The Folding Star: Historical Fiction, p.48Alan Hollinghurst
The jeep was a raucous starter – and after that it took a while to figure out the lights and the dip-switch. Getting into reverse proved tricky too. But then I was out of the gate, sitting high up, ready for off, hearing in the growl of the exhaust a tremor of that first outing to the sea; I went jerkily round the block, getting used to being in control, quite hoping I’d pass Matt walking home, then relieved I hadn’t. I came up to a red light behind a little Fiat with three lads across the back, two more in front, joking and rowdy, off to a good time; my beam stroked the clean backs of their necks. I revved forlornly, and one of them turned, took in the flashy chrome and zipped-up rally lamps, and grinned – while the driver, scenting a challenge, revved as well, and when the light changed shot forward with a squeal. I let them go.
Out of town the night was windy and glossy, the lights of farms and isolated houses burned clear across the fields, or bare treetops dipped and splintered them. For a while the road followed the high embankment of the sea-canal, the water black and barely visible below. There was no shipping in it, only the archaic hulk of a dredger, its platform lit and deserted. I rested my free hand on the seat beside me, as if on the thigh of an invisible passenger. The jeep’s hood gibbered at its fastenings.
Luc was waiting at Ostend, staring out to sea through salt-stippled glass. He looked hollow-cheeked, eyes narrowed in hurt and defiance; I felt he had been robbed of his beauty, and that I would hardly have singled him out from the other kids around him. He had become a victim, to be stared at and pitied, to provoke pity for his family and friends – and just at the moment when his future was clearing like hills in the first light, to be ready for him when he woke. I stood in front of him and repeated his name, though I knew he couldn’t see me, or recall the night he had taken my life in his arms. He gazed past me, as if in a truer kinship with the shiftless sea. A few late walkers passed us, and saw me vigilant in my huge unhappy overcoat; they didn’t know if it was the charts of tides and sunsets I was studying, or the named photos of the disappeared.
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Epub ISBN 9781409002215
Published by Vintage 1998
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Copyright © Alan Hollinghurst 1994
The right of Alan Hollinghurst to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988
The lines from ‘There’s Nothing Like Marriage for People’ by Ira Gershwin, © Warner Chappell Music Ltd, are reproduced by permission of IMP Ltd
First published in Great Britain by
Chatto & Windus Ltd 1994
Vintage edition 1995
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Alan Hollinghurst, The Folding Star: Historical Fiction
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