The Short Life of Carly Lannigan (update 7/30)

B New School[/B]

I don’t think anyone will try to kill me this time. Not here. I mean, as school entrances go, it really doesn’t even look all that imposing: just a medium sized stairway leading to a white double door under an archway with some sort of Latin inscription. I have no clue what it means; I don’t really care either. As long as it doesn’t mean Carly isn’t welcome here it’s fine by me. And I don’t think it means that. I’m pretty sure there’s no reason for anyone here to hate me. Not for who I am or what I am or what I may bring with me. At least not yet.

Mom let me help pick out this town. I think she felt it would give me some ownership in the move or something. I know that’s what my therapist said, anyway, and it sounded good in theory. You’re taking a teen out of school and moving across the country, uprooting her during high school: a traumatic experience, right? She’ll have to say goodbye to her friends, move away from places she feels comfortable and get used to everything all over again. And she’ll be that most awkward of things: the new girl. Truth be told, though, I was ecstatic. I suppose I used to have friends, and if we’d moved a couple of years ago it might have been at least a little bit hard. Now, though? It couldn’t come fast enough because the very last thing I was back in Elmdale was comfortable. If I had really explained to Dr. Sessions (what a name for a shrink!) what was going on at Elmdale High and why I started skipping school…and why I did what I did…I suspect the only move I’d have made would have been into a padded cell.

But Dr. Sessions is behind me now too, like Elmdale High, like Marissa, like… It isn’t good to dwell on this. Picking the new town was interesting. Mom’s new job was going to be in LA, so we had to be in commuting distance, though the fact is that she’d actually be working from home most days. So we sat with a map and a computer and wandered through the towns we had as options. The hundreds of towns we had as options. She suggested we go somewhere near the ocean, and at first I thought that really didn’t matter to me anymore, but she talked me into it. And when it came right down to it, what difference did I really think it would make?

“You’ll regret it if we don’t,” she said, and I had to agree she was probably right. And that’s how we ended up in Corona Bay. It just ended up checking enough of our boxes to pass the test. So now I stand here staring at some Latin writing on the door of Corona Bay High School (Go, Sea Lions!), needing only to walk up the stairs to start my first day. I examine the entryway carefully, searching for any sign of anything that might seem odd, but there’s nothing. Kids file past, normal enough looking kids, not even noticing me, many dressed in the school colors of red and grey. I look down at my red skirt and white top: it will do, I think. Raising my head, I notice a teacher at the top of the stairs looking down at me with a helpful look in his eye. Oh God. Please don’t.

“Miss?” he calls to me. Damn. “You look a bit lost. May I help you?” You might have begun by not calling everyone’s attention to it.

But I give him my best smile. “I’m fine. My first day.”

Now he returns the smile. “Ah, I understand. Well, come on up here and I’ll show you where you’ll need to go.”

Nothing for it now but to go with him. He seems all right.

“I’m Mr. Benson,” he says, his smile seemingly stuck to his face. “I’m one of the Deans, but I hang around in the cafeteria and student commons a lot, so you’ll probably see me there.”

“Nice to meet you,” I say. “I’m Carly Lannigan. Just moved here from near Chicago.”

Mr. Benson appears to be around forty, trim, with short hair graying around the temples. He doesn’t look at all severe though; not like a military kind of guy. More just like someone who takes care of himself. I know exactly what I look like to him: a long-haired redhead in that red skirt and white blouse, no makeup which I should have put on to hide the freckles that are already appearing from the sun, and inexpensive sandals. In other words, I look like every other teenage girl, at least up north. In California, if the kids I saw entering the building are any judge, the girls are all fashion models.

My problem, though, is that I’m most definitely not. Either a fashion model or normal.

I can wish for it all I want, but it just ain’t going to happen. Which is why I’m standing here in the main office of a new school thousands of miles across the country from my old one, in a town where I know no one and no one knows me. I’d say I intend to hide in the crowd here, but it isn’t true. No can do, amigos. That’s for some other chiquita. [INDENT]“But Carly,” Mom said, “it caused you such distress at your last school. We could at least try to keep it to ourselves, couldn’t we? It’s your life, but why does anyone else have to know anyway?”

She was standing in our new kitchen surrounded by unpacked boxes, leaning over the breakfast counter on the opposite side from where I was sitting eating a sandwich: my incredible “Welcome to California” meals were all pretty much like this before we unpacked enough to do some real grocery shopping. One box was open; there were glasses with random colors swirled on them sitting near the sink.

“Your timing is perfect, Mom, to ask that question, as it happens.”

“What do you mean?”

I shook my head. “Breathe deeply, Mom. You’ll know.”

She took a deep breath and suddenly screwed up her nose. “Oh.”

