You have no idea how much the last few days have meant to me," I began. "Meeting you has been the best thing that's ever happened to me." I hesitated, know that if I stopped now, I'd never be able to say it to anyone. "I love you," I whispered. "Did you ever imagine something like this?" she wondered aloud. "You and me , I mean?" "No," I said. "It scares me a little." My stomach flipped, and all at once, I was sure she didnt feel the same way. "You dont have to say it back to me," I began. "That's not why I said it--" "I know," she interrupted. "You don't understand. I wasnt scared because you told me. I got scared because I wanted to say it, too: I love you, John.
Nicholas Sparks (Dear John)
For some nights I slept profoundly; but still every morning I felt the same lassitude, and a languor weighed upon me all day. I felt myself a changed girl. A strange melancholy was stealing over me, a melancholy that I would not have interrupted. Dim thoughts of death began to open, and an idea that I was slowly sinking took gentle, and, somehow, not unwelcome possession of me. If it was sad, the tone of mind which this induced was also sweet. Whatever it might be, my soul acquiesced in it.
J. Sheridan Le Fanu (Carmilla)
Perhaps it is indeed time I began to look at this whole matter of bantering more enthusiastically. After all, when one thinks about it, it is not such a foolish thing to indulge in - particularly if it is the case that in bantering lies the key to human warmth.
Kazuo Ishiguro (The Remains of the Day)
I always tried to imagine what it would be like to open your door to find something you had given up on. maybe it had seen places you never had, been rerouted and passed through so many strange hands, but still somehow found its way back to you, all before the day even began.
Sarah Dessen (Lock and Key)
Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.
One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.
He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"
The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."
"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.
To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."
Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"
At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said,
"It made a difference for that one.
The nurse whirled and fixed him with a gimlet eye. “You—” she began, then threw her hands up. “Go get ready, idiot. You’ve been hovering at the door like a lost puppy all day. Tell the prince we’ll be leaving as soon as Miss Chase is ready. Now, get.”
Puck retreated, grinning, and the nurse sighed. “Those two,” she muttered.
“They’re either best friends or darkest enemies, I can’t tell which. Come with me, Miss Chase.
Julie Kagawa (The Iron Daughter (The Iron Fey, #2))
What if you could pick one day of your life, and everything would stop changing, every day would be similar and comparable to that one day, you'd always have the same people with you? If you could do that, would you do it? Would you pick that day and make that choice? We crave for things to stop changing, we wish that things would never change. But if we got what we wanted, there are so many things that are better, that we would never, ever know about. Sure, things would stay the same as that one wonderful day, but then there would be nothing else out there, ever. So can you remember the very first day when everything really did begin to change? Is there a thing that can remind you? Mine is a blue rose, and that's when everything began to change because that's the day I began to believe in things I never believed in before; the day I found three blue roses. Think about your first day of change, can you remember all the new heights you've soared since that day? All the new people? All the better things and times? Would you throw all of that time away? I wouldn't. Instead, I want to finally accept all the things that I couldn't change, which led to me being right here, right now. Maybe we all carry around inside us one day we wish we could keep forever, something we wished never did change. It's time to let go of that day, and soar.
C. JoyBell C.
What is it my dear?"
Ah, how can we bear it?"
This. For so short a time. How can we sleep this time away?"
We can be quiet together, and pretend - since it is only the beginning - that we have all the time in the world."
And every day we shall have less. And then none."
Would you rather, therefore, have had nothing at all?"
No. This is where I have always been coming to. Since my time began. And when I go away from here, this will be the mid-point, to which everything ran, before, and from which everything will run. But now, my love, we are here, we are now, and those other times are running elsewhere.
A.S. Byatt (Possession)
Tell me about the farm," she pleaded as drops of blood began to appear on her hand.
"The farm that Finnikin the peasant would have lived on with his bride."
"Evanjalin. That was her name. Did I mention that?"
She laughed through a sob. "No, you didn't."
"They would plant rows upon rows of wheat and barley, and each night they would sit under the stars to admire what they owned. Oh, and they would argue. She believes the money made would be better spent on a horse, and he believes they need a new barn. But then later they would forget all their anger and he would hold her fiercely and never let her go."
"And he'd place marigolds in her hair?" she asked.
He clasped her hands against his and watched her blood seep through the lines of his skin. "And he would love her until the day he died," he said.
Melina Marchetta (Finnikin of the Rock (Lumatere Chronicles, #1))
What do you like doing best in the world, Pooh?"
"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best-" and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called. And then he thought that being with Christopher Robin was a very good thing to do, and having Piglet near was a very friendly thing to have; and so, when he had thought it all out, he said, "What I like best in the whole world is Me and Piglet going to see You, and You saying 'What about a little something?' and Me saying, 'Well, I shouldn't mind a little something, should you, Piglet,' and it being a hummy sort of day outside, and birds singing."
"I like that too," said Christopher Robin, "but what I like doing best is Nothing.
A.A. Milne (The House at Pooh Corner (Winnie-the-Pooh, #2))
Once upon a time, powerful wizard, who wanted to destroy an entire kingdom, placed a magic potion in the well from which the inhabitants drank. Whoever drank that water would go mad.
The following morning, the whole population drank from the well and they all went mad, apart from the king and his family, who had a well set aside for them alone, which the magician had not managed to poison. The king was worried and tried to control the population by issuing a series of edicts governing security and public health. The policemen and the inspectors, however, had also drunk the poisoned water, and they thought the king’s decisions were absurd and resolved to take notice of them.
When the inhabitants of the kingdom heard these decrees, they became convinced that the king had gone mad and was now giving nonsensical orders. The marched on the castle and called for his abdication.
In despair the king prepared to step down from the throne, but the queen stopped him, saying: ‘Let us go and drink from the communal well. Then we will be the same as them.’
And that was what they did: The king and queen drank the water of madness and immediately began talking nonsense. Their subjects repented at once; now that the king was displaying such ‘wisdom’, why not allow him to rule the country?
The country continued to live in peace, although its inhabitants behaved very differently from those of its neighbors. And the king was able to govern until the end of his days.
Paulo Coelho (Veronika Decides to Die)
For the sake of a few lines one must see many cities, men and things. One must know the animals, one must feel how the birds fly and know the gesture with which the small flowers open in the morning. One must be able to think back to roads in unknown regions, to unexpected meetings and to partings which one had long seen coming; to days of childhood that are still unexplained, to parents that one had to hurt when they brought one some joy and one did not grasp it (it was joy for someone else); to childhood illness that so strangely began with a number of profound and grave transformations, to days in rooms withdrawn and quiet and to mornings by the sea, to the sea itself, to seas, to nights of travel that rushed along on high and flew with all the stars-and it is not enough if one may think all of this. One must have memories of many nights of love, none of which was like the others, of the screams of women in labor, and of light, white, sleeping women in childbed, closing again. But one must also have been beside the dying, one must have sat beside the dead in the room with the open window and the fitful noises. And still it is not enough to have memories. One must be able to forget them when they are many, and one must have the great patience to wait until they come again. For it is not yet the memories themselves. Not until they have turned to blood within us, to glance, to gesture, nameless and no longer to be distinguished from ourselves-not until then can it happen that in a most rare hour the first word of a verse arises in their midst and goes forth from them.
Rainer Maria Rilke (The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge)
It was no accident, no coincidence, that the seasons came round and round year after year. It was the Lord speaking to us all and showing us over and over again the birth, life, death, and resurrection of his only begotten Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, our Lord. It was like a best-loved story being told day after day with each sunrise and sunset, year after year with the seasons, down through the ages since time began.
Francine Rivers (The Last Sin Eater)
All day I think about it, then at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that,
And I intend to end up there.
This drunkenness began in some other tavern.
When I get back around to that place,
I'll be completely sober. Meanwhile,
I'm like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary.
The day is coming when I fly off,
But who is it now in my ear who hears my voice?
Who says words with my mouth?
Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul?
I cannot stop asking.
If I could taste one sip of an answer,
I could break out of this prison for drunks.
I didn't come here of my own accord, and I can't leave that way.
Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.
This poetry. I never know what I'm going to say.
I don't plan it.
When I'm outside the saying of it, I get very quiet and rarely speak at all.
We have a huge barrel of wine, but no cups.
That's fine with us. Every morning
We glow and in the evening we glow again.
This, after all, was the month in which families began tightening and closing and sealing; from Thanksgiving to the New Year, everybody's world contracted, day by day, into the microcosmic single festive household, each with its own rituals and obsessions, rules and dreams. You didn't feel you could call people. They didn't feel they could phone you. How does one cry for help from these seasonal prisons?
Zadie Smith (On Beauty)
If there is one place on the face of earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India!
Biting her lip to stop her chin from quivering, Alexandra raised her eyes to his. "I think," she whispered, trying to smile, "I shall wear the ruby on Queen's Race day, so that when I tie my ribbon on your sleeve—"
With a groan, Jordan pulled her into his arms.
"Now that you've said all those other things," she whispered when he finally lifted his lips from hers several minutes later, "do you think you could possibly say 'I love you'? I've been waiting to hear that since you began and—"
"I love you," he said fiercely. "I love you," he whispered softly, burying his face in her hair. "I love you," he groaned, kissing her lips. "I love you, I love you, I love you…
Judith McNaught (Something Wonderful (Sequels, #2))
I was only then, when I knew I was alone, at least for the moment, that I reached under my gown into the pocket of my dress. As I pulled out my key from the yellow house, which I'd kept on my bureau since the day Nate left, I traced the shape one last time before folding my hand tightly around it.
Behind me, Cora was calling again. My family was waiting. Looking down at the pond, all I could think was that it is an incredible thing, how a whole world can rise from what seems like nothing at all. I stepped closer to the edge, keeping my eyes on my reflection as I dropped the key into the water, where it landed with a splash. At first, the fish darted away, but as it began to sink they circled back, gathering around. Together, they followed it down, down until it was gone.<3
Sarah Dessen (Lock and Key)
But as I stood watching her, I realized how truly hard it was,really, to see someone you love change right before your eyes. Not only is it scary, it throws your balance off as well. This was how my mother felt, I realized, over the weeks I worked at Wish, as she began to not recognize me in small ways, day after day. It was no wonder she'd reacted by pulling me closer, frcibly narrowing my world back to fit insider her own. Even now, as I finally saw this as the truth it was, a part of me wishing my mother would stand up straight, take command, be back in control. But all I'd wanted when she was tugging me closer was to be able to prove to her that the changes in me were good ones, ones she'd understand if she only gave them a chance. I had that chance now. While it was scary, I was gong to take it.
~Macy, pgs 351 and 352
Sarah Dessen (The Truth About Forever)
If the only one who can kill an angel can’t do it, then who can?’
It’s a good question, one that takes me a minute to come up with an answer. ‘Obadiah West can. Him and his freedom fighters. I’m just a teenager.’
‘History is filled with teenagers who lead the fight. Joan of Arc. Okita Soji, the samurai. Alexander the Great. They were all teenagers when they began leading their armies. I think we’re back to those times again, kid.
Susan Ee (End of Days (Penryn & the End of Days, #3))
Whenever you see confusion, you can be sure that something is wrong. Disorder in the world implies that something is out of place. Usually, at the heart of all disorder you will find man in rebellion against God. It began in the Garden of Eden and continues to this day.
A.W. Tozer (And He Dwelt Among Us: Teachings from the Gospel of John)
I confess, yes, our Fall was all my fault
If you kissed my eyes, your lips would taste salt
But you think my regret is a lie, and the tears I cry
Are the crocodile kind.
The sweat on your upper lip starts to boil
White hot with anger, still convinced I'm your foil
You keep fighting me, though my eyes are free
From crocodile lies.
You, yes, you, linger inside my heart
The same you who stopped us before we could start
I didn't want to leave, but you began to believe
Your own crocodile lies.
The only person stopping you is yourself,
You won't accept that I want no one else,
So until you do, I'll let someone else have you
Every day I live the lie,
But not the crocodile kind
Megan McCafferty (Second Helpings (Jessica Darling, #2))
Consider the word “time.” We use so many phrases with it. Pass time. Waste time. Kill time. Lose time. In good time. About time. Take your time. Save time. A long time. Right on time. Out of time. Mind the time. Be on time. Spare time. Keep time. Stall for time. There are as many expressions with “time” as there are minutes in a day. But once, there was no word for it at all. Because no one was counting. Then Dor began. And everything changed.
Mitch Albom (The Time Keeper)
That was the day the ancient songs of blood and war spilled from a hole in the sky
And there was a long moment as we listened and fell silent in our grief
and then one by one,
we stood tall
and came together
and began to sing of life and love and all that is good and true
And I will never forget that day when the ancient songs died because there was no one in the world to sing them.
Brian Andreas (Traveling Light: Stories & Drawings for a Quiet Mind)
I began my studies with eagerness. Before me I saw a new world opening in beauty and light, and I felt within me the capacity to know all things. In the wonderland of Mind I should be as free as another [with sight and hearing]. Its people, scenery, manners, joys, and tragedies should be living tangible interpreters of the real world. The lecture halls seemed filled with the spirit of the great and wise, and I thought the professors were the embodiment of wisdom... But I soon discovered that college was not quite the romantic lyceum I had imagined. Many of the dreams that had delighted my young inexperience became beautifully less and "faded into the light of common day." Gradually I began to find that there were disadvantages in going to college. The one I felt and still feel most is lack of time. I used to have time to think, to reflect, my mind and I. We would sit together of an evening and listen to the inner melodies of the spirit, which one hears only in leisure moments when the words of some loved poet touch a deep, sweet chord in the soul that until then had been silent. But in college there is no time to commune with one's thoughts. One goes to college to learn, it seems, not to think. When one enters the portals of learning, one leaves the dearest pleasures – solitude, books and imagination – outside with the whispering pines. I suppose I ought to find some comfort in the thought that I am laying up treasures for future enjoyment, but I am improvident enough to prefer present joy to hoarding riches against a rainy day.
Helen Keller (The Story of My Life: With Her Letters (1887 1901) and a Supplementary Account of Her Education Including Passages from the Reports and Letters of Her Teacher Anne Mansfield Sullivan by John Albert Macy)
A KISS! A KISS!" the crowd chanted.
"I dont know," Cleo began, sickened by the thought of it. How far was she willing to go to appear agreeable? "Quite honestly, it seems like a bad--"
Magnus took a tight hold of her arm and turned her around. Before she could say another word, he put his hand behind her neck, drew her closer to him, and kissed her.
Every muscle in her body stiffened. It was the sensation of being a bird caught in a hinter's trap. Her wings screamed out for her to fly away as fast and as far as possible. But he held her firmly in place, his mouth against hers, soft but demanding a response.
She gripped the front of his shirt. It was all too much--she wasn't sure if she was pushing him away or pulling him closer. Much like diving into deep water, she had no idea which way would find her air to breathe or which way would drag her down deeper into the depths where she would surely drown.
And for a moment, just a moment, she found it didn't seem to matter.
The warmth of his body against hers on such a cold day, his now-familiar scent of sandalwood, the heat of his mouth against hers...it all made her head spin, and logic fell away.
Morgan Rhodes (Rebel Spring (Falling Kingdoms, #2))
Freuchen tells how one day, after coming home hungry from an unsuccessful walrus-hunting expedition, he found one of the successful hunters dropping off several hundred pounds of meat. He thanked him profusely. The man objected indignantly:
"Up in our country we are human!" said the hunter. "And since we are human we help each other. We don't like to hear anybody say thanks for that. What I get today you may get tomorrow. Up here we say that by gifts one makes slaves and by whips one makes dogs.
... The refusal to calculate credits and debits can be found throughout the anthropological literature on egalitarian hunting societies. Rather than seeing himself as human because he could make economic calculations, the hunter insisted that being truly human meant refusing to make such calculations, refusing to measure or remember who had given what to whom, for the precise reason that doing so would inevitably create a world where we began "comparing power with power, measuring, calculating" and reducing each other to slaves or dogs through debt. It's not that he, like untold millions of similar egalitarian spirits throughout history, was unaware that humans have a propensity to calculate. If he wasn't aware of it, he could not have said what he did. Of course we have a propensity to calculate. We have all sorts of propensities. In any real-life situation, we have propensities that drive us in several different contradictory directions simultaneously. No one is more real than any other. The real question is which we take as the foundation of our humanity, and therefore, make the basis of our civilization.
David Graeber (Debt: The First 5,000 Years)
… Her heart remained empty once more, and the procession of days all alike began again. So they were going to follow one another, like this, in line, always identical, innumerable, bringing nothing!
Gustave Flaubert (Madame Bovary)
All the idylls of youth: beauty manifest in lakes, mountains, people; richness in experience, conversation, friendships. Nights during a full moon, the light flooded the wilderness, so it was possible to hike without a headlamp. We would hit the trail at two A.M., summiting the nearest peak, Mount Tallac, just before sunrise, the clear, starry night reflected in the flat, still lakes spread below us. Snuggled together in sleeping bags at the peak, nearly ten thousand feet up, we weathered frigid blasts of wind with coffee someone had been thoughtful enough to bring. And then we would sit and watch as the first hint of sunlight, a light tinge of day blue, would leak out of the eastern horizon, slowly erasing the stars. The day sky would spread wide and high, until the first ray of the sun made an appearance. The morning commuters began to animate the distant South Lake Tahoe roads. But craning your head back, you could see the day’s blue darken halfway across the sky, and to the west, the night remained yet unconquered—pitch-black, stars in full glimmer, the full moon still pinned in the sky. To the east, the full light of day beamed toward you; to the west, night reigned with no hint of surrender. No philosopher can explain the sublime better than this, standing between day and night. It was as if this were the moment God said, “Let there be light!” You could not help but feel your specklike existence against the immensity of the mountain, the earth, the universe, and yet still feel your own two feet on the talus, reaffirming your presence amid the grandeur.
Paul Kalanithi (When Breath Becomes Air)
Afterwards, once you lost all hope, time began to go faster and the senseless days deadened your soul.
Carlos Ruiz Zafón (The Prisoner of Heaven (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #3))
Did I ever tell you about the man
who taught his asshole to talk?
His whole abdomen would move up and down,
you dig, farting out the words.
It was unlike anything I ever heard.
Bubbly, thick, stagnant sound.
A sound you could smell.
This man worked for the carnival,you dig?
And to start with it was
like a novelty ventriloquist act.
After a while,
the ass started talking on its own.
He would go in
without anything prepared...
and his ass would ad-lib
and toss the gags back at him every time.
Then it developed sort of teethlike...
little raspy incurving hooks
and started eating.
He thought this was cute at first
and built an act around it...
but the asshole would eat its way through
his pants and start talking on the street...
shouting out it wanted equal rights.
It would get drunk, too, and have crying jags.
Nobody loved it.
And it wanted to be kissed,
same as any other mouth.
Finally, it talked all the time,
day and night.
You could hear him for blocks,
screaming at it to shut up...
beating at it with his fists...
and sticking candles up it, but...
nothing did any good,
and the asshole said to him...
"It is you who will shut up
in the end, not me...
"because we don't need you
around here anymore.
I can talk and eat and shit."
After that, he began waking up
in the morning with transparentjelly...
like a tadpole's tail
all over his mouth.
He would tear it off his mouth
and the pieces would stick to his hands...
like burning gasoline jelly
and grow there.
So, finally, his mouth sealed over...
and the whole head...
would have amputated spontaneously
except for the eyes, you dig?
That's the one thing
that the asshole couldn't do was see.
It needed the eyes.
Nerve connections were blocked...
and infiltrated and atrophied.
So, the brain couldn't
give orders anymore.
It was trapped inside the skull...
For a while, you could see...
the silent, helpless suffering
of the brain behind the eyes.
And then finally
the brain must have died...
because the eyes went out...
and there was no more feeling in them
than a crab's eye at the end of a stalk.
William S. Burroughs (Naked Lunch)
Once there was a boy who couldn't speak but owned a music box that held every song in all the world. One day he met a girl who had never heard a single melody in her entire life and so he played her his favorite song. He watched while her face lit up with wonder as the music filled the sky and the poetry of lyrics moved her in a way she had never felt before.
He would play his songs for her day after day and she would sit by him quietly—never seeming to mind that he could only speak to her through song. She loved everything he played for her, but of them all—she loved the sad songs best. So he began to play them more and more until eventually, sad songs were all she would hear.
One day, he noticed it had been a very long time since her last smile. When he asked her why, she took both his hands in hers and kissed them warmly. She thanked him for his gift of music and poetry but above all else—for showing her sadness because she had known neither of these things before him. But it was now time for her to go away—to find someone who could show her what happiness was.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Do you remember the song that was playing the night we met?
No, but I remember every song I have heard since you left.
Lang Leav (Love & Misadventure)
So the days slipped away, as each morning dawned bright and fair, and each evening followed cool and clear. But autumn was waning fast; slowly the golden light faded to pale silver, and the lingering leaves fell from the naked trees. A wind began to blow chill from the Misty Mountains to the east. The Hunter's Moon waxed round in the night sky, and put to flight all the lesser stars. But low in the South one star shone red. Every night, as the Moon waned again, it shone brighter and brighter. Frodo could see it from his window, deep in the heavens, burning like a watchful eye that glared above the trees on the brink of the valley.
J.R.R. Tolkien (The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1))
Want your boat, Georgie?' Pennywise asked. 'I only repeat myself because you really do not seem that eager.' He held it up, smiling. He was wearing a baggy silk suit with great big orange buttons. A bright tie, electric-blue, flopped down his front, and on his hands were big white gloves, like the kind Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck always wore.
Yes, sure,' George said, looking into the stormdrain.
And a balloon? I’ve got red and green and yellow and blue...'
Do they float?'
Float?' The clown’s grin widened. 'Oh yes, indeed they do. They float! And there’s cotton candy...'
The clown seized his arm.
And George saw the clown’s face change.
What he saw then was terrible enough to make his worst imaginings of the thing in the cellar look like sweet dreams; what he saw destroyed his sanity in one clawing stroke.
They float,' the thing in the drain crooned in a clotted, chuckling voice. It held George’s arm in its thick and wormy grip, it pulled George toward that terrible darkness where the water rushed and roared and bellowed as it bore its cargo of storm debris toward the sea. George craned his neck away from that final blackness and began to scream into the rain, to scream mindlessly into the white autumn sky which curved above Derry on that day in the fall of 1957. His screams were shrill and piercing, and all up and down Witcham Street people came to their windows or bolted out onto their porches.
They float,' it growled, 'they float, Georgie, and when you’re down here with me, you’ll float, too–'
George's shoulder socked against the cement of the curb and Dave Gardener, who had stayed home from his job at The Shoeboat that day because of the flood, saw only a small boy in a yellow rain-slicker, a small boy who was screaming and writhing in the gutter with muddy water surfing over his face and making his screams sound bubbly.
Everything down here floats,' that chuckling, rotten voice whispered, and suddenly there was a ripping noise and a flaring sheet of agony, and George Denbrough knew no more.
Dave Gardener was the first to get there, and although he arrived only forty-five seconds after the first scream, George Denbrough was already dead. Gardener grabbed him by the back of the slicker, pulled him into the street...and began to scream himself as George's body turned over in his hands. The left side of George’s slicker was now bright red. Blood flowed into the stormdrain from the tattered hole where his left arm had been. A knob of bone, horribly bright, peeked through the torn cloth.
The boy’s eyes stared up into the white sky, and as Dave staggered away toward the others already running pell-mell down the street, they began to fill with rain.
Stephen King (It)
I slipped in and out of consciousness as time stretched and flowed around me. Dreams and reality blurred, but I liked the dreams better. Noah was in them.
I dreamed of us, walking hand in hand down a crowded street in the middle of the day. We were in New York. I was in no rush—I could walk with him forever—but Noah was. He pulled me alongside him, strong and determined and not smiling. Not today.
We wove among the people, somehow not touching a single one. The trees were green and blossoming. It was spring, almost summer. A strong wind shook a few steadfast flowers off of the branches and into our path. We ignored them.
Noah led me into Central Park. It was teeming with human life. Bright colored picnic blankets burst across the lawn, the pale, outstretched forms of people wriggling over them like worms in fruit. We passed the reservoir, the sun reflecting off its surface, and then the crowd began to thicken.
They funneled into a throbbing mass as we strode up a hill, over and through. Until we could see them all below us, angry and electric. Noah reached into his bag. He pulled out the little cloth doll, my grandmother’s. The one we burned.
Michelle Hodkin (The Retribution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #3))
Having a chronic illness, Molly thought, was like being invaded. Her grandmother back in Michigan used to tell about the day one of their cows got loose and wandered into the parlor, and the awful time they had getting her out. That was exactly what Molly's arthritis was like: as if some big old cow had got into her house and wouldn't go away. It just sat there, taking up space in her life and making everything more difficult, mooing loudly from time to time and making cow pies, and all she could do really was edge around it and put up with it.
When other people first became aware of the cow, they expressed concern and anxiety. They suggested strategies for getting the animal out of Molly's parlor: remedies and doctors and procedures, some mainstream and some New Age. They related anecdotes of friends who had removed their own cows in one way or another. But after a while they had exhausted their suggestions. Then they usually began to pretend that the cow wasn't there, and they preferred for Molly to go along with the pretense.
Alison Lurie (The Last Resort)
He was the son of this bitchy book reviewer. Totally blasted my first book. Called all my lovely kinksters ‘sick’ and ‘abusive.’ So I got my payback by sickly abusing her youngest all night long.”
“And you felt guilty about that?”
“Not the sex. The note I sent Mom the next day.”
“You sent his mother a note after you seduced her son? What did it say?”
“It said...” Nora began, and paused for a breath. Not one of her prouder moments. “It said, ‘Your son gave me five stars last night. And five fingers.’”
“I’m trying so hard to feel bad about it. I swear to God I am.
Tiffany Reisz (The Mistress (The Original Sinners, #4))
I was happy in the dream; but when I woke up it was with a feeling that I was falling apart, that I was cracking up from the inside and slowly falling to pieces. My heart was jumping and grating like a cold engine that doesn't want to start. My skin was crawling, and I couldn't manage a single clear thought. It was as if all my thoughts were crushed to bits just as they began to take shape. I didn't get much done that day.
Ninni Holmqvist (The Unit)
I am just a teenager.'
'History is filled with teenagers who lead the fight. Joan of Arc. Okita Soji, the samurai. Alexander the Great.They were all teenagers when they began leading their armies. I think we're back to those times again, kid.
Susan Ee (End of Days (Penryn & the End of Days, #3))
All of a sudden I became aware of a little star in one of those patches and I began looking at it intently. That was because the little star gave me an idea: I made up my mind to kill myself that night. I had made up my mind to kill myself already two months before and, poor as I am, I bought myself an excellent revolver and loaded it the same day. But two months had elapsed and it was still lying in the drawer. I was so utterly indifferent to everything that I was anxious to wait for the moment when I would not be so indifferent and then kill myself. Why -- I don't know.
Fyodor Dostoevsky (The Dream of a Ridiculous Man)
All my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began.
She's locked up with a spinning wheel
She can't recall what it was like to feel
She says, "This room's gonna be my grave
And there's no one who can save me,"
She sits down to her colored thread
She knows lovers waking up in their beds
She says, "How long can I live this way
Is there someone I can pay to let me go
'Cause I'm half sick of shadows
I want to see the sky
Everyone else can watch as the sun goes down
So why can't I
And it's raining
And the stars are falling from the sky
And the wind
And the wind I know it's cold
I've been waiting
For the day I will surely die
And it's here
And it's here for I've been told
That I'll die before I'm old
And the wind I know it's cold...
She looks up to the mirrored glass
She sees a horse and rider pass
She says, "This man's gonna be my death
'Cause he's all I ever wanted in my life
And I know he doesn't know my name
And that all the girls are all the same to him
But still I've got to get out of this place
'Cause I don't think I can face another night
Where I'm half sick of shadows
And I can't see the sky
Everyone else can watch as the tide comes in
So why can't I
But there's willow trees
And little breezes, waves, and walls, and flowers
And there's moonlight every single night
As I'm locked in these towers
So I'll meet my death
But with my last breath I'll sing to him I love
And he'll see my face in another place,"
And with that the glass above
Her cracked into a million bits
And she cried out, "So the story fits
But then I could have guessed it all along
'Cause now some drama queen is gonna write a song for me,"
She went down to her little boat
And she broke the chains and began to float away
And as the blood froze in her veins she said,
"Well then that explains a thing or two
'Cause I know I'm the cursed one
I know I'm meant to die
Everyone else can watch as their dreams untie
So why can't I
All he could do was wait like this, patiently, until it grew light out and the birds awoke and began their day. All he could do was trust in the birds, in all the birds, with their wings and beaks.
Haruki Murakami (Men Without Women)
Look,” I began, “I get it. You don’t like me, but—”
“I don’t like you?”
He let out a low, flat laugh. One fell into the next, and it was awful—not at all him. He was half
choking on them as he turned around, shaking his head. It almost sounded like a sob, the way his
breath burst out of him.
“I don’t like you,” he repeated, his face bleak. “I don’t like you?”
“Liam—” I started, alarmed.
“I can’t—I can’t think about anything or anyone else,” he whispered. A hand drifted up, dragging
back through his hair. “I can’t think straight when you’re around. I can’t sleep. It feels like I can’t
“Liam, please,” I begged. “You’re tired. You’re barely over being sick. Let’s just… Can we just
go back to the others?”
“I love you.” He turned toward me, that agonized expression still on his face. “I love you every
second of every day, and I don’t understand why, or how to make it stop—”
He looked wild with pain; it pinned me in place, even before what he had said registered in my
“I know it’s wrong; I know it down to my damn bones. And I feel like I’m sick. I’m trying to be a
good person, but I can’t. I can’t do it anymore.
Alexandra Bracken (Never Fade (The Darkest Minds, #2))
I never will forget this. I went and threw myself across my daughter’s bed, and I cried and I cried and I cried and I cried, because I felt like that I had been so faithful and that there was no financial breakthrough for us. You ever have one of those days where you are tired of hearing everybody else’s testimony? But, I made a decision that day, and I think we all have to come to this point in many different areas of our life. And, as I lay across that bed and cried, when I finally got done crying I said this out loud, it was like my declaration, “God, I am going to tithe and give offerings until the day I die whether I ever see anything from it or not!” And, you know what, from that day forward we began to prosper and increase. And, I believe with all of my heart that was a test for me.
I lit a cigarette and began puffing on it as I drank one quick beer after another. I was neither a drinker nor a smoker nor a fighter, but I had planned to be all three on this day.
Pat Conroy (The Lords of Discipline)
Home is where the heart is. No, nothing quite as simple as that. Home is where you struggle, in a world of endless struggle, to become the best you can be, and it becomes home in your heart only if one day you can look back and say that, in spite of all your faults and failures, it was in this special place where you began to see, however dimly, the shape of your soul.
Dean Koontz (Ashley Bell)
I remember the first year after my second child was born, what I can remember of it at all, as a year of disarray, of overturned glasses of milk, of toys on the floor, of hours from sunrise to sunset that were horribly busy but filled with what, at the end of the day, seemed like absolutely nothing at all. What saved my sanity were books. What saved my sanity was disappearing, if only for fifteen minutes before I inevitably began to nod off in bed...and as it was for me when I was young and surrounded by siblings, as it is today when I am surrounded by children, reading continues to provide an escape from a crowded house into an imaginary room of one's own.
Anna Quindlen (How Reading Changed My Life)
They say teenagers can sleep all day. I often used to look at dogs and be amazed by the way they seemed to sleep for twenty hours a day. But I envied them too. It was the kind of lifestyle I could relate to.
We didn't sleep for twenty hours, but we gave it our best shot.
