We're an Ag college," I explain to them. "Not as good as the one in Yanco but we have livestock." "Cows?" Anson Choi asks, covering his nose. "Pigs, too. And horses. Great for growing tomatoes. The Cadets are wanna-be soldiers. City people. They may know how to street fight but they don't know how to wade through manure. "I'm going to throw up," one of the guys says. "Don't feel too bad," I explain. "Some of our lot did while they were laying out this stuff. Actually, right there where you're standing.
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Come here," she says. "No, you come here." "I said it first." "Rock paper scissors." "No. Because you'll do nerdy calculations and work out what I chose the last six times and then you'll win." Will pushes away from the table and his hand snakes out and he pulls her toward him and Tom figures that Will was always going to go to her first.
My body becomes a raft and there's this part of me that wants just literally to go with the flow. To close my eyes and let it take me. But I know sooner or later I will have to get out, that I need to feel the earth beneath my feet, between my toes - the splinters, the bindi-eyes, the burning sensation of hot dirt, the sting of cuts, the twigs, the bites, the heat, the discomfort, the everything. I need desperately to feel it all, so when something wonderful happens, the contrast will be so massive that I will bottle the impact and keep it for the rest of my life.
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This is the best night of my life," Raffy says, crying. "Raffy, half our House has burnt down," I say wearily. "We don't have a kitchen." "Why do you always have to be so pessimistic?" she asks. "We can double up in our rooms and have a barbecue every night like the Cadets." Silently I vow to keep Raffy around for the rest of my life.
Sometimes Thomas Mackee will stick an earphone into my ear and ask me to listen to a song. When I get over the revulsion of putting something in my ear that's been in his, I sit back and let the music take over, and for a half hour there's something comforting about someone's heart beating at the same rhythm as mine.
What do you think would happen if we kissed right here, right now?" he asks, digging his hands into the pockets of his khaki pants, grinning right back at me. "I think it would cause a riot." "Well, you know me," he says, lowering his head towards me. "Causing a riot is what I do best." Santangelo approaches before Griggs gets any closer and pulls him away. "Are you guys insane?" he says, irritated. "It's called peaceful coexistence, Santangelo. You should try it and if it works we may sell the idea to the Israelis and Palestinians," I say, throwing his own words back at him.
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It's a weird smile, but it reaches his eyes and I bottle it. And I put it in my ammo pack that's kept right next to my soul and Justine's spirit and Siobhan's hope and Tara's passions. Because if I'm going to wake up one morning and not be able to get out of bed, I'm going to need everything I've got to fight this disease that could be sleeping inside of me.
Then he holds her and for a moment I hear total silence; that totally silent part of a cry that announces that the most horrible grief is going to follow. And it does, and he's muffling it, but I can hear and I want someone to come over and jab her with a sedative because its pitch pierces my soul.
Play me something that makes me feel; This soul inside me is made of steel. Brain is breathing, but heart's not beating And, babe, I need you to make things real. Walk inside me without silence, Kill the past and change the tense. Empty gnawing and the ache is soaring; Take me places that make more sense.
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Memory is a funny thing. It tricks you into believing that you've forgotten important moments, and then when you're raking your brain for a bit of information that might make sense of something else, it taps you on the head and says, "Remember when you told me to put that memory in the green rubbish bin? Well, I didn't, I put it in the black recycling tub, and it's coming your way again.
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My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die. I counted. It happened on the Jellicoe Road. The prettiest road I'd ever seen, where trees made breezy canopies like a tunnel to Shangri-La. We were going to the ocean, hundreds of miles away, because I wanted to see the ocean and my father said that it was about time the four of us made that journey. I remember asking, 'What's the difference between a trip and a journey?' and my father said, 'Narnie, my love, when we get there, you'll understand, ' and that was the last thing he ever said.
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He is the most beautiful creature I have ever seen and it's not about his face, but the life force I can see in him. It's the smile and the pure promise of everything he has to offer. Like he's saying, 'Here I am world, are you ready for so much passion and beauty and goodness and love and every other word that should be in the dictionary under the word life?' Except this boy is dead, and the unnaturalness of it makes me want to pull my hair out with Tate and Narnie and Fitz and Jude's grief all combined. It makes me want to yell at the God that I wish I didn't believe in. For hogging him all to himself. I want to say, 'You greedy God. Give him back. I needed him here.
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I like looking at his face when he speaks. Sometimes he spit, actually he spits all the time, but I think that's passionate. He loves words and he rolls them around in his mouth like a luscious plum, slobbering on the sides, and then he'll use his hands, touching his mouth as if he's taking the words out throwing them to us.
This is what I know. I look like my father. My father disappeared when he was seventeen years old. Hannah once told me that there is something unnatural about being older than your father ever got to be. When you can say that at the age of seventeen, it's a different kind of devastating.
I met this boy here who I knew as a kid and his mum left him with a pedophile for two weeks when he was eight years old and I'm presuming you know everything there is to know about Jonah's father, and that my father is dead, and my mother hasn't been around for years, and God knows Jessa's real story. So what I'm saying here, Sergeant, is that we're just a tad low on the reliable adult quota so you have no right to be all self-righteous about what Chaz did and if you're going to go around not talking to him when his only crime was wanting me to have what he has, then I think you're going to turn out to be a bit of a dud and you know something? I'm just a bit over life's little disappointments right now. Do you understand what I'm saying?
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What about the contacts your mum had?' his dad asked. 'I rang and spoke to four very polite computers who gave me all these options and then cut out on me. Then I tried the post office, because they were advertising, and I spoke to another computer. Very rude, that one. Don't think it recognized 'Are you shitting me?' as an option.' 'You know why that is?' 'Why is that, Dominic?' Tom had asked drolly, because he knew he was going to be told why. 'Because we don't live in a society anymore, Tom. We live in an economy. We're not citizens. We're customers. That's what this government's done to us.
