laughs and 
            (desperate)
        ... she loves fried chicken wings and 
        beer.

                FRANCESCA
        Isn't that nice? You should bring her 
        home to meet us!

    FANTASY ENDS.

    Francesca looks at Michael in disgust.

                RICHARD
        We better get moving.
            (to Francesca)
        You sure you don't want to come?

    Francesca looks at Richard with complete conviction.

                FRANCESCA
        I'm positive.

                RICHARD
        I'm going to miss you.

                FRANCESCA
        It's only four days.

    He gives her a sweet peck on the lips. Francesca smiles, 
    anxious for them all to leave.

    INT. JOHNSON HOUSE - LATER THAT NIGHT

    Alone, dressed in her bathrobe, Francesca checks the front 
    door. She crosses to the living. Noticing two throw pillows 
    on the floor, she arranged them neatly on the couch. She sits 
    herself in an easy chair then flicks on a reading lamp and 
    opens her book. After five seconds, she closes the book. She 
    crosses to the TV and turns it on, then turns it off before 
    the picture tuned in.

    She turns and leans on the TV, flicking the ON/OFF switch on 
    and off as her mind wanders. She gets an idea. She crosses to 
    the hi-fi and looks through several albums she got from her 
    Columbia Record Club. But nothing inspires her and she 
    quickly loses the desire for music. She's antsy. She has this 
    time alone and she doesn't know how to spend it.

    She walks through the dining room, passing a china closet 
    filled with fancy dishes and glasses. She stops. Shoved in 
    the corner behind is an old, un-opened bottle of BRANDY. She 
    removes up, setting atop the dining table to open it.

    But when she catches a reflection of herself in the window 
    opposite her, she stops. She sees a lonely, frustrated woman 
    in a tattered bathrobe anxious to open a bottle of liquor. 
    Deflated, she returns the brandy to the cupboard and exits.

    EXT. BACK PORCH - NIGHT

    Francesca sits on the porch with a book in her lap, gazing 
    out over the pasture. It's a hot night. She opens the top of 
    her rope a bit. Feeling the air against her skin, she decides 
    to open it a bit more. She gets an idea.

    Standing, she looks to see if anyone is around -- though 
    rationally she knows there isn't a soul for miles. She turns 
    off the porch light. With a brave and daring impulse, she 
    sheds her bathrobe and stand naked under the night sky. The 
    air feels good against her body. She opens her arms up 
    against the night sky and moon like an Indian priestess.

    Suddenly, she starts hitting her body as mosquitoes begin 
    attacking her bare torso. Thwarted, she quickly covers 
    herself with a robe and runs into the house.

                            CUT TO:

    INT. KITCHEN - MORNING

    Francesca trudges into the kitchen. As if on automatic, she 
    takes the coffee pot and fills it with water. She gets the 
    coffee and begins spooning it out. She stops. She gets the 
    idea of taking herself out for breakfast and dumps the coffee 
    pot out.

                            CUT TO:

    EXT. MAIN STREET; WINTERSET - MORNING

    A one street town. On either side are rows of storefronts, an 
    old coffee shop/diner, a bank, a medical center, a newspaper 
    building, a courthouse and a movie theater showing CAT BALLOU. 
    The steeple of the local church is the highest structure, 
    towering over the town from the end of Main Street.

    INT. COFFEE SHOP/DINER - MORNING

    Dressed in jeans and a light summer blouse, Francesca sits 
    alone -- treating herself to breakfast and the paper. Some of 
    the gossip news includes rumors of Frank Sinatra, 49, 
    marrying Mia Farrow, 19: Cary Grant 61, marrying DYAN CANNON, 
    27. Francesca shakes her head in disbelief at such news.

    She tries to continue reading, but is distracted by the loud 
    conversation in the booth beside her:

    TWO MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN and ONE MIDDLE-AGED HUSBAND sit after 
    breakfast discussing the local gossip.

                ELEANOR
        Oh, this heat! Times like this I wish 
        we took that offer from your brother 
        and moved on up to Michigan.

                HENRY
        They got heat in Michigan.

                ELEANOR
        Not this kind of heat.

                HENRY
        Heat is heat.

                ELEANOR
        Heat is not heat! There's different 
        kinds! And this heat is much hotter 
        than what they got in Michigan. You 
        go and call your brother and see if 
        he don't say the same thing.

                HENRY
        I'll get right on it.

    Mrs. Delaney, an attractive well-off woman in her forties, 
    enters the shop and heads for the counter.

                GLADYS
            (whispers)
        Mrs. Delaney.
            (Eleanor looks)
        Did you hear the latest?

                ELEANOR
        No, what?

                GRADYS
        Apparently, she caught them.
            (Eleanor gasps)
        Ran right into them in Des Moines in 
        the middle of her shopping.

                ELEANOR
        Oh, what a horror. Poor woman. That 
        Redfield girl's got no business 
        showing her face in daylight.

                GRADYS
        I don't know how that tramp stands 
        living here. No one can bear even 
        speaking to her. She has no friends.

                HENRY
        Well, nobody put a gun to his head.

                ELEANOR
        Oh, shut up! It's the woman who's in 
        control of these situations. Men 
        don't know which end is up till a 
        woman points.

    Mrs. Delaney acts as if nothing is wrong. Yet, she knows 
    everyone knows and everyone knows she knows they know, yet no 
    one says a word. She sits at the counter.

                MRS. DELANEY
        Just coffee, please.

    Francesca hears the gossip continue in hushed tones:

                GLADYS
        See. Money don't buy happiness. I 
        must say, she's taking it well.

                ELEANOR
        I'd kill him. Him and that Redfield 
        woman. Together. First one then the 
        other. And then I'd laugh.

                GLADYS
        I'd laugh first then I'd kill them. 
        Make sure they heard me laughing.

    Eleanor nods. Not being able to stand it, Francesca rises. 
    She must pass them on the way to the counter, in order to 
    pay. Eleanor immediately stops her.

                ELEANOR
        Francesca! So, everybody got off okay 
        last night?

                FRANCESCA
        Yes, thanks.

                GLADYS
        What you going to do all alone for 
        four days -- a woman of leisure?

                FRANCESCA
        Oh, you know there's always something 
        to be done. Have a good day. Henry.

    Henry nods back. As she exits, they whisper.

                ELEANOR
        She's changed.

                GLADYS
        Oh, yes.

                ELEANOR
        She used to be so friendly.

                HENRY
        Maybe she's going through "the 
        changes."

    Eleanor hits him in the chest.

                ELEANOR
        What do you know about "the changes"?

                HENRY
        Well, I didn't know they was a secret 
        club.

                ELEANOR
        Don't talk about what you don't know. 
        Besides, she's too young for "the 
        changes."

                GLADYS
        My niece had "the changes" when she 
        was thirty-one.

                ELEANOR
        No. What a tragedy. What happened?

                GLADYS
            (wisely)
        She changed.

    At the counter, Francesca pays up. She looks to Mrs. Delaney 
    and tries to smile, but Mrs. Delaney works hard at not making 
    eye contact with anyone. Suddenly, she rises telling the 
    waitress:

                MRS. DELANEY
        Excuse me for a moment, I left 
        something in the car.

    She exits quickly. Francesca pays up as the waitress adds:

                WAITRESS
        Poor woman.

    EXT. COFFEE SHOP/DINER - MORNING

    Francesca exits and heads for her truck. As she crosses from 
    one corner to another, she notices down the side street --

    Mrs. Delaney sitting alone in her own car, sobbing. Unable to 
    bear the humiliation, she stole herself away to cry.

    Francesca wants to help but feels useless. She quickly heads 
    for her truck.

                            CUT TO:

    EXT. JOHNSON HOUSE - DAY

    Francesca sits on the front porch with some iced tea, trying 
    to cool herself off. It is a scorcher. She is barefoot, her 
    blouse hanging out of her jeans, her hair fastened up by a 
    tortoise shell comb.

    Camera begins a slow move into close-up, as she sips her tea 
    and lets her mind wander. WE INTERCUT HER FANTASIES WITH HER 
    ON THE PORCH:

    FANTASY: Back in town, Francesca slides into Mrs. Delaney's 
    car. She embraces the woman who cries into her arms.

    -- Francesca on the porch.

    FANTASY: Mrs. Delaney's car is surrounded by townpeople
     staring into it. Francesca hugs Mrs. Delaney closer to her in 
     defiance.

    -- Francesca on the porch.

    FANTASY: Mrs. Delaney's car drives up to a train station. She 
    and Francesca exit with suitcases. They are surrounded by 
    news reporters as they make their way to the train.

                REPORTER
        Mrs. Johnson! Mrs. Johnson! Is it 
        true Cary Grant has proposed to you?

                FRANCESCA
        Yes. And I've accepted.

                REPORTER
        What about his engagement to Dyan 
        Cannon?

                FRANCESCA
        I said to him Cary you're being 
        ridiculous. You're more than half her 
        age. He said no one had ever been 
        that honest with him and he falls in 
        love with me.

                REPORTER
        What about your husband?

                FRANCESCA
        I'm very sad but Richard said that 
        since it's Cary Grant, he completely 
        understands. I'm also taking Mrs. 
        Delaney away from this town. She'll 
        be living with Cary and I in Beverly 
        Hills.

    She boards the train with Mrs. Delaney.

    END OF FANTASIES.

    Tired of her fantasies, Francesca looks up to the sun to 
    clear her mind. It is blinding. When she looks back out onto 
    the road, her vision is momentarily blurred. Until, slowly, 
    out of the blue, she sees:

    A TRUCK driving toward her house, kicking up dust, like some 
    phantom appearing through the etheric plane. Francesca isn't 
    even sure it's real. She sips cool drink & blinks to 
    regain her vision. The truck slows down and turns into her 
    driveway. Francesca watches with suspicious curiosity as:

    The truck stops and ROBERT KINCAID steps out. Flashing his 
    blue eyes in her direction, he smiles and says:

                ROBERT
        Sorry to bother you, but I've got a 
        feeling I'm lost.

    Francesca remains guarded.

                FRANCESCA
        Are you supposed to be in Iowa?

                ROBERT
            (laughs)
        Yeah.

                FRANCESCA:
        Well, you're not that lost.

    He laughs. She puts down her tea and crosses to him.

                ROBERT
        I'm looking for a covered bridge out 
        this way... uh... wait a minute --

    He looks through a small notepad for the name. Francesca 
    finds herself scanning his body.

                FRANCESCA
        Roseman Bridge?

                ROBERT
        That's it.

                FRANCESCA
        Well, you're pretty close. It's only 
        about two miles from here.

                ROBERT
        Oh, terrific. Which way?

    Pause as Robert awaits directions and Francesca scans a sudden 
    impulse.

                FRANCESCA
        Well, I can take you if you want.

    Robert is pleased, but a bit surprised as is Francesca who 
    anxiously recants:

                FRANCESCA (cont'd)
        Or I can tell you. I can take you or 
        tell you. It's up to you. I don't 
        care. Either way.

    Robert smiles finding her sudden nervousness charming.

                ROBERT
        Well --

    Suddenly, from the opposite direction of the road, A CHEVY 
    barrels by. The driver, FLOYD, toots his horn.

                FLOYD
        Howdy, Francesca.

                FRANCESCA
        Hey, Floyd.

    He drives off. Francesca knows they've been seen. Slightly 
    annoyed by Iowain neighborliness, she turns to Robert and 
    with some defiance says:

                FRANCESCA (cont'd)
        It'd be better if I show you, I think.

                ROBERT
        If I'm not taking you away from 
        anything.

                FRANCESCA
        No. I was just going to have some 
        iced tea then split the atom, but 
        that can wait.
            (he smiles)
        I just have to get my shoes.

    Robert watches her as she turns and heads back to the house. 
    He watches her lift her blouse and tuck it into her jeans, 
    revealing her shapely hips and buttocks. He turns back to the 
    truck and notices the mailbox -- MR & MRS. RICHARD JOHNSON. He 
    nods as if he knew all along and begins to make room on the 
    front seat for Francesca.

    INT. JOHNSON HOUSE

    Francesca is slipping on her boots when she suddenly stops. 
    "What am I doing?", she asks herself silently.

    EXT. JOHNSON DRIVEWAY

    Francesca approaches the truck. On the door, she reads: 
    KINCAID PHOTOGRAPHY, BELLINGHAM, WASHINGTON.

    Robert is clearing away paper cups, banana peels, paper bags, 
    photography equipment. In the back, Francesca notices a 
    cooler and a guitar case.

                ROBERT
        I wasn't expect company. Let me 
        get this out of the way.

    He hauls a case of film from the front to the back. Francesca 
    notices his tanned, muscular arm move in one graceful sweep.

