In which the main character, Justin Latterly, has been confronted by his employer's seventy year old wife (presumably), Gloria Grace Stenson, with a series of double-edged questions, the answers to which all seem like traps. The excerpt is the culmination of that scene. (Gloria Grace is one of my favorite characters and perhaps the novel's most compelling.)
Her eyes watered—on the verge of hysterical laughter or hysterical tears. I had seen the look before but in younger, simpler eyes. But just then, with two lustrous welts clinging tight to her lower eyelids, the woman tugged at my soul, seemingly hungry for all of it, to satisfy what craving I could not imagine. We were on the brink. Time, for all of its usual calculability, whether figured in terms of every memorable moment or as the weight of all such moments crashing into you, was completely non-essential. Not so much standing still as standing on its head, simply killing itself until that moment passed. That anguished moment. On the brink, on the verge, tottering above the foggy abyss. And the real question was not any of the ones previously asked—neither hypothetical nor rhetorical nor to do with Gloria Grace Stenson at all but exclusively, unbearably, and incomprehensibly to do with Justin Michael Latterly— or, rather, the person by that name.
I kissed her lips.
The moment passed. Time resumed.
She laughed hysterically—two tears like pink quartz on her youthful, red cheeks.