Whenever Carrie’s (Caron Rouzie’s) smile started beaming my way, I’d start feeling nervous, worried that in the sure-to-follow conversation I would react in ways outside my awareness. It doesn’t really matter now, I guess, since my anxieties never met their confirmation. From what her family, her husband, and her friends said, I think Carrie had been gentle with me.
Stephen was struck that one of his last acts was to carry the package from the car to the house. Carrie the package was the nickname her grandfather gave her. Forty-six years later, Stephen would remember that nickname after being asked to carry the package containing the remains of Carrie the package. With Carrie, the grandfather had said, you were getting a complete package.
Unfamiliarity means these words are easier to find than the words for the ones who are closer: Dean, Dylan, Houston, my father.
Once she said, “I’m not as stupid as you look.” I’m guessing that the person might have deserved it. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t worried that person could have been me. I’m lucky she could be gentle.
Val waited patiently as I said my goodbyes. I hadn’t expected it to happen, but as I told Catherine, it’s as if suddenly there’s this house in front of you. You don’t have to do anything. It’s just there, waiting for you to come inside.
“You were brave to go up there. What you said was beautiful.”
“I felt like I got to know this amazing woman through the stories people were telling.”
“I’m sure I’ll see you around town.”
“Why would you want to see me around town?”
Turning. “Because I enjoyed meeting you, and it might be nice to talk again.”
“I’ve never been inside.”
“You should try the brunch.”
In one picture, Carrie is wearing a dark red sun dress printed with what looks like white flowers. She’s leaning forward, hands on her knees and her back to the camera. She’s smiling over her left shoulder, beautiful beyond words. She liked drawing cartoons.