Disclaimer: J.D. Salinger is the author of The Catcher in the Rye. I own nothing.
Summary: A different take on Chapter 26 (the last chapter of the book). Eventually, Holden and Phoebe had to leave the carousel in the park and go home. Holden faces his parents and his personal problems.
Author's Note: I probably would have written this anyway, but coincidentally, my teacher decided to offer extra credit if we rewrote a part of The Catcher in the Rye. Figured I'd post this anyway.
Running in a Circle
The psychoanalysts have been telling me a lot here that every bit of a story is important, that it's more important to understand something fully, even if it means having to sit around and actually listen to some useless babbling. What you learn from the babbling can apparently be really telling.
I really don't feel much like talking about the rest of this, but I guess the psychoanalysts would be happier if I goddamn finished one of my stories for once. Poor bastards will never know though. It's not like I'm telling them this.
Phoebe rode the carousel another four times, smiling like it was the best thing she had ever experienced, and I was standing there, crying like I had just experienced something so goddamn beautiful, like Jesus had just appeared in front of me. After a half hour or so of standing there, I got some weird looks from all the parents who were hiding out from the rain, like I was some pervert checking out their kids or something.
Shuddering at the thought, I tried hollering to Phoebe. The rain had died down a bit, but the clouds were making it seem dark like midnight. The wind was still howling something fierce, so my voice barely made a dent in the noise. I tried again, cupping my hands. Phoebe looked over, cocking her head to the side in confusion, but obediently trotted over to me when I mimed checking a watch.
"We should get going," I said, feeling like a right bastard for ending her fun, but realizing that I was absolutely freezing anyway. If poor Phoebe didn't get home soon anyway, my parents would lose their minds, thinking she had been kidnapped or some right shit.
Phoebe shook her hair out like she was a soaked bloodhound or something, then nodded, mournfully staring at the carousel. She tore her gaze away from it and said to me, "Together, right?"
"I damn well said I was going home, didn't I?" I grumbled. Phoebe didn't seem to mind my tone though, beaming instantly at the reiteration of my promise.
We left the park then, shivering from the rain. The whole place had cleared out a bunch. Boy, I could just picture some uptight parents telling their kids they weren't allowed to stay, because of a little rain. What phonies I bet they were, acting like they were great parents, 'cause they were taking their kids out for the day; they were probably happy it had rained, so they could go home. None of them really wanted to spend time with their kids at all. I knew all about people like that.
Phoebe and I got to a big intersection then, and I felt my breath quicken a little bit. I looked at her then, and I guess she noticed or something, because she looked baffled at my expression. Then she slipped her hand into mine.
I looked away, trying to pretend like I didn't really care, but the truth was it really did make a difference. Phoebe probably couldn't tell that I had been crying, because of the rain, but it was kind of amazing to realize that she had picked up on the fact that I was bothered.
We made it another three streets, and I barely even noticed. Phoebe had a way of fixing things like that.
When we got to our apartment building, Phoebe slowed to a stop outside. She looked at me sadly, like I was just a lost little boy, and she was just finally beginning to understand that. "Holden," she said slowly, "what's going to happen now?"
I looked at her and said, eyebrows furrowing, "Everything's going to be fine, Phoebe."
Phoebe stared at me and said accusingly, "That's not what I asked, Holden."
I laughed uncomfortably, slung an arm around her shoulder, and began to lead her into our building. When I opened our front door and walked in, Phoebe stood by me. We made a wall as my parents approached. Us against the world.
For once, someone was on my side.
After that, all the yelling and lecturing and what are you going to do now, Holden conversations, things calmed down. Of course, the next morning, I woke up sneezing like crazy. Apparently, it was a bad idea to run around the city for a couple days and stand in the rain for hours. Who would've guessed?
