Wednesday, June 12, 2013

the last book I ever read (The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates, excerpt eight)

from The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates:

On the return to Princeton, Winslow could not keep his eyes from drooping; he could not concentrate on the book he’d hoped to read, the newly published The Life of Reason by George Santayana, of the Philosophy Department at Harvard. In a light doze in his private compartment on the train Winslow woke abruptly to stare out the window at a creature of some sort—a horse? a deer?—running and stumbling alongside the speeding vehicle—seeing then to his astonishment that the figure was human, and wraith-like. Why, it was Annabel!—his beloved granddaughter Annabel!—running barefoot in the rough terrain, thin bare arms pitifully extended to him; her long tresses blown wild, and her fair, childlike face wildly contorted. Grandfather! Help me! Don’t abandon me! Intercede with your God for me!—even as the train seemed to be gathering speed, and pulling away; and Annabel was left behind, staggering desperately through the sere and tangled grasses beyond the railroad bed.

So noisy was the train’s clattering, no one heard the elderly man’s cries of horror, and for help. No one was to discover him collapsed on the floor of his compartment, half his face contorted in a look of terror, and his eyes rolled back inside his head, until a conductor slid open the door, at Princeton Junction.

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