A reflective story in which a first-person narrator strings together “slices of life” to paint a poignant picture of loss and death and youth and love.
Sentences Worth Studying
- “There are other things besides death to notice, of course, at the beginning of summer, a time notorious for school thoughts rising, and diminishing, in the heat. Just before I hear the news, I’m tanning on my mother’s back deck, facing the yard, the tilting split-rail fence, the maple trees, thick and green—on a clear day, you can see the ocean’s inlet through the branches. I see it now. And there is calm” (213).
- “Maybe it’s because I know I will never know him again that I cling to what I remember and form something more, a sculpture of a new Sam. Before I met him, his existence was formed by rumor anyway. The girls in my class said he was hot. The boys said he was cool. Somehow they’d caught glimpses, gleaned information—but when?” (214).
- “As the body moved quickly, the mind slowly drained. I ran until I was empty, which took much speed and time . . . Maybe it was the endorphins, but those short moments just after a run would expand so beautifully. With my body doubled over and my hands on my kneecaps, I’d look up at the sky and breathe deep; there was just the cool wind on my cheeks. I felt it as the waking of my former self, brushing past before dying down” (217).
- “I will be a runner forever, I said to myself one day, in a just a flash of one of those moments—doubled over in hot breath, my hands on my knees, looking up at the sky; my lungs were tight, and I inhaled. I liked it that way, how after running really hard it felt like inhaling the whole world, a globe in the throat” (218).
- “The wells of memory from which we drew were shallow; moments in time floated like leaves upon still water” (220).
- “Everything behind the glass shrank into its infant form, as though being funneled backwards in time: the pond became a puddle, the dogs became puppies, and the horses were ponies; the weeping willows diminished to weeds; and a man who was our father, a man who sometimes hit our mother in the eyes, was just a boy, miniaturized by space between us that grew until he was gone” (222).
- “I let the skin of my fingertips blister, heal, callus, and strengthen against steel wires that, if I wrangle them right, if I practice enough, I know I can translate how I feel in my soul to the world outside” (229).
- “This is why he wanted to close the door; he didn’t want to ruin the surprise. I am sixty percent disappointed he was never intending to make out, and forty percent eager to learn how to juggle” (234).
- “We will not all be millionaires. We will not all win. We all fall out of touch, when, after I begin high school, my father makes a decision. We will never know if it was lucid or manic. What we know is he lifted a revolver to this mouth with his right hand, cocked the hammer, pulled the trigger, and pulverized the place where thoughts come from” (235).
- “A part of me comes alive, but it doesn’t reach the part of me that moves my body, changes my expression, or pushes me to speak. The glow in my heart is too low to spark my brain” (237).