When I was young, you worried that my quills were useless. You said that the world was cruel, as were the people in it, and the soft down sprouting from those shafts would do no good.
"Those bits are far too garish, and yielding," you said, "they will offer you no protection."
You told me to sharpen my quills every day – that they would grow stiffer and sharper with time – that no one would be able to hurt me. Shaving them down was painful, and they often pricked me hard enough to draw blood, staining the points crimson.
"This is a beauty that others will admire," you proclaimed, dancing from crowd to crowd, from person to person, eager to garner praise for the dyes you had used to paint those bristling knives. More than once, I saw your own quills pierce your flesh as you tried to barter for approval.
Many times, I tried to dance that dance. I received shallow, disingenuous admirers – fickle people who lost interest as soon as the self-supplied pigment on my quills b