know it for the rose-leaf softness that invites a finger's touch. But when you
live with them and love them, you feel the softness going inward, the
round-cheeked flesh wobbly as custard, the boneless splay of the tiny hands.
Their joints are melted rubber, and even when you kiss them hard, in the
passion of loving their existence, your lips sink down and seem never to find
bone. Holding them against you, they melt and mold, as though they might at
any moment flow back into your body.
But from the very start, there is that small streak of steel within each child.
That thing that says "I am," and forms the core of personality.
In the second year, the bone hardens and the child stands upright, skull wide
and solid, a helmet protecting the softness within. And "I am" grows, too.
Looking at them, you can almost see it, sturdy as heartwood, glowing through
the translucent flesh.
The bones of the face emerge at six, and the soul within is fixed at seven...
In the next years, the hardening spreads from the center, as one finds and fixes
the facets of the soul, until "I am" is set, delicate and detailed as an insect in amber.
- Diana Gabaldon, Dragonfly in Amber