Author: Stephen King.
Genre: Fiction, literature, horror.
Publication Date: 1987.
Summary: They were seven teenagers when they first stumbled upon the horror. Now they were grown-up men and women who had gone out into the big world to gain success and happiness. But none of them could withstand the force that drew them back to Derry to face the nightmare without an end and the evil without a name... It. (Refer to PART 1, PART 1, and PART 2 for the rest of the quotes.)
My rating: 8.5/10.
♥ The thought of a monster, some great monster, lurking under the city where he had been born and where he had grown up, using the sewers and drains to creep from place to place—that was a frightening thought, and the thought of actually fighting that creature, of taking it on, was even more frightening... but somehow this was worse. How could you fight a grownup who said it wasn't going to hurt when you knew it was? How could you fight a grownup who asked you funny questions and said obscurely ominous things like This has gone on long enough?
And almost idly, in a kind of side-thought, Eddie discovered one of his childhood's great truths. Grownups are the real monsters, he thought. It was no big deal, not a thought that came in a revelatory flash or announced itself with trumpets and bells. It just came and was gone, almost buried under the stronger, overriding thought...
♥ "Let me finish," Mr. Keene said, so forbiddingly that Eddie sat back in his chair. Grownups could be so hateful in their power sometimes. So hateful.
♥ These were his friends, and his mother was wrong: they weren't bad friends. Maybe, he thought, there aren't any such things as good friends or bad friends—maybe there are just friends, people who stand by you when you're hurt and who help you feel not so lonely. Maybe they're always worth being scared for, and hoping for, and living for. Maybe worth dying for, too, if that's what has to be. No good friends. No bad friends. Only people you want, need to be with; people who build their houses in your heart.
♥ Patrick threw it away, turned... and more of them flew out of the refrigerator, lighting on him even as he groped for the Amana's handle. They landed on his hands, his arms, his neck. One touched down on his forehead. When Patrick raised his hand to pick it off, he saw four others of his hand, trembling minutely, turning first pink and then red.
There was no pain... but there was a hideous draining sensation. Screaming, whirling, beating at his head and neck with his leech-encrusted hands, Patrick Hockstetter's mind yammered: It isn't real, it's just a bad dream, don't worry, it's not real, nothing is real—
But the blood pouring from the smashed leeches seemed real enough, the sound of their buzzing wings seemed real enough... and his own terror seemed real enough.
One of them fell down inside his shirt and settled on his chest. While he was beating frantically at it and watching the bloodstain spread above the place where it had taken its hold, another settled on his right eye. Patrick closed it, but that did no good; he felt brief hot flare as the thing's sucker poked through his eyelid and began to suck the fluid out of his eyeball. Patrick felt his eye collapse in its socket and he screamed again. A leech flew into his mouth when he did and roosted on his tongue.
It was all almost painless.
Patrick went staggering and flapping up the path toward the junked cars. Parasites hung all over him. Some of them drank to capacity and then burst like balloons; when this happened to the bigger ones, they drenched Patrick with almost half a pint of his own hot blood. He could feel the leech inside is mouth swelling up and he opened his jaws because the only coherent thought he had left was that it must not bust in there; it must not, mist not.
But it did. Patrick ejected a huge spray of blood and parasite-flesh like vomit. He fell down in the gravelly dirt and began to roll over and over, still screaming. Little by little the sound of his own screams began to seem faint, faraway.
Just before he passed out, he saw a figure step from behind the last of the junked cars. At first Patrick thought he was a guy, Mandy Fazio perhaps, and he would be saved. But as the figure drew closer, he saw its face was running like wax. Sometimes it began to harden and look like something—or someone—and then it would start to run again, as if it could't make up its mind who or what it wanted to be.
"Hello and goodbye," a bubbling voice said from inside the running tallow of its features, and Patrick tried to scream again. He didn't want to die; as the only "real" person, he wasn't supposed to die. If he did, everyone else in the world would die with him.
The manshape laid hold on his leech-encrusted arms and began to drag him away toward the Barrens. His blood-stained book-carrier bumped and thumped along beside him, its strap still twisted about his neck. Patrick, still trying to scream, lost consciousness.
He awoke only once: when, in the dark, smelly, drippy hell where no light shone, no light at all, It began to feed.
