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Someone Someone by Alice McDermott
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Someone Quotes Showing 1-23 of 23
“My love for the child asleep in the crib, the child's need for me, for my vigilance, had made my life valuable in a way that even the most abundantly offered love, my parents', my brother's, even Tom's, had failed to do. Love was required of me now--to be given, not merely to be sought and returned.”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“For one of us at least, we knew, we were certain - this is how we saw the world - there would never again be loneliness in life.”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“But Mrs. Meany, see, the women went on, leaning forward, despite how her heart was broken, pulled herself together, anyway, to put on a good face for the rest of the family at home. And she went back, Sunday after Sunday, right up until the Sunday before she died. Mrs. Meany put her beautiful love - a mother's love - against the terrible scenes that brewed like sewage in that poor girl's troubled mind. She persevered, she baked her cakes, she hauled herself (the goiter swinging) on and off the ferry, and she sat, brokenhearted, holding her daughter's hand, even as Lucy shouted her terrible words, proving to anyone with eyes to see that a mother's love was a beautiful, light, relentless thing that the devil could not diminish.”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“It might have been the first time in my life I understood what an easy bond it was, to share a neighborhood as we had done, to share a time past.”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“We turned onto the last landing. Going out with this guy, I thought, would involve a lot of silly laughter, some wit--the buzz of his whispered wisecracks in my ear. But there would be as well his willingness to reveal, or more his inability to conceal, that he had been silently rehearsing my name as he climbed the stairs behind me. There would be his willingness to bestow upon me the power to reassure him. He would trust me with his happiness.”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“It’s sometimes more torment for a man, Mr. Fagin said, to consider what might have been than to live with what is.”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“And then I saw him waving to us from behind the sky’s reflection.”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“The world was a cruder, more vulgar place than the one I had known. This was the language required to live in it, I supposed.”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“This was, I thought, the language of shy men, men too much alone with their reading and their ideas - politics, war, distant countries, tyrants. Men who would bury their heads in such stuff just to avert their eyes from a woman's simple heartache.”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“I’m sorry this happened to you, Marie,' he said wearily. 'There’s a lot of cruelty in the world.' And then he waved his hat to indicate the paths through the park and all the people on them. 'You’ll be lucky if this is your worst taste of it.”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“The owner’s wife gave me a container of chicken soup and a quart of rice pudding to take home. She was a broad, solid woman with thick arms and legs. She swiped vigorously at the stain on my coat with a wad of dampened paper towel, and I remembered Pegeen then: There’s always someone nice.”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“As if only he and the blind man could see what the rest of them could not.”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“In the dining room, my brother—the scholar—was asking my father what it meant, amadan. My father said, “A fool. It means someone’s a fool.” Even with the water running, the cup of soapy water at my lips, I could hear my father’s shout of laughter when my brother asked him, “Who is?”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“He began to read out loud. He did not read in the same clear way he recited his poems, but softly, sitting hunched over the table, the words breaking here and there under the burden of his new, thickening voice. “‘Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?’” he read. “‘Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“Here I am,” I said, all impertinence. “I’m watching the time.” Knowing my mother’s voice as well as I did, I could already hear her say, “Oh, you are a bold piece.” Knowing the limits of my mother’s patience, I could already feel the slap on my cheek. But my mother merely stood beside me with her hands on her hips, studying her stubborn daughter once more, even as that daughter kept her exaggerated, myopic stare on the clock. “I suppose this is how it’s going to be,” she said softly, more to herself than to me. “You’re growing up.” And then, for a moment, she put a gentle hand to my head. She said, “God help us both,” and left the kitchen.”