Going into the woods by yourself is the best way to pretend you’re in another time. It’s a thing you can only do alone…If I had a lot of money, I would buy acres of woods. I would put a wall around them and live there like it was another time. Maybe I would find one other person to live with me there. Someone who was willing to promise they’d never speak a word about anything in the present. I doubt I could find anyone like that.
That’s one of those frozen memories for me, because there was something in Greta’s solemn wave that made me understand it was about something bigger. That as the elevator door eclipsed the look between us, we were really saying goodbye to the girls we used to be. Girls who knew how to play invisible mermaids, who could run through dark aisles, pretending to save the world.
After a snowstorm is one of the best times to be in the woods, because all the empty beer and soda cans and candy wrappers disappear, and you don’t have to try as hard to be in another time. Plus there’s just something beautiful about walking on snow that nobody else has walked on. It makes you believe you’re special, even though you know you’re not.
“Believe what you want,” she said, turning away and heading for the stairs. But that was impossible and Greta knew it. You could try to believe what you wanted, but it never worked. Your brain and your heart decided what you were going to believe and that was that. Whether you liked it or not.
Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book. And then there are books like An Imperial Affliction, which you can’t tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like a betrayal.