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Carla's World (standard:drama, 2944 words)
Author: LaineAdded: Mar 08 2001Views/Reads: 2258/1362Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Carla's world is lonely and unobserved. Can glimpses into her empty life make you care about the end of it?
 



Click here to read the first 75 lines of the story

* 

The supermarket is busiest on Saturday mornings and Carla rings through
the purchases of the early bird shoppers. Cheese and cereal and tampons 
and soap, again and again like a grocery store merry-go-round. The 
beeps and the clicks fade into the background as Carla takes their 
money and scans their shoppers points cards. She falls into a daze that 
she worries will get her fired for being careless. 

* 

Saturday night Carla goes to the senior citizen's home five blocks from
her apartment building with a dish of cookies wrapped in brown paper 
and tied with a string. She once saw in a movie the same presentation 
and when she brings her grandfather the cookies she imagines that she 
is the beautiful granddaughter in a critically acclaimed motion 
picture. 

* 

Her grandfather is watching a M*A*S*H* rerun when she enters his room
and he says, "Those are my cookies!" when he spies the package. Carla 
says, 

"No, these are for my grandfather," 

and he says, "I thought I was your grandfather," 

and she replies, "Oh, that's right, my memory's slipping," as she wraps
her arms around his fleshy neck without breathing. She smiles 
fleetingly at the nurse who passes by, both relieved that this has been 
an easy day for him. Carla asks about his day and he asks about hers 
and when she looks at the clock for the third time in ten minutes he 
says that he is sleepy and could she please go. 

* 

Carla considers the notion of an ideal world as she walks up three
flights of stairs to her apartment one morning, and wonders if 
apartment buildings are ideal. She thinks that maybe an elevator would 
be ideal for the days she brings groceries, but today her hands are 
free. Even in her own ideal world, she thinks, there would be conflict. 
If there were an elevator just for the days she had groceries it would 
go unused for thirteen days at a time. And if she used the elevator on 
the days she did not have groceries she would feel lazy and then what 
would the stairs be for? Fire emergencies, she supposes, and then adds, 
God forbid. 

* 

Carla has a dream one night about one of the boys that works at the cash
register next to hers. His name is Darren and he has feathery blond 
hair and dark brown eyes. In the dream he writes her a letter 
professing his love and Carla ponders the note for ten days. As it 
sometimes happens, being aware of his feelings inspires her own and she 
writes back confessing her love. When Darren asks Carla to be his 
girlfriend she says okay. 

When she wakes up that morning to go to work she tries to recall her
dreams. She remembers Darren and their love and her heart still 
tightens as though it were for real. That day when Darren arrives late 
for work she stares at him much too long. 

* 

When Carla walks home from the bus stop one day after work she spies a
small squirrel running up a tree and into a small hole. She remembers 
reading books about squirrels making homes in trees and spending the 
winter in there. In her mind Carla decorates her tree home with scraps 
of newspaper and fluffy blue wool. 

* 

One night as she returns from the senior citizens home, Carla imagines
that there is a man dressed in black following her. In the daydream he 
starts to run and she flees, though not fast enough because quickly he 
is on top of her. But she is too skinny for him to hold on to, and she 
uses the skills acquired in self defense work shops to leave him 
writhing in pain on the sidewalk as she walks away triumphantly. An 
airplane flies by over head and she imagines the passengers cheering 
for her. Something rattles behind her and Carla looks over her shoulder 
to be sure there are no real men in black back there. 

* 

Carla watches a gourmet cooking show the night before she goes to work
and tries to write down all the ingredients. The next day after work 
she walks through the store slowly, pushing her cart, trying hard to 
find the items on her scribbled little list. But she knows she is 
missing many important things and in the end she just buys one thing 
from the list and promises to make something with it. 

