Chapter Twelve


Tommy suggested they stop at the Kelly Fruit after and grab a root beer and a burger. All the other kids would be going to Westover or Lewiston, and they would have the place to themselves. Carrie's face fit up, he said. She told him that would be fine. Just fine.

This is the girl they keep caning a monster. I want you to keep that firmly in mind. The girl who could be satisfied with a hamburger and a dime root beer after her only school dance so her momma wouldn't be worried.. .

The first thing that struck Carrie when they walked in was Glamour. Not glamour but Glamour. Beautiful shadows rustled about in chiffon, lace, silk, satin. The air was redolent with the odour of flowers, the nose was constantly amazed by it. Girls in dresses with low backs, with scooped bodices showing actual cleavage, with Empire waists. Long skirts, pumps. Blinding white dinner jackets, cumberbunds, black shoes that had been spitshined.

A few people were on the dance floor, not many yet, and in the soft revolving gloom they were wraiths without substance. She did not really want to see them as her classmates. She wanted them to be beautiful strangers.

Tommy's hand was firm on her elbow. 'The mural's nice,' he said.

'Yes,' she agreed faintly.

It had taken on a soft nether light under the orange spots, the boatman leaning with eternal indolence against his tiller while the sunset blazed around him and the buildings conspired together over urban waters. She knew with suddenness and ease that this moment would be with her always, within hand's reach of memory.

She doubted if they all sensed it - they had seen the world-but even George was silent for a minute as they looked, and the scone, the smell, even the sound of the

band playing a faintly recognizable movie theme, was locked forever in her, and she was at peace. Her soul knew a moment's calm, as if it had been uncrumpled and smoothed under an iron.

'V 'George yelled suddenly, and led Frieda out on to the floor. He began to do a sarcastic jitterbug to the old-timey big-band music, and someone catcalled over to him. George blabbered, leered, and went into a brief arms-crossed Cossack routine that nearly landed him on his butt.

Carrie smiled. 'George is funny,' she said.

'Sure he is. He's a good guy. There are lots of good people around. Want to sit down?'

'Yes,' she said gratefully.

He went back to the door and returned with Norma Watson, whose hair had been pulled into a huge, teased explosion for the affair.

'It's on the other SIDE,' she said, and her bright gerbel's eyes picked Carrie up and down, looking for an exposed strap, an eruption of pimples, any news to carry back to the door when her errand was done. 'That's a LOVELY dress, Carrie. Where did you EVER get it?'

Carrie told her while Norma led them around the dance floor to their table. She exuded odours of Avon soap, Woolworth's perfume, and Juicy Fruit gum.

There were two folding chairs at the table (looped and beribboned with the inevitable crepe paper), and the table itself was decked with crepe paper in the school colours. On top was a candle in a wine bottle, a dance programme, a tiny gilded pencil, and two party favours - gondolas filled with Planters Mixed Nuts.

'I can't get OVER it,' Norma was saying. 'You look so DIFFERENT.' She cast an odd, furtive look at Carrie's face and it made her feel nervous. 'You're positively GLOWING. What's your SECRET?'

'I'm Don MacLean's secret lover,' Carrie said. Tommy sniggered and quickly smothered it. Norma's smile slipped a notch, and Carrie was amazed by her own wit and audacity. That's what you looked like when the joke was on you. As though a bee had stung your rear end. Carrie found she liked Norma to look that way. It was distinctly unchristian.

'Well, I have to get back,' she said. 'Isn't it EXCITING, Tommy?' Her smile was sympathetic: Wouldn't it be exciting if-'

'Cold sweat is running down my thighs in rivers,' Tommy said gravely.

Norma left with an odd, puzzled smile. It had not gone the way things were supposed to go. Everyone knew how things were supposed to go with Carrie. Tommy sniggered again.

'Would you like to dance?' he asked.

She didn't know how, but wasn't ready to admit to that yet. 'Let's just sit for a minute.'

While he held out her chair, she saw the candle and asked Tommy if he would light it. He did. Their eyes met over its flame. He reached out and took her hand. And the band played on.

