Old Towns Quotes

We've searched our database for all the quotes and captions related to Old Towns. Here they are! All 200 of them:

Talking to a drunk person was like talking to an extremely happy, severely brain-damaged three-year-old.
John Green (Paper Towns)
Is that your subtle way of saying you missed me last week?" "I've missed my hot chocolate. I just think of you as the guy who brings it to me. Sometimes I forget your name and call you hot chocolate guy.
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
His eyes are so intense I want to look away . . . or never look away, I can’t decide.
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
I love you,” I whisper. “What was that? I didn’t hear you.” “Don’t push me.” “I love you, too,” he says. He puts his cheek against mine. “So much.
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
You two are the most in-love not-dating people I’ve met.
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
Caymen?” “Yes?” “You look terrified. Does this scare you?” “More than anything.” “Why?” “Because I didn’t bring my mints.” “And now the real answer . . .” “Because I’m afraid that once you catch me, the game’s over.
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
Sometimes it's the little things that bring that special someone back to us in some small way.
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
A lot of people don’t get my humor. My mom calls it dry humor. I think that means “not funny,” but it also means I’m the only one who ever knows it’s a joke.
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
I wonder why some people seem to be born knowing what they want to do with their lives and others - mostly me - have no idea.
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
Sometimes it's hard for me to start something because I'd rather not try at all than fail at it
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
Sometimes we expect more that people are capable of giving at the moment
Kasie West (On the Fence (Old Town Shops, #2))
This is me facing failure. This is me putting everything on the line even though I know I might lose. And I'm terrified. But like you said, anything worth having is worth the risk.
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
We can't let boys define how we feel about ourselves. You have to know who you are before you should let any boy worth anything in.
Kasie West (On the Fence (Old Town Shops, #2))
I think unhappiness comes from unfulfilled expectations.
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
Hi, I’m stranger one and this is stranger two. Are you uncomfortable yet?
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
Everybody that went away suffered a broken heart. "I'm coming back some day," they all wrote. But never did. The old life was too small to fit anymore.
Annie Proulx (The Shipping News)
If Adam were honest with himself, which he rarely was, he’d come to terms with the fact that beyond his work and the view, he was floundering a bit. His plan had been to take the insurance money, leave his old life behind, and start completely over somewhere new. A place where memories didn’t lurk around every corner. He hadn’t figured on the memories coming along with him.
Kirsten Fullmer
So Caymen..." "So, Xander..." "Like the islands." "What?" "Your name. Caymen. Like the Cayman Islands. Is that your mom's favourite place to visit or something?" "No, it's her third favourite place. I have an older brother named Paris and an older sister named Sydney." "Wow." He opens the bag, takes out a muffin, and hands it to me. The top glistens with sprinkled sugar. "Really?" I gently unwrap it. "No.
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
Maycomb was a tired old town, even in 1932 when I first knew it. Somehow, it was hotter then. Men's stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon after their three o'clock naps. And by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frosting from sweating and sweet talcum. The day was twenty-four hours long, but it seemed longer. There's no hurry, for there's nowhere to go and nothing to buy...and no money to buy it with.
Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird)
I’m writing this in part to tell you that if you ever wonder what you’ve done in your life, and everyone does wonder sooner or later, you have been God’s grace to me, a miracle, something more than a miracle. You may not remember me very well at all, and it may seem to you to be no great thing to have been the good child of an old man in a shabby little town you will no doubt leave behind. If only I had the words to tell you.
Marilynne Robinson (Gilead)
You know, I do believe in magic. I was born and raised in a magic time, in a magic town, among magicians. Oh, most everybody else didn’t realize we lived in that web of magic, connected by silver filaments of chance and circumstance. But I knew it all along. When I was twelve years old, the world was my magic lantern, and by its green spirit glow I saw the past, the present and into the future. You probably did too; you just don’t recall it. See, this is my opinion: we all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God’s sake. And you know why we were told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they’d allowed to wither in themselves. After you go so far away from it, though, you can’t really get it back. You can have seconds of it. Just seconds of knowing and remembering. When people get weepy at movies, it’s because in that dark theater the golden pool of magic is touched, just briefly. Then they come out into the hard sun of logic and reason again and it dries up, and they’re left feeling a little heartsad and not knowing why. When a song stirs a memory, when motes of dust turning in a shaft of light takes your attention from the world, when you listen to a train passing on a track at night in the distance and wonder where it might be going, you step beyond who you are and where you are. For the briefest of instants, you have stepped into the magic realm. That’s what I believe. The truth of life is that every year we get farther away from the essence that is born within us. We get shouldered with burdens, some of them good, some of them not so good. Things happen to us. Loved ones die. People get in wrecks and get crippled. People lose their way, for one reason or another. It’s not hard to do, in this world of crazy mazes. Life itself does its best to take that memory of magic away from us. You don’t know it’s happening until one day you feel you’ve lost something but you’re not sure what it is. It’s like smiling at a pretty girl and she calls you “sir.” It just happens. These memories of who I was and where I lived are important to me. They make up a large part of who I’m going to be when my journey winds down. I need the memory of magic if I am ever going to conjure magic again. I need to know and remember, and I want to tell you.
Robert McCammon (Boy's Life)
Note to self: Caymen is very good at sarcasm.” “If you’re recording notes for an official record, I’d like the word ‘very’ stricken and replaced with ‘exceptionally.
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
Hey guys,' I said. 'Don't be idiots. This is Evan. Evan, the angry-looking one is Jerom, the constipated-looking one is Nathan, and the goofball on the right is Gage.' Gage laughed. 'Constipated, Nathan? We said to look fierce.
Kasie West (On the Fence (Old Town Shops, #2))
Mrs. Spence picks up a roll of toilet paper from the counter and scrunches her nose. “Ask Caymen about that,” Xander says. Great, now I have to explain to his mother about my vandalism? “Your son called me with a toilet paper emergency. I rushed right over.” She looks confused so Xander says, “She’s kidding, Mom.
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
I turn my head so that he doesn't see my smile and secretly curse him for making me feel special.
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
I am asking you to marry me because I love you,” he said, “because I cannot imagine living my life without you. I want to see your face in the morning, and then at night, and a hundred times in between. I want to grow old with you, I want to laugh with you, and I want to sigh to my friends about how managing you are, all the while secretly knowing I am the luckiest man in town.” “What?” she demanded. He shrugged. “A man’s got to keep up appearances. I’ll be universally detested if everyone realizes how perfect you are.
Julia Quinn (It's in His Kiss (Bridgertons, #7))
You okay?" "Fine." "Your heart's beating really fast." "Gee, thanks. That's very comforting that you can hear it." He smiled, and it was the old Michael, the one she'd first met before all the vamp stuff. "Yeah, I know it is. Sorry. Just stay behind me if there's trouble." "You sound like Shane." "Well, he did say he'd kill me if I got you hurt. I'm just looking after my own neck." "Liar.
Rachel Caine (Ghost Town (The Morganville Vampires, #9))
I hope I'm not turning into that girl, the one who daydreams about a guy she can never have.
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
I slide my feet onto the seat next to him, my ankle brushing against his thigh. “No shallowness of breath? No rapidly beating heart?” He rests one hand on my foot as he continues to mess with his phone. His eyes meet mine in amusement. “Are those the indicators? I might have an issue after all.
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
Towns are like people. Old ones often have character, the new ones are interchangeable.
Wallace Stegner (Angle of Repose)
When we lost something precious, and we'd looked and looked and still couldn't find it, then we didn't have to be completely heartbroken. We still had that last bit of comfort, thinking one day, when we grow up, and we were free to travel around the counry, we would always go and find it in Norfolk...And that's why years and years later, that day Tommy and I found another copy of that lost tape of mine in a town on the Norfolk coast, we didn't just think it pretty funny; we both felt deep down some tug, some old wish to believe again in something that was once close to our hearts.
Kazuo Ishiguro (Never Let Me Go)
Not the “be yourself” line. I loathe that line. As if Myself and Tic have met before and gotten along, so all I have to do is make sure Myself is there this time. So illogical.
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
Growing up, I never felt deprived. I was always happy. It seems only lately I've started seeing everything I didn't have.
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea.
Philip Reeve (Mortal Engines (Mortal Engines, #1))
It won't work,' Mr. Bentley continued, sipping his tea. 'No matter how hard you try to be what you once were, you can only be what you are here and now. Time hypnotizes. When you're nine, you think you've always been nine years old and will always be. When you're thirty, it seems you've always been balanced there on that bright rim of middle life. And then when you turn seventy, you are always and forever seventy. You're in the present, you're trapped in a young now or an old now, but there is no other now to be seen.
Ray Bradbury (Dandelion Wine (Green Town, #1))
A week ago someone warned me not to buy the blueberry muffins at Eddie's, but I didn't listen and bought them anyway. Now at odd hours I get these insatiable cravings." "They're laced with addictive substances.
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
My older brother, Lucas, is twenty and away at college." "Those are pretty normal names." "Normal?" "No Chets or Wellingtons or anything." He raises one eyebrow. "Do you know any Wellingtons?" "Of course not, but you probably do." "No, actually I don't.
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
...You know the difference between a 'boy friend' and a 'boyfriend'." I roll my eyes with a smile. "Yeah, yeah." "Just a little space,"...
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
Your old home town's so far away, but inside your head there's a record that's playing, a song called 'Hold On
Tom Waits
Winter lies too long in country towns; hangs on until it is stale and shabby, old and sullen.
Willa Cather (My Ántonia (Great Plains Trilogy, #3))
Looking at the stars always makes me dream, as simply as I dream over the black dots representing towns and villages on a map. Why, I ask myself, shouldn’t the shining dots of the sky be as accessible as the black dots on the map of France? Just as we take a train to get to Tarascon or Rouen, we take death to reach a star. We cannot get to a star while we are alive any more than we can take the train when we are dead. So to me it seems possible that cholera, tuberculosis and cancer are the celestial means of locomotion. Just as steamboats, buses and railways are the terrestrial means. To die quietly of old age would be to go there on foot.
Vincent van Gogh
I’d rather not see their eyes. Eyes can say so much. Theirs say, ‘I want to steal your soul so don’t turn your back on us.
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
This is like the calm after the storm. Everything has settled, and even though it left destruction in its wake, you know the worst is over.
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
I knew why I cared. Why this mattered so much. Why his opinion was the only thing that mattered. I was more than crushing on him. I loved Braden.
Kasie West (On the Fence (Old Town Shops, #2))
Read this to yourself. Read it silently. Don't move your lips. Don't make a sound. Listen to yourself. Listen without hearing anything. What a wonderfully weird thing, huh? NOW MAKE THIS PART LOUD! SCREAM IT IN YOUR MIND! DROWN EVERYTHING OUT. Now, hear a whisper. A tiny whisper. Now, read this next line in your best crotchety- old man voice: "Hello there, sonny. Does your town have a post office?" Awesome! Who was that? Whose voice was that? It sure wasn't yours! How do you do that? How?! It must've been magic.
Bo Burnham
Old God sure was in a good mood when he made this place.
Hunter S. Thompson (The Rum Diary)
She was almost at the top of the steps, and Shane was right behind her, when she heard Myrnin say, in a quiet voice that was like the old Myrnin, the one she actually liked, "I'm sorry, Claire. I never meant - I'm sorry. Sometimes I don't know... I don't know what I am thinking. I wish... I wish things could be like they were before.
Rachel Caine (Ghost Town (The Morganville Vampires, #9))
Every time you look up at the stars, it’s like opening a door. You could be anyone, anywhere. You could be yourself at any moment in your life. You open that door and you realize you’re the same person under the same stars. Camping out in the backyard with your best friend, eleven years old. Sixteen, driving alone, stopping at the edge of the city, looking up at the same stars. Walking a wooded path, kissing in the moonlight, look up and you’re eleven again. Chasing cats in a tiny town, you’re eleven again, you’re sixteen again. You’re in a rowboat. You’re staring out the back of a car. Out here where the world begins and ends, it’s like nothing ever stops happening.
Bryan Lee O'Malley (Lost at Sea)
It was probably easier in the old days when the bad guys rode into town wearing black capes or whatever bad guys wore and the milk cows were ownded by honest people. Right off the bat, you'd know who you were dealing with. Now everybody dresses alike.
Joan Bauer (Hope Was Here)
You have as many options as you give yourself.
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
He knew what the wind was doing to them, where it was taking them, to all the secret places that were never so secret again in life.
Ray Bradbury (Something Wicked This Way Comes (Green Town, #2))
And more’?” The name of the store is Dolls and More. He’s asking what others have before him once they come into the store and only see dolls. I nod. “Dolls and more dolls.
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
As he filled the mug with coffee, Michael waited for Shane to make some sense. Which Shane finally did, holding up the cheaply printed white flyer. It curled around the edges from where it had been rolled up to fit in the mailbox. “What have I always wanted in this town?” he asked. “A strip club that would let in fifteen year olds?” Michael said. “When I was fifteen. No, seriously, what?” “Guns ‘R Us?” Shane made a harsh buzzer sound. “Okay, to be fair, yeah, that’s a good alternate answer. But no. I always wanted a place to seriously train to fight, right? Someplace that didn't think aerobics was a martial art? And look!
Rachel Caine (Bite Club (The Morganville Vampires, #10))
I'm on the Internet. I stay informed. They let old people on the Internet, you know.
Stephen Emond (Winter Town)
I had two dreams about him after he died. I dont remember the first one all that well but it was about meetin him in town somewheres and he give me some money and I think I lost it. But the second one it was like we was both back in older times and I was on horseback goin through the mountains of a night. Goin through this pass in the mountains. It was cold and there was snow on the ground and he rode past me and kept on goin. Never said nothin. He just rode on past and he had this blanket wrapped around him and he had his head down and when he rode past I seen he was carryin fire in a horn the way people used to do and I could see the horn from the light inside of it. About the color of the moon. And in the dream I knew that he was goin on ahead and that he was fixin to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark and all that cold and I knew that whenever I got there he would be there. And then I woke up.
Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men)
Tally sighed, tipping her feet again to follow. "Maybe that's because they have better stuff to do than kid tricks. Maybe partying in town is better than hanging out in a bunch of old ruins." Shay's eyes flashed. "Or maybe when they do the operation-when they grind and stretch your bones to the right shape, peel off your face and rub all your skin away, and stick in plastic cheekbones so you look like everyone else-maybe after going through all that you just aren't very interesting anymore.
Scott Westerfeld (Uglies (Uglies, #1))
This story never really had a point. It’s just a lull - a skip in the record. We are addresses in ghost towns. We are old wishes that never came true. We are hand grenades (and every word you say pulls the pin). We are all gods, we are all monsters.
Pete Wentz (The Boy With The Thorn In His Side)
Oh, the jobs people work at! Out west near Hawtch-Hawtch there's a Hawtch-Hawtcher bee watcher, his job is to watch. Is to keep both his eyes on the lazy town bee, a bee that is watched will work harder you see. So he watched and he watched, but in spite of his watch that bee didn't work any harder not mawtch. So then somebody said "Our old bee-watching man just isn't bee watching as hard as he can, he ought to be watched by another Hawtch-Hawtcher! The thing that we need is a bee-watcher-watcher!". Well, the bee-watcher-watcher watched the bee-watcher. He didn't watch well so another Hawtch-Hawtcher had to come in as a watch-watcher-watcher! And now all the Hawtchers who live in Hawtch-Hawtch are watching on watch watcher watchering watch, watch watching the watcher who's watching that bee. You're not a Hawtch-Watcher you're lucky you see!
Dr. Seuss (Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?)
But knowing about someone doesn't equate to knowing them.
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
-You gotta do your best to be the best, right?
Kasie West (On the Fence (Old Town Shops, #2))
Close your eyes, Maxon." "What?" "Close your eyes. Somewhere in this palace, there is a woman who will be your wife. This girl? Imagine that she depends on you. She needs you to cherish her and make her feel like the Selection didn't even happen. Like if you were dropped in your own out in the middle of the country to wander around door to door, she's still the one you would have found. She was always the one you would have picked. She needs you to provide for her and protect her. And if it came to a point where there was absolutely nothing to eat, and you couldn't even fall asleep at night because the sound of her stomach growling kept you awake—" "Stop it!" "Sorry." "Is that really what it's like? Out there... does that happen? Are people hungry like that a lot?" "Maxon, I..." "Tell me the truth." "Yes. That happens. I know of families where people give up their share for their children or siblings. I know of a boy who was whipped in the town square for stealing food. Sometimes you do crazy things when you are desperate." "A boy? How old?" "Nine." "Have you ever been like that? Starving?...How bad?" "Maxon, it will only upset you more." "Probably, but I'm only starting to realize how much I don't know about my own country. Please." "We've been pretty bad. Most time if it gets to where we have to choose, we keep the food and lose electricity. The worst was when it happened near Christmas one year. May didn't understand why we couldn't exchange gifts. As a general rule, there are never any leftovers at my house. Someone always wants more. I know the checks we've gotten over the last few weeks have really helped, and my family is really smart about money. I'm sure they have already tucked it away so it will stretch out for a long time. You've done so much for us, Maxon." "Good God. When you said that you were only here for the food, you weren't kidding, were you?" "Really, Maxon, we've been doing pretty well lately. I—" "I'll see you at dinner.
Kiera Cass (The Selection (The Selection, #1))
Being alone is not the most awful thing in the world. You visit your museums and cultivate your interests and remind yourself how lucky you are not to be one of those spindly Sudanese children with flies beading their mouths. You make out To Do lists - reorganise linen cupboard, learn two sonnets. You dole out little treats to yourself - slices of ice-cream cake, concerts at Wigmore Hall. And then, every once in a while, you wake up and gaze out of the window at another bloody daybreak, and think, I cannot do this anymore. I cannot pull myself together again and spend the next fifteen hours of wakefulness fending off the fact of my own misery. People like Sheba think that they know what it's like to be lonely. They cast their minds back to the time they broke up with a boyfriend in 1975 and endured a whole month before meeting someone new. Or the week they spent in a Bavarian steel town when they were fifteen years old, visiting their greasy-haired German pen pal and discovering that her hand-writing was the best thing about her. But about the drip drip of long-haul, no-end-in-sight solitude, they know nothing. They don't know what it is to construct an entire weekend around a visit to the laundrette. Or to sit in a darkened flat on Halloween night, because you can't bear to expose your bleak evening to a crowd of jeering trick-or-treaters. Or to have the librarian smile pityingly and say, ‘Goodness, you're a quick reader!’ when you bring back seven books, read from cover to cover, a week after taking them out. They don't know what it is to be so chronically untouched that the accidental brush of a bus conductor's hand on your shoulder sends a jolt of longing straight to your groin. I have sat on park benches and trains and schoolroom chairs, feeling the great store of unused, objectless love sitting in my belly like a stone until I was sure I would cry out and fall, flailing, to the ground. About all of this, Sheba and her like have no clue.