                ROBERT (cont'd)
        Okay. All set.

    Francesca smiles. They both get into the truck.

                ROBERT (cont'd)
        Now, where are we going?

                FRANCESCA
        Out, then right.

                            CUT TO:

    EXT. MADISON COUNTY ROAD - DAY

    As the truck drives, we see no one else in sight.

    INT. KINCAID'S TRUCK

    They drive in silence. Francesca is enjoying the breeze against 
    her face.

                ROBERT
        Pretty country.

                FRANCESCA
        Hmm-mmm.

    She looks out at the vast expanse. It depresses her.

                ROBERT
        There's a wonderful smell about 
        Iowa -- very particular to this part 
        of the country. Do you know what I 
        mean?

                FRANCESCA
        No.

                ROBERT
        I can't describe it. I think it's 
        from the loam in the soil. This very 
        rich, earthy kind of... alive... 
        No. No, that's not right. Can you 
        smell it?

                FRANCESCA
            (shakes her head)
        Maybe it's because I live here.

                ROBERT
        That must be it. It's a great smell.

    Francesca wants to know more about him.

                FRANCESCA
        Are you from Washington originally?

                ROBERT
        Uh-huh. Lived there till I was twenty 
        or so and then moved to Chicago when 
        I got married.

                FRANCESCA
        Oh. When did you move back?

                ROBERT
        After the divorce.

                FRANCESCA
        Oh.

                ROBERT
        How long you been married?

                FRANCESCA
        Uh... uh...
            (can't remember)
        Umm... long time.

                ROBERT
        You don't look like a native, if you 
        don't mind my saying so.

                FRANCESCA
        No, I don't mind. I'm not from here. 
        I was born in Italy.

                ROBERT
        Well, from Italy to Iowa -- that's a 
        story!
            (Francesca smiles)
        Whereabouts in Italy?

                FRANCESCA
        Small town on the Eastern side no 
        one's ever heard of called Bari.

                ROBERT
        Oh yeah, Bari. I've been there.

                FRANCESCA
            (surprised)
        No, really?

                ROBERT
        Oh, yeah. Actually, I had an 
        assignment in Greece and I had to go 
        through Bari to get the boat at 
        Brindisi. But it looked so pretty I 
        got off and stayed for a few days. 
        Breathtaking country.

    Francesca is overcome by the idea of such freedom.

                FRANCESCA
        You just... got off the train because 
        it looked pretty?

                ROBERT
        Yeah. Excuse me a sec.

    He reaches over with one arm, brushing slightly against her 
    thigh. He opens the glove compartment and pulls out a pack of 
    Camels and a Zippo lighter.

                ROBERT
        Like one?

    Francesca, who doesn't usually smoke, accepts.

                FRANCESCA
        Sure.

    She takes a cigarette out of the pack. Robert drops the pack 
    and, with the same hand, flicks open the Zippo and ignites it. 
    Francesca leans over. The road is bumpy and a breeze blows 
    through both windows.

    She cups her hands around his to shelter the flame. She feels 
    his skin for a brief moment.

    She sits back and enjoys the ride and her cigarette as Robert 
    lights up. Silence. They drive.

                ROBERT
        So, how long you've been living here?

                FRANCESCA
        Long.
            (changes subject)
        You just got off the train and stayed 
        without knowing anyone there?

                ROBERT
            (laughs)
        Yeah.

    EXT. ROSEMAN BRIDGE - DAY

    The truck stops. They exit. Robert takes out some equipment.

                ROBERT
        This won't take long. I'm shooting 
        tomorrow morning. I just need to do 
        some prep work.

                FRANCESCA
        I don't mind waiting.

    He smiles and takes his equipment to the bridge. Francesca 
    slowly follows. She watches his body move. Catching herself, 
    she stops.

    Robert sets up a tripod in the small ravine beneath the 
    bridge, pointing a view finder up as he plans his shots. 
    Francesca walks through the bridge, noticing lovers names 
    scrawled on the inside: CATHY & BUDDY 4 EVER... ROSIE AND 
    HANK TILL THE END OF TIME. Through a crack in one of the 
    wooden planks, Francesca watches like a voyeur as Robert 
    works. She sees him take out a handkerchief and wipe the sweat 
    off his neck, then inside his shirt and around his chest. 
    Without knowing where Francesca is, Robert speaks aloud:

                ROBERT
        Is it always this hot?

    Francesca moves quickly away from the plank, like a Peeping 
    Tom who's been caught.

                FRANCESCA
        This time of year.

                ROBERT
        Would you do me a favor and go to the 
        truck? Inside that leather bag with 
        the pockets is a package of lens 
        cleaners. Would you grab me one?

    Francesca obliges, grateful for something to occupy her.

    Inside the truck, she scans for the leather bag. She sees it 
    next to a duffel bag. The bag' zipper is opened. She 
    glimpses inside as Robert's personal things -- clothes, socks, 
    underwear, shaving kit. Life magazines from July and August, 
    one depicting the death of Aldai Stevenson; the other a cover 
    photo of the Watts riots. She grabs the leather bag and 
    opens it.

    At the bridge, Francesca looks for Robert in the raving but 
    he is gone. She looks through the bridge to the other end 
    and sees only the tripod. No Robert. She walks through the 
    bridge and out the other end. She finds Robert bent over, 
    picking flowers.

                FRANCESCA
        Oh there you are.

                ROBERT
        Oh! You caught me.

    He rises with a bouquet of wildflowers for her.

                ROBERT
        Thanks for your help.

    Francesca smiles, not knowing how to take this.

                ROBERT
        Men sill give women flowers, don't 
        they? I mean, as a sign of 
        appreciation? I'm not that out of 
        date, am I?

                FRANCESCA
        No, not at all --
            (suddenly)
        except those are poisonous.

                ROBERT
        WHAT!

    He flings the flowers down. He wipes his hands furiously.

                FRANCESCA
        I'm sorry. I was kidding.

    Robert looks at her with a shocked smirk, secretly liking her 
    strange behavior.

                FRANCESCA
        I'm sorry. I don't know what -- I'm 
        sorry. Really. They're lovely.

    She begins picking up the flowers.

                ROBERT
            (smiling)
        Are you by nature a sadistic person?

                FRANCESCA
        No, I'm not.
            (trying not to laugh)
        I don't know why I said that. I've 
        been in a very... strange mood all 
        day. I've never done anything like 
        that before. It's... I'm just...
            (looking for excuse)
        Well, you know, the whole world is 
        just going nuts.

    Robert looks at her like she's nuts. Francesca tries to dig 
    herself out of her hole. Robert enjoys offering no help.

                FRANCESCA
        What with those riots in Los Angeles 
        and people burning draft cards and 
        ... Adlai Stevenson dying last month.

    She rises with the flowers. Robert gives her a friendly pat 
    on the arm.

                ROBERT
        Shouldn't let things get to you so 
        much.

    He continues with his work. Francesca expresses relief and 
    embarrassment behind his back.

    INT. TRUCK - LATER

    Driving back, Francesca sits with her feet up on the 
    dashboard. Robert drives while he fiddles with the radio. All 
    he can find are country stations.

                FRANCESCA
        Looking for something in particular? 
        There's not much of a selection.

                ROBERT
        I found this Chicago station before. 
        Wait a minute...
            (he tunes it in)
        Here it is.

    We hear a BLUES SINGER with a sax arrangement.

                FRANCESCA
        Oh, that's nice.

                ROBERT
        Want another cigarette?

                FRANCESCA
        Sure.

    Francesca's having a great time.

    EXT. JOHNSON HOUSE - DAY

    Robert's truck drives down the road and into the driveway.

                ROBERT
        Well, thank you for all your help, 
        Mrs. Johnson.

                FRANCESCA
        Francesca.

                ROBERT
        Francesca. Robert.

    Francesca nods, as if to say hello and goodbye in the same 
    moment. She gets out of the car, closes the door, then asks:

                FRANCESCA
        Would you like some iced tea?

    INT. KITCHEN - DAY

    Robert fiddles with the kitchen radio, tuning in to the 
    Chicago station. Francesca is making iced tea. Robert sits 
    back down at the kitchen table.

                FRANCESCA
        Lemon?

                ROBERT
        Sure.

    With her back to him, Robert never takes his eyes off her. 
    She turns and crosses to him, with the tea.

                ROBERT (cont'd)
        Thanks.

    Francesca smiles and sips her own. She watches him gulp down 
    the tea so fast, some of it dribbles down the side of his 
    face and neck. Francesca finds it sexy. He empties it.

                FRANCESCA
        Would you like another one?

    Robert nods and he pulls out his cigarettes.

                ROBERT
        Mind if I smoke?

                FRANCESCA
            (at the sink)
        Not at all.

    Robert lights up as he watches her fix another iced tea. He 
    watches her slip off one boot, then the other -- never missing 
    a beat of her preparation. He can't help eyeing her body. 
    When she returns, she also has the flowers he picked for her 
    arranged in a Casper the Friendly Ghost jelly glass. She 
    places them on the table and sits.

                ROBERT
        Sure you want to keep those in the 
        house?

                FRANCESCA
        I'm so sorry about that. It was 
        rude. I think I just got nervous 
        for some reason.

                ROBERT
        I thought it was funny.

    She likes that.

                FRANCESCA
        Where are you staying while you're 
        here?

                ROBERT
        A little place with cabins. The 
        something-Motor Inn. I haven't 
        checked in yet.

                FRANCESCA
        And how long are you here for?

                ROBERT
        As long as it takes, I might stay a 
        week. No more I don't think. Where's 
        your family?

                FRANCESCA
        My husband took the kids to the 
        Illinos State Fair. My daughter's 
        entering a prize steer.

                ROBERT
        Oh. How old?

                FRANCESCA
        About a year and a half.

                ROBERT
        No, your kids.

                FRANCESCA
        Oh. Michael's 17 and Carolyn's 16.

                ROBERT
        Must be nice having kids.

    Francesca looks at him and FANTASIZES SAYING:

    FANTASY:

                FRANCESCA
        Not any more. It's awful. They're 
        awful. I can't stand them.

    END OF FANTASY:

    But in reality, Francesca chooses instead to say:

                FRANCESCA (cont'd)
        They're not kids anymore. Things 
        change.

                ROBERT
        Everything does. One of the laws of 
        nature. People are always so afraid 
        of change. But if you look at it like 
        it's something you can count on 
        happening, it's actually a comfort. 
        Not many things you can count on for 
        sure.

                FRANCESCA
        I guess. Except I'm one of the people 
        it frightens.

                ROBERT
        I doubt that.

                FRANCESCA
        Why?

                ROBERT
        Italy to Iowa? I'd call that a change.

                FRANCESCA
            (explaining)
        Richard was in the army. I met him 
        while I was living in Naples. I 
        didn't know where Iowa was. I only 
        cared that it was America. And of 
        course, being with Richard.

                ROBERT
        What's he like?

    As Francesca thinks of an answer, she looks over to the 
    entranceway between the kitchen and the front hall and sees:

    FANTASY:

    Richard standing there in his underwear, reaching over his shoulder.

                RICHARD
        Franny, could you clean out my boil 
        again?

    END OF FANTASY:

    Francesca answers Robert, half of her still in fantasy --

                FRANCESCA
        He's very... clean.

                ROBERT
        Clean?

                FRANCESCA
            (catching herself)
        No. I mean yes, he's clean but he's 
        also other things. He's a very hard 
        worker. Very honest. Very caring. 
        Gentle. Good father.

                ROBERT
        And clean.

                FRANCESCA
        Yes. Very clean.

    They drink. Francesca thinks she sounds like an idiot.

                ROBERT
        So you must like Oiwa, I guess.

    Francesca looks at him. She wants to tell the truth, but 
    holds back.

                FRANCESCA
        It's... uh... uh...

    She stops. Robert smiles.

                ROBERT
        Go ahead. I won't tell anyone.

    Surprised, Francesca looks at him oddly -- as if he already 
    knows and is giving her permission.

                FRANCESCA
        It's...
            (tries again)
        I...
            (finally)
        I hate it!

    She covers her mouth, like a reflex -- worried someone heard. 
    Robert just smiles and nods.

    Francesca is so taken by his understanding and acceptance, 
    she lets the flood gates open, speaking faster than her mind 
    can keep up --

                FRANCESCA (cont'd)
            (without a pause)
        I hate it! I hate it! I HATE IT! I 
        hate the corn and the dust and the 
        town and the cows and that SMELL that 
        you love! I hate the people. 
        Everybody knows everybody's business, 
        I mean it's nice now and then, 
        they're always there to help out, but 
        that's just it, it's like they're 
        waiting for something awful to happen 
        to help out and when nothing awful is 
        happening, then they just sit around 
        and talk about what is happening 
        which is none of their business. I 
        want to kill them sometimes for how 
        cruel they can be --

    Camera begins slowly moving out to a wider angle...