From The Shadow Exploded (pp. 133-134):

Perhaps a complete study of Carrie's mother will be undertaken someday, when the subject of Carrie herself becomes more academic. I myself might attempt it, if only to gain access to the Brigham, family tree. It might be extremely interesting to know what odd occurrences one might come across two or three generations back...

And there is, of course, the knowledge that Carrie went home on Prom Night. Why? It is hard to tell just how sane Carrie's motives were by that time. She may have gone for absolution and forgiveness, or she may have gone for the express purpose of committing matricide. In any event, the physical evidence seems to indicate that Margaret White was waiting for her...

The house was completely silent.

She was gone.

At night.


Margaret White walked slowly from her bedroom into the living room. First had come the flow of blood and the filthy fantasies the Devil sent with it. Then this hellish Power the Devil had given to her. It came at the time of the blood and the time of hair on the body, of course. Oh, she knew about the Power. Her own grandmother had it. She had been able to light the fireplace without even stirring from her rocker by the window. It made her eyes glow with

(thou shalt not suffer a witch to live)

a kind of witch's light. And sometimes, at the supper table the sugar bowl would whirl madly like a dervish. Whenever it happened, Gram would cackle crazily and drool and make the sign of the Evil Eye all around her. Sometimes she panted like a dog on a hot day, and when she died of a heart attack at sixty-six, senile to the point of idiocy even at that early age, Carrie had not even been a year old. Margaret had gone into her bedroom not four weeks after Gram's funeral and there her girl-child had lain in her crib, laughing and gurgling, watching a bottle that was dangling in thin air over her head.

Margaret had almost killed her then. Ralph had stopped her.

She should not have let him stop her.

Now Margaret White stood in the middle of the living room. Christ on Calvary looked down at her with his wounded, suffering, reproachful eyes. The Black Forest cuckoo clock ticked. It was ten minutes after eight.

She had been able to feel, actually feel the Devil's Power working in Carrie. It crawled all over you, lifting and pulling like evil, tickling little fingers. She had set out to do her duty again when Carrie was three, when she had caught her looking in sin at the Devil's slut in the next yard over. Then the stones had come, and she had weakened. And the power had risen again, after thirteen years. God was not mocked.

First the blood, then the power,

(you sign your name you sign it in blood)

now a boy and dancing and he would take her to a roadhouse after, take her into the parking lot, take her into the back seat, take her Blood, fresh blood. Blood was always at the root of it, and only blood could expiate it.

She was a big woman with massive upper arms that had swarfed her elbows to dimples, but her head was surprisingly small on the end of her strong, corded neck. It had once been a beautiful face. It was still beautiful in a weird, zealous way. But the eyes had taken on a strange, wandering cast, and the lines had deepened cruelly around the denying but oddly weak mouth. Her hair, which had been almost all black a year ago, was now almost white.

The only way to kill sin, true black sin, was to drown it in the blood of

(she must be sacrificed)

a repentant heart. Surely God understood that, and had laid His finger upon her. Had not God Himself commanded Abraham to take his son Isaac up upon the mountain?

She shuffled out into the kitchen in her old and splayed slippers, and opened the kitchen utensil drawer. The knife they used for carving was long and sharp and arched in the middle from constant honing. She sat down on the high stool by the counter, found the sliver of whetstone in its small aluminium dish, and began to scrub it along the gleaming edge of the blade with the apathetic, fixated attention of the damned.

The Black Forest cuckoo clock ticked and ticked and finally the bird jumped out to call once and announce eight-thirty.

In her mouth she tasted olives.


May 27,1979

Music by The Billy Bosman, Band

Music by Josie and the Moonglows


'Cabaret' - Baton Twirling by Sandra Stenchfield

'500 Miles'

'Lemon Tree'

'Mr Tambourine Man'

Folk Music by John Swithen and Maureen Cowan 'The Street Where You Live'

'Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head'

Ewen High School Chorus

'Bridge Over Troubled Waters'


Mr Stephens, Miss Geer, Mr and Mrs Lublin, Miss Desjardin

Coronation at 10:00 P.M.

Remember, its YOUR prom; make it one to remember always!

When he asked her the third time, Carrie had to admit that she didn't know how to dance. She didn't add that, now that the rock band had taken over for a half-hour set, she would feel out of place gyrating on the floor.

