I’ve been a bit absentee here this month, and I do apologize – a lot has been happening, and it’s occupied the majority of my brain space. I’m NOT going to Colorado this summer, for a majority of reasons – so on the upside, I won’t have to neglect any of you! I’m a chapter away from finishing Paper Hearts, so I’m procrastinating badly. I always do, with that last chapter. It’s like knowing you have to say good-bye to a good friend. I’ve been reading (fiction, of course; but also some non-fiction; currently a book about Shakespeare’s life before he was famous and ‘Man and His Symbols’ by Carl Jung) and yesterday we helped my sister Maralie pack – they’re moving back to Washington! We’re going to miss them. A lot. But here I’m making myself sad. Onward with the snippets!
Rusty grunted and pulled out one of the books. “I’d forgotten all about this one.”
I tried to catch a glimpse of the cover, but all I saw was green. “Which one?”
“It’s a bonus book I wrote – oh, fifty years ago or so.”
I blinked. “You forgot your own book?”
“My dear Rooney, I’d forgotten my own name. Things haven’t entirely come back yet.”
“Maybe you should stop being a wysling and just write books about yourself,” I suggested.
He either chose to ignore the jab, or it sailed over his head. “That might not be a bad idea.” He settled down on the couch to read his own book, and I prepared pancakes while Patrick paced back and forth on the counter, sticking his head into bowls and sniffing and occasionally stirring the syrup heating on the stove. – Paper Hearts
When I first beheld the isle that was to be my prison, I thought it a harsh, ugly place. Tangled sea-grasses blew in the wind like the mane of a wild pony, and where it did not grow, nothing was visible except lumps of black rock. There was nothing friendly about this place, no sign of welcome. When I asked the ferryman whether the whole isle kept such an austere appearance he assured me that nearer the middle of the island there grew a forest –a dark, unkempt place better suited to wild animals and other creatures.
“Other creatures?” I had inquired. “What other creatures?”
He tapped the side of his bent nose with a finger. “Creatures, you know, miss.”
“No, I do not know,” I replied, my curiosity aroused. “That is why I asked.”
“Best not to mention unnatural things,” he said. “They can hear it.” – This Rough Magic
The city was a good place to get lost in. Sheer numbers gave every individual a kind of anonymity, and Alice wrapped herself in it like a suit of armor or a camouflage coat. Head down, walk quickly, don’t catch anyone’s eye. That was the trap. If you looked someone in the eye, they all seemed to feel like that was the universal code for ‘talk to me.’ Blending in was key. No one was going to go out of their way to talk to a girl who looked like a bad-tempered drug addict. – Impossible Things
She was a hard book to read, my sister. She felt things deeply, but could at times seem so stoic as to be practically Spartan. I remembered one afternoon when we were children, and the rain streaked in abstract patterns down the window-glass, sitting on my bed. I had taken the head and she had taken the foot, and I was brushing her hair with mother’s stiff, pearl-handled brush.
Out of nowhere, I had asked, “Do you mind?”
She shifted, tucking her feet under the hem of her nightdress. “Do I mind what?”
“You know.” Her hair smoothed like honeyed waves down her back with each stroke of the brush. “Being born without…it.”
She knew what ‘it’ was; I did not have to clarify. ‘Magic’ was a vulgar word that even wizards refrained from using. They preferred to speak of their particular ‘talents,’ as though it would fool everyone else into believing they were ordinary, and not to be feared. It seemed to work on nearly everyone, but in my mind I privately called it magic anyway.
“No,” she told me. “I don’t mind.”
“Don’t you miss it?”
“If I had it and lost it, then I would miss it, but since I never had it, what’s the point?” – This Rough Magic
Something warm and wet in my face woke me up. I gave an indelicate shriek and toppled out of bed – or halfway out, as Rusty caught my arm before my head could hit the wooden floor. Ginger jumped off the bed and ran in circles around my face. I jerked up before she could lick me again.
I groggily eyed Rusty. “You can let go now.”
He released my arm and said, “Pancakes.”
“Hmm?” I pushed my hair out of my face and wished it would behave in the morning. “Pancakes?”
“That’s what Azrael said. I don’t know what he meant, but he told me to wake you up and say ‘pancakes.’”
“Oh,” I said, recalling my promise from the night before. “Pancakes. Right.” I slid out of bed and fell off balance to avoid stepping on Ginger’s wagging tail. I stumbled around the edge of the bed and pushed the drapes apart again. Sunlight burst through, bright and welcoming and entirely too cheerful for this time of day.
