Don’t ask me why, but the squirrelly part of my writer-brain, the part that finds odd things to ponder (and then usually buries them somewhere and forgets about them thereafter) started thinking about death lines this evening. That is, the things people in books/movies/plays/etc. say when they’re about to die or in the process of dying. Shakespeare, for all I love him, was a melodramatic little wretch where those are concerned. I think one of my favorites comes from Dorothy Dunnett — it’s a bit of a cheat, since the hit doesn’t actually kill Lymond, but he believes it’s going to (and it really would, were it not for some bloody-minded medical intervention) — anyway, having done something good at what amounts to the sacrifice of his life, this is how he exits:
“And died stinkingly martyred,” said Lymond, with painful derision; and losing hold bit by bit, slipped into Erskine’s gentle grasp.
Which is why I love Lymond: he mocks himself even as he’s bleeding out of rather too many holes for anyone’s peace of mind.
What’s your favorite death line?