                FRANCESCA (cont'd)
        -- everybody's talking about poor Mrs. 
        Delaney whose husband is having an 
        affair with that Redfield woman and 
        "isn't it a shame," and "isn't it 
        awful," and the truth is THEY'RE 
        LOVING IT! Poor woman can't even be 
        cheated on without the grocery man 
        knowing about it -- no one respects 
        anyone's privacy. You're not even 
        safe in your own home! They think 
        they can just walk right into your 
        house because they BAKED you 
        something. It's like they have a 
        secret password and YOU CAN'T KEEP 
        THEM OUT! I live in fear of that door 
        opening and having a peach cobbler 
        shoved at me...
            (CONTINUES MOS IF 
             NEEDED)

    Throughout this rapid fire monologue, camera has moved to a 
    wide angle as Robert just sits and listens, letting her get 
    it all off her chest. She continues as we:

                            DISSOLVE TO:

    INT. LIVING ROOM

    Francesca is lying on the couch as Robert places a cold cloth 
    on her head. Her "confession" took a lot out offer.

                ROBERT
        Feeling better?

                FRANCESCA
        Much.

                ROBERT
        Is the dizziness gone?

                FRANCESCA
        I think so.

    She sits up. She feels exposed. But also, relieved.

                ROBERT
        I better go. You sure you're all 
        right?
            (she nods)
        It's been a pleasure. Sincerely.

                FRANCESCA
        I feel so embarrassed.

                ROBERT
        Why? You uncorked a bottle. From what 
        I can tell, I got here just in time. 
        Any later and you'd have made the 
        front page, running down Main Street 
        naked, smoking Camels out of your 
        butt.

                FRANCESCA
            (laughs)
        But I... We don't even know each 
        other.

                ROBERT
            (sincerely)
        You have no reason to feel ashamed. 
        You haven't said anything you don't 
        have a right to. And if anybody tells 
        you different -- you just send them to 
        me.

    She smiles. He turns to exit.

                ROBERT (cont'd)
        Better get my stuff.

    Francesca surprises herself. She doesn't want him to go.

                FRANCESCA
        Would you like to stay for dinner?
            (he turns)
        There aren't many choices in town and
        ... anyway, you'd have to eat alone. 
        So would I.

                ROBERT
        That's very nice of you. I don't get 
        many dinner invitations on the job. 
        It would be a welcome change. Thanks.

                            CUT TO:

    INT. BEDROOM - LATER

    Francesca rushes in and starts to disrobe, getting ready to 
    shower and change for dinner. She glances out the window and 
    sees:

    EXT. JOHNSON HOUSE

    Robert is at the water pump. His shirt is off and he is 
    washing himself. (WE INTERCUT THE TWO.)

    Francesca finds herself staring, a bit open mouthed. He has 
    a muscular, firm body. She watches how the water cascades 
    over his body. How he seems so unashamed, so "in his skin," 
    moving with such strength and grace.

    Robert pauses and looks out over the open pasture. The cold 
    water feels good. Since the pump is the back of the house, 
    hidden from the road, no one can see him. He decides to take 
    off his pants and cool himself further.

    Francesca begins watching this in shock until she has to 
    literally pull herself away from the window with such a force 
    that she rams herself into a chest of drawers, knocking over 
    an array of perfume bottles and a mirror. She deftly catches 
    a falling bottle and freezes. Taking a breath, she pulls 
    herself together.

                FRANCESCA
        This is ridiculous. Stupid!

    She replaces the bottle and heads for the bathroom quite 
    composed, then, without warning, makes an immediate 180 
    degree turn and heads back to the window to sneak a peek.

    Seeing him, she gasps.

                FRANCESCA (cont'd)
        Oh my God.

    Watching him, she is possessed by some very frightening 
    feelings and runs from the window, into the bathroom, closing 
    the door behind her.

    EXT. JOHNSON HOUSE - EARLY EVENING

    Francesca is gathering some vegetables for dinner, from her 
    garden. Robert is at his truck, in his pants, changing into 
    a fresh shirt.

    INT. KITCHEN - LATER

    Francesca is cutting up vegetables. Robert enters with some 
    of his gear.

                ROBERT
        I'm just going to put some of this 
        film in your fridge. Heat isn't too 
        forgiving out there.

    He does. On the radio, TONY BENNETT sings "WRAP YOUR TROUBLES 
    IN DREAMS." Robert approaches Francesca.

                ROBERT (cont'd)
        Can I help?

                FRANCESCA
            (surprised)
        Help cook?

                ROBERT
        Sure. Men cook. We don't all eat 
        bananas with our feet, ya know.

                FRANCESCA
            (laughs)
        Okay.

    They stand side by side. Francesca hands him a stack of 
    carrots and a knife.

    MONTAGE:

    Tony Bennett's up-tempo tone plays over a series of images of 
    Francesca and Robert talk and prepare dinner.

    -- Four hands side by side, cutting and chopping. 
    Occasionally, a hand brushes against another as it reaches 
    for something.

    -- Robert's hand gently touching Francesca's waist as he 
    reaches around her for an onion.

    -- Robert lighting Francesca a cigarette.

    -- Robert brings in his cooker through the screen door. HE 
    MAKES SURE IT DOESN'T SLAM. FRANCESCA MAKES A NOTE OF THIS.

    -- Robert opens the cooler and removes two cold beers, tossing 
    one to Francesca.

    -- Francesca opening a new tablecloth and spreading it out on 
    the table.

    -- Francesca handing Robert plates from the shelf, their 
    fingers only barely touching.

    END OF MONTAGE

    INT. KITCHEN - EVENING

    Robert and Francesca are in the middle of dinner. But instead 
    of the usual silence that surrounds Johnson family eating, 
    Francesca is mesmerized by Robert as he manages to eat and 
    tell a story. The scene begins with a LAUGH FROM FRANCESCA.

                ROBERT
            (laughs)
        ... No, wait, it gets better.

    He stands up and acts it out for her.

                ROBERT (cont'd)
        You have to get the full picture 
        here. I have three cameras around my 
        neck, a tripod in one hand and my 
        pants down around my ankles. I 
        thought this was a private bush. I 
        look up and this gorilla, this female 
        gorilla, is staring at me with what 
        can best be described as the most 
        lascivious expression I've ever seen 
        on a female with so much body hair.
            (Francesca laughs)
        I freeze. 'Cause that's what they tell 
        you to do. In this position. She comes 
        towards me and... and she...
            (he stops awkwardly)

                FRANCESCA
        What?

                ROBERT
        She starts sniffing me.

                FRANCESCA
        Oh my God...
            (laughs)
        You're blushing.

                ROBERT
        It's still a very sensitive memory 
        for me.

                FRANCESCA
        Then what happened?

                ROBERT
        We got engaged.

                FRANCESCA
        Oh you!

    She throws a napkin at him.

                FRANCESCA (cont'd)
        None of this is true!

                ROBERT
        No, it is. Except for the engagement 
        part. She wouldn't have me, although 
        I still get a Valentine every year.

    Francesca is laughing so hard she can't breath. Robert loves 
    making her laugh.

                FRANCESCA
        You ought to write these stories 
        down.

                ROBERT
        Nah. I've tried. My writing's too 
        technical, I think. Problem of being 
        a journalist too long is you stop 
        giving yourself permission to invent. 
        I better just stick to making pictures.

                FRANCESCA
        "Making pictures." I like that. You 
        really love what you do, don't you?

                ROBERT
            (nods, smiles shyly)
        I'm kind of obsessed by it, actually.

                FRANCESCA
        Why, do you think?

                ROBERT
        I don't know if obsessions have 
        reasons. I think that's why they're 
        obsessions.

                FRANCESCA
        You sound like an artist.

                ROBERT
        No. I wouldn't say that. National 
        Geographic isn't exactly the hub of 
        artistic inspiration. They like their 
        wild life in focus and without any 
        personal comment. I don't mind 
        really. I'm not artist. I'd faced that 
        a long time ago. It's the course of 
        being well-adjusted. I'm too normal.

                FRANCESCA
            (supportively)
        I don't think you're normal.

    He looks at her in surprise. She catches herself again.

                FRANCESCA
        I didn't mean that the way it sounded.

                ROBERT
        Well, let's just call it a compliment 
        and move on.
            (changes subject)
        Did you love teaching?

                FRANCESCA (cont'd)
        Sometimes. When there was a particular 
        student who made a difference. I know 
        they're all supposed to, but it's not 
        true. You tend to single out one or 
        two you think you can contribute 
        something to.

                ROBERT
        And did you?

                FRANCESCA
        I'd like to think so. I know one of 
        them went on to Medical school.

                ROBERT
        Why did you stop?

                FRANCESCA
        My children. And Richard didn't like 
        my working.

                ROBERT
        Do you miss it?

                FRANCESCA
        I don't know. I've never thought 
        about it... what was the most 
        exciting place you've ever been to? 
        Unless you're tired of talking about 
        it.

                ROBERT
        You're asking a man if he's too tired 
        to talk about himself? You don't get 
        out much, do you?

    Francesca smiles, a little embarrassed.

                ROBERT
        I'm sorry. That was...

                FRANCESCA
            (overlapping)
        No. It's all right. I just meant, it 
        might be a little dull for you, 
        telling all this to some housewife 
        in the middle of nowhere.

                ROBERT
        This is your home. It's not nowhere. 
        And it's not dull.

    Francesca smiles again, this time relieved.

                ROBERT
        Let's see -- my favorite place...

    Francesca settles in to listen, never taking her eyes off of him.

                ROBERT (cont'd)
        Well, it's the obvious choice, but I 
        think I'd have to say Africa. It's 
        another world. Not just the people 
        and the cultures but the land, the 
        colors you see at dawns and dusks -- 
        and the life there. It charges every 
        molecule of air.

    Francesca is fascinated, being drawn into his imagery.

                ROBERT (cont'd)
        It's tangible -- the moment to moment 
        of life and death, the co-habitation 
        of man and beast, of beast and beast, 
        who'll survive, who won't -- and 
        there's no judgement about it. No 
        right or wrong or imposed morality. 
        It's just life. It's a voyeurs 
        paradise really because those animals 
        don't want anybody in their business. 
        You can watch but at a distance.
            (excited)
        I remember one time I was on a truck 
        headed for the Niger.

    Lights begin to dim as Francesca is so taken in by his story, 
    she begins to actually see what he is describing.

                ROBERT (cont'd)
        We were driving north. The truck was 
        old so I guess the sound of the motor 
        muffled this kind of rumbling in the 
        distance -- until finally, it was upon 
        us like, like a hundred thunder claps 
        all at once...

    CU on FRANCESCA as WE BLEND THE SOUNDS OF AFRICA and --

                            CUT TO:

    EXT. AFRICA - DAY

    Robert and a driver are in a truck driving north. Robert 
    turns to look out the window and sees:

    A HERD OF GIRAFFES AND GAZELLES AND WATERBUCKS AND ZEBRA are 
    running in the grasslands to the right of the truck. Robert 
    excitedly instructs the driver:

                ROBERT
        Get us closer!!

    The driver veers off towards the stampede as Robert opens his 
    door and makes his way to the flatbed part of the truck with 
    his camera. The truck takes its position within this 
    breathtaking force of wildlife, as giraffes, zebras and 
    gazelles surround it -- all going in the same direction.

    Robert stands in the truck, shooting as fast as he can. The 
    truck races to keep up with the animals. Robert is so pumped 
    he can hardly catch his breath. Suddenly, the force and 
    beauty of these creatures causes him to lower his camera. He 
    is unable to film it because it overwhelms him. He just 
    stands there in awe and lets out a primal scream. The animals 
    gradually veer off to where the truck can no longer follow. 
    Robert watches them disappear into the distance.

                            CUT BACK TO:

    INT. JOHNSON KITCHEN - NIGHT

    Francesca has seen all of this in her mind. Robert smiles at 
    her, sensing how in tune with the story she was.

                FRANCESCA
        My God. How I'd love to see that.

                ROBERT
        They have safaris for tourists now. 
        Maybe you can convince your husband.

    Francesca smiles. There is an awkward pause between them.

                ROBERT (cont'd)
        It's a beautiful night. Would you 
        like to go for a walk?

                FRANCESCA
        Well, it's kind of buggy out there.

                ROBERT
            (rises)
        Have no fear. This Shoshone Medicine 
        Woman taught me how to make bug 
        repellent tea out of tree root.

                FRANCESCA
        You drink bug repellent?

                ROBERT
        No, you rub it on you. I have some in 
        the truck. Don't go away.

