It's funny, you know. We're free. We make choices. We weigh things in our minds, consider everything carefully, use all the tools of logic and education. And in the end, what we mostly do is what we have no choice but to do.
Makes you think, why bother? But you bother because you do, that's why. Because you're a DNA-brand computer running Childhood 1.0 software. They update the software but the changes are always just around the edges.
You have the brain you have, the intelligence, the talents, the strengths and weaknesses you have, from the moment they take you out of the box and throw away the Styrofoam padding.
But you have the fears you picked up along the way. The terrors of age four or six or eight are never suspended, just layered over. The dread I'd felt so recently, a dread that should be so much greater because the facts had been so much more horrible, still could not diminish the impact of memories that had been laid down long years before.
It's that way all through life, I guess. I have a relative who says she still gets depressed every September because in the back of her mind it's time for school to start again. She's my great-aunt. The woman is sixty-seven and still bumming over the first day of school five-plus decades ago.
It's sad in a way because the pleasures of life get old and dated fast. The teenage me doesn't get the jolt the six-year-old me got from a package of Pop Rocks. The me I've become doesn't rush at the memories of the day I skated down a parking ramp however many years ago.
Pleasure fades, gets old, gets thrown out with last year's fad. Fear, guilt, all that stuff stays fresh.
Maybe that's why people get so enraged when someone does something to a kid. Hurt a kid and he hurts forever. Maybe an adult can shake it off. Maybe. But with a kid, you hurt them and it turns them, shapes them, becomes part of the deep, underlying software of their lives. No delete.
I don't know. I don't know much. I feel like I know less all the time. Rate I'm going, by the time I'm twenty-one I won't know a damned thing.
But still I was me. Had no choice, I guess. I don't know, maybe that's bull and I was just feeling sorry for myself. But, bottom line, I dried my eyes, and I pushed my dirty, greasy hair back off my face, and I started off down the road again because whatever I was, whoever I was, however messed up I might be, I wasn't leaving April behind.
Maybe it was all an act programmed into me from the get-go, or maybe it grew up out of some deep-buried fear, I mean maybe at some level I was really just as pathetic as Senna thought I was. Maybe I was a fake. Whatever. Didn't matter.
I was going back to the damned dragon, and then I was getting April out, and everything and everyone else could go screw themselves.
One good thing: For now at least, I was done being scared.