Swallowing Stones Quotes

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Teccam explains there are two types of secrets. There are secrets of the mouth and secrets of the heart. Most secrets are secrets of the mouth. Gossip shared and small scandals whispered. There secrets long to be let loose upon the world. A secret of the mouth is like a stone in your boot. At first you’re barely aware of it. Then it grows irritating, then intolerable. Secrets of the mouth grow larger the longer you keep them, swelling until they press against your lips. They fight to be let free. Secrets of the heart are different. They are private and painful, and we want nothing more than to hide them from the world. They do not swell and press against the mouth. They live in the heart, and the longer they are kept, the heavier they become. Teccam claims it is better to have a mouthful of poison than a secret of the heart. Any fool will spit out poison, he says, but we hoard these painful treasures. We swallow hard against them every day, forcing them deep inside us. They they sit, growing heavier, festering. Given enough time, they cannot help but crush the heart that holds them.
Patrick Rothfuss (The Wise Man’s Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2))
This is beautiful," I said, ignoring the shop window to trace the gleaming stone walls fronting another boutique. "You know what's funny?" Jacob asked. He didn't wait for my answer. "You can see beauty in everything, except for yourself." *** I swallowed hard. Erik thought my body was beautiful, Karin that it was enviable. At random times, people had noted that my hands were beautiful, or my hair. The Twisted Sisters had called my art beautiful. Mom had the best intentions and always told me before and after my laser surgeries that I would be beautiful. But no one had ever said that I was beautiful, all my parts taken together, not just the bits and pieces.
Justina Chen (North of Beautiful)
I love you, Gwenny. Please don’t leave me,” said Gideon. That was the last thing I heard before a great void swallowed me up.
Kerstin Gier (Emerald Green (Precious Stone Trilogy, #3))
Listen. When the wind blows all your candles out, when the stars turn to plumes of smoke, when your mother makes you watch as the matches burn out in her eyes, Let me hold your hand, your skin, the stones you've swallowed in your sleep. Let me slip your soul out of your skin so you can sleep in my palms for tonight.
Shinji Moon (The Anatomy of Being)
I thought if I made sure to be an upstanding member of society, I’d be exempt from the stuff THOSE black guys deal with, you know? Really hard to swallow that I was wrong.
Nic Stone (Dear Martin)
And the Shadow fell upon the land, and the world was riven stone from stone. The oceans fled, and the mountains were swallowed up, and the nations were scattered to the eight corners of the World. The moon was as blood, and the sun was as ashes. The seas boiled, and the living envied the dead. All was shattered, and all but memory lost, and one memory above all others, of him who brought the Shadow and the Breaking of the World. And him they named Dragon. And it came to pass in those days, as it had come before and would come again, that the Dark lay heavy on the land and weighed down the hearts of men, and the green things failed, and hope died. And men cried out to the Creator, saying, O Light of the Heavens, Light of the World, let the Promised One be born of the mountain, according to the prophecies, as he was in ages past and will be in ages to come. Let the Prince of the Morning sing to the land that green things will grow and the valleys give forth lambs. Let the arm of the Lord of the Dawn shelter us from the Dark, and the great sword of justice defend us. Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.
Robert Jordan (The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time, #1))
L'union libre [Freedom of Love]" My wife with the hair of a wood fire With the thoughts of heat lightning With the waist of an hourglass With the waist of an otter in the teeth of a tiger My wife with the lips of a cockade and of a bunch of stars of the last magnitude With the teeth of tracks of white mice on the white earth With the tongue of rubbed amber and glass My wife with the tongue of a stabbed host With the tongue of a doll that opens and closes its eyes With the tongue of an unbelievable stone My wife with the eyelashes of strokes of a child's writing With brows of the edge of a swallow's nest My wife with the brow of slates of a hothouse roof And of steam on the panes My wife with shoulders of champagne And of a fountain with dolphin-heads beneath the ice My wife with wrists of matches My wife with fingers of luck and ace of hearts With fingers of mown hay My wife with armpits of marten and of beechnut And of Midsummer Night Of privet and of an angelfish nest With arms of seafoam and of riverlocks And of a mingling of the wheat and the mill My wife with legs of flares With the movements of clockwork and despair My wife with calves of eldertree pith My wife with feet of initials With feet of rings of keys and Java sparrows drinking My wife with a neck of unpearled barley My wife with a throat of the valley of gold Of a tryst in the very bed of the torrent With breasts of night My wife with breasts of a marine molehill My wife with breasts of the ruby's crucible With breasts of the rose's spectre beneath the dew My wife with the belly of an unfolding of the fan of days With the belly of a gigantic claw My wife with the back of a bird fleeing vertically With a back of quicksilver With a back of light With a nape of rolled stone and wet chalk And of the drop of a glass where one has just been drinking My wife with hips of a skiff With hips of a chandelier and of arrow-feathers And of shafts of white peacock plumes Of an insensible pendulum My wife with buttocks of sandstone and asbestos My wife with buttocks of swans' backs My wife with buttocks of spring With the sex of an iris My wife with the sex of a mining-placer and of a platypus My wife with a sex of seaweed and ancient sweetmeat My wife with a sex of mirror My wife with eyes full of tears With eyes of purple panoply and of a magnetic needle My wife with savanna eyes My wife with eyes of water to he drunk in prison My wife with eyes of wood always under the axe My wife with eyes of water-level of level of air earth and fire
André Breton (Poems of André Breton: A Bilingual Anthology)
..I always recognize the foces that will shape my life. I let them do their work. Sometimes they tear through my life like a hurricane. Sometimes they simply shift the ground under me, so that I stand on different earth, and something or someone has been swallowed up. I steady myself, in the earthquate. I lie down, and let the hurricane pass over me. I never fight. Afterwards I look around me, and I say, 'Ah, so this at least is left for me. And that dear person has also survived.' I quietly inscribe on the stone tablet of my heart the name which has gone forever. Th inscription is a thing of agony. Then I start on my way again.
Josephine Hart (Damage)
And all the names of the tribes, the nomads of faith who walked in the monotone of the desert and saw brightness and faith and colour. The way a stone or found metal box or bone can become loved and turn eternal in a prayer. Such glory of this country she enters now and becomes a part of. We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves. I wish for all of this to be marked on my body when I am dead. I believe in such cartography—to be marked by nature, not just to label ourselves on a map like the names of rich men and women on buildings. We are communal histories, communal books. We are not owned or monogamous in our taste or experience. All I desired was to walk upon such an earth that had no maps.
Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient)
He put Harry’s wand back into its box and wrapped it in brown paper, still muttering, “Curious . . . curious . . .” “Sorry,” said Harry, “but what’s curious?” Mr. Ollivander fixed Harry with his pale stare. “I remember every wand I’ve ever sold, Mr. Potter. Every single wand. It so happens that the phoenix whose tail feather is in your wand, gave another feather — just one other. It is very curious indeed that you should be destined for this wand when its brother — why, its brother gave you that scar.” Harry swallowed.
J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1))
Time passes and I am still not through it. Grief isn't something you get over. You live with it. You go on on with it lodged in you. Sometimes I feel like I have swallowed a pile of stones. Grief makes me heavy. It makes me slow. Even on days when I laugh a lot, or dance, or finish a project, or meet a deadline, or celebrate, or make love, it is there. Lodged deep inside of me.
Ann Hood (Comfort: A Journey Through Grief)
When I was a kid I used to drink from the tap all the time. I'd run back into the flat all hot and sweaty from playing and didn't even bother putting it in a glass, just turned the tap on and stuck my mouth underneath it. If my mom caught me doing it she used to scold me, but my dad just said that I had to be careful. 'What if a fish jumped out?' he used to say. 'You'd swallow it before you knew it was there.' Dad was always saying stuff like that and it wasn't until I was seventeen that I realised it was because he was stoned all the time.
Ben Aaronovitch (Midnight Riot (Rivers of London #1))
Prophet may you be! If I be false, or swerve a hair from truth, when time is old and hath forgot itself, when waterdrops have worn the stones of Troy, and blind oblivion swallowed cities up, and mighty states characterless are grated to dusty nothing, yet let memory, from false to false, among false maids in love, upbraid my falsehood!
William Shakespeare (Troilus and Cressida (Shakespeare in Production))
When you rise quickly like a swallow, you must keep in mind that you may also fall fast like a stone!
Mehmet Murat ildan
In the dream from which he'd wakened he had wandered in a cave where the child led him by the hand. Their light playing over the wet flowstone walls. Like pilgrims in a fable swallowed up and lost among the inward parts of some granitic beast. Deep stone flues where the water dripped and sang. Tolling in the silence the minutes of the earth and the hours and the days of it and the years without cease. Until they stood in a great stone room where lay a black and ancient lake. And on the far shore a creature that raised its dripping mouth from the rimstone pool and stared into the light with eyes dead white and sightless as the eggs of spiders. It swung its head low over the water as if to take the scent of what it could not see. Crouching there pale and naked and translucent, its alabaster bones cast up in shadow on the rocks behind it. Its bowels, its beating heart. The brain that pulsed in a dull glass bell. It swung its head from side to side and then gave out a low moan and turned and lurched away and loped soundlessly into the dark.
Cormac McCarthy (The Road)
when you’re sitting in a corner with your hair stuck in strings to your sweaty cheeks and it feels as if you’ve swallowed a hot stone—
Stephen King (Rose Madder)
No matter what I do, I really do love you Celaena." The word hit her like a stone to the head. He'd never said that word to her before. Ever. A long silence fell between them. Arobynn's neck shifted as he swallowed. "I do the things that I do because I'm sacred ... and because I don't know how to express what I feel." He said it so quietly that she barely heard it. "I did all of those things because I was angry with you for picking Sam." Arobynn's carefully cultivated mask fell, and the wound she'd given him flickered in those magnificent eyes. "Stay with me," he whispered. "Stay in Rifthold." She swallowed, and found it particularly hard to do so. "I'm going." "No," he said softly. "Don't go." No. That was what she'd said to him that night he'd beaten her, in the moment before he'd struck her, when she thought he was going to hurt Sam instead. And then he'd beaten her so badly she'd been knocked unconscious. Then he'd beaten Sam, too. Don't. That was what Ansel had said to her in the desert when Celaena had pressed the sword into the back of her neck, when the agony of Ansel's betrayal had been almost enough to make Celaena kill the girl she'd called a friend. But that betrayal had paled in comparison to what Arobynn had done to her when he'd tricked her into killing Doneval, a man who could have freed countless slaves. He was using word as chains to bind her again. He'd had so many chances over the year to tell her that he loved her--he'd known how much she craved those words. But he hadn't spoken them until he needed to use them as weapons. And now that she had Sam, Sam who said those words without expecting anything in return, Sam who loved her for reasons she still didn't understand... Celaena tilted her head to the side, the only warning she gave that she was still ready to attack him. "Get out of my house.
Sarah J. Maas (The Assassin and the Empire (Throne of Glass, #0.5))
His reddish hair looked soft like rabbit fur. My fingers itched to touch but I knew I never would. I swallowed to try to gain some of my voice back and repeated myself. “A week, I think,” he said. “I keep meaning to come back out here to clear it out from the path but I’ve been putting it off. There was a bad storm before you moved
C.L. Stone (Introductions (The Ghost Bird #1))
Surrounded by stone, this body of mine is seen in the dim light for what it is, fragile and brief. The water closes, seamless, around me. My foot with it's blue-green veins is vulnerable beside this rock-hard world that wants to someday take me in. Can we love what will swallow us when we are gone? I do. I love what will consume us all, the place where the tunneling worms and roots of plants dwell, where the slow deep centuries of earth are undoing and remaking themselves.
Linda Hogan (Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World)
What do you think, Galen?" Lady Fern asked in a sugary voice. Galen chewed slowly and painfully, swallowing tentatively. It's very unique," he said, trying to look intrigued instead of disgusted. "It's excellent." Lady Fern looked satisfied and turned to say something to her husband, while Galen added quietly under his breath, "...not." --The Fire Stone
Riley Carney (The Fire Stone (The Reign of the Elements, #1))
There are stages to the process of being betrayed by your society. One is jolted from a place of complacency by the discovery of difference, by hypocrisy, by inexplicable or incongruous ill treatment. What follows is a time of confusion—unlearning what one thought to be the truth. Immersing oneself in the new truth. And then a decision must be made. Some accept their fate. Swallow their pride, forget the real truth, embrace the falsehood for all they’re worth—because, they decide, they cannot be worth much. If a whole society has dedicated itself to their subjugation, after all, then surely they deserve it? Even if they don’t, fighting back is too painful, too impossible. At least this way there is peace, of a sort. Fleetingly. The alternative is to demand the impossible. It isn’t right, they whisper, weep, shout; what has been done to them is not right. They are not inferior. They do not deserve it. And so it is the society that must change. There can be peace this way, too, but not before conflict. No one reaches this place without a false start or two.
N.K. Jemisin (The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth, #3))
He was wounded in an enemy country far from home and although his eyes took in the alien stones about yet the greater void beyond seemed to swallow up his soul.
Cormac McCarthy (Blood Meridian, or, the Evening Redness in the West)
The captive had broken off the stalagmite, and upon the stump had placed a stone, wherein he had scooped a shallow hollow to catch the precious drop that fell once in every three minutes with the dreary regularity of a clock- tick--a dessertspoonful once in four and twenty hours. That drop was falling when the Pyramids were new; when Troy fell; when the foundations of Rome were laid when Christ was crucified; when the Conqueror created the British empire; when Columbus sailed; when the massacre at Lexington was "news." It is falling now; it will still be falling when all these things shall have sunk down the afternoon of history, and the twilight of tradition, and been swallowed up in the thick night of oblivion. Has everything a purpose and a mission? Did this drop fall patiently during five thousand years to be ready for this flitting human insect's need?
