Takes place after Caroline and Richard go home for her park dedication and her brother ruins it by being better than her. Imagine that they leave her porch and go for a walk, winding up in a nearby cemetery.
"What the hell are we doing here?"
"Sitting in a cemetery."
"Yes, I can see that," Richard said as he stared around the graveyard in the growing dusk.
Caroline sat on one of the stone benches in front of a tombstone and wrapped her coat tighter around her shivering body.
"It's the only place I can go to really get away from all of that," she said, waving her hand angrily through the air. "Why? Are you afraid of the big bad ghosties?"
He rolled his eyes. "No, I'm afraid of the fact that it's about twenty degrees out here in this frozen land you call home."
"No," she shook her head. "I call New York home, now, same as you, and it's probably still about the same temperature."
"Yeah, especially in my apartment. Apparently in order to have heat, I'm going to have to start burning the few possessions I have."
She half-laughed, half-groaned. Every conversation was this bittersweet mix of humor and despair.
"Besides," she said. "I might as well just come back home."
Richard's heart stopped for a second. "What?" he whispered.
"Well, it's true. I can't do this cartooning thing. I can't do anything right, because perfect Chris has already perfectly done it."
"That's not true, Caroline. Some things his perfect fiancé will have to do, like giving your parents their first perfect grandchild."
"Ha!" she laughed. "If only that wasn't almost the truth."
"Please, Caroline. Just please don't leave New York."
Don't leave me, he thought.
Their eyes locked for a second, then she looked away and messed with the small ice chest that was lodged between her ankles. She opened it and cracked open a beer. "You want one?" she asked Richard.
"Oh, so now we're drinking in a cemetery?"
"I've done worse."
Richard grimaced, but inwardly he was slightly turned on. "I don't want to know, do I?" he asked, rhetorically.
Caroline and just grinned and shrugged, lifting the beer to her lips and tilting her head back.
He sighed and sat down heavily next to her on the cold stone bench, motioning for her to hand him a beer. He snapped the can open, took a sip, and frowned. "It's warm," he said as he took another swallow.
She rolled her eyes at him.
"You're depressed, right? Doesn't this seem like a logical place to come?"
"Every waking minute and most of the ones spent sleeping are wasted on depression. What's your point?"
She laughed. "Well, this is where I used to come when I was bummed out because Chris did another thing better than I did, or someone dumped me, or I just generally felt like I didn't matter."
You matter to me.
"Well, what do you want out of life?" he asked her.
"Oh, I don't think I've drunk enough to begin to answer such deep questions as that," she exclaimed.
"What did you say when you were in high school and they asked you where you saw yourself in ten years?"
She frowned, then took a long swallow of beer. "I guess I said I saw myself married, with a couple of kids… living down the street from my parents, or maybe in town."
"Town… Downtown Peshtigo?"
"That's it? You're not going to make fun of me?"
He didn't answer, just drank some more beer.
"Fine." She sighed. "Where did you see yourself? Being a successful artist in Paris, married to Julia, hobnobbing with the French socialites?"
"No," he said simply. "I just didn't see myself. I didn't see me, an adult, with a life, job, anything. I just saw a black void, which I still pretty much see everyday."
"Oh, Richard." She felt horrible. "That's so sad."
He shrugged. "What I saw was different than what I wanted, or what they wanted me to see. That's no different than you, right? Do you really want to be tied down with a husband and kids?"
He frowned. "Wouldn't you rather be yourself first? Just like you are, in the city, completely, well, at least moderately independent?"
"Yeah… but my mother…"
"Forget your mother!"
"Seriously." He suddenly rose up and towered over her. The first snowflakes were beginning to fall as she stared up at him and the full moon just over his shoulder.
"Forget what your mother wants. What do you want?"
"I don't know," she whispered.
He nodded. "Blank canvas, blank panels, right?"
It was her turn to nod. "I guess what I really want is just to be happy."
"You don't need a rich husband and a Volvo commercial to make you happy. You can do what you want, you don't need anyone's approval."
"Easy for you to say, you don't have to worry about anyone else's feelings."
He sipped his beer and thought about what she said. "Yes. I do."
"Yours, I would hope. Caroline, you're the best, probably the only, friend I've ever had. This probably isn't the best time or place, but god, if there is one, I care so much about you." He dropped his head and looked at the ground.
Something in her head clicked. "This isn't as good as Chianti is it?"
His head jerked up and he stared at her.
"You love me?"
"Is that a question?"
"Is that?" she retorted.
"Yes. Yes on both accounts."
She nodded. "So, I don't need a rich husband… Forget the kids… Richard, I'm playing into your hands. That's not fair to give me confidence then strike it down like that."
"Why not? If she could have gotten paid for it, my mother would have done it for a living. I'm convinced that the rest of the world does it for free."
Caroline smirked. She crumpled her can in her hands and pulled out another, handing one to Richard as well.
"Working on it," he said as he popped the tab and raised it to his lips.
"You know," she said after a few moments. "Richard, I think I'm happy just to sit here with you."
He didn't respond. He didn't know how. What the hell did that mean?
"Well, I guess I'm a little more 'live' than your usual company."
She frowned, then looked around at the moon-washed tombstones. She scoffed. "Yeah, but not by much."
He stuck his tongue out at her. She laughed.
"So forget the Volvo commercial?"
He nodded. "Forget the Volvo commercial."
"And just be myself."
"Yes, Caroline." He couldn't help himself. He lightly stroked her cheek with the back of his hand, causing her to shut her eyes and lean into his touch. "Just be your own, wonderful self."
"Screw the rest of the world?"
"Well, no. Then you'd be Annie."
She laughed, then socked him across the chest.
Caroline rolled her eyes, but smiled. "I think what I want is just for this night to never end."
"It doesn't have to," Richard whispered. "I mean, I can't promise you every night will end with us drunk in a cemetery, and I doubt I can promise you everlasting happiness, but I can guarantee you love and company. Just let me try."
"I love you, Richard."
"I love you, Caroline."
"Well, now that we've got that out of the way, what've you got planned for tomorrow?"
"I don't know. Want to share another special, tender moment in the local morgue?"
She stood and brushed snowflakes from her hair. "I was thinking let's hit the airport and get the hell out of this iceberg and back home where we belong."
"Goodie. Exchanging the iceberg for the Titanic. Great plan."
She held out her hand and he took it.
They walked off together, hand in hand, ice chest trailing from Caroline's other fingertips. She swung it, and they almost looked like the Scarecrow and Dorothy with her basket, minus Toto, heading off down the yellow brick road.
"There's no place like home."