Zoë Heller (What Was She Thinking? [Notes on a Scandal])
How come the dog isn’t named?” He reads aloud the title on the box. “‘Peggy and dog.’” “Because people tend to want to name animals after their beloved pets.” “Really?” “No. I have no idea. I can give you the number of Peggy’s creator if you want to ask.” “You have the phone number of this doll’s creator?” “No.” I punch the price into the register and push Total. “You’re hard to read,” he says
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
Why is it, I wondered, that old people are always so self-centered and excitable? But I just smiled benignly and stood back, comforted by the thought that soon they would be dead.
Bill Bryson (The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America)
I can do both at the same time," he assured me. "I'm talented like that.
Kasie West (On the Fence (Old Town Shops, #2))
Once upon a time,” I began. “There was a little boy born in a little town. He was perfect, or so his mother thought. But one thing was different about him. He had a gold screw in his belly button. Just the head of it peeping out. “Now his mother was simply glad he had all his fingers and toes to count with. But as the boy grew up he realized not everyone had screws in their belly buttons, let alone gold ones. He asked his mother what it was for, but she didn’t know. Next he asked his father, but his father didn’t know. He asked his grandparents, but they didn’t know either. “That settled it for a while, but it kept nagging him. Finally, when he was old enough, he packed a bag and set out, hoping he could find someone who knew the truth of it. “He went from place to place, asking everyone who claimed to know something about anything. He asked midwives and physickers, but they couldn’t make heads or tails of it. The boy asked arcanists, tinkers, and old hermits living in the woods, but no one had ever seen anything like it. “He went to ask the Cealdim merchants, thinking if anyone would know about gold, it would be them. But the Cealdim merchants didn’t know. He went to the arcanists at the University, thinking if anyone would know about screws and their workings, they would. But the arcanists didn’t know. The boy followed the road over the Stormwal to ask the witch women of the Tahl, but none of them could give him an answer. “Eventually he went to the King of Vint, the richest king in the world. But the king didn’t know. He went to the Emperor of Atur, but even with all his power, the emperor didn’t know. He went to each of the small kingdoms, one by one, but no one could tell him anything. “Finally the boy went to the High King of Modeg, the wisest of all the kings in the world. The high king looked closely at the head of the golden screw peeping from the boy’s belly button. Then the high king made a gesture, and his seneschal brought out a pillow of golden silk. On that pillow was a golden box. The high king took a golden key from around his neck, opened the box, and inside was a golden screwdriver. “The high king took the screwdriver and motioned the boy to come closer. Trembling with excitement, the boy did. Then the high king took the golden screwdriver and put it in the boy’s belly button.” I paused to take a long drink of water. I could feel my small audience leaning toward me. “Then the high king carefully turned the golden screw. Once: Nothing. Twice: Nothing. Then he turned it the third time, and the boy’s ass fell off.” There was a moment of stunned silence. “What?” Hespe asked incredulously. “His ass fell off.
Patrick Rothfuss (The Wise Man's Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2))
You're in a rather odd mood today." I'm soaking wet, Eloise." No need to snap at me about it, I didn't force you to walk across town in the rain." It wasn't raining when I left,". There was something about a sibling that brought out the eight-year-old in a body. I'm sure the sky was gray," Clearly, she had a bit of the eight-year-old in her as well.
Julia Quinn (Romancing Mister Bridgerton (Bridgertons, #4))
There is a time in the life of every boy when he for the first time takes the backward view of life. Perhaps that is the moment when he crosses the line into manhood. The boy is walking through the street of his town. He is thinking of the future and of the figure he will cut in the world. Ambitions and regrets awake within him. Suddenly something happens; he stops under a tree and waits as for a voice calling his name. Ghosts of old things creep into his consciousness; the voices outside of himself whisper a message concerning the limitations of life. From being quite sure of himself and his future he becomes not at all sure. If he be an imaginative boy a door is torn open and for the first time he looks out upon the world, seeing, as though they marched in procession before him, the countless figures of men who before his time have come out of nothingness into the world, lived their lives and again disappeared into nothingness. The sadness of sophistication has come to the boy. With a little gasp he sees himself as merely a leaf blown by the wind through the streets of his village. He knows that in spite of all the stout talk of his fellows he must live and die in uncertainty, a thing blown by the winds, a thing destined like corn to wilt in the sun.
Sherwood Anderson (Winesburg, Ohio: A Group of Tales of Ohio Small Town Life)
Tell me about a complicated man. Muse, tell me how he wandered and was lost when he had wrecked the holy town of Troy, and where he went, and who he met, the pain he suffered in the storms at sea, and how he worked to save his life and bring his men back home. He failed to keep them safe; poor fools, they ate the Sun God’s cattle, and the god kept them from home. Now goddess, child of Zeus, tell the old story for our modern times. Find the beginning.
Emily Wilson (The Odyssey)
I added that it was no fun to grow old, but that the compensation for it was that time turned your mental shit-detector into a highly calibrated instrument.
Paul Theroux (Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town)
Ignore him," Heather begged. "I do. Constantly." Jean-Luc studied the coach, then turned to Heather with a wary look. "Every man in this town wants you." She laughed. "Yea, right. The old guys from the nursing home go into cardiac arrest whenever I walk by." His gaze drifted over her. "I can believe that.
Kerrelyn Sparks (The Undead Next Door (Love at Stake, #4))
And so, as quietly as he had lived, he slipped out of town, leaving only a note behind: Well, that's that. I'm off, and if you don't believe I'm leaving, just count the days I'm gone. When you hear the phone not ringing, it'll be me that's not calling. Goodbye, old girl, and good luck. Yours truly, Earl Adcock P.S. I'm not deaf.
Fannie Flagg (Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe)
In the bare room under the old library on the hill in the town at the tip of the small peninsula on the cold island so far from everything else, I lived among strangers and birds.
Rebecca Solnit (The Faraway Nearby)
It was the beginning of the war. I was twelve years old, my parents were alive, and God still dwelt in our town.
Elie Wiesel (Dawn)
The first thing you notice about New Orleans are the burying grounds - the cemeteries - and they're a cold proposition, one of the best things there are here. Going by, you try to be as quiet as possible, better to let them sleep. Greek, Roman, sepulchres- palatial mausoleums made to order, phantomesque, signs and symbols of hidden decay - ghosts of women and men who have sinned and who've died and are now living in tombs. The past doesn't pass away so quickly here. You could be dead for a long time. The ghosts race towards the light, you can almost hear the heavy breathing spirits, all determined to get somewhere. New Orleans, unlike a lot of those places you go back to and that don't have the magic anymore, still has got it. Night can swallow you up, yet none of it touches you. Around any corner, there's a promise of something daring and ideal and things are just getting going. There's something obscenely joyful behind every door, either that or somebody crying with their head in their hands. A lazy rhythm looms in the dreamy air and the atmosphere pulsates with bygone duels, past-life romance, comrades requesting comrades to aid them in some way. You can't see it, but you know it's here. Somebody is always sinking. Everyone seems to be from some very old Southern families. Either that or a foreigner. I like the way it is. There are a lot of places I like, but I like New Orleans better. There's a thousand different angles at any moment. At any time you could run into a ritual honoring some vaguely known queen. Bluebloods, titled persons like crazy drunks, lean weakly against the walls and drag themselves through the gutter. Even they seem to have insights you might want to listen to. No action seems inappropriate here. The city is one very long poem. Gardens full of pansies, pink petunias, opiates. Flower-bedecked shrines, white myrtles, bougainvillea and purple oleander stimulate your senses, make you feel cool and clear inside. Everything in New Orleans is a good idea. Bijou temple-type cottages and lyric cathedrals side by side. Houses and mansions, structures of wild grace. Italianate, Gothic, Romanesque, Greek Revival standing in a long line in the rain. Roman Catholic art. Sweeping front porches, turrets, cast-iron balconies, colonnades- 30-foot columns, gloriously beautiful- double pitched roofs, all the architecture of the whole wide world and it doesn't move. All that and a town square where public executions took place. In New Orleans you could almost see other dimensions. There's only one day at a time here, then it's tonight and then tomorrow will be today again. Chronic melancholia hanging from the trees. You never get tired of it. After a while you start to feel like a ghost from one of the tombs, like you're in a wax museum below crimson clouds. Spirit empire. Wealthy empire. One of Napoleon's generals, Lallemaud, was said to have come here to check it out, looking for a place for his commander to seek refuge after Waterloo. He scouted around and left, said that here the devil is damned, just like everybody else, only worse. The devil comes here and sighs. New Orleans. Exquisite, old-fashioned. A great place to live vicariously. Nothing makes any difference and you never feel hurt, a great place to really hit on things. Somebody puts something in front of you here and you might as well drink it. Great place to be intimate or do nothing. A place to come and hope you'll get smart - to feed pigeons looking for handouts
Bob Dylan (Chronicles: Volume One)
He laughs again. “You’re different, Caymen.” “Different than what?” “Than any other girl I’ve met.” Considering most of the girls he’d met probably had fifty times as much money as I did, that wasn’t a hard feat to accomplish. Thinking about that makes my eyes sting. “It’s refreshing. You make me feel normal.” “Huh. I better work on that because you’re far from normal.” He smiles and pushes my shoulder playfully. My heart slams into my ribs. “Caymen.” I take another handful of dirt and smash it against his neck then try to make a quick escape. He grabs me from behind, and I see his hand, full of dirt, coming toward my face when the warning beeps of the tractor start up. “Saved by the gravediggers,” he says.
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
You think people was meaner then than they are now? the deputy said. The old man was looking out at the flooded town. No, he said. I don't. I think people are the same from the day God first made one.
Cormac McCarthy (Child of God)
I looked up recurring dreams. Dreams are messages, things our minds want us to learn. Recurring dreams can be really important messages. The often come in the form of nightmares. Recurring dreams could represent real-life problem that hasn't been dealt with or resolved. Overcoming or resolving that problem could help one move past the recurring dream.
Kasie West (On the Fence (Old Town Shops, #2))
I reflected how many satisfied, happy people there really are! What a suffocating force it is! You look at life: the insolence and idleness of the strong, the ignorance and brutishness of the weak, incredible poverty all about us, overcrowding, degeneration, drunkenness, hypocrisy, lying... Yet all is calm and stillness in the houses and in the streets; of the fifty thousand living in a town, there s not one who would cry out, who would give vent to his indignation aloud. We see the people going to market for provisions, eating by day, sleeping by night, talking their silly nonsense, getting married, growing old, serenely escorting their dead to the cemetery; but we do not see and we do not hear those who suffer, and what is terrible in life goes on somewhere behind the scenes...Everything is so quiet and peaceful, and nothing protests but mute statistics: so many people gone out of their minds, so many gallons of vodka drunk, so many children dead from malnutrition... And this order of things s evidently necessary; evidently the happy man only feels at ease because the unhappy bear their burdens in silence, and without that silence happiness would be impossible.
Anton Chekhov (Ward No. 6 and Other Stories)
There are the stars--doing their old, old crisscross journeys in the sky. Scholars haven't settled the matter yet, but they seem to think there are no living beings out there. Just chalk... or fire. Only this one is straining away, straining away all the time to make something of itself. Strain's so bad that every sixteen hours everybody lies down and gets a rest.
Thornton Wilder (Our Town)
I'll be darned!" said Douglas. "I never thought of that. That's brilliant! It's true. Old people never were children!" "And it's kind of sad," said Tom, sitting still."There's nothing we can do to help them.
Ray Bradbury (Dandelion Wine (Green Town, #1))
The whole town was like this, a mix of old and new, familiar and not. The things that had changed seemed out of place, and the things that had remained the same made Charlie feel out of place.
Scott Cawthon (The Silver Eyes (Five Nights at Freddy's, #1))
But he says things so subtly, so smoothly, that it's hard to tell if it's purposeful or if he's just playing along with my jokes.
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
Tom," said Douglas, "just promise me one thing, okay?" "It's a promise. What?" "You may be my brother and maybe I hate you sometimes, but stick around, all right?" "You mean you'll let me follow you and the older guys when you go on hikes?" "Well . . . sure . . . even that. What I mean is, don't go away, huh? Don't let any cars run over you or fall of a cliff." "I should say not! Whatta you think I am, anyway?" "'Cause if worst comes to worst, and both of us are real old--say forty or forty-five some day-- we can own a gold mine out West and sit there smoking corn silk and growing bears." "Growing beards! Boy!" "Like I say, you stick around and don't let nothing happen." "You can depend on me," said Tom. "It's not you I worry about," said Douglas. "It's the way God runs the world." Tom thought about this for a moment. "He's all right, Doug," said Tom. "He tries.
Ray Bradbury (Dandelion Wine (Green Town, #1))
Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it. In rainy weather the streets turned to red slop; grass grew on the sidewalks, the courthouse sagged in the square. Somehow, it was hotter then: a black dog suffered on a summer’s day; bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flied in the sweltering shade of the live oaks on the square. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o’clock naps, and by night fall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum People moved slowly then. They ambled across the square, shuffled in and out of the stores around it, took their time about everything. A day was twenty-four hours long but seemed longer. There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, noting to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County. But it was a time of vague optimism for some of the people: Maycomb County had recently been told that it had nothing to fear but fear itself.
Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird)
A long time back, she thought, I dreamed a dream, and was enjoying it so much when someone wakened me, and that day I was born. And now? Now, let me see...She cast her mind back. Where was I? she thought. Ninety years...how to take up the thread and the pattern of that lost dream again? She put out a small hand. There...yes, that was it. She smiled. Deeper in the warm snow hill she turned her head upon her pillow. That was better. Now, yes, now she saw it shaping in her mind quietly, and with a serenity like a sea moving along an endless and self-refreshing shore. Now she let the old dream touch and lift her from the snow and drift her above the scarce-remembered bed.
Ray Bradbury (Dandelion Wine (Green Town, #1))
What are you doing and why did you have a goofy grin on your face when you came in here? You sneaking around? Is there some boy I need to beat up
Kasie West (On the Fence (Old Town Shops, #2))
For some, autumn comes early, stays late through life where October follows September and November touches October and then instead of December and Christ's birth, there is no Bethlehem Star, no rejoicing, but September comes again and old October and so on down the years, with no winter, spring, or revivifying summer. For these beings, fall is the ever normal season, the only weather, there be no choice beyond. Where do they come from? The dust. Where do they go? The grave. Does blood stir their veins? No: the night wind. What ticks in their head? The worm. What speaks from their mouth? The toad. What sees from their eye? The snake. What hears with their ear? The abyss between the stars. They sift the human storm for souls, eat flesh of reason, fill tombs with sinners. They frenzy forth. In gusts they beetle-scurry, creep, thread, filter, motion, make all moons sullen, and surely cloud all clear-run waters. The spider-web hears them, trembles—breaks. Such are the autumn people. Beware of them.
Ray Bradbury (Something Wicked This Way Comes (Green Town, #2))
Time is so strange and life is twice as strange. You must promise me not to live to be too old, William. It if is at all convenient, die before you're fifty. It my take a bit of doing. But I advise this is simply because there is no telling when another Helen Loomis might be born. It would be dreadful, wouldn't it, if you lived on to be very very old and some afternoon in 1999 walked down Main street and saw me standing there, aged twenty-one, and the whole thing out of balance again?
Ray Bradbury (Dandelion Wine (Green Town, #1))
The Doors The End This is the end, beautiful friend This is the end, my only friend The end of our elaborate plans The end of ev'rything that stands The end No safety or surprise The end I'll never look into your eyes again Can you picture what will be So limitless and free Desperately in need of some strangers hand In a desperate land Lost in a Roman wilderness of pain And all the children are insane All the children are insane Waiting for the summer rain There's danger on the edge of town Ride the king's highway Weird scenes inside the goldmine Ride the highway West baby Ride the snake Ride the snake To the lake To the lake The ancient lake baby The snake is long Seven miles Ride the snake He's old And his skin is cold The west is the best The west is the best Get here and we'll do the rest The blue bus is calling us The blue bus is calling us Driver, where you taking us? The killer awoke before dawn He put his boots on He took a face from the ancient gallery And he walked on down the hall He went into the room where his sister lived And then he paid a visit to his brother And then he walked on down the hall And he came to a door And he looked inside Father? Yes son I want to kill you Mother, I want to............. Come on, baby, take a chance with us Come on, baby, take a chance with us Come on, baby, take a chance with us And meet me at the back of the blue bus This is the end, beautiful friend This is the end, my only friend The end It hurts to set you free But you'll never follow me The end of laughter and soft lies The end of nights we tried to die This is the end
Jim Morrison (The Doors: The Complete Lyrics)
I laugh, but I'm still thinking about ten-year-old Margo having a crush on ten-year-old me.
John Green (Paper Towns)
The girls all know the score. No escape. No surrender. No mercy. We got to kill every last rat bastard one of them, every last one. Not for revenge. Not because they deserve it. not because it'll make the world a better place. We need a heap of bloody bodies so when the mob boss, Wallenquist, looks over his charts of profits and losses, he'll see what it cost him to mess with the girls of Old Town.
Frank Miller (Sin City, Vol. 3: The Big Fat Kill (Sin City, #3))
To begin with the old rigmarole of childhood. In a country there was a shire, and in that shire there was a town, and in that town there was a house, and in that house there was a room, and in that room there was a bed, and in that bed there lay a little girl;
Elizabeth Gaskell (Wives and Daughters)
Ana feels like pushing her neighbour up against the wall and telling him that the locker room where those boys sit telling their stupid jokes end up preserving them like a tin can. It makes them mature more slowly, while some even go rotten inside. And they don’t have any female friends, and there are no women’s teams here, so they learn that hockey only belongs to them, and their coaches teach them that girls only exist for fucking. She wants to point out how all the old men in this town praise them for “fighting” and “not backing down,” but not one single person tells them that when a girl says no, it means NO. And the problem with this town is not only that a boy raped a girl, but that everyone is pretending that he DIDN’T do it. So now all the other boys will think that what he did was okay. Because no one cares.
