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A Telephone Call

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PLEASE, God, let him telephone me now. Dear God, let him call me now. I wont ask anything else of You, truly I wont. It isnt very much to ask. It would be so little to You, God, such a little, little thing. Only let him telephone now. Please, God. Please, please, please.

If I didnt think about it, maybe the telephone might ring. Sometimes it does that. If I could think of something else. If I could think of something else. Maybe if I counted five hundred by fives, it might ring by that time. Ill count slowly. I wont cheat. And if it rings when I get to three hundred, I wont stop; I wont answer it until I get to five hundred. Five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty, thirty-five, forty, forty-five, fifty.... Oh, please ring. Please.

This is the last time Ill look at the clock. I will not look at it again. Its ten minutes past seven. He said he would telephone at five oclock. Ill call you at five, darling. I think thats where he said darling. Im almost sure he said it there. I know he called me darling twice, and the other time was when he said good-bye. Good-bye, darling. He was busy, and he cant say much in the office, but he called me darling twice. He couldnt have minded my calling him up. I know you shouldnt keep telephoning them ?I know they dont like that. When you do that they know you are thinking about them and wanting them, and that makes them hate you. But I hadnt talked to him in three days ?not in three days. And all I did was ask him how he was; it was just the way anybody might have called him up. He couldnt have minded that. He couldnt have thought I was bothering him. No, of course youre not, he said. And he said hed telephone me.

He didnt have to say that. I didnt ask him to, truly I didnt. Im sure I didnt. I dont think he would say hed telephone me, and then just never do it. Please dont let him do that, God. Please dont.

Ill call you at five, darling. Good-bye, darling. He was busy, and he was in a hurry, and there were people around him, but he called me darling twice. Thats mine, thats mine. I have that, even if I never see him again. Oh, but thats so little. That isnt enough. Nothings enough, if I never see him again. Please let me see him again, God. Please, I want him so much. I want him so much. Ill be good, God. I will try to be better, I will, If you will let me see him again. If You will let him telephone me. Oh, let him telephone me now.

Ah, dont let my prayer seem too little to You, God. You sit up there, so white and old, with all the angels about You and the stars slipping by. And I come to You with a prayer about a telephone call. Ah, dont laugh, God. You see, You dont know how it feels. Youre so safe, there on Your throne, with the blue swirling under You.Nothing can touch You; no one can twist Your heart in his hands. This is suffering, God, this is bad, bad suffering. Wont You help me? For Your Sons sake, help me. You said You would do whatever was asked of You in His name. Oh, God, in the name of Thine6 only beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, let him telephone me now.

I must stop this. I mustnt be this way. Look. Suppose a young man says hell call a girl up, and then something happens, and he doesnt. That isnt so terrible, is it? Why, its going on all over the world, right this minute. Oh, what do I care whats going on all over the world? Why cant that telephone ring? Why cant it, why cant it? Couldnt you ring? Ah, please, couldnt you? You damned, ugly, shiny thing. It would hurt you to ring, wouldnt it? Oh, that would hurt you. Damn you, Ill pull your filthy roots out of the wall, Ill smash your smug black face in little bits.7 Damn you to hell.

No, no, no. I must stop. I must think about something else. This is what Ill do. Ill put the clock in the other room. Then I cant look at it. If I do have to look at it, then Ill have to walk into the bedroom, and that will be something to do. Maybe, before I look at it again, he will call me. Ill be so sweet to him, if he calls me. If he says he cant see me tonight, Ill say, Why, thats all right, dear. Why, of course its all right. Ill be the way I was when I first met him. Then maybe hell like me again. I was always sweet, at first. Oh, its so easy to be sweet to people before you love them.

I think he must still like me a little. He couldnt have called me darling twice today, if he didnt still like me a little. It isnt all gone, if he still likes me a little; even if its only a little, little bit. You see, God, if You would just let him telephone me, I wouldnt have to ask You anything more. I would be sweet to him, I would be gay, I would be just the way I used to be, and then he would love me again. And then I would never have to ask You for anything more. Dont You see, God? So wont You please let him telephone me? Wont You please, please, please?

Are You punishing me, God, because Ive been bad? Are You angry with me because I did that? Oh, but, God, there are so many bad people ?You could not be hard only to me. And it wasnt very bad; it couldnt have been bad. We didnt hurt anybody, God. Things are only bad when they hurt people. We didnt hurt one single soul; You know that. You know it wasnt bad, dont You, God?So wont You let him telephone me now?

If he doesnt telephone me, Ill know God is angry with me. Ill count five hundred by fives, and if he hasnt called me then, I will know God isnt going to help me, ever again. That will be the sign. Five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty, thirty-five, forty, forty-five, fifty, fifty-five... It was bad. I knew it was bad. All right, God, send me to hell. You think Youre frightening me with Your hell, dont You? You think. Your hell is worse than mine.

I mustnt. I mustnt do this. Suppose hes a little late calling me up ?thats nothing to get hysterical about.Maybe he isnt going to call ?maybe hes coming straight up here without telephoning. Hell be cross10 if he sees I have been crying. They dont like you to cry. He doesnt cry. I wish to God I could make him cry. I wish I could make him cry and tread the floor and feel his heart heavy and big and festering in him. I wish I could hurt him like hell.

