Somehow, it seems like I'll never be able to escape this—this life under the wing of the lonely label. In other words, being a child with no friends, no relatives, and no real firm way of being planted to this earth at all.
I'm not sure—not sure at all. Twelve years have come and gone, and yet, no one has claimed me as a part of them. What could be worse for a child than to go for that long without friends—much less a mother who loves you as she says she does? It's like never being born at all.
I guess someone would think that living under those people for that long would give me the chance to dream—imagine that my life was better than it was. Well, no. These kids and I have gone to the same school all our lives, and though they are always around me, they wish I was gone. And sometimes, so do I.
It's really a sad sight to see, and it makes me wish that I could have once been like the rich girls who had as many clothes to fill a walk-in closet with. With clothes only my momma picks for me, and my long sandy hair going unwashed for days because Momma locks me in the closet to pray to God, I look like someone who belongs on the streets, instead of in the happy care of the elementary school.
I've always dealt with the learning part of school just fine, though. And throughout my life, I've been ready to take all that I can, if it means not thinking about my momma, or what the other kids think of me, although everyone thinks that a girl like me wouldn't know the difference between the duck that quacks, and ducking to avoid something.
And, just as it sounds, that's what the older kids and some of my teachers thought—at least the other kids my age.
For one, there is Billy Nolan. He's the sort of kid who hides behind the school walls, giving the other kids boxes of cigarettes, plus other goodies like candy and lunch money. Ever since he knew that he would have to actually learn like a good kid, he seemed to have been looking for other young kids to feed his anger to. And it wouldn't be hard to say that person was me. After all, who wouldn't? My colorless clothes and shaggy hair say, "Come and kick me in the face, 'cause I don't give a moment's notice to my appearance."
Some of the worst days happen with Billy, especially when he used to tell me that I was pretty, and then would spit gum in my face. Still, every basket has more than one bad apple. Second to Billy, there is Chris Hargenson. Unlike Billy, she is the image of the dreaded rich girl—shiny, bottle-blonde hair done by people at the salon; clothes that have come from the best stores to date, and money to spend every day, and still have enough to last her the rest of eternity.
But, just like always, those two have been the leaders of every prank, every joke, everything that has ever happened to me in the world of elementary school interaction. Twelve long years of the same thing—name-calling, jokes, laughing, and every possible torture! And just like every other kid that has been teased all their lives, I would sit alone in a secluded corner, and cry till my eyes were sore and I couldn't feel the tears anymore. Eventually, though, the kids would find me again, and the ridicule would continue viciously.
This just goes to show that every day in my life, I've been labeled as a dork, a loser, every word in the book by the rest of the kids! What's worse is that Billy and Chris have gone to such measures to make it that way—such as threatening to beat me till I'm purple and black, or take what lunch money Momma gave me, that I am barely comfortable mentioning the problem to myself. I can't trust my teachers. So, more than anything, I just want someone my own age— someone I can play with and talk to like the rest of the kids.
I'm scared enough even, to not want to play on the playground outside the school. The rest of the kids always play there, but I end up sitting under the bushes by the fence.
"Hey, where's Crap-Brain Carrie?" Chris sometimes asked, using her nickname for me. This is when I knew that I should dig deeper into the bushes—because any minute now, Chris and Billy, along with their friends, will come and play pranks on me.
"Yeah, where is that bag of dirt?" her friend, Helen, would ask.
"Hold on a minute, don't say that!" another friend, Tina, would pipe up.
Suddenly, I felt a sweet pang of happiness. But that was only on the first time I heard that.
"What are you saying?" Chris gasped, her eyes shocked.
"Carrie is not dirt," Tina continued. "There are things so much lower than dirt. Like worms for instance! And that's just what Carrie is. A worm head!" And right on cue, they burst into laughter. "They might as well have called her Carrie Wipes-Ass, instead of White."
I cringed every time I heard that word. Carrie White is my christened name, the name that my momma gave me when she and my daddy did it in the bed.
