One can survive everything, nowadays, except death, and live down everything except a good reputation. Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900)
Was this death, then? It felt a little like death–people’s eyes slid away from him as if he were a ghost, including those of several he’d considered friends the day before. Did death hurt like this?
His hostess–would-have-been hostess, at this point–gave him a false smile. “I’m sorry, Jas, but I’m afraid something has come up. . . .” Yes, something had: the truth. It had killed his reputation, and with it his social life, apparently.
Well, no matter what everyone else seemed to think, this was not the end of the world. He wouldn’t let it be. He wouldn’t–couldn’t–let them win.
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968)
She stood silent and sure in her innocence, waiting for Ringo to speak, to defend her, but he didn’t. All he did was shuffle his feet a little, eyes not quite meeting anyone else’s. At first she didn’t understand, unable to believe that he would fail her, but then she saw the set of his shoulders and knew.
And with no one to oppose him, Alex stepped forward almost gleefully, although she didn’t hear his cruel words. Despite his viciousness, he could say nothing that would hurt her. Not now.
Alex mocked her, but all she heard was Ringo’s silence.
There is only one way to defeat the enemy, and that is to write as well as one can. The best argument is an undeniably good book. Saul Bellow (1915 – )
Undeniably, it was a good book. He’d read it like the critical school-teacher he was and found little to criticize. But he’d also read it as someone fiercely opposed to its contents, searching for something, anything to call its conclusions into doubt.
Now he put it down, and glared at it.
“That’s not going to make it go away, you know.” The person standing next to him sounded almost sympathetic.
Peter growled angrily, wishing for something witty to say in response. For anything to say in response. But the book had already defeated all his arguments, stolen all his words.
I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man’s. William Blake (1757 – 1827)
“There are options.” The speaker sounded more stubborn than certain.
“There aren’t. You just won’t allow yourself to see the fact.” Frustrated, his companion sighed and pushed himself away from the table. “And until you do, I can’t help you.”
“So you’re not denying the system is flawed?” The triumph was evident in his voice.
“Don’t be naive,” the other snapped, and stood to leave. “You’re delusional, and nothing I say to you has any meaning.”
“But I could fix the system! I could make it perfect!” The door shut, and he sagged, defiance gone. “. . . If you’d only let me.”
Dwelling on the negative simply contributes to its power. Shirley MacLaine (1934 – )
The world around me blurred briefly, and I had to bite my tongue to keep from crying. But I bit it too hard, and the world blurred irrevocably. Well. At least I was distracted.
“Look, I’m sorry, all right?” Not that she sounded like it, but that didn’t matter. I was the one who’d screwed up–it must have been me that screwed up–not her. She had nothing to apologize for.
“Yes–” What was I affirming? All I could see were the things I’d done wrong, the ways–so many of them!–I could’ve kept this from happening.
You’d think I’d learn.