preoccupations

by theuglyearring

“She’d had, from the time she was small, a preoccupation with archaeology: with Indian mounds, ruined cities, buried things. This had begun with an interest in dinosaurs which had turned into something else. What interested Harriet, it became apparent as soon as she was old enough to articulate it, were not the dinosaurs themselves—the long-lashed brontosauruses of Saturday cartoons, who allowed themselves to be ridden, or meekly bent their necks as a playground slide for children—nor even the screaming tyrannosaurs and pterodactyls of nightmare. What interested her was that they no longer existed.

She turned the page, to where her own notations, in pencil, began. These were mostly lists. List of books she’d read, and books she wanted to read, and of poems she knew by heart; lists of presents she’d got for birthday and Christmas, and who they were from; lists of places she’d visited (nowhere very exotic) and lists of places she wanted to go (Easter Island, Antarctica, Machu Picchu, Nepal). There were lists of people she admired: Napoleon and Nathan Bedford Forrest, Genghis Khan and Lawrence of Arabia, Alexander the Great and Harry Houdini and Joan of Arc. There was a whole page of complaints about sharing a room with Allison. There were lists of vocabulary words—Latin and English—and an inept Cyrillic alphabet which she’d done her laborious best to copy from the encyclopedia one afternoon when she had nothing else to do. There were also several letters Harriet had written and never sent, to various people she did not like.”

The Little Friend by Donna Tartt
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