“But wise men never fall in love, so how are they to know?”

This was brief. A human body falls fast.

The main thing was just that: the fact of a person taking on completely physical properties, falling at the speed of a rock. It didn’t matter whether her brain continued to flash on the way down, or if she regretted what she’d done, or if she’d time to focus on the fence spikes shooting toward her. Her mind no longer existed in any way that mattered.

The wind sound huffed, once, and then the moist thud jolted us, the sound of a watermelon breaking open, and for that moment everyone remained still and composed, as though listening to an orchestra, heads tilted to allow the ears to work and no belief coming in yet. Then Mrs Lisbon, as though alone, said, “Oh, my God.”

When we came out the front door, we saw that he was holding Cecelia, one hand under her neck and the other under her knees. He was trying to lift her off the spike that punctured her left breast, traveled through her inexplicable heart, separated two vertebrae without shattering either, and come out her back, ripping her dress and finding the air again.

The spike had gone through so fast, there was no blood on it. It was perfectly clean and Cecelia merely seemed balanced on the pole like a gymnast. The fluttering wedding dress added to this circusy effect.

Mr Lisbon kept trying to lift her off, gently, but even in our ignorance we knew it was hopeless and that despite Cecelia’s open eyes and the way her mouth kept contracting like that of a fish on a stringer, it was just nerves; and she had succeeded, on the second try, in hurling herself out of the world.


The Virgin Suicides,
Jeffrey Eugenides


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