From Ian McEwan’s ‘Enduring Love’

‘I’m sitting at a small wooden table on a covered balcony that extends from the study out over the inner courtyard. The rain is falling on two flowering cherry trees. The branch of one grows through the railings so that I am close enough to see how the water forms into oval beads  tinged by the flower’s pale pink.’

‘I felt the empty, numbing neutrality that comes when one person in the room appears to monopolise all the available emotion. There was nothing for me to do for the moment but wait.’

‘I guessed her to be about fifty. The long straight hair was a last rope to the bollard of her youth. Failure had written in lines on Johnny’s face, but with Daisy it was all in the downward curve of her mouth. Lately I’ve noticed these mouths in some women of my age. A lifetime of putting out, as they saw it, and getting nothing back. The men were bastards, the social contract unjust and biology itself an affliction. The weight of all disappointment bent and locked these mouths into their downturn, a Cupid’s bow of loss. At a glance it looked like disapproval, but the mouths told a deeper tale of regret, though their owners never guessed what was being said about them.’

‘I experienced a sudden ache – part desolation, part panic – to observe the speed with which this mate, this familiar, was transforming herself into a separate person.’

‘I’ve never outgrown that feeling of mild peace, of acceptance, when children take your hand.’


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