Fredrik Backman (Beartown (Beartown, #1))
Old Money Blue hydrangea, cold cash, divine, Cashmere, cologne and white sunshine. Red racing cars, Sunset and Vine, The kids were young and pretty. Where have you been? Where did you go? Those summer nights seem long ago, And so is the girl you used to call, The Queen of New York City. But if you send for me you know I'll come, And if you call for me you know I'll run. I'll run to you, I'll run to you, I'll run, run, run. I'll come to you, I'll come to you, I'll come, come, come. Ohh, Ohh. Ahh, Ahh. The power of youth is on my mind, Sunsets, small town, I'm out of time. Will you still love me when I shine, From words but not from beauty? My father's love was always strong, My mother's glamour lives on and on, Yet still inside I felt alone, For reasons unknown to me. But if you send for me you know I'll come, And if you call for me you know I'll run. I'll run to you, I'll run to you, I'll run, run, run. I'll come to you, I'll come to you, I'll come, come, come. Ohh, Ohh. Ahh, Ahh. And if you call, I'll run, run, run, If you change your mind, I'll come, come, come. Ohh, Ohh. Ahh, Ahh. Blue hydrangea, cold cash, divine, Cashmere, cologne and hot sunshine. Red racing cars, Sunset and Vine, And we were young and pretty.
Lana Del Rey
Night, forever. But within it, a city, shadowy and only real in certain ways. The entity cowered in its alley, where the mist was rising. This could not have happened! Yet it had. The streets had filled with… things. Animals! Birds! Changing shape! Screaming and yelling! And, above it all, higher than the rooftops, a lamb rocking back and forth in great slow motions, thundering over the cobbles… And then bars had come down, slamming down, and the entity had been thrown back. But it had been so close! It had saved the creature, it was getting through, it was beginning to have control… and now this… In the darkness of the inner city, above the rustle of the never-ending rain, it heard the sound of boots approaching. A shape appeared in the mist. It drew nearer. Water cascaded off a metal helmet and an oiled leather cloak as the figure stopped and, entirely unconcerned, cupped its had in front of its face and lit a cigar. Then the match was dropped on the cobbles, where it hissed out, and the figure said: “What are you?” The entity stirred, like an old fish in a deep pool. It was too tired to flee. “I am the Summoning Dark.” It was not, in fact, a sound, but had it been, it would have been a hiss. “Who are you?” “I am the Watchman.” “They would have killed his family!” The darkness lunged, and met resistance. “Think of the deaths they have caused! Who are you to stop me?” “He created me. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who watches the watchmen? Me. I watch him. Always. You will not force him to murder for you.” “What kind of human creates his own policeman?” “One who fears the dark.” “And so he should,” said the entity, with satisfaction. “Indeed. But I think you misunderstand. I am not here to keep the darkness out. I am here to keep it in.” There was a clink of metal as the shadowy watchman lifted a dark lantern and opened its little door. Orange light cut through the blackness. “Call me… the Guarding Dark. Imagine how strong I must be.” The Summoning Dark backed desperately into the alley, but the light followed it, burning it. “And now,” said the watchman, “get out of town.
Terry Pratchett (Thud! (Discworld, #34; City Watch, #7))
First of all, it was October, a rare month for boys. Not that all months aren’t rare. But there be bad and good, as the pirates say. Take September, a bad month: school begins. Consider August, a good month: school hasn’t begun yet. July, well, July’s really fine: there’s no chance in the world for school. June, no doubting it, June’s best of all, for the school doors spring wide and September’s a billion years away. But you take October, now. School’s been on a month and you’re riding easier in the reins, jogging along. You got time to think of the garbage you’ll dump on old man Prickett’s porch, or the hairy-ape costume you’ll wear to the YMCA the last night of the month. And if it’s around October twentieth and everything smoky-smelling and the sky orange and ash gray at twilight, it seems Halloween will never come in a fall of broomsticks and a soft flap of bedsheets around corners.
Ray Bradbury (Something Wicked This Way Comes (Green Town, #2))
Why, they're the dirtiest guys in any town. They're the same ones that burned the houses of old German people during the war. They're the same ones that lynch Negroes. They like to be cruel. They like to hurt people, and they always give it a nice name, patriotism or protecting the constitution.
John Steinbeck (In Dubious Battle)
We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light a candle that can guide us through the darkness to a safe and sure future. For the world is changing. The old era is ending. The old ways will not do. The problems are not all solved and the battles are not all won and we stand today on the edge of a New Frontier - a frontier of unknown opportunities and perils, a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats. It has been a long road to this crowded convention city. Now begins another long journey, taking me into your cities and towns and homes all over America. Give me your help. Give me your hand, your voice and your vote.
John F. Kennedy
An old market had stood there until I'd been about six years old, when the authorities had renamed it the Olde Market, destroyed it, and built a new market devoted to selling T-shirts and other objects with pictures of the old market. Meanwhile, the people who had operated the little stalls in the old market had gone elsewhere and set up a thing on the edge of town that was now called the New Market even though it was actually the old market.
Neal Stephenson (Anathem)
my god! i'm thinking, what incredible shit we've put up with most of our lives - the domestic routine (same old jobs, insufferable arrogance of elected officials, the crafty cheating and the slimy advertising of the businessman, the tedious wars in which we kill our buddies instead of our real enemies back home in the capital, the foul diseased and hideous cities and towns we live in, the constant petty tyranny of automatic washers and automobiles and tv machines and telephones -! ah christ!, i'm thinking, at the same time that i'm waving goodby to that hollering idiot on shore, what intolerable garbage and what utterly useless crap we bury ourselves in day by day, while patiently enduring at the same time the creeping strangulation of the clean white collar and the rich but modest four-in-hand garrote)
Edward Abbey (Desert Solitaire)
Read this to yourself. Read it silently. Don't move your lips. Don't make a sound. Listen to yourself. Listen without hearing anything. What a wonderfully weird thing, huh? NOW MAKE THIS PART LOUD! SCREAM IT IN YOUR MIND! DROWN EVERYTHING OUT. Now, hear a whisper. A tiny whisper. Now, read this next line in your best crotchety- old man voice: "Hello there, sonny. Does your town have a post office?" Awesome! Who was that? Whose voice was that? It sure wasn't yours! How do you do that? How?! It must've been magic.
Bo Burnham (Egghead; or, You Can't Survive on Ideas Alone)
Boy," said the old man at last, "in five years, how would you like a job selling shoes in this emporium?" "Gosh, thanks, Mr. Sanderson, but I don't know what I'm going to be yet." "Anything you want to be son," said the old man, "you'll be. No one will ever stop you.
Ray Bradbury (Dandelion Wine (Green Town, #1))
In the great cities we see so little of the world, we drift into our minority. In the little towns and villages there are no minorities; people are not numerous enough. You must see the world there, perforce. Every man is himself a class; every hour carries its new challenge. When you pass the inn at the end of the village you leave your favourite whimsy behind you; for you will meet no one who can share it. We listen to eloquent speaking, read books and write them, settle all the affairs of the universe. The dumb village multitudes pass on unchanging; the feel of the spade in the hand is no different for all our talk: good seasons and bad follow each other as of old. The dumb multitudes are no more concerned with us than is the old horse peering through the rusty gate of the village pound. The ancient map-makers wrote across unexplored regions, 'Here are lions.' Across the villages of fishermen and turners of the earth, so different are these from us, we can write but one line that is certain, 'Here are ghosts.' ("Village Ghosts")
W.B. Yeats (The Celtic Twilight: Faerie and Folklore)
He was in blue jeans and a work shirt, which is another weird quirk of Rich Old Men. Just one of the guys here. Blue jeans and a work shirt, salt of the earth, working man like yourself. Like they're somehow uncomfortable about being rich enough to sleep in a bed made of vaginas being pulled around the town at night by a fleet of gold-covered midgets.
Warren Ellis (Crooked Little Vein)
Even when the east excited me most, even when I was keenly aware of its superiority to the broad, sprawling, swollen towns beyond the Ohio, with their interminable inquisitions which only spared children and the very old-even then it had always for me a quality of distortion.
F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby)
The trouble was, I did know what I wanted from Grace Town. I wanted to sleep with her, sure. I wanted her to be my girlfriend. A few years from now, I wanted to marry her. And then, when we were old, I wanted to drink peppermint tea and read Harry Potter to our grandchildren with her on the veranda of an old house in the countryside as we watched a summer storm roll toward us. Was that so much to ask?
Krystal Sutherland (Our Chemical Hearts)
THE ONE WHO STAYED You should have heard the old men cry, You should have heard the biddies When that sad stranger raised his flute And piped away the kiddies. Katy, Tommy, Meg and Bob Followed, skipped gaily, Red-haired Ruth, my brother Rob, And little crippled Bailey, John and Nils and Cousin Claire, Dancin', spinnin', turnin', 'Cross the hills to God knows where- They never came returnin'. 'Cross the hills to God knows where The piper pranced, a leadin' Each child in Hamlin Town but me, And I stayed home unheedin'. My papa says that I was blest For if that music found me, I'd be witch-cast like all the rest. This town grows old around me. I cannot say I did not hear That sound so haunting hollow- I heard, I heard, I heard it clear... I was afraid to follow.
Shel Silverstein (Where the Sidewalk Ends)
But this was like old movies, the silent theater haunted with black-and-white ghosts, silvery mouths opening to let moonlight smoke out, gestures made in silence so hushed you could hear the wind fizz the hair on your cheeks.
Ray Bradbury (Something Wicked This Way Comes (Green Town, #2))
Every town, every book, is a way to say, look, there’s a new way, a different way. Every book in a bookstore is a fresh beginning. Every book is the next iteration of a very old story. Every bookstore, therefore, is like a safe‑ deposit box for civilization.
Liam Callanan (Paris by the Book)
One year Halloween came on October 24, three hours after midnight. At that time, James Nightshade of 97 Oak Street was thirteen years, eleven months, twenty-three days old. Next door, William Halloway was thirteen years, eleven months, and twenty-four days old. Both touched toward fourteen; it almost trembled in their hands. And that was the October week when they grew up overnight, and were never so young any more...
Ray Bradbury (Something Wicked This Way Comes (Green Town, #2))
When Ben unfurls the T-shirts, there are two small problems. First, it turns out that a large T-shirt in a Georgia gas station is not the same size as a large T-shirt at, say, Old Navy. The gas station shirt is gigantic-more garbage bag than shirt. It is smaller than the graduation robes, but not by much. But this problem pales in comparison to the other problem, which is that both T-shirts are embossed with huge Confederate flags. Printed over the flag are the words HERITAGE NOT HATE. "Oh no you didn't," Radar says when I show him why we're laughing. "Ben Starling, you better not have bought your token black friend a racist shirt." "I just grabbed the first shirts I saw, bro." "Don't bro me right now," Radar says, but he's shaking his head and laughing. I hand him his shirt and he wiggles into it while driving with his knees. "I hope I get pulled over," he says. "I'd like to see how the cop responds to a black man wearing a Confederate T-shirt over a black dress.
John Green (Paper Towns)
I don’t know. I try not to think about it too much. I’m perfectly satisfied with my life. I think unhappiness comes from unfulfilled expectations.” “So the less you expect from life . . .” “No. It’s not like that. I just try to be happy and not wish I could do more.
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
He smelled of moon swamps and old Egyptian bandages. He was something found in museums, wrapped in nicotine linens, sealed in glass. But he was alive, puling like a babe, and shriveling unto death, fast, very fast, before their eyes.
Ray Bradbury (Something Wicked This Way Comes (Green Town, #2))
Thank you, Mr. Secretary General, UNICEF Executive Director, Excellencies and distinguished guests from across the world. My name is Kim Nam Jun, also known as RM, the leader of the group BTS. It’s an incredible honour to be invited to an occasion with such significance for today’s young generation. Last November, BTS launched the “Love Myself” campaign with UNICEF, building on our belief that “true love first begins with loving myself.” We have been partnering with UNICEF’s #ENDviolence program to protect children and young people all over the world from violence. Our fans have become a major part of this campaign with their action and enthusiasm. We truly have the best fans in the world! I would like to begin by talking about myself. I was born in Ilsan, a city near Seoul, South Korea. It’s a beautiful place, with a lake, hills, and even an annual flower festival. I spent a happy childhood there, and I was just an ordinary boy. I would look up at the night sky in wonder and dream the dreams of a boy. I used to imagine that I was a superhero, saving the world. In an intro to one of our early albums, there is a line that says, “My heart stopped…I was maybe nine or ten.” Looking back, that’s when I began to worry about what other people thought of me and started seeing myself through their eyes. I stopped looking up at the stars at night. I stopped daydreaming. I tried to jam myself into moulds that other people made. Soon, I began to shut out my own voice and started to listen to the voices of others. No one called out my name, and neither did I. My heart stopped and my eyes closed shut. So, like this, I, we, all lost our names. We became like ghosts. I had one sanctuary, and that was music. There was a small voice in me that said, ‘Wake up, man, and listen to yourself!” But it took me a long time to hear music calling my name. Even after making the decision to join BTS, there were hurdles. Most people thought we were hopeless. Sometimes, I just wanted to quit. I think I was very lucky that I didn’t give it all up. I’m sure that I, and we, will keep stumbling and falling. We have become artists performing in huge stadiums and selling millions of albums. But I am still an ordinary, twenty-four-year-old guy. If there’s anything that I’ve achieved, it was only possible because I had my other BTS members by my side, and because of the love and support of our ARMY fans. Maybe I made a mistake yesterday, but yesterday’s me is still me. I am who I am today, with all my faults. Tomorrow I might be a tiny bit wiser, and that’s me, too. These faults and mistakes are what I am, making up the brightest stars in the constellation of my life. I have come to love myself for who I was, who I am, and who I hope to become. I would like to say one last thing. After releasing the “Love Yourself” albums and launching the “Love Myself” campaign, we started to hear remarkable stories from our fans all over the world, how our message helped them overcome their hardships in life and start loving themselves. These stories constantly remind us of our responsibility. So, let’s all take one more step. We have learned to love ourselves, so now I urge you to "speak yourself". I would like to ask all of you. What is your name? What excites you and makes your heart beat? Tell me your story. I want to hear your voice, and I want to hear your conviction. No matter who you are, where you’re from, your skin colour, gender identity: speak yourself. Find your name, find your voice by speaking yourself. I’m Kim Nam Jun, RM of BTS. I’m a hip-hop idol and an artist from a small town in Korea. Like most people, I made many mistakes in my life. I have many faults and I have many fears, but I am going to embrace myself as hard as I can, and I’m starting to love myself, little by little. What is your name? Speak Yourself!
Kim Namjoon
I carry my adornments on my soul. I do not dress up like a popinjay; But inwardly, I keep my daintiness. I do not bear with me, by any chance, An insult not yet washed away- a conscience Yellow with unpurged bile- an honor frayed To rags, a set of scruples badly worn. I go caparisoned in gems unseen, Trailing white plumes of freedom, garlanded With my good name- no figure of a man, But a soul clothed in shining armor, hung With deeds for decorations, twirling- thus- A bristling wit, and swinging at my side Courage, and on the stones of this old town Making the sharp truth ring, like golden spurs!
Edmond Rostand (Cyrano de Bergerac)
Maybe I should go to the concert. I was a sporting-event type of girl, not a loud-music event one. At least that's what I had always thought. But here I was standing in this store, in these clothes, hearing the sound of laughter in the back room, and realizing that maybe there was more to me than I realized.
Kasie West (On the Fence (Old Town Shops, #2))
I like how you call homosexuality an abomination." "I don't say homosexuality's an abomination, Mr. President, the bible does." "Yes it does. Leviticus-" "18:22" "Chapter in verse. I wanted to ask you a couple questions while I had you here. I'm interested in selling my youngest daughter into slavery as sanctioned in exodus 21:7. She's a Georgetown sophomore, speaks fluent Italian, always cleared the table when it was her turn. What would a good price for her be? While thinking about that can I ask another? My chief of staff, Leo Mcgary,insists on working on the sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly says he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself or is it ok to call the police? Here's one that's really important, cause we've got a lot of sports fans in this town. Touching the skin of a dead pig makes one unclean, Leviticus 11:7. If they promise to wear gloves, can the Washington Red Skins still play football? Can Notre Dame? Can West Point? does the whole town really have to be together to stone my brother John for planting different crops side by side? Can I burn my mother in a small family gathering for wearing garments made from two different threads?
Aaron Sorkin
I'd been to the island on most weekends up until I got shot, and Thomas had often come with me. We'd used some fresh lumber, some material salvaged from the ruined town, and some pontoons made from plastic sheathing and old tractor-tire inner tubes to construct a floating walkway to serve as a dock, anchored to the old pilings that had once supported a much larger structure. Upon completion, I had dubbed it the Whatsup Dock, and Thomas had chucked me twenty feet out into the lake, thus proving his utter lack of appreciation for reference-orientated humour. (And then I'd thrown him forty feet out with magic, once I got dry. Because come on, he's my brother. It was the only thing to do.)
Jim Butcher (Cold Days (The Dresden Files, #14))
A precious mouldering pleasure 't is To meet an antique book, In just the dress his century wore; A privilege, I think, His venerable hand to take, And warming in our own, A passage back, or two, to make To times when he was young. His quaint opinions to inspect, His knowledge to unfold On what concerns our mutual mind. The literature of old; What interested scholars most, What competitions ran When Plato was a certainty, And Sophocles a man; When Sappho was a living girl, And Beatrice wore The gown that Dante deified. Facts, centuries before, He traverses familiar, As one should come to town And tell you all your dreams were true: He lived where dreams were born. His presence is enchantment, You beg him not to go; Old volumes shake their vellum heads And tantalize just so.
Emily Dickinson (The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson)
Where'd you send her?" "Siberia. Lovely this time of year. A bit remote, I'm afraid. Might take her weeks to find a town and even longer to arrange transportation back to the States." My lips quirked. I didn't feel like laughing, but the image of my half-millenium-old grandmother trudging through snow was kind of funny. "You're sick, you know that?" "What can I day? I thought a cold-hearted bitch like her would feel at home in the tundra.