The thought of my parents drove me deeper into the bushes. The kids never forgot the strange story of that one day at the fence that went between my house and the one next door—it began it as a scary story at Halloween parties, but the kids soon turned it into a story about me.
I had met the neighboring girl, who was lying naked on a lawn chair. She had these little sacks hanging from her chest, which Momma called "dirtypillows". She also told me that good girls didn't have them. But this girl did. And when I told her what Momma said, she didn't have time to react, because Momma charged out of the house. She told me to go to the closet, and pray for forgiveness. I still remember shivering when she told me to go there. I hated that place—with its cruel-looking crucifix, lonely prayer candle, and tight space that made me feel like I was being kept prisoner by God. But then the moment that I was thrown into the closet, I heard thunder from out of nowhere—out of the clear blue sky. I was scared—of Momma, of the closet—and began to cry and wail like I was awake during a nightmare. The lights suddenly began flickering and the windows flapped open and closed, like ghosts were moving them, while Momma struggled with me.
Then there were the stones. I saw them through the windows when Momma shoved me through the closet door. They were falling like rain from the sky, although there were no clouds. I heard the neighbors screaming, just under my screams.
The kids thought this story was incredibly funny—only because they saw it as an excuse to make fun of me.
Later on, I found that I couldn't believe in that story. How could things like that happen? Things moving and levitating by themselves? Windows opening and closing, although there was hardly any wind, and no one to move them?
Still, I'm trying to hope that by some miracle, I can escape the Billys and Chrises of the Chamberlain town, and finally be somewhere I truly belong.
But first, I would have to get past them—by whatever strange thing happened to me one day.
It was just after lunch on the playground on a Tuesday. Routine followed—the kids played and ran and screamed on the playground, while I hid in the bushes, trying not to listen to the name-calling. The bushes are really dark, especially because they are so thick—I was sure not even the brightest summer day could break through.
But suddenly, I was hit by a bright burst of light! Someone had lifted the bushes away.
Peering back at me was Chris.
"Hi, Carrie!" she exclaimed, sounding surprisingly happy to see me. "Come on out!"
I shook my head. I knew what she would do to me. "I don't want to," I answered simply.
"No, we're not going to hurt you," she persisted. "We don't bite."
This was really odd. For once, Chris looked truthful. Her eyes were full of plead, and her gesture seemed sincere. "You really want me to come out?" I said.
"Of course! We want to have a talk with you first."
I felt, in a way, that I was taking my chances. But I followed her out anyway, hoping that this would be good at the least.
Sure as I was, there were the rest of the kids, gathered near the swing set. They all had the same expression, and it looked like they were sorry for something.
"Come, sit," Chris said, motioning me towards the bench next to the slide. Reluctantly, I sat down next to her, and she put her arm around my shoulder.
"Listen, Carrie," she said; I think she was struggling not to call me "Creepy Carrie" or something like that. "We've been thinking, and we think it's time that we stopped teasing you. After all, you are one of us, and Mr. Morton doesn't want us treating you like you're just a rotten piece of dirt, would she?"
"No," I answered.
'Then, we have made it official. We want you to be one of us." She pointed at me, looking a lot like the Uncle Sam poster in my history classroom. "You only spend the next six months here, and we think that you should have some good times here."
"Yeah, we need someone else who can play tag and can help us watch the little squirts," Billy added. "In fact, come swing with us."
There seemed to be something weird about Billy—he never smiled like that unless he was having something to do with me. Still, I decided to play along, and see what would happen. Moving slowly on my feet, I walked towards the swing, and Billy and Chris followed me there.
The swing felt hard after sitting in the soft bushes, but just the same, it felt kind of good to enjoy the moment.
And then suddenly, I was knocked from the seat by a hard push. I landed on my hands on the hard mulch, my palms stinging with new splinters etched into my tender, fair skin.