    She shakes her head. He runs out the screen door, not letting 
    it slam. Francesca looks like a teenager with first date 
    excitement.

    EXT. PASTURE - NIGHT

    Francesca and Robert walk through the pasture. She sniffs her 
    arm.

                FRANCESCA
        Smells like dirt.

                ROBERT
        You get used to it.

                FRANCESCA
        When?

                ROBERT
            (laughs)
        You want to go back in?

                FRANCESCA
        No. I'm all right. It's working.

    Silence. They walk. It is a beautiful night.

                ROBERT
        You've got it all right here, you 
        know. It's just as beautiful as any 
        other place I've seen. God, it 
        knocks me out.

                FRANCESCA
        What?

                ROBERT
            (indicating the night)
        This "... Of what I call God and 
        fools can Nature." Who wrote that?

                FRANCESCA
        Umm, I don't know. I can look it up.

                ROBERT
        I'd appreciate it. I like knowing who 
        I'm stealing from. If you can't 
        create art I think the least you can 
        do is recognize it around you, don't 
        you think? There is...
            (genuinely affected)
        ... so much beauty.

    She watches him with great appreciation. He smiles at her. 
    Instead of looking away, their eyes remained locked for a 
    moment. There is clearly an attraction. They simultaneously 
    look away and continue walking.

    Francesca's heart is beating a mile a minute yet she can't 
    deny she is enjoying herself. Walking side by side in 
    silence, Francesca turns back occasionally to look at her 
    house as they get further away from it. Suddenly, the more 
    distant the house becomes, the more frightened she starts to 
    feel. Something inside her knows she's going too far with 
    this man -- too far from home. Although a part of her wants 
    it, she is surprised to find a larger part of her finds 
    too unknown. She stops.

                ROBERT (cont'd)
        What's wrong?

    Francesca looks confused for a moment, not knowing what she 
    wants. She can't move. She searches for a way out.

                FRANCESCA
        Would you like some coffee? Or maybe, 
        some brandy?

    Somehow Robert can sense her uneasiness. He obliges.

                ROBERT
        How about both?

    INT. KITCHEN - NIGHT

    Francesca moves about the kitchen preparing coffee -- dropping 
    the coffee pot basket, spilling the grounds. She acts tense. 
    Robert sits at the table opening the brandy bottle Francesca 
    almost opened the night before, aware of her mood.

    Francesca gets the coffee going then sets the table with cups 
    and saucers.

                ROBERT
        You sure you won't let me help you 
        with those dishes?

                FRANCESCA
            (coldly)
        No. I'll do them later.

                ROBERT
        Francesca?

                FRANCESCA
        What?

                ROBERT
        Are you all right?

                FRANCESCA
        Yes.

                ROBERT
        Francesca?

                FRANCESCA
        What?

                ROBERT
        We're not doing anything wrong, do 
        you.

    Francesca freezes. He has read her mind again.

                ROBERT (cont'd)
            (smiles)
        Nothing you can't tell your children 
        about.

    Once again, he relieves her of fear and anxiety. He hands her 
    a glass of brandy...

                            CUT TO:

    1995

    INT. KITCHEN - DAY

    Carolyn and Michael have come to the end of a notebook.

                MICHAEL
        He's getting her drunk. That's what 
        happened. Jesus, maybe he forced 
        himself. That's why she couldn't tell 
        us.

                CAROLYN
        Oh, he did not. He's such a nice guy.

                MICHAEL
        Nice? He's trying to sleep with 
        somebody's wife.

                CAROLYN
        I don't think so. Not yet anyway. And 
        besides, something like that doesn't 
        make you a bad person. He reminds me 
        of Steve in a way. Steve's weak, 
        immoral and a liar but he's still a 
        real nice guy. He just shouldn't be 
        married.
            (laughs)
        At least not to me. You getting 
        hungry? I'm hungry.

    Michael nods, then speaks with sincere compassion.

                MICHAEL
        I had no idea it's gotten that bad, 
        sis.

                CAROLYN
        Oh, don't feel sorry for me. Please. 
        No one's forcing me to stay.

                MICHAEL
        Then why do you?

                CAROLYN
        And do what? Live alone? Go back to 
        school? Find someone else? Start a 
        magazine for confused woman? ... What 
        if I can't do any of those things?

    Michael can't answer her. Carolyn looks through the cabinets.

                CAROLYN (cont'd)
        There's not much here to make.

                MICHAEL
        Let's go into town and get a bite. 
        We'll take the books with us.

    Carolyn nods. Michael looks for the next notebook, checking 
    the dates.

    INT. CAR - EARLY EVENING

    Michael drives as Carolyn opens the next notebook and reads:

                FRANCESCA (V.O.)
        "We sat sipping brandy. I thought if 
        anybody walked through the door now 
        there'd be no explaining it. But I 
        didn't care. And I loved that I 
        didn't care. I almost wanted it to 
        happen. Then there'd be no turning 
        back. I wanted to be like him. I 
        lived this life of his. We talked 
        about his wife and I was jealous -- 
        not of her -- but of his leaving. His 
        fearlessness. He knew what he wanted. 
        How did he do that.

                            CUT BACK TO:

    1965

    INT. LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

    Francesca sips her brandy. Robert sits in the easy chair.

                FRANCESCA
        Do you mind if I... ask you why you 
        got divorced?

                ROBERT
        Not at all. I wasn't around much... 
        So why did I get married? Well, I 
        thought it was a good idea at the 
        time. Have a home base. Roots. You 
        can get lost moving around so much.

                FRANCESCA
        So what happened?

                ROBERT
        I never got lost. For some reason, 
        I'm more at home everywhere than at 
        one place. So I decided I'll think of 
        myself as some kind of world citizen. 
        I belong everywhere and nowhere. I'm 
        kin to everyone, and no one in 
        particular. See, once you get into 
        the habit of not needing anyone, it's 
        kind of hard to break.

                FRANCESCA
        You must get lonely at times.

                ROBERT
        Never touch the stuff. I've got 
        friends all over the world. Good 
        friends I can see when I want, if I 
        want.

                FRANCESCA
        Woman friends, too?

                ROBERT
        I'm a loner, I'm not a monk.

    Francesca averts her eyes, before continuing her investigation.

                FRANCESCA
        You really don't need anyone?

                ROBERT
        No, I think I need everyone! I love 
        people. I want to meet them all! 
        I just think there are too many out 
        there saying "This is mine." or 
        "She's mine." Too many lines have 
        been drawn. World's breaking apart 
        because of man's weakness for some 
        testosterone conquests over territory 
        and power and people. He wants 
        control over what deep down he knows 
        he has no control over whatsoever and 
        it scares him silly.

                FRANCESCA
        Why doesn't it scare you?

                ROBERT
        I embrace Mystery. I don't know 
        what's coming. And I don't mind.

                FRANCESCA
        Do you ever regret it? The divorce,
        I mean.

                ROBERT
        No.

                FRANCESCA
        Do you ever regret not having a 
        family?

                ROBERT
        Not everybody's supposed to have a 
        family.

                FRANCESCA
        But -- how can you just live for what 
        you want? What about other people?

                ROBERT
        I told you, I love other people.

                FRANCESCA
        But no one in particular.

                ROBERT
        No. But I love them just the same.

                FRANCESCA
        But it's not the same.

                ROBERT
        That's not what you're saying. I know 
        it's not the same. What you're saying 
        is, it's not as good. Or it's not as 
        normal or proper.

                FRANCESCA
        No, I'm just saying --

                ROBERT
            (interrupting)
        I'm a little sick of this American 
        Family Ethic everyone seems to be 
        hypnotized by in this country. I 
        guess you think I'm just some poor 
        displaced soul doomed to roam the 
        earth without a self-cleaning oven 
        and home movie.

                FRANCESCA
            (irritated)
        Just because someone chooses to 
        settle down and have a family doesn't 
        necessarily mean they're hypnotized. 
        Just because I've never seen a 
        gazelle stampede doesn't mean I'm 
        asleep in the world.

                ROBERT
        Do you want to leave your husband?

    Francesca is completely stunned and thrown off guard.

                FRANCESCA
        No. Of course not.
            (rising, upset)

    Beat. Awkward silence. Suddenly there is tension between them.

                ROBERT
        My mistake. I apologize.

                FRANCESCA
        What made you ask such a question?

                ROBERT
        I thought that's what we were 
        doing -- asking questions.

                FRANCESCA
            (defensive)
        I thought we were just having a 
        conversation. You seem to be reading 
        all this meaning into it. Meanings I 
        must be too simple to, uh... 
        interpret or something.

                ROBERT
        I already apologized.

    Silence. Robert remains seated. Francesca remains at the sink.

                ROBERT (cont'd)
        It's getting late.
            (rises)
        Thank you for dinner.

    Pause. Francesca feels badly.

                FRANCESCA
        Listen, I'm sorry I --

                ROBERT
        No, no. Forgive me. I made a mistake. 
        It was an inappropriate thing to ask.

                FRANCESCA
            (shrugs it off, then:)
        ... I feel like something's been 
        spoiled now.

    Robert smiles and crosses to her. He takes her hand into both 
    his hands.

                ROBERT
        It's been a perfect evening. Just the 
        way it is. Thank you.

    Francesca smiles. The possibility of a kiss hangs in the air 
    between them until Robert turns to get his film out of the 
    fridge. As he exits through the screen door, he stops.

                ROBERT (cont'd)
        One thing though -- don't kid yourself, 
        Francesca. You're anything but a 
        simple woman.

    He smiles and exits, catching the screen door before it 
    slams.

    Francesca doesn't move for a moment, then crosses to the door 
    as if to run after him when she is stopped by the PHONE 
    RINGING. She picks up.

                FRANCESCA
        Hello?

                RICHARD (on phone)
        Franny?

                FRANCESCA
        Richard, hi.

                RICHARD (on phone)
        How are you?

                FRANCESCA
        Fine. Everyone settled in okay?

                RICHARD (on phone)
        Just fine. We're all in one room. 
        Michael's on the couch and 
        Carolyn's...
            (continues...)

    She hears Robert's truck door open and close. She hears the 
    motor being turned on. She half-listens to Richard.

                FRANCESCA
        Uh-uh... good... Hmmm...

    She hears the truck driving away as Richard continues:

                RICHARD (on phone)
        We got our position in the Fair. Not 
        bad although I would have liked to be 
        third which is not too early and not 
        too late. But I told Carolyn not to 
        worry...
            (continues, if needed)

                            CUT TO:

    INT. FRANCESCA BEDROOM - NIGHT

    Francesca exits her bathroom, in her bathrobe, shutting the 
    light. She is brushing her hair and thinking of Robert. She 
    sits on the edge of the bed. She sees her reflection in a 
    mirror on the closet door.

    She stands and takes her robe off. She steps forward to look 
    at her body -- running her hands gently around her curves, her 
    neck, down the side of her thighs, her face, her breasts.

    She shuts off the lights and gets into bed under the covers. 
    She closes her eyes and tentatively begins to explore her 
    body. It is awkward for her but we can see her trying to let 
    herself go. Until she opens her eyes in frustration. It's no 
    good. She can't do it. She feels ashamed. The shame turns 
    into anger.

    INT. LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

    Francesca sits at a writing table with two large books opened 
    before her containing literary quotations. She searches for 
    the line Robert mentioned in the pasture.

    A note sits before her as well. On it reads: "Robert. Again, 
    I'm sorry for last night. Would you like supper again tonight 
    after you're finished. I'd like it very much if I were one of 
    those good friends you have in the world. Anytime is fine -- 
    Francesca... P.S. By the way, "Of what I call God and Fools 
    call Nature" was..." She writes the name BROWNING.

                            CUT TO:

    EXT. ROSEMAN BRIDGE - NIGHT

    Francesca is tacking a note for Robert to the bridge. She 
    considers taking it down a moment later, but decides not to. 
    She gets back into her truck and drives away.

    WIDE ANGLE OF BRIDGES - DAWN

                            DISSOLVE TO:

    The view of the bridge goes in and out of focus until we 
    realize we are seeing it through Robert's camera lens.

    Once the focus it sets, Robert notices something is tacked 
    onto the bridge. He crosses to it hurriedly -- time for the 
    perfect shot is running out -- pulls it down, thumbtack and 
    all, and shoves it into his pocket, unread. He returns to 
    his camera to take his shots.

                            CUT TO:

    INT. JOHNSON BEDROOM - MORNING

    Francesca is making her bed when she hears a truck driving 
    down the road. She looks out the window to see:

    Robert's truck. However, it passes right by her house.

    Francesca's spirit sinks. She feels silly, ashamed and 
    rejected. She sits on the bed.

    FANTASY:

    Inside the truck, Robert drives by the house and chuckles to 
    himself at the foolishness of some boring, frustrated 
    housewife. Francesca's note has been crumbled and stuffed 
    into a dirty ashtray.

