There was an
infinitesimal pause, just one tiny breath.
strong feelings of embarrassment
His face went blank for a second, and then
mortification overcame everything.
smother or suppress
“I don’t know. I guess I think it’s sort of
stifling. All those rules. You can’t date people who aren’t Indian. You can’t date, period, until you’re thirty.”
of superficial relevance if any
“That does sound annoying. I guess I haven’t been through those rules, except for the first and second. But the thing is, those are
tangential things. I’m talking about the big picture. The idea that we’re connected by this thread to people who live in the place where we came from. Where our parents came from. We have a blueprint for our lives. I think that makes it all seem comforting somehow. Safe.”
They passed a man
ensconced in fog and playing the guitar.
unwilling or reluctant
Dimple would never admit it, but she felt a
grudging admiration for his kind of no-BS bravery.
The thought of Dimple, here, made him feel strangely
ebullient, like he was filled with champagne bubbles.
a force that makes something happen
“But what about if they don’t track? What’s the
impetus for them to begin tracking regularly in the first place?”
prevent the occurrence of; prevent from happening
“Okay, what about if it's like something advancing on them? Like, the reward is that you get to
stave off some big, bad boss guy coming for you the more you track. And if you get lazy or careless, you get killed.”
expressing disapproval, blame, or disappointment
Celia sat on her bed, propped up against her pillows, staring at Dimple
in a manner marked by extreme care of details
Celia groaned and clutched at her hair before
meticulously smoothing it back down.
extremely exciting as if by alcohol or a narcotic
Dimple loved the buzz of energy, a slightly drunken,
of or relating to tailoring or clothing
As they approached the sculpture, Rishi saw a sign in front of it that said
SARTORIAL FORTUNE COOKIE BY YAEL BORGER, 2017.
gruesomely indicative of death or the dead
Putting on a cheerful voice, he said, “Hi, Yael, how are you today?” And then, in a
sepulchral intonation meant to be Yael, “You will die.”
rise and fall of the voice pitch
Putting on a cheerful voice, he said, “Hi, Yael, how are you today?” And then, in a sepulchral
intonation meant to be Yael, “You will die.”
make known to the public information previously kept secret
It felt surreal, to see the man standing not ten yards away from him, after having hero-worshipped him from afar for nearly a decade, after having laughed at every YouTube joke. After having sent him embarrassing fan mail when he was eleven—not that he was about to
divulge that piece of information to Dimple.
impossible to persuade by means of pleas or reason
Without distance, Rishi knew the
inexorable love for his art, for creation, would suck him in and never let go.
with concise and precise brevity; to the point
How had she so quickly, so
succinctly, verbalized everything he was feeling?
not easily irritated
placid, as he observed some art student doing a live demonstration of pottery.
present for acceptance or rejection
“Are you...okay?” she asked as he took a
proffered flyer and then put it down at the next table without looking at it.
lean but strong
They turned to see a
wiry guy at a booth a few yards away.
He was about Rishi’s height, with spiked black hair and red wire-rimmed glasses, and was grinning, waving
a great deal of fuss, concern, or commotion
rite of passage
“And it all snowballs. You saw that—Kevin wanted me to apply there. Leo Tilden wanted to see my sketches. Much
ado about nothing.”
a ritual performed when an individual changes status
“Besides, just look at it as a social experiment. You have to go to at least one college party, right? It’s like a
rite of passage. You can just get it out of the way now, with me as your guide.”
threatening or foreshadowing evil or tragic developments
Rishi tossed Dimple a
baleful look over his shoulder, but he sat down and pulled out his sketch pad.
lens for correcting defective vision in one eye
Dimple noticed people nudging each other, leaning in to get closer, to really take in the little details. Like how the sloth was wearing a
attractive and suggesting hidden passion
Dimple batted her eyelashes at him and said, in a
sultry voice she had no idea she was capable of, “Please, Rishi Patel?”
sorrowful through loss or deprivation
Dimple giggled—giggled! A sound he’d never imagined leaving her mouth—and let her hand drop. Rishi was immediately
bereft. “You should see your face.”
disdainfully or ironically humorous
He could feel her watching him in that
sardonic, Dimple way she had—eyes calculating, eyebrows slightly furrowed.
a relief from harm or discomfort
They made their way to a grove of bushes off to the right, the breeze just cool enough to provide some
respite from the thick, soupy heat of bodies inside.
impinge or infringe upon
Dimple sat beside him, her arms and legs stiff, as if she were afraid of
encroaching on his personal space, of touching him.
pleasant and beneficial in nature or influence
Before, scraping elbows together or grabbing her hand had seemed
benign, just exciting enough without being serious or scary.
a small recess opening off a larger room
But here in this private little
alcove in the dark, things felt more.
the quality of being held back
But looking at Dimple’s open face, hearing her earnest questions, his usual
inhibitions turned to puffs of cloud, insubstantial, floating away as he tried to grasp them.
“I would love to do what you’re doing. To immerse myself in the work, to think, breathe, eat, and sleep art. But that's how it’d have to be. See? There’s no in between for me. I can’t be an engineer and a part-time comic book artist. It can’t be a hobby. I love it too much; it means too much to me. It’s like, like having a child, I guess. How I imagine that would be—all
“Do it. Do what you love, what you’re passionate about. So what if it’s not the most practical thing? You’re eighteen, you don’t have to be practical for a long, long time—maybe not ever, if you choose not to be. There are people who live very
frugally, who just keep plugging away for years because they can’t think of doing it any other way.”
feeling or manifesting profound respect or awe
Rishi nodded, and she took the sketch pad, setting it carefully on her lap. She pulled her cell phone out of her pocket, turned on a flashlight app, and set it on the bench between them. Then, almost
reverentially, she began lifting the cover.
take arbitrarily or by force
But when he got inside, Rishi saw the guests had
commandeered the interior lobby too.
After a pause, the girl hopped off her chair and came up to the table,
sidling into the chair across from him.
in a composed and unconcerned manner
“How do you know how to do that?”
nonchalantly. “Picked it up.”