Open Ended Play Quotes

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God will invade. But I wonder whether people who ask God to interfere openly and directly in our world quite realise what it will be like when He does. When that happens, it is the end of the world. When the author walks on to the stage the play is over. God is going to invade, all right: but what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else - something it never entered your head to conceive - comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us and so terrible to others that none of us will have any choice left? For this time it will God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. It will be too late then to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up. That will not be the time for choosing; it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realised it before or not. Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It will not last for ever. We must take it or leave it.
C.S. Lewis
Soon after the completion of his college course, his whole nature was kindled into one intense and passionate effervescence of romantic passion. His hour came,—the hour that comes only once; his star rose in the horizon,—that star that rises so often in vain, to be remembered only as a thing of dreams; and it rose for him in vain. To drop the figure,—he saw and won the love of a high-minded and beautiful woman, in one of the northern states, and they were affianced. He returned south to make arrangements for their marriage, when, most unexpectedly, his letters were returned to him by mail, with a short note from her guardian, stating to him that ere this reached him the lady would be the wife of another. Stung to madness, he vainly hoped, as many another has done, to fling the whole thing from his heart by one desperate effort. Too proud to supplicate or seek explanation, he threw himself at once into a whirl of fashionable society, and in a fortnight from the time of the fatal letter was the accepted lover of the reigning belle of the season; and as soon as arrangements could be made, he became the husband of a fine figure, a pair of bright dark eyes, and a hundred thousand dollars; and, of course, everybody thought him a happy fellow. The married couple were enjoying their honeymoon, and entertaining a brilliant circle of friends in their splendid villa, near Lake Pontchartrain, when, one day, a letter was brought to him in that well-remembered writing. It was handed to him while he was in full tide of gay and successful conversation, in a whole room-full of company. He turned deadly pale when he saw the writing, but still preserved his composure, and finished the playful warfare of badinage which he was at the moment carrying on with a lady opposite; and, a short time after, was missed from the circle. In his room,alone, he opened and read the letter, now worse than idle and useless to be read. It was from her, giving a long account of a persecution to which she had been exposed by her guardian's family, to lead her to unite herself with their son: and she related how, for a long time, his letters had ceased to arrive; how she had written time and again, till she became weary and doubtful; how her health had failed under her anxieties, and how, at last, she had discovered the whole fraud which had been practised on them both. The letter ended with expressions of hope and thankfulness, and professions of undying affection, which were more bitter than death to the unhappy young man. He wrote to her immediately: I have received yours,—but too late. I believed all I heard. I was desperate. I am married, and all is over. Only forget,—it is all that remains for either of us." And thus ended the whole romance and ideal of life for Augustine St. Clare. But the real remained,—the real, like the flat, bare, oozy tide-mud, when the blue sparkling wave, with all its company of gliding boats and white-winged ships, its music of oars and chiming waters, has gone down, and there it lies, flat, slimy, bare,—exceedingly real. Of course, in a novel, people's hearts break, and they die, and that is the end of it; and in a story this is very convenient. But in real life we do not die when all that makes life bright dies to us.
Harriet Beecher Stowe (Uncle Tom’s Cabin)
This life is a virtual simulation game where you can win or lose, you can continue playing for the rest of your life or join the club. You decide! You only have to respect one rule because your stay in the human farm will depend on that, continue playing until the end no matter how many times you are brought into this reality, so stay awake with your eyes wide open and your mouth tight shut." Welcome to the game of life, welcome to the matrix.
Marcos Orowitz (TALENT FOR HORROR 2: Special- Madame Jeanne Weber's shoes (Talent for Horror Series Book Revelation 2022))
I'll tell you how the sun rose A ribbon at a time... It's a living book, this life; it folds out in a million settings, cast with a billion beautiful characters, and it is almost over for you. It doesn't matter how old you are; it is coming to a close quickly, and soon the credits will roll and all your friends will fold out of your funeral and drive back to their homes in cold and still and silence. And they will make a fire and pour some wine and think about how you once were . . . and feel a kind of sickness at the idea you never again will be. So soon you will be in that part of the book where you are holding the bulk of the pages in your left hand, and only a thin wisp of the story in your right. You will know by the page count, not by the narrative, that the Author is wrapping things up. You begin to mourn its ending, and want to pace yourself slowly toward its closure, knowing the last lines will speak of something beautiful, of the end of something long and earned, and you hope the thing closes out like last breaths, like whispers about how much and who the characters have come to love, and how authentic the sentiments feel when they have earned a hundred pages of qualification. And so my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children in a play. My hope is your story will be about changing, about getting something beautiful born inside of you, about learning to love a woman or a man, about learning to love a child, about moving yourself around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn't it?
Donald Miller (Through Painted Deserts: Light, God, and Beauty on the Open Road)
We should not expect individuals to produce good, open-minded, truth-seeking reasoning, particularly when self-interest or reputational concerns are in play. But if you put individuals together in the right way, such that some individuals can use their reasoning powers to disconfirm the claims of others, and all individuals feel some common bond or shared fate that allows them to interact civilly, you can create a group that ends up producing good reasoning as an emergent property of the social system. This is why it's so important to have intellectual and ideological diversity within any group or institution whose goal is to find truth (such as an intelligence agency or a community of scientists) or to produce good public policy (such as a legislature or advisory board).
Jonathan Haidt (The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion)
Time plays like an accordion in the way it can stretch out and compress itself in a thousand melodic ways. Months on end may pass blindingly in a quick series of chords, open-shut, together-apart; and then a single melancholy week may seem like a year's pining, one long unfolding note.
Julia Glass (Three Junes)
My theory was that if I behaved like a confident, cheerful person, eventually I would buy it myself, and become that. I always had traces of strength somewhere inside me, it wasn't fake, it was just a way of summoning my courage to the fore and not letting any creeping self-doubt hinder my adventures. This method worked then, and it works now. I tell myself that I am the sort of person who can open a one-woman play in the West End, so I do. I am the sort of person who has several companies, so I do. I am the sort of person WHO WRITES A BOOK! So I do. It's the process of having faith in the self you don't quite know you are yet, if you see what I mean. Believing that you will find the strength, the means somehow, and trusting in that, although your legs are like jelly. You can still walk on them and you will find the bones as you walk. Yes, that's it. The further I walk, the stronger I become. So unlike the real lived life, where the further you walk, the more your hips hurt.
Dawn French (Dear Fatty)
Have you ever played chess, Kitty?” I eyed her. What did a board game have to do with this? “Not really.” “You and I should play sometime. I think you would like it,” she said. “It’s a game of strategy, mostly. The strong pieces are in the back row, while the weak pieces—the pawns—are all in the front, ready to take the brunt of the attack. Because of their limited movement and vulnerability, most people underestimate them and only use them to protect the more powerful pieces. But when I play, I protect my pawns.” “Why?” I said, not entirely sure where this conversation was going. “If they’re weak, then what’s the point?” “They may be weak when the game begins, but their potential is remarkable. Most of the time, they’ll be taken by the other side and held captive until the end of the game. But if you’re careful—if you keep your eyes open and pay attention to what your opponent is doing, if you protect your pawns and they reach the other side of the board, do you know what happens then?” I shook my head, and she smiled. “Your pawn becomes a queen.” She touched my cheek, her fingers cold as ice. “Because they kept moving forward and triumphed against impossible odds, they become the most powerful piece in the game. Never forget that, all right? Never forget the potential one solitary pawn has to change the entire game.
Aimee Carter (Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion, #1))
Life is made of moments. and choices. Not all of them matter, or have any lasting impact. Skipping class in favor of a taste of freedom, picking a prom dress because of the way it transforms you into a princess in the mirror. Even the nights you steal away from an open window, tiptoe silent to the end of the driveway, where darkened headlights and the pull of something unknown beckon. These are all small choices, really. Insignificant as soon as they’re made. Innocent. But then. Then there’s a different kind of moment. One when things are irrevocably changed by a choice we make. A moment we will play endlessly in our minds on lonely nights and empty days. One we’ll search repeatedly for some indication that what we chose was right, some small sign that tells us the truth isn’t nearly as awful as it feels. Or as awful as anyone would think if they knew. So we explain it to ourselves, justify it enough to sleep. And then we bury it deep, so deep we can almost pretend it never happened. But as much as we wish it were different, the truth is, our worlds are sometimes balanced on choices we make and the secrets we keep.
Jessi Kirby (Golden)
The human life cycle no less than evolves around the box; from the open-topped box called a bassinet, to the pine box we call a coffin, the box is our past and, just as assuredly, our future. It should not surprise us then that the lowly box plays such a significant role in the first Christmas story. For Christmas began in a humble, hay-filled box of splintered wood. The Magi, wise men who had traveled far to see the infant king, laid treasure-filled boxes at the feet of that holy child. And in the end, when He had ransomed our sins with His blood, the Lord of Christmas was laid down in a box of stone. How fitting that each Christmas season brightly wrapped boxes skirt the pine boughs of Christmas trees around the world.
Richard Paul Evans (The Christmas Box (The Christmas Box, #1))
What about a teakettle? What if the spout opened and closed when the steam came out, so it would become a mouth, and it could whistle pretty melodies, or do Shakespeare, or just crack up with me? I could invent a teakettle that reads in Dad’s voice, so I could fall asleep, or maybe a set of kettles that sings the chorus of “Yellow Submarine,” which is a song by the Beatles, who I love, because entomology is one of my raisons d’être, which is a French expression that I know. Another good thing is that I could train my anus to talk when I farted. If I wanted to be extremely hilarious, I’d train it to say, “Wasn’t me!” every time I made an incredibly bad fart. And if I ever made an incredibly bad fart in the Hall of Mirrors, which is in Versailles, which is outside of Paris, which is in France, obviously, my anus would say, “Ce n’étais pas moi!” What about little microphones? What if everyone swallowed them, and they played the sounds of our hearts through little speakers, which could be in the pouches of our overalls? When you skateboard down the street at night you could hear everyone's heartbeat, and they could hear yours, sort of like sonar. One weird thing is, I wonder if everyone's hearts would start to beat at the same time, like how women who live together have their menstrual periods at the same time, which I know about, but don't really want to know about. That would be so weird, except that the place in the hospital where babies are born would sound like a crystal chandelier in a houseboat, because the babies wouldn't have had time to match up their heartbeats yet. And at the finish line at the end of the New York City Marathon it would sound like war.
Jonathan Safran Foer
I intercepted Chaol, and he informed me of your ‘condition.’ You’d think a man in his position wouldn’t be so squeamish, especially after examining all of those corpses.” Calaena opened an eye and frowned as Dorian sat on her bed. “I’m in a state of absolute agony and I can’t be bothered.” “It can’t be that bad,” he said, fishing a deck of cards from his jacket. “Want to play?” “I already told you that I don’t feel well.” “You look fine to me.” He skillfully shuffled the deck. “Just one game.” “Don’t you pay people to entertain you?” He glowered, breaking the deck. “You should be honored by my company.” “I’d be honored if you would leave.” “For someone who relies on my good graces, you’re very bold.” “Bold? I’ve barely begun.” Lying on her side, she curled her knees to her chest. He laughed, pocketing the deck of cards. “Your new canine companion is doing well, if you wish to know.” She moaned into her pillow. “Go away. I feel like dying.” “No fair maiden should die alone,” he said, putting a hand on hers. “Shall I read to you in your final moments? What story would you like?” She snatched her hand back. “How about the story of the idiotic prince who won’t leave the assassin alone?” “Oh! I love that story! It has such a happy ending, too—why, the assassin was really feigning her illness in order to get the prince’s attention! Who would have guessed it? Such a clever girl. And the bedroom scene is so lovely—it’s worth reading through all of their ceaseless banter!” “Out! Out! Out! Leave me be and go womanize someone else!” She grabbed a book and chucked it at him.
Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1))
Gansey despised raising his voice (in his head, his mother said, People shout when they don't have the vocabulary to whisper), but he heard it happening despite himself and so, with effort, he kept his voice even. "Not like this. At least you have a place to go. 'End of the world'... What is your problem, Adam? I mean, is there something about my place that's too repugnant for you to imagine living there? Why is it that everything kind I do is pity to you? Everything is charity. Well, here it is: I'm sick of tiptoeing around your principles." "God, I'm sick of your condescension, Gansey," Adam said. "Don't try to make me feel stupid. Who whips out repugnant? Don't pretend you're not trying to make me feel stupid." "This is the way I talk. I'm sorry your father never taught you the meaning of repugnant. He was too busy smashing your head against the wall of your trailer while you apologized for being alive." Both of them stopped breathing. Gansey knew he'd gone too far. It was too far, too late, too much. Adam shoved open the door. "Fuck you, Gansey. Fuck you," he said, voice low and furious. Gansey close his eyes. Adam slammed the door, and then he slammed it again when the latch didn't catch. Gansey didn't open his eyes. He didn't want to see if people were watching some kid fight with a boy in a bright orange Camaro and an Aglionby jumper. Just then he hated his raven-breasted uniform and his loud car and every three- and four-syllable word his parents had used in casual conversation at the dinner table and he hated Adam's hideous father and Adam's permissive mother and most of all, most of all, he hated the sound of Adam's last words, playing over and over. He couldn't stand it, all of this inside him. In the end, he was nobody to Adam, he was nobody to Ronan. Adam spit his words back at him and Ronan squandered however many second chances he gave him. Gansey was just a guy with a lot of stuff and a hole inside him that chewed away more of his heart every year. They were always walking away from him. But he never seemed able to walk away from them. Gansey opened his eyes. The ambulance was still there, but Adam was gone.
Maggie Stiefvater (The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1))
In his forty-third year William Stoner learned what others, much younger, had learned before him: that the person one loves at first is not the person one loves at last, and that love is not an end but a process through which one person attempts to know another. They were both very shy, and they knew each other slowly, tentatively; they came close and drew apart, they touched and withdrew, neither wishing to impose upon the other more than might be welcomed. Day by day the layers of reserve that protected them dropped away, so that at last they were like many who are extraordinarily shy, each open to the other, unprotected, perfectly and unselfconsciously at ease. Nearly every afternoon, when his classes were over, he came to her apartment. They made love, and talked, and made love again, like children who did not think of tiring at their play. The spring days lengthened, and they looked forward to the summer.
John Williams (Stoner)
It is a common belief that we breathe with our lungs alone, but in point of fact, the work of breathing is done by the whole body. The lungs play a passive role in the respiratory process. Their expansion is produced by an enlargement, mostly downward, of the thoracic cavity and they collapse when that cavity is reduced. Proper breathing involves the muscles of the head, neck, thorax, and abdomen. It can be shown that chronic tension in any part of the body's musculature interferes with the natural respiratory movements. Breathing is a rhythmic activity. Normally a person at rest makes approximately 16 to 17 respiratory incursions a minute. The rate is higher in infants and in states of excitation. It is lower in sleep and in depressed persons. The depth of the respiratory wave is another factor which varies with emotional states. Breathing becomes shallow when we are frightened or anxious. It deepens with relaxation, pleasure and sleep. But above all, it is the quality of the respiratory movements that determines whether breathing is pleasurable or not. With each breath a wave can be seen to ascend and descend through the body. The inspiratory wave begins deep in the abdomen with a backward movement of the pelvis. This allows the belly to expand outward. The wave then moves upward as the rest of the body expands. The head moves very slightly forward to suck in the air while the nostrils dilate or the mouth opens. The expiratory wave begins in the upper part of the body and moves downward: the head drops back, the chest and abdomen collapse, and the pelvis rocks forward. Breathing easily and fully is one of the basic pleasures of being alive. The pleasure is clearly experienced at the end of expiration when the descending wave fills the pelvis with a delicious sensation. In adults this sensation has a sexual quality, though it does not induce any genital feeling. The slight backward and forward movements of the pelvis, similar to the sexual movements, add to the pleasure. Though the rhythm of breathing is pronounced in the pelvic area, it is at the same time experienced by the total body as a feeling of fluidity, softness, lightness and excitement. The importance of breathing need hardly be stressed. It provides the oxygen for the metabolic processes; literally it supports the fires of life. But breath as "pneuma" is also the spirit or soul. We live in an ocean of air like fish in a body of water. By our breathing we are attuned to our atmosphere. If we inhibit our breathing we isolate ourselves from the medium in which we exist. In all Oriental and mystic philosophies, the breath holds the secret to the highest bliss. That is why breathing is the dominant factor in the practice of Yoga.
Alexander Lowen (The Voice of the Body)
It was in fact the ordinary nature of everything preceding the event that prevented me from truly believing it had happened, absorbing it, incorporating it, getting past it. I recognize now that there was nothing unusual in this: confronted with sudden disaster we all focus on how unremarkable the circumstances were in which the unthinkable occurred, the clear blue sky from which the plane fell, the routine errand that ended on the shoulder with the car in flames, the swings where the children were playing as usual when the rattlesnake struck from the ivy. "He was on his way home from work — happy, successful, healthy — and then, gone," I read in the account of a psychiatric nurse whose husband was killed in a highway accident. In 1966 I happened to interview many people who had been living in Honolulu on the morning of December 7, 1941; without exception, these people began their accounts of Pearl Harbor by telling me what an "ordinary Sunday morning" it had been. "It was just an ordinary beautiful September day," people still say when asked to describe the morning in New York when American Airlines 11 and United Airlines 175 got flown into the World Trade towers. Even the report of the 9/11 Commission opened on this insistently premonitory and yet still dumbstruck narrative note: "Tuesday, September 11, 2001, dawned temperate and nearly cloudless in the eastern United States.