♥ Bill looked up, wiping his eyes. They were all soaked to the skin and looked like a litter of pups that had just forded a river. "Ih-It's scuh-scuh-hared of u-u-us, you know," he said. "I can fuh-feel th-that. I sweat to Guh-God I c-c-can."
Bev nodded soberly. "I think you're right."
"H-H-Help m-m-me," Bill said. "P-P-Pl-Please. H-H-Help m-m-me."
"We will," Beverly said. She took Bill in her arms. She had not realized how easily her arms would go around him, how thin he was. She could feel his heart racing under his shirt; she could feel it next to hers. She thought that no touch had ever seemed so sweet and strong.
Richie put his arms around both of them and laid his head on Beverly's shoulder. Ben did the same from the other side. Stan Uris put his arms around Richie and Ben. Mike hesitated, and then slipped one arm around Beverly's waist and the other over Bill's shivering shoulders. They stood that way, hugging, and the sleet turned back to driving pouring rain, rain so heavy it seemed almost like a new atmosphere. The lightning walked and the thunder talked. No one spoke. Beverly's eyes were tightly shut. They stood in the rain in a huddled group;, hugging each other, listening to it hiss down on the bushes. That was what she remembered best: the sound of the rain and their own shared silence and a vague sorrow that Eddie was not there with them. She remembered those things.
Se remembered feeling very young and very strong.
♥ A chuckle stirs through them, and they look at the chair where Stan would have been in a rightful sane world where all the good guys won all of the time. I miss him, Ben thinks. God, how I miss him!
♥ "Y-Y-You ever nuh-hotice, Ruh-Richie, how guh-guh-grownups w-w-won't sell you a-a-anything except c-candy or cuh-cuh-homic books or m-maybe movie t-t-tickets without first they w-want to know what y-you want it f-for?"
"Sure," Richie said.
"W-Why? Why ih-is that?"
"Because they think we're dangerous."
♥ This house as a special place, a kind of station, one of the places in Derry, one of the many, perhaps, from which It was able to find Its was into the overworld. This stinking rotted house where everything was somehow wrong. It wasn't just that it seemed too big; the angles were wrong, the perspective crazy. Ben was standing just inside the door between the parlor and the hallways and the others were moving away from him across a space that now looked almost as big as Bassey Park... but as they moved away, they seemed to grow larger instead of smaller. The floor seemed to slope, and—
Mike turned. "Ben!" he called, and Ben saw alarm on his face. "Catch up! We're losing you!" He could barely hear the last word. It trailed away as if the others were being swept off on a fast train.
Suddenly terrified, he began to run. The door behind him swept shut with a muffled bang. He screamed... and something seemed to sweep through the air just behind him, ruffling his shirt. He looked back, but there was nothing there. That did not change his belief, however, that something had been.
He caught up with the others. He was panting, out of breath, and would have sworn he had run half a mile at least... but when he looked back, the parlor's far wall was not ten feet away.
♥ That thrumming sound floated up hypnotically... and suddenly he saw something. He did not see it with his physical eyes, not at first, but with one buried deep in his mind.
It was rushing toward them, moving at express-train speed, filling the throat of this dark pipe from side to side; It was in Its own form now, whatever that might be; It would take some shape from their minds when It got here. It was coming, coming up from Its own foul tuns and black catacombs under the earth, Its eyes glowing a feral yellowish green, coming, coming; It was coming.
♥ "Thank you, Bill," she said, and for one hot, smoking moment heir eyes locked directly, Bill did not look away this time. His gaze was firm, adult.
"W-W-W-Welcome," he said.
Good luck, Big Bill, Ben thought, and he turned away from that gaze. It was hurting him, hurting him in a deeper place than any vampire or werewolf would ever be able to reach. But all the same, there was such a thing as propriety. The word he didn't know; on the concept he was very clear. Looking at them when they were looking at each other that way would be as wrong as looking at her breasts when she let go of the front of her blouse to pull Bill's tee-shirt over her head. If that's the way it is. But you'll never love her the was I do. Never.
..He found he could barely stand to meet her glance. I love you, Beverly... just let me have that. You can have Bill, or the world, or whatever you need. Just let me have that, let me go on loving you, and I guess it'll be enough.
..Power, power, Ben thought, looking at Beverly. It was okay now; her eyes had met Bill's again and they were looking at each other as if lost. It was only for a moment, but to Ben it seemed very long.
