“Nothing happened. And everything did. Your whole life you can be told something is wrong and so you believe it. Why should you question it? But then slowly seeds are planted inside of you, one by one, by a touch or a look or a day skateboarding in a park, and they start to burst out of old hulls shells and they start to sprout. And pretty soon there are so many of them. They are named Love and Trust and Kindness and Joy and Desire and Wonder and Spirit and Soulmate. They grow into a garden so dense and thick that it starts to invade your brain where the old things you were once told are dying. ”
“You asked me who I thought I was before. I said maybe I was a fish because I love water and you said, you thought a mermaid, maybe.
If you were a mermaid, you said, if you were a mermaid, I was the sea.”
“You were just a boy on a bed in a room, like a kaleidoscope is a tube full of bits of broken glass. But the way I saw you was pieces refracting the light, shifting into an infinite universe of flowers and rainbows and insects and planets, magical dividing cells, pictures no one else knew ...”
“I'll be inside the one who holds you. And then I won't be. ”
“If you were a mermaid, you said, If you were a mermaid, I was the sea.”
Did I wound you, mutilate. Take away your voice. Did I cut something from you. Leave you locked in silence?
This is what you do: you sing. Every part of you. Your locks of hair sing, your eyes, your hands, your smile. If I listen closely I can even hear your blood.
Was I the one that took that away?
Go down to the water where we used to swim. Stand under the sky at dawn when the sky is streaked with blood. Open your mouth and shout our secret to the waves. The ocean will be your voice. You won't have to carry anything alone. Little Sister, my Spring, April. Little nightingale. Sant at the edge of the water. Your voice will come back to you. Maybe. If I am silent.”
“i could see the veins through your skin like a map to inside you. how could skin be that thin? i was so afraid you might drop and break. i stopped breathing so you wouldn't.”
“You always fed strays and bent down to talk to the dogs you met on the street, looking straight into their eyes as if they were old friends. (Maybe they are, you said. From another life.) You liked to go to the pound and look at them. You tried to send them messages of comfort. I couldn’t go because I started crying the one time I tried. All those eyes and the barks like sobs.”
“the rain is coming.
little sister, the night broke. the thunder cracked my brain finally. the rain is coming, i promise you. i didn’t mean to but your tears will bring life back. purple flowers grow, the colour blood looks in the veins. they’ll sprout out of my chest. i promise you they’ll crack the ground, grow over the freeways, down the slopes to the sea. i’ll be in their faces. i’ll be in the waves, coming down from the sky. i’ll be inside the one who holds you.
and then i won’t be.”
“Sometimes I wanted to peel away all of my skin and find a different me underneath.”
“We got quiet. The garden was combing her hair and putting on earrings. The house was full of dancing creatures, not male and female but both, two lovers in one body. The books downstairs were reciting their poetry to each other, rubbing together, whispering through the leather covers. Wine was flowing through the water pipes. You had caught my leaping heart in your hand like a fish.”
“...It felt like they were telling each other secrets. Everything they said felt like that—whispered, tender, full of other meanings, like when you tell someone a dream or talk about your astrological signs as code for all the things you love about each other.”
“The books downstairs were reciting their poetry to each other, rubbing together, whispering through the leathery covers. Wine was flowing through the water pipes. You had caught my leaping heart in your hands like a fish.”
“You turned your head to look at me. Your eyes looked so big in your face, so mysterious — wide and flickering like a butterfly-wing mask. When you saw me the wails turned to sobs, and then just quieter heaves of your body. I held out my finger through the bars. Then you reached out and curled your fingers around mine, so tight. I knew you recognized me. That was the first time I knew I had a heart inside my body.”
“She wasn’t crying at all. This was what scared him the most. Where had she locked up the things he’d seen her feeling that day when she heard? She wasn’t that big a girl to hold all of it—to hold her brother’s life and his death inside of her. To hold all his long-limbed raging tidal motion and all the loss of that.”
“It was like when we were little kids and we played games on the ivy-covered hillside in the backyard. We were warriors and wizards and angels and high elves and that was our reality. If someone said, Isn’t it cute, look at them playing, we would have smiled back, humoring them, but it wasn’t playing. It was transformation. It was our own world. Our own rules.”
“You still cry too easily, but without your tears, at least, everything would burn. You are Spring in your jeans, in the laughing leaves. I think pearls melted over your bones.”
“Once she was standing by her locker and her puka shells broke and scattered and she made a joke about it but he could tell she was upset. He wanted to buy her some more. He wanted to give her a million strands of little nesting polished shells, and tropical flowers and ice creams and lemonades and a pale blue surfboard to teach her to surf on and anything else she wanted. Instead he let his checkered Vans step on one of the rolling shells and crush it.”
“What did it mean for us? Because everything I did, everything that happened to me, that was what I asked myself - what does this mean for us. It meant that I was farther away from you, different. It meant that if we let ourselves, we could get closer than we had ever been. Disappear into each other. You’d bleed and I wouldn’t. Then we both would.”
“Lex surfed wicked, like the devil. He wasn’t afraid of anything, seemed like. He grinned at West as the waves came up toward them like towers of green glass, an emerald city. We’re off to see the wizard, he shouted. He whooped. His body crouched ready to fly. He shone against the sun.”
“West didn’t want her to get hurt anymore. He wanted her to let go. He wanted her to appreciate her life. To know he loved her. All these things sounded so stupid to him when he imagined saying them and he knew she didn’t want to hear them anyway. She wanted to hear one thing.”
“My mind is like the valley—this vast barren waste. Car lots. Malls. Tract homes. I know there are other worlds beyond it—of canyons full of coyote and monarch butterflies, squirrels, bunnies, purple and yellow wildflowers, of magical boulevards lined with palatial movie theaters and movie-star haunted mansions, of parks and palms and palisades, especially, especially of the ocean, where it all ends and everything begins. I know the rest is out there but from where I sit in my head it’s like being on the bottom of a hot sunken pit—you can’t see anything else around you no matter how hard you try.”
“You said it wasn't fair. Over and over again you kept saying that. You said, There are so many kids that want to die. She's probably the one that wanted to live the most. I thought, no, I want to live as much as she did. But only if... and then I realized how much it sucked for me to think that. Think about myself like that, complain. I was here and I could go dancing and sweat all night and eat donuts and go roller-skating and take bubble baths and grow up. I had you. Right there with me. I had you living in my life and I was alive.”
“She said that if you hold on to hate, you lose your grip on so much more.”
“They are from another world, another way of life that somehow has merged with our own. These worlds are kept separate for the safety of everyone."
"And yet, I connect them."
“It seemed they were thinking along the same wavelength. “Is it too early in the day to throw you down on the floor and f**k you?”
“I can promise you books and conversation and all my heart.”
“I picked up a small square shortbread biscuit and stared at it, noting the uneven angles, wishing it were a perfect square, but it was, after all, merely a baked good, and baked goods did not ordinarily form perfect squares.”
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