“It was always like that. They never said sorry. They just threw down their still-loaded weapons, ready for next time.”
“There was something pathetic about the rejected wife bravely pulling herself together, joining a tennis club, doing a photography course, cutting her hair, venturing timidly back out onto the single scene.”
“I remember waking up that first morning and seeing you next to me in your sleeping bag, all curled up, and I felt so…so pleased to see you. It was like the feeling you got when you were a kid and you had a friend stay the night. While you were sleeping you’d forget he was there and then you’d wake up and see him sleeping on the mattress on the floor and you’d remember and you’d feel all happy. You’d think, Oh that’s right, good old Jimbo’s here—we’re gonna have fun today!”
“Baths, she thought, were just like her relationships, all "ooh, ah" in the beginning and then suddenly, without warning, she had to get out, out, out!”
“The bills would keep on coming, no matter what else was happening in your life and that was good because it gave you a purpose. You worked so you could pay them. You rested on the weekends and generated more bills. Then you went back to work to pay for them. That was the reason for getting up tomorrow. That was the meaning of life.”
“Death was the hot bath you promised yourself while you endured small talk and uncomfortable shoes. You could stop pretending to have a good time when you were dead.”
“You're having one of those days of accumulating misery when you argue violently with someone in a position of power: a bank teller, a dry cleaner, a three-year-old.”
“Try not to saddle yourself with too distinct a personality too early in life. It might not suit you later on.”
“He has mistakes in his past. I have mistakes in mine. The fact that we actually are each other’s mistakes is irrelevant!”
“Do you have an opinion on anything?” “Not really.” It was true, in a way. Opinions were for other people. It was fascinating how upset they got about them.”
“Where was the “exit” sign? Why did they make it so difficult to get out of shopping center parking lots? You’d done your shopping—they weren’t going to get any more money out of you. What was their objective here?”
“Ah the three-day blues, all new mothers cry on the third day.” And I remember thinking, But my goodness, who wouldn't cry?”
“Maybe it wasn’t that hard to be happy.”
“In their wedding photos, they both have the blank-eyed, sedated look of recent trauma victims.”
“Cat felt that sense of pleasure and pride that she always felt when she saw her sisters in public. “Look at them!” she wanted to say to people. “My sisters. Aren’t they great? Aren’t they annoying?”
“Opinions were for other people. It was fascinating how upset they got about them.”
“Mummy!” Maddie toddled back into the kitchen, an expression of perplexed delight on her face. “Look!” She held up two copies of Good Night, Little Bear. Lyn said, “Fancy that!” and Maddie plunked down onto her bottom with both books in front of her, her head turning back and forth, as she flipped each page, intent on solving this mystery.”
“It happens sometimes that you accidentally star in a little public performance of your very own comedy, tragedy, or melodrama. You’re running for your morning bus, briefcase swinging jauntily, when you trip and tumble playground-style to the footpath. You’re trapped in the heavy-breathing silence of a crowded elevator when your lover says something infuriating (What did you just say?), or your child asks a rather delicate question, or your mother calls on your mobile to shriek dire warnings. You’re shuffling past a row of knees in the cinema, caught in the spotlight of the previews, when you tip your popcorn into a stranger’s lap. You’re having one of those days of accumulating misery when you argue violently with someone in a position of power: a bank teller, a dry cleaner, a three-year-old.”
“Sure it all seemed a little silly now but all the old antipathies about unfair penalties were still there just beneath the surface.”
“They never said sorry. They just threw down their still-loaded weapons, ready for next time.”
“lately with work, and, you know, the baby thing. Obviously it would never happen again and he was very, very, very sorry and he loved her so much and God, it was such a relief to have this”
“Their mother, Maxine Kettle, is president of the Australian Mothers of Multiples Association, a regular speaker at events for mothers of twins and triplets, and author of the book Mothering Multiples: The Heaven, the Hell, which has sold in countries around the world. Their father, Frank Kettle, is a well-known Sydney property developer. Their parents divorced when the girls were six.”
“How could she not be with someone who shared such a major chunk of her life?”
“Computers and other electrical equipment seemed to shrink when Michael was around, becoming malleable and obedient in his large hands. It was a pity he couldn’t do the same with every problem. Tap a few keys, frown in an interested way. “Mmmm, let’s give this a go, then,” and hey presto, confidence about the functionality of your personality rebooted and restored.”
“She’d been gone for nearly a year and her hair was longer and she was wearing an entire outfit Gemma had never seen before. Even her shoes were different.”
“It felt as if Gemma had moved up to a higher, more complex level of human emotions that Lyn couldn’t even hope to understand. She didn’t know the rules. She didn’t know the right thing to say to make it better. It was like Gemma possessed a secret, terrible knowledge that Lyn could only clumsily guess at.”
“You’re having one of those days of accumulating misery when you argue violently with someone in a position of power: a bank teller, a dry cleaner, a three-year-old.”
“Try not to saddle yourself with too distinct a personality too early in life. It might not suit you later on. Say”
“When you’re in a relationship you get stuck playing out your different parts.”
“One of the multitudes of exboyfriends had been a country music fan and left Gemma with an unfortunate passion for Tammy Wynette. It was like, Cat thought, he’d given her herpes.”
“Being a good person is a very important part of my identity, but being a genuinely good person is time-consuming and complicated.”
“The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, and you should try not to forget snacks and magazines.”
“Oil painting, before anything else, was a celebration of private property. As an art-form it derived from the principle that you are what you have.”
“Einstein said the arrow of time flies in only one direction. Faulkner, being from Mississippi, understood the matter differently. He said the past is never dead; it’s not even past. All of us labor in webs spun long before we were born, webs of heredity and environment, of desire and consequence, of history and eternity. Haunted by wrong turns and roads not taken, we pursue images perceived as new but whose provenance dates to the dim dramas of childhood, which are themselves but ripples of consequence echoing down the generations. The quotidian demands of life distract from this resonance of images and events, but some of us feel it always.”
“<…>….That's how he made his living. He gave me a pen and ink. This," he lifted his left arm then dropped it back to the bed. "After he died, I had it inked on me. Took what he gave me to a tattoo parlor right after the funeral and got it started."
Her voice held a tone of light dawning as she whispered, "So he was your Ella."
Her light dawned clear for her and for Walker because she was right.
"Yeah, he was my Ella."
"So it was Tuku who brought out my Ty."
Two words. Just two words. Walker had no clue until that moment that two words could mean so fucking much. He'd never belonged to anyone. He'd never belonged anywhere. Never thought he wanted to.
Until he heard those two words.
He couldn't keep the thick out of his voice when he confirmed, "Yeah, it was him."<…>”
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