John Marsden (Tomorrow, When the War Began (Tomorrow, #1))
Before long, billions of people around the world were working and playing in the OASIS every day. Some of them met, fell in love, and got married without ever setting foot on the same continent. The lines of distinction between a person’s real identity and that of their avatar began to blur. It was the dawn of new era, one where most of the human race now spent all of their free time inside a videogame.
Ernest Cline (Ready Player One (Ready Player One, #1))
This story was written many moons ago under an apple tree in an orchard in Kent, which is one of England's prettiest counties . . . I had read at least twenty of the [fairy tales] when I noticed something that had never struck me before--I suppose because I had always taken it for granted. All the princesses, apart from such rare exceptions as Snow White, were blond, blue-eyed, and beautiful, with lovely figures and complexions and extravagantly long hair. This struck me as most unfair, and suddenly I began to wonder just how many handsome young princes would have asked a king for the hand of his daughter if that daughter had happened to be gawky, snub-nosed, and freckled, with shortish mouse-colored hair? None, I suspected. They would all have been of chasing after some lissome Royal Highness with large blue eyes and yards of golden hair and probably nothing whatever between her ears! It was in that moment that a story about a princess who turned out to be ordinary jumped into my mind, and the very next morning I took my pencil box and a large rough-notebook down to the orchard and, having settled myself under an apple tree in full bloom, began to write . . . the day was warm and windless and without a cloud in the sky. A perfect day and a perfect place to write a fairy story.
M.M. Kaye (The Ordinary Princess)
You are my life.” Though his words were barely a whisper, they seemed to echo from somewhere deep within him, enveloping my body and infusing me with something unshakable. “There is nothing I would not do to make you happy. Before I met you, my world was a string of days that were gray and empty. I had nothing to look forward to, and I cannot tell you what it was like, facing down eternity alone. Every day I wished for you. Every day I held on in hopes that eventually we would meet. And when I finally found you...”
He leaned in and kissed me again, astenderly as before. His hand slid underneath my shirt, splaying across my stomach, but the touch wasn’t sexual. It was as if he were trying to memorize me, just as I was trying to memorize him.
“I have existed for more eons than I remember. I have seen the sun rise and fall so many times that the days lost all meaning. For so long, they passed me by in a blur. But that night we met by the river—the night you gave up yourself in order to save a virtual stranger—my heart began to beat again.”
He took my hand and pressed it against his chest, and there it was—thump thump, thump thump, strong and beautiful. I would’ve given anything to keep his heart beating. The black abyss that had become my world in those hours I’d thought he was dead had faded, but it was a scar I would always bear. I couldn’t go back to that. Even if I had Milo, I would never have another Henry.
Aimee Carter (The Goddess Inheritance (Goddess Test, #3))
Buckley followed the three of them into the kitchen and asked, as he had at least once a day, “Where’s Susie?”
They were silent. Samuel looked at Lindsey.
“Buckley,” my father called from the adjoining room, “come play Monopoly with me.”
My brother had never been invited to play Monopoly. Everyone said he was too young, but this was the magic of Christmas. He rushed into the family room, and my father picked him up and sat him on his lap.
“See this shoe?” my father said.
Buckley nodded his head.
“I want you to listen to everything I say about it, okay?”
“Susie?” my brother asked, somehow connecting the two.
“Yes, I’m going to tell you where Susie is.”
I began to cry up in heaven. What else was there for me to do?
“This shoe was the piece Susie played Monopoly with,” he said. “I play with the car or sometimes the wheelbarrow. Lindsey plays with the iron, and when you mother plays, she likes the cannon.”
“Is that a dog?”
“Yes, that’s a Scottie.”
“Okay,” my father said. He was patient. He had found a way to explain it. He held his son in his lap, and as he spoke, he felt Buckley’s small body on his knee-the very human, very warm, very alive weight of it. It comforted him. “The Scottie will be your piece from now on. Which piece is Susie’s again?”
“The shoe?” Buckley asked.
“Right, and I’m the car, your sister’s the iron, and your mother is the cannon.”
My brother concentrated very hard.
“Now let’s put all the pieces on the board, okay? You go ahead and do it for me.”
Buckley grabbed a fist of pieces and then another, until all the pieces lay between the Chance and Community Chest cards.
“Let’s say the other pieces are our friends?”
“Right, we’ll make your friend Nate the hat. And the board is the world. Now if I were to tell you that when I rolled the dice, one of the pieces would be taken away, what would that mean?”
“They can’t play anymore?”
“Why?” Buckley asked.
He looked up at my father; my father flinched.
“Why?” my brother asked again.
My father did not want to say “because life is unfair” or “because that’s how it is”. He wanted something neat, something that could explain death to a four-year-old He placed his hand on the small of Buckley’s back.
“Susie is dead,” he said now, unable to make it fit in the rules of any game. “Do you know what that means?”
Buckley reached over with his hand and covered the shoe. He looked up to see if his answer was right.
My father nodded. "You won’t see Susie anymore, honey. None of us will.” My father cried. Buckley looked up into the eyes of our father and did not really understand.
Buckley kept the shoe on his dresser, until one day it wasn't there anymore and no amount of looking for it could turn up.
Alice Sebold (The Lovely Bones)
It's so easy to leave me
All alone with my memory
Of my days in the sun
If you touch me
You'll understand what happiness is
Look, a new day has began
I shall never get out of this! There are two of me now:
This new absolutely white person and the old yellow one,
And the white person is certainly the superior one.
She doesn't need food, she is one of the real saints.
At the beginning I hated her, she had no personality --
She lay in bed with me like a dead body
And I was scared, because she was shaped just the way I was
Only much whiter and unbreakable and with no complaints.
I couldn't sleep for a week, she was so cold.
I blamed her for everything, but she didn't answer.
I couldn't understand her stupid behavior!
When I hit her she held still, like a true pacifist.
Then I realized what she wanted was for me to love her:
She began to warm up, and I saw her advantages.
Without me, she wouldn't exist, so of course she was grateful.
I gave her a soul, I bloomed out of her as a rose
Blooms out of a vase of not very valuable porcelain,
And it was I who attracted everybody's attention,
Not her whiteness and beauty, as I had at first supposed.
I patronized her a little, and she lapped it up --
You could tell almost at once she had a slave mentality.
I didn't mind her waiting on me, and she adored it.
In the morning she woke me early, reflecting the sun
From her amazingly white torso, and I couldn't help but notice
Her tidiness and her calmness and her patience:
She humored my weakness like the best of nurses,
Holding my bones in place so they would mend properly.
In time our relationship grew more intense.
She stopped fitting me so closely and seemed offish.
I felt her criticizing me in spite of herself,
As if my habits offended her in some way.
She let in the drafts and became more and more absent-minded.
And my skin itched and flaked away in soft pieces
Simply because she looked after me so badly.
Then I saw what the trouble was: she thought she was immortal.
She wanted to leave me, she thought she was superior,
And I'd been keeping her in the dark, and she was resentful --
Wasting her days waiting on a half-corpse!
And secretly she began to hope I'd die.
Then she could cover my mouth and eyes, cover me entirely,
And wear my painted face the way a mummy-case
Wears the face of a pharaoh, though it's made of mud and water.
I wasn't in any position to get rid of her.
She'd supported me for so long I was quite limp --
I had forgotten how to walk or sit,
So I was careful not to upset her in any way
Or brag ahead of time how I'd avenge myself.
Living with her was like living with my own coffin:
Yet I still depended on her, though I did it regretfully.
I used to think we might make a go of it together --
After all, it was a kind of marriage, being so close.
Now I see it must be one or the other of us.
She may be a saint, and I may be ugly and hairy,
But she'll soon find out that that doesn't matter a bit.
I'm collecting my strength; one day I shall manage without her,
And she'll perish with emptiness then, and begin to miss me.
--written 26 Feburary 1961
Sylvia Plath (The Collected Poems)
Do you ever feel lost?” The question hangs between us, intimate, awkward only on my end. He doesn’t scoff as Tactus and Fitchner would, or scratch his balls like Sevro, or chuckle like Cassius might have, or purr as Victra would. I’m not sure what Mustang might have done. But Roque, despite his Color and all the things that make him different, slowly slides a marker into the book and sets it on the nightstand beside the four-poster, taking his time and allowing an answer to evolve between us. Movements thoughtful and organic, like Dancer’s were before he died. There’s a stillness in him, vast and majestic, the same stillness I remember in my father. “Quinn once told me a story.” He waits for me to moan a grievance at the mention of a story, and when I don’t, his tone sinks into deeper gravity. “Once, in the days of Old Earth, there were two pigeons who were greatly in love. In those days, they raised such animals to carry messages across great distances. These two were born in the same cage, raised by the same man, and sold on the same day to different men on the eve of a great war. “The pigeons suffered apart from each other, each incomplete without their lover. Far and wide their masters took them, and the pigeons feared they would never again find each other, for they began to see how vast the world was, and how terrible the things in it. For months and months, they carried messages for their masters, flying over battle lines, through the air over men who killed one another for land. When the war ended, the pigeons were set free by their masters. But neither knew where to go, neither knew what to do, so each flew home. And there they found each other again, as they were always destined to return home and find, instead of the past, their future.
Pierce Brown (Golden Son (Red Rising, #2))
There were probably many factors that kept the relationship going and kept your love alive. There were all his promises. "I promise this will never happen again." You believed him the first time. And the second. As the abuse continued, he became increasingly remorseful, his promises more insistent. You continued to believe him; you wanted to believe him. After all, you loved him.
Then there were all the apologies. He seemed truly sorry. You forgave him. Now, however, when you think back, you realize the apologies were conditional. They blamed you! "I'm sorry, but if only you hadn't..." They always made his abuse somehow your fault. You may have begun to believe this, and you may even remember apologizing to him. You began to believe that if you were careful about what you said or did, you could prevent the abuse from happening again. As the abuse escalated over time, the blaming became more obvious. "I didn't mean to hurt you, but if you just weren't so [stupid, ugly, careless, dumb, etc.], this would never have happened." Time after time you were made to believe that every act of violence or abuse was your fault. Day after day you were made to feel that you were unworthy of him.
Meg Kennedy Dugan (It's My Life Now: Starting Over After an Abusive Relationship or Domestic Violence)
My birthday began with the water-
Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name
Above the farms and the white horses
And I rose
In rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days.
Dylan Thomas (Collected Poems)
After tidying up, Adela would plunge the rooms into semidarkness by drawing down the linen blinds. All colors immediately fell an octave lower, the room filled with shadows, as if it had sunk to the bottom of the sea and the light was reflected in mirrors of green water–and the heat of the day began to breathe on the blinds as they stirred slightly in their daydreams.
Bruno Schulz (The Street of Crocodiles)
Buttercup dried her tears and began to smile. She took a deep breath, heaved a sigh. It was all part of growing up. You got these little quick passions, you blinked, and they were gone. You forgave faults, found perfection, fell madly; then the next day the sun came up and it was over. Chalk it up to experience, old girl, and get on with the morning.
William Goldman (The Princess Bride)
Augustus Waters was the Mayor of the Secret City of Cancervania, and he is not replaceable", Isaac began.
"Other people will be able to tell you funny stories about Gus, because he was a funny guy, but let me tell you a serious one: A day after I got my eye cut out, Gus showed up at the hospital. I was blind and heartbroken and dind't want to do anything and Gus burst into my room and shouted, 'I have wonderful news!' And I was like, 'I don't really want to hear wonderful news right now' and Gus said, 'This is wonderful news you want to hear' and I asked him, 'Fine, what is it?' and he said, 'You're going to live a good and long life filled with great and terrible moments that you cannot even imagine yet!'"
Isaac couldn't go on, or maybe that was all he had written.
John Green (The Fault in Our Stars)
It was in fact the ordinary nature of everything preceding the event that prevented me from truly believing it had happened, absorbing it, incorporating it, getting past it. I recognize now that there was nothing unusual in this: confronted with sudden disaster we all focus on how unremarkable the circumstances were in which the unthinkable occurred, the clear blue sky from which the plane fell, the routine errand that ended on the shoulder with the car in flames, the swings where the children were playing as usual when the rattlesnake struck from the ivy. "He was on his way home from work — happy, successful, healthy — and then, gone," I read in the account of a psychiatric nurse whose husband was killed in a highway accident. In 1966 I happened to interview many people who had been living in Honolulu on the morning of December 7, 1941; without exception, these people began their accounts of Pearl Harbor by telling me what an "ordinary Sunday morning" it had been. "It was just an ordinary beautiful September day," people still say when asked to describe the morning in New York when American Airlines 11 and United Airlines 175 got flown into the World Trade towers. Even the report of the 9/11 Commission opened on this insistently premonitory and yet still dumbstruck narrative note: "Tuesday, September 11, 2001, dawned temperate and nearly cloudless in the eastern United States.
Joan Didion (The Year of Magical Thinking)
My eyes had been closed for a few minutes when he said it: "I love you," he muttered, so quiet, like a prayer whispered into my neck.
"Hmm?" I was nearly asleep myself, edges blurring; I was one hundred percent sure I'd misheard.
"I love you." He said it again, clearer this time, right into my ear, breath tickling. I felt like a hydrogen bomb. I tried to be very still, but I knew he could feel my entire body tensing, a runner ready to begin a race --
I opened my mouth, shut it again.
I did love him, is the awfulness of it. I'd loved Sawyer since the seventh grade, when Allie and I began keeping a list of the places we spotted him. I loved his quick, blistered musician hands and the honest soul he kept hidden safe under all his bravado, and I loved how I was still, every day, learning him. I loved his silly, secret goofy side and the way he had of making me feel like I was a tall tree, just from the way he looked at my face. I loved Sawyer LeGrande so much that sometimes I couldn't sit still for the fullness of it, but when I opened up my mouth to tell him so, nothing came out.
I could do anything for him, I realized suddenly. I could give him anything. But not that. If I said that to him, I knew I could never get it back.
"Go to sleep," I whispered, and he didn't say it again.
Katie Cotugno (How to Love)
Harry: "Have you…" he began. "I mean, who … has anyone you known ever died?"
"Yes," said Luna simply, "my mother. She was a quite extraordinary witch, you know, but she did like to experiment and one of her spells went rather badly wrong one day. I was nine."
"I’m sorry," Harry mumbled.
"Yes, it was rather horrible," said Luna conversationally. "I still feel very sad about it sometimes. But I’ve still got Dad. And anyway, it’s not as though I’ll never see Mum again, is it?"
"Er – isn’t it?" said Harry uncertainly.
She shook her head in disbelief. "Oh, come on. You heard them, just behind the veil, didn’t you?"
" You mean…"
"In that room in the archway. They were just lurking out of sight, that’s all, you heard them.
It seemed to work at first. I tried hard to forget, but there remained inside me a vague knot-of-air kind of thing. And as time went by, the knot began to take on a clear and simple form, a form that I am able to put into words, like this:
Death exists, not as the opposite but as a part of life.
Translate into words, it's a cliche, but at the time I felt it not as words but as that knot of air inside me. Death exists - in a paperweight, in four red and white balls on a billiard table - and we go on living and breathing it into our lungs like fine dust.
Until that time, I had understood death as something entirely separate from and independent of life. The hand of death is bound to take us, I had felt, but until the day it reaches out for us, it leaves us alone. This had seemed to me the simple, logical truth. Life is here, death is over there. I am here, not over there.
The night Kizuki died, however, I lost the ability to see death (and life) in such simple terms. Death was not the opposite of life. It was already here, within my being, it had always been here, and no struggle would permit me to forget that...
I lived through the following spring...with that kind knot of air in my chest, but I struggled all the while against becoming serious. Becoming serious was not the same thing as approaching truth, I sensed, however vaguely. But death was a fact, a serious fact, no matter how you looked at it. stuck inside this suffocating contradiction, I went on endlessly spinning in circles...In the midst of life, everything revolved around death.
Haruki Murakami (Norwegian Wood)
We wrote every day, but the letters began to seem like checks drawn on the summer's capital. There had been a lot in the bank, but it is never good business practice to live on your capital, and I had the feeling, somehow, of living on the capital and watching something dwindle.
Robert Penn Warren (All the King's Men)
I went to the library. I looked at the magazines, at the pictures in them. One day I went to the bookshelves, and pulled out a book. It was Winesburg, Ohio.. I sat at a long mahogany table and began to read. All at once my world turned over. The sky fell in. The book held me. The tears came. My heart beat fast. I read until my eyes burned. I took the book home. I read another Anderson. I read and I read, and I was heartsick and lonely and in love with a book, many books, until it came naturally, and I sat there with a pencil and a long tablet, and tried to write, until I felt I could not go on because the words would not come as they did in Anderson, they only came like drops of blood from my heart.
John Fante (Dreams from Bunker Hill (The Saga of Arturo Bandini, #4))
If what Granma Mary Rommely said is true, then it must be that no one ever dies, really. Papa is gone, but he's still here in many ways. He's here in Neeley who looks just like him and in Mama who knew him so long. He's here in his mother who began him and who is still living. Maybe I will have a boy some day who looks like Papa and has all of Papa's good without the drinking. And that boy will have a boy. And that boy will have a boy. It might be there is no real death.
Betty Smith (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn)
Logan began to sing, a lilting tune I didn't recognize. At first I wondered if we'd seen the band in concert together or had listened to it on one of our first dates.
Then he reached the chorus, and the words were us.
All my insecurities, all his excesses, all the ways we fought and pushed and pulled. And how it all didn't matter. Those things that tore us apart were no match for forever.
I'd been so wrong about us. If he'd lived, we would've been happy. Not every day, but over the span of time that made up forever.
But he hadn't lived.
We had lost forever.
Jeri Smith-Ready (Shade (Shade, #1))
She had a horror he would die at night.
And sometimes when the light began to fade
She could not keep from noticing how white
The birches looked — and then she would be afraid,
Even with a lamp, to go about the house
And lock the windows; and as night wore on
Toward morning, if a dog howled, or a mouse
Squeaked in the floor, long after it was gone
Her flesh would sit awry on her. By day
She would forget somewhat, and it would seem
A silly thing to go with just this dream
And get a neighbor to come at night and stay.
But it would strike her sometimes, making tea:
_She had kept that kettle boiling all night long, for company._
Edna St. Vincent Millay
One day he trapped a large raven, whose wings he painted red, the breast green, and the tail blue. When a flock of ravens appeared over our hut, Lekh freed the painted bird. As soon as it joined the flock a desperate battle began. The changeling was attacked from all sides. Black, red, green, blue feathers began to drop at our feet. The ravens ran amuck in the skies, and suddenly the painted raven plummeted to the freshly-plowed soil. It was still alive, opening its beak and vainly trying to move its wings. Its eyes had been pecked out, and fresh blood streamed over its painted feathers. It made yet another attempt to flutter up from the sticky earth, but its strength was gone.
Jerzy Kosiński (The Painted Bird)
It's strange how the human mind swings back and forth, from one extreme to another. Does truth lie at some point of th pendulum's swing, at a point where it never rests, not in the dull prependicular mean where it dangles in the end like a windless flag, but at an angle, nearer one extreme than another? If only a miracle could stop the pendulum at an angle of sixty degrees, one would believe the truth was there. Well, the pendulum swung today and I thought, instead of my own body, of Maurice's. I thought of certain lines life had put on his face as personal as a line of his writing: I thought of a new scar on his shoulder that wouldn't have been there if once he hadn't tried to protect another man's body from a falling wall. He didn't tell me why he was in hospital those three days: Henry told me. That scar was part of his character as much as his jealousy. And so I thought, do I want that body to be vapour (mine yes, but his?), and I knew I wanted that scar to exist through all eternity. But could my vapour love that scar? Then I began to want my body that I hated, but only because it could love that scar. We can love with our minds, but can we love only with our minds? Love extends itself all the time, so that we can even love with our senseless nails: we love even with our clothes, so that a sleeve can feel a sleeve.
After he saw God [Tony Amsterdam] felt really good, for around a year. And then he felt really bad. Worse than he ever had before in his life. Because one day it came over him, he began to realize, that he was never going to see God again; he was going to live out his whole remaining life, decades, maybe fifty years, and see nothing but what he had always seen. What we see. He was worse off than if he hadn’t seen God. He told me one day he got really mad; he just freaked out and started cursing and smashing things in his apartment. He even smashed his stereo. He realized he was going to have to live on and on like he was, seeing nothing. Without any purpose. Just a lump of flesh grinding along, eating, drinking, sleeping, working, crapping.”
“Like the rest of us.” It was the first thing Bob Arctor had managed to say; each word came with retching difficulty.
Donna said, “That’s what I told him. I pointed that out. We were all in the same boat and it didn’t freak the rest of us. And he said, ‘You don’t know what I saw. You don’t know.’
Philip K. Dick (A Scanner Darkly)
I suppose you think you know what autumn looks like. Even if you live in the Los Angeles dreamed of by September’s schoolmates, you have surely seen postcards and photographs of the kind of autumn I mean. The trees go all red and blazing orange and gold, and wood fires burn at night so everything smells of crisp branches. The world rolls about delightedly in a heap of cider and candy and apples and pumpkins and cold stars rush by through wispy, ragged clouds, past a moon like a bony knee. You have, no doubt, experienced a Halloween or two.
Autumn in Fairyland is all that, of course. You would never feel cheated by the colors of a Fairyland Forest or the morbidity of a Fairyland moon. And the Halloween masks! Oh, how they glitter, how they curl, how their beaks and jaws hook and barb! But to wander through autumn in Fairyland is to look into a murky pool, seeing only a hazy reflection of the Autumn Provinces’ eternal fall. And human autumn is but a cast-off photograph of that reflecting pool, half burnt and drifting through the space between us and Fairyland.
And so I may tell you that the leaves began to turn red as September and her friends rushed through the suddenly cold air on their snorting, roaring high wheels, and you might believe me. But no red you have ever seen could touch the crimson bleed of the trees in that place. No oak gnarled and orange with October is half as bright as the boughs that bent over September’s head, dropping their hard, sweet acorns into her spinning spokes. But you must try as hard as you can. Squeeze your eyes closed, as tight as you can, and think of all your favorite autumns, crisp and perfect, all bound up together like a stack of cards. That is what it is like, the awful, wonderful brightness of Fairy colors. Try to smell the hard, pale wood sending up sharp, green smoke into the afternoon. To feel to mellow, golden sun on your skin, more gentle and cozier and more golden than even the light of your favorite reading nook at the close of the day.
Catherynne M. Valente (The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland, #1))
Sheridan bit back a teary smile at his quip, afraid to believe him, afraid to trust him, and unable to stop herself because she loved him. "Look at me," Stephen said, tipping her chin up again, and this time her glorious eyes looked into his. "I have several reasons for asking you to walk into that chapel, where there is a vicar waiting for us, but guilt is not among them. I also have several things to ask of you before you agree to go in there with me."
"What sort of things?"
"I would like you to give me daughters with your hair and your spirit," he said, beginning to enumerate his reasons and requests. "I would like my sons to have your eyes and your courage. Now, if that's not what you want, then give me any combination you like, and I will humbly thank you for giving me any child we make."
Happiness began to spread through Sheridan until it was so intense she ached from it. "I want to change your name," he said with a tender smile, "so there's no doubt who you are ever again, or who you belong to." He slid his hands up and down her arms, looking directly into her eyes. "I want the right to share your bed tonight and every night from this day onward. I want to make you moan in my arms again, and I want to wake up wrapped in yours."
He shifted his hands and cradled her cheeks, his thumbs brushing away two tears at the edges of her shimmering eyes. "Last of all, I want to hear you say 'I love you' every day of my life. If you aren't ready to agree to that last request right now, I would be willing to wait until tonight, when I believe you will. In return for all those concessions, I will grant you every wish that is within my power to grant you.
Judith McNaught (Until You (Westmoreland, #3))
An old walrus-faced waiter attended to me; he had the knack of pouring the coffee and the hot milk from two jugs, held high in the air, and I found this entrancing, as if he were a child's magician. One day he said to me - he had some English - "Why are you sad?"
"I'm not sad," I said, and began to cry. Sympathy from strangers can be ruinous.
"You should not be sad," he said, gazing at me with his melancholy, leathery walrus eyes. "It must be the love. But you are young and pretty, you will have time to be sad later." The French are connoisseurs of sadness, they know all the kinds. This is why they have bidets. "It is criminal, the love," he said, patting my shoulder. "But none is worse.
Margaret Atwood (The Blind Assassin)
The sun began to set behind Bethlehem and the beams were breaking through some white and gray clouds. There was a slight and beautiful chill from the autumn air. I gave thanks for that beautiful day and for the fact that the sun does not know Palestinian from Israeli, Christian from Muslim or Jew, and Asian from American or African, and I asked myself: If the sun shines on all of us as one, how much more does the sun's Creator see and love us all as one?
Ted Dekker (Tea with Hezbollah: Sitting at the Enemies' Table Our Journey Through the Middle East)
Each day was like the next. And even though we looked forward all week to the weekend, the weekend was always still a disappointment, and then it was Monday again and everything started over, and that was how life was, and there was nothing else. We began to understand what Pierre Anthon meant. We began to understand why grown-ups looked the way they did. And although we'd sworn we'd never become like them, that was exactly what was happening. We weren't even fifteen yet. Thirteen, fourteen, adult. Dead.
Janne Teller (Nothing)
Once upon a time, there was a bird. He was adorned with two perfect wings and with glossy, colorful, marvelous feathers.
One day, a woman saw this bird and fell in love with him.
She invited the bird to fly with her, and the two travelled across the sky in perfect harmony. She admired and venerated and celebrated that bird.
But then she thought: He might want to visit far-off mountains!
And she was afraid, afraid that she would never feel the same way about any other bird.
And she thought: “I’m going to set a trap. The next time the bird appears, he will never leave again.”
The bird, who was also in love, returned the following day, fell into the trap and was put in a cage.
She looked at the bird every day. There he was, the object of her passion, and she showed him to her friends, who said: “Now you have everything you could possibly want.”
However, a strange transformation began to take place: now that she had the bird and no longer needed to woo him, she began to lose interest.
The bird, unable to fly and express the true meaning of his life, began to waste away and his feathers to lose their gloss; he grew ugly; and the woman no longer paid him any attention, except by feeding him and cleaning out his cage.
One day, the bird died. The woman felt terribly sad and spent all her time thinking about him. But she did not remember the cage, she thought only of the day when she had seen him for the first time, flying contentedly amongst the clouds.
If she had looked more deeply into herself, she would have realized that what had thrilled her about the bird was his freedom, the energy of his wings in motion, not his physical body.
Without the bird, her life too lost all meaning, and Death came knocking at her door.
“Why have you come?” she asked Death.
“So that you can fly once more with him across the sky,” Death replied.
“If you had allowed him to come and go, you would have loved and admired him ever more; alas, you now need me in order to find him again.
Paulo Coelho (Eleven Minutes)
I was just as black as I had been the day that I was born. Therefore, when I faced a congregation, it began to take all the strength I had not to stammer, not to curse, not to tell them to throw away their Bibles and get off their knees and go home and organize, for example, a rent strike. When I watched all the children, their copper, brown, and beige faces staring up at me as I taught Sunday school, I felt that I was committing a crime in talking about the gentle Jesus, in telling them to reconcile themselves to their misery on earth in order to gain the crown of eternal life. Were only Negroes to gain this crown? Was Heaven, then, to be merely another ghetto?
James Baldwin (The Fire Next Time)
But the story I'm telling here began the day I discovered the affair between Mark and Thelma, and it ended exactly six weeks later. It has a happy ending, but that's because I insist on happy endings; I would insist on happy beginnings, too, but that's not necessary because all beginnings are intrinsically happy, in my opinion. What about middles, you may ask. Middles are a problem. Middles are perhaps the major problem of contemporary life.
Nora Ephron (Heartburn)
down Cambridge road through the bushes on Charlestown Common a scurry of red ants. Had he really seen them or imagined them? But all about him people were exclaiming, ‘Look, there they are!’ Those red ants were British soldiers. To his left the last moment of sunset light was dying. The day had been amazingly warm, but with night a fresh breeze came up off the ocean. Lights began to glimmer in Charlestown and on warships. Seemingly there was nothing more to be seen from Beacon Hill. Silently people turned to go to their houses. ‘Look!’ Johnny cried. You could see the flash of musket fire, too far away to be heard. Fireflies swarming, hardly more than that. –4– Getting
Esther Forbes (Johnny Tremain)
It’s rare that a story begins at the beginning. In the grand scheme of things, I really turned up at the beginning of the end of this one. After all, the story of the Rephaim and Scion started almost two hundred years before I was born - and human lives, to Rephaim, are as fleeting as a single heartbeat.
Some revolutions change the world in a day. Others take decades or centuries or more, and others still never come to fruition. Mine began with a moment and a choice. Mine began with the blooming of a flower in a secret city on the border between worlds.
You’ll have to wait and see how it ends.
Welcome back to Scion.
Samantha Shannon (The Mime Order (The Bone Season, #2))
When I think of the years when I had no faith, what I am struck by, first of all, is how little this lack disrupted my conscious life. I lived not without God, nor wish his absence, but in a mild abeyance of belief, drifting through the days on a tide of tiny vanities — a publication, a flirtation, a strong case made for some weak nihilism — nights all adagios and alcohol as my mind tore luxuriously into itself. I can see now how deeply God’s absence affected my unconscious life, how under me always there was this long fall that pride and fear and self-live at once protected me from and subjected me to. Was the fall into belief or into unbelief? Both. For if grace woke me to God’s presence in the world and in my heart, it also woke me to his absence. I never truly felt the pain of unbelief until I began to believe.
Christian Wiman (My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer)
These were the months that shaped us.behind all our frustrations over all these years has been the wish to get back to those happy days.Once we began to see the world differently we could feel time running out on us and we were impatient with each other.Every disagreement was an interruption of what we knew was possible-and soon there was only interruption.And in the end time did run out,but memories are still there,accusing us,and we still can't let each other alone.
Ian McEwan (Black Dogs)
I know you’ve lost someone and it hurts. You may have lost them suddenly, unexpectedly. Or perhaps you began losing pieces of them until one day, there was nothing left. You may have known them all your life or you may have barely known them at all. Either way, it is irrelevant — you cannot control the depth of a wound another soul inflicts upon you.
Which is why I am not here to tell you tomorrow is another day. That the sun will go on shining. Or there are plenty of fish in the sea. What I will tell you is this; it’s okay to be hurting as much as you are. What you are feeling is not only completely valid but necessary — because it makes you so much more human. And though I can’t promise it will get better any time soon, I can tell you that it will — eventually. For now, all you can do is take your time. Take all the time you need.
Lang Leav (Memories)
From our first day alive on this planet, they began teaching society everything it knows and experiences. It was all brainwashing bullshit. Their trio of holy catechisms is: faith is more important than reason; inputs are more important than outcomes; hope is more important than reality. It was designed to choke your independent thinking and acting—to bring out the lowest common denominator in people—so that vast amounts of the general public would literally buy into sponsorship and preservation of their hegemonic nation. Their greatest achievement was the creation of the two-party political system; it gave only the illusion of choice, but never offered any change; it promised freedom, but only delivered more limits. In the end, you got stuck with two leading loser parties and not just one. It completed their trap of underhanded domination, and it worked masterfully. Look anywhere you go. America is a nation of submissive, dumbed-down, codependent, faith-minded zombies obsessed with celebrity gossip, buying unnecessary goods, and socializing without purpose on their electronic gadgets. The crazy thing is that people don't even know it; they still think they're free. Everywhere, people have been made into silent accomplices in the government's twisted control game. In the end, there is no way out for anyone.