Jaye Wells (Red-Headed Stepchild (Sabina Kane, #1))
শ্যামবর্ণের রোগা ভাঙ্গা গালওয়ালা এই লোকটাকে ওসমান অনেকবার দেখেছে। কোথায়? এই বাড়ির সিঁড়িতে? তাই হবে। আরো অনেক জায়গায় এর সঙ্গে দ্যাখা হয়েছে। কোথায়? স্টেডিয়ামে? হতে পারে। গুলিস্তানের সামনে সিনেমার পোস্টার দেখতে দেখতে? হতে পারে। পল্টন ময়দানের মিটিংযে? হতে পারে। ভিক্টোরিয়া পার্কে? আরমানিটোলার মাঠের ধারে ? ঠাটারিবাজারের রাস্তার ধারে বসে শিককাবাব খেতে খেতে? হতে পারে। বলাকা সিনেমায় পাশাপাশি দাঁড়িয়ে পেচ্ছাব করতে করতে? হতে পারে। নবাবপুরে অনেক রাতে ঠেলাগাড়ির পাশে দাঁড়িয়ে হালিম খেতে খেতে? হতে পারে। আমজাদিয়ায় পাশের টেবিলে তর্ক করতে করতে? হতে পারে। মুখটা তার অনেকদিনের চেনা।
Akhteruzzaman Elias (চিলেকোঠার সেপাই)
How many happy, satisfied people there are, after all, I said to myself. What an overwhelming force! Just consider this life--the insolence and idleness of the strong, the ignorance and bestiality of the weak, all around intolerable poverty, cramped dwellings, degeneracy, drunkenness, hypocrisy, lying...and yet peace and order apparently prevail in all those homes and in the streets. Of the fifty thousand inhabitants of a town, not one will be found to cry out, to proclaim his indignation aloud. We see those who go to the market to buy food, who eat in the daytime and sleep at night, who prattle away, marry, grow old, carry their dead to the cemeteries. But we neither hear nor see those who suffer, and the terrible things in life are played out behind the scenes. All is calm and quiet, and statistics, which are dumb, protest: so many have gone mad, so many barrels of drink have been consumed, so many children died of malnutrition...and apparently this is as it should be. Apparently those who are happy can only enjoy themselves because the unhappy bear their burdens in silence, and but for this silence happiness would be impossible. It is a kind of universal hypnosis. There ought to be a man with a hammer behind the door of every happy man, to remind him by his constant knocks that there are unhappy people, and that happy as he himself may be, life will sooner or later show him its claws, catastrophe will overtake him--sickness, poverty, loss--and nobody will see it, just as he now neither sees nor hears the misfortunes of others. But there is no man with a hammer, the happy man goes on living and the petty vicissitudes of life touch him lightly, like the wind in an aspen-tree, and all is well.
Anton Chekhov
An eleven-year-old girl was raped by eighteen men. The suspects ranged in age from middle schoolers to a twenty-seven-year-old. There are pictures and videos. Her life will never be the same. The New York Times, however, would like you to worry about those boys, who will have to live with this for the rest of their lives, and the poor, poor town. That is not simply the careless language of sexual violence. It is the criminal language of sexual violence.
Roxane Gay (Bad Feminist: Essays)
They held the funeral on the second day, with the town coming to look at Miss Emily beneath a mass of bought flowers with the crayon face of her father musing profoundly above the bier and the ladies sibilant and macabre; and the very old men - some in their brushed Confederate uniforms - on the porch and the lawn, talking of Miss Emily as if she had been a contemporary of theirs, believing that they had danced with her and courted her perhaps, confusing time with its mathematical progression, as the old do, to whom all the past is not a diminishing road but, instead, a huge meadow which no winter ever quite touches, divided from them now by the narrow bottle-neck of the most recent decade of years.
William Faulkner (A Rose for Emily)
We wander in our thousands over the face of the earth, the illustrious and the obscure, earning beyond the seas our fame, our money, or only a crust of bread; but it seems to me that for each of us going home must be like going to render an account. We return to face our superiors, our kindred, our friends--those whom we obey, and those whom we love; but even they who have neither, the most free, lonely, irresponsible and bereft of ties,--even those for whom home holds no dear face, no familiar voice,--even they have to meet the spirit that dwells within the land, under its sky, in its air, in its valleys, and on its rises, in its fields, in its waters and its trees--a mute friend, judge, and inspirer.
Joseph Conrad (Lord Jim)
Big-shot town, small-shot town, jet-propelled old-fashioned town, by old-world hands with new-world tools built into a place whose heartbeat carries farther than its shout, whose whispering in the night sounds less hollow than its roistering noontime laugh: they have builded a heavy-shouldered laughter here who went to work too young.
Nelson Algren (Chicago: City on the Make)
Yeah,” Tamara said. “An old bowling alley. There must be a town not too far from here. But how could Aaron be there? And don’t say something like ‘working on his score’ or ‘maybe he’s in a bowling league’ or something like that. Be serious.” Call leaned against the rough bark of a nearby tree and resisted the urge to sit down. He was afraid he wouldn’t be able to get up again. “I’m serious. It might be hard to tell in the dark, but I have my most super-serious face on.
Cassandra Clare (The Iron Trial (Magisterium, #1))
Somewhere, deep within me, beyond the passion, beyond the beauty of the night, that little spark of Daily magic ignited in me again, began burning in a place that had gone dark and untended, that had yearned to be bright and warm. I felt it now, something old, something new, something complete. Perhaps it had been in there in me all along, the belief that there is a plan and a purpose, that God whispers into every life, some things that are beyond the scope of the mind, and can only be felt with the heart and the spirit. Those dreams, the dreams that are dreamed *for* us, not by us, are the truest of all.
Lisa Wingate (Talk of the Town (Daily Texas, #1))
Up steps, three, six, nine, twelve! Slap! Their palms hit the library door. * * * They opened the door and stepped in. They stopped. The library deeps lay waiting for them. Out in the world, not much happened. But here in the special night, a land bricked with paper and leather, anything might happen, always did. Listen! and you heard ten thousand people screaming so high only dogs feathered their ears. A million folk ran toting cannons, sharpening guillotines; Chinese, four abreast marched on forever. Invisible, silent, yes, but Jim and Will had the gift of ears and noses as well as the gift of tongues. This was a factory of spices from far countries. Here alien deserts slumbered. Up front was the desk where the nice old lady, Miss Watriss, purple-stamped your books, but down off away were Tibet and Antarctica, the Congo. There went Miss Wills, the other librarian, through Outer Mongolia, calmly toting fragments of Peiping and Yokohama and the Celebes.
Ray Bradbury (Something Wicked This Way Comes (Green Town, #2))
His hands still on his shoulders. “Hi,” he says. “Sorry.” “For what?” “For the fact that you are such a big flirt.” He laughs. “You’re the one in my lap. I was just sitting here minding my own business.” “Just the plane, then?” “Of course.” I try to stand up, but he pulls me back down again. “Man, the plane is really bumpy today,” he says.
Kasie West (The Distance Between Us (Old Town Shops, #1))
Visit Cape Town and history is never far from your grasp. It lingers in the air, a scent on the breezy, an explanation of circumstance that shaped the Rainbow People. Stroll around the old downtown and it's impossible not to be affected by the trials and tribulations of the struggle. But, in many ways, it is the sense of triumph in the face of such adversity that makes the experience all the more poignant.
Tahir Shah (Travels With Myself)
It's an unfortunate word, 'depression', because the illness has nothing to do with feeling sad, sadness is on the human palette. Depression is a whole other beast. It's when your old personality has left town and been replaced by a block of cement with black tar oozing through your veins and mind. This is when you can't decide whether to get a manicure or jump off a cliff. It's all the same. When I was institutionalised I sat on a chair unable to move for three months, frozen in fear. To take a shower was inconceivable. What made it tolerable was while I was inside, I found my tribe - my people. They understood and unlike those who don't suffer, never get bored of you asking if it will ever go away? They can talk medication all hours, day and night; heaven to my ears.
Ruby Wax
Dancing wasn't quite the same as running . . . or any sport, for that matter. I didn't feel like I had a purpose, a goal. But after a while I let my mind relax and realized not everything had to have a point. Some things could just be for the fun of it. I looked over at Amber dancing next to me. She smiled, then hooked her arm in mine and twirled me around. My surroundings blurred and I soaked the moment in, deciding this night was something I could do again.
Kasie West (On the Fence (Old Town Shops, #2))
Comes again the longing, the desire that has no name. Is it for Mrs. Prouty, for a drink, for both: for a party, for youth, for the good times, for dear good drinking and fighting comrades, for football-game girls in the fall with faces like flowers? Comes the longing and it has to do with being fifteen and fifty and with the winter sun striking down into a brick-yard and on clapboard walls rounded off with old hard blistered paint and across a doorsill onto linoleum. Desire has a smell: of cold linoleum and gas heat and the sour piebald bark of crepe myrtle. A good-humored thirty-five-year-old lady takes the air in a back lot in a small town.
Walker Percy (Love in the Ruins)
9 likes Like Facebook_icon “Read this to yourself. Read it silently. Don't move your lips. Don't make a sound. Listen to yourself. Listen without hearing anything. What a wonderfully weird thing, huh? NOW MAKE THIS PART LOUD! SCREAM IT IN YOUR MIND! DROWN EVERYTHING OUT. Now, hear a whisper. A tiny whisper. Now, read this next line in your best crotchety- old man voice: "Hello there, sonny. Does your town have a post office?" Awesome! Who was that? Whose voice was that? It sure wasn't yours! How do you do that? How?! It must've been magic.
Bo Burnham (Egghead; or, You Can't Survive on Ideas Alone)
It was a memory so embedded, it was a part of her DNA. This was the exact reason why she’d never married or found a long-term partner after him. Because no one else could reach her where it hurt in order to heal what he’d done. And here he was, back again, making an old wound bleed.
Kelly Moran (Mistletoe Magic (Redwood Ridge #6))
I loved that kite, that cinnamon hound. We were old friends. I had soared and laughed with that kite. It got me out on the perimeter. I felt I had failed it somehow, and rune too, even though he would've offered the string to Leer, just as I had. Thinking it over I became a bit less angry, and more proud of the kite itself: it had refused to be flown by Leer one moment longer. It broke the line and caught the next gust out of town. A perilous beautiful move, choosing to throw yourself at the future, even if it means one day coming down in the sea.
Leif Enger (Virgil Wander)
Odd, yes, here in the capital of eternal youth, endless summer and all, that fear should be running the town again as in days of old, like the Hollywood blacklist you don't remember and the Watts rioting you do - it spreads, like blood in a swimming pool, till it occupies all the volume of the day. And then maybe some playful soul shows up with a bucketful of piranhas, dumps them in the pool, and right away they can taste the blood. They swim around looking for what's bleeding, but they don't find anything, all of them getting more and more crazy, till the craziness reaches a point. Which is when they begin to feed on each other.
Thomas Pynchon (Inherent Vice)
The history of Immanuel Kant's life is difficult to portray, for he had neither life nor history. He led a mechanical, regular, almost abstract bachelor existence in a little retired street of Königsberg, an old town on the north-eastern frontier of Germany. I do not believe that the great clock of the cathedral performed in a more passionless and methodical manner its daily routine than did its townsman, Immanuel Kant. Rising in the morning, coffee-drinking, writing, reading lectures, dining, walking, everything had its appointed time, and the neighbors knew that it was exactly half-past three o'clock when Kant stepped forth from his house in his grey, tight-fitting coat, with his Spanish cane in his hand, and betook himself to the little linden avenue called after him to this day the "Philosopher's Walk." Summer and winter he walked up and down it eight times, and when the weather was dull or heavy clouds prognosticated rain, the townspeople beheld his servant, the old Lampe, trudging anxiously behind Kant with a big umbrella under his arm, like an image of Providence. What a strange contrast did this man's outward life present to his destructive, world-annihilating thoughts! In sooth, had the citizens of Königsberg had the least presentiment of the full significance of his ideas, they would have felt far more awful dread at the presence of this man than at the sight of an executioner, who can but kill the body. But the worthy folk saw in him nothing more than a Professor of Philosophy, and as he passed at his customary hour, they greeted him in a friendly manner and set their watches by him.
Heinrich Heine
[Traveling] makes you realize what an immeasurably nice place much of America could be if only people possessed the same instinct for preservation as they do in Europe. You would think the millions of people who come to Williamsburg every year would say to each other, "Gosh, Bobbi, this place is beautiful. Let's go home to Smellville and plant lots of trees and preserve all the fine old buildings." But in fact that never occurs to them. They just go back and build more parking lots and Pizza Huts.
Bill Bryson (The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America)
Long before it was known to me as a place where my ancestry was even remotely involved, the idea of a state for Jews (or a Jewish state; not quite the same thing, as I failed at first to see) had been 'sold' to me as an essentially secular and democratic one. The idea was a haven for the persecuted and the survivors, a democracy in a region where the idea was poorly understood, and a place where—as Philip Roth had put it in a one-handed novel that I read when I was about nineteen—even the traffic cops and soldiers were Jews. This, like the other emphases of that novel, I could grasp. Indeed, my first visit was sponsored by a group in London called the Friends of Israel. They offered to pay my expenses, that is, if on my return I would come and speak to one of their meetings. I still haven't submitted that expenses claim. The misgivings I had were of two types, both of them ineradicable. The first and the simplest was the encounter with everyday injustice: by all means the traffic cops were Jews but so, it turned out, were the colonists and ethnic cleansers and even the torturers. It was Jewish leftist friends who insisted that I go and see towns and villages under occupation, and sit down with Palestinian Arabs who were living under house arrest—if they were lucky—or who were squatting in the ruins of their demolished homes if they were less fortunate. In Ramallah I spent the day with the beguiling Raimonda Tawil, confined to her home for committing no known crime save that of expressing her opinions. (For some reason, what I most remember is a sudden exclamation from her very restrained and respectable husband, a manager of the local bank: 'I would prefer living under a Bedouin muktar to another day of Israeli rule!' He had obviously spent some time thinking about the most revolting possible Arab alternative.) In Jerusalem I visited the Tutungi family, who could produce title deeds going back generations but who were being evicted from their apartment in the old city to make way for an expansion of the Jewish quarter. Jerusalem: that place of blood since remote antiquity. Jerusalem, over which the British and French and Russians had fought a foul war in the Crimea, and in the mid-nineteenth century, on the matter of which Christian Church could command the keys to some 'holy sepulcher.' Jerusalem, where the anti-Semite Balfour had tried to bribe the Jews with the territory of another people in order to seduce them from Bolshevism and continue the diplomacy of the Great War. Jerusalem: that pest-house in whose environs all zealots hope that an even greater and final war can be provoked. It certainly made a warped appeal to my sense of history.
Christopher Hitchens (Hitch 22: A Memoir)
Because loners are born everywhere, we end up living everywhere. We do not, have not, tended to single ourselves out as special, elite, requiring rarefied environments. Too often we have done the opposite; lived where we lived because our jobs were there, or families, or because we'd heard the schools were good there, or that we would love a place with changing seasons. Then, no matter what, we put our noses to the grindstone. We take living there as a fait accompli, a fact. Too often we are miserable somewhere without realizing why. We blame ourselves for not buckling down, settling in, fitting in. The problem is the place, but too often we do not see this, we will not allow ourselves to see this. It's the same old thing: This is a friendly town, so what's your problem? ...To the non-loner, or the self-reproaching loner, the fact of being a loner is not comparable to those other determinants. It is not a matter of life and death, we tell ourselves. It its not a matter of breathing or of execution by stoning. But home is the crucible of living...So how can living not be a matter of life and death?
Anneli Rufus (Party of One: The Loners' Manifesto)
When I was a boy in the midwest I used to go out and look at the stars at night and wonder about them. I guess every boy does that. When I wasn't looking at the stars, I was running in the my old or my brand-new tennis shoes, on my way to swing in a tree, swim in a lake, or delve in the town library to read about dinosaurs or time machines. I guess every boy has done that, too. This is a book about those stars and those tennis shoes. Mainly about the stars, beacuse that is the way I grew up, getting more and more involved with rockets and space as I moved toward my twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth years. Not that I have forgotten the tennis shoes and their powerful magic, as you will see in the last story here, which I have included not because it concerns the future, but because it gives you some sort of idea of the kind of boy I was when I was looking at the stars and thinking of the years ahead. Nor have I forgetten the dinosaurs that all boys love; they are here, too, along with a machine that travels back in time to step on a butterfly. This is a book then by a boy who grew up in a small illinois town and lived to see the space age arrive, as he hoped and dreamt it would. I dedicate these stories to all boys who wonder about the past, run swiftly in the present, and have high hopes for our future. The stars are yours, if you have the head, the hands, and the heart for them.
Ray Bradbury
Off To The Races" My old man is a bad man but I can't deny the way he holds my hand And he grabs me, he has me by my heart He doesn't mind I have a Las Vegas past He doesn't mind I have an LA crass way about me He loves me with every beat of his cocaine heart Swimming pool glimmering darling White bikini off with my red nail polish Watch me in the swimming pool bright blue ripples you Sitting sipping on your black Cristal Oh yeah Light of my life, fire of my loins Be a good baby, do what I want Light of my life, fire of my loins Give me them gold coins, gimme them coins And I'm off to the races, cases of Bacardi chasers Chasing me all over town Cause he knows I'm wasted, facing Time again at Riker's Island and I won't get out Because I'm crazy, baby I need you to come here and save me I'm your little scarlet, starlet singing in the garden Kiss me on my open mouth Ready for you My old man is a tough man but He's got a soul as sweet as blood red jam And he shows me, he knows me Every inch of my tar black soul He doesn't mind I have a flat broke down life In fact he says he thinks it's why he might like about me Admires me, the way I roll like a Rolling Stone Likes to watch me in the glass room bathroom, Chateau Marmont Slippin' on my red dress, puttin' on my makeup Glass film, perfume, cognac, lilac Fumes, says it feels like heaven to him Light of his life, fire of his loins Keep me forever, tell me you own me Light of your life, fire of your loins Tell me you own me, gimme them coins And I'm off to the races, cases of Bacardi chasers Chasing me all over town Cause he knows I'm wasted, facing Time again at Riker's Island and I won't get out Because I'm crazy, baby I need you to come here and save me I'm your little scarlet, starlet singing in the garden Kiss me on my open mouth Now I'm off to the races, laces Leather on my waist is tight and I am fallin' down I can see your face is shameless, Cipriani's basement Love you but I'm going down God I'm so crazy, baby, I'm sorry that I'm misbehaving I'm your little harlot, starlet, Queen of Coney Island Raising hell all over town Sorry 'bout it My old man is a thief and I'm gonna stay and pray with him 'til the end But I trust in the decision of the Lord to watch over us Take him when he may, if he may I'm not afraid to say that I'd die without him Who else is gonna put up with me this way? I need you, I breathe you, I never leave you They would rue the day I was alone without you You're lying with your gold chain on, cigar hanging from your lips I said "Hon' you never looked so beautiful as you do now, my man." And we're off to the races, places Ready, set the gate is down and now we're goin' in To Las Vegas chaos, Casino Oasis, honey it is time to spin Boy you're so crazy, baby, I love you forever not maybe You are my one true love, you are my one true love You are my one true love
Lana Del Rey
Just look at this life: the insolence and idleness of the strong, the ignorance and brutishness of the weak, impossible poverty all around us, overcrowding, degeneracy, drunkenness, hypocrisy, lies...Yet in all the houses and streets it's quiet, peaceful; of the fifty thousand people who live in town there is not one who would cry out or become loudly indignant. We see those who go to the market to buy food, eat during the day, sleep during the night, who talk their nonsense, get married, grow old, complacently drag their dead to the cemetery; but we don't see or hear those who suffer, and the horrors of life go on somewhere behind the scenes. Everything is quiet, peaceful, and only mute statistics protest: so many gone mad, so many buckets drunk, so many children dead of malnutrition... And this order is obviously necessary; obviously the happy man feels good only because the unhappy bear their burden silently, and without that silence happiness would be impossible. It's a general hypnosis. At the door of every happy, contented man somebody should stand with a little hammer, constantly tapping, to remind him that unhappy people exist, that however happy he may be, sooner or later life will show him its claws, some calamity will befall him--illness, poverty, loss--and nobody will hear or see, just as he doesn't hear or see others now. But there is nobody with a little hammer, the happy man lives on, and the petty cares of life stir him only slightly, as wind stirs an aspen--and everything is fine.
