“Scratch the surface, and there’s just more surface—chalk dust under your nails, but not much else. What you see, as they say, is what you get.”
“She knelt at the side of my bed, kissed my cheek, and I woke, rubbed my eyes, looked up at her dreamily. The hall light shone in my eyes. There was a halo in her hair. It must have been that Tupperware bowl on her head.”
“...but I could see how hard it would be for him to imagine the rest of his life, and where it would lead him...It would be like having a job in a fortune cookie factory, standing all day on an assembly line while optimism passed through your hands on flimsy strips of paper-"You will inherit a million dollars," "You will go on an exotic vacation"-but never moving, standing in one place while the damp batter of the fortune cookies slid by, all your possible futures settling into that clamminess as it passed.”
“A fairy tale with a twisted ending, one in which the sun sets like napalm on the prince and princess as they walk off, sticky all over with fire.”
“She was so wicked. Such a classic case of resentment and ambivalence bumping and brushing up against all that maternal instinct. The love and hate in her was as vast as space- all meteors, no atmosphere.”
“The pursuit of exotic beauty in such a life would have been like having a ball of tinfoil in your stomach, all that airy metal filling you up with hunger.”
“An early spring started one morning in March with a swarm of sudden, glassy, bird cries, and then the cool jewelry of primrose and violet loosened themselves in the dirt. Then summer burst into the world like a gorgeous car accident- opening eyes all over our bodies in the brilliant light. Fall- the smell of pumpkin guts, sluttish and unsweetened. Until winter fell all over us like pieces of heaven, glazed with oxygen or ether, hitting the grounder in small, cold shards. It was like a year in Eden where no Eve had ever lived.”
“But the future bores me.
I imagine following it like a leaf into traffic.
I imagine eating it like a heart made of oatmeal.”
“The gum is so minty in my mouth as I chew it, I can hardly inhale. It's like inhaling the steam off a block of ice, too fresh.”
“I am sixteen when my mother steps out of her skin one frozen January afternoon- pure self, atoms twinkling like microscopic diamond chips around her, perhaps the chiming of a clock, or a few bright flute notes in the distance- and disappears. No one sees her leave, but she is gone.”
“Maybe, I think, when you've waited a long time to see something, you need to find your way to it in glimpses.”
“Maybe I stepped into the skin my mother left behind, and became the girl my mother had been, the one she still wanted to be. Maybe I was wearing her youth now like an airy scarf, an accessory, all bright nerves and sticky pearls, and maybe that's why she spent so much time staring at me with that wistful look in her eyes. I was wearing something of hers, something she wanted back. It was written all over her face.”
“Maybe he was worried that I would get thinner and thinner, until I became as unfindable as my mother, and I felt a stab of compassion for him, imagining my father alone in this house with the white shadows of his two invisible women.”
“I began to understand that dancing well had everything to do with believing you could. Like those dreams of flying- dipping gracefully through the air in your weightless body- if in your sleep, you stopped to think about it for more than half a second, you'd crash like a sack of dead ducks onto the roof of a church.”
“Still, for sixteen years I saw the way he passed the butter dish across the dining room table to her, as if he wished it could be more, as if he wished she could life the lid and precious gems would spill over her dinner, as if that might finally make her happy- an inedible, improvident gift, like easy, unexpected laughter.”
“My mother was always in the center of her own agitation, seeming as though, far away, part of her was being chased along a dirt road by a swarm of bees.”
“Once, complaining that his mother tried to do things that blind people should not attempt, like lighting candles at Christmas, he said, “My mother wants to have her blindness and eat it, too.” I imagined Phil’s mother spooning blindness into her own open mouth like devil’s food cake. But without texture or weight. Bittersweet and rich. Another time he said, regarding his father’s late support checks, that calling him in Texas wouldn’t help, it would just make the checks even later. “It’s a vicious circus,” Phil said. When I asked if he thought that perhaps writing a letter, explaining their situation—the mortgage payment late again, the electric company calling—might help, he said, “I’m virtuously certain it wouldn’t,” looking martyred and older than his years.”
“Sometimes he'd write my mother's new name under his on a scrap of paper...then, the one that hurt her teeth to see, Mrs. Brock Connors-as if, by marrying, my father would be himself, and also become her.”
“I fell in love with the boy next door, and my own flesh became a thing I'd never really worn before. Sometimes, pressing my palms together, I thought I felt a magnetic field between them- something invisible but shaped, like sound, or heat, an egg of light, and it was thought I could hold the life force itself in my hands.”
“Their marriage, I knew then, as I must have always known- their marriage was like a long drink of water so icy it turns the teeth to diamonds in your mouth. A drink of water from a frozen fountain, twenty years long.”
“...but I could see how hard it would be for him to imagine the rest of his life, and where it would lead him...It would be like having a job in a fortune cookie factory, standing all day on an assembly line while optimism passed through your hands on flimsy strips of paper-"You will inherit a million dollars," "You will go on an exotic vacation"-but never moving, standing in one place while the dump batter of the fortune cookies slid by, all your possible futures settling into that clamminess as it passed.”
“Man is the only real enemy we have. Remove Man from the scene, and the root cause of hunger and overwork is abolished forever.”
“I bare my soul and you are suspicious! No, Scarlett, this is a bona fide honorable declaration. I admit that it's not in the best of taste, coming at this time, but I have a very good excuse for my lack of breeding. I'm going away tomorrow for a long time and I fear that if I wait till I return you'll have married some one else with a little money. So I thought, why not me and my money? Really, Scarlett, I can't go all my life waiting to catch you between husbands. ”
“Because you are beautiful. I enjoy looking at beautiful people, and I decided a while ago not to deny myself the simpler pleasures of existence”
“We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!”
“Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest."
And the boy did.
And the tree was happy.”
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