The Old Man Quotes in The Memory Police
“It’s true, I know, that there are more gaps in the island than there used to be. When I was a child, the whole place seemed…how can I put this?...a lot fuller, a lot more real. But as things got thinner, more full of holes, our hearts got thinner, too, diluted somehow. I supposed that kept things in balance. And even when that balance begins to collapse, something remains. Which is why you shouldn’t worry.”
R let out a little gasp of surprise as I rolled up the carpet and lifted the trapdoor.
“Like a cave floating in the sky,” he murmured.
“It’s a bit tight, I know, but at least you’ll be safe here. No one can see you from outside, and there’s not much chance of them hearing you either.”
In this way we managed to live in relative security. Everything went according to plan, and we seemed to have solutions for any problems that did occur. The old man did much to help us, and R did his best to adjust quickly to the secret room.
But quite apart from the small satisfactions we enjoyed, the world outside was deteriorating day by day. The disappearances, which had slowed down after the roses, returned with two in quick succession: first, photographs, and then fruits of all sorts.
“Everything outside is completely different from when you came here. The snow has changed everything.”
“Well, it’s difficult to describe. For one thing, the world is completely buried. The snow is so deep that the sun barely starts to melt it when it does come out. It rounds everything, makes it look lumpy, and it somehow makes everything seem much smaller—the sky and sea, the hills and the forest and the river. And we all go around with our shoulders hunched over.”
“I think all this crying must be proof that my heart is so weak that I don’t know how to help myself.”
“But I’d say it’s just the opposite. Your heart is doing everything it can to preserve its existence. No matter how many memories these men take away, they’ll never reduce it to nothing.”
“I hope that’s true.”
I looked at R. I needed only to lean slightly in his direction for us to be touching. He raised his hand and brushed away a tear at the corner of my eye with his fingers.
When we’d finished eating, the old man went to find the music box hidden in the bathroom. He set it on the table and we listened together. As always, it faithfully repeated its tune, over and over. We stopped chatting, sat up straight, and closed our eyes. I had no idea where or how one was supposed to listen to a music box, but I had decided arbitrarily that closing my eyes would enhance the effect R had hoped it would induce in us.