The poor boy.
His hair and lashes were dark, but his face was deathly pale. He might have been cast from wax. There was something almost luminous about his skin, which brought to mind those stone carvings of the dead you see in churches, with their tiny, perfect hands and feet, their dreamily closed eyes. His breathing was so shallow that you could barely make out the influx and exhalation of air.
* * *
Tell me, Madame, I say, smiling. Tell me what sort of boy your son was.
Is, she says. I think you mean is. Not was. Louis is an extraordinary boy, she says softly. An extraordinary boy. We're very close. And the thing is, I don't know how I'm going to live without him. Ever since he was born, we've always ... communicated. Known what the other one was thinking. Like twins. And now She is swallowing down huge sobs.
Yes? I ask gently.
Well, I'm beginning to think after what happened She stops and inspects her hands small, neat hands, the nails carefully manicured and varnished in pale, shell-pink. A good sign: ravaged though she is, she has not let herself go as so many of them do. Again I notice the pale band left by her wedding ring. This will sound very stupid, she says. And superstitious and ignorant, and not the kind of thing you'd expect to hear from any one well, anyone educated. But if you knew Louis, if you knew what he's like, and everything he's been through
Then what? I ask. I can't help it: tentatively, I permit myself to rest my hands, lightly, on her narrow shoulders, to look her full in the face, to try to read it.
I've come to believe something about my son. Listen, Dr Dannachet, he just isn't like other children. He never has been. I think
I think my son's a kind of angel, she blurts.
And her despairing eyes flood with tears.
Excerpted from The Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen. © Liz Jensen, 2003. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Bloomsbury USA. No part of these excerpts may be reproduced or reprinted without permission.
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