Watching them, Harmony felt too shaken to take a step. Eddie and Sheba were young; but she herself had become old. Even if she wasn’t particularly old if you just counted years, the fact was years were no way to count. Happenings were the way to count, the big happening that separated her from youth or even middle age was the death of her daughter, Pepper. That death made her realize that life, once you got around to producing children, was no longer about being pretty or having boyfriends or making money – it was about protecting children; getting them raised to the point where they could try life as adults. It didn’t have to be just children that come out of your body, either. It could be anyone young who needed something you had to give. Some grown men were children; some grown women, too. Harmony knew that she had spent a good part of her life, taking care of just such men. But now that she felt old she didn’t think she wanted to spend much more of her energy protecting men who had had a good chance to grow up, but had blown it. If she never had another boyfriend – something she had been worrying about, on the plane – it might be a little dull in some areas, like sexual areas, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. What would be the end of the world would be to let some little girl like Sheba get in the car with a bad man who would make a U-turn across the street and kill her right there in front of the pay phones, where pimps and crack dealers were making their calls.
Larry McMurtry