    END OF FANTASY:

    Francesca enters her bathroom, slamming the door behind her.

    INT. KITCHEN - LATER THAT MORNING

    Francesca sits at the kitchen table in her bathrobe with a 
    cup of coffee -- a comic portrait of shame and self-pity. Her 
    hair is a mess, she hasn't showered or dressed and she stares 
    into space while listening to the bluesy Chicago radio 
    station.

    The sink is full of dirty dishes she refuses to clean. Beside 
    it is an ashtray of butts from the night before. She carries 
    it over to the table and begins fingering for a butt to 
    smoke in desperation. She lights up and stares into space.

    FANTASY:

    Robert is in Africa talking to TWO ZULU TRIBE MEMBERS. THE 
    DIALOGUE IS SUBTITLED IN SWAHILI:

                ROBERT
            (laughs)
        ... and then she tacks this note on 
        the bridge asking me to have dinner 
        with her again!

    One Zulu turns to the tower and remarks.

                ZULU
        How pathetic.

    END OF FANTASY:

    Francesca put out her cigarette and suddenly gets an idea. 
    She goes to the phone, reads a number off of a slip of paper 
    and dials.

                FRANCESCA (on phone)
        Hello? Is Richard Johnson staying 
        there?... No, I don't want to leave 
        a message. Maybe you can help me -- 
        I'm his wife and I live in Winterset 
        Iowa -- I wanted to surprise them by 
        driving up tonight. What would be the 
        fastest route, the Interstate?... Huh-
        huh... Hold it, let me get a pen.

                            CUT TO:

    EXT. PAY PHONE, GAS STATION - LATE MORNING

    Francesca's note is opened in Robert's hand. Her phone number 
    is written after the "P.S." He stands in the pay phone 
    getting a busy signal from Francesca's line. He hangs up.

                            CUT TO:

    INT. JOHNSON HOUSE - DAY

    Francesca, dressed and packed, prepares to leave. She checks 
    her purse to make sure she's got everything. She grabs her 
    bag and exits.

    A few beats later, the phone rings. But she doesn't return. 
    It rings again. We hear Francesca's truck door open and 
    close. It rings again. We think Francesca is on her way, 
    until:

    We suddenly hear her burst into the house and see her leap 
    for the phone.

                FRANCESCA
            Hello?

    INTERCUT --

    INT. SLOW BEND SALOON/RESTAURANT - DAY

    Robert is at another pay phone.

                ROBERT
            Francesca?

                FRANCESCA
            (out of breath)
        Yes! Hi.

                ROBERT
        Am I interrupting anything?

                FRANCESCA
        No. I was just... No.

                ROBERT
        I'm sorry I didn't call sooner, but I 
        just read your note. I stuffed it 
        into my pocket. The light was fading 
        and I had to get my shot.

                FRANCESCA
            (relieved)
        The light was fading. Huh-huh.

                ROBERT
        I would love to come for dinner.

                FRANCESCA
            (smiles)
        Wonderful. Uh...

                ROBERT
        Listen, I have to shoot Cedar Bridge 
        until a little after sunset. I want 
        a few night shots. Would you like to 
        come with me? If you're interested...

                FRANCESCA
        Oh, sure. Great.

                ROBERT
        I'll pick you up.

                FRANCESCA
        No. I'll drive myself. I have a few 
        errands. I'll meet you there.

                ROBERT
        Okay. See you later.

                FRANCESCA
        Yeah. See you later.

    Francesca is thrilled. Her mind races with a list of things 
    she must do before tonight. She opens a cabinet, removes a 
    coffee can and empties it of her house money. She quickly 
    counts it, then shoves it into her purse.

    EXT. ON THE ROAD - DAY

    Francesca drives past a sign marking Des Moines as the next 
    town.

    INT. SLOW BEND SALOON/ RESTAURANT - DAY

    The second of two eating establishments in Winterset. A 
    lunch time crowd fills the place. Robert is seated at the 
    counter. He can sense their eyes on him, wondering who this 
    stranger is and what's he doing here. He knows the whispered 
    conversation is about him.

    A MIDDLE-AGED COUPLE talk at table.

                WIFE
        Thelma told me he checked into the 
        Motor Inn and the bill goes to 
        National Geographic Magazine.

                HUSBAND
        National Geographic? What the hell's 
        he doing here? We ain't got no naked 
        pygmies to take pictures of.

                WIFE
        He's taking pictures of the bridges.

                HUSBAND
        Ain't no pygmies there either.

    Robert wants to finish his lunch as quickly as possible. At 
    that moment, someone enters the restaurant and all the 
    conversation stops. He overhears one waitress turn to the 
    other and whisper --

                WAITRESS
        God. It's Lucy Redfield.

    Both the Waitress and Robert (though more subtly) turn to see:

    THE REDFIELD WOMAN. But instead of being the harlot we might 
    think, she's actually a rather plain, demure looking woman -- 
    not nearly as fancy or pretty as Mrs. Delaney herself.

    As she crosses the counter, Robert immediately picks up on 
    the vibes in the room. He notices all the patrons stare then 
    turns away to whisper. The waitress behind the counter ignores 
    her. A customer eating at the counter places a bag on an 
    empty stool beside her, so the Redfield woman can't sit down 
    near her.

    Robert and the Redfield woman's eyes meet. She is clearly 
    uncomfortable. She turns, about to leave, when Robert clears 
    his cameras off of a stool next to him and offers:

                ROBERT
        Got room right here if you like.

    She is surprised at his courtesy. Others are astounded. Some 
    disgusted. She accepts his offer and sits beside him.

                REDFIELD WOMAN
        Thank you.

                ROBERT
        Hot out there today.

    She nods and smiles. The waitress tosses a menu at her and 
    slams down a glass of water, then moves on down the counter. 
    The Redfield woman tries to act casual, glancing through the 
    menu. Robert subtly scans the room as all eyes are on them, 
    then turn away.

    Robert returns his glace back to the Redfield woman who is 
    now only pretending to read the menu. She is so embarrassed. 
    She wants to leave but can't move.

                WAITRESS
        Well, are you ordering anything!?

    Her harsh tone startles the Redfield woman as well as Robert. 
    Gathering her dignity, she responds.

                REDFIELD WOMAN
        No. Thank you. I've changed my mind.

    She politely nods to Robert, gathers her things and exits. 
    Robert looks to the waitress, as a SECOND WAITRESS enters.

                SECOND WAITRESS
        I'd've thrown that water right in her 
        face.

                WAITRESS
        Poor Mrs. Delaney.

    The waitress walks O.S. leaving the second waitress facing 
    Robert, who looks at her curiously. The second waitress looks 
    back as if to say, "What business is it of yours?" and exits.

                            CUT TO:

    EXT. DES MOINES - DAY

    A metropolis compared to Winterset.

    Francesca exits a liquor store with a bottle of wine in a 
    paper bag. She also carries a bag of groceries as she heads 
    down the street to her parked truck. She passes a DRESS SHOP 
    and stops.

                            CUT BACK TO:

    EXT. WINTERSET - DAY

    Robert enters a general store. He buys a six pack of beer 
    for his cooler and approaches the counter for the Cashier.

                CASHIER
        That all?

    Robert nods. He decides to have some fun and test the waters a 
    little bit.

                ROBERT
        Isn't it awful about poor Mrs. 
        Delaney?

    With this, the damn bursts -

                CASHIER
        Tragic is more like it. The pain that 
        woman has been subjected to by that 
        no-good husband. I never liked him. 
        Known him for years. People say he's 
        quiet. Well, it's the quiet ones that 
        can sneak up behind you and stab you 
        in the back. I heard yesterday, that 
        she confronted him. Gave him the 
        ultimatum and you know what he did?--
            (CONTINUES AS NEEDED)

    Robert stands astounded, listening to this diatribe of gossip.

                            CUT BACK TO:

    INT. DES MOINES DRESS SHOP - DAY

    Francesca sits in her slip, alone in a dressing room, with 
    several dresses strewn about. The panic of indecision has set 
    in. She looks at herself in the mirror and begins to doubt 
    that seeing Robert is a good idea. Or perhaps she's imagining 
    something that isn't there. And what about Richard?

    MEMORY:

    A few years back. Francesca is dressed up for some formal 
    affairs. She heads down the stairs. Richard is waiting in the 
    hall, in a suit and tie. He looks at her admiringly.

                FRANCESCA
        Ready. You have the keys?

    But Richard doesn't answer. He's just staring at her. 
    Francesca stops. Richard looks at her like a little boy.

                FRANCESCA (cont'd)
        What's the matter?

    Richard is obviously impressed by how she looks, but he can't 
    say anything. He just smiles shyly and shakes his head to say 
    nothing is wrong and opens the door for her.

    END OF MEMORY:

    Francesca feels guilty when a SALESWOMAN enters with a pretty 
    summer dress.

                SALESWOMAN
        How about this one?

    Francesca examines it. She likes it. But the guilt...

                FRANCESCA
        I don't know. I haven't bought a 
        dress for myself in so long.
            (saleswoman nods)
        I mean, I'm just buying a dress. It's 
        not a special occasion or anything. 
        I'm just shopping. Just shopping for 
        a new dress, that's all.

                SALESWOMAN
            (completely 
             understands)
        That might work. And if he's still 
        mad, just tell him you could have 
        done better but you married him out 
        of pity. That's always works for me.

                            CUT TO:

    INT. JOHNSON HOUSE - LATE AFTERNOON

    Francesca enters with her new dress, groceries and wine as 
    the PHONE RINGS. She puts everything down to answer.

                FRANCESCA
        Hello?

    Intercut ROBERT at a pay phone.

                ROBERT
        It's Robert.

                FRANCESCA
        Oh, hi. Look, I'm running a little 
        late, but I'll still...

                ROBERT
            (w/difficulty)
        Listen, don't take this the wrong way 
        but, I'm wondering if this is such a 
        good idea.

    Francesca's heart sinks.

                FRANCESCA
        Oh.

                ROBERT
        I uh... I had lunch in town today. 
        Happened to cross paths with "that 
        Redfield woman." I apologize. I 
        thought you were half-joking about 
        that.

                FRANCESCA
        Oh. I guess you got the whole story.

                ROBERT
        The cashier at the general store was 
        very dangerous.

                FRANCESCA
        I think he's running for town crier 
        next year.

                ROBERT
        I now know more about their affair 
        than I remember about my marriage.
            (seriously)
        Francesca, the last thing I want to 
        do is put you in any kind of 
        situation that would... even though 
        we know it's just -- I mean, it's 
        nothing like that, but if anybody saw 
        us or...
            (can't finish)

                FRANCESCA
            (disappointed)
        I understand.
            (touched)
        That's very kind of you.

    Silence. Both want to meet. Both experience the idea of not 
    seeing each other even again in this brief moment. Someone 
    has to say something to save it -- but who will it be?

                FRANCESCA (cont'd)
        Robert?

                ROBERT
        Yeah?

                FRANCESCA
        I want you to come.

    Robert is relieved.

                FRANCESCA (cont'd)
        I'll meet you at the bridge just like 
        we planned all right. Don't worry about 
        the rest of it... I'm not.

                ROBERT
        All right. See you there.

    Francesca smiles and hangs up. In that moment, Francesca 
    realizes consciously what she is doing and what she wants.

                            CUT TO:

    EXT. CEDAR BRIDGE - DUSK

    Robert is already there, working. He checks his watch, 
    anxious for Francesca to arrive, when he hears a truck 
    driving up. He looks to see Francesca stop and get out. By 
    their expressions we can tell how glad they are to see each 
    other.

                FRANCESCA
        Sorry I'm late. Richard called.

                ROBERT
        Oh, how is he?

                FRANCESCA
        Fine. They're all having a good time. 
        How many more shots do you have?

                ROBERT
        Couple. Want to help?

    She nods. He extends his hand. She pauses, then takes it. He 
    leads her to the bridge. Walking away from camera, they say:

                ROBERT (cont'd)
        I should stop off at the motel to 
        clean up before dinner.

                FRANCESCA
        Well, I have plumbing at my house.

                            CUT TO:

    INT. JOHNSON BEDROOM - EARLY MORNING

    Francesca enters. Robert is in the bathroom, in the shower, 
    with the bathroom door slightly ajar. His clothes are laid on 
    the bed with his bag beside them. A fresh shirt is folded. 
    Francesca takes his dirty shirt and decides to clean it. As 
    she exits, her eye can't help roaming toward the bathroom 
    door. For a moment, she pauses to listen to the sound of the 
    water as it hits his body.

    INT. KITCHEN - LATER

    Francesca is busy preparing dinner. Robert enters, cleaned 
    and dressed.

