A/N: Hi there! I'm so, so excited to be writing some things about 'Carol' as I adored both the movie and the book.
Although all these scenes can in theory be read in isolation, themes and headcanons are developed throughout. All the scenes have a location and a month and a time of month to tie them together. They're in no particular chronological order, and I'll add to them when inspiration strikes. EDIT: They start to run in chronological order from chapter 15 onwards, incorporating two fragmented plotlines about Therese and her work and Carol and her Rindy, and how the two converge, or separate.
A note on the timeline: I've placed the storyline of the book in 1950-1 (unlike the movie's 1952-3). Also, I couldn't decide whether to write Therese as a photographer or a set designer, so she's a cocktail mix of the two. Since I'm now on my way to wrapping up the world of this fic, I'm not really taking prompts anymore, but reviews always make my day. Hope you enjoy, and thank you for reading! Please let me know what you think.
Table of Contents:
1. In Colorado Springs (Early February) – A drive into the mountains
2. On Madison Avenue (Late March) – The new apartment
3. To Virginia (Late November) – Thanksgiving at Carol's sister's
4. On Broadway (Early December) – Audrey Hepburn in 'Gigi'
5. On Madison Avenue (Early April) – Carol's birthday
6. On Madison Avenue (Late December) – Christmas Eve
7. In Paris (December into January) – New Year's Eve
8. In Paris (December into January) II – New Year's Morn
9. On Madison Avenue (Mid-May) – A cat named Holiday
10. In Birdland (Late February) – Therese's birthday
11. On Madison Avenue – The new apartment, one year on
12. In Central Park (Late April) – Rindy's birthday
13. To New Jersey (Early June) – Abby's steak house
14. To Arizona (Early July) – Independence Day
15. At Rockefeller Center (Mid-September) – A visit from Mrs. French
16. On Madison Avenue (Late December) II – A Christmas party
17. On Madison Avenue (Mid-February) – Valentine's Day
18. At Macy's (Mid-May) – A trip to the store
19. On Madison Avenue (Late August) – A day in the darkroom
20. In New York (Early September) – A farewell party
21. In London (Mid-October) – A new city
Oh, a cherubim
Thou wast that did preserve me.
– William Shakespeare, The Tempest
In Colorado Springs (Early February)
In Colorado Springs, the roads were quiet where the mountains began. Carol had been teaching Therese to drive at the foot of the mountains, and when Therese began to feel tired, Carol would take the wheel and drive them along the quiet roads up and away. They would climb further and further away, away from anyone and anything else. This was when Therese felt happiest, climbing the mountains with Carol. The car seemed to listen to Carol better than it did to Therese, and it bounded along, higher and higher, happier for being in Carol's hands. Who could blame it, Therese thought.
It was on one of these days, high up in the mountains, that they had planned to park the car and hike a little way into Pike National Forest. They had brought lunch with them – ham and bread and fruit and coffee – and would eat it first. Carol had stopped the car by the entrance to a trail, and Therese looked out at the cliffs and the peaks, red and white. Carol had left the engine on, and it buzzed through Therese as if the earth itself was humming. She heard the rustle of paper as Carol took out the map.
When Therese looked over, Carol was not looking at the map but out the window to her left, just as Therese had been looking out a moment before. Carol was looking past the green of the forest, to the red cliffs, and further along to the white peaks, Therese knew, because her head was tilted back, only slightly. Her blond curls rested against the collar of her coat, and Therese could just see the back of her neck. The long muscle along the side of her neck stood out, keeping her head perfectly tilted and perfectly still.
Therese was struck by Carol's stillness. Carol was looking at the mountains, and Therese was looking at her, and, like the mountains, Carol was perfectly still. The mountains were tilted up along the earth and in their reflections in the windows, and Carol's head was tilted with them. Therese wished she could take a photograph of Carol then, but found that she could not move, could not breathe. Only her eyes darted from the relief of the muscle in Carol's neck to the ridge in the mountains, from the red corner of Carol's lips to the red cliff, from Carol's hair, pale blond in this mountain light, to the snow that dressed the peaks of the mountains.
Carol seemed to become one with the peaks beyond her, and Therese seemed to become one with Carol. But in the same instant that Therese thought that thought, Carol began to recede from her, as though the land that had exhaled her was very hastily drawing her back in. And Therese began to breathe all at once and very quickly. She had not noticed that she had begun to lean, lean imperceptibly, towards Carol, as if trying to tilt with Carol and the earth, to catch her even as she was slipping away.
In the instant that Therese leaned, Carol turned her head and kissed Therese on the lips. Therese's breath was gone. She could not tell who had caught whom, and it bothered her, because it had happened so naturally. As naturally as the mountains and trees and creeks were shaped, through shifts and groans in the earth's rumbling engine. As naturally as countries or boulders shift and tumble. There was the faint taste of coffee.
Therese was suddenly frightened and pulled back. Carol's hand was on her own, and she had no idea how it had gotten there.
'Don't worry,' Carol said calmly. 'There's no one here but you and me.' And the mountains, Therese thought.
Therese looked at Carol again, but Carol was now looking at the map and holding a sandwich. 'Shall we walk along here?' she asked without looking up.
Carol's freckled fingers smoothed the map. Her red nail traced the trail that began where they had stopped. She still had not turned off the car's engine. Therese thought of them walking all the way through the green forest, climbing the red cliffs, reaching the white-capped mountains, crossing the white peaks, and disappearing beyond them into a world where they knew no one and nothing except each other.
'Yes,' she said. I'd walk to the ends of the earth with you, she meant.