Carrie spent the entire day home alone, pondering on the decision she had to make. It was only until seven o’clock when her roommates finally came home. Sarah returned with her usual load of homework and Lyn went directly into her bedroom. Carrie sat at the dinner table with an untouched bowl of spaghetti she had microwaved. She waited for her roommates to settle in, shaking her leg unconsciously.
Sarah came out of her room, load free, and started rummaging through the kitchen for something to eat.
“What a day,” she said. “I’ve got so much homework, I don’t know how I’m gonna do it.”
“Yeah?” Carrie said, turning to face her.
Sarah smiled slightly. “What have you been up to all day?”
“Oh, nothing,” Carrie shrugged. “Just been cleaning around the house. Stuff like that.”
“I wish I could have a day off,” Sarah sighed, slumping into the chair next to Carrie, giving up on the kitchen. “Hey, you eating that?”
Carrie looked down at her untouched food, shook her head no and passed it over to Sarah. Sarah immediately began cramming it down. Lyn came out at that point, silent as always, and made her way into the kitchen.
“Hey, you,” Carrie said lightly, trying to give her best natural smile. “Haven’t seen you in a while.”
Lyn didn’t look in Carrie’s direction, but rather continued to frantically look through the freezer and cupboards, throwing dishes in the washer, grabbing the trash bag that was only half full and pulling it out to be thrown away. It seemed as though Lyn couldn’t find a way to calm down.
“I’ve just been real busy,” she answered finally, looking around the living room for something else to busy herself with.
Carrie glanced at Sarah. Sarah shrugged back. The two girls watched Lyn frantically move from her bedroom, to the living room, to the laundry room, and back. When Lyn finally settled, she sat at her computer inside her bedroom, busying herself with more unnecessary work.
Carrie knocked on her door and walked in. Lyn saw Carrie enter out of the corner of her eye, but didn’t turn.
“Hey, I was thinking,” Carrie said, “maybe we could have a girl’s night.”
Lyn finally acknowledged her. There wasn’t a hint of anger in her expression, rather it was neutral, or tired, or her thoughts preoccupied with something else. She gave a faint smile before answering.
“I would like to,” she said, “but I’m going out tonight with Ben and the boys at ten, so I’ve got to get a lot of stuff done before then. I feel so behind since I haven’t been home.” She shrugged her apology and turned back to her computer.
Carrie stood there for a few seconds, watching Lyn busy herself. Ben was Lyn’s boyfriend and the boys she referred to were their friends, who included Carrie’s ex. Carrie couldn’t spend time with the boys anymore because of her recent break up with Jason. Her insides seemed to grow cold, thinking of how Lyn spends every moment with Ben, and here she was spending the night with him again, on top of going out with the friends Carrie can no longer be with because of Jason. It drove her mad how Lyn drastically went from being her closest friend to a distant stranger just over a few weeks. She wanted to blame it on her overly needy boyfriend, Ben, but Carrie somehow knew it was because of her decision to leave Jason that drove Lyn distant. They and the boys used to be a closely knit group. Then it changed, as things always do, when Carrie realized she and Jason could never work, despite the fact that she did, indeed, love him. It was simply unfortunate that they shared the same group of friends.
A feeling of sadness overcame her and Carrie turned away, seeing Sarah still eating the spaghetti at the dining table.
“What are you doing tonight?” Carrie asked.
Sarah looked, seemingly startled from her eating. “Nothing, really,” she said. “Oh, except I do have a ton of homework. I really have to start working on it. Probably take me all night.”
Carrie nodded, almost absently. She felt the loneliness shift into her chest, forming itself into a tight pain. “I was hoping that we could spend some time together,” Carrie said. “Actually I was hoping all three of us could do something. Like old times.”
The look on Sarah’s face turned pitiful. She cocked her head to the side and Carrie could almost swear that her expression resembled a pouty face. “I would, really, if I had time,” Sarah said. “But I can’t. I’ve got so much to do. I’m sorry.” She gave a very realistic I’m sorry frown, then moved her attention to the spaghetti again.
Carrie stood there, staring at Sarah. Her insides wanted to scream and tell them this may be the last time they’d ever see her, that they didn’t appreciate her as much as they should, that she wanted to be with them, wanted to laugh and drink wine, wanted to share dreams and fantasies like they used to, and not be bogged down with unimportant things, to forgive each other, to love each other. She wanted to see something that might make her stay, that might encourage her decision to decline the most important scientific break through discovered in human history ever.
Carrie let out a sigh. She couldn’t scream and tell. They would think she was crazy, or just trying to grab attention. But maybe that was all they needed to change their minds.
“What if this is the last time you’ll ever see me?” Carrie blurted out.
Sarah looked up and smiled immediately, the smile knowingly recognizing dramatics when she saw it. Lyn, though her bedroom door was open, didn’t respond. “This isn’t going to be the last time I’ll ever see you,” Sarah said, smiling. “Are you really that bored?”
