Why do you do up your hair in those tortured plaits, now, Melanie? Why? Because, she said. You know that's no answer. You're spoiling your pretty looks, pet. Come here. She did not move. He ground out his cigarette on the window-ledge and laughed. Come here, he said again, softly. So she went.
Bloom of adulthood. Try a whiff of that. On your back in the dark you remember. Ah you remember. Cloudless May day. She joins you in the little summerhouse. Entirely of logs. Both larch and fir. Six feet across. Eight from floor to vertex. Area twenty-four square feet to the furthest decimal. Two small multicoloured lights vis-a-vis. Small stained diamond panes. Under each a ledge. There on summer Sundays after his midday meal your father loved to retreat with Punch and a cushion. The waist of his trousers unbuttoned he sat on the one ledge and turned the pages. You on the other your feet dangling. When he chuckled you tried to chuckle too. When his chuckle died yours too. That you should try to imitate his chuckle pleased and amused him greatly and sometimes he would chuckle for no other reason than to hear you try to chuckle too. Sometimes you turn your head and look out through a rose-red pane. You press your little nose against the pane and all without is rosy. The years have flown and there at the same place as then you sit in the bloom of adulthood bathed in rainbow light gazing before you. She is late.
And then, every time I didn't see her, there was a fall involved. I thought about dancing on the fifth-floor ledge outside out apartment. Every train she wasn't on felt something like hitting the pavement from five floors up. So maybe my father was right about that. Maybe happiness and excitement really are dangerous things.
Catherine Ryan Hyde
I became so desperate that I considered throwing Eric [Beck] off the ledge. I thought I could get down and then lie about what had happened. To my addled brain, this was plausible. Then I came to my senses and woke Eric up and told him that either he had to retreat or I'd throw him off. We went down and I never climbed again for a quarter of a century.
We're staying together," he promised. "You're not getting away from me. Never again." Only then did she understand what would happen. A one-way trip. A very hard fall. "As long as we're together," she said. She heard Nico and Hazel still screaming for help. She saw sunlight far, far above- maybe the last sunlight she would ever see. Then Percy let go of his ledge, and together, holding hands, he and Annabeth fell into the endless darkness.
Aw, fudge, ' floated down to me, as a couple of golden eyes peered over a third-floor window ledge. 'You're a freaking dhampir. Why are you reading Tolkien?' I shrugged, then had to dodge the potted geranium he threw at me. 'After five hundred years, you've read just about everything. Besides, he had hella world-building skills.
Aw, fudge,' floated down to me, as a couple of golden eyes peered over a third-floor window ledge. 'You're a freaking dhampir. Why are you reading Tolkien?' I shrugged, then had to dodge the potted geranium he threw at me. 'After five hundred years, you've read just about everything. Besides, he had hella world-building skills.
The ledge isn't even wide enough for my feet to fit on completely. I hang onto the rail tightly and do a Casper does... leaning out slowly over the water. Like this, there is no safety. No rail to catch me if I slip. I'm almost flying. Between me and death, there is... nothing. Nothing in the way but my own decision to hang on.
I can walk into someone's house, kiss their wife, sit down at their table, and eat their dinner. I can lift a passport at an airport, and in twenty minutes it will seem like it's mine. I can be a blackbird staring in the window. I can be a cat creeping along a ledge. I can go anywhere I want and do the worst things I can imagine, with nothing to ever connect me to those crimes. Today I look like me, but tomorrow I could look like you. I could be you.
So... what is this fire river called?' 'The Phlegethon, ' [Annabeth] said. 'You should concentrate on going down.' 'The Phlegethon?' [Percy] shinnied along the ledge. They'd made it roughly a third of the way down the cliff-still high enough up to die if they fell. 'Sounds like a marathon for hawking spitballs.' 'Please don't make me laugh, ' she said. 'Just trying to keep things light.
Our rocky ledge overlooking the valley. Perhaps a little less green than usual, but the blackberry bushes hang heavy with fruit. Here began countless days of hunting and snaring, fishing and gathering, roaming together through the woods, unloading our thoughts while we filled our game bags. This was the doorway to both sustenance and sanity. And we were each other's key.
