When it ends the spectator will walk calmly away.

Quotes from my recent reading…

Marriages and Infidelities by Joyce Carol Oates

It was true that I told lies. I made up “lies” because I had to fill my life with something, all those tiny lines that marked off seconds on my wrist watch, I had to talk to myself, to argue with myself, to speak lovingly and teasingly with myself. It was true that I became fiction. But lies and stories and dreams and fiction all come to a final, honest end, people come to an end whether they are entirely real or half real or entirely made up, whether they lie to themselves most of the time or all of the time, everything runs out, everything dies. Therefore nothing exists that is not true, nothing that is entirely fiction.

And he is whispering to her–Am I hurting you? and her pain fades as she realizes that she does love him and that though he hurts her, constantly and permanently, she must always whisper no, numb and smiling into his face, their bodies now comradely, soldierly in this grappling, their mouths hard-rotted away–and she whispers no, you’re not hurting me, no, you have never hurt me.

The capsules detonate gradually over a period of twelve hours, I think. They release themselves in tiny fragments into the bloodstream. I think of the cells of my body with the seeds of my future inside them, unreadable. They have seeds of cancer inside them, death itself, the particular way in which I will wear out and die, everything contained secretly in them and ready to go off at a certain time. But that time is a secret.

Why did ordinary people, who were supposed to think such ordinary thoughts, sometimes say such things? it frightened her; it opened everything.

She would have to shout to him across a jumbled space, she would have to wave her arms wildly You love me! You must love me! But she knew he did not love her, she did not love him. He was a man who drew everything up into himself, like all men, walking away, free to walk away, free to have his own thoughts, free to envision her body, all the secrets of her body…. And she lay down again in the bed, feeling how heavy this body had become, her insides heavy with shame, the very backs of her eyelids coated with shame. “This is the end of one part of my life,” she thought. But in the morning the telephone rang. She answered it.

My body was a cage, my ribs a cage, and inside, my heart pounding to be let out! to get free! The rain had passed and it had not renewed me. The pores of our human skin, coated over with a film of grease, do not take in moisture; we are impenetrable.


One thought on “When it ends the spectator will walk calmly away.

  1. Pingback: 2010: The Year of the Short Story (for me anyway) « The Adventures of Megan and Blog

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