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307 pages, Hardcover
First published March 20, 2018
His neurons are dying, and the muscles they feed are literally starving for input. Every twitch is a muscle stammering, gasping, begging to be saved. They can't be saved.
High tide is coming. The height and grandeur of the sand castle doesn’t matter. The sea is eventually going to rush in, sweeping every single grain of sand away.
He understands the breadth of what can be communicated in the smallest subtlety of sound. A single key played on the piano can convey the entire range of human experience. Middle C can be played staccato and fortissimo, a loud and sudden yell! It could mean anger, danger, surprise. The same note played pianissimo is a whisper, a tiptoe, a gentle kiss. Middle C held down, along with the foot pedal, can convey a longing, a wondering, a fading life. (Note: There's a scene in the last third of the book that made this passage especially poignant to me.)
Everything living is in motion, going somewhere, talking, walking, pecking, flying, doing. Life is not a static organism. Every day, he’s a little more shut down, shut in, turned off. A little less in motion. A little less alive. He’s becoming a two-dimensional still-life painting, slipping inexorably into the alternate dimension of the sick and dying.
Making him wrong allows her to feel right, and feeling right is her drug of choice. And she’d like to be forgiven. But she can’t bring herself to apologize to Richard, to say the words. She’s handcuffed by shame and a stubborn, self-righteous logic that supports her side of the story. She had her reasons. Maybe her actions now can be the words she’s still too afraid to offer.
He needs things to be right between them before . . . He needs things to be right between them before his circumstances force him into finishing that sentence. For now, not finishing that sentence, not squinting his eyes to bring into focus what’s blurry and waiting for him on the horizon, or even ignoring what is hovering two feet in front of his face, is his only line of defense against this disease. Denial, blunt and dull and shaped more like a spoon than a knife, is the only weapon he’s got.
Funny how the story of their lives can be an entirely different genre depending on the narrator.