You said you knew the perfect place to run to. A place that was empty of people, and buildings, and far, far away. A place covered in blood-red earth and sleeping life. A place longing to come alive again. It's a place for disappearing, you'd said, a place for getting lost.. And for getting found.I'll take you there, you'd said. And I could say that I agreed.
But that was all bravado. Already - how had it come about so quickly - desire had begotten need. A few whispered words (perhaps he didn't mean them) and I was ready to follow. It was worse to think of staying behind, to grind one day upon another. Nothing to hold me here. None to regret my leaving, save Az.
Laine slowly rolled out of bed. The queen size was one of the few new things in the house. But now, even the new bed felt tainted. It was an inner-spring monument to lies, a petri dish of mendacity she had shared with her faithless husband, and shared now with creeping dreams that flew from the light but left harsh scratches and diseased black feathers. Laine promised herself that, as soon as, she could, she would rid herself of this house, this bed, her clothes, her jewelry - everything but the flesh she lived in. She would scrub herself clean and flee to start a new life whose first and only commandment would be: Never let thyself be lied to again.
As a teenager in Brooklyn Quentin had often imagined himself engaged in martial heroics, but after this he knew, as a cold immutable fact, that he would do anything necessary, sacrificing whatever or whomever he had to, to avoid risking exposure to physical violence. Shame never came into it. He embraced his new identity as a coward. He would run in the other direction. He would lie down and cry and put his arms over his head or play dead. It didn't matter what he had to do, he would do it and be glad.
I took to the Kingswood the midsummer after the Dame died. I did not swear a vow, but I kept to myself just as strictly, living like a beast in the forest from one midsummer to the next, without fire or iron or the taste of meat. I lived as prey, and I learned from the dogs how to run, from the hare how to hide in the bracken, and from the deer how to go hungry. In sorrow and pride I exiled myself to Kingswood. I shunned fire for I feared the kingsmen would hunt me down, and so by the way of cold and hunger I came near to refusing life itself. I never thought to anger or please a god by it.