“I’m not bored, I—“
“I really can’t, or else I would,” Sarah interrupted, the smile fading. At that, she got up, placed the spaghetti dish into the sink and went into her room, leaving Carrie standing silently alone in the living room. Eventually, she made her way to her own bedroom and closed the door. She picked up her cell phone, checked to see if she had gotten any texts or calls—nothing. Sinking into her bed, she gripped the phone tightly wondering on who to call. She was tempted to give Jason a try, but every time she thought of it, her stomach wrapped itself into a knot. It was time to consider what was important in her life. Her friends, the only ones she really had, were busy with their own lives. Her family lived in another state, so she never got to visit them nearly as much. She had already graduated school, but wasn’t working her dream job; in fact, she hated it with all her being. And the love interest—the one she used to think of marrying and planned spending the rest of her life with—grew into someone else where happiness between the two of them was a feet that would never be reached. There were times she wanted to sacrifice everything, just to be with him and love him, but it couldn’t work if it was never fully reciprocated. And she knew that. But she didn’t think Lyn knew that.
Carrie stared at herself in the mirror across from her. The color of her hair seemed dull and her face looked pale and sick in the dim lighting of her room. The depression of leaving Jason and the distance of her friends was dragging her down somewhere she couldn’t escape. Change was something she needed, and here was a huge opportunity right in front of her. But was it worth it to never see her family and friends again?
She called her parents’ house. No one picked up. She called again. She ended up calling three times before her mother finally picked up.
“Hi, Mom,” Carrie said, her voice straining to sound happy.
“It’s past midnight here,” her mom said, her voice cracking with sleep. “What’s going on?”
“Nothing,” Carrie said. “I just wanted to talk to you. Everyone’s busy tonight, so…”
“Baby, it’s past midnight.” Her mom’s voice groaned.
Carrie felt a warm numbing sensation spread through her chest and arms. Her eyes burned slightly as she felt the sadness she had been burying spill over. “I know,” Carrie managed, “I just miss you, that’s all.”
“I miss you too, honey,” her mom said, but Carrie could tell that she was still half asleep.
“Hey, Mom, I have a question,” Carrie said. She waited for a second to see if her mother would respond, but she didn’t, so she continued. “If a huge opportunity came around, a really good one, but it put you in a position where you had to choose one over the other, would you take the opportunity?”
“Baby, are you okay?” her mom said, slowly becoming coherent. “How’s work treating you?”
“Works fine—no, it sucks. I hate it. Mom—“
“What about your roommates? How are Lyn and Sarah?” her mom continued.
“They’re fine,” Carrie sighed, pulling at her left eyelid again. “Just really busy. In fact, I don’t see much of Lyn anymore. Mom—what if the opportunity of a lifetime came my way?”
“What kind of opportunity?”
“Of a lifetime!” Carrie forgot how frustrated she could get with her mother. She was this way no matter if wide awake or half asleep like she was. “And I had to make a choice. Take the opportunity of a lifetime and leave my old life behind, or don’t take the opportunity of a lifetime and stay where I am now.”
There was silence on the other end of the phone.
“Mom, you awake?”
“Yes, honey, I’m just thinking,” her mom answered. After a moment’s pause, her mom said, “Well, I would take the opportunity. You never know when you might have missed your life’s calling, so if it’s being handed to you, take it because you’ll never know when you’ll get another opportunity offered to you again.”
Carrie nodded, staring blankly at herself in the mirror, as though the person on the other side was also giving her advice.
“Baby, I’m going back to bed now,” her mom said. “Your dad and I get up really early, you know.”
“Okay,” Carrie murmured, mesmerized by staring at herself, as though the answer were somewhere within her own eyes.
“Goodnight,” her mom said.
“I love you,” Carrie said, almost too quickly.
“I love you too, sleep well.”
“You too—I miss you—“ But it was too late, her mother had already hung up. Carrie sat there for a couple of seconds with her phone stuck to her ear. Her mother had said it and now Carrie couldn’t believe the decision she was going to make. It was a decision that may change her life forever. Or it might end up being a total gag. Something in the back of her mind convinced her that this wasn’t going to be the last time she ever spoke with her mom. She found it hard to believe that she would be allowed contact with the world, but not with her own family. As far as Carrie was concerned, they wouldn’t be able to stop her if she wanted to see them. And how could they ever find out? Once the experimental program finished out its five weeks, they would be set free again. Wouldn’t they? Or did it matter?
She had decided upon her answer and felt there was one more thing to do. She dialed Jason’s number. She didn’t quite know what she was going to say, but it didn’t matter anymore. Nothing did, except to say something one more time. But he didn’t answer and she was taken to the voicemail. She hesitated, thinking that whatever she was going to say, it had to sound normal.
“Hi, Jason,” she said, her voice surprisingly calm. “I know this might sound a little odd, but—“ Her voice broke for a second. She took a slow breath and concentrated on saying the right thing. “I just wanted to say…that you were a really great boyfriend.” She couldn’t think of saying anything else, so she let the phone slowly close.
Carrie exited her bedroom hoping to see if Sarah or Lyn were up and about. Sarah seemed to still be locked in her room, the light shining from the bottom of her door, and Lyn was gone. Apparently, she had already left to meet up with the boys. Standing in the middle of the living room, Carrie realized what she was about to do. She took in her surrounding, trying to memorize every detail, so that maybe she could remember her last moment with this life. She hoped the new one she was about to venture into would be a good one. If nothing at all, at least she knew where she was going now.