Anton Chekhov (Five Great Short Stories)
Single trees are extraordinary; trees in number more extraordinary still. To walk in a wood is to find fault with Socrates's declaration that 'Trees and open country cannot teach me anything, whereas men in town do.' Time is kept and curated and in different ways by trees, and so it is experienced in different ways when one is among them. This discretion of trees, and their patience, are both affecting. It is beyond our capacity to comprehend that the American hardwood forest waited seventy million years for people to come and live in it, though the effort of comprehension is itself worthwhile. It is valuable and disturbing to know that grand oak trees can take three hundred years to grow, three hundred years to live and three hundred years to die. Such knowledge, seriously considered, changes the grain of the mind. "Thought, like memory, inhabits external things as much as the inner regions of the human brain. When the physical correspondents of thought disappear, then thought, or its possibility, is also lost. When woods and trees are destroyed -- incidentally, deliberately -- imagination and memory go with them. W.H. Auden knew this. 'A culture,' he wrote warningly in 1953, 'is no better than its woods.'
Robert Macfarlane (The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot)
The historical problems with Luke are even more pronounced. For one thing, we have relatively good records for the reign of Caesar Augustus, and there is no mention anywhere in any of them of an empire-wide census for which everyone had to register by returning to their ancestral home. And how could such a thing even be imagined? Joesph returns to Bethlehem because his ancestor David was born there. But David lived a thousand years before Joseph. Are we to imagine that everyone in the Roman Empire was required to return to the homes of their ancestors from a thousand years earlier? If we had a new worldwide census today and each of us had to return to the towns of our ancestors a thousand years back—where would you go? Can you imagine the total disruption of human life that this kind of universal exodus would require? And can you imagine that such a project would never be mentioned in any of the newspapers? There is not a single reference to any such census in any ancient source, apart from Luke. Why then does Luke say there was such a census? The answer may seem obvious to you. He wanted Jesus to be born in Bethlehem, even though he knew he came from Nazareth ... there is a prophecy in the Old Testament book of Micah that a savior would come from Bethlehem. What were these Gospel writer to do with the fact that it was widely known that Jesus came from Nazareth? They had to come up with a narrative that explained how he came from Nazareth, in Galilee, a little one-horse town that no one had ever heard of, but was born in Bethlehem, the home of King David, royal ancestor of the Messiah.
Bart D. Ehrman (Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible & Why We Don't Know About Them)
I made a sudden decision. "and my dog has followed me from town and cought up with us here. I left him with friends, but he must have chewed his rope. here, boy, come to heel." I'll chew your heel off for you, Nighteyes offerd savagely, but he came, following me out into the cleared yard. "Damn big dog," Nick observed. He leaned forward. "looks more than half a wolf to me." "Some in Farrow have told me that. It's a buck breed. We use them for harding sheep." You will pay for this. I promise you. In answer I leaned down to pat his shoulder and then scratch his ears. Wag your tail, Nighteyes. "He's a loyal old dog. I should have known he wouldn't be left behind." The things i endure for you. He wagged his tail. Once.
Robin Hobb (Assassin's Quest (Farseer Trilogy, #3))
My name is Mila, and this is my journey. There are so many places where I could begin the story. I could start in the town where I grew up, in Kryvicy, on the banks of the Servac River, in the district of Miadziel. I could begin when I was eight years old, on the day my mother died, or when I was twelve, and my father fell beneath the wheels of the neighbour’s truck. But I think I should begin my story here, in the Mexican desert, so far from my home in Belarus. This is where I lost my innocence. This is where my dreams died.
Tess Gerritsen (Vanish (Rizzoli & Isles, #5))
Every year, Kansas watches the world die. Civilizations of wheat grow tall and green; they grow old and golden, and then men shaped from the same earth as the crop cut those lives down. And when the grain is threshed, and the dances and festivals have come and gone, then the fields are given over to fire, and the wheat stubble ascends into the Kansas sky, and the moon swells to bursting above a blackened earth. The fields around Henry, Kansas, had given up their gold and were charred. Some had already been tilled under, waiting for the promised life of new seed. Waiting for winter, and for spring, and another black death. The harvest had been good. Men, women, boys and girls had found work, and Henry Days had been all hot dogs and laughter, even without Frank Willis's old brown truck in the parade. The truck was over on the edge of town, by a lonely barn decorated with new No Trespassing signs and a hole in the ground where the Willis house had been in the spring and the early summer. Late summer had now faded into fall, and the pale blue farm house was gone. Kansas would never forget it.
N.D. Wilson (The Chestnut King (100 Cupboards, #3))
I don’t know whether it is that I am built wrong, but I never did seem to hanker after tombstones myself. I know that the proper thing to do, when you get to a village or town, is to rush off to the churchyard, and enjoy the graves; but it is a recreation that I always deny myself. I take no interest in creeping round dim and chilly churches behind wheezy old men, and reading epitaphs. Not even the sight of a bit of cracked brass let into a stone affords me what I call real happiness.
Jerome K. Jerome (Three Men in a Boat (Three Men, #1))
I remember first learning about death quite vividly. I'm not sure how old I was, but I remember the conversation like it was yesterday. My grandfather had died, and my mother was trying to explain it to me. 'Sometimes, when someone gets ill, and they're very very old, they don't get better again. They just get iller and iller and then... then their body stops working.' 'I don't understand.' 'What's in them just goes away, and doesn't come back.' 'Grandpa isn't coming back?' 'No,' she said. 'Not ever again.' 'Grandpa said he was going away and not ever coming back after he held Grandma's head in that cotton-dump outside of town and kicked Skeeter seventy-three times.' 'Grandpa was very drunk. That's not the same as being dead. Grandpa's dead, son. He's not there anymore.' And I remember saying, 'Hold everything right fucking THERE. 'You went to all the trouble of conceiving me, and giving birth to me, and raising me and feeding me and clothing me and all-- and, YEAH, whipping me from time to time, and making me live in a house that's freezing fucking cold all the goddamn time-- and you make me cry and things hurt so much and disappointments crush my heart every day and I can't do half the things I want to do and sometimes I just want to scream-- and what I've got to look forward to is my body breaking and something flipping off the switch in my head-- I go through all this-- and then there's death? 'What is the motherfucking deal here?
Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan, Vol. 5: Lonely City)
How do you know this story?" Yeva's breath caught. "Because it's my story too," she whispered. "Because I thought I wouldn't be happy until I left town to live in the wood, and then I thought I wouldn't be happy until I could hunt every day, and then I thought I wouldn't be happy until I avenged my father's death. Because I spent a year in an old castle with the young prince and the gray wolf and I thought I couldn't be happy until I killed them both, and when I did, I wept harder than I ever have in my life. Because I thought I couldn't be happy until I went home, and then I thought I couldn't be happy until I came back." "Because I thought the reason I'd always felt so restless was because I was meant for magic," Yeva said softly. "That if I could fix the story, that if I rescued the young prince and the gray wolf and I found the Firebird and I held in my hands everything I'd ever wanted, I would live happily ever after.
Meagan Spooner (Hunted)
America for Me 'Tis fine to see the Old World and travel up and down Among the famous palaces and cities of renown, To admire the crumblyh castles and the statues and kings But now I think I've had enough of antiquated things. So it's home again, and home again, America for me! My heart is turning home again and there I long to be, In the land of youth and freedom, beyond the ocean bars, Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars. Oh, London is a man's town, there's power in the air; And Paris is a woman's town, with flowers in her hair; And it's sweet to dream in Venice, and it's great to study Rome; But when it comes to living there is no place like home. I like the German fir-woods in green battalions drilled; I like the gardens of Versailles with flashing foutains filled; But, oh, to take your hand, my dear, and ramble for a day In the friendly western woodland where Nature has her sway! I know that Europe's wonderful, yet something seems to lack! The Past is too much with her, and the people looking back. But the glory of the Present is to make the Future free-- We love our land for what she is and what she is to be. Oh, it's home again, and home again, America for me! I want a ship that's westward bound to plough the rolling sea, To the blessed Land of Room Enough, beyond the ocean bars, Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars.
Henry Van Dyke
Help,” he said, “is giving part of yourself to somebody who comes to accept it willingly and needs it badly. “So it is,” he said, using an old homiletic transition, “that we can seldom help anybody. Either we don't know what part to give or maybe we don't like to give any part of ourselves. Then, more often than not, the part that is needed is not wanted. And even more often, we do not have the part that is needed. It is like the auto-supply shop over town where they always say, ‘Sorry, we are just out of that part.
Norman Maclean
Around the corner I have a friend, In this great city that has no end, Yet the days go by and weeks rush on, And before I know it, a year is gone. And I never see my old friends face, For life is a swift and terrible race, He knows I like him just as well, As in the days when I rang his bell. And he rang mine but we were younger then, And now we are busy, tired men. Tired of playing a foolish game, Tired of trying to make a name. "Tomorrow" I say! "I will call on Jim Just to show that I'm thinking of him", But tomorrow comes and tomorrow goes, And distance between us grows and grows. Around the corner, yet miles away, "Here's a telegram sir," "Jim died today." And that's what we get and deserve in the end. Around the corner, a vanished friend.
Charles Hanson Towne
Dear Daniel, How do you break up with your boyfriend in a way that tells him, "I don't want to sleep with you on a regular basis anymore, but please be available for late night booty calls if I run out of other options"? Lily Charlotte, NC Dear Lily, The story's so old you can't tell it anymore without everyone groaning, even your oldest friends with the last of their drinks shivering around the ice in their dirty glasses. The music playing is the same album everyone has. Those shoes, everybody has the same shoes on. It looked a little like rain so on person brought an umbrella, useless now in the starstruck clouded sky, forgotten on the way home, which is how the umbrella ended up in her place anyway. Everyone gets older on nights like this. And still it's a fresh slap in the face of everything you had going, that precarious shelf in the shallow closet that will certainly, certainly fall someday. Photographs slipping into a crack to be found by the next tenant, that one squinter third from the left laughing at something your roommate said, the coaster from that place in the city you used to live in, gone now. A letter that seemed important for reasons you can't remember, throw it out, the entry in the address book you won't erase but won't keep when you get a new phone, let it pass and don't worry about it. You don't think about them; "I haven't thought about them in forever," you would say if anybody brought it up, and nobody does." You think about them all the time. Close the book but forget to turn off the light, just sit staring in bed until you blink and you're out of it, some noise on the other side of the wall reminding you you're still here. That's it, that's everything. There's no statue in the town square with an inscription with words to live by. The actor got slapped this morning by someone she loved, slapped right across the face, but there's no trace of it on any channel no matter how late you watch. How many people--really, count them up--know where you are? How many will look after you when you don't show up? The churches and train stations are creaky and the street signs, the menus, the writing on the wall, it all feels like the wrong language. Nobody, nobody knows what you're thinking of when you lean your head against the wall. Put a sweater on when you get cold. Remind yourself, this is the night, because it is. You're free to sing what you want as you walk there, the trees rustling spookily and certainly and quietly and inimitably. Whatever shoes you want, fuck it, you're comfortable. Don't trust anyone's directions. Write what you might forget on the back of your hand, and slam down the cheap stuff and never mind the bad music from the window three floors up or what the boys shouted from the car nine years ago that keeps rattling around in your head, because you're here, you are, for the warmth of someone's wrists where the sleeve stops and the glove doesn't quite begin, and the slant of the voice on the punch line of the joke and the reflection of the moon in the water on the street as you stand still for a moment and gather your courage and take a breath before stealing away through the door. Look at it there. Take a good look. It looks like rain. Love, Daniel Handler
Daniel Handler
An old lady had an Alderney cow, which she looked upon as a daughter. ....The whole town knew and kindly regarded Miss Betsy Barker's Alderney, therefore great was the sympathy and regret when, in an unguarded moment, the poor cow fell into a lime-pit. She moaned so loudly that she was soon heard and rescued; but meanwhile the poor beast had lost most of her hair and came out looking naked, cold and miserable, in a bare skin. Everybody pitied the animal, though a few could not restrain their smiles at her droll appearance. Miss Betsy Barker absolutely cried with sorrow and dismay; and it was said she thought of trying a bath of oil. This remedy, perhaps, was recommended by some one of the number whose advice she asked; but the proposal, if ever it was made, was knocked on the head by Captain Brown's decided "Get her a flannel waistcoat and flannel drawers, ma'am, if you wish to keep her alive, But my advice is, kill the poor creature at once." Miss Betsy Barker dried her eyes, and thanked the Captain heartily; she set to work, and by-and-by all the town turned out to see the Alderney meekly going to her pasture, clad in dark grey flannel.I have watched her myself many a time. Do you ever see cows dressed in grey flannel in London?
Elizabeth Gaskell (Cranford)
Is growin' up always miserable?" Sonny asked. "Nobody seems to enjoy it much." "Oh, it ain't necessarily misearble," Sam replied. "About eighty percent of the time, I guess." They were silent again, Sam the Lion thinking of the lovely, spritely girl he had once led into the water, right there, where they were sitting. "We ought to go to a real fishin' tank next year," Sam said finally. "It don't do to think about things like that too much. If she were here now I'd probably be crazy again in about five minutes. Ain't that ridiculous?" A half-hour later, when they had gathered up the gear and were on the way to town, he answered his own question. "It ain't really, " he said. "Being crazy about a woman like her's always the right thing to do. Being a decrepit old bag of bones is what's ridiculous.
Larry McMurtry (The Last Picture Show)
Can you be sure that others have not come before you and destroyed the pristine state of the native myth? Can you be sure that the natives are not humoring you or pulling your leg? Bronislaw Malinowski thought he had discovered a people in the Trobriant Islands who had not worked out the connection between sexual intercourse and childbirth. When asked how children were conceived, they supplied him with an elaborate mythic structure prominently featuring celestial intervention. Amazed, Malinowski objected that was not how it was done at all, and supplied them instead with the version so popular in the West today – including a nine-month gestation period. “Impossible,” replied the Melanesians. “Do you not see that woman over there with her six-month-old child? Her husband has been on an extended voyage to another island for two years.” Is it more likely that the Melanesians were ignorant of the begetting of children or that they were gently chiding Malinowski? If some peculiar-looking stranger came into my town and asked ME where babies came from, I’d certainly be tempted to tell him about storks and cabbages. Prescientific people are people. Individually they are as clever as we are.
Carl Sagan (Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science)
When you lose a friend [in battle] you have an overpowering desire to go back home and yell in everybody's ear, "This guy was killed fighting for you. Don't forget him--ever. Keep him in your mind when you wake up in the morning and when you go to bed at night. Don't think of him as the statistic which changes 38,788 casualties to 38,789. Think of him as a guy who wanted to live every bit as much as you do. Don't let him be just one of 'Our Brave Boys' from the old home town, to whom a marble monument is erected in the city park, and a civic-minded lady calls the newspaper ten years later and wants to know why that 'unsightly stone' isn't removed.
Bill Mauldin (Up Front)
SUCH SILENCE As deep as I ever went into the forest I came upon an old stone bench, very, very old, and around it a clearing, and beyond that trees taller and older than I had ever seen. Such silence! It really wasn’t so far from a town, but it seemed all the clocks in the world had stopped counting. So it was hard to suppose the usual rules applied. Sometimes there’s only a hint, a possibility. What’s magical, sometimes, has deeper roots than reason. I hope everyone knows that. I sat on the bench, waiting for something. An angel, perhaps. Or dancers with the legs of goats. No, I didn’t see either. But only, I think, because I didn’t stay long enough.
Mary Oliver (Blue Horses: Poems)
Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness, Thou foster-child of silence and slow time, Sylvan historian, who canst thus express A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme: What leaf-fring’d legend haunts about thy shape Of deities or mortals, or of both, In Tempe or the dales of Arcady? What men or gods are these? What maidens loth? What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape? What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy? Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on; Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear’d, Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone: Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare; Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss, Though winning near the goal yet, do not grieve; She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss, For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair! Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu; And, happy melodist, unwearied, For ever piping songs for ever new; More happy love! more happy, happy love! For ever warm and still to be enjoy’d, For ever panting, and for ever young; All breathing human passion far above, That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy’d, A burning forehead, and a parching tongue. Who are these coming to the sacrifice? To what green altar, O mysterious priest, Lead’st thou that heifer lowing at the skies, And all her silken flanks with garlands drest? What little town by river or sea shore, Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel, Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn? And, little town, thy streets for evermore Will silent be; and not a soul to tell Why thou art desolate, can e’er return. O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede Of marble men and maidens overwrought, With forest branches and the trodden weed; Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral! When old age shall this generation waste, Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
John Keats (Ode On A Grecian Urn And Other Poems)
You big ugly. You too empty. You desert with your nothing nothing nothing. You scorched suntanned. Old too quickly. Acres of suburbs watching the telly. You bore me. Freckle silly children. You nothing much. With your big sea. Beach beach beach. I’ve seen enough already. You dumb dirty city with bar stools. You’re ugly. You silly shopping town. You copy. You too far everywhere. You laugh at me. When I came this woman gave me a box of biscuits. You try to be friendly but you’re not very friendly. You never ask me to your house. You insult me. You don’t know how to be with me. Road road tree tree. I came from crowded and many. I came from rich. You have nothing to offer. You’re poor and spread thin. You big. So what. I’m small. It’s what’s in. You silent on Sunday. Nobody on your streets. You dead at night. You go to sleep too early. You don’t excite me. You scare me with your hopeless. Asleep when you walk. Too hot to think. You big awful. You don’t match me. You burnt out. You too big sky. You make me a dot in the nowhere. You laugh with your big healthy. You want everyone to be the same. You’re dumb. You do like anybody else. You engaged Doreen. You big cow. You average average. Cold day at school playing around at lunchtime. Running around for nothing. You never accept me. For your own. You always ask me where I’m from. You always ask me. You tell me I look strange. Different. You don’t adopt me. You laugh at the way I speak. You think you’re better than me. You don’t like me. You don’t have any interest in another country. Idiot centre of your own self. You think the rest of the world walks around without shoes or electric light. You don’t go anywhere. You stay at home. You like one another. You go crazy on Saturday night. You get drunk. You don’t like me and you don’t like women. You put your arm around men in bars. You’re rough. I can’t speak to you. You burly burly. You’re just silly to me. You big man. Poor with all your money. You ugly furniture. You ugly house. You relaxed in your summer stupor. All year. Never fully awake. Dull at school. Wait for other people to tell you what to do. Follow the leader. Can’t imagine. Workhorse. Thick legs. You go to work in the morning. You shiver on a tram.