Zoltan Istvan (The Transhumanist Wager)
For there is merely bad luck in not being loved; there is misfortune in not loving. All of us, today, are dying of this misfortune. For violence and hatred dry up the heart itself; the long fight for justice exhausts the love that nevertheless gave birth to it. In the clamor in which we live, love is impossible and justice does not suffice. This is why Europe hates daylight and is only able to set injustice up against injustice. But in order to keep justice from shriveling up like a beautiful orange fruit containing nothing but a bitter, dry pulp, I discovered once more at Tipasa that one must keep intact in oneself a freshness, a cool wellspring of joy, love the day that escapes injustice, and return to combat having won that light. Here I recaptured the former beauty, a young sky, and I measured my luck, realizing at last that in the worst years of our madness the memory of that sky had never left me. This was what in the end had kept me from despairing. I had always known that the ruins of Tipasa were younger than our new constructions or our bomb damage. There the world began over again every day in an ever new light. O light! This is the cry of all the characters of ancient drama brought face to face with their fate. This last resort was ours, too, and I knew it now. In the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer.
So Janie began to think of Death. Death, that strange being with the huge square toes who lived way in the West. The great one who lived in the straight house like a platform without sides to it, and without a roof. What need has Death for a cover, and what winds can blow against him? He stands in his high house that overlooks the world. Stands watchful and motionless all day with his sword drawn back, waiting for the messenger to bid him come. Been standing there before there was a where or a when or a then. She was liable to find a feather from his wings lying in her yard any day now. She was sad and afraid too. Poor Jody! He ought not to have to wrassle in there by himself. She sent Sam in to suggest a visit, but Jody said No. These medical doctors wuz all right with the Godly sick, but they didn't know a thing about a case like his. He'd be all right just as soon as the two-headed man found what had been buried against him. He wasn't going to die at all. That was what he thought. But Sam told her different, so she knew. And then if he hadn't the next morning she was bound to know, for people began to gather in the big yard under the palm and china-berry trees. People who would not have dared to foot the place before crept in and did not come to the house. Just squatted under the trees and waited. Rumor, that wingless bird, had shadowed over the town.
Zora Neale Hurston (Their Eyes Were Watching God)
Lugh got born first. On Midwinter Day when the sun hangs low in the sky.
Then me. Two hours later.
That pretty much says it all.
Lugh goes first, always first, an I follow on Behind.
An that's fine.
That's how it's meant to be.
Because everthin'set. It's all fixed.
The lives of everybody who's bin born.
The lives of everybody still waitin'to be born.
It was all set in the stars the moment the world began. The time of yer birthin, the time of yer death. Even what kinda person yer gonna be, good or bad.
If you know how to read the stars, you can read the story of peoples'lives. The story of yer own life. What's gone, what's now an what's still to come.
Back when Pa was a boy, he met up with a traveler, a man who knew many things. He learned Pa to read the stars. Panever says what he sees in the night sky but you can see it lays heavy on him.
Because you cain't change what's written.
Even if Pa was to say what he knew, even if he was to warn you, it would still come to pass.
I see the way he looks at Lugh sometimes. The way he looks at me.
An I wish he'd tell us what he knows.
I believe Pa wishes he'd never met that traveler.
If you seen me an Lugh togather, you'd never think we was the same blood.
Never think we grew togather in the same womb.
He's got gold hair. I got black.
Blue eyes. Brown eyes.
He's my light.
I'm his shadow.
Lugh shines like the sun.
That must of made it east fer them to find him.
All they had to do was follow his light.
You see," he continued, beginning to feel better, "once there was no time at all, and people found it very inconvenient. They never knew wether they were eating lunch or dinner, and they were always missing trains. So time was invented to help them keep track of the day and get to places where they should. When they began to count all the time that was available, what with 60 seconds in a minute and 60 minutes in an hour and 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year, it seemed as if there was much more than could ever be used. 'If there's so much of it, it couldn't be very valuable,' was the general opinion, and it soon fell into dispute. People wasted it and even gave it away. Then we were giving the job of seeing that no one wasted time again," he said, sitting up proudly. "It's hard work but a noble calling. For you see"- and now he was standing on the seat, one foot on the windshield, shouting with his ams outstretched- "it is our most valuable possession, more precious than diamonds. It marches on, it and tide wait for no man, and-"
At that point in the speech the car hit a bump in the road and the watchdog collapsed in a heap on the front seat with his alarm ringing furiously.
Norton Juster (The Phantom Tollbooth)
To speak truth, sir, I don't understand you at all: I cannot keep up the conversation, because it has got out of my depth. Only one thing I know: you said you were not as good as you should like to be, and that you regretted your own imperfection--one thing I can comprehend: you intimated that to have a sullied memory was a perpetual bane. It seems to me, that if you tried hard, you would in time find it possible to become what you yourself would approve; and that if from this day you began with resolution to correct your thoughts and actions, you would in a few years have laid up a new and stainless store of recollections, to which you might revert with pleasure.
Charlotte Brontë (Jane Eyre)
Carl sat musing until the sun leaped above the prairie, and in the grass about him all the small creatures of day began to tune their tiny instruments. Birds and insects without number began to chirp, to twitter, to snap and whistle, to make all manner of fresh shrill noises. The pasture was flooded with light; every clump of ironweed and snow-on-the-mountain threw a long shadow, and the golden light seemed to be rippling through the curly grass like the tide racing in.
Willa Cather (O Pioneers! (Great Plains Trilogy, #1))
I was sad all day, and why not. There I was, books piled
on both sides of the table, paper stacked up, words
falling off my tongue.
The robins had been a long time singing, and now it
was beginning to rain.
What are we sure of? Happiness isn’t a town on a map,
or an early arrival, or a job well done, but good work
ongoing. Which is not likely to be the trifling around
with a poem.
Then it began raining hard, and the flowers in the yard
were full of lively fragrance.
You have had days like this, no doubt. And wasn’t it
wonderful, finally, to leave the room? Ah, what a
As for myself, I swung the door open. And there was
the wordless, singing world. And I ran for my life.
Mary Oliver (New and Selected Poems, Vol. 2)
There are times the lies get to me, times I weary of battering myself against the obstacles of denial, hatred, fear-induced stupidity, and greed, times I want to curl up and fall into the problem, let it sweep me away as it so obviously sweeps away so many others. I remember a spring day a few years ago, a spring day much like this one, only a little more sun, and warmer. I sat on this same couch and looked out this same window at the same ponderosa pine.
I was frightened, and lonely. Frightened of a future that looks dark, and darker with each passing species, and lonely because for every person actively trying to shut down the timber industry, stop abuse, or otherwise bring about a sustainable and sane way of living, there are thousands who are helping along this not-so-slow train to oblivion. I began to cry.
The tears stopped soon enough. I realized we are not so outnumbered. We are not outnumbered at all. I looked closely, and saw one blade of wild grass, and another. I saw the sun reflecting bright off the needles of pine trees, and I heard the hum of flies. I saw ants walking single file through the dust, and a spider crawling toward the corner of the ceiling. I knew in that moment, as I've known ever since, that it is no longer possible to be lonely, that every creature on earth is pulling in the direction of life--every grasshopper, every struggling salmon, every unhatched chick, every cell of every blue whale--and it is only our own fear that sets us apart. All humans, too, are struggling to be sane, struggling to live in harmony with our surroundings, but it's really hard to let go. And so we lie, destroy, rape, murder, experiment, and extirpate, all to control this wildly uncontrollable symphony, and failing that, to destroy it.
William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564 – died 23 April 1616) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "The Bard"). His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language, and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. Shakespeare was born and raised in Stratford-upon-Avon. At the age of 18 he married Anne Hathaway, who bore him three children: Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith. Between 1585 and 1592 he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part owner of the playing company the Lord Chamberlain's Men, later known as the King's Men. He appears to have retired to Stratford around 1613, where he died three years later. Few records of Shakespeare's private life survive, and there has been considerable speculation about such matters as his sexuality, religious beliefs, and whether the works attributed to him were written by others. Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1590 and 1613. His early plays were mainly comedies and histories, genres he raised to the peak of sophistication and artistry by the end of the sixteenth century. Next he wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including Hamlet, King Lear, and Macbeth, considered some of the finest examples in the English language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies, also known as romances, and collaborated with other playwrights. Many of his plays were published in editions of varying quality and accuracy during his lifetime, and in 1623 two of his former theatrical colleagues published the First Folio, a collected edition of his dramatic works that included all but two of the plays now recognised as Shakespeare's. Shakespeare was a respected poet and playwright in his own day, but his reputation did not rise to its present heights until the nineteenth century. The Romantics, in particular, acclaimed Shakespeare's genius, and the Victorians hero-worshipped Shakespeare with a reverence that George Bernard Shaw called "bardolatry". In the twentieth century, his work was repeatedly adopted and rediscovered by new movements in scholarship and performance. His plays remain highly popular today and are consistently performed and reinterpreted in diverse cultural and political contexts throughout the world. Source: Wikipedia
William Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet)
Do you know who 'twas that first knew our Lord had caused Himself to be born? 'Twas the cock; he saw the star, and so he said–all the beasts could talk Latin in those days; he cried: 'Christus natus est!' "
He crowed these words so like a cock that Kristin fell to laughing heartily. And it did her good to laugh, for all the strange things Brother Edvin had just been saying had laid a burden of awe on her heart.
The monk laughed himself:
"Ay, and when the ox heard that, he began to low: 'Ubi, ubi, ubi.'
"But the goat bleated, and said: 'Betlem, Betlem, Betlem.'
"And the sheep so longed to see Our Lady and her Son that she baa-ed out at once: 'Eamus, eamus!'
"And the new-born calf that lay in the straw, raised itself and stood upon its feet. 'Volo, volo, volo!' it said.
Sigrid Undset (Kristin Lavransdatter (Kristin Lavransdatter, #1-3))
Hermione,’ said Hagrid.
‘What about her?’ said Ron.
‘She’s in a righ’ state, that’s what. She’s bin comin’ down ter visit me a lot since Chris’mas. Bin feelin’ lonely. Firs’ yeh weren’ talking to her because o’ the Firebolt, now yer not talkin’ to her because her cat—’
‘—ate Scabbers!’ Ron interjected angrily.
‘Because her cat acted like all cats do,’ Hagrid continued doggedly. ‘She’s cried a fair few times, yeh know. Goin’ through a rough time at the moment. Bitten off more’n she can chew, if yeh ask me, all the work she’s tryin’ ter do. Still found time ter help me with Buckbeak’s case, mind.… She’s found some really good stuff fer me…reckon he’ll stand a good chance now…’
‘Hagrid, we should've helped as well—sorry—’ Harry began awkwardly.
‘I’m not blamin’ yeh!’ said Hagrid, waving Harry’s apology aside. ‘Gawd knows yeh’ve had enough ter be gettin’ on with. I’ve seen yeh practicin’ Quidditch ev’ry hour o’ the day an’ night—but I gotta tell yeh, I thought you two’d value yer friend more’n broomsticks or rats. Tha’s all.’
Harry and Ron exchanged uncomfortable looks.
‘Really upset, she was, when Black nearly stabbed yeh, Ron. She’s got her heart in the right place, Hermione has, an’ you two not talkin’ to her—
J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3))
What grief is not taken away by time? What passion will survive an unequal battle with it? I knew a man in the bloom of his still youthful powers, filled with true nobility and virtue, I knew him when he was in love, tenderly, passionately, furiously, boldly, modestly, and before me, almost before my eyes, the object of his passion - tender, beautiful as an angel - was struck down by insatiable death. I never saw such terrible fits of inner suffering, such furious scorching anguish, such devouring despair as shook the unfortunate lover. I never thought a man could create such a hell for himself, in which there would be no shadow, no image, nothing in the least resembling hope... They tried to keep an eye on him; they hid all instruments he might have used to take his own life. Two weeks later he suddenly mastered himself: he began to laugh, to joke; freedom was granted him, and the first thing he did was buy a pistol. One day his family was terribly frightened by the sudden sound of a shot. They ran into the room and saw him lying with his brains blown out. A doctor who happened to be there, whose skill was on everyone's lips, saw signs of life in him, found that the wound was not quite mortal, and the man, to everyone's amazement, was healed. The watch on him was increased still more. Even at the table they did not give him a knife to and tried to take away from him anything that he might strike himself with; but a short while later he found a new occasion and threw himself under the wheels of a passing carriage. His arms and legs were crushed; but again they saved him. A year later I saw him in a crowded room; he sat at the card table gaily saying 'Petite ouverte,' keeping one card turned down, and behind him, leaning on the back of his chair, stood his young wife, who was sorting through his chips.
Nikolai Gogol (The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol)
Gilbert had finally made up his mind that he was going to be a doctor.
"It's a splendid profession," he said enthusiastically. "A fellow has to fight something all through life. . .didn't somebody once define man as a fighting animal?. . .and I want to fight disease and pain and ignorance. . .which are all members one of another. I want to do my share of honest, real work in the world, Anne. . . add a little to the sum of human knowledge that all the good men have been accumulating since it began. The folks who lived before me have done so much for me that I want to show my gratitude by doing something for the folks who will live after me. It seems to me that is the only way a fellow can get square with his obligations to the race."
"I'd like to add some beauty to life," said Anne dreamily. "I don't exactly want to make people know more. . .though I know that is the noblest ambition. . .but I'd love to make them have a pleasanter time because of me. . .to have some little joy or happy thought that would never have existed if I hadn't been born."
"I think you're fulfilling that ambition every day," said Gilbert admiringly.
And he was right. Anne was one of the children of light by birthright. After she had passed through a life with a smile or a word thrown across it like a gleam of sunshine the owner of that life saw it, for the time being at least, as hopeful and lovely and of good report.
L.M. Montgomery (Anne of Avonlea (Anne of Green Gables, #2))
At least three time per day at scheduled times, he had to ask himself the following question: Am I being productive or just active? Charney captured the essence of this with less-abstract wording: Am I inventing things to do to avoid the important? He eliminated all of the activities he used as crutches and began to focus on demonstrating results instead of showing dedication. Dedication is often just meaningless work in disguise. Be ruthless and cut the fat.
Timothy Ferriss (The 4-Hour Workweek)
Lines written for a thirtieth wedding anniversary
Somewhere up in the eaves it began:
high in the roof – in a sort of vault
between the slates and the gutter – a small leak.
Through it, rain which came from the east,
in from the lights and foghorns of the coast –
water with a ghost of ocean salt in it –
spilled down on the path below.
Over and over and over
years stone began to alter,
its grain searched out, worn in:
granite rounding down, giving way
taking into its own inertia that
information water brought, of ships,
wings, fog and phosphor in the harbour.
It happened under our lives: the rain,
the stone. We hardly noticed. Now
this is the day to think of it, to wonder:
all those years, all those years together –
the stars in a frozen arc overhead,
the quick noise of a thaw in the air,
the blue stare of the hills – through it all
this constancy: what wears, what endures.
In the days to come, when it will seem as if I were entombed, when the very firmament threatens to come crashing down upon my head, I shall be forced to abandon everything except what these spirits implanted in me. I shall be crushed, debased, humiliated. I shall be frustrated in every fiber of my being. I shall even take to howling like a dog. But I shall not be utterly lost! Eventually a day is to dawn when, glancing over my own life as though it were a story or history, I can detect in it a form, a pattern, a meaning. From then on the word defeat becomes meaningless. It will be impossible ever to relapse.
For on that day I become and I remain one with my creation.
On another day, in a foreign land, there will appear before me a young man who, unaware of the change which has come over me, will dub me "The Happy Rock." That is the moniker I shall tender when the great Cosmocrator demands-" Who art thou?"
Yes, beyond a doubt, I shall answer "The Happy Rock!"
And, if it be asked-"Didst thou enjoy thy stay on earth?"-I shall reply: "My life was one long rosy crucifixion."
As to the meaning of this, if it is not already clear, it shall be elucidated. If I fail then I am but a dog in the manger.
Once I thought I had been wounded as no man ever had. Because I felt thus I vowed to write this book. But long before I began the book the wound had healed. Since I had sworn to fulfill my task I reopened the horrible wound.
Let me put it another way. Perhaps in opening my own wound, I closed other wounds.. Something dies, something blossoms. To suffer in ignorance is horrible. To suffer deliberately, in order to understand the nature of suffering and abolish it forever, is quite another matter. The Buddha had one fixed thought in mind all his life, as we know it. It was to eliminate human suffering.
Suffering is unnecessary. But, one has to suffer before he is able to realize that this is so. It is only then, moreover, that the true significance of human suffering becomes clear. At the last desperate moment-when one can suffer no more!-something happens which is the nature of a miracle. The great wound which was draining the blood of life closes up, the organism blossoms like a rose. One is free at last, and not "with a yearning for Russia," but with a yearning for ever more freedom, ever more bliss. The tree of life is kept alive not by tears but the knowledge that freedom is real and everlasting.
Quinn once told me a story.” He waits for me to moan a grievance at the mention of a story, and when I don’t, his tone sinks into deeper gravity. “Once, in the days of Old Earth, there were two pigeons who were greatly in love. In those days, they raised such animals to carry messages across great distances. These two were born in the same cage, raised by the same man, and sold on the same day to different men on the eve of a great war. “The pigeons suffered apart from each other, each incomplete without their lover. Far and wide their masters took them, and the pigeons feared they would never again find each other, for they began to see how vast the world was, and how terrible the things in it. For months and months, they carried messages for their masters, flying over battle lines, through the air over men who killed one another for land. When the war ended, the pigeons were set free by their masters. But neither knew where to go, neither knew what to do, so each flew home. And there they found each other again, as they were always destined to return home and find, instead of the past, their future.” He folds his hands gently, a teacher arriving at his point. “So do I feel lost? Always. When Lea died at the Institute …” His lips slip gently downward. “… I was in a dark woods, blind and lost as Dante before Virgil. But Quinn helped me. Her voice calling me out of misery. She became my home. As she puts it, ‘Home isn’t where you’re from, it’s where you find light when all grows dark.’ ” He grasps the top of my hand. “Find your home, Darrow. It may not be in the past. But find it, and you’ll never be lost again.
Pierce Brown (Golden Son (Red Rising, #2))
One by one, the silence by the bed drew their attention. Even the king was quiet. Exhausted, relieved, he lay boneless and silent. The skin was dragged thin across his cheekbones. His sweaty hair stuck to his face, and his eyes were closed. His hand, clutching the fabric of his tunic, had relaxed and slipped down to his side, revealing what the careful bunching of the cloth had concealed. The tunic had been split by a knife stroke from one side to the other. As the edges of the fabric separated, those by the bed realized how much blood had been soaking, unseen, into the waist of the king’s trousers. The wound wasn’t a simple nick in the king’s side. It began near the navel and slid all the way across his belly. If the wall of the gut had been opened, the king would be dead of infection within days. He should have said something, why hadn’t he? Costis wondered. In fact, the king had. He had complained at every step all the way across the palace, and they’d ignored it. If he’d been stoic and denied the pain, the entire palace would have been in a panic already, and Eddisian soldiers on the move. He’d meant to deceive them, and he’d succeeded. It made Costis wonder for the first time just how much the stoic man really wants to hide when he unsuccessfully pretends not to be in pain.
Megan Whalen Turner (The King of Attolia (The Queen's Thief, #3))
This has been a novel about some people who were punished entirely too much for what they did. They wanted to have a good time, but they were like children playing in the street; they could see one after another of them being killed--run over, maimed, destroyed--but they continued to play anyhow. We really all were very happy for a while, sitting around not toiling but just bullshitting and playing, but it was for such a terrible brief time, and then the punishment was beyond belief: even when we could see it, we could not believe it. For example, while I was writing this I learned that the person on whom the character Jerry Fabin is based killed himself. My friend on whom I based the character Ernie Luckman died before I began the novel. For a while I myself was one of these children playing in the street; I was, like the rest of them, trying to play instead of being grown up, and I was punished. I am on the list below, which is a list of those to whom this novel is dedicated, and what became of each.
Drug misuse is not a disease, it is a decision, like the decision to step out in front of a moving car. You would call that not a disease but an error in judgment. When a bunch of people begin to do it, it is a social error,a life-style. In this particular life-style the motto is "Be happy now because tomorrow you are dying," but the dying begins almost at once, and the happiness is a memory. It is, then, only a speeding up, an intensifying, of the ordinary human existence. It is not different from your life-style, it is only faster. It all takes place in days or weeks or months instead of years. "Take the cash and let the credit go," as Villon said in 1460. But that is a mistake if the cash is a penny and the credit a whole lifetime.
There is no moral in this novel; it is not bourgeois; it does not say they were wrong to play when they should have toiled;it just tells what the consequences were. In Greek drama they were beginning, as a society, to discover science, which means causal law. Here in this novel there is Nemesis: not fate, because any one of us could have chosen to stop playing in the street, but, as I narrate from the deepest part of my life and heart, a dreadful Nemesis for those who kept on playing. I myself,I am not a character in this novel; I am the novel. So, though, was our entire nation at this time. This novel is about more people than I knew personally. Some we all read about in the newspapers. It was, this sitting around with our buddies and bullshitting while making tape recordings, the bad decision of the decade, the sixties, both in and out of the establishment. And nature cracked down on us. We were forced to stop by things dreadful.
If there was any "sin," it was that these people wanted to keep on having a good time forever, and were punished for that, but, as I say, I feel that, if so, the punishment was far too great, and I prefer to think of it only in a Greek or morally neutral way, as mere science, as deterministic impartial cause-and-effect. I loved them all. Here is the list, to whom I dedicate my love:
To Gaylene deceased
To Ray deceased
To Francy permanent psychosis
To Kathy permanent brain damage
To Jim deceased
To Val massive permanent brain damage
To Nancy permanent psychosis
To Joanne permanent brain damage
To Maren deceased
To Nick deceased
To Terry deceased
To Dennis deceased
To Phil permanent pancreatic damage
To Sue permanent vascular damage
To Jerri permanent psychosis and vascular damage
. . . and so forth.
These were comrades whom I had; there are no better. They remain in my mind, and the enemy will never be forgiven. The "enemy" was their mistake in playing. Let them all play again, in some other way, and let them be happy.
Philip K. Dick (A Scanner Darkly)
Randolph Henry Ash: “What is it? My dear?”
Christabel LaMotte: “Ah, how can we bear it?”
Randolph Henry Ash: “Bear what?”
Christabel LaMotte: “This. For so short a time. How can we sleep this time away?”
Randolph Henry Ash: “We can be quiet together, and pretend – since it is only the beginning – that we have all the time in the world.”
Christabel LaMotte: “And every day we shall have less. And then none.”
Randolph Henry Ash: “Would you rather, therefore, have had nothing at all?”
Christabel LaMotte: “No. This is where I have always been coming to. Since my time began. And when I go away from here, this will be the mid-point, to which everything ran, before, and from which everything will run. But now, my love, we are here, we are now, and those other times are running elsewhere.
A.S. Byatt (Possession)
I told you that I was a roadway of potholes, not safe to cross. You said nothing, showed up in my driveway wearing roller-skates.
The first time I asked you on a date, after you hung up, I held the air between our phones against my ear and whispered, “You will fall in love with me. Then, just months later, you will fall out. I will pretend the entire time that I don’t know it’s coming.”
Once, I got naked and danced around your bedroom, awkward and safe. You did the same. We held each other without hesitation and flailed lovely. This was vulnerability foreplay.
The last eight times I told you I loved you, they sounded like apologies.
You recorded me a CD of you repeating, “You are beautiful.” I listened to it until I no longer thought in my own voice.
Into the half-empty phone line, I whispered, “We will wake up believing the worst in each other. We will spit shrapnel at each other’s hearts. The bruises will lodge somewhere we don’t know how to look for and I will still pretend I don’t know its coming.”
You photographed my eyebrow shapes and turned them into flashcards: mood on one side, correct response on the other. You studied them until you knew when to stay silent.
I bought you an entire bakery so that we could eat nothing but breakfast for a week. Breakfast, untainted by the day ahead, was when we still smiled at each other as if we meant it.
I whispered, “I will latch on like a deadbolt to a door and tell you it is only because I want to protect you. Really, I’m afraid that without you I mean nothing.”
I gave you a bouquet of plane tickets so I could practice the feeling of watching you leave.
I picked you up from the airport limping. In your absence, I’d forgotten how to walk. When I collapsed at your feet, you refused to look at me until I learned to stand up without your help.
Too scared to move, I stared while you set fire to your apartment – its walls decaying beyond repair, roaches invading the corpse of your bedroom. You tossed all the faulty appliances through the smoke out your window, screaming that you couldn’t handle choking on one more thing that wouldn’t just fix himself.
I whispered, “We will each weed through the last year and try to spot the moment we began breaking. We will repel sprint away from each other. Your voice will take months to drain out from my ears. You will throw away your notebook of tally marks from each time you wondered if I was worth the work. The invisible bruises will finally surface and I will still pretend that I didn’t know it was coming.”
The entire time, I was only pretending that I knew it was coming.
I had that hole in me, that empty space. I could have lived my life with it, content enough. I wasn’t an unhappy man.” He kept his eyes on hers as his thumb brushed lightly over the back of her hand. “Then, one day I felt something—a prickle at the back of my neck, a heat at the base of my spine. And standing at a memorial for the dead, I turned, and there you were.” He turned her hand over, interlocking fingers. “There you were, and it all shifted under my feet. You were everything I shouldn’t have, shouldn’t want or need. A cop for Jesus’ sake, with eyes that looked right into me.” He reached out, just a whisper of fingers on her face. And the quiet touch was somehow wildly passionate, desperately intimate. “A cop wearing a bad gray suit and a coat that didn’t even fit. From that moment, the hole inside me began to fill. I couldn’t stop it. I couldn’t stop what rooted there, or what grew.
The tears came now. He watched them drip down her cheeks, wondered if she were even aware they leaked out of her. “She was part of my life. You are my life. If I have a regret, it’s that even for an instant you could think otherwise. Or that I allowed you to.
J.D. Robb (Innocent in Death (In Death, #24))
day: 'I have perfect faith in God's supply and in God's guidance. I know that all who buy land are prospered and blessed. Infinite Intelligence attracts buyers to me who have the money, who want the land and who rejoice in its possession. I am blessed and they are blessed. I am strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Divine activity and immediate, perfect results now take place in my life, and I give thanks for the miracles in my life." By carrying this card with him and repeating these truths frequently, he restored his confidence in his sales ability, and he began to sell, prosper and expand along all lines.
Joseph Murphy (Miracle Power for Infinite Riches)
It was during that journey to Via Orazio that I began to be made unhappy by my own alienness. I had grown up with those boys, I considered their behavior normal, their violent language was mine. But for six years now I had also been following daily a path that they were completely ignorant of and in the end I had confronted it brilliantly. With them I couldn’t use any of what I learned every day, I had to suppress myself, in some way diminish myself. What I was in school I was there obliged to put aside or use treacherously, to intimidate them. I asked myself what I was doing in that car. They were my friends, of course, my boyfriend was there, we were going to Lila’s wedding celebration. But that very celebration confirmed that Lila, the only person I still felt was essential even though our lives had diverged, no longer belonged to us and, without her, every intermediary between me and those youths, that car racing through the streets, was gone. Why then wasn’t I with Alfonso, with whom I shared both origin and flight? Why, above all, hadn’t I stopped to say to Nino, Stay, come to the reception, tell me when the magazine with my article’s coming out, let’s talk, let’s dig ourselves a cave that can protect us from Pasquale’s driving, from his vulgarity, from the violent tones of Carmela and Enzo, and also—yes, also—of Antonio?
Elena Ferrante (My Brilliant Friend (L'amica geniale #1))
You’re self-educated, aren’t you?
Yes, I am. I’m completely library educated. I’ve never been to college. I went down to the library when I was in grade school in Waukegan, and in high school in Los Angeles, and spent long days every summer in the library. I used to steal magazines from a store on Genesee Street, in Waukegan, and read them and then steal them back on the racks again. That way I took the print off with my eyeballs and stayed honest. I didn’t want to be a permanent thief, and I was very careful to wash my hands before I read them. But with the library, it’s like catnip, I suppose: you begin to run in circles because there’s so much to look at and read. And it’s far more fun than going to school, simply because you make up your own list and you don’t have to listen to anyone. When I would see some of the books my kids were forced to bring home and read by some of their teachers, and were graded on—well, what if you don’t like those books?
I am a librarian. I discovered me in the library. I went to find me in the library. Before I fell in love with libraries, I was just a six-year-old boy. The library fueled all of my curiosities, from dinosaurs to ancient Egypt. When I graduated from high school in 1938, I began going to the library three nights a week. I did this every week for almost ten years and finally, in 1947, around the time I got married, I figured I was done. So I graduated from the library when I was twenty-seven. I discovered that the library is the real school.
THEY FOUND LEO AT THE TOP of the city fortifications. He was sitting at an open-air café, overlooking the sea, drinking a cup of coffee and dressed in…wow. Time warp. Leo’s outfit was identical to the one he’d worn the day they first arrived at Camp Half-Blood—jeans, a white shirt, and an old army jacket. Except that jacket had burned up months ago. Piper nearly knocked him out of his chair with a hug. “Leo! Gods, where have you been?” “Valdez!” Coach Hedge grinned. Then he seemed to remember he had a reputation to protect and he forced a scowl. “You ever disappear like that again, you little punk, I’ll knock you into next month!” Frank patted Leo on the back so hard it made him wince. Even Nico shook his hand. Hazel kissed Leo on the cheek. “We thought you were dead!” Leo mustered a faint smile. “Hey, guys. Nah, nah, I’m good.” Jason could tell he wasn’t good. Leo wouldn’t meet their eyes. His hands were perfectly still on the table. Leo’s hands were never still. All the nervous energy had drained right out of him, replaced by a kind of wistful sadness. Jason wondered why his expression seemed familiar. Then he realized Nico di Angelo had looked the same way after facing Cupid in the ruins of Salona. Leo was heartsick. As the others grabbed chairs from the nearby tables, Jason leaned in and squeezed his friend’s shoulder. “Hey, man,” he said, “what happened?” Leo’s eyes swept around the group. The message was clear: Not here. Not in front of everyone. “I got marooned,” Leo said. “Long story. How about you guys? What happened with Khione?” Coach Hedge snorted. “What happened? Piper happened! I’m telling you, this girl has skills!” “Coach…” Piper protested. Hedge began retelling the story, but in his version Piper was a kung fu assassin and there were a lot more Boreads. As the coach talked, Jason studied Leo with concern. This café had a perfect view of the harbor. Leo must have seen the Argo II sail in. Yet he sat here drinking coffee—which he didn’t even like—waiting for them to find him. That wasn’t like Leo at all. The ship was the most important thing in his life. When he saw it coming to rescue him, Leo should have run down to the docks, whooping at the top of his lungs. Coach Hedge was just describing how Piper had defeated Khione with a roundhouse kick when Piper interrupted. “Coach!” she said. “It didn’t happen like that at all. I couldn’t have done anything without Festus.” Leo raised his eyebrows. “But Festus was deactivated.” “Um, about that,” Piper said. “I sort of woke him up.” Piper explained her version of events—how she’d rebooted the metal dragon with charmspeak.
Rick Riordan (The House of Hades (Heroes of Olympus, #4))
On April 18, 1906, when that earthquake hit San Francisco and took David from her, Vivien began to speak the language of grief. She understood that grief is not neat and orderly; it does not follow any rules. Time does not heal it. Rather, time insists on passing, and as it does, grief changes but does not go away. Sometimes she could actually visualize her grief. It was a wave, a tsunami that came unexpectedly and swept her away. She could see it, a wall of pain that had grabbed hold of her and pulled her under. Some days, she could reach the air and breathe in huge comforting gulps. Some days she barely broke the surface, and still, after all this time, some days it consumed her and she wondered if there was any way free of it.