Once more their weird laughter of the loons comes to my ear, the distance lends it a musical, melancholy sound. For a dangerous ledge off the lighthouse island floats in on the still air the gentle trolling of a warning bell as it swings on the rocking buoy; it might be tolling for the passing of summer and sweet weather with that persistent, pensive chime.
We're starting to realize that magicians have a lot of implicit know-ledge about how we perceive the world around us because they have to deceive us in terms of controlling attention, exploiting the assumptions we make when we do and don't notice a change in our environment. There is an enormous amount of really detailed instruction on how to perform magic. People are always blown away by how detailed a description you'll have.
There once was a girl who found herself dead. She peered over the ledge of heaven and saw that back on earth her sister missed her too much, was way too sad, so she crossed some paths that would not have crossed, took some moments in her hand shook them up and spilled them like dice over the living world. It worked. The boy with the guitar collided with her sister. "There you go, Len, " she whispered. "The rest is up to you.
There once was a girl who found herself dead. She peered over the ledge of heaven and saw that back on earth her sister missed her too much, was way too sad, so she crossed some paths that would not have crossed, took some moments in her hand shook them up and spilled them like dice over the living world. It worked. The boy with the guitar collided with her sister. "There you go, Len," she whispered. "The rest is up to you.
In a process that had begun in the 1980s and suddenly accelerated in the early 2000s ... [t]he peaks of great wealth grew higher, rising up beyond the clouds, while the valleys of poverty sank lower into perpetual shadow. The once broad plateau of the middle class eroded away into a narrow ledge, with the white-knuckled occupants holding on for dear life.
But Thank you for acknowledging what I did
I just wish I could give a Dad back to those kids
A wife back her best friend A homeless Vet a clear head
But I can only be Happy That I'm not dead
That I didnt lose both my legs
That I didnt get pump full of lead
That after my wife left I didnt jump off that ledge
I just wish I could give a Dad back to those kids
A wife back her best friend A homeless Vet a clear head
But I can only be Happy That I'm not dead
That I didnt lose both my legs
That I didnt get pump full of lead
That after my wife left I didnt jump off that ledge
I can't take not knowing what the next day will bring- the uncertainty is sawing me in two. The room is dark. A flickering candle burns on the window ledge a few feet away. I take a deep breath, which is to say, as deep a breath as I can take. "Are you okay?" Sarah asks. I wrap my arms around her. "I miss you," I say. "You miss me? But I'm right here." "That's the worst way to miss somebody. When they' re right beside you and you miss them anyway.
I nudged myself closer to the ledge and closed my eyes and thought 'Oh what a life this is, why do we have to be born in the first place, and only so we can have our poor gentle flesh laid out to such impossible horrors as huge mountains and rock and empty space,' and with horror I remembered the famous Zen saying, 'When you get to the top of a mountain, keep climbing.' The saying made my hair stand on end; it had been such cute poetry sitting on Alvah's straw mats.
Her endeavor was misguided and wrong and maybe plain crazy, akin to someone waking up one day and deciding he's going to scale Kilimanjaro because he can't stop imagining the view from the top, the picture so arresting and beautiful that it too soon delivers him to a precarious ledge, where he can no longer turn back. And while it's easy to say this is a situation to be avoided, isn't this what we also fear and crave simultaneously, that some internal force which defies understanding might remake us into the people we dream we are?
BUT THANK YOU FOR ACKNOWLEDGING WHAT I DID I JUST WISH I COULD GIVE A DAD BACK TO THOSE KIDS A WIFE BACK HER BEST FRIEND A HOMELESS VET A CLEAR HEAD BUT I CAN ONLY BE HAPPY THAT I'M NOT DEAD THAT I DIDNT LOSE BOTH MY LEGS THAT I DIDNT GET PUMP FULL OF LEAD THAT AFTER MY WIFE LEFT I DIDNT JUMP OFF THAT LEDGE BUT HAPPY VETERANS DAY
Soon they were all sitting on the rocky ledge, which was still warm, watching the sun go down into the lake. It was the most beautiful evening, with the lake as blue as a cornflower and the sky flecked with rosy clouds. They held their hard-boiled eggs in one hand and a piece of bread and butter in the other, munching happily. There was a dish of salt for everyone to dip their eggs into. 'I don't know why, but the meals we have on picnics always taste so much nicer than the ones we have indoors,' said George.
