I’ll Be There, by Holly Goldberg Sloan

What he could remember, when he thought of the dozens and dozens of towns where he’d lived, were sounds.
-Holly Goldberg Sloan, I’ll Be There

Because something inside him, even when he most wanted to give up, just wouldn’t.
-Holly Goldberg Sloan, I’ll Be There

Emily Bell was a collector.
And what she gathered and sorted and prized was carried with her wherever she went.
Because Emily’s obsession was with other people’s lives.
Her grandmother had once said that Emily would have been the greatest spy ever born. But only if spies didn’t have to guard secrets as well as unearth them. Because Emily’s own emotional wall of self-protection was see-through. She wasn’t hiding anything about herself, so why should anyone else?
It was disarming.
Emily’s interest in personal histories made her accessible to people’s deepest emotions. It was as if she had some kind of magnet that pulled at someone’s soul, often when he or she least expected it.
And that same magnet, which had to have been shaped like a horseshoe, allowed someone to look at her and feel the need to share a burden.
Hers was a gift that didn’t have a name.
Even she didn’t understand what it all meant.
Because everything, she believed, was connected.
She had seen how small things changed big things. She saw every person as a part of a ripple effect.
And, because of that, she believed in destiny.
At least that’s what she would later tell herself.
-Holly Goldberg Sloan, I’ll Be There

But when it got to be too much, he grabbed his beat-up guitar and took Riddle and they disappeared int the woods.
-Holly Goldberg Sloan, I’ll Be There

Riddle opened his phone book and looked at one of his drawings. A brown moth landed on the yellow paper. Riddle stared at it, his thoughts swirling:
Some things are born with wings. Like butterflies. Or birds.
And they can fly.
Some things only have legs. Like spiders. But they have lots of legs so tey can crawl and run and hide. When you have two legs, it is harder to hide.
Light is always moving. Even in tiny, tiny, tiny ways.
Light makes all shape.
I taste wild berries. Just by seeing them.
I listen. Always. If you are quiet, you hear more than things that make noise.
I see the insides. Turning pieces. Even if the pieces are broken. I put them back together.
I start downside up.
It hurts, but the inside is always worth seeing.
-Holly Goldberg Sloan, I’ll Be There
Time for Same was about the position of the sun. It was about feeling hunger in his stomach. It was about the temperature just after dawn. Time wasn’t measured in minutes or even hours. It had a rhythm that had to do with days and seasons, animals and insects, flowers and plants.
Time was measured by the number of pages of drawings in Riddle’s phone books. It was seen in Sam’s pants that were short since he’d grown another three inches. Very little in his life had been predigested and explained.
-Holly Goldberg Sloan, I’ll Be There

But what she really liked best about snowboarding was riding the chairlift and looking down on the snowy trees and pretending she was a bird, flying over the mountainside.
But she’d keep that to herself.
Like a lot of what she felt, which could be alarming to those who didn’t see a painting and want to climb inside the picture to get to know the people. She couldn’t help being that way.
-Holly Goldberg Sloan, I’ll Be There

The tiny fish move like clouds of smoke.
But the smoke is underwater.
They stay together and turn like one thing. Because they are many things that understand one thing:
And that is sticking together.
I do not see one of the little silver fish swimming alone. I look. But I do not ever see that.
-Holly Goldberg Sloan, I’ll Be There

He hammered the nails into the plywood so that the sharp points poked through. Then he carefully layered the worn river sticks on top, attaching them to the points of the nails.
In the end, he’d made a heart from many, many pieces of worn wood, weathered by wind and rain, the bark long gone, with only the smooth parts touching, like limbs.
It was a heart exposed.
-Holly Goldberg Sloan, I’ll Be There

Once downstairs, Emily took a heavy, red wool blanket from the top shelf of the coat closet and slipped out the front door. She then wrapped herself up and waited on the porch recliner.
She was surprised that she wasn’t sleepy. Instead she felt just the opposite. She felt so alive. The night was cold, but spring was battling out there somewhere and winter was in full retreat. When she exhaled out her mouth, she could see her breath as a small explosion of white air.
At first it felt like the whole world was either dead or asleep. Silence. And then she realized this wasn’t actually true. A bird was making a noise in the next-door neighbor’s tree. Was it an owl?
And some kind of animal was chewing on something—or was it digging?—back by the garage. From far away she could now hear a train. And from another direction, a dog began to bark.
She sat in stillness, not once checking the time, realizing that she’d lived here for ten of her seventeen years, but she’d never experienced the house, the yard, or even the street at this hour.
And then at some point, deep in her time-suspended experience of the dark serenity, she realized that the owl had stopped his rhythmic hooting. And the rodent was no longer digging…
-Holly Goldberg Sloan, I’ll Be There


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