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A teenage girl lay asleep on the sofa, curled up under a red-and-black knitted afghan. She was on her side, with one slender arm cradling a throw cushion nestled under her head. Long wavy blond hair spread across her back and her shoulders like a cape. Even though she was sleeping, Alex could see how pretty she was, with her delicate, almost elfin features. He stood in the doorway, watching the soft rise and fall of her chest.
Listen, are we helpless? Are we doomed to do it again and again and again? Have we no choice but to play the Phoenix in an unending sequence of rise and fall? Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, Greece, Carthage, Rome, the Empires of Charlemagne and the Turk: Ground to dust and plowed with salt. Spain, France, Britain, America—burned into the oblivion of the centuries. And again and again and again. Are we doomed to it, Lord, chained to the pendulum of our own mad clockwork, helpless to halt its swing? This time, it will swing us clean to oblivion.
But there’s a reason we recognize Hamlet as a masterpiece: it’s that Shakespeare told us the truth, and people so rarely tell us the truth in this rise and fall here [indicates blackboard]. The truth is, we know so little about life, we don’t really know what the good news is and what the bad news is.