Ann Hood (The Obituary Writer)
When I first read Lovecraft around 1971, and even more so when I began to read about his life, I immediately knew that I wanted to write horror stories. I had read Arthur Machen before I read Lovecraft, and I didn’t have that reaction at all. It was what I sensed in Lovecraft’s works and what I learned about his myth as the “recluse of Providence” that made me think, “That’s for me!” I already had a grim view of existence, so there was no problem there. I was and am agoraphobic, so being reclusive was a snap. The only challenge was whether or not I could actually write horror stories. So I studied fiction writing and wrote every day for years and years until I started to get my stories accepted by small press magazines. I’m not comparing myself to Lovecraft as a person or as a writer, but the rough outline of his life gave me something to aspire to. I don’t know what would have become of me if I hadn’t discovered Lovecraft.
At first it was simply that the spells would not come off. Or they would, but with the most unexpected results. He would try to move a small object, a salt cellar; it would overturn. He would try again and the salt would burst into flames. On the third try it might fly at his head, or mine. One day he attempted a simple messenger spell, and in the space of five minutes every spider, centipede, and earwig in the place came swarming in under the door. We began conducting his training outside after that.
“Attempting to levitate, he blew up an entire grove of trees in the park. A simple summoning, butterflies I think, and all the horses went crazy for an hour. Things soon reached such a state that whenever anything unusual happened within the Orëska grounds, we got the blame for it.
“Oh, but it was frustrating! In spite of all the blunders, all the destruction, I knew the power was there. I could feel it, even when he could not. For he did succeed now and then, but so erratically! Poor Seregil was devastated. I saw him brought to tears just trying to light a candle. Then there was the time he turned himself into a brick.
Lynn Flewelling (Luck in the Shadows (Nightrunner, #1))
Another fallacy comes creeping in whose errors you should be meticulous in trying to avoid. Don't think our eyes, our bright and shining eyes, were made for us to look ahead with. Don't suppose our thigh bones fitted our shin bones and our shins our ankles so that we might take steps. Don't think that arms dangled from shoulders and branched out in hands with fingers at their ends, both right and left, for us to do whatever need required for our survival. All such argument, all such interpretation is perverse, fallacious, puts the cart before the horse. No bodily thing was born for us to use. Nature had no such aim, but what was born creates the use. There could be no such thing as sight before the eyes were formed. No speech before the tongue was made, but tongues began long before speech were uttered. and the ears were fashioned long before a sound was heard. And all the organs I feel sure, were there before their use developed. They could not evolve for the sake of use be so designed. But battling hand to hand and slashing limbs, fouling the foe in blood, these antedate the flight of shining javelins. Nature taught men out to dodge a wound before they learned the fit of shield to arm. Rest certainly is older in the history of man than coverlets or mattresses, and thirst was quenched before the days of cups or goblets. Need has created use as man contrives device for his comfort. but all these cunning inventions are far different from all those things much older, which supply their function from their form. The limbs, the sense, came first, their usage afterwards. Never think they could have been created for the sake of being used.
Lucretius (The Way Things Are)
It was drizzling. As people rushed along, they began opening umbrellas over their heads, and all at once the streets were crowded, too. Arched umbrella roofs collided with one another. The men were courteous, and when passing Tereza they held their umbrellas high over their heads and gave her room to go by. But the women would not yield; each looked straight ahead, waiting for the other woman to acknowledge her inferiority and step aside. The meeting of the umbrellas was a test of strength. At first Tereza gave way, but when she realized her courtesy was not being reciprocated, she started clutching her umbrella like the other women and ramming it forcefully against the oncoming umbrellas. No one ever said "Sorry." For the most part no one said anything, though once or twice she did hear a "Fat cow!" or "Fuck you!"
The women thus armed with umbrellas were both young and old, but the younger among them proved the more steeled warriors. Tereza recalled the days of the invasion and the girls in miniskirts carrying flags on long staffs. Theirs was a sexual vengeance: the Russian soldiers had been kept in enforced celibacy for several long years and must have felt they had landed on a planet invented by a science fiction writer, a planet of stunning women who paraded their scorn on beautiful long legs the likes of which had not been seen in Russia for the past five or six centuries.
She had taken many pictures of those young women against a backdrop of tanks. How she had admired them! And now these same women were bumping into her, meanly and spitefully. Instead of flags, they held umbrellas, but they held them with the same pride. They were ready to fight as obstinately against a foreign army as against an umbrella that refused to move out of their way.
Milan Kundera (The Unbearable Lightness of Being)
Four times during the first six days they were assembled and briefed and then sent back. Once, they took off and were flying in formation when the control tower summoned them down. The more it rained, the worse they suffered. The worse they suffered, the more they prayed that it would continue raining. All through the night, men looked at the sky and were saddened by the stars. All through the day, they looked at the bomb line on the big, wobbling easel map of Italy that blew over in the wind and was dragged in under the awning of the intelligence tent every time the rain began. The bomb line was a scarlet band of narrow satin ribbon that delineated the forward most position of the Allied ground forces in every sector of the Italian mainland.
For hours they stared relentlessly at the scarlet ribbon on the map and hated it because it would not move up high enough to encompass the city.
When night fell, they congregated in the darkness with flashlights, continuing their macabre vigil at the bomb line in brooding entreaty as though hoping to move the ribbon up by the collective weight of their sullen prayers. "I really can't believe it," Clevinger exclaimed to Yossarian in a voice rising and falling in protest and wonder. "It's a complete reversion to primitive superstition. They're confusing cause and effect. It makes as much sense as knocking on wood or crossing your fingers. They really believe that we wouldn't have to fly that mission tomorrow if someone would only tiptoe up to the map in the middle of the night and move the bomb line over Bologna. Can you imagine? You and I must be the only rational ones left."
In the middle of the night Yossarian knocked on wood, crossed his fingers, and tiptoed out of his tent to move the bomb line up over Bologna.
Joseph Heller (Catch-22)
If you have read this far in the chronicle of the Baudelaire orphans - and I certainly hope you have not - then you know we have reached the thirteenth chapter of the thirteenth volume in this sad history, and so you know the end is near, even though this chapter is so lengthy that you might never reach the end of it. But perhaps you do not yet know what the end really means. "The end" is a phrase which refers to the completion of a story, or the final moment of some accomplishment, such as a secret errand, or a great deal of research, and indeed this thirteenth volume marks the completion of my investigation into the Baudelaire case, which required much research, a great many secret errands, and the accomplishments of a number of my comrades, from a trolley driver to a botanical hybridization expert, with many, many typewriter repairpeople in between. But it cannot be said that The End contains the end of the Baudelaires' story, any more than The Bad Beginning contained its beginning. The children's story began long before that terrible day on Briny Beach, but there would have to be another volume to chronicle when the Baudelaires were born, and when their parents married, and who was playing the violin in the candlelit restaurant when the Baudelaire parents first laid eyes on one another, and what was hidden inside that violin, and the childhood of the man who orphaned the girl who put it there, and even then it could not be said that the Baudelaires' story had not begun, because you would still need to know about a certain tea party held in a penthouse suite, and the baker who made the scones served at the tea party, and the baker's assistant who smuggled the secret ingredient into the scone batter through a very narrow drainpipe, and how a crafty volunteer created the illusion of a fire in the kitchen simply by wearing a certain dress and jumping around, and even then the beginning of the story would be as far away as the shipwreck that leftthe Baudelaire parents as castaways on the coastal shelf is far away from the outrigger on which the islanders would depart. One could say, in fact, that no story really has a beginning, and that no story really has an end, as all of the world's stories are as jumbled as the items in the arboretum, with their details and secrets all heaped together so that the whole story, from beginning to end, depends on how you look at it. We might even say that the world is always in medias res - a Latin phrase which means "in the midst of things" or "in the middle of a narrative" - and that it is impossible to solve any mystery, or find the root of any trouble, and so The End is really the middle of the story, as many people in this history will live long past the close of Chapter Thirteen, or even the beginning of the story, as a new child arrives in the world at the chapter's close. But one cannot sit in the midst of things forever. Eventually one must face that the end is near, and the end of The End is quite near indeed, so if I were you I would not read the end of The End, as it contains the end of a notorious villain but also the end of a brave and noble sibling, and the end of the colonists' stay on the island, as they sail off the end of the coastal shelf. The end of The End contains all these ends, and that does not depend on how you look at it, so it might be best for you to stop looking at The End before the end of The End arrives, and to stop reading The End before you read the end, as the stories that end in The End that began in The Bad Beginning are beginning to end now.
Lemony Snicket (The End (A Series of Unfortunate Events, #13))
I watched him as he lined up the ships in bottles on his deck, bringing them over from the shelves where they usually sat. He used an old shirt of my mother's that had been ripped into rags and began dusting the shelves. Under his desk there were empty bottles- rows and rows of them we had collected for our future shipbuilding. In the closet were more ships- the ships he had built with his own father, ships he had built alone, and then those we had made together. Some were perfect, but their sails browned; some had sagged or toppled over the years. Then there was the one that had burst into flames in the week before my death.
He smashed that one first.
My heart seized up. He turned and saw all the others, all the years they marked and the hands that had held them. His dead father's, his dead child's. I watched his as he smashed the rest. He christened the walls and wooden chair with the news of my death, and afterward he stood in the guest room/den surrounded by green glass. The bottle, all of them, lay broken on the floor, the sails and boat bodies strewn among them. He stood in the wreckage. It was then that, without knowing how, I revealed myself. In every piece of glass, in every shard and sliver, I cast my face. My father glanced down and around him, his eyes roving across the room. Wild. It was just for a second, and then I was gone. He was quiet for a moment, and then he laughed- a howl coming up from the bottom of his stomach. He laughed so loud and deep, I shook with it in my heaven.
He left the room and went down two doors to my beadroom. The hallway was tiny, my door like all the others, hollow enough to easily punch a fist through. He was about to smash the mirror over my dresser, rip the wallpaper down with his nails, but instead he fell against my bed, sobbing, and balled the lavender sheets up in his hands.
'Daddy?' Buckley said. My brother held the doorknob with his hand.
My father turned but was unable to stop his tears. He slid to the floor with his fists, and then he opened up his arms. He had to ask my brother twice, which he had never to do do before, but Buckley came to him.
My father wrapped my brother inside the sheets that smelled of me. He remembered the day I'd begged him to paint and paper my room purple. Remembered moving in the old National Geographics to the bottom shelves of my bookcases. (I had wanted to steep myself in wildlife photography.) Remembered when there was just one child in the house for the briefest of time until Lindsey arrived.
'You are so special to me, little man,' my father said, clinging to him.
Buckley drew back and stared at my father's creased face, the fine bright spots of tears at the corners of his eyes. He nodded seriously and kissed my father's cheek. Something so divine that no one up in heaven could have made it up; the care a child took with an adult.
'Hold still,' my father would say, while I held the ship in the bottle and he burned away the strings he'd raised the mast with and set the clipper ship free on its blue putty sea. And I would wait for him, recognizing the tension of that moment when the world in the bottle depended, solely, on me.
Alice Sebold (The Lovely Bones)
Ms. Terwilliger didn’t have a chance to respond to my geological ramblings because someone knocked on the door. I slipped the rocks into my pocket and tried to look studious as she called an entry. I figured Zoe had tracked me down, but surprisingly, Angeline walked in.
"Did you know," she said, "that it’s a lot harder to put organs back in the body than it is to get them out?"
I closed my eyes and silently counted to five before opening them again. “Please tell me you haven’t eviscerated someone.”
She shook her head. “No, no. I left my biology homework in Miss Wentworth’s room, but when I went back to get it, she’d already left and locked the door. But it’s due tomorrow, and I’m already in trouble in there, so I had to get it. So, I went around outside, and her window lock wasn’t that hard to open, and I—”
"Wait," I interrupted. "You broke into a classroom?"
"Yeah, but that’s not the problem."
Behind me, I heard a choking laugh from Ms. Terwilliger’s desk.
"Go on," I said wearily.
"Well, when I climbed through, I didn’t realize there was a bunch of stuff in the way, and I crashed into those plastic models of the human body she has. You know, the life size ones with all the parts inside? And bam!" Angeline held up her arms for effect. "Organs everywhere." She paused and looked at me expectantly. "So what are we going to do? I can’t get in trouble with her."
"We?" I exclaimed.
"Here," said Ms. Terwilliger. I turned around, and she tossed me a set of keys. From the look on her face, it was taking every ounce of self-control not to burst out laughing. "That square one’s a master. I know for a fact she has yoga and won’t be back for the rest of the day. I imagine you can repair the damage—and retrieve the homework—before anyone’s the wiser.”
I knew that the “you” in “you can repair” meant me. With a sigh, I stood up and packed up my things. “Thanks,” I said.
As Angeline and I walked down to the science wing, I told her, “You know, the next time you’ve got a problem, maybe come to me before it becomes an even bigger problem.”
"Oh no," she said nobly. "I didn’t want to be an inconvenience."
Her description of the scene was pretty accurate: organs everywhere. Miss Wentworth had two models, male and female, with carved out torsos that cleverly held removable parts of the body that could be examined in greater detail. Wisely, she had purchased models that were only waist-high. That was still more than enough of a mess for us, especially since it was hard to tell which model the various organs belonged to.
I had a pretty good sense of anatomy but still opened up a textbook for reference as I began sorting. Angeline, realizing her uselessness here, perched on a far counter and swing her legs as she watched me. I’d started reassembling the male when I heard a voice behind me.
"Melbourne, I always knew you’d need to learn about this kind of thing. I’d just kind of hoped you’d learn it on a real guy."
I glanced back at Trey, as he leaned in the doorway with a smug expression. “Ha, ha. If you were a real friend, you’d come help me.” I pointed to the female model. “Let’s see some of your alleged expertise in action.”
"Alleged?" He sounded indignant but strolled in anyways.
I hadn’t really thought much about asking him for help. Mostly I was thinking this was taking much longer than it should, and I had more important things to do with my time. It was only when he came to a sudden halt that I realized my mistake.
"Oh," he said, seeing Angeline. "Hi."
Her swinging feet stopped, and her eyes were as wide as his. “Um, hi.”
The tension ramped up from zero to sixty in a matter of seconds, and everyone seemed at a loss for words. Angeline jerked her head toward the models and blurted out. “I had an accident.”
That seemed to snap Trey from his daze, and a smile curved his lips. Whereas Angeline’s antics made me want to pull out my hair sometimes, he found them endearing.
Richelle Mead (The Fiery Heart (Bloodlines, #4))
Are you going to hand me over to him?"
"I haven't decided yet," I teased, and he smiled again, erasing his momentary seriousness. "So, where'd you get the suit?"
"Believe it or not, that lovely friend of yours, Willa," Loki said. "She brought me a whole slew of clothes last night. When I asked her why she was being so generous, she said it was out of fear that I would run around naked."
I smiled. "That does sound like something you would do. Why are you wearing all black, though? Didn't you know you were going to a wedding?"
"On the contrary," he said, doing his best to look unhappy. "I'm in mourning over the wedding."
"Oh, because it's too late?" I asked.
"No, Wendy, it's never too late." His voice was light, but his eyes were solemn.
"May I cut in?" the best man asked.
"No, you may not," Loki said. I'd started to move away from him, but he held fast.
"Loki," I said, and my eyes widened.
"I'm still dancing with her," Loki said, turning to look at him. "You can have her when I'm done."
"Loki," I said again, but he was already twirling me away. "You can't do that."
"I just did." He grinned. "Oh, Wendy, don't look so appalled. I'm already the rebel Prince of thine enemy. I can't do much more to tarnish my image."
"You can certainly tarnish mine," I pointed out.
"Never," Loki said, and it was his turn to look appalled. "I'm merely showing them how it's done."
He began spinning me around the dance floor in grand arcs, my gown swirling around me. He was a brilliant dancer, moving with grace and speed. Everyone had stopped to watch us, but I didn't care. This was the way a Princess was supposed to dance on her wedding day.
The song ended, switching to something by Mozart, and he slowed, almost to a stop, but he kept me in his arms.
"Thank you." I smiled. My skin felt flushed from dancing, and I was a little out of breath. "That was a wonderful dance."
"You're welcome," he said, staring intently at me. "You are so beautiful."
"Stop," I said, looking away as my cheeks reddened.
"How can you blush?" Loki asked, laughing gently. "People must tell you how beautiful you are a thousand times a day."
"It's not the same," I said.
"It's not the same?" Loki echoed. "Why? Because you know they don't mean it like I do?"
We did stop dancing them, and neither of us said anything. Garrett came up to us. He smiled, but his eyes didn't appear happy.
"Can I cut in?" Garrett asked.
"Yes," Loki said, shaking off the intensity he'd had a moment ago, and grinned broadly at Garrett. "She's all yours, good sir. Take care of her."
He patted Garrett on the arm once for good measure and gave me a quick smile before heading back over to the refreshment table.
Amanda Hocking (Ascend (Trylle, #3))
I remember going to the British Museum one day to read up the treatment for some slight ailment of which I had a touch – hay fever, I fancy it was. I got down the book, and read all I came to read; and then, in an unthinking moment, I idly turned the leaves, and began to indolently study diseases, generally. I forget which was the first distemper I plunged into – some fearful, devastating scourge, I know – and, before I had glanced half down the list of “premonitory symptoms,” it was borne in upon me that I had fairly got it.
I sat for awhile, frozen with horror; and then, in the listlessness of despair, I again turned over the pages. I came to typhoid fever – read the symptoms – discovered that I had typhoid fever, must have had it for months without knowing it – wondered what else I had got; turned up St. Vitus’s Dance – found, as I expected, that I had that too, – began to get interested in my case, and determined to sift it to the bottom, and so started alphabetically – read up ague, and learnt that I was sickening for it, and that the acute stage would commence in about another fortnight. Bright’s disease, I was relieved to find, I had only in a modified form, and, so far as that was concerned, I might live for years. Cholera I had, with severe complications; and diphtheria I seemed to have been born with. I plodded conscientiously through the twenty-six letters, and the only malady I could conclude I had not got was housemaid’s knee.
I had walked into that reading-room a happy, healthy man. I crawled out a decrepit wreck.
I went to my medical man. He is an old chum of mine, and feels my pulse, and looks at my tongue, and talks about the weather, all for nothing, when I fancy I’m ill; so I thought I would do him a good turn by going to him now. “What a doctor wants,” I said, “is practice. He shall have me. He will get more practice out of me than out of seventeen hundred of your ordinary, commonplace patients, with only one or two diseases each.” So I went straight up and saw him, and he said:
“Well, what’s the matter with you?”
“I will not take up your time, dear boy, with telling you what is the matter with me. Life is brief, and you might pass away before I had finished. But I will tell you what is NOT the matter with me. I have not got housemaid’s knee. Why I have not got housemaid’s knee, I cannot tell you; but the fact remains that I have not got it. Everything else, however, I HAVE got.”
And I told him how I came to discover it all.
Then he opened me and looked down me, and clutched hold of my wrist, and then he hit me over the chest when I wasn’t expecting it – a cowardly thing to do, I call it – and immediately afterwards butted me with the side of his head. After that, he sat down and wrote out a prescription, and folded it up and gave it me, and I put it in my pocket and went out.
I did not open it. I took it to the nearest chemist’s, and handed it in. The man read it, and then handed it back.
He said he didn’t keep it.
“You are a chemist?”
“I am a chemist. If I was a co-operative stores and family hotel combined, I might be able to oblige you. Being only a chemist hampers me.”
I read the prescription. It ran:
“1 lb. beefsteak, with
1 pt. bitter beer
every 6 hours.
1 ten-mile walk every morning.
1 bed at 11 sharp every night.
And don’t stuff up your head with things you don’t understand.”
I followed the directions, with the happy result – speaking for myself – that my life was preserved, and is still going on.
Jerome K. Jerome (Three Men in a Boat (Three Men, #1))
Since I had the inclinatation and the training, helping people came naturally. I wasn't thinking in terms of organizing members, but just a duty that I had to do. That goes back to my mother's training. It was not until later that I realized that this was a good organizing tool, although maybe unconsciously, I was already beggining to understand.
But I was used by people for a long time until I wised up. It wasn't that they wanted to do it, but that I was not prepared or able to tell them what to do in return. My work was just another war on poverty gimick, which is what happens when people are given everything and don't give anything in return. you can't mold them into any action.
Well, one night it just hit me. Once you helped people, most became very loyal. The people who helped us back when we wanted volunteers were the people we had helped. So I began to get a group of those people around me.
Once I realized helping people was an organizing technique, I increased that work. I was willing to work all day and night and go to hell and back for people- provided they also did something for the CSO in return. I never felt bad asking for that. It didn't contradict my parents' teachings, because I wasn't asking for something for myself.
For a long time we didn't know how to put that work together into an organization. But we learned after a while- we learned how to help people by making them responsible. Today it's the same principle with the Union. And it works. We don't get everybody, but we get enough to get that nucleus. I think solving problems for people is the only way to build solid groups.
You are not surprised at the force of the storm—
you have seen it growing.
The trees flee. Their flight
sets the boulevards streaming. And you know:
he whom they flee is the one
you move toward. All your senses
sing him, as you stand at the window.
The weeks stood still in summer.
The trees’ blood rose. Now you feel
it wants to sink back
into the source of everything. You thought
you could trust that power
when you plucked the fruit:
now it becomes a riddle again
and you again a stranger.
Summer was like your house: you know
where each thing stood.
Now you must go out into your heart
as onto a vast plain. Now
the immense loneliness begins.
The days go numb, the wind
sucks the world from your senses like withered leaves.
Through the empty branches the sky remains.
It is what you have.
Be earth now, and evensong.
Be the ground lying under that sky.
Be modest now, like a thing
ripened until it is real,
so that he who began it all
can feel you when he reaches for you.
- Onto a Vast Plain
Rainer Maria Rilke (Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God)
Most peasants did not miss the school.
"What's the point?" they would say.
"You pay fees and read for years, and in the end you are still a peasant, earning your food with your sweat. You don't get a grain of rice more for being able to read books. Why waste time and money?
Might as well start earning your work points right away."
The virtual absence of any chance of a better future and the near total immobility for anyone born a peasant took the incentive out of the pursuit of knowledge. Children of school age would stay at home to help their families with their work or look after younger brothers and sisters. They would be out in the fields when they were barely in their teens. As for girls, the peasants considered it a complete waste of time for them to go to school.
"They get married and belong to other people. It's like pouring water on the ground."
The Cultural Revolution was trumpeted as having brought education to the peasants through 'evening classes." One day my production team announced it was starting evening classes and asked Nana and me to be the teachers. I was delighted. However, as soon as the first 'class' began, I realized that this was no education.
The classes invariably started with Nana and me being asked by the production team leader to read out articles by Mao or other items from the People's Daily. Then he would make an hour-long speech consisting of all the latest political jargon strung together in undigested and largely unintelligible hunks. Now and then he would give special orders, all solemnly delivered in the name of Mao.
Jung Chang (Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China)
So what's your doll's name?" Boo asked me.
"Barbie," I said. "All their names are Barbie."
"I see," she said. "Well, I'd think that would get boring, everyone having the same
I thought about this, then said, "Okay, then her name is Sabrina."
"Well, that's a very nice name," Boo said. I remember she was baking bread,
kneading the dough
between her thick fingers. "What does she do?"
"Do?" I said.
"Yes." She flipped the dough over and started in on it from the other side. "What
does she do?"
"She goes out with Ken," I said.
"And what else?"
"She goes to parties," I said slowly. "And shopping."
"Oh," Boo said, nodding.
"She can't work?"
"She doesn't have to work," I said.
"Because she's Barbie."
"I hate to tell you, Caitlin, but somebody has to make payments on that town house
and the Corvette,"
Boo said cheerfully. "Unless Barbie has a lot of family money."
I considered this while I put on Ken's pants.
Boo started pushing the dough into a pan, smoothing it with her hand over the top.
"You know what I
think, Caitlin?" Her voice was soft and nice, the way she always spoke to me.
"I think your Barbie can go shopping, and go out with Ken, and also have a
productive and satisfying
career of her own." She opened the oven and slid in the bread pan, adjusting its
position on the rack.
"But what can she do?" My mother didn't work and spent her time cleaning the
house and going to PTA.
I couldn't imagine Barbie, whose most casual outfit had sequins and go-go boots,
doing s.uch things.
Boo came over and plopped right down beside me. I always remember
her being on my level; she'd sit
on the edge of the sandbox, or lie across her bed with me and Cass as we listened to
"Well," she said thoughtfully, picking up Ken and examining his perfect physique.
"What do you want to
do when you grow up?"
I remember this moment so well; I can still see Boo sitting there on the floor, cross-
legged, holding my
Ken and watching my face as she tried to make me see that between my mother's
PTA and Boo's
strange ways there was a middle ground that began here with my Barbie, Sab-rina,
and led right to me.
"Well," I said abruptly, "I want to be in advertising." I have no idea where this came
"Advertising," Boo repeated, nodding. "Okay. Advertising it is. So Sabrina has to go
to work every day,
coming up with ideas for commercials
and things like that."
"She works in an office," I went on. "Sometimes she has to work late."
"Sure she does," Boo said. "It's hard to get ahead. Even if you're Barbie."
"Because she wants to get promoted," I added. "So she can pay off the town house.
And the Corvette."
"Very responsible of her," Boo said.
"Can she be divorced?" I asked. "And famous for her commercials
"She can be anything," Boo told me, and this is what I remember most, her freckled
face so solemn, as if
she knew she was the first to tell me. "And so can you.
Sarah Dessen (Dreamland)
There were minutes of silence then and in them I thought about the only truth that mattered, the only morality that mattered, the only sin, the only crime. When Lily de Seitas had told me her version of it at the end of our meeting at the museum I had taken it as a retrospective thing, a comment on my past and on my anecdote about the butcher. But I saw now it had been about my future.
History has superseded the ten commandments of the Bible; for me they had never had any real meaning, that is, any other than a conformitant influence. But sitting in that bedroom, staring at the glow of the fire on the jamb of the door through to the sitting room, I knew that at last I began to feel the force of this super-commandment, summary of them all; somewhere I knew I had to choose it, and every day afresh, even though I went on failing to keep it. Conchis had talked of points of fulcrum, moments when one met one's future. I also knew it was all bound up with Alison, with choosing Alison, and having to go on choosing her every day. Adulthood was like a mountain, and I stood at the foot of this cliff of ice, this impossible and unclimbable: Thou shalt not inflict unnecessary pain.
John Fowles (The Magus)
As the wind swelled, my tree started to sway. Almost like a human body it swung back and around, gently at first, then more and more wildly. While the swaying intensified, so did my fears that the trunk might snap and hurl me to the ground. But in time my confidence returned. Amazed at how the tree could be at once so flexible and so sturdy, I held on tight as it bent and waved, twisted and swirled, slicing curves and arcs through the air. With each graceful swing, I felt less a creature of the land and more a part of the wind itself.
"The rain began falling, it's sound merging with the splashing river and the singing trees. Branches streamed like waterfalls of green. Tiny rivers cascaded down every trunk, twisting through moss meadows and bark canyons. All the while, I rode out the gale. I could not have felt wetter. I could not have felt freer.
"When, at last, the storm subsided, the entire world seemed newly born. Sunbeams danced on rain-washed leaves. Curling columns of mist rose from every glade. The forest's colors shown more vivid, its smells struck more fresh. And I understood, for the first time in my life, that the Earth was always being remade, that life was always being renewed. That it may have been the afternoon of this particular day, but it was still the very morning of Creation.
T.A. Barron (The Lost Years of Merlin)
In the days after my heart attack & before I began to write again, all I could think about was dying. I'd been spared again, and only after the danger had passed did I allow my thoughts to unravel to their inevitable end. I imagined all the ways I could go. Blood clot to the brain. Infarction. Thrombosis. Pneumonia. Grand mal obstruction to the vena cava. I saw myself foaming at the mouth, writhing on the floor. I'd wake up in the night, gripping my throat. And yet. No matter how often I imagined the possible failure of my organs, I found the consequence inconceivable. That it could happen to me. I forced myself to picture the last moments. The penultimate breath. A final sigh. And yet. It was always followed by another.
Nicole Krauss (The History of Love)
They also keep a horned cow
as proud as any queen;
But music turns her head like ale,
And makes her wave her tufted tail
and dance upon the green.
So the cat on his fiddle played hey-diddle-diddle,
a jig that would wake the dead:
He squeaked and sawed and quickened the tune,
While the landlord shook the Man of the Moon:
'It's after three' he said.
They rolled the Man slowly up the hill
and bundled him into the Moon,
While his horses galloped up in rear,
And the cow came capering like a deer,
and a dish ran up with the spoon.
Now quicker the fiddle went deedle-dum-diddle;
the dog began to roar,
The cow and the horses stood on their heads;
The guests all bounded from their beds
and danced upon the floor.
With a ping and a pong the fiddle-strings broke!
the cow jumped over the Moon,
And the little dog laughed to see such fun,
And the Saturday dish went off at a run
with the silver Sunday spoon.
The round Moon rolled behind the hill,
as the Sun raised up her head.
She hardly believed her fiery eyes;
For though it was day, to her surprise
they all went back to bed!
On the fifth day I knew Kaidan would have made it home. I held my breath and called him. I listened to every charming word of his voice mail, then hung up. That evening I sat on my bed and called again. This time I left a message.
“Hi, Kai, um, Kaidan. It's me. Anna. I'm just trying to see if you made it home safely. I'm sure you probably did. Just checking. You can call me anytime. If you want. Anyway. Okay, bye.”
I hung up and buried my shamed face into a pillow. Now I was leaving messages after he'd made it clear he wanted zero to do with me? Next thing I knew I'd be frequenting his shows to give him psycho stares from the back, and then doing late-night drive-bys to see what girl he was bringing home. The thought of him with another girl made me writhe in discomfort and curl up in the fetal position.
Day six was our first day of back-to-school shopping. We still had a month before school began, but the state issued a tax-free day, so stores were having big sales. I eyed all the teensy skirts and fashionable shirts dangling on mannequins. I tried to imagine Kaidan's reaction if I came dressed like that to one of his shows, some guy other than Jay on my arm. Ugly stalker thoughts. I was full of them.
Two weeks passed, and I was still tripping over chairs to grab the phone every time it rang, like now.
This time it was Jay.
Wendy Higgins (Sweet Evil (Sweet, #1))
But I had heeded the warning, and as is said of juries who have heard inadmissible evidence before it is stricken from the record, suddenly realized that we were on borrowed time, that time is always borrowed, and that the lending agency exacts its premium precisely when we are least prepared to pay and need to borrow more. […] I squirreled away small things so that in the lean days ahead glimmers from the past might bring back the warmth. I began, reluctantly, to steal from the present to pay off debts I knew I’d incur in the future. This, I knew, was as much a crime as closing the shutters on sunny afternoons. But I also knew that in Mafalda’s superstitious world, anticipating the worst was as sure a way of preventing it from happening.
When we went on a walk one night and he told me that he’d soon be heading back home, I realized how futile my alleged foresight had been. Bombs never fall on the same spot; this one, for all my premonitions, fell exactly in my hideaway.
André Aciman (Call Me by Your Name)
Suddenly an unexpected series of sounds began to be heard in this place up against the starry sky. They were the notes of Oak´s flute. It came from the direction of a small dark object under the hedge - a shephard´s hut - now presenting an outline to which an unintiated person might have been puzzled to attach either meaning or use. ... Being a man not without a frequent consciousness that there was some charm in this life he led, he stood still after looking at the sky as a useful instrument, and regarded it in an appreciative spirit, as a work of art superlatively beautiful. For a moment he seemed impressed with the speaking loneliness of the scene, or rather with the complete abstraction from all its compass of the sights and sounds of man. ... Oak´s motions, though they had a quiet energy, were slow, and their deliberateness accorded well with his occupation. Fitness being the basis of beauty, nobody could have denied tha his steady swings and turns in and about the flock had elements of grace. His special power, morally, physically, and mentally, was static. ... Oak was an intensely human man: indee, his humanity tore in pieces any politic intentions of his which bordered on strategy, and carried him on as by gravitation. A shadow in his life had always been that his flock should end in mutton - that a day could find a shepherd an arrant traitor to his gentle sheep.
