I don’t think I’ve ever gotten any significant thing I wanted. You have no idea how weird it is to envision things and have them come to nothing. No vision has ever come true, no promise has ever been kept. But then there was you, and you were the promise that would obliterate all the disappointments of the past. Everything about you insisted on it. Your color, your hair, the way light projects from every part of you. You were the sun that would burn away all the putrid broken promises of the world.

Late that night, I get back to Grant and Eric’s, and they are watching a movie where Al Pacino is blind. Al Pacino is angry and talks with an unplaceable accent. He is maybe Canadian.

There would be a time when the world created people stronger than them. When all of this got worked out. But until then there would be women and men like Hanne and Alan, who were imperfect and had no path toward perfection.

She looked at Max, grinning for a moment. “Wow, I can’t even look at you.”
She closed her eyes tightly.
“Why?” Max asked.
Her eyes remained closed, a wide smile on her face.
“I don’t know. I guess you just seem good.”
“What do you mean?” he asked.
She opened one eye, just a sliver.
“Yeah, wow. It’s almost unbearable.

They started a great fire in the middle of the market, and from this fire they took burning logs and torches, and these they threw onto the roofs of most of the homes within a one-mile radius. The few men who resisted were shot. This was effectively the end of any kind of life in Marial Bai for some time. Again, the rebels for whom this was retribution were nowhere to be found.

[Wars] can come in different shapes and guises, but always wars come in increments. I am convinced there are steps, and that once these events are set in motion, they are virtually impossible to reverse. There were other steps in the country’s stumble toward war, and I remember these days clearly now. But again, at the time I did not recognize these days as such, not as steps but as days like any others.

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