from “Revolutionary Road” by Richard Yates

“He took a gulp of whiskey, seeing a quick blur of stars and moon through the wet dome of his glass. Then he started back for the house, but he didn’t make it; he had to turn around again and head out to the far border of the lawn and walk around out there in little circles; he was crying.

It was the smell of spring in the air that did it – earth and flowers – because it was almost exactly a year now since the time of the Laurel Players, and to remember the Laurel Players was to remember April Wheeler’s way of walking across the stage, and her smile, and the sound of her voice (‘Wouldn’t you like to be loved by me?’) , and in remembering all this there was nothing for Shep Campbell to do but walk around on the grass and cry, a big wretched baby with his fist in his mouth and the warm tears spilling down his knuckles.

He found it so easy and so pleasant to cry that he didn’t try to stop for a while, until he realised he was forcing his sobs a little, exaggerating their depth with unnecessary shudders. Then, ashamed of himself, he bent over and carefully set his glass on the grass, got out his handkerchief and blew his nose.

The whole point of crying was to quit before you cornied it. The whole point of grief itself was to cut it out while it was  still honest, while it still meant something. Because the thing was so easily corrupted: let yourself go and you started embellishing your own sobs, or you started telling about the Wheelers with a sad, sentimental smile and saying Frank was courageous and then what the hell did you have?”

 

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