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“We’re not so enamored of the priesthood as some,” my mother said, washing the dishes after the priest had come for tea, blushing with pride, but also holding her lips in such a way that made it clear she was not going to go overboard—as she would have put it—with her delight in Gabe’s success. There were just as many men in rectories, she said, who were vain or lazy or stupid as there were in the general population.”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“There you are,” I told my mother, standing in the hot breeze that had entered along with the rattle of traffic and the voices in the street. “Brooklyn.” My mother turned to Gabe, who was holding her hand. “Show me,” she said again. The strain of this vigil was evident in the shape of his shoulders and the weariness in his eyes. He glanced up at me where I stood by the window and then down at her again. “All right,” he said softly. He got up slowly, pushing back the old dining-room chair. He leaned over the bed, slipping his hands beneath her. I watched in some astonishment as he lifted her, the bedclothes trailing. “Get the door,” he said over his shoulder as he made his way out of the room with our mother in his arms like a child. He turned to his side to fit them both through the passageway, and I overtook them in the living room. We had lined the woodwork here with boric acid, to keep the roaches at bay, and there was something of its pale dust over everything in those days. It sometimes made me recall: sand of Syria and Mount Lebanon. I went ahead to open the door. Gabe slipped through it, our mother in his arms. I followed them down the stairs, astonished, full of objections, but unable to object. I watched him as he gently negotiated the turnings. I wondered briefly if he planned to carry her all the way to the hospital. In the vestibule, the door to the parlor-floor apartment was still patched with plywood. Gabe turned to me and nodded toward the street. My mother’s eyes were closed. In my brother’s arms she seemed as small and light as an infant. I went ahead to pull the first door open, and then slipped around them to get the outer door as well. There was a blast of heat. Gabe carried my mother into the sunlight and down the steps. There were kids on the stoop across the street, there was the tinny music from their transistor radios. They glared, open-mouthed. A pair of dark men passing by looked up as Gabe came down the stairs with my mother in his arms. They walked to the curb, glancing over their shoulders, giving him wide berth. Gabe, too, went to the curb and then turned around to look back up at the house. I rushed to scoop up the sheet and the blanket that was now brushing the sidewalk. “You’re here, Momma,” I heard him say. “Where we’ve always lived.” My mother raised her head. She extricated one thin hand from the winding bedclothes and raised it to her eyes against the sun. She looked down the street and then up at our building, the blue summer light reflecting in the glass of the front door, the bowed parlor window—some plywood there, too—and then up to the fourth floor, where a bit of lace curtain, her handiwork, had been drawn through the opened window. “Not home,” I heard Gabe tell her, reassuring her. “Brooklyn.”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“Amadan.” I said it as Pegeen had said it, ruefully, shaking my head as if speaking fondly of a troublesome child. I said it with my chin just above my own china cup and its dregs of melting sugar, with my eyes veering away from my brother’s startled face and down into that ivory light. And then, for good measure, I said it again, into the teacup itself. “Amadan.” The”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“The guy was just sitting there,” Tom added happily. “Am I right?” Gabe nodded, generous in his small smile. “That’s right. John, chapter nine. Jesus and his disciples were having a discussion, it seems, about human suffering being a punishment for sin. The disciples pointed to the blind man begging. This man was born blind, they said, was it because his parents sinned? It was the belief in those days,” he added, young scholar, “that blindness or deformity was a punishment for the parents’ sins.” “Grateful to be an orphan,” Tom said suddenly, and looked at my mother and me, smiling. “Or maybe that means I’m in more trouble than most.” “Well, we’re all sinners,” Gabe said. “But the point is, no one was asking Jesus to cure the man, they were just using him to illustrate their question. And yet, Our Lord, out of compassion alone, it seems to me, approaches the man, picks up some dirt—” He paused, ducking his head with a wry smile. “We all know the story.” “Right,” Tom cried.”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“sometimes wonder if all the faith and all the fancy, all the fear, the speculation, all the wild imaginings that go into the study of heaven and hell, don’t shortchange, after all, that other, earlier uncertainty: the darkness before the slow coming to awareness of the first light.”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“They frowned, looked to one another with shallow and delighted eyes, eyes that just skimmed over the surface of things without understanding.”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“Once you learn to do it, you'll be expected to do it.”
Alice McDermott, Someone
“Who can know the heart of a man?”
Alice McDermott, Someone