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I Cheerfully Refuse

“It’s taken all my life to learn protection is the promise you can’t make.  It sounds absolute, and you mean it and believe it, but that vow is provisional and makeshift and no god ever lived who could keep it half the time.”

The Sun Walks Down

“ When George Axam wakes to the sound of rain, he sits up in his bed, furious at everything: the weather, God, shearers, sheep, his exasperating brother, and the twistedness of his sheets. He suspects, as he always does when inconvenienced by rain, that the natives have brought it on to spite him. These are the only circumstances under which George would indulge such suspicions; he would never attribute to native magic a stretch of warm, dry, windless days for shearing. “

Western Lane

“There were three of us, all girls.  When Ma died, I was eleven, Khush was thirteen, Mona fifteen. We’d been playing squash and badminton twice a week ever since we were old enough to hold a racket, but it was nothing  like the regime that came after.  Mona said that all of it, the sprints and the ghosting and the three-hour drills, started when our aunt Ranjan told Pa that what we girls needed was exercise and discipline and Pa sat quiet and let her tell him what to do.”

Holly

“Holly decides not to listen to the rest of anxious Penelope’s messages.  The lady will have to wait.  Pete sure isn’t going to be doing any legwork for awhile; he tested positive for Covid a week before Charlotte died. He was double-vaxxed and isn’t too sick- says it’s more like a heavy cold than the flu- but he’s quarantining and will be for some time to come.”

The Women

“As bad as it had been in Nam, as frightened and angry and betrayed as she’d often felt by her government and the war, she’d also felt alive.  Competent and important.  A woman who made a difference in the world. This place would forever hold a piece of her heart.  Here, she had found her place in the world, and she was afraid that ‘home’ was no longer the place she wanted it to be.”

James

“ I had never seen a white man filled with such fear. The remarkable truth, however, was that it was not the pistol, but my language, the fact that I didn’t conform to his expectations, that I could read, that had so disturbed and frightened him.”

Passing

“But she shrank away from telling that man, Clare Kendry’s white husband, anything that would lead him to suspect that his wife was a Negro. Nor could she write it, telephone it, or tell it to someone else who would tell him.

She was caught between two allegiances, different, yet the same.  Herself. Her race. Race! The thing that bound and suffocated her.”

Things You Save in a Fire

“Firefighters are, on average, very funny people.  All the sorrow you absorb in that job makes you funnier.  You have to balance out the pain somehow, and joking around is one of the best things about the job.  There’s so much death in that world, but laughter is life.”

Good Material

” ‘I mean obviously she’s met someone else,’ I say.  

‘There’s no other explanation.’

‘Sorry, why is there no other explanation?’ Jane asks.

‘Because people don’t break up with people who they’ve had absolutely no prior problem with just so they can be single.  No one likes being single that much.’

‘I’d like to be single,’ Jane replies.  ‘I think most women would.  It’s men who don’t know how to do it.’

‘I hate today,’ Avi says sulkily.”