Ania Walwicz
Once upon a time there was a small-town girl who lived in a small world. She was perfectly happy, or at least she told herself she was. Like many girls, she loved to try different looks, to be someone she wasn't. But, like too many girls, life had chipped away at her until, instead of finding what truly suited her, she camouflaged herself, hid the bits that made her different. For a while she let the world bruise her until she decided it was safer not to be herself at all. There are so many versions of ourselves we can choose to be. Once, my life was destined to be measured out in the most ordinary of steps. I learnt differently from a man who refused to accept the version of himself he'd been left with, and an old lady who saw, conversely, that she could transform herself, right up to a point when many people would have said there was nothing left to be done. I had a choice. I was Louisa Clark from New York, or Stortfold. Or there might be a whole other Louisa I hadn't met yet. The key was making sure that anyone you allowed to walk beside you didn't get to decide which you were, and pin you down like a butterfly in a case. The key was to know that you could always somehow find a way to reinvent yourself again.
Jojo Moyes (Still Me (Me Before You, #3))
I let myself into the cellar, locked the door behind me. The cellar was cold. I found the whisky, let myself out of the cellar and locked it, turned all the lights out, gave Mrs McSpadden the bottle, accepted a belated new-year kiss from her, then made my way out through the kitchen and the corridor and the crowded hall where the music sounded loud and people were laughing, and out through the now almost empty entrance hall and down the steps of the castle and down the driveway and down to Gallanach, where I walked along the esplanade - occasionally having to wave to say 'Happy New Year' to various people I didn't know - until I got to the old railway pier and then the harbour, where I sat on the quayside, legs dangling, drinking my whisky and watching a couple of swans glide on black, still water, to the distant sound of highland jigs coming from the Steam Packet Hotel, and singing and happy-new-year shouts echoing in the streets of the town, and the occasional sniff as my nose watered in sympathy with my eyes.
Iain Banks (The Crow Road)
You should have heard the old men cry You should have heard the biddies When that sad stranger rasied his flute And piped away the kiddies. Katy, Tommy, Meg, and Bob Followed skipping gailey Red-haired Ruth, my brother Ron, And little crippled Bailey Jon and Nils and Cousin Claire Dancin', spinnin', turnin' 'Cross the hills to god knows where- They never came returnin'. 'Cross the hills to god know where The piper pranced a leadin'. Each child in Hamlin town but me And I stayed home unheedin'. My papa says that I was blest For if that music fond me I'd be witch-cast like all the rest. This town grows old around me. I cannot say I did not hear That sound so hauntin' hollow. I heard, I heard, I heard it clear... I was afraid to follow.
Shel Silverstein
Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him. He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!
Charles Dickens (A Christmas Carol)
Once I was asked be a seatmate on a trans-Pacific flight....what instruction he should give his fifteen-year-old daughters, who wanted to be a writer. [I said], "Tell your daughter three things." Tell her to read...Tell her to read whatever interests her, and protect her if someone declares what she's reading to be trash. No one can fathom what happens between a human being and written language. She may be paying attention to things in the words beyond anyone else's comprehension, things that feed her curiosity, her singular heart and mind. ...Second, I said, tell your daughter that she can learn a great deal about writing by reading and by studying books about grammar and the organization of ideas, but that if she wishes to write well she will have to become someone. She will have to discover her beliefs, and then speak to us from within those beliefs. If her prose doesn't come out of her belief, whatever that proves to be, she will only be passing along information, of which we are in no great need. So help her discover what she means. Finally, I said, tell your daughter to get out of town, and help her do that. I don't necessarily mean to travel to Kazakhstan, or wherever, but to learn another language, to live with people other than her own, to separate herself from the familiar. Then, when she returns, she will be better able to understand why she loves the familiar, and will give us a fresh sense of how fortunate we are to share these things. Read. Find out what you truly believe. Get away from the familiar. Every writer, I told him, will offer you thoughts about writing that are different, but these are three I trust. -- from "A Voice
Barry Lopez (About This Life)
Did I tell you about Anton?" Loots said. Anton?" I shook my head. It was a week ago, Loots said. There had been a knock on the door of his apartment and when he opened it his old friend Anton was standing there. Anton was a clown. He belonged to a circus that toured the provinces, playing to small towns and villages. They talked about the old days for a while, but Anton became increasingly restless and distracted. In the end Loots had to ask him if there was something wrong. This is going to sound strange." The clown coughed nervously into his fist. "It's The Invisible Man. He's disappeared." Loots stared at his friend. He just vanished," Anton said, "into thin air." The Invisible Man?" Loots said. Yes." He's disappeared?" I told you it would sound strange," Anton said.
Rupert Thomson (The Insult)
I've seen all I want to see and I know all I want to know. I just look forward to death. He might hear you, Suttree said. I wisht he would, said the ragpicker. He glared out across the river with his redrimmed eyes at the town where dusk was settling in. As if death might be hiding in that quarter. No one wants to die. Shit, said the ragpicker. Here's one that's sick of livin. Would you give all you own? The ragman eyed him suspiciously but he did not smile. It wont be long, he said. An old man's days are hours. And what happens then? When? After you're dead. Dont nothin happen. You're dead. You told me once you believed in God. The old man waved his hand. Maybe, he said. I got no reason to think he believes in me. Oh I'd like to see him for a minute if I could. What would you say to him? Well, I think I'd just tell him. I'd say: Wait a minute. Wait just one minute before you start in on me. Before you say anything, there's just one thing I'd like to know. And he'll say: What's that? And then I'm goin to ast him: What did you have me in that crapgame down there for anyway? I couldnt put any part of it together. Suttree smiled. What do you think he'll say? The ragpicker spat and wiped his mouth. I dont believe he can answer it, he said. I dont believe there is a answer.
Cormac McCarthy (Suttree)
Those children are right," he would have said. "They stole nothing from you, my dear. These things don't belong to you here, you now. They belonged to her, that other you, so long ago." Oh, thought Mrs. Bentley. And then, as though an ancient phonograph record had been set hissing under a steel needle, she remembered a conversation she had once had with Mr. Bentley--Mr. Bentley, so prim, a pink carnation in his whisk-broomed lapel, saying, "My dear, you never will understand time, will you? You've always trying to be the things you were, instead of the person you are tonight. Why do you save those ticket stubs and theater programs? They'll only hurt you later. Throw them away, my dear." But Mrs. Bentley had stubbornly kept them. "It won't work," Mr. Bentley continued, sipping his tea. "No matter how hard you try to be what you once were, you can only be what you are here and now. Time hypnotizes. When you're nine, you think you've always been nine years old and will always be. When you're thirty, it seems you've always been balanced there on that bright rim of middle life. And then when you turn seventy, you are always and forever seventy. You're in the present, you're trapped in a young now or an old now, but there is no other now to be seen." It had been one of the few, but gentle, disputes of their quiet marriage. He had never approved of her bric-a-brackery. "Be what you are, bury what you are not," he had said. "Ticket stubs are trickery. Saving things is a magic trick, with mirrors." If he were alive tonight, what would he say? "You're saving cocoons." That's what he'd say. "Corsets, in a way, you can never fit again. So why save them? You can't really prove you were ever young. Pictures? No, they lie. You're not the picture." "Affidavits?" No, my dear, you are not the dates, or the ink, or the paper. You're not these trunks of junk and dust. You're only you, here, now--the present you." Mrs. Bentley nodded at the memory, breathing easier. "Yes, I see. I see." The gold-feruled cane lay silently on the moonlit rug. "In the morning," she said to it, "I will do something final about this, and settle down to being only me, and nobody else from any other year. Yes, that's what I'll do." She slept . . .
Ray Bradbury (Dandelion Wine (Green Town, #1))
From time to time our national history has been marred by forgetfulness of the Jeffersonian principle that restraint is at the heart of liberty. In 1789 the Federalists adopted Alien and Sedition Acts in a shabby political effort to isolate the Republic from the world and to punish political criticism as seditious libel. In 1865 the Radical Republicans sought to snare private conscience in a web of oaths and affirmations of loyalty. Spokesmen for the South did service for the Nation in resisting the petty tyranny of distrustful vengeance. In the 1920's the Attorney General of the United States degraded his office by hunting political radicals as if they were Salem witches. The Nation's only gain from his efforts were the classic dissents of Holmes and Brandeis. In our own times, the old blunt instruments have again been put to work. The States have followed in the footsteps of the Federalists and have put Alien and Sedition Acts upon their statute books. An epidemic of loyalty oaths has spread across the Nation until no town or village seems to feel secure until its servants have purged themselves of all suspicion of non-conformity by swearing to their political cleanliness. Those who love the twilight speak as if public education must be training in conformity, and government support of science be public aid of caution. We have also seen a sharpening and refinement of abusive power. The legislative investigation, designed and often exercised for the achievement of high ends, has too frequently been used by the Nation and the States as a means for effecting the disgrace and degradation of private persons. Unscrupulous demagogues have used the power to investigate as tyrants of an earlier day used the bill of attainder. The architects of fear have converted a wholesome law against conspiracy into an instrument for making association a crime. Pretending to fear government they have asked government to outlaw private protest. They glorify "togetherness" when it is theirs, and call it conspiracy when it is that of others. In listing these abuses I do not mean to condemn our central effort to protect the Nation's security. The dangers that surround us have been very great, and many of our measures of vigilance have ample justification. Yet there are few among us who do not share a portion of the blame for not recognizing soon enough the dark tendency towards excess of caution.
John F. Kennedy
...Nina, uncrumpling a piece of paper from her pocket and smoothing it onto the table. A sketch of Matthias looked back at them. “We need to get out of town as soon as possible.” “Damn it,” Jesper said. “Kaz and Wylan are still in the lead.” He gestured to where they’d pasted up the rest of the wanted posters: Jesper, Kaz, and Inej were all there. Van Eck hadn’t yet dared to plaster Kuwei Yul-Bo’s face over every surface in Ketterdam, but he’d had to maintain the pretense of searching for his son, so there was also a poster offering a reward for Wylan Van Eck’s safe return. It showed his old features, but Jesper didn’t think it was much of a likeness. Only Nina was missing. She’d never met Van Eck, and though she had connections to the Dregs, it was possible he didn’t know of her involvement. Matthias examined the posters. “One hundred thousand kruge!” He shot a disbelieving glower at Kaz. “You’re hardly worth that.” The hint of a smile tugged at Kaz’s lips. “As the market wills it.” “Tell me about it,” said Jesper. “They’re only offering thirty thousand for me.” “Your lives are at stake,” said Wylan. “How can you act like this is a competition?” “We’re stuck in a tomb, merchling. You take the action where you find it
Leigh Bardugo (Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2))
New Rule: Just because a country elects a smart president doesn't make it a smart country. A couple of weeks ago, I was asked on CNN if I thought Sarah Palin could get elected president, and I said I hope not, but I wouldn't put anything past this stupid country. Well, the station was flooded with emails, and the twits hit the fan. And you could tell that these people were really mad, because they wrote entirely in CAPITAL LETTERS!!! Worst of all, Bill O'Reilly refuted my contention that this is a stupid country by calling me a pinhead, which (a) proves my point, and (b) is really funny coming from a doody-face like him. Now, before I go about demonstration how, sadly, easy it is to prove the dumbness that's dragging us down, let me just say that ignorance has life-and-death consequences. On the eve of the Iraq War, seventy percent of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was personally involved in 9/11. Six years later, thirty-four percent still do. Or look at the health-care debate: At a recent town hall meeting in South Carolina, a man stood up and told his congressman to "keep your government hands off my Medicare," which is kind of like driving cross-country to protest highways. This country is like a college chick after two Long Island iced teas: We can be talked into anything, like wars, and we can be talked out of anything, like health care. We should forget the town halls, and replace them with study halls. Listen to some of these stats: A majority of Americans cannot name a single branch of government, or explain what the Bill of Rights is. Twenty-four percent could not name the country America fought in the Revolutionary War. More than two-thirds of Americans don't know what's in Roe v. Wade. Two-thirds don't know what the Food and Drug Administration does. Some of this stuff you should be able to pick up simply by being alive. You know, like the way the Slumdog kid knew about cricket. Not here. Nearly half of Americans don't know that states have two senators, and more than half can't name their congressman. And among Republican governors, only three got their wife's name right on the first try. People bitch and moan about taxes and spending, but they have no idea what their government spends money on. The average voter thinks foreign aid consumes more twenty-four percent of our budget. It's actually less than one percent. A third of Republicans believe Obama is not a citizen ad a third of Democrats believe that George Bush had prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, which is an absurd sentence, because it contains the words "Bush" and "knowledge." Sarah Palin says she would never apologize for America. Even though a Gallup poll say eighteen percent of us think the sun revolves around the earth. No, they're not stupid. They're interplanetary mavericks. And I haven't even brought up religion. But here's one fun fact I'll leave you with: Did you know only about half of Americans are aware that Judaism is an older religion than Christianity? That's right, half of America looks at books called the Old Testament and the New Testament and cannot figure out which came first. I rest my case.
Bill Maher (The New New Rules: A Funny Look At How Everybody But Me Has Their Head Up Their Ass)
Children write essays in school about the unhappy, tragic, doomed life of Anna Karenina. But was Anna really unhappy? She chose passion and she paid for her passion—that's happiness! She was a free, proud human being. But what if during peacetime a lot of greatcoats and peaked caps burst into the house where you were born and live, and ordered the whole family to leave house and town in twenty-four hours, with only what your feeble hands can carry?... You open your doors, call in the passers-by from the streets and ask them to buy things from you, or to throw you a few pennies to buy bread with... With ribbon in her hair, your daughter sits down at the piano for the last time to play Mozart. But she bursts into tears and runs away. So why should I read Anna Karenina again? Maybe it's enough—what I've experienced. Where can people read about us? Us? Only in a hundred years? "They deported all members of the nobility from Leningrad. (There were a hundred thousand of them, I suppose. But did we pay much attention? What kind of wretched little ex-nobles were they, the ones who remained? Old people and children, the helpless ones.) We knew this, we looked on and did nothing. You see, we weren't the victims." "You bought their pianos?" "We may even have bought their pianos. Yes, of course we bought them." Oleg could now see that this woman was not yet even fifty. Yet anyone walking past her would have said she was an old woman. A lock of smooth old woman's hair, quite incurable, hung down from under her white head-scarf. "But when you were deported, what was it for? What was the charge?" "Why bother to think up a charge? 'Socially harmful' or 'socially dangerous element'—S.D.E.', they called it. Special decrees, just marked by letters of the alphabet. So it was quite easy. No trial necessary." "And what about your husband? Who was he?" "Nobody. He played the flute in the Leningrad Philharmonic. He liked to talk when he'd had a few drinks." “…We knew one family with grown-up children, a son and a daughter, both Komsomol (Communist youth members). Suddenly the whole family was put down for deportation to Siberia. The children rushed to the Komsomol district office. 'Protect us!' they said. 'Certainly we'll protect you,' they were told. 'Just write on this piece of paper: As from today's date I ask not to be considered the son, or the daughter, of such-and-such parents. I renounce them as socially harmful elements and I promise in the future to have nothing whatever to do with them and to maintain no communication with them.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Cancer Ward)
They way I walk now you’d have a hard time recognising me, on these streets where I once imagined walking with you. Hand in hand, like we always did, and it never mattered where we were going because it was all just fine. I was always fine. But they rest restlessly in my pockets now, in a new town, on these new streets, and it’s heavy to stay standing for my body is half the size when you’re gone and these buildings are tall and old and beautiful and I wonder what secrets they hold. How to stand so proud after so many years because I’m still young but I feel worn and I get through the days on too much caffeine and mood altering chemicals to stay awake long enough to make the poetry come alive. I fall asleep on the floor with the music still playing when my neighbour leaves for the office and I’m jealous. I wonder what it’s like to go outside and know where to go, know where you want to end up and just simply go there. I’ve been making lists of things I want to do, where to go and who to be, now that you’re gone, and it’s nice and all, it’s just … I’d rather write it with you, and go there with you. Be things with you. There were days when I still put on make up in case you’d come back, but I wear the same clothes and shower in the rain, eat when I can and sleep when I can, which is rare and not often, so if you’d see me now on these streets where I once imagined walking with you you’d have a hard time recognising me. It takes a lot to run away.
Charlotte Eriksson (Another Vagabond Lost To Love: Berlin Stories on Leaving & Arriving)
Lance rolled his eyes. “I’m already sorrier than you could possibly imagine. Now you promise me you won’t interfere, or mention it to anyone, or poke your nose in, or follow Mr. Traynor along the street when he comes into town,...” Lily snorted. “As if I would tell anyone! You think I want it spread around that my son’s into puppy play?” Lance felt his temper supernova. Yes, that was really quite an interesting sensation, the way the cells inside his chest spontaneously burst into flame. “I AM NOT INTO PUPPY PLAY! AND HOW DO YOU EVEN KNOW THAT TERM?” Lily waved her hand as if he was being silly. “Please. Like I was born fifty years old.” “I want to be stricken dead. Right now,” Lance groaned and hid his face. “Oh, all right. Fine! You’re doing some reconnaissance in your dog form, and that’s all it is, and it’s none of my business, and I’ve always been a virgin. You and your brothers and sister were all conceived by supernatural means. Happy?
