beliefs

It never occurred to him that she might have been exaggerating, that the grief she felt over losing her mother had distorted her vision, that she had pushed away her stepmother without giving her a chance, turning her into an enemy for no other reason than the fact that she was not her mother and never would be, that her overworked father was doing the best he could for his enraged and obstinate daughter, that there was, as there always is, another side to the story. Adolescence feeds on drama, it is most happy when living in extremis, and Ferguson was no less vulnerable to the lure of high emotion and extravagant unreason than any other boy his age, which meant that the appeal of a girl like Anne-Marie was fueled precisely by her unhappiness, and the greater storms she engulfed him in, the more intensely he wanted her. 'Look,' said Esther, ' I don't know how to explain this, I know quite well that Claudio knows he hasn't seen a werewolf or spoken to a witch, but that so great is his power of — well, of what? of self-hallucination that he can persuade himself that he might have done? No, not even that. He knows he hasn't. But —' and Esther glanced at Liz in anxiety, in embarrassment, for never in all their years of close friendship had she ever made such a confession ' — the thing is, when I'm with Claudio, I find myself believing these things myself. It's as though I know I'd better believe them. that, when I'm with him, it's safer to believe them. Does that make any kind of sense at all? Irie, looking strangely like the crowd on top of the wall in her everyday garb of CND badges, graffiti-covered trousers, and beaded hair, shook her head in saddened disbelief. She was that age. Whatever she said burst like genius into centuries of silence. Whatever she touched was the first stroke of its kind. Whatever she believed was not formed by faith but carved from certainty. Whatever she thought was the first time such a thought had ever been thunk. A cruel counterthought mocked No, you’re just afraid of what you might discover. Corinne tried one of the heavy doors, cautiously—it opened. Her heart was beating painfully. She stepped inside the dim-lit vestibule and a sweet-rancid odor made her nostrils pinch. Incense. An undercurrent of mildew. That unmistakable smell of so-aged-it-can’t-really-be-cleaned-any-longer linoleum tile. As if rehearsing a way in which to speak of this adventure, a way of most artfully recounting it to make her listeners laugh, Corinne thought Why, you know right away it isn’t one of our churches, it’s one of theirs! Was she invincible? She wondered if she was guided by some higher power. Was her mission, avoiding Carl, leaving civilization, a holy one? There was no other answer. Everything is always comparative in another country. Crooks are crookeder, grass is greener, heights are higher, words are wordier, pleasures are more pleasurable, death is deader, life is livelier, dogs are doggier, fortune is more fortunate, vaults more vaulted, distance is further, water more watery, blue is bluer, grey is greyer, fame more famous, continuance more continuing, consumers more consumed, reality more real, fantasy more fantastic, adjustments more adjusted, fires more fiery, chaos more chaotic... I mean to say... If I could believe (as convention tells us) that character is destiny and the past prologue et cetera, I might begin the story of what happened to Elena McMahon during the summer of 1984 at some earlier point. To his surprise, Brian did not reject this theory. He didn’t necessarily believe it but he didn’t dismiss it either. He believed it provisionally here in this room located below street level in a framehouse on a weekday afternoon in Cliffside park, New Jersey. It was lyrically true as it emerged from Marvin Lundy’s mouth and reached Brian’s middle ear, unprovably true, remotely and inadmissably true but not completely unhistorical, not without some nuance of authentic inner narrative. It’s the special skill of the adolescent to imagine the end of the world as an adjunct to his own discontent.
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