Bernie, I just want to be with you. Your kind, intelligent, and funny. I’ll be honest, we had both been on the fencing team for several weeks before I even knew your name. People were showing up to fencing practice all the time back then, during the height of Miles’ popularity, and there were so many people who showed up then left after a practice or two that I lost interest. I had been on the team since the beginning of the year, and Coach Dan was beginning to work with a lot, so I was really focused at the time as well.
During one of our practices that spring, I saw some guy talking to Double-J. At first I thought it was another newbie, but then I realized Double-J didn’t talk to newbies, so I looked at that guy again and realized that yes, I did recognize him, he’d been coming the last few practices. It was like reading a book that you thought you hadn’t read before, until you get a few dozen pages into it and realize yes I have read this, but instead of putting it down you continue reading, it’s a pleasant surprise.
Annie walked quickly to Bernie’s locker after the end of the first class period, and saw him pulling books from its metal shelf. She ran behind him and tapped him on the shoulder.
Bernie turned quickly, looking surprised, and upon seeing Annie’s broad smail — looked even more surprised.
“Hi!” said Annie.
Bernie darted his eyes quickly to the left, then right, then back at Annie. His look of surprise gave way gently to a blushing smile.
It wasn’t until I was deep into this novel that I had read one of Neal Stephenson’s early novels, “Zodiac,” making me one of the few readers of that environmental thriller (echoing the author’s autobiographical note here). “Snow Crash” has the same smart-alec tone of his earlier novel, but it’s far more enjoyable — its mixture of computer technology, linguistic theory, and Sumerian mythology makes for a fascinating read. I’m not sure either his science or mythology would hold up under close scrutiny, but if the ride’s the thing, this novel delivers.
The masks and gloves were collected into a large canvas sack, a bolus of athletic equipment.
There is a feeling of dread on the next to last vacation day, coming from a realization that the plans made at the start of the vacation are destined to fail, that this time of leisure (like all things) will not live up to expectations, and also that it’s too late now to salvage this time away.
I don’t like to talk. When I talk, I use words that mean something other than what I want to say. I don’t understand it, why the words come to me when I write but not when I speak, even when I speak slowly, think about each word carefully, as so many teachers and doctors tell me to do. When I talk, the words always come out wrong, it’s like my mouth works independent of my mind, the two aren’t connected, or like there’s a mind in my mouth that takes over when I speak.
The only person I am comfortable speaking with is my mother, because she’s the only one who will make the effort to understand what I mean rather than respond to what I say.
The look of febrile excitement on Rex’s face was evident in spite of the opaque cold gray of his mask.
Double-J swatted the tennis balls, sending each in a wide arch and upon their return entagling their connecting strings. “These things are useless,” he said, with emphasis on the last word. “They can’t fight back. You don’t need to worry about making mistakes, because there’s no consequence if you fail. They lull you into a false sense of accomplishment. They don’t teach you any skill that will be useful in a bout. This isn’t practice — it’s a game.”
Double-J drove into the parking lot, his obstreperous vehicle having been heard well before being seen.
“You get too wrapped up in spectacle,” Double-J said to Bernie. “It’s not that you’re too easily impressed — your judgement’s pretty good, actually — but when you do come across something impressive, you become enamored by it, rather than inspired by it.
“Greatness is suppossed to inspire us, urge us to create something equally inspiring.
“But all you seem to do is imitate your sources of inspiration. You think that, by re-enacating what you find inspirational, those who see you will be as inspired as you were.
“It doesn’t work that way. Imitation might flatter the imitated, but it does nothing for the imitator.
“I would rather be unique and fail, rather than imitate and accomplish nothing.”