(and sinful)

yes, and sinful.

Tommy nodded, then smiled. He leaned forward and told her that he hated to dance. Would she like to go around and visit some of the other tables? Trepidation rose thickly in her throat, but she nodded. Yes, that would be nice. He was seeing to her. She must see to him (even if he really did not expect it); that was part of the deal. And she felt dusted over with the enchantment of the evening. She was suddenly hopeful that no one would stick out a foot or slyly paste a kick-me-hard sign on her back or suddenly squirt water in her face from a novelty carnation and retreat cackling while everyone laughed and pointed and catcalled.

And if there was enchantment, it was not divine but pagan.

'Carrie?' a voice said hesitantly.

She had been so wrapped up in watching the band and the dance floor and the other tables that she hadn't seen anyone coming at all. Tommy had gone to get them punch.

She turned around and saw Miss Desjardin.

For a moment the two of them merely looked at each other, and the memory travelled between them, com

(she saw me she saw me naked and screaming and bloody)

without words or thought. It was in the eyes.

Then Carrie said shyly: 'You look very pretty, Miss Desjardin.'

She did. She was dressed in a glimmering silver sheath, a perfect complement to her blonde hair, which was up. A simple pendant hung around her neck. She looked very young, young enough to be attending rather than chaperoning.

`Thank you.' She hesitated, then put a gloved hand on Carrie's arm. 'You are beautiful,' she said, and each word carried a peculiar emphasis.

Carrie felt herself blushing again and dropped her eyes to the table. 'It's awfully nice of you to say so. I know I'm not ... not really ... but thank you anyway.'

'It's true,' Desjardin said. 'Carrie, anything that happened before ... well, it's all forgotten. I wanted you to know that.'

'I can't forget it,' Carrie said- She looked up. The words that rose to her lips were: I don't blame anyone any more. She bit them off. It was a lie. She blamed them all and always would, and she wanted more than anything else to be honest. 'But it's over with. Now it's over with.'

Miss Desjardin smiled, and her eyes seemed to catch and hold the soft mix of lights in an almost liquid sparkling. She looked across toward the dance floor, and Carrie followed her gaze.

'I remember my own prom,' Desjardin said softly. 'I was two inches taller than the boy I went with when I was in my heels. He gave me a corsage that clashed with my gown. The tailpipe was broken on his car and the engine made ... oh, an awful racket But it was magic, I don't know why. But I've never had a date like it, ever again.' She looked at Carrie. 'Is it like that for you?'

'It's very nice,' Carrie said.

'And is that all?'

'No. There's more. I couldn't tell it all. Not to anybody.'

Desjardin smiled and squeezed her arm. 'You'll never forget it,' she said. 'Never.'

'I think you're right.'

'Have a lovely time, Carrie.'

'Thank you.'

Tommy came up with two Dude cups of punch as Desjardin left, walking around the dance floor toward the chaperones' table.

'What did she want?' he asked, putting the Dude caps down carefully.

Carrie, looking after her, said: 'I think she wanted to say she was sorry.'

(momma untie your apron strings i'm getting big)

and she wanted it that way.

'Look,' he said as they got up.

Two or three stagehands were sliding the King and Queen thrones from the wings while Mr Lavoie, the head custodian, directed them with hand motions toward preset marks on the apron. She thought they looked quite Arthurian, those thrones, dressed all in blinding white, strewn with real flowers as well as huge crepe banners.

'They're beautiful,' she said.

'You're beautiful,' Tommy said, and she became quite sure that nothing bad could happen this night - perhaps they themselves might even be voted King and Queen of the Prom. She smiled at her own folly.

It was nine o'clock.

Sue Snell sat quietly in the living room of her house, hemming a dress and listening to the Jefferson Airplane Long John Silver album. It was old and badly scratched, but soothing.

Her mother and father had gone out for the evening. They knew what was going on, she was sure of that, but they had spared her the bumbling talks about how proud they were of Their Girl, or how glad they were that she was finally Growing Up. She was glad they had decided to leave her alone, because she was still uncomfortable about her own motives and afraid to examine them too deeply, lest she discover a jewel of selfishness glowing and winking at her from the black velvet of her subconscious.

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