In the Shadow of Blackbirds

And all the while Stephen started at me as if I were something magical. Not the ugly way other people sometimes stare at me, like he was meeting someone in a foreign country who spoke his language when no one else could. That's how it's been between us ever since. We understand each other, even when we astound each other.

And do you know the oddest thing about murder and war and violence?'

'Oh, Mary Shelley, please stop talking about those types of things.'

'The oddest thing is that they all go against the lessons that grown-ups teach children. Don't hurt anyone. Solve your problems with language instead of fists. Share your things. Don't take something that belongs to someone else without asking. Use your manners. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Why do mothers and fathers bother spending so much time teaching children these lessons when grown-ups don't pay any attention to the words themselves?

But that’s the point. We wouldn’t even have wars if adults followed the rules they learned as children.

Don’t ever worry what the boys who don’t appreciate originality think of you. They’re fools.

He said the only real monsters in this world are human beings.

. . . his mouth tasted of the divine sweetness of icing on a cake when the sugar isn't overdone. The taste of love before any pain gets in the way.

It’s hard to imagine disappearing without a shred of evidence that I existed. I

Just remember human beings have always managed to find the greatest strength within themselves during the darkest hours. When faced with the worst horrors the world has to offer, a person either cracks and succumbs to the ugliness, or they salvage the inner core of who they are and fight to right wrongs.

lessons that grown-ups teach children. Don’t hurt anyone. Solve your problems with language instead of fists. Share your things. Don’t take something that belongs to someone else without asking. Use your manners. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Why do mothers and fathers bother spending so much time teaching children these lessons when grown-ups don’t pay any attention to the words themselves?

Never let hatred, fear, and ignorance get the best of you. Keep bettering yourself so you can make the world around you better, for nothing can ever improve without the brightest, bravest, kindest, and most imaginative individuals rising above the chaos.

Surely, though, I must have stolen into the future and landed in an H.G. Wells-style world - a horrific, fantastic society in which people's faces contained only eyes, millions of healthy young adults and children dropped dead from the flu, boys got transported out of the country to be blown to bits, and the government arrested citizens for speaking the wrong words. Such a place couldn't be real. And it couldn't be the United States of America, "the land of the free and the home of the brave."

But it was. I was on a train in my own country, in a year the devil designed. 1918.

The road ahead may be rather upsetting for a sixteen-year-old girl. I'm afraid your delicate female eyes and ears will experience some ugliness."

"Oh, you silly, naive men." I shook my weary head and genuinely pitied their ignorance. "You've clearly never been a sixteen-year-old girl in the fall of 1918.

We have a great deal of fight inside us, and sometimes our strength of spirit forces us to choose truth and integrity over comfort and security.

We live in a world so horrifying, it frightens even the dead

We live in a world so horrifying, it frightens even the dead.

We were all survivors—every last one of us who limped our way out to the sidewalks that afternoon and spit in Death’s cold face.

We wouldn't even have wars, if adults followed the rules they learned as children. A four-year old would be able to see how foolish grown men are behaving if you explained the war in child's terms. A boy named Germany started causing problems all over the playground that included beating up a girl named Belgium on his way to hurt a kid named France. Then England tried to beat up Germany to help France and Belgium, and when that didn't work, they called over a kid named America, and people started pounding on him, too.

What if the world never gets any better?'
'It’ll have a far better chance if you’re in it.

What type of world are we living in, if we're destroying books?

Why are so many of their faces disfigured, if you don’t mind me asking? Is it the explosive shells they’re using over there?” “I’m told it’s the machine guns. Curious soldiers will often lift their heads out of the trenches, thinking they can dodge bullets in time, but there’s no way they can possibly avoid the hail of machine-gun fire.” She glanced over her shoulder. “We tend to also see several missing left arms because of the way they position themselves for shooting in the trenches. Their bones shatter into tiny fragments and their wristwatches become embedded in their wounds. There’s no way to save the limbs.

Why can't a girl be smart without it being explained away as a rare supernatural phenomenon?

Why can’t a girl be smart without it being explained away as a rare supernatural phenomenon?