They said, please