History of Wolves

and all he wanted was a half hour with his mother before bed. And all he had in the world was the ability to throw a tantrum. We

At the trial they kept asking, when did you know for sure there was something wrong? And the answer probably was: right away. But that feeling faded as I got to know him. Paul's breathy way of talking, the way he had to sit down when he got excited - these tendencies seemed to me, more and more, just the way he was. Paul was fussy and fragile, then whooping and manic. I got used to his moods. Though he was always getting mistaken for someone older, he was four the spring I knew him. He had droopy eyelids, big red hands. He had four-going-on-five-year-old plans: visit Mars, get shoes with ties. He was building a city out of stones and weeds on his deck. Almost every piece of clothing he owned had a train on it, Thomas the Tank Engine, or nineteenth-century cattle cars, or steam engines stamped across his chest. He'd never been on a real train in his life. All spring long, he road buckled into the plastic seat on the back of his mother's bike, to the grocery store and the post office. He carried around that old-man's leather glove wherever he went, its fingertips worn to purple, palms green with rot.

but I never said a thing about Patra and Paul, and I never told her what I really thought about Christian Science, which is that from what I know, from what little I know, it offers one of the best accounts of the origin of human evil. This

By their nature, it came to me, children were freaks. They believed impossible things to suit themselves, thought their fantasies were the center of the world. They were the best kinds of quacks, if that’s what you wanted—pretenders who didn’t know they were pretending at all.

Heaven and hell are ways of thinking. Death is the false belief that anything could ever end.

He said if he were lucky enough to get back to the car, it would be because of Lily's kindness and mercy. He wanted her to know how grateful he was—in advance. Before he unzipped his pants, before he said just a kiss and pushed her down, he wanted her to know she had a choice.

He was so naked his skin looked like clothes to me. He seemed sealed up in a very tight pink suit, without a wrinkle or a seam to be found. Wet

He wore a candy-cane scarf and a red pom-pom hat. Every time the wind started up, his pom bounced on the air like a bobber.

I didn’t need to think of myself as a walleye drifting along in a current somewhere, just waiting for my hook. I was yearning for it. *

I remember wanting the morning to slow down, slow down. I wanted the morning to hold still, to take its time in coming. Patra

I thought if I slammed the door hard enough, Mr. Grierson might come after me. That's what it's like to be fourteen. I thought if I took a few running steps off the road into the snow that maybe he'd follow me - to assuage his guilt, to make sure I got home all right, to push his chalky history hands under my jacket, whatever. I headed for the lake instead of going uphill. I darted out onto the ice in the prickly sleet, but when I looked back, his car with its brights was turning around, doing a meticulous U-turn in the trees.

It seemed unfair to me that people couldn't be something else just by working at it hard, by saying it over and over.

It was like so many other things between us, that gift. It was exactly right and totally wrong for me. That

Later, I could get that drizzle feeling just about any time I saw a kid on a swing. The hopelessness of it—the forward excitement, the midflight return. The futile belief that the next time around, the next flight forward, you wouldn’t get dragged back again. You wouldn’t have to start over, and over.

Lin-da.” He parted the syllables very slightly, as with a comb.

Maybe if I’d been someone else I’d see it differently. But isn’t that the crux of the problem? Wouldn’t we all act differently if we were someone else?

Maybe there is a way to climb above everything, some special ladder or insight, some optical vantage point that allows a clear, unobstructed view of things.

Nothing is something after all. There’s math that proves this, of course, but also observations. I know it seems like math and observations are opposites.

She looked at Paul with a face broken open, with a look of utter love and desolation, as if she’d given him everything in the ten minutes she’d known him, and he’d taken it, oh, he’d taken it anyhow, knowing just how much it cost. I

Surely, they said to me later, surely by then you sensed something was off?

Maybe. Maybe there is a way to climb above everything, some special ladder or insight, some optical vantage point that allows a clear, unobstructed view of things. Maybe this way of seeing comes naturally to some people, and good for them if it does. But I remember it all, even now, as if two mutually exclusive things happened. First it goes the way the prosecutors described it - nausea, headache, coma, etcetera - and then it comes back to me the way it actually was with Patra and Paul - tall ships, car ride home, Good King Wenceslas, bed. Though they end the same way, they are not the same story. Maybe if I'd been someone else I'd see it differently. But isn't that the crux of the problem? Wouldn't we all act differently if we were someone else?

The room felt poured in sunlight. The uriney kind, pale and thin and hot. For

We need to know the truth of that, pray to understand that death is just the false belief that anything could ever end. There’s no going anywhere for any of us, not in reality. There’s only changing how you see things.” I

Winter collapsed on us that year. It knelt, exhausted, and stayed.

You know how summer goes. You yearn for it and yearn for it, but there’s always something wrong. Everywhere you look, there are insects thickening the air, and birds rifling trees, and enormous, heavy leaves dragging down branches. You want to trammel it, wreck it, smash things down. The afternoons are so fat and long. You want to see if anything you do matters. *