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169

Train Dreams

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Johnson, D. (2005). Train Dreams. In Paris Review, T. (ed) The Paris Review Book of People with Problems. Picador, pp. 169-226

186

The first kiss plummeted him down a hole and popped him out into a world he thought he could get along in - as if he’d been pulling hard the wrong way and was now turned around headed downstream. They spent the whole afternoon among the daisies kissing. He felt glorious and full of more blood than he was supposed to have in him.

When the sun got too hot, they moved under a lone jack pine in the pasture of jeremy grass, he with his back against the bark and she with her cheek on his shoulder. The white daisies dabbed the field so profusely that it seemed to foam. He wanted to ask for her hand now. He was afraid to ask. She must want him to ask, or surely she wouldn’t lie here with him, breathing against his arm, his face against her hair-her hair faintly fragrant of sweat and soap ... "Would you care to be my wife, Gladys?” he astonished himself by saying.

—p.186 by Denis Johnson 6 months ago

The first kiss plummeted him down a hole and popped him out into a world he thought he could get along in - as if he’d been pulling hard the wrong way and was now turned around headed downstream. They spent the whole afternoon among the daisies kissing. He felt glorious and full of more blood than he was supposed to have in him.

When the sun got too hot, they moved under a lone jack pine in the pasture of jeremy grass, he with his back against the bark and she with her cheek on his shoulder. The white daisies dabbed the field so profusely that it seemed to foam. He wanted to ask for her hand now. He was afraid to ask. She must want him to ask, or surely she wouldn’t lie here with him, breathing against his arm, his face against her hair-her hair faintly fragrant of sweat and soap ... "Would you care to be my wife, Gladys?” he astonished himself by saying.

—p.186 by Denis Johnson 6 months ago
188

Ten days later, when the Spokane International was running again, Grainier rode it up into Creston, B.C., and back south again the evening of the same day through the valley that had been his home. The blaze had climbed to the ridges either side of the valley and stalled halfway down the other side of the mountains, according to the reports Grainier had listened to intently. It had gutted the valley along its entire length like a campfire in a ditch. All his life Robert Grainier would remember vividly the burned valley at sundown, the most dreamlike business he’d ever witnessed waking - the brilliant pastels of the last light overhead, some clouds high and white, catching daylight from beyond the valley, others ribbed and gray and pink, the lowest of them rubbing the peaks of Bussard and Queen mountains; and beneath this wondrous sky the black valley, utterly still, the train moving through it making a great noise but unable to wake this dead world.

The news in Creston was terrible. No escapees from the Moyea Valley fire had appeared there.

—p.188 by Denis Johnson 6 months ago

Ten days later, when the Spokane International was running again, Grainier rode it up into Creston, B.C., and back south again the evening of the same day through the valley that had been his home. The blaze had climbed to the ridges either side of the valley and stalled halfway down the other side of the mountains, according to the reports Grainier had listened to intently. It had gutted the valley along its entire length like a campfire in a ditch. All his life Robert Grainier would remember vividly the burned valley at sundown, the most dreamlike business he’d ever witnessed waking - the brilliant pastels of the last light overhead, some clouds high and white, catching daylight from beyond the valley, others ribbed and gray and pink, the lowest of them rubbing the peaks of Bussard and Queen mountains; and beneath this wondrous sky the black valley, utterly still, the train moving through it making a great noise but unable to wake this dead world.

The news in Creston was terrible. No escapees from the Moyea Valley fire had appeared there.

—p.188 by Denis Johnson 6 months ago