Mark Twain (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer)
Worst fears: That God was not good. That the earth you stood upon shifted, and chasms yawned; that people, falling, clutched one another for help and none was forthcoming. That the basis of all things was evil. That the beauty of the evening, now settling in a yellow glow on the stone of The Cottage barns, the swallows dipping and soaring, a sudden host of butterflies in the long grasses in the foreground, was a lie; a deceitful sheen on which hopeful visions flitted momentarily, and that long, long ago evil had won against good, death over life... in the glow of the sun against the stone walls, as well as in the dancing of butterflies- that in this she had been mocked.
Fay Weldon
Someone owed Aeduan a life-debt. It was … A first. A first that he didn’t know how to swallow. The Threadwitch Iseult was alive because he had made it so. She could breathe her current breaths and could taste the river’s water because he had saved her life. Though she had also, in a way, saved his. First, she had not killed him while he lay unconscious in the bear trap. And second, she had been the one to hook them to that stone before the Falls. But Aeduan decided not to mention any of this, for if the Threadwitch believed she owed him three lives, then that gave him an advantage. That, he could use. He didn’t know how, he didn’t know when, only that he absolutely would.
Susan Dennard (Windwitch (The Witchlands, #2))
And the Shadow fell upon the Land, and the World was riven stone from stone. The oceans fled, and the mountains were swallowed up, and the nations were scattered to the eight corners of the World. The moon was as blood, and the sun was as ashes. The seas boiled, and the living envied the dead. All was shattered, and all but memory lost, and one memory above all others, of him who brought the Shadow and the Breaking of the World. And him they named Dragon.
Robert Jordan (The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time, #1))
Daffy had stopped talking, without her noticing. It was if he'd run out of words. He did a peculiar thing, then; he reached out and touched Mary's cheekbone; lightly, as if he was brushing away a speck of coal dust. She thought of Doll, that first morning, wiping mud out of the lost child's eyes. Her throat hurt, all at once, as if she were swallowing a stone. She wished the two of them could stay forever frozen in this moment, hidden in the grass, as the setting sun slid across the fields of Monmouth. Before any asking, any refusal. While this strange, tame young man was still looking at her as is she were worth any price.
Emma Donoghue (Slammerkin)
He stood then,unzipping his jeans.As he shoved them and his boxers over his lean hips,she swallowed hard.She´d kissed and licked his cock more than once over the past couple days so she´d gotten used to the piercing.He´d told her that his piercing was called an apadravya and from what she´d looked up online it was supposedly the most painful type of piercing to get in that region.Well,painful to heal,but it was also more pleasurable for him and his partner in the long term.Vertical,it pierced right through the head of his penis from top to bottom.There was a little ball at the top and one at the bottom,connected by a straight barbell.
Katie Reus (Miami, Mistletoe & Murder (Red Stone Security, #4))
How sweetly she looks! O, but there's a wrinkle in her brow as deep as philosophy. - Anacreon, drink to my mistress' health, I'll pledge it. Stay, stay, there's a spider in the cup! No, 'tis but a grape-stone; swallow it, fear nothing, poet. So, so; lift higher.
Thomas Middleton (The Changeling)
And the Shdaow fell upon the Land, and the World was riven stone from stone. The oceans fled, and the mountains were swallowed up, and the nations were scattered to the eight corners of the World. The moon was as blood, and the sun was as ashes. The seas boiled, and the living envied the dead. All was shattered, and all but memory lost, and one memory above all others, of him who brought the Shadow and the Breaking of the World. And him they named Dragon. - from Aleth nin Taerin alta Camora, The Breaking of the World. Authoer unknown, the Fourth Age.
Brandon Sanderson (A Memory of Light (The Wheel of Time, #14))
Here in the forest lay sullen, soot-blackened stones that were the remains of ruined hearths; in abandoned cemeteries were dark headstones that had already half sunk into the ground. Everything inanimate—stones, iron—was being swallowed by the earth, dissolving into it with the years, while green, vegetable life, in contrast, was bursting up from the earth. The boy found the silence over the cold hearths especially painful. And when he came back home, the smell of smoke from the kitchen, the barking of dogs, and the cackling of hens somehow seemed all the sweeter.
Vasily Grossman (Everything Flows)
Jesse swallowed and looked around the field. Roe could see him struggling with his thoughts, trying to put them in a coherent order. "It takes me a long time to learn things," he told Roe finally. "When I learn 'em, I try to hold on real tight. It's kindy scary for me to try to unlearn 'em.
Pamela Morsi (Marrying Stone (Tales from Marrying Stone, #1))
Not bad, but I've eaten worse. Guess you're just a sight more used to swallowing slimy stuff like that, than I am. I'm sure you've had plenty of practice over the years, swallowing that is." I threw another in my mouth, giving Rainia a shit-eating grin that was met by sparkling slits of mock anger.
Johnny Stone (Steam & Spurs)
Quince leans in over the map, studying, and I think he’s going to ask me something about the kingdoms or my plan or Daddy’s trident. Instead, without taking his eyes off the map, he asks, “What happens if I fail?” “What?” I whisper. “If I don’t pass the three tests,” he says. “What’s the consequence?” I suck in a shaky breath. This is the part I didn’t want to talk about, the part I hoped he wouldn’t ask about. But I guess he’s too clever—or has learned too much about how mer-world magic works—to assume there won’t be a price. There is, and it’s a big one. “If you fail,” I say, keeping my voice steady, “then you are banished from the water forever.” He lifts his Caribbean-blue eyes to stare into mine. “And?” “And?” I echo. “I know that can’t be it,” he says. “Nothing in your world is ever that simple.” A part of my heart breaks when he calls it my world. I want it to feel like his world, too. But now isn’t the time. He’s right; there’s more to the consequence of failure than him being exiled. “And . . . ,” I say, wishing I didn’t have to tell him this, “I’ll be banished from land.” I swallow hard. “Forever.” He stares into my eyes, unblinking, and I can’t read any sort of reaction. His mind is racing, I’m sure, but everything on the outside is a stone facade. Finally, after what feels like an eternity, he says, “Then I won’t fail.
Tera Lynn Childs
Some truths seemed insoluble, stones that couldn't be swallowed.
Sue Monk Kidd (The Book of Longings)
Some truths seemed insoluble, stones that couldn’t be swallowed.
Sue Monk Kidd (The Book of Longings)
The Quiet Girls" Were we never wolves? No, we never were. We never let ourselves be lured into a lair. We never licked honey off an eyetooth just for the sweet. We never swallowed our own blood with the honey. We were neither animal nor stone. We were ephemeral, motes in light, breath in winter. Drifting was safe travel; we knew it then, and we were right. The earth slowed its spinning and we stayed on. Trenches yawned, and we skirted them. We survived the meteor shower—no fragments fell on us. Still we float like spores, always aloft and away.
Catherine Pierce
Most secrets are secrets of the mouth. Gossip shared and small scandals whispered. These secrets long to be let loose upon the world. A secret of the mouth is like a stone in your boot. At first you're barely aware of it. Then it grows irritating, then intolerable. Secrets of the mouth grow larger the longer you keep them, swelling until they press against your lips. They fight to be let free. Secrets of the heart are different. They are private and painful, and we want nothing more than to hide them from the world. They do not swell and press against the mouth. They live in the heart, and the longer they are kept, the heavier they become. Teccam claims it is better to have a mouthful of poison than a secret of the heart. Any fool will spit out poison, he says, but we hoard these painful treasures. We swallow hard against them every day, forcing them deep inside us. There they sit, growing heavier, festering. Given enough time, they cannot help but crush the heart that holds them.
Patrick Rothfuss (The Wise Man’s Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2))
We drank the blood of our enemies. That's why you see Gnostics so hunted. The sacrament of the Eucharist is really drinking the blood of the enemy. The Grail, the Sangraal, is the bloody vehicle. Why else guard it so sacredly? Why should the black honor-guard ride half a continent, half a splintering Empire, stone night and winter day, if it's only for the touch of sweet lips on a humble bowl? No, it's mortal sin they're carrying: to swallow the enemy, down into the slick juicery to be taken in by all the cells. Your officially defined 'mortal sin,' that is. A sin against you. A section of your penal code, that's all.
Thomas Pynchon (Gravity’s Rainbow)
His eyes were discs of ignited gold, but I did not look away. 'If I do this thing,' he said, 'it is the last I will ever do for you. Do not come begging again.' 'Father,' I said, 'I never will. I leave this place tomorrow.' He would not ask where, he would not even wonder. So many years I had spent as a child sifting his bright features for his thoughts, trying to glimpse among them one that bore my name. But he was a harp with only one string, and the note it played was himself. 'You have always been the worst of my children,' he said. 'Be sure you do not dishonour me.' 'I have a better idea. I will do as I please, and when you count your children, leave me out.' His body was rigid with wrath. He looked as though he had swallowed a stone, and it choked him. 'Give mother my greetings,' I said. His jaw bit down and he was gone.
Madeline Miller (Circe)
If I longed for destruction it was merely that this eye might be extinguished. I longed for an earthquake, for some cataclysm of nature which would plunge the lighthouse into the sea. I wanted a metamorphosis, a change to fish, to leviathan, to destroyer. I wanted the earth to open up, to swallow everything in one engulfing yawn. I wanted to see the city buried fathoms deep in the bosom of the sea. I wanted to sit in a cave and read by candlelight. (I wanted that eye extinguished so that I might have a change to know my own body, my own desires. I wanted to be alone for a thousand years in order to reflect on what I had seen and heard - and in order to forget. I wanted something of the earth which was not of man's doing, something absolutely divorced from the human of which I was surfeited. I wanted something purely terrestrial and absolutely divested of idea. I wanted to feel the blood running back into my veins, even at the cost of annihilation. I wanted to shake the stone and the light out of my system. I wanted the dark fecundity of nature, the deep well of the womb, silence, or else the lapping of the black waters of death. I wanted to be that night which the remorseless eye illuminated, a night diapered with stars and trailing comets. To be of night, so frighteningly silent, so utterly incomprehensible and eloquent at the same time. Never more to speak or to listen or to think. To be englobed and encompassed and to encompass and to englobe at the same time. No more pity, no more tenderness. To be human only terrestrially, like a plant or a worm or a brook. To be decomposed, divested of light and stone, variable as the molecule, durable as the atom, heartless as the earth itself.
Henry Miller (Tropic of Capricorn (Tropic, #2))
These things matter to me, Daniel, says the man with six days to live. They are sitting on the porch in the last light. These things matter to me, son. The way the hawks huddle their shoulders angrily against hissing snow. Wrens whirring in the bare bones of bushes in winter. The way swallows and swifts veer and whirl and swim and slice and carve and curve and swerve. The way that frozen dew outlines every blade of grass. Salmonberries thimbleberries cloudberries snowberries elderberries salalberries gooseberries. My children learning to read. My wife's voice velvet in my ear at night in the dark under the covers. Her hair in my nose as we slept curled like spoons. The sinuous pace of rivers and minks and cats. Fresh bread with too much butter. My children's hands when they cup my face in their hands. Toys. Exuberance. Mowing the lawn. Tiny wrenches and screwdrivers. Tears of sorrow, which are the salt sea of the heart. Sleep in every form from doze to bone-weary. Pay stubs. Trains. The shivering ache of a saxophone and the yearning of a soprano. Folding laundry hot from the dryer. A spotless kitchen floor. The sound of bagpipes. The way horses smell in spring. Red wines. Furnaces. Stone walls. Sweat. Postcards on which the sender has written so much that he or she can barely squeeze in the signature. Opera on the radio. Bathrobes, back rubs. Potatoes. Mink oil on boots. The bands at wedding receptions. Box-elder bugs. The postman's grin. Linen table napkins. Tent flaps. The green sifting powdery snow of cedar pollen on my porch every year. Raccoons. The way a heron labors through the sky with such a vast elderly dignity. The cheerful ears of dogs. Smoked fish and the smokehouses where fish are smoked. The way barbers sweep up circles of hair after a haircut. Handkerchiefs. Poems read aloud by poets. Cigar-scissors. Book marginalia written with the lightest possible pencil as if the reader is whispering to the writer. People who keep dead languages alive. Fresh-mown lawns. First-basemen's mitts. Dish-racks. My wife's breasts. Lumber. Newspapers folded under arms. Hats. The way my children smelled after their baths when they were little. Sneakers. The way my father's face shone right after he shaved. Pants that fit. Soap half gone. Weeds forcing their way through sidewalks. Worms. The sound of ice shaken in drinks. Nutcrackers. Boxing matches. Diapers. Rain in every form from mist to sluice. The sound of my daughters typing their papers for school. My wife's eyes, as blue and green and gray as the sea. The sea, as blue and green and gray as her eyes. Her eyes. Her.