Joan Didion (The Year of Magical Thinking)
To care means first of all to empty our own cup and to allow the other to come close to us. It means to take away the many barriers which prevent us from entering into communion with the other. When we dare to care, then we discover that nothing human is foreign to us, but that all the hatred and love, cruelty and compassion, fear and joy can be found in our own hearts. When we dare to care, we have to confess that when others kill, I could have killed too. When others torture, I could have done the same. When others heal, I could have healed too. And when others give life, I could have done the same. Then we experience that we can be present to the soldier who kills, to the guard who pesters, to the young man who plays as if life has no end, and to the old man who stopped playing out of fear for death. By the honest recognition and confession of our human sameness, we can participate in the care of God who came, not to the powerful but powerless, not to be different but the same, not to take our pain away but to share it. Through this participation we can open our hearts to each other and form a new community.
Henri J.M. Nouwen (Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life)
Halfway home, the sky goes from dark gray to almost black and a loud thunder snap accompanies the first few raindrops that fall. Heavy, warm, big drops, they drench me in seconds, like an overturned bucket from the sky dumping just on my head. I reach my hands up and out, as if that can stop my getting wetter, and open my mouth, trying to swallow the downpour, till it finally hits me how funny it is, my trying to stop the rain. This is so funny to me, I laugh and laugh, as loud and free as I want. Instead of hurrying to higher ground, I jump lower, down off the curb, splashing through the puddles, playing and laughing all the way home. In all my life till now, rain has meant staying inside and not being able to go out to play. But now for the first time I realize that rain doesn't have to be bad. And what's more, I understand, sadness doesn't have to be bad, either. Come to think of it, I figure you need sadness, just as you need the rain. Thoughts and ideas pour through my awareness. It feels to me that happiness is almost scary, like how I imagine being drunk might feel - real silly and not caring what anybody else says. Plus, that happy feeling always leaves so fast, and you know it's going to go before it even does. Sadness lasts longer, making it more familiar, and more comfortable. But maybe, I wonder, there's a way to find some happiness in the sadness. After all, it's like the rain, something you can't avoid. And so, it seems to me, if you're caught in it, you might as well try to make the best of it. Getting caught in the warm, wet deluge that particular day in that terrible summer full of wars and fires that made no sense was a wonderful thing to have happen. It taught me to understand rain, not to dread it. There were going to be days, I knew, when it would pour without warning, days when I'd find myself without an umbrella. But my understanding would act as my all-purpose slicker and rubber boots. It was preparing me for stormy weather, arming me with the knowledge that no matter how hard it seemed, it couldn't rain forever. At some point, I knew, it would come to an end.
Antwone Quenton Fisher (Finding Fish)
Mud ? They're going to put mud on my face ?" "You'll love it." "Whenever the kitties and I played stalk and pounce and we ended up muddy, everyone frowned about it." Surreal grunted softly. Only Jaenelle referred to Jaal and Kaelas, a full-grown tiger and an eight-hundred-pound Arcerian cat, as "the kitties"... or voluntarily played games with them to keep their predatory skills honed. "So why is this mud different ?" Jaenelle grumbled. Stretched out on the other table, Surreal turned her head and opened one eye. "It's expensive.
Anne Bishop (Dreams Made Flesh (The Black Jewels, #5))
And I could test myself - my own courage - with it, too, because when the doors at either end of the secret staircase were closed, it was impenetrably dark. I hid in the staircase, shivering with terror, telling the narrative: The little girl was in a dark, dark place but she was very brave...Sometimes the door at the bottom opened, and a wedge of light sliced up the stairs; a maid, her arms filled with folded laundry, would find me and ask in amazement what I was doing there. And though I answered lightheartedly that I was playing, the truth is that I was not entirely certain what I was doing there, crouched and frightened in the darkness. Only now, sixty years later, do I see that I was arming myself, rehearsing panic, loss, and helplessness; assessing my own cowardice and courage, and and the same time reassuring myself that the door would always open, that the light would always find its way in.
Lois Lowry
This was the Mecca of the American Dream, the world that everyone wanted. A world of sleek young women (allied with Slenderella to be so) in shorts and halters, driving 400-horsepower station wagons to air-conditioned, music-serenaded supermarkets of baby-sitter corporations and culture condensed into Great Books discussion groups. A life of barbecues by the swimming pool and drive in movies open all year. It did't appeal to me. Fuck health insurance plans and life insurance. They wanted to live without leaving the womb. It made me more alive to play a game without rules against society, and I was prepared to play it to the end. A tremor almost sexual passed through me as I anticipated the comming robbery.
Edward Bunker (No Beast So Fierce)
Nonetheless, when it finally ended and the hairdressers left and Tess insisted upon pulling her to the mirror, Fire saw, and understood, that everyone had done the job well. The dress, deep shimmering purple and utterly simple in design, was so beautifully-cut and so clingy and well-fitting that Fire felt slightly naked. And her hair. She couldn’t follow what they’d done with her hair, braids thin as threads in some places, looped and wound through the thick sections that fell over her shoulders and down her back, but she saw that the end result was a controlled wildness that was magnificent against her face, her body, and the dress. She turned to measure the effect on her guard - all twenty of them, for all had roles to play in tonight’s proceedings, and all were awaiting her orders. Twenty jaws hung slack with astonishment - even Musa’s, Mila’s, and Neel’s. Fire touched their minds, and was pleased, and then angry, to find them open as the glass roofs in July. ‘Take hold of yourselves,’ she snapped. ‘It’s a disguise, remember? This isn’t going to work if the people meant to help me can’t keep their heads.’ ‘It will work, Lady Granddaughter.’ Tess handed Fire two knives in ankle holsters. ‘You’ll get what you want from whomever you want. Tonight King Nash would give you the Winged River as a present, if you asked for it. Dells, child - Prince Brigan would give you his best warhorse.
Kristin Cashore (Fire (Graceling Realm, #2))
I’m kind of hoping it will end like this. You made me happy. Very happy. But…you deserve everything. Wife, kids, a white picket fence.” “And I’ll have all of it. With you.” “You know that can’t happen with me.” “Then it can’t happen with anyone. There won’t be a next Rosie. And there won’t be another story like ours. This is it, Rose LeBlanc. And this is us. If there is no you, then there is no me.” “You know, I always hated Romeo and Juliet . The play. The movie. The very idea. It was tragic, all right. Tragically stupid. I mean, they were what? Thirteen? Sixteen? What a waste of life, to kill yourself because your family wouldn’t let you get hitched. But Romeo and Juliet were right. I was the next eleven years killing myself slowly while I grieved for you. Then you came back, and I still thought it was just a fascination. But now that I know…” “Now that I know that it can only ever be you, you’re going to get better for me so Earth won’t explode. Can you do that, Sirius? I promise not to leave this room until you get out. Not even for a shower. Not even to get you your chocolate chip cookies. I’ll get someone to drive all the way to New York and bring them for you.” “I love you.” Rosie’s tears curtained her vision. “I love you, Baby LeBlanc,” I said. “So fucking much. You taught me how to love. How well did I do?” “A-plus,” she whispered. “You aced it. Can you promise me something?” “Anything.” “ Live .” “Not without you.” “And have kids. Lots of them. They’re fun.” “Rosie…” “I’m not afraid. I got what I wanted from this life. You .” “Rosie.” “I love you, Earth. You were good to me.” “Rose!” Her eyes closed, the door opened, the sound on her monitor went off, and my heart disintegrated. Piece. By piece. By piece.
L.J. Shen (Ruckus (Sinners of Saint, #2))
Kestrel listened to the slap of waves against the ship, the cries of struggle and death. She remembered how her heart, so tight, like a scroll, had opened when Arin kissed her. It had unfurled. If her heart were truly a scroll, she could burn it. It would become a tunnel of flame, a handful of ash. The secrets she had written inside herself would be gone. No one would know. Her father would choose the water for Kestrel if he knew. Yet she couldn't. In the end, it wasn't cunning that kept her from jumping, or determination. It was a glassy fear. She didn't want to die. Arin was right. She played a game until its end.
Marie Rutkoski (The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1))
Kaladin spun through the last motions of the kata, chasm forgotten, bridgemen forgotten, fatigue forgotten. For a moment, it was just him. Him and the wind. He fought with her, and she laughed. He snapped the spear back into place, holding the haft at the one-quarter position, spearhead down, bottom of the haft tucked underneath his arm, end rising back behind his head. He breathed in deeply, shivering. Oh, how I’ve missed that. He opened his eyes. Sputtering torchlight revealed a group of stunned bridgemen standing in a damp corridor of stone, the walls wet and reflecting the light. Moash dropped a handful of spheres in stunned silence, staring at Kaladin with mouth agape. Those spheres plopped into the puddle at his feet, causing it to glow, but none of the bridgemen noticed. They just stared at Kaladin, who was still in a battle stance, half crouched, trails of sweat running down the sides of his face. He blinked, realizing what he’d done. If word got back to Gaz that he was playing around with spears…Kaladin stood up straight and dropped the spear into the pile of weapons. “Sorry,” he whispered to it, though he didn’t know why. Then, louder, he said, “Back to work! I don’t want to be caught down here when night falls.
Brandon Sanderson (The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive, #1))
I must go live at the ends of the earth and have my child there while I wait for Min and Jing to be freed. That happy day will come: two men making their way towards a little cottage lost in the open countryside. The door opens . . .
Shan Sa (The Girl Who Played Go)
Why is God landing in this enemy-occupied world in disguise and starting a sort of secret society to undermine the devil? Why is He not landing in force, invading it? Is it that He is not strong enough? Well, Christians think He is going to land in force; we do not know when. But we can guess why He is delaying. He wants to give us the chance of joining His side freely. I do not suppose you and I would have though much of a Frenchman who waited till the Allies were marching into Germany and then announced he was on our side. God will invade. But I wonder whether people who ask God to interfere openly and directly in our world quite realise what it will be like when He does. When that happens, it is the end of the world. When the author walks on to the stage the play is over. God is going to invade, all right: but what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else -something it never entered your head to conceive- comes crasing in; something so beautiful to some of us and so terrible to others that none of us will have any choice left? For this time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. It will be too late then to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up. That will not be the time for choosing: it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realised it before or not. Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It will not last forever. We must take it or leave it.
C.S. Lewis (The Case for Christianity)
According to Q-Jo, the whole tarot deck, or at least the twenty-two trump cards of the Major Arcana, may be read as the Fool's journey. "On one important level," she explained, "the major cards are chapters in the story of a quest. I'm talking the universal human quest for understanding and divine reunion. And it doesn't matter whether the quest starts with the Fool or ends with him, because it's a loop anyhow, a cycle endlessly repeated. When the naive young Fool finally tumbles over the precipice, he falls into the world of experience. Now his journey has really begun. Along the way, he'll meet all the teachers and tempters - the tempters are teachers, too - and challenging situations that a person is likely to meet in the task of his or her growing. The Fool is potentially everybody, but not everybody has the wisdom or the guts to play the fool. A lot of folks don't know what's in that bag they're carrying. And they're all too willing to trade it for cash. Inside the bag, the have every tool they need to facilitate their life's journey, but they won't even open it up and glance inside. Subconsciously, the goal of all of us out-of-control primates is essentially the same, but let me assure you of this: the only ones who'll ever reach that goal are the ones who have the courage to make fools of themselves along the way.
Tom Robbins (Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas)
We should not expect individuals to produce good, open-minded, truth-seeking reasoning, particularly when self-interest or reputational concerns are in play. But if you put individuals together in the right way, such that some individuals can use their reasoning powers to disconfirm the claims of others, and all individuals feel some common bond or shared fate that allows them to interact civilly, you can create a group that ends up producing good reasoning as an emergent property of the social system. This is why it’s so important to have intellectual and ideological diversity within any group or institution whose goal is to find truth (such as an intelligence agency or a community of scientists) or to produce good public policy (such as a legislature or advisory board).
Jonathan Haidt (The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion)
Look around you, Ethan." I said. "The end of the world. Is this the reward you want? Do you really want everything destroyed - the good with the bad? Everything?" " There is no throne to Nemesis, " Ethan muttered. "No throne to my mother." "You said your mom is the goddess of balance," I reminded him. "The minor gods deserve better, Ethan, but total destruction isn't balance. Kronos doesn't build. He only destroys." Ethan looked at the sizzling throne of Hephaestus. Grover's music kept playing, and Ethan swayed to it, as if the song was filling him with nostalgia - a wish to see a beautiful day, to be anywhere but here. His good eye blinked. Then he charged...but not at me. While Kronos was still on his knees, Ethan brought his sword down on the Titan lord's neck. It should have killed him instantly, but the blade shattered. Ethan fell back, grasping his stomach. A shard of his own blade had ricocheted and pierced his armor. Kronos rose unsteadily, towering over his servant. "Treason," he snarled. Grover's music kept playing, and grass grew around Ethan's body. Ethan stared at me, his face tight with pain. "Deserve better, " he gasped. "If they just...had thrones-" Kronos stomped his foot, and the floor ruptured around Ethan Nakamura. The son of Nemesis fell through a fissure that went straight through the heart of the mountain - straight into open air. "So much for him." Kronos picked up his sword. "And now for the rest of you.
Rick Riordan (The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #5))
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)
ah yes I know them well who was the first person in the universe before there was anybody that made it all who ah that they dont know neither do I so there you are they might as well try to stop the sun from rising tomorrow the sun shines for you he said the day we were lying among the rhododendrons on Howth head in the grey tweed suit and his straw hat the day I got him to propose to me yes first I gave him the bit of seedcake out of my mouth and it was leapyear like now yes 16 years ago my God after that long kiss I near lost my breath yes he said I was a flower of the mountain yes so we are flowers all a womans body yes that was one true thing he said in his life and the sun shines for you today yes that was why I liked him because I saw he understood or felt what a woman is and I knew I could always get round him and I gave him all the pleasure I could leading him on till he asked me to say yes and I wouldnt answer first only looked out over the sea and the sky I was thinking of so many things he didnt know of Mulvey and Mr Stanhope and Hester and father and old captain Groves and the sailors playing all birds fly and I say stoop and washing up dishes they called it on the pier and the sentry in front of the governors house with the thing round his white helmet poor devil half roasted and the Spanish girls laughing in their shawls and their tall combs and the auctions in the morning the Greeks and the jews and the Arabs and the devil knows who else from all the ends of Europe and Duke street and the fowl market all clucking outside Larby Sharons and the poor donkeys slipping half asleep and the vague fellows in the cloaks asleep in the shade on the steps and the big wheels of the carts of the bulls and the old castle thousands of years old yes and those handsome Moors all in white and turbans like kings asking you to sit down in their little bit of a shop and Ronda with the old windows of the posadas glancing eyes a lattice hid for her lover to kiss the iron and the wineshops half open at night and the castanets and the night we missed the boat at Algeciras the watchman going about serene with his lamp and O that awful deepdown torrent O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets and the figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes and all the queer little streets and the pink and blue and yellow houses and the rosegardens and the jessamine and geraniums and cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.
James Joyce (Ulysses)
The realms of dating, marriage, and sex are all marketplaces, and we are the products. Some may bristle at the idea of people as products on a marketplace, but this is an incredibly prevalent dynamic. Consider the labor marketplace, where people are also the product. Just as in the labor marketplace, one party makes an offer to another, and based on the terms of this offer, the other person can choose to accept it or walk. What makes the dating market so interesting is that the products we are marketing, selling, buying, and exchanging are essentially our identities and lives. As with all marketplaces, every item in stock has a value, and that value is determined by its desirability. However, the desirability of a product isn’t a fixed thing—the desirability of umbrellas increases in areas where it is currently raining while the desirability of a specific drug may increase to a specific individual if it can cure an illness their child has, even if its wider desirability on the market has not changed. In the world of dating, the two types of desirability we care about most are: - Aggregate Desirability: What the average demand within an open marketplace would be for a relationship with a particular person. - Individual Desirability: What the desirability of a relationship with an individual is from the perspective of a specific other individual. Imagine you are at a fish market and deciding whether or not to buy a specific fish: - Aggregate desirability = The fish’s market price that day - Individual desirability = What you are willing to pay for the fish Aggregate desirability is something our society enthusiastically emphasizes, with concepts like “leagues.” Whether these are revealed through crude statements like, “that guy's an 8,” or more politically correct comments such as, “I believe she may be out of your league,” there is a tacit acknowledgment by society that every individual has an aggregate value on the public dating market, and that value can be judged at a glance. When what we have to trade on the dating market is often ourselves, that means that on average, we are going to end up in relationships with people with an aggregate value roughly equal to our own (i.e., individuals “within our league”). Statistically speaking, leagues are a real phenomenon that affects dating patterns. Using data from dating websites, the University of Michigan found that when you sort online daters by desirability, they seem to know “their place.” People on online dating sites almost never send a message to someone less desirable than them, and on average they reach out to prospects only 25% more desirable than themselves. The great thing about these markets is how often the average desirability of a person to others is wildly different than their desirability to you. This gives you the opportunity to play arbitrage with traits that other people don’t like, but you either like or don’t mind. For example, while society may prefer women who are not overweight, a specific individual within the marketplace may prefer obese women, or even more interestingly may have no preference. If a guy doesn’t care whether his partner is slim or obese, then he should specifically target obese women, as obesity lowers desirability on the open marketplace, but not from his perspective, giving him access to women who are of higher value to him than those he could secure within an open market.
