Home > Carrie(4)

Author: Stephen King

'Blood,' Henry said, and smiled with a kind of vacuous surprise.

'Two detention periods,' Morton snapped. He glanced down at the bloody handprint and blinked.

He closed the door behind them and began pawing through the top drawer of his filing cabinet for a school accident form.

'Are you all right, uh-?'

'Carrie,' Desjardin supplied. 'Carrie White.' Mr Morton had finally located an accident form. There was a large coffee stain on it. 'You won't need that, Mr Morton.'

'I suppose it was the trampoline. We just ... I won't?'

'No. But I think Carrie should be allowed to go home for the rest of the day. She's had a rather frightening experience.' Her eyes flashed a signal which he caught but could not interpret.

'Yes, okay, if you say so. Good. Fine.' Morton crumpled the form back into the filing cabinet, slammed it shut with his thumb in the drawer, and grunted. He whirled gracefully to the door, yanked it open, glared at Billy and Henry, and called: 'Miss Fish, could we have a dismissal slip here, please? Carrie Wright.'

'White,' said Miss Desjardin.

'White,' Morton agreed.

Billy deLois sniggered.

'Week's detention!' Morton barked. A blood blister was forming under his thumbnail. Hurt like hell. Carrie's steady, monotonous weeping went on and on.

Miss Fish brought the yellow dismissal slip and Morton scrawled his initials on it with his silver pocket pencil, wincing at the pressure on his wounded thumb.

'Do you need a ride, Cassie?' he asked. 'We can call a cab if you need one.'

She shook her head. He noticed with distaste that a large bubble of green mucus had formed at one nostril. Morton looked over her head and at Miss Desjardin.

Chapter Two

'I'm sure she'll be all right,' she said. 'Carrie only has to go over to Carlin Street. The fresh air will do her good.'

Morton gave the girl the yellow slip. 'You can go now, Cassie,' he said magnanimously.

'That's not my name!' she screamed suddenly.

Morton recoiled, and Miss Desjardin jumped as if struck from behind. The heavy ceramic ashtray on Morton's desk (it was Rodin's Thinker with his head turned into a receptacle for cigarette butts) suddenly toppled to the rug, as if to take cover from the force of her scream. Butts and flakes of Morton's pipe tobacco scattered on the pale-green nylon rug.

'Now, listen,' Morton said, trying to muster sternness, 'I know you're upset, but that doesn't mean I'll stand for-'

'Please,' Miss Desjardin said quietly.

Morton blinked at her and then nodded curtly. He tried to project the image of a lovable John Wayne figure while performing the disciplinary functions that were his main job as Assistant Principal, but did not succeed very well. The administration (usually represented at Jay Cee suppers, P.T.A. functions, and American Legion award ceremonies by Principal Henry Grayle) usually termed him 'lovable Mort.' The student body was more apt to term him 'that crazy ass-jabber from the office.' But, as few students such as Billy deLois and Henry Trennant spoke at P.T.A. functions or town meetings, the administration's view tended to carry the day.

Now lovable Mort, still secretly nursing his jammed thumb, smiled at Carrie and said, 'Go along then if you like, Miss Wright. Or would you like to sit a spell and just collect yourself?'

'I'll go,' she muttered, and swiped at her hair. She got up, then looked around at Miss Desjardin. Her eyes were wide open and dark with knowledge. 'They laughed at me. Threw things. They've always laughed,'

Desjardin could only look at her helplessly.

Carrie left.

For a moment there was silence; Morton and Desjardin watched her go. Then, with an awkward throat-clearing sound, Mr Morton hunkered down carefully and began to sweep together the debris from the fallen ashtray.

'What was that all about?'

She sighed and looked at the drying maroon hand-print on her shorts with distaste. 'She got her period. Her first period. In the shower.'

Morton cleared his throat again and his cheeks went pink. The sheet of paper he was sweeping with moved even faster. 'Isn't she a bit, uh-'

'Old for her first? Yes. That's what made it so traumatic for her. Although I can't understand why her mother...' The thought trailed off, forgotten for the moment. 'I don't think I handled it very well, Morty, but I didn't understand what was going on. She thought she was bleeding to death.'

He stared up sharply.

'I don't believe she knew there was such a thing as menstruation until half an hour ago.'

'Hand me that little brush there, Miss Desjardin. Yes, that's it.' She handed him a little brush with the legend Chamberlain Hardware and Lumber Company NEVER Brushes You Off written up the handle. He began to brush his pile of ashes on to the paper. 'There's still going to be some for the vacuum cleaner, I guess. This deep pile is miserable. I thought I set that ashtray back on the desk further. Funny how things fall over.' He bumped his head on the desk and sat up abruptly. 'It's hard for me to believe that a girl in this or any other high school could get through three years and still be alien to the fact of menstruation, Miss Desjardin.'

'It's even more difficult for me, she said. 'But it's all I can think of to explain her reaction. And she's always been a group scapegoat.'

'Urn.' He funnelled the ashes and butts into the wastebasket and dusted his hands. 'I've placed her, I think. White. Margaret White's daughter. Must be. That makes it a little easier to believe.' He sat down behind his desk and smiled apologetically. 'There's so many of them. After five years or so, they all start to merge into one group face. You call boys by their brother's names, that type of thing. It's hard.'

'Of course it is.'

'Wait 'til you've been in the game twenty years, like me,' he said morosely, looking down at his blood blister. 'You get kids that look familiar and find out you had their daddy the year you started teaching. Margaret White was before my time, for which I am profoundly grateful. She told Mrs Bicente, God rest her, that the Lord was reserving a special burning seat in hell for her because she gave the kids an outline of Mr Darwin's beliefs on evolution. She was suspended twice while she was here - once for beating a classmate with her purse. Legend has it that Margaret saw the classmate smoking a cigarette. Peculiar religious views. Very peculiar.' His John Wayne expression suddenly snapped down. 'The other girls. Did they really laugh at her?'

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