Andre Quotes in An American Marriage
Grandmamma would tell Evie to hush and remind her that getting left by a man was not the worst thing that ever happened to somebody. And Evie would say, “It’s the worst thing that ever happened to me.” She said it so much that she came down with lupus. “God wanted me to see what misery really was,” Evie said. I didn’t like all this God talk, like He was up there toying with us. I preferred more of the tenderness and acceptance my grandmother promised in her hymns. I told this to Evie when I was a little boy and she said, “You got to work with the god you were given.”
You also have to work with the love you are given, with all of the complications clanging behind it like tin cans tied to a bridal sedan.
“I’m ready. But I can’t lie. Sometimes I feel guilty as hell for just being able to live my life.”
I didn’t have to tell him that I understood, because he knew that I did. There should be a word for this, the way it feels to steal something that’s already yours.
We laughed, a real laugh, a shared laugh. This is when our life changed. We came to each other with joy on our lips. What came next may not have been legally binding; there was no clergyman or witness. But it was ours.
Now Mr. Davenport was loyal to Roy above his own daughter. In a way, the whole black race was loyal to Roy, a man just down from the cross.
“You say you want my advice. Here’s what I have. Tell the truth. Don’t try to cushion the blow. If you’re bad enough to do it, you’re bad enough to tell it. You can ask you mama. She’ll tell you she was so unhappy because I didn’t drop lies into her morning coffee. The whole time she knew exactly who she was married to.”
“Is it love, or is it convenience?” Gloria asked me that Thanksgiving Day after my father had stormed upstairs and Andre went to gather our coats. She explained that convenience, habit, comfort, obligation—these are all things that wear the same clothing as love sometimes. Did I think this thing with Andre was maybe too easy? He is literally the boy next door.
The son that Celestial and I didn’t have would have been four or five, I think. If a kindergartener slept in the backroom, there is no way Celestial would be talking about how she’s with Andre now. I would say, “A boy need his father.” This is a scientific fact. There wouldn’t be anything else to talk about.
But as things were, there was a lot to talk about, more words than could fit into my mouth.
Have you ever stared fury in its eyes? There is no saving yourself from a man in its throes. Roy’s face was haunted and wild. The cords of his neck muscles were like cables; his lips made a hard gash. The unceasing blows were fueled by a need to hurt me that was greater than his own need for oxygen or even freedom. His need to hurt me was greater even than my own desire to survive. My efforts to protect myself where ritualistic, mannered, and symbolic, while his fists, feet, and needs were operating from a brutal code.
But I was sorry. Not for what was between Celestial and me, I would never regret that. I was sorry for a lot of things. I was sorry for Evie, suffering from lupus for so many years. I was sorry for elephants killed for their ivory. I was sorry for Carlos, who traded one family for another. I was sorry for everyone in the world because we all had to die and nobody knew what happened after that. I was sorry for Celestial, who was probably watching from the window. Most of all, I was sorry for Roy. The last time I saw him on that morning before his mother’s wake, he said, “I never had a chance, did I? I only thought I did.”
But he only turned toward Old Hickey. “It’s too much.” Then quickly—it must have been quickly—but I somehow took notice of each move, Roy tucked his lips against his teeth, gripped the tree like a brother, and then tipped his head back, presenting his face to the sky before driving his forehead against the ancient bark. The sound was muted, like the wet crack of an egg against the kitchen floor. He did it again, harder this time.