I nodded. “Right. And that will happen no matter what. And happen and happen and happen. So they’ll know, all right, Mom. But this time, they’ll know on my terms.”[/INDENT]

Mr. Benson leaves me with a big, friendly blonde woman. The placard on her desk says her name is Mrs. Girard. She explains how my schedule will work, where I need to go to get books, and some other things. She tells me that if it had been the start of the term there would have been be orientation meeting for new students, but as I’ve missed that I’ll need to start the day with my counselor.

“Are there that many of us?” I ask with a smile.

“You’d be surprised,” she says. “We always seem to have our share.”

She’s laughing so easily with me that I almost hope she doesn’t scan too far down the schedule to see what I know will be there. But of course she does. The look on her face twists into a register of surprise, then almost immediately covers it back up.

“I’m seeing here that you have some…medical issues? Maybe you’ll also need to know where the nurse’s office is?”

My smile doesn’t fade; I hold it steady. “That would be very nice, Mrs. Girard. I am in fact completely incontinent, and I’m in need of a diaper change right now. Could you show me the way?”

I watch her eyes as I say that: she’s stunned, to be sure. She’s never heard a high school kid––or anyone, probably––acknowledge her incontinence or her diaper wearing so boldly and publicly before. Well, get used to it, Sister, because I aim to change all of that. I tried the “I’m ashamed so I hide it” route at my last school, but they found out anyway and it was terrible. [INDENT]“Carly?”

Daria taps me with her pencil and I turn around at my desk, hoping Mrs. Garcia won’t notice. Not that it matters; we’re the two best students in her class.


She glances downward, in the direction of my chair. At first I have no clue what she means. Then I do. I can feel the wetness on my outer thighs and along my lower back: places it isn’t supposed to be. Shit! Daria’s a good friend, but she’s staring at me, looking for some explanation for something I have no explanation for. Suddenly I feel something running down my leg: I’m still wetting! And I know instinctively what is happening below me: it’s running down my pants leg and, since I don’t feel it in my sock, that means it’s ending up––

“Did you just wet yourself?” Tricia’s voice, behind me and to the right. She has a great view under my desk, and she really doesn’t like me. I see her pull out her phone, keeping it under her desk so the teacher won’t see.

I’m done for. I don’t need anything weird to get me; I’m going to do a great job doing myself in.[/INDENT]

Not this time. I’m calling the shots. And as embarrassing as it is, I’m in diapers and I intend to freaking own it. No one can use against me what I openly admit to. I honestly don’t know how this is going to work out, but heck: it’s worth a try.

And if anything else…any other problems…have followed me here…well at least the diapers won’t be a distraction this time. If that had been the case in Elmdale, maybe Marissa would still be alive.

Re: The Short Life of Carly Lannigan

It may be early yet to make any hard conclusions, but I like the direction of the hints I see so far.

Re: The Short Life of Carly Lannigan

It’s an intriguing opening. I get the sense there’s going to be a juxtaposition of hiding vs. openness about her incontinence, which would be an interesting exploration. The line about Marissa gives little a sense of mystery. Grammar and style seem good. One thing (and this is super nit-picky): Instead of “Mr. Benson is around forty,” consider “Mr. Benson appears around forty” or similar to maintain the sense that it’s from Carly’s perspective and not slipping into narration. I look forward to more.

Re: The Short Life of Carly Lannigan

I don’t know if it is just me, but those last couple of lines make me feel like this story is going to have some element of the supernatural about it.

Re: The Short Life of Carly Lannigan

I can roll with that: consider it changed. :slight_smile:

Re: The Short Life of Carly Lannigan

You’ll just have to keep reading to find out!

Re: The Short Life of Carly Lannigan

I also had the sense that the supernatural was threatening to appear, and liking the possibility. I will definitely be looking to find out when the chance comes.

The Short Life of Carly Lannigan (Ch 2; 3/20)

Time for a new chapter to update you on Carly’s too-brief life…

(2) Thus It Begins

Mr. Grayson’s office turns out to be a whole lot bigger than my counselor’s back in Elmdale. He not only has a chair to sit in; he has a freaking couch! And there are potted trees all over the place along with bookshelves full not only of college brochures but actual reading books. Like you could come in here, sit down (or lie down) and read! And don’t even get me started on the windows. Half the room is windows! So much light I can’t believe it. Mrs. Jacobson’s office didn’t even have a window. Sometimes I wasn’t sure they were legal in Elmdale. Seriously: last year I had a whole schedule without a single classroom that had a window. I remember some from freshman year, so I know they are there somewhere, but WTF?