“Must be a magic word,” said Rusty.
“Pancake. I’m going to have to start using it. See if it works miracles for me, too.”
“It means pancakes,” I said, giving him a blank stare.
“Apparently it raises the dead, too.” He gave me a pointed once-over and left the room, snapping for Ginger. The dog followed him out with a yapping bark. – Paper Hearts
“You should be taking therapy, not me.”
“Ah.” He waved a hand dismissively. “I don’t need it.”
“Maybe fashion advice, then.” Alice spat a strand of windblown hair out of her mouth. “Your hat went out of style a hundred years ago.”
He affected indignation. “Hey,” he admonished. “Respect the hat.”
“It’s not the only thing,” Alice continued. Her apartment block was in sight now, slowly approaching with every step. “That paisley vest thing you wear? I’m not sure it was ever in style. And cravats went out with the Scarlet Pimpernel.”
“Is that so?” He sounded amused. A young woman with her hair dyed straight-up white walked past them and he watched her until she passed, a strange shade crossing his face. It was gone in an instant, and Alice decided she had imagined it.
“You should also look into wearing normal shoes now and then,” she added. “Tennis shoes or something. Leather scuffs.”
He smiled in good-natured response to her criticism. “You’re awfully talkative this afternoon.”
“It’s an allergic reaction to you,” she said immediately.
“Oh. Wow.” He patted his coat, above his heart. “You know how to hurt someone’s feelings.”
“If you’d stop talking to me, that wouldn’t happen.”
“Ah, but then you would never get any practice.”
“I’m already so good at it, imagine what I could do if I really tried,” she answered, unable to help the brief smile that flickered across her face. His efforts to pull her out of her shell might be annoying and unwelcome, but they had the irritating habit of working. – Impossible Things
“It seems like a friendly skull,” I said, sitting down next to it and rubbing it fondly with the palm of my hand. It continued to stare out at Azrael and the marionette with forlorn eye sockets.
Azrael raked his fingers back and forth through his mass of curly ginger hair until it stuck up in all directions. “It’s a skull, Rooney. It can’t look friendly. It can’t look anything but skullish.” – Paper Hearts
“Miranda,” I said, but there was only a little reproof in my voice. Neither of us liked the manservant, if he could properly be called ‘man’ anything. Every time he saw my sister, his face took a lecherous turn. He also groveled too much, and it put me off.
“Prosper,” she said, mimicking my intonation of her name. “Please, can’t you ask him?”
“No,” I said, jutting out my chin. “I’ll demand it; and if he refuses, I’ll turn him out of the house.”
“You cannot,” she told me, smoothing the ivory-soft skirt of her dress absently with a pale hand. “You know it.”
“I do.” I shrugged. “But if we were not allowed to imagine good things in life, where would we be?”
Her lips twitched, but she managed to level her eyes disapprovingly. “Be kind.”
“Kindness is not in my nature.”
She sighed. “What would you be without me?”
“The mean-hearted wench I was born as.”
“Nobody is born mean-hearted.”
“Tell that to Caliban,” I retorted, just as knuckles rasped against my bedroom door. – This Rough Magic
She took a pencil and turned it between two fingers, ready to write down a note or connect two dots, but nothing made sense. Remembering dreams was like pulling all the legs off a caterpillar and still expecting it to be able to walk – crazy and impossible.
Also pointless. – Impossible Things
His face was wild, his hair strangely feral and nearly indecent without the hat to cover it up. – Impossible Things
“You know a watched kettle never boils,” he said from the doorway.
“It’s a watched pot,” she corrected. The handle of the knife dug into her hand, and her thumb strayed down to the blade. “And I’m not watching it. I’m intimidating it.”
“It’s being defiant.”
“I’m going to have it beheaded.”
“I’m not sure it deserves that.” He smiled and, reaching up, touched the neck of his bathrobe, as if feeling personally wounded for the kettle’s sake. – Impossible Things
She’d just have to get over this, too. Maybe she could ask Carol for another kind of pill; anti-hallucination pills or something. It was too bad you couldn’t take straight-up sanity, she thought; shoot it through a vein or swallow it in pill form, or breathe it in like smoke.
The sanest person in her life was her psychiatrist, and that was a depressing thought. – Impossible Things