Soon they were all sitting on the rocky ledge, which was still warm, watching the sun go down into the lake. It was the most beautiful evening, with the lake as blue as a cornflower and the sky flecked with rosy clouds. They held their hard-boiled eggs in one hand and a piece of bread and butter in the other, munching happily. There was a dish of salt for everyone to dip their eggs into. 'I don't know why, but the meals we have on picnics always taste so much nicer than the ones we have indoors, ' said George.
We only came close to dying six or seven times, which I thought was pretty good. Once, I lost my grip and found myself dangling by one hand from a ledge fifty feet above the rocky surf. But I found another handhold and kept climbing. A minute later Annabeth hit a slippery patch of moss and her foot slipped. Fortunately, she found something else to put it against. Unfortunately, that something was my face. "Sorry," she murrmured. "S'okay," I grunted, though I'd never really wanted to know what Annabeth's sneaker tasted like.
We only came close to dying six or seven times, which I thought was pretty good. Once, I lost my grip and found myself dangling by one hand from a ledge fifty feet above the rocky surf. But I found another handhold and kept climbing. A minute later Annabeth hit a slippery patch of moss and her foot slipped. Fortunately, she found something else to put it against. Unfortunately, that something was my face. "Sorry, " she murrmured. "S'okay, " I grunted, though I'd never really wanted to know what Annabeth's sneaker tasted like.
My Manager forced me to put my beetle in my own ear, a clear waste and an act that gave me nightmares: of a burning city through which giant carnivorous lizards prowled, eating survivors off of balconies. In one particularly vivid moment, I stood on a ledge as the jaws closed in, heat-swept, and tinged with the smell of rotting flesh. Beetles intended for the tough, tight minds of children should not be used by adults. We still remember a kinder, gentler world.
He grabbed me with both hands and began pushing me backward. I lost my balance. The ledge was at an angle, and it was covered with loose gravel. I was less than a foot from the edge. It was at that very moment that the clouds parted. The September sun burst through. The entire world was illuminated. Time shattered into moments. I could see for a hundred miles in every direction. I could see mountain peeks and pristine lakes. And I could somehow feel as well as see the never-ending drop that toyed with me, ruffling my hair, pulling at my back, one step behind me.
I didn't think she was that kind of girl." I scampered up onto the ledge and strained to listen. "I overheard two of my students talking about her in homeroom yesterday. I never would have thought Natalie would do something like that. Then again, she's been acting out big-time. Fraternizing with that Spencer girl." I closed my eyes to stop the room from spinning. What would have ever made me think that teachers wouldn't hear about this, too? After all, it was all over the school. Another teacher agreed. "Natalie always seemed like such a nice girl." But I am a nice girl, I wanted to scream.
Percy tightened his grip on Annabeth's wrist. His face was gaunt, scraped and bloody, his hair dusted with cobwebs, but when he locked eyes with her, she thought he had never looked more handsome. "We're staying together, " he promised. "You're not getting away from me. Never again." Only then did she understand what would happen. A one-way trip. A very hard fall. "As long as we're together, " she said. She heard Nico and Hazel still screaming for help. She saw the sunlight far, f ar above-maybe the last sunlight she would ever see. Then Percy let go of his tiny ledge, and together, holding hands, he and Annabeth fell into the endless darkness.
Where is it I've read that someone condemned to death says or thinks, an hour before his death, that if he had to live on some high rock, on such a narrow ledge that he'd only room to stand, and the ocean, everlasting darkness, everlasting solitude, everlasting tempest around him, if he had to remain standing on a square yard of space all his life, a thousand years, eternity, it were better to live so than to die at once. Only to live, to live and live! Life, whatever it may be!