                ROBERT
        Can I help?

                FRANCESCA
        Actually, no. I've got everything 
        under control. I'd like to clean up 
        myself a bit. I'm going to take a 
        bath. Dinner'll be ready in about a 
        half hour.

                ROBERT
        How about if I set the table?

                FRANCESCA
        Sure.

                ROBERT
        Would you like a beer for your bath?

                FRANCESCA
            (surprised)
        Yes, that'd be nice.

    Robert gets her one.

    INT. BATHROOM - LATER

    Francesca lounges in a tub with a beer poured into a wine 
    glass. She finds it very elegant. She takes a deep breath, 
    thinking "What's going to happen tonight?"

    INT. KITCHEN - LATER

    Robert is at the radio when Francesca enters in her new 
    dress. She looks beautiful. And it's all over Robert's face.

                FRANCESCA
        What's wrong?

    Unlike her husband, Robert has an answer.

                ROBERT
        Absolutely nothing. You're just sort 
        of a knockout in that dress.

    She smiles and crosses to the stove.

                FRANCESCA
        Table looks beautiful.

    He can't take his eyes off of her. On the radio we hear DIHAH 
    WASHINGTON begin to sing "IF IT'S THE LAST THING I DO" -- a 
    beautiful, blusey lovesong. Francesca pulls out a pan of hot 
    rolls as THE PHONE RINGS. Francesca moves toward it with a 
    roll, which she tosses to Robert. He burns his fingers and he 
    smiles at her joke. The song plays throughout.

                FRANCESCA (cont'd)
        Hello? Hi, Madge?

    Francesca and Robert do not take their eyes off of each other 
    throughout the call. Robert takes a bit of the roll.

                FRANCESCA (cont'd)
        Huh-huh. Nothing, just making 
        myself some dinner... No what?... 
        Oh... I heard about him. Yeah, I hear 
        he's some kind of photographer.
            (Robert smiles)
        No, I didn't... Huh-huh... Hippie? 
        I don't know, is that what hippies 
        look like?...

    Robert steps closer to her, purposely reaching across her 
    body for a napkin.

                FRANCESCA (cont'd)
        Oh he is, huh? Well, don't tell Floyd, 
        he'll be out with a shotgun...

    She notices a crumb on Robert's mouth and wipes it off. 
    Robert takes her hand and holds it, lowering it to his side.

                FRANCESCA (cont'd)
        Well, listen, I have a pot boiling. 
        I've got to go... No, they don't get 
        home until Friday morning... Well, 
        maybe I'll give you a call. Okay. Bye.

    She hangs up. The two are now almost face to face. Robert 
    raises her hand up and slips his free one around her waist. 
    They begin to dance to the song. The kitchen lights have not 
    been turned on since the sun went down. The sky, a dark 
    orange and magenta, illuminates the room through the window. 
    They never take their eyes off of each other. Suddenly, 
    Robert stops.

                ROBERT
        You're shaking. Are you cold?

    Francesca shakes her head. They dance a bit more, but 
    Francesca is shaking which makes it difficult. They both 
    stop. Robert places his huge hands on either side of her 
    face, gently stroking her hair away from her cheek. He 
    whispers.

                ROBERT (cont'd)
        If you want me to stop, tell me how.

    He brushes his cheek and face softly against hers. Francesca 
    rubs hers against him. She can barely breathe.

                ROBERT (cont'd)
        Francesca, I won't be sorry. I won't 
        apologize for this.

                FRANCESCA
        Nobody's asking you to.

    They kiss. Hands gently explore. Their bodies touch. Their 
    lips never spend more than seconds away from each other. 
    Robert gently slide his hands down her breasts and torso, 
    exploring every inch of her. Francesca grips his massive 
    back, sliding up to his neck and hair. Robert lifts her leg 
    and presses it against his hip, kissing her neck and 
    shoulders. Francesca starts to lose herself, clutching his 
    head at her breast then pulling him up to her mouth once 
    again.

                            CUT TO:

    1995

    INT. SLOW BEND CAFE - PRESENT DAY - EVENING

    The same saloon/restaurant of twenty-five years ago has been 
    turned into a modern cafe yet the original charm is still 
    there.

    Carolyn and Michael sit in a booth, with half-eaten dinners 
    before them. Carolyn has been reading the book to Michael 
    when she looks across from her to find -- Michael looking like 
    a little boy who is fighting not to cry.

                CAROLYN
        What's the matter?

    Michael shakes his head. He can't or won't explain. He's too 
    upset. His eyes tear up. Carolyn feels badly for him.

                MICHAEL
        I'm going to get some air.

    He exits. Carolyn smiles sympathetically. Somehow this last 
    passage of their mothers doesn't affect her in the same way. 
    She returns to the book but first asks a passing waitress, 
    with great urgency.

                CAROLYN
        Can I smoke here?

    The waitress nods. Carolyn needs a cigarette for the rest of 
    this. She opens her bag to get her pack. Inside her bag she 
    notices a BUSINESS CARD. She picks it up to read IRA NEWMAN, 
    attorney. Divorce. Pre-Nuptials. Marital Litigation. She 
    pauses for a moment. Then, tossing the card back inside, she 
    lights her cigarette and takes a drag. We follow the curls of 
    smoke up as we:

                            DISSOLVE TO:

    1965

    INT. JOHNSON LIVING ROOM

    Camera moves down curls of smoke, to reveal:

    Robert and Francesca in each others arms, under a blanket on 
    the living room floor on a bed of couch pillows, smoking a 
    cigarette after lovemaking. Francesca seems miles away -- 
    feelings of regret and guilt creeping in.

                ROBERT
        Are you comfortable?
            (she nods)
        Do you... want to move to the 
        bedroom?

                FRANCESCA
        No. I can't. Not yet.

    She can't bring herself to go into her husband bed.

                ROBERT
        You want to eat something?

                FRANCESCA
        Are you hungry?

                ROBERT
        No.

    Silence. Robert shifts his body to face her.

                ROBERT (cont'd)
        Honey. Are you all right?

    She looks at him and starts to cry, shaking her head. The room 
    is filled with memories of her family. She nestles in his arms. 
    He folds her. She closes her eyes.

                FRANCESCA
        Take me somewhere.

                ROBERT
        What?

                FRANCESCA
        Right now. Tell me someplace you've 
        been -- someplace on the other side 
        of the world. Anywhere but here.

                ROBERT
            (thinks, then:)
        How about Italy?

                FRANCESCA
        Yes.

                ROBERT
        How about Bari?

                FRANCESCA
        Yes. Tell me about the day you got 
        off the train.

                ROBERT
        Have you ever been to that station?

                FRANCESCA
        Yes.

                ROBERT
        You know that little place nearby 
        with the striped awning that sells 
        sandwiches and little pizzas...

    The two transport themselves together to another place, where 
    there is no familiar memories surrounding them to interfere.

                            CUT TO:

    EXT. JOHNSON PORCH - NIGHT

    The two sit in bathrobes on the porch looking out over the 
    pasture. They have plates of dinner on their laps. They eat 
    voraciously.

                ROBERT
        Do you have anymore of the stew?

    Chewing, Francesca nods and leans over, picks a pot off the 
    porch and ladles some more onto his plate. Too much falls out 
    and it spills onto the robe.

                FRANCESCA
        Oh, I'm sorry.

                ROBERT
        It's okay. It's not that hot anymore. 
        Thanks God.

    Francesca hands him a dish rag. Robert wipes off the food 
    revealing his bare leg. She reaches over and touches it. He 
    looks at her and smiles. She leans over and kisses him 
    passionately until, suddenly, she pulls away. She looks 
    upset. She rises and moves away to look out to the pasture. 
    Robert can sense what is wrong.

                ROBERT (cont'd)
        You think too much, you know that?

                FRANCESCA
        I just feel like I'm getting a little
        ... out of control that's all. It's 
        kind of frightening.

                ROBERT
        Why?

                FRANCESCA
        Why!? Because, I'm having thoughts I 
        hardly know what to do with. I... 
        can't seem to... stop them.

                ROBERT
        Nobody's asking you to.

                FRANCESCA
            (excited)
        And arraccinos and zeppolis. Yes! I 
        know it!

                ROBERT
        I sat outside and had coffee.

                FRANCESCA
        Where? Near the doorway or the near the 
        front of the church?

                ROBERT
        Near the church.

                FRANCESCA
            (closes her eyes)
        I sat there once. It was hot. Like 
        today. I'd been shopping. I had all 
        these bags around my feet I kept 
        having to move every time the waiter 
        came by...

                            DISSOLVE TO:

    EXT. SANDWICH CAFE - BARI - DAY

    Francesca sits at the outdoor cafe in Bari with shopping bags 
    around her feet. She re-arranges them as the waiter passes 
    by, mumbling something vulgar under his breath. When she 
    looks up -- Robert is standing there. She smiles. He offers 
    her hand. She takes it and rises. They leave the cafe.

    MONTAGE:

    Francesca and Robert together against the breathtaking 
    backdrop of the Italian countryside.

    EXT. BARI COUNTRYSIDE - DAY

    On a lakefront, Robert and Francesca make love.

    WE INTERCUT WITH:

    INT. JOHNSON LIVING ROOM - EVENING

    FRANCESCA AND ROBERT MAKING LOVE ONCE AGAIN.

    Francesca looks at him and understands he is giving her full 
    permission to explore whatever she wants. Hesitantly, she 
    crosses to him and takes his plate away. She stands before 
    him, leaning him back into his chair. She slowly, 
    tentatively, opens her robe. She strokes his hair, then 
    caresses his head and gently guides it between her legs.

    1994

    INT. SLOW BEND RESTAURANT - NIGHT

    C.U. on an ashtray filled with cigarette butts as Carolyn 
    anxiously lights another. These last entries have over 
    stimulated her. She calls to the waitress abruptly.

                CAROLYN
        Can I get another cup of coffee, 
        please?

    When she looks up, she sees Michael has returned. He sits.

                CAROLYN (cont'd)
        Where did you go?

                MICHAEL
        Bar across the street.

                CAROLYN
        Have you called Betty?
            (she shakes his head)
        Maybe you should.

                MICHAEL
        I found out who Lucy Delaney is.
            (she looks interested)
        Remember the Delaneys from Hillcrest 
        Road?

                CAROLYN
        Yeah. But I thought she died.

                MICHAEL
        He remarried. Apparently they were 
        having an affair for years. 
        Apparently the first Mrs. Delaney was 
        a bit of a stiff.

                CAROLYN
        You mean -- she didn't like sex?

                MICHAEL
            (nods, then simply:)
        I bet mom could've helped her.

                CAROLYN
        Boy. All these years I've resented 
        not living the wild life in some 
        place like Paris and all the time I 
        could've moved back to Iowa... Are 
        you drunk?

                MICHAEL
        Not yet. You want to go?

                CAROLYN
        I think I better. Between the book 
        and the coffee, I'm this close to 
        raping the busboy.

    EXT. IOWA LAKEFRONT - NIGHT

    Michael and Carolyn have parked in a secluded area near a 
    lake. Some place where the moonlight and the scenery create 
    a beautiful backdrop. They sit on the ground, leaving the 
    headlights and the radio on. They are getting drunk sharing 
    a bottle of whiskey.

                MICHAEL
        I used to love this place. I used to 
        take Kathy Reynolds down here.

                CAROLYN
        You never dated Kathy Reynolds!

                MICHAEL
        Not officially. Her and Steve Kendall 
        were pinned at birth. But I was crazy 
        about her. And for about three months, 
        I managed to catch her during her 
        "exploring" stage.

                CAROLYN
        I never knew that.

                MICHAEL
            (sadly)
        Nobody did.

                CAROLYN
        Was this during Betty?

                MICHAEL
        Everything was during Betty. God we 
        were so young. Why did we think we 
        had to do it all so fast? I've never 
        cheated on Betty. Not once we were 
        married, I mean.

                CAROLYN
        Did we want to?

                MICHAEL
        Only about a thousand times. What do 
        I do now? "What's good enough for mom 
        is good enough for me?"

                CAROLYN
            (pissed off)
        What gets me is I'm 46 years old. 
        I've been in this crummy fucking 
        marriage -

                MICHAEL
        Carolyn!

                CAROLYN
            (ignores him)
        -- for over twenty years because 
        that's what I was taught -- you stick 
        with it! Normal people don't get 
        divorced. I can't remember the last 
        time my husband made love to me so 
        intensely that he transported me to 
        Europe, for Christ's sake -- quite 
        frankly, I don't think he ever did! 
        And now I find out in between bake 
        sales, my mother was Anais Nin!

