- (He) disliked his family, and disliked himself for disliking them. (Doesn’t like what he feels)
—Babbitt, Sinclair Lewis
- His stomach ceased to feel as though it did not belong to him. (Personified stomach)
—Babbitt, Sinclair Lewis
- On the instant when we come to realize that tragedy is second-hand. (Surprising metaphor)
—The Sound and The Fury, William Faulkner
- Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
- Some of them hated the mathematics that drove them, and some were afraid, and some worshiped the mathematics because it provided a refuge from thought and from feeling.
—The Grape of Wrath, John Steinbeck
- The smolder of pain was in their eyes.
—The Grape of Wrath, John Steinbeck
Misery –Stephen King
He didn’t know the answers to any of these questions. Did it make sense to ask them? He didn’t know the answer to that one, either.
He wished he was dead, but through the pain-soaked haze that filled his mind like a summer storm-cloud, he did not know he wished it.
Sometimes the sounds stopped. Sometimes he stopped.
Part of him knew for a long time before most of his mind had knowledge of knowing that the shattered pilings were his own shattered legs.
As the pain itself began not to recede but to erode
That prescient part of his mind saw her before he knew he was seeing her, and must surely have understood her before he knew he was understanding her.
Her eyes, which appeared to move, were actually just painted on, and they moved no more than the eyes of portraits which appear to follow you wherever you move in the room where they hang.
She didn’t know as much about what she was doing as she believed she did. That was only one of the things about Annie that scared him.
The darkness had prologued the pain and the storm-cloud; he began to remember what had prologued the darkness as she told him what had happened to him.
Paul was frightened by what he saw on her face, because what he saw was nothing; the black nothing of a crevasse folded into an alpine meadow, a blackness where no flowers grew and into which the drop might be long. It was the face of a woman who has come momentarily untethered from all of the vital positions and landmarks of her life, a woman who has forgotten not only the memory she was in the process of recounting but memory itself.
But now he was alerted. Everything she said was a little strange, a little offbeat. Listening to Annie was like listening to a song played in the wrong key.
And if she didn’t kill him, she might kill what was in him.
But he had been just drunk enough to think he could drive his way out of it.
The beads of sweat on his forehead felt alternately hot and cold. Was he going to scream? He thought perhaps he was.
She looked at him with faint disapproval–but, as before, it was mixed with love. It was a maternal look.
He made something he hoped was a smile.
She turned off then. She just sat there for what might have been thirty seconds. During that time Paul sheldon’s heart did not seem to beat at all.
He tried to smile at her ingratiatingly and felt that shame again–he felt grotesque to himself, a stranger.
Part of him groaned but none of him hesitated.
Too stupid? No. Too set. Not just unwilling to change, but antagonistic to the very idea of change!
Each time he had taken a year or two off to write one of the other novels–what he thought of as his “serious” work with what was at first certainty and then hope and finally a species of grim desperation…
The tone of these letters varied from bewilderment (that always hurt the most, somehow), to reproach, to outright anger, but the message was always the same…
he suddenly felt better again, felt himself again, even though he knew this rebellion was petty and pitiful and meaningless.
He felt a flush of shame and humiliation warming his face, but now they were mixed with real anger: it had bloomed from a spark into a tiny sunken flame.
The springs creaked as she got up.
He reappeared promptly when the clock in the other room struck eight, with two capsules and a glass of water.
He hoisted himself eagerly on his elbows…
Ice tinkled in the glass. I was a maddening sound.
He could feel the sweat standing out on his forehead.
The pain throbbed in his legs and made a deep steel circlet around his crotch… he thought his pelvis was intact, but it felt twisted and weird.
The glass was cool and beaded with moisture.
Her left hand tilted. The capsules rolled, hesitated, and then fell back into her right hand with a minute clicking sound.
His bones were shattered, his legs filled with festering shards of broken glass.
She crimsoned suddenly and alarmingly.
But he couldn’t see her because his eyes were still closed and now he felt the sting of tears… and although a bolt of horror ripped into his heart, Paul still did not open his eyes.
he thought, and stared blindly up at the ceiling as the droplets of sweat began to gather on his forehead again.
He was somewhere between hurting and not hurting.
In some vague way he supposed that such tricks of the trade might interest, even fascinate her. God knew they had fascinated the attendees of the writers’ workshops to whom he had sometime lectured…
her face now like a sky which might spawn tornadoes at any instant.
The soup-bowl was tilting in her hands. One, then two drops fell on the coverlet.
she screamed, and threw the bowl into the corner, where it shattered. Soup splashed up the wall. He gasped.
Her face went slack again and she looked moodily at the wall. He thought she was going to blank out again, but instead she fetched a sigh and lifted her bulk from the bed.