Brian Doyle (Mink River)
HAZEL WASN’T PROUD OF CRYING. After the tunnel collapsed, she wept and screamed like a two-year-old throwing a tantrum. She couldn’t move the debris that separated her and Leo from the others. If the earth shifted any more, the entire complex might collapse on their heads. Still, she pounded her fists against the stones and yelled curses that would’ve earned her a mouth-washing with lye soap back at St. Agnes Academy. Leo stared at her, wide-eyed and speechless. She wasn’t being fair to him. The last time the two of them had been together, she’d zapped him into her past and shown him Sammy, his great-grandfather—Hazel’s first boyfriend. She’d burdened him with emotional baggage he didn’t need, and left him so dazed they had almost gotten killed by a giant shrimp monster. Now here they were, alone again, while their friends might be dying at the hands of a monster army, and she was throwing a fit. “Sorry.” She wiped her face. “Hey, you know…” Leo shrugged. “I’ve attacked a few rocks in my day.” She swallowed with difficulty. “Frank is…he’s—” “Listen,” Leo said. “Frank Zhang has moves. He’s probably gonna turn into a kangaroo and do some marsupial jujitsu on their ugly faces.” He helped her to her feet. Despite the panic simmering inside her, she knew Leo was right. Frank and the others weren’t helpless. They would find a way to survive. The best thing she and Leo could do was carry on. She studied Leo. His hair had grown out longer and shaggier, and his face was leaner, so he looked less like an imp and more like one of those willowy elves in the fairy tales. The biggest difference was his eyes. They constantly drifted, as if Leo was trying to spot something over the horizon. “Leo, I’m sorry,” she said. He raised an eyebrow. “Okay. For what?” “For…” She gestured around her helplessly. “Everything. For thinking you were Sammy, for leading you on. I mean, I didn’t mean to, but if I did—” “Hey.” He squeezed her hand, though Hazel sensed nothing romantic in the gesture. “Machines are designed to work.” “Uh, what?” “I figure the universe is basically like a machine. I don’t know who made it, if it was the Fates, or the gods, or capital-G God, or whatever. But it chugs along the way it’s supposed to most of the time. Sure, little pieces break and stuff goes haywire once in a while, but mostly…things happen for a reason. Like you and me meeting.” “Leo Valdez,” Hazel marveled, “you’re a philosopher.” “Nah,” he said. “I’m just a mechanic. But I figure my bisabuelo Sammy knew what was what. He let you go, Hazel. My job is to tell you that it’s okay. You and Frank—you’re good together. We’re all going to get through this. I hope you guys get a chance to be happy. Besides, Zhang couldn’t tie his shoes without your help.” “That’s mean,” Hazel chided, but she felt like something was untangling inside her—a knot of tension she’d been carrying for weeks. Leo really had changed. Hazel was starting to think she’d found a good friend. “What happened to you when you were on your own?” she asked. “Who did you meet?” Leo’s eye twitched. “Long story. I’ll tell you sometime, but I’m still waiting to see how it shakes out.” “The universe is a machine,” Hazel said, “so it’ll be fine.” “Hopefully.” “As long as it’s not one of your machines,” Hazel added. “Because your machines never do what they’re supposed to.” “Yeah, ha-ha.” Leo summoned fire into his hand. “Now, which way, Miss Underground?” Hazel scanned the path in front of them. About thirty feet down, the tunnel split into four smaller arteries, each one identical, but the one on the left radiated cold. “That way,” she decided. “It feels the most dangerous.” “I’m sold,” said Leo. They began their descent.
Rick Riordan (The House of Hades (Heroes of Olympus, #4))
The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills,' was Moiraine’s reply. She stood in the doorway looking more Aes Sedai than he ever remembered her, ageless, with dark eyes that seemed ready to swallow him, slight and slender yet so regal she could have commanded a roomful of queens if she could not channel a spark. That blue stone on her forehead was catching the light again. 'You will do well, Rand.' He stared at the door long after it closed behind them.
Robert Jordan
Standing in the courtyard with a glass eye; only half the world is intelligible. The stones are wet and mossy and in the crevices are black toads. A big door bars the entrance to the cellar; the steps are slippery and soiled with bat dung. The door bulges and sags, the hinges are falling off, but there is an enameled sign on it, in perfect condition, which says: “Be sure to close the door.” Why close the door? I can’t make it out. I look again at the sign but it is removed; in it’s place there is a pane of colored glass. I take out my artificial eye, spit on it and polish it with my handkerchief. A woman is sitting on a dais above an immense carven desk; she has a snake around her neck. The entire room is lined with books and strange fish swimming in colored globes; there are maps and charts on the wall, maps of Paris before the plague, maps of the antique world, of Knossos and Carthage, of Carthage before and after the salting. In the corner of the room I see an iron bedstead and on it a corpse is lying; the woman gets up wearily, removes the corpse from the bed and absent mindedly throws it out the window. She returns to the huge carven desk, takes a goldfish from the bowl and swallows it. Slowly the room begins to revolve and one by one the continents slide into the sea; only the woman is left, but her body is a mass of geography. I lean out the window and the Eiffle Tower is fizzing champagne; it is built entirely of numbers and shrouded in black lace. The sewers are gurgling furiously. There are nothing but roofs everywhere, laid out with execrable geometric cunning.
Henry Miller (Tropic of Cancer (Tropic, #1))
Before the swallow, before the daffodil, and not much later than the snowdrop, the common toad salutes the coming of spring after his own fashion, which is to emerge from a hole in the ground, where he has lain buried since the previous autumn, and crawl as rapidly as possible towards the nearest suitable patch of water. Something – some kind of shudder in the earth, or perhaps merely a rise of a few degrees in the temperature – has told him it is time to wake up ... At this period, after his long fast, the toad has a very spiritual look, like a strict Anglo-Catholic towards the end of Lent. His movements are languid but purposeful, his body is shrunken, and by contrast his eyes look abnormally large. This allows one to notice, what one might not at any other time, that a toad has about the most beautiful eye of any living creature. It is like gold, or more exactly it is like the golden-coloured semi-precious stone which one sometimes sees in signet rings, and which I think is called a chrysoberyl.
George Orwell (Some Thoughts on the Common Toad)
I’d owned enough New Age tchotchkes in my lifetime to know that within a few days of purchase they just seemed like more crap. But as you were shopping, sifting through the stones and their meanings, there was hope that this was a turning point. It was the velocity of buying something that was the high, the potentiality of it. I could capitalist-believe in magic. In the store was hope, and hope was what separated me from the flat expanse of the rest of my life. It was like a line, a gateway that stopped me from being swallowed.
Melissa Broder (The Pisces)
Okay, what in Hades just happened? Stones don’t glow blue or any other color and they certainly don’t burn circles on you.” The stone wasn’t talking. Alexandra considered herself well grounded, yet here she stood, talking to a stone that glowed, burned circles, and refused to answer. A thread of sensation pricked at the edges of her mind, then grew stronger. It mirrored an idea then became clear. Tell no one. What? Looking from side to side, she backed against the wall. Although it felt like someone whispered in her ear, she stood there alone. The day’s trauma must have pushed her over the edge, yet the sensation persisted. Tell no one. She froze. Her eyes darted around the room. The muscles in her legs tightened as she prepared to bolt from the room. Alexandra swallowed and licked her lips. “Who would believe me anyway?” she whispered.
H.H. Laura (Larkspur (Sensate Nine Moon Saga, #1))
You know, we still have like, half an hour down here. Seems a shame to waste it.” I poked him in the ribs, and he gave an exaggerated wince. “No way, dude. My days of cellar, mill, and dungeon lovin’ are over. Go castle or go home.” “Fair enough,” he said as we interlaced our fingers and headed for the stairs. “But does it have to be a real castle, or would one of those inflatable bouncy things work?” I laughed. “Oh, inflatable castles are totally out of-“ I skidded to a stop on the first step, causing Archer to bump into me. “What the heck is that?” I asked, pointing to a dark stain in the nearest corner. “Okay, number one question you don’t want to hear in a creepy cellar,” Archer sad, but I ignored him and stepped off the staircase. The stain bled out from underneath the stone wall, covering maybe a foot of the dirt floor. It looked black and vaguely…sticky. I swallowed my disgust as I knelt down and gingerly touched the blob with one finger. Archer crouched down next to me and reached into his pocket. He pulled out a lighter, and after a few tries, a wavering flame sprung up. We studied my fingertip in the dim glow. “So that’s-“ “It’s blood, yeah,” I said, not taking my eyes off my hand. “Scary.” “I was gonna go with vile, but scary works.” Archer fished in his pockets again, and this time he produced a paper napkin. I took it from him and gave Lady Macbeth a run for her money in the hand-scrubbing department. But even as I attempted to remove a layer of skin from my finger, something was bugging me. I mean, something other than the fact that I’d just touched a puddle of blood. “Check the other corners,” I told Archer. He stood up and moved across the room. I stayed where I was, trying to remember that afternoon Dad and I had sat with the Thorne family grimoire. We’d looked at dozens of spells, but there had been one- “There’s blood in every corner,” Archer called from the other side of the cellar. “Or at least that’s what I’m guessing it is. Unlike some people, I don’t have the urge to go sticking my fingers in it.
Rachel Hawkins (Spell Bound (Hex Hall, #3))
She gasped when she exposed the wound, his flesh split open and brimming with blood. Swallowing her dread, she pressed her hand to it and in her other, she squeezed a Healer’s Touch spellstone. She cast it once, twice, three times, until all it’s magick had depleted. The blood stopped flowing. Still, the wound didn’t close. She moved on to the next stone. And the next one. “Come on, Al.” And the next. And the next. Finally the wound closed, and his broken patella was mostly set, but she exhausted the stones and Alistair hadn’t opened his eyes. Clutching his hand, Isobel rested her cheek against his chest, listening for a pulse. At first, all she heard was the noise of the forest crickets and owls. Then she finally made out his heartbeat—faint but there—and far beyond, the sound of approaching footsteps. Probably Finley and Elinor returning to finish her, too. “Seven letters,” she whispered to Alistair. “To endure.” “Survive,” she heard him rasp. She almost thought she’d imagined it at first, but then she lifted her head and realized his eyes were open, watching her. He let out a wheezy breath, then smiled. She realized she’d never seen Alistair smile in a way that wasn’t meant to be a threat. “Hello, rival,” he whispered.
Amanda Foody, christine lynn Herman (All of Us Villains (All of Us Villains, #1))
Charlie stood there like a stone monolith, blinking at his friend. Former friend? Christ. Eventually, he managed to utter, “So it’s like that, then?” Sean visibly swallowed, stood up straight, and seemed to force himself to meet Charlie’s provoking gaze. “It is exactly like that,” he replied, brave as can be.
Kristen Casey (Lost in Love (Second Chances, #2.5))
Her mother had smelled of cold and scales, her father of stone dust and dog. She imagined her husband's mother, whom she had never met, had a whiff of rotting apples, though her stationary had stunk of baby powder and rose perfume. Sally was starch, cedar, her dead grandmother sandalwood, her uncle, swiss cheese. People told her she smelled like garlic, like chalk, like nothing at all. Lotto, clean as camphor at his neck and belly, like electrified pennies at the armpit, like chlorine at the groin. She swallowed. Such things, details noticed only on the edges of thought would not return. 'Land,' Mathilde said, 'odd name for a guy like you.' 'Short for Roland,' the boy said. Where the August sun had been steaming over the river, a green cloud was forming. It was still terrifically hot, but the birds had stopped singing. A feral cat scooted up the road on swift paws. It would rain soon. 'Alright Roland,' Mathilde said, suppressing as sigh, 'sing your song.
Lauren Groff (Fates and Furies)
Don't." That one word made him freeze. "Don't what?" "Touch me right now." Her voice cracked on the last word before she swallowed hard again. "If you do, I'll invite you to join me in bed and I don't think that's the smartest thing right now." "What not?" he asked bluntly. Because getting naked with her sounded like a damn fine idea.
Katie Reus (Deadly Fallout (Red Stone Security, #10))
The heartwood," Rob murmured, looking at me. "You wanted to marry me in the heart of Major Oak." I beamed at him grateful that he understood. "And Scar," he whispered. I leaned in close. "Are you wearing knives to our wedding?" Nodding, I laughed, telling him, "I was going to get you here one way or another, Hood." He laughed, a bright, merry sound. Standing in the heart of the tree, he reached again for my hand, fingers sliding over mine. Touching his hand, a rope of lightening lashed round my fingers, like it seared us together. Now, and for always. His fingers moved on mine, rubbing over my hand before capturing it tight and turning me to the priest. The priest looked over his shoulder, watching as the sun began to dip. He led us in prayer, he asked me to speak the same words I'd spoken not long past to Gisbourne, but that whole thing felt like a bad dream, like I were waking and it were fading and gone for good. "Lady Scarlet." he asked me with a smile, "known to some as Lady Marian of Huntingdon, will thou have this lord to thy wedded husband, will thou love him and honour him, keep him and obey him, in health and in sickness, as a wife should a husband, forsaking all others on account of him, so long as ye both shall live?" I looked at Robin, tears burning in my eyes. "I will," I promised. "I will, always." Rob's face were beaming back at me, his ocean eyes shimmering bright. The priest smiled. "Robin of Locksley, will thou have this lady to thy wedded wife, will thou love her and honor her, keep her and guard her, in health and in sickness, as a husband should a wife, forsaking all others on account of her, so long as ye both shall live?" the priest asked. "Yes," Rob said. "I will." "You have the rings?" the priest asked Rob. "I do," I told the priest, taking two rings from where Bess had tied them to my dress. I'd sent Godfrey out to buy them at market without Rob knowing. "I knew you weren't planning on this," I told him. Rob just grinned like a fool at me, taking the ring I handed him to put on my finger. Laughs bubbled up inside of me, and I felt like I were smiling so wide something were stuck in my cheeks and holding me open. More shy and proud than I thought I'd be, I said. "I take you as me wedded husband, Robin. And thereto I plight my troth." I pushed the ring onto his finger. He took my half hand in one of his, but the other- holding the ring- went into his pocket. "I may not have known I would marry you today Scar," he said. "But I did know I would marry you." He showed me a ring, a large ruby set in delicate gold. "This," he said to me, "was my mother's. It's the last thing I have of hers, and when I met you and loved you and realized your name was the exact colour of the stone- " He swallowed, and cleared his throat, looking at me with the blue eyes that shot right through me. "This was meant to be Scarlet. I was always meant to love you. To marry you." The priest coughed. "Say the words, my son, and you will marry her." Rob grinned and I laughed, and Rob stepped closer, cradling my hand. "I take you as my wedded wife, Scarlet. And thereto I plight my troth." He slipped the ring on my finger and it fit. "Receive the Holy Spirit," the priest said, and kissed Robin on the cheek. Rob's happy grin turned a touch wolflike as he turned back to me, hauling me against him and angling his mouth over mine. I wrapped my arms around him and my head spun- I couldn't tell if we were spinning, if I were dizzy, if my feet were on the ground anymore at all, but all I knew, all I cared for, were him, his mouth against mine, and letting the moment we became man and wife spin into eternity.