Thomas Hardy (Far From the Madding Crowd)
You go out into your world, and try and find the things that will be useful to you. Your weapons. Your tools. Your charms. You find a record, or a poem, or a picture of a girl that you pin to the wall and go, "Her. I'll try and be her. I'll try and be her - but here." You observe the way others walk, and talk, and you steal little bits of them - you collage yourself out of whatever you can get your hands on. You are like the robot Johnny 5 in Short Circuit, crying, "More input! More input for Johnny 5! as you rifle through books and watch films and sit in front of the television, trying to guess which of these things that you are watching - Alexis Carrington Colby walking down a marble staircase; Anne of Green Gables holding her shoddy suitcase; Cathy wailing on the moors; Courtney Love wailing in her petticoat; Dorothy Parker gunning people down; Grace Jones singing "Slave to the Rhythm" - you will need when you get out there. What will be useful. What will be, eventually, you?
And you will be quite on your own when you do all this. There is no academy where you can learn to be yourself; there is no line manager slowly urging you toward the correct answer. You are midwife to yourself, and will give birth to yourself, over and over, in dark rooms, alone.
And some versions of you will end in dismal failure - many prototypes won't even get out the front door, as you suddenly realize that no, you can't style-out an all-in-one gold bodysuit and a massive attitude problem in Wolverhampton. Others will achieve temporary success - hitting new land-speed records, and amazing all around you, and then suddenly, unexpectedly exploding, like the Bluebird on Coniston Water.
But one day you'll find a version of you that will get you kissed, or befriended, or inspired, and you will make your notes accordingly, staying up all night to hone and improvise upon a tiny snatch of melody that worked.
Until - slowly, slowly - you make a viable version of you, one you can hum every day. You'll find the tiny, right piece of grit you can pearl around, until nature kicks in, and your shell will just quietly fill with magic, even while you're busy doing other things. What your nature began, nature will take over, and start completing, until you stop having to think about who you'll be entirely - as you're too busy doing, now. And ten years will pass without you even noticing.
And later, over a glass of wine - because you drink wine now, because you are grown - you will marvel over what you did. Marvel that, at the time, you kept so many secrets. Tried to keep the secret of yourself. Tried to metamorphose in the dark. The loud, drunken, fucking, eyeliner-smeared, laughing, cutting, panicking, unbearably present secret of yourself. When really you were about as secret as the moon. And as luminous, under all those clothes.
Caitlin Moran (How to Build a Girl (How to Build a Girl, #1))
I've been thinking about this mouth all day" he said before covering my lips with his. I licked at his bottom lip and he opened for me, letting me leisurely taste him. The gentle pressure of his mouth was perfect and made me a little dizzy. His fingers slip up my thigh until both hands were gripping my butt. One of his fingers traced the edge of my panties. "I really like this skirt," he murmured against my lips. I really liked it too at the moment. My breath was coming in short gasps as he slid one hand inside the edge of my panties. He gripped my bare butt with one hand while he slid his other slowly back down my thigh and shifted closer to my inner thigh. I liked what his next move would be. What I didn't know was if I was going to let it go that far. Then he moaned into my mouth as his fingers touched the inside of my thigh and my leg fell open of its own accord. The slow, easy kiss became frenzied as we both fought to calm our breathing. His hand inched higher and higher up my exposed thigh. The second his finger grazed the outside of my panties, I jerked in his hold, and something very close to pleading squeaked in my throat. Sawyer pulled back, and his accelerated breathing made me tingle with pleasure. I loved knowing I did that to him. He kissed down my neck until he met the curve of my shoulder. He went very still. His warm breath bathed my chest and neck. His hand slowly moved again. One lone finger slipped inside the edge of my panties and made direct contact. He murmured something against my neck, but I couldn't focus enough to understand. My brain was in a foggy haze, and my heart was about to pound out of my chest. The urge to move against the hand, which now cupped the crotch of my panties, was strong. But I waited while he eased his finger farther inside and gently ran it along the folds. "oh, oh, oh my god," I managed to get out in a breathless chant. "God, you're so warm," he whispered in a strained voice as he began kissing the spot where he had buried his head in my neck. When he slipped his other hand over my leg and pulled it farther open then reached down and pulled my panties to the side as he gently stroked me, I started to come apart in his arms. "That's it, baby," he encouraged me as I clung to him, calling his name and wanting it to never end.
Abbi Glines (The Vincent Brothers (The Vincent Boys, #2))
Earlier in the day, while killing some hours by circling in blue ballpoint ink every uppercase M in the front section of a month-old New York Times, Chip had concluded that he was behaving like a depressed person. Now, as his telephone began to ring, it occurred to him that a depressed person ought to continue staring at the TV and ignore the ringing — ought to light another cigarette and, with no trace of emotional affect, watch another cartoon while his machine took whoever’s message. That his impulse, instead, was to jump to his feet and answer the phone — that he could so casually betray the arduous wasting of a day — cast doubt on the authenticity of his suffering. He felt as if he lacked the ability to lose all volition and connection with reality the way depressed people did in books and movies. It seemed to him, as he silenced the TV and hurried into his kitchen, that he was failing even at the miserable task of falling properly apart.
Jonathan Franzen (The Corrections)
I began to realize how simple life could be if one had a regular routine to follow with fixed hours and a fixed salary and very little original thinking to do. The life of a writer is absolute hell compared with the life of a businessman. The writer has to force himself to work. He has to make his own hours and if he doesn’t go to his desk at all there is nobody to scold him. If he is a writer of fiction he lives in a world of fear. Each new day demands new ideas and he can never be sure whether he is going to come up with them or not. Two hours of writing fiction leaves this particular writer absolutely drained. For those two hours he has been miles away, he has been somewhere else, in a different place with totally different people, and the effort of swimming back into normal surroundings is very great. It is almost a shock. The writer walks out of his workroom in a daze. He wants a drink. He needs it. It happens to be a fact that nearly every writer of fiction in the world drinks more whisky than is good for him. He does it to give himself faith, hope and courage. A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul, and that, I am sure, is why he does it.
Roald Dahl (Boy: Tales of Childhood (Roald Dahl's Autobiography, #1))
There was a man here, lashed himself to a spar as his ship went down, and for seven days and seven nights he was on the sea, and what kept him alive while others drowned was telling himself stories like a madman, so that as one ended another began. On the seventh day he had told all the stories he knew and that was when he began to tell himself as if he were a story, from the earliest beginnings to his green and deep misfortune. The story he told was of a man lost and found, not once, but many times, as he choked his way out of the waves. And the night fell, he saw the Cape Wrath light, only lit a week it was, but it was, and he knew that if he became the story of the light, he might be saved. With his last strength he began to paddle towards it, arms on either side of the spar, and in his mind the light became a shining rope, pulling him in. He took hold of it, tied it round his waist, and at that moment, the keeper saw him, and ran for the rescue boat.
Jeanette Winterson (Lighthousekeeping)
It is a strange time, my dear.
A novel virus haunts our streets.
Days feel like weeks,
weeks like months.
We’re blasted with new news every second—
yes and then no and then yes and no,
feeding our primal panic
to hoard goods and leave shelves
They tell us the pandemic
makes all equal—the poor and very rich—
then why are the poor poorer
and the rich profiting?
It is a strange time, my dear.
Army men are marching our streets.
They force us to stay inside,
threaten and arrest
for a walk in the park.
They wage small wars against us,
but this battle began long ago.
The elite technocrats are crowing
in their silicone valleys
as corporations grow
and small businesses fold
with mountains of debt—
the centre cannot, will not, hold!
It is a strange time, my dear.
Mainstream media reports
the world has never been safer
as they terrorise the chambers
of our minds.
This stress, this anxiety
is killing our immunity.
But we must do it all for the elderly—
or so they say!
When have they ever cared for our elders?
When have they ever cared for our vulnerable?
We go to bed dreaming of toilet paper
while they dismantle the world economy.
Family businesses go bust
all so we can protect the people,
but only the people are suffering!
At the end of this, those retired
will have peanuts for pensions.
They are stripping us of everything
whilst our eyes are fixed on our screens.
And how dare we say it’s a strange time
in seven months
we’ll make America
ONCE UPON A time there was a king who had three beautiful daughters. As he grew old, he began to wonder which should inherit the kingdom, since none had married and he had no heir. The king decided to ask his daughters to demonstrate their love for him. To the eldest princess he said, “Tell me how you love me.” She loved him as much as all the treasure in the kingdom. To the middle princess he said, “Tell me how you love me.” She loved him with the strength of iron. To the youngest princess he said, “Tell me how you love me.” This youngest princess thought for a long time before answering. Finally she said she loved him as meat loves salt. “Then you do not love me at all,” the king said. He threw his daughter from the castle and had the bridge drawn up behind her so that she could not return. Now, this youngest princess goes into the forest with not so much as a coat or a loaf of bread. She wanders through a hard winter, taking shelter beneath trees. She arrives at an inn and gets hired as assistant to the cook. As the days and weeks go by, the princess learns the ways of the kitchen. Eventually she surpasses her employer in skill and her food is known throughout the land. Years pass, and the eldest princess comes to be married. For the festivities, the cook from the inn makes the wedding meal. Finally a large roast pig is served. It is the king’s favorite dish, but this time it has been cooked with no salt. The king tastes it. Tastes it again. “Who would dare to serve
E. Lockhart (We Were Liars)
Well it seems to me that there are books that tell stories, and then there are books that tell truths...," I began.
"Go on," she said
"The first kind, they show you life like you want it to be. With villains getting what they deserve and the hero seeing what a fool he's been and marrying the heroine and happy ending and all that. Like Sense and Sensibility or Persuasion. But the second kind, they show you life more like it is. Like in Huckleberry Finn where Huck's pa is a no-good drunk and Jim suffers so. The first kind makes you cheerful and contented, but the second kind shakes you up."
"People like happy ending, Mattie. They don't want to be shaken up."
"I guess not, ma'am. It's just that there are no Captain Wentworths, are there? But there are plenty of Pap Finns. And things go well for Anne Elliot in the end, but they don't go well for most people." My voice trembled as I spoke, as it did whenever I was angry. "I feel let down sometimes. The people in the books-the heroes- they're always so...heroic. And I try to be, but..."
"...you're not," Lou said, licking deviled ham off her fingers.
"...no, I'm not. People in books are good and noble and unselfish, and people aren't that way... and I feel, well... hornswoggled sometimes. By Jane Austen and Charles Dickens and Louisa May Alcott. Why do writers make things sugary when life isn't that way?" I asked too loudly. "Why don't they tell the truth? Why don't they tell how a pigpen looks after the sow's eaten her children? Or how it is for a girl when her baby won't come out? Or that cancer has a smell to it? All those books, Miss Wilcox," I said, pointing at a pile of them," and I bet not one of them will tell you what cancer smells like. I can, though. It stinks. Like meat gone bad and dirty clothes and bog water all mixed together. Why doesn't anyone tell you that?"
No one spoke for a few seconds. I could hear the clock ticking and the sound of my own breathing. Then Lou quietly said, "Cripes, Mattie. You oughtn't to talk like that."
I realized then that Miss Wilcox had stopped smiling. Her eyes were fixed om me, and I was certain she'd decided I was morbid and dispiriting like Miss Parrish had said and that I should leave then and there.
"I'm sorry, Miss Wilcox," I said, looking at the floor. "I don't mean to be coarse. I just... I don't know why I should care what happens to people in a drawing room in London or Paris or anywhere else when no one in those places cares what happens to people in Eagle Bay."
Miss Wilcox's eyes were still fixed on me, only now they were shiny. Like they were the day I got my letter from Barnard. "Make them care, Mattie," she said softly. "And don't you ever be sorry.
Jennifer Donnelly (A Northern Light)
While dragging herself up she had to hang onto the rail. Her twisted progress was that of a cripple. Once on the open deck she felt the solid impact of the black night, and the mobility of the accidental home she was about to leave.
Although Lucette had never died before—no, dived before, Violet—from such a height, in such a disorder of shadows and snaking reflections, she went with hardly a splash through the wave that humped to welcome her. That perfect end was spoiled by her instinctively surfacing in an immediate sweep — instead of surrendering under water to her drugged lassitude as she had planned to do on her last night ashore if it ever did come to this. The silly girl had not rehearsed the technique of suicide as, say, free-fall parachutists do every day in the element of another chapter.
Owing to the tumultuous swell and her not being sure which way to peer through the spray and the darkness and her own tentaclinging hair—t,a,c,l—she could not make out the lights of the liner, an easily imagined many-eyed bulk mightily receding in heartless triumph. Now I’ve lost my next note.
The sky was also heartless and dark, and her body, her head,and particularly those damned thirsty trousers, felt clogged with Oceanus Nox, n,o,x. At every slap and splash of cold wild salt, she heaved with anise-flavored nausea and there was an increasing number, okay, or numbness, in her neck and arms. As she began losing track of herself, she thought it proper to inform a series of receding Lucettes—telling them to pass it on and on in a trick-crystal regression—that what death amounted to was only a more complete assortment of the infinite fractions of solitude.
She did not see her whole life flash before her as we all were afraid she might have done; the red rubber of a favorite doll remained safely decomposed among the myosotes of an un-analyzable brook; but she did see a few odds and ends as she swam like a dilettante Tobakoff in a circle of brief panic and merciful torpor. She saw a pair of new vairfurred bedroom slippers, which Brigitte had forgotten to pack; she saw Van wiping his mouth before answering, and then, still withholding the answer, throwing his napkin on the table as they both got up; and she saw a girl with long black hair quickly bend in passing to clap her hands over a dackel in a half-tom wreath.
A brilliantly illumined motorboat was launched from the not-too-distant ship with Van and the swimming coach and the oilskin-hooded Toby among the would-be saviors; but by that time a lot of sea had rolled by and Lucette was too tired to wait. Then the night was filled with the rattle of an old but still strong helicopter. Its diligent beam could spot only the dark head of Van, who, having been propelled out of the boat when it shied from its own sudden shadow, kept bobbing and bawling the drowned girl’s name in the black, foam-veined, complicated waters.
Vladimir Nabokov (Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle)
Cinder." Kai pulled one leg onto the bank, turning his body so they were facing each other. He took her hands between his and her heart began to drum unexpectedly. Not because of his touch, and not even because of his low, serious tone, but because it occurred to Cinder all at once that Kai was nervous.
Kai was never nervous.
"I asked you once," he said, running his thumbs over her knuckles, "if you thought you would ever be willing to wear a crown again. Not as the queen of Luna, but ... as my empress. And you said that you would consider it, someday."
She swallowed a breath of cool night air. "And ... this is that day?"
His lips twitched, but didn't quite become a smile. "I love you. I want to be with you for the rest of my life. I want to marry you, and, yes, I want you to be my empress."
Cinder gaped at him for a long moment before she whispered, "That's a lot of wanting."
"You have no idea."
She lowered her lashes. "I might have some idea."
Kai released one of her hands and she looked up again to see him reaching into his pocket - the same that had held Wolf's and Scarlet's wedding rings before. His fist was closed when he pulled it out and Kai held it toward her, released a slow breath, and opened his fingers to reveal a stunning ring with a large ruby ringed in diamonds.
It didn't take long for her retina scanner to measure the ring, and within seconds it was filling her in on far more information than she needed - inane worlds like carats and clarity scrolled past her vision. But it was the ring's history that snagged her attention. It had been his mother's engagement ring once, and his grandmother's before that.
Kai took her hand and slipped the ring onto her finger. Metal clinked against metal, and the priceless gem looked as ridiculous against her cyborg plating as the simple gold band had looked on Wolf's enormous, deformed, slightly hairy hand.
Cinder pressed her lips together and swallowed, hard, before daring to meet Kai's gaze again.
"Cinder," he said, "will you marry me?"
Absurd, she thought.
The emperor of the Eastern Commonwealth was proposing to her. It was uncanny. It was hysterical.
But it was Kai, and somehow, that also made it exactly right.
"Yes," she whispered. "I will marry you."
Those simple words hung between them for a breath, and then she grinned and kissed him, amazed that her declaration didn't bring the surge of anxiety she would have expected years ago. He drew her into his arms, laughing between kisses, and she suddenly started to laugh too. She felt strangely delirious.
They had stood against all adversity to be together, and now they would forge their own path to love. She would be Kai's wife. She would be the Commonwealth's empress. And she had every intention of being blissfully happy for ever, ever after.
Marissa Meyer (Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles, #4.5))
DAYS WENT BY, and weeks. Jonas learned, through the memories, the names of colors; and now he began to see them all, in his ordinary life (though he knew it was ordinary no longer, and would never be again). But they didn’t last. There would be a glimpse of green—the landscaped lawn around the Central Plaza; a bush on the riverbank. The bright orange of pumpkins being trucked in from the agricultural fields beyond the community boundary—seen in an instant, the flash of brilliant color, but gone again, returning to their flat and hueless shade. The Giver told him that it would be a very long time before he had the colors to keep. “But I want them!” Jonas said angrily. “It isn’t fair that nothing has color!” “Not fair?” The Giver looked at Jonas curiously. “Explain what you mean.” “Well . . .” Jonas had to stop and think it through. “If everything’s the same, then there aren’t any choices! I want to wake up in the morning and decide things! A blue tunic, or a red one?” He looked down at himself, at the colorless fabric of his clothing. “But it’s all the same, always.” Then he laughed a little. “I know it’s not important, what you wear. It doesn’t matter. But—” “It’s the choosing that’s important, isn’t it?” The Giver asked him. Jonas nodded.
Lois Lowry (The Giver (The Giver, #1))
This story takes place a half a billion years ago-an inconceivably long time ago, when this planet would be all but recognizable to you. Nothing at all stirred on the land except the wind and the dust. Not a single blade of grass waved in the wind, not a single cricket chirped, not a single bird soared in the sky. All these things were tens of millions of years away in the future.
But of course there was an anthropologist on hand. What sort of world would it be without an anthropologist? He was, however a very depressed and disillusioned anthropologist, for he'd been everywhere on the planet looking for someone to interview, and every tape in his knapsack was as blank as the sky. But one day as he was moping alongside the ocean he saw what seemed to be a living creature in the shallows off shore. It was nothing to brag about, just sort of a squishy blob, but it was the only prospect he'd seen in all his journeys, so he waded out to where it was bobbing in the waves.
He greeted the creature politely and was greeted in kind, and soon the two of them were good friends. The anthropologist explained as well as he could that he was a student of life-styles and customs, and begged his new friend for information of this sort, which was readily forthcoming. ‘And now’, he said at last, ‘I'd like to get on tape in your own words some of the stories you tell among yourselves.’
‘Stories?’ the other asked.
‘You know, like your creation myth, if you have one.’
‘What is a creation myth?’ the creature asked.
‘Oh, you know,’ the anthropologist replied, ‘the fanciful tale you tell your children about the origins of the world.’
Well, at this, the creature drew itself up indignantly- at least as well as a squishy blob can do- and replied that his people had no such fanciful tale.
‘You have no account of creation then?’
‘Certainly we have an account of creation,’ the other snapped. ‘But its definitely not a myth.’
‘Oh certainly not,’ the anthropologist said, remembering his training at last. ‘Ill be terribly grateful if you share it with me.’
‘Very well,’ the creature said. ‘But I want you to understand that, like you, we are a strictly rational people, who accept nothing that is not based on observation, logic, and scientific method.’
‘"Of course, of course,’ the anthropologist agreed.
So at last the creature began its story. ‘The universe,’ it said, ‘was born a long, long time ago, perhaps ten or fifteen billion years ago. Our own solar system-this star, this planet, and all the others- seem to have come into being some two or three billion years ago. For a long time, nothing whatever lived here. But then, after a billion years or so, life appeared.’
‘Excuse me,’ the anthropologist said. ‘You say that life appeared. Where did that happen, according to your myth- I mean, according to your scientific account.’
The creature seemed baffled by the question and turned a pale lavender. ‘Do you mean in what precise spot?’
‘No. I mean, did this happen on land or in the sea?’
‘Land?’ the other asked. ‘What is land?’
‘Oh, you know,’ he said, waving toward the shore, ‘the expanse of dirt and rocks that begins over there.’
The creature turned a deeper shade of lavender and said, ‘I cant imagine what you're gibbering about. The dirt and rocks over there are simply the lip of the vast bowl that holds the sea.’
‘Oh yes,’ the anthropologist said, ‘I see what you mean. Quite. Go on.’
‘Very well,’ the other said. ‘For many millions of centuries the life of the world was merely microorganisms floating helplessly in a chemical broth. But little by little, more complex forms appeared: single-celled creatures, slimes, algae, polyps, and so on.’
‘But finally,’ the creature said, turning quite pink with pride as he came to the climax of his story, ‘but finally jellyfish appeared!
Daniel Quinn (Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit (Ishmael, #1))
The people came out of their houses and smelled the hot stinging air and covered their noses from it. And the children came out of the houses, but they did not run or shout as they would have done after a rain. Men stood by their fences and looked at the ruined corn, drying fast now, only a little green showing through the film of dust. The men were silent and they did not move often. And the women came out of the houses to stand beside their men - to feel whether this time the men would break. The women studied the men's faces secretly, for the corn could go, as long as something else remained. The children stood near by drawing figures in the dust with bare toes, and the children sent exploring senses out to see whether men and women would break. The children peeked at the faces of the men and women, and then drew careful lines in the dust with their toes. Horses came to the watering troughs and nuzzled the water to clear the surface dust. After a while the faces of the watching men lost their bemused perplexity and became hard and angry and resistant. Then the women knew that they were safe and that there was no break. Then they asked, Whta'll we do? And the men replied, I don't know. but it was all right. The women knew it was all right, and the watching children knew it was all right. Women and children knew deep in themselves that no misfortune was too great to bear if their men were whole. The women went into the houses to their work, and the children began to play, but cautiously at first. As the day went forward the sun became less red. It flared down on the dust-blanketed land. The men sat in the doorways of their houses; their hands were busy with sticks and little rocks. The men sat still - thinking - figuring.
John Steinbeck (The Grapes of Wrath)
During the Bosnian war in the late 1990s, I spent several days traveling around the country with Susan Sontag and her son, my dear friend David Rieff. On one occasion, we made a special detour to the town of Zenica, where there was reported to be a serious infiltration of outside Muslim extremists: a charge that was often used to slander the Bosnian government of the time. We found very little evidence of that, but the community itself was much riven as between Muslim, Croat, and Serb. No faction was strong enough to predominate, each was strong enough to veto the other's candidate for the chairmanship of the city council. Eventually, and in a way that was characteristically Bosnian, all three parties called on one of the town's few Jews and asked him to assume the job. We called on him, and found that he was also the resident intellectual, with a natural gift for synthesizing matters. After we left him, Susan began to chortle in the car. 'What do you think?' she asked. 'Do you think that the only dentist and the only shrink in Zenica are Jewish also?' It would be dense to have pretended not to see her joke.
Christopher Hitchens (Hitch 22: A Memoir)
Halt glared at his friend as the whistling continued.
'I had hoped that your new sense of responsibly would put an end to that painful shrieking noise you make between your lips' he said.
Crowley smiled. It was a beautiful day and he was feeling at peace with the world. And that meant he was more than ready to tease Halt 'It's a jaunty song'
'What's jaunty about it?' Halt asked, grim faced. Crowley made an uncertain gesture as he sought for an answer to that question.
'I suppose it's the subject matter' he said eventually. 'It's a very cheerful song. Would you like me to sing it for you?'
'N-' Halt began but he was too late, as Crowley began to sing. He had a pleasant tenor voice, in fact, and his rendering of the song was quite good. But to Halt it was as attractive as a rusty barn door squeaking.
'A blacksmith from Palladio, he met a lovely lady-o'
'Whoa! Whoa!' Halt said 'He met a lovely lady-o?' Halt repeated sarcastically 'What in the name of all that's holy is a lady-o?'
'It's a lady' Crowley told him patiently.
'Then why not sing 'he met a lovely lady'?' Halt wanted to know.
Crowley frowned as if the answer was blatantly obvious.
"Because he's from Palladio, as the song says. It's a city on the continent, in the southern part of Toscana.'
'And people there have lady-o's, instead of ladies?' Asked Halt
'No. They have ladies, like everyone else. But 'lady' doesn't rhyme with Palladio, does it? I could hardly sing, 'A blacksmith from Palladio, he met his lovely lady', could I?'
'It would make more sense if you did' Halt insisted
'But it wouldn't rhyme' Crowley told him.
'Would that be so bad?'
'Yes! A song has to rhyme or it isn't a proper song. It has to be lady-o. It's called poetic license.'
'It's poetic license to make up a word that doesn't exist and which, by the way, sound extremely silly?' Halt asked.
Crowley shook his head 'No. It's poetic license to make sure that the two lines rhyme with each other'
Halt thought for a few seconds, his eyes knitted close together. Then inspiration struck him.
'Well then couldn't you sing 'A blacksmith from Palladio, he met a lovely lady, so...'?'
'So what?' Crowley challenged
Halt made and uncertain gesture with his hands as he sought more inspiration. Then he replied. 'He met a lovely lady, so...he asked her for her hand and gave her a leg of lamb.'
'A leg of lamb? Why would she want a leg of lamb?' Crowley demanded
Halt shrugged 'Maybe she was hungry
John Flanagan (The Tournament at Gorlan (Ranger’s Apprentice: The Early Years, #1))
What are you going to do with your life?’ In one way or another it seemed that people had been asking her this forever; teachers, her parents, friends at three in the morning, but the question had never seemed this pressing and still she was no nearer an answer. The future rose up ahead for her, a succession of empty days, each more daunting and unknowable than the one before her. How would she ever fill them all?She began walking again, south towards The Mound. ‘Live each day as if it’s your last’, that was the conventional advice, but really, who had the energy for that? What if it rained or you felt a bit glandy? It just wasn’t practical. Better by far to simply try and be good and courageous and bold and to make a difference. Not change the world exactly, but the bit around you. Go out there with your passion and your electric typewriter and work hard at… something. Change lives through art maybe. Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved. If you ever get the chance.That was the general theory, even if she hadn’t made a very good start of it
Outsong in the Jungle
[Baloo:] For the sake of him who showed
One wise Frog the Jungle-Road,
Keep the Law the Man-Pack make
For thy blind old Baloo's sake!
Clean or tainted, hot or stale,
Hold it as it were the Trail,
Through the day and through the night,
Questing neither left nor right.
For the sake of him who loves
Thee beyond all else that moves,
When thy Pack would make thee pain,
Say: "Tabaqui sings again."
When thy Pack would work thee ill,
Say: "Shere Khan is yet to kill."
When the knife is drawn to slay,
Keep the Law and go thy way.
(Root and honey, palm and spathe,
Guard a cub from harm and scathe!)
Wood and Water, Wind and Tree,
Jungle-Favour go with thee!
[Kaa:] Anger is the egg of Fear--
Only lidless eyes see clear.
Cobra-poison none may leech--
Even so with Cobra-speech.
Open talk shall call to thee
Strength, whose mate is Courtesy.
Send no lunge beyond thy length.
Lend no rotten bough thy strength.
Gauge thy gape with buck or goat,
Lest thine eye should choke thy throat.
After gorging, wouldst thou sleep ?
Look thy den be hid and deep,
Lest a wrong, by thee forgot,
Draw thy killer to the spot.
East and West and North and South,
Wash thy hide and close thy mouth.
(Pit and rift and blue pool-brim,
Middle-Jungle follow him!)
Wood and Water, Wind and Tree,
Jungle-Favour go with thee!
[Bagheera:] In the cage my life began;
Well I know the worth of Man.
By the Broken Lock that freed--
Man-cub, ware the Man-cub's breed!
Scenting-dew or starlight pale,
Choose no tangled tree-cat trail.
Pack or council, hunt or den,
Cry no truce with Jackal-Men.
Feed them silence when they say:
"Come with us an easy way."
Feed them silence when they seek
Help of thine to hurt the weak.
Make no bandar's boast of skill;
Hold thy peace above the kill.
Let nor call nor song nor sign
Turn thee from thy hunting-line.
(Morning mist or twilight clear,
Serve him, Wardens of the Deer!)
Wood and Water, Wind and Tree,
Jungle-Favour go with thee!
[The Three:] On the trail that thou must tread
To the threshold of our dread,
Where the Flower blossoms red;
Through the nights when thou shalt lie
Prisoned from our Mother-sky,
Hearing us, thy loves, go by;
In the dawns when thou shalt wake
To the toil thou canst not break,
Heartsick for the Jungle's sake;
Wood and Water, Wind air Tree,
Wisdom, Strength, and Courtesy,
Jungle-Favour go with thee!
In the beginning of the year 1665 I found the Method of approximating series & the Rule for reducing any dignity of any Binomial into such a series. The same year in May I found the method of Tangents of Gregory & Slusius, & in November had the direct method of fluxions & the next year in January had the Theory of Colours & in May following I had entrance into ye inverse method of fluxions. And the same year I began to think of gravity extending to ye orb of the Moon & (having found out how to estimate the force with wch [a] globe revolving within a sphere presses the surface of the sphere) from Kepler's rule of the periodic times of the Planets being in sesquialterate proportion of their distances from the center of their Orbs, I deduced that the forces wch keep the Planets in their Orbs must [be] reciprocally as the squares of their distances from the centers about wch they revolve: & thereby compared the force requisite to keep the Moon in her Orb with the force of gravity at the surface of the earth, & found them answer pretty nearly. All this was in the two plague years of 1665-1666. For in those days I was in the prime of my age for invention & minded Mathematicks & Philosophy more then than at any time since.
Fanfare for the Makers
A cloud of witnesses. To whom? To what?
To the small fire that never leaves the sky.
To the great fire that boils the daily pot.
To all the things we are not remembered by,
Which we remember and bless. To all the things
That will not notice when we die,
Yet lend the passing moment words and wings.
So fanfare for the Makers: who compose
A book of words or deeds who runs may write
As many who do run, as a family grows
At times like sunflowers turning towards the light.
As sometimes in the blackout and the raids
One joke composed an island in the night.
As sometimes one man’s kindness pervades
A room or house or village, as sometimes
Merely to tighten screws or sharpen blades
Can catch a meaning, as to hear the chimes
At midnight means to share them, as one man
In old age plants an avenue of limes
And before they bloom can smell them, before they span
The road can walk beneath the perfected arch,
The merest greenprint when the lives began
Of those who walk there with him, as in default
Of coffee men grind acorns, as in despite
Of all assaults conscripts counter assault,
As mothers sit up late night after night
Moulding a life, as miners day by day
Descend blind shafts, as a boy may flaunt his kite
In an empty nonchalant sky, as anglers play
Their fish, as workers work and can take pride
In spending sweat before they draw their pay.
As horsemen fashion horses while they ride,
As climbers climb a peak because it is there,
As life can be confirmed even in suicide:
To make is such. Let us make. And set the weather fair.
Louis MacNeice (Collected Poems of Louis MacNeice)
I will take you down my own avenue of remembrance, which winds among the hazards and shadows of my single year as a plebe. I cannot come to this story in full voice. I want to speak for the boys who were violated by this school, the ones who left ashamed and broken and dishonored, who departed from the Institute with wounds and bitter grievances. I want also to speak for the triumphant boys who took everything the system could throw at them, endured every torment and excess, and survived the ordeal of the freshman year with a feeling of transformation and achievement that they never had felt before and would never know again with such clarity and elation.
I will speak from my memory- my memory- a memory that is all refracting light slanting through prisms and dreams, a shifting, troubled riot of electrons charged with pain and wonder. My memory often seems like a city of exiled poets afire with the astonishment of language, each believing in the integrity of his own witness, each with a separate version of culture and history, and the divine essentional fire that is poetry itself.
