It wasn't the worst time when Melody left me, " the Professor said. "The worst time was the years before. Because I didn't know I couldn't hate anybody that much; it was like she'd stuck a sword into me, one of those Japanese samurai swords, do you know the kind I mean? Heavy and razor sharp-and she'd stuck it in me and then she was... pushing it around." His hand rested on his stomach, remembering. "I couldn't get free from the feelings. I didn't know how frightened I could be, all the time. But whenever we had to go out together, she'd smile at me and talk to me and listen and look at me the way she did-and I wanted to hit her, " he said, his voice low and ashamed. Jeff let his head down to rest on his fists. "When I found out how many lies she was telling me, I finally realized that she had always lied to me. About my lectures. About boyfriends; and even after she knew I knew, she'd still lie about it. I hated her. Or the bills she ran up, without asking, without telling; then she'd say she'd taken care of them but she just-ignore them. I know I looked all right to other people-maybe more of a dry stick than usual, maybe even more of boring than usual-but inside I was knotted up, all the time, because I hated her so much, and I hated myself, and I was scared." Jeff looked up at his father. "I didn't think she'd do that to you, Jeff, " the Professor said. "But she did, didn't she." Jeff nodded. He knew he was crying, but he didn't know what to do about it. Neither did the Professor. He just sat and waited, until Jeff got up to blow his nose. "It was the lies, " the Professor said. "They were what really scared me. Even now, if I think about her-and the kinds of things she says... I don't know what she told you, but I never was sorry I'd married her or loved her because of you. You always made a difference, made a real difference, from the very beginning. I always knew that, inside me, but I didn't bother to learn how to show you. I'm sorry, Jeff, I should have taken the trouble.
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The people they had been last summer, the person she had been-Dicey guessed she'd never be afraid again, not the way she had been all summer. She had taken care of them all, sometimes well, sometimes badly. And they had covered the distances. For most of the summer, they had been unattached. Nobody knew who they were or what they were doing. It didn't matter what they did, as long as they all stayed together. Dicey remembered that feeling, of having things pretty much her own way. And she remembered the feelings of danger. It was a little bit like being a wild animal, she thought to herself. Dicey missed that wildness. She knew she would never have it again. And she missed the sense of Dicey Tillerman against the whole world and doing all right.
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I got to thinking""when it was too late""you have to reach out to people. To your family, too. You can't just let them sit there, you should put your hand out. If they slap it back, well you reach out again if you care enough. If you don't care enough, you forget about them, if you can.
To see what books were available for my older students, I made many trips to the library. If a book looked interesting, I checked it out. I once went home with 30 books! It was then that I realized that kids' novels had the shape of real books, and I began to get ideas for young adult novels and juvenile books.
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Reading was my hobby, my sport and my activity of choice. It was the prime pleasure of my days, an unfailing escape from whatever realities were distressing me, and the only source of pride I knew, other vanities lying beyond my grasp. I couldn't do anything else well, but I could do words.