When We Were Animals

A big bubble. A block wide. It goes where you go - you're the center of it. And every object gets a little bit better while it's in that bubble with you. It's always very bright where you are.

Goddamn it," he said, seething. "Goddamn you! No fear. Not an ounce of fucking fear. You invite - you invite - destruction. What's the world to you, huh? A place to die in? You aren't even a girl - you're a… you're a tragedy. There isn't a monster in the world - not a monster in the world till he meets an eager victim.

Her smile was something I couldn't describe, except to say that it seemed to be queenly in the way that queens remind you of situations grander than your own puny life could conceive.

I am empty space, and I am the light that illuminates that space.

I knew the schedule. I liked to know in advance where people would be and where they wouldn't be.

I liked the rows of unpopulated seats staring at me, their lower halves all folded up except one on the aisle that was broken and remained always open, a poor busted tooth in that grinning mouth. There is nothing to fear in such cavernous and sepulchral spaces. You fill them with the riots of your imagination.

I saw you come out with him. He hurt you." "Everybody hurts everybody."
He said no, but I wondered how could he not see that.

I smeared honey on my chest, believing it might help me grown breasts. Honeybees are industrious - they can build anything.

I thought it must be difficult for him, for boys. They get temperamental when they can't shape the world into what they want it to be. It's easier for girls. Girls are raised knowing that the world is unshapable. So they know better than to fuss.

It is always a young girl's dream to have a boy believe in her most colorful fantasies. You paint landscapes with your humble heart, then you seek to populate them with boys who will understand.

It’s funny how many ways there are to hurt people. As many ways to hurt as there are species of flower. Whole bouquets of hurt.

It's funny how many ways there are to hurt people. As many ways to hurt as there are species of flower. Whole bouquets of hurt. You do it without even realizing.

It was a holy night. I ran. My father slept soundly in his bed, somewhere far behind me, and I ran. Elsewhere in the world masses were being performed and stock was being taken of the glories and retreats of life - and it was nothing to me, because I ran. I was naked in the woods. It was a beautiful outrage.

It was possible, I saw now, to be a grotesque, to be huge and free, to wander the streets in utter freedom despite your atrocity, as long as you did it when everybody else was sealed inside their little lit boxes.

Now it made sense – why monsters came out at night.

Lumen. There was Lumen, and there was the places people did not go. And Lumen would go to those places. She would leap over denies and crawl through mud. She would climb up on rooftops and call crazy with every little branch of her lungs.

Promises are easy to make. [...] They speak of a defined future to which you are required to adhere. They commit you beyond the length of your experience.

What they do is take away possibility.

Promises are the opposite of hope.

Rather than simply being subject to them, I had wanted to know what it felt like to be one of the forces in this world.

Some parents in our neighborhood do everything they can to keep their children away from violent images. And then, when something terrible happens, like murder or rape or genocide - well, then a conversation has to be had with these young innocents to explain that, yes, goodness is sometimes a fiction, like Santa Claus, and that humanity is, underneath all the cookie baking and song singing, a shameful and secret nastiness. Me, I'm going to raise my son differently. What he will be made to know is that there is violence in everything - even in goodness, if you're passionate about it.

Sometimes we are mysteries to ourselves.

Sometimes you hide away a memory because it is so precious that you don’t want to dilute it with the attempt to recount it.

The snow came after two o' clock. It fell faintly in the cones of lamplight, descending like fleets or fairies through the cold sky. I was awake - the only one in town, I was sure - and I was sure those miniature fallen sylphs were for me and my personal delectation. They came for me, because nature likes a saint. They settled on my window sill, they collected on the dark grass of my lawn, they danced and whirled in the wind gusts before my eyes. I put my hand to the windowpane to greet it, the first snow. By the time I woke in the morning, I saw that after the snow had come to me, it had visited everyone.

The way he was looking at me made me wonder if he was talking about something other than god. Or if maybe god and the way he looked at me with those voracious boy-eyes were related. I wanted more of it. His boy-eyes, his godliness, which I felt deep down, like a surge.

They could hurt you," I insisted.
"Not on purpose. They're just teenagers. We'll be like that too one day.

They don't hurt anybody. Except maybe themselves. And each other.

was a pretty young woman with an affection

We are always told that honesty and truth are the shining ideals. But sometimes the truth could be used as a punishment.

We live our lives by measures of weeks, months, years, but the creatures we truly are, those are exposed in fractions of moments.

Who's out there?" I say.
"Just teenagers," my father says.
"Why are they like that?"
"That's just the way they are."
"Will I be like that when I grow up?"
"You? Perish the thought.

You cannot always understand boys, the things they do. They act, sometimes, as though in thrall to severe but natural forces. They can be waterfalls or wind gusts.

You have to put Lumen in the lake and see how still she stands, skimming the surface with her pale palms, embarrassed at the flatness of her own chest, noiseless and inert amid the raucous clamor of other boys and girls.