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Have you ever seen The Last of the Mohicans?" "I love it." "Really?" I'm over the moon. We share a movie. Finally, we're on the same planet. "Don't you love the part where he says, 'Stay alive. I will find you'?" I ask. "I love that massacre scene, " he says, like an excited little boy, "where they're walking down that path in the middle of nowhere and they're surrounded by the woods and you know the Indians are going to attack and it's so tense." Things that make you go hmmm.
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I miss the Stella girls telling me what I am. That I'm sweet and placid and accommodating and loyal and nonthreatening and good to have around. And Mia. I want her to say, "Frankie, you're silly, you're lazy, you're talented, you're passionate, you're restrained, you're blossoming, you're contrary." I want to be an adjective again. But I'm a noun. A nothing. A nobody. A no one.
Do you miss being friends with Santangelo?" I ask her after the lights are out and we're almost asleep. "What makes you think were friends?" "Everything." I hear her yawn. "Being enemies with him is better." she tells me. There's a long pause and I think she's going to say something more but she doesn't and it's just silence for a long while.
So I ring Justine Kalinsky and I say, "It's Francesca Spinelli, " and she says, "Francesca, you've got to stop using last names. How are you doing?" and I say "I feel like shit", and I don't know how it happens, but by eight o'clock that night I'm lying next to her on the couch with Siobhan and Tara and we're eating junk food and watching a Keanu movie. And I want to stay on that couch for the rest of my life.
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Do you want to hang out? At your place or something?" Hanging out with Jimmy Hailler will mean that I have to say hello to him every day. I'm not ready to say hello to him every day. Too much commitment. It's bad enough that I'm sharing chocolate brownies swith him. I shake my head. "Not today.
Each day, at the same time, Jude would return and they would be there, led by Webb, whose life could not have been more different than his. Where Webb's memories of childhood were idyllic and earthy, Jude's reeked of indifference. Webb read fantasy; Jude read realism. Webb believed a tree house was the perfect place for gaining a different perspective on the world; Jude saw it as perfect for surveillance and working out who or what was a threat to them. They argued about sport codes and song lyrics. Jude saw the rain-dirty valley; Webb saw Brigadoon. Yet, despite all this, they connected, and the nights they spent in the tree house discussing their brave new worlds and not so brave emotions made everything else in their lives insignificant. Somehow the world of Webb and Fitz and Tate and Narnie became the focus of Jude's life.
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The boy in the tree sobs uncontrollably when I tell him about the Hermit and my mother, yet his eyes light up each time I mention Hannah. And every single time he asks, 'Taylor, what about the Brigadier who came searching for you that day? Whatever became of him?' I try to explain that the Brigadier is of no importance to my story, but he always shakes his head as if he knows better.
The depression belongs to all of us. I think of the family down the road whose mother was having a baby and they went around the neighborhood saying, "We're pregnant." I want to go around the neighborhood saying, "We're depressed." If my mum can't get out of bed in the morning, all of us feel the same. Her silence has become ours, and it's eating us alive.
If I had to wish for something, just one thing, it would be that Hannah would never see Tate the way I did. Never see Tate's beautiful, lush hair turn brittle, her skin sallow, her teeth ruined by anything she could get her hands on that would make her forget. That Hannah would never count how many men there were, or how vile humans can be to one another. That she would never see the moments in my life that were full of neglect, and fear, and revulsion, moments I can never go back to because I know they will slow me down for the rest of my life if I let myself remember them for one moment. Tate, who had kept Hannah alive that night, reading her the story of Jem Finch and Mrs. Dubose. And suddenly I know I have to go. But this time without being chased by the Brigadier, without experiencing the kindness of a postman from Yass, and without taking along a Cadet who will change the way I breath for the rest of my life.
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I didn't know you had a girlfriend, Griggs." Anson Choi feigns surprise. "What's her name?" "I didn't actually catch her name, " Griggs continues. "Lily, " Raffaela says over her shoulder and this time I give her a sideways look. "Great to know that I'm in love with a girl with a cool name." "It's Taylor's middle name, " Raffaela calls back again.
So what does the winner get in the end?" Tate asked. "They get to sit around with the losers and say, 'I am King Xavier of the world.' Repeat after me." "And me?" Tate asked. "You get to be my queen." "How come you're the leader of the community?" Narnie asked, almost smiling. "Why can't Tate be?" Webb looked at his sister, grinning. "Why can't you, Narnie?" Fitz leaned his head on Narnie's shoulder. "And I'll be your queen?" "You can be the eunuch, " Jude said, shoving him out of the way, "and I'll be her prince." He bowed and took Narnie's hand, kissing it, and their eyes met. It was awkward for a moment until Narnie looked away.
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The string slices into the skin of his fingers and no matter how tough the calluses, it tears. But this beat is fast and even though his joints are aching, his arm's out of control like it has a mind of its own and the sweat tat drenches his hair and face seems to smother him, but nothing's going to stop Tom. He;s aiming for oblivion.
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she could have dropped you both off. whar's the worst she can do? cry hysterically?" the gears on the ute get stuck at the lights and will pushes tom's hand out of the way and and shoves it into the correct gear. "it wasn't her" he mutters after a moment. "sorry?" tom says. "she didn't cry" "then what?" it's too quiet except for the quiet for the crap engine sounding like a lawn mower. "i cried" luca bursts out laughing beside will. "yeah, well i did" will says. "And it's not the thing you want to do in front of a bunch on engineers.
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