It always comes back to power. I love Beverly Marsh and she has power over me. She loves Bill Denbrough and so he has power over her. But—I think—he is coming to love her. Maybe it was her face, how it looked when she said she couldn't help being a girl. Maybe it was seeing one breast for just a second. Maybe just the way she looks sometimes when the light is right, or her eyes. Doesn't matter. But if hes starting to love her, she's starting to have power over him. Superman has power, except when there's Kryptonite around. Batman has power, even though he can't fly or see through walls. My mom has power over me, and her boss down in the mill has power over her. Everyone has some... except maybe for little kids and babies.
Then he thought that even little kids and babies had power; they could cry until you had to do something to shut them up.
..The power of the silver, the power of the slugs—where does power like that come from? Where does any power come from? How do you get it? How do you use it?
It seemed to him that their lives might depend on those questions. One night as he was falling asleep, the rain a steady lulling patter on the roof and against the windows, it occurred to him that there was another question, perhaps the only question. It had some real shape; he had nearly seen It. To see the shape was to see the secret, Was that also true of power? Perhaps it was. For wasn't it true that power, like It, was a shape-changer? It was a baby crying in the middle of the night, it was an atomic bomb, it was a silver slug, it was the way Beverly looked at Bill and the way Bill looked back.
What, exactly what, was power, anyway?
♥ What does It really eat, for instance? I know that some of the children have been partially eaten—they show bite-marks, at least—but perhaps it is we who drive It to do that. Certainly we have all been taught since earliest childhood that what the monster does wen it catches you in the deep wood is eat you. That is perhaps the worst thing we can conceive. But it's really faith that monsters live on, isn't it? I'm led irresistibly to this conclusion: food may be life, but the source of power is faith, not food. And who is more capable of a total act of faith than a child?
But there's a problem: kids grow up. In the church, power is perpetuated and renewed by periodic ritualistic acts. In Derry, power seems to be perpetuated and renewed by periodic ritualistic acts, too. Can it be that It protects Itself by the simple fact that, as the children grow into adults, they become either incapable of faith or crippled by a sort of spiritual and imaginative arthritis?
Yes, I think that's the secret here. And if I make the calls, how much will they remember? How much will they believe? Enough to end this horror once and for all, or only enough to get them killed? They are being called—I know that much. Each murder in this new cycle has been a call. We almost killed It twice, and in the end we drove It deep in Its warren of tunnels and stinking rooms under the city. But I think It knows another secret: although It may be immortal (or almost so), we are not. It had only to wait until the act of faith, which made us potential monster-killers as well as sources of power, had become impossible. Twenty-seven years. Perhaps a period of sleep for It, as short and refreshing as an afternoon nap would be for us. And when It awakes, It is the same, but a third of our lives has gone by. Our perspectives have narrowed; our faith in the magic, which makes magic possible, has worn off like the shine on a new pair of shoes after a hard day's walking.
Why call us back? Why not just let us die? Because we nearly killed It, because we frightened It, I think. Because It wants revenge.
And now, now that we no longer believe in Santa Claus , the Tooth Fairy, Hansel and Gretel, or the troll under the bridge, It is ready for us. Come on back, It says. Come on back, let's finish our business in Derry. Bring your jacks and your marbles and your yo-yo's! We'll play! Come on back and we'll see if you remember the simplest thing of all: how it is to be children, secure in belief and thus afraid of the dark.
On that one at least, I score a thousand percent: I am frightened. So goddamn frightened.
♥ [Bill] thought: I loved you, Beverly... I love you. Ben loved you... he loves you. We loved you then... we love you now. We better, because it's starting. No way out now.
..Ben was standing at the bottom, looking after them. His hands were stuffed in his pockets, his shoulders were slumped, and seen through the drifting lens of the low fog, he might almost have been eleven again. If he had been able to send Ben a thought, Bill would have sent this one: It doesn't matter, Ben. The love is what matters, the caring... it's always the desire, never the time. Maybe that's all we get to take with us when we go out of the blue and into the black. Cold comfort, maybe, but better than no comfort at all.
