PREVIOUSLY: Glen taught Carrie how to temporally banish Mindylenopia. Frank and Luci broke up. Chartreuse fell in love with Carrie.
PART 75a: HI ANXIETY
Chartreuse smiled engagingly. For about five seconds. Then she knocked her fist against her forehead several times and cleared her throat. Finally, taking a quick breath, she looked back into the mirror.
“Carrie, you look so ravishing today, and you know, for the record, I’d LOVE to ravish… okay, HELL no.”
This time, the pink haired mystic paced back and forth across her bedroom floor several times, pausing twice to adjust the straps of her dress, only then resuming her position in front of the vanity.
“Carrie, here’s the thing. I feel we have a certain, you know, bond. It’s not about powers, it goes beyond that! It’s like, sometimes when I see you – particularly when you’re cheerleading – I have this, like, overwhelming desire to run over, grab you around the waist, and bury my face in your–”
“Please, I beg of you, don’t finish that sentence.”
Chartreuse yelped and spun around so fast that she nearly lost her footing. She managed to grab the edge of her desk to stay upright. “Azure! Privacy!!”
Her younger sister pointed. “Open door.”
“I thought you were, you know, out studying all this morning!”
“Faye switched it to the afternoon.”
“Well… SHOULDER, you perv! Bury my face in her, like, SHOULDER.”
“Uh huh. I would totally take you to task for that, if it weren’t for one thing.”
Chartreuse planted her hands on her hips. “What thing?”
Azure leaned back against the doorframe, shoving her hands into her jeans. “You’re obviously enough of a basket case about it already.”
“Thanks.” Chartreuse marched over to grab her bedroom door, with the intention of slamming it. Her sister reached out and slapped her palm against it before she could.
“Hold on. For serious, what’s the deal with you and Carrie?”
“There IS no deal with, you know, us!”
“I’ve noticed. What, did she find out you were a lesbian and kick your ass to the curb?”
“I’m not a lesbian!” She shoved at the door, but Azure shoved back.
“Oh, sis, really? You still talk like your last valley girl girlfriend, you CANNOT be that much in denial.”
“I’m, like, bisexual! Okay?” Giving up after a second attempt on the door, Chartreuse went over to her bed, throwing herself sideways onto it and deliberately looking at the opposite wall.
“Wow.” Azure cleared her throat. “Right, well, for the record? Mom thinks you’re a lesbian.”
“Bully for her.”
“I’m just saying. A day or so after that time I pulled you back from the brink? She sat me down and gave me the whole lecture about respecting people’s life choices. On top of the one about using our power responsibly, I might add. So if you’re going to start switch-hitting? You might want to give her the heads up.”
“It doesn’t matter, everyone’s, you know, misconceptions are safe. Carrie’s female too.”
“Okay, back to that. What, you think you’ve got a chance with that cheerleader girl?”
Chartreuse grabbed her pillow with the intention of throwing it towards Azure, but she ended up clutching it against her chest instead, not sure how to respond.
“Does Carrie know about your sexual preferences?” Azure pressed.
Chartreuse swallowed. “She’s, like, the only one who does. Aside from Laurie. And now you.”
“So you have a chance. Why’d she end your mystic sessions?”
“To be with her boyfriend.”
“So you don’t have a chance. I’m starting to see the problem.”
Chartreuse gripped the pillow tighter. “Thing is, I’m not sure Carrie can be, like, HAPPY with Glen. Especially recently, now that we know for a fact how he likes her for who she’s going to become, whereas I’M the one who, you know, likes her for who she is NOW.”
“Okay, well, you didn’t always feel that way.”
Chartreuse rolled over to eye her blue haired sister again. Azure was now leaning against the bedroom wall, hands behind her head, staring back at her. “Meaning what?” Chartreuse demanded.
“Meaning I’m not a totally insensitive jerk. I wouldn’t have teased you so much about Carrie if I’d thought you had the hots for real. You spent all summer together without wanting to jump her bones. What changed?” She paled. “Oh no, was it the teasing itself?”
“Ha ha, don’t give yourself so much credit.” Chartreuse thought back to that time at the dance, when she’d acted as Carrie’s anchor to the present. When she’d felt their hearts beating in tandem. When their powers had practically interfaced, and not only then, but the other time, days later at school.
“It was a little over a month ago that I, like, became consciously aware of something that I’d known for a while,” she concluded. “Namely that the two of us… resonate. Spiritually. Despite her, you know, fears, and her occasional bouts of bitchiness doing their best to mask it. Once I was past that, deep down… I saw we, like, resonate.”
Azure stared. “Resonate? What does THAT mean, is this some mystic family thing that I’m gonna understand when I’m older?”
“It’s, like, hard to explain, okay?” Chartreuse sighed. “It’s why I feel like I’m bisexual. I’ve tended to, you know, feel romance spiritually like that before it gets tied to gender.” She smacked herself in the face with her pillow. “A feeling which is NOW the reason I can’t quit Carrie!”
“No, you can’t quit Carrie because she hasn’t outright rejected you yet. Which, now that I understand where this came from, is because she hasn’t been given that opportunity, right? Is that what you’ve been ramping up to today, with your posturing in front of the mirror?”