I turned my head and saw Billy and Chris standing behind the rocking swing, sneering like they had conquered the world. "You really thought that we would make you one of us?" Billy sneered. "That would never happen in a zillion years!"
"Yeah, Carrie Wipes-Ass!" Chris added snidely. "You are lower than the mulch! You're practically a bug from where we are! And that is all you'll ever, ever, ever be!"
The other kids began laughing, kicking the mulch in my face. The little chips got into my eyes, scratching the whites and turning my eyes red with tears. "Carrie's a bug! Carrie's a bug!" Billy and Chris chanted, continuing with the mulch-kicking. Then the kids proceeded to kick me around like I was some a soccer ball. I moaned every time they kicked me in my stomach or on my head.
I started crying—hard. My stomach heaved with the humiliation and my chest quivered with the tears.
But then, almost instantly, my stomach stopped heaving and my chest stopped quivering, halting the tears in my eyes. My throat and chest felt hot, like I coughed up lemon juice, and soon my entire body felt warm, like I was sitting by the fire in winter. The warmth gave me the strength to stand up and resist the kicking. I scrambled from the mulch and ran for the bushes, running until I could see all of the other kids within my sight. There, I would want to see them—to somehow tell them how I felt through my eyes.
My eyes got hot—my entire body felt hot, like I was standing on the sun. My fists clenched, and I could feel a strong, magnetic force flowing through me, growing hotter and hotter until my body jolted.
My eyes couldn't close—I wasn't letting them. My focus was too strong—I wanted to do something to those devils. I wanted to make them suffer, make them get hurt, make them feel the pain I had felt for the last twelve years! The force made me feel tight, and yet at the same time loose—sort of how I felt in athletic lessons at school during the warm-ups.
I felt my brain move inside me when I concentrated enough. Like a flex…or something. Yes, that's the word. Flex.
"What's going on?" a kid said, pointing at the teeter totter behind me.
I heard a clanging behind me—it was moving up and down. Still though, my focus was too strong to look back, and my desire to somehow make something bad happen to those kids was beginning to overpower me.
"C'mon!" Billy shouted, running towards the school.
Oh, no. They were not going to get away.
Almost without my knowing, my head whipped around and I spotted the monkey bars behind me next to the teeter totter. My eyes got so hot that tears ran down my cheeks as they laid themselves on the monkey bars.
There was a tearing sound as the monkey bars actually lifted off the ground, swirling towards the other kids under the watch of my eyes. The impact was surprising, and I actually grew scared of what was happening. So I turned and buried myself deeper inside the bushes. Except, instead of looking back to find the other kids, I cowered, facing away from the playground. "Go away! Go away!" I murmured over and over. Tears washed my face clean, hoping my chanting would make the invisible monster in my mind go away.
"I thought for sure we would get killed!" I heard Chris say dramatically. She sighed in the same way, pretending to faint.
I flashed my eyes at her angrily, and the heat flared in them.
Chris's hair suddenly whipped over her face, like a wind had blown it over. Her skirt blew right up over her bunny rabbit underwear, leaving the kids in gut-splitting laughter.
I for one was a little shocked. This had never happened before. It was weird that I ever got this mad at Chris for teasing me. And when I did, my eyes got hot, and strange things happened…
No, I knew it was impossible.
Though, suddenly, I felt like something extraordinary was in the works. Besides, how could my eyes get hot, my anger flare up, and Chris's skirt would blow over her face although there was not a breath of air strong enough to do that on a day like this?
I took one last look around the playground. I got comfortable in the grass, straightening my shirt, making sure no one was coming.
But, somewhere deep down, I felt like I was kidding myself. If I was thinking for one minute that the whole thing was magic, then I could be as crazy as Momma. I never believed the story of the scary events that happened that one day at my house, so why would I believe in it now?
After a moment of thinking, I cleared my throat, and concentrated on the swing where Chris has pushed me off. I felt the heat, the movement in my brain.