But i will try to isolate that one lonely singer who gathered the fragments of my plebe year and set the screams to music. For many years, I have refused to listen as his obsessive voice narrated the malignant litany of crimes against my boyhood. We isolate those poets who cause us the greatest pain; we silence them in any way we can. I have never allowed this furious dissident the courtesy of my full attention. His poems are songs for the dead to me. Something dies in me every time I hear his low, courageous voice calling to me from the solitude of his exile. He has always known that someday I would have to listen to his story, that I would have to deal with the truth or falsity of his witness. He has always known that someday I must take full responsibility for his creation and that, in finally listening to him, I would be sounding the darkest fathoms of myself. I will write his stories now as he shouts them to me. I will listen to him and listen to myself. I will get it all down.
Yet the laws of recall are subject to distortion and alienation. Memory is a trick, and I have lied so often to myself about my own role and the role of others that I am not sure I can recognize the truth about those days. But I have come to believe in the unconscious integrity of lies. I want to record even them. Somewhere in the immensity of the lie the truth gleams like the pure, light-glazed bones of an extinct angel. Hidden in the enormous falsity of my story is the truth for all of us who began at the Institute in 1963, and for all who survived to become her sons. I write my own truth, in my own time, in my own way, and take full responsibility for its mistakes and slanders. Even the lies are part of my truth.
I return to the city of memory, to the city of exiled poets. I approach the one whose back is turned to me. He is frail and timorous and angry. His head is shaved and he fears the judgment of regiments. He will always be a victim, always a plebe. I tap him on the shoulder.
"Begin," I command.
"It was the beginning of 1963," he begins, and I know he will not stop until the story has ended.
Pat Conroy (The Lords of Discipline)
One day about a month ago, I really hit bottom. You know, I just felt that in a Godless universe, I didn't want to go on living. Now I happen to own this rifle, which I loaded, believe it or not, and pressed it to my forehead. And I remember thinking, at the time, I'm gonna kill myself. Then I thought, what if I'm wrong? What if there is a God? I mean, after all, nobody really knows that. But then I thought, no, you know, maybe is not good enough. I want certainty or nothing. And I remember very clearly, the clock was ticking, and I was sitting there frozen with the gun to my head, debating whether to shoot.
[The gun fires accidentally, shattering a mirror] All of a sudden, the gun went off. I had been so tense my finger had squeezed the trigger inadvertently. But I was perspiring so much the gun had slid off my forehead and missed me. And suddenly neighbors were, were pounding on the door, and, and I don't know, the whole scene was just pandemonium. And, uh, you know, I-I-I ran to the door, I-I didn't know what to say. You know, I was-I was embarrassed and confused and my-my-my mind was r-r-racing a mile a minute. And I-I just knew one thing.
I-I-I had to get out of that house, I had to just get out in the fresh air and-and clear my head. And I remember very clearly, I walked the streets. I walked and I walked. I-I didn't know what was going through my mind. It all seemed so violent and un-unreal to me. And I wandered for a long time on the Upper West Side, you know, and-and it must have been hours. You know, my-my feet hurt, my head was-was pounding, and-and I had to sit down. I went into a movie house. I-I didn't know what was playing or anything.
I just, I just needed a moment to gather my thoughts and, and be logical and put the world back into rational perspective. And I went upstairs to the balcony, and I sat down, and, you know, the movie was a-a-a film that I'd seen many times in my life since I was a kid, and-and I always, uh, loved it. And, you know, I'm-I'm watching these people up on the screen and I started getting hooked on the film, you know. And I started to feel, how can you even think of killing yourself. I mean isn't it so stupid? I mean, l-look at all the people up there on the screen. You know, they're real funny, and-and what if the worst is true.
What if there's no God, and you only go around once and that's it. Well, you know, don't you want to be part of the experience? You know, what the hell, it's-it's not all a drag. And I'm thinkin' to myself, geez, I should stop ruining my life - searching for answers I'm never gonna get, and just enjoy it while it lasts. And, you know, after, who knows? I mean, you know, maybe there is something. Nobody really knows. I know, I know maybe is a very slim reed to hang your whole life on, but that's the best we have. And then, I started to sit back, and I actually began to enjoy myself.
Fame requires every kind of excess. I mean true fame, a devouring neon, not the somber renown of waning statesmen or chinless kings. I mean long journeys across gray space. I mean danger, the edge of every void, the circumstance of one man imparting an erotic terror to the dreams of the republic. Understand the man who must inhabit these extreme regions, monstrous and vulval, damp with memories of violation. Even if half-mad he is absorbed into the public's total madness; even if fully rational, a bureaucrat in hell, a secret genius of survival, he is sure to be destroyed by the public's contempt for survivors. Fame, this special kind, feeds itself on outrage, on what the counselors of lesser men would consider bad publicity-hysteria in limousines, knife fights in the audience, bizarre litigation, treachery, pandemonium and drugs. Perhaps the only natural law attaching to true fame is that the famous man is compelled, eventually, to commit suicide.
(Is it clear I was a hero of rock'n'roll?)
Toward the end of the final tour it became apparent that our audience wanted more than music, more even than its own reduplicated noise. It's possible the culture had reached its limit, a point of severe tension. There was less sense of simple visceral abandon at our concerts during these last weeks. Few cases of arson and vandalism. Fewer still of rape. No smoke bombs or threats of worse explosives. Our followers, in their isolation, were not concerned with precedent now. They were free of old saints and martyrs, but fearfully so, left with their own unlabeled flesh. Those without tickets didn't storm the barricades, and during a performance the boys and girls directly below us, scratching at the stage, were less murderous in their love of me, as if realizing finally that my death, to be authentic, must be self-willed- a succesful piece of instruction only if it occured by my own hand, preferrably ina foreign city. I began to think their education would not be complete until they outdid me as a teacher, until one day they merely pantomimed the kind of massive response the group was used to getting. As we performed they would dance, collapse, clutch each other, wave their arms, all the while making absolutely no sound. We would stand in the incandescent pit of a huge stadium filled with wildly rippling bodies, all totally silent. Our recent music, deprived of people's screams, was next to meaningless, and there would have been no choice but to stop playing. A profound joke it would have been. A lesson in something or other.
In Houston I left the group, saying nothing, and boarded a plane for New York City, that contaminated shrine, place of my birth. I knew Azarian would assume leadership of the band, his body being prettiest. As to the rest, I left them to their respective uproars- news media, promotion people, agents, accountants, various members of the managerial peerage. The public would come closer to understanding my disappearance than anyone else. It was not quite as total as the act they needed and nobody could be sure whether I was gone for good. For my closest followers, it foreshadowed a period of waiting. Either I'd return with a new language for them to speak or they'd seek a divine silence attendant to my own.
I took a taxi past the cemetaries toward Manhattan, tides of ash-light breaking across the spires. new York seemed older than the cities of Europe, a sadistic gift of the sixteenth century, ever on the verge of plague. The cab driver was young, however, a freckled kid with a moderate orange Afro. I told him to take the tunnel.
Is there a tunnel?" he said.
ONCE UPON A time there was a king who had three beautiful daughters. As he grew old, he began to wonder which should inherit the kingdom, since none had married and he had no heir. The king decided to ask his daughters to demonstrate their love for him. To the eldest princess he said, “Tell me how you love me.” She loved him as much as all the treasure in the kingdom. To the middle princess he said, “Tell me how you love me.” She loved him with the strength of iron. To the youngest princess he said, “Tell me how you love me.” This youngest princess thought for a long time before answering. Finally she said she loved him as meat loves salt. “Then you do not love me at all,” the king said. He threw his daughter from the castle and had the bridge drawn up behind her so that she could not return. Now, this youngest princess goes into the forest with not so much as a coat or a loaf of bread. She wanders through a hard winter, taking shelter beneath trees. She arrives at an inn and gets hired as assistant to the cook. As the days and weeks go by, the princess learns the ways of the kitchen. Eventually she surpasses her employer in skill and her food is known throughout the land. Years pass, and the eldest princess comes to be married. For the festivities, the cook from the inn makes the wedding meal. Finally a large roast pig is served. It is the king’s favorite dish, but this time it has been cooked with no salt. The king tastes it. Tastes it again. “Who would dare to serve such an ill-cooked roast at the future queen’s wedding?” he cries. The princess-cook appears before her father, but she is so changed he does not recognize her. “I would not serve you salt, Your Majesty,” she explains. “For did you not exile your youngest daughter for saying that it was of value?” At her words, the king realizes that not only is she his daughter—she is, in fact, the daughter who loves him best. And what then? The eldest daughter and the middle sister have been living with the king all this time. One has been in favor one week, the other the next. They have been driven apart by their father’s constant comparisons. Now the youngest has returned, the king yanks the kingdom from his eldest, who has just been married. She is not to be queen after all. The elder sisters rage. At first, the youngest basks in fatherly love. Before long, however, she realizes the king is demented and power-mad. She is to be queen, but she is also stuck tending to a crazy old tyrant for the rest of her days. She will not leave him, no matter how sick he becomes. Does she stay because she loves him as meat loves salt? Or does she stay because he has now promised her the kingdom? It is hard for her to tell the difference.
E. Lockhart (We Were Liars)
I'll be right here. Good luck, or break a leg, or something.”
As Jay and Gregory turned and headed into the crowd, my traitorous eyes returned to the corner and found another pair or eyes staring darkly back.
I dropped my gaze for three full seconds, and then lifted my eyes again, hesitant. The drummer was still staring at me, oblivious to the three girls trying to win back his attention. He put up one finger at the girls and said something that looked like, “Excuse me.”
Oh, my goodness. Was he...? Oh, no. Yes, he was walking this way.
My nerves shot into high alert. I looked around, but nobody else was near. When I looked back up, there he was, standing right in front of me. Good gracious, he was sexy-a word that had not existed in my personal vocabulary until that moment. This guy was sexy like it was his job or something.
He looked straight into my eyes, which threw me off guard, because nobody ever looked me in the eye like that. Maybe Patti and Jay, but they didn't hold my stare like he was doing now. He didn't look away, and I found that I couldn't take my gaze off those blue eyes.
“Who are you?” he asked in a blunt, almost confrontational way.
I blinked. It was the strangest greeting I'd ever received.
“Right. Anna. How very nice.” I tried to focus on his words and not his luxuriously accented voice, which made everything sound lovely. He leaned in closer. “But who are you?”
What did that mean? Did I need to have some sort of title or social standing to enter his presence?
“I just came with my friend Jay?” Oh, I hated when I got nervous and started talking in questions. I pointed in the general direction of the guys, but he didn't take his eyes off me. I began rambling. “They just wrote some songs. Jay and Gregory. That they wanted you to hear. Your band, I mean. They're really...good?”
His eyes roamed all around my body, stopping to evaluate my sad, meager chest. I crossed my arms. When his gaze landed on that stupid freckle above my lip, I was hit by the scent of oranges and limes and something earthy, like the forest floor. It was pleasant in a masculine way.
“Uh-huh.” He was closer to my face now, growling in that deep voice, but looking into my eyes again. “Very cute. And where is your angel?”
My what? Was that some kind of British slang for boyfriend? I didn't know how to answer without continuing to sound pitiful. He lifted his dark eyebrows, waiting.
“If you mean Jay, he's over there talking to some man in a suit. But he's not my boyfriend or my angel or whatever.”
My face flushed with heat and I tightened my arms over my chest. I'd never met anyone with an accent like his, and I was ashamed of the effect it had on me. He was obviously rude, and yet I wanted him to keep talking to me. It didn't make any sense.
His stance softened and he took a step back, seeming confused, although I still couldn't read his emotions. Why didn't he show any colors? He didn't seem drunk or high. And that red thing...what was that? It was hard not to stare at it.
He finally looked over at Jay, who was deep in conversation with the manager-type man.
“Not your boyfriend, eh?” He was smirking at me now. I looked away, refusing to answer.
“Are you certain he doesn't fancy you?” Kaidan asked. I looked at him again. His smirk was now a naughty smile.
“Yes,” I assured him with confidence. “I am.”
“How do you know?”
I couldn't very well tell him that the only time Jay's color had shown mild attraction to me was when I accidentally flashed him one day as I was taking off my sweatshirt, and my undershirt got pulled up too high. And even then it lasted only a few seconds before our embarrassment set in.
Wendy Higgins (Sweet Evil (Sweet, #1))
TO MY MIND, THOUGH, there is a third development that has altered our parenting experience above all others, and that is the wholesale transformation of the child’s role, both in the home and in society. Since the end of World War II, childhood has been completely redefined. Today, we work hard to shield children from life’s hardships. But throughout most of our country’s history, we did not. Rather, kids worked. In the earliest days of our nation, they cared for their siblings or spent time in the fields; as the country industrialized, they worked in mines and textile mills, in factories and canneries, in street trades. Over time, reformers managed to outlaw child labor practices. Yet change was slow. It wasn’t until our soldiers returned from World War II that childhood, as we now know it, began. The family economy was no longer built on a system of reciprocity, with parents sheltering and feeding their children, and children, in return, kicking something back into the family till. The relationship became asymmetrical. Children stopped working, and parents worked twice as hard. Children went from being our employees to our bosses. The way most historians describe this transformation is to say that the child went from “useful” to “protected.” But the sociologist Viviana Zelizer came up with a far more pungent phrase. She characterized the modern child as “economically worthless but emotionally priceless.” Today parents pour more capital—both emotional and literal—into their children than ever before, and they’re spending longer, more concentrated hours with their children than they did when the workday ended at five o’clock and the majority of women still stayed home. Yet parents don’t know what it is they’re supposed to do, precisely, in their new jobs. “Parenting” may have become its own activity (its own profession, so to speak), but its goals are far from clear.
Jennifer Senior (All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood)
My girl got sick. She was constantly nervous because of problems at work, personal life, her failures and children. She lost 30 pounds and weighted about 90 pounds. She got very skinny and was constantly crying. She was not a happy woman. She had suffered from continuing headaches, heart pain and jammed nerves in her back and ribs. She did not sleep well, falling asleep only in the mornings and got tired very quickly during the day. Our relationship was on the verge of a break up. Her beauty was leaving her somewhere, she had bags under her eyes, she was poking her head, and stopped taking care of herself. She refused to shoot the films and rejected any role. I lost hope and thought that we’ll get separated soon… But then I decided to act. After all I’ve got the MOST Beautiful Woman on earth. She is the idol of more than half of men and women on earth, and I was the one allowed to fall asleep next to her and to hug her. I began to shower her with flowers, kisses and compliments. I surprised and pleased her every minute. I gave her a lot of gifts and lived just for her. I spoke in public only about her. I incorporated all themes in her direction. I praised her in front of her own and our mutual friends. You won’t believe it, but she blossomed. She became better. She gained weight, was no longer nervous and loved me even more than ever. I had no clue that she CAN love that much.
And then I realized one thing: the woman is the reflection of her man.
If you love her to the point of madness, she will become it.
I asked Hillary why she had chosen Yale Law School over Harvard. She laughed and said, "Harvard didn't want me." I said I was sorry that Harvard turned her down. She replied, "No, I received letters of acceptance from both schools." She explained that a boyfriend had then invited her to the Harvard Law School Christmas Dance, at which several Harvard Law School professors were in attendance. She asked one for advice about which law school to attend. The professor looked at her and said, "We have about as many woen as we need here. You should go to Yale. The teaching there is more suited to women." I asked who the professor was, and she told me she couldn't remember his name but that she thought it started with a B. A few days later, we met the Clintons at a party. I came prepared with yearbook photos of all the professors from that year whose name began with B. She immediately identified the culprit. He was the same professor who had given my A student a D, because she didn't "think like a lawyer." It turned out, of course, that it was this professor -- and not the two (and no doubt more) brilliant women he was prejudiced against - who didn't think like a lawyer. Lawyers are supposed to act on the evidence, rather than on their prejudgments. The sexist professor ultimately became a judge on the International Court of Justice.
I told Hillary that it was too bad I wasn't at that Christmas dance, because I would have urged her to come to Harvard. She laughed, turned to her husband, and said, "But then I wouldn't have met him... and he wouldn't have become President.
Alan M. Dershowitz
IT ALL BEGAN with the High Court case about the madman and the watermelons. The man in question, named Ivan, lived along the River Dell in an eastern section of the city near the merchant docks. To one side of his house resided a cutter and engraver of gravestones, and to the other side was a neighbor’s watermelon patch. Ivan had contrived somehow in the dark of night to replace every watermelon in the watermelon patch with a gravestone, and every gravestone in the engraver’s lot with a watermelon. He’d then shoved cryptic instructions under each neighbor’s door with the intention of setting each on a scavenger hunt to find his missing items, a move useless in one case and unnecessary in the other, as the watermelon-grower could not read and the gravestone-carver could see her gravestones from her doorstep quite plainly, planted in the watermelon patch two lots down. Both had guessed the culprit immediately, for Ivan’s antics were not uncommon. Only a month ago, Ivan had stolen a neighbor’s cow and perched her atop yet another neighbor’s candle shop, where she mooed mournfully until someone climbed the roof to milk her, and where she was compelled to live for several days, the kingdom’s most elevated and probably most mystified cow, while the few literate neighbors on the street worked through Ivan’s cryptic clues for how to build the rope and pulley device to bring her down.
Kristin Cashore (Bitterblue (Graceling Realm, #3))
I couldn’t talk about it, about them—not yet. So I breathed “Later” and hooked my feet around his legs, drawing him closer. I placed my hands on his chest, feeling the heart beating beneath. This—I needed this right now. It wouldn’t wash away what I’d done, but … I needed him near, needed to smell and taste him, remind myself that he was real—this was real.
“Later,” he echoed, and leaned down to kiss me.
It was soft, tentative—nothing like the wild, hard kisses we’d shared in the hall of throne room. He brushed his lips against mine again. I didn’t want apologies, didn’t want sympathy or coddling. I gripped the front of his tunic, tugging him closer as I opened my mouth to him.
He let out a low growl, and the sound of it sent a wildfire blazing through me, pooling and burning in my core. I let it burn through that hole in my chest, my soul. Let it raze through the wave of black that was starting to press around me, let it consume the phantom blood I could still feel on my hands. I gave myself to that fire, to him, as his hands roved across me, unbuttoning as he went.
I pulled back, breaking the kiss to look into his face. His eyes were bright—hungry—but his hands had stopped their exploring and rested firmly on my hips. With a predator’s stillness, he waited and watched as I traced the contours of his face, as I kissed every place I touched.
His ragged breathing was the only sound—and his hands soon began roaming across my back and sides, caressing and teasing and baring me to him. When my traveling fingers reached his mouth, he bit down on one, sucking it into his mouth. It didn’t hurt, but the bite was hard enough for me to meet his eyes again. To realize that he was done waiting—and so was I.
He eased me onto the bed, murmuring my name against my neck, the shell of my ear, the tips of my fingers. I urged him—faster, harder. His mouth explored the curve of my breast, the inside of my thigh.
A kiss for each day we’d spent apart, a kiss for every wound and terror, a kiss for the ink etched into my flesh, and for all the days we would be together after this. Days, perhaps, that I no longer deserved. But I gave myself again to that fire, threw myself into it, into him, and let myself burn.
Sarah J. Maas (A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1))
The Humbug whistled gaily at his work, for he was never as happy as when he had a job which required no thinking at all. After what seemed like days, he had dug a hole scarcely large enough for his thumb. Tock shuffled steadily back and forth with the dropper in his teeth, but the full well was still almost as full as when he began, and Milo's new pile of sand was hardly a pile at all.
"How very strange," said Milo, without stopping for a moment. "I've been working steadily all this time, and I don't feel the slightest bit tired or hungry. I could go right on the same way forever."
"Perhaps you will," the man agreed with a yawn (at least it sounded like a yawn).
"Well, I wish I knew how long it was going to take," Milo whispered as the dog went by again.
"Why not use your magic staff and find out?" replied Tock as clearly as anyone could with an eye dropper in his mouth. Milo took the shiny pencil from his pocket and quickly calculated that, at the rate they were working, it would take each of them eight hundred and thirty-seven years to finish.
"Pardon me," he said, tugging at the man's sleeve and holding the sheet of figures up for him to see, "but it's going to take eight hundred and thirty-seven years to do these jobs."
"Is that so?" replied the man, without even turning around. "Well, you'd better get on with it then."
"But it hardly seems worth while," said Milo softly.
"WORTH WHILE!" the man roared indignantly.
"All I meant was that perhaps it isn't too important," Milo repeated, trying not to be impolite.
"Of course it's not important," he snarled angrily. "I wouldn't have asked you to do it if I thought it was important." And now, as he turned to face them, he didn't seem quite so pleasant.
"Then why bother?" asked Tock, whose alarm suddenly began to ring.
"Because, my young friends," he muttered sourly, "what could be more important than doing unimportant things? If you stop to do enough of them, you'll never get to where you're going." He punctuated his last remark with a villainous laugh.
"Then you must -----" gasped Milo.
"Quite correct!" he shrieked triumphantly. "I am the Terrible Trivium, demon of petty tasks and worthless jobs, ogre of wasted effort, and monster of habit.
Norton Juster (The Phantom Tollbooth)
In your madness you said you loved me," she murmured shyly.
His humor fled, and the smile left her lips as she continued, "You said it before, too. When the storm struck, I asked you to love me, and you said you did." Her voice was the barest of whispers.
Ruark's gaze turned away from her, and he rubbed the bandage on his leg before he spoke. "Strange that madness should speak the truth, but truth it is." He met her questioning eyes directly. "Aye, I love you." The pain of longing marked his face with a momentary sadness. "And that is madness, in all truth."
Shanna raised herself form his side and sat on her heels, staring down at him. "Why do you love me?" Her tone was wondrous. "I beset you at every turn. I deny you as a fit mate. I have betrayed you into slavery and worse. There is no sanity in your plea at all. How can you love me?"
"Shanna! Shanna! Shanna!" he sighed, placing his fingers on her hand and gently tracing the lines of her finely boned fingers. "What man would boast the wisdom of his love? How many time has this world heard, 'I don't care, I love.' Do I count your faults and sins to tote them in a book?"
"I dream of unbelievable softness. I remember warmth at my side the likes of which can set my heart afire. I see in the dark before me softly glowing eyes of aqua, once tender in a moment of love, then flashing with defiance and anger, now dark and blue with some stirring I know I have caused, now green and gay with laughter spilling from them. There is a form within my arms that I tenderly held and touched. There is that one who has met my passion with her own and left me gasping."
Ruark caressed Shanna's arm and turned her face to him, making her look into his eyes and willing her to see the truth in them as he spoke.
"My beloved Shanna. I cannot think of betrayal when I think of love. I can count no denials when I hold you close. I only wait for that day when you will say, 'I love."
Shanna raised her hands as if to plead her case then let them fall dejectedly on her knees. Tears coursed down her cheeks, and she begged helplessly, "But I do not want to love you." She began to sob. "You are a colonial. You are untitled, a murderer condemned, a rogue, a slave. I want a name for my children. I want so much more of my husband." She rolled her eyes in sudden confusion. "And I do not want to hurt you more."
Ruark sighed and gave up for the moment. He reached out and gently wiped away the tears as they fell. "Shanna, love," he whispered tenderly, "I cannot bear to see you cry. I will not press the matter for a while. I only beg you remember the longest journey is taken a step at a time. My love can wait, but it will neither yield nor change.
Kathleen E. Woodiwiss (Shanna)
I’m completely library educated. I’ve never been to college. I went down to the library when I was in grade school in Waukegan, and in high school in Los Angeles, and spent long days every summer in the library. I used to steal magazines from a store on Genesee Street, in Waukegan, and read them and then steal them back on the racks again. That way I took the print off with my eyeballs and stayed honest. I didn’t want to be a permanent thief, and I was very careful to wash my hands before I read them. But with the library, it’s like catnip, I suppose: you begin to run in circles because there’s so much to look at and read. And it’s far more fun than going to school, simply because you make up your own list and you don’t have to listen to anyone. When I would see some of the books my kids were forced to bring home and read by some of their teachers, and were graded on—well, what if you don’t like those books?
I am a librarian. I discovered me in the library. I went to find me in the library. Before I fell in love with libraries, I was just a six-year-old boy. The library fueled all of my curiosities, from dinosaurs to ancient Egypt. When I graduated from high school in 1938, I began going to the library three nights a week. I did this every week for almost ten years and finally, in 1947, around the time I got married, I figured I was done. So I graduated from the library when I was twenty-seven. I discovered that the library is the real school.
once there was a beautiful young panther who had a co-wife and a husband. Her name was Lara and she was unhappy because her husband and her co-wife were really in love; being nice to her was merely a duty panther society imposed on them. They had not even wanted to take her into their marriage as co-wife, since there were already perfectly happy. But she was an "extra" female in the group and that would not do. Her husband sometimes sniffed her breath and other emanations. He even, sometimes, made love to her. but whenever this happened, the co-wife, whose name was Lala, became upset. She and the husband, Baba, would argue, then fight, snarling and biting and whipping at each other's eyes with their tails. Pretty soon they'd become sick of this and would lie clutched in each other's paws, weeping.
I am supposed to make love to her, Baba would say to Lala, his heartchosen mate. She is my wife just as you are. I did not plan things this way. This is the arrangement that came down to me.
I know it, dearest, said Lala, through her tears. And this pain that I feel is what has come down to me. Surely it can't be right?
These two sat on a rock in the forest and were miserable enough. But Lara, the unwanted, pregnant by now and ill, was devastated. Everyone knew she was unloved, and no other female panther wanted to share her own husband with her. Days went by when the only voice she heard was her inner one.
Soon, she began to listen to it.
Lara, it said, sit here, where the sun may kiss you. And she did.
Lara, it said, lie here, where the moon can make love to you all night long. and she did.
Lara, it said, one bright morning when she knew herself to have been well kissed and well loved: sit here on this stone and look at your beautiful self in the still waters of this stream.
Calmed by the guidance offered by her inner voice, Lara sat down on the stone and leaned over the water. She took in her smooth, aubergine little snout, her delicate, pointed ears, her sleek, gleeming black fur. She was beautiful! And she was well kissed by the sun and well made love to by the moon.
For one whole day, Lara was content. When her co-wife asked her fearfully why she was smiling, Lara only opened her mouth wider, in a grin. The poor co-wife ran trembling off and found their husband, Baba, and dragged him back to look at Lara.
When Baba saw the smiling, well kissed, well made love to Lara, of course he could hardly wait to get his paws on her! He could tell she was in love with someone else, and this aroused all his passion.
While Lala wept, Baba possessed Lara, who was looking over his shoulder at the moon.
Each day it seemed to Lara that the Lara in the stream was the only Lara worth having - so beautiful, so well kissed, and so well made love to. And her inner voice assured her this was true.
So, one hot day when she could not tolerate the shrieks and groans of Baba and Lala as they tried to tear each other's ears off because of her, Lara, who by now was quite indifferent to them both, leaned over and kissed her own serene reflection in the water, and held the kiss all the way to the bottom of the stream.
To him who in the love of Nature holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
A various language; for his gayer hours
She has a voice of gladness, and a smile
And eloquence of beauty, and she glides
Into his darker musings, with a mild
And healing sympathy, that steals away
Their sharpness, ere he is aware. When thoughts
Of the last bitter hour come like a blight
Over thy spirit, and sad images
Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall,
And breathless darkness, and the narrow house,
Make thee to shudder, and grow sick at heart;—
Go forth, under the open sky, and list
To Nature’s teachings, while from all around—
Earth and her waters, and the depths of air—
Comes a still voice—
Yet a few days, and thee
The all-beholding sun shall see no more
In all his course; nor yet in the cold ground,
Where thy pale form was laid, with many tears,
Nor in the embrace of ocean, shall exist
Thy image. Earth, that nourished thee, shall claim
Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again,
And, lost each human trace, surrendering up
Thine individual being, shalt thou go
To mix for ever with the elements,
To be a brother to the insensible rock
And to the sluggish clod, which the rude swain
Turns with his share, and treads upon. The oak
Shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mould.
Yet not to thine eternal resting-place
Shalt thou retire alone, nor couldst thou wish
Couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie down
With patriarchs of the infant world—with kings,
The powerful of the earth—the wise, the good,
Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past,
All in one mighty sepulchre. The hills
Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun,—the vales
Stretching in pensive quietness between;
The venerable woods—rivers that move
In majesty, and the complaining brooks
That make the meadows green; and, poured round all,
Old Ocean’s gray and melancholy waste,—
Are but the solemn decorations all
Of the great tomb of man. The golden sun,
The planets, all the infinite host of heaven,
Are shining on the sad abodes of death,
Through the still lapse of ages. All that tread
The globe are but a handful to the tribes
That slumber in its bosom.—Take the wings
Of morning, pierce the Barcan wilderness,
Or lose thyself in the continuous woods
Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no sound,
Save his own dashings—yet the dead are there:
And millions in those solitudes, since first
The flight of years began, have laid them down
In their last sleep—the dead reign there alone.
So shalt thou rest, and what if thou withdraw
In silence from the living, and no friend
Take note of thy departure? All that breathe
Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh
When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care
Plod on, and each one as before will chase
His favorite phantom; yet all these shall leave
Their mirth and their employments, and shall come
And make their bed with thee. As the long train
Of ages glide away, the sons of men,
The youth in life’s green spring, and he who goes
In the full strength of years, matron and maid,
The speechless babe, and the gray-headed man—
Shall one by one be gathered to thy side,
By those, who in their turn shall follow them.
So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan, which moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.
William Cullen Bryant (Thanatopsis)
The foretelling, Elias,” the Augur says. “The future given to the Augurs in visions. That is the reason we built this school. That is the reason you are here. Do you know the story?” The story of Blackcliff’s origin was the first thing I learned as a Yearling: Five hundred years ago, a warrior brute named Taius united the fractured Martial clans and swept down from the north, crushing the Scholar Empire and taking over most of the continent. He named himself Emperor and established his dynasty. He was called the Masked One, for the unearthly silver mask he wore to scare the hell out of his enemies. But the Augurs, considered holy even then, saw in their visions that Taius’s line would one day fail. When that day came, the Augurs would choose a new Emperor through a series of physical and mental tests: the Trials. For obvious reasons, Taius didn’t appreciate this prediction, but the Augurs must have threatened to strangle him with sheep gut, because he didn’t make a peep when they raised Blackcliff and began training students here. And here we all are, five centuries later, masked just like Taius the First, waiting for the old devil’s line to fail so one of us can become the shiny new Emperor. I’m not holding my breath. Generations of Masks have trained and served and died without a whisper of the Trials. Blackcliff may have started out as a place to prepare the future Emperor, but now it’s just a training ground for the Empire’s deadliest asset. “I know the story,” I say in response to the Augur’s question. But I don’t believe a word of it, since it’s mythical horse dung.
Sabaa Tahir (An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes, #1))
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))
..I began speaking.. First, I took issue with the media's characterization of the post-Katrina New Orleans as resembling the third world as its poor citizens clamored for a way out. I suggested that my experience in New Orleans working with the city's poorest people in the years before the storm had reflected the reality of third-world conditions in New Orleans, and that Katrina had not turned New Orleans into a third-world city but had only revealed it to the world as such. I explained that my work, running Reprieve, a charity that brought lawyers and volunteers to the Deep South from abroad to work on death penalty issues, had made it clear to me that much of the world had perceived this third-world reality, even if it was unnoticed by our own citizens.
To try answer Ryan's question, I attempted to use my own experience to explain that for many people in New Orleans, and in poor communities across the country, the government was merely an antagonist, a terrible landlord, a jailer, and a prosecutor. As a lawyer assigned to indigent people under sentence of death and paid with tax dollars, I explained the difficulty of working with clients who stand to be executed and who are provided my services by the state, not because they deserve them, but because the Constitution requires that certain appeals to be filed before these people can be killed. The state is providing my clients with my assistance, maybe the first real assistance they have ever received from the state, so that the state can kill them.