* 

Carla watches tv one night and waits for the movie she knows will start
soon. The familiar bars of the Wayne's World theme play and she smiles 
wanly, thinking. Could she have a tv show of her life? Carla's World? 
Would she sit in her basement and play air guitar or maybe show off her 
drawings? Maybe someone would see her cable access television show and 
then she would become famous and go on talk shows and talk about silly 
Carla's World and how it had become her ticket to success. 

Sitting at her desk with the pen poised above the clean white paper,
Carla struggles to think of an opening joke for Carla's World. Of 
course she doesn't really believe it will become a show, she would 
never pitch it, but what harm could come from just writing some ideas 
down? She already had the sketches. She should start with the title, so 
she writes carefully across the top, Carla's World. Watching the ink 
stain the paper, spreading slowly with each loop and dip and swoop, she 
writes it again, for the pure pleasure of writing, the pen gliding with 
ease up and down and around each letter. Curling and wrapping in neat 
succession, spelling out her name, her world. Carla's World, Carla's 
World, Carla's World, until each word loses meaning and each letter 
becomes a mark and a loop on a page of repetition. Carla's World. 

* 

She passes fat Daniel one day as she walks from the bus stop to the
grocery store. He stares at her with his fat lower lip hanging open, 
his blue hat lopsided on his round head. She stares back and narrows 
her eyes, wiping at her lip and wondering if maybe he remembers. 

* 

Carla dreams one night that she is drowning in a river that is two feet
deep and twenty four feet wide. She knows the width because she had 
been measuring it carefully as she walked across, each step carefully 
designed to be one foot ahead of the other. And then suddenly the 
current had wrapped around her calves, swirling and tightening until 
she lost her balance, twining around her like vines as she struggled to 
sit up. Sputtering in the icy water it pulled her hair and pressed her 
cheek to the sand on the bottom while the white foam hid her from view 
from any passerby. 

* 

Carla stops into a pet store one Saturday and walks to the back where
they keep the puppies. She crouches on the floor and stares inside the 
glass at the squiggly warm bodies fighting to sleep in the water bowl. 
Her eyes water and she smiles fleetingly at the wet brown eyes that 
occasionally glance up at her, and she looks at the price and considers 
her bank account and leaves. 

* 

Carla studies the haiku she wrote a while ago, and furrows her brow in
consideration. Does a haiku have five syllables, seven, five? Or seven, 
five, seven? She should probably write one that works for both 
situations, in case one time she suddenly needs to bring out a copy and 
it is wrong. 

Staring unaware 

Behind big glass windows 

Never quite content 

Carla furrows her brow and stares at the paper. Is that right? She puts
her second haiku next to it and studies the two. 

World of fantasy 

Lost inside a hidden soul 

Forgotten, really 

She cannot remember which of the two it is. She cuts the paper into thin
strips, each line on its own individual piece. Spying her list of 
titles for Carla's World, Carla  cuts each of those as well. She slides 
the papers into her book of sketches, along with her Carla's World 
scribbles, and puts it under her pillow. 

* 

Carla sets the cookies down on the nightstand next to her grandfather
and takes his hand. Tonight, the nurse has told her, is not a good 
night. Lately, this is how it has been, though until this moment, Carla 
had always been lucky. Her grandfather stares up at her through filmy 
blue eyes and opens his dry lips. She can see the cracks and crust 
along the edges and averts her eyes, embarrassed. He groans from deep 
in his throat and she smiles down at him. 

"Don't ask for those cookies," she warns him, her smile faltering as he
groans again. He lets go of her hand and rolls his eyes to the ceiling. 
She waits for ten minutes but he does not look at her again. Slowly she 
stands up and collects her coat, unwrapping the plate of cookies so he 
will be able to get one easier when he comes to again. "Bye," she 
whispers softly, leaving quickly. She avoids looking at the nurses when 
she leaves, and does not wipe her eyes until she is outside. 

