neat and tidy
We forgot the barked cautions of our mothers and fathers, all the promises we'd made to be civilized and ladylike, couth and
We tore through the
austere rooms, overturning dresser drawers, pawing through the neat piles of the Stage 3 girls' starched underwear, smashing lightbulbs with our bare fists.
characterized by motion
We jumped from bunk to bunk, spraying. We nosed each other midair, our bodies buckling in
lacking spirit or liveliness
In Copacabana, the girls are fat and
languid and eat pink slivers of guava right out of your hand.
having or covered with hair
Our pack was
hirsute and sinewy and mostly brunette.
possessing physical strength and weight; rugged and powerful
Our pack was hirsute and
sinewy and mostly brunette.
resembling or befitting an angel or saint
"The girls at our facility are backwoods," Sister Josephine whispered to Sister Maria de la Guardia with a
beatific smile. "You must be patient with them."
a shed containing a number of beehives
We ran past the wild
apiary, past the felled oaks, until we could see the white steeple of St. Lucy's rising out of the forest.
avoid speaking to or dealing with
They had been
ostracized by the local farmers for eating their silled fruit pies and terrorizing the heifers. They had
ostracized the local wolves by having sometimes-thumbs, and regrets, and human children.
a temporary condition of torment or suffering
Our pack grew up in a green
purgatory. We couldn't keep up with the purebred wolves, but we never stopped crawling.
a simplified language allowing communication between groups
We spoke a slab-tongued
pidgin in the cave, inflected with frequent howls. Our parents wanted something better for us; they wanted us to get braces, use towels, be fully bilingual.
joyful and proud especially because of triumph or success
Our diminished pack threw back our heads in a celebratory howl—an
exultant and terrible noise, even without a chorus of wolf brothers in the background.
place in a grave or tomb
We supplemented these holes by digging some of our own. We
interred sticks, and our itchy new jumpers, and the bones of the friendly, unfortunate squirrels.
have a meeting in order to talk something over
conferred in the shadow of the juniper tree, whispering and pointing.
timbre characteristic of a certain range of the human voice
She backed towards the far corner of the garden, snarling in the most menacing
register that an eight-year-old wolf-girl can muster.
having the color of tanned leather
We had never wanted to run away so badly in our lives; but who did we have to run back to? Only the curled black grimace of the mother. Only the father, holding his
tawny head between his paws.
having and walking on two feet
The advanced girls could already alternate between two speeds: "slouch" and" amble." Almost everybody was fully
particles of animal skin or hair that may be allergenic
Mirabella would rip foamy chunks out of the church pews and replace them with ham bones and girl
cause to feel shame
The main commandment of wolf life is Know Your Place, and that translated perfectly. Being around other humans had awakened a slavish-dog affection in us. An
abasing, belly-to-the-ground desire to please.
potentially existing but not presently evident or realized
As soon as we realized that someone higher up in the food chain was watching us, we wanted only to be pleasing in their sight. Mouth shut, I repeated, shoes on feet. But if Mirabella had this
latent instinct, the nuns couldn't figure out how to activate it.
made from or covered with gold
She'd go bounding around, gleefully spraying on their
gilded statue of St. Lucy, mad-scratching at the virulent fleas that survived all of their powders and baths.
She was still
loping around on all fours (which the nuns had taught us to see looked unnatural and ridiculous—we could barely believe it now, the shame of it, that we used to locomote like that!), her fists blue-white from the strain.
characteristic of informal spoken language or conversation
Jeanette spiffed her penny loafers until her very shoes seemed to gloat. (Linguists have since traced the
colloquial origins of "goody two-shoes" back to our facilities.)
compete for something
I probably could have
vied with Jeanette for the number one spot, but I'd seen what happened if you gave in to your natural aptitudes.
absentminded dreaming while awake
We spent a lot of time daydreaming during this period. Even Jeanette. Sometimes I'd see her looking out at the woods in a vacant way. If you interrupted her in the midst of one of these
reveries, she would lunge at you with an elder-sister ferocity, momentarily forgetting her human catechism.
an elementary book summarizing the principles of a religion
We spent a lot of time daydreaming during this period. Even Jeanette. Sometimes I'd see her looking out at the woods in a vacant way. If you interrupted her in the midst of one of these reveries, she would lunge at you with an elder-sister ferocity, momentarily forgetting her human
a string of beads used in counting prayers
Much later, they found Mirabella wading in the shallows of a distant river, trying to strangle a mallard with her
affectedly dainty or refined
The final slide was a bolded sentence in St. Lucy's
prim script: DO YOU WANT TO END UP SHUNNED BY BOTH SPECIES?
express grief verbally
She was covered with splinters,
keening a high, whining noise through her nostrils.
rules governing socially acceptable behavior
Etiquette was so confounding in this country.
utter monotonously and repetitively and rhythmically
"Something must be done," Sister Ignatius said firmly. The other nuns nodded, a sea of thin, colorless lips and kettle-black brows. "Something must be done," they
slanting or inclined in direction or course or position
Beulah pretended not to mind when we got frustrated with the
oblique, fussy movement from square to square and shredded the board to ribbons.
being or involving basic facts or principles
Jeanette was learning how to dance. On Holy Thursday, she mastered a
rudimentary form of the Charleston.
a positive motivational influence
The nuns decided we needed an
inducement to dance. They announced that we would celebrate our successful rehabilitations with a Debutante Ball.
an elaborate song for solo voice
The choir director—aggressively perfumed Mrs. Valuchi, gold necklaces like pineapple rings around her neck—taught us more than the nuns ever did. She showed us how to pattern the old hunger into
the central area of a church
Clouds moved behind the frosted oculus of the
nave, glass shadows that reminded me of my mother.
an official residence provided by a church for a minister
The nuns had transformed the
rectory into a very scary place.
the overhang at the lower edge of a roof
Black streamers swooped down from the
eaves and got stuck in our hair like bats.
hairdressing consisting of a perfumed oil or ointment
The brothers didn't smell like our brothers anymore. They smelled like
pomade and cold, sterile sweat.
showing skill and sensitivity in dealing with people
But we had only gotten up to Unit 7: Party Dialogue; we hadn't yet learned the vocabulary for Unit 12: How to
Tactfully Acknowledge Disaster.
a sound that glides between two vowels in a single syllable
"You smell astoooounding!" Kyle was saying, accidentally stretching the
diphthong into a howl and then blushing.
wild and menacing
I had rubbed a pumpkin muffin all over my body earlier that morning to mask my natural,
feral scent. Now I smelled like a purebred girl, easy to kill.
hang loosely or laxly
I could feel my jaws gaping open, my tongue
lolling out of the left side of my mouth.
the articulation of speech with regards to intelligibility
“I wasn’t talking to you,” I grunted from underneath her. “I didn’t want your help. Now you have ruined the Sausalito! You have ruined the ball!” I said more loudly, hoping the nuns would hear how much my
enunciation had improved.
for or by a group rather than individuals
We graduated from St. Lucy’s shortly thereafter. As far as I can recollect, that was our last