Eli Easton (How to Howl at the Moon (Howl at the Moon, #1))
There fared a mother driven forth Out of an inn to roam; In the place where she was homeless All men are at home. The crazy stable close at hand, With shaking timber and shifting sand, Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand Than the square stones of Rome. For men are homesick in their homes, And strangers under the sun, And they lay on their heads in a foreign land Whenever the day is done. Here we have battle and blazing eyes, And chance and honour and high surprise, But our homes are under miraculous skies Where the yule tale was begun. A Child in a foul stable, Where the beasts feed and foam; Only where He was homeless Are you and I at home; We have hands that fashion and heads that know, But our hearts we lost - how long ago! In a place no chart nor ship can show Under the sky's dome. This world is wild as an old wives' tale, And strange the plain things are, The earth is enough and the air is enough For our wonder and our war; But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings And our peace is put in impossible things Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings Round an incredible star. To an open house in the evening Home shall men come, To an older place than Eden And a taller town than Rome. To the end of the way of the wandering star, To the things that cannot be and that are, To the place where God was homeless And all men are at home.
G.K. Chesterton
There's a feeling you get driving down to Casper at night from the north, and not only there, other places where you come through hours of darkness unrelieved by any lights except the crawling wink of some faraway ranch truck. You come down a grade and all at once the shining town lies below you, slung out like all western towns, and with the curved bulk of mountain behind it. The lights trail away to the east in a brief and stubby cluster of yellow that butts hard up against the dark. And if you've ever been to the lonely coast you've seen how the shore rock drops off into the black water and how the light on the point is final. Beyond are the old rollers coming on for millions of years. It is like that here at night but instead of the rollers it's the wind. But the water was here once. You think about the sea that covered this place hundreds of millions of years ago, the slow evaporation, mud turned to stone. There's nothing calm in those thoughts. It isn't finished, it can still tear apart. Nothing is finished. You take your chances.
Annie Proulx (Close Range: Wyoming Stories)
I am here because of a certain man. I came to retrace his steps. Perhaps to see if there were not some alternate course. What was here to be found was not a thing. Things separate from their stories have no meaning. They are only shapes. Of a certain size and color. A certain weight. When their meaning has become lost to us they no longer have even a name. The story on the other hand can never be lost from its place in the world for it is that place. And that is what was to be found here. The corrido. That tale. And like all corridos it ultimately told one story only, for there is only one to tell. The cats shifted and stirred, the fire creaked in the stove. Outside in the abandoned village the profoundest silence. What is the story? the boy said. In the town of Caborca on the Altar River there was a man who lived there who was an old man. He was born in Caborca and in Caborca he died. Yet he lived once in this town, in Huisiachepic. What does Caborca know of Huisiachepic, Huisiachepic of Caborca? They are different worlds, you must agree. Yet even so there is but one world and everything that is imaginable is necessary to it. For this world also which seems to us a thing of stone and flower and blood is not a thing at all but a tale. And all in it is a tale and each tale the sum of all lesser tales and yet they are the selfsame tale and contain as well all else within them. So everything is necessary. Every least thing. This is a hard lesson. Nothing can be dispensed with. Nothing despised. Because the seems are hid from us, you see. The joinery. The way in which the world is made. We have no way to tell what might stand and what might fall. And those seams that are hid from us are of course in the tale itself and the tale had no abode or place of being except in the telling only and there it lives and makes its home and therefore we can never be done with the telling. Of the telling there is no end. And whether in Caborca or Huisiachepic or in whatever other place by whatever other name or by no name at all I say again all tales are one. Rightly heard all tales are one.
Cormac McCarthy (The Crossing (The Border Trilogy, #2))
A cold coming we had of it, Just the worst time of the year For a journey, and such a long journey: The ways deep and the weather sharp, The very dead of winter. And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory, Lying down in the melting snow. There were times we regretted The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces, And the silken girls bringing sherbet. Then the camel men cursing and grumbling And running away, and wanting their liquor and women, And the night fires going out, and the lack of shelters, And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly And the villages dirty and charging high prices: A hard time we had of it. At the end we preferred to travel all night, Sleeping in snatches, With the voices singing in our ears, saying That this was all folly. Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley, Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation; With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness, And three trees on the low sky, And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow. Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel, Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver, And feet kicking the empty wine-skins, But there was no information, and so we continued And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory. All this was a long time ago, I remember, And I would do it again, but set down This set down This: were we led all that way for Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly, We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death, But had thought they were different; this Birth was Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death. We returned to our places, these Kingdoms, But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation, With an alien people clutching their gods. I should be glad of another death.
T.S. Eliot
I looked a coyote right in the face On the road to Baljennie near my old home town He went running thru the whisker wheat Chasing some prize down And a hawk was playing with him Coyote was jumping straight up and making passes He had those same eyes just like yours Under your dark glasses Privately probing the public rooms And peeking thru keyholes in numbered doors Where the players lick their wounds And take their temporary lovers And their pills and powders to get them thru this passion play No regrets Coyote I just get off up aways You just picked up a hitcher A prisoner of the white lines on the freeway Coyote's in the coffee shop He's staring a hole in his scrambled eggs He picks up my scent on his fingers While he's watching the waitresses' legs He's too far from the Bay of Fundy From appaloosas and eagles and tides And the air conditioned cubicles And the carbon ribbon rides Are spelling it out so clear Either he's going to have to stand and fight Or take off out of here I tried to run away myself To run away and wrestle with my ego And with this flame You put here in this Eskimo In this hitcher In this prisoner Of the fine white lines Of the white lines on the free freeway
Joni Mitchell
Granny Trill and Granny Wallon were traditional ancients of a kind we won’t see today, the last of that dignity of grandmothers to whom age was its own embellishment. The grandmothers of those days dressed for the part in that curious but endearing uniform which is now known to us only through music-hall. And our two old neighbours, when setting forth on errands, always prepared themselves scrupulously so. They wore high laced boots and long muslin dresses, beaded chokers and candlewick shawls, crowned by tall poke bonnets tied with trailing ribbons and smothered with inky sequins. They looked like starlings, flecked with jet, and they walked in a tinkle of darkness. Those severe and similar old bodies enthralled me when they dressed that way. When I finally became King (I used to think) I would command a parade of grandmas, and drill them, and march them up and down - rank upon rank of hobbling boots, nodding bonnets, flying shawls, and furious chewing faces. They would be gathered from all the towns and villages and brought to my palace in wagon-loads. No more than a monarch’s whim, of course, like eating cocoa or drinking jellies; but far more spectacular any day than those usual trudging guardsmen.
Laurie Lee (Cider with Rosie)
My, you ought to seen old Henry the Eight when he was in bloom. He was a blossom. He used to marry a new wife every day, and chop off her head next morning. And he would do it just as indifferent as if he was ordering up eggs. 'Fetch up Nell Gwynn,' he says. They fetch her up. Next morning, 'Chop off her head!' And they chop it off. 'Fetch up Jane Shore,' he says; and up she comes, Next morning, 'Chop off her head'—and they chop it off. 'Ring up Fair Rosamun.' Fair Rosamun answers the bell. Next morning, 'Chop off her head.' And he made every one of them tell him a tale every night; and he kept that up till he had hogged a thousand and one tales that way, and then he put them all in a book, and called it Domesday Book—which was a good name and stated the case. You don't know kings, Jim, but I know them; and this old rip of ourn is one of the cleanest I've struck in history. Well, Henry he takes a notion he wants to get up some trouble with this country. How does he go at it—give notice?—give the country a show? No. All of a sudden he heaves all the tea in Boston Harbor overboard, and whacks out a declaration of independence, and dares them to come on. That was his style—he never give anybody a chance. He had suspicions of his father, the Duke of Wellington. Well, what did he do? Ask him to show up? No—drownded him in a butt of mamsey, like a cat. S'pose people left money laying around where he was—what did he do? He collared it. S'pose he contracted to do a thing, and you paid him, and didn't set down there and see that he done it—what did he do? He always done the other thing. S'pose he opened his mouth—what then? If he didn't shut it up powerful quick he'd lose a lie every time. That's the kind of a bug Henry was; and if we'd a had him along 'stead of our kings he'd a fooled that town a heap worse than ourn done. I don't say that ourn is lambs, because they ain't, when you come right down to the cold facts; but they ain't nothing to that old ram, anyway. All I say is, kings is kings, and you got to make allowances. Take them all around, they're a mighty ornery lot. It's the way they're raised.
Mark Twain (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn)
And I hope that all my readers are acquainted with an old English Cathedral town or I fear the significance of Mr Norrell’s chusing that particular place will be lost upon them. They must understand that in an old Cathedral town the great old church is not one building among many; it is the building - different from all others in scale, beauty, and solemnity. Even in modern times when an old Cathedral town may have provided itself with all the elegant appurtenances of civic buildings, assembly and meeting rooms (and York was well-stocked with these) the Cathedral rises above them - a witness to the devotion of our forefathers. It is as if the town contains within itself something larger than itself. When going about ones business in the muddle of narrow streets one is sure to lose sight of the Cathedral, but then the town will open out and suddenly it is there, many times taller and many times larger than any other building, and one realizes that one has reached the heart of the town and that all streets and lanes have in some way led here, to a place of mysteries much deeper than any Mr Norrell knew of. Such were Mr Segundus’s thoughts as he entered the Close and stood before the great brooding blue shadow of the Cathedral’s west face.
Susanna Clarke (Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell)
Once I was asked by a seatmate on a trans-Pacific flight, a man who took the liberty of glancing repeatedly at the correspondence in my lap, what instruction he should give his fifteen-year-old daughter, who wanted to be a writer. I didn't know how to answer him, but before I could think I heard myself saying, 'Tell your daughter three things.' "Tell her to read, I said. Tell her to read whatever interests her, and protect her if someone declares what she's reading to be trash. No one can fathom what happens between a human being and written language. She may be paying attention to things in the world beyond anyone else's comprehension, things that feed her curiosity, her singular heart and mind. Tell her to read classics like The Odyssey. They've been around a long time because the patterns in them have proved endlessly useful, and, to borrow Evan Connell's observation, with a good book you never touch bottom. But warn your daughter that ideas of heroism, of love, of human duty and devotion that women have been writing about for centuries will not be available to her in this form. To find these voices she will have to search. When, on her own, she begins to ask, make her a present of George Eliot, or the travel writing of Alexandra David-Neel, or To the Lighthouse. "Second, I said, tell your daughter that she can learn a great deal about writing by reading and by studying books about grammar and the organization of ideas, but that if she wishes to write well she will have to become someone. She will have to discover her beliefs, and then speak to us from within those beliefs. If her prose doesn't come out of her belief, whatever that proves to be, she will only be passing on information, of which we are in no great need. So help her discover what she means. "Finally, I said, tell your daughter to get out of town, and help her do that. I don't necessarily mean to travel to Kazakhstan, or wherever, but to learn another language, to live with people other than her own, to separate herself from the familiar. Then, when she returns, she will be better able to understand why she loves the familiar, and will give us a fresh sense of how fortunate we are to share these things. "Read. Find out what you truly are. Get away from the familiar. Every writer, I told him, will offer you thoughts about writing that are different, but these three I trust.
Barry Lopez (About This Life)
He paused a moment, gazing in awe at the huge mass of buildings composing the castle. It stood close to the river, on either side and to the rear stretched the extensive park and gardens, filled with splendid trees, fountains and beds of brilliant flowers in shades of pink, crimson, and scarlet. The castle itself was built of pink granite, and enclosed completely a smaller, older building which the present Duke's father had considered too insignificant for his town residence. The new castle had taken forty years to build; three architects and hundreds of men had worked day and night, and the old Duke had personally selected every block of sunset-colored stone that went to its construction. 'I want it to look like a great half-open rose,' he declared to the architects, who were fired with enthusiasm by this romantic fancy. It was begun as a wedding present to the Duke's wife, whose name was Rosamond, but unfortunately she died some nine years before it was completed. 'never mind, it will do for her memorial instead,' said the grief-stricken but practical widower. The work went on. At last the final block was laid in place. The Duke, by now very old, went out in his barouche and drove slowly along the opposite riverbank to consider the effect. He paused midway for a long time, then gave his opinion. 'It looks like a cod cutlet covered in shrimp sauce,' he said, drove home, took to his bed, and died.
Joan Aiken (Black Hearts in Battersea (The Wolves Chronicles, #2))
I work at T-Town, which is about ninety-nine percent men, and all of them either are alpha personalities or think they are. That said, what we have here is the standard dynamic for sexual tension. I'm moderately good-looking. I have big boobs, and I get hit on by everyone from the pastor of my church to baristas at Starbucks, and by every single guy at T-Town except for my boss and the range master. I don't blame them and I don't judge them. It's part of the procreative drive hardwired into us, and we haven't evolved as a species far enough exert any genuine control over the biological imperative. You, on the other hand, are a very good-looking man of prime breeding age. Old enough to have interesting lines and scars--and stories to go with them--and young enough to be a catch. You probably get laid as often as you want to, and you can probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of times women have said no to you. Maybe--and please correct me if I've strayed too far into speculation--being an agent of a secret government organization has led you to buy into the superspy sex stud propaganda perpetuated by James Bond films." "My name is Powers," I said. "Austin Powers." She ignored me and plowed ahead. "We're in the middle of a crisis. We may have to work closely together for several days, or even several weeks. Close-quarters travel, emotions running high, all that. If it's all the same to you, I'd rather not spend the next few days living inside a trite office romance cliche. That includes everything from mild flirtation to sexual innuendo and double entendre and the whole ball of wax." She sipped her Coke. The ball landed in my court with a thump.
Jonathan Maberry (The King of Plagues (Joe Ledger, #3))
The moon fled eastward like a frightened dove, while the stars changed their places in the heavens, like a disbanding army. 'Where are we?' asked Gil Gil. 'In France,' responded the Angel of Death. 'We have now traversed a large portion of the two bellicose nations which waged so sanguinary a war with each other at the beginning of the present century. We have seen the theater of the War of Succession. Conquered and conquerors both lie sleeping at this instant. My apprentice, Sleep, rules over the heroes who did not perish then, in battle, or afterward of sickness or of old age. I do not understand why it is that below on earth all men are not friends? The identity of your misfortunes and your weaknesses, the need you have of each other, the shortness of your life, the spectacle of the grandeur of other worlds, and the comparison between them and your littleness, all this should combine to unite you in brotherhood, like the passengers of a vessel threatened with shipwreck. There, there is neither love, nor hate, nor ambition, no one is debtor or creditor, no one is great or little, no one is handsome or ugly, no one is happy or unfortunate. The same danger surrounds all and my presence makes all equal. Well, then, what is the earth, seen from this height, but a ship which is foundering, a city delivered up to an epidemic or a conflagration?' 'What are those ignes fatui which I can see shining in certain places on the terrestrial globe, ever since the moon veiled her light?' asked the young man. 'They are cemeteries. We are now above Paris. Side by side with every city, every town, every village of the living there is always a city, a town, or a village of the dead, as the shadow is always beside the body. Geography, then, is of two kinds, although mortals only speak of the kind which is agreeable to them. A map of all the cemeteries which there are on the earth would be sufficient indication of the political geography of your world. You would miscalculate, however, in regard to the population; the dead cities are much more densely populated than the living; in the latter there are hardly three generations at one time, while, in the former, hundreds of generations are often crowded together. As for the lights you see shining, they are phosphorescent gleams from dead bodies, or rather they are the expiring gleams of thousands of vanished lives; they are the twilight glow of love, ambition, anger, genius, mercy; they are, in short, the last glow of a dying light, of the individuality which is disappearing, of the being yielding back his elements to mother earth. They are - and now it is that I have found the true word - the foam made by the river when it mingles its waters with those of the ocean.' The Angel of Death paused. ("The Friend of Death")
Pedro Antonio de Alarcón (Ghostly By Gaslight)
Back out of all this now too much for us, Back in a time made simple by the loss Of detail, burned, dissolved, and broken off Like graveyard marble sculpture in the weather, There is a house that is no more a house Upon a farm that is no more a farm And in a town that is no more a town. The road there, if you’ll let a guide direct you Who only has at heart your getting lost, May seem as if it should have been a quarry— Great monolithic knees the former town Long since gave up pretense of keeping covered. And there’s a story in a book about it: Besides the wear of iron wagon wheels The ledges show lines ruled southeast-northwest, The chisel work of an enormous Glacier That braced his feet against the Arctic Pole. You must not mind a certain coolness from him Still said to haunt this side of Panther Mountain. Nor need you mind the serial ordeal Of being watched from forty cellar holes As if by eye pairs out of forty firkins. As for the woods’ excitement over you That sends light rustle rushes to their leaves, Charge that to upstart inexperience. Where were they all not twenty years ago? They think too much of having shaded out A few old pecker-fretted apple trees. Make yourself up a cheering song of how Someone’s road home from work this once was, Who may be just ahead of you on foot Or creaking with a buggy load of grain. The height of the adventure is the height Of country where two village cultures faded Into each other. Both of them are lost. And if you’re lost enough to find yourself By now, pull in your ladder road behind you And put a sign up CLOSED to all but me. Then make yourself at home. The only field Now left’s no bigger than a harness gall. First there’s the children’s house of make-believe, Some shattered dishes underneath a pine, The playthings in the playhouse of the children. Weep for what little things could make them glad. Then for the house that is no more a house, But only a belilaced cellar hole, Now slowly closing like a dent in dough. This was no playhouse but a house in earnest. Your destination and your destiny’s A brook that was the water of the house, Cold as a spring as yet so near its source, Too lofty and original to rage. (We know the valley streams that when aroused Will leave their tatters hung on barb and thorn.) I have kept hidden in the instep arch Of an old cedar at the waterside A broken drinking goblet like the Grail Under a spell so the wrong ones can’t find it, So can’t get saved, as Saint Mark says they mustn’t. (I stole the goblet from the children’s playhouse.) Here are your waters and your watering place. Drink and be whole again beyond confusion.
