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Delaney passes one August; she simply falls into the grass while she’s gardening and takes her last breath under the sun. It’s Mother Mary who finds her. Mother Mary, who is ninety-seven years old, and will probably outlive us all. She says she knew to go to Delaney’s that day because the week before she predicted her death. When his mother passes, Judah moves out of his apartment and into her house. He tries to convince me to sell the eating house and move in with him, but I’ll never let the eating house go, or maybe it won’t let me go. It doesn’t matter anymore. So we take turns visiting each other’s spaces—a night here, a night there. He uses Delaney’s life insurance money to outfit the kitchen, lowering all of the countertops and buying custom made appliances. He leaves one counter high enough for me to stand and cut things when we cook together. The sentiment makes me cry. I never do buy a TV. Judah makes me watch his.

We are sitting side by side on the couch one evening, a bucket of popcorn between us, when he turns on the news and leaves to use the bathroom. The news makes me anxious; whenever Judah puts it on, I leave the room, but this time I turn up the volume and lean toward the picture of a man with extraordinarily kind mazarine eyes.

“A man is at large tonight in Washington,” the reporter says. I glance at the bathroom door, and scoot forward ‘til my rear is barely on the couch. “Cult leader Muslim Black escaped his Minnesota compound last week when police arrived to arrest him. He is said to have fled to Spokane, where police are searching for him now. During Black’s twelve-year reign as leader of the Paradise Gate Group, he reportedly raped and kept more than three dozen women prisoner…”

I hear the knob on the bathroom door rattle, and quickly change the channel. Judah smiles at me when he settles back down, and for a moment his face is enough to cleanse me of the sinister rage that I am feeling. All of his open beauty, his effortless love, the boldness with which he embraces his wheelchair. I smile, too, but for different reasons. Underneath my skin and underneath the sinewy tendons of muscle, my bones are rattling.

Rrrrrra ta ta ta

My marrow cries out, reminding me of who I am. I am Margo Moon. I am a murderess. I believe in poetic vengeance. Muslim Black is at large. It’s time, it’s time, it’s time … to hunt.

I ONCE SAW A YOUTUBE VIDEO of a woman beating her baby. I was shocked by how calm she was. She wasn’t being forced; she wasn’t visibly angry or flustered. She sat with her back to the camera, punching, slapping and pinching—over and over while he screamed.

Why did I spend six minutes of my life watching as a child, who could not yet sit up by himself, was brutally beaten by his mother? Because he suffered, and I didn’t want to turn my face away from his suffering. Some might say that you don’t need to see it to know it exists. And while that is true, I felt that if he was hurting, the least I could do was hurt along with him. Somehow, by watching his pain, I was also acknowledging it. I have to tell you, the images of her hand coming down on his skin are ingrained in my memory, probably for as long as I live. He was too little to know that he was not supposed to be beaten. His mother’s harsh cruelty was his norm.

I will not forget him. I will not forget that people hurt each other, or that children suffer for the sins of their parents, and their parents before them. I will not forget that there are millions of people crying out for help at this very moment. It makes me feel hopeless … like I’m not enough.

To cope with this very aggressive reality, I started typing. Because if I could not take vengeance on behalf of that small child, I would have Margo do it for me. Margo and her poetic vengeance. I killed them all in this book: the rapists who took from my friends, the rotting sadists who hurt children, the takers of life, the killers of hope. I killed them and I enjoyed it. And while that makes me equally as corrupt—a murderess in my own right—we are what we think, after all.

I want to make it clear that I believe in justice both in this life and the next. I believe we ought fight for the hurting, open our eyes to suffering. Not just our own, but the suffering around us. Sometimes, by saving someone else, you save yourself a little as well. By loving someone else and expecting nothing in return, we learn to love ourselves and expect nothing in return. Perhaps it is the simple act of doing for others that makes us feel more valuable in our own skin.

I want to implore you not to hurt yourselves. Not to cut your skin, or swallow pills, or drink to drown pain. Not to hand yourselves over so easily to men for validation. Stop feeling useless and worthless. Stop drowning in regret. Stop listening to the persistent voice of your past failures. You were that child once, who Margo would have killed for. Fight for yourselves. You have a right to live, and to live well. You’ll inherit flaws; you’ll develop new ones. And that’s okay. Wear them, own them, use them to survive. Don’t kill others; don’t kill yourselves. Be bold about your right to be loved. And most importantly, don’t be ashamed of where you’ve come from, or the mistakes you’ve made. In blindness, love will exhume you.

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