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Suppose someone gave you a pen

The Power of Beauty

Why do we care so much about how we look? Because it matters. Because beauty is powerful. Because even when we learn to value people mostly for being kind and wise and funny, we are still moved by beauty. No matter how much we argue against it or pretend to be 1)immune, beauty 2)exerts its power over us. There is simply no escape.

爱要怎么说出口
  If only we’d never gone there, thought Alan. They were scrambling up the mountainside in the late afternoon heat. Alice was so tanned that she looked as if she had lived on the Mediterranean for months, while he, being fair, had turned a blotchy, peeling.
  阿兰心里想道:要是我们从未到过那个地方该多好啊。在下午后半晌的炎热中,他们向山坡上爬去。爱丽丝被晒得黑黝黝的,看上去就像在地中海上住过几个月似的;而阿兰原本细皮嫩肉,这时身上已经变得红一块白一块,脱了一层皮。
  He looked up at the mountainside, the path twisting upwards towards the cairn cross, the white heat bleaching the rock. Why on earth couldn’t they talk about it? Why couldn’t he even accuse her?
  他抬头向山坡望去,只见小路盘旋而上通向那个圆锥形十字石碑,炽热的阳光将岩石晒得发白。他们究竟为什么不能谈那件事?他为什么连责骂她都不能呢?
  He had thought it was going to be all right. But it was as if the heat had drained their love.
  他原以为一切都会好的,但好像酷热已经将他们的爱抽干。
  At home they had been so blissfully happy that he now realized it couldn’t have lasted. She comes to his school from the Midlands because her family had split up. An only child, living with her father, trying to look after him, lonely, depressed, anxious, she had come to Alan to be healed. At least, that’s what he liked to think. Had he healed her? No. Tom had, even though Alan loved her with all the passion. Now his hatred for both of them was as strong as his love.
  在家时,他们曾是多么幸福。现在他意识到那不会再继续下去了。由于家庭破裂,她从内陆来到他的学校。作为独生女,她和她的父亲住在一起,尽力去照顾他。她孤独无依、无精打采、愁眉苦脸,经常到阿兰那里去排除忧伤。至少他喜欢这样认为。他为她解忧了吗?没有。是汤姆,即使阿兰曾付出所有的激情爱着她。如今他对他们俩的爱就像他的恨一样强烈。 “Come on!”Alice had turned back to him, waving impatiently.
  “跟上!”爱丽丝转身向他喊,不耐烦地挥着手。
  “Coming,”Alan looked at his watch. Five, The crickets would start singing soon. He walked on, the sweat pouring into his eyes. Knowing she had opened the bottle of mineral water. Would she let him catch up with her? An even greater misery seized him. It reminded him of the night he made himself drunk on the rough local wine his parents bought in the village. His heart had ached then, too, and his sense of loss had increased as he relived each minute of a day when Tom and Alice had seemed to draw closer and closer together.
  “来了。”阿兰看了看手表。已经5点了。蛐蛐儿马上就要开始鸣唱了。他继续向上走,汗水源源不断地流到了眼里。他知道她已经打开那瓶矿泉水。她会让他跟上她吗?一种更大的痛苦折磨着他。这使他想起那天晚上他用父母亲从村里买的粗制的当地酒将自己灌醉的情景,那时他的心也在发痛。每当他想起爱丽丝和汤姆越来越亲近的时候,他的失落感就会与日俱增。
  He walked faster. Here, a few miles away on the bare mountainside, there was arid space, and the olive groves, clustered in the stone-cluttered valleys below.
  他走得越来越快。他为山顶上那些中世纪的城堡而欢呼雀跃。放眼望去,离那座山几里远的地方有一块空地,在山谷的乱石丛中生长着一小片橄榄林。 “Come on!”
  “跟上!”
  “Coming.”
  “来了。”
  Alan strode doggedly on, looking down at his red, peeling legs, thinking of Tom’s strong, straight, brown ones.
  阿兰仍顽强地大步前行,他低头看了一眼自己被晒红的、脱了皮的两腿,想起了汤姆强健挺拔的棕色的双腿。
  Suddenly he had turned the corner by the stone shelter. He could see her waiting for him. If Tom were here, they would be together, mocking him, looking at each other, leaving him alone. As he strode self-consciously on Alan focused his mind on her.