Robert Frost
1 The summer our marriage failed we picked sage to sweeten our hot dark car. We sat in the yard with heavy glasses of iced tea, talking about which seeds to sow when the soil was cool. Praising our large, smooth spinach leaves, free this year of Fusarium wilt, downy mildew, blue mold. And then we spoke of flowers, and there was a joke, you said, about old florists who were forced to make other arrangements. Delphiniums flared along the back fence. All summer it hurt to look at you. 2 I heard a woman on the bus say, “He and I were going in different directions.” As if it had something to do with a latitude or a pole. Trying to write down how love empties itself from a house, how a view changes, how the sign for infinity turns into a noose for a couple. Trying to say that weather weighed down all the streets we traveled on, that if gravel sinks, it keeps sinking. How can I blame you who kneeled day after day in wet soil, pulling slugs from the seedlings? You who built a ten-foot arch for the beans, who hated a bird feeder left unfilled. You who gave carrots to a gang of girls on bicycles. 3 On our last trip we drove through rain to a town lit with vacancies. We’d come to watch whales. At the dock we met five other couples—all of us fluorescent, waterproof, ready for the pitch and frequency of the motor that would lure these great mammals near. The boat chugged forward—trailing a long, creamy wake. The captain spoke from a loudspeaker: In winter gray whales love Laguna Guerrero; it’s warm and calm, no killer whales gulp down their calves. Today we’ll see them on their way to Alaska. If we get close enough, observe their eyes—they’re bigger than baseballs, but can only look down. Whales can communicate at a distance of 300 miles—but it’s my guess they’re all saying, Can you hear me? His laughter crackled. When he told us Pink Floyd is slang for a whale’s two-foot penis, I stopped listening. The boat rocked, and for two hours our eyes were lost in the waves—but no whales surfaced, blowing or breaching or expelling water through baleen plates. Again and again you patiently wiped the spray from your glasses. We smiled to each other, good troopers used to disappointment. On the way back you pointed at cormorants riding the waves— you knew them by name: the Brants, the Pelagic, the double-breasted. I only said, I’m sure whales were swimming under us by the dozens. 4 Trying to write that I loved the work of an argument, the exhaustion of forgiving, the next morning, washing our handprints off the wineglasses. How I loved sitting with our friends under the plum trees, in the white wire chairs, at the glass table. How you stood by the grill, delicately broiling the fish. How the dill grew tall by the window. Trying to explain how camellias spoil and bloom at the same time, how their perfume makes lovers ache. Trying to describe the ways sex darkens and dies, how two bodies can lie together, entwined, out of habit. Finding themselves later, tired, by a fire, on an old couch that no longer reassures. The night we eloped we drove to the rainforest and found ourselves in fog so thick our lights were useless. There’s no choice, you said, we must have faith in our blindness. How I believed you. Trying to imagine the road beneath us, we inched forward, honking, gently, again and again.
Dina Ben-Lev
Noah held his hand out. She accepted it - it was bone-cold, as always - and together they turned to face the huge room. Noah took a deep breath as if they were preparing to explore the jungle instead of stepping deeper into Monmouth Manufacturing. It seemed bigger with just the two of them there. The cobwebbed ceiling soared, dust motes making mobiles overhead. They turned their heads sideways and read the titles of the books aloud. Blue peered at Henrietta through the telescope. Noah daringly reattached one of the broken miniature roofs on Gansey's scale town. They went through the fridge tucked in the bathroom. Blue selected a soda. Noah took a plastic spoon. He chewed on it as Blue fed Chainsaw a leftover hamburger. They closed Ronan's door - if Gansey still managed to inhabit the rest of the apartment, Ronan's presence was still decidedly pervasive in his room. Noah showed Blue his room. They jumped on his perfectly made bed and then they played a bad game of pool. Noah lounged on the new sofa while Blue persuaded the old record player to play an LP too clever to interest either of them. They opened all the drawers on the desk in the main room. One of Gansey's EpiPens bounced against the interior of the topmost drawer as Blue withdrew a fancy pen. She copied Gansey's blocky handwriting onto a Nino's receipt as Noah put on a preppy sweater he'd found balled under the desk. She ate a mint leaf and breathed on Noah's face. Crouching, they crab-walked along the aerial printout Gansey had spread the length of the room. He'd jotted enigmatic notes to himself all along the margin of it. Some of them were coordinates. Some of them were explanations of topography. Some of them were Beatles lyrics.
Maggie Stiefvater (The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2))
In 1908, in a wild and remote area of the North Caucasus, Leo Tolstoy, the greatest writer of the age, was the guest of a tribal chief “living far away from civilized life in the mountains.” Gathering his family and neighbors, the chief asked Tolstoy to tell stories about the famous men of history. Tolstoy told how he entertained the eager crowd for hours with tales of Alexander, Caesar, Frederick the Great, and Napoleon. When he was winding to a close, the chief stood and said, “But you have not told us a syllable about the greatest general and greatest ruler of the world. We want to know something about him. He was a hero. He spoke with a voice of thunder; he laughed like the sunrise and his deeds were strong as the rock….His name was Lincoln and the country in which he lived is called America, which is so far away that if a youth should journey to reach it he would be an old man when he arrived. Tell us of that man.” “I looked at them,” Tolstoy recalled, “and saw their faces all aglow, while their eyes were burning. I saw that those rude barbarians were really interested in a man whose name and deeds had already become a legend.” He told them everything he knew about Lincoln’s “home life and youth…his habits, his influence upon the people and his physical strength.” When he finished, they were so grateful for the story that they presented him with “a wonderful Arabian horse.” The next morning, as Tolstoy prepared to leave, they asked if he could possibly acquire for them a picture of Lincoln. Thinking that he might find one at a friend’s house in the neighboring town, Tolstoy asked one of the riders to accompany him. “I was successful in getting a large photograph from my friend,” recalled Tolstoy. As he handed it to the rider, he noted that the man’s hand trembled as he took it. “He gazed for several minutes silently, like one in a reverent prayer, his eyes filled with tears.” Tolstoy went on to observe, “This little incident proves how largely the name of Lincoln is worshipped throughout the world and how legendary his personality has become. Now, why was Lincoln so great that he overshadows all other national heroes? He really was not a great general like Napoleon or Washington; he was not such a skilful statesman as Gladstone or Frederick the Great; but his supremacy expresses itself altogether in his peculiar moral power and in the greatness of his character. “Washington was a typical American. Napoleon was a typical Frenchman, but Lincoln was a humanitarian as broad as the world. He was bigger than his country—bigger than all the Presidents together. “We are still too near to his greatness,” Tolstoy concluded, “but after a few centuries more our posterity will find him considerably bigger than we do. His genius is still too strong and too powerful for the common understanding, just as the sun is too hot when its light beams directly on us.
Doris Kearns Goodwin (Team of Rivals:The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln)
Oh, Starbuck! it is a mild, mild wind, and a mild looking sky. On such a day - very much such a sweetness as this - I struck my first whale - a boy-harpooneer of eighteen! Forty - forty - forty years ago! - ago! Forty years of continual whaling! forty years of privation, and peril, and storm-time! forty years on the pitiless sea! for forty years has Ahab forsaken the peaceful land, for forty years to make war on the horrors of the deep! Aye and yes, Starbuck, out of those forty years I have not spent three ashore. When I think of this life I have led; the desolation of solitude it has been; the masoned, walled-town of a Captain's exclusiveness, which admits but small entrance to any sympathy from the green country without - oh, weariness! heaviness! Guinea-coast slavery of solitary command! - when I think of all this; only half-suspected, not so keenly known to me before - and how for forty years I have fed upon dry salted fare - fit emblem of the dry nourishment of my soul - when the poorest landsman has had fresh fruit to his daily hand, and broken the world's fresh bread to my mouldy crusts - away, whole oceans away, from that young girl-wife I wedded past fifty, and sailed for Cape Horn the next day, leaving but one dent in my marriage pillow - wife? wife? - rather a widow with her husband alive! Aye, I widowed that poor girl when I married her, Starbuck; and then, the madness, the frenzy, the boiling blood and the smoking brow, with which, for a thousand lowerings old Ahab has furiously, foamingly chased his prey - more a demon than a man! - aye, aye! what a forty years' fool - fool - old fool, has old Ahab been! Why this strife of the chase? why weary, and palsy the arm at the oar, and the iron, and the lance? how the richer or better is Ahab now? Behold. Oh, Starbuck! is it not hard, that with this weary load I bear, one poor leg should have been snatched from under me? Here, brush this old hair aside; it blinds me, that I seem to weep. Locks so grey did never grow but from out some ashes! But do I look very old, so very, very old, Starbuck? I feel deadly faint, bowed, and humped, as though I were Adam, staggering beneath the piled centuries since Paradise. God! God! God! - crack my heart! - stave my brain! - mockery! mockery! bitter, biting mockery of grey hairs, have I lived enough joy to wear ye; and seem and feel thus intolerably old? Close! stand close to me, Starbuck; let me look into a human eye; it is better than to gaze into sea or sky; better than to gaze upon God. By the green land; by the bright hearth-stone! this is the magic glass, man; I see my wife and my child in thine eye. No, no; stay on board, on board! - lower not when I do; when branded Ahab gives chase to Moby Dick. That hazard shall not be thine. No, no! not with the far away home I see in that eye!
Herman Melville
You. Man at the machine and man in the workshop. If tomorrow they tell you you are to make no more water-pipes and saucepans but are to make steel helmets and machine-guns, then there's only one thing to do: Say NO! You. Woman at the counter and woman in the office. If tomorrow they tell you you are to fill shells and assemble telescopic sights for snipers' rifles, then there's only one thing to do: Say NO! You. Research worker in the laboratory. If tomorrow they tell you you are to invent a new death for the old life, then there's only one thing to do: Say NO! You. Priest in the pulpit. If tomorrow they tell you you are to bless murder and declare war holy, then there's only one thing to do: Say NO! You. Pilot in your aeroplane. If tomorrow they tell you you are to carry bombs over the cities, then there's only one thing to do: Say NO! You. Man of the village and man of the town. If tomorrow they come and give you your call-up papers, then there's only one thing to do: Say NO! You. Mother in Normandy and mother in the Ukraine, mother in Vancouver and in London, you on the Hwangho and on the Mississippi, you in Naples and Hamburg and Cairo and Oslo - mothers in all parts of the earth, mothers of the world, if tomorrow they tell you you are to bear new soldiers for new battles, then there's only one thing to do: Say NO! For if you do not say NO - if YOU do not say no - mothers, then: then! In the bustling hazy harbour towns the big ships will fall silent as corpses against the dead deserted quay walls, their once shimmering bodies overgrown with seaweed and barnacles, smelling of graveyards and rotten fish. The trams will lie like senseless glass-eyed cages beside the twisted steel skeleton of wires and track. The sunny juicy vine will rot on decaying hillsides, rice will dry in the withered earth, potatoes will freeze in the unploughed land and cows will stick their death-still legs into the air like overturned chairs. In the fields beside rusted ploughs the corn will be flattened like a beaten army. Then the last human creature, with mangled entrails and infected lungs, will wander around, unanswered and lonely, under the poisonous glowing sun, among the immense mass graves and devastated cities. The last human creature, withered, mad, cursing, accusing - and the terrible accusation: WHY? will die unheard on the plains, drift through the ruins, seep into the rubble of churches, fall into pools of blood, unheard, unanswered, the last animal scream of the last human animal - All this will happen tomorrow, tomorrow, perhaps, perhaps even tonight, perhaps tonight, if - if - You do not say NO.
Wolfgang Borchert
One day, soon after her disappearance, an attack of abominable nausea forced me to pull up on the ghost of an old mountain road that now accompanied, now traversed a brand new highway, with its population of asters bathing in the detached warmth of a pale-blue afternoon in late summer. After coughing myself inside out I rested a while on a boulder and then thinking the sweet air might do me good, walked a little way toward a low stone parapet on the precipice side of the highway. Small grasshoppers spurted out of the withered roadside weeds. A very light cloud was opening its arms and moving toward a slightly more substantial one belonging to another, more sluggish, heavenlogged system. As I approached the friendly abyss, I grew aware of a melodious unity of sounds rising like vapor from a small mining town that lay at my feet, in a fold of the valley. One could make out the geometry of the streets between blocks of red and gray roofs, and green puffs of trees, and a serpentine stream, and the rich, ore-like glitter of the city dump, and beyond the town, roads crisscrossing the crazy quilt of dark and pale fields, and behind it all, great timbered mountains. But even brighter than those quietly rejoicing colors - for there are colors and shades that seem to enjoy themselves in good company - both brighter and dreamier to the ear than they were to the eye, was that vapory vibration of accumulated sounds that never ceased for a moment, as it rose to the lip of granite where I stood wiping my foul mouth. And soon I realized that all these sounds were of one nature, that no other sounds but these came from the streets of the transparent town, with the women at home and the men away. Reader! What I heard was but the melody of children at play, nothing but that, and so limpid was the air that within this vapor of blended voices, majestic and minute, remote and magically near, frank and divinely enigmatic - one could hear now and then, as if released, an almost articulate spurt of vivid laughter, or the crack of a bat, or the clatter of a toy wagon, but it was all really too far for the eye to distinguish any movement in the lightly etched streets. I stood listening to that musical vibration from my lofty slope, to those flashes of separate cries with a kind of demure murmur for background, and then I knew that the hopelessly poignant thing was not Lolita's absence from my side, but the absence of her voice from that concord.
Vladimir Nabokov (Lolita)
I’ve done you a disservice,” he said at last. “It’s only fair to let you know, but you won’t have a normal life span.” I bit my lip. “Have you come to take my soul, then?” “I told you that’s not my jurisdiction. But you’re not going to die soon. In fact, you won’t die for a long time, far longer than I initially thought, I’m afraid. Nor will you age normally.” “Because I took your qi?” He inclined his head. “I should have stopped you sooner.” I thought of the empty years that stretched ahead of me, years of solitude long after everyone I loved had died. Though I might have children or grandchildren. But perhaps they might comment on my strange youthfulness and shun me as unnatural. Whisper of sorcery, like those Javanese women who inserted gold needles in their faces and ate children. In the Chinese tradition, nothing was better than dying old and full of years, a treasure in the bosom of one’s family. To outlive descendants and endure a long span of widowhood could hardly be construed as lucky. Tears filled my eyes, and for some reason this seemed to agitate Er Lang, for he turned away. In profile, he was even more handsome, if that was possible, though I was quite sure he was aware of it. “It isn’t necessarily a good thing, but you’ll see all of the next century, and I think it will be an interesting one.” “That’s what Tian Bai said,” I said bitterly. “How long will I outlive him?” “Long enough,” he said. Then more gently, “You may have a happy marriage, though.” “I wasn’t thinking about him,” I said. “I was thinking about my mother. By the time I die, she’ll have long since gone on to the courts for reincarnation. I shall never see her again.” I burst into sobs, realizing how much I’d clung to that hope, despite the fact that it might be better for my mother to leave the Plains of the Dead. But then we would never meet in this lifetime. Her memories would be erased and her spirit lost to me in this form. “Don’t cry.” I felt his arms around me, and I buried my face in his chest. The rain began to fall again, so dense it was like a curtain around us. Yet I did not get wet. “Listen,” he said. “When everyone around you has died and it becomes too hard to go on pretending, I shall come for you.” “Do you mean that?” A strange happiness was beginning to grow, twining and tightening around my heart. “I’ve never lied to you.” “Can’t I go with you now?” He shook his head. “Aren’t you getting married? Besides, I’ve always preferred older women. In about fifty years’ time, you should be just right.” I glared at him. “What if I’d rather not wait?” He narrowed his eyes. “Do you mean that you don’t want to marry Tian Bai?” I dropped my gaze. “If you go with me, it won’t be easy for you,” he said warningly. “It will bring you closer to the spirit world and you won’t be able to lead a normal life. My work is incognito, so I can’t keep you in style. It will be a little house in some strange town. I shan’t be available most of the time, and you’d have to be ready to move at a moment’s notice.” I listened with increasing bewilderment. “Are you asking me to be your mistress or an indentured servant?” His mouth twitched. “I don’t keep mistresses; it’s far too much trouble. I’m offering to marry you, although I might regret it. And if you think the Lim family disapproved of your marriage, wait until you meet mine.” I tightened my arms around him. “Speechless at last,” Er Lang said. “Think about your options. Frankly, if I were a woman, I’d take the first one. I wouldn’t underestimate the importance of family.” “But what would you do for fifty years?” He was about to speak when I heard a faint call, and through the heavy downpour, saw Yan Hong’s blurred figure emerge between the trees, Tian Bai running beside her. “Give me your answer in a fortnight,” said Er Lang. Then he was gone.
Yangsze Choo (The Ghost Bride)
He got into the tub and ran a little cold water. Then he lowered his thin, hairy body into the just-right warmth and stared at the interstices between the tiles. Sadness--he had experienced that emotion ten thousand times. As exhalation is to inhalation, he thought of it as the return from each thrust of happiness. Lazily soaping himself, he gave examples. When he was five and Irwin eight, their father had breezed into town with a snowstorm and come to see them where they lived with their grandparents in the small Connecticut city. Their father had been a vagabond salesman and was considered a bum by people who should know. But he had come into the closed, heated house with all the gimcrack and untouchable junk behind glass and he had smelled of cold air and had had snow in his curly black hair. He had raved about the world he lived in, while the old people, his father and mother, had clucked sadly in the shadows. And then he had wakened the boys in the night and forced them out into the yard to worship the swirling wet flakes, to dance around with their hands joined, shrieking at the snow-laden branches. Later, they had gone in to sleep with hearts slowly returning to bearable beatings. Great flowering things had opened and closed in Norman's head, and the resonance of the wild man's voice had squeezed a sweet, tart juice through his heart. But then he had wakened to a gray day with his father gone and the world walking gingerly over the somber crust of dead-looking snow. It had taken him some time to get back to his usual equanimity. He slid down in the warm, foamy water until just his face and his knobby white knees were exposed. Once he had read Wuthering Heights over a weekend and gone to school susceptible to any heroine, only to have the girl who sat in front of him, whom he had admired for some months, emit a loud fart which had murdered him in a small way and kept him from speaking a word to anyone the whole week following. He had laughed at a very funny joke about a Negro when Irwin told it at a party, and then the following day had seen some white men lightly kicking a Negro man in the pants, and temporarily he had questioned laughter altogether. He had gone to several universities with the vague exaltation of Old Man Axelrod and had found only curves and credits. He had become drunk on the idea of God and found only theology. He had risen several times on the subtle and powerful wings of lust, expectant of magnificence, achieving only discharge. A few times he had extended friendship with palpitating hope, only to find that no one quite knew what he had in mind. His solitude now was the result of his metabolism, that constant breathing in of joy and exhalation of sadness. He had come to take shallower breaths, and the two had become mercifully mixed into melancholy contentment. He wondered how pain would breach that low-level strength. "I'm a small man of definite limitations," he declared to himself, and relaxed in the admission.
Edward Lewis Wallant (The Tenants of Moonbloom)