“We are not damned. We never were. Who under the sun has the right to damn any living breathing creature?”
“Remember always,” he said, “that nothing is as precious to us as the magnificent gift of life. Let the moon and the stars always remind you of this—that though we are tiny creatures in this universe, we are filled with life.”
“You are too strong for this rain and too strong for this sorrow.”
“ ‘If you would have fleshly life, human life, hard life which can move through time and space, then fight for it. If you would have human philosophy, then struggle and make yourself wise, so that nothing can hurt you ever. Wisdom is strength. Collect yourself, whatever you are, into something with a purpose.’ ”
“Pain. Unspeakable pain. It didn’t matter who in this world or any other was staring at me, watching me, seeking to share this moment or merely shuddering as I experienced it. Just didn’t matter. Because in pain like this one is always alone.”
“Life is a gift. Immortality is a precious gift.”
“we are blessed to be tiny beings in this universe. We are blessed to feel momentous because we are larger than these grains of sand.”
“I read her thoughts and I found the poetry inside of her, beneath the misfortune of warts and pockmarked skin, of hunched shoulders and deformed limbs. I loved her. Indeed she became, whole and entire, quite beautiful to me—. And she came to love me with her whole heart.”
“When it’s happening it is too beautiful, too overwhelming, and you can feel it’s being lost with every breath you take.”
“And it is a great fact of history that the most mediocre and well-meaning imbeciles can strike down the mighty with surprising effectiveness when there is such a huge disparity of souls.”
“Only love could create such conflict, such longing, such fear.”
“Those who desire power want to be immune to the power of others.”
“Deep in my mind a thought did flash for a moment that one who commands must of necessity be wildly imperfect, boldly pragmatic, capable of compromises impossible for the truly wise and the truly good.”
“we are the sum of all we’ve seen and all we’ve appreciated and understood. You were the sum of sunshine on marble floors filled with pictures of divine beings who laughed and loved and drank the fruit of the vine as surely as you were the sum of the poets and historians and philosophers you’d read. You were the sum and the fount of what you’d cherished and chosen to abide and all you had loved.”
“Give me the heartbeat. Give me the salt. Give me the Viaticum. Fill my mouth.”
“Fear and music and blood and pain. That was still his existence.”
“I want to remember these nights always, she thought. I want to fix them forever in my memory. I want to lose nothing. When it’s done, when it’s decided and it’s over, I will write a memoir seeking to capture everything forever. When it’s happening it is too beautiful, too overwhelming, and you can feel it’s being lost with every breath you take.”
“And then the blood erupted, roared. Don’t rush this! I was the victim suddenly laid waste as if by a phallic god, slammed by the rushing blood against the floor of the universe, the heart pounding, emptying the frail form it sought to protect. And lo, she was dead. Oh, too soon. Crushed lily on the pillow, except she’d been no lily and I’d seen her grimy petty purple crimes as that blood made a fool of me, wasted me, left me warm, indeed hot, all over, licking my lips.”
“She protected me. We had the souls of each other. We loved in some realm where the natural and the preternatural meant nothing.”
“I’ve been passing through for the longest time.”
“how many like Antoine were roaming the world, weak, afraid, without comrades or the consolation of love, clinging to existence as he did?”
“A silence fell between us. “I loved her, you know,” I said. “I loved her.” “Yes, I do know,” he said, “and, you see, I did not. And so this doesn’t matter to me very much. What matters much more is that I love you.”
“I love you,” said the Voice. “Now, get up. Leave this place. You must. Get up. Start walking. This rain is not too cold for you. You are too strong for this rain and too strong for this sorrow. Come on, do as I tell you.…” And I had.”
“Remember, Rose, whatever you’ve suffered, no matter how bad it’s been, you can use that, use that to be a stronger person.”
“even if you make them, they’ll turn on you, rob you, betray you, and take off with someone else.”
“But joy, the joy you’ve known, the love you’ve known, that is what matters, and we, the conscious ones, the ones who can grieve, only we can know joy.”
“Wisdom is strength. Collect yourself, whatever you are, into something with a purpose.’ ”
“We seek to perfect what we are, not to constantly alter it. We seek to find something that is a true expression of our soul with which to shape what makes up our form. But there’s no need for you to trouble yourself over these things.”
“And money you have, Rose. Plenty of it. And time. And if time can’t give us freedom to do what we want, what good is time?”
“or even on the same evening? Five nights ago the Voice had said, “You of all understand me. You of all understand power,”
“I don't like this war. I don't like the cold-blooded scheming at the beginning and the carnage at the end and the grumbling and the jealousies and the pettishness in the middle. I hate the lack of gallantry and grace; the self-seeking; the destruction of valuable people and things. I believe in danger and endeavor as a form of tempering but I reject it if this is the only shape it can take.”
“So you do believe in... true love? she whispered.
I took a deep breath, I think I have to, I said, blinking back tears. Without it, we're all going nowhere.”
“But when you walk through yonder gate,” Churchill said, pointing toward the Middle Tower at the end of the causeway, which was visible only as a crenellated cutout in the orange sky, “you’ll find yourself in a London you no longer know. The changes wrought by the Fire were nothing. In that London, loyalty and allegiance are subtle and fluxional. ’Tis a chessboard with not only black and white pieces, but others as well, in diverse shades. You’re a Bishop, and I’m a Knight, I can tell that much by our shapes, and the changes we have wrought on the board; but by fire-light ’Tis difficult to make out your true shade.”
“Truth is only what people want to believe and nothing more.”
“Jeff," she said, sobbing, "I'm scared! I don't want to die! Not … die forever, and—"
He hugged her tightly, rocked her in his arms and felt his own tears trickle down his face. "Just think of how we've lived. Think of all we've done, and let's try to be grateful for that."
"But we could have done so much more. We could have—"
"Hush," he whispered. "We did all we could. More than either of us ever dreamed when we were first starting out."
She leaned back, searched his eyes as if seeing them for the first time, or the last. "I know," she sighed. "It's just … I got so used to the endless possibilities, the time … never being bound by our mistakes, always knowing we could go back and change things, make them better. But we didn't, did we? We only made things different.”
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