Malcolm Collins (The Pragmatist's Guide to Relationships: Ruthlessly Optimized Strategies for Dating, Sex, and Marriage)
Using only her index finger, Juliette slowly played the opening notes of the Mozart tune. One measure, two, three, and at the end of the fourth, a barely audible click came, sending a vibration through her fingers, and a small door opened on the side of the pianoforte. A weak thump sounded as a fabric-wrapped parcel fell out of the now open compartment onto the rug.
Erica Vetsch (The Debutante's Code (Thorndike & Swann Regency Mysteries #1))
Each new child that’s born to the Antrobuses seems to them to be sufficient reason for the whole universe’s being set in motion; and each new child that dies seems to them to have been spared a whole world of sorrow, and what the end of it will be is still very much an open question.
Thornton Wilder (The Skin of Our Teeth: A Play)
It seems to me that the greatest triumph of any human rights movement, be it fighting for racial, religious, sexual or gender equality – is to achieve that moment where eyes are opened so wide that a sort of blindness sets in. I don’t care if someone is black, white, gay or straight. I don’t care if a woman has children or no – I just want to know who they are. [...] At the end of the day, gender differences seem to me to be just a tiny, tiny drop in the great expanse of things that make people unique. Unique, not ‘different’, not ‘other’ merely another piece of that great teaming mass that makes up the wonderfully rich, thrillingly varied definition of ‘humanity’." [Playing Butch: Blog entry, February 24, 2014]
Kate Griffin
From afar at the end of Tsar Peter Straat, issued in the frosty air the tinkle of bells of the horse tramcars, appearing and disappearing in the opening between the buildings, like little toy carriages harnessed with toy horses and played with by people that appeared no bigger than children.
Joseph Conrad (The Mirror of the Sea)
José What now, José? The party’s over, the lights are off, the crowd’s gone, the night’s gone cold, what now, José? what now, you? you without a name, who mocks the others, you who write poetry who love, protest? what now, José? You have no wife, you have no speech you have no affection, you can’t drink, you can’t smoke, you can’t even spit, the night’s gone cold, the day didn’t come, the tram didn’t come, laughter didn’t come utopia didn’t come and everything ended and everything fled and everything rotted what now, José? what now, José? Your sweet words, your instance of fever, your feasting and fasting, your library, your gold mine, your glass suit, your incoherence, your hate—what now? Key in hand you want to open the door, but no door exists; you want to die in the sea, but the sea has dried; you want to go to Minas but Minas is no longer there. José, what now? If you screamed, if you moaned, if you played a Viennese waltz, if you slept, if you tired, if you died… But you don’t die, you’re stubborn, José! Alone in the dark like a wild animal, without tradition, without a naked wall to lean against, without a black horse that flees galloping, you march, José! José, where to?
Carlos Drummond de Andrade
Fate doesn’t always respect what we believe is the end of a life. It will deal your last card to those who come after. Which is why I think all lives are condemned to remain unfinished. This is the deplorable truth we all live with. We reach the end and are by no means done with life, not by a long stretch! There are projects we barely started, matters unresolved and left hanging everywhere. Living means dying with regrets stuck in your craw. As the French poet says, Le temps d’apprendre à vivre il est déjà trop tard, by the time we learn to live, it’s already too late. And yet there must be some small joy in finding that we are each put in a position to complete the lives of others, to close the ledger they left open and play their last card for them. What could be more gratifying than to know that it will always be up to someone else to complete and round off our life? Someone whom we loved and who loves us enough.
André Aciman (Find Me)
No," Foyle roared. "Let them hear this. Let them hear everything." "You're insane, man. You've handed a loaded gun to children." "Stop treating them like children and they'll stop behaving like children. Who the hell are you to play monitor?" "What are you talking about?" "Stop treating them like children. Explain the loaded gun to them. Bring it all out into the open." Foyle laughed savagely. "I've ended the last star-chamber conference in the world. I've blown that last secret wide open. No more secrets from now on.... No more telling the children what's best for them to know.... Let 'em all grow up. It's about time." "Christ, he is insane." "Am I? I've handed life and death back to the people who do the living and the dying. The common man's been whipped and led long enough by driven men like us.... Compulsive men... Tiger men who can't help lashing the world before them. We're all tigers, the three of us, but who the hell are we to make decisions for the world just because we're compulsive? Let the world make its own choice between life and death. Why should we be saddled with the responsibility?" "We're not saddled," Y'ang-Yeovil said quietly. "We're driven. We're forced to seize responsibility that the average man shirks." "Then let him stop shirking it. Let him stop tossing his duty and guilt onto the shoulders of the first freak who comes along grabbing at it. Are we to be scapegoats for the world forever?" "Damn you!" Dagenham raged. "Don't you realize that you can't trust people? They don't know enough for their own good." "Then let them learn or die. We're all in this together. Let's live together or die together." "D'you want to die in their ignorance? You've got to figure out how to get those slugs back without blowing everything wide open." "No. I believe in them. I was one of them before I turned tiger. They can all turn uncommon if they're kicked awake like I was.
Alfred Bester (The Stars My Destination)
You will have noticed that I didn’t give this story a pat conclusion, and that’s deliberate. Katherine (my wife and frequent coauthor, K. A. Applegate) and I were among the earliest authors to encounter fan fiction via the internet. We’ve embraced it from the start. And some part of me hopes that fanfic writers will carry this story forward. Don’t ask me what happens to these characters next, because I don’t know. Will Dekka find love, perhaps with Simone? Will Cruz and Armo? How will Sam and Astrid do in this terrifying extension of earlier trauma? Maybe you have some ideas. I built the sandbox; if you want to bring your pails and shovels and play in it, cool. It’s one of the best things about writing for young people: you are my collaborators in imagination. If I leave blanks it’s because I know you’ll fill them.
Michael Grant (Hero (Monster #3))
An up-front enemy is rare now and is actually a blessing. People hardly ever attack you openly anymore, showing their intentions, their desire to destroy you; instead they are political and indirect. Although the world is more competitive than ever, outward aggression is discouraged, so people have learned to go underground, to attack unpredictably and craftily. Many use friendship as a way to mask aggressive desires: they come close to you to do more harm. (A friend knows best how to hurt you.) Or, without actually being friends, they offer assistance and alliance: they may seem supportive, but in the end they’re advancing their own interests at your expense. Then there are those who master moral warfare, playing the victim, making you feel guilty for something unspecified you’ve done. The battlefield is full of these warriors, slippery, evasive, and clever.
Robert Greene (The 33 Strategies Of War (The Modern Machiavellian Robert Greene Book 1))
They play, said the old man. Every week the anglos play a game to celebrate who they are. He stopped, raised his cane and fanned the air. One of them whacks it, then sets off like it was a trip around the world, to every one of the bases out there, you know the anglos have bases all over the world, right? Well the one who whacked it runs from one to the next while the others keep taking swings to distract their enemies, and if he doesn't get caught he makes it home and his people welcome him with open arms and cheering.
Yuri Herrera (Signs Preceding the End of the World)
You and I should play sometime. I think you would like it,' she said." It's a game of strategy, mostly. The strong pieces are in the back row, while the weak pieces - the pawns - are all in the front, ready to take the brunt of the attack. Because of their limited movement and vulnerability, most people underestimate them and only use them to protect the more powerful pieces. But when I play I protect my pawns.'... 'They may be weak when the game begins, but their potential is remarkable. Most of the time, they'll be taken by the other side and held captive until the end of the game. But if you're careful - if you keep your eyes open and pay attention to what your oppenent is doing, if you protect your pawns and they reach the other side of the board, do you know what happens then?' I shook my head, and she smiled. "Your pawn becomes a queen."... 'Because they kept moving forward and triumphed against impossible odds, they become the most powerful piece in the game.
Aimee Carter (Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion, #1))
The spiritual efficacy of all encounters is determined by the amount of personal ego that is in play. If two people meet and disagree fiercely about theological matters but agree, silently or otherwise, that God’s love creates and sustains human love, and that whatever else may be said of God is subsidiary to this truth, then even out of what seems great friction there may emerge a peace that—though it may not end the dispute, though neither party may be “convinced” of the other’s position—nevertheless enters and nourishes one’s notion of, and relationship with, God. Without this radical openness, all arguments about God are not simply pointless but pernicious, for each person is in thrall to some lesser conception of ultimate truth and asserts not love but a lesson, not God but himself.
Christian Wiman (My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer)
Times and scenes like that put Janie to thinking about the inside state of her marriage. Time came when she fought back with her tongue as best she could, but it didn’t do her any good. It just made Joe do more. He wanted her submission and he’d keep on fighting until he felt he had it. So gradually, she pressed her teeth together and learned to hush. The spirit of the marriage left the bedroom and took to living in the parlor. It was there to shake hands whenever company came to visit, but it never went back inside the bedroom again. So she put something in there to represent the spirit like a Virgin Mary image in a church. The bed was no longer a daisy-field for her and Joe to play in. It was a place where she went and laid down when she was sleepy and tired. She wasn’t petal-open anymore with him.
Zora Neale Hurston (Their Eyes Were Watching God)
Look around you, Ethan." I said. "The end of the world. Is this the reward you want? Do you really want everything destroyed - the good with the bad? Everything?" "There is no throne to Nemesis, " Ethan muttered. "No throne to my mother." "You said your mom is the goddess of balance," I reminded him. "The minor gods deserve better, Ethan, but total destruction isn't balance. Kronos doesn't build. He only destroys." Ethan looked at the sizzling throne of Hephaestus. Grover's music kept playing, and Ethan swayed to it, as if the song was filling him with nostalgia - a wish to see a beautiful day, to be anywhere but here. His good eye blinked. Then he charged...but not at me. While Kronos was still on his knees, Ethan brought his sword down on the Titan lord's neck. It should have killed him instantly, but the blade shattered. Ethan fell back, grasping his stomach. A shard of his own blade had ricocheted and pierced his armor. Kronos rose unsteadily, towering over his servant. "Treason," he snarled. Grover's music kept playing, and grass grew around Ethan's body. Ethan stared at me, his face tight with pain. "Deserve better, " he gasped. "If they just...had thrones-" Kronos stomped his foot, and the floor ruptured around Ethan Nakamura. The son of Nemesis fell through a fissure that went straight through the heart of the mountain - straight into open air. "So much for him." Kronos picked up his sword. "And now for the rest of you.
Rick Riordan (The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #5))
Let us finally consider how naive it is altogether to say: "Man ought to be such and such!" Reality shows us an enchanting wealth of types, the abundance of a lavish play and change of forms — and some wretched loafer of a moralist comments: "No! Man ought to be different." He even knows what man should be like, this wretched bigot and prig: he paints himself on the wall and comments, "Ecce homo!" But even when the moralist addresses himself only to the single human being and says to him, "You ought to be such and such!" he does not cease to make himself ridiculous. The single human being is a piece of fatum from the front and from the rear, one law more, one necessity more for all that is yet to come and to be. To say to him, "Change yourself!" is to demand that everything be changed, even retroactively. And indeed there have been consistent moralists who wanted man to be different, that is, virtuous — they wanted him remade in their own image, as a prig: to that end, they negated the world! No small madness! No modest kind of immodesty! Morality, insofar as it condemns for its own sake, and not out of regard for the concerns, considerations, and contrivances of life, is a specific error with which one ought to have no pity — an idiosyncrasy of degenerates which has caused immeasurable harm. We others, we immoralists, have, conversely, made room in our hearts for every kind of understanding, comprehending, and approving. We do not easily negate; we make it a point of honor to be affirmers. More and more, our eyes have opened to that economy which needs and knows how to utilize everything that the holy witlessness of the priest, the diseased reason in the priest, rejects — that economy in the law of life which finds an advantage even in the disgusting species of the prigs, the priests, the virtuous. What advantage? But we ourselves, we immoralists, are the answer.
Friedrich Nietzsche (Twilight of the Idols)
Presently, I sense within me the slightest touch. The harmony of one chord lingers in my mind. It fuses, divides, searches--but for what? I open my eyes, position the fingers of my right hand on the buttons, and play out a series of permutations. After a time, I am able, as if by will, to locate the first four notes. They drift down from inward skies, softly, as early morning sunlight. They find me; these are the notes I have been seeking. I hold down the chord key and press the individual notes over and over again. The four notes seem to desire further notes, another chord. I strain to hear the chord that follows. The first four notes lead me to the next five, then to another chord and three more notes. It is a melody. Not a complete song, but the first phrase of one. I play the three chords and twelve notes, also, over and over again. It is a song, I realize, I know.
Haruki Murakami (Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World)
Where mermaids live looks a bit like your pool.' said Bernard. 'Except they build houses out of whale bones and the wreckage of sunken ships. They play chess with seahorses. They wear capes of fish scales and sleep on beds made from seaweed.' As we listened, I thought I heard a slight splashing from the far end of the pool. 'At night,' Bernard continued, 'they turn on an electric eel for a night-light, and they light a fire, and the smoke goes up a chimney made from coral.' 'Wait a minute,' interupted Zoe, clearly immersed in Bernard's description. 'If they live underwater, how could they have a fire?' 'You should ask them,' said Bernard. Zoe and I open our eyes. Now, look, I know the light was just playing tricks on us. And I know we'd all probably inhaled too much sequin glue. But for the briefest moment, the blue of Zoe's pool gave way to deeper, darker aqua-colored water. The few plants and rocks were replaced with a lagoon and a waterfall where several mermaids lounged half in the water, half in the sun. They splashed and dove, their laughter making the same sound as the water.
Michelle Cuevas (Confessions of an Imaginary Friend)
Lady Gregory, in a note to her play Aristotle’s Bellows, writes: Aristotle’s name is a part of our folklore. The wife of one of our labourers told me one day as a bee buzzed through the open door, “Aristotle of the Books was very wise, but the bees got the best of him in the end. He wanted to know how they did pack the comb, and he wasted the best part of a fortnight watching them doing it. Then he made a hive with a glass cover on it and put it over them, and thought he would watch them, but when he put his eye to the glass, they had covered it with wax, so that it was as black as the pot, and he was as blind as before. He said he was never rightly killed until then. The bees beat him that time surely.
Hilda M. Ransome (The Sacred Bee in Ancient Times and Folklore (Dover Books on Anthropology and Folklore))
But I wonder whether people who ask God to interfere openly and directly in our world quite realise what it will be like when He does. When that happens, it is the end of the world. When the author walks on to the stage the play is over. God is going to invade, all right: but what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else—something it never entered your head to conceive—comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us and so terrible to others that none of us will have any choice left? For this time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. It will be too late then to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up. That will not be the time for choosing: it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realised it before or not. Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It will not last for ever. We must take it or leave it.
C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)
Religion, then, is far from "useless." It humanizes violence; it protects man from his own violence by taking it out of his hands, transforming it into a transcendent and ever-present danger to be kept in check by the appropriate rites appropriately observed and by a modest and prudent demeanor. Religious misinterpretation is a truly constructive force, for it purges man of the suspicions that would poison his existence if he were to remain conscious of the crisis as it actually took place. To think religiously is to envision the city's destiny in terms of that violence whose mastery over man increases as man believes he has gained mastery over it. To think religiously (in the primitive sense) is to see violence as something superhuman, to be kept always at a distance and ultimately renounced. When the fearful adoration of this power begins to diminish and all distinctions begin to disappear, the ritual sacrifices lose their force; their potency is not longer recognized by the entire community. Each member tries to correct the situation individually, and none succeeds. The withering away of the transcendental influence means that there is no longer the slightest difference between a desire to save the city and unbridled ambition, between genuine piety and the desire to claim divine status for oneself. Everyone looks on a rival enterprise as evidence of blasphemous designs. Men set to quarreling about the gods, and their skepticism leads to a new sacrificial crisis that will appear - retrospectively, in the light of a new manifestation of unanimous violence - as a new act of divine intervention and divine revenge. Men would not be able to shake loose the violence between them, to make of it a separate entity both sovereign and redemptory, without the surrogate victim. Also, violence itself offers a sort of respite, the fresh beginning of a cycle of ritual after a cycle of violence. Violence will come to an end only after it has had the last word and that word has been accepted as divine. The meaning of this word must remain hidden, the mechanism of unanimity remain concealed. For religion protects man as long as its ultimate foundations are not revealed. To drive the monster from its secret lair is to risk loosing it on mankind. To remove men's ignorance is only to risk exposing them to an even greater peril. The only barrier against human violence is raised on misconception. In fact, the sacrificial crisis is simply another form of that knowledge which grows grater as the reciprocal violence grows more intense but which never leads to the whole truth. It is the knowledge of violence, along with the violence itself, that the act of expulsion succeeds in shunting outside the realm of consciousness. From the very fact that it belies the overt mythological messages, tragic drama opens a vast abyss before the poet; but he always draws back at the last moment. He is exposed to a form of hubris more dangerous than any contracted by his characters; it has to do with a truth that is felt to be infinitely destructive, even if it is not fully understood - and its destructiveness is as obvious to ancient religious thought as it is to modern philosophers. Thus we are dealing with an interdiction that still applies to ourselves and that modern thought has not yet invalidated. The fact that this secret has been subjected to exceptional pressure in the play [Bacchae] must prompt the following lines: May our thoughts never aspire to anything higher than laws! What does it cost man to acknowledge the full sovereignty of the gods? That which has always been held as true owes its strength to Nature.
