Carrie Chapter Ten

Carrie Chapter Ten

She put the dress on for the first time on the morning of May 27, in her room. She had bought a special brassiere to go with it, which gave her breasts the proper uplift (not that they actually needed it) but left their top halves uncovered. Wearing it gave her a weird, dreamy feeling that was half shame and half defiant excitement.

The dress itself was nearly floor-length. The skirt was loose, but the waist was snug, the material rich and unfamiliar against her skin, which was used only to cotton and wool.

The hang of it seemed to be right – or would be, with the new shoes. She slipped them on, adjusted the neckline, and went to the window. She could see only a maddening ghost image of herself, but everything seemed to be right. Maybe later she could…

The door swung open behind her with only a soft snick of the latch, and Carrie turned to look at her mother.

She was dressed for work, wearing her white sweater and holding her black pocketbook in one hand. In the other she was holding Daddy Ralph’s Bible.

They looked at each other.

Hardly conscious of it, Carrie felt her back straighten until she stood straight in the patch of early spring sunshine that fell through the window.

‘Red,’ Momma murmured. ‘I might have known it would be red.’

Carrie said nothing.

‘I can see your dirtypillows. Everyone will. They’ll be looking at your body. The Book says-‘

‘Those are my breasts, Momma. Every woman has them.’

‘Take of that dress,’ Momma said.

‘No.’

‘Take it of, Carrie. We’ll go down and bum it in the incinerator together, and then pray for forgiveness. We’ll do penance.’ Her eyes began to sparkle with the strange disconnected zeal that came over her at events which she considered to be tests of faith. ‘I’ll stay home from work and you’ll stay home from school. We’ll pray. We’ll ask for a sign. We’ll get us down on our knees and ask for the Pentecostal Fire.’

‘No, Momma.’

Her mother reached up and pinched her own face. It left a red mark. She looked to Carrie for reaction, saw none, hooked her right hand into claws and ripped it across her own cheek, bringing thin blood. She whined and rocked back on her heels. Her eyes glowed with exultation.

‘Stop hurting yourself, Momma. That’s not going to make me stop either.’

Momma screamed. She made her right hand a fist and struck herself in the mouth, bringing blood. She dabbled her fingers in it, looked at it dreamily, and daubed a spot on the cover of the Bible.

‘Washed in the Blood of the Lamb,’ she whispered. ‘Many times. Many times he and-‘

‘Go away, Momma.’

She looked up at Carrie, her eyes glowing. There was a terrifying expression of righteous anger graven on her face.

‘The Lord is not mocked,’ she whispered. ‘Be sure your sin will find you out. Burn it, Carrie! Cast that devil’s red from you and burn it! Burn it! Burn it!’

The door slammed open by itself.

‘Go away, Momma.’

Momma smiled. Her bloody mouth made the smile grotesque, twisted. ‘As Jezebel fell from the tower, let it be with you,’ she said. ‘And the dogs came and licked up the blood. It’s in the Bible! It’s-‘

Her feet began to slip along the floor and she looked down at them, bewildered. The wood might have turned to ice.

‘Stop that!’ She screamed.

She was in the hall now. She caught the doorjamb and held on for a moment; then her fingers were torn loose, seemingly by nothing.

‘I love you, Momma,’ Carrie said steadily. ‘I’m sorry.’

She envisioned the door swinging shut, and the door did just that, as if moved by a light breeze. Carefully, so as not to hurt her, she disengaged the mental hands she had pushed her mother with.

A moment later, Margaret was pounding on the door. Carrie held it shut, her lips trembling.

‘There’s going to be a judgment!’ Margaret White raved. ‘I wash my hands of it! I tried!’

‘Pilate said that,’ Carrie murmured.

Her mother went away. A minute later Carrie saw her go down the walk and cross the street on her way to work.

‘Momma,’ she said softly, and put her forehead on the glass.

From The Shadow Exploded (p. 129):

Before turning to a more detailed analysis of Prom Night itself, it might be well to sum up what we know of Carrie White the person.

