For Esmé with Love and Squalor
How we cite our quotes:
I ignored the flashes of lightning around me. They either had your number on them or they didn't. (4)
At this early stage in the story, the narrator still has the confidence (some might say arrogance) of youth. He believes in luck, and has a certain feeling of devil-may-care invincibility that we're all fairly familiar with.
They sang without instrumental accompaniment – or, more accurately in their case, without any interference. Their voices were melodious and unsentimental, almost to the point where a somewhat more denominational man than myself might, without straining, have experienced levitation. (7)
The children's voices create the most peaceful moment in this story – the "unsentimental," innocent quality of the choir represents a peace that can't be found anywhere else.
Listening, I scanned all the children's faces but watched one in particular, that of the child nearest me, on the end seat in the first row. She was about thirteen, with straight ash-blond hair of ear-lobe length, an exquisite forehead, and blasé eyes that, I thought, might very possibly have counted the house. (7)
This, our first glimpse of Esmé, shows her unique blend of child and adult – her "blasé" eyes betray the fact that she's somewhat older than her years, though not as old as she thinks she is.