..."Are you okay?" he says, still looking at me, and I feel my smile slip, fade, and the silence that falls over us then is so total I can’t hear anything, not the rush-hiss of my heart pounding in my chest, not the sounds all around us; insects, wind, and the distant clatter of others’ lives in houses built close but not too close because when we look out our windows we all like to pretend that everything we see is ours. But Ryan is not mine.
And John Kearns whispered into my ear: "Do you see it now? *You* are the nest. *You* are the hatchling. *You* are the chrysalis. *You* are the progeny. *You* are the rot that falls from the stars. All of us--you and I and poor, dear Pellinore. Behold the face of the magnificum, child. And despair."
Though I was sickened by the sight, I looked. In the bower of the beast at the top of the world, I beheld the face of the magnificum, and I did not turn away.
Becky was a weed. Nobody ever wanted them taking over the bigger, prettier plants. People went to all extremes to make them go away. They sprayed poison, pulled until the roots gave way. They felt only like their garden was complete when every tendril was extirpated. This was how she felt from birth.