Fifth song of Tori Amos's Scarlet's Walk. Preceded by Strange and followed by Crazy. This story is loosely inspired by the events said to take place in the song.
carbon-made found her at the
End of a chain
"time to race" she said
"race the downhill"
She was thinner than I remembered. Tanned and drained by the desert. Drained of water, that is, not of energy. Not by far. Not yet.
"Scarlet!" she exclaimed as soon as she saw me, and looked me in the eye, grinning. "I'm so delighted to see you! It's been ages and ages!!!" Her face became more serious. "Hasn't it?"
"Uh-huh," I confirmed drowsily, weary with travel. She supported me, limbs aching, as I left the Greyhound and climbed into her pickup.
Carrie kept the conversation up all the way to her home - "Never thought I'd live in a trailer, hahaha," - while I murmured encouraging words and gave nods I hoped she could perceive through the air. It was only when we arrived at her place she asked me what had happened in my life lately.
"Not too great," I told her. "I just broke up with this guy... not that I'm shedding any tears over him." I tried very hard not to make my eyes twinkle.
She tutted and fussed me to bed, and I woke up feeling better than I had in a long time.
a Gunner's View
"It looks even better with snow," she explained as we gazed out over the summerly ski resort. "But, of course, then there are more people."
"It's lovely," I said. "It feels so real. This is like the original America."
"Lots of history here," Carrie mused. "Wounded Knee is just across the hill, so to speak."
"Have you ever been there?" I asked.
"No, never. Too painful."
As I slowly regained strength, Carrie lost it. Her chatter became more infrequent and less predictable. She would jump from one unrelated topic to another without noticing the friction. One night I woke up to her sobbing.
"It's nothing," she insisted. "I just get like this sometimes."
I knew that, of course. I was still worried.
After I'd been there for a couple of weeks, Carrie started disappearing. Just like that, she would be gone, for hours. She'd return in various states: Sullen, apologetic, torn. She claimed she had some thinking to do.
We had our first big argument when she came back bleeding.
"I want you to see a doctor," I ordered.
"See him for me," I pleaded.
"No more meds," she replied.
Get me Neil on the line
No i can't hold
have him read
Although they weren't exactly what you would call friends, Neil and Carrie understood each other better than most people do. I phoned him up daily, begging for advice.
"Yoga," he suggested one day. "Exercise," another. That's how he had combatted it, he claimed. He was perfectly normal now, he said.
"We would have destroyed one another," he confided.
In the end, I ended up guarding her as much as I was visiting her. "What are you up to?" I asked her with my mother's voice whenever the room went too quiet. "Where are you going?" I asked, like my father, if she even approached the door. After days of this, she told me to see a doctor.
your eyes on
Swallowing tears, I climbed into the safety of the bus. "I'm sorry," had been her parting words, were mine. "Keep in touch," she had said, "you know where to find me."
I knew I didn't.