Maybe awful things is how God speaks to us, Vernon thought, trudging up the lightless tunnel. Maybe folks don't trust in good things no more. Maybe awful things is all God's got to remind us he's alive. Maybe war is God come to life in men. Vernon pushed on toward the light of day. He stepped out onto the ledge and into the heat, and it felt like leaving a theater after the matinee had shown a sad film, the glare of sunshine after the darkness far too real to suffer.
There is sweet music here that softer falls Than petals from blown roses on the grass, Or night-dews on still waters between walls Of shadowy granite, in a gleaming pass; Music that gentlier on the spirit lies, Than tir'd eyelids upon tir'd eyes; Music that brings sweet sleep down from the blissful skies. Here are cool mosses deep, And thro' the moss the ivies creep, And in the stream the long-leaved flowers weep, And from the craggy ledge the poppy hangs in sleep.
Alfred Lord Tennyson
Franklin, I was absolutely terrified of having a child. Before I got pregnant, my visions of child rearing- reading stories about cabooses with smiley faces at bedtime, feeding glop into slack mouths- all seemed like pictures of someone else. I dreaded confrontation with what could prove a closed, stony nature, my own selfishness and lack of generosity, the thick tarry powers of my own resentment. However intrigued by a 'turn of the page, ' I was mortified by the prospect of becoming hopelessly trapped in someone else's story. And I believe that this terror is precisely what must have snagged me, the way a ledge will tempt one to jump off. The very surmountability of the task, its very unattractiveness , was in the end what attracted me to it. (32)
I brought the newspaper close up to my eyes to get a better view of George Pollucci's face, spotlighted like a three-quarter moon against a vague background of brick and black sky. I felt he had something important to tell me, and that whatever it was might just be written on his face. But the smudgy crags of George Pollucci's features melted away as I peered at them, and resolved themselves into a regular pattern of dark and light and medium gray dots. The inky black newspaper paragraph didn't tell why Mr Pollucci was on the ledge, or what Sgt Kilmartin did to him when he finally got him in through the window.
Standing Here My entire world far beneath my feet, I should be filled with pride. Instead, I feel overwhelmed by a sense of defeat. Suddenly it comes to me, toes tempted to test the ledge, that there is a way out of this. Clam surety flows through my veins, and as I turn to wave good-bye, I wonder if it will hurt or if a single person will cry at my funeral. I take a deep breath, a final taste of sweet mountain air. I conjure Leona, Emily. Move my feet closer. Closer There's Grandma One, Grandma Two, and their spouses, waiting for me. I see Dad. Cara. Mommy. I screw up my courage, step over
My grandmother lived a remarkable life. She watched her nation fall to pieces; and even when she became collateral damage, she believed in the power of the human spirit. She gave when she had nothing; she fought when she could barely stand; she clung to tomorrow when she couldn't find footing on the rock ledge of yesterday. She was a chameleon, slipping into the personae of a privileged young girl, a frightened teen, a dreamy novelist, a proud prisoner, an army wife, a mother hen. She became whomever she needed to be to survive, but she never let anyone else define her. By anyone's account, her existence had been full, rich, important-even if she chose not to shout about her past, but rather to keep it hidden. It had been nobody's business but her own; it was still nobody's business.
My foot slips on a narrow ledge; in that split second, as needles of fear pierce heart and temples, eternity intersects with present time. Thought and action are not different, and stone, air, ice, sun, fear, and self are one. What is exhilarating is to extend this acute awareness into ordinary moments, in the moment-by-moment experiencing of the lammergeier and the wolf, which, finding themselves at the center of things, have no need for any secret of true being. In this very breath that we take now lies the secret that all great teachers try to tell us... the present moment. The purpose of mediation practice is not enlightenment' it is to pay attention even at unextraordinary times, to be of the present, nothing-but-the-present, to bear this mindfulness of now into each event of ordinary life.
Religions are metaphorical systems that give us bigger containers in which to hold our lives. A spiritual life allows us to move beyond the ego into something more universal. Religious experience carries us outside of clock time into eternal time. We open ourselves into something more complete and beautiful. This bigger vista is perhaps the most magnificent aspect of a religious experience. There is a sense in which Karl Marx was correct when he said that religion is the opiate of the people. However, he was wrong to scoff at this. Religion can give us skills for climbing up on onto a ledge above our suffering and looking down at it with a kind and open mind. This helps us calm down and connect to all of the world's sufferers. Since the beginning of human time, we have yearned for peace in the face of death, loss, anger and fear. In fact, it is often trauma that turns us toward the sacred, and it is the sacred that saves us.
