Caroline & The 40 Love Letters

By: Jana~

~~Disclaimer~~

(Link doesn't work? See below.)

*****~*****

--Was it intentional? Caroline didn't know, but intentional or not, she couldn't help herself.

He'd brought over a box of his stuff, art supplies mostly, asking if she could store it while they fumigated his building. Of course she said yes, and asked him to stay with her on the couch till it was safe to inhabit his apartment again. He reluctantly agreed… he was always reluctant when it came to accepting help from Caroline.

He didn't seem as reluctant when it came to his box of interesting finds, that was one of the reasons why she wondered if he'd meant for her to find them…

~*~

"Oooo, Richard, what's all this neat stuff?" Caroline had asked as she rummaged through the box…

"Caroline, please…" Richard complained… "I asked you to store my stuff, not invade my privacy."

"Sorry, just curious…" she pouted a bit, her best weapon when it came to him…

"Fine. Look at my stuff, but I doubt you will find anything of interest…" He stood and headed for the door… "I have more stuff to grab. I'll be back in a bit."

"Ok." Caroline waved absently as she poked through his belongings.

~*~

--It took almost no time at all to find the stack of letters. They were neatly tied together with string, all addressed to her. She curiously untied the string and took the envelope from the top of the pile and opened it, retrieving the letter from inside… and she began to read…

* * *

'Caroline,

I don't know why I'm doing this, I know I will never have the courage to mail it, but I felt compelled to write to you. It's only been 2 weeks since I arrived here in Paris, and already I miss you. How pathetic am I? Writing you a letter professing my love for you on the eve of your wedding. Ridiculous. I don't know what made me do it, or what draws me to you in the first place really, I just know I am drawn to you. I had to leave, I had to get away from you… before I did something stupid. More stupid than kissing you? Probably… that's what frightened me. I had to distance myself from you… for my own sanity. Seeing you with Del would've killed me slowly… I prefer a more quick form of death. If I didn't question what lies after life, I probably would have ended this pain long ago. Did I make a colossal mistake fleeing to France like I did? Well, if it is a mistake, I'm stuck here now. Much like I'm stuck in life.

Richard'

* * *

--Caroline stared at the letter with tears in her eyes, a moment later folding it and putting it back in the envelope. Then she stared at the stack of letters. These were obviously very private thoughts… almost like a diary. Still, she couldn't help but be curious. What would the other letters say?

She picked up the stack after placing the one she'd already read on top, then began to count them…

"Forty." She muttered to herself. She turned the top one, the one she'd read over and placed it face down, starting a new stack, then picked up the next letter from the pile…

* * *

'Caroline,

Why am I writing you again? I don't even know. Maybe it's cause I miss the way you used to meddle in my life, sensing when I was upset about something and pestering me until I finally told you my problems. I always acted annoyed, but deep down I was pleased that you cared so much about me. Well, at least cared enough to want to help me. Now I'm facing a problem and I wish you were here to lend an ear… and maybe even help me with your overly-optimistic advice that seemed right out of a cheesy sitcom. What's my problem? I have been turned down by yet another art gallery. I don't know why I expected France to be any different. They didn't like my paintings in Italy, Rome, or the states, of course France would be no exception. And now, I've had to take a job waitering at a small café just to keep from dying of starvation. Which I'm late for, so I must go.

Richard'

* * *

--Caroline put that letter away and on the new stack, then opened the next…

* * *

'Caroline,

I miss you. I miss the way you ramble on incessantly about silly things and dress that annoying flea bag in doll clothes when you're blocked and can't think of ideas for your comic strip. I even miss the job. Words I never thought I'd say. Along with emotions I never thought I'd feel. You seep into my mind constantly. I waited on a woman last night that looked so much like you, I almost called her Caroline. And when I paint… you don't want to know what I paint. I've never been the jealous type, and I've never been envious of another man, let alone someone like Del, but I find myself both jealous and envious of Del. I thought I've hit rock bottom before, but I was wrong. This is rock bottom.

