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.
Sometimes I still feel that there are two of me: one clean, flawless picture, the other imperfect and cracked; one boy, one girl; one voice that speaks aloud and one that whispers in my ear; one publicly known to have been troubled but be on the mend, the other who has privately lost something to do with innocence and gained something to do with knowledge and adulthood that can never be undone. I feel sometimes there are things that tear me in two directions, that there are two sets of thoughts that grow side by side. But then I realize that I am whole, whatever that means and does not mean; I am complete without the need for additions or alteration.
The next morning I told Mom I couldn't go to school again. She asked what was wrong. I told her, “The same thing that’s always wrong.” “You’re sick?” “I'm sad.” “About Dad?” “About everything.” She sat down on the bed next to me, even though I knew she was in a hurry. “What's everything?” I started counting on my fingers: “The meat and dairy products in our refrigerator, fistfights, car accidents, Larry–” “Who's Larry?” “The homeless guy in front of the Museum of Natural History who always says ‘I promise it’s for food’ after he asks for money.” She turned around and I zipped her dress while I kept counting. “How you don’t know who Larry is, even though you probably see him all the time, how Buckminster just sleeps and eats and goes to the bathroom and has no ‘raison d’etre’, the short ugly guy with no neck who takes tickets at the IMAX theater, how the sun is going to explode one day, how every birthday I always get at least one thing I already have, poor people who get fat because they eat junk food because it’s cheaper…” That was when I ran out of fingers, but my list was just getting started, and I wanted it to be long, because I knew she wouldn't leave while I was still going. “…domesticated animals, how I have a domesticated animal, nightmares, Microsoft Windows, old people who sit around all day because no one remembers to spend time with them and they’re embarrassed to ask people to spend time with them, secrets, dial phones, how Chinese waitresses smile even when there’s nothing funny or happy, and also how Chinese people own Mexican restaurants but Mexican people never own Chinese restaurants, mirrors, tape decks, my unpopularity in school, Grandma’s coupons, storage facilities, people who don’t know what the Internet is, bad handwriting, beautiful songs, how there won’t be humans in fifty years–” “Who said there won't be humans in fifty years?” I asked her, “Are you an optimist or a pessimist?” She looked at her watch and said, “I'm optimistic.” “Then I have some bed news for you, because humans are going to destroy each other as soon as it becomes easy enough to, which will be very soon.” “Why do beautiful songs make you sad?” “Because they aren't true.” “Never?” “Nothing is beautiful and true.