♥ He pulled her up, and for the first time looked directly into her eyes. She screamed again at what she saw there. It was... nothing. Her father was gone. And Beverly suddenly understood that she was alone in the apartment with It, alone with It on this dozey August morning. There was not the thick sense of power and untinctured evil she had felt in the house on Neibolt Street a week ad a half ago—It had been diluted somehow by her fathers essential humanity—but It was here, working through him.
He threw her aside. She struck the coffee table, tripped over it, and went sprawling on the floor with a cry. This is how it happens, she thought. I'll tell Bill so he understands. It's everywhere in Derry. It's just... It just fills the hollow places, that's all.
.."No," she said. "You want to hurt me. I love you, Daddy, but I hate you when you're like this. You can't do it anymore. It's making you do it, but you let it in."
♥ He had put flashlights and miner's helmets carefully by against tomorrow; he had the blueprints of the Derry sewer and drain systems nearly rolled up and held with rubber bands in that same closet. But, when they were kids, all their talk and all their plans, half-baked or otherwise, had come to nothing in the end; in the end they had simply been chased into the drains, hurled into the confrontation which had followed. Was that going to happen again? Faith and power, he had come to believe, were interchangeable. Was the final truth even simpler? That no act of faith was possible until you were rudely pushed out into the screaming middle of things like a newborn child skydiving chutelessly out of his mother's womb? Once you were falling, you were forced to believe in the chute, into existence, weren't you? Pulling the ring as you fell became your final statement on the subject, one way or another.
♥ "But it wasn't real. It was a nightmare. Being married to Tom was like going back into the nightmare. Why would a person do that, Bill? Why would a person go back into the nightmare of her own accord?"
Bill said, "The o-o-only reason I can f-figure is that p-people go back to f-f-find thems-s-selves."
♥ He thought he would want her again before morning, and that feeling of guilt came again, tempered only by the shameful comfort of knowing that Audra was an ocean away. Put another nickel in the juke-box, he thought. This tune is called "What She Don't Know Won't Hurt Her." But it hurts somewhere. In the spaces between people, maybe.
♥ Things had changed, hadn't they? When you were inside the changes, they were harder to see. You had to step back to see them... you had to try, anyway. When school let out he'd been afraid of Henry, but only because Henry was bigger, and because he was a bully—the kind of kid who would grab a firstgrader, Indian-rub his arm, and send him away crying. That was about all. Then he had engraved Ben's belly. Then there had been a rockfight, and Henry had been chucking M-80s at people's heads. You could kill somebody with one of those things. You could kill somebody easy. He had started to look different... haunted, almost. It seemed that you always had to be on watch for him, the way you'd always have to be on watch for tigers or poisonous snakes if you were in the jungle. But you got used to it; so used to it that it didn't even seem unusual, just the way things were. But Henry was crazy, wasn't he? Yes. Ben had known that on the day school ended, and had wilfully refued to believe it, or remember it. It wasn't the kind of thing you wanted to believe or remember. And suddenly a thought—a thought so strong it was almost a certainty—crept into his mind full-blown, as cold as October mud. It's using Henry. Maybe the others too, but It's using them through Henry.
♥ It was like adults thought that real life only started when a person was five feet tall.
♥ Bill turned to Eddie, and with real shock Eddie saw how tired and drawn Bill's face was—there was something frightening about that face, but it wasn't until much, much later, as an adult drifting toward sleep after the meeting at the library, that he understood what that frightening thing was: it was the face of a boy driven close to the brink of madness, a boy who was perhaps ultimately no more sane or in control of his own decisions than Henry was. Yet the essential Bill was still there, looking out of those haunted scarified eyes... an angry, determined Bill.
..Bill's tired, half-crazy face seemed suddenly lovely to him—lovely and well loved. He felt a dim sense of amazement. I'd die for him, I guess, if he told me to. What kind of power is that? If it makes you look like Bill looks now, it's maybe not such a good power to have.
♥ The sound of the river was very clear, and Bill was suddenly struck by a crazy certainty: that he was experiencing that sound, and this place, for the last time in his childhood. He drew a deep breath, smelling earth and air and the distant sooty dump, fuming like a sullen volcano that cannot quite make up its mind to erupt. He saw a flock of birds fly off the railroad trestle and toward the Old Cape. He looked up at the boiling clouds.
