fiction: results 49–72 of 133
A great number of people nowadays are beginning broadly to insinuate that there are no such things as ghosts, or spiritual beings visible to mortal sight. Even Sir Walter Scott is turned renegade, and, with his stories made up of half-and-half, like Nathaniel Gow's toddy, is trying to throw cold water on the most certain, though most impalpable, phenomena of human nature. The bodies are daft. Heaven mend their wits! Before they had ventured to assert such things, I wish they had been where I have often been; or, in particular, where the Laird of Birkendelly was on St. Lawrence's Eve, in the year 1777, and sundry times subsequent to that.
No one knew who was coming to train us. I had a strange buzzing in my limbs so I had to keep moving around. At the time I didn't know the difference between nerves and excitement. My stomach was either in knots or it wasn't. I was either playing basketball or I was thinking about it. I was either waiting for Jenny or she was there.
I sprinted towards the doors, without hesitation; Ian and Kate close behind me, pushing and shoving—propelling me forward. Once at the door, I crept in slowly, excited and relieved to feel the warm, humid air—mingled with the thick smell of chlorine. On the opposite end of the Olympic size pool, was our school motto, painted in large, sweeping, chirographic strokes: Scientia Auget Vires (Knowledge Increases Strength).
"Is anyone else in the building today?" I wondered aloud, suddenly nervous.
Mr. Augustus Minns was a bachelor, of about forty as he said—of about eight-and-forty as his friends said. He was always exceedingly clean, precise, and tidy; perhaps somewhat priggish, and the most retiring man in the world. He usually wore a brown frock-coat without a wrinkle, light inexplicables without a spot, a neat neckerchief with a remarkably neat tie, and boots without a fault; moreover, he always carried a brown silk umbrella with an ivory handle.
They were unlikely friends. Toni didn't settle for rough around the edges. She went for jagged. She was a junior and had friends that would never waste their time with someone like Theo, a sophomore, nondescript loner-jock type who always did his homework on time and ate Sunday dinner with Mom and Dad. Toni's friends wore black clothes and eyeliner and chains. Like them, Toni's take on life was dark, and he wasn't sure why she liked him enough to put up with his middle-class, white-washed way of seeing the world. Except that he was gay. Maybe that qualified him weird enough to be her friend.
When Kev came home from walking Ruffo, the Shar-Pei, he noticed the sofa and easy chair were gone.
"I'm having them reupholstered," Tiffany told him.
The Oriental carpet was also missing. "Being cleaned," she said.
To ride on these cars is always an adventure. Since we are in war-time, the drivers are men unfit for active service: cripples and hunchbacks. So they have the spirit of the devil in them. The ride becomes a steeple-chase. Hurray! we have leapt in a clear jump over the canal bridges—now for the four-lane corner. With a shriek and a trail of sparks we are clear again. To be sure, a tram often leaps the rails—but what matter!
The summer I was ten we had a terrible heat wave. You could hear the transformers exploding on the other side of the tracks. Old people were dying in their sleep. Everyone was afraid the weed men wouldn't come and we would all be devoured by weeds. I had more faith. Nothing stoked the fire of a weed man's soul like a battle with the elements. I'll never forget the time I saw a weed man working in a thunderstorm, water up to his ankles, lightning felling trees a hundred yards away, and the weed man oblivious to all but the weeds.
I started worrying about my ride home right after Dr. Thursgard told me I could put my bra and shirt back on. I didn't know it would happen so fast. Deke had driven me to the office and made sure I was signed in and sat with me in the waiting room for twenty minutes, but then he left to go get his wooling shears sharpened.
Admittedly, I should have been more dubious at the outset. But Monty had so few achievements to celebrate that I felt obligated to attend the commencement, or whatever it was he had called it.
"It's not a graduation," Carla, Monty's girlfriend, said. "That's probably what he told you, but that's not what it is."
Violet eased back behind an imitation palm tree, wedging open a slit in the branches with her fingers. Just the mention of a lie detector made her squirm, almost like she had worms crawling in and out of holes in her chest, but this extractor thing, ripping truth from bowels, that was another matter entirely. She had studied polygraphs, fretting for years over how to fool one in case she was ever confronted by one. According to Sloan, the assistant librarian at the city library, lie detectors were nothing but junk science. He had given her a book, The Polygraph: Lies You Tell, The Lies You're Told, and she had studied it, even practiced the countermeasures. Lie detectors were fallible. She was pretty sure she could beat one of those if it ever came to that.