He’s sitting at his desk when I enter: a youngish man with wavy brown hair and oversized ears. He’s looking over a file, probably mine, and the look on his face is inscrutable. If that folder tells the story of my last school, I won’t be off to a good start here. Ah well. He beckons me and I sit on his couch and wait.

Shortly, he puts the folder down on his desk and looks at me for the first time. His eyes are unfathomably blue; I mean it’s really ridiculous. And he’s smiling. Maybe not everything is in the folder.

“Good morning, Carlotta. Have you been finding everything so far?”

I return his smile, not even wincing at my grandmother’s name. My turn. “I go by Carly. Yes, actually. Mrs. Girard was very nice. She showed me where the nurse is, so I could drop off my diaper change supplies there before coming here.”

If that throws him at all I can’t tell by his expression. Oh, this guy’s good. He probably saw it in my records, but still…no reaction to my frank statement: well done!

“Mrs. Feathers is very experienced,” he says. “I’m sure she’ll be able to help you just fine.”

Bravo! No trace of irony. No hint of anything. “Yeah, she seemed really nice. I didn’t exactly get the impression I was the first incontinent kid of her career.”

He laughs. “I’m sure you’re not. Most are probably handled in Special Ed, but there must be many others who’ve been in the main population.”

“Not quite like me, though,” I offer.

He nods. “Well, I guess you’re a bit of an unusual case. May I ask why you’ve decided to be so open about what most kids your age wouldn’t talk about to save their lives?”

And here it is. He’s been dying to know, but he waited patiently for the perfect moment for the question to come up naturally. He’s really good. I’m going need to watch out for this guy. He leans back in his chair, as if this is NBD to either of us. Just another conversation with a kid. What is in that file, anyway? It would probably be helpful to know, but I don’t, so I just stay in the moment.

“No big mystery, Mr. Grayson.”

“Call me Mr. G, Carly. Pretty much everyone does.”

One of those teachers. OK. “That’s cool, Mr. G. Well, as I said, it’s no big mystery. I had all sorts of emotional issues at my old school, and I blame a lot of them on the fact that I was constantly worried about people finding out. And when they did, well, it was pretty much every bit as bad as I thought it would be, just the way it was in middle school and elementary school too. So when we moved I made the decision that I’d just own the thing. It’s not as if I can do anything about it anyway.”

He nods, as if I’ve just said the most natural thing in the world. The tone of his voice when he responds is, if I have to categorize it, interested. “That’s a most…unusual decision, Carly.”

I smile. “I’m sort of an unusual girl.”

“Yes,” he says, and he pauses a bit too long. It is in there. He’s trying to figure out whether to bring it up. “You know you’ll still get teased,” he says.

I’m almost disappointed that he’s decided against it. Wonder where that conversation would go. “Yeah, I know. But this time it will be on my terms. And if I treat it as a matter-of-fact medical issue––which is what it is––I don’t think things will be too bad.”

He pauses, glancing back at my file. “I see you’ve moved around quite a bit.”

I shrug. “Mom keeps changing jobs. She’s good at what she does and lots of opportunities come her way.”

“I see,” he says. Another pause. This time I can see he’s only looking at my schedule. Things are about to get pretty normal.

“You have a very mature attitude for someone in your situation, Carly. Good for you. Now I see you have three AP classes? English, History, and Spanish? And most of the others are Honors level. Tough schedule.”

“It’s actually a little easier than what I was taking back in Chicago,” I tell him. “You don’t offer Chem AP here, so I’m taking it Honors.”

He looks at me and closes the folder. “Well, you’re an ambitious girl,” he says. “I see you were a field hockey player at your previous high school. We don’t have a team here; any idea what you might want to do for extra curriculars?”’

It’s true I played JV field hockey, not that I was ever any good at it. I was always way too nervous because of the diapers. I had a private place to change, and I was lucky enough never to have a messy accident with the team, but worrying about exposing my secret drove me nuts. I think the coaches thought I just didn’t have the drive. So I never would have made the team this year when it’s either varsity or nothing. Of course, this season everyone would already know. Anyway, last season was when all of the weirdness started, so I’m not even sure you can really say I was a part of the team at the end anyway.`

“To tell the truth, I haven’t much thought about it.”

His smile again, and those eyes… Does he know their effect? “I think you should consider joining something, Carly. ECs look good on college apps, and you need to start thinking about that. We’ll talk volunteer work later. Meanwhile, I think you’d better get off to…” He checks my schedule. “…math.”

I shudder involuntarily.

“Not your fav?”

With a small laugh, I reply, “Let’s just say math and I have had our differences.” I rise and shake his hand across his desk. It’s something strangely electric. For a fraction of a second, my whole arm seems charged; it seems almost separate from me. I don’t know if he notices. There’s no indication of anything in those eyes.