René Girard (Violence and the Sacred)
There Is A Place. There is a place, I want to show you. There is a place, just down the road. There is a place, down by the river. There is a place, that I call home... There is a place, that I would play as a kid. There is a place, that I would walk alone. There is a place, and it's like a sad song. There is a place, that is now long gone... Here is a place, will you come see? This is the place in my mind, I'd like to be. Just open your mind, and think. Is there a place, you would like to be?
Jerrel C. Thomas (My Memories, From The End Of The Road: The Life Story Of Jerrel C. Thomas)
The sparkling smile became enormous. ‘Do you think she has a dagger there? Do you? Ask her, M. Francis? For,’ said the most noble and most powerful Princess Mary Stewart, Queen of Scotland, delving furiously under all the stiff red velvet, showing shift, hose and garters, shoes, knees and a long ribboned end of something recently torn loose, and emerging therefrom with a fist closed tight on an object short and hard and glittering, ‘for I have!’ And breathlessly, flinging back her head, with the little knife offered like a quill, ‘Try to stab me!’ she encouraged her visitor. There was a queer silence, during which the eyes of Oonagh O’Dwyer and her love of one night met and locked like magnet and iron. The child, waiting a moment, offered again, the ringing, joyful defiance still in her voice. ‘Try to stab me! … Go on, and I’ll kill you all dead!’ Her throat dry, Oonagh spoke. ‘Save your steel for those you trust. They are the ones who will carry your bier; the men who cannot hate, nor can they know love. Send away the cold servants.’ The red mouth had opened a little; the knife hung forgotten in her hand. ‘I would,’ said Mary, surprised. ‘But I do not know any.’ And, anxiously demonstrating her point, she caught Lymond by the hand.
Dorothy Dunnett (Queens' Play (The Lymond Chronicles, #2))
When an artist is asked to speak about form, you expect something different than when a critic talks about it. Because you think that somewhere between sentences and words, the secret will slip out. I am trying to give you that secret; it isn't a secret at all, but it is building solidly, not using secrets. I had been trying to extend into metaphysical extension; that film is changing, metamorphic; that is, infinite; the idea that the movement of life is totally important rather than a single life. My films were built on an incline, an increase in intensity. I hoped to make a form which was infinite, the changingness of things. I thought I would want to find a total form which conveyed that sense, particularly in reference to an Oriental subject. My impression was: one is walking down a corridor of a hotel. One hears a sound, opens a door and a man is playing; one listens for three minutes and closes the door. The music went on before you opened the door and it continues after you close the door. There was neither beginning nor end. Western music increases in intensity to a climax and then resolves itself. Oriental music is infinite; it goes on and on. The Chinese theater goes on for hours and hours with time for lunch moving scenery, etc.
Maya Deren
No, there's more to life than this. . .That was the past, but there is a future. Now we know. We dare to understand. Truly. Truly, the past was a dream. But this, this is real. To know from this that something must be done, that is real. We searched. We were confused, but we searched. And now the search has ended, for the truth has found us. For the first time in our lives, for the first time, our house has a real foundation . . . Everywhere now, men are rising from their sleep. Men-- men are understanding the bitter, black total of their lives. Their whispers are growing to shouts. They become an ocean of understanding. No man fights alone. Oh, if you could see with me the greatness of men. I tremble like a bride to see the time when they'll use it. No, my dear, we must have one regret-- that life is so short, that we must die so soon. Yes, I-- I want to see that new world. I want to kiss all those future men and women. What's all this talk about bankruptcies, failures, hatreds? They won't know what that means. I tell you, the whole world is for men to possess. Heartbreak and terror are not the heritage of mankind. The world is beautiful. No fruit tree wears a lock and key. Men will sing at their work, men will love. Oh, darling, the world is in its morning. And no man fights alone. Let's have air. Open the windows. --From Paradise Lost
Clifford Odets (Waiting for Lefty and Other Plays)
As for Iago’s jealousy, one cannot believe that a seriously jealous man could behave towards his wife as Iago behaves towards Emilia, for the wife of a jealous husband is the first person to suffer. Not only is the relation of Iago and Emilia, as we see it on stage, without emotional tension, but also Emilia openly refers to a rumor of her infidelity as something already disposed of. Some such squire it was That turned your wit, the seamy side without And made you to suspect me with the Moor. At one point Iago states that, in order to revenge himself on Othello, he will not rest till he is even with him, wife for wife, but, in the play, no attempt at Desdemona’s seduction is made. Iago does not encourage Cassio to make one, and he even prevents Roderigo from getting anywhere near her. Finally, one who seriously desires personal revenge desires to reveal himself. The revenger’s greatest satisfaction is to be able to tell his victim to his face – "You thought you were all-powerful and untouchable and could injure me with impunity. Now you see that you were wrong. Perhaps you have forgotten what you did; let me have the pleasure of reminding you." When at the end of the play, Othello asks Iago in bewilderment why he has thus ensnared his soul and body, if his real motive were revenge for having been cuckolded or unjustly denied promotion, he could have said so, instead of refusing to explain.
W.H. Auden (The Dyer's Hand and Other Essays)
The moments of refinement conceal a death-principle: nothing is more fragile than subtlety. The abuse of it leads to the catechisms, an end to dialectical games, the collapse of an intellect which instinct no longer assists. The ancient philosophy, trapped in its scruples, had in spite of itself opened the way to the artlessness of the lower depths; religious sects pullulated; the schools gave way to the cults. An analogous defeat threatens us: already the ideologies are rampant, the degraded mythologies which will reduce and annihilate us. We shall not be able to sustain the ceremony of our contradictions much longer. Many are prepared to venerate any idol, to serve any truth, so long as one and the other be imposed upon them, so long as they need not make the effort to choose their shame or their disaster. Whatever the world to come, the Western peoples will play in it the part of the Graeculi in the Roman Empire. Sought out and despised by the new conqueror, they will have, in order to impress him, only the jugglery of their intelligence or the luster of their past. The art of surviving oneself—they are already distinguished in that. Symptoms of exhaustion are everywhere: Germany has given her measure in music: what leads us to believe that she will excel in it again? She has used up the resources of her profundity, as France those of her elegance. Both—and with them, this entire corner of the world—are on the verge of bankruptcy, the most glamorous since antiquity. Then will come the liquidation: a prospect which is not a negligible one, a respite whose duration cannot be estimated, a period of facility in which each man, before the deliverance finally at hand, will be happy to have behind him the throes of hope and expectation.
Emil M. Cioran (The Temptation to Exist)
Oh, you're right. I'm just a human with thick skin, purple eyes, and hard bones. Which means you can go home. Tell Galen I said hi." Toraf opens and shuts his mouth twice. Both times it seems like he wants to say something, but his expression tells me his brain isn't cooperating. When his mouth snaps shut a third time, I splash water in his face. "Are you going to say something, or are you trying to catch wind and sail? A grin the size of the horizon spreads across his face. "He likes that, you know. Your temper." Yeahfreakingright. Galen's a classic type A personality-and type A's hate smartass-ism. Just ask my mom. "No offense, but you're not exactly an expert at judging people's emotions." "I'm not sure what you mean by that." "Sure you do." "If you're talking about Rayna, then you're wrong. She loves me. She just won't admit it." I roll my eyes. "Right. She's playing hard to get, is that it? Bashing your head with a rock, splitting your lip, calling you squid breath all the time." "What does that mean? Hard to get?" "It means she's trying to make you think she doesn't like you, so that you end up liking her more. So you work harder to get her attention." He nods. "Exactly. That's exactly what she's doing." Pinching the bridge of my nose, I say, "I don't think so. As we speak, she's getting your mating seal dissolved. That's not playing hard to get. That's playing impossible to get." "Even if she does get it dissolved, it's not because she doesn't care about me. She just likes to play games." The pain in Toraf's voice guts me like the catch of the day. She might like playing games, but his feelings are real. And can't I relate to that? "There's only one way to find out," I say softly. "Find out?" "If all she wants is games." "How?" "You play hard to get. You know how they say. 'If you love someone, set them free. If they return to you, it was meant to be?'" "I've never heard that." "Right. No, you wouldn't have." I sigh. "Basically, what I'm trying to say is, you need to stop giving Rayna attention. Push her away. Treat her like she treats you." He shakes his head. "I don't think I can do that." "You'll get your answer that way," I say, shrugging. "But it sounds like you don't really want to know." "I do want to know. But what if the answer isn't good?" His face scrunches as if the words taste like lemon juice. "You've got to be ready to deal with it, no matter what." Toraf nods, his jaw tight. The choices he has to consider will make this night long enough for him. I decide not to intrude on his time anymore. "I'm pretty tired, so I'm heading back. I'll meet you at Galen's in the morning. Maybe I can break thirty minutes tomorrow, huh?" I nudge his shoulder with my fist, but a weak smile is all I get in return. I'm surprised when he grabs my hand and starts pulling me through the water. At least it's better than dragging me by the ankle. I can't but think how Galen could have done the same thing. Why does he wrap his arms around me instead?
Anna Banks (Of Poseidon (The Syrena Legacy, #1))
It takes just as much faith to use a door closing prayer, as it does to use a door opening prayer. And the stronger our flesh is within us, the harder it is for us to pray such prayers. We would rather play a game of chance, and walk through any door, hoping that God is on the other side of it. But, if we chose a wrong door, we only end up wasting time, and slowing down our journey into exactly what God wants us to do for him. Sometimes it's simpler to go through an easy door, that requires little faith, when God really prefers us to go through the harder doors, which will lead us onto greater things.
Christopher Roberts (365 Days With God: A Daily Devotional)
I drive back into town with the two crinkly notes in my pocket and wonder if I could support a family this way, doomed to play dinner dances until I too have one foot in the grave. I shudder at the possibility, and think about poor Meg in her sickbed. What am I going to do? On the way back I pass a big roundabout at the end of the Coast Road. It is March, and the roundabout is covered in daffodils. I circle it twice, an idea forming in my head. I park in a nearby street. It is early morning and there is no one around. I check for police cars and head across the road to the roundabout. Half an hour later I let myself into Megan’s flat and slowly open her bedroom door. My arms are full of daffodils, maybe a hundred all told, their drooping yellow trumpets lighting up the entire room. Meg starts to cry, and so do I. The next morning our prayers are answered, but our relief is mixed with a subtle, unspoken regret.
Sting (Broken Music: A Memoir)
California during the 1940s had Hollywood and the bright lights of Los Angeles, but on the other coast was Florida, land of sunshine and glamour, Miami and Miami Beach. If you weren't already near California's Pacific Coast you headed for Florida during the winter. One of the things which made Miami such a mix of glitter and sunshine was the plethora of movie stars who flocked there to play, rubbing shoulders with tycoons and gangsters. Sometimes it was hard to tell the difference between the latter two. Miami and everything that surrounded it hadn't happened by accident. Carl Fisher had set out to make Miami Beach a playground destination during the 1930s and had succeeded far beyond his dreams. The promenade behind the Roney Plaza Hotel was a block-long lovers' lane of palm trees and promise that began rather than ended in the blue waters of the Atlantic. Florida was more than simply Miami and Miami Beach, however. When George Merrick opened the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables papers across the country couldn't wait to gush about the growing aura of Florida. They tore down Collins Bridge in the Gables and replaced it with the beautiful Venetian Causeway. You could plop down a fiver if you had one and take your best girl — or the girl you wanted to score with — for a gondola ride there before the depression, or so I'd been told. You see, I'd never actually been to Florida before the war, much less Miami. I was a newspaper reporter from Chicago before the war and had never even seen the ocean until I was flying over the Pacific for the Air Corp. There wasn't much time for admiring the waves when Japanese Zeroes were trying to shoot you out of the sky and bury you at the bottom of that deep blue sea. It was because of my friend Pete that I knew so much about Miami. Florida was his home, so when we both got leave in '42 I followed him to the warm waters of Miami to see what all the fuss was about. It would be easy to say that I skipped Chicago for Miami after the war ended because Pete and I were such good pals and I'd had such a great time there on leave. But in truth I decided to stay on in Miami because of Veronica Lake. I'd better explain that. Veronica Lake never knew she was the reason I came back with Pete to Miami after the war. But she had been there in '42 while Pete and I were enjoying the sand, sun, and the sweet kisses of more than a few love-starved girls desperate to remember what it felt like to have a man's arm around them — not to mention a few other sensations. Lake had been there promoting war bonds on Florida's first radio station, WQAM. It was a big outdoor event and Pete and I were among those listening with relish to Lake's sultry voice as she urged everyone to pitch-in for our boys overseas. We were in those dark early days of the war at the time, and the outcome was very much in question. Lake's appearance at the event was a morale booster for civilians and servicemen alike. She was standing behind a microphone that sat on a table draped in the American flag. I'd never seen a Hollywood star up-close and though I liked the movies as much as any other guy, I had always attributed most of what I saw on-screen to smoke and mirrors. I doubted I'd be impressed seeing a star off-screen. A girl was a girl, after all, and there were loads of real dolls in Miami, as I'd already discovered. Boy, was I wrong." - Where Flamingos Fly
Bobby Underwood (Where Flamingos Fly (Nostalgic Crime #2))
For the same reason there is nowhere to begin to trace the sheaf or the graphics of differance. For what is put into question is precisely the quest for a rightful beginning, an absolute point of departure, a principal responsibility. The problematic of writing is opened by putting into question the value of the arkhe. What I will propose here will not be elaborated simply as a philosophical discourse, operating according to principles, postulates, axioms, or definitions, and proceeding along the discursive lines of a linear order of reasons. In the delineation of differance everything is strategic and adventurous. Strategic because no transcendent truth present outside the field of writing can govern theologically the totality of the field. Adventurous because this strategy is a not simple strategy in the sense that strategy orients tactics according to a final goal, a telos or theme of domination, a mastery and ultimate reappropriation of the development of the field. Finally, a strategy without finality, what might be called blind tactics, or empirical wandering if the value of empiricism did not itself acquire its entire meaning in opposition to philosophical responsibility. If there is a certain wandering in the tracing of differance, it no more follows the lines of philosophical-logical discourse than that of its symmetrical and integral inverse, empirical-logical discourse. The concept of play keeps itself beyond this opposition, announcing, on the eve of philosophy and beyond it, the unity of chance and necessity in calculations without end.
Jacques Derrida (Margins of Philosophy)
...she sat down at the piano and began to run over the first act of the Walkure, the last of his roles they had practiced together; playing listlessly and absently at first, but with gradually increasing seriousness. Perhaps it was the still heat of the summer night, perhaps it was the heavy odors from the garden that came in through the open windows; but as she played there grew and grew the feeling that he was there, beside her, standing in his accustomed place. In the duet at the end of the first act she heard him clearly: "Thou art the Spring for which I sighed in Winter's cold embraces." Once as he sang it, he had put his arm about her, his one hand under her heart, while with the other he took her right from the keyboard, holding her as he always held Sieglinde when he drew her toward the window. She had been wonderfully the mistress of herself at the time; neither repellent nor acquiescent. She remembered that she had rather exulted, then, in her self-control--which he had seemed to take for granted, though there was perhaps the whisper of a question from the hand under her heart. "Thou art the Spring for which I sighed in Winter's cold embraces." Caroline lifted her hands quickly from the keyboard, and she bowed her head in them, sobbing.
Willa Cather (The Troll Garden: Short Stories)
Psychologists often approach personality by measuring basic traits such as the “big five”: neuroticism, extroversion, openness to new experiences, agreeableness (warmth/niceness), and conscientiousness.15 These traits are facts about the elephant, about a person’s automatic reactions to various situations. They are fairly similar between identical twins reared apart, indicating that they are influenced in part by genes, although they are also influenced by changes in the conditions of one’s life or the roles one plays, such as becoming a parent.16 But psychologist Dan McAdams has suggested that personality really has three levels... The third level of personality is that of the “life story.” Human beings in every culture are fascinated by stories; we create them wherever we can. (See those seven stars up there? They are seven sisters who once . . . ) It’s no different with our own lives. We can’t stop ourselves from creating what McAdams describes as an “evolving story that integrates a reconstructed past, perceived present, and anticipated future into a coherent and vitalizing life myth.”18 Although the lowest level of personality is mostly about the elephant, the life story is written primarily by the rider. You create your story in consciousness as you interpret your own behavior, and as you listen to other people’s thoughts about you. The life story is not the work of a historian—remember that the rider has no access to the real causes of your behavior; it is more like a work of historical fiction that makes plenty of references to real events and connects them by dramatizations and interpretations that might or might not be true to the spirit of what happened. Adversity may be necessary for growth because it forces you to stop speeding along the road of life, allowing you to notice the paths that were branching off all along, and to think about where you really want to end up.
