They say the ground is a thin line between skies. A narrow bridge. The water either side is impossible to grasp because it moves unpredictably and occasionally with intent to test the integrity of the bridge. Or to steal the innocence of small boys - who, having taken only a few steps - are still unable to speak up.
It would be remiss to lay all the blame on water. Its often other people who betray the illusion that everything is okay. Some of everything is not okay, and I suppose that’s okay, so long as its understood.
But back to innocence. What tends to happen is this: following its removal, innocence descends, and among creatures at the bottom of the sea it transforms into a wolf. A similar thing happens to cats who run away. Wolves are hungry, but like small boys they know not how to speak. All they have is hunger and for having grown up in the water they know to unsettle things. Which is what they do.
On the surface that looks like children possessed by uncontrollable ferocity then suddenly silent and passive. We call that unregulated. Or acting out. But he’s a good kid, we say. Whatever that means. These days we recognise in the first place good kids need somewhere safe. Perhaps we give them a story about keeping their cool the next time sub-aquatic canine monsters fiddle with their circuitry.
If all this seems a bit abstract consider that sub-aquatic canine monsters are far likelier to survive the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune than kids in safe places who keep their cool. Because one day around 13 that monster knocks on the safe place door and says to the boy, “Wanna see with my eyes?”
The boy barely knows his name at this point. And the wolf’s eyes are supernovae. So he agrees, and besides, everyone’s doing it. Then years later when a natural conspiracy leads the wolf down memory lane he finds himself outside the house where he used to be a boy, and the weight of what went wrong is enough to press coal halfway to diamond. The remainder has to be performed by hand. So you can forgive a wolf for opting out.
Anyway there’s another road. Its the second half of the first story. See, the wolf replaced stolen innocence. Its a fragment of overcompensation for a moment of weakness when words didn't speak up. Think of it like a voice box gone rogue. Or a lost piece of personality. Try to forgive its aggression, not much separates aggression and assertion, only more time to figure things out. And more than anything, what was stolen from that boy was time. And now he’s haunted by a sub-aquatic canine monster in a world that tries to fight monsters with deep breaths and safe places.
That’s only half the story. The rest is how to fight. How to walk a narrow bridge. And let me tell you, it pays to have a guide dog. So here’s the plan for small boys. “Let’s go find that wolf and see if we can’t make a guide dog out of him.”
Naturally upon hearing it they will generally look confused. So start with the first part.
What I’m trying to say is this:
The ground is a thin line between skies,
The only way to cross that bridge
Is to speak up.
Wolves are no substitute for guide dogs,
But perhaps they are a first step,
Because after all,
Innocence should be protected.