was a time before will be one after
Though he was automatically sardonic, Roger never gave up on his capacity for wonder. He was not religious or even spiritual, but he had what you might call petty epiphanies about his life, the world, nature, marketing, gum flavors and so on. He had revelations in the strangest places. He would see something in a suburban cul-de-sac or a shopping mall parking lot that just took his breath away.
was a picture you could see us in
When she first heard the news, Maggie didn’t weep, though she didn’t move from the couch for nearly two days afterwards. She sat there knitting, almost automatically, her thoughts out there somewhere away from her body, away from her life and all she knew. The needles, the sound, the rhythm, the making of something soft, textile, durable.
was such a good show back then
At any sort of railing, Johnnie automatically thinks of jumping, if only for a moment. He never actually leaps.
was men who made us part
Johnnie and Charlie both loved Ed and Mable dearly. Ed and Mable died in a hotel fire when Johnnie and Charlie were ten and thirteen. The fire it turned out was arson, insurance fraud. Both the boys were scarred for life, though they were nowhere near that seaside hotel where the conflagration occurred. Even when he’s completely zonked on downers in some strange place, Johnnie automatically checks for fire exits.
was air between us
On the street Anna finds herself automatically reaching for his tiny hand, never to find it, never to touch.
was his name she would think of
Somehow every time she moved, even halfway across the country, Helen almost automatically found herself a new steady boyfriend, almost always the same type of man, without even trying, without even thinking. Absurd, really. And at some point she would inevitably slip up and call him Charlie.
was the house our place a land
Howard automatically drops a Euro in the busker’s case, though he doesn’t want to stick around to hear the story written in the old man’s face.
was little we could want for
Christmas displays fascinate Roger. Something about the consumerist impulse to automatically generate wonder through the consumption of electricity and plastic models of mythical figures has a great deal of appeal to him. The more over-the-top the better. Call him a vulgar American. Of course he wanted to go to Disney World. He always wants to go to Disney World.
was another before you came
Anna’s expression automatically sours at the mere mention of Helen. Johnnie was usually the one to mention her, as if the old wounds had simply healed and gone away. He had a sadistic streak in him, Johnnie did.
was a long time back America was different
Howard automatically feels a twinge of guilt every time he orders a new delivery of Jersey barriers, whether in front of an embassy or in the blighted cityspaces back home. Security aesthetics are brutal.