Home > Carrie(7)

Author: Stephen King

'I wanted to stop sunbathing right then. I hate trouble. It upsets my stomach. But Mom-when she gets a case, she's a terror. She came home from Jordan Marsh with a little white bikini. Told me I might as well get all the sun I could. "After all," she said, "the privacy of our own back yard and all."

Stella Horan smiles a little at the memory and crushes out her cigarette.

'I tried to argue with her, tell her I didn't want any more trouble, didn't want to be a pawn in their back-fence war. Didn't do a bit of good. Trying to stop my mum when she' gets a bee in her hat is like trying to stop a Mack truck going downhill with no brakes. Actually, there was more to it. I was scared of the Whites. Real religious nuts are nothing to fool with. Sure, Ralph White was dead, but what if Margaret still had that .38 around?

'But there I was on Saturday afternoon, spread out ' on a blanket in the back yard, covered with suntan lotion and listening to Top Forty on the radio. Mom hated that stuff and usually she'd yell out at least twice for me to turn it down before she went nuts. But that day she turned it up twice herself. I started to feel like the Whore of Babylon myself

'But nobody came out of the Whites' place. Not even the old lady to hang her wash. That's something else - she never hung any undies on the back line. Not even Carrie's, and she was only three back then. Always in the house.

'I started to relax. I guess I was thinking Margaret must have taken Carrie to the park to worship God in the raw or something. Anyway, after a little while I rolled on my back, put one arm over my eyes, and dozed off.

'When I woke up, Carrie was standing next to me and looking down at my body.'

She breaks off, frowning into space. Outside, the cars are whizzzing by endlessly. I can hear the steady little whine my tape recorder makes. But it all seems a little too brittle, too glossy, just a cheap patina over a darker world - a real world where nightmares happen.

'She was such a pretty girl,' Stella Horan resumes, fighting another cigarette. 'I've seen some high school pictures of her, and that horrible fuzzy black-and-white photo on the cover of Newsweek. I look at them and all I can think is, Dear God, where did she go? What did that woman do to her? Then I feel sick and sorry. She was so pretty, with pink cheeks and bright brown eyes, and her hair the shade of blonde you know will darken and get mousy. Sweet is the only word that fits. Sweet and bright and innocent. Her mother's sickness hadn't touched her very deeply, not then.

'I kind of started up awake and tried to smile. It was hard to think what to do. I was logy from the sun and my mind felt sticky and slow. I said "Hi." She was wearing a little yellow dress, sort of cute but awfully long for a little girl in the summer. It came down to her shins.

'She didn't smile back. She just pointed and said, "What are those?"

'I looked down and saw that my top had slipped while I was asleep. So I fixed it and said, "Those are my br**sts, Carrie,"

'Then she said-very solemnly: "I wish I had some."

'I said: "You have to wait, Carrie. You won't start to get them for another ... oh. eight or nine years."

Chapter Three

"'No, I won't," she said. "Momma says good girls don't." She looked strange for a little girl, half sad and half self-righteous.

'I could hardly believe it, and the first thing that popped into my mind also popped right out of my mouth. I said: "Well, I'm a good girl. And doesn't your mother have br**sts?"

'She lowered her head and said something so softly I couldn't hear it. When I asked her to repeat it, she looked at me defiantly and said that her momma had been bad when she made her and that was why she had them. She called them dirtypillows, as if it was all one word.

'I couldn't believe it. I was just dumbfounded. There was nothing at all I could think to say. We just stared at each other, and what I wanted to do was grab that sad little scrap of a girl and run away with her.

'And that was when Margaret White came out of her back door and saw us.'

'For a minute she just goggled as if she couldn't believe it. Then she opened her mouth and whooped. That's the ugliest sound I've ever beard in my life. It was like the noise of a bull alligator would make in a swamp. She just whooped. Rage. Complete, insane rage. Her face went just as red as the side of a fire truck and she curled her hands into fists and whooped at the sky. She was shaking all over. I thought she was having a stroke. Her face was all scrunched up, and it was a gargoyle's face.

'I thought Carrie was going to faint - or die on the spot. She sucked in all her breath and that little face went a cottage-cheesy colour.

'Her mother yelled: "CAAAARRIEEEEEE!"

'I jumped up and yelled back: "Don't you yell at her that way! You ought to be ashamed!" Something stupid like that. I don't remember. Carrie started to go back and then she stopped and then she started again, and just before she crossed over from our lawn to theirs she looked back at me and there was a look ... oh, dreadful. I can't say it. Wanting and hating and fearing ... and misery. As if life itself had fallen on her like stones, all at the age of three.

'My mother came out on the back stoop and her face just crumpled when she saw the child. And Margaret ... oh, she was screaming things about sluts and strumpets and the sins of the fathers being visited even into the seventh generation. My tongue felt like a little dried-up plant.

'For just a second Carrie stood swaying back and forth between the two yards, and then Margaret White looked upward and I swear sweet Jesus that woman bayed at the sky. And then she started to ... to hurt herself, scourge herself. She was clawing at her neck and cheeks, making red marks and scratches. She tore her dress.

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