  突然,他拐到石头后面一块隐蔽的地方。他看到她正在等他。如果汤姆也在这里的话,他们一定会站在一起嘲笑他,相互凝望着,把他丢在一边。当他拘谨地向前走的时候,他将注意力都集中在她的身上。
  “Where’re we going to camp?”She was sitting on an outcrop, her slim body supple and salt-caked. Her legs were swinging and he longed to run his hands over them. Instead he imagined Tom doing that and hot, angry tears filled his eyes.
  “我们到哪里去宿营?”她坐在一块突出的岩石上。她的苗条的身材丰满,咸咸的。她的腿在那里晃来晃去。他真想将自己的手在那上面滑动。而他却想象着汤姆那样做的情景。顿时,愤怒的泪水充满了他的眼睛。
  “Santa Caterina.”
  “圣卡塔林纳。”
  “What’s that?”
  “那是什么?”
  “It’s a deserted monastery, down in the valley. Amongst the fir trees. Over there—look, you can see it.”
  “是一座破庙,在山谷下面,杉树丛中。在那里——看,你可以看到的。”
  “Oh yes.”She turned her head. When he did look he was shocked to see how beautiful she was, like a goddess.
  “噢,是的。”她转过头。当他真正拿眼去看她的时候,她看上去是那样美,像一尊女神。
  “Won’t that be spooky?”she asked in the slightly broken voice that he had always found so sexy.
  “那不可怕吧?”她用略微沙哑的声音说。他发现她的嗓音竟是那样性感。
  God, how he loved her. Why couldn’t he just take her in his arms now? That could solve everything. But there seemed to be an impenetrable barrier around her—as if she was sealed away by Tom.
  上帝啊,他是多么爱她,现在他为什么不可以把她揽在怀里呢?这样,一切问题都会迎刃而解的。但是,好像她周围有一种难以逾越的障碍——就像被汤姆密封了起来。
  “The valley’s dangerous,”said Alan, hoping to frighten her, to provoke reaction.“If the clouds come down there’s no way out. Sometimes for days.”
  “这个山谷很危险,”阿兰说,希望吓住她,引起她一种反应。“如果乌云压下来就会无路可走了。有时会持续好几天。”
  “Is there anywhere else to camp,”asked Alice.
  “还有其它地方可以宿营吗?”爱丽丝问道。
  “Not really.”Alan was certain she’d rather be with Tom. Yesterday he had seen them sitting on a wall together outside the villa. Their ankles had been entwined. He had wanted to grab Tom’s legs and pull him off. He would hurt his brother—and Alice would be sorry . It would be her fault.
  “说不准,”阿兰敢肯定她一定会宁愿和汤姆在一起。昨天他曾见他们一起坐在别墅外的一堵墙上,他们的脚踝曾缠绕在一起,他曾想拽着汤姆的腿把他拉下来。他会伤害自己的弟弟。爱丽斯会感到内疚。那是她的过错。
  “Let’s go,”said Alan quickly.
  “我们走吧,”阿兰飞快地说。
  “How far is it?”she asked.“I’m whacked.”
  “还有多远?”她问,“我一点劲儿也没有了。”
  “Half an hour.”
  “半小时。”
She Left Her Shoes
  She left her shoes, she took everything else, her toothbrush, her clothes, and even that stupid little silver vase on the table we kept candy in. Just dumped it out on the table and took the vase. The tiny apartment we shared seemed different now, her stuff was gone, it wasn't much really, although now the room seemed like a jigsaw puzzle with a few pieces missing, incomplete. The closet seemed empty too; most of it was her stuff anyway. But there they were at the bottom, piled up like they usually were, every single one of them. Why did she leave her shoes? She couldn't have forgotten them, I knew too well that she took great pride in her shoe collection, but there they still were, right down to her favorite pair of sandals. They were black with a design etched into the wide band that stretched across the top of them, the soles scuffed and worn; a delicate imprint of where her toes rested was visible in the soft fabric.