“Um…I guess I’ll talk to you later. Mr. G,” I say, and leave his office.

I’m wet, I know, but not so much that I need a change, so I head for math. Class has already begun, so I guess the New Girl gets to make a grand entrance on her first day. Through the window on the door I spy an open seat in the aisle nearest the close wall; I decide to head for it. Opening the door as quietly as I can, I enter the room. The teacher, Mr. Truskin, is at the board. He’s a large man, slightly bald, and he’s…talking in tongues? I freeze in my tracks just inside the door. Oh God, it can’t be. Not so soon. I hoped I’d have some kind of break. But he jabbers on in some crazy cartoonish voice spouting gibberish and I just stare, feeling my diaper getting wetter. Suddenly, though, I realize that his voice isn’t the only sound in the room: the other kids are laughing, their attention so rapt at their teacher’s antics that they haven’t yet even noticed that I’m standing here, open-mouthed, my expression almost certainly one of abject terror.

He’s doing some kind of bit.

I let out a breath, and I realize I haven’t been breathing since I walked in. It’s at this point that Mr. Truskin notices me. Taking me in, he smiles and walks over.

“They told me I was getting a new student today!” he says in a booming voice nothing at all like whatever he was doing a moment ago. “You must be Carlotta!”

“Carly,” I tell him and the whole class.

“Carly!” he corrects himself with so much enthusiasm that I start to wonder if he’s on something and if I can get hold of it. “Welcome, Carly! You’re from…Illinois, right?”

I nod. “Yes, near Chicago.”

“Well, you escaped just in time. You won’t need to worry about those midwest winters here! OK, I think we have an open seat right over here.” He points to the seat I noticed earlier and I go to sit in it. “Do you have your book yet?”

I shake my head. “No problem,” he says. “Look on with Marina, there, for today.”

He indicates a girl with short styled brown hair, dressed in some kind of designer jeans and a Simpsons cropped t-shirt I think I’ve seen at Hot Topic. She nods as I sit next to her. I haven’t a clue about what they’ve been studying, but Marina promises to meet me at lunch to help me catch up. One class down. English is next. Since I’m on time for this one, I go straight to the teacher, Mrs. Weller, and introduce myself.

“Hi, Mrs. Weller. I’m Carly Lannigan, your new student.”

Mrs. Weller, a young teacher, seemingly fresh out of grad school, smiles in greeting. “Nice to meet you, Carly. They told me you were coming.”

Here goes. “Did they also tell you of my medical issues?”

She looks puzzled. Clearly, if they did, she missed the memo. “I don’t think so.”

I give her my best smile. “I’m completely incontinent and rely on diapers to contain my waste. The school knows this. There will be times when I will arrive late because I’m getting changed in the nurse’s office, and there might be other times when I need to leave class urgently so that I don’t expose you and the other students to…well, let’s just say to olfactory insurgency.”

By the time I finish, a couple of other students have come up to Mrs. Weller’s desk for one reason or another and hear at least the end of my spiel. I finish with the same smile and volume at which I started. I turn and smile at them also. “Hi. Carly Lannigan.” Their eyes are exactly where you’d think they would be, but I’m wearing a skirt so nothing at all shows.

Mrs. Weller’s voice turns me around. “I don’t think that’s…polite, girls.”

I laugh. “It’s OK, Mrs. Weller. I guess it’s only natural curiosity, don’t you think?”

The other girls return to their seats, and I hear them whispering to others as they go. There are quiet exclamations and giggling and a couple of “What?”s and other responses bouncing around the room.

Mrs. Weller is speaking to me. “That’s pretty gutsy of you,” she says.

I shrug my shoulders. “Tired of the alternative.”

She gives me a long look. “I think,” she said, “I’m going to like having you in this class. If you’re half as interesting as a student as your introduction suggests you can be.”

“Mrs. Weller,” I say, “you have no idea.”

By lunchtime, I think the whole school knows. Which is fine. Some kids give me a wide berth in the hallways; others giggle as they pass. But I’ve already met several who just don’t care, and I sit with them at lunch. Mrs. Feathers and I have also already developed a deep bond: I can easily change myself when it’s just wet, but when it’s messy I really need help, and that sort of thing bonds you quickly. That happened in Chem class. Rumors about it probably account for the wide berths.

Anyway, I’m sitting here with four other girls: Marina from math, who turned out to be cool with the whole thing even though she didn’t know at the time; Sarah and Madison from English, who were both part of a group project we did in class and we sort of bonded; and Janelle, a girl I met in my study hall. I’m exempted from phys ed this year for medical reasons (which isn’t exactly making me cry), so they assigned me to a study hall for that period. Janelle told me that upperclassmen don’t usually have them here; she’s a sophomore but she’s taking a bunch of junior classes.

