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|Carla's World (standard:drama, 2944 words)|
|Author: Laine||Added: Mar 08 2001||Views/Reads: 2402/1532||Story 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. Tweet
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