"They were careful and followed the rules. No counselor could say he had flashed a light under denser shrubbery by the boys’ dorm and found Salmon and Heckler going at it. They set up little meetings outside in the back of the cafeteria or by a certain tree that they’d marked up high with their initials. They kissed. They wanted to do more but couldn’t. Samuel wanted it to be special. He was aware that it should be perfect. Lindsey just wanted to get it over with. Have it behind her so she could achieve adulthood—transcend the place and the time. She thought of sex as the Star Trek transport. You vaporized and found yourself navigating another planet within the second or two it to realign."
"Every man has reminiscences which he would not tell to everyone but only his friends. He has other matters in his mind which he would not reveal even to his friends, but only to himself, and that in secret. But there are other things which a man is afraid to tell even to himself, and every decent man has a number of such things stored away in his mind."
"The impenetrable barrier that surrounded the shingles, the chimney, the woodpile, the driveway, the fence, was like a layer of clear ice that coated the trees when it rained and then froze. Our house looked the same as every other one on the block, but it was not the same. Murder had a blood red door on the other side of which was everything unimaginable to everyone."
"These were the lovely bones that had grown around my absence: the connections—sometimes tenuous, sometimes made at great cost, but often magnificent—that happened after I was gone. And I began to see things in a way that let me hold the world without me in it. The events that my death wrought were merely the bones of a body that would become whole at some unpredictable time in the future. The price of what I came to see as this miraculous body had been my life."
"I loved the way the burned-out flashcubes of the Kodak Instamatic marked a moment that had passes, one that would now be gone forever except for a picture. When they were spent, I took the cubed four corner flashbulbs and passed them from hand to hand until they cooled. The broken filaments of the flash would turn a molten marble blue or sometimes smoke the thin glass black. I had rescued the moment by using my camera and in that way had found a way to stop time and hold it. No one could take that image away from me because I owned it."
"He looked into the eyes of that photograph and saw right through them to the backdrop of marbleized suede every kid had to sit in front of under a hot light. What did dead mean, Ray wondered. It meant lost, it meant frozen, it meant gone. He knew that no one ever really looked the way they did in photos. He knew he didn’t look as wild or as frightened as he did in his own. He came to realized something as he stared at my photo—that it was not me. I was in the air around him, I was in the cold morning he had now with Ruth, I was in the quiet time he spent alone studying. I was the girl he had chose to kiss. He wanted, somehow, to set me free. He didn’t want to burn my photo or toss it away, but he didn’t want to look at me anymore, either. I watched him as he placed the photograph in one of the giant volumes of Indian poetry in which he and his mother had pressed dozens of fragile flowers that were slowly turning to dust."
"Through the open door I could see a sliver of carolers, some faces peering inside at the scatted tatters of money, some faces turned to the sky and the snow, now beginning to fall. And there, in front of them, in the room with us, stood the family, their outlines barely visible within the weight of the room’s light. It was a light that shone over our faces, our wounds and scars. It was a light so brilliant and white it could have been beamed from heaven, and Brian and I could have been angels, basking in it. But it wasn’t, and we weren’t."
"I held firm to the belief that my dreams were all clues, pieces of my hidden past now revealing themselves. It was as though my brain had little rooms inside it, and I were entering a room that had been padlocked for years, the key sparkling in my fist."