A.C. Gaughen (Lion Heart (Scarlet, #3))
Healthy Choices Hold still Keep quiet. Get a degree to learn how to talk saying nothing. Catch a good man by being demure. the one your mother chooses. Let him climb you whenever his urge, amidst headaches and menstrual aches and screaming infants. And when he bids quick, turn over. Hold still. Make your tongue a slab of cement a white stone etched with your name. Kill your stories with knives and knitting needles and Clorox bleach. Hide in your mysteriousness by saying nothing. Starch your thoughts with ironed shirts. Tie your anger with a knot in your throat and when he comes without concern swallow it. Hold still. Keep desire hopeless as ice and sleepless nights and painful as pinched eyelid. Keep your fingers from the razor, keep your longing to sever his condescension safely in your douchbag. Turn the blade against yourself. Don't twitch as your slashed wrists stain your bathroom tiles. Disinfect with Pine Sol. Hold still. Keep quiet. Keep tight your lips, keep dead your dreams, keep cold your heart. Keep quiet. And he will shout praises to your perfection.
Janice Mirikitani
It kind of freaked me out. Because I don’t know if I’m ready for that kind of thing yet.” Or maybe the problem was that I wasn’t prepared for how ready I was… “Ready for-?” He broke off, and then frowned as if it had all become clear. “Wait.” He dropped his arms from around my waist and took a step away from me. “You think I spent the night wit you?” “Didn’t you?” I blinked back at him. “There’s only the one bed. And…well, you were in it when I woke up.” Thunder boomed overhead. It wasn’t as loud as the violent cracks that had occurred in my dream. Although the rumbles were long enough-and intense enough-that the silverware on the table began to make an eerie tinkling sound. And my bird, who’d been calmly cleaning herself on the back of my chair, suddenly took off, seeing shelter on the highest bookshelf against the far wall. I realized I’d just insulted my host, and no joke was going to get me out of it this time. “For your information, Pierce,” John said, his tone almost disturbingly calm-but his eyes flashed the same shade as the stone around my neck, which had gone the color of the metal studs at his wrists-“I spent most of last night on the couch. Until one point early this morning, when I heard you call my name. You were crying in your sleep.” The salt water I’d tasted on my lips. Not due to rain from a violent hurricane, but from the tears I’d shed, watching him die in front of me. “Oh,” I said uncomfortably. “John, I’m so-“ It turned out he wasn’t finished. “I put my arms around you to try to comfort you, because I know what this place can be like, at least at first. It’s not exactly hell, but it’s the next closest place to it. You wouldn’t let go of me. You held on to me like you were drowning, and I was your only lifeline.” I swallowed, astonished at how close he’d come to describing my dream…except it had been the other way around. I’d been his lifeline; only he’d let go of me, sacrificing himself so that I could live. “Right,” I said. “Of course. I’m sorry.” I couldn’t believe how stupid I’d been, especially since my mother had always worried so much about my talking in my sleep. On the other hand, I had been upfront with him about my lack of experience when it came to men. “But this is good, see?” I reached out to take his hand. “I told you I could never hate you-“ He pulled his hand away, exactly like in my dream. Well, not exactly, because he wasn’t being sucked from my grasp by a giant ocean swell. Instead, he’d dropped my fingers because he was leaving to go sort the souls of the dead. “You will,” he assured me, bitterly. “You’re already regretting your decision to-what was it you called it? Oh, right-cohabitate with me.” “No,” I insisted. “I’m not. All I said was that I want to take things more slowly-“ That had nothing to do with him-it had to do with me and my fear of not being able to control myself when he was kissing me. It was too humiliating to admit that out loud, however.
Meg Cabot (Underworld (Abandon, #2))
Ever since black people came to this country we have needed a Moses. There has always been so much water that needs parting. It seems like all black children, from the time we are born, come into the world in the midst of a rushing current that threatens to swallow us whole if we don't heed the many, many warnings we are told to heed. We come into the world as alchemists of the water, bending it, willing it to bear us safe passage and cleanse us along the way, to teach us to move with joy and purpose and to never, ever stop flowing forward into something grand waiting at the other end of the delta. We're a people forever in exodus. Before Moses there was Abraham, and ever since black people came to this country we have needed an Abraham. We have always been sending each other away -- for our own good, don't you know it -- and calling each other back, finding kinship where a well springs from tears. We are masters of the art of sacrifice; no one is more skilled at laying their greatest beloveds on the altar and feeling certainty even as we feel sorrow. And when we see the ram, we know how to act fast, and prosper, even as the stone knife warms in our hands.
Eve L. Ewing (Electric Arches)
They’re not worthy to rule. None of them. I will go and get the Half-Breed and prove to you just how untrustworthy they are. All of them know about her. Every last one. I challenge Prince Galen to deny it.” Galen locks eyes with Toraf. How could he do this to me? How could he do this to Emma? Now everyone present knows of her existence. She won’t be safe anywhere, not with Jagen in control. Especially because Toraf, the best Tracker in Syrena history, has just vowed to find her and bring her here. Which will be excessively easy, since he knows exactly where she is. She trusts him. Rachel trusts him. It will be so simple for him. And I have no way of warning her, of getting to her. All I can do is protect her when she gets here. Tandel quiets the crowd, one of his primary duties as of late. When he has achieved control, he turns to Galen. “Your Highness, would you like to address these accusations against you?” Galen swims to the center stone without taking his eyes off Toraf. “If something happens to her because of you,” he whispers to his one-time friend, his voice raw with hurt, “your death will be my priority.” Toraf opens his mouth to say something, but Galen cuts him off to address the crowd. There is nothing Toraf can say to him that will make this right. There is nothing Toraf can say to him that will hurt him more. “I have nothing at all to say to these accusations.” Tandel sighs. “Very well, Highness. Thank you.” Galen swims to the Trackers who hold his sister. His sister who now sobs uncontrollably. “Come on, minnow,” he says. “He’s not worth your tears.” “Yes, he is,” she wails. The Trackers release her to her brother. They’re distressed with the task of comforting a hysterical female. Galen squeezes her to him, but won’t let her turn around and look at Toraf. “He isn’t. In time you’ll see that.” “Why would he bring Emma here, Galen? Why would he do this to us?” Galen swallows the vomit creeping its way into his throat. “I don’t know, minnow. I don’t know.
Anna Banks (Of Triton (The Syrena Legacy, #2))
Please Call Me By My True Names Don’t say that I will depart tomorrow— even today I am still arriving. Look deeply: every second I am arriving to be a bud on a Spring branch, to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings, learning to sing in my new nest, to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower, to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone. I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry, to fear and to hope. The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death of all that is alive. I am a mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river. And I am the bird that swoops down to swallow the mayfly. I am a frog swimming happily in the clear water of a pond. And I am the grass-snake that silently feeds itself on the frog. I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones, my legs as thin as bamboo sticks. And I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to Uganda. I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat, who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate. And I am also the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving. I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my hands. And I am the man who has to pay his “debt of blood” to my people dying slowly in a forced-labor camp. My joy is like Spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth. My pain is like a river of tears, so vast it fills the four oceans. Please call me by my true names, so I can hear all my cries and laughter at once, so I can see that my joy and pain are one. Please call me by my true names, so I can wake up and the door of my heart could be left open, the door of compassion.
Thich Nhat Hanh
With bare feet in the dirt, fulmia, ten times with conviction, will shake the earth to its roots, if you have the strength, Jaga’s book had told me, and the Dragon had believed it enough not to let me try it anywhere near the tower. I had felt doubtful, anyway, about conviction: I hadn’t believed I had any business shaking the earth to its roots. But now I fell to the ground and dug away the snow and the fallen leaves and rot and moss until I came to the hard-frozen dirt. I pried up a large stone and began to smash at the earth, again and again, breaking up the dirt and breathing on it to make it softer, pounding in the snow that melted around my hands, pounding in the hot tears that dripped from my eyes as I worked. Kasia was above me with her head flung up, her mouth open in its soundless cry like a statue in a church. “Fulmia,” I said, my fingers deep in the dirt, crushing the solid clods between my fingers. “Fulmia, fulmia,” I chanted over and over, bleeding from broken nails, and I felt the earth hear me, uneasily. Even the earth was tainted here, poisoned, but I spat on the dirt and screamed, “Fulmia,” and imagined my magic running into the ground like water, finding cracks and weaknesses, spreading out beneath my hands, beneath my cold wet knees: and the earth shuddered and turned over. A low trembling began where my hands drove into the ground, and it followed me as I started prying at the roots of the tree. The frozen dirt began to break up into small chunks all around them, the tremors going on and on like waves. The branches above me were waving wildly as if in alarm, the whispering of the leaves becoming a muted roaring. I straightened up on my knees. “Let her out!” I screamed at the tree: I beat on its trunk with my muddy fists. “Let her out, or I’ll bring you down! Fulmia!” I cried out in rage, and threw myself back down at the ground, and where my fists hit, the ground rose and swelled like a river rising with the rain. Magic was pouring out of me, a torrent: every warning the Dragon had ever given me forgotten and ignored. I would have spent every drop of myself and died there, just to bring that horrible tree down: I couldn’t imagine a world where I lived, where I left this behind me, Kasia’s life and heart feeding this corrupt monstrous thing. I would rather have died, crushed in my own earthquake, and brought it down with me. I tore at the ground ready to break open a pit to swallow us all.
Naomi Novik (Uprooted)
But for now, I would be the happiest of men if I could just swallow the overflow of saliva that endlessly floods my mouth. Even before first light, I am already practicing sliding my tongue toward the rear of my palate in order to provoke a swallowing reaction. What is more, I have dedicated to my larynx the little packets of incense hanging on the wall, amulets brought back from Japan by pious globe-trotting friends. Just one of the stones in the thanksgiving monument erected by my circle of friends during their wanderings. In every corner of the world, the most diverse deities have been solicited in my name. I try to organize all this spiritual energy. If they tell me that candles have been burned for my sake in a Breton chapel, or that a mantra has been chanted in a Nepalese temple, I at once give each of the spirits invoked a precise task. A woman I know enlisted a Cameroon holy man to procure me the goodwill of Africa's gods: I have assigned him my right eye. For my hearing problems I rely on the relationship between my devout mother-in-law and the monks of a Bordeaux brotherhood. They regularly dedicate their prayers to me, and I occasionally steal into their abbey to hear their chants fly heavenward. So far the results have been unremarkable. But when seven brothers of the same order had their throats cut by Islamic fanatics, my ears hurt for several days. Yet all these lofty protections are merely clay ramparts, walls of sand, Maginot lines, compared to the small prayer my daughter, Céleste, sends up to her Lord every evening before she closes her eyes. Since we fall asleep at roughly the same hour, I set out for the kingdom of slumber with this wonderful talisman, which shields me from all harm.
Jean-Dominique Bauby (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly)
Where are your monuments, your battles, martyrs? Where is your tribal memory? Sirs, in that gray vault. The sea. The sea has locked them up. The sea is History. First, there was the heaving oil, heavy as chaos; then, likea light at the end of a tunnel, the lantern of a caravel, and that was Genesis. Then there were the packed cries, the shit, the moaning: Exodus. Bone soldered by coral to bone, mosaics mantled by the benediction of the shark's shadow, that was the Ark of the Covenant. Then came from the plucked wires of sunlight on the sea floor the plangent harp of the Babylonian bondage, as the white cowries clustered like manacles on the drowned women, and those were the ivory bracelets of the Song of Solomon, but the ocean kept turning blank pages looking for History. Then came the men with eyes heavy as anchors who sank without tombs, brigands who barbecued cattle, leaving their charred ribs like palm leaves on the shore, then the foaming, rabid maw of the tidal wave swallowing Port Royal, and that was Jonah, but where is your Renaissance? Sir, it is locked in them sea sands out there past the reef's moiling shelf, where the men-o'-war floated down; strop on these goggles, I'll guide you there myself. It's all subtle and submarine, through colonnades of coral, past the gothic windows of sea fans to where the crusty grouper, onyx-eyed, blinks, weighted by its jewels, like a bald queen; and these groined caves with barnacles pitted like stone are our cathedrals, and the furnace before the hurricanes: Gomorrah. Bones ground by windmills into marl and cornmeal, and that was Lamentations - that was just Lamentations, it was not History; then came, like scum on the river's drying lip, the brown reeds of villages mantling and congealing into towns, and at evening, the midges' choirs, and above them, the spires lancing the side of God as His son set, and that was the New Testament. Then came the white sisters clapping to the waves' progress, and that was Emancipation - jubilation, O jubilation - vanishing swiftly as the sea's lace dries in the sun, but that was not History, that was only faith, and then each rock broke into its own nation; then came the synod of flies, then came the secretarial heron, then came the bullfrog bellowing for a vote, fireflies with bright ideas and bats like jetting ambassadors and the mantis, like khaki police, and the furred caterpillars of judges examining each case closely, and then in the dark ears of ferns and in the salt chuckle of rocks with their sea pools, there was the sound like a rumour without any echo of History, really beginning.