* 

As she walks home, Carla studies the dark shapes of the clouds. The moon
is hidden and tonight she cannot recognize any constellations. The wind 
picks up and she tightens her jacket around her waist and puts her head 
down against the cold. Her mind wanders as she walks, and she remembers 
thinking about being chased and beating her pursuer. Looking down the 
empty street she decides that would not be such a fun thing. Something 
glints on the sidewalk and she kneels to pick it up. Behind her, 
something shuffles, and then stops. She looks over her shoulder 
sharply, but the street is deserted. Her brow tightens and she picks up 
the dime and resumes walking, listening carefully. Moments later she 
hears something behind her, but when she looks the street is still 
empty. She jams her hands into her pockets and tries not to be 
paranoid. The next time she stops and hears the shuffling, she looks 
around quickly, and then starts to run. 

* 

She runs up the steps of her apartment building two at a time and jams
her key into the door so hard she bruises her fingers. She does not 
look over her shoulder as she bounds inside, going up the three floors 
to her apartment faster than she had ever imagined. She does not 
realize that the main entrance door bounced open behind her, and failed 
to catch properly as it closed. 

* 

Inside her apartment Carla hangs up her coat with trembling hands. She
is breathing hard and her face is hot and red. She whirls with a start 
and scurries to the door, locking first the handle, and then the 
deadbolt. Her knuckles are white, and her legs are weak. She goes to 
the kitchen and pours a glass of water, drinking it quickly, closing 
her eyes, and trying to slow the pounding of her heart. It was all in 
her head, she knows, but still she feels very scared. Very near death. 

* 

Carla leaves both the tv and radio on for the rest of the evening. She
carries a steak knife and cordless telephone wherever she goes, and 
keeps the bathroom door open while she brushes her teeth, to be certain 
no one slips past. When she retires to her bedroom finally, she is 
exhausted and still scared. She does not turn off the tv or radio, 
preferring to hear their noise to the sounds she will make inside her 
head. Sitting on the bed she tucks the knife under the pillow, beside 
her sketch book, haikus, and Carla's World scribbles. She carefully 
sets the phone on the nightstand, then tucks herself in securely. She 
hesitates before switching off the light, then gets back out of bed and 
checks the locks on the door and the windows. Satisfied, she returns to 
her room and shuts the door behind her. As she lay in bed in the dark, 
Carla wishes she had a dog. 

* 

While Carla dreams she twists the sheets around her legs and wraps her
fingers around the headboard. There is an incredible pressure on her 
body and she cannot breathe. Her throat hurts, and her mouth is dry. 
She tries to wipe her eyes but finds her hand cannot move, even if she 
has let go of the headboard. She licks her lips and finds her tongue is 
swollen and that her lips are salty and wet. Struggling to open her 
eyes, Carla sees something move above her. Something large and looming, 
kneeling on her, holding her down, pushing on her neck. Her eyes widen 
as she sees eyes glint in the light from the window and she realizes 
someone is on her. She tries to scream but the pressure on her throat 
makes tears spring to her eyes and her chest starts to ache horribly. 
She remembers the steak knife under her pillow and struggles to free 
her hands, her tears hot and wet on her cheek, blood trickling from her 
lips. Small, indecipherable sounds come from her throat, but she cannot 
control them. The tips of her fingers brush against the steel of the 
blade as the pillow is yanked from under her head. Her skull bounces 
off her book of sketches, sending paper fluttering around her. The last 
of the air in her lungs is expelled by the knee forcing itself into her 
chest but Carla does not close her eyes. Around her float the strips of 
words from her haiku, arranging themselves messily around the bed. When 
she is found five days later, they will be mistakenly interpreted as a 
clue by a poetic killer. 

Never quite content 

Lost inside a hidden soul 

World of fantasy Staring unaware 

Forgotten, really 

Behind big glass windows 

Interspersed, in her hair and on the floor, covering the bed and
nightstand, sticky with blood, is the title: Carla's World Carla's 
World Carla's World Carla's World Carla's World. 


   


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