“To live, Ben felt, was to be on fire, lest one turn to ice.” David Guterson East of the Mountains.
I love this book precisely because of lines such as the one I quote above. Not every book has a line or two within it that rides around on your back for days and demands some attention.
Sitting in a high school English class with a few minutes to spare, I rediscover the quote written in the margins of my notebook. I took it out and played with the sentence for a few minutes.
These are the words that fell from that play. I begin with a rough adaption. Some times, I play a little roughly.
To live is to be on fire, lest one turn to ice.
The words wrap around my mind like a tightly wound coil. Swirling loops of emotion, I can not express. They sleep fitfully inside me. Silently, I watch them breathe. The gentle rise and fall, a signal that life is resting here.
My attention disturbs their sleep. They shift restlessly under my gaze. They awaken and stare up at me with fire simmering behind their eyes.
Great lakes form beneath as the ice begins to melt.
My life, my heart, my mind is on rapid defrost. Warmth seeps down into my fingers and toes. Is the sensation I feel pleasure or pain?
It is both. The Great Chill is ending. My life burns.