Have you ever been reading something and the words of a passage just jumped out at you? Yeah, me too…
Sometime that night, or another night, he went out the screen door onto the back porch, dressed only in his pajama bottoms, the night air cool on his skin. Whippoorwills were tolling out of the dark and a milky blind cat’s eye of a moon hung above the jagged treeline. Out there in the dark patches of velvet, patches of silver where moonlight was scattered through the leaves like coins, the world looked strange yet in some way familiar. Not a world he was seeing, but one he was remembering. He looked down expecting to see a child’s bare feet on the floorboards and saw that he had heard the screen door slap to as a child but had inexplicably become an old man, gnarled feet on thin blue shanks of legs, and the jury-rigged architecture of time itself came undone, warped and ran like melting glass.
Those Deep Elm Brown’s Ferry Blues – William Gay
…I saw the candle in the right sconce of one of the mirrors wink and go right out, and almost immediately its companion followed it. There was no mistake about it. The flame vanished, as if the wicks had been suddenly nipped between a finder and a thumb, leaving the wick neither glowing nor smoking, but black. While I stood gaping, the candle at the foot of the bed went out, and the shadows seemed to take another step towards me.
The Red Room – H.G. Wells
He judged the car to be about a 1928 or ‘29 Ford. “Lady,” he said, and turned and gave her his full attention, “lemme tell you something. There’s one of these doctors in Atlanta that’s taken a knife and cut the human heart – the human heart,” he repeated, leaning forward, “out of a man’s chest and held it in his hand,” and he held his hand out, palm up, as if it were slightly weighted with the human heart, “and studied it like it was a day-old chicken, and lady,” he said, allowing a long significant pause in which his head slid forward and his clay-colored eyes brightened, “he don’t know no more about it than you or me.”
The Life You Save May Be Your Own – Flannery O’Connor
“Lie down my foot,” says Uncle Rondo. I ought to of known by that he was fixing to do something perfectly horrible.
So he didn’t do anything that night in the precarious state he was in – just played Casino with Mama and Stell-Rondo, and Shirley-T and gave Shirley-T a nickel with a head on both sides. It tickled her nearly to death, and she called him “Papa”. But at 6:30 A.M. the next morning, he threw a whole five-cent package of some unsold one-inch firecrackers from the store as hard as he could into my bedroom and they every one went off. Not one bad one in the string. Anybody else, there’d be one that wouldn’t go off.
Well I’m just terribly susceptible to noise of any kind, the doctor has always told me I was the most sensitive person he had ever seen in his whole life, and I was simply prostrated. I couldn’t eat! People tell me they heard it as far as the cemetery, and old Aunt Jep Patterson, that had been holding her own so good, thought it was Judgment Day and she was going to meet her whole family. It’s usually so quiet here.
Why I Live at the P.O. – Eudora Welty
…Then they dared speak to him, and he answered in an incomprehensible dialect with a strong sailor’s voice. That was how they skipped over the inconvenience of the wings and quite intelligently concluded that he was a lonely castaway from some foreign ship wrecked by the storm. And yet, they called in a neighbor woman who knew everything about life and death to see him, and all she needed was one look to show them their mistake.
“He’s an angel,” she told them. “He must have been coming for the child, but the poor fellow is so old that the rain knocked him down.”
On the following day, everyone knew that a flesh-and-blood angel was held captive in Pelayo’s house…
A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings -Gabriel Garcia Marquez
I am an educated man, a cultivated man. I am not the type of person who would ever speak aloud on a train, unless there were some purpose to it, as saying to the person next to me, “Excuse me, you are standing on my foot.” or “Please take your elbow out of my lungs.” I am the type of person who believes other people should obey the same rules I do, among them, namely, that no one should presume to deliver Golgothan messages on a commuter train when people are tired and simply want to get home as peaceably as possible. It seemed clear to me that this message could not come from Jesus because He would be too polite to send it. So I listened to her words every day, during a period of peak ridership, in transit from Georgia State to King Memorial, or vice versa; and I disliked her every day as well, increasingly.
Jesus is Sending You This Message – Jim Grimsley
Memory Wall – Anthony Doerr
“I don’t like it here,” he said blandly, without raising his eyes. “I’m going to sell my equity in the house to Chaddy. I didn’t expect to have a good time. The only reason I came back was to say goodbye.”
I let him get ahead again and I walked behind him, looking at his shoulders and thinking of all the goodbyes he had made. When Father drowned, he went to church and said goodbye to Father. It was only three years later that he concluded that Mother was frivolous and said goodbye to her. In his freshman year at college, he had been very good friends with his roommate, but the man drank too much, and at the beginning of the spring term Lawrence changed roommates and said goodbye to his friend. When he had been in college for two years, he concluded that the atmosphere was too sequestered and he said goodbye to Yale. He enrolled at Columbia and got his law degree there, but he found his first employer dishonest, and at the end of six months he said goodbye to a good job. He married Ruth in City Hall and said goodbye to the Protestant Episcopal Church; they went to live on a back street in Tuckahoe and said goodbye to the middle class. In 1938 he went to Washington to work as a government lawyer, saying goodbye to private enterprise, but after eight months in Washington he concluded that the Roosevelt administration was sentimental and he said goodbye to it. They left Washington for a suburb of Chicago, where he said goodbye to his neighbors, one by one, on counts of drunkenness, boorishness, and stupidity. He said goodbye to Chicago and went to Kansas; he said goodbye to Kansas and went to Cleveland. Now he had said goodbye to Cleveland and come East again, stopping at Laud’s Head long enough to say goodbye to the sea.
Goodbye, My Brother – John Cheever
The dog continued to bark behind us. I was afraid he’d chew through the fence and chase us down. My father told me to forget the dog and listen for when the bells from all the churches in the neighborhood – St. Procopius, St. Pius and St. Ann’s – would chime the first bars of ‘Silent Night’ as a summons to Midnight Mass. ‘Listen,’ he told me. ‘Bells always sound most beautiful in the snow.’ The reason for this had to be practical: maybe the cold made the metal contract, turning the dull clang of iron to a silvery chime, or maybe the sound waves resonated through the crystalline snowflakes, affecting their gravity so that the chiming hovered; he didn’t know exactly why, but bells sounded more beautiful in the snow.
I slipped my earmuffs off to better hear, and my ears turned cold. I wanted to watch and see if the sound of bells was visible in the gravity of a snowflake…
Vigil – Stuart Dybek
The dump held very little wood, for in that country anything burnable got burned. But it had plenty of old iron, furniture, papers, mattresses that were the delight of field mice, and jugs and demijohns that were sometimes their bane, for they crawled into the necks and drowned in the rain water or redeye that was inside.
If the history of our town was not exactly written, it was at least hinted, in the dump. I think I had a pretty sound notion even at eight or nine of how significant was that first institution of our forming Canadian civilization. For rummaging through its foul purlieus I had several times been surprised and shocked to find relics of my own life tossed out there to rot or blow away.
The Town Dump – Wallace Stegner