Jonathan Haidt (The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom)
Imagine what it's like to be (untouchable) Better not take a chance on me (untouchable) I'm the bad boy your mama told you about I'm dangerous, without a doubt Even coming off a ten-year drought Untouchable I'm the rose with hidden thorns (untouchable) Don't tell me that you haven't been warned (untouchable) I'm pretty poison under the skin, The bite of the apple that's a mortal sin In a game of love you'll never win Untouchable My reputation's fairly earned (untouchable) If you play with fire, you will get burned (untouchable) Stay out of the kitchen if you can't take the heat, My kisses are deadly as they are sweet, I'm a runaway bus on a dead-end street Untouchable Fools rush in, that's what they say(untouchable) But angels fall, too, most every day (untouchable) I'm the snake in the garden, the siren on the reef I have the face of a saint and the heart of a thief I'll promise you love! And bring you nothing but grief Untouchable Hearing Jonah sing like this was like watching him slice himself open and show off his insides. Why would he do that? Why would be write such a song? And then Emma answered her own question. Because good music always tells the truth, no matter how much it hurts. Emma couldn't be the only one who felt the bite of the blade, but everyone else seemed to take it in stride. Did they know? Did they all know about Jonah? Of course they did. They were there when it happened. They'd allow Jonah to keep the secrets that were most important to him. She knew she shouldn't resent that, but she still did. They must have known she was falling for him. They must have.
Cinda Williams Chima (The Sorcerer Heir (The Heir Chronicles, #5))
You walk down a hallway papered in playing cards, row upon row of clubs and spades. Lanterns fashioned from additional cards hang above, swinging gently as you pass by. A door at the end of the hall leads to a spiraling iron staircase. The stairs go both up and down. You go up, finding a trapdoor in the ceiling. The room it opens into is full of feathers that flutter downward. When you walk through them, they fall like snow over the door in the floor, obscuring it from sight. There are six identical doors. You choose one at random, trailing a few feathers with you. The scent of pine is overwhelming as you enter the next room to find yourself in a forest full of evergreen trees. Only these trees are not green but bright and white, luminous in the darkness surrounding them. They are difficult to navigate. As soon as you begin walking the walls are lost in shadows and branches. There is a sound like a woman laughing nearby, or perhaps it is only the rustling of the trees as you push your way forward, searching for the next door, the next room. You feel the warmth of breath on your neck, but when you turn there is no one there.
Erin Morgenstern (The Night Circus)
The amorous shepherd has lost his staff, And his sheep are straying on the hillside, And he didn’t even play the flute he brought to play because he was thinking so much. No one came to him or went away. He never found his staff again. Others, cursing at him, gathered his sheep for him. No one had loved him, in the end. When he got up from the hillside and the false truth, he saw everything: The great valleys full of the same green as always, The great distant mountains, more real than any feeling, All reality, with the sky and the air and the fields that exist, is present. (And once again the air, that he’d missed for so long, entered coolly into his lungs) And he felt that the air was opening again, but with pain, a liberty in his chest. (7/10/1930)
Alberto Caeiro (O Pastor Amoroso)
It should be illegal for a woman to look as good as you do.” “Really?” She peered down at herself again, but saw nothing all that spectacular. “I’m glad you like it.” “I love it. I love you.” He dug in his pocket. “When I left today, it was for this.” Speechless, Priss watched as he opened a now-wet jeweler’s box. Inside, securely nestled in velvet, was a beautiful diamond engagement ring. Her heart nearly stopped. “I wanted it to be a surprise.” There were no words. Her eyes suddenly burned and her throat went tight. Trace took her hand and slipped the ring on her finger. The fit was perfect, but then, anything Trace did, he did right. “Priss?” Using the edge of his fist, he lifted her chin. “We’ve been to movies and plays, to small diners and fancy restaurants. I’ve taken you dancing and hiking, to the amusement park and the zoo.” Sounding like a choked frog, Priss said, “All the things I never got to do growing up.” “But there’s so much more, honey.” He moved wet tendrils of hair away from her face and over her shoulder. “I was trying to give you time to enjoy it all.” “No!” Priss did not want him second-guessing his intent. “I don’t need any more time. Really I don’t.” Both still very attentive, Matt and Chris snickered. Trace just smiled at her. Closing her hand into a fist, she held the ring tight. “All I need, all I want, is you.” “Glad to hear it, because I’m not an overly patient guy. Hell, I think I knew you were the one the day you showed up in Murray’s office.” He kissed the tip of her nose, her lips, her chin. “You were so damned outrageous, and so pushy, that you scared me half to death.” “You felt me up,” Priss reminded him. “But that was a first for me, too.” “I remember it well.” He treated her to a deeper kiss, and ended it with a groan. “Every day since then, I’ve wanted you more. Even when you worried me, or lied to me, or made me insane, I admired you for it.
Lori Foster (Trace of Fever (Men Who Walk the Edge of Honor, #2))
Loftus grew up with a cold father who taught her nothing about love but everything about angles. A mathematician, he showed her the beauty of the triangle's strong tip, the circumference of the circle, the rigorous mission of calculus. Her mother was softer, more dramatic, prone to deep depressions. Loftus tells all this to me with little feeling "I have no feelings about this right now," she says, "but when I'm in the right space I could cry." I somehow don't believe her; she seems so far from real tears, from the original griefs, so immersed in the immersed in the operas of others. Loftus recalls her father asking her out to see a play, and in the car, coming home at night, the moon hanging above them like a stopwatch, tick tick, her father saying to her, "You know, there's something wrong with your mother. She'll never be well again. Her father was right. When Loftus was fourteen, her mother drowned in the family swimming pool. She was found floating face down in the deep end, in the summer. The sun was just coming up, the sky a mess of reds and bruise. Loftus recalls the shock, the siren, an oxygen mask clamped over her mouth as she screamed, "Mother mother mother," hysteria. That is a kind of drowning. "I loved her," Loftus says. "Was it suicide?" I ask. She says, "My father thinks so. Every year when I go home for Christmas, my brothers and I think about it, but we'll never know," she says. Then she says, "It doesn't matter." "What doesn't matter?" I ask. "Whether it was or it wasn't," she says. "It doesn't matter because it's all going to be okay." Then I hear nothing on the line but some static. on the line but some static. "You there?" I say. "Oh I'm here," she says. "Tomorrow I'm going to Chicago, some guy on death row, I'm gonna save him. I gotta go testify. Thank God I have my work," she says. "You've always had your work," I say. "Without it," she says, "Where would I be?
Lauren Slater (Opening Skinner's Box: Great Psychological Experiments of the Twentieth Century)
He slammed his cup down. Coffee splashed over the rim and puddled around the base. “What on earth gave you the idea I want space? I want you here. With me. All the time. I want to come home and hear the shower running and get excited because I know you’re in it. I want to struggle every morning to get up and go to the gym because I hate the idea of leaving your warm body behind in bed. I want to hear a key turn in the lock and feel contented knowing you’re home. I don’t want fucking space, Harper.” Harper laughed. “What’s funny?” “I didn’t mean space. I meant space, like closet space, a drawer in the bedroom, part of the counter in the bathroom.” Trent’s mouth twitched, a slight smile making its way to his lips. “Like a compromise. A commitment that I want more. I seem to recall you telling me in the car about something being a step in the right direction to a goal we both agreed on. Well, I want all those things you just said, with you, eventually. And if we start to leave things at each other’s places, it’s a step, right?” Trent reached up, flexing his delicious tattooed bicep, and scratched the side of his head. Without speaking, he leapt to his feet, grabbing Harper and pulling her into a fireman’s lift. “Trent,” she squealed, kicking her feet to get free. “What are you doing?” He slapped her butt playfully and laughed as he carried her down the hallway. Reaching the bedroom, Trent threw her onto the bed. “We’re doing space. Today, right now.” He started pulling open his drawers, looking inside each one before pulling stuff out of the top drawer and dividing it between the others. “Okay, this is for your underwear. I need to see bras, panties, and whatever other girly shit you have in here before the end of the day.” Like a panther on the prowl, Trent launched himself at the bed, grabbing her ankle and pulling her to the edge of the bed before sweeping her into his arms to walk to the bathroom. He perched her on the corner of the vanity, where his stuff was spread across the two sinks. “Pick one.” “Pick one what?” “Sink. Which do you want?” “You’re giving me a whole sink? Wait … stop…” Trent grabbed her and started tickling her. Harper didn’t recognize the girly giggles that escaped her. Pointing to the sink farthest away from the door, she watched as he pushed his toothbrush, toothpaste, and styling products to the other side of the vanity. He did the same thing with the vanity drawers and created some space under the sink. “I expect to see toothbrush, toothpaste, your shampoo, and whatever it is that makes you smell like vanilla in here.” “You like the vanilla?” It never ceased to surprise her, the details he remembered. Turning, he grabbed her cheeks in both hands and kissed her hard. He trailed kisses behind her ear and inhaled deeply before returning to face her. “Absolutely. I fucking love vanilla,” he murmured against her lips before kissing her again, softly this time. “Oh and I’d better see a box of tampons too.” “Oh my goodness, you are beyond!” Harper blushed furiously. “I want you for so much more than just sex, Harper.
Scarlett Cole (The Strongest Steel (Second Circle Tattoos, #1))
Then it was horn time. Time for the big solo. Sonny lifted the trumpet - One! Two! - He got it into sight - Three! We all stopped dead. I mean we stopped. That wasn't Sonny's horn. This one was dented-in and beat-up and the tip-end was nicked. It didn't shine, not a bit. Lux leaned over-you could have fit a coffee cup into his mouth. "Jesus God," he said. "Am I seeing right?" I looked close and said: "Man, I hope not." But why kid? We'd seen that trumpet a million times. It was Spoof's. Rose-Ann was trembling. Just like me, she remembered how we'd buried the horn with Spoof. And she remembered how quiet it had been in Sonny's room last night... I started to think real hophead thoughts, like - where did Sonny get hold of a shovel that late? and how could he expect a horn to play that's been under the ground for two years? and - That blast got into our ears like long knives. Spoof's own trademark! Sonny looked caught, like he didn't know what to do at first, like he was hypnotized, scared, almighty scared. But as the sound came out, rolling out, sharp and clean and clear - new-trumpet sound - his expression changed. His eyes changed: they danced a little and opened wide. Then he closed them, and blew that horn. Lord God of the Fishes, how he blew it! How he loved it and caressed it and pushed it up, higher and higher and higher. High C? Bottom of the barrel. He took off, and he walked all over the rules and stamped them flat. The melody got lost, first off. Everything got lost, then, while that horn flew. It wasn't only jazz; it was the heart of jazz, and the insides, pulled out with the roots and held up for everybody to see; it was blues that told the story of all the lonely cats and all the ugly whores who ever lived, blues that spoke up for the loser lamping sunshine out of iron-gray bars and every hop head hooked and gone, for the bindlestiffs and the city slicers, for the country boys in Georgia shacks and the High Yellow hipsters in Chicago slums and the bootblacks on the corners and the fruits in New Orleans, a blues that spoke for all the lonely, sad and anxious downers who could never speak themselves... And then, when it had said all this, it stopped and there was a quiet so quiet that Sonny could have shouted: 'It's okay, Spoof. It's all right now. You get it said, all of it - I'll help you. God, Spoof, you showed me how, you planned it - I'll do my best!' And he laid back his head and fastened the horn and pulled in air and blew some more. Not sad, now, not blues - but not anything else you could call by a name. Except... jazz. It was Jazz. Hate blew out of that horn, then. Hate and fury and mad and fight, like screams and snarls, like little razors shooting at you, millions of them, cutting, cutting deep... And Sonny only stopping to wipe his lip and whisper in the silent room full of people: 'You're saying it, Spoof! You are!' God Almighty Himself must have heard that trumpet, then; slapping and hitting and hurting with notes that don't exist and never existed. Man! Life took a real beating! Life got groined and sliced and belly-punched and the horn, it didn't stop until everything had all spilled out, every bit of the hate and mad that's built up in a man's heart. ("Black Country")
Charles Beaumont (American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny from the 1940s to Now)
So how are the wedding plans progressing?" Richard asked, once they were out of the village. "They aren't." Breckenridge heard his clipped tones, heard the irritation beneath. Didn't care if Richard did, too. "She's taken some nitwit notion into her head that I don't need to marry her, that she's going to go off and manage an orphanage in the country, or some such thing, so her social ruination doesn't matter." "Ah." Richard nodded sagely. "She's playing stubborn." "Playing?" Breckenridge shot him an irate look. "She's the definition of the word. I've already tried talking her around. Twice." "I hate to break it to you, old son, but it won't be your honeyed words that change her mind." Breckenridge snorted. "I've tried that, too-so far all that's gained me is..." An even deeper sense of being irrevocably linked to her. Richard glanced at him curiously. "What?" Breckenridge pulled a face, growled, "Damned if I know." Richard grinned. "Well, whatever it takes, just console yourself with the thought that the end result will be worth it." Breckenridge cast Richard a sharp glance, saw the open contentment in his face. Felt compelled to ask, "So what did you have to do?" Richard's smile deepened. "The same thing we've all have to do-prostrate ourselves at their dainty feet, swear undying love, and mean it.
Stephanie Laurens (Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue (Cynster, #16; The Cynster Sisters Trilogy, #1))
Radha Krishna Krishna, Svayam Bhagavan, Avatar of Vishnu, play your flute for me beneath this parasol of stars, diadems bejeweling your eternal crown, and I will dance for you a joyous dance. Svayam Bhagavan, Avatar of Vishnu, visit your consort, Radha, mantled in the black of night, the cow-herd girl who has stolen your heart, and now the gopi has become the guru and awaits her lover with open arms. Svayam Bhagavan, Avatar of Vishnu, stay the night, and learn the love of Radha,shakti, her wifely love, the svakaya-rasa, her spiritual love, the parakiya-rasa, for immortality is a curse without both of these. Svayam Bhagavan, Avatar of Vishnu, return to heaven now for the cock has crowed and yet you linger, lazy in Radha’s bed. Even endless love must seek and end to repeat the joy of new beginnings. Return, Krishna, I beseech you, for my feet are weary of the dance and I have fields to plow and rice to plant.
Beryl Dov
Novels begin and end with, consist of, and indeed in one sense are nothing but voices. So reading is learning to listen sensitively, and to tune in accurately, to varying frequencies and a developing programme. From the opening words a narrative voice begins to create its own characteristic personality and sensibility, whether it belongs to an 'author' or a 'character'. At the same time a reader is being created, persuaded to become the particular kind of reader the book requires. A relationship develops, which becomes the essential basis of the experience. In the modulation of the fictive voice, finally, through the creation of 'author' and 'reader* and their relationship, there is a definition of the nature and status of the experience, which will always imply a particular idea of ordering the world. So much is perhaps familiar enough, and a useful rhetoric of Voice' has developed. Yet I notice in my students and myself, when its vocabulary is in play, a tendency to become rather too abstract or technical, and above all too spatial and static. Perhaps we need to remind ourselves what it can be like to listen to close friends, talking animatedly and seriously in everyday experience, in order to make sure that a vocabulary which often points only to broad strategies does not tempt us to underplay the extraordinary resourcefulness, variety and fluctuation of the novelist's voice.
Ian Gregor (Reading the Victorian novel: Detail into form (Vision critical studies))
We have both been talking about you. Cosette loves you so dearly! You must not forget that you have a chamber here, we want nothing more to do with the Rue de l'Homme Armé. We will have no more of it at all. How could you go to live in a street like that, which is sickly, which is disagreeable, which is ugly, which has a barrier at one end, where one is cold, and into one cannot enter? You are to come and install yourself here. And this very day. Or you will have to deal with Cosette. She means to lead us all by the nose, I warn you. You have your own chamber here, it is close to ours, it opens on the garden; the trouble with the clock has been attended to, the bed is made, it is all ready, you have only to take possession of it. Near your bed Cosette has placed a huge, old, easy-chair covered with Utrecht velvet and she has said to it: 'Stretch out your arms to him.' A nightingale comes to the clump of acacias opposite your windows every spring. In two months more you will have it. You will have its nest on your left and ours on your right. By night it will sing, and by day Cosette will prattle. Your chamber faces due South. Cosette will arrange your books for you, your Voyages of Captain Cook and the other,— Vancouver's and all your affairs. I believe that there is a little valise to which you are attached, I have fixed upon a corner of honor for that. You have conquered my grandfather, you suit him. We will live together. Do you play whist? you will overwhelm my grandfather with delight if you play whist. It is you who shall take Cosette to talk on the days when I am at the courts, you shall give her your arm, you know, as you used to, in the Luxembourg. We are absolutely resolved to be happy. And you shall be included in it, in our happiness, do you hear, father? Come, will you breakfast with us to-day?" "Sir," said Jean Valjean, "I have something to say to you. I am an ex-convict.
