“Then the grown-up would say, “What’s the matter, Jess? Why are you sad?” And she’d have to explain that she wasn’t sad, just tired, though how she could be so tired in the middle of the day with the sun shining and everything, she didn’t know. It made her feel ashamed.”—Helen Oyeyemi, The Icarus Girl
“He’d tried to explain it to her, how accidents happen but we really are safe. But there was, already, the sense that nothing he said touched what was really bothering her, which was the realization that you can’t stop bad things from happening to other people, other things. And that would be hard forever. He’d never quite gotten used to it himself.”—Megan Abbott, The Fever: A Novel
“For me, one of the biggest draws of the Internet has always been how I can be alone and yet find connection with other people. I am an introvert. I can fake extroversion, but it is exhausting. I prefer quiet, even when I am happily around other people. I spend an inordinate amount of time in my head. Online, I can be in my head and with interesting people. I can be alone but feel less lonely.”—Roxane Gay, "The Danger of Disclosure"
“[…] we can’t make a decision between being sad for a little while and being wretched for the rest of our lives. Or rather we’ve made the decision and have trouble finding the courage to carry it through.”—Jun’ichirō Tanizaki, Some Prefer Nettles
“The problem with English is this: You usually can’t open your mouth and it comes out just like that—first you have to think what you want to say. Then you have to find the words. Then you have to carefully arrange those words in your head. Then you have to say the words quietly to yourself, to make sure you got them okay. And finally, the last step, which is to say the words out loud and have them sound just right.
But then because you have to do all this, when you get to the final step, something strange has happened to you and you speak the way a drunk walks. And because you are speaking like falling, it’s as if you are an idiot, when the truth is that it’s the language and the whole process that’s messed up. And then the problem with those who speak only English is this: they don’t know how to listen; they are busy looking at your falling instead of paying attention to what you are saying.”—NoViolet Bulawayo, We Need New Names: A Novel
“MotherLove shakes her head, and then her body heaves downward, like she is a sack falling. But she is not angry. She doesn’t yell. She doesn’t slap or grab anybody by the ears. She doesn’t say she will kill us or tell the mothers. I look at her face and see the terrible face of someone I have never seen before, and on the stranger’s face is this look of pain, this look that adults have when somebody dies. There are tears in the eyes and she is clutching her chest like there’s a fire inside it.
Then MotherLove reaches out and holds Chipo. We are all watching and not knowing what to do because when grown-ups cry, it’s not like you can ask them what’s wrong, or tell them to shut up; there are just no words for a grown-up’s tears. Then Chipo stops crying and wraps her arms around MotherLove, even though they don’t really reach around. A purple lucky butterfly sits at the top of Chipo’s head and when it flies away, Forgiveness chases it. Then Sbho and I take off after Forgiveness, and we are all chasing the butterfly and screaming out for luck.”—NoViolet Bulawayo, We Need New Names: A Novel
“There’s a morning ritual that comes with opening a store. I lift the metal grates, and then tug down the white plastic blinds that block out all light until they spring back up. I turn on the lights and wait for their mechanical hum to fill the room. I make a general assessment. Shelves, windows, cash register are all in place. The ceiling remains, the tiles on the floor have held. Everything is precisely as it should be. Even now, after all these years, this continues to amaze me. It seems as if time stands completely still at the close of each day, and is resumed only by my return. Sometimes I like to think that if I waited ten or twenty years before opening my store, I could return to find it completely unchanged.”—Dinaw Mengestu, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears
“It’s funny, thinking back. It’s only a couple of years but, you’re right, it seems ages away. Some things were easier, then. There was a way of doing things, wasn’t there? Someone else had decided it for you, said that was the best way to do it; and that’s what you did. It got me down, at the time. I used to look forward to peace, to all the things I’d be able to do then. I don’t know what I thought those things would be. I don’t know what I thought would be different. You expect things to change, or people to change; but it’s silly, isn’t it? Because people and things don’t change. Not really. You just have to get used to them…”—Sarah Waters, The Night Watch
“Not all toxic people are cruel and uncaring. Some of them love us dearly. Many of them have good intentions. Most are toxic to our being simply because their needs and way of existing in the world force us to compromise ourselves and our happiness. They aren’t inherently bad people, but they aren’t the right people for us. And as hard as it is, we have to let them go. Life is hard enough without being around people who bring you down, and as much as you care, you can’t destroy yourself for the sake of someone else. You have to make your wellbeing a priority. Whether that means breaking up with someone you care about, loving a family member from a distance, letting go of a friend, or removing yourself from a situation that feels painful — you have every right to leave and create a safer space for yourself.”—Daniell Koepke
“If I loved you, I would invite you in, sit you down in our kitchen, and I would say to you: You just never know. You, the yeti. You don’t know why this matters so much to us, why we care. You don’t know what secret pains we have that we haven’t shared with you. You don’t know us.
But then I would have to admit that I don’t know everything either, wouldn’t I? Like I don’t know why it matters so much to you to build that fence exactly there.
What happened in your life that makes a property line mean so much?
Why do you think you should get what is your right?
You’re so uncaring, so unreasonable. It must be a defense mechanism of some kind. I’m sure that it is.
But Sam says that’s ridiculous of me. Even to think about you that way.”—Robin Black, If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This