Cheryl Taggart

I find myself using this again and again, so here’s a post I can link to.

This is from Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.

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She was silent, when she sat beside him in the taxicab. She looked up at the skyscrapers they passed. After a while, she said, “I heard that things like this happened in New York, but I never thought they’d happen to me.”

“Where do you come from?”

“Buffalo.”

“Got any family?”

She hesitated. “I guess so. In Buffalo.”

“What do you mean, you guess so?”

“I walked out on them.”

“Why?”

“I thought that if I ever was to amount to anything, I had to get away from them, clean away.”

“Why? What happened?”

“Nothing happened. And nothing was ever going to happen. That’s what I couldn’t stand.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, they … well, I guess I ought to tell you the truth, Mr. Taggart. My old man’s never been any good, and Ma didn’t care whether he was or not, and I got sick of it always turning out that I was the only one of the seven of us that kept a job, and the rest of them always being out of luck, one way or another. I thought if I didn’t get out, it would get me — I’d rot all the way through, like the rest of them. So I bought a railroad ticket one day and left. Didn’t say good-bye. They didn’t even know I was going.” She gave a soft, startled little laugh at a sudden thought. “Mr. Taggart,” she said, “it was a Taggart train.”

“When did you come here?”

“Six months ago.”

“And you’re all alone?”

“Yes,” she said happily.

“What was it you wanted to do?”

“Well, you know — make something of myself, get somewhere.”

“Where?”

“Oh, I don’t know, but … but people do things in the world. I saw pictures of New York and I thought” — she pointed at the giant buildings beyond the streaks of rain on the cab window — “I thought, somebody built those buildings — he didn’t just sit and whine that the kitchen was filthy and the roof leaking and the plumbing clogged and it’s a goddamn world and … Mr. Taggart” — she jerked her head in a shudder and looked straight at him — “we were stinking poor and not giving a damn about it. That’s what I couldn’t take — that they didn’t really give a damn. Not enough to lift a finger. Not enough to empty the garbage pail. And the woman next door saying it was my duty to help them, saying it made no difference what became of me or of her or of any of us, because what could anybody do anyway!” Beyond the bright look of her eyes, he saw something within her that was hurt and hard.

“I don’t want to talk about them,” she said. “Not with you. This — my meeting you, I mean — that’s what they couldn’t have. That’s what I’m not going to share with them. It’s mine, not theirs.”

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