Victor Hugo (Les Misérables)
He approached her, his voice taking on a seductive tenor. "Shall we seal it with a kiss, then?" Callie caught her breath and stiffened at the question. Ralston smiled at her obvious nerves. He ran a finger along the edge of her hairline, tucking a rogue lock of hair behind her ear gently. She looked up at him with her wide brown eyes, and he felt a burst of tenderness in his chest. He leaned close, moving slowly, as though she might scare at any moment, and his firm mouth brushed across hers, settling briefly, barely touching before she jumped back, one hand flying to her lips. He leveled her with a frank gaze and waited for her to speak. When she didn't, he asked, "Is there a problem?" "N-No!" she said, a touch too loudly. "Not at all, my lord. That is- Thank you." His breath exhaled on a half laugh. "I'm afraid that you have mistaken the experience." He paused, watching the confusion cross her face. "You see, when I agree to something, I do it wholeheartedly. That was not the kiss for which you came, little mouse." Callie wrinkled her nose at his words, and at the nickname he had used for her. "It wasn't?" "No." Her nervousness flared, and she resumed toying with her cloak tassel. "Oh, well. It was quite nice. I find I am quite satisfied that you have held up your end of our bargain." "Quite nice isn't what you should be aiming for," he said, taking her restless hands into his own and allowing his voice to deepen. "Neither should the kiss leave you satisfied." She tugged briefly, giving up when he would not free her and instead pulled her closer, setting her hands upon his shoulders. He trailed his fingers down her neck, leaving her breathless, her voice a mere squeak when she replied, "How should it leave me?" He kissed her then. Really kissed her. He pulled her against him and pressed his mouth to hers, possessing, owning in a way she could never have imagined. His lips, firm and warm, played across her own, tempting her until she was gasping for breath. He captured the sound in his mouth, taking advantage of her open lips to run his tongue along them, tasting her lightly until she couldn't bear the teasing. He seemed to read her thoughts, and just when she couldn't stand another moment, he gathered her closer and deepened the kiss, changing the pressure. He delved deeper, stroked more firmly. And she was lost. Callie was consumed, finding herself desperate to match his movements. Her hands seemed to move of their own volition, running along his broad shoulders and wrapping around his neck. Tentatively, she met Ralston's tongue with her own and was rewarded with a satisfied sound from deep in his throat as he tightened his grip, sending another wave of heat through her. He retreated, and she followed, matching his movements until his lips closed scandalously around her tongue and he sucked gently- the sensation rocked her to her core. All at once she was aflame.
Sarah MacLean (Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (Love By Numbers, #1))
In the years since the disaster, I often think of my friend Arturo Nogueira, and the conversations we had in the mountains about God. Many of my fellow survivors say they felt the personal presence of God in the mountains. He mercifully allowed us to survive, they believe, in answer to our prayers, and they are certain it was His hand that led us home. I deeply respect the faith of my friends, but, to be honest, as hard as I prayed for a miracle in the Andes, I never felt the personal presence of God. At least, I did not feel God as most people see Him. I did feel something larger than myself, something in the mountains and the glaciers and the glowing sky that, in rare moments, reassured me, and made me feel that the world was orderly and loving and good. If this was God, it was not God as a being or a spirit or some omnipotent, superhuman mind. It was not a God who would choose to save us or abandon us, or change in any way. It was simply a silence, a wholeness, an awe-inspiring simplicity. It seemed to reach me through my own feelings of love, and I have often thought that when we feel what we call love, we are really feeling our connection to this awesome presence. I feel this presence still when my mind quiets and I really pay attention. I don’t pretend to understand what it is or what it wants from me. I don’t want to understand these things. I have no interest in any God who can be understood, who speaks to us in one holy book or another, and who tinkers with our lives according to some divine plan, as if we were characters in a play. How can I make sense of a God who sets one religion above the rest, who answers one prayer and ignores another, who sends sixteen young men home and leaves twenty-nine others dead on a mountain? There was a time when I wanted to know that god, but I realize now that what I really wanted was the comfort of certainty, the knowledge that my God was the true God, and that in the end He would reward me for my faithfulness. Now I understand that to be certain–-about God, about anything–-is impossible. I have lost my need to know. In those unforgettable conversations I had with Arturo as he lay dying, he told me the best way to find faith was by having the courage to doubt. I remember those words every day, and I doubt, and I hope, and in this crude way I try to grope my way toward truth. I still pray the prayers I learned as a child–-Hail Marys, Our Fathers–-but I don’t imagine a wise, heavenly father listening patiently on the other end of the line. Instead, I imagine love, an ocean of love, the very source of love, and I imagine myself merging with it. I open myself to it, I try to direct that tide of love toward the people who are close to me, hoping to protect them and bind them to me forever and connect us all to whatever there is in the world that is eternal. …When I pray this way, I feel as if I am connected to something good and whole and powerful. In the mountains, it was love that kept me connected to the world of the living. Courage or cleverness wouldn’t have saved me. I had no expertise to draw on, so I relied upon the trust I felt in my love for my father and my future, and that trust led me home. Since then, it has led me to a deeper understanding of who I am and what it means to be human. Now I am convinced that if there is something divine in the universe, the only way I will find it is through the love I feel for my family and my friends, and through the simple wonder of being alive. I don’t need any other wisdom or philosophy than this: My duty is to fill my time on earth with as much life as possible, to become a little more human every day, and to understand that we only become human when we love. …For me, this is enough.
Nando Parrado
You were born with your head in the clouds, your future wide open, feeling almost weightless. Almost. Kudoclasm. You had dreams even before you had memories: a cloud of fantasies and ambitions of secret plans and hidden potential, visions of who you are, and what your life will be. They keep your spirits high, floating somewhere above your life, where the world looks faintly hypothetical, almost translucent. But every time you reach for the sky and come away with nothing, you start to wonder what’s holding them up. “Surely it would have happened by now?!” You feel time starting to slip, pulling you back down to earth. even as you tell yourself, don’t look down. You don’t have the luxury of floating through life, because you may not have the time. The future is already rushing toward you, and it’s not as far away as you think. It feels like your life is flashing before your eyes, but it’s actually just the opposite: you’re thinking forward, to everything you still haven’t done, the places you had intended to visit, the life goals you’d eventually get around to, some day in the future. You start dropping your delusions one by one, like tossing ballast overboard. And soon the fog lifts, and everything becomes clear— right until the moment your feet touch the ground. And there it is, “the real world.” As if you’ve finally grown up, steeped in reality, your eyes adjusting to the darkness, seeing the world for what it is. But in truth, you don’t belong there. We dream to survive— no more optional than breathing. Maybe “the real world” is just another fantasy, something heavy to push back against, and launch ourselves still higher. We’re all afraid to let go, of falling into a bottomless future. But maybe we belong in the air, tumbling in the wind. Maybe it’s only when you dive in that you pick up enough speed to shape the flow of reality, and choose your own course, flying not too high, and not too low, but gliding from one to the other in long playful loops. To dream big, and bounce ideas against the world and rise again. Moving so fast, you can’t tell where the dream ends and where the world begins.
Sébastien Japrisot
At the end of the vacation, I took a steamer alone from Wuhan back up through the Yangtze Gorges. The journey took three days. One morning, as I was leaning over the side, a gust of wind blew my hair loose and my hairpin fell into the river. A passenger with whom I had been chatting pointed to a tributary which joined the Yangtze just where we were passing, and told me a story.In 33 B.C., the emperor of China, in an attempt to appease the country's powerful northern neighbors, the Huns, decided to send a woman to marry the barbarian king. He made his selection from the portraits of the 3,000 concubines in his court, many of whom he had never seen. As she was for a barbarian, he selected the ugliest portrait, but on the day of her departure he discovered that the woman was in fact extremely beautiful. Her portrait was ugly because she had refused to bribe the court painter. The emperor ordered the artist to be executed, while the lady wept, sitting by a river, at having to leave her country to live among the barbarians. The wind carried away her hairpin and dropped it into the river as though it wanted to keep something of hers in her homeland. Later on, she killed herself. Legend had it that where her hairpin dropped, the river turned crystal clear, and became known as the Crystal River. My fellow passenger told me this was the tributary we were passing. With a grin, he declared: "Ah, bad omen! You might end up living in a foreign land and marrying a barbarian!" I smiled faintly at the traditional Chinese obsession about other races being 'barbarians," and wondered whether this lady of antiquity might not actually have been better off marrying the 'barbarian' king. She would at least be in daily contact with the grassland, the horses, and nature. With the Chinese emperor, she was living in a luxurious prison, without even a proper tree, which might enable the concubines to climb a wall and escape. I thought how we were like the frogs at the bottom of the well in the Chinese legend, who claimed that the sky was only as big as the round opening at the top of their well. I felt an intense and urgent desire to see the world. At the time I had never spoken with a foreigner, even though I was twenty-three, and had been an English language student for nearly two years. The only foreigners I had ever even set eyes on had been in Peking in 1972. A foreigner, one of the few 'friends of China," had come to my university once. It was a hot summer day and I was having a nap when a fellow student burst into our room and woke us all by shrieking: "A foreigner is here! Let's go and look at the foreigner!" Some of the others went, but I decided to stay and continue my snooze. I found the whole idea of gazing, zombie like rather ridiculous. Anyway, what was the point of staring if we were forbidden to open our mouths to him, even though he was a 'friend of China'? I had never even heard a foreigner speaking, except on one single Linguaphone record. When I started learning the language, I had borrowed the record and a phonograph, and listened to it at home in Meteorite Street. Some neighbors gathered in the courtyard, and said with their eyes wide open and their heads shaking, "What funny sounds!" They asked me to play the record over and over again.
Jung Chang (Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China)
Then he spoke to me mockingly, 'And so you, like the others, would play your brains against mine. You would help these men to hunt me and frustrate me in my design! You know now, and they know in part already, and will know in full before long, what it is to cross my path. They should have kept their energies for use closer to home. Whilst they played wits against me, against me who commanded nations, and intrigued for them, and fought for them, hundreds of years before they were born, I was countermining them. And you, their best beloved one, are now to me, flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood, kin of my kin, my bountiful wine-press for a while, and shall be later on my companion and my helper. You shall be avenged in turn, for not one of them but shall minister to your needs. But as yet you are to be punished for what you have done. You have aided in thwarting me. Now you shall come to my call. When my brain says "Come!" to you, you shall cross land or sea to do my bidding. And to that end this!' "With that he pulled open his shirt, and with his long sharp nails opened a vein in his breast. When the blood began to spurt out, he took my hands in one of his, holding them tight, and with the other seized my neck and pressed my mouth to the wound, so that I must either suffocate or swallow some to the… Oh, my God! My God! What have I done? What have I done to deserve such a fate, I who have tried to walk in meekness and righteousness all my days. God pity me! Look down on a poor soul in worse than mortal peril. And in mercy pity those to whom she is dear!" Then she began to rub her lips as though to cleanse them from pollution.
Bram Stoker (Dracula)
The god of the prosperity gospelists is a pathetic doormat, a genie. The god of the cutesy coffee mugs and Joel Osteen tweets is a milquetoast doofus like the guys in the Austen novels you hope the girls don’t end up with, holding their hats limply in hand and minding their manners to follow your lead like a butler—or the doormat he stands on. The god of the American Dream is Santa Claus. The god of the open theists is not sovereignly omniscient, declaring the end from the beginning, but just a really good guesser playing the odds. The god of our therapeutic culture is ourselves, we, the “forgivers” of ourselves, navel-haloed morons with “baggage” but not sin. None of these pathetic gods could provoke fear and trembling. But the God of the Scriptures is a consuming fire (Deut. 4:24). “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31). He stirs up the oceans with the tip of his finger, and they sizzle rolling clouds of steam into the sky. He shoots lightning from his fists. This is the God who leads his children by a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire. This is the God who makes war, sends plagues, and sits enthroned in majesty and glory in his heavens, doing what he pleases. This is the God who, in the flesh, turned tables over in the temple as if he owned the place. This Lord God Jesus Christ was pushed to the edge of the cliff and declared, “This is not happening today,” and walked right back through the crowd like a boss. This Lord says, “No one takes my life; I give it willingly,” as if to say, “You couldn’t kill me unless I let you.” This Lord calms the storms, casts out demons, binds and looses, and has the authority to grant us the ability to do the same. The Devil is this God’s lapdog. And it is this God who has summoned us, apprehended us, saved us. It is this God who has come humbly, meekly, lowly, pouring out his blood in infinite conquest to set the captives free, cancel the record of debt against us, conquer sin and Satan, and swallow up death forever. Let us, then, advance the gospel of the kingdom out into the perimeter of our hearts and lives with affectionate meekness and humble submission. Let us repent of our nonchalance. Let us embrace the wonder of Christ.
Jared C. Wilson (The Wonder-Working God: Seeing the Glory of Jesus in His Miracles)
would look for us. When I think of the pleasure of being free, I think of the start of that day, of coming out of the tunnel and finding ourselves on a road that went straight as far as the eye could see, the road that, according to what Rino had told Lila, if you got to the end arrived at the sea. I felt joyfully open to the unknown. It was entirely different from going down into the cellar or up to Don Achille’s house. There was a hazy sun, a strong smell of burning. We walked for a long time between crumbling walls invaded by weeds, low structures from which came voices in dialect, sometimes a clamor. We saw a horse make its way slowly down an embankment and cross the street, whinnying. We saw a young woman looking out from a balcony, combing her hair with a flea comb. We saw a lot of small snotty children who stopped playing and looked at us threateningly. We also saw a fat man in an undershirt who emerged from a tumbledown house, opened his pants, and showed us his penis. But we weren’t scared of anything: Don Nicola, Enzo’s father, sometimes let us pat his horse, the children were threatening in our courtyard, too, and there was old Don Mimì who showed us his disgusting thing when we were coming home from school. For at least three hours, the road we were walking on did not seem different from the segment that we looked out on every day. And I felt no responsibility for the right road. We held each other by the hand, we walked side by side, but for me, as usual, it was as if Lila were ten steps ahead and knew precisely what to do, where to go. I was used to feeling second in everything, and so I was sure that to her, who had always been first, everything
Elena Ferrante (My Brilliant Friend (The Neapolitan Novels, #1))
While some of our deepest wounds come from feeling abandoned by others, it is surprising to see how often we abandon ourselves through the way we view life. It’s natural to perceive through a lens of blame at the moment of emotional impact, but each stage of surrender offers us time and space to regroup and open our viewpoints for our highest evolutionary benefit. It’s okay to feel wronged by people or traumatized by circumstances. This reveals anger as a faithful guardian reminding us how overwhelmed we are by the outcomes at hand. While we will inevitably use each trauma as a catalyst for our deepest growth, such anger informs us when the highest importance is being attentive to our own experiences like a faithful companion. As waves of emotion begin to settle, we may ask ourselves, “Although I feel wronged, what am I going to do about it?” Will we allow experiences of disappointment or even cruelty to inspire our most courageous decisions and willingness to evolve? When viewing others as characters who have wronged us, a moment of personal abandonment occurs. Instead of remaining present to the sheer devastation we feel, a need to align with ego can occur through the blaming of others. While it seems nearly instinctive to see life as the comings and goings of how people treat us, when focused on cultivating our most Divine qualities, pain often confirms how quickly we are shifting from ego to soul. From the soul’s perspective, pain represents the initial steps out of the identity and reference points of an old reality as we make our way into a brand new paradigm of being. The more this process is attempted to be rushed, the more insufferable it becomes. To end the agony of personal abandonment, we enter the first stage of surrender by asking the following question: Am I seeing this moment in a way that helps or hurts me? From the standpoint of ego, life is a play of me versus you or us versus them. But from the soul’s perspective, characters are like instruments that help develop and uncover the melody of our highest vibration. Even when the friction of conflict seems to divide people, as souls we are working together to play out the exact roles to clear, activate, and awaken our true radiance. The more aligned in Source energy we become, the easier each moment of transformation tends to feel. This doesn’t mean we are immune to disappointment, heartbreak, or devastation. Instead, we are keenly aware of how often life is giving us the chance to grow and expand. A willingness to be stretched and re-created into a more refined form is a testament to the fiercely liberated nature of our soul. To the ego, the soul’s willingness to grow under the threat of any circumstance seems foolish, shortsighted, and insane. This is because the ego can only interpret that reality as worry, anticipation, and regret.
