"'River didn't want to be in the world.' It had been up to God to convince River that the world needed him. For, as River had explained to God, 'I'd rather stay up here with you.' So God and River-to-be bargained, Arlyn said. Eventually God's entreaties won, and a deal was struck. At first River would only agree to spending five years on earth, then he upped it to ten. Finally they shook hands on 23. Only then did he agree to be born" (Dening 22).
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Dening, Penelope. The River Phoenix Album. New York: Plexus, 1995.