I explained my view that the country had grown complacent before Hurricane Katrina, believing that the civil rights struggle had been fought and won, as though having a national holiday for Martin Luther King, or an annual march by politicians over the bridge in Selma, Alabama, or a prosecution - forty years too late - of Edgar Ray Killen for the murder of civil rights workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi, were any more than gestures. Even though President Bush celebrates his birthday, wouldn't Dr. King cry if he could see how little things have changed since his death? If politicians or journalists went to Selma any other day of the year, they would see that it is a crumbling city suffering from all of the woes of the era before civil rights were won as well as new woes that have come about since. And does anyone really think that the Mississippi criminal justice system could possibly be a vessel of social change when it incarcerates a greater percentage of its population than almost any place in the world, other than Louisiana and Texas, and then compels these prisoners, most of whom are black, to work prison farms that their ancestors worked as chattel of other men?
I hoped, out loud, that the post-Katrina experience could be a similar moment [to the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fiasco], in which the American people could act like the children in the story and declare that the emperor has no clothes, and hasn't for a long time. That, in light of Katrina, we could be visionary and bold about what people deserve. We could say straight out that there are people in this country who are racist, that minorities are still not getting a fair shake, and that Republican policies heartlessly disregard the needs of individual citizens and betray the common good. As I stood there, exhausted, in front of the thinning audience of New Yorkers, it seemed possible that New Orleans's destruction and the suffering of its citizens hadn't been in vain.
Billy Sothern (Down in New Orleans: Reflections from a Drowned City)
Eventually they climb sixteen steps into the Gallery of Mineralogy. The guide shows them a gate from Brazil and violet amethysts and a meteorite on a pedestal that he claims is as ancient as the solar system itself. Then he leads them single ﬁle down two twisting staircases and along several corridors and stops outside an iron door with a single keyhole. “End of tour,” he says.
A girl says, “But what’s through there?”
“Behind this door is another locked door, slightly smaller.”
“And what’s behind that?”
“A third locked door, smaller yet.”
“What’s behind that?”
“A fourth door, and a ﬁfth, on and on until you reach a thirteenth, a little locked door no bigger than a shoe.”
The children lean forward. “And then?”
“Behind the thirteenth door”—the guide ﬂourishes one of his impossibly wrinkled hands—“is the Sea of Flames.”
Puzzlement. Fidgeting. “Come now. You’ve never heard of the Sea of Flames?”
The children shake their heads. Marie-Laure squints up at the naked bulbs strung in three-yard intervals along the ceiling; each sets a rainbow-colored halo rotating in her vision.
The guide hangs his cane on his wrist and rubs his hands together. “It’s a long story. Do you want to hear a long story?”
He clears his throat. “Centuries ago, in the place we now call Borneo, a prince plucked a blue stone from a dry riverbed because he thought it was pretty. But on the way back to his palace, the prince was attacked by men on horseback and stabbed in the heart.”
“Stabbed in the heart?”
“Is this true?”
A boy says, “Hush.”
“The thieves stole his rings, his horse, everything. But because the little blue stone was clenched in his ﬁst, they did not discover it. And the dying prince managed to crawl home. Then he fell unconscious for ten days. On the tenth day, to the amazement of his nurses, he sat up, opened his hand, and there was the stone.
“The sultan’s doctors said it was a miracle, that the prince never should have survived such a violent wound. The nurses said the stone must have healing powers. The sultan’s jewelers said something else: they said the stone was the largest raw diamond anyone had ever seen. Their most gifted stonecutter spent eighty days faceting it, and when he was done, it was a brilliant blue, the blue of tropical seas, but it had a touch of red at its center, like ﬂames inside a drop of water. The sultan had the diamond ﬁtted into a crown for the prince, and it was said that when the young prince sat on his throne and the sun hit him just so, he became so dazzling that visitors could not distinguish his ﬁgure from light itself.”
“Are you sure this is true?” asks a girl.
“Hush,” says the boy.
“The stone came to be known as the Sea of Flames. Some believed the prince was a deity, that as long as he kept the stone, he could not be killed. But something strange began to happen: the longer the prince wore his crown, the worse his luck became. In a month, he lost a brother to drowning and a second brother to snakebite. Within six months, his father died of disease. To make matters even worse, the sultan’s scouts announced that a great army was gathering in the east.
"The prince called together his father’s advisers. All said he should prepare for war, all but one, a priest, who said he’d had a dream. In the dream the Goddess of the Earth told him she’d made the Sea of Flames as a gift for her lover, the God of the Sea, and was sending the jewel to him through the river. But when the river dried up, and the prince plucked it out, the goddess became enraged. She cursed the stone and whoever kept it.
Anthony Doerr (All the Light We Cannot See)
To her, the scent and the memory of him were one. Where it lay strongest, the distant past came to her as if that morning: Taking a dead sparrow from her jaws, before she knew to hide such things. Guiding her to the floor, bending her knee until the arthritis made it stick, his palm hotsided on her ribs to measure her breaths and know where the pain began. And to comfort her. That had been the week before he went away.
He was gone, she knew this, but something of him clung to the baseboards. At times the floor quivered under his footstep. She stood then and nosed into the kitchen and the bathroom and the bedroom-especially the closet-her intention to press her ruff against his hand, run it along his thigh, feel the heat of his body through the fabric.
Places, times, weather-all these drew him up inside her. Rain, especially, falling past the double doors of the kennel, where he’d waited through so many storms, each drop throwing a dozen replicas into the air as it struck the waterlogged earth. And where the rising and falling water met, something like an expectation formed, a place where he might appear and pass in long strides, silent and gestureless. For she was not without her own selfish desires: to hold things motionless, to measure herself against them and find herself present, to know that she was alive precisely because he needn’t acknowledge her in casual passing; that utter constancy might prevail if she attended the world so carefully. And if not constancy, then only those changes she desired, not those that sapped her, undefined her.
And so she searched. She’d watched his casket lowered into the ground, a box, man-made, no more like him than the trees that swayed under the winter wind. To assign him an identity outside the world was not in her thinking. The fence line where he walked and the bed where he slept-that was where he lived, and they remembered him.
Yet he was gone. She knew it most keenly in the diminishment of her own self. In her life, she’d been nourished and sustained by certain things, him being one of them, Trudy another, and Edgar, the third and most important, but it was really the three of them together, intersecting in her, for each of them powered her heart a different way. Each of them bore different responsibilities to her and with her and required different things from her, and her day was the fulfillment of those responsibilities. She could not imagine that portion of her would never return. With her it was not hope, or wistful thoughts-it was her sense of being alive that thinned by the proportion of her spirit devoted to him.
"ory of Edgar Sawtelle"
As spring came on, his scent about the place began to fade. She stopped looking for him. Whole days she slept beside his chair, as the sunlight drifted from eastern-slant to western-slant, moving only to ease the weight of her bones against the floor.
And Trudy and Edgar, encapsulated in mourning, somehow forgot to care for one another, let alone her. Or if they knew, their grief and heartache overwhelmed them. Anyway, there was so little they might have done, save to bring out a shirt of his to lie on, perhaps walk with her along the fence line, where fragments of time had snagged and hung. But if they noticed her grief, they hardly knew to do those things. And she without the language to ask.
David Wroblewski (The Story of Edgar Sawtelle)
The work I do is not exactly respectable. But I want to explain how it works without any of the negatives associated with my infamous clients. I’ll show how I manipulated the media for a good cause. A friend of mine recently used some of my advice on trading up the chain for the benefit of the charity he runs. This friend needed to raise money to cover the costs of a community art project, and chose to do it through Kickstarter, the crowdsourced fund-raising platform. With just a few days’ work, he turned an obscure cause into a popular Internet meme and raised nearly ten thousand dollars to expand the charity internationally. Following my instructions, he made a YouTube video for the Kickstarter page showing off his charity’s work. Not a video of the charity’s best work, or even its most important work, but the work that exaggerated certain elements aimed at helping the video spread. (In this case, two or three examples in exotic locations that actually had the least amount of community benefit.) Next, he wrote a short article for a small local blog in Brooklyn and embedded the video. This site was chosen because its stories were often used or picked up by the New York section of the Huffington Post. As expected, the Huffington Post did bite, and ultimately featured the story as local news in both New York City and Los Angeles. Following my advice, he sent an e-mail from a fake address with these links to a reporter at CBS in Los Angeles, who then did a television piece on it—using mostly clips from my friend’s heavily edited video. In anticipation of all of this he’d been active on a channel of the social news site Reddit (where users vote on stories and topics they like) during the weeks leading up to his campaign launch in order to build up some connections on the site. When the CBS News piece came out and the video was up, he was ready to post it all on Reddit. It made the front page almost immediately. This score on Reddit (now bolstered by other press as well) put the story on the radar of what I call the major “cool stuff” blogs—sites like BoingBoing, Laughing Squid, FFFFOUND!, and others—since they get post ideas from Reddit. From this final burst of coverage, money began pouring in, as did volunteers, recognition, and new ideas. With no advertising budget, no publicist, and no experience, his little video did nearly a half million views, and funded his project for the next two years. It went from nothing to something. This may have all been for charity, but it still raises a critical question: What exactly happened? How was it so easy for him to manipulate the media, even for a good cause? He turned one exaggerated amateur video into a news story that was written about independently by dozens of outlets in dozens of markets and did millions of media impressions. It even registered nationally. He had created and then manipulated this attention entirely by himself.
Ryan Holiday (Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator)
Finally, as the sky began to grow light in the morning, I’d feel that I might be drifting off. But that wasn’t sleep. My fingertips were just barely brushing against the outermost edge of sleep. And all the while, my mind was awake. I would feel a hint of drowsiness, but my mind was there, in its own room, on the other side of a transparent wall, watching me. My physical self was drifting through the feeble morning light, and all the while it could feel my mind staring, breathing, close beside it. I was both a body on the verge of sleep and a mind determined to stay awake.
The incomplete drowsiness would continue on and off all day. My head was always foggy. I couldn’t get an accurate fix on the things around me—their distance or mass or texture. The drowsiness would overtake me at regular, wavelike intervals: on the subway, in the classroom, at the dinner table. My mind would slip away from my body. The world would sway soundlessly. I would drop things. My pencil or my purse or my fork would clatter to the floor. All I wanted was to throw myself down and sleep. But I couldn’t. The wakefulness was always there beside me. I could feel its chilling shadow. It was the shadow of myself. Weird, I would think as the drowsiness overtook me, I’m in my own shadow. I would walk and eat and talk to people inside my drowsiness. And the strangest thing was that no one noticed. I lost fifteen pounds that month, and no one noticed. No one in my family, not one of my friends or classmates, realized that I was going through life asleep.
It was literally true: I was going through life asleep. My body had no more feeling than a drowned corpse. My very existence, my life in the world, seemed like a hallucination. A strong wind would make me think that my body was about to be blown to the end of the earth, to some land I had never seen or heard of, where my mind and body would separate forever. Hold tight, I would tell myself, but there was nothing for me to hold on to.
The white woman across the aisle from me says 'Look,
look at all the history, that house
on the hill there is over two hundred years old, '
as she points out the window past me
into what she has been taught. I have learned
little more about American history during my few days
back East than what I expected and far less
of what we should all know of the tribal stories
whose architecture is 15,000 years older
than the corners of the house that sits
museumed on the hill. 'Walden Pond, '
the woman on the train asks, 'Did you see Walden Pond? '
and I don't have a cruel enough heart to break
her own by telling her there are five Walden Ponds
on my little reservation out West
and at least a hundred more surrounding Spokane,
the city I pretended to call my home. 'Listen, '
I could have told her. 'I don't give a shit
about Walden. I know the Indians were living stories
around that pond before Walden's grandparents were born
and before his grandparents' grandparents were born.
I'm tired of hearing about Don-fucking-Henley saving it, too,
because that's redundant. If Don Henley's brothers and sisters
and mothers and father hadn't come here in the first place
then nothing would need to be saved.'
But I didn't say a word to the woman about Walden
Pond because she smiled so much and seemed delighted
that I thought to bring her an orange juice
back from the food car. I respect elders
of every color. All I really did was eat
my tasteless sandwich, drink my Diet Pepsi
and nod my head whenever the woman pointed out
another little piece of her country's history
while I, as all Indians have done
since this war began, made plans
for what I would do and say the next time
somebody from the enemy thought I was one of their own.
Then Jip went up to the front of the ship and smelt the wind; and he started muttering to himself,
"Tar; Spanish onions; kerosene oil; wet raincoats; crushed laurel-leaves; rubber burning; lace-curtains being washed--No, my mistake, lace-curtains hanging out to dry; and foxes--hundreds of 'em--cubs; and--"
"Can you really smell all those different things in this one wind?" asked the Doctor.
"Why, of course!" said Jip. "And those are only a few of the easy smells--the strong ones. Any mongrel could smell those with a cold in the head. Wait now, and I'll tell you some of the harder scents that are coming on this wind--a few of the dainty ones."
Then the dog shut his eyes tight, poked his nose straight up in the air and sniffed hard with his mouth half-open.
For a long time he said nothing. He kept as still as a stone. He hardly seemed to be breathing at all. When at last he began to speak, it sounded almost as though he were singing, sadly, in a dream.
"Bricks," he whispered, very low--"old yellow bricks, crumbling with age in a garden-wall; the sweet breath of young cows standing in a mountain-stream; the lead roof of a dove-cote--or perhaps a
granary--with the mid-day sun on it; black kid gloves lying in a bureau-drawer of walnut-wood; a dusty road with a horses' drinking-trough beneath the sycamores; little mushrooms bursting
through the rotting leaves; and--and--and--"
"Any parsnips?" asked Gub-Gub.
"No," said Jip. "You always think of things to eat. No parsnips whatever.
Hugh Lofting (The Story of Doctor Dolittle (Doctor Dolittle, #1))
As the leader of the international Human Genome Project, which had labored mightily over more than a decade to reveal this DNA sequence, I stood beside President Bill Clinton in the East Room of the White House...
Clinton's speech began by comparing this human sequence map to the map that Meriwether Lewis had unfolded in front of President Thomas Jefferson in that very room nearly two hundred years earlier.
Clinton said, "Without a doubt, this is the most important, most wondrous map ever produced by humankind." But the part of his speech that most attracted public attention jumped from the scientific perspective to the spiritual. "Today," he said, "we are learning the language in which God created life. We are gaining ever more awe for the complexity, the beauty, and the wonder of God's most divine and sacred gift."
Was I, a rigorously trained scientist, taken aback at such a blatantly religious reference by the leader of the free world at a moment such as this? Was I tempted to scowl or look at the floor in embarrassment? No, not at all. In fact I had worked closely with the president's speechwriter in the frantic days just prior to this announcement, and had strongly endorsed the inclusion of this paragraph.
When it came time for me to add a few words of my own, I echoed this sentiment: "It's a happy day for the world. It is humbling for me, and awe-inspiring, to realize that we have caught the first glimpse of our own instruction book, previously known only to God."
What was going on here? Why would a president and a scientist, charged with announcing a milestone in biology and medicine, feel compelled to invoke a connection with God? Aren't the scientific and spiritual worldviews antithetical, or shouldn't they at least avoid appearing in the East Room together? What were the reasons for invoking God in these two speeches? Was this poetry? Hypocrisy? A cynical attempt to curry favor from believers, or to disarm those who might criticize this study of the human genome as reducing humankind to machinery? No. Not for me. Quite the contrary, for me the experience of sequencing the human genome, and uncovering this most remarkable of all texts, was both a stunning scientific achievement and an occasion of worship.
Francis S. Collins (The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief)
Boyfriend/Girlfriend-Centered This may be the easiest trap of all to fall into. I mean, who hasn’t been centered on a boyfriend or girlfriend at one point? Let’s pretend Brady centers his life on his girlfriend, Tasha. Now, watch the instability it creates in Brady. TASHA’S ACTIONS BRADY’S REACTIONS Makes a rude comment: “My day is ruined.” Flirts with Brady’s best friend: “I’ve been betrayed. I hate my friend.” “I think we should date other people”: “My life is over. You don’t love me anymore.” The ironic thing is that the more you center your life on someone, the more unattractive you become to that person. How’s that? Well, first of all, if you’re centered on someone, you’re no longer hard to get. Second, it’s irritating when someone builds their entire emotional life around you. Since their security comes from you and not from within themselves, they always need to have those sickening “where do we stand” talks. if who I am is what I have and what I have is lost, then who am I? ANONYMOUS When I began dating my wife, one of the things that attracted me most was that she didn’t center her life on me. I’ll never forget the time she turned me down (with a smile and no apology) for a very important date. I loved it! She was her own person and had her own inner strength. Her moods were independent of mine. You can usually tell when a couple becomes centered on each other because they are forever breaking up and getting back together. Although their relationship has deteriorated, their emotional lives and identities are so intertwined that they can never fully let go of each other. Believe me, you’ll be a better boyfriend or girlfriend if you’re not centered on your partner. Independence is more attractive than dependence. Besides, centering your life on another doesn’t show that you love them, only that you’re dependent on them. Have as many girlfriends or boyfriends as you’d like, just don’t get obsessed with or centered on them, because, although there are exceptions, these relationships are usually about as stable as a yo-yo.
Sean Covey (The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective Teens)
At some point, sisters began to talk about how unseen they have felt. How the media has focused on men, but it has been them - the sisters - who were there. They were there, in overwhelming numbers, just as they were during the civil rights movement.
Women - all women, trans women - are roughly 80% of the people who were staring down the terror of Ferguson, saying “we are the caretakers of this community”. Is it women who are out there, often with their children, calling for an end to police violence, saying “we have a right to raise our children without fear”.
But it is not women’s courage that is showcased in the media. One sister says “when the police move in we do not run, we stay. And for this, we deserve recognition”. Their words will live with us, will live in us, as Ferguson begins to unfold and as the national attention begins to really focus on what Alicia, Opal and I have started.
The first time there’s coverage of Black Lives Matter in a way that is positive is on the Melissa Harris-Perry show. She does not invite us - it isn’t intentional, I’m certain of that. And about a year later she does, but in this early moment, and despite the overwhelming knowledge of the people on the ground who are talking about what Alicia, Opal and I have done, and despite of it being part of the historical record, that it is always women who do the work even as men get the praise. It takes a long time for us to occur to most reporters and the mainstream. Living in patriarchy means that the default inclination is to center men and their voices, not women and their work.
The fact seems ever more exacerbated in our day and age, when presence on twitter, when the number of followers one has, can supplant the everyday and heralded work of those who, by virtue of that work, may not have time to tweet constantly or sharpen and hone their personal brand so that it is an easily sellable commodity. Like the women who organized, strategized, marched, cooked, typed up and did the work to ensure the civil rights movement; women whose names go unspoken, unknown, so too that this dynamic unfolds as the nation began to realize that we were a movement.
Opal, Alicia and I never wanted or needed to be the center of anything. We were purposeful about decentralizing our role in the work, but neither did we want, nor deserved, to be erased.
Patrisse Khan-Cullors (When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir)
Ruby?” His hair was pale silver in this light, curled and tangled in its usual way. I couldn’t hide from him. I had never been able to.
“Mike came and got me,” he said, taking a careful step toward me. His hands were out in front of him, as if trying to coax a wild animal into letting him approach. “What are you doing out here? What’s going on?”
“Please just go,” I begged. “I need to be alone.”
He kept coming straight at me.
“Please,” I shouted, “go away!”
“I’m not going anywhere until you tell me what’s going on!” Liam said. He got a better look at me and swallowed, his Adam’s apple bobbing. “Where were you this morning? Did something happen? Chubs told me you’ve been gone all day, and now you’re out here like…this…did he do something to you?”
I looked away. “Nothing I didn’t ask for.”
Liam’s only response was to move back a few paces back. Giving me space.
“I don’t believe you for a second,” he said, calmly. “Not one damn second. If you want to get rid of me, you’re going to have to try harder than that.”
“I don’t want you here.”
He shook his head. “Doesn’t mean I’m leaving you here alone. You can take all the time you want, as long as you need, but you and me? We’re having this out tonight. Right now.” Liam pulled his black sweater over his head and threw it toward me. “Put it on, or you’ll catch a cold.”
I caught it with one hand and pressed it to my chest. It was still warm.
He began to pace, his hands on his hips. “Is it me? Is it that you can’t talk to me about it? Do you want me to get Chubs?”
I couldn’t bring myself to answer.
“Ruby, you’re scaring the hell out of me.”
“Good.” I balled up his sweater and threw it into the darkness as hard as I could.
He blew out a shaky sigh, bracing a hand against the nearest tree. “Good? What’s good about it?”
I hadn’t really understood what Clancy had been trying to tell me that night, not until right then, when Liam looked up and his eyes met mine. The trickle of blood in my ears turned into a roar. I squeezed my eyes shut, digging the heels of my palms against my forehead.
“I can’t do this anymore,” I cried. “Why won’t you just leave me alone?”
“Because you would never leave me.”
His feet shuffled through the underbrush as he took a few steps closer. The air around me heated, taking on a charge I recognized. I gritted my teeth, furious with him for coming so close when he knew I couldn’t handle it. When he knew I could hurt him.
His hands came up to pull mine away from my face, but I wasn’t about to let him be gentle. I shoved him back, throwing my full weight into it. Liam stumbled.
I pushed him again and again, harder each time, because it was the only way I could tell him what I was desperate to say. I saw bursts of his glossy memories. I saw all of his brilliant dreams. It wasn’t until I knocked his back into a tree that I realized I was crying. Up this close, I saw a new cut under his left eye and the bruise forming around it.
Liam’s lips parted. His hands were no longer out in front of him, but hovering over my hips. “Ruby…”
I closed what little distance was left between us, one hand sliding through his soft hair, the other gathering the back of his shirt into my fist. When my lips finally pressed against his, I felt something coil deep inside of me. There was nothing outside of him, not even the grating of cicadas, not even the gray-bodied trees. My heart thundered in my chest. More, more, more—a steady beat. His body relaxed under my hands, shuddering at my touch. Breathing him in wasn’t enough, I wanted to inhale him. The leather, the smoke, the sweetness. I felt his fingers counting up my bare ribs. Liam shifted his legs around mine to draw me closer.
I was off-balance on my toes; the world swaying dangerously under me as his lips traveled to my cheek, to my jaw, to where my pulse throbbed in my neck. He seemed so sure of himself, like he had already plotted out this course.
Alexandra Bracken (The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds, #1))
It was the same book, every day. The pages of said book were rounded and soft where Young Sam had chewed them, but to one person in this nursery this was the book of books, the greatest story ever told. Vimes didn't need to read it any more. He knew it by heart.
It was called Where's My Cow?
The unidentified complainant had lost their cow. That was the story, really.
Page one started promisingly:
Where's my cow?
Is that my cow?
It goes, "Baa!"
It is a sheep! That's not my cow!
Then the author began to get to grips with their material:
Where's my cow?
Is that my cow?
It goes, "Neigh!"
It is a horse! That's not my cow!
At this point the author had reached an agony of creation and was writing from the racked depths of their soul.
Where's my cow?
Is that my cow?
It goes, "Hruuugh!"
It is a hippopotamus! That's not my cow!
This was a good evening. Young Sam was already grinning widely and crowing along with the plot.
Eventually, the cow would be found. It was that much of a pageturner. Of course, some suspense was lent by the fact that all other animals were presented in some way that could have confused a kitten, who perhaps had been raised in a darkened room. The horse was standing in front of a hatstand, as they so often did, and the hippo was eating at a trough against which was an upturned pitchfork. Seen from the wrong direction, the tableau might look for just one second like a cow ...
Young Sam loved it, anyway. It must have been the most cuddled book in the world.
Nevertheless, it bothered Vimes, even though he'd got really good at the noises and would go up against any man in his rendition of the "Hruuugh!" But was this a book for a city kid? When would he ever hear these noises? In the city the only sound those animals would make was "sizzle" But the nursery was full of the conspiracy, with baa-lambs and teddy bears and fluffy ducklings everywhere he looked.
Terry Pratchett (Thud! (Discworld, #34; City Watch, #7))
And her heart sprang in Iseult, and she drew
With all her spirit and life the sunrise through
And through her lips the keen triumphant air
Sea-scented, sweeter than land-roses were,
And through her eyes the whole rejoicing east
Sun-satisfied, and all the heaven at feast
Spread for the morning; and the imperious mirth
Of wind and light that moved upon the earth,
Making the spring, and all the fruitful might
And strong regeneration of delight
That swells the seedling leaf and sapling man,
Since the first life in the first world began
To burn and burgeon through void limbs and veins,
And the first love with sharp sweet procreant pains
To pierce and bring forth roses; yea, she felt
Through her own soul the sovereign morning melt,
And all the sacred passion of the sun;
And as the young clouds flamed and were undone
About him coming, touched and burnt away
In rosy ruin and yellow spoil of day,
The sweet veil of her body and corporal sense
Felt the dawn also cleave it, and incense
With light from inward and with effluent heat
The kindling soul through fleshly hands and feet.
And as the august great blossom of the dawn
Burst, and the full sun scarce from sea withdrawn
Seemed on the fiery water a flower afloat,
So as a fire the mighty morning smote
Throughout her, and incensed with the influent hour
Her whole soul's one great mystical red flower
Burst, and the bud of her sweet spirit broke
Rose-fashion, and the strong spring at a stroke
Thrilled, and was cloven, and from the full sheath came
The whole rose of the woman red as flame:
And all her Mayday blood as from a swoon
Flushed, and May rose up in her and was June.
So for a space her hearth as heavenward burned:
Then with half summer in her eyes she turned,
And on her lips was April yet, and smiled,
As though the spirit and sense unreconciled
Shrank laughing back, and would not ere its hour
Let life put forth the irrevocable flower.
And the soft speech between them grew again
Algernon Charles Swinburne (Tristram of Lyonesse: And Other Poems)
I once saw a woman wearing a low-cut dress; she had a glazed look in her eyes, and she was walking the streets of Ljubljana when it was five degrees below zero. I thought she must be drunk, and I went to help her, but she refused my offer to lend her my jacket. Perhaps in her world it was summer and her body was warmed by the desire of the person waiting for her. Even if that person only existed in her delirium, she had the right to live and die as she wanted, don’t you think?”
Veronika didn’t know what to say, but the madwoman’s words made sense to her. Who knows; perhaps she was the woman who had been seen half-naked walking the streets of Ljubljana?
“I’m going to tell you a story,” said Zedka. “A powerful wizard, who wanted to destroy an entire kingdom, placed a magic potion in the well from which all the inhabitants drank. Whoever drank that water would go mad.
“The following morning, the whole population drank from the well and they all went mad, apart from the king and his family, who had a well set aside for them alone, which the magician had not managed to poison. The king was worried and tried to control the population by issuing a series of edicts governing security and public health. The policemen and the inspectors, however, had also drunk the poisoned water, and they thought the king’s decisions were absurd and resolved to take no notice of them.
“When the inhabitants of the kingdom heard these decrees, they became convinced that the king had gone mad and was now giving nonsensical orders. They marched on the castle and called for his abdication.
“In despair the king prepared to step down from the throne, but the queen stopped him, saying: ‘Let us go and drink from the communal well. Then we will be the same as them.’
“And that was what they did: The king and the queen drank the water of madness and immediately began talking nonsense. Their subjects repented at once; now that the king was displaying such wisdom, why not allow him to continue ruling the country?
“The country continued to live in peace, although its inhabitants behaved very differently from those of its neighbors. And the king was able to govern until the end of his days.”
“You don’t seem crazy at all,” she said.
“But I am, although I’m undergoing treatment since my problem is that I lack a particular chemical. While I hope that the chemical gets rid of my chronic depression, I want to continue being crazy, living my life the way I dream it, and not the way other people want it to be. Do you know what exists out there, beyond the walls of Villete?”
“People who have all drunk from the same well.”
“Exactly,” said Zedka. “They think they’re normal, because they all do the same thing. Well, I’m going to pretend that I have drunk from the same well as them.
Paulo Coelho (Veronika Decides to Die)
And so Emma Morley walked home in the evening light, trailing her disappointment behind her. The day was cooling off now, and she shivered as she felt something in the air, an unexpected shudder of anxiety that ran the length of her spine, and was so intense as to make her stop walking for a moment. Fear of the future, she thought. She found herself at the imposing junction of George Street and Hanover Street as all around her people hurried home from work or out to meet friends or lovers, all with a sense of purpose and direction. And here she was, twenty-two and clueless and sloping back to a dingy flat, defeated once again.
‘What are you doing to do with your life?’ In one way or another it seemed that people had been asking her this forever, teachers. her parents, friends at three in the morning, but the question had never seemed this pressing and still she was no nearer an answer. The future rose up ahead of her, a succession of empty days, each more daunting and unknowable than the one before her. How would she ever fill them all?
She began walking again, south towards The Mound. ‘Live each day as if it’s your last’, that was the conventional advice, but really, who had the energy for that? What if rained or you felt a bit glandy? It just wasn’t practical. Better by far to simply try and be good and be courageous and bold and to make a difference. Not change the world exactly, but the bit around you. Go out there with your passion and your electric typewriter and work hard at…something. Change lives through art maybe. Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance.
David Nicholls (One Day)
It was a relief to see his father, who'd always been an unfailing source of reassurance and comfort. They clasped hands in a firm shake, and used their free arms to pull close for a moment. Such demonstrations of affection weren't common among fathers and sons of their rank, but then, they'd never been a conventional family.
After a few hearty thumps on the back, Sebastian drew back and glanced over him with the attentive concern that hearkened to Gabriel's earliest memories. Not missing the traces of weariness on his face, his father lightly tousled his hair the way he had when he was a boy. "You haven't been sleeping."
"I went carousing with friends for most of last night," Gabriel admitted. "It ended when we were all too drunk to see a hole through a ladder."
Sebastian grinned and removed his coat, tossing the exquisitely tailored garment to a nearby chair. "Reveling in the waning days of bachelorhood, are we?"
"It would be more accurate to say I'm thrashing like a drowning rat."
"Same thing." Sebastian unfastened his cuffs and began to roll up his shirtsleeves. An active life at Heron's Point, the family estate in Sussex, had kept him as fit and limber as a man half his age. Frequent exposure to the sunlight had gilded his hair and darkened his complexion, making his pale blue eyes startling in their brightness.
While other men of his generation had become staid and settled, the duke was more vigorous than ever, in part because his youngest son was still only eleven. The duchess, Evie, had conceived unexpectedly long after she had assumed her childbearing years were past. As a result there were eight years between the baby's birth and that of the next oldest sibling, Seraphina. Evie had been more than a little embarrassed to find herself with child at her age, especially in the face of her husband's teasing claims that she was a walking advertisement of his potency. And indeed, there have been a hint of extra swagger in Sebastian's step all through his wife's last pregnancy.
Their fifth child was a handsome boy with hair the deep auburn red of an Irish setter. He'd been christened Michael Ivo, but somehow the pugnacious middle name suited him more than his given name. Now a lively, cheerful lad, Ivo accompanied his father nearly everywhere.