He lay propped up on the pillows…
and cold sweat running down his face in little slow creeks…
Once she turned around and saw him shivering and soaking the bedclothes in sweat, and she favored him with such a sly knowing smile that he could easily have killed her.
He could not see her face, but the idea–the certainty–that she had gone blank and might go on scrubbing the wall for hours tormented him.
He began to cry soundlessly.
observing his wet face with the same mixture of sternness and maternal love.
Living alone as I do is no excuse whatever for scamping the job. My mother had a motto, Paul, and I live by it. ‘Once nasty, never neat,’ she used to say.
She leaned over him like a monolith, the bucket slightly tipped. He could see the rag twisting slowly in its dark depths like a drowned thing;
the taste in his mouth was as it had been on the occasions when his mother made him brush his teeth with soap.
His belly hitched and he made a thick sound.
She looked at him for a moment with a flat empty gaze, and then her face lit up and she smiled.
She left, not looking back, carrying the floor-bucket the way a study countrywoman might carry a milk-pail, slightly away from her body with no thought at all, so that none would spill.
He heard the dim crunch of her footsteps in the snow.
Her breath plumed out, the broke apart on her moving face.
His mind kept trying to push it away, like a child pushing away his meal even though he has been told he cannot leave the table until he has eaten it.
He didn’t want to think about it because justing living it was hard enough.
Thinking of those things would not change his situation, was in fact worse than not thinking at all.
They were the thoughts that came, crowding out all others. His heart would start to beat too fast, mostly in fear, but partly in shame, too. He saw himself putting his lips to the rim of the yellow floor-bucket, saw the rinse-water with its film of soap and the rag floating in it, saw these things but drank anyway, never hesitating a bit. He would never tell anyone about that, assuming he ever got out of this, and he supposed he might try to lie about it to himself, but he would never be able to do it.
Are you already so cowed you can’t even try.
For a moment his thoughts broke off cleanly.
when he had spent most of his adult life thinking the word writer was the most important definition of himself–made her seem utterly monstrous, something he must escape.
He lay back, put his arm over his eyes, and tried to hold onto the anger, because the anger made him feel brave, A brave man could think. A coward couldn’t.
Why did she she no longer practice her trade? That seemed obvious. Not all her gear was stowed right; lots of it was rolling around in the holds. If it was obvious to him even through the haze of pain he had been living in, it would surely have been obvious to her colleagues.
She had told no one he was here, and if she hadn’t by now, that meant she didn’t mean to.
It had the most beautiful feathers–red and purple and royal blue–that he had ever seen…and the saddest eyes.
it was doomed to die in the cage where it lived, far away from wherever God had meant it to be…
Its feathers. Its eyes.
He pressed the crook of his elbow more tightly against his eyes. From the barn he could hear spaced thudding noises.
He willed her to say more; she would not.
Paul drifted off to sleep.
Great relief swept through him–so great he felt like crying.
it was chiming from beyond the wall of sleep… Sadness replaced the relief.
Her bookmark suggested she was about three-quarters of the way through.
The first thing which was not the truth that popped into his head was what he replied…
The Tell-tale Heart — Edgar Allan Poe
Art is long and Time is fleeting, And our hearts, though stout and brave, Still, like muffled drums, are beating Funeral marches to the grave. — Longfellow.
TRUE! — nervous — very, very dreadfully nervous I had been, and am; buy why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses–not destroyed–not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in the hell. How, then, am I mad? Harken! and observe how healthily — how calmly I can tell you the whole story.
It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but, once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none… He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! — yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture — a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so, by degrees — very gradually — I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever. (Great description of eyes)
Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing… And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it — oh so gently! And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I first put in a dark lantern, all closed, closed, so that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly — very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man’s sleep. It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see the old man as he lay upon his bed.
A watch’s minute-hand moves more quickly than did mine. Never, before that night, had I felt the extent of my own powers — of my sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph… I fairly chuckled at the idea.
Presently I heard a slight groan, and I knew that it was the groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain, or of grief — oh, no! — it was the low, stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. I knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me… Yes, he had been trying to comfort himself with these supposition; but he had found all in vain. All in vain: because death, in approaching the old man had stalked with his black shadow before him, and the shadow had now reached and enveloped the victim.
And now — have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over acuteness of the senses? — now, I say, there came to my ears a low dull, quick sound — much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well, too. It was the beating of the old man’s heart. It increased my fury, as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.
Do you mark me well? I have told you that I am nervous: — so I am. And now, at the dead hour of the night, and amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable wrath.
for what had I to fear? I bade the gentlemen welcome… while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim.
I was singularly at ease.
They were making a mockery of my horror! — this I thought, and this I think. But anything [was] better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable that this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer!
dissemble no more! … it is the beating of his hideous heart!