♥ He would be sleeping, but that didn't matter to her now—nothing mattered except hearing his voice. She wanted to finish the night with him. If Bill was beside her, her clockwork would fall in sync with his and settle down. The nightmares would stay away. He sold nightmares to others—that was his trade—but to her he had never given anything but peace.
♥ I guess this is what we mean when we talk about the persistence of memory, this or something like this, something you see at the right time and from the right angle, image that kicks off emotions like a jet engine. You see it so clear that all the things which happened in between are gone. If desire is what closes the circle between world and want, then the circle has closed.
♥ Ben nodded and led them along the overgrown bank, fighting through the tangles of bushes and brambles, thinking how much easier this was when you were only four feet five and able to go under most tangles (those in your mind as well as those in your path, he supposed) in one nonchalant duck. Well, everything changed. Our lesson for today, boys and girls, is the more things change, the more things change. Whoever said the more things change the more things stay the same was obviously suffering severe mental retardation.
♥ It had made a great self-discovery: It did not want change or surprise. It did not want new things, ever. It wanted only to eat and sleep and dream and eat again.
Following the pain and that brief bright fear, another new emotion had arisen (as all genuine emotions were new to It, although It was a great mocker of emotions): anger. It would kill the children because they had, by some amazing accident, hurt It. But It would make them suffer first because for one brief moment they had made It fear them.
Come to me then, It thought, listening to their approach. Come to me, children, and see how we float down here... how we float.
And yet there was a thought that insinuated itself no matter how strongly It tried to push the thought away. It was simply this: if all things flowed from It (as they surely had done since the Turtle sicked up the universe and then fainted inside its shell), how could any creature of this or any other world fool It or hurt It, no matter how briefly or triflingly? How was that possible?
And so a last new thing had come to It, this not an emotion but a cold speculation: suppose It had not been alone, as It had always believed?
Suppose there was Another?
And suppose further that these children were agents of that Other?
It began to tremble.
Hate was new. Hurt was new. Being crossed in Its purpose was new. But the most terrible new thing was this fear. Not fear of the children, that had passed, but the fear of not being alone.
♥ The writer's woman had put out one powerful, horrified though—OH DEAR JESUS IT IS FEMALE—and then all thoughts ceased. She swam in the deadlights.
♥ It had always fed well on children. Many adults could be used without knowing they had been used, an It had even fed in a few of the older ones over the years—adults had their own terrors and their glands could be tapped, opened so that all the chemicals of fear flooded the body and salted the meat. But their fears were mostly too complex. The fears of children were simpler and usually more powerful. The fears of children could often be summoned up in a single face... and if bait were needed, why, what child did not love a clown?
♥ But together they had discovered an alarming secret that even It had not been aware of: that belief has a second edge. If there are ten thousand medieval peasants who create vampires by believing them real, there may be one—probably a child—who will imagine the stake necessary to kill it. But a stake is only stupid wood; the mind is the mallet which drives it home.
♥ "D-Do y-you still ruh-remember which p-p-pipe?"
Eddie pointed past Victor and said: "That's the one Look pretty small, doesn't it?"
Bill nodded again. "Can you do it? With you a-a-arm broken?"
"I can for you, Bill."
Bill smiled: the weariest, most terrible smile Richie had ever seen. "Tuh-hake us there, Eh-Eddie. Let's g-get it done."
♥ They were cutting him off, as his parents had cut him off, because George was right: it was all his fault! Soon he would feel that single hand seize his throat, soon he would feel those fangs pulling him open, and that would be right. That would be only just. He had sent George out to die, and he had spent his whole adult life writing about the horror of that betrayal—oh, he had put many faces on it, but the monster at the bottom of everything was only George, running out into the receding flood with his paraffin-coated paper boat. Now would come the atonement.
"You deserve to die for killing me," George whispered. He was very close now. Bill closed his eyes.
Then yellow light splashed the tunnel; and he opened them. Richie was holding up a match. "Fight It, Bill!" Richie shouted. "God's sake! Fight It!"
What are you doing here? He looked at them, bewildered. They hadn't run after all. How could that be?
..And then they were around him, his friends, and no one lit a match, and someone held him, he didn't know who, Beverly maybe, or maybe Ben, or Richie. They were with him, and for that little while the darkness was kind.
