Fortune's Rocks

Altogether, Olympia thinks the sight of herself satisfactory, but not beautiful: a smile is missing, a certain light about the eyes. For how very different a woman will look when she has happiness, Olympia knows, when her beauty emanates from a sense of well-being or from knowing herself to be greatly loved. Even a plain woman will attract the eye if she is happy, while the most elaborately coiffed and bejeweled woman in a room, if she cannot summon contentment, will seem to be merely decorative.

And as she watches, she discovers that a dream creates a nonexistent intimacy, that one feels, all the next day after the dream, as though certain words have been said or actions taken which have not. So that the object of the dream feels familiar, when, in fact, no familiarity exists at all.

And this all causes her to wonder at the disparity between the silk dresses and the natural postures of the body, and to think: How far, HOW FAR, we are willing to go to pretend we are not of the body at all.

Beauty, Olympia has come to understand, has incapacitated her mother and ruined her life, for it has made her dependent upon people who are desirous of seeing her and of serving her.

For how very different a woman will look when she has happiness, Olympia knows, when her beauty emanates from a sense of well-being or from knowing herself to be greatly loved. Even a plain woman will attract the eye if she is happy, while the most elaborately coiffed and bejeweled woman in a room, if she cannot summon contentment, will seem to be merely decorative.

gave up her child without so much as a note or a dollar, and what excuse did she have? None. She was not poor. She was not the victim of brutality. And the child, whatever else his circumstances, had been conceived in love. That much was true. How could she have so easily given the child away? Olympia

In the time it takes for her to walk from the bathhouse at the seawall of Fortune's Rocks, where she has left her boots and has discreetly pulled off her stockings, to the waterline along which the sea continually licks the pink and silver sand, she learns about desire.

It is time that determines the intensity of love.

Later, when she sees the photographs for the first time, she will be surprised at how calm her face looks - how steady her gaze, how erect her posture. In the picture her eyes will be slightly closed, and there will be a shadow on her neck. The shawl will be draped around her shoulders, and her hands will rest in her lap. In this deceptive photograph, she will look a young woman who is not at all disturbed or embarrassed, but instead appears to be rather serious. And she wonders if, in its ability to deceive, photography is not unlike the sea, which may offer a benign surface to the observe even as it conceals depths and current below.

Love is not simply the sum of sweet greetings and wrenching partings and kisses and embraces, but is made up more of the memory of what has happened and the imagining of what is to come.

Olympia thinks often about desire - desire that stops the breath, that causes a preoccupied pause in the midst of uttering a sentence - and how it may upend a life and threaten to dissolve the soul.

... she suddenly looks different to Olympia, physically different, as though a portrait has been alterred. And Olympia thinks that possibly such adjustments might have to be made for everyone she knows. Upon meeting a person, a sketch is formed, and for the life of the relationship, however intimate or not, a portrait is painted, with oils or pastels or with black ink or with watercolor, and only at a persons's death can the portraits be considered finished. Perhaps not even at the person's death.