                MICHAEL
        What about me! I feel really weird. 
        Like she cheated on me, not dad. 
        Isn't that sick? I don't mean I 
        wanted to sleep with her or anything 
        but -- ya know -- being the only son. 
        You're sort of made to feel like 
        you're the prince of the kingdom, ya 
        know? And in the back of your mind, 
        you kind of think your mother doesn't 
        need sex anymore because she has you.

                CAROLYN
        You're right -- that is sick.

    They drink.

                MICHAEL
        If she was so unhappy, why didn't she 
        leave?

    They look to each other without an answer. Then simultaneously 
    they reach for the notebooks.

                MICHAEL (cont'd)
        Can I read it now? I think I'm ready.

    Carolyn offers him the book then lays back in a relaxed 
    position in order to listen. Michael flips to an ear marked 
    page.

                MICHAEL (cont'd)
        What paragraph were you up to?

                CAROLYN
            (casually)
        She just made him perform oral sex on 
        the porch.

    Michael freezes. He loses his nerve. Carolyn helps.

                CAROLYN (cont'd)
        Go ahead, Michael. You've got to do 
        this. Just think, "Today I am a man."

    Michael nods and takes another swig. He reads:

                MICHAEL
        "I'd never had a man make love to me 
        that way before."
            (stops)
        Oh Jesus.
            (continues)
        "I couldn't believe the feelings 
        bursting inside of me. As if I had 
        opened some forbidden Pandora's box."

    Camera begins to move to wide angle as Francesca takes over.

                FRANCESCA
        "It seems, thinking about it now, 
        that in those few days I lived a 
        completely different life as a 
        completely different woman. What was 
        recognizable as me before Robert was 
        gone. We decided to spend Wednesday 
        away from Winterset. Away from 
        Madison County. Away from pastures 
        and bridges and people too familiar 
        and reminders too painful. We let the 
        day take us where it wanted..."

    1965

    INT. DES MOINES MOVIE THEATER - DAY

    VIVIEN LEIGH is walking down a ships stairs in the 1965 film 
    "SHIP OF FOOLS." She is alone on screen. She walks, slightly 
    intoxicated. Suddenly, Charleston music plays out of nowhere 
    and she begins to dance, by herself, without any self-
    consciousness.

    In the movie theatre, Robert sits with his arm around 
    Francesca like teenage lovers. Her head is nestled in his 
    chest as she eats from a bag of popcorn. Robert barely keeps 
    his eyes on the screen, staring at Francesca and stroking her 
    hair.

    EXT. DOWNTOWN DES MOINES STREET - DAY

    Francesca and Robert walk hand-in-hand, window shopping and 
    taking in the sights. For Francesca, it is as if she is 
    seeing everything for the first time.

    INT. BOOK STORE - DAY

    Robert introduces Francesca to the photography section, 
    showing her a book of one of his favorite photographers, 
    Walker Evans. Francesca admires one photograph in particular 
    -- a mother and child during the depression.

                FRANCESCA
        On that one is beautiful. Look at 
        their expressions. As if the camera 
        weren't on them at all. As if they 
        had no strength left to hide what 
        they were feeling.

                ROBERT
        He's a genius. They're not 
        photographs -- they're stories, entire 
        histories captured in moments.

                FRANCESCA
        I bet you could do a book.

                ROBERT
        No. I couldn't.

                FRANCESCA
        Why do you say that?

                ROBERT
        Because I already tried once.

    Francesca is surprised. She senses his disappointment.

                ROBERT (cont'd)
        It's no big deal. I know how to work 
        a camera, how to make it "make 
        pictures" -- but I don't know how to 
        make it make art.
            (laughs)
        At least that's what six publishers 
        said. To take what we see of this 
        world and give it back with a bit of 
        ourselves in it. It's a mystery to me.

                FRANCESCA
            (smiles, supportive)
        But you don't mind.

                ROBERT
            (smiles)
        No, I don't mind.

    She brushes his hair away from his face affectionately. As he 
    looks at another book, she notices their reflection in a 
    mirror. She puts her arm through his. They look like a couple 
    to her -- two people who belong together.

    INT. FANCY RESTAURANT - DAY

    Francesca and Robert have an elegant lunch.

                FRANCESCA
        What were you like when you were 
        younger?

                ROBERT
            (smiles)
        Trouble. Why?

                FRANCESCA
            (laughs)
        I just wondered. Why were you trouble?

                ROBERT
        I had a temper.

                FRANCESCA
        What were your parents like?

    Pause. Robert doesn't reply. She looks at him curiously.

                ROBERT
        I can't do this, honey.

                FRANCESCA
        What?

                ROBERT
        Try and live a lifetime before 
        Friday. Cram it all in.
            (shakes his head)

    This is the first time either has mentioned their time clock. 
    Francesca nods, understandingly.

    Across the room, Francesca notices A MOTHER having dessert 
    with her FIVE-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER, a pretty little girl in a 
    fancy yellow dress. The mother rises and exits to the ladies 
    room while the little girl continues eating a large sundae.

    Francesca smiles. As the girl licks a spoon of fudge, she 
    sees Francesca looking at her and smiles back. Robert watches 
    the silent exchange as he eats. Francesca makes a funny face 
    at her. The little girl giggles as she spoons more ice-cream. 
    Unfortunately, she spoons too much and the ice-cream falls on 
    her pretty dress. She tries to take it off her, but she slips 
    through her fingers and stains her even more. She looks at 
    Francesca as if she's about to cry. Francesca smiles.

                FRANCESCA
        Excuse me a minute.

    Robert watches her cross to the little girl and kneel beside 
    her. He sees her consoling the little girl while taking a 
    napkin and dabbing it in the water glass.

    She helps the girl carefully wipe away the mess, all the 
    while calming her. The mother re-enters the scene and shakes 
    her head at her daughter. The daughter is afraid of being 
    reproached but the mother is smiling. She and Francesca begin 
    talking. She thanks Francesca. Robert sees the two mothers 
    exchanging a moment of common experience and brief 
    friendship. The mother and daughter take their leave as 
    Francesca says goodbye and returns to the table. Robert looks 
    at her lovingly. Francesca returns to her meal, but suddenly 
    she is no longer hungry. Robert senses something is upsetting 
    her.

                ROBERT
        You're somewhere else, where?

                FRANCESCA
        Just that it's been a perfect day and 
        that I'd like to skip my fancy 
        dessert and go home after this.

                ROBERT
        Uh-huh. And?

                FRANCESCA
            (beat)
        You're right, you know. We don't have 
        much time.

    Uncomfortable silence hangs between them. A waiter passes by.

                ROBERT
        Check, please.

    OS, as the MOTHER YELLS:

                MOTHER
        REBECCA! REBECCA!

    Both Robert and Francesca look to the voice.

    EXT. RESTAURANT - DAY

    The mother stands on the street frantically calling for her 
    daughter.

                MOTHER
        REBECCA!

    The Maitre'd, Francesca and Robert exit the restaurant.

                MOTHER
        Oh my God...!

                FRANCESCA
        What happened?

                MOTHER
        I was paying the check. She ran 
        outside. I told her to wait for me 
        right here! Oh God, where is she? 
        Rebecca!

    The sidewalk is filled with people. Francesca looks to 
    Robert. He recognizes the concern in her expression. Going 
    home will have to wait.

                ROBERT
        I'll check down here. Someone call 
        the police.

    The Maitre'd goes back inside. Francesca comforts the mother.

                FRANCESCA
        Think for a second. Is there 
        someplace she said she wanted to go?

                MOTHER
        I don't remember!

    EXT. STREET

    Robert searches through the street, poking in and out of 
    storefronts, looking across the street.

    EXT. RESTAURANT

    Francesca and the mother search in the opposite direction.

    EXT. STREET

    Through the crowd of people, Robert looks across the four 
    lane Main Street to a LARGE CITY PARK. He crosses to it.

    INT. RESTAURANT - AN HOUR LATER

    Francesca sits with the mother as TWO POLICEMEN take down a 
    description. The mother is crying. A waiter brings over some 
    water for her. The Maitre'd stands by.

                MOTHER
        She was right outside. I turned my 
        head for a second.

                POLICEMAN
        When was this?

                FRANCESCA
        About an hour ago.

                MOTHER
        They're not going to find her!

                FRANCESCA
        Yes, they are.

    At that moment, the mother looks up and cries.

                MOTHER
        REBECCA!

    She jumps out of her seat as all turn to see:

    Robert holding the little girl in his arms, entering the 
    restaurant. He carefully hands her over to the mother. The 
    two wrap their arms around each other. Francesca looks to 
    Robert, loving him even more now.

                FRANCESCA
        Where was she?

                ROBERT
        Across the street. She went into the 
        park and got turned around and didn't 
        know her way out.

                MOTHER
        You crossed the street by yourself?!

                REBECCA
            (crying)
        It was a green light.

    The mother is too relieved to be mad. Robert sits down.

                MOTHER
        Thank you so much!

                ROBERT
            (frazzled)
        I need a drink.

    Everyone laughs out of relief. Francesca wraps her arm around 
    his shoulder and kisses his forehead. He kisses her back.

    INT. TRUCK - DUSK

    Robert drives as Francesca sits inside his arm. Neither speaks.

    INT. JOHNSON HOUSE - DUSK

    Francesca calmly leads Robert up to her bedroom.

    INT. JOHNSON BEDROOM

    Naked, Francesca guides Robert into bed beneath the covers. 
    They begin to make love -- softly, lovingly -- like a couple 
    that are beyond the erotic, discovery stage; a couple that 
    have been together and in love for years.

    LATER -

    Francesca puts her arm around him as he nestles his head to 
    her breast. Francesca strokes his hair as Robert closes his 
    eyes.

                ROBERT
        I don't know why I'm so tired all of 
        a sudden.

                FRANCESCA
        Long day. Go to sleep.

                ROBERT
        Am I too heavy for you?

                FRANCESCA
        No.

    Robert settles into her. But Francesca is wide awake. 
    Something is on her mind -- "Tomorrow? What happens after 
    tomorrow?"

    INT. KITCHEN - MORNING

    Francesca is serving Robert breakfast, then sits down beside 
    him. Silence. We can sense some tension between them -- this 
    being their last day together.

    Francesca seems ingeniously friendly. Robert is suspicious.

                FRANCESCA
        Sleep all right?

                ROBERT
        Yes, thanks.

                FRANCESCA
        Good. More coffee?
            (he nods, she pours)
        Robert, I hope you don't mind my 
        asking, but I feel like I should.

                ROBERT
        What?

                FRANCESCA
        Well, these... women friends of 
        yours... all over the world. How 
        does it work? Do you see some of them 
        again? Do you forget others? Do you 
        write them now and then? How do you 
        manage it?

    Her facetiousness startles Robert.

                ROBERT
        I... What do you want?

                FRANCESCA
        Well, I just want to know the 
        procedure. I don't want to upset your 
        routine. Do you want any jam?

                ROBERT
            (insulted)
        Routine! I don't have a routine. And 
        if you think that's what this is -

                FRANCESCA
        Well, what is this?

                ROBERT
            (upset)
        Well, why is that up to me? You're 
        the one who's married. You told me 
        you have no intention of leaving your 
        husband.

                FRANCESCA
        To do what? Be with someone who needs 
        everyone and no one in particular? I 
        mean, what would be the point. Would 
        you pass the butter?

                ROBERT
        I was honest with you. I told you who 
        I was.

                FRANCESCA
        Yes. Absolutely. You have this habit 
        of not needing and that it's hard to 
        break. I understand.
            (beat)
        Of course, in that case, why sleep -- 
        you don't need rest or for that 
        matter eat, you don't need food.

    She takes his plate away from him, rises and throws it into 
    the sink.

                ROBERT
        What are you doing?

                FRANCESCA
            (sarcastic)
        Gee, I don't know. I guess I'm not 
        cut out to be a World Citizen who 
        experiences everything and nothing 
        at the same time.

                ROBERT
        How do you know what I experience?

                FRANCESCA
            (angry)
        I know you! What can this possibly 
        mean to anyone who doesn't "need" 
        meaning -
            (mocking)
        "Who goes with the Mystery" -- who 
        pretends he isn't scared to death.

                ROBERT
        Stop it!

                FRANCESCA
        You have no idea what you've done to 
        me, do you? And after you leave, I'm 
        going to have to wonder for the rest 
        of my life what happened here. If 
        anything happened at all! And I'll 
        have to wonder if you find yourself 
        in some... housewife's kitchen in 
        Romania if you'll sit there and tell 
        her about your world of good friends 
        and secretly include me in that group.

                ROBERT
        What do you want me to say?

                FRANCESCA
            (nonchantly)
        I don't want you to say anything. I 
        don't need you to say anything.

    Robert rises, knocking his chair aside.

