For Helen, the life that she would lead did not begin in media res. When she emerged from the egg, on the placid shore of the lake on a windless day, a swarm of crickets struck up a euphoric chorus. That symphony took the place of her birth cry. It played through the sparse wood in a rolling tongue of laughter, an unfurling path fording its way past the bracken and branches scattered over the sweet earth; soil turned up to its fertile face as the chirps cascaded, tumbling one after the other until they crashed against the lakeside, where the infant Helen lay, washing over her in sylvan glory. Ab ovo, she exulted. The first twinklings of her joyous voice were set like jewels in the untamed world, bright sweetnesses, mere bubbles of the songs that were to come, and yet every note that popped in that still afternoon was like light itself, felt upon the skin as a soft howl of vitality, of ruddy hope; faith was spread like the pebbles of dew o’er the silken translucence of spiderwebs in the pale green meadows that bordered Attica.
For Helen, that first breath of life was the grandest, the most succulent, the pause that followed the most suspenseful, the most willing to breathe once again.
For Helen, the world was civilized.