He doesnt wish that about me. I dont think he even knows how he makes me feel. I wish he could know, without my telling him. They dont like you to tell them theyve made you cry. They dont like you to tell them youre unhappy because of them. If you do, they think youre possessive and exacting. And then they hate you. They hate you whenever you say anything you really think. You always have to keep playing little games. Oh, I thought we didnt have to; I thought this was so big I could say whatever I meant. I guess you cant, ever. I guess there isnt ever anything big enough for that. Oh, if he would just telephone, I wouldnt tell him I had been sad about him. They hate sad people. I would be so sweet and so gay, he couldnt help but like me. If he would only telephone. If he would only telephone.

Maybe thats what he is doing. Maybe he is coming on here without calling me up. Maybe hes on his way now. Something might have happened to him. No, nothing could ever happen to him. I cant picture anything happening to him. I never picture him run over. I never see him lying still and long and dead. I wish he were dead. Thats a terrible wish. Thats a lovely wish. If he were dead, he would be mine. If he were dead, I would never think of now and the last few weeks. I would remember only the lovely times. It would be all beautiful. I wish he were dead. I wish he were dead, dead, dead.

This is silly. Its silly to go wishing people were dead just because they dont call you up the very minute they said they would. Maybe the clocks fast; I dont know whether its right. Maybe hes hardly late at all. Anything could have made him a little late. Maybe he had to stay at his office. Maybe he went home, to call me up from there, and somebody came in. He doesnt like to telephone me in front of people. Maybe hes worried, just a little, little bit, about keeping me waiting. He might even hope that I would call him up. I could do that. I could telephone him.

I mustnt. I mustnt, I mustnt. Oh, God, please dont let me telephone him. Please keep me from doing that. I know, God, just as well as You do, that if he were worried about me, hed telephone no matter where he was or how many people there were around him. Please make me know that, God. I dont ask YOU to make it easy for me ?You cant do that, for all that You could make a world. Only let me know it, God. Dont let me go on hoping. Dont let me say comforting things to myself. Please dont let me hope, dear God. Please dont.

I wont telephone him. Ill never telephone him again as long as I live. Hell rot in hell, before Ill call him up. You dont have to give me strength, God; I have it myself. If he wanted me, he could get me. He knows where I am. He knows Im waiting here. Hes so sure of me, so sure. I wonder why they hate you, as soon as they are sure of you. I should think it would be so sweet to be sure.

It would be so easy to telephone him. Then Id know. Maybe it wouldnt be a foolish thing to do. Maybe he wouldnt mind. Maybe hed like it. Maybe he has been trying to get me. Sometimes people try and try to get you on the telephone, and they say the number doesnt answer. Im not just saying that to help myself; that really happens. You know that really happens, God. Oh, God, keep me away from that telephone. Keep me away. Let me still have just a little bit of pride. I think Im going to need it, God. I think it will be all Ill have.

Oh, what does pride matter, when I cant stand it if I dont talk to him? Pride like that is such a silly, shabby little thing. The real pride, the big pride, is in having no pride. Im not saying that just because I want to call him. I am not. Thats true, I know thats true. I will be big. I will be beyond little prides.

Please, God, keep me from, telephoning him. Please, God.

I dont see what pride has to do with it. This is such a little thing, for me to be bringing in pride, for me to be making such a fuss about. I may have misunderstood him. Maybe he said for me to call him up, at five. Call me at five, darling. He could have said that, perfectly well. Its so possible that I didnt hear him right. Call me at five, darling. Im almost sure thats what he said. God, dont let me talk this way to myself. Make me know, please make me know.

Ill think about something else. Ill just sit quietly. If I could sit still. If I could sit still. Maybe I could read. Oh, all the books are about people who love each other, truly and sweetly. What do they want to write about that for? Dont they know it isnt true? Dont they know its a lie, its a God damned lie? What do they have to tell about that for, when they know how it hurts? Damn them, damn them, damn them.

I wont. Ill be quiet. This is nothing to get excited about. Look. Suppose he were someone I didnt know very well. Suppose he were another girl. Then Id just telephone and say, Well, for goodness sake, what happened to you? Thats what Id do, and Id never even think about it. Why cant I be casual and natural, just because I love him? I can be. Honestly, I can be. Ill call him up, and be so easy and pleasant. You see if I wont, God. Oh, dont let me call him. Dont, dont, dont.

God, arent You really going to let him call me? Are You sure, God? Couldnt You please relent? Couldnt You? I dont even ask You to let him telephone me this minute, God; only let him do it in a little while. Ill count five hundred by fives. Ill do it so slowly and so fairly. If he hasnt telephoned then, Ill call him. I will. Oh, please, dear God, dear kind God, my blessed Father in Heaven, let him call before then. Please, God. Please.

Five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty, thirty-five....

注: 这是曾获“欧·亨利纪念奖”(The O. Henry Awards, 1918年开始设立, 专门用以奖励每年度的最佳短篇小说)的美国女诗人、短篇小说家帕克(Dorothy Parker 1893-1967)的代表作之一。作者以细腻的手法,意识流的叙事方式,展现给读者一位饱受爱情折磨的女性的心理独白。其实,作为一个坚定的社会主义者,帕克又何尝不是在告诫女性:女性不能坐等爱的出现,应该学会主宰自己的命运。

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