Derek Walcott (Selected Poems)
THE THEOPHANY, TECCAM writes of secrets, calling them painful treasures of the mind. He explains that what most people think of as secrets are really nothing of the sort. Mysteries, for example, are not secrets. Neither are little-known facts or forgotten truths. A secret, Teccam explains, is true knowledge actively concealed. Philosophers have quibbled over his definition for centuries. They point out the logical problems with it, the loopholes, the exceptions. But in all this time none of them has managed to come up with a better definition. That, perhaps, tells us more than all the quibbling combined. In a later chapter, less argued over and less well-known, Teccam explains that there are two types of secrets. There are secrets of the mouth and secrets of the heart. Most secrets are secrets of the mouth. Gossip shared and small scandals whispered. These secrets long to be let loose upon the world. A secret of the mouth is like a stone in your boot. At first you’re barely aware of it. Then it grows irritating, then intolerable. Secrets of the mouth grow larger the longer you keep them, swelling until they press against your lips. They fight to be let free. Secrets of the heart are different. They are private and painful, and we want nothing more than to hide them from the world. They do not swell and press against the mouth. They live in the heart, and the longer they are kept, the heavier they become. Teccam claims it is better to have a mouthful of poison than a secret of the heart. Any fool will spit out poison, he says, but we hoard these painful treasures. We swallow hard against them every day, forcing them deep inside us. There they sit, growing heavier, festering. Given enough time, they cannot help but crush the heart that holds them. Modern philosophers scorn Teccam, but they are vultures picking at the bones of a giant. Quibble all you like, Teccam understood the shape of the world.
Patrick Rothfuss (The Wise Man's Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2))
Sometimes Valène dreamt of cataclysms and tempests, of whirlwinds that would carry the whole house off like a wisp of straw and display the infinite marvels of the solar system to its shipwrecked inhabitants; or that an unseen crack would run through the building from top to bottom, like a shiver, and with a long, deep, snapping sound it would open in two and be slowly swallowed up in an indescribable yawning chasm; then hordes would overrun it, bleary-eyed monsters, giant insects with steel mandibles, blind termites, great white worms with insatiable mouths: the wood would crumble, the stone would turn to sand, the cupboards would collapse under their own weight, all would return to dust. But no. Only these shabby squabbles over buckets and tubs, over matches and sinks. And behind that ever-closed door the morbid gloom of that slow revenge, that ponderous business of two senile monomaniacs churning over their feigned histories and their wretched traps and snares.
Georges Perec (Life: A User's Manual)
You're Savannah Dubrinsky." Gary breathed her name reverently. "My God, I should have guessed." Gregori's entire demeanor changed, becoming all at once menacing and dangerous. His face was etched in stone, his mouth hard and faintly cruel. The hair on the back of Gary's neck literally stood up. He swallowed hard and instinctively moved a little distance from the woman. Not that he blamed the man, creature, whatever, but his reaction was more that of untamed beast than civilized man. Gary was taking no chances. Savannah laughed softly. She leaned into the man despite Gregori's restraining arm. "He can read your mind," she reminded Gary softly, her breath swirling with tantalizing warmth over his neck. He jumped away as if he'd been burned, his face flamed crimson, and he looked guiltily at Gregori. Gregori's dark features relaxed. The hard edge to his mouth softened. "Do not worry, Gary, she is incorrigible. Even I have trouble with her.I cannot blame you for what I myself cannot control." His arm swept arond Savannah's small waist, and he tucked her beneath his shoulder. Are you angry? The smile was fading from her eyes, her mouth. Gregori tightened his hold on her when her step faltered. We can discuss this at home, cherie.You are already here;you may as well give the boy a thrill.But I warn you,not too big a thrill. She relaxed her body into his.That quickly.That easily.As if she belonged, his other half.He was beginning to believe it might be possible.
Christine Feehan (Dark Magic (Dark, #4))
The old man with the white beard had gone quite mad. He ripped his robes from his body and ran naked through the forest glade. He was babbling and shouting at the sky. His words were nothing but meaningless sounds — guttural grunts and lunatic ravings. His eyes were wild and his white beard and white hair were tangled with twigs and leaves. He foamed and spit and waved his oaken staff around like a club. He tried to grab squirrels and eat them raw. He rolled around in the dirt and swallowed small stones.
Jennifer M. Baldwin (The Thirteen Treasures of Britain (Merlin's Last Magic, #1))
As he rowed the launch toward Wensan’s ship, which was Herrani-made and studded with Valorian cannon, Arin remembered the exhaustion of that work, but also how it had corded his muscles until the ache in his arms became stone. He was grateful to the Valorians for having made him strong. If he was strong enough, he might live through this night. If he lived, he could reclaim the shreds of who he had been, and explain himself to Kestrel in a way she would understand. She sat silent next to him in the launch. The other Herrani at the oars watched as she lifted her bound hands to tug at the black cloth covering her hair. It was an awkard business. It was also necessary, since a new twist in the plan called for Kestrel to be seen and recognized. The Herrani watched her struggle. They watched Arin drop an oar in its lock to offer a hand. She flinched hard enough that her shifted weight shook the boat It was only a slight tremor along wood, but they all felt it. Shame ate into his gut. Kestrel pulled the cloth from her head. Even though clouds swelled in the sky, swallowing the moon and deepening the dark around them, Kestrel’s hair and pale skin seemed to glow. It looked like she was lit from within. It wasn’t something Arin could bear to see. He returned to the oars and rowed. Arin knew, far better than any of the ten Herrani in the launch, that Kestrel could be devious. That he shouldn’t trust her plan any more than he should have fallen for her ploys at Bite and Sting, or followed her blindly into the trap she had set and sprung for him the morning of the duel. Her plan to seize the ship was sound. Their best option. Still, he kept examining it like he might a horse’s hoof, tapping the surface for a flaw, a dangerous split. He couldn’t see it. He thought that there must be one, then realized that the flaw he sensed lay inside him. Tonight had cracked Arin open. It had brought the battle inside him to a boiling war. Of course he was certain that something was wrong. Impossible. It was impossible to love a Valorian and also love his people. Arin was the flaw.
Marie Rutkoski (The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1))
Pelor’s freckled face paled a bit. “Bill Chastain—the Eye Eater—was found stone cold dead this morning.” A Champion was dead? And a notorious killer at that. “How?” she demanded. Pelor swallowed hard. “Verin said it wasn’t pretty. Like someone ripped him wide open. He passed the body on his way here.” Nox cursed under his breath, and Celaena studied the other Champions. A hush had fallen on the group, and clusters of them stood together, whispering. Verin’s story was spreading fast. Pelor went on. “He said Chastain’s body was in ribbons.
Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1))
Whoever swallows that elixir will never be sick again, and a fragment from that stone turns any metal into gold.” The Arabs laughed at him, and the alchemist laughed along. They thought his answer was amusing, and they allowed the boy and the alchemist to proceed with all of their belongings. “Are you crazy?” the boy asked the alchemist, when they had moved on. “What did you do that for?” “To show you one of life’s simple lessons,” the alchemist answered. “When you possess great treasures within you, and try to tell others of them, seldom are you believed.
Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist)
THIS IS WHAT they want. The words tumbled through Sophie’s mind as she raced up the spiral staircase, counting her steps, trying to guess which door to take. The first handle she tried was locked. Another opened into darkness. A third revealed a path that glowed with eerie blue balefire sconces. The floor shook as she hesitated and threads of dust slipped through the ceiling, scratching her throat and making it hurt to breathe. She followed the flames. Back and forth the halls snaked—a careful maze, designed to deceive. Swallow. Separate. The tremors grew with every step, the shifting subtle but unmistakable. And too far away. No one else would feel the ripples swelling, like waves gathering speed. They were too focused on their celebration. Too caught up in their imagined victory. Too trusting. Too blind. Too late. The ground rattled harder, the first fissures crackling the stones. This is what they want. ONE THIS IS A security nightmare!” Sandor grumbled, keeping his huge gray hand poised over his enormous black sword. His squeaky voice reminded Sophie more of a talking mouse than a deadly bodyguard. Several prodigies raced past, and Sandor pulled Sophie closer as the giggling group jumped to pop the candy-filled bubbles floating near the shimmering crystal trees. All around them, kids were running through the confetti-covered atrium in their amber-gold Level Three uniforms, capes flying as they caught snacks and bottles of lushberry juice and stuffed tinsel-wrapped gifts into the long white thinking caps dangling from everyone’s lockers. The Midterms Celebration was a Foxfire Academy tradition—hardly the impending doom Sandor was imagining. And yet, Sophie understood his concern. Every parent roaming the streamer-lined halls. Every face she didn’t recognize. Any of them could be a rebel.
Shannon Messenger (Lodestar (Keeper of the Lost Cities, #5))
Al’Akir and his Queen, el’Leanna, had Lan brought to them in his cradle. Into his infant hands they placed the sword of Malkieri kings, the sword he wears today. A weapon made by Aes Sedai during the War of Power, the War of the Shadow that brought down the Age of Legends. They anointed his head with oil, naming him Dai Shan, a Diademed Battle Lord, and consecrated him as the next King of the Malkieri, and in his name they swore the ancient oath of Malkieri kings and queens.” Agelmar’s face hardened, and he spoke the words as if he, too, had sworn that oath, or one much similar. “To stand against the Shadow so long as iron is hard and stone abides. To defend the Malkieri while one drop of blood remains. To avenge what cannot be defended.” The words rang in the chamber. “El’Leanna placed a locket around her son’s neck, for remembrance, and the infant, wrapped in swaddling clothes by the Queen’s own hand, was given over to twenty chosen from the King’s Bodyguard, the best swordsmen, the most deadly fighters. Their command: to carry the child to Fal Moran. “Then did al’Akir and el’Leanna lead the Malkieri out to face the Shadow one last time. There they died, at Herat’s Crossing, and the Malkieri died, and the Seven Towers were broken. Shienar, and Arafel, and Kandor, met the Halfmen and the Trollocs at the Stair of Jehaan and threw them back, but not as far as they had been. Most of Malkier remained in Trolloc hands, and year by year, mile by mile, the Blight has swallowed it.” Agelmar drew a heavyhearted breath. When he went on, there was a sad pride in his eyes and voice. “Only five of the Bodyguards reached Fal Moran alive, every man wounded, but they had the child unharmed. From the cradle they taught him all they knew. He learned weapons as other children learn toys, and the Blight as other children their mother’s garden. The oath sworn over his cradle is graven in his mind. There is nothing left to defend, but he can avenge. He denies his titles, yet in the Borderlands he is called the Uncrowned, and if ever he raised the Golden Crane of Malkier, an army would come to follow. But he will not lead men to their deaths. In the Blight he courts death as a suitor courts a maiden, but he will not lead others to it. “If you must enter the Blight, and with only a few, there is no man better to take you there, nor to bring you safely out again. He is the best of the Warders, and that means the best of the best.
Robert Jordan (The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time, #1))
Men have before hired bravos to transact their crimes, while their own person and reputation sat under shelter. I was the first that ever did so for his pleasures. I was the first that could plod in the public eye with a load of genial respectability, and in a moment, like a schoolboy, strip off these lendings and spring headlong into the sea of liberty. But for me, in my impenetrable mantle, the safety was complete. Think of it-I did not even exist! Let me but escape into my laboratory door, give me but a second or two to mix and swallow the draught that I had always standing ready; and whatever he had done, Edward Hyde would pass away like the stain of breath upon a mirror; and there in his stead, quietly at home, trimming the midnight lamp in his study, a man who could afford to laugh at suspicion, would be Henry Jekyll. The pleasures which I made haste to seek in my disguise were, as I have said, undignified; I would scarce use a harder term. But in the hands of Edward Hyde, they soon began to turn toward the monstrous. When I would come back from these excursions, I was often plunged into a kind of wonder at my vicarious depravity. This familiar that I called out of my own soul, and sent forth alone to do his good pleasure, was a being inherently malign and villainous; his every act and thought centered on self; drinking pleasure with bestial avidity from any degree of torture to another; relentless like a man of stone. Henry Jekyll stood at times aghast before the acts of Edward Hyde; but the situation was apart from ordinary laws, and insidiously relaxed the grasp of conscience. It was Hyde, after all, and Hyde alone, that was guilty. Jekyll was no worse; he woke again to his good qualities seemingly unimpaired; he would even make haste, where it was possible, to undo the evil done by Hyde. And thus his conscience slumbered.
Robert Louis Stevenson (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde)
Palo's three older brothers had died in the Paraguayan War, conscripted by the Argentinian government, taken off by force along with all the black men of their generation, because, Palo told young Santiago, they needed a way to not only win their war but also rid this country of us in the process, two birds with one stone. Buenos Aires was too black for them, one third of the population, that's enough blackness to swallow you up! to get strong on you! and so they sent our fathers off to war and opened floodgates to European steamships so that white men would pour into the city to replace us, and their plan worked, the bastarda, look at our city now.
