Other Wind
26 / August26 / August26 / August

Carly (Excerpts)

Carly took one bag of groceries in for her mother. She started to go back and get more, but decided that going to her room would be a better sort of protest. She went upstairs, closed her door, and waited to see how long it would take for her mom to miss her. Fifteen minutes later, her mom called her from the kitchen.

“Carly. The soup that you put on looks really good. I’ve got to go soon, so let’s eat.”

When she got to the kitchen, her mom had set the table and was already eating.

“I’ll be back by midnight, sweety. I’ve already locked all the doors except the garage. Lock that one after I leave.”

“Ok.” Does she think I’m stupid? I lock it almost every night before she even asks me to. Ignorant. Carly loved that word. One thing she was really good at was determining when people were being ignorant.

She sat silent throughout the meal, waiting for her mom to notice. Finally, her mom put forward a “How was your day?”

“Fine.” She had been waiting for that question but couldn’t find the energy to say anything else when it finally came. So she continued. “How was yours?”

“Oh, pretty good. Busy.”

Carly looked at her soup for a few seconds, trying to think of something else to say before settling on “Why?”

“Well, it is the end of the month. I had to get some reports done and we had a birthday party for Hank.”

“Did he get mad again?”

“Yeah, but that’s Hank. You know he really loved it.”

Carly wasn’t too sure. People always thought shy people like Hank secretly loved getting attention. She suspected they were usually wrong about these things, but didn’t bother arguing with her mom about it. The words “end of the month” hooked her attention. The letter was going to come by the end of the month and that was in two days.

“You can just leave the dishes for me, sweety. I’ll do them in the morning.” Carly’s mom took her own bowl to the sink and left the room. A few minutes later she came back in her light pink sweat suit with spaghetti stains, grabbed her purse, and kissed Carly goodbye. Carly sat with her soup for a while and then got up to take care of the dishes.

The moon was new that night. Carly sat out on the back porch in her pajama shirt. She wished she had the nerve to sit out there naked—that would really get to her mom—but she didn’t. The Varnells next door were probably all in bed and the Westermans were on vacation, but Carly couldn’t chance it. Instead she wore a bright green t-shirt that was three sizes too large and had an elf on the front. Her uncle Jess had given it to her for Christmas. He said he didn’t want her to cry if it was too small, her being a girl and all. Now she had Christmas all year long.

Carly liked new moon nights. The stars stood out more. She gazed every night her mom stayed out, at first just to for spite, but now because she liked it. Everything changed at night. She turned all the lights off in the house so that neighbors and passersby would think she was asleep and then stayed outside for an hour past when she should have been in bed. The darkness covered her. She tried to pay attention to the sky, to look at each star, but her mind always fell to other thoughts. Once or twice she had gone to sleep out there and woken up a few hours later, chilled and dewy.


First, there were more lightning bugs than at home. They drifted on the darkening air above the field. On. Off. I wonder how high they can go, Carly thought. She looked up into the sky, but it was lighter farther up and she couldn’t tell if the bugs were there or not. This place was extra loud, too. Cicadas or something. At home, a main road ran near the house, so Carly never heard the fullness. Creaks and escalating buzzes. Chirps. Creepy but comforting. She was alone with who knows what sort of creatures, but at least she had a sort of company.

She dropped her pack and sat against a tree on the edge of the field. Here, she was still in the woods, hidden, but she could see the field and run out into the open if need be. She would stop for a while and rest. She wouldn’t sleep, though, until daylight.

Carly woke up. It was still dark and she was cold. Stupid. She remembered fighting her eyelids, but they must have won. She tugged the blanket from the bottom of her pack and displaced several other items onto the ground. Crap. She reached down. Slime on her fingers and a scream escaped. Just a small one, but she was sure all the creatures heard. It must have been a slug. Or a snake. No, remember, snakes aren’t slimy. She stayed still and tight against the tree to avoid another brush against the sluggy thing and to be invisible.

Good story, so far. Don't remember reading the preceding parts.

Posted by: Mom on August 30, 2003 07:52 AM