“Maybe?” Chartreuse kicked herself back up into a sitting position. “I mean, part of me hopes that once she’s said ‘no’, I can, you know, get on with my life. Except, what if she says, like, ‘never come near me again’? I don’t think I could TAKE that, and we’re still sorta friends now, so maybe I should, you know, keep trying to be happy with that.”
“Mmm hmmm. What if she says ‘yes’?”
Chartreuse felt thrown off her stride. “What?”
“You’re building up this huge confession/rejection scenario in your head, and time delaying it as much as you can. Well, what if Carrie says ‘yes’ to a relationship? What if our whole school starts talking about you two as this huge lesbian couple, because they don’t understand the whole bisexual thing?”
Chartreuse bit down on her lip. “Oh, geez. I like to think I wouldn’t, like, care that much. But Carrie sure would. Which means there’s, you know, no WAY I can talk to her.”
“Oh no, you HAVE to talk to her. Otherwise you’ll go nuts. More than usual. But you also have to see the repercussions from Carrie’s point of view. Otherwise you’re not gonna be able to interpret her answer, and you’ll be back here moaning in another two weeks.”
Chartreuse shifted her gaze from Azure back to her vanity. “Huh. Meaning… when I say it… don’t, like, make it a formal declaration? Because that makes it awkward. And about me. When it’s, you know, more about me caring for her in a special way. From afar, if necessary.” She smiled. “Heck, Carrie should like me framing it as being about her, she’s got an ego.” Chartreuse drew in a deep breath. “Thanks, Azure.”
“No problem. You better now?”
Chartreuse nodded. “I think so.”
“Awesome.” Her sister pushed off from the wall. “In gratitude, you’re now covering my laundry duty for the rest of the month.”
“Bye sis, love you,” Azure said, waving airily as she vanished into the hallway. Chartreuse finally threw the pillow at her.
Luci spotted Frank shortly after entering the library. He waved her over, then returned to scrutinizing the book he had on the table.
“Okay, I’m here, what is it you’ve found?” Luci asked, leaning in to look over his shoulder.
“It’s…” Upon turning his head and seeing how close she was, he seemed to freeze up.
Luci took a sideways step away from his chair. “Sorry. Too close?”
“No, it’s… well, maybe. I’m still processing the fact that we’re not… you know.”
“Dating?” Luci finished. She shifted her weight back and forth. “You can send me an email or something with whatever you found out, if that’s easier.”
“No, no, that’s silly… we’re still friends, and I invited you here because this is something you really do need to see in person. I’m just… still processing.”
Luci sighed. “Honestly? I kind of am too,” she admitted. She pulled out the chair next to Frank and sat down. “Not so much the physical proximity stuff, but when I’m writing in my diary, like about a movie I want to see, I’ll first think ‘I should talk to Frank about this!’. As if that wouldn’t be super awkward. So I’m glad you thought of a better reason to call me.”
He smiled wryly. “Alas, it’s just back to time travel. A little personal project I undertook, to keep busy until Carrie becomes more forthcoming.” He glanced at the book of local newspaper clippings, then met her gaze again. “In fact, context first. You know how Carrie banished Mindy to some other time?”
Luci nodded. “Tough thing to forget. Carrie almost got you too, and Julie, and me.”
“Right. And Clarke later told me that Carrie had said she didn’t know when Mindy ended up. But ignoring the ‘when’, doesn’t it stand to reason that, geographically, Mindy would still have ended up here in town?”
Luci leaned on her elbow. “I guess. Temporal Carrie sure didn’t seem to be in the mood to be doing spatial calculations. Though that means it’s equally possible Mindy found herself floating out in Earth orbit around the sun.”
“Okay, that’s a chilling thought… I prefer mine. Which led me to the idea that, what if Mindy left a footprint back in that past? Here in town? One that we might be able to locate today?”
Luci frowned. “Like what? ‘Don’t let Carrie get shot’ carved into a tree trunk 400 years ago?”
“I didn’t need to go that far back.” He pulled over the newspaper book. “What’s your opinion on this?” He tapped at the section ‘Reader Poetry’.
Luci scanned over the entry he was indicating.
‘Back through time, to this Narrow Glen,
I’ve thought within it, now and then.
Of what I did, of memories lost,
Of charging forward, no matter the cost.
Thus, when what was old, becomes new again?
Do heed these words: Don’t trust that Glen.’
It was simply signed, “Mindy”. Luci jerked her gaze up to the top of the page.
“Published five years ago,” Frank acknowledged. “On the exact date in October when Mindy first appeared, smashing into our school. That’s how I found it. I thought I’d check those anniversary newspapers first.”
Luci sat back. “Damn. I mean, we have no guarantee that this was our Mindy, but that’s a freaky coincidence. And more to the point… only five years? It means that, even if we were to assume this ‘Mindy’ was eighty years old at that point…”
He nodded. “Mindy could still exist in our present.”
NEXT: More Questioning.
ASIDE: I wrote a guest post yesterday over at “The Archive of Unusual Events”, check it out here: 13th Floor Concerns. And while there, consider exploring more of Stable’s serial – unusual things surround us! Hope your Christmases were merry.