♥ That's Its egg-sac, Ben thought, and his mind seemed to shriek at the implication. Whatever It is beyond what we see, this representation is at least symbolically correct: It's female, and It's pregnant... It was pregnant then and none of us knew except Stan, oh Jesus Christ YES, it was Stan, Stan, not Mike, Stan who understood, Stan who told us... That's why we had to come back, no matter what, because It is female, It's pregnant with some unimaginable spawn... and Its time had drawn close.
Incredibly, Bill Denbrough was stepping forward to meet It.
"Bill, no!" Beverly screamed.
"Stuh-Stuh-Stay b-b-back!" Bill shouted without looking around. And then Richie was running toward him, shouting his name, and Ben found his own legs in motion. He seemed to feel a phantom stomach swaying in front of him, and he welcomed the sensation. Got to become a child again, he thought incoherently. That's the only way I can keep It from driving me crazy. Got to become a kid again... got to accept it. Somehow.
Running. Shouting Bill's name. Vaguely aware that Eddie was running beside him, his broken arm flopping, the belt of the bathrobe Bill had cinched around it now trailing on the floor. Eddie had drawn his aspirator. He looked like a crazed malnourished gunslinger with some weird pistol.
Ben heard Bill bellow: You k-k-killed my brother, you fuh-fuh-fucking BITCH!"
♥ He could still hear It, yammering and buzzing, Its voice high and angry, not human, full of mad hate. But when the Turtle spoke, Its voice was blanked out utterly. The Turtle spoke in Bill's head, and Bill understood somehow that there was yet Another, and that Final Other dwelt in a void beyond this one. This Final Other was, perhaps, the creator of the Turtle, which only watched, and It, which only ate. This Other was a force beyond the universe and into some other place
(what that old Turtle called the macroverse)
where It really lived; where It existed as a titanic, glowing core which might be no more than the smallest mote in that Other's mind; he would see It naked, a thing of unshaped destroying light, and there he would either be mercifully annihilated or live forever, insane and yet conscious inside Its homicidal endless formless hungry being.
♥ (Chüd, this Chüd, stand, be brave, be true, stand for your brother, your friends; believe, believe in all the things you have believed in, believe that if you tell the policeman you're lost he'll see that you get home safely, that there is a Tooth Fairy who lives in a huge enamel castle, and Santa Claus below the North Pole, making toys with his trove of elves, and that Captain Midnight could be real, yes, he could be in spite of Calvin and Cissy Clark's big brother Carlton saying that was all a lot of baby stuff, believe that your mother and father will love you again, that courage is possible and words will come smoothly every time; no more Losers, no more cowering in a hole in the ground and calling it a clubhouse, no more crying in Georgie's room because you couldn't save him and didn't know, believe in yourself, believe in the heat of that desire)
He suddenly began to laugh in the darkness, not in hysteria but in utter delighted amazement.
"OH SHIT, I BELIEVE IN ALL OF THOSE THINGS!" he shouted, and it was true: even at eleven he had observed that things turned out right a ridiculous amount of the time. Light flared around him. He raised his arms out and above his head. He turned his face up, and suddenly he felt power rush through him.
Far away. Unimportant. He could feel everything running out of him along with his life's blood... all the rage, all the pain, all the fear, all the confusion and hurt. He supposed he was dying but he felt... ah, God, he felt so lucid, so clear, like a window-pane which has been washed clean and now lets in all the gloriously frightening light of some unsuspected dawning; the light, oh God, that perfect rational light that clears the horizon somewhere in the world every second.
"—eds oh my god bill ben someone he's lost his arm, his—"
He looked up at Beverly and saw she was crying, the tears coursing down her dirty cheeks as she got an arm under him; he became aware that she had taken off her blouse and was trying to staunch the flow of blood, and that she was screaming for help. Then he looked at Richie and licked his lips. Fading, fading back. Becoming clearer and clearer, emptying out, all of the impurities flowing out of him so he could become clear, so that the light could flow through, and if he had had time enough he could have preached on this, he could have sermonized: Not bad, he would begin. This is not bad at all. But there was something else he had to say first.
"Richie," he whispered.
"What?" Richie was down on his hands and knees, staring at him desperately.
"Don't call me Eds," he said, and smiled. He raised his left hand slowly and touched Richie's cheek. Richie was crying. "You know I... I..." Eddie closed his eyes, thinking how to finish, and while he was still thinking it over he died.
♥ All of them... I was their first love.
