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Echo
by Francesca Lia Block


p.21-22 Sometimes instead of burritos I ate powdered sugar donuts with colored sprinkles. The powdered sugar cut and stung my mouth. The sprinkles reminded me of the lights of the city, shiny and sugary and fake and promising and nothing.

p.29-30 The ocean seemed to be calling to me. I turned off the music and listened for it whispering. Maybe I would become a mermaid. I had the right hair. I would live in the swirling blue-green currents, doing exotic underwater dances for the fish, kissed by sea anemones, caressed by seaweed shawls. I would have a dolphin as a friend. He would have merry eyes and the thick sleeked flesh of a god. My fingernails would be tiny shells and my skin would be like jade with light shining through it. I would never have to come back up or go to clubs again. Boys would never send me away untouched and empty.

p.53-54 He was much older than she and never spoke to her, but she knew that he was in love with her and that one day they would meet again and become inseparable as identical twins who looked nothing alike and had been born many years apart.

p.66-67 "What do you think of the way Vermeer used light?" I asked him. We were on the lawn beside the ornate terra-cotta dome, watching the swans and ducks gliding on the pool. I was playing the older woman, the artist with a gingerbread house full of charcoal drawings and flowering cactus plants that you had to water very gently by pouring drops just into the center of the skinny leaves. The frankincense and myrrh woman with the huge hoop earrings and turquoise rings from a New Mexican reservation and the lines carved around her eyes.

p.68-69 We were opium-den dragon chasers in Chinatown, Santeria priests in the Mission, gay men in the Castro, tie-dyed acidhead sandalwood-scented runaways on Haight Street. No matter what roles we played at the end of the night we merged in the bed.

p.75 I hated the roses. I couldn't help it. I hated the pink wet trick roses he was holding. They reminded me of the morning I woke up to a bed covered in roses he had stolen from the neighborhood and then clipped to remove the thorns. The way we had made love, crushing petals until the whole steamed-glass room smelled of pollen and sex. They reminded me of his wounded-looking mouth as he read his poems.

109-110 I didn't know if he was taking death in through his mouth and shutting out life with his eyes or the other way around.

p.183 L.A. is a beautiful prostitute with bougainvillea-blossom-pink lips, hair extensions to her waist, stiletto heels straining the muscles in her calves. Promising opiate dazzle if you pay her enough. And she doesn't just want money.