Words from books...(26)

My feet turn me, and move me down the embankment, toward the fire, which is now burning hot and strong; toward the boy who becomes shadow standing next to it, blotted out by the smoke. That is what Alex is now: a shadow-boy, an illusion.

This is what amazes me: that people are new every day. That they are never the same. You must always invent them, and they must invent themselves, too.

They have tried to squeeze us out, to stamp us into the past. But we are still here.
And there are more of us every day.

This is the language of the world before—a world of chaos and confusion and happiness and despair—before the blitz turned streets to grids, cities to prisons, and hearts to dust.

I look away, toward the hundreds and hundreds of people who have been driven out of their homes, out of their lives, to this place of dust and dirtiness, all because they wanted the power to feel, to think, to choose for themselves. They couldn’t have known that even this was a lie—that we never really choose, not entirely. We are always being pushed and squeezed down one road or another. We have no choice but to step forward, and then step forward again, and then step forward again; suddenly we find ourselves on a road we haven’t chosen at all. But maybe happiness isn’t in the choosing. Maybe it’s in the fiction, in the pretending: that wherever we have ended up is where we intended to be all along.

She turns to me, squinting. She manages a small smile. “There are some losses we never get over.”

And you can’t love, not fully, unless you are loved in return.

We wanted the freedom to love. We wanted the freedom to choose. Now we have to fight for it.

Suddenly I am overcome with exhaustion. I am tired of fighting, of hitting and being hit. This is the strange way of the world, that people who simply want to love are instead forced to become warriors. It’s the upsidedown nature of life. It’s all I can do not to collapse into a chair again.

For a second, I feel a sense of overwhelming grief: for how things change, for the fact that we can never go back. I’m not certain of anything anymore. I don’t know what will happen—to me, to Alex and to Julian, to any of us.
But it’s not about knowing. It is simply about going forward. The cureds want to know; we have chosen faith instead. I asked Grace to trust me. We will have to trust too—that the world won’t end, that tomorrow will come, and that truth will come too.
An old line, a forbidden line from a text Raven once showed me, comes back to me now. He who jumps may fall, but he may also fly.
It’s time to jump.

Take down the walls.
That is, after all, the whole point. You do not know what will happen if you take down the walls; you cannot see through to the other side, don’t know whether it will bring freedom or ruin, resolution or chaos. It might be paradise or destruction.
Take down the walls.
Otherwise you must live closely, in fear, building barricades against the unknown, saying prayers against the darkness, speaking verse of terror and tightness.
Otherwise you may never know hell; but you will not find heaven, either. You will not know fresh air and flying.
All of you, wherever you are: in your spiny cities, or your one-bump towns. Find it, the hard stuff, the links of metal and chink, the fragments of stone filling your stomach. And pull, and pull, and pull.
I will make a pact with you: I will do it if you will do it, always and forever.
Take down the walls.

Requiem by Lauren Oliver

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