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datatime: 2022-12-06 18:57:07 Author:MFIseFTA

His head was remarkably clear. He had not been this long without a drink all summer. And he rather liked the feeling of thinking clearly. She had just refilled the coffee for him, and it tasted good. But he'd put back on the gloves, because he was getting all those random stupid images off everything - Graham, Ellie, and men, lots of different men, handsome men, and all Rowan's men, that was abundantly clear. He wished it wasn't.

How could he continue to know her and maybe even get to love her, and have her, and do this other thing he had to do? And he still had to do this other thing. He still had to go home and he had to determine the purpose.

He had even gone into his crazy talk about the movies, and the recurrent images of vengeful babies and children, and the way he felt when he perceived such themes - as though everything around him was talking to him. Maybe one step from the madhouse, but he wondered if some of the people in the madhouse were there because they took the patterns they perceived too literally? What did she think? And death, well, he had a lot of thoughts about death, but first and foremost, this thought had recently struck him, even before the accident, that the death of another person is perhaps the only genuine supernatural event we ever experience.

All these weeks, if only he could have seen her, been with her. And the oddest thought occurred to him. If only that awful accident hadn't happened, and he had found her in some simple ordinary place, and they had begun to talk. But she was part and parcel of what had happened, her strangeness and her strength were part of it. All alone out there in that big awful cruiser right at the moment when darkness fell.Who the hell else would have been there? Who the hell else could have gotten him out of the water? Why, he could easily believe what she said about determination, about her powers.

'I know what you're saying.'

'Do you think it was that power?' he asked.

All these weeks, if only he could have seen her, been with her. And the oddest thought occurred to him. If only that awful accident hadn't happened, and he had found her in some simple ordinary place, and they had begun to talk. But she was part and parcel of what had happened, her strangeness and her strength were part of it. All alone out there in that big awful cruiser right at the moment when darkness fell.Who the hell else would have been there? Who the hell else could have gotten him out of the water? Why, he could easily believe what she said about determination, about her powers.

'Do you think it was that power?' he asked.

When she'd been describing the rescue to him in more detail, she had said a strange thing. She had said that a person loses consciousness almost immediately in very cold water. Yet she had been pitched right into it, and she hadn't lost consciousness. She had said only, 'I don't know how I reached the ladder, I honestly don't.'

How could he continue to know her and maybe even get to love her, and have her, and do this other thing he had to do? And he still had to do this other thing. He still had to go home and he had to determine the purpose.

She had reflected for a moment. Then she had said, 'Yes, and no. I mean maybe it was just luck.'

It was an easy exchange, deepening their knowledge of each other, and amplifying the intimacy they'd already felt. He had liked what she said about going out to sea; about being alone on the bridge with the coffee in her hand, the wind howling past the wheelhouse. He didn't like it, but he liked to hear her tell about it. He liked the look in her gray eyes; he liked the simplicity of her easy, languid gestures.

She had smiled so beautifully at him then. He had started kissing her, and that was how that particular segment of the conversation had come to an end. But the point was, he hadn't lost her with his crazy rambling. She had never once tuned out on him.

Why did this other thing have to be happening? Why did this feel like stolen time?

When she'd been describing the rescue to him in more detail, she had said a strange thing. She had said that a person loses consciousness almost immediately in very cold water. Yet she had been pitched right into it, and she hadn't lost consciousness. She had said only, 'I don't know how I reached the ladder, I honestly don't.'

He didn't tell her about the weeds in the gutters, the men sitting on the steps with their cans of beer, the smell of boiled cabbage that never went away, the riverfront trains rattling the windows.

Why did this other thing have to be happening? Why did this feel like stolen time?

She had smiled so beautifully at him then. He had started kissing her, and that was how that particular segment of the conversation had come to an end. But the point was, he hadn't lost her with his crazy rambling. She had never once tuned out on him.

Why did this other thing have to be happening? Why did this feel like stolen time?

'I'm not talking about doctors now. I'm talking about ordinary people in the modern world. What I'm saying is, when you look down at that body, and you realize all the life has gone out of it, and you can scream at it, and slap it around, and try to sit it up, and do every trick in the book to it, but it's dead, absolutely unequivocally dead...

He was thinking that she was the first thing in all these weeks that really mattered to him, that took his mind off the accident and off himself. And it was such a relief to be thinking of someone other than himself. In fact, when he considered it with this new clarity, he realized he'd been able to concentrate well since he'd been here, concentrate on their conversation and their lovemaking and their knowing of each other; and that was something altogether new, because in all these weeks, his lack of concentration - his inability to read more than a page of a book, or follow more than a few moments of a film - had left him continuously agitated. It had been as bad as the lack of sleep.

'And you have to remember, for most of us we see that maybe once or twice in twenty years. Maybe never. Why, California in this day and age is a whole civilization of people who never witness a death. They never even see a dead body Why, they think when they hear somebody's dead that he forgot to eat his health foods, or hadn't been jogging the way he should have been...

'Well, it was luck for me, all right,' he'd responded, and he had felt an extraordinary sense of well-being when he said it, and he wasn't so sure why.

He realized that he had never had his knowledge of a human being commence at such a pitch, and plunge so deep so fast. It was like what was supposed to happen with sex, but seldom if ever did. He had entirely lost sight of the fact that she was the woman who'd rescued him; that is, a strong sense of her character had obliterated that vague impersonal excitement he'd felt on first meeting her, and now he was making mad fantasies about her in his head.

The sun was burning through the eastern windows and skylights. He could hear her working in the kitchen. He figured he ought to get up and help her no matter what she'd said, but she'd been pretty convincing on the subject: 'I like to cook, it's like surgery. Stay exactly where you are.'

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