I wondered straightaway how he could sit at peace there, of an evening, with the row of heads staring down at him. There were no pictures, no flowers: only the heads of chamois. The concession to melody was the radiogram and the stack of records of classical music. Foolishly, I had asked, "Why only chamois?" He answered at once, "They fear Man." This might have led to an argument about animals in general, domestic, wild, and those which adapt themselves to the whims and vagaries of the human race; but instead he changed the subject abruptly, put on a Sibelius record, and presently made love to me, intently but without emotion. I was surprised but pleased. I thought, "We are suited to one another. There will be no demands. Each of us will be self-contained and not beholden to the other." All this came true, but something was amiss. There was a flaw - not only the nonappearance of children, but a division of the spirit. The communion of flesh which brought us together was in reality a chasm, and I despised the bridge we made. Perhaps he did as well. I had been endeavouring for ten years to build for my self a ledge of safety. ("The Chamois")
Daphne du Maurier
Percy, let me go" she croaked. "You can't pull me up." His face was white with effort. She could see in his eyes that he knew it was hopeless. "Never, " he said. He looked up at Nico, fifteen feet above. "The other side, Nico! We'll see you there. Understand?" Nico's eyes widened. "But-" "Lead them!" Percy shouted. "Promise me!" "I-I will." Below them, the voice laughed in the darkness. Sacrifices. Beautiful sacrifices to wake the goddess. Percy tightened his grip on Annabeth's wrist. His face was gaunt, scraped and bloody, his hair dusted with cobwebs, but when he locked eyes with her, she thought he had never looked more handsome. "We're staying together, " he promised. "You're not getting away from me. Never again." Only then did she understand what would happen. A one-way trip. A very hard fall. "As long as we're together, " she said. She heard Nico and Hazel still screaming for help. She saw sunlight far, far above- maybe the last sunlight she would ever see. Then Percy let go of his ledge, and together, holding hands, he and Annabeth fell into the endless darkness.
Bet you can't even name one romantic movie you like, " she teased. She felt smug when a few minutes went by and Oliver was still unable to name one romantic movie he could profess to enjoy. The Empire Strikes Back, " Oliver finally declared, tapping his horn at a Prius that wandered over the line. The Empire Strikes Back? The Star Wars movie? That's not romantic!" Schuyler huffed, fiddling with the air conditioner controls. Au contraire, my dear, it's very romantic. The last scene, you know, when they're about to put Han in that freezing cryogenic chamber or whatever? Remember?" Schuyler mmm-hmmmed. And Leia leans over the ledge and says, 'I love you.'" That's cheesy, not romatic, " Schuyler argued, although she did like that part. Let me explain. What's romantic is what Han says back. Remember what he says to her? After she says 'I love you'?" Schuyler grinned. Maybe Oliver had a point. "Han says, 'I know.'" Exactly, " Oliver tapped the wheel. "He doesn't have to say anything so trite as 'I love you." Because that's already understood. And that's romantic.
Melissa de la Cruz
Lorelei It is no night to drown in: A full moon, river lapsing Black beneath bland mirror-sheen, The blue water-mists dropping Scrim after scrim like fishnets Though fishermen are sleeping, The massive castle turrets Doubling themselves in a glass All stillness. Yet these shapes float Up toward me, troubling the face Of quiet. From the nadir They rise, their limbs ponderous With richness, hair heavier Than sculptured marble. They sing Of a world more full and clear Than can be. Sisters, your song Bears a burden too weighty For the whorled ear's listening Here, in a well-steered country, Under a balanced ruler. Deranging by harmony Beyond the mundane order, Your voices lay siege. You lodge On the pitched reefs of nightmare, Promising sure harborage; By day, descant from borders Of hebetude, from the ledge Also of high windows. Worse Even than your maddening Song, your silence. At the source Of your ice-hearted calling- Drunkenness of the great depths. O river, I see drifting Deep in your flux of silver Those great goddesses of peace. Stone, stone, ferry me down there.
