My first grade physical education class gave us the option of sitting out most days. Since I preferred to use that time to escape into other worlds, this was a boon for me. There was another reason I loved sitting on the bleachers during P.E.: there was a young girl who would often volunteer to play with my hair. The sensation this caused in me was like any other. It was comfort and warmth, but it was also a physical tingling that I felt below the surface of my skin. It was the most relaxing thing on Earth.

You sent me a message on Facebook out of nowhere. It was a regular afternoon. I was doing nothing, feeling nothing, just enjoying not being at work, not being anywhere or doing anything. But all this nothingness evaporated when I got the message. Time stopped, then buckled in, turning now into a living memory.

During the summer of 1952, a rapist stalked the L.A. nights. Over 25 women were sexually assaulted and robbed in the same area during a three-month period, so the LAPD organized a complicated sting. On July 30, 1952 Florence Coberly, a 26-year-old officer, served as a decoy to tempt the offender, and it worked. Soon after the above photo was shot, another was taken of the alleged serial rapist dead on the ground.

We reacted right away when Columbine happened, spinning every stray hair of a rumor into a tapestry of explanation. A crisis like that draws us in, makes us nearer to the now. It rattles us where we are usually numb. It reorients our world for a time. We stare down humanity, searching every eye to find either a brother or a monster. People are a mix of those things, but we want an either/or. A definitive separator feels good, draws a clear line between monsters and humans.

Assia Wevill was a woman erased for a time, her existence concealed by her final lover, poet Ted Hughes. For decades, he shared very personal things with the world but always wrote Assia out of her own life. More recently, however, Assia’s existence is being retraced again, pieced back together and presented as part of the story of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. After Sylvia died, Assia stepped into Sylvia’s life for a time, like walking into a ghost’s shadow. She cared for Sylvia’s children, lived in her rooms, and finally, six years later, killed herself the exact same way Sylvia committed suicide.