Sunday, May 17, 2009


Willow is transfixed. The longing and need that are stamped across David's face are riveting. She watches as Cathy hold him tighter, as tight as possible, then bends her head to kiss him.
Willow feels like a moth, inexorably drawn to the flame. How would it feel to cry like that? How would it feel to be comforted like that?
If she let herself, she'd drown in a world of pain. But she can't let that happen, she simply wouldn't be able to handle it, not that kind of pain. Thankfully she knows how to prevent such a thing.


Her leg hurts. It's extraordinary that a two-inch cut could be so painful. It's easy to do, really, just open it up before it's healed, take something blunt like the toe of a sneaker and try to enlarge the cut up to three or four inches....
Now that she has her fix, now that the pain is flowing through her blood like a narcotic, Willow is free to think about other things.


She glances at the stack of books next to this elbow, hoping for some inspiration. "What are you reading these days?" Willow asks, and for the first time in the entire conversation her voice is natural. This is safe. Better than safe. This is familiar. This is the talk around the dinner table throughout her entire childhood. Why has she never thought of this before?


Everything sounds normal, everything sounds good. This is the way things are supposed to be-they're just a young family getting ready to meet the day.
Willow hates to join them, because she knows that as soon as she steps into the kitchen the illusion will instantly be destroyed. Her presence reminds everyone that there's something desperately wrong, that this isn't just an ordinary family going about its business. This family is different. This is a fractured family.


"Willow," Guy says a third time. Only this time it's not a question. This time it's clear that he's just making his presence known.
Willow tries to focus on his voice, on the lifeline he's throwing her. The pictures aren't fading, but as she listens to Guy's breathing, the sounds of the accident grow dim.
She stops cutting. The razor dangles uselessly from her hand; it has finally done its work. Willow watches the blood trickle over her skin through half-closed eyes.
Her breath deepens, becomes more regular, in concert with Guy's. The sound of their breathing in tandem is shockingly intimate, and soon, the only noise that filters through Willow's pain is the gentle swoosh of their shared inhalations as she drifts off to sleep grasping the phone as if it were a living being, as if it were her lover.


In fact, it makes her more than slightly ill. Willow knows that there's a terrible disconnect between what she does and what she feels when she sees the fruits of her labor, but it is not easy to be rational when the urge to cut is upon her.


Well, sometimes I worry that my whole life will be based around what's comfortable and easy. I'll care too much about what makes me feel good to ever really reach for anything. And then I worry that even if I do, I won't succeed."


"When you found me out, you thought that I wanted to kill myself, that all this slashing was like target practice until I got up enough courage for the real thing. You don't understand at all. You just don't get it. I'm saving myself.
"I've taught myself, I've trained myself, not to feel anything except physical pain. I'm completely in control of that. Do you understand? Do you get what that means?"


Willow remembers the last time that she saw him cry, how shocked she had been, frightened almost, to see him reduced to such a state. She is not so much scared now as awed. Impressed, as she had not been that other time, by how strong he must be in order to withstand such misery. She knows better than anyone what kind of inner fortitude it must take to let oneself be so overcome.
it is something that she will never be able to do. Even to watch it without allowing herself the luxury of cutting is almost more than she can bear.
His sobs wound her far more than anything she can inflict on herself, but it is not only pain that she feels as she watches him. She takes a bittersweet comfort in the fact that her brother is capable of feeling such grief. That he will never have to resort to the kind of remedy that she does, that he has an endless reservoir of strength that allows him to weep in such a fashion.


"I'm....I'm....not..." She chokes on the words. "I'm not anyone's daughter anymore!" Willow says this as if it is something that she just figured out.


Willow stands in front of her brother. She sees him open his mouth, barely hears him whisper her name.
She leans closer, so that she can hear what he has to tell her. Suddenly he grips her hand with surprising force, grips her so tightly that she can barely move.
"Oh Willow," he says. "Oh, Willow, what if you had died that night too?"



  1. You always pick out the most fascinating bits from stories. I love to read these excerpts.

  2. I really want to read this book. These are great quotes and passages.

  3. I can tell just by looking at the number of quotes that this book must be good. I'll have to make another trip to Borders soon.