Of the not very many ways known of shedding one's body, falling, falling, falling is the supreme method, but you have to select your sill or ledge very carefully so as not to hurt yourself or others. Jumping from a high bridge is not recommended even if you cannot swim, for wind and water abound in weird contingencies, and tragedy ought not to culminate in a record dive or a policeman's promotion. If you rent a cell in the luminous waffle, room 1915 or 1959, in a tall business centre hotel browing the star dust, and pull up the window, and gently - not fall, not jump - but roll out as you should for air comfort, there is always the chance of knocking clean through into your own hell a pacific noctambulator walking his dog; in this respect a back room might be safer, especially if giving on the roof of an old tenacious normal house far below where a cat may be trusted to flash out of the way. Another popular take-off is a mountaintop with a sheer drop of say 500 meters but you must find it, because you will be surprised how easy it is to miscalculate your deflection offset, and have some hidden projection, some fool of a crag, rush forth to catch you, causing you to bounce off it into the brush, thwarted, mangled and unnecessarily alive. The ideal drop is from an aircraft, your muscles relaxed, your pilot puzzled, your packed parachute shuffled off, cast off, shrugged off - farewell, shootka (little chute)! Down you go, but all the while you feel suspended and buoyed as you somersault in slow motion like a somnolent tumbler pigeon, and sprawl supine on the eiderdown of the air, or lazily turn to embrace your pillow, enjoying every last instant of soft, deep, death-padded life, with the earth's green seesaw now above, now below, and the voluptuous crucifixion, as you stretch yourself in the growing rush, in the nearing swish, and then your loved body's obliteration in the Lap of the Lord.
She wanted to touch him, to throw her arms around him - but something held her back. Maybe it was the fear that her arms would pass right through him, that she would have come all this way only to find a ghost after all. As though he'd been able to read her thoughts, he slowly angled toward her. He raised his hands and held his palms out to her. Isobel lifted her own hands to mirror his. He pressed their palms together, his fingers folding down to lace through hers. She felt a rush of warmth course through her, a relief as pure and sweet as spring rain. He was real. This was real. She had found him. She could touch him. She could feel him. Finally they were together. Finally, finally, they could forget this wasted world and go home. "I knew it wasn't true, " she whispered. "I knew you wouldn't stop believing." He drew her close. Leaning into him, she felt him press his lips to her forehead in a kiss. As he spoke, the cool metal of his lip ring grazed her skin, causing a shudder to ripple through her. "You... " His voice, low and breathy, reverberated through her, down to the thin soles of her slippers. "You think you're different, " he said. She felt his hands tighten around hers, gripping hard, too hard. A streak of violet lightning split the sky, striking close behind them. The house, Isobel thought. It had been struck. She could hear it cracking apart. She looked for only a brief moment, long enough to watch it split open. "But you're not, " Varen said, calling her attention back to him. Isobel winced, her own hands surrendering under the suddenly crushing pressure of his hold. A face she did not recognize stared down at her, one twisted with anger - with hate. "You, " he scarcely more than breathed, "are just like every. Body. Else." He moved so fast. Before she could register his words or the fact that she had once spoken them to him herself, he jerked her to one side. Isobel felt her feet part from the rocks. Weightlessness took hold of her as she swung out and over the ledge of the cliff. As he let her go. The wind whistled its high and lonely song in her ears. She fell away into the oblivion of the storm until she could no longer see the cliff - could no longer see him. Only the slip of the pink ribbon as it unraveled from her wrist, floating up and away from her and out of sight forever.
