"Erika, the meadow flower. That's how she got her name: erica. Her pregnant mother had visions of something timid and tender. Then, upon seeing the lump of clay that shot out of her body, she promptly began to mold it relentlessly in order to keep it pure and fine. Remove a bit here, a bit there. Every child instinctively heads toward dirt and filth unless you pull it back. Mother chose a career for Erika when her daughter was still young. It had to be an artistic profession, so she could squeeze money out of the arduously achieved perfection, while average types would stand around the artist, admiring her, applauding her. Now, Erika has at last been patted into perfection. Such a girl was not meant to do crude things, heavy manual labor, housework. She was destined, congenitally, for the subtleties of classical dance, song, music. A world-famous pianist -- that is Mother's ideal. And to make sure the child finds her way through every entanglement, Mother sets up guideposts along the way, smacking Erika if she refuses to practice."

"Shedding tears, Erika applies the greedy leeches of the cheery, colorful plastic clothespins to her body. To places that she can easily reach and that will be black and blue later on. Weeping, Erika nips and clips her flesh. She knocks the surface of her body off balance. She makes her skin miss a beat. She lards her fat with pins and needles. She peers at herself aghast and looks for free areas. If a blank spot shines in the register of her body, it is instantly tweaked by the greedy claws of a clothespin. The tense interstices become bristling pincushions. The woman is flabbergasted by her actions, which can have terrible consequences. She bawls and blusters. She is alone. She sticks needles into herself, pins with brightly colored plastic heads, each pin with its own head in its own color. Most of them tumble out again. Erika doesn't dare prick herself under her fingernails; it's too painful."