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214 – Theodicy
God is good. Bad things happen. Both of these things can be and often are true. But why does He let them happen? She remembers reading the Bible as a child, the miracles it said that God could perform, that He did perform. This would have been easy. Reaching out and stopping it from ever happening… it would have been nothing for an omnipotent being. So, why didn’t He? Why didn’t He?
465 – Grammar of Standard Spanish
The words roll off his tongue as he sings. Foreign enough for the exact meaning to be lost on her, familiar enough for the drunk crowd to attempt to join in, the words mangled by incapable mouths. The bartender tells her that the singer keeps getting the words wrong – but she knows better, has known every pedantic inch of this singer for years now. The songwriter used a slightly incorrect word, because it had more syllables and a better rhythm than the right one. The singer is trying to correct it as he sings. He doesn’t trip up once. She admires him more than she should.
641 – Food and Drink
Baking bread is about strength. That’s something she’s always known. The surprising strength that comes from the hands of her fragile looking grandfather as he works the dough, a strength she spent years trying to emulate. Or maybe it’s about patience? The patience to sit and let the dough rise, to let it bake in the clay oven and not disturb it too early. To not take it out before the right time. But maybe that was about cakes. Bread is about community. The family gathered around the table, sharing a still-warm loaf and the accompanying meat and cheese. Sometimes bread is just bread, until someone bakes a ring into it and waits for her to find it at exactly the right moment.
787 – Stringed Instruments
The sound of a violin being played badly is one of the worst sounds in the world. It’s second only to the sound of metal colliding with the stone face of a sandy red rock at high speed.
821 – English Poetry
Contrary to popular opinion, reading love poems outside a window at midnight isn’t the best way to apologise and win someone over. Not when she has an early shift tomorrow. Not when she swore this would be the very last time she let him walk out. She runs down to the front door and lets him in anyway. It’s late and the fight was stupid in retrospect. Not worth losing the love of her life over – and he did pick Donne over Neruda this time.
917 – Geography of travel in North America
The saguaro is the largest American cactus and its blossom is the official state flower of Arizona. Hot asphalt and tall, red rocks bake under a desert sun. It’s an environment that doesn’t seem to belong to an inhabited, civilised planet as she drives down the i-40. Cacti line the roads, the only vegetation for miles. If she rolls the windows down, the dust gets in her eyes and he laughs at her. Dust turns slick when it rains – best to just pull over. She should have just pulled over.