“What’s it like?” she wants to know.

“My pizza?” I ask.

She slaps me playfully and Madison and Marina shake their heads at my intentional obtuseness. “No,” Janelle replies. “The diapers.”

“Well, I want to know about the pizza,” Sarah says, and they laugh. “I might get it tomorrow.”

Miranda laughs. “Isn’t it the same pizza as last year?”

Madison turns to her. “Didn’t you eat here last week? We have a new food service.”

“A new service? God, I hope they still have the cheesy fries.”

This time Sarah jumps in. “They do. I had them on Friday. I think they’re the same, mostly.”

I laugh along with them. “Well, either way, the pizza sucks. Don’t bother. But I’m spoiled; I’ve been living in Chicago. As to the diapers…I mean it’s hard to say. When you need them, you need them. So they’re just like…thicker underwear, I guess.”

“But why do you need them?” Janelle asks.

“Because I’m incontinent,” I say simply. But that’s not a good enough answer, and I know it. “OK, OK. I’ve been incontinent all of my life because of some birth defect. No one has ever been able to analyze it or point a finger to what it is specifically or what caused it, but somehow my bladder and sphincter muscles just don’t work. When I wasn’t toilet trained by 5, my parents had all kinds of tests done but no luck. So I just stayed in diapers.”

“God,” Marina says, “that must have been horrible.”

“What makes it a bit worse is that I have a hard time changing them myself.”

They all seem surprised, which isn’t exactly…surprising. I mean they’ve probably all babysat before and understand that the basic mechanics aren’t that hard. It’s Madison who asks me why.

“I had a bad fall in the playground when I was little. I was on one of those climbing things, at the top, and I somehow fell off.”

There is a collective gasp. I knew there would be. There always has been when I’ve told this part.

“Anyway, I landed on my shoulder and ripped up something called the brachial plexus. It’s a major nerve bundle that controls most of the arm, so things could be worse. But in the end, I don’t have a lot of rotation in my right arm, and my use of my right hand is a little spotty. I can change myself when I’m just wet, but…anything else and I need help.”

Janelle shakes her head. “That’s just unfair. I mean totally unfair.”

Sarah is deep in thought. “I feel so bad for you.”

“It made for a pretty hard childhood. We moved around a lot. There was only one school––the one where I went in grades 1-3––that handled it well. The others were…less than perfectly helpful.”

“Meaning?” asks Sarah.

“Meaning I was teased and ridiculed for still being in diapers ‘at my age.’”

The others are aghast. “By teachers?” a couple say together.

“By teachers, by my so-called friends when they found out, by their parents… As I said, it wasn’t a lot of fun. We started moving and changing schools so often that my parents ended up fighting all the time.”

“Uh oh,” says Madison.

“Yeah,” I say. “You know how kids whose parents are divorced blame themselves and it’s usually silly, and the parents assure them it isn’t their fault? Well, mine can’t do that. Cause it most definitely was my fault.”

Madison reaches for my hand. “That is not fair. It isn’t your fault that you were born with…with…defects. If anyone is to be blamed, and I don’t think anyone should be, it ought to be them. I mean it was their genes that made you.”

There is a general echo of agreement at the table, and I feel a couple of tears slipping from my eyes. This is new: I don’t even remember the last time I felt compassion from classmates. Not real compassion. I mean, “Sorry we didn’t win today” isn’t very personal, right? And after that mess last year no one even talked to me…though I desperately needed someone to. Only Dr. Sessions talked to me. None of my “friends.” Did I even have any?


Marina has been saying something and I’ve been totally spacing. “Sorry. Zoned out there for a moment. What did you say?”

“I just asked if you ever see your dad?”

I sigh. The truth is that, at first, back in 5th grade or so, I did see him quite a lot. It was as if he wanted me to believe it wasn’t me even though there was no way for me to believe that. He picked me up every weekend without fail, and we did all sorts of fun things together: the zoo, museums, movies, even water parks (I have quite a collection of swim diapers) and state parks. But as time went on “every weekend” became twice a month, and that became once a month. By the time Mom and I moved to Elmdale, leaving Dad several moves behind in Ohio, he apparently decided I just wasn’t worth the trip. My whole two years in Elmdale I only saw him twice, both in the first semester: once he came to see a play I was in, which frankly surprised me. And then, two months later, he decided to ask me to visit him in Cleveland for Christmas break.

I was excited, actually. I thought he clearly wanted me back in his life. Looking back, I can see that Mom wasn’t as enthusiastic as I was: she had her suspicions of her ex-husband. But even she could never have guessed what he was about to unleash into our world.

“No,” I say. “He’s…out of the picture.”