My mother seemed a bit sympathetic, but my dad didn't seem to care one bit. Phoebe played the buffer for the next few days, every time my parents questioned me. Slowly, I started talking about things. Not really to my parents, because I knew my mother would just have heart attack, whereas my father would kill me. (I only told Phoebe he wouldn't so she'd stop her whining.) I told Phoebe things though, slowly and surely. First it was just a comment about missing Jane, then I was telling her a highly edited version of my run-in with Sunny and Maurice. Next thing I knew, I had told her almost everything.
I had figured the whole time that she was repeating things to my mother. My psychoanalysts say this was my way of "crying for help" or some such bullshit. Really, I was just too tired to bring myself to mind.
Because of my suspicions, I wasn't much surprised when I came home one day to my mother sitting on my bed, looking all goddamn serious. Still, Phoebe ran at me and hugged me, wailing that she was sorry, she hadn't wanted them to react this way. "I just had to talk to someone about it, Holden. I swear, I didn't think Mom would get this upset."
"Phoebe, I need to speak to Holden alone," our mother said then.
Phoebe turned around and glared a look of complete betrayal at her. "You promised!" she accused. "You promised I could talk to you, and you wouldn't say anything!" She hugged me again, then slammed the door on her way out.
I knew I should be mad at Phoebe for betraying my confidences, but she was so upset that I couldn't bear to add to it. It was funny, sometimes, how I forgot she was only ten, because in moments like these, she was really such a child. Though our mother tried to be there for us, she had never been the person to confide in. Phoebe had forgotten that, it seemed. She still lived in that perfect sunshine world where parents were perfect and secrets were forever. Her optimism was so depressing it kind of made me want to die sometimes.
I guess that Phoebe had told my mother the part about wanting to die sometimes, because that was all she would talk about now. She was going on and on about it, that my father thought it was nothing and just a phase, but he was wrong, and I needed help.
I was going to get better, she declared vehemently. She would make sure of it. It was the surest of anything I had seen her since Allie died. It was like she had been given new life.
I wasn't sure what the big deal with the whole thing was. There was so much shit going on in the world that I was pretty sure everybody went through stuff like this, thought about how much easier it would be to not be anything at all. I told my mother exactly that. She looked at me sadly and, ignoring my declaration, said, "I'll call some places today. Your father will get you in as soon as possible."
I wanted to complain and curse, but thought about it and realized that maybe going away wouldn't be too bad. Sure, I'd have to leave Phoebe, but it would sort of be like a vacation - or maybe a long nap.
I stopped my mother before she left my room and said that I would go wherever she wanted me to go, since it was so goddamned important to her.
The worst part of leaving was Phoebe's reaction. I expected her to bawl like a baby, but instead she just smiled sadly at me and said, "I'll come visit you really soon, Holden."
She wasn't lying. Phoebe came the first visiting day and the one after that and the one after that too. At first, she seemed to want me to talk about everything and how I was feeling now, but I told her I got quite enough of that in here.
Boy, did I. These psychoanalysts just wanted to hear what I thought about everything and why I hated everything and if I was going to apply myself in school now that I had experienced my epiphany. (Epiphany was another phony word I was beginning to hate. Just what constituted an epiphany? Around here, it seemed like any new thought was classified as one, which was just stupid. I thought all the time. It was all there was to do.)
Phoebe talked because I wouldn't and even though I grimaced a lot at her affection, I kind of didn't mind it at all. She talked about school and her friends and what our parents were doing now. It was like I could see a world beyond me.
I told her a bit, but not nearly as much as I did when I had been at home. The more I talked, the more it seemed like everything was disappearing, like everything was changing and disappearing and just over already. It made me depressed as hell.
I guess I'm sort of glad I talked to Phoebe. She was easy to talk to about things. But at the same time, I'm realizing the problem with telling anybody everything. All they want to do then is rehash the events again and again, until you've talked about it so much that none of it means anything anymore.
I talk so much here that all I do is miss everybody and everything. Then all I do is get more depressed than I was in the first place. It's like running in a circle. I keep going on and on, thinking I'm finally getting somewhere, but I'm just back where I goddamn started.