We know that Carrie was the victim of her mother’s religious mania. We know that she possessed a latent telekinetic talent, commonly referred to as TK. We know that this led ‘wild talent’ is really a hereditary trait, produced by a gene that is usually recessive, if present at all. We suspect that the TK ability may be glandular in nature. We know that Carrie produced at least one demonstration of her ability as a small girl when she was put into an extreme situation of guilt and stress. We know that a second extreme situation of guilt and stress arose from a shower-room hazing incident. It has been theorized (especially by W.G. Throneberry and Julia Givens, Berkeley) that resurgence of the TK ability at this point was caused by both psychological factors (i.e. the reaction of the other girls and Carrie herself to their first menstrual period) and physiological factors (i.e., the advent of puberty).

And finally, we know that on Prom Night, a third sum situation arose, causing the terrible events which we now must begin to discuss. We will begin with …

(i am not nervous not a bit nervous)

Tommy had called earlier with her corsage, and now she was pinning it to the shoulder of her gown herself. There was no momma, of course, to do it for her and make sure it was in the right place, Momma had locked herself in the chapel and had been in there for the last two hours, praying hysterically. Her voice rose and fen in frightening, incoherent cycles.

(I’m sorry momma but I can’t be sorry)

When she had it fixed to her satisfaction, she dropped her hands and stood quietly for a moment with her eyes closed.

There was no full-length mirror in the house.

(vanity vanity all is vanity)

but she thought she was all. right. She had to be. She-

She opened her eyes again. The Black Forest cuckoo clock, bought with Green Stamps, said seven-ten.

(he’ll be here in twenty minutes)

Would he?

Maybe it was all just an elaborate joke, the final crusher, the ultimate punch line. To leave her sitting here half the night in her crushed-velvet prom gown with its princess waistline, juliet sleeves and simple straight skirt – and her tea roses pinned to her left shoulder.

From the other room, on the rise now; ‘. . . in hallowed earth! We know thou bring’st the Eye That Watcheth, the hideous three-lobbed eye, and the sound of black trumpets. We most heartily repent-‘

Carrie did not think anyone could understand the brute courage it had taken to reconcile herself to this, to leave herself open to whatever fearsome possibilities the night might realize. Being stood up could hardly be the worst of them. In fact, in a kind of sneaking, wishful way she thought it might be for the best if

(no stop that)

Of course it would be easier to stay here with Momma. Safer. She knew what They thought of Momma. Well, maybe Momma was a fanatic, a freak, but at least she was predictable, the house was predictable. She never came home to laughing, shrieking girls who threw things.

And if he didn’t come, if she drew back and gave up? High school would be over in a month. Then what? A creeping. subterranean existence in this house, supported by Momma, watching game shows and soap operas all day on television at Mrs Garrison’s house when she had Carrie In To Visit (Mrs Garrison was eighty-six), walking down to the Centre to get a malted after supper at the Kelly Fruit when it was deserted, getting fatter, losing hope, losing even the power to think?

No. Oh dear God, please no.

(please let it be a happy ending)

‘-protect us from he with the split foot who waits in the alleys and in the parking lots of roadhouses, O Saviour-‘

Seven twenty-five.

Restlessly, without thinking she began to lift objects with her mind and put them back down, the way a nervous woman awaiting someone in a restaurant will fold and unfold her napkin. She could dangle half a dozen objects in air at one time, and not a sign of tiredness or headache. She kept waiting for the power to abate, but it remained at high water with no sign of waning. The other night on her way home from school, she had rolled a parked car

(oh please god let it not be a joke)

twenty feet down the main street curb with no strain at all. The courthouse idlers had stared at it as if their eyes would pop out, and of course she stared too, but she was smiling inside.

The cuckoo popped out of the clock and spoke once. Seven-thirty.

She had grown a little wary of the terrific strain using the power seemed to put on her heart and lungs and internal thermostat. she suspected it would be all too possible for her heart to literally burst with the strain. It was like being in another’s body and forcing her to run and run and run. You would not pay the cost yourself; the other body would. She was beginning to realize that her power was perhaps not so different from the powers of Indian fakirs, who stroll across hot coals, run needles into their eyes, or blithely bury themselves for periods up to six weeks. Mind over matter in any form is a terrific drain on the body’s resources.

Seven thirty-two.

(he’s not coming)

(don’t think about it a watched pot doesn’t boil hell Come)

(no he won’t he’s out laughing at you with his friends and after a little bit they’ll drive by in one of their fast noisy cars laughing and hooting and yelling)

Miserably, she began lifting the sewing machine up and down, swinging it in widening arcs throught the air.

