“The plane blew up.”
“I wonder what happened to all the other people?”
As soon as I’d spoken, I wished I hadn’t said that. I decided shy people shouldn’t try to make conversation, not even in an emergency. If I manage to talk to strangers at all, nervousness always makes me say the wrong thing.”
“But I suppose I’m a typical nerd, good at the details, not very smart at seeing the larger picture. I’d gone in for the competition because I liked my science teacher, and it had been like doing any interesting piece of homework. I had not thought it through. I had never sat myself down and said to myself, hold on, Semirah, what if you win? You are shy. How are you going to survive for three weeks surrounded by total strangers?”
“I walked all the way around the zoo, and then came back to a girl with a round face and fluffy hair, who looked like a baby owl. I like owls. I was about to say hello when along came Very Cool Girl, with her beautiful hair swinging. She smiled at me, and so did the baby owl. But oh no…My throat closed up. I simply could not speak. I can’t talk to strangers! I swerved off, and pretended I’d been headed for a nearby drinks machine.”
“I’d given up on the animal identities, so I didn’t try to think of one; but I decided I’d sit down, not next to him but a couple of seats away, to drink my can of Coke. I would try to look casually inviting, and maybe we could strike up a conversation. I sat down, giving a sigh that might have been a sort of noncommittal half-hello. He looked up from the game he was playing on his GameBoy and stared at me, narrow-eyed. His expression said very clearly, I’ve got your number, Unpopular Girl. Stay away from me.”
“Good morning,” I said awkwardly.
Being shipwrecked doesn’t make shyness any easier.”
“We came across a rucksack, wedged in among the coral. It was fastened up, but it seemed to have been invaded by some weird fluffy white sea creature that was trying to get out.
“What’s that?” said Arnie, poking it.
Miranda and I took a second look, and started to giggle. “It’s tampons,” I said. “Expanding widthways when wet—”
“I’m a Russian. Without the Motherland, I’d be nothing.”
“It is time that we admitted that faith is nothing more than the license religious people give one another to keep believing when reasons fail.”
“For a moment, I believe, there was a stillness. A shocking realization by all things - beetles, dormice, the spiders spinning their webs in the moonlight, even the hot metal of the tracks and the wind in the trees - that Death had just shrieked past like a stinking black eagle and made off with a remarkable man.”
“Aku berharap dia ada disini, titik.”
“Male love circuits get an extra kick when stress levels are high. After an intense physical challenge, for instance, males will bond quickly and sexually with the first willing female they lay eyes on.
Women, by contrast, will rebuff advances or expressions of affection and desire when under stress. The reason may be that the stress hormone cortisol blocks oxytocin's action in the female brain, abruptly shutting off a woman's desire for sex and physical touch.”
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