Richard'

* * *

--Caroline dabbed at her eyes with a kleenex before moving on to the next letter…

* * *

'Caroline,

Today was a bad day. I was fired from my job… for daydreaming. Daydreaming! Me! And what was I dreaming of? You. I try to tell myself that it's a good thing. That I now can devote more time for painting. Who am I kidding? Even if I painted 24/7, I still couldn't make enough to even afford a loaf of bread. I don't know, maybe I'm just wasting my time with my art. But, I feel compelled to paint. It's like my only release for the despair I feel every day, knowing I can never have you, or be with you. I hope you are happy, cause that's what's important to me… I just wish it were I who was making you happy.

Richard'

* * *

--Caroline placed the letter on the new stack and picked up the next letter…

* * *

'Caroline,

I couldn't even get out of bed this morning. Why? I couldn't face the day, knowing it would be full of disappointment… knowing it wouldn't include you. I remember, for as much as I complained about the job, I remember looking forward to Monday mornings. Now, they are a reminder that this week will be the same as last week… and the week before. A week without you. You plague my dreams at night… I wish I didn't have to wake up. I wish my dreams were real. I wish for a lot of things that could never be.

Richard'

* * *

* * *

'Caroline,

You were on my mind today… I actually smiled. I was thinking of the time I went with you to Wisconsin for the park dedication. When you stormed outside and I joined you, bringing you a blanket. And we spent all that time talking, near each other and sharing the blanket for warmth. I enjoyed that time with you, even though you were so busy complaining about your brother you didn't even notice my thigh rubbing against yours. Such a slight contact, but it made my heart soar. Whenever we touched, my heart nearly stopped. I miss you.

Richard'

* * *

* * *

'Caroline,

I almost picked up the phone and called you today, but I didn't know what to say. I wanted so badly to hear your voice, I've almost forgotten what you sound like. Even to hear you drone on and on about inane subjects would be welcomed… just to hear your voice. Your laughter. To see your smile. Your eyes, twinkling as you speak of things you care about. I hope Del appreciates all these things about you. You deserve to have someone who appreciates everything about you. God, I miss you.

Richard'

* * *

* * *

'Caroline,

I thought of you today as I walked by this little bistro. They were cooking something with cinnamon and vanilla, it reminded me of Christmas, when you were baking all those cookies. I've always hated Christmas, but watching your excitement, it rubbed off on me… even though it didn't seem like it. I didn't even want to admit it to myself, let alone to anyone else. And that ridiculous holiday office party, only, I enjoyed it, because I was with you. Then we kissed under the mistletoe… or the cilantro, because they ran out of mistletoe. Then Del showed up. If he hadn't, would I have had the courage to tell you how much I care for you? Probably not… because I'm a coward. I deserve the anguish I have created for myself. I have no one to blame but myself.

Richard'

* * *

* * *

'Caroline,

I got another job today. Good thing too, the manager of the dive I reside at was about to evict me. Luckily, my new employer took pity on me and gave me an advance on my paycheck. It reminded me of the time when I was mugged, and then ended up in jail for mugging a guy I thought had just mugged me. I felt like your indentured servant after you posted my bail, but you never criticized or gloated, and you never pressured me to pay you back. I still can't believe I, Richard Karinsky, mugged a guy. It's just, I felt like such a weak pathetic coward when you attacked my attacker while I stood by and did nothing. I guess it was a way of proving to myself that I was none of those things, but I am, aren't I? Well, I need to get to the gallery. I am the night watchman. Went to show them my art, walked out of there with a job as a rent-a-cop. Pathetic.

Richard'

* * *

* * *

'Caroline,

I saw your comic strip today. Someone left a New York newspaper at the gallery, so I thumbed through it. Who is coloring your strip? Del? A five year old? I can't believe I actually miss coloring that pointless comic strip. I miss you.

Richard'

* * *

* * *

'Caroline,

Today was a strange day. A woman actually hit on me. She was pretty, and nice, but she wasn't you. I turned her down, as gently as I could. I told her I was flattered, but in a relationship. I couldn't date her… or anyone. Just having her coming on to me, I felt like I was cheating on you. I know it's asinine, I know we're nothing. Well, you're not nothing, you're my everything. I am nothing.

Richard'

* * *

* * *

'Caroline,

What is wrong with me? I have a day off, so how do I spend it? Painting you. Not realistic, but impressionist. I call it 'Caroline in love with someone else'. I sometimes wonder… if you were to see my newest paintings, the paintings about you, my lost love, would you see what I see? Would you understand the significance? Would you be able to see my pain in the images on the canvass?

