By Rudyard Kipling
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Extra info for Actions and Reactions (Collected Works of Rudyard Kipling)
But I was so amazed by how he had made a chimney that would draw smoke out if he ever chose to build a ﬁre that the awkwardness of getting in and out of the hole wasn’t even on my mind. You could add to that that escape wasn’t a concept I had any real experience with. The worst I’d had to escape was Artie, a strange-looking kid at school whose father was a mortician. He liked to pretend he was carrying a needle full of embalming ﬂuid around with him. On his notebooks he would draw needles spilling dark drips.
And a soul would run by a living being, touch them softly on the shoulder or cheek, and continue on its way to heaven. The dead are never exactly seen by the living, but many people seem acutely aware of something changed around them. They speak of a chill in the air. The mates of the deceased wake from dreams and see a ﬁgure standing at the end of their bed, or in a doorway, or boarding, phantomlike, a city bus. On my way out of Earth, I touched a girl named Ruth. She went to my school but we’d never been close.
When you begin to go over the edge, life receding from you as a boat recedes inevitably from shore, you hold on to death tightly, like a rope that will transport you, and you swing out on it, hoping only to land away from where you are. Like a phone call from the jail cell, I brushed by Ruth Connors—wrong number, accidental call. I saw her standing there near Mr. Botte’s red and rusted Fiat. When I streaked by her, my hand leapt out to touch her, touch the last face, feel the last connection to Earth in this not-so-standard-issue teenage girl.
Actions and Reactions (Collected Works of Rudyard Kipling) by Rudyard Kipling