Her face falls. “Oh, I’m sorry.”

I look her directly in the eyes. “Don’t be. He was never my father. I’m not sorry he’s gone.” That stops the chatter for a bit. I mean there’s not much you can do to respond, is there? So for a few minutes we all work on our “meals” in silence. It’s Marina who finally speaks.

“I guess I should help you with that math stuff, right?”

And we’re off into more “comfortable” territory. The rest of the day pretty much goes the same way. When I’m done, I Uber home, change, and try to get my homework done before Mom gets home. She’s going to want to know everything, and she always manages to get me to tell. I’ve got about two hours.

I should be fine.

Re: The Short Life of Carly Lannigan (Ch. 2; 3/20)

Oh I am just loving the characterization you’re putting into the narration.

Though some of the passages so make me question whether our narrator is just being creative with descriptions, or whether there’s something more that she isn’t quite able to identify.

Do carry on.

Re: The Short Life of Carly Lannigan (Ch. 2; 3/20)

Just got the chance to read this. I’m really enjoying this one so far.

From the hints, it seems like there’s something supernatural that hasn’t been discussed openly yet. If so, I’ll probably enjoy it.

Found one typo: “look one with Marina”.

Re: The Short Life of Carly Lannigan (Ch 2; 3/20)

This is really good. I love how you drop small hints throughout about past events that have brought us to this point without yet giving us the whole picture. The narrative is solid, dialogue is believable, and you’re filling in some of the other characters besides our narrator.

With the smallest of tiny nitpicks… I think the store’s name is Hot Topic singular, not Hot Topics.

Re: The Short Life of Carly Lannigan (Ch. 2; 3/20)

[QUOTE=Vearynope;68230]Oh I am just loving the characterization you’re putting into the narration.

Though some of the passages so make me question whether our narrator is just being creative with descriptions, or whether there’s something more that she isn’t quite able to identify.

Do carry on.[/QUOTE]

For the answer to that, you’ll need more chapters. Let’s just say she has reason to be extremely wary. :slight_smile:

Re: The Short Life of Carly Lannigan (Ch. 2; 3/20)

[QUOTE=ally;68232]Just got the chance to read this. I’m really enjoying this one so far.

From the hints, it seems like there’s something supernatural that hasn’t been discussed openly yet. If so, I’ll probably enjoy it.

Found one typo: “look one with Marina”.[/QUOTE]

Shhhhh! Don’t let anyone know! :slight_smile: (Fixed that typo; I had to miss one eventually.)

Re: The Short Life of Carly Lannigan (Ch 2; 3/20)

[QUOTE=PeterRabbit;68233]This is really good. I love how you drop small hints throughout about past events that have brought us to this point without yet giving us the whole picture. The narrative is solid, dialogue is believable, and you’re filling in some of the other characters besides our narrator.

With the smallest of tiny nitpicks… I think the store’s name is Hot Topic singular, not Hot Topics.[/QUOTE]

Thanks for the nice comments. And about Hot Topic? Well, that’s what I get for being an old fart writing about a teen store. :slight_smile:

Re: The Short Life of Carly Lannigan (Ch. 2; 3/20)

Still liking it. Two things: “Oh oh”, should that be “Uh oh”? If not, then I think I’m missing some context. Also, suggest adding “either” before “varsity or nothing” to clarify meaning, so it’s not interpreted as a form of speech or nothing. (I know I’m nitpicking again, but this means the writing is free of worse defects, and claimed enough of my interest to be worth raising minor things.)

Re: The Short Life of Carly Lannigan (Ch. 2; 3/20)

I can deal with both of those. They have been changed. And I found a “Mrs.” without its final period while I was reviewing!

Re: The Short Life of Carly Lannigan (Ch. 2; 3/20)

Time for another glimpse into Carly’s life…

(3) Green Eyes

[INDENT]They’re coming. Tricia and her gang: I can hear them coming down the hall toward me. Not now. Bad fricking timing. I can’t let them find me today. I can’t. I’m standing in front of a bathroom, but it’s a boys’ room. No choice. It better be empty.

It is. School’s been out for over an hour. I don’t even know what Tricia’s still doing here, unless she’s just trying to find me. That’s paranoid. Got to change and go, got to find him. I debate changing in here, but the place is filthy; the girls’ room on three is usually much cleaner even at the end of the day. If I can get to it.

I pull the door open slowly, listening. Nothing. Easing into the hall, I don’t see any sign of anyone, so I cross to the stairway and start to climb. I’m on three in no time and across the hall and into the girls’ room. And almost run right into Tricia.

“Diaper Girl, I missed you today,” she says with her usual sneer, as her three friends giggle behind her.

