No, there's a group of hardened, fossilised men opposed by fresh young revolutionaries as John Butte once was, forming between them a whole, a balance. And then a group of fossilised hardened men like John Butte, opposed by a group of fresh and lively-minded and critical people. But the core of deadness, of dry thought, could not exist without lively shoots of fresh life, to be turned so fast, in their turn, into dead sapless wood. In other words, I, 'Comrade Anna'- and the ironical tone of Comrade Butte's voice now frightens me when I remember it-keep Comrade Butte in existence, feed him and in due course will become him. And as I think this, that there is no right, no wrong, simply a process, a wheel turning, I become frightened, because everything in me cries out against such a view of life and I am back inside a nightmare which it seems I've been locked in for years, whenever I am off guard. The nightmare takes various forms, comes in sleep, or in wakefulness and can be pictured most simply like this: There is a blindfolded man standing with his back to a brick wall. He has been tortured nearly to death. Opposite him are six men with their rifles raised ready to shoot, commanded by a seventh, who has his hand raised. When he drops his hand, the shots will ring out and the prisoner will fall dead. But suddenly there is something unexpected-yet not altogether unexpected, for the seventh has been listening all this while in case it happens. There is an outburst of shouting and fighting in the street outside. The six men look in query at their officer, the seventh. The officer stands waiting to see how the fighting outside will resolve itself. There is a shout: 'We have won!' At which the officer crosses the space to the wall, unties the bound man and stands in his place. The man, hitherto bound, now binds the other. There is a moment and this is the moment of horror in the nightmare, when they smile at each other: it is a brief, bitter, accepting smile. They are brothers in that smile. The smile holds a terrible truth that I want to evade. Because it cancels all creative emotion. The officer, the seventh, now stands blindfolded and waiting with his back to the wall. The former prisoner walks to the firing squad who are still standing with their weapons ready. He lifts his hand, then drops it. The shots ring out and the body by the wall falls twitching. The six soldiers are shaken and sick; now they will go and drink to drown the memory of their murder. But the man who was bound, is now free, smiles as they stumble away, cursing and hating him, just as they would have cursed and hated the other, now dead. And in this man's smile at the six innocent soldiers there is a terrible understanding irony. This is the nightmare.
Doris Lessing
When was the last time you were kissed? he went on easily. And I am not talking about the dry, noncommittal, meaningless kiss you forget about as soon as it's over. I scrambled out of my stupor long enough to quip, Like last night's kiss? He cocked an eyebrow. That so? I wonder, then, why you moaned my name after you drifted to sleep. I did not!If only I'd had a video recorder. When was the last time you were really kissed? he repeated.You seriously think I am going to tell you? Your ex? he guessed. And if he was?Was it your ex who taught you to be ashamed and uncomfortable with intimacy? He took from you what he wanted, but never seemed to be around when you wanted something back, isn't that right? What do you want, Britt? he asked me point-blank. Do you really want to pretend like last night never happened? Whatever happened between me and Calvin isn't your business, I fired back.For your information, he was a really great boyfriend. I-I wish I was with him right now! I exclaimed untruthfully. My careless comment made him flinch, but he recovered quickly.Does he love you? What? I said, flustered. If you know him so well, it shouldn't be a hard question. Is he in love with you? Was he ever in love with you?I tossed my head back haughtily. I know what you're doing. You're trying to cut him down because you're-you're jealous of him! You're damn right I am jealous, he growled. When I kiss a girl, I like to know she's thinking about me, not the fool who gave her up.
Becca Fitzpatrick