In 2017

First Lines

  1. I offered my hand to the fire.
  2.  “The morning light glittered on the glass windows and on the blades of the guillotines in the central square.
  3. On my deathbed I shall remember that April day if I remember anything at all.
  4. The waters of Lake Wilhelm are dark and chilled.
  5. You’re still alive in alternate universes, Theo, but I live in the real world, where this morning you’re having an open-casket funeral.
  6. On the rare nights that she sleeps, she is back in the skin of the woman from before.
  7. It took seven years to get the letter right.
  8. It’s a lovely little flat, the letting agent says with what could almost pass for genuine enthusiasm.
  9. ‘Murderer!’ They shouted.
  10. The first time I meet Patrick Braddock, I’m wearing his wife’s lipstick.
  11. ‘I was going to say something,’ he said.
  12. A doorman ushered me toward the historic garden court inside the Palace Hotel, the sequins on my gold shift dress catching the light.
  13. Fame would strike someone, usually the kind that healthy-minded people would not wish upon themselves, such as being kidnapped and kept prisoner for years, humilated in a sex scandal, or surviving something typically fatal.
  14. People usually didn’t say anything when they returned their tapes to the Video Hut: in a single and somewhat graceful movement, they’d approach the counter, slide the tapes towards whoever was stationed behind the register, and wheel back toward the door.
  15. I know, long before Noah parks in the newly paved two-car driveway, that this is not a house I want to own.
  16. On our wedding day I was forty-six, she was eighteen.
  17. It was an unusually hot weekend in mid-June and sweat pooled along Luke Hadley’s spine as he lay on his stomach on a blanket in the front yard.
  18. The man behind me is standing close enough to moisten the skin on my neck with his breath.
  19. One time, a boy kissed me and I almost died.
  20. Like any Chicago tavern in deep summer, Joe Mulligan’s stank.
  21. On our wedding day I was forty-six, she was eighteen.
  22. Her father a golden face in the darkness.
  23. This is how I come to kill my father.
  24. The facts of the matter were these: At a little before ten o’clock in the evening of the first Saturday in July 1899, Marcel Després returned home to his studio apartment in the Cour du Commerce, the narrow passage that connects the Rue Saint-Andrés-des-Arts and the Boulevard Saint-Germain.
  25. The corpse on the table smelled rancid, and I pressed my handkerchief to my mouth.
  26. I didn’t have long.
  27. Nothing feels as free as this!
  28. Why is, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ the go-to small talk we make with children?
  29. The tunnels go under the sea.
  30. ‘A ball, at last!’ Dimity Plumleigh-Teignmott sank back into her chair in delight.
  31. Lola stands across the craggy square of backyard she shares with Garcia.
  32. When Loo was twelve years old her father taught her how to shoot a gun.
  33. The day of the countess’s famous harvest party began with a driving rain that hammered down on all the ancient von Lingenfels castle’s sore spots — springing leaks, dampening floors, and turning its yellow façade a slick, beetle-like black.
  34. I did not set out to ruin my sister’s debut.
  35. No one gets to a certain age without having made a few basic decisions on how to be in the world.
  36. There’s the person who you think you should be and there’s the person who you really are.
  37. A twenty-story-tall metallic figure appeared in the middle of Regent’s Park this morning.
  38. Practically every woman, whether she is rich or poor, is facing today a reduction in income.
  39. The time: September 1997, my fourth and final year at Dellecher Classical Conservatory.
  40. For certain New Orleanians, Memorial Medical Center was the place you went to ride out each hurricane that the loop current of the Gulf of Mexico launched like a pinball at the city.
  41. Burning is an art.
  42. Sofia, the year 2008.
  43. This was a long time ago, before my first death, and none of us are the people we were then.
  44. Reeve’s End is the kind of town every kid can’t wait to escape.
  45. Rachel was born in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts.
  46. We slept in what had once been the gymnasium.
  47. Not too far away from here, just over the horizon of our imagination, there’s a girl floating in the river.
  48. The wood is dark and the wood is deep and the trees claw at the sky with branches like bones, ripping holes in the canopy of clouds, revealing glimpses of a distant, rotting moon the color of dead flesh.
  49. The road to Coldthistle House was dark and dangerous.
  50. Piero Manzano hit the brakes as hard as he could and braced himself against the steering wheel with both arms as his Alfa hurtled toward the light-green car ahead.
  51. Katherine Schaub had a jaunty spring in her step as she walked the brief four blocks to work.
  52. Freedom was a myth.
  53. His mother glides across the flagstone patio slowly, hips and long legs working in time with the music, a kind of undulating dance that reminds Miles of the way tall grass moves just before a thunderstorm.
  54. Late one evening toward the end of March, a teenager picked up a double-barreled shotgun, walked into the forest, put the gun to someone else’s forehead and pulled the trigger.
  55. His birth certificate reads Muzikayise McCarthy, but nobody calls him that except his grandfather and anyone looking for a busted lip.
  56. On November 8, 2016, I woke up early and said, to no one in particular, ‘I’m so excited to vote for our first female president!’
  57. I have been acquainted with the smell of death.
  58. ‘This is the end.’
  59. A sex tape.
  60. Matty Telemachus left his body for the first time in the summer of 1995, when he was fourteen years old.
  61. “She was awakened by the monster knocking at the door.”
  62. “The forest had claws and teeth.”

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