The particularity of otherfolks' youthful memories always mocked Brrr. The first visit to Grandmama's! When the coconut fell on the teacher's head! The time that baby Albern almost choked! How we laughed, how we cried. How we remember. Together.

His first and oldest past was undifferentiated. Unending forest. Unremarkable seasons. Loneliness without hope of relief. How could Brrr imagine relief from loneliness when he hadn't found companionship yet? What goes unnamed remains hard to correct.

Brrr didn't know if his mother had died in childbirth, or been stricken with amnesia. Or maybe she just lit out because she was an unnatural mother. A loner or a schizo. Or maybe she was drummed out of the pride for low behavior. He used to care which it was.

Though of course he didn't take it in at the time, he also grew up without the benefit of a tribe of his own. No aunties to fill in the blanks about what his mother had been like, and where she had gone, and why. No growly father hiding a whiskered grin of affection even as he set to cuff his darling cub, raising him up right in the ways of the family.

His earliest memories—gluey hazes—involved skulking about the Great Gillikin Forest north of Shiz like—like a skunk, like a grite, like one of those creatures who can become repellent even to their own kind. Like a human.
From A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire. Published by William Morrow/An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.


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