Carolina De Robertis (The Gods of Tango)
On this bald hill the new year hones its edge. Faceless and pale as china The round sky goes on minding its business. Your absence is inconspicuous; Nobody can tell what I lack. Gulls have threaded the river’s mud bed back To this crest of grass. Inland, they argue, Settling and stirring like blown paper Or the hands of an invalid. The wan Sun manages to strike such tin glints From the linked ponds that my eyes wince And brim; the city melts like sugar. A crocodile of small girls Knotting and stopping, ill-assorted, in blue uniforms, Opens to swallow me. I’m a stone, a stick, One child drops a carrette of pink plastic; None of them seem to notice. Their shrill, gravelly gossip’s funneled off. Now silence after silence offers itself. The wind stops my breath like a bandage. Southward, over Kentish Town, an ashen smudge Swaddles roof and tree. It could be a snowfield or a cloudbank. I suppose it’s pointless to think of you at all. Already your doll grip lets go. The tumulus, even at noon, guargs its black shadow: You know me less constant, Ghost of a leaf, ghost of a bird. I circle the writhen trees. I am too happy. These faithful dark-boughed cypresses Brood, rooted in their heaped losses. Your cry fades like the cry of a gnat. I lose sight of you on your blind journey, While the heath grass glitters and the spindling rivulets Unpool and spend themselves. My mind runs with them, Pooling in heel-prints, fumbling pebble and stem. The day empties its images Like a cup of a room. The moon’s crook whitens, Thin as the skin seaming a scar. Now, on the nursery wall, The blue night plants, the little pale blue hill In your sister’s birthday picture start to glow. The orange pompons, the Egyptian papyrus Light up. Each rabbit-eared Blue shrub behind the glass Exhales an indigo nimbus, A sort of cellophane balloon. The old dregs, the old difficulties take me to wife. Gulls stiffen to their chill vigil in the drafty half-light; I enter the lit house.
Sylvia Plath
...She froze in the doorway of her kitchen. And nearly swallowed her tongue. Ivan leaned against the counter, wearing nothing but dark jogging pants and holding a cup of coffee. His blond hair was spiked adorably, as if he hadn't combed it yet. the sculpted muscles of his chest and shoulders stood out as he raised the cup to his mouth, a bright tattoo of intricate artwork wrapping around one shoulder and over one pec. What she'd imagined he might look like was nothing compared to the reality of the Viking god in her kitchen. Her gaze trained on that ridiculously muscular chest and it was like she'd lost the ability to speak. Or breathe. Or, you know, think.
Katie Reus (Under His Protection (Red Stone Security, #9))
And I could not see them, not from this height, but I knew they were out there, hundreds of Persons Bound to Labor too small to be seen, lost in among the long white lines of cotton. For a second or two I stared out into those distant fields, stared at the fact that when this was over, once I talked to that driver and he pointed me to the next place I had to go, I would walk out of here, and those people I could not seen but knew to be suffering, they all would be here forever. What do you do with that fact? Do you hold it like a stone in your hand? Pitch it away from this great height and watch it fall? Do you swallow it and feel it in your throat till the day you die?
Ben H. Winters (Underground Airlines)
After All This" After all this love, after the birds rip like scissors through the morning sky, after we leave, when the empty bed appears like a collapsed galaxy, or the wake of disturbed air behind a plane, after that, as the wind turns to stone, as the leaves shriek, you are still breathing inside my own breath. The lighthouse on the far point still sweeps away the darkness with the brush of an arm. The tides inside your heart still pull me towards you. After all this, what are these words but mollusk shells a child plays with? What could say more than the eloquence of last night’s constellations? or the storm anchored by its own flashes behind the far mountains? I remember the way your body wavers under my touch like the northern lights. After all this, I want the certainty of hidden roots spreading in all directions from their tree. I want to hear again the sky tangled in your voice. Some nights I can hear the footsteps of the stars. How can these words ever reveal the secret that waits in their sleeping light? The words that walk through my mind say only what has already passed. Beyond, the swallows are still knitting the wind. After a while, the smokebush will turn to fire. After a while, the thin moon will grow like a tear in a curtain. Under it, a small boy kicks a ball against the wall of a burned out house. He is too young to remember the war. He hardly knows the emptiness that kindles around him. He can speak the language of early birds outside our window. Someday he will know this kind of love that changes the color of the sky, and frees the earth from its moorings. Sometimes I kiss your eyes to see beyond what I can imagine. Sometimes I think I can speak the language of unborn stars. I think the whole earth breathes with you. After all this, these words are all I have to say what is impossible to think, what shy dreams hide in the rafters of my heart, because these words are only a form of touch, only tell you I have no life that isn’t yours, and no death you couldn’t turn into a life.
Richard Jackson (Resonance)
What are these things?” he asked. “That’s the Philosopher’s Stone and the Elixir of Life. It’s the Master Work of the alchemists. Whoever swallows that elixir will never be sick again, and a fragment from that stone turns any metal into gold.” The Arabs laughed at him, and the alchemist laughed along. They thought his answer was amusing, and they allowed the boy and the alchemist to proceed with all of their belongings. “Are you crazy?” the boy asked the alchemist, when they had moved on. “What did you do that for?” “To show you one of life’s simple lessons,” the alchemist answered. “When you possess great treasures within you, and try to tell others of them, seldom are you believed.
Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist)
I wanted only to escape him—at first. And Jesse was there, offering to help me, asking nothing in return.” Ambrose pressed his lips tight, a thin slash amidst the bronze stubble of his unshaven beard. “Yet you’ve given him everything.” She met his gaze unflinching. “Yes. And you need to understand,” she added. “I didn’t marry Jesse simply to elude you or to thwart my stepfather. I married him because I love him.” Acceptance struggled on Ambrose’s face. “I wish I might have been the one to offer you the help you needed. Had I but known. Had I understood …” He swallowed hard, as if the loss of her was a stone going down. “I hope one day you will find it in your good heart to forgive me.
Lori Benton (The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn)
Hush little baby, don’t you cry, Mama’s gonna sing you a lullaby, and if that mockingbird don’t sing, Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring. Mama, Dada, uh-oh, ball. Good night tree, good night stars, good night moon, good night nobody. Potato stamps, paper chains, invisible ink, a cake shaped like a flower, a cake shaped like a horse, a cake shaped like a cake, inside voice, outside voice. If you see a bad dog, stand still as a tree. Conch shells, sea glass, high tide, undertow, ice cream, fireworks, watermelon seeds, swallowed gum, gum trees, shoes and ships and sealing wax, cabbages and kings, double dares, alphabet soup, A my name is Alice and my boyfriend’s name is Andy, we come from Alabama and we like apples, A my name is Alice and I want to play the game of looooove. Lightning bugs, falling stars, sea horses, goldfish, gerbils eat their young, please, no peanut butter, parental signature required, #1 Mom, show-and-tell, truth or dare, hide-and-seek, red light, green light, please put your own mask on before assisting, ashes, ashes, we all fall down, how to keep the home fires burning, date night, family night, night-night, May came home with a smooth round stone as small as the world and as big as alone. Stop, Drop, Roll. Salutations, Wilbur’s heart brimmed with happiness. Paper valentines, rubber cement, please be mine, chicken 100 ways, the sky is falling. Monopoly, Monopoly, Monopoly, you be the thimble, Mama, I’ll be the car.
Jenny Offill (Dept. of Speculation)
It wasn't tuna ventresca that drew diners to this community over others, nor was it heritage beef. It was the final bottle of a 1985 Cannonau, salt-crusted from its time on the Sardinian coast. Each diner had barely a swallow. My employer bid us not to swallow, not yet, but hold the wine at the back of the throat till it stung and warmed to the temperature of blood and spit, till we wrung from it the terroir of fields cracked by quake and shadowed by smog; only then, swallowing, choking, grateful, did we appreciate the fullness of its flavor. His face was ferocious and sublime in this moment, cracked open; I saw it briefly behind the mask. He was a man who knew the gradations of pleasure because he knew, like me, the calculus of its loss. To me that wine was fig and plum; volcanic soil; wheat fields shading to salt stone; sun; leather, well-baked; and finally, most lingering, strawberry. Psychosomatic, I'm sure, but what flavor isn't? I raised my glass to the memory of my drunk in the British market. I imagined him sat across the table, calmed at last, sane among the sane. He would have tasted in that wine the starch of a laundered sheet, perhaps, or the clean smooth shot of his dignity. My employer decanted these deepest longings, mysterious to each diner until it flooded the palate: a lost child's yeasty scalp, the morning breath of a lover, huckleberries, onion soup, the spice of a redwood forest gone up in smoke. It is easy, all these years later, to dismiss that country's purpose as decadent, gluttonous. Selfish. It was those things. But it was, also, this connoisseurship of loss.
C Pam Zhang (Land of Milk and Honey)
From the bonny bells of heather, They brewed a drink long syne, Was sweeter far than honey, Was stronger far than wine. They brewed it and they drank it, And lay in blessed swound, For days and days together, In their dwellings underground. There rose a King in Scotland, A fell man to his foes, He smote the Picts in battle, He hunted them like roes. Over miles of the red mountain He hunted as they fled, And strewed the dwarfish bodies Of the dying and the dead. Summer came in the country, Red was the heather bell, But the manner of the brewing, Was none alive to tell. In graves that were like children’s On many a mountain’s head, The Brewsters of the Heather Lay numbered with the dead. The king in the red moorland Rode on a summer’s day; And the bees hummed and the curlews Cried beside the way. The King rode and was angry, Black was his brow and pale, To rule in a land of heather, And lack the Heather Ale. It fortuned that his vassals, Riding free upon the heath, Came on a stone that was fallen And vermin hid beneath. Roughly plucked from their hiding, Never a word they spoke: A son and his aged father – Last of the dwarfish folk. The king sat high on his charger, He looked down on the little men; And the dwarfish and swarthy couple Looked at the king again. Down by the shore he had them: And there on the giddy brink – “I will give thee life ye vermin, For the secret of the drink.” There stood the son and father And they looked high and low; The heather was red around them, The sea rumbled below. And up spoke the father, Shrill was his voice to hear: “I have a word in private, A word for the royal ear. “Life is dear to the aged, And honour a little thing; I would gladly sell the secret”, Quoth the Pict to the King. His voice was small as a sparrow’s, And shrill and wonderful clear: “I would gladly sell my secret, Only my son I fear. “For life is a little matter, And death is nought to the young; And I dare not sell my honour, Under the eye of my son. Take him, O king, and bind him, And cast him far in the deep; And it’s I will tell the secret That I have sworn to keep.” They took the son and bound him, Neck and heels in a thong, And a lad took him and swung him, And flung him far and strong And the sea swallowed his body, Like that of a child of ten; And there on the cliff stood the father, Last of the dwarfish men. “True was the word I told you: Only my son I feared; For I doubt the sapling courage, That goes without the beard. But now in vain is the torture, Fire shall not avail: Here dies in my bosom The secret of the Heather Ale.
Robert Louis Stevenson
This is where my generation, Generation X, parts company with the baby boomers. They ruined drugs, as they ruined Frye boots and bell-bottoms. We never shared their dream of opening the doors of perception, or touching the face of God. Because of them, enlightenment seemed like bullshit. All that remained was the high. With their embarrassing enthusiasm, they turned everything into a joke. They ate the fruit and left the peel, smoked the pot and left the resin, swallowed the epiphanies and left the reality. When it was our time, they scolded us, saying it was too dangerous—you’d have to be a moron to try it. About their own youthful behavior, they’d say, We didn’t know then what we know now. By the time we came along, everything was banned, feared, and covered in protective foam, but can you imagine how much fun LSD must have been in 1964 when it was legal?
Rich Cohen (The Sun & The Moon & The Rolling Stones)
The arc of the moral universe is indeed long but it does bend toward justice. At the root of all this of course is the trade. As he always calls it. His craft is the oldest there is. Among man's gifts it is older than fire and in the end he is the final steward, the final custodian. When the last gimcrack has swallowed up its last pale creator he will be out there, prefering the sun, trying the temper of his trowel. Placing stone on stone in accordance with the laws of God. The trade was all they had, the old masons. They understood it both in its utility and its secret nature. We couldn't read nor write, he says. But it was not in any book. We kept it close to our hearts. We kept it close to our hearts and it was like a power and we knew it would not fail us. We knew that it was a thing that if we had it they could not take it from us and it would stand by us and not fail us. Not ever fail us.
Cormac McCarthy (The Stonemason: A Play in Five Acts)
One is jolted from a place of complacency by the discovery of difference, by hypocrisy, by inexplicable or incongruous ill treatment. What follows is a time of confusion—unlearning what one thought to be the truth. Immersing oneself in the new truth. And then a decision must be made. Some accept their fate. Swallow their pride, forget the real truth, embrace the falsehood for all they’re worth—because, they decide, they cannot be worth much. If a whole society has dedicated itself to their subjugation, after all, then surely they deserve it? Even if they don’t, fighting back is too painful, too impossible. At least this way there is peace, of a sort. Fleetingly. The alternative is to demand the impossible. It isn’t right, they whisper, weep, shout; what has been done to them is not right. They are not inferior. They do not deserve it. And so it is the society that must change. There can be peace this way, too, but not before conflict.
