“I couldn’t be with people and I didn’t want to be alone. Suddenly my perspective whooshed and I was far out in space, watching the world. I could see millions and millions of people, all slotted into their lives; then I could see me—I’d lost my place in the universe. It had closed up and there was nowhere for me to be. I was more lost than I had known it was possible for any human being to be.”
“I loved being in my own head so much, it was getting harder and harder being with other people.”
“Feathery Stokers - There is no definitive list but here are some examples. Men who didn’t eat red meat were Feathery Strokers. Men who used postshave balm instead of slapping stinging aftershave onto their tender skin were Feathery Strokers. Men who noticed your shoes and handbags were Feathery Strokers. (Or Jolly Boys.) Men who said pornography was exploitation of women were Feathery Strokers. (Or liars.) Men who said pornography was exploitation of men as much as women were of the scale. All straight men from San Francisco were Feather Strokers. All academics with beards were Feathery Stokers. Men who stayed friends with their ex-girlfriends were Feathery Strokers. Especially if they called them their “ex-partner.” Men who did Pilates were Feathery Strokers. Men who said, “I have to take care of myself right now” were screaming Feathery Strokers. (Even I’d go along with that.) ~Jacqui”
“I rang my mother to thank her for giving birth to me and she said, "What choice had I? You were in there, how else were you going to get out?”
“Nothing sinister. Just getting exercise. Although some might consider that sinister.”
“I'm trying..." How could I put it? "I'm trying to get far enough down the line so that I can remember." I stopped, then continued: "so that I can remember without the pain killing me"
And the days were stacking up. And weeks. And months. It was now almost the middle of June and he'd died in February, but I still felt like I'd just woken from a horrible dream, that I was suspended in that stunned, paralyzed state between sleep and reality where I was grasping for, but couldn't get a handle on normality.”
“...as you know, I don't believe in fear, just an invention by men so they get all the money and good jobs...”
“It was only when the salt water of my tears ran into my cuts and made them sting
that I discovered I was crying.”
“Devereaux is going with our pitch.”
“Hey, that’s just great,” I said superperkily. “Wendell’s or mine?”
“But you want to fire me. So fire me.”
“We can’t fire you. They loved you. The head guy, Leonard Daly, thought you were, I quote, ‘a
great kid, very courageous’ and a natural to do a whispering campaign. He said you had
“That’s too bad.”
“Why? You’re not quitting!”
I thought about it. “Not if you don’t want me to. Do you?”
Go on, say it.
“No, we don’t want you to quit.”
“Ten grand more, two assistants, and charcoal suits. Take it or leave it.”
Ariella swallowed. “Okay to the money, okay to the assistants, but I can’t green-light charcoal
suits. Formula Twelve is Brazilian, we need carnival colors.”
“Charcoal suits or I’m gone.”
It was an interesting lesson in power. The only time you truly have it is when you genuinely
don’t care whether you have it or not.
“Right,” I said. “I’m giving myself the rest of the day off.”
“Didn't go in, just hovered outside like homeless person because (a) place was too small and Detta would have spotted me, and (b) once you're through doors of shop like that, if you try to leave without buying anything, they shoot you in the back with sniper's rifle.”
“Look at me, I believe in the craziest stuff and I have a really fun time.”
“Hot, bright heat filled him like some ecstatic poison, and Hartan's pony shied in terror as a wordless howl burst from his throat. His dripping ears were flat to his skull, fire crackled in his brown eyes, his huge sword blurred in a whirring figure eight before him, and the brigand running at him gawked in sudden panic. The raider's feet skidded in mud as he tried to brake, but it was far too late. He was face-to-face with the worst nightmare of any Norfressan, a Horse Stealer hradani in the grip of the Rage, and a thunderbolt of steel split him from crown to navel.”
“Soon, droves of children start to show up, keeping us rather busy. We start tallying up the number of Trolls, Batmans, Lego men, and princesses we see. The most popular costume? Batman and Superwoman with the fabrics and accessories varying from child to child. But my favorite so far is the girl who dressed as Little Debbie, but then again, I may be biased.
“I think she might be my new favorite,” Emma says as a little girl dressed as a nurse walks away.
“That’s because you’re a nurse, but you can’t play favorites,” I say, reminding Emma of the rules.
She levels with me. “This coming from the guy whose favorite child was dressed as Little Debbie.”
“Come on.” I lean back in my chair and motion to my head. “She had the rim of blue on her hat. That’s attention to detail.”
“And good fucking parenting,” Tucker chimes in, and we clink our beer bottles together.
Amelia chuckles next to me as Emma shakes her head. “Ridiculous. What about you, Amelia? What costume has been your favorite so far?”
“Hmm, it’s been a tough competition. There has been some real winning costumes and some absolute piss-poor ones.” She shakes her head. “Just because you put a scarf around your neck and call yourself Jack Frost doesn’t mean you dressed up.”
“Ugh, that costume was dumb.”
“It shouldn’t be referred to as a costume, but that’s beside the point.” I like how much Amelia is getting into this little pretend competition. She’s a far cry from the girl who first came home earlier. I love that having Tucker and Emma over has given me more time with Amelia, getting to know the woman she is today, but also managed to put that beautiful smile back on her face.
“So who takes the cake for you?” I ask, nudging her leg with mine.
Smiling up at me, she says, “Hands down it’s the little boy who dressed as Dwight Schrute from The Office. I think I giggled for five minutes straight after he left. That costume was spot on.”
“Oh shit, you’re right,” I reply as Emma and Tucker agree with me. “He even had the watch calculator.”
“And the small nose Dwight always complains about.” Emma chuckles. “Yeah, he has to be the winner.”
“Now, now, now, let’s not get too hasty. Little Debbie is still in the running,” Tucker points out.
Amelia leans forward, seeming incredibly comfortable, and says, “There is no way Little Debbie beats Dwight. Sorry, dude.”
The shocked look on Tucker’s face is comical. He’s just been put in his place and the old Amelia has returned.
I fucking love it.”
“You want to see a very bad man? Make an ordinary man successful beyond his imagination. Let’s see how good he is when he can do whatever he wants.”
“I feel like...before, I had one way of looking at things, and now, I have a million possibilities, and I get to choose.”
“But then, people usually do miss what's right in front of them.”
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