Because horror on Earth is real and it is every day. It is like a flower or like the sun, it cannot be contained.
These were the lovely bones that had grown around my absence: the connections-sometimes tenuous, sometimes made at great cost, but often magnificent-that happened after I was gone. And I began to see things in a way that let me hold the world without me in it. The events that my death wrought were merely the bones of a body that would become whole at some unpredictable time in the future. The price of what I came to see as this miraculous body had been my life.
After telling the hard facts to anyone from lover to friend, I have changed in their eyes. Often it is awe or admiration, sometimes it is repulsion, once or twice it has been fury hurled directly at me for reasons I remain unsure of.
There were also the Masters of Arcane Knowledge. Everyone begrudged their presence among the gifteds. These were the kids that could break down an engine and build it back again - no diagrams or instructions needed. They understood things in a real, not theoretical, way. They seemed not to care about their grades.
Judging Natalie as my mother had judged me was, I felt like telling her son, just my ass-backward way of showing love. I'd spent my life trying to translate that language, and now I realized I had come to speak it fluently. When was it that you realized the thread woven through your DNA carried the relationship deformities of your blood relatives as much as it did their diabetes and bone density?
It was in these moments, I knew, that my father loved my mother most. When my mother was broken and helpless, when her hard shell was stripped away and her spite and brittleness couldn't serve her. It was a sad dance of two people who were starving to death in each other's arms. Their marriage an X that forever joined murderer to victim.
There was our father, the heart we knew held all of us. Held us heavily and desperately, the doors of his heart opening and closing with the rapidity of stops on an instrument, the quiet felt closures, the ghostly fingering, practice and practice and then, incredibly, sound and melody and warmth.
What I think was hardest for me to realize was that he had tried each time to stop himself. He had killed animals, taking lesser lives to keep from killing a child
Tess was my first experience of a woman who had inhabited her weirdness, moved into the areas of herself that made her distinct from those around her, and learned how to display them proudly.
That night my mother had what she considered a wonderful dream. She dreamed of the country of India, where she had never been. There were orange traffic cones and beautiful lapis lazuli insects with mandibles of gold. A young girl was being led through the streets. She was taken to a pyre where she was wound in a sheet and placed up on a platform built from sticks. The bright fire that consumed her brought my mother into that deep, light, dreamlike bliss. The girl was being burned alive, but, first, there had been her body, clean and whole.
Horror on earth is real and it is everyday. It is like a flower or like the sun, it cannot be contained.
You could not be filled with hate and be beautiful. Like any other girl, I wanted to be beautiful. But I was filled with hate.
He hadn't woken a day since my death when the day wasn’t something to get through. But the truth was, the memorial service day was not the worst kind. At least it was honest. At least it was a day shaped around what they were so preoccupied by: my absence. Today he would not have to pretend he was getting back to normal—whatever normal was.
How to Commit the Perfect Murder was an old game in heaven. I always chose the icicle: the weapon melts away.
Samuel walked out to Lindsey then, and there she was in his arms, my sweet butterball babe, born ten years after my fourteen years on Earth: Abigail Suzanne. Little Susie to me. Samuel placed Susie on a blanket near the flowers. And my sister, my Lindsey, left me in her memories, where I was meant to be.
We lay there with our bodies touching, and as I shook, a powerful knowledge took hold. He had done this thing to me and I had lived. That was all. I was still breathing. I heard his heart. I smelled his breath. The dark earth around us smelled like what it was, moist dirt where animals lived their daily lives. I could have yelled for hours.
She liked to imagine that when she passed, the world looked after her, but she also knew how anonymous she was. Except when she was at work, no one knew where she was at any time of day and no one waited for her. It was immaculate anonymity.
Out loud I said I had two children. Silently I said three. I always felt like apologizing to her for that.
Soon she noted that teachers in subjects besides gym didn't report her if she cut. They were happy not to have her there: her intelligence made her a problem. It demanded attention and rushed their lesson plans forward.
In the tunnel where I was raped, a tunnel that was once an underground entry to an amphitheater, a place where actors burst forth from underneath the seats of a crowd, a girl had been murdered and dismembered. I was told this story by the police. In comparison, they said, I was lucky.
I realized how subversive Ruth was then, not because she drew pictures of nude women that got misused by her peers, but because she was more talented than her teachers. She was the quietest kind of rebel. Helpless, really.
At some point, to counter the list of the dead, I had begun keeping my own list of the living. It was something I noticed Len Fenerman did too. When he was off duty he would note the young girls and elderly women and every other female in the rainbow in between and count them among the things that sustained him. The young girl in the mall whose pale legs had grown too long for her now too-young dress and who had an aching vulnerability that went straight to both Len's and my own heart. Elderly women, wobbling with walkers, who insisted on dyeing their hair unnatural versions of the colors they had in youth. Middle-aged single mothers racing around in grocery stores while their children pulled bags of candy off the shelves. When I saw them, I took count. Living, breathing women. Sometimes I saw the wounded- those who had been beaten by husbands or raped by strangers, children raped by their fathers- and I would wish to intervene somehow. Len saw these wounded women all the time. They were regulars at the station, but even when he went somewhere outside his jurisdiction he could sense them when they came near. The wife in that bait-'n'-tackle shop had no bruises on her face but cowered like a dog and spoke in apologetic whispers. The girl he saw walk the road each time he went upstate to visit his sisters. As the years passed she'd grown leaner, the fat from her cheeks had drained, and sorrow had loaded her eyes in a way that made them hang heavy and hopeless inside her mallowed skin. When she was not there it worried him. When she was there it both depressed and revived him. ~Len Fenerman on stepping back/letting go/giving uppgs 271-272
How could it be that you could love someone so much and keep it secret from yourself as you woke daily so far from home?
The stains could be seen only in the sunlight, so Ruth was never really aware of them until later, when she would stop at an outdoor cafe for a cup of coffee, and look down at her skirt and see the dark traces of spilled vodka or whiskey. The alcohol had the effect of making the black cloth blacker. This amused her; she had noted in her journal: 'booze affects material as it does people'.