She tried to remember it—it was something good to think about in all this darkness, where you couldn't place the sounds. It made her feel less alone. At first it wouldn't come; the image of the birds intervened—crows and grackles and starlings, spring birds that came back from somewhere while the streets were still running with meltwater and the last patches of crusted dirty snow clung grimly to their shady places.
..Yes, the birds, I was thinking of them because I was ashamed. It was my father who made me ashamed, I guess and maybe that was Its doing, too. Maybe.
The memory came—the memory behind the birds—but it wad vague and disconnected. Perhaps this one always would be. She had—
Her thoughts broke off as she realized that Eddie
comes to her first, because he is the most frightened. He comes to her not as her fiend of that summer, or as he brief lover now, but the way he would have come to his mother only three or four years ago, to be comforted; he doesn't draw back from her smooth nakedness and at first she doubts if he even feels it.
♥ ...hadn't they, the seven of them, spent most of this, the longest, scariest summer of their lives, laughing like loons? You laugh because what's fearful and unknown is also what's funny, you laugh the way a small child will sometimes laugh and cry at the same time when a capering circus clown approaches, knowing it is supposed to be funny... but it is also unknown, full of the unknown's eternal power.
♥ It went in a gray tidal wave, and of course if Andrew Keene had been on the downhill side of the Standpipe, he would have exited the world in no time. But God favors drunks, small children, and the cataclysmically stoned; Andrew was standing in a place where he could see it all and not be touched by a single drop.
♥ By evening reporters from ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN had arrived in Derry, and the network news reporters would bring some version of the truth home to most people; they would make it real... although there were those who might have suggested that reality is a highly untrustworthy concept, something perhaps no more solid than a piece of canvas stretched over an interlacing of cables like the strands of a spiderweb.
♥ "Nothing lasts forever," Richie repeated. He looked up at Bill, and Bill saw tears cut slowly through the dirt on Richie's cheeks.
"Except maybe for love," Ben said.
"And desire," Beverly said.
"How about friends?" Bill asked, and smiled. "What do you think, Trashmouth?"
"Well," Richie said, smiling and rubbing his eyes, "Ah git to thank about it, boy; Ah say, Ah say Ah got to thank about it."
Bill put his hands out and they joined theirs with his and stood there for a moment, seven who had been reduced to four but who could still make a circle. They looked at each other. Ben wad crying now too, the tears spilling from his eyes. But he was smiling.
"I love you guys so much," he said.
♥ The others are there—Eddie with his aspirator clutched tightly in one hand. Ben with his big belly pushing palely out through the tattered remains of his shirt; Richie, his face oddly naked without his glasses; Mike, silent and solemn, his normally full lips compressed to a thin line. And Beverly, her head up, her eyes wide and clear, her hair still somehow lovely in spite of the dirt that mats it.
All of us. All of us are here.
And he sees them, really sees them, for the last time, because in some way he understands that they will never all be together again, the seven of them—not this way. No one talks. Beverly holds out her hands, and after a moment Richie and Ben hold out theirs. Mike ad Eddie do the same. Stan cuts them one by one as the sun begins to slip behind the horizon, cooling that red furnace-glow to a dusky rose-pink. The whippoorwill cries again, Bill can see the first faint swirls of mist on the water and he feels as if he has become a part of everything—it is a brief ecstasy which he will no more talk about than Beverly will later talk about the brief reflection she sees of two dead men who were, as boys, her friends.
A breeze touches the trees and bushes, making them sigh, and he thinks: This is a lovely place, and I'll never forget it. It's lovely, and they are lovely; each one of them is gorgeous. The whippoorwill cries again, sweet and liquid, and for a moment Bill feels at one with it, as if he could sing and then be gone into the dusk—as if he could fly away, brave in the air.
He looks at Beverly and she is smiling at him. She closes her eyes and holds her hands out to either side. Bill takes her left; Ben her right. Bill can feel the warmth of her blood mixing with his own. The others join in and they stand in a circle, all of their hands now sealed in that peculiarly intimate way.
Stan is looking at Bill with a kind of urgency; a kind of fear.
"Swuh-Swear to muh-me that you'll c-c-c-come buh-back," Bill says. "Swear to me that if Ih-Ih-It isn't d-d-dead, you'll cuh-come back."
"Swear," Ben said.
