You don’t return people’s smiles—it’s perfectly clear to you that people can smile and smile and still be villains.
Helen Oyeyemi, Boy, Snow, Bird
They tried their best with each other, but it just wasn’t any good.
Helen Oyeyemi, Mr. Fox
THINGS HAD CHANGED, what an arsehole comment, I’d changed things. Things don’t change, they’re not like the seasons moving on a diurnal round. People change things. There are victims of change but not victims of things. Why do I collude in this misuse of language? I can’t make it easier for Jacqueline however I put it. I can make it a bit easier for me and I suppose that’s what I’m doing.
Jeanette Winterson, Written on the Body
When I crossed the street, according to my mother, I still had to hold someone’s hand. At ten, I would be able to cross streets unhanded. I’d held on to Joseph’s many times before, for many years, but holding his was like holding a plant, and the disappointment of fingers that didn’t grasp back was so acute that at some point I’d opted to take his forearm instead. For the first few street crossings, that’s what I did, but on the corner at Oakwood, on an impulse, I grabbed George’s hand. Right away: fingers, holding back. The sun. More clustery vines of bougainvillea draping over windows in bulges of dark pink. His warm palm. An orange tabby lounging on the sidewalk. People in torn black T-shirts sitting and smoking on steps. The city, opening up.
We hit the sidewalk, and dropped hands. How I wished, right then, that the whole world was a street.
Aimee Bender | The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake
“I suppose,” says Jeremy, “what I don’t like is that the moment you fix something, it starts to break down again, that an engine works against itself. By its very act of running, it weakens itself, tries to come undone. Everything is slowly worked loose by the vibrations of the moving engine.”
Just like us, thinks Harriet.
Helen Humphreys | Coventry
I wish there was someone I could have written to after that, someone I could have written to explain how awful it was to have someone touch you, then look at you properly and change his mind.
Helen Oyeyemi | Mr. Fox
It occurred to me that I was unhappy. And it didn’t feel so very terrible. No urgency, nothing. I could slip out of my life on a slow wave like this—it didn’t matter. I don’t have to be happy. All I have to do is hold on to something and wait.
Helen Oyeyemi | Mr. Fox
Claire Legrand | The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls
We were about to hit the door when she returned, panting, an envelope of cold around her.
Where did you go? I asked.
I went for a walk. She dropped her coat at the door; her face was red from the cold and she was breathing deeply, as if she’d sprinted the last thirty steps.
Just around the corner.
Why the hell did you do that?
She started to cry, and when Rafa put his hand on her waist, she slapped it away. We went back to our room.
I think she’s losing it, I said.
She’s just lonely, Rafa said.
Junot Díaz | Invierno, This is How You Lose Her