They thought I couldn’t hear them whispering behind me. But then, ordinary people thought a lot of things.
The summer before sixth grade, I used to play dead in pools. I waded into the shallow end, and then I fell forward, and then I'd hang, sagging toward the bottom. The sun warmed my neck around my ponytail, and I'd squint through the chlorine sting toward the bottom. Pebbled. Rough. On a curve I couldn't trace, either up or down.
The light is beautiful and muffled, like a sun trapped inside a god’s mouth. It’s not at all how Carmen thought it would look. She tilts her head up and tries not to look at Molly. They sit together on the hood of Molly’s car in the parking lot outside the Sunglass Hut, and Carmen thinks about ancient Titans, swallowing worlds and vomiting them, dripping green, back up.
All of Lisbon knew about Emilia before he did. But then, Manuel Santiago had no time for gossip. Hadn’t back when he’d studied at Coimbra, and had even less now, with scholars citing his astronomical research from Wittenberg to Rome. Petty scandals paled in comparison to a perfectly plotted star chart, a predicted eclipse, a glimpse of Mercury cycling backward and sideways around the earth.
“Sea-hag.” “Night-creature.” “Thing. ” They thought I couldn’t hear them whispering behind me. But then, ordinary people thought a lot of things.
There were more glamorous ways to die than this. Antonio spread both hands across his forehead, thumbs brushing his temples, and closed his eyes. A nauseous ache spread from his eyes to his stomach. Breathing sent a cloud of pain through his lungs, an invisible hand taking his ribcage and turning it, vise-like, tighter.
Maybe those years of crying at all the wrong times—the last scene of Beauty and the Beast, my cousin scorching the dirty shore of Lake Lansing setting off fireworks, a band in an Irish pub playing Gordon Lightfoot's "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald"—have ruined me for crying when it's appropriate.
Anxious or not, none of us can afford to sit back and let the chips fall where they may. Because the chips will not fall in our favor.
It was not a shop you happened on by accident. Around the corner from St. Pancras, it was nevertheless miles from thought, from sense, from intention. Continents could shift between the thoroughfares of daily progress and Hammond Street, where Tom Nashe sold caskets to order.
Belial sighed as the Brown Line clattered overhead, sending aftershock tremors through the tracks to the pavement. He kicked a stray chip of gravel ahead of him as he walked, his hands pressed deep in his pockets. “I hate this city,” he muttered, mostly to fill the nearly deserted street with the sound of his own voice. “Too much fucking iron.”