You forget what it was like. You’d swear on your life you never will, but year by year it falls away. How your temperature ran off the mercury, your heart galloped flat out and never needed to rest, everything was pitched on the edge of shattering glass. How wanting something was like dying of thirst. How your skin was too fine to keep out any of the million things flooding by; every colour boiled bright enough to scald you, any second of any day could send you soaring or rip you to bloody shreds.
People need a moral code, to help them make decisions. All this bio-yogurt virtue and financial self-righteousness are just filling the gap in the market. But the problem is that it’s all backwards. It’s not that you do the right thing and hope it pays off; the morally right thing is by definition the thing that gives the biggest payoff.
You can knock down a genuine belief, if you load up with enough facts that contradict it; but a belief that’s built on nothing except who the person wants to be, nothing can crumble that.
She hears all the voices from when she was little, soothing, strengthening: Don’t be scared, not of monsters, not of witches, not of big dogs. And now, snapping loud from every direction: Be scared, you have to be scared, ordering like this is your one absolute duty. Be scared you’re fat, be scared your boobs are too big and be scared they’re too small. Be scared to walk on your own, specially anywhere quiet enough that you can hear yourself think. Be scared of wearing the wrong stuff, saying the wrong thing, having a stupid laugh, being uncool. Be scared of guys not fancying you; be scared of guys, they’re animals, rabid, can’t stop themselves. Be scared of girls, they’re all vicious, they’ll cut you down before you can cut them. Be scared of strangers. Be scared you won’t do well enough in your exams, be scared of getting in trouble. Be scared terrified petrified that everything you are is every kind of wrong. Good girl.
It doesn’t matter where you come from. There’s nothing you can do about it, so don’t waste your energy thinking about it. What matters is where you’re going. And that, mate, is something you can control.
But this is what I know about people getting ready to walk off the edges of their own lives: they want someone to know how they got there. Maybe they want to know that when they dissolve into earth and water, that last fragment will be saved, held in some corner of someone’s mind; or maybe all they want is a chance to dump it pulsing and bloody into someone else’s hands, so it won’t weigh them down on the journey. They want to leave their stories behind. No one in all the world knows that better than I do.
You start admiring someone who’s famous for actually doing something—imagine that—and I swear to you I will buy you every item in her entire wardrobe. But over my own dead body will I spend time and money turning you into a clone of some brain-dead waste of skin who thinks the pinnacle of achievement is selling her wedding shots to a magazine.
You don’t have to like your family, you don’t even have to spend time with them, to know them right down to the bone.
You can have anything you want, as long as you accept that there is a price and that you will have to pay it.
You can be a rich scumbag just as easily as a poor scumbag, or you can be a decent human being either way. Money’s got nothing to do with it. It’s nice to have, but it’s not what makes you who you are.