“I wanted the blue one!” Tania screamed. “The blue one with the gold rim! The blue one! The blue one!”"">

Her voice rose so high that I kept an eye on my cup, hoping it would break, the way cups sometimes did in movies when somebody screamed like that. But then I realized that it was far more interesting to watch Tania. She had fair skin, covered with pale freckles. She had turned tomato red, but her freckles had stayed the same color—I’d never seen anything like that. She closed her eyes, and squeezed her hands into fists, and a vein throbbed on her temple, bright blue and fat . Everybody else in the room fell silent. Our teacher was very young barely out of college and she had no idea what to do. But Tania’s mother simply stood up and smiled and said that she’d go home and get the blue one. She was a tall woman, with a large soft body and a fair complexion like Tania’s. Even her hair was the same color as her daughter’s, only hers was fixed in a bun on the back of her head, and Tania’s was plaited into a thick braid.

  1. Does the word "throb" here refer to "palpitating" or " sudden pain" ? I am asking this because according to Longman Dictionary the word "throb" has to do with just having a feeling of pain in a body part that regularly starts and stops. But in my opinion this does not fit this context.

  2. Could you simplify "bright blue and fat" ?

  3. It is really hard to find a substitution for the adverb barely in this context. Could you help me with that please?

2 Answers 2


Throb here means "pulsate": grow and shrink with each heartbeat.

The vein is fat when it grows and all veins show as blue through the skin, so bright blue just emphasizes the color.


"Just" is an adequate synonym for "barely" here, or perhaps "only just," if you prefer that construction. Thesaurus.com also suggests "scarcely" or "hardly," which would both work as well, though I wouldn't choose either of them myself.

(I thought the first two questions were adequately addressed already, so I only covered the third.)

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .