The Toynbee Convector

The Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury Read Free Book Online

Book: The Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ray Bradbury
Tags: Science-Fiction
play he didn’t want to write for Broadway, in order to rush back to Hollywood in time to not enjoy finishing a screenplay, so that he could rush to Mexico City for a quick vacation next December. Sometimes, he mused, I resemble those Mexican rockets dashing between the town buildings on a hot wire, bashing my head on one wall, turning, and zooming back to crash against another.
    He found himself going seventy miles an hour suddenly, and cautioned it down to thirty-five, through rolling green noon country.
    He took deep breaths of the clear air and pulled over to the side of the road. Far away, between immense trees, on the top of a meadow hill, he thought he saw, walking but motionless in the strange heat, a young woman, and then she was gone, and he wasn’t certain she had been there at all.
    It was one o’clock and the land was full of a great powerhouse humming. Darning needles flashed by the car windows, like prickles of heat before his eyes. Bees swarmed and the grass bent under a tender wind. He opened the car door and stepped out into the straight heat.
    Here was a lonely path that sang beetle sounds at late noon to itself, and there was a cool, shadowed forest waiting fifty yards from the road, from which blew a good, tunnel-moist air. On all sides were rolling clover hills and an open sky. Standing there, he could feel the stone dissolve in his arms and his neck, and the iron go out of his cold stomach, and the tremor cease in his fingers.
    And then, suddenly, still further away, going over a forest hill, through a small rift in the brush, he saw the young woman again, walking and walking into the warm distances, gone.
    He locked the car door slowly. He struck off into the forest, idly, drawn steadily by a sound that was large enough to fill the universe, the sound of a river going somewhere and not caring; the most beautiful sound of all.
    When he found the river it was dark and light and dark and light, flowing, and he undressed and swam in it and then lay out on the pebbled bank drying, feeling relaxed. He put his clothes back on, leisurely, and then it came to him, the old desire, the old dream, when he was seventeen years old. He had often confided and repeated it to a friend:
    “I’d like to go walking some spring night—you know, one of those nights that are warm all night long. I’d like to walk. With a girl. Walk for an hour, to a place where you can barely hear or see anything. Climb a hill and sit Look at the stars. I’d like to hold the girl’s hand. I’d like to smell the grass and the wheat growing in the fields, and know I was in the center of the entire country, in the very center of the United States, and towns all around and highways away off, but nobody knowing we’re right there on top of that hill, in the grass, watching the night.
    “And just holding her hand would be good. Can you understand that? Do you know that holding someone’s hand can be the thing? Such a thing that your hands move while not moving. You can remember a thing like that, rather than any other thing about a night, all your life. Just holding hands can mean more. I believe it. When everything is repeated, and over, and familiar, it’s the first things rather than the last that count.
    “So, for a long time,” he had continued, “I’d like to just sit there, not saying a word. There aren’t any words for a night like that. We wouldn’t even look at each other. We’d see the lights of the town far off and know that other people had climbed other hills before us and that there was nothing better in the world. Nothing could be made better; all of the houses and ceremonies and guarantees in the world are nothing compared to a night like this. The cities and the people in the rooms in the houses in those cities at night are one thing; the hills and the open air and the stars and holding hands are something else.
    “And then, finally, without speaking, the two of you will turn your heads in the moonlight and

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