The Girls

Art isn't a product. It's an experience

Aunt Lovey used to tell me that if I wanted to be a writer, I needed a writer's voice. 'Read,' she'd say, 'and if you have a writer's voice, one day it will shout out, 'I can do that too!

Before she closed her eyes tonight, Rose said she regretted that she has not done something heroic in her life. Well, it's not like she can suddenly climb a tree and save a cat, or go to medical school and begin some important cancer research. But Rose has been my sister. I think that's heroic.

Funny how you can measure time by pets that were not even your own.

How cruel it must be for a man to live past his soul.

I can't exactly say why I've chosen to write about the things that I am writing about. There are doubtless better stories from my life that I am missing, events and escapades I am not wise enough to know were important. If heaven is tolerant and writers are allowed (bunch of liars that they are), I wonder if they gather for coffee to ponder the prose they should have written instead.

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I feel, holding books, accommodating their weight and breathing their dust, an abiding love. I trust them, in a way that I can't trust my computer, though I couldn't do without it. Books are matter. My books matter. What would I have done through these years without the library and all its lovely books?

If heaven is tolerant and writers are allowed (bunch of liars though they are), I wonder if they gather for coffee to ponder the prose they should have written instead.

I hum some secret place into being, thinking of this other me, the one that only I can see, a girl called She, who is not We, a girl who I will never be.

In sleep, my sister and I found a common breath. In dreams, we knew the moon.

I would not have dreamed back then, could never have imagined, that one day I would be a childless mother too.

On the farm, in our first-floor bedroom, my sister and I were sheltered in the essence of normal. We were not hidden, but unseen. The orange farmhouse was our castle, our kingdom the fields around, and the shallow creek that bisected our property the sea we crossed to find adventure.

Ruby is my sister. And strangely, undeniably, my child.

The city, no matter how small, is corrupt and unrepentant, while the sun shines brighter in the country, making people more wholesome.

The final picture in the album was of Aunt Lovey and Uncle Stash, their black-and-white wedding photo. I hated that their picture came last, because it felt like they were saying goodbye.

The strangest thing about strange things is that they're only strange when you hear about them or think about them later, but never when you're living them.

Uncle Stash said you didn't have to be crazy to to do something stupid, just young.

What is it about sadness that can be so fulfilling?

Write,' she said, 'as if you'll never be read. That way you'll be sure to tell the truth.