She was unaffected by the lump on her forehead. Its size was considerable, and her father was concerned. If you see that spider, kill it, he said. Or I’ll kill it. She smiled and nodded — fathers sometimes had to kill things in order to express their affection.

Everything seemed to come in squares. Architects had led the cause, incorporating sliding quadrants everywhere — polygons inserted into the natural landscape, and the movement of shadows made noticeable as they outlined the meticulous angles of a constructed space. These houses were always beautiful and forever unlived in until an Italian couple would purchase one for the express reason of not living in it but instead having it photographed. To see a photograph, which was no longer a photograph but instead a collection of pixels, was a thing to like. A person could like architecture, and in this way architecture’s likeability would grow.

She noticed the shadow of her head in profile — the lump really was considerable, and had she been in one of the new houses it could very well have disturbed the geometry of the place. Did the owners of beautiful houses dance? Who danced at home anymore, that unselfconscious unstudied type of dance that came in un-beautiful steps and furniture-threatening spins? The tarantella was such a dance, specifically manufactured for spider bite victims fallen under the spell of tarantism, where involuntary paroxysms of the leg and arm muscles carried a person about a room in 6/8 time.




Cary Grant Poses for Imogen Cunningham

Archie held three grapes in his mouth. The photographer was unaware that this was code for Don’t photograph me, and if you’re going to photograph me, it will look like I have three grapes in my mouth. But some people’s mouths are beautiful anyway, and the photographer made the picture. Archie looked down at his sweater. It was pilling in any number of places.

Some people want to be in movies. They say to a friend on the beach one day When I grow up. The problem with growing up is that some people never do it. The converse is also true: some people are born into it, and then they must find ways to undo their grown-upness. And then the things that their parents do, themselves still wrestling with their own scarcity or surplus of grownupness, these things change a person into the person they become.

Archie had already changed his name. In his mind, though he tried to keep his mind busy, he still responded to his given name. But a person longed to be loved, and if the longing was fierce enough, a person would change what they could. The damage shown in the mouth, its smile calling out I am ugly and Don’t leave.