Home > Carrie(11)

Author: Stephen King

The first time had hurt like hell. Her girl friends, Helen Shyres and Jeanne Gault, had both done It, and they both assured her that it only hurt for a minute - like getting a shot of penicillin - and then it was roses. But for Sue, the first time had been like being reamed out with a hoe handle. Tommy had confessed to her since, with a grin, that he had gotten the rubber on wrong, too.

Tonight was only the second time she had begun to feel something like pleasure, and then it was over. Tommy had held out for as long as he could, but then it was just... over. It seemed like an awful lot of rubbing for a little warmth.

In the aftermath she felt low and melancholy, and her thoughts turned to Carrie in this light. A wave of remorse caught her with all emotional guards down, and when Tommy turned back from the view of Brickyard Rill, she was crying.

'Hey,' he said, alarmed. 'Oh, hey.' He held her clumsily.

'It's all right,' she said still weeping. 'It's not you. I did a not-so-good thing today. I was just thinking of it.'

'What?' He patted the back of her neck gently.

So she found herself launching into the story of that morning's incident, hardly believing it was herself she was listening to. Facing the thing frankly, she realized the main reason she had allowed Tommy to have her was because she was in

(love? infatuation? didn't matter results were the same)

with him, and now to put herself in this position-cohort in a nasty shower-room joke-was hardly the approved method to hook a fellow. And Tommy was, of course, Popular. As someone who had been Popular herself all her life, it had almost seemed written that she would meet and fall in love with someone as Popular as she. They were almost certain to be voted King and Queen of the highschool Spring Ball, and the senior class had already voted them class couple for the yearbook. They had become a fixed star in the shifting firmament of the high school's relationships, the acknowledged Romeo and Juliet. And she knew with sudden hatefulness that there was one couple like them in every white suburban high school in America.

And having something she had always longed for - a sense of place, of security, of status - she found that it carried uneasiness with it like a darker sister. It was not the way she had conceived it. There were dark things lumbering around their warm circle of light. The idea that she had let him f**k her

(do you have to say it that way yes this time I do)

simply because he was Popular, for instance. The fact that they fit together walking, or that she could look at their reflection in a store window and think. There goes a handsome couple. She was quite sure

Chapter Four

(or only hopeful)

that she wasn't that weak, not that liable to fall docilely into the complacent expectations of parents, friends, and even herself. But now there was this shower thing, where she had gone along and pitched in with high, savage glee. The word she was avoiding was expressed To Conform, in the infinitive, and it conjured up miserable images of hair in rollers, long afternoons in front of the ironing board in front of the soap operas while hubby was off busting heavies in an anonymous Office; of joining the P.T.A. and then the country club when their income moved into five figures; of pills in circular yellow cases without number to insure against having to move out of the misses' size before it became absolutely necessary and against the intrusion of repulsive little strangers who shat in their pants and screamed for help at two in the morning; of fighting with desperate decorum to keep the niggers out of Kleen Korners, standing shoulder to shoulder with Terri Smith (Miss Potato Blossom of 1975) and Vicki Jones (Vice President of The Women's League), armed with signs and petitions and sweet, slightly desperate smiles.

Carrie, it was the goddamned Carrie, this was her fault. Perhaps before today she had heard distant, circling footfalls around their lighted place, but tonight, hearing her own sordid, crummy story, she saw the actual silhouettes of all these things, and yellow eyes that glowed like flashlights in the dark.

She had already bought her prom gown. It was blue. It was beautiful.

'You're right,' he said when she was done. 'Bad news. Doesn't sound a bit like you.' His face was grave and she felt a cool slice of terror. Then he smiled-he had a very jolly smile-and the darknesss retreated a bit.

'I kicked a kid in the slats once when he was knocked out. Did I ever tell you about that?'

She shook her head.

'Yeah.' He rubbed his nose reminiscently and his cheek gave a small tic, the way it had when he made his confession about getting the rubber wrong the first time. 'The kid's name was Danny Patrick. He beat the living shit out of me once when we were in the sixth grade. I hated him, but I was scared, too. I was laying for him. You know how that is?'

She didn't, but nodded anyway.

'Anyway, he finally picked on the wrong kid a year or so later. Pete Taber. He was just a little guy, but he had lots of muscles. Danny got on him about something. I don't know, marbles or something, and finally Peter just rose up righteous and beat the shit out of him. That was on the playground of the old Kennedy Junior High. Danny fell down and hit his head and went out cold. Everybody ran. We thought he might be dead. I ran away too, but first I gave him a good kick in the ribs. Felt really bad about it afterwards. You going to apologize to her?'

It caught Sue flat-footed and all she could was clinch weakly: 'Did you?'

'Huh? Hell no! I had better things to do than spend my time in traction. But there's a big difference, Susie.'

'There is?'

'It's not seventh grade any more. And I had some kind of reason, even if it was a piss-poor reason. What did that sad, silly bitch ever do to you?'

She didn't answer because she couldn't. She had never passed more than a hundred words with Carrie in her whole life, and three dozen or so had come today. Phys. Ed. was the only class they'd had in common since they had graduated from Chamberlain Junior High. Carrie was taking the commercial/business course. Sue, of course, was in the college division.

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