Lisa Kleypas (Devil in Spring (The Ravenels, #3))
As I learned the house, and began to read, and began to see more of the Quality, I saw that just as the fields and its workers were the engine of everything, the house itself would have been lost without those who tasked within it. My father, like all the masters, built an entire apparatus to disguise this weakness, to hide how prostrate they truly were. The tunnel, where I first entered the house, was the only entrance that the Tasked were allowed to use, and this was not only for the masters’ exaltation but to hide us, for the tunnel was but one of the many engineering marvels built into Lockless so as to make it appear powered by some imperceptible energy. There were dumbwaiters that made the sumptuous supper appear from nothing, levers that seemed to magically retrieve the right bottle of wine hidden deep in the manor’s bowels, cots in the sleeping quarters, drawn under the canopy bed, because those charged with emptying the chamber-pot must be hidden even more than the chamber-pot itself. The magic wall that slid away from me that first day and opened the gleaming world of the house hid back stairways that led down into the Warrens, the engine-room of Lockless, where no guest would ever visit. And when we did appear in the polite areas of the house, as we did during the soirées, we were made to appear in such appealing dress and grooming so that one could imagine that we were not slaves at all but mystical ornaments, a portion of the manor’s charm. But I now knew the truth—that Maynard’s folly, though more profane, was unoriginal. The masters could not bring water to boil, harness a horse, nor strap their own drawers without us. We were better than them—we had to be. Sloth was literal death for us, while for them it was the whole ambition of their lives. It occurred to me then that even my own intelligence was unexceptional, for you could not set eyes anywhere on Lockless and not see the genius in its makers—genius in the hands that carved out the columns of the portico, genius in the songs that evoked, even in the whites, the deepest of joys and sorrows, genius in the men who made the fiddle strings whine and trill at their dances, genius in the bouquet of flavors served up from the kitchen, genius in all our lost, genius in Big John. Genius in my mother.
Ta-Nehisi Coates (The Water Dancer)
Surrounded by them, she would growl, “Let me tell a story . . . ” “Please!” the children would chorus, wriggling in anticipation. And she would begin in the way that all Mandinka storytellers began: “At this certain time, in this certain village, lived this certain person.” It was a small boy, she said, of about their rains, who walked to the riverbank one day and found a crocodile trapped in a net. “Help me!” the crocodile cried out. “You’ll kill me!” cried the boy. “No! Come nearer!” said the crocodile. So the boy went up to the crocodile—and instantly was seized by the teeth in that long mouth. “Is this how you repay my goodness—with badness?” cried the boy. “Of course,” said the crocodile out of the corner of his mouth. “That is the way of the world.” The boy refused to believe that, so the crocodile agreed not to swallow him without getting an opinion from the first three witnesses to pass by. First was an old donkey. When the boy asked his opinion, the donkey said, “Now that I’m old and can no longer work, my master has driven me out for the leopards to get me!” “See?” said the crocodile. Next to pass by was an old horse, who had the same opinion. “See?” said the crocodile. Then along came a plump rabbit who said, “Well, I can’t give a good opinion without seeing this matter as it happened from the beginning.” Grumbling, the crocodile opened his mouth to tell him—and the boy jumped out to safety on the riverbank. “Do you like crocodile meat?” asked the rabbit. The boy said yes. “And do your parents?” He said yes again. “Then here is a crocodile ready for the pot.” The boy ran off and returned with the men of the village, who helped him to kill the crocodile. But they brought with them a wuolo dog, which chased and caught and killed the rabbit, too. “So the crocodile was right,” said Nyo Boto. “It is the way of the world that goodness is often repaid with badness. This is what I have told you as a story.” “May you be blessed, have strength and prosper!” said the children gratefully.
Alex Haley (Roots: The Enhanced Edition: The Saga of an American Family)
I prayed to a mystery.
Sometimes I was simply aware of the mystery. I saw a flash of it during a trip to New York that David and I took before we were married. We were walking on a busy sidewalk in Manhattan. I don't remember if it was day or night. A man with a wound on his forehead came toward us. His damp, ragged hair might have been clotted with blood, or maybe it was only dirt. He wore deeply dirty clothes. His red, swollen hands, cupped in half-fists, swung loosely at his sides. His eyes were focused somewhere past my right shoulder. He staggered while he walked. The sidewalk traffic flowed around him and with him. He was strange and frightening, and at the same time he belonged on the Manhattan sidewalk as much as any of us. It was that paradox -- that he could be both alien and resident, both brutalized and human, that he could stand out in the moving mass of people like a sea monster in a school of tuna and at the same time be as much at home as any of us -- that stayed with me. I never saw him again, but I remember him often, and when I do, I am aware of the mystery.
Years later, I was out on our property on the Olympic Peninsula, cutting a path through the woods. This was before our house was built. After chopping through dense salal and hacking off ironwood bushes for an hour or so, I stopped, exhausted. I found myself standing motionless, intensely aware of all of the life around me, the breathing moss, the chattering birds, the living earth. I was as much a part of the woods as any millipede or cedar tree. At that moment, too, I was aware of the mystery.
Sometimes I wanted to speak to this mystery directly. Out of habit, I began with "Dear God" and ended with "Amen". But I thought to myself, I'm not praying to that old man in the sky. Rather, I'm praying to this thing I can't define. It was sort of like talking into a foggy valley.
Praying into a bank of fog requires alot of effort. I wanted an image to focus on when I prayed. I wanted something to pray *to*. but I couldn't go back to that old man. He was too closely associated with all I'd left behind.
Margaret D. McGee
The face that Moses had begged to see – was forbidden to see – was slapped bloody (Exodus 33:19-20)
The thorns that God had sent to curse the earth’s rebellion now twisted around his brow…
“On your back with you!” One raises a mallet to sink the spike. But the soldier’s heart must continue pumping as he readies the prisoner’s wrist. Someone must sustain the soldier’s life minute by minute, for no man has this power on his own. Who supplies breath to his lungs? Who gives energy to his cells? Who holds his molecules together? Only by the Son do “all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). The victim wills that the soldier live on – he grants the warrior’s continued existence. The man swings.
As the man swings, the Son recalls how he and the Father first designed the medial nerve of the human forearm – the sensations it would be capable of. The design proves flawless – the nerves perform exquisitely. “Up you go!” They lift the cross. God is on display in his underwear and can scarcely breathe.
But these pains are a mere warm-up to his other and growing dread. He begins to feel a foreign sensation. Somewhere during this day an unearthly foul odor began to waft, not around his nose, but his heart. He feels dirty. Human wickedness starts to crawl upon his spotless being – the living excrement from our souls. The apple of his Father’s eye turns brown with rot.
His Father! He must face his Father like this!
From heaven the Father now rouses himself like a lion disturbed, shakes His mane, and roars against the shriveling remnant of a man hanging on a cross.Never has the Son seen the Father look at him so, never felt even the least of his hot breath. But the roar shakes the unseen world and darkens the visible sky. The Son does not recognize these eyes.
“Son of Man! Why have you behaved so? You have cheated, lusted, stolen, gossiped – murdered, envied, hated, lied. You have cursed, robbed, over-spent, overeaten – fornicated, disobeyed, embezzled, and blasphemed. Oh the duties you have shirked, the children you have abandoned! Who has ever so ignored the poor, so played the coward, so belittled my name? Have you ever held a razor tongue? What a self-righteous, pitiful drunk – you, who moles young boys, peddle killer drugs, travel in cliques, and mock your parents. Who gave you the boldness to rig elections, foment revolutions, torture animals, and worship demons? Does the list never end!
Splitting families, raping virgins, acting smugly, playing the pimp – buying politicians, practicing exhortation, filming pornography, accepting bribes. You have burned down buildings, perfected terrorist tactics, founded false religions, traded in slaves – relishing each morsel and bragging about it all. I hate, loathe these things in you! Disgust for everything about you consumes me! Can you not feel my wrath?
Of course the Son is innocent He is blamelessness itself. The Father knows this. But the divine pair have an agreement, and the unthinkable must now take place. Jesus will be treated as if personally responsible for every sin ever committed.
The Father watches as his heart’s treasure, the mirror image of himself, sinks drowning into raw, liquid sin. Jehovah’s stored rage against humankind from every century explodes in a single direction.
“Father! Father! Why have you forsaken me?!”
But heaven stops its ears. The Son stares up at the One who cannot, who will not, reach down or reply.
The Trinity had planned it. The Son had endured it. The Spirit enabled Him. The Father rejected the Son whom He loved. Jesus, the God-man from Nazareth, perished. The Father accepted His sacrifice for sin and was satisfied. The Rescue was accomplished.
Joni Eareckson Tada (When God Weeps Kit: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty)
I don't know for sure what ever became of Hatsumomo. A few years after the war, I heard she was making a living as a prostitute in the Miyagawa-cho district. She couldn't have been there long, because on the night I heard it, a man at the same party swore that if Hatsumomo was a prostitute, he would find her and give her some business of his own. He did go looking for her, but she was nowhere to be found. Over the years, she probably succeeded in drinking herself to death. She certainly wouldn't have been the first geisha to do it.
In just the way that a man can grow accustomed to a bad leg, we'd all grown accustomed to having Hatsumomo in our okiya. I don't think we quite understood all the ways her presence had afflicted us until long after she'd left, when things that we hadn't realized were ailing slowly began to heal. Even when Hatsumomo had been doing nothing more than sleeping in her room, the maids had known she was there, and that during the course of the day she would abuse them. They'd lived with the kind of tension you feel if you walk across a frozen pond whose ice might break at any moment. And as for Pumpkin, I think she'd grown to be dependent on her older sister and felt strangely lost without her.
I'd already become the okiya's principal asset, but even I took some time to weed out all the peculiar habits that had taken root because of Hatsumomo. Every time a man looked at me strangely, I found myself wondering if he'd heard something unkind about me from her, even long after she was gone. Whenever I climbed the stairs to the second floor of the okiya, I still kept my eyes lowered for fear that Hatsumomo would be waiting there on the landing, eager for someone to
abuse. I can't tell you how many times I reached that last step and looked up suddenly with the realization that there was no Hatsumomo, and there never would be again. I knew she was gone, and yet the very emptiness of the hall seemed to suggest something of her presence. Even now, as an older woman, I sometimes lift the brocade cover on the mirror of my makeup stand, and have the briefest flicker of a thought that I may find her there in the glass, smirking at me.
Arthur Golden (Memoirs of a Geisha)
California during the 1940s had Hollywood and the bright lights of Los Angeles, but on the other coast was Florida, land of sunshine and glamour, Miami and Miami Beach. If you weren't already near California's Pacific Coast you headed for Florida during the winter. One of the things which made Miami such a mix of glitter and sunshine was the plethora of movie stars who flocked there to play, rubbing shoulders with tycoons and gangsters. Sometimes it was hard to tell the difference between the latter two.
Miami and everything that surrounded it hadn't happened by accident. Carl Fisher had set out to make Miami Beach a playground destination during the 1930s and had succeeded far beyond his dreams. The promenade behind the Roney Plaza Hotel was a block-long lovers' lane of palm trees and promise that began rather than ended in the blue waters of the Atlantic.
Florida was more than simply Miami and Miami Beach, however. When George Merrick opened the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables papers across the country couldn't wait to gush about the growing aura of Florida. They tore down Collins Bridge in the Gables and replaced it with the beautiful Venetian Causeway. You could plop down a fiver if you had one and take your best girl — or the girl you wanted to score with — for a gondola ride there before the depression, or so I'd been told.
You see, I'd never actually been to Florida before the war, much less Miami. I was a newspaper reporter from Chicago before the war and had never even seen the ocean until I was flying over the Pacific for the Air Corp. There wasn't much time for admiring the waves when Japanese Zeroes were trying to shoot you out of the sky and bury you at the bottom of that deep blue sea.
It was because of my friend Pete that I knew so much about Miami. Florida was his home, so when we both got leave in '42 I followed him to the warm waters of Miami to see what all the fuss was about. It would be easy to say that I skipped Chicago for Miami after the war ended because Pete and I were such good pals and I'd had such a great time there on leave. But in truth I decided to stay on in Miami because of Veronica Lake.
I'd better explain that. Veronica Lake never knew she was the reason I came back with Pete to Miami after the war. But she had been there in '42 while Pete and I were enjoying the sand, sun, and the sweet kisses of more than a few love-starved girls desperate to remember what it felt like to have a man's arm around them — not to mention a few other sensations. Lake had been there promoting war bonds on Florida's first radio station, WQAM. It was a big outdoor event and Pete and I were among those listening with relish to Lake's sultry voice as she urged everyone to pitch-in for our boys overseas.
We were in those dark early days of the war at the time, and the outcome was very much in question. Lake's appearance at the event was a morale booster for civilians and servicemen alike. She was standing behind a microphone that sat on a table draped in the American flag. I'd never seen a Hollywood star up-close and though I liked the movies as much as any other guy, I had always attributed most of what I saw on-screen to smoke and mirrors. I doubted I'd be impressed seeing a star off-screen. A girl was a girl, after all, and there were loads of real dolls in Miami, as I'd already discovered. Boy, was I wrong." - Where Flamingos Fly
Bobby Underwood (Where Flamingos Fly (Nostalgic Crime #2))
On the eleventh day, it finally stopped raining. Musashi chafed to be out in the open, but it was another week before they were able to return to work under a bright sun. The field they had so arduously carved out of the wilderness had disappeared without a trace; in its place were rocks, and a river where none had been before. The water seemed to mock them just as the villagers had. Iori, seeing no way to reclaim their loss, looked up and said, “This place is beyond hope. Let’s look for better land somewhere else.” “No,” Musashi said firmly. “With the water drained off, this would make excellent farmland. I examined the location from every angle before I chose it.” “What if we have another heavy rain?” “We’ll fix it so the water doesn’t come this way. We’ll lay a dam from here all the way to that hill over there.” ‘That’s an awful lot of work.” “You seem to forget that this is our dōjō. I’m not giving up a foot of this land until I see barley growing on it.” Musashi carried on his stubborn struggle throughout the winter, into the second month of the new year. It took several weeks of strenuous labor to dig ditches, drain the water off, pile dirt for a dike and then cover it with heavy rocks. Three weeks later everything was again washed away. “Look,” Iori said, “we’re wasting our energy on something impossible. Is that the Way of the Sword?” The question struck close to the bone, but Musashi would not give in. Only a month passed before the next disaster, a heavy snowfall followed by a quick thaw. Iori, on his return from trips to the temple for food, inevitably wore a long face, for the people there rode him mercilessly about Musashi’s failure. And finally Musashi himself began to lose heart. For two full days and on into a third, he sat silently brooding and staring at his field. Then it dawned on him suddenly. Unconsciously, he had been trying to create a neat, square field like those common in other parts of the Kanto Plain, but this was not what the terrain called for. Here, despite the general flatness, there were slight variations in the lay of the land and the quality of the soil that argued for an irregular shape. “What a fool I’ve been,” he exclaimed aloud. “I tried to make the water flow where I thought it should and force the dirt to stay where I thought it ought to be. But it didn’t work. How could it? Water’s water, dirt’s dirt. I can’t change their nature. What I’ve got to do is learn to be a servant to the water and a protector of the land.” In his own way, he had submitted to the attitude of the peasants. On that day he became nature’s manservant. He ceased trying to impose his will on nature and let nature lead the way, while at the same time seeking out possibilities beyond the grasp of other inhabitants of the plain. The snow came again, and another thaw; the muddy water oozed slowly over the plain. But Musashi had had time to work out his new approach, and his field remained intact. “The same rules must apply to governing people,” he said to himself. In his notebook, he wrote: “Do not attempt to oppose the way of the universe. But first make sure you know the way of the universe.
Eiji Yoshikawa (Musashi: An Epic Novel of the Samurai Era)
There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings. The town lay in the midst of a checkerboard of prosperous farms, with fields of grain and hillsides of orchards where, in spring, white clouds of bloom drifted above the green fields. In autumn, oak and maple and birch set up a blaze of color that flamed and flickered across a backdrop of pines. Then foxes barked in the hills and deer silently crossed the fields, half hidden in the mists of the fall mornings.
Along the roads, laurel, viburnum, and alder, great ferns and wildflowers delighted the traveler's eye through much of the year. Even in winter the roadsides were places of beauty, where countless birds came to feed on the berries and on the seed heads of the dried weeds rising above the snow. The countryside was, in fact, famous for the abundance and variety of its bird life, and when the flood of migrants was pouring through in spring and fall people traveled from great distances to observe them. Others came to fish the streams, which flowed clear and cold out of the hills and contained shady pools where trout lay. So it had been from the days many years ago when the first settlers raised their homes, sank their wells, and built their barns.
Then a strange blight crept over the area and everything began to change. Some evil spell had settled on the community: mysterious maladies swept the flocks of chickens, the cattle, and sheep sickened and died. Everywhere was a shadow of death. The farmers spoke of much illness among their families. In the town the doctors had become more and more puzzled by new kinds of sickness appearing among their patients. There had been sudden and unexplained deaths, not only among adults but even among children whoe would be stricken suddently while at play and die within a few hours.
There was a strange stillness. The birds, for example--where had they gone? Many people spoke of them, puzzled and disturbed. The feeding stations in the backyards were deserted. The few birds seen anywhere were moribund; they trembled violently and could not fly. It was a spring without voices. On the mornings that had once throbbed with the dawn chorus of robins, catbirds, doves, jays, wrens, and scores of other bird voices there was no sound; only silence lay over the fields and woods and marsh.
On the farms the hens brooded, but no chicks hatched. The farmers complained that they were unable to raise any pigs--the litters were small and the young survived only a few days. The apple trees were coming into bloom but no bees droned among the blossoms, so there was no pollination and there would be no fruit.
The roadsides, once so attractive, were now lined with browned and withered vegetation as though swept by fire. These, too, were silent, deserted by all living things. Even the streams were not lifeless. Anglers no longer visited them, for all the fish had died.
In the gutters under the eaves and between the shingles of the roofs, a white granular powder still showed a few patches; some weeks before it had fallen like snow upon the roofs and the lawns, the fields and streams.
No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of life in this stricken world. The people had done it to themselves.
When I took it off, I glanced in the mirror behind the dresser, and I nearly screamed when I saw the reflection. Finn was sitting behind me on the bed. His eyes, dark as night, met mine in the mirror, and I could hardly breathe.
"Finn!" I gasped and whirled around to look at him. "What are you doing here?"
"I missed your birthday," he said, as if that answered my question. He lowered his eyes, looking at a small box he had in his hands. "I got you something."
"You got me something?" I leaned back on the dresser behind me, gripping it.
"Yeah." He nodded, still staring down at the box. "I picked it up outside of Portland two weeks ago. I meant to get back in time to give it to you on your birthday." He chewed the inside of his cheek. "But now that I'm here, I'm not sure I should give it to you at all."
"What are you talking about?" I asked.
"It doesn't feel right." Finn rubbed his face. "I don't even know what I'm doing here."
"Neither do I," I said. "Don't get me wrong. I'm happy to see you. I just...I don't understand."
"I know." He sighed. "It's a ring. What I got you." His gaze moved from me to the engagement ring sitting on the dresser beside me. "And you already have one."
"Why did you get me a ring?" I asked tentatively, and my heart beat erratically in my chest. I didn't know what Finn was saying or doing.
"I'm not proposing to you, if that's what you're asking." He shook his head. "I saw it and thought of you. But now it seems like poor taste. And here I am, the night before your wedding sneaking in to give you a ring."
"Why did you sneak in?" I asked.
"I don't know." He looked away and laughed darkly. "That's a lie. I know exactly what I'm doing, but I have no idea why I'm doing it."
"What are you doing?" I asked quietly.
"I..." Finn stared off for a moment, then turned back to me and stood up.
"Finn, I-" I began, but he held up his hand, stopping me.
"No, I know you're marrying Tove," he said. "You need to do this. We both know that. It's what's best for you, and it's what I want for you." He paused. "But I want you for myself too."
All I'd ever wanted from Finn was for him to admit how he felt about me, and he'd waited until the day before my wedding. It was too late to change anything, to take anything back. Not that I could have, even if I wanted to.
"Why are you telling me this?" I asked with tears swimming in my eyes.
"Because." Finn stepped toward me, stopping right in front of me.
He looked down at me, his eyes mesmerizing me the way they always did. He reached up, brushing back a tear from my cheek.
"Why?" I asked, my voice trembling.
"I needed you to know," he said, as if he didn't truly understand it himself.
He set the box on the dresser beside me, and his hand went to my waist, pulling me to him. I let go of the dresser and let him. My breath came out shallow as I stared up at him.
"Tomorrow you will belong to someone else," Finn said. "But tonight, you're with me.
Amanda Hocking (Ascend (Trylle, #3))
Perched upon the stones of a bridge
The soldiers had the eyes of ravens
Their weapons hung black as talons
Their eyes gloried in the smoke of murder
To the shock of iron-heeled sticks
I drew closer in the cripple’s bitter patience
And before them I finally tottered
Grasping to capture my elusive breath
With the cockerel and swift of their knowing
They watched and waited for me
‘I have come,’ said I, ‘from this road’s birth,
I have come,’ said I, ‘seeking the best in us.’
The sergeant among them had red in his beard
Glistening wet as he showed his teeth
‘There are few roads on this earth,’ said he,
‘that will lead you to the best in us, old one.’
‘But you have seen all the tracks of men,’ said I
‘And where the mothers and children have fled
Before your advance. Is there naught among them
That you might set an old man upon?’
The surgeon among this rook had bones
Under her vellum skin like a maker of limbs
‘Old one,’ said she, ‘I have dwelt
In the heat of chests, among heart and lungs,
And slid like a serpent between muscles,
Swum the currents of slowing blood,
And all these roads lead into the darkness
Where the broken will at last rest.
‘Dare say I,’ she went on,‘there is no
Place waiting inside where you might find
In slithering exploration of mysteries
All that you so boldly call the best in us.’
And then the man with shovel and pick,
Who could raise fort and berm in a day
Timbered of thought and measured in all things
Set the gauge of his eyes upon the sun
And said, ‘Look not in temples proud,
Or in the palaces of the rich highborn,
We have razed each in turn in our time
To melt gold from icon and shrine
And of all the treasures weeping in fire
There was naught but the smile of greed
And the thick power of possession.
Know then this: all roads before you
From the beginning of the ages past
And those now upon us, yield no clue
To the secret equations you seek,
For each was built of bone and blood
And the backs of the slave did bow
To the laboured sentence of a life
In chains of dire need and little worth.
All that we build one day echoes hollow.’
‘Where then, good soldiers, will I
Ever find all that is best in us?
If not in flesh or in temple bound
Or wretched road of cobbled stone?’
‘Could we answer you,’ said the sergeant,
‘This blood would cease its fatal flow,
And my surgeon could seal wounds with a touch,
All labours will ease before temple and road,
Could we answer you,’ said the sergeant,
‘Crows might starve in our company
And our talons we would cast in bogs
For the gods to fight over as they will.
But we have not found in all our years
The best in us, until this very day.’
‘How so?’ asked I, so lost now on the road,
And said he, ‘Upon this bridge we sat
Since the dawn’s bleak arrival,
Our perch of despond so weary and worn,
And you we watched, at first a speck
Upon the strife-painted horizon
So tortured in your tread as to soak our faces
In the wonder of your will, yet on you came
Upon two sticks so bowed in weight
Seeking, say you, the best in us
And now we have seen in your gift
The best in us, and were treasures at hand
We would set them humbly before you,
A man without feet who walked a road.’
Now, soldiers with kind words are rare
Enough, and I welcomed their regard
As I moved among them, ’cross the bridge
And onward to the long road beyond
I travel seeking the best in us
And one day it shall rise before me
To bless this journey of mine, and this road
I began upon long ago shall now end
Where waits for all the best in us.
―Avas Didion Flicker
Where Ravens Perch
Steven Erikson (The Crippled God (Malazan Book of the Fallen, #10))
Depression goes through stages, but if left unchecked and not treated, this elevator ride will eventually go all the way to the bottom floor. And finally you find yourself bereft of choices, unable to figure out a way up or out, and pretty soon one overarching impulse begins winning the battle for your mind: “Kill yourself.” And once you get over the shock of those words in your head, the horror of it, it begins to start sounding appealing, even possessing a strange resolve, logic. In fact, it’s the only thing you have left that is logical. It becomes the only road to relief. As if just the planning of it provides the first solace you’ve felt that you can remember. And you become comfortable with it. You begin to plan it and contemplate the details of how best to do it, as if you were planning travel arrangements for a vacation. You just have to get out. O-U-T. You see the white space behind the letter O? You just want to crawl through that O and be out of this inescapable hurt that is this thing they call clinical depression. “How am I going to do this?” becomes the only tape playing. And if you are really, really, really depressed and you’re really there, you’re gonna find a way. I found a way. I had a way. And I did it. I made sure Opal was out of the house and on a business trip. My planning took a few weeks. I knew exactly how I was going to do it: I didn’t want to make too much of a mess. There was gonna be no blood, no drama. There was just going to be, “Now you see me, now you don’t.” That’s what it was going to be. So I did it. And it was over. Or so I thought. About twenty-four hours later I woke up. I was groggy; zoned out to the point at which I couldn’t put a sentence together for the next couple of days. But I was semifunctional, and as these drugs and shit that I took began to wear off slowly but surely, I realized, “Okay, I fucked up. I didn’t make it.” I thought I did all the right stuff, left no room for error, but something happened. And this perfect, flawless plan was thwarted. As if some force rebuked me and said, “Not yet. You’re not going anywhere.” The only reason I could have made it, after the amount of pills and alcohol and shit I took, was that somebody or something decided it wasn’t my time. It certainly wasn’t me making that call. It was something external. And when you’re infused with the presence of this positive external force, which is so much greater than all of your efforts to the contrary, that’s about as empowering a moment as you can have in your life. These days we have a plethora of drugs one can take to ameliorate the intensity of this lack of hope, lack of direction, lack of choice. So fuck it and don’t be embarrassed or feel like you can handle it yourself, because lemme tell ya something: you can’t. Get fuckin’ help. The negative demon is strong, and you may not be as fortunate as I was. My brother wasn’t. For me, despair eventually gave way to resolve, and resolve gave way to hope, and hope gave way to “Holy shit. I feel better than I’ve ever felt right now.” Having actually gone right up to the white light, looked right at it, and some force in the universe turned me around, I found, with apologies to Mr. Dylan, my direction home. I felt more alive than I’ve ever felt. I’m not exaggerating when I say for the next six months I felt like Superman. Like I’m gonna fucking go through walls. That’s how strong I felt. I had this positive force in me. I was saved. I was protected. I was like the only guy who survived and walked away from a major plane crash. I was here to do something big. What started as the darkest moment in my life became this surge of focus, direction, energy, and empowerment.
Ron Perlman (Easy Street: The Hard Way)
We began before words, and we will end beyond them.
It sometimes seems to me that our days are poisoned with too many words. Words said and not meant. Words said ‘and’ meant. Words divorced from feeling. Wounding words. Words that conceal. Words that reduce. Dead words.
If only words were a kind of fluid that collects in the ears, if only they turned into the visible chemical equivalent of their true value, an acid, or something curative – then we might be more careful. Words do collect in us anyway. They collect in the blood, in the soul, and either transform or poison people’s lives. Bitter or thoughtless words poured into the ears of the young have blighted many lives in advance. We all know people whose unhappy lives twist on a set of words uttered to them on a certain unforgotten day at school, in childhood, or at university.
We seem to think that words aren’t things. A bump on the head may pass away, but a cutting remark grows with the mind. But then it is possible that we know all too well the awesome power of words – which is why we use them with such deadly and accurate cruelty.
We are all wounded inside one way or other. We all carry unhappiness within us for some reason or other. Which is why we need a little gentleness and healing from one another. Healing in words, and healing beyond words. Like gestures. Warm gestures. Like friendship, which will always be a mystery. Like a smile, which someone described as the shortest distance between two people.
Yes, the highest things are beyond words.
That is probably why all art aspires to the condition of wordlessness. When literature works on you, it does so in silence, in your dreams, in your wordless moments. Good words enter you and become moods, become the quiet fabric of your being. Like music, like painting, literature too wants to transcend its primary condition and become something higher. Art wants to move into silence, into the emotional and spiritual conditions of the world. Statues become melodies, melodies become yearnings, yearnings become actions.
When things fall into words they usually descend. Words have an earthly gravity. But the best things in us are those that escape the gravity of our deaths. Art wants to pass into life, to lift it; art wants to enchant, to transform, to make life more meaningful or bearable in its own small and mysterious way. The greatest art was probably born from a profound and terrible silence – a silence out of which the greatest enigmas of our life cry: Why are we here? What is the point of it all? How can we know peace and live in joy? Why be born in order to die? Why this difficult one-way journey between the two mysteries?
Out of the wonder and agony of being come these cries and questions and the endless stream of words with which to order human life and quieten the human heart in the midst of our living and our distress.
The ages have been inundated with vast oceans of words. We have been virtually drowned in them. Words pour at us from every angle and corner. They have not brought understanding, or peace, or healing, or a sense of self-mastery, nor has the ocean of words given us the feeling that, at least in terms of tranquility, the human spirit is getting better.
At best our cry for meaning, for serenity, is answered by a greater silence, the silence that makes us seek higher reconciliation.
I think we need more of the wordless in our lives. We need more stillness, more of a sense of wonder, a feeling for the mystery of life. We need more love, more silence, more deep listening, more deep giving.
Ben Okri (Birds of Heaven)
Duroy, who felt light hearted that evening, said with a smile: "You are gloomy to-day, dear master."
The poet replied: "I am always so, young man, so will you be in a few years. Life is a hill. As long as one is climbing up one looks towards the summit and is happy, but when one reaches the top one suddenly perceives the descent before one, and its bottom, which is death. One climbs up slowly, but one goes down quickly. At your age a man is happy. He hopes for many things, which, by the way, never come to pass. At mine, one no longer expects anything - but death."
Duroy began to laugh: "You make me shudder all over."
Norbert de Varenne went on: "No, you do not understand me now, but later on you will remember what I am saying to you at this moment. A day comes, and it comes early for many, when there is an end to mirth, for behind everything one looks at one sees death. You do not even understand the word. At your age it means nothing; at mine it is terrible. Yes, one understands it all at once, one does not know how or why, and then everything in life changes its aspect. For fifteen years I have felt death assail me as if I bore within me some gnawing beast. I have felt myself decaying little by little, month by month, hour by hour, like a house crumbling to ruin. Death has disfigured me so completely that I do not recognize myself. I have no longer anything about me of myself - of the fresh, strong man I was at thirty. I have seen death whiten my black hairs, and with what skillful and spiteful slowness. Death has taken my firm skin, my muscles, my teeth, my whole body of old, only leaving me a despairing soul, soon to be taken too. Every step brings me nearer to death, every movemebt, every breath hastens his odious work. To breathe, sleep, drink, eat, work, dream, everything we do is to die. To live, in short, is to die. Oh, you will realize this. If you stop and think for a moment you will understand. What do you expect? Love? A few more kisses and you will be impotent. Then money? For what? Women? Much fun that will be! In order to eat a lot and grow fat and lie awake at night suffering from gout? And after that? Glory? What use is that when it does not take the form of love? And after that? Death is always the end. I now see death so near that I often want to stretch my arms to push it back. It covers the earth and fills the universe. I see it everywhere. The insects crushed on the path, the falling leaves, the white hair in a friend's head, rend my heart and cry to me, 'Behold it!' It spoils for me all I do, all I see, all that I eat and drink, all that I love; the bright moonlight, the sunrise, the broad ocean, the noble rivers, and the soft summer evening air so sweet to breath."
He walked on slowly, dreaming aloud, almost forgetting that he had a listener: "And no one ever returns - never. The model of a statue may be preserved, but my body, my face, my thoughts, my desires will never reappear again. And yet millions of beings will be born with a nose, eyes, forehead, cheeks, and mouth like me, and also a soul like me, without my ever returning, without even anything recognizable of me appearing in these countless different beings. What can we cling to? What can we believe in? All religions are stupid, with their puerile morality and their egotistical promises, monstrously absurd. Death alone is certain."
"Think of that, young man. Think of it for days, and months and years, and life will seem different to you. Try to get away from all the things that shut you in. Make a superhuman effort to emerge alive from your own body, from your own interests, from your thoughts, from humanity in general, so that your eyes may be turned in the opposite direction. Then you understand how unimportant is the quarrel between Romanticism and Realism, or the Budget debates.
Guy de Maupassant