Richard'

* * *

* * *

'Caroline,

I dreamt of you again. My dreams are so much better than my reality. We were walking hand in hand, the sunset turning the sky a pinkish-orange as the Eiffel Tower to our left began to sparkle with lights. You turned to me and smiled, then leaned into me, our shoulders touching… then I woke up. There is so much beauty here, I wish I could share it with you. I wish I could enjoy it, but without you, even the most beautiful of places seems mediocre.

Richard'

* * *

* * *

'Caroline,

I saw this elderly couple walking hand in hand today… it reminded me of the time you drug me with you to see that old couple and return the watch you'd found. I couldn't help but imagine us together, as seniors, still in love after years of being together. Sincere Amore. Will you have that with Del I wonder? I hope you do, for your happiness is important to me, but somehow, I doubt it. I miss you Caroline.

Love,

Richard'

* * *

* * *

'Caroline,

What is it with kids? I'm painting on this quaint little bridge, really having an artistic flow, when this kid comes up to me and smears the wet paint across the canvass! What did he think it was, finger paints? It reminded me of the time you painted that mural for that bratty rich kid. Everything seems to remind me of you. My brain can't have a moment's peace without you invading my thoughts, not that that's a bad thing. It just makes me ache all the more, knowing I will probably never see you again. I long to see you again.

Richard'

* * *

* * *

'Caroline,

Why do I keep doing this? Why do I keep writing to you? Does it make me crazy? Probably. I think I continue to write these letters because they somehow make me feel connected to you. How ridiculous, right? I couldn't be more disconnected from you. I wish you were here. Actually, if I'm going to be wishing for stuff, I wish I were there. With you. And Del wasn't married to you. I wish I'd never written that stupid letter! I wish I'd never kissed you at Remo's. That kiss still plagues my thoughts. How stupid of me to think the kiss was reciprocated. Oh, how I wanted the kiss to be reciprocated. Fate just isn't that kind to me.

Richard'

* * *

* * *

'Caroline,

I needed you today. Words I never thought I'd say, but, I need you. I've always felt that I didn't need anybody. That I could take on life's pain without someone to lean on. I was wrong. I sit here with my 15th rejection letter in my hand, apparently my art has an 'angry quality'. No puppies and rainbows from me. Nope. How can I paint 'happy' depictions when I feel anything but? You always seemed to understand that about me. I don't pretend to know why, but you always made an effort to know me, even when I pushed you away. Why did I push you away? Fear mostly. Where has fear gotten me? Alone in a foreign country without you.

Richard'

* * *

* * *

'Caroline,

I dreamt of you again. You didn't get married to Del, you didn't even get engaged. Instead, when you came to my apartment, the lady from the unemployment office wasn't there, and you asked if you could come in. You confided in me that you didn't love Del, that you didn't want to accept his proposal, but you felt it might be your last chance at marriage. I wanted to take you in my arms and convince you he wasn't your last chance, but I was afraid, so I just watched you as you struggled inside, emotionally. That's when I woke up. I'm even a coward in my dreams.

Richard'

* * *

* * *

'Caroline,

What a day. Some rude French guy actually laughed at me! I don't know what he was saying, cause it was in French, but pointing and laughing usually isn't a sign of anything positive. Then, if that weren't bad enough, a dog peed on my shoes. How was it, when confronted with a horrible day, you could still keep a smile on your face? I never did understand that. So much about you I didn't understand. I guess I'll never find out either.

Richard'

* * *

* * *

'Caroline,

I am out of words, except to say: God, I miss you.

Richard'

* * *

--Caroline sniffled as she put the letter back in its envelope, reaching for the next one in the stack when she heard Richard calling to her from outside the apartment…

"Caroline? Can you give me a hand?"

She jumped at the sound of his voice, quickly hiding the letters from view before running to help him…

"What happened?" she asked as she witnessed Richard struggling up against the elevator doors, open because he was in the way of them closing…

"The bottom started falling out. Help?"

She quickly moved to support the bottom, and the two walked awkwardly into the apartment with the dilapidated box…

"Only one more after this…" he informed, setting the box down as gently as he could. He looked up into Caroline's face, an odd expression soon following… "Have you been crying?"

TO BE CONTINUED…

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