                ROBERT
        STOP IT!

                FRANCESCA
        Fine. More eggs or should we just 
        fuck on the linoleum one last time?

                ROBERT
            (grabs her)
        I told you! I won't apologize for who 
        I am.

                FRANCESCA
        No one's asking you to!

                ROBERT
        I won't be made to feel like I've 
        done something wrong.

                FRANCESCA
            (angry)
        You won't be made to feel! Period. 
        You've carved out this little part 
        for yourself in the world where you 
        get to be a voyeur, a hermit and a 
        lover whenever you feel like it and 
        the rest of us are just supposed to 
        feel so incredibly grateful for the 
        brief time you've touched our lives! 
        Well, go to hell! It isn't human not 
        to feel lonely -- it isn't human not 
        to afraid! You're a hypocrite and 
        you're a phony!

                ROBERT
            (cries out)
        I DON'T WANT TO NEED YOU!

                FRANCESCA
        WHY?

                ROBERT
        BECAUSE I CAN'T HAVE YOU!

                FRANCESCA
        WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH IT?

    He throws a cup at the wall. It breaks apart. Covering his 
    face, Robert turns away from her as he holds onto the sink. 
    Francesca reaches for him but he pulls away, embarrassed.

                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.

                            CUT TO:

    EXT. WINTERSET - MAIN STREET - DAY

    Richard and Francesca drive up to the general store to buy 
    groceries. Francesca heads for the store as Richard crosses 
    the street.

                FRANCESCA
        Want anything special for dinner?

                RICHARD
        Hmm. How about that brown sugar meat 
        loaf you make?

                FRANCESCA
            (smiles)
        Okay.

    She enters the store.

    INT. GENERAL STORE - DAY

    Francesca makes small talk with the grocery lady as she buys 
    what she needs.

    EXT. MAIN STREET - DAY

    Francesca places a bag of groceries on the front seat of the 
    truck, then gets in herself to wait for Richard. She takes a 
    deep breath and removes a handkerchief from her bag to wipe 
    the sweat from her face. She freezes -

    Through the windshield, she sees ROBERT standing beside his 
    truck across the street, staring at her. Her heart stops. 
    For a moment, she isn't even sure he's real.

    The town moves about its business around them. But neither 
    notice or care. Whatever safety or forgetfulness she felt is 
    gone. Her feelings burst through. She sits there helpless 
    before him -- willing to go or stay depending on what he did.

    He begins walking towards her. She prepares herself. Her life 
    will change -- it has to. There's not turning back.

    But the closer Robert gets, the clearer he can see that she 
    is crying. And he stops.

    Without any words, he realizes what taking her with him would 
    mean. With just a glance, he sacrifices her. With their eyes 
    locked in the middle of Main Street -- in front of the whole 
    town -- they smile and say goodbye.

    Robert returns to his truck. He drives off down Main Street, 
    taking the first left.

    Moments later, Richard throws the feed bag into the back of 
    his truck and gets in. Francesca is wiping her eyes.

    He doesn't notice. He drives off in the same direction as 
    Robert.

                FRANCESCA (V.O.)
        For a moment, I didn't know where I 
        was. And for a split second, the 
        thought crossed my mind that he 
        really didn't want me -- that it was 
        easy to walk away.

    As they pass the corner where Robert made his left turn, 
    Francesca turns to look and sees:

    ROBERT'S TRUCK IS PARKED just off the corner. As if he had to 
    drive away to get out of sight, but couldn't bring himself to 
    drive any further.

    The sight of him hiding there breaks Francesca's heart, she 
    turns away from her husband to hide the tears.

    EXT. JOHNSON HOUSE - DAY

    WE REPLAY THE OPENING SCENE FROM THE MOVIE:

    Carolyn is in the yard picking vegetables. Her parents drive 
    up in their truck. She steps out with her bag of groceries 
    and walks briskly into the house. Richard follows more slowly 
    with his bag of feed, stopping at the gate to pick up the 
    button from Francesca's red dress.

    INT. KITCHEN

    Francesca enters and places her groceries on the counter. She 
    tries to compose herself. She sees the radio before her. She 
    turns it on. The Dinah Washington song "I'LL CLOSE MY EYES" 
    evokes every feeling of love and loss within her. She begins 
    to cry.

    She hears Richard enter the house. She stands out of sight, 
    holding her hand to her mouth to muffle her crying. She hears:

                MICHAEL (O.S.)
        Dad! You bought the wrong feed!

                RICHARD
        What!?

    She hears Richard exit the house.

    EXT. LUCY REDFIELD'S HOUSE - NIGHT

    A hand knocks on a door. Lucy Redfield opens it to find 
    Francesca standing there with a cake.

                FRANCESCA
        Hi. I'm Francesca Johnson. I just 
        feel awful I haven't come to visit 
        sooner. I hope I'm not interrupting 
        anything. Is it too late?

    Lucy is shocked and moved at the same time.

                LUCY
        No. Not at all.

                FRANCESCA
        I was wondering if... maybe you'd 
        like some company.
            (almost manic)
        I baked a cake!

    Lucy looks at the cake. She's a little dazed by all this.

                LUCY
        Uh... sure. Please. Come in. I'll 
        make coffee.

    Francesca enters. Lucy closes the door.

                            CUT TO:

    EXT. IOWA LAKEFRONT - DAWN

    Michael continues reading beside Carolyn as the sun rises.

                MICHAEL
        "We became inseparable, Lucy and I. 
        The funny thing is, I didn't tell her 
        about Robert until years later. But, 
        for some reason, being with her 
        somehow made me feel it was safe to 
        think about him. To continue loving 
        him. The town loved talking about the 
        two of us but we didn't care. And 
        neither did your father. Which I 
        thought was a lovely thing. I 
        received Robert's letter and my 
        photograph soon after. I always 
        wondered if your father found them. 
        I was never quite sure..."

    INT. KITCHEN - EVENING

    At dinner, Richard remembers the button he found.

                RICHARD
        Oh, Franny, is this yours?

    Francesca sees the button. She speaks her original lines MOS 
    as HER NARRATION is hard:

                FRANCESCA (V.O.)
        I almost told him. In that moment I 
        felt as if I couldn't hold it back. 
        If he really loved me maybe he'd 
        understand.

    She returns to her meal. The family eats in silence.

                FRANCESCA (cont'd; V.O.)
        But love won't obey our expectations. 
        Its mystery is pure and absolute. 
        What Robert and I had, could not 
        continue if we were together. What 
        Richard and I shared would vanish if 
        we were apart. But how I wanted to 
        share this. How would our lives have 
        changed if I had? Could anyone else 
        have seen the beauty of it?

    INT. JOHNSON KITCHEN - NIGHT

    Francesca moves about the kitchen with a frantic pace as she 
    puts the finishing touches on a cake. Placing the frosting 
    bowl in the sink, she hears someone upstairs exiting their 
    bedroom. She quickly gathers the cake and her bag and exits 
    through the screen door.

    EXT. JOHNSON HOUSE - NIGHT

    Fighting tears, she walks to the truck from around the house. 
    She gets in and starts it. She vaguely hears her daughter 
    from the front door.

                CAROLYN
        Mom?

    But she doesn't acknowledge it and drives away.

    EXT. MOTOR INN - NIGHT

    Her truck approaches and then speeds past the Inn where 
    Robert is staying. We can see his truck in the parking lot.

    1979

    INT. JOHNSON BEDROOM - NIGHT

    And older Francesca cares for a sickly Richard. He lies in bed 
    beside an array of medicines and tonics. She wipes his 
    forehead with a cool cloth as he takes his pills.

                FRANCESCA
        Better?

    He nods. She smiles. She shuts off the light and lays beside 
    him.

                RICHARD
        Franny?

                FRANCESCA
        Hmm?

                RICHARD
        I just want to say... I know you had 
        your own dreams. I'm sorry I couldn't 
        give them to you. I love you so much.

    Francesca turns to him. She is so touched, tears fill her 
    eyes. She nestles close to him, wrapping her arms around him.

    1982

    EXT. DES MOINES

    Francesca eats at the same restaurant she shared with Robert.

                FRANCESCA (V.O.)
        After your father died, I tried to 
        get in touch with Robert but found 
        out he had left the National 
        Geographic soon after the Madison 
        County. No one seemed to know where 
        he was. My only connections to him 
        were the places we'd been to that one 
        day. And so each week, I'd re-visit 
        them.

    EXT. JOHNSON HOUSE - DAY

    Francesca greets a UPS man with an envelope and a package.

                FRANCESCA (V.O.)
        And then one day, I received the 
        letter from his attorney, with a 
        package.

    INT. JOHNSON LIVING ROOM

    Francesca reads the letter informing her of Robert's death. 
    She then unwraps the package to reveal a MEDALLION with her 
    name inscribed and A PHOTOGRAPHY BOOK; a published collection 
    of black and white photos by Robert Kincaid entitled "Four 
    Days." Beautiful, dramatic black and white representations of 
    love and passion, loneliness and pain, and union. On the 
    front page there reads an inscription "FOR F."

                ROBERT (V.O.)
        "There is a pleasure in the pathless 
        woods... There is a rapture on the 
        lonely shore... There is society 
        where none intrudes... By the deep 
        sea and music in its roar... I love 
        not man the less, but Nature more... 
        From these our interviews, in which 
        I steal... From all I may be, or 
        have been before... To mingle with the 
        Universe and feel... What I can 
        ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal."

    The quote is Byron's. She smiles with pride as she cries.

                            CUT TO:

    EXT. IOWA LAKEFRONT - EARLY MORNING

    Michael sits with his arm around Carolyn as they look out 
    over the lake. The notebooks are closed, but Francesca's 
    narrations continue over the next few scenes.

                FRANCESCA (V.O.)
        There has not been a day since that 
        I have not thought of him. When he 
        said we were no longer two people, he 
        was right.

    INT. JOHNSON BEDROOM

    Carolyn, looking through her mom's closet, finds the summer 
    dress she bought in Des Moines to wear for Robert.

                FRANCESCA (V.O.)
        We were bound together as tightly as 
        two people can be. If it hadn't been 
        for him, I don't think I would have 
        lasted on the farm all these years. 
        Remember that dress of mine you 
        wanted, Carolyn -- the one you said I 
        never wore. Well, I know I was silly. 
        But to me, it was as if you were 
        asking to wear my wedding dress to go 
        to the movies.

    Carolyn smiles as she holds the dress before her.

    INT. MOTEL - DAY

    A tired Michael finds his way through the motel to his room.

                FRANCESCA (V.O.)
        After reading all this, I hope you 
        can now understand my burial request. 
        It was not the ravings of some mad 
        old lady. I gave my life to my 
        family. I wish to give Robert what is 
        left of me.

    INT. MOTEL ROOM

    Michael enters to find his two children watching TV and an 
    angry Betty folding clothes.

                CHILDREN
        Hey, Dad!

    He looks at them lovingly, then at Betty who angrily motions 
    for him to follow her into the bedroom.

    She slams the door behind him and talks in a irate whisper.

                BETTY
        You have been out all night long! Do 
        I have a right to ask where you've 
        been or is this a family secret?

    Michael just looks at her. He gently takes her hand.

                MICHAEL
        No. No more secrets.

    He kisses her hand. Betty is floored.

                MICHAEL (cont'd)
        Do I make you happy, Betty?
            (she is stunned)
        Because I want to. I want to more 
        than anything.

    He gently kisses her cheek then embraces her. Betty -- for the 
    first time in her life -- is utterly speechless.

    INT. JOHNSON BEDROOM

    Wearing her mother's dress, Carolyn sits on the bed holding 
    the phone, waiting for Steve to pick up. In her other hand, 
    she holds the divorce lawyers card.

                CAROLYN
            (on the phone)
        Hi, Steve? It's me. Good. You?... 
        Listen, we have to talk... Well, 
        how about you?... Uh, no -- I've 
        decided I'm going to stay for a 
        while... I don't know how long... 
        No, I won't be coming back... 
        I'm not angry, Steve. I'm not angry 
        at all.
            (smiles)

                            CUT TO:

    EXT. ROSEMAN BRIDGE - DAY

    Michael and his family stand beside Carolyn and a Priest.

                FRANCESCA (V.O.)
        "I gave Lucy his photography book. If 
        you're interested, take a look. If my 
        words still leave something unclear, 
        perhaps his pictures can illuminate. 
        After all, that's what an artist does 
        best... "

    Michael receives the urn from the priest. He and Carolyn walk 
    away from the group towards the bridge. They stop. Carolyn 
    removes the lip. Michael sets his mother's ashes free.

                FRANCESCA (V.O.)
        "I love you both with all my heart. 
        Do what you have to, to be happy in 
        this life. There is so much beauty."


    THE END

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