Chapter 8 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1428

Keith is not walking through the park in breathless anticipation of his time with Florence. Though they enjoy one another’s bodies, he keeps returning because of what they know together, their shared experience of that timeless spiral drift as they exited the tower that day. He goes back because of that, even though these meetings contradict what he now knows to be true for his life: it is meant to be lived in a serious and responsible manner, not snatched in segments. As he leaves each time, Florence wonders if she can stay who she is or if she has to become one of those people who watches people walk out the door. Florence wonders if they are still themselves, but Keith feels like someone else when she looks at him sometimes.

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Carol Shoup sits with Lianne at lunch and they are arguing. Carol’s company is publishing a significant and timely book by a retired aeronautical engineer who appears to have predicted the events of that day. It details a series of connected global events that converge in an explosive moment, and it is eerily reminiscent of a late-summer day in Boston, Washington, and New York. Lianne is upset that she was not asked to be the freelance editor for the project; Carol is trying to explain she thought it was too close, too personal to even ask. Any editor would have to be immersed in the immense, tedious detail, and she tried to spare her friend that experience. Lianne does not care how demanding or how, ultimately, unprophetic the work is—this is exactly what she wants but does not know it until Carol derisively mentions the book. All Carol wants to talk about is Keith and how wonderful it must be to have him back as a husband and a father; Lianne tells Carol it is just a beginning and she obviously knows nothing. Carol promises to call her if the book’s editor finds it is too much or too heavy or is ruining her life. Lianne tells her to call for that or not to call at all.

After the day Rosellen could not remember where she lived, she does not return to the group. Today the members want to write about their former friend. Lianne ponders the beauty of faded lives and watches as members write about Rosellen. For the first time, she is afraid to hear what they have written.

Keith is going to begin his job in a few days, but today he is touring a fitness center. It is throbbing with energy and movement and regimen, and Keith feels as if these are the people he knows. Once he spends eight or ten hours a day in an office, he knows he will need an “offsetting discipline,” a voluntary and controlled activity to keep his hatred and anger at bay.

Martin left just five minutes ago, and Nina is again asleep. When Nina wakes up and asks about her grandson, Lianne tells her she is taking too much pain medication. The medication is for when Nina does her physical therapy, but she is not doing it. Lianne wants to talk about Martin and the intensity of their arguments. Nina tells her daughter she has never seen Martin when he is really intense, and it is something that goes back more than twenty years to when he was an activist in Germany’s politics. Martin Ridnour is not his real name; he is an art dealer with nearly bare walls and a wife tucked away somewhere. Lianne has more questions, but Nina is not interested in knowing more about him than she already knows—or telling her daughter any more about him than she already has—but Lianne keeps pressing. Nina suspects the first works of art Martin sold were stolen. He keeps waiting for the police to show up at his door, but not for art theft. He was part of a German antigovernment terrorist group in the late sixties, though he was not one of the primary activists. He still has a poster of the nineteen people wanted for bank robberies, murders, and bombings. Nina has seen the wanted poster and he...

(The entire section contains 1428 words.)

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