  It seemed funny to me, she walked out of my life without her shoes, is that irony, or am I thinking of something else? In a way I was glad they were still here, she would have to come back for them, right? I mean how could she go on with the rest of her life without her shoes? But she's not coming back, I know she isn't, she would rather walk barefoot over glass than have to see me again. But Christ she left all of her shoes! All of them, every sneaker, boot and sandal, every high heel and clog, every flip-flop. What do I do? Do I leave them here, or bag them up and throw them in the trash? Do I look at them every morning when I get dressed and wonder why she left them? She knew it, she knows what's she's doing. I can't throw them out for fear she may return for them someday. I can't be rid of myself of her completely with all her shoes still in my life, can't dispose of them or the person that walked in them.
  Her shoes, leaving a deep footprint on my heart, I can't sweep it away. All I can do is stare at them and wonder, stare at their laces and straps their buttons and tread. They still connect me to her though, in some distant bizarre way they do. I can remember the good times we had, what pair she was wearing at that moment in time. They are hers and no else's, she wore down the heels, and she scuffed their sides, it's her fragile footprint imbedded on the insole. I sit on the floor next to them and wonder how many places had she gone while wearing these shoes, how many miles she walked in them, what pair was she wearing when she decided to leave me? I pick up a high heel she often wore and absently smell it, it's not disgusting I think, it's just the last tangible link I have to her. The last bit of reality I have of her. She left her shoes; she took everything else, except her shoes. They remain at the bottom of my closet, a shrine to her memory.
爱在无语时
  In the doorway of my home, I looked closely at the face of my 23-year-old son, Daniel, his backpack by his side. We were saying good-bye. In a few hours he would be flying to France. He would be staying there for at least a year to learn another language and experience life in a different country.
  It was a transitional time in Daniel‘s life, a passage, a step from college into the adult world. I wanted to leave him some words that would have some meaning, some significance beyond the moment.
  But nothing came from my lips. No sound broke the stillness of my beachside home. Outside, I could hear the shrill cries of sea gulls as they circled the ever changing surf on Long Island. Inside, I stood frozen and quiet, looking into the searching eyes of my son.
  What made it more difficult was that I knew this was not the first time I had let such a moment pass. When Daniel was five, I took him to the school-bus stop on his first day of kindergarten. I felt the tension in his hand holding mine as the bus turned the corner. I saw colour flush his cheeks as the bus pulled up. He looked at me-as he did now.
  What is it going to be like, Dad? Can I do it? Will I be okay? And then he walked up the steps of the bus and disappeared inside. And the bus drove away. And I had said nothing.
  A decade or so later, a similar scene played itself out. With his mother, I drove him to William and Mary College in Virginia. His first night, he went out with his new schoolmates, and when he met us the next morning, he was sick. He was coming down with mononucleosis, but we could not know that then. We thought he had a hangover.
  In his room, Dan lay stretched out on his bed as I started to leave for the trip home. I tried to think of something to say to give him courage and confidence as he started this new phase of life.
  Again, words failed me. I mumbled something like, "Hope you feel better Dan." And I left.
  Now, as I stood before him, I thought of those lost opportunities. How many times have we all let such moments pass? A boy graduates from school, a daughter gets married. We go through the motions of the ceremony, but we don‘t seek out our children and find a quiet moment to tell them what they have meant to us. Or what they might expect to face in the years ahead.
  How fast the years had passed. Daniel was born in New Orleans, LA., in 1962, slow to walk and talk, and small of stature. He was the tiniest in his class, but he developed a warm, outgoing nature and was popular with his peers. He was coordinated and 6)agile, and he became adept in sports.
  Baseball gave him his earliest challenge. He was an outstanding pitcher in Little League, and eventually, as a senior in high school, made the varsity, winning half the team‘s games with a record of five wins and two losses. At graduation, the coach named Daniel the team‘s most valuable player.
  His finest hour, though, came at a school science fair. He entered an exhibit showing how the circulatory system works. It was primitive and crude, especially compared to the fancy, computerized, blinking-light models entered by other students. My wife, Sara, felt embarrassed for him.
  It turned out that the other kids had not done their own work-their parents had made their exhibits. As the judges went on their rounds, they found that these other kids couldn‘t answer their questions. Daniel answered every one. When the judges awarded the Albert Einstein Plaque for the best exhibit, they gave it to him.