“If they didn't want to know, they shouldn't have asked.”
“You know what we've lost, William? We've lost a sense of responsibility, at least on the individual level. We have too many people like Mark who believe that the government owes them total, undisciplined freedom. If everyone thought that way, there would be no society. We're so big, so strong now, that people seem to have forgotten that a part of our strength comes from each person surrendering a portion of his individual urges to the common good. And the common good is defined by who wins at the polls, and the policies they make. Like it or lump it.”
“My war is not as simple as yours was, Father. People seem to question their obligation to serve on other than their own terms. But enough of that. I fight because we have always fought. It doesn't matter who.”
“You know what we’ve lost, William? We’ve lost a sense of responsibility, at least on the individual level. We have too many people like Mark who believe that the government owes them total, undisciplined freedom. If everyone thought that way, there would be no society. We’re so big, so strong now, that people seem to have forgotten that a part of our strength comes from each person surrendering a portion of his individual urges to the common good. And the common good is defined by who wins at the polls, and the policies they make. Like it or lump it.”
“He sensed that it was all here, everything, and there was none of it there. All of life's compelling throbs, condensed and honed each time a bullet flew: the pain, the brother-love, the sacrifice. Nobility discovered by those who'd never even contemplated sacrifice, never felt an emotion worth their own blood on someone else's altar.”
“I just look at you and say, ‘that used to be me. But it isn't anymore.”
“Well, what kind of hello is that? Besides. You wouldn't want me as a supply officer, Bagger. I'd fuck it up so bad you'd starve.”
“We stood, holding each other's faces, memorising every last detail. I was deperate with my own need to capture this last, lingering moment, desperate to forget the horrible sink at the pit of my stomach telling me all this would be lost forever once they pulled the chip out. Please don't let me forget.”
“That's my problem, actually. I don't talk to anybody about what's going on in my head, because I'm afraid they might not be able to take it.”
“I know,” Aren says. “But I wanted to apologize. I don’t want Taltrayn to convince you I’m the bad guy.”
At that, I give a short laugh. “You are the bad guy, Aren.”
He frowns, and I realize he’s taking my words the wrong way.
“What I mean is you’re the . . . well, the rebel. Kyol’s the good guy. He’s made mistakes, yes, but he loves me.”
He cocks his head to the side. His gaze makes my skin tingle. The step he takes toward me is hesitant, careful, and when his silver eyes peer down at me, I stop breathing. His lips are so close. I remember the way they felt pressed against mine. I remember his taste, the heat of his edarratae.
The smallest distance separates us when he whispers, “You don’t think I’m in love with you?”
“I . . .”
“I’ve thought about it a lot,” I said. “I think a friend is someone who helps you change for the better. And whether you see them once a day or once a year, if it’s a true friend, it doesn’t matter.”
“writers like Jack Kerouac (who called himself an "urban Thoreau") set forth to redefine and rediscover ways to live in America without slogging through what Kerouac called the endless system of "work, produce, consume, work, produce, consume...”
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