On one such occasion, her father painted her face so that she resembled a tiger. She still has the photo, somewhere; a selfie he shot of her balancing on his shoulders, shrieking with a mixture of fear and elation as her fingers scratched at the cigarette-stained ceiling above her head. To tease her mother, he had galloped into their marital bedroom and told Gretchen to jump onto the bed on which she slept. As she did so, her mother’s screams rung out around their apartment with such bloodcurdling force that their neighbours thought she’d been murdered, and promptly called the police. It was a cruel thing for her mother to suffer; on her behalf, and especially that of her father’s. In hindsight, he certainly had a mean streak in him rivalled only by the tenderness he bestowed upon his only daughter. His relationship with her mother was bizarre, to say the least. Even now, she can’t quite figure out what they saw in each other or why they stayed together for as long as they did. Other than her, they seemingly had little in common. Over the years, she’d asked her mother about their marriage but got little in terms of an explanation other than that the two of them had shared something that went beyond understanding. Turning her tongue in circles upon the canvas, she pictures her father lifting her into the air and running around as she growled with her fingers scrunched like claws. In her mind, she was the fiercest thing ever, and as her growls rattled throughout that long-since abolished apartment, he willed on her, begging her to unleash her inner beast. If he could see her now, he would no doubt be overjoyed that she’d turned into such a strange creature—a creature capable of instilling in others a sense of wonder at the same time as scaring them shitless with the merest curl of an upper lip.