I force myself to look at her. I’m getting better at it; my head went straight to the floor at the beginning. “I don’t have time for your garbage today, Tricia,” I say, but she just laughs in response.

“Elly, do you hear that? She hasn’t got time. Do we feel bad?”

The long-haired blonde in her merry band shakes her head, and Tricia turns her attention back to me. “Sorry, Diaper Girl. We don’t have time to feel bad about that.”

I can’t do this. No time. I try just bursting past her, but her friends block me. I’m stuck, and now I’m surrounded. “What do you want?” I demand.

“Nothing much, Little One,” she says. “Just your skirt.”

They all laugh. I can’t keep up with the ways they try to humiliate me. “I…don’t have anything else to wear.”

She smiles. “Sure you do. I’m sure you came here to change into a nice clean didee, didn’t you?”

I try to break free, to run back into the hall, but I can’t. I’m trapped. “Look, you don’t understand. This is an emergency. I mean it.”

“I’m sure it is,” she says sarcastically. “It always is with you, but then that’s why you wear the diapers, isn’t it?”
I shake my head. “No, no: I mean a real emergency. Life or death.”

She looks as if she’s considering what I’m saying. Maybe my anxiety is convincing her. But then: “Well, then. If it’s that serious, better hand over that skirt and get going.”

Bitch! But there’s no choice. I slip off the skirt, revealing my very wet diaper. At least it isn’t messy. Not like last time. She takes it from my hand.

“That’s a good girl. I’ll leave it for you in your locker tomorrow. Maybe I’ll even leave another present. I know how you loved the last one. Bye now!”

And they all leave, my skirt with them, and I’m sure she’ll leave a “present.” Last time she did that, it was a pacifier. But I don’t have time to worry about her; I’ve lost too much time already, and he’s out there. Somewhere. I need to find him before…something happens. [/INDENT]

“Carly? It’s dinner time. Are you napping again?”

My mom’s voice. I’m in my bed. In my room. In California. Right: I came home after school and tried to get some work done; I must have fallen asleep. I really need to stop listening to Adele in the afternoon. Did I finish anything? A quick check of my computer answers the question: not much. Crap: more evening homework.


I call out, “Yeah, Mom, I’m coming.”

Within a few minutes we’re sitting down to dinner: homemade tacos, which I love. She’s set up a little taco bar on the kitchen counter, and now my plate is heaping with three overflowing tortillas. I sip some ice water and eat the tacos and it’s bliss.

“You’re enjoying that,” she says.

“You know I love these,” I say, smiling. “Thanks for making them.”

“You’re welcome,” she says. “Now are you going to tell me how your grand experiment went today?”

I put the last bite of my first tortilla into my mouth and swallow. “I suppose as well as I could have expected it to,” I say, reaching for the second one.

“Which means?”

“I haf four new frienfs,” I say, and she rolls her eyes.

“Don’t talk with you mouth full, Honey.”

I swallow. “Sorry. Anyway I did make friends, though there were a few issues late in the day.”

She looks concerned, which isn’t exactly unexpected, so I continue quickly. “The school nurse is great, and I’m using her whenever I have a messy diaper or even just a wet one if her office is convenient. But in the last passing period of the day a couple of kids––seniors, I think––were sort of lying in wait.”

Mom’s eyes are wide, her breathing is actually audible, and I’m sure her pulse is racing. “Hey,” I say, “I clearly survived the encounter, so don’t lose your shit, OK?”

I can see her telling herself to calm down. “OK,” she says. “I’m OK. And watch the language.”

I smile. She’s fine. “Anyway,” I say, “these girls were in the hall just outside the nurse’s office, and they stopped me before I could go in.”

[INDENT]“Carly Lannigan, right?”

The one speaking is the taller one, though not by much. Both girls are wearing school colors. Go, Sea Lions.

“Yes,” I say. “Can I help you?” As if this is going to be something normal.

They move closer. “It’s true, isn’t it?”

Before I can even answer, the shorter one says, “Of course it’s true. You can smell the shit in her diaper.”

Tall Girl sniffs and crinkles up her nose, making an exaggerated “Eww” sound, and Short Girl starts to laugh. They find this hilarious: the single funniest thing that has happened to either of them all day. Me, I just want to get changed so I don’t get a rash. I shake my head. “You know, it’s not really a funny thing,” I say.

I’m about to give them a little lecture on the medical issues that go along with incontinence, but they just don’t care. The taller one interrupts me.

“If it weren’t funny, I wouldn’t be laughing. Don’t tell me what’s funny.” She’s so close it’s menacing. “Got that?”

Discretion is the better part of valor and all that crap. “Yeah. Sure.”

She laughs again. And the smaller one says, “Better go get your diaper changed.” And they laugh more at that as they slink away down the hall.[/INDENT]

“So what did you do after that?” Mom asks.