N.K. Jemisin (The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth, #3))
Jack took two steps towards the couch and then heard his daughter’s distressed wails, wincing. “Oh, right. The munchkin.” He instead turned and headed for the stairs, yawning and scratching his messy brown hair, calling out, “Hang on, chubby monkey, Daddy’s coming.” Jack reached the top of the stairs. And stopped dead. There was a dragon standing in the darkened hallway. At first, Jack swore he was still asleep. He had to be. He couldn’t possibly be seeing correctly. And yet the icy fear slipping down his spine said differently. The dragon stood at roughly five feet tall once its head rose upon sighting Jack at the other end of the hallway. It was lean and had dirty brown scales with an off-white belly. Its black, hooked claws kneaded the carpet as its yellow eyes stared out at Jack, its pupils dilating to drink him in from head to toe. Its wings rustled along its back on either side of the sharp spines protruding down its body to the thin, whip-like tail. A single horn glinted sharp and deadly under the small, motion-activated hallway light. The only thing more noticeable than that were the many long, jagged scars scored across the creature’s stomach, limbs, and neck. It had been hunted recently. Judging from the depth and extent of the scars, it had certainly killed a hunter or two to have survived with so many marks. “Okay,” Jack whispered hoarsely. “Five bucks says you’re not the Easter Bunny.” The dragon’s nostrils flared. It adjusted its body, feet apart, lips sliding away from sharp, gleaming white teeth in a warning hiss. Mercifully, Naila had quieted and no longer drew the creature’s attention. Jack swallowed hard and held out one hand, bending slightly so his six-foot-two-inch frame was less threatening. “Look at me, buddy. Just keep looking at me. It’s alright. I’m not going to hurt you. Why don’t you just come this way, huh?” He took a single step down and the creature crept forward towards him, hissing louder. “That’s right. This way. Come on.” Jack eased backwards one stair at a time. The dragon let out a warning bark and followed him, its saliva leaving damp patches on the cream-colored carpet. Along the way, Jack had slipped his phone out of his pocket and dialed 9-1-1, hoping he had just enough seconds left in the reptile’s waning patience. “9-1-1, what’s your emergency?” “Listen to me carefully,” Jack said, not letting his eyes stray from the dragon as he fumbled behind him for the handle to the sliding glass door. He then quickly gave her his address before continuing. “There is an Appalachian forest dragon in my house. Get someone over here as fast as you can.” “We’re contacting a retrieval team now, sir. Please stay calm and try not to make any loud noises or sudden movements–“ Jack had one barefoot on the cool stone of his patio when his daughter Naila cried for him again. The dragon’s head turned towards the direction of upstairs. Jack dropped his cell phone, grabbed a patio chair, and slammed it down on top of the dragon’s head as hard as he could.
Kyoko M. (Of Fury & Fangs (Of Cinder & Bone, #4))
There are secrets of the mouth and secrets of the heart. Most secrets are secrets of the mouth. Gossip shared and small scandals whispered. These secrets long to be let loose upon the world. A secret of the mouth is like a stone in your boot. At first you’re barely aware of it. Then it grows irritating, then intolerable. Secrets of the mouth grow larger the longer you keep them, swelling until they press against your lips. They fight to be let free. Secrets of the heart are different. They are private and painful, and we want nothing more than to hide them from the world. They do not swell and press against the mouth. They live in the heart, and the longer they are kept, the heavier they become. Teccam claims it is better to have a mouthful of poison than a secret of the heart. Any fool will spit out poison, he says, but we hoard these painful treasures. We swallow hard against them every day, forcing them deep inside us. There they sit, growing heavier, festering. Given enough time, they cannot help but crush the heart that holds them. Modern
Patrick Rothfuss (The Wise Man's Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #2))
Teccam explains that there are two types of secrets. There are secrets of the mouth and secrets of the heart. Most secrets are secrets of the mouth. Gossip shared and small scandals whispered. These secrets long to be let loose upon the world. A secret of the mouth is like a stone in your boot. At first you’re barely aware of it. Then it grows irritating, then intolerable. Secrets of the mouth grow larger the longer you keep them, swelling until they press against your lips. They fight to be let free. Secrets of the heart are different. They are private and painful, and we want nothing more than to hide them from the world. They do not swell and press against the mouth. They live in the heart, and the longer they are kept, the heavier they become. Teccam claims it is better to have a mouthful of poison than a secret of the heart. Any fool will spit out poison, he says, but we hoard these painful treasures. We swallow hard against them every day, forcing them deep inside us. There they sit, growing heavier, festering. Given enough time, they cannot help but crush the heart that holds them.
Ronan was waiting for her beyond the estate’s guarded gate. From the looks of things, he had been waiting for some time. His horse was nosing brown grass as Ronan sat on a nearby boulder, throwing pebbles at the general’s stone wall. When he saw Kestrel ride through the gate on Javelin, he flung his handful of rocks to the path. He remained sitting, elbows propped on his bended knees as he stared at her, his face pinched and white. He said, “I have half a mind to tear you down from your horse.” “You got my message, then.” “And rode instantly here, where guards told me that the lady of the house gave strict orders not to let anyone--even me--inside.” His eyes raked over her, taking in the black fighting clothes. “I didn’t believe it. I still don’t believe it. After you vanished last night, everyone at the party was talking about the challenge, yet I was sure it was just a rumor started by Irex because of whatever has caused that ill will between you. Kestrel, how could you expose yourself like this?” Her hands tightened around the reins. She thought about how, when she let go, her palms would smell like leather and sweat. She concentrated on imagining that scent. This was easier than paying heed to the sick feeling swimming inside her. She knew what Ronan was going to say. She tried to deflect it. She tried to talk about the duel itself, which seemed straightforward next to her reasons for it. Lightly, she said, “No one seems to believe that I might win.” Ronan vaulted off the rock and strode toward her horse. He seized the saddle’s pommel. “You’ll get what you want. But what do you want? Whom do you want?” “Ronan.” Kestrel swallowed. “Think about what you are saying.” “Only what everyone has been saying. That Lady Kestrel has a lover.” “That’s not true.” “He is her shadow, skulking behind her, listening, watching.” “He isn’t,” Kestrel tried to say, and was horrified to hear her voice falter. She felt a stinging in her eyes. “He has a girl.” “Why do you even know that? So what if he does? It doesn’t matter. Not in the eyes of society.” Kestrel’s feelings were like banners in a storm, snapping at their ties. They tangled and wound around her. She focused, and when she spoke, she made her words disdainful. “He is a slave.” “He is a man, as I am.” Kestrel slipped from her saddle, stood face-to-face with Ronan, and lied. “He is nothing to me.
Marie Rutkoski (The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1))
For you, I would bring down the stars, wreath their fire around your neck like diamonds, and watch them pulse to the beat of your heart For you, I would capture the candlelight in the palm of my hand Give my breath to give it life A whisper, 'My love' So that it may grow Bright and hot And burn me For you, I would drink the salted oceans Until their depths Were swallowed into the depth of me How deep it is, this life This love, for you I cannot touch bottom I never will For you, I would mine the stony earth Until it relinquished The secrets of time Cracks in the stone wrinkles of the Earth As she turns her face to another new day And so I wish to live Every one of mine With you For you, I would be myself At long last I would live in my skin And breathe my words in my own voice Tinged with the accent Of a child calling to a car that will never stop And in the fading echo Nothing remains but the truth of me that is the love of you I have loved you with both Hands tied behind my back Bound with pen and ink Paper and words Sealed with someone else's name until this moment in which I am nothing but a man who loves a woman. There is nothing left to say Except to give all of my heart For you
Emma Scott (Bring Down the Stars (Beautiful Hearts, #1))
A woman pushed her way through the swarm of people. “She’s the daughter of Matthias, head scribe to Herod Antipas, and known to be a fornicator.” I called out again in protest, but my denial was swallowed by the black odium that boiled out of their hearts. “Show us your pocket!” a man yelled. One by one, they took up the petition. Gripping my forearm, Chuza let their shouts grow fevered before he reached for my sleeve. I writhed and kicked. I was a fluttering moth, a hapless girl. My skirmish yielded nothing but jeers and laughter. He snatched the sheet of ivory from my coat and lifted it over his head. A roar erupted. “She is a thief, a blasphemer, and a fornicator!” Chuza cried. “What would you do with her?” “Stone her!” someone cried. The chant began, the dark prayer. Stone her. Stone her. I shut my eyes against the dazzling blur of anger. Their hearts are boulders and their heads are straw. They seemed to be not a multitude of persons, but a single creature, a behemoth feeding off their combined fury. They would stone me for all the wrongs ever done to them. They would stone me for God. Most often victims were dragged to a cliff outside the city and thrown off before being pelted, which lessened the laborious effort of having to throw so many stones—it was in some way more merciful, at least quicker—but I saw I would not be accorded that lenience. Men and women and children plucked stones from the ground. These stones, God’s most bountiful gift to Galilee. Some rushed into the building site, where the stones were larger and more deadly. I heard the sizzle of a rock fly over my head and fall behind me. Then the commotion and noise slowed, elongating, receding to some distant pinnacle, and in that strange slackening of time, I no longer cared to fight. I felt myself bending to my fate. I ached for the life I would never live, but I yearned even more to escape it. I sank onto the ground, making myself as small as I could, my arms and legs tucked beneath my chest and belly, my forehead pressed to the ground. I fashioned myself into a walnut shell. I would be broken apart and God could have the meat. A stone struck my hip in a sunburst of pain. Another fell beside my ear. I heard the stomp of sandals running toward me, then a voice glittering with indignation. “Cease your violence! Would you stone her on the word of this man?” The mob quieted, and I dared to raise my head. Jesus stood before them, his back to me. I stared at the bones in his shoulders. The way his hands were drawn into fists. How he’d planted himself between me and the stones.
Sue Monk Kidd (The Book of Longings)
Speaking of debutantes,” Jake continued cautiously when Ian remained silent, “what about the one upstairs? Do you dislike her especially, or just on general principle?” Ian walked over to the table and poured some Scotch into a glass. He took a swallow, shrugged, and said, “Miss Cameron was more inventive than some of her vapid little friends. She accosted me in a garden at a party.” “I can see how bothersome that musta been,” Jake joked, “having someone like her, with a face that men dream about, tryin’ to seduce you, usin’ feminine wiles on you. Did they work?” Slamming the glass down on the table, Ian said curtly, “They worked.” Coldly dismissing Elizabeth from his mind, he opened the deerskin case on the table, removed some papers he needed to review, and sat down in front of the fire. Trying to suppress his avid curiosity, Jake waited a few minutes before asking, “Then what happened?” Already engrossed in reading the documents in his hand, Ian said absently and without looking up, “I asked her to marry me; she sent me a note inviting me to meet her in the greenhouse; I went there; her brother barged in on us and informed me she was a countess, and that she was already betrothed.” The topic thrust from his mind, Ian reached for the quill lying on the small table beside his chair and made a note in the margin of the contract. “And?” Jake demanded avidly. “And what?” “And then what happened-after the brother barged in?” “He took exception to my having contemplated marrying so far above myself and challenged me to a duel,” Ian replied in a preoccupied voice as he made another note on the contract. “So what’s the girl doin’ here now?” Jake asked, scratching his head in bafflement over the doings of the Quality. “Who the hell knows,” Ian murmured irritably. “Based on her behavior with me, my guess is she finally got caught in some sleezy affair or another, and her reputation’s beyond repair.” “What’s that got to do with you?” Ian expelled his breath in a long, irritated sigh and glanced at Jake with an expression that made it clear he was finished answering questions. “I assume,” he bit out, “that her family, recalling my absurd obsession with her two years ago, hoped I’d come up to scratch again and take her off their hands.” “You think it’s got somethin’ to do with the old duke talking about you bein’ his natural grandson and wantin’ to make you his heir?” He waited expectantly, hoping for more information, but Ian ignored him, reading his documents. Left with no other choice and no prospect for further confidences, Jake picked up a candle, gathered up some blankets, and started for the barn. He paused at the door, struck by a sudden thought. “She said she didn’t send you any note about meetin’ her in the greenhouse.” “She’s a liar and an excellent little actress,” Ian said icily, without taking his gaze from the papers. “Tomorrow I’ll think of some way to get her out of here and off my hands.” Something in Ian’s face made him ask, “Why the hurry? You afraid of fallin’ fer her wiles again?” “Hardly.” “Then you must be made of stone,” he teased. “That woman’s so beautiful she’d tempt any man who was alone with her for an hour-includin’ me, and you know I ain’t in the petticoat line at all.” “Don’t let her catch you alone,” Ian replied mildly. “I don’t think I’d mind.” Jake laughed as he left.
Judith McNaught (Almost Heaven (Sequels, #3))
Thich Nhat Hanh shares this Mahayana philosophy of non-dualism. This is clearly demonstrated in one of his most famous poems, “Call Me By My True Names:”1 Don’t say that I will depart tomorrow– even today I am still arriving. Look deeply: every second I am arriving to be a bud on a spring branch, to be a tiny bird, with still fragile wings, learning to sing in my new nest, to be a caterpillar in the heart of flower, to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone. I am still arriving, in order to laugh and to cry, in order to fear and to hope, the rhythm of my heart is the birth and death of every living creature. I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river. And I am the bird, that swoops down to swallow the mayfly. I am the frog swimming happily in the clear water of a pond, and I am the grass-snake that silently feeds itself on the frog. I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones, my legs as thin as bamboo sticks. And I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to Uganda. I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat, who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate. And I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving. I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my hands, and I am the man who has to pay his “debt of blood” to my people, dying slowly in a forced-labor camp. My joy is like spring, so warm that it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth. My pain is like a river of tears, so vast that it fills up all four oceans. Please call me by my true names, so I can hear all my cries and laughter at once, so I can see that my joy and pain are one. Please call me by my true names, so I can wake up and open the door of my heart, the door of compassion. (Nhat Hanh, [1993] 1999, pp. 72–3) We
Darrell J. Fasching (Comparative Religious Ethics: A Narrative Approach to Global Ethics)
We killed them all when we came here. The people came and burned their land The forests where they used to feed We burned the trees that gave them shade And burned to bush, to scrub, to heath We made it easier to hunt. We changed the land, and they were gone. Today our beasts and dreams are small As species fall to time and us But back before the black folk came Before the white folk’s fleet arrived Before we built our cities here Before the casual genocide, This was the land where nightmares loped And hopped and ran and crawled and slid. And then we did the things we did, And thus we died the things we died. We have not seen Diprotodon A wombat bigger than a room Or run from Dromornithidae Gigantic demon ducks of doom All motor legs and ripping beaks A flock of geese from hell’s dark maw We’ve lost carnivorous kangaroo A bouncy furrier T Rex And Thylacoleo Carnifex the rat-king-devil-lion-thing the dropbear fantasy made flesh. Quinkana, the land crocodile Five metres long and fast as fright Wonambi, the enormous snake Who waited by the water-holes and took the ones who came to drink who were not watchful, clever, bright. Our Thylacines were tiger-wolves until we drove them off the map Then Megalania: seven meters of venomous enormous lizard... and more, and more. The ones whose bones we’ve never seen. The megafauna haunt our dreams. This was their land before mankind Just fifty thousand years ago. Time is a beast that eats and eats gives nothing back but ash and bones And one day someone else will come to excavate a heap of stones And wonder, What were people like? Their teeth weren’t sharp. Their feet were slow. They walked Australia long ago before Time took them into tales We’re transients. The land remains. Until its outlines wash away. While night falls down like dropbears don’t to swallow up Australia Day.
