The Forest of Hands and Teeth (The Forest of Hands and Teeth #1)

As I stare at the blank page, I am at once awash inwords but unable to find the ones I want to use.

Because I do not accept the hand of God; I do not believe in divine intervention or predestination. I cannot believe that our paths are pre-chosen and that our lives have no will. That there is no such thing as choice.

But then he whispers, "It will be okay, Mary." He pulls my head down to his chest and he wraps both his arms around me and all I can think is why can't life just stop here and now and leave us be in this moment.

Did you know that when we were kids Cass used to tell me your stories? She used to laugh at you. Not in a mean way, but in the way that Cass used to laugh at everything before...." He gestures around us at our world now.

I shake my head. "I thought Cass never liked my stories. Never remembered them."

"Oh yes, I would beg her to tell me if she had new stories from you."

"Why didn't you ask me yourself?" I whisper.

"Because you were Harry's," he responds.

"Not always."

"Yes, always," he says. "Always in his eyes," he adds in a softer tone.

Every night I drown and every morning I wake up struggling to breathe.

...[F]inding the end of the path [is] not quite as important as the journey to getting there.

He places his hands over mine, the feeling so warm and familiar. 'Those days back there, in the house. That is my world. That is my truth,' he says. 'That is my ocean.

... If you never try to see [someone] for who they are, then you don't love them enough.

I know in my life there have been breaches, but I also know that I am very good at blocking out the memories that serve me no purpose.

I love you, Mary," he says, and that is when I let the tears come. The great heaving sobs of terror and pain that shake my body until I can do nothing but grab on to Travis to anchor me to this spot. He pulls me toward him and I curl around his body as I weep. I fall into darkness with his fingers trailing through my har, my cheeks still wet and my body heaving.

I need him with an urgency that I cannot escape.

I realize that sometimes death comes before you expect it. That while we are rarely prepared for our friends, family and loved ones to die, we are never prepared for our own deaths. Never prepared to reconcile our own regrets.

I sit with my knees pulled in tight and my arms wrapped around my shins. I can no longer feel my feet, as if blood refuses to spread so far from my heart.

It's as if there is infinity between our lips and we will never actually touch. Like math, where dividing by half can last for eternity.

It wouldn't have mattered if they were scratches or not," he says, his voice like liquid. "I was bitten during the escape from the house." My limbs go weak, everything inside me folding in collapsing on itself.

"I was already dead," he says, opening his eyes.

I want to sleep, I want dreams to pull me from this world and make me forget. To stop the memories from swirling around me. To put an end to this ache that consumes me.

I will always need you," I whisper. "All of this time I've waited for you. And you were never coming for me. Why did you let me wait for you?

I wonder what right we have to believe our childhood dreams will come true.

Suddenly, all I can think about are all the things I don't know about him. All the things I never had time to learn. I don't know if his feet are ticklish or how long his toes are. I don't know what nightmares he had as a child. I don't know which stars are his favorites, what shapes he sees in the clouds. I don't know what he is truly afraid of or what memories he holds closest.
And I don't have enough time now, never enough time. I want to be in the moment with him, feel his body against mine and think of nothing else, but my mind explodes with grief for all that I am missing. All that I will miss. All that I have wasted.

That's just the way life is. Some days you wake up and the beach is clear and you forget about everything that surrounds us. And some days you wake up and it looks like this. That's the nature of the tides.

The living used to wonder what happened after death. She said that whole religions were born and evolved around this one simple uncertainty.

There is a child - a baby - who long since kicked off her blankets. Her skin is ashen and her mouth open in a perpetual yet silent scream. She isn't old enough to roll over, to sit up, to climb. So she lies there kicking her fat legs against the footboard of the crib, eternally calling for her mother. For food. For flesh.

Those days back there, in the house. That is my world. That is my truth," he says. "That is my ocean.

We are our own memory-keepers, and we have failed ourselves.

We are our own memory-keepers and we have failed ourselves. It is like that game we played in school as children. Sitting in a circle, one student whispers a phrase into another student’s ear and the phrase is passed around until the last student in the circle repeats what she hears, only to find out it is nothing like what it is supposed to be.

This is our life now.

We forget that the rest of live can be just as dangerous. I think about how fragile we are here-- like fish in a glass bowl with the darkness pressing in on every side.

When you know love . . . that's what makes life worth it.

Who are we if not the stories we pass down? What happens when there's no one left to tell those stories? To hear them? Who will ever know that I existed?

Who are we if not the stories we pass down? What happens when there's no one left to tell those stories? To hear them? Who will ever know that I existed? What if we are the only ones left -- who will know our stories then? Who will remember those?

You think you want love, Mary. You think it is this beautiful gift that does nothing but fill you and make you whole. But you are wrong. Love can be cruel and ugly. It can become dark and cause the deepest pain.