Matt Kahn (Everything Is Here to Help You: A Loving Guide to Your Soul's Evolution)
Kestrel listened to the slap of waves against the ship, the cries of struggle and death. She remembered how her heart, so tight, like a scroll, had opened when Arin kissed her. It had unfurled. If her heart were truly a scroll, she could burn it. It would become a tunnel of flame, a handful of ash. The secrets she had written inside herself would be gone. No one would know. Her father would choose the water for Kestrel if he knew. Yet she couldn’t. In the end, it wasn’t cunning that kept her from jumping, or determination. It was a glassy fear. She didn’t want to die. Arin was right. She played a game until its end. Suddenly, Kestrel heard his voice. She opened her eyes. He was shouting. He was shouting her name. He was barreling past people, driving a path between the mainmast and the railing alongside the launch. Kestrel saw the horror in him mirror what she had felt when facing the water. Kestrel gathered the strength in her legs and jumped onto the deck. Her feet hit the planks, the force of movement toppling her. But she had learned from fighting Rax how to protect her hands. She tucked them to her, pressed the hard knots of her bonds against her chest, fell shoulder first, and rolled. Arin hauled her to her feet. And even though he had seen her choice, must have seen it still blazing on her face, he shook her. He kept saying the words he had been shouting as he had neared the railing. “Don’t, Kestrel. Don’t.” His hands cradled her face. “Don’t touch me,” she said. Arin’s hands fell. “Gods,” he said hoarsely. “Yes, it would be rather unfortunate for you, wouldn’t it, if you lost your little bargaining chip against the general? Never fear.” She smiled a brittle smile. “It turns out that I am a coward.” Arin shook his head. “It’s harder to live.
Marie Rutkoski (The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1))
I had tracked down a little cafe in the next village, with a television set that was going to show the World Cup Final on the Saturday. I arrived there mid-morning when it was still deserted, had a couple of beers, ordered a sensational conejo au Franco, and then sat, drinking coffee, and watching the room fill up. With Germans. I was expecting plenty of locals and a sprinkling of tourists, even in an obscure little outpost like this, but not half the population of Dortmund. In fact, I came to the slow realisation as they poured in and sat around me . . . that I was the only Englishman there. They were very friendly, but there were many of them, and all my exits were cut off. What strategy could I employ? It was too late to pretend that I was German. I’d greeted the early arrivals with ‘Guten Tag! Ich liebe Deutschland’, but within a few seconds found myself conversing in English, in which they were all fluent. Perhaps, I hoped, they would think that I was an English-speaker but not actually English. A Rhodesian, possibly, or a Canadian, there just out of curiosity, to try to pick up the rules of this so-called ‘Beautiful Game’. But I knew that I lacked the self-control to fake an attitude of benevolent detachment while watching what was arguably the most important event since the Crucifixion, so I plumped for the role of the ultra-sporting, frightfully decent Upper-Class Twit, and consequently found myself shouting ‘Oh, well played, Germany!’ when Helmut Haller opened the scoring in the twelfth minute, and managing to restrain myself, when Geoff Hurst equalised, to ‘Good show! Bit lucky though!’ My fixed grin and easy manner did not betray the writhing contortions of my hands and legs beneath the table, however, and when Martin Peters put us ahead twelve minutes from the end, I clapped a little too violently; I tried to compensate with ‘Come on Germany! Give us a game!’ but that seemed to strike the wrong note. The most testing moment, though, came in the last minute of normal time when Uwe Seeler fouled Jackie Charlton, and the pig-dog dolt of a Swiss referee, finally revealing his Nazi credentials, had the gall to penalise England, and then ignored Schnellinger’s blatant handball, allowing a Prussian swine named Weber to draw the game. I sat there applauding warmly, as a horde of fat, arrogant, sausage-eating Krauts capered around me, spilling beer and celebrating their racial superiority.
John Cleese (So, Anyway...: The Autobiography)
Marriage is the only adventure open to the cowardly. Gossip briefly wondered if gossip had invented the whole story, but gossip decided that the worst interpretation of events was usually the safest and, in the end, the truest. Like most of his life's writing, the play was concerned with love. and as in his life, so in his writing: love did not work. Love might or might not provoke kindness, gratify vanity and clear the skin, but it did not lead to happiness, there was always an inequality of feeling or intention present. Such was love's nature. Of course, it "worked" in the sense that it caused life's profoundest emotions, made him fresh as spring linden-blossom and broke him like a traitor on the wheel. It stirred him from well-mannered timidity to relative boldness, through a rather theoretical boldness, one tragi-comically incapable of action. It taught him the gulping folly of anticipation, the wretchedness of failure, the whine of regret and the silly fondness of remembrance. In my opinion, every love, happy or unhappy, is a real disaster when you give yourself over to it entirely. But all love needs a journey. all love symbolically is a journey and that journey needs bodying forth. Madame Amelie briefly wondered if this was a philosophical truth or an empty platitude.
Julian Barnes
Because it wasn’t enough to be accompanied by the beast who scared the crap out of every god in Heaven, Xuanzang was assigned a few more traveling companions. The gluttonous pig-man Zhu Baijie. Sha Wujing, the repentant sand demon. And the Dragon Prince of the West Sea, who took the form of a horse for Xuanzang to ride. The five adventurers, thusly gathered, set off on their— “Holy ballsacks!” I yelped. I dropped the book like I’d been bitten. “How far did you get?” Quentin said. He was leaning against the end of the nearest shelf, as casually as if he’d been there the whole time, waiting for this moment. I ignored that he’d snuck up on me again, just this once. There was a bigger issue at play. In the book was an illustration of the group done up in bold lines and bright colors. There was Sun Wukong at the front, dressed in a beggar’s cassock, holding his Ruyi Jingu Bang in one hand and the reins of the Dragon Horse in the other. A scary-looking pig-faced man and a wide-eyed demon monk followed, carrying the luggage. And perched on top of the horse was . . . me. The artist had tried to give Xuanzang delicate, beatific features and ended up with a rather girly face. By whatever coincidence, the drawing of Sun Wukong’s old master could have been a rough caricature of sixteen-year-old Eugenia Lo from Santa Firenza, California. “That’s who you think I am?” I said to Quentin. “That’s who I know you are,” he answered. “My dearest friend. My boon companion. You’ve reincarnated into such a different form, but I’d recognize you anywhere. Your spiritual energies are unmistakable.” “Are you sure? If you’re from a long time ago, maybe your memory’s a little fuzzy.” “The realms beyond Earth exist on a different time scale,” Quentin said. “Only one day among the gods passes for every human year. To me, you haven’t been gone long. Months, not centuries.” “This is just . . . I don’t know.” I took a moment to assemble my words. “You can’t walk up to me and expect me to believe right away that I’m the reincarnation of some legendary monk from a folk tale.” “Wait, what?” Quentin squinted at me in confusion. “I said you can’t expect me to go, ‘okay, I’m Xuanzang,’ just because you tell me so.” Quentin’s mouth opened slowly like the dawning of the sun. His face went from confusion to understanding to horror and then finally to laughter. “mmmmphhhhghAHAHAHAHA!” he roared. He nearly toppled over, trying to hold his sides in. “HAHAHAHA!” “What the hell is so funny?” “You,” Quentin said through his giggles. “You’re not Xuanzang. Xuanzang was meek and mild. A friend to all living things. You think that sounds like you?” It did not. But then again I wasn’t the one trying to make a case here. “Xuanzang was delicate like a chrysanthemum.” Quentin was getting a kick out of this. “You are so tough you snapped the battleaxe of the Mighty Miracle God like a twig. Xuanzang cried over squashing a mosquito. You, on the other hand, have killed more demons than the Catholic Church.” I was starting to get annoyed. “Okay, then who the hell am I supposed to be?” If he thought I was the pig, then this whole deal was off. “You’re my weapon,” he said. “You’re the Ruyi Jingu Bang.” I punched Quentin as hard as I could in the face.
F.C. Yee (The Epic Crush of Genie Lo (The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, #1))
To make good choices, you need to make sense of the complexity of your environment. The strategy logic flow can point you to the key areas of analysis necessary to generate sustainable competitive advantage. First, look to understand the industry in which you play (or will play), its distinct segments and their relative attractiveness. Without this step, it is all too easy to assume that your map of the world is the only possible map, that the world is unchanging, and that no better possibilities exist. Next, turn to customers. What do channel and end consumers truly want, need, and value-and how do those needs fit with your current or potential offerings? To answer this question, you will have to dig deep-engaging in joint value creation with channel partners and seeking a new understanding of end consumers. After customers, the lens turns inward: what are your capabilities and costs relative to the competition? Can you be a differentiator or a cost leader? If not, you will need to rethink your choices. Finally, consider competition; what will your competitors do in the face of your actions? Throughout the thinking process, be open to recasting previous analyses in light of what you learn in a subsequent box. The basic direction of the process is from left to right, but it also has interdependencies that require a more flexible path through it.
A.G. Lafley (Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works)
I got up to get another glass of water when Zac asked from his spot still at the stove, breaking up the two pounds of ground beef he’d added to the vegetables. “Vanny, were you gonna want me to help you with your draft list again this year?” I groaned. “I forgot. My brother just messaged me about it. I can’t let him win again this year, Zac. I can’t put up with his crap.” He raised his hand in a dismissive gesture. “I got you. Don’t worry about it.” “Thank—what?” Aiden had his glass halfway to his mouth and was frowning. “You play fantasy football?” he asked, referring to the online role-playing game that millions of people participated in. Participants got to build imaginary teams during a mock draft, made up of players throughout the league. I’d been wrangled into playing against my brother and some of our mutual friends about three years ago and had joined in ever since. Back then, I had no idea what the hell a cornerback was, much less a bye week, but I’d learned a lot since then. I nodded slowly at him, feeling like I’d done something wrong. The big guy’s brow furrowed. “Who was on your team last year?” I named the players I could remember, wondering where this was going and not having a good feeling about it. “What was your defensive team?” There it went. I slipped my hands under the counter and averted my eyes to the man at the stove, cursing him silently. “So you see…” The noise Zac tried to muffle was the most obvious snicker in the world. Asshole. “Was I not on your team?” I gulped. “So you see—” “Dallas wasn’t your team?” he accused me, sounding… well, I didn’t know if it was hurt or outraged, but it was definitely something. “Ahh…” I slid a look at the traitor who was by that point trying to muffle his laugh. “Zac helped me with it.” It was the thump that said Zac’s knees hit the floor. “Look, it isn’t that I didn’t choose you specifically. I would choose you if I could, but Zac said Minnesota—” “Minne-sota.” Jesus, he’d broken the state in two. The big guy, honest to God, shook his head. His eyes went from me to Zac in… yep, that was outrage. Aiden held out his hand, wiggling those incredibly long fingers. “Let me see it.” “See what?” “Your roster from last year.” I sighed and pulled my phone out of the fanny pack I still had around my waist, unlocking the screen and opening the app. Handing it over, I watched his face as he looked through my roster and felt guilty as hell. I’d been planning on choosing Dallas just because Aiden was on the team, but I really had let Zac steer me elsewhere. Apparently, just because you had the best defensive end in the country on your team, didn’t mean everyone else held up their end of the bargain. Plus, he’d missed almost the entire season. He didn’t have to take it so personally.
Mariana Zapata (The Wall of Winnipeg and Me)
Good. You’re awake.” Annwyl gulped and prayed the gods were just playing a cruel joke on her. She raised herself on her elbows when that deep, dark voice spoke again, “Careful. You don’t want to tear open those stitches.” With utter and almost heart-stopping dread, Annwyl looked over her shoulder and then couldn’t turn away. There he was. An enormous black dragon, his wings pressed tight against his body. The light emanating from the pit fire causing his shiny black scales to glisten. His huge horned head rested in the center of one of his claws. He looked so casual. If she didn’t know better, she’d swear he smirked at her, his black eyes searing her from across the gulf between them. A magnificent creature. But a creature nonetheless. A monster. “Dragons can speak, then?” Brilliant, Annwyl. But she really didn’t know what else to say. “Aye.” Scales brushed against stone and she bit the inside of her mouth to stop herself from cringing. “My name is Fearghus.” Annwyl frowned. “Fearghus?” She thought for a moment. Then dread settled over her bones, dragging her down to the pits of despair. “Fearghus . . . the Destroyer?” “That’s what they call me.” “But you haven’t been seen in years. I thought you were a myth.” Right now, she silently prayed he was a myth. “Do I look like a myth?” Annwyl stared at the enormous beast, marveling at the length and breadth of him. Black scales covered the entire length of his body, two black horns atop his mighty head. And a mane of silky black hair swept across his forehead, down his back, nearly touching the dirt floor. She cleared her throat. “No. You look real enough to my eyes.” “Good.” “I’ve heard stories about you. You smote whole villages.” “On occasion.” She turned away from that steady gaze as she wondered how the gods could be so cruel. Instead of letting her die in battle as a true warrior, they instead let her end up as dinner for a beast. “And you are Annwyl of Garbhán Isle. Annwyl of the Dark Plains. And, last I heard, Annwyl the Bloody.” Annwyl did cringe at that. She hated that particular title. “You take the heads of men and bathe in their blood.” “I do not!” She looked back at the dragon. “You take a man’s head, there’s blood. Spurting blood. But I do not bathe in anything but water.” “If you say so.
G.A. Aiken (Dragon Actually (Dragon Kin, #1))
Five actors playing allotted parts on a set stage; and now he, for whom no part had been written, had walked onto the stage unexpectedly, because one of the players had turned rebel, as she had once before. He threw everything out of focus, and them into a fever. The heat and intensity of these flying questions was enough to make a man with even partially trained clairvoyant faculties feel as if he sat in a room filled with flashing fireflies. He took warning and withdrew himself to a cold inner isolation, as he knew how to do, even while laughing and talking with surface ease. It would not do to let his mind become clouded with emotion; or open any door of his imagination. But the impressions that came across that safer inner distance did not make his companions seem less dramatic, more normal: they were still out of focus. Something about the picture was distorted, even to a clear vision. The sense of evil was as strong as ever although the lurking Presence seemed to have retreated into a far background. He saw presently what the distortion was. Their modern figures were somehow incongruous in the old house, not at home. Like actors who had somehow got onto the wrong stage, onto sets with which their voices and costumes clashed. Interlopers. Or else-actors of an old school dressed up in an unbecoming masquerade. Witch House was an old house. Not old as other houses are old, that remain beds of the continuous stream of life, of marriages and births and deaths, of children crying and children laughing, where the past is only part of the pattern, root of the present and the future. Joseph de Quincy, dead nearly a quarter of a thousand years, was still its master: he had been strong, so strong that no later personality could dim or efface him here where he had set his seal. "He left his evil here when he could no longer stay himself," Carew thought. "As a man with diphtheria leaves germs on the things he has handled, the bed he has lain in. Thoughts are tangible things; on their own plane they breed like germs and, unlike germs, they do not die. He may have forgotten; he may even walk the earth in other flesh, but what he has left here lives." As probably it had been meant to do. For the man whose malignance, swollen with the contributions of the centuries, still ensouled these walls would not have cared to build a house or found a family except as a means to an end. Witch House was set like a mold, steeped in ritual atmosphere as a temple. Dangerous business, for who could say that such a temple would not find a god? There are low, non-human beings that coalesce with and feed on such leftover forces: lair in them.