"Yes—I swear." Bev.
"Swear it," Mike Hanlon mutters.
"Yea. Swear." Eddie, his voice a thin and reedy whisper.
"I swear too," Stan whispers, but his voice falters and he looks down as he speaks.
That was it; that was all. But they stand there for awhile longer, feeling the power that is in their circle, the closed body that they make. The light paints their faces in pale fading colors; the sun is now gone and sunset is dying. They stand together in a circle as the darkness creeps down into the Barrens, filling up the paths they have walked this summer, the clearings where they have played tag and guns, the secret places along the riverbanks where they have sat and discussed childhood's long questions or smoked Beverly's cigarettes or where they have merely been silent, watching the passage of the clouds reflected in the water. The eye of the day is closing.
♥ I loved you guys, you know.
I loved you guys so much.
♥ He sees them as they were, as they always will be in some part of his mind... and his heart breaks with love and horror.
Leaving, leaving Derry, he thinks. We are leaving Derry, and if this was a story it would be the last half-dozen pages or so; get ready to put this one up on the shelf and forget it.
♥ Disquiet and desire. All the difference between world and want—the difference between being an adult who counted the cost and a child who just got on it and went, for instance. All the world between. Yet not that much difference at all. Bedfellows, really. The way you felt we the roller-coaster car approached the top of the first steep grade, where the ride really begins.
Disquiet and desire. What you want and what you're scared to try for. Where you've been and where you want to go. Something in a rock-and-roll song about wanting the girl, the car, the place to stand and be. Oh please God can you dig it.
Bill closed his eyes for a moment, feeling the soft dead weight of his wife behind him, feeling the hill somewhere ahead of him, feeling his own heart inside him.
Be brave, be true, stand.
♥ "Hi-yo Silver, AWAYYYYYYY!" Bill Denbrough cried deliriously, and rushed down the hill toward whatever there would be, aware for one last time of Derry as his place, aware most of all that he was alive under a real sky, and that all was desire, desire, desire.
He raced down the hill on Silver: he raced to beat the devil.
So you leave, and there is an urge to look back, to look back just once as the sunset fades, to see that severe New England skyline one final time—the spires, the Standpipe, Paul with his axe slung over his shoulder. But it is perhaps not such a good idea to look back—all the stories say so. Look what happened to Lot's wife. Best not to look back. But to believe there will be happily ever afters all the way around—and so there may be; who is to say there will not be such endings? Not all boats which sail away into darkness never find the sun again, or the hand of another child; if life teaches anything at all, it teaches that there are so many happy endings that the man who believes there is no God needs his rationality called into serious question.
You leave and you leave quick when the sun starts to go down, he thinks in this dream. That's what you do. Ad if you spare a last thought, maybe it's ghosts you wonder about... the ghosts of children standing in the water at sunset, standing in a circle, standing with their hands joined together, their faces young, sure, but tough... tough enough, anyway, to give birth to the people they will become, tough enough to understand, maybe, that the people they will become must necessarily birth the people they were before they can get on with trying to understand simple mortality. The circle closes, the wheel rolls, and that's all there is.
You don't have to look back to see those children; part of your mind will see them forever, live with them forever, love with them forever. They are not necessarily the best part of you, but they were once the repository of all you could become.
Children I love you. I love you so much.
So drive away quick, drive away with the last of the light slips away, drive away from Derry, from memory... but not from desire. That status, the bright cameo of all we were and all we believed as children, all that shone in our eyes even when we were lots and the wind blew in the night.
Drive away and try to keep smiling. Get a little rock and roll on the radio and go toward all the life there is with all the courage you ca find and all the belief you can muster. Be true, be brave, stand.
All the rest is darkness.
♥ ..he thinks that it is good to be a child, but it is also good to be grownup and able to consider the mystery of childhood... its beliefs and desires. I will write about all of this one day, he thinks, and knows it's just a dawn thought, an after-dreaming thought. But it's nice to think so for awhile in the morning's clean silence, to think that childhood has its own sweet secrets and confirms mortality, and that mortality defines all courage and love. To think that what has looked forward must also look back, and that each life makes its own imitation of immortality: a wheel.
Or so Bill Denbrough sometimes thinks on those early mornings after dreaming, when he almost remembers his childhood, and the friends with whom he shared it.