Category: CARRIE

One Step Closer

One Step Closer

The morning was really good for once – until the phone rang.

She didn’t take it. Not yet. She was not going to answer that damn phone. She had any number of excuses in the back of her mind, vague, dreamily, like nothing else mattered than here and now. And everything else could magically take care of itself. You could say – think – anything to shape your world and it would do as you pleased.

In the end she took it. Her lips still tasted salty and she allowed herself a second to remember that …

“Carrie – ? Are you there, honey?”

Okay, now there was no way back:

“Mum – what is it? Has something happened?”

She almost wished for it, although her gut told her it was not like that. And her heart that it should not be like that.

But it was something that would make her perfect, salty day all dry up.

Carrie seated herself upright in the bed, with the cell phone pressed hard to her ear. She soon pulled her legs up under herself, pressing her jaw equally hard towards her knees as she listened. It had only taken 10 seconds and now she was curled up like a steel spring.

Jon did not wait long before he rolled out and began looking for his socks and jeans as if nothing had happened. He knew it was now the only thing he could do.

The quiet morning before the suburban beehive woke up was still quiet. But in Carrie’s mind storms were raging.

Why could it never be different with mum, after all these years?

“Please, could you say that again?”

Carrie had to ask because from the moment she had picked up the phone, everything had become more and more unreal.

Her mother was happy to prolong that reality:

“Look, I know it’s hard to wrap your head around, and they have hundreds, if not thousands, of candidates. But this time it is you!” 

“Me … “

“Yes! Marcus will give you a 100,000 dollars as part of the Church Universal’s yearly Give Way-Event. The only condition is that you’ll use them to improve, well, anything really. Start that business. Draw … whatever.”

“Uh … I don’t know if,” Carrie tried, but it was really too late.

“Don’t you think that it is awesome, darling?” her mother beat on. “I am really glad Marcus and I kept contact all those years. And you know, last year there was a widow who lived on welfare in Boston who received the Event Money and she has a small salon today that – “

“Look,” Carrie said, “I’m really not sure that – “


“I mean,” her mother continued undaunted, as always, “with you leaving college like that and never becoming a lawyer and then – “ she hesitated ever so slightly ” – that problem down in Florida, and all the hard work afterwards … I think you deserve it, Carrie.”

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His Last and First Breath

His Last and First Breath

“I should have died.” 

The words were hoarse and rough, like that desert he had breathed for most of a year. Over there …

“Don’t say that. Please, don’t say that.” Carrie held him tighter. “What about us?”

“It’s not that,” Jon said. “But sometimes there is a feeling of certainty … when it is your time. In Iraq, when we were being evacuated after our chopper was shot down, some of the guys from my squad were still … breathing. The medics talked like they could save them. But my pals … they just looked at me like it was all over. Somehow they knew they would not make it.”

“And you?”

“I knew that that time would not be it.”

“Why? How? How did you know?”

He shook his head. “Can’t explain it. At first, you are frightened, sure. And your body acts its best not to get hit. That’s instinct. But a part of you is just … in another place. And you know that this time you will not die.”

“It could be imagination … something your mind does to protect you.” She let him go, gently. She was searching for some kind of conclusion. 

The dishes were still out in the kitchen. The kids were on their way home. Life pushed its way back towards them. 

But Jon shook his head again. Like all of that ‘life’ was one enormous experience you could never be sure of. “Maybe you are right. But the other day – when I was drowning – then I felt for certain I was a goner. In a way that I had never felt in Iraq. And then …”

“Then you saw the boy.”

“Yes.”

2 days earlier … 

There had been rain all night, a defiant remnant of Hurricane Rosa. Jon had driven through it on the first part of his watch, and the morning sky had been like a whipped up ocean. As if the storm had to punish someone before it finally died out. 

It was always an event when they got weather like this in Arizona because everything was dry and seared most of the year. But not that morning. It had been useless driving more until it was all over. So Jon had pulled over for some coffee at his favorite diner in Gila Bend. 

There had been ample time to drink and chat but mostly just sit and watch the colossal shower outside coming down hard on the small desert town.

And wonder if he would do the same thing in 10 years’ time.

When the rain finally receded enough, he got back in the patrol car and headed out Pima towards Interstate 8, ignoring several small lakes now pooling on the road. He sped up and slashed through them with water spraying to all sides. Just like all the other drivers.

It was still overcast, but he had a feeling it would clear any moment.

Jon was about to turn on the radio to hear how bad Phoenix was hit when he crossed Sand Tank Wash. 

Usually a long empty scar in the landscape of gravel and dusty sand, Sand Tank Wash was just that – an invisible creek with no water. It didn’t exist until it rained. 

Now the Wash had emerged from non-existence with a vengeance. Jon could hear the roar of the water before he could see it.

From the road, about a hundred yards before he reached the bridge crossing, he could also see thin trees and bushes alongside the wash quivering, but not because of the wind, which was long dead. The torrent of water came down from the mountains with such force that it pulled out enormous chunks of dirt and gravel from the edges of the creek. 

Something else was too close to an edge.

Jon hit the brakes right in a big pool of water, and it looked like the car temporarily exploded in raindrops. 

Then down with the window. “Hey, lady – get away from there!” 