Evangeline Walton (Witch House)
In explaining the way that trivial, if diverting, pursuits like Guitar Hero provide an easy alternative to meaningful work, Horning draws on the writing of political theorist Jon Elster. In his 1986 book An Introduction to Karl Marx, Elster used a simple example to illustrate the psychic difference between the hard work of developing talent and the easy work of consuming stuff: Compare playing the piano with eating lamb chops. The first time one practices the piano it is difficult, even painfully so. By contrast, most people enjoy lamb chops the first time they eat them. Over time, however, these patterns are reversed. Playing the piano becomes increasingly more rewarding, whereas the taste for lamb chops becomes satiated and jaded with repeated, frequent consumption. Elster then made a broader point: Activities of self-realization are subject to increasing marginal utility: They become more enjoyable the more one has already engaged in them. Exactly the opposite is true of consumption. To derive sustained pleasure from consumption, diversity is essential. Diversity, on the other hand, is an obstacle to successful self-realization, as it prevents one from getting into the later and more rewarding stages. “Consumerism,” comments Horning, “keeps us well supplied with stuff and seems to enrich our identities by allowing us to become familiar with a wide range of phenomena—a process that the internet has accelerated immeasurably. . . . But this comes at the expense with developing any sense of mastery of anything, eroding over time the sense that mastery is possible, or worth pursuing.” Distraction is the permanent end state of the perfected consumer, not least because distraction is a state that is eminently programmable. To buy a guitar is to open possibilities. To buy Guitar Hero is to close them. A
Nicholas Carr (Utopia Is Creepy: And Other Provocations)
[...]a man and a boy, side by side on a yellow Swedish sofa from the 1950s that the man had bought because it somehow reminded him of a zoot suit, watching the A’s play Baltimore, Rich Harden on the mound working that devious ghost pitch, two pairs of stocking feet, size 11 and size 15, rising from the deck of the coffee table at either end like towers of the Bay Bridge, between the feet the remains in an open pizza box of a bad, cheap, and formerly enormous XL meat lover’s special, sausage, pepperoni, bacon, ground beef, and ham, all of it gone but crumbs and parentheses of crusts left by the boy, brackets for the blankness of his conversation and, for all the man knew, of his thoughts, Titus having said nothing to Archy since Gwen’s departure apart from monosyllables doled out in response to direct yes-or-nos, Do you like baseball? you like pizza? eat meat? pork?, the boy limiting himself whenever possible to a tight little nod, guarding himself at his end of the sofa as if riding on a crowded train with something breakable on his lap, nobody saying anything in the room, the city, or the world except Bill King and Ken Korach calling the plays, the game eventless and yet blessedly slow, player substitutions and deep pitch counts eating up swaths of time during which no one was required to say or to decide anything, to feel what might conceivably be felt, to dread what might be dreaded, the game standing tied at 1 and in theory capable of going on that way forever, or at least until there was not a live arm left in the bullpen, the third-string catcher sent in to pitch the thirty-second inning, batters catnapping slumped against one another on the bench, dead on their feet in the on-deck circle, the stands emptied and echoing, hot dog wrappers rolling like tumbleweeds past the diehards asleep in their seats, inning giving way to inning as the dawn sky glowed blue as the burner on a stove, and busloads of farmhands were brought in under emergency rules to fill out the weary roster, from Sacramento and Stockton and Norfolk, Virginia, entire villages in the Dominican ransacked for the flower of their youth who were loaded into the bellies of C-130s and flown to Oakland to feed the unassuageable appetite of this one game for batsmen and fielders and set-up men, threat after threat giving way to the third out, weak pop flies, called third strikes, inning after inning, week after week, beards growing long, Christmas coming, summer looping back around on itself, wars ending, babies graduating from college, and there’s ball four to load the bases for the 3,211th time, followed by a routine can of corn to left, the commissioner calling in varsity teams and the stars of girls’ softball squads and Little Leaguers, Archy and Titus sustained all that time in their equally infinite silence, nothing between them at all but three feet of sofa;
Michael Chabon (Telegraph Avenue)
told me more about what happened the other night?” she asked, deciding to air her worst fears. “Am I under suspicion or something?” “Everyone is.” “Especially ex-wives who are publicly humiliated on the day of the murder, right?” Something in Montoya’s expression changed. Hardened. “I’ll be back,” he promised, “and I’ll bring another detective with me, then we’ll interview you and you can ask all the questions you like.” “And you’ll answer them?” He offered a hint of a smile. “That I can’t promise. Just that I won’t lie to you.” “I wouldn’t expect you to, Detective.” He gave a quick nod. “In the meantime if you suddenly remember, or think of anything, give me a call.” “I will,” she promised, irritated, watching as he hurried down the two steps of the porch to his car. He was younger than she was by a couple of years, she guessed, though she couldn’t be certain, and there was something about him that exuded a natural brooding sexuality, as if he knew he was attractive to women, almost expected it to be so. Great. Just what she needed, a sexy-as-hell cop who probably had her pinned to the top of his murder suspect list. She whistled for the dog and Hershey bounded inside, dragging some mud and leaves with her. “Sit!” Abby commanded and the Lab dropped her rear end onto the floor just inside the door. Abby opened the door to the closet and found a towel hanging on a peg she kept for just such occasions, then, while Hershey whined in protest, she cleaned all four of her damp paws. “You’re gonna be a problem, aren’t you?” she teased, then dropped the towel over the dog’s head. Hershey shook herself, tossed off the towel, then bit at it, snagging one end in her mouth and pulling backward in a quick game of tug of war. Abby laughed as she played with the dog, the first real joy she’d felt since hearing the news about her ex-husband. The phone rang and she left the dog growling and shaking the tattered piece of terry cloth. “Hello?” she said, still chuckling at Hershey’s antics as she lifted the phone to her ear. “Abby Chastain?” “Yes.” “Beth Ann Wright with the New Orleans Sentinel.” Abby’s heart plummeted. The press. Just what she needed. “You were Luke Gierman’s wife, right?” “What’s this about?” Abby asked warily as Hershey padded into the kitchen and looked expectantly at the back door leading to her studio. “In a second,” she mouthed to the Lab. Hershey slowly wagged her tail. “Oh, I’m sorry,” Beth Ann said, sounding sincerely rueful. “I should have explained. The paper’s running a series of articles on Luke, as he was a local celebrity, and I’d like to interview you for the piece. I was thinking we could meet tomorrow morning?” “Luke and I were divorced.” “Yes, I know, but I would like to give some insight to the man behind the mike, you know. He had a certain public persona, but I’m sure my readers would like to know more about him, his history, his hopes, his dreams, you know, the human-interest angle.” “It’s kind of late for that,” Abby said, not bothering to keep the ice out of her voice. “But you knew him intimately. I thought you could come up with some anecdotes, let people see the real Luke Gierman.” “I don’t think so.” “I realize you and he had some unresolved issues.” “Pardon me?” “I caught his program the other day.” Abby tensed, her fingers holding the phone in a death grip. “So this is probably harder for you than most, but I still would like to ask you some questions.” “Maybe another time,” she hedged and Beth Ann didn’t miss a beat. “Anytime you’d like. You’re a native Louisianan, aren’t you?” Abby’s neck muscles tightened. “Born and raised, but you met Luke in Seattle when he was working for a radio station . . . what’s the call sign, I know I’ve got it somewhere.” “KCTY.” It was a matter of public record. “Oh, that’s right. Country in the City. But you grew up here and went to local schools, right? Your
Lisa Jackson (Lisa Jackson's Bentz & Montoya Bundle: Shiver, Absolute Fear, Lost Souls, Hot Blooded, Cold Blooded, Malice & Devious (A Bentz/Montoya Novel))
Elizabeth snapped awake in a terrified instant as the door to her bed chamber was flung open near dawn, and Ian stalked into the darkened room. “Do you want to go first, or shall I?” he said tightly, coming to stand at the side of her bed. “What do you mean?” she asked in a trembling voice. “I mean,” he said, “that either you go first and tell me why in hell you suddenly find my company repugnant, or I’ll go first and tell you how I feel when I don’t know where you are or why you want to be there!” “I’ve sent word to you both nights.” “You sent a damned note that arrived long after nightfall both times, informing me that you intended to sleep somewhere else. I want to know why!” He has men beaten like animals, she reminded herself. “Stop shouting at me,” Elizabeth said shakily, getting out of bed and dragging the covers with her to hide herself from him. His brows snapped together in an ominous frown. “Elizabeth?” he asked, reaching for her. “Don’t touch me!” she cried. Bentner’s voice came from the doorway. “Is aught amiss, my lady?” he asked, glaring bravely at Ian. “Get out of here and close that damned door behind you!” Ian snapped furiously. “Leave it open,” Elizabeth said nervously, and the brave butler did exactly as she said. In six long strides Ian was at the door, shoving it closed with a force that sent it crashing into its frame, and Elizabeth began to vibrate with terror. When he turned around and started toward her Elizabeth tried to back away, but she tripped on the coverlet and had to stay where she was. Ian saw the fear in her eyes and stopped short only inches in front of her. His hand lifted, and she winced, but it came to rest on her cheek. “Darling, what is it?” he asked. It was his voice that made her want to weep at his feet, that beautiful baritone voice; and his face-that harsh, handsome face she’d adored. She wanted to beg him to tell her what Robert and Wordsworth had said were lies-all lies. “My life depends on this, Elizabeth. So does yours. Don’t fail us,” Robert had pleaded. Yet, in that moment of weakness she actually considered telling Ian everything she knew and letting him kill her if he wanted to; she would have preferred death to the torment of living with the memory of the lie that had been their lives-to the torment of living without him. “Are you ill?” he asked, frowning and minutely studying her face. Snatching at the excuse he’d offered, she nodded hastily. “Yes. I haven’t been feeling well.” “Is that why you went to London? To see a physician?” She nodded a little wildly, and to her bewildered horror he started to smile-that lazy, tender smile that always made her senses leap. “Are you with child, darling? Is that why you’re acting so strangely?” Elizabeth was silent, trying to debate the wisdom of saying yes or no-she should say no, she realized. He’d hunt her to the ends of the earth if he believed she was carrying his babe. “No! He-the doctor said it is just-just-nerves.” “You’ve been working and playing too hard,” Ian said, looking like the picture of a worried, devoted husband. “You need more rest.” Elizabeth couldn’t bear any more of this-not his feigned tenderness or his concern or the memory of Robert’s battered back. “I’m going to sleep now,” she said in a strangled voice. “Alone,” she added, and his face whitened as if she had slapped him. During his entire adult life Ian had relied almost as much on his intuition as on his intellect, and at that moment he didn’t want to believe in the explanation they were both offering. His wife did not want him in her bed; she recoiled from his touch; she had been away for two consecutive nights; and-more alarming than any of that-guilt and fear were written all over her pale face. “Do you know what a man thinks,” he said in a calm voice that belied the pain streaking through him, “when his wife stays away at night and doesn’t want him in her bed when she does return?
Judith McNaught (Almost Heaven (Sequels, #3))
Lady Cameron,” he said, playing his role with elan as he nodded toward Ian. “You recall our friend Lord Thornton, Marquess of Kensington, I hope?” The radiant smile Elizabeth bestowed on Ian was not at all what the dowager had insisted ought to be “polite but impartial.” It wasn’t quite like any smile she’d ever given him. “Of course I remember you, my lord,” Elizabeth said to Ian, graciously offering him her hand. “I believe this waltz is mine,” he said for the benefit of Elizabeth’s avidly interested admirers. He waited until they were near the dancers, then he tried to sound more pleasant. “You seem to be enjoying yourself tonight.” “I am,” she said idly, but when she looked up at his face she saw the coolness in his eyes; with her new understanding of her own feelings, she understood his more easily. A soft, knowing smile touched her lips as the musicians struck up a waltz; it stayed in her heart as Ian’s arm slid around her waist, and his left hand closed around her fingers, engulfing them. Overhead a hundred thousand candles burned in crystal chandeliers, but Elizabeth was back in a moonlit arbor long ago. Then as now, Ian moved to the music with effortless ease. That lovely waltz had begun something that had ended wrong, terribly wrong. Now, as she danced in his arms, she could make this waltz end much differently, and she knew it; the knowledge filled her with pride and a twinge of nervousness. She waited, expecting him to say something tender, as he had the last time. “Belhaven’s been devouring you with his eyes all night,” Ian said instead. “So have half the men in this ballroom. For a country that prides itself on its delicate manners, they sure as hell don’t extend to admiring beautiful women.” That, Elizabeth thought with a startled inner smile, was not the opening she’d been waiting for. With his current mood, Elizabeth realized, she was going to have to make her own opening. Lifting her eyes to his enigmatic golden ones, she said quietly, “Ian, have you ever wanted something very badly-something that was within your grasp-and yet you were afraid to reach out for it?” Surprised by her grave question and her use of his name, Ian tried to ignore the jealousy that had been eating at him all night. “No,” he said, scrupulously keeping the curtness from his voice as he gazed down at her alluring face. “Why do you ask? Is there something you want?” Her gaze fell from his, and she nodded at his frilled white shirtfront. “What is it you want?” “You.” Ian’s breath froze in his chest, and he stared down at her lustrous hair. “What did you just say?” She raised her eyes to his. “I said I want you, only I’m afraid that I-“ Ian’s heart slammed into his chest, and his fingers dug reflexively into her back, starting to pull her to him. “Elizabeth,” he said in a strained voice, glancing a little wildly at their avidly curious audience and resisting the impossible impulse to take her out onto the balcony, “why in God’s name would you say a thing like that to me when we’re in the middle of a damned dance floor in a crowded ballroom?” Her radiant smile widened. “I thought it seemed like exactly the right place,” she told him, watching his eyes darken with desire. “Because it’s safer?” Ian asked in disbelief, meaning safer from his ardent reaction. “No, because this is how it all began two years ago. We were in the arbor, and a waltz was playing,” she reminded him needlessly. “And you came up behind me and said, ‘Dance with me, Elizabeth.’ And-and I did,” she said, her voice trailing off at the odd expression darkening his eyes. “Remember?” she added shakily when he said absolutely nothing. His gaze held hers, and his voice was tender and rough. “Love me, Elizabeth.” Elizabeth felt a tremor run through her entire body, but she looked at him without flinching. “I do.
Judith McNaught (Almost Heaven (Sequels, #3))
I left Brookstone and went to the Pottery Barn. When I was a kid and everything inside our house was familiar, cheap, and ruined, walking into the Pottery Barn was like entering heaven. If they really wanted people to enjoy church, I thought back then, they should make everything in church look and smell like the Pottery Barn. My dream was to surround myself one day with everything in the store, with the wicker baskets and scented candles, the brushed-silver picture frames. But that was a long time ago. I had already gone through a period of buying everything there was to buy at the Pottery Barn and decorating my apartment like a Pottery Barn outlet, and then getting rid of it all during a massive upgrade. Now everything at the Pottery Barn looked ersatz and mass-produced. To buy any of it now would be to regress in aspiration and selfhood. I didn’t want to buy anything at the Pottery Barn so much as I wanted to recapture the feeling of wanting to buy everything from the Pottery Barn. Something similar happened at the music store. I should try to find some new music, I thought, because there was a time when new music could lift me out of a funk like nothing else. But I wasn’t past the Bs when I saw the only thing I really cared to buy. It was the Beatles’ Rubber Soul, which had been released in 1965. I already owned Rubber Soul. I had owned Rubber Soul on vinyl, then on cassette, and now on CD, and of course on my iPod, iPod mini, and iPhone. If I wanted to, I could have pulled out my iPhone and played Rubber Soul from start to finish right there, on speaker, for the sake of the whole store. But that wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted to buy Rubber Soul for the first time all over again. I wanted to return the needle from the run-out groove to the opening chords of “Drive My Car” and make everything new again. That wasn’t going to happen. But, I thought, I could buy it for somebody else. I could buy somebody else the new experience of listening to Rubber Soul for the first time. So I took the CD up to the register and paid for it and, walking out, felt renewed and excited. But the first kid I offered it to, a rotund teenager in a wheelchair looking longingly into a GameStop window, declined on the principle that he would rather have cash. A couple of other kids didn’t have CD players. I ended up leaving Rubber Soul on a bench beside a decommissioned ashtray where someone had discarded an unhealthy gob of human hair. I wandered, as everyone in the mall sooner or later does, into the Best Friends Pet Store. Many best friends—impossibly small beagles and corgis and German shepherds—were locked away for display in white cages where they spent their days dozing with depression, stirring only long enough to ponder the psychic hurdles of licking their paws. Could there be anything better to lift your spirits than a new puppy?
Joshua Ferris (To Rise Again at a Decent Hour)
Unchopping a Tree. Start with the leaves, the small twigs, and the nests that have been shaken, ripped, or broken off by the fall; these must be gathered and attached once again to their respective places. It is not arduous work, unless major limbs have been smashed or mutilated. If the fall was carefully and correctly planned, the chances of anything of the kind happening will have been reduced. Again, much depends upon the size, age, shape, and species of the tree. Still, you will be lucky if you can get through this stages without having to use machinery. Even in the best of circumstances it is a labor that will make you wish often that you had won the favor of the universe of ants, the empire of mice, or at least a local tribe of squirrels, and could enlist their labors and their talents. But no, they leave you to it. They have learned, with time. This is men's work. It goes without saying that if the tree was hollow in whole or in part, and contained old nests of bird or mammal or insect, or hoards of nuts or such structures as wasps or bees build for their survival, the contents will have to repaired where necessary, and reassembled, insofar as possible, in their original order, including the shells of nuts already opened. With spider's webs you must simply do the best you can. We do not have the spider's weaving equipment, nor any substitute for the leaf's living bond with its point of attachment and nourishment. It is even harder to simulate the latter when the leaves have once become dry — as they are bound to do, for this is not the labor of a moment. Also it hardly needs saying that this the time fro repairing any neighboring trees or bushes or other growth that might have been damaged by the fall. The same rules apply. Where neighboring trees were of the same species it is difficult not to waste time conveying a detached leaf back to the wrong tree. Practice, practice. Put your hope in that. Now the tackle must be put into place, or the scaffolding, depending on the surroundings and the dimension of the tree. It is ticklish work. Almost always it involves, in itself, further damage to the area, which will have to be corrected later. But, as you've heard, it can't be helped. And care now is likely to save you considerable trouble later. Be careful to grind nothing into the ground. At last the time comes for the erecting of the trunk. By now it will scarcely be necessary to remind you of the delicacy of this huge skeleton. Every motion of the tackle, every slightly upward heave of the trunk, the branches, their elaborately reassembled panoply of leaves (now dead) will draw from you an involuntary gasp. You will watch for a lead or a twig to be snapped off yet again. You will listen for the nuts to shift in the hollow limb and you will hear whether they are indeed falling into place or are spilling in disorder — in which case, or in the event of anything else of the kind — operations will have to cease, of course, while you correct the matter. The raising itself is no small enterprise, from the moment when the chains tighten around the old bandages until the boles hands vertical above the stump, splinter above splinter. How the final straightening of the splinters themselves can take place (the preliminary work is best done while the wood is still green and soft, but at times when the splinters are not badly twisted most of the straightening is left until now, when the torn ends are face to face with each other). When the splinters are perfectly complementary the appropriate fixative is applied. Again we have no duplicate of the original substance. Ours is extremely strong, but it is rigid. It is limited to surfaces, and there is no play in it. However the core is not the part of the trunk that conducted life from the roots up to the branches and back again. It was relatively inert. The fixative for this part is not the same as the one for the outer layers and the bark, and if either of these is involved
W.S. Merwin