The night before I left home, my big brother told me everything he knew about the outside world.
In the outside world, he said, women had the power to change the color of their hair. And their eyes. And their lips.
... In the outside world, he said, people kept birds inside their houses. He’d seen it.
... In the outside world, he said, people were visited in their houses by spirits they called television.
Spirits spoke to people through what they called the radio.
People used what they called a telephone because they hated being close together and they were too scared of being alone.
... In the outside world, he told me, there was no real silence. Not the fake silence you get when you plug your ears so you hear nothing but your heart, but real out-of-doors silence.
... People in the outside world said something stupid with their every breath, and when they didn’t talk their radios filled the gap with the copied voices of people singing the same songs over and over.
Adam said the other blessing you have to give up in the outside world is darkness. You can close your eyes, and sit in a cupboard, but that’s not the same thing.
... In the outside world, Adam said it was a bargain with the devil that powered automobiles and carried airplanes across the sky. Evil flowed through electric wires to make people lazy. People put their dishes back in the cupboard dirty, and the cupboard washed them. Water in pipes carried away their garbage and shit so that it was someone else’s problem.
... Right in front of him on the bus, he said, people had mirrors and everyone was busy seeing how they looked. It was shameful.
... In the outside world, Adam said, all the counting was done inside machines.
All the food was fed to people by waitresses.
... A hotel, he told me, was a big house where a lot of people lived and ate and slept, but no one knew each other. He said that described most families in the outside world.
Churches in the outside world, my brother told me, were just the local stores that sold people lies made up in the distant factories of giant religions.
He said a lot more I don’t remember.