“Maybe if I can just sleep for a hundred years, I'll wake up in a better story.”
“Is Jase already gonna marry you?”
I start coughing again. “Uh, No. No, George. I’m only seventeen.” As if that’s the only reason we’re not engaged.
“I’m this many.” George holds up four, slightly grubby fingers. “But Jase is seventeen and a half. You could. Then you could live in here with him. And have a big family.”
Jase strides back into the room, of course, midway through this proposition. “George. Beat it. Discovery Channel is on.”
George backs out of the room but not before saying, “His bed’s really comfortable. And he never pees in it.”
“You have to kiss me," I find myself saying.
"Yeah." He leans closer. "I do.”
“Did you know that in space it's very, very cold? And there's no oxygen? And if an astronaut fell out of a shuttle without his suit he'd die right away?"
I'm a fast learner. "But that would never happen. Because astronauts are really, really careful."
George gives me a smile, the same dazzling sweet smile as his big brother, although at this point, with green teeth. "I might marry you," he allows. "Do you want a big family?”
“Who are these people, and why do they think their own opinions are the only right ones?”
“Why do all the hot girls want the jocks and the good boys? We losers are the ones that need you.”
“I don't know. I didn't have that choice. But I know what's happening now. And I'm choosing to stay with you.”
“The Garretts were my bedtime story, long before I ever thought I’d be part of the story myself.”
“It's as though I don't make a ripple as I drop off the face of the earth.”
“They say you never know what you would do in a hypothetical situation. We’d all like to think we’d be one of the people who gave up their lifejackets and waved a stoic good-bye from the slanting deck of the titanic, someone who jumped in front of a bullet for a stranger, or turned and raced back up the stairs of one of the towers, in search of someone who needed help rather than our own security. But you just don’t know for sure if, when things fall apart, you’ll think safety first, or if safety will be the last thing on your mind.”
“I like eggs and bacon," George tells me. "But" - his face clouds - "do you know that bacon is" - tears leap to his eyes - "Wilbur?”
“I lie on top of him, skin to skin. He's tall, I'm not, but when we lie like this, we fit together. All the curves of my body relax into the strength of his.”
“Um. So ... Are we going to study?"
Jase slides his thumbs behind my ears, rubbing the hollow at their base. He's only inches from my face, still looking into my eyes. "You bet. I'm studying you.”
“You can't do this. You have to give me a chance to fix whatever it is I've done. What have I done?”
“I cannot help but wonder if any parents ever actually schedule in adolescent drama on their day planners. Looks like a slow week, Sarah. I guess I can pencil in your eating disorder.”
“Hey, he says again, sitting down next to me as though he knows me well. “Need rescuing?”
“You're just going to walk away-like that? You're leaving it this way? Now? I love you. You can't...”
“But here’s the truth: In movies, it’s never half so lovely as it is here and now with Jase.”
“Do you know how many times I've read "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" to this kid? That is one fucked-up story. How is that a book for babies?”
“You're walking along on this path, dazzled by how perfect it is, how great you feel, and then just a few forks in the road and you are lost in a place so bad you never could have imagined it.”
“Mom. He didn't do drugs. I've told you that before. He was just weird.”
“Being a politician is a lot like being an alcoholic in denial.”
“He instantly covers my fingers with his own, giving me his slow, intoxicating smile. I feel a pang, as though I'm handing over a part of myself I've never offered before.”
“...And the way he does look at me makes me feel absolutely beautiful.”
“No words for a long time. Which is fine, because even the most important ones-- I love you. I'm sorry. Forgive me? I'm here-- are only stand-ins for what you can say better without talking at all.”
“It's just whether you're going to do a decent thing or keep doing shitty things. So choose. Just stop whining about it.”
“Mines!” Patsy shouts, pointing at Tim. He goes to her, rumples her scanty hair.
“See, hot Alice? Even the very young feel the pull of my magnetism. It’s like an irresistible urge, a force like gravity, or—”
“But Ma, I have the power to save her!"
“I can't help but notice that...well, you're in my life...at our house, with my family, in my world. But am I really in yours?....”
“I sit up, edge over close to my window, and push it open, slipping one leg in, then the next, turning back to Jase. “Come on.”
His smile flashes in the gathering dark as his eyebrows lift, but he climbs carefully in as I lock my bedroom door.
“Be still,” I tell him. “Now I’m going to learn all about you.”
“Humans are animals. Pain is their nature.”
“Was it a weakness of man that made him want to ignore the darker side of his fellow human beings?”
“To the world’s most perfect woman.’ It was lucky my father was not present. Perfect is an absolute that cannot be modified, like unique or pregnant. My love for Rosie was so powerful that it had caused my brain to make a grammatical error.”
“It is always brave to be kind, but in those days, such kindnesses could cost you your life.”
“Now, even Nickamedes was being nice to me, which told me exactly how much trouble I was in.”
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