‘-and protect us also from rebellious daughters imbued with the willfulness of the Wicked One-‘

‘Shut up!’ Carrie screamed suddenly.

There was startled silence for a moment, and then the babbling chant began again.

Seven thirty-three.

Not coming

(then i’ll wreck the house)

The thought came to her naturally and cleanly. First the sewing machine, driven through the living room wall. The couch through a window. Tables, chairs, books and tracts all flying, the plumbing ripped loose and still spurting, like arteries ripped free of flesh. The roof itself, if that were within her power, shingles exploding upward into the night like startled pigeons

Lights splashed gaudily across the window.

Other cars had gone by, making her heart leap a little, but this one was going much more slowly.

(O)

She ran to the window, unable to restrain herself, and it was him, Tommy, just climbing out of his car, and even under the street light he was handsome and alive and almost … crackling. The odd word made her want to giggle.

Momma had stopped praying.

She grabbed her fight silken wrap from where it had lain across the back of her chair and put it around her bare shoulders. She bit her lip, touched her hair, and would have sold her soul for a mirror. The buzzer in the hall made its harsh cry.

She made herself wait, controlling the twitch in her hands, for the second buzz Then she went slowly, with silken swish.

She opened the door and he was there, nearly blinding in white dinner jacket and dark dress pants.

They looked at each other, and neither said a word.

She felt that her heart would break if he uttered so much as the wrong sound, and if he laughed she would die. She felt -actually, physically-her whole miserable life narrow to a point that might be an end or the beginning of a widening beam.

Finally, helpless, she said: ‘Do you like me?’

He said: ‘You’re beautiful.’

She was.

From The Shadow Exploded (p. 131):

While those going to the Ewen Spring Ball were gathering at the high school or just leaving pre-Prom buffets, Christine Hargensen and William Nolan had met in a room above a local town-limits tavern called The Cavalier. We know that they had been meeting there for some time; that is in the records of the White Commission. What we don’t know is whether their plans were complete and irrevocable or if they went ahead almost on whim …

‘Is it time yet?’ She asked him in the darkness.

He looked at his watch. ‘No.’

Faintly, through the board floor, came the thump of the juke playing She’s Got To Be a Saint, by Ray Price. The Cavalier, Chris reflected, hadn’t changed their records since the first time she’d been there with a forged ID two years ago. Of course then she’d been down in the taprooms, not on one of Sam, Deveaux’s ‘specials.’

Billy’s cigarette winked fitfully in the dark, like the eye of an uneasy demon. She watched it introspectively. She hadn’t let him sleep with her until last Monday, when he had promised that he and his greaser friends would help her pull the string on Carrie White if she actually dared to go to the Prom with Tommy Ross. But they had been here before, and had had some pretty hot necking going on – what she thought of as Scotch love and what he would call, in his unfailing ability to pinpoint the vulgar the – dry humps.

She had meant to make him wait until he had actually done something,

(but of course he did he got the blood)

but it had all begun to slip out of her hands, and it made heir uneasy. If she had not given in willingly on Monday, he would have taken her, by force.

Billy had not been her first lover, but he was the first she could not dance and dandle at her whim. Before him her boys had been clever marionettes with clear, pimple-free faces and parents with connections and country-club memberships. They drove their own VWs or Javelins or Dodge Chargers. They went to UMass or Boston College. They wore fraternity windbreakers in the fall and muscle-shirts with bright stripes in the summer. They smoked marijuana a great deal and talked about the funny things that happened to them when they were wrecked. They began by treating her with patronizing good fellowship (all high school girls, no matter how good-looking, were Bush League) and always ended up trotting after her with panting, doglike lust. If they trotted long enough and spent enough in the Process she usually let them go to bed with her. Quite often she lay passively beneath them, not helping or hindering, until it was over. Later, she achieved her own solitary climax while viewing the incident as a single closed loop of memory.

She had met Billy Nolan following a drug bust at a Cambridge apartment. Four students, including Chris’s date for the evening had been busted for possession. Chris and the other girls were charged with being present there. Her father took care of it with quiet efficiency, and asked her if she knew what would happen to his image and his practice if his daughter was taken up on a drug charge. She told him that she doubted if anything could hurt either one, and he took her car away.