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Home: The Toast

You are sitting at a sunny French café, but there are shadows in your heart.

You have escaped disaster, and things have for the most part ended well, and yet you cannot shake a sense of dread and foreboding.

Someone is crushing your spirit. You try as hard as you can not to inconvenience them while they do it.

A fever has led you to believe you are married to your cousin, who may or may not be trying to poison you.

You are unsure whether or not cancer is contagious.

She’s dead now, of course. Isn’t she? Isn’t she?

There are two things of which you are certain: the door across the room from you will never open, and you will never see Isolda again.

If only you could forget.

There is not a soul who loves you in all of Cornwall.

You loved the house more than you ever loved him. You know that now, at the last.

Things never were the same since that ship sailed out of the harbor and we lost sight of her sails, mum.

You will never forget.

You have always hated her laugh, high and reedy and boisterous and throbbing with panic. You have never hated it more than you do now, trapped in this hot, close parlor together. You choke down a cucumber sandwich to keep from screaming.

You would sob with dread if you were not so busy answering the shrill, hateful ring of the damned telephone.

You dismissed her claims. At first.

You are a talented acrobat who may or may not be about to fall to her death on the last page. You are still mid-air.

If only there were some way – some hope – if only someday you might forget!

His letters have grown colder.

It is as old as the hills! Old, older, oldest! It is as old as the hills, and it has turned its eyes upon you! You cannot escape what is older than the hills!

You are collapsing. You are collapsing. You are collapsing. You are going to collapse!

You will never, ever forget it.

Why, this is worn by all the Ashley brides on their wedding day. You mustn’t mind it.

Your uncle falls like a dark shadow across the pages of your life. He will never tell you the full truth, and he will never let you go. Your only relief is that your father and mother never lived long enough to see you fall so short of your early promise.

Your wedding day takes place in full sunlight, yet you still feel a chill.

Someone is almost certainly poisoning your tea, and yet the estate is so beautiful, you never once think of leaving. Where would you go? An apartment? Ugh.

There’s only one thing you hate more than men – brutish, clasping, grasping, sneering, filthy, foul, begrimed and smear-eyed men – and that’s women. Clammy, nervous, shifting, white-necked, bitch-eyed, soft-footed women.

The further south you go, the more firmly the North becomes fixed in your heart.

How could you possibly forget?

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