“I did as they suggested: I went in and got my diaper changed.”

She laughs as I finish my final taco. “Want more?” she asks, but I’m pretty full. “So it was basically a pretty good day then?”

I nod. “Yes, I think it was. And I like the new school. I think I’ll have a much better year than last year.”

“Well,” she says, with no hint of irony or sarcasm, “you could hardly have a much worse year than last year, could you? I mean, at least how it ended?”

I shake my head. “No, I guess not. I still have nightmares about it.”

“I’m sure you do. I’m so sorry I didn’t get there faster.”

I reach across the table and take her offered hand. “I know, Mom. I know. But even if you had, what could you have done? Marissa was already dead––that was my fault––and he didn’t want you. He wanted me.”

She squeezes my hand. “No, Honey. He wanted destruction. That’s all.”

“He got that.”

We’re silent for a long time, the subject apparently being exhausted at least for now. I stand and pick up my plate and glass, carrying them into the kitchen, where I start to put leftovers into tupperware. We continue until everything is put away, neither of us saying anything, as if we’ve somehow been put on Mute. When we finish, we both move into the living room. Mom sits on the sofa and absently picks up the book she’s been reading for the last month. I sit across from her with nothing in my hands; I’m not certain why. After a while, I interrupt the stillness.


She looks up. I’m not sure she’s actually been reading. “Yes, Honey?”

I keep seeing those eyes in my dreams. That’s the hardest part, every time: those unnatural fiery green oval eyes. I know he didn’t always have them. He couldn’t have. But always, in my dreams, when he appears, they do too. Sometimes they simply linger on their own, like the Cheshire Cat’s smile, hanging in the air long after he’s gone. Sometimes they are all I see of him: two fiery lights where such things shouldn’t be. Like some kind of sign. Like the last day.

“Never mind. I’m just tired, I think. And I still have homework. So I’m going to my room, OK?”

I get up and kiss her goodnight. Daria teased me once for that, but if she only knew what we’d been through…

After I change my diaper in the bathroom, I head into my room and close the door, then proceed to spend the next hour trying to get through the math homework, but I’m lost. I’ve never liked math much anyway, which is why that’s not one of my AP courses, and starting out a unit behind is just a bitch. Marina’s going to have to go over it again tomorrow. But it doesn’t help my studying any that the image of the eyes keeps superimposing itself over the work. Why am I having these dreams anyway? They’d been terrible at first, but they calmed down over the summer. Now here we go again?

That’s ridiculous. There’s no way. But even as I tell myself that, my breathing thickens and my vision gets cloudy and I have a desperate need to sit down. The bed is close by and I find it before I collapse as those eyes rise up before me again. And the pillars, those three pillars that stood in front of the school at the open front of the auditorium lobby, weight-bearing pillars designed not just to be beautiful but to support the second floor classroom above the lobby’s outdoor open space. And Marissa. And that horrible laughter.

I’m lying on my bed and it’s dark in the room. I must have fallen asleep after the diaper change. More awful dreams. God, I wish they would stop. Must be anxiety over school, over my decision to be so open.

Yeah: it’s a metaphor. The whole thing could blow up in my face just like Elmdale.

OK. I’m not exactly Sigmund Freud. But from what I’ve read, he wasn’t either. Just a doped-up doc with an obsession with sex. And dreams. And invading other people’s privacy. I’ll bet he got off on it. Still, from that came the whole science of psychology, and provided jobs for people like Dr. Sessions, who otherwise would have had to be, I don’t know, a record producer? So yay.

The point is that I’m too focused on the dreams to concentrate, and that isn’t a good way to begin a new school year in a new school. Maybe I should ask Mom to find me a new therapist around here. I think I’m losing it.

Re: The Short Life of Carly Lannigan (Ch. 2; 3/20)

I almost missed this since the thread title hadn’t been updated.

Good chapter, but it’s still too early for me to really tell. I am very much liking the bits-and-pieces approach you’re taking with this. Though it does make the wait between updates seem that much longer.

I’m chomping at the bit, here.

Re: The Short Life of Carly Lannigan (Ch. 2; 3/20)

Only one day and there’s trouble brewing. That’s a little disconcerting. I like the way you are weaving the backstory into the current timeline.

By your avatar, Vearynope, it looks like you’ve got good, big chompers to champ at the bit with.

Re: The Short Life of Carly Lannigan (Ch. 2; 3/20)

As I finished this chapter, I was thinking, “This was too short.” But then I reviewed it. And it isn’t. That was just me wanting more. That’s a sign of good writing in my opinion. You’re in pretty interesting territory. Please carry on; I’m kinda hanging on your every word here.