Jennifer is sitting alone, nursing a 7UP and squinting across a dim, smoky motel lounge at her mother. It's a Thursday night around ten o'clock, and Mallory's already had three Black Russians and a vodka tonic. The effect of this combination is that Jennifer's 43-year-old mother—a woman who works in a bank and wears expensive tailored suits and strings of pearls, who speaks in a low, carefully modulated voice about stock options at the breakfast table—is sliding around a dance floor with a drunk man from the bar, his arms knotted around her waist and his face buried in her neck.
Sixty-two year old Paul McCartney, a bankrupt businessman of Liverpool, strolled down Penny Lane watching children laugh behind the back of a banker with a motorcar. He worried how he was going to pay the rent due next week on his flat across the hall from Father McKenzie. He carried an old transistor radio that he had pilfered from the junkshop down by Strawberry Fields.
The cold had come in a calm so complete not a molecule of water had moved, and not a leaf had fallen from a tree, not a bug nor animal nor drop of snow or rain had moved the water. Water needs movement in order to change. The same way you can microwave water far beyond boiling and it will sit unboiled until you touch it with a spoon and it explodes, that same way water can sometimes freeze unfrozen, and stay that way, on the edge of ice until something touches it.
That's when Wallace will come out of the backroom, the paint hangar, I call it. He'll wipe his hands on a turpentine rag and he'll smell like noxious chemicals. He'll give you a big grin and a waggle of his rug-like brown eyebrows. You'll like him right away because his face is cleaner than mine and he looks glad to see you. You'll expect him to ask if he can help you. He'll walk right up to you and you'll extend your right hand for him to shake. He'll put the paint rag in your palm.
"Don't look down."
The one in charge was the one who said it, though that changed depending on who brought the best toys. We started with rocks. Then bottles, plates, fly-fishing lures, paper airplanes and doll heads. One day we'd fling ourselves.
"A model of the Manchester branch of the Young Women's Christian Association," said Harvey.
"Are there any lions?" asked Eric hopefully. He had been reading Roman history and thought that where you found Christians you might reasonably expect to find a few lions.
"Her great tragedy happened just three years ago," said the child; "that would be since your sister's time."
"Her tragedy?" asked Framton; somehow in this restful country spot tragedies seemed out of place.
"You may wonder why we keep that window wide open on an October afternoon," said the niece, indicating a large French window that opened on to a lawn.
I don't know what was harder to believe, that Pam's mother threw her out of the house or that Gail Tate turned Born Again! I thought most people who get suckered into those kinds of religious cults are sheepish and anti-social…losers. But Gail joins sports and has yearbooks filled with sentiments like, thank you for being you and a girl above the crowd. Don't get me wrong. I don't have anything against Born Agains.
One-bedroom apartments feel unnecessarily large with just one person in them. Who knows, I may be renting my own studio soon, or staying in this big apartment by myself 'til the lease runs out. But I doubt, despite what Sue may want, that I'll be getting a new job anytime soon.
The furniture was wonderfully unpretending, old, and snug. No new shining mahogany, sticky with undried varnish; no uncomfortably luxurious ottomans, and sofas too fine to use, vexed you in this sedate apartment. It is a thing which every sensible American should learn from every sensible Englishman, that glare and glitter, gimcracks and gewgaws, are not indispensable to domestic solacement. The American Benedick snatches, down-town, a tough chop in a gilded show-box; the English bachelor leisurely dines at home on that incomparable South Down of his, off a plain deal board.
Immediately I found myself standing in a spacious place intolerably lighted by long rows of windows, focusing inward the snowy scene without.
At rows of blank-looking counters sat rows of blank-looking girls, with blank, white folders in their blank hands, all blankly folding blank paper.
His sunken pitfalls of eyes were ringed by indigo halos, and played with an innocuous sort of lightning: the gleam without the bolt. The whole man was dripping. He stood in a puddle on the bare oak floor: his strange walking-stick vertically resting at his side.
Once upon a time there was little girl, pretty and dainty. But in summer time she was obliged to go barefooted because she was poor, and in winter she had to wear large wooden shoes, so that her little instep grew quite red.