my two favorite toys were a stuffed rabbit, British grey and glass eyed, and a raggedy monkey I called “Monkum” because my tongue and throat strangled my words. One flu-fevered night I soaked the rabbit in vomit, and I never loved him as much again — no fault of his, just unlucky cuddling. As for Monkum he fell to puppy teeth a year later, though I was done with him by then, partly because I had learned some bright idea of manliness, but mostly because I was embarrassed by the name I had given him. Still, when I saw the stuffing shredded out of him, a shameful urge to cry came over me. Just fluff gone yellow with age. How obvious was the lie that he’d ever been alive. How easily I’d abandoned love. What chance do the small things of the world have? If you heard my voice today, I would sound like everyone else.