The bridge over the creek had a ‘railing’ only 3 foot high. And somebody was leaning over it. 

It was a woman who looked like she was throwing up down into the flood below. Or … was she trying to jump down into it and had decided against it at the last minute? 

Jon got out and ran across the road, barely pausing to switch on the patrol car lights. The woman stood upright at the sound of Jon’s voice. She was twenty-something and frantic with fear.

“My son is down there!”

Jon hurried to the railing. “Where? Where?!”


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Sparkles In The Rain

Sparkles In The Rain

“What do we do when we feel time is passing too fast?” she asked.

“Do ye feel that already?” her father asked, looking mildly surprised.

“Never mind,” Carrie said. But they had stopped.

“It’s not what I mind,” her father said. “It’s what ye mind. And maybe we haven’t been that much together the last 20 years but I know my daughter. What’s wrong?”

Carrie breathed deeply. They were both standing on the side of a hill overlooking the Bay of Portree. It was crisscrossed with small paths that were barely visible but her father knew them all and she had followed him this far, and he had allowed her to set her own pace.

“Megan died,” Carrie then said. “She was my age – a year younger actually. 37 … ”

Her father nodded gravely: “That’s sad.”

“Yeah … ” Carrie shook her head as if she had been hit by a sudden nausea. “Yeah, it is. She worked at that organisation I told you about. Didn’t know her that well, but … “

“But enough,” her father concluded.

“Yeah.”
They both looked out in the distance. There was mist, as always. In the harbour below small boats darted to and fro and there was a slight hum from the small town around it, giving a faint but reassuring indication of life. And it was life that – in later years, when she got in touch with her father again and more and more often thought of Portree and Skye – had often appeared to her as … uncomplicated. Much more so than the life she knew in the big cities in the States, where she had lived since she was a teenager.

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The Inside That I Carve

The Inside That I Carve

Carrie was trying to decide whether or not to get divorced, while taking the bus for the work she hated.

They had had sex last night, for the first time in months – sure. That was nice. But it wasn’t as if it mattered.

Jon was too tired after, and she didn’t really feel they connected. More like they just tried to copy something they had done without thinking 10 years ago.

Now they were over-thinking it.

So sex, or lack of sex, was a problem but it wasn’t the problem anyway. It was just a sign.

One of many.

“East 24th” the bus driver droned and Carrie got up without thinking, as she had done so many times before.

A lot things you did in life without thinking, and then … when you got thinking too much: It hurt.

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Like Grace From The Earth (III)

Like Grace From The Earth (III)

“Jon is gonna be so pissed.”

“Have you tried calling him again?”

“I’m working on that part.”

“I’m sure he’ll understand.”

“I know he will. But he is gonna be pissed at first.”

The new bus had come to Salton City and apparently it was not going on from there the next 2 hours.

“Gotta have my scheduled break,” was all the new driver had said. He was a big black man with a left eye that looked like it once had met a boxer’s fist. Ernest H – ‘Your God’ had gone back to Bakersfield, when the new bus came to pick them up at the parking lot outside Palm Springs. All the passengers were weary, but some were not too weary to complain loudly over this new, unexpected stop.

“And I’m due in Mexicali for a meeting,” a pale-looking, freckled woman of about Carrie’s age snorted, but didn’t say anymore as if inviting everyone to guess how important the meeting was but not why someone who were due for an important meeting had to go to it in a Greyhound bus.

A fat Texan man in a crisp white shirt and tie argued for a long time with the new driver until he, too, had to give up to the imperatives of regulation.

“Look here,” the driver said with finality, “I’ve been going on for 10 hours until I had to pick up you lot up in Palm. Do you want to be in Mexicali 2 hours later, or do you want to be in a ditch somewhere because I feel asleep behind the wheel?”

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Like Grace From The Earth (II)

Like Grace From The Earth (II)

The bus was going nowhere – again. Another problem with the engine, Ernest growled from his driver’s throne. Carrie went out the bus and over the parking lot for more water.

There was a McDonalds at the other end. Most of the others went out, too. But Carrie came back in again. It was like entering an oven. She tapped the air condition. It was as dead as the engine. The old woman – Anne – didn’t seem affected, though. Not yet.

“Sorry if it’s not too cold,” Carrie said and handed Anne her plastic bottle. “It looked as if the fridge in there wasn’t working properly.”

“Thank you, honey,” Anne said and drank.

“Damn,” Carrie muttered under her breath. “Jon’s not gonna think the world of me if I come late back to Yuma again. He’s drowning in work these days and first Emma had the flu and Michael – “

“The bus will probably be going again soon,” Anne says quietly. “I don’t think you will be too badly delayed. Was he very upset when you called?”

“No … in fact he sounded very calm about it. But that’s usually a sign … that he is biting on something.”

“He has a temper, your Jon? Some men do.”

“You know,” Carrie said, very still, as she sat down again “ – he is so controlled, at home – usually. But then there are these small eruptions … like he’s holding something back. God, it would be easier if I had a job … then the bargaining would be more equal, if you know what I mean?”

Anne nodded, while looking out the window. The carpark off the highway was almost empty. “It is important to feel equal,” she then said. “Even if you’re not. Hans and I used to fight a lot.”

“What did you fight about?”

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