Plug the dike

She never said no and never said yes, but pulled, slackened, pulled her strings of control.
Pull: ›What would be nicest‹, she would say, ›is if I had a tall glass of iced tea‹. What happened next: the men raced to get one for her. The first to return might get a peck on the forehead (slacken), or (pull) a promised walk (to be granted at a later date), or (slacken) a simple ›Thank you, goodbye‹. She maintained a careful balance by her window, never allowing the men to come too close, never allowing them to stray too far. She needed them desperately, not only for the favors, not only for the things that they could get for Yankel and her that Yankel couldn’t afford, but because they were a few more fingers to plug the dike that held back what she knew to be true: she didn’t love life. There was no convincing reason to live.
(Jonathan Safran Foer – Everything is Illuminated)

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