If we are inclined to forget how much there is in the world besides that which we anticipate, then works of art are perhaps a little to blame, for in them we find at work the same process of simplification or selection as in the imagination. Artistic accounts include severe abbreviations of what reality will force upon us. A travel book may tell us, for example, that the narrator journeyed through the afternoon to reach the hill town of X and after a night in its medieval monastery awoke to a misty dawn. But we never simply 'journey through an afternoon'. We sit in a train. Lunch digests awkwardly within us. The seat cloth is grey. We look out the window at a field. We look back inside. A drum of anxieties resolves in our consciousness. We notice a luggage label affixed to a suitcase in a rack above the seats opposite. We tap a finger on the window ledge. A broken nail on an index finger catches a thread. It starts to rain. A drop wends a muddy path down the dust-coated window. We wonder where our ticket might be. We look back at the field. It continues to rain. At last, the train starts to move. It passes an iron bridge, after which it inexplicably stops. A fly lands on the window And still we may have reached the end only of the first minute of a comprehensive account of the events lurking within the deceptive sentence 'He journeyed through the afternoon'. A storyteller who provides us with such a profusion of details would rapidly grow maddening. Unfortunately, life itself often subscribes to this mode of storytelling, wearking us out with repetitions, misleading emphases[, ] and inconsequential plot lines. It insists on showing us Burdak Electronics, the safety handle in the car, a stray dog, a Christmas card[, ] and a fly that lands first on the rim and then the centre of a laden ashtray. Which explains the curious phenomenon whereby valuable elements may be easier to experience in art and in anticipation than in reality. The anticipatory and artistic imaginations omit and compress; they cut away the periods of boredom and direct our attention to critical moments, and thus, without either lying or embellishing, they lend to life a vividness and a coherence that it may lack in the distracting woolliness of the present.
Alain de Botton
The street sprinkler went past and, as its rasping rotary broom spread water over the tarmac, half the pavement looked as if it had been painted with a dark stain. A big yellow dog had mounted a tiny white bitch who stood quite still. In the fashion of colonials the old gentleman wore a light jacket, almost white, and a straw hat. Everything held its position in space as if prepared for an apotheosis. In the sky the towers of Notre-Dame gathered about themselves a nimbus of heat, and the sparrows - minor actors almost invisible from the street - made themselves at home high up among the gargoyles. A string of barges drawn by a tug with a white and red pennant had crossed the breadth of Paris and the tug lowered its funnel, either in salute or to pass under the Pont Saint-Louis. Sunlight poured down rich and luxuriant, fluid and gilded as oil, picking out highlights on the Seine, on the pavement dampened by the sprinkler, on a dormer window, and on a tile roof on the eŽle Saint-Louis. A mute, overbrimming life flowed from each inanimate thing, shadows were violet as in impressionist canvases, taxis redder on the white bridge, buses greener. A faint breeze set the leaves of a chestnut tree trembling, and all down the length of the quai there rose a palpitation which drew voluptuously nearer and nearer to become a refreshing breath fluttering the engravings pinned to the booksellers' stalls. People had come from far away, from the four corners of the earth, to live that one moment. Sightseeing cars were lined up on the parvis of Notre-Dame, and an agitated little man was talking through a megaphone. Nearer to the old gentleman, to the bookseller dressed in black, an American student contemplated the universe through the view-finder of his Leica. Paris was immense and calm, almost silent, with her sheaves of light, her expanses of shadow in just the right places, her sounds which penetrated the silence at just the right moment. The old gentleman with the light-coloured jacket had opened a portfolio filled with coloured prints and, the better to look at them, propped up the portfolio on the stone parapet. The American student wore a red checked shirt and was coatless. The bookseller on her folding chair moved her lips without looking at her customer, to whom she was speaking in a tireless stream. That was all doubtless part of the symphony. She was knitting. Red wool slipped through her fingers. The white bitch's spine sagged beneath the weight of the big male, whose tongue was hanging out. And then when everything was in its place, when the perfection of that particular morning reached an almost frightening point, the old gentleman died without saying a word, without a cry, without a contortion while he was looking at his coloured prints, listening to the voice of the bookseller as it ran on and on, to the cheeping of the sparrows, the occasional horns of taxis. He must have died standing up, one elbow on the stone ledge, a total lack of astonishment in his blue eyes. He swayed and fell to the pavement, dragging along with him the portfolio with all its prints scattered about him. The male dog wasn't at all frightened, never stopped. The woman let her ball of wool fall from her lap and stood up suddenly, crying out: 'Monsieur Bouvet!