Neil Gaiman
Far, far better to die. One by one the rest of the Zavaedis came to cast their stones for either exoneration, exile, or death. Some spoke to the assembly of their reasons why, others simply placed the stone according to their choice. Unfortunately, his mother’s plea moved many people to pity him. When all the rocks had piled up, the orange mat held the most stones. Exile. Kavio swallowed hard to conceal his reaction. You have murdered me all the same. Father pounded the rain stick. “Kavio, you have been found guilty of the most heinous of crimes—hexcraft. Though you remain a member of the secret societies that initiated you and are therefore spared death, nonetheless you are forbidden to enter the Labyrinth, to take with you anything from the Labyrinth, or to study with any dancing society of the Labyrinth. Do you understand and acknowledge your punishment?” “I understand it all too well,” Kavio said through gritted teeth. “But I will never acknowledge it as just.” “So be it,” Father said tonelessly. “Bring the pot of ashes.” Two warriors hefted a ceramic pot from where it had rested in the shadow of the tall platform. They forced Kavio to lean back while still on his knees. They smeared him with a paste and rubbed in the gray-black powder. His bare chest and clean shaven face disappeared under a scum of grey crud. Humiliation itched, but like poison ivy, he knew it would be worse if he scratched it. He forced himself still as stone while the warriors slapped on more mud. “You must wear mud and ash for the rest of your days,” the Maze Zavaedi concluded. His voice broke. “I am ashamed to call you my son.” Kavio struggled to his feet. The warriors escorting him surrounded him with a hedge of spears. Did they fear him, even now? “You never could just trust me, could you, Father?” Kavio asked. Father’s jaw jutted forward. A muscle moved in his neck. Otherwise, he might have been rock. “Escort my son out of the Labyrinth.
Tara Maya (Initiate (The Unfinished Song, #1))
Almost as though this thought had fluttered through the open window, Vernon Dursley, Harry’s uncle, suddenly spoke. “Glad to see the boy’s stopped trying to butt in. Where is he anyway?” “I don’t know,” said Aunt Petunia unconcernedly. “Not in the house.” Uncle Vernon grunted. “Watching the news . . .” he said scathingly. “I’d like to know what he’s really up to. As if a normal boy cares what’s on the news — Dudley hasn’t got a clue what’s going on, doubt he knows who the Prime Minister is! Anyway, it’s not as if there’d be anything about his lot on our news —” “Vernon, shh!” said Aunt Petunia. “The window’s open!” “Oh — yes — sorry, dear . . .” The Dursleys fell silent. Harry listened to a jingle about Fruit ’N Bran breakfast cereal while he watched Mrs. Figg, a batty, cat-loving old lady from nearby Wisteria Walk, amble slowly past. She was frowning and muttering to herself. Harry was very pleased that he was concealed behind the bush; Mrs. Figg had recently taken to asking him around for tea whenever she met him in the street. She had rounded the corner and vanished from view before Uncle Vernon’s voice floated out of the window again. “Dudders out for tea?” “At the Polkisses’,” said Aunt Petunia fondly. “He’s got so many little friends, he’s so popular . . .” Harry repressed a snort with difficulty. The Dursleys really were astonishingly stupid about their son, Dudley; they had swallowed all his dim-witted lies about having tea with a different member of his gang every night of the summer holidays. Harry knew perfectly well that Dudley had not been to tea anywhere; he and his gang spent every evening vandalizing the play park, smoking on street corners, and throwing stones at passing cars and children. Harry had seen them at it during his evening walks around Little Whinging; he had spent most of the holidays wandering the streets, scavenging newspapers from bins along the way. The opening notes of the music that heralded the seven o’clock news reached Harry’s ears and his stomach turned over. Perhaps tonight — after a month of waiting — would be the night — “Record numbers of stranded holidaymakers fill airports as the Spanish baggage-handlers’ strike reaches its second week —” “Give ’em a lifelong siesta, I would,” snarled Uncle Vernon over the end of the newsreader’s sentence, but no matter: Outside in the flower bed, Harry’s stomach seemed to unclench.
J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5))
Our team’s vision for the facility was a cross between a shooting range and a country club for special forces personnel. Clients would be able to schedule all manner of training courses in advance, and the gear and support personnel would be waiting when they arrived. There’d be seven shooting ranges with high gravel berms to cut down noise and absorb bullets, and we’d carve a grass airstrip, and have a special driving track to practice high-speed chases and real “defensive driving”—the stuff that happens when your convoy is ambushed. There would be a bunkhouse to sleep seventy. And nearby, the main headquarters would have the feel of a hunting lodge, with timber framing and high stone walls, with a large central fireplace where people could gather after a day on the ranges. This was the community I enjoyed; we never intended to send anyone oversees. This chunk of the Tar Heel State was my “Field of Dreams.” I bought thirty-one hundred acres—roughly five square miles of land, plenty of territory to catch even the most wayward bullets—for $900,000. We broke ground in June 1997, and immediately began learning about do-it-yourself entrepreneurship. That land was ugly: Logging the previous year had left a moonscape of tree stumps and tangled roots lorded over by mosquitoes and poisonous creatures. I killed a snake the first twelve times I went to the property. The heat was miserable. While a local construction company carved the shooting ranges and the lake, our small team installed the culverts and forged new roads and planted the Southern pine utility poles to support the electrical wiring. The basic site work was done in about ninety days—and then we had to figure out what to call the place. The leading contender, “Hampton Roads Tactical Shooting Center,” was professional, but pretty uptight. “Tidewater Institute for Tactical Shooting” had legs, but the acronym wouldn’t have helped us much. But then, as we slogged across the property and excavated ditches, an incessant charcoal mud covered our boots and machinery, and we watched as each new hole was swallowed by that relentless peat-stained black water. Blackwater, we agreed, was a name. Meanwhile, within days of being installed, the Southern pine poles had been slashed by massive black bears marking their territory, as the animals had done there since long before the Europeans settled the New World. We were part of this land now, and from that heritage we took our original logo: a bear paw surrounded by the stylized crosshairs of a rifle scope.
The morning was already setting up to be hectic, and Jon thanked his lucky stars that Jessie was so good at his job and a constant spark-plug of activity. Oh god, you did not just think Jessie was a spark-plug? You really are getting old. Next thing you know you’ll being saying whipper-snappers and break a hip getting out of bed. He shook his head. I guess I had a good run. Jessie quickly re-entered the office. “Alright. Elisabeth has her caffeine fix and said she’ll be down to say goodbye in a few. So let’s get this bad boy going for the week. Travel plans are done for next month and meetings for the week are in you planner so I’m assuming they’ll be no more complaining about flying coach class this time?” Jessie gave a sly wink and kept organizing his desk. “Yes. And for that I thank you for that my color-coding, hyper computer organized planner. We have to make sure the next presentation for Chicago is ready in three weeks; the storyboards for the new campaign ideas have to be finished by Tuesday the 16th so we can get them shipped before I head out there.” “And let’s not forget our important morning ritual.” Jon looked at Jessie with a question about to form before the realization hit him. His expression changed from confused to stern. “No cat videos Jessie. I swear. Enough of the cat videos.” “C’mon. You know you love them and they brighten your dour moods. Look at this one.” Jessie turned his screen and Jon begrudgingly looked at the cute little puppy and kitten with captions over them. “How can you not love this?” Jessie smiled. “The cute little kitty tells the playful puppy not to do it and yet the puppy bonks the little kitty on the head with his little puppy paw. “Boop Boop.” And then the cat swipes at the puppy and it falls off the bed. You know this is internet gold.” Jon smiled. “Can we get back to work?” Jessie nodded and then walked up to Jon - without hesitating, he bonked him lightly on the head. “Boop.” He paused and added, “I think this puppy is onto something.” Jessie grinned ear to ear still. “I pledge, from now on if something makes me as happy as this bonking picture I’m just going to say Boop boop.” Jon stood stone-faced but a second later, could not stop his smile. “I am not amused.” Jon shook the smile away. “Now, if you’re done boop booping me, there is something else I want to talk with you about.” Jessie looked at Jon with a quizzical smile. “Not to blow my own horn but I have a new and brilliant thought my young apprentice.” Jessie opened his mouth to comment on the blowing horn, but Jon held up his hand and cut him off. “Stop it.” Jessie closed his mouth and swallowed the sexual innuendo-laced comment he had forming on the tip of his tongue.
Matthew Alan
Feeling each move carefully, Len climbed, hilt of the sword held in one hand blade hanging point down. A wet and dripping Rose King hovered above him. Being dripped on wasn't nearly as distracting as the constant sight of his watch on his left wrist. He wanted to look and see how much of the allotted hour he had left. He resisted the urge. He didn't want to risk having this knowledge affect his judgment. They had no time for speed born mistakes. The shaft they climbed down amplified the slightest sound sending it reverberating up and down its length. The slight clank of the sword against the iron rungs of the ladder became enormous. The click of Rose King's chattering teeth reverberated like castanets. Len stepped on a rung. The next second he found himself grappling for security as the rung moved then broke loose. The racket as the metal bar fell rang up and down the narrow oblong space like a pair of dropped cymbals. He looked down. They were approximately ten feet up from the bottom of the well. If he had fallen he would not have been hurt badly if at all. Discovery, however, had a danger all its own. Frozen in place, both he and Rose listened. Something large was down there. It was something large that dragged as it walked. As if investigating the source of the clatter, this something stopped by the grate at the bottom, blocking off the light. Twice there was a rushing of sound as if some huge bellows was blowing air into the grate then pulling it out. The thing seemed to move away from the grate. When he was sure it was well away from the opening Len began again to climb down. The nearer the grate the more he and Rose began to hear something beyond the ominous sounds of large animal. Len thought he knew what it was, but kept silent. He was about to jump the last three feet when a pain wracked cry echoed through the space on the other side of this new grate and up the stone well. Len jumped to the ground. A second later Rose was behind him. Wishing desperately they had more than one weapon between them, Len pushed hard at the grate, rushing through the space as fast as the cramped size of the opening would allow. They were in a large round open torch lit space with a high domed brick ceiling. To their left was an exit to a dark hallway blocked by a barred door; to their right, a curved cave like opening with what looked like a barred gate that could be raised or lowered. On the other side of the room was a barred wall with a door closing off the cell where Tyrone lay. Between them and their goal was a large, reptilian creature. "What the hell is that?" Rose gasped softly. Len swallowed hard and licked his dry lips. It was mad and at the same time made complete sense. "It’s just what it looks like, Major," he whispered. "It's a dragon.
Tabitha Baumander (Castle Doom)
He watched her pace toward him. She stopped just short of his chair and looked down at him. Her loose hair slipped over her shoulder. “I remember something. I’m not sure if it happened or not. Will you tell me?” “Yes,” he whispered. “I remember lying with you on the lawn of the imperial palace’s spring garden.” He shifted. Lamplight pulsed over his face. He shook his head. “I remember finding you in your suite.” This memory was coming to her now. It had a similar flavor as the last one. “I promised to tell you my secrets. You held a book. Or kindling? You were making a fire.” “That didn’t happen.” “I kissed you.” She touched the hollow at the base of his neck. His pulse was wild. “Not then,” he said finally. “But I have before.” There was a rush of images. It was as if the melody she’d imagined while lying in the dark had been dunked in the green liquor. All the cold stops gained heat and ran together. It was easy to remember Arin, especially now. Her hand slid to his chest. The cotton of his shirt was hot. “Your kitchens. A table. Honey and flour.” His heart slammed against her palm. “Yes.” “A carriage.” “Yes.” “A balcony.” Breath escaped him like a laugh. “Almost.” “I remember falling asleep in your bed when you weren’t here.” He pulled back slightly, searched her face. “That didn’t happen.” “Yes it did.” His mouth parted, but he didn’t speak. The blacks of his eyes were bright. She wondered what it would be like to give her body what it wanted. It knew something she didn’t. Her heart sped, her blood was lush in her veins. “The first day,” she said. “Last summer. Your hair was a mess. I wanted to sweep it back and make you meet my eyes. I wanted to see you.” His chest rose and fell beneath her hand. “I don’t know. I can’t--I don’t know what you wanted.” “I never said?” “No.” She lowered her mouth to his. She tasted him: the raw burn of liquor on his tongue. She felt him swallow, heard the low, dry sound of it. He pulled her down to him, tangled his hands in her hair, sucked the breath from her lips. She became uncertain whose breath was whose. He kissed her back, fingertips fanning across her face, then gone, nowhere. Then: a light touch along the curve of her hip, just barely. A stone skipping the surface of the water. “Strange,” he murmured into her mouth. She wasn’t listening. She was rippling, the sensation spreading wide. Stone on water, dimpled pockets of pressure. The wait for the stone to finally drop down. Suddenly she knew--or thought she knew--what he found strange as he traced where a dagger should have been. To see a part of her missing. She felt her missing pieces, the stark gaps. She was arrested by the thought (it pierced her, sharp and surreal) that she had become transparent, that if he touched her again his hand would go right through her, into air, into the empty spaces of who she was now.
Marie Rutkoski (The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy, #3))