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10. What It Feels Like to Be an Angel


Even the trucker had to stop mopping and look. How could a brother like that have a sister like that? It wasnt her cup size or complexion. Oh, she was pretty. She was very pretty, in a domestic sort of way. She wore boot jeans and a large T-shirt. Her hair was a tangle of brown cascading halfway down her back, with here and there a strand of silver. Her mouth was wide, the lips full, her dark eyes clear and intense. Her face was washed by sorrow, like a stone worn smooth by water. Compassion, it said. There was her beauty.

The way Nora walked, the way her eyes moved, effortlessly, without a trace of affectation or desire, everything about her won me. Hers was the secret face I put myself to sleep by. I loved her immediately.

Even Gone Joe stopped clawing for a moment. A cool wave spread through the cafe. The tourists stopped jabbering and breathed. The trucker stubbed his cigarette.

Gypsy pulled out a chair for Nora, and she sat down. Gypsy sat again, carefully. He said to her, "He knows."

Our eyes met. When she breathed, I breathed. She seemed to nod, and I understood that she was acknowledging our kinship. "How?" she said. "Please tell me how you know about us."

Her voice thrilled and pacified me at once. I thought, This is what it feels like to be an angel. Through her voice, as through a channel, I felt down inside her, to where her voice came from. I felt the blood bathing in oxygen inside her lungs. I felt the quiver of her vocal chords, the undulations of her tongue, the way the cartilage in her nose resonated with each vowel.

"Ive been through a lot," I said.

Noras forehead wrinkled ever so slightly. With exquisite concern she sighed, "Oh!" She reached across the table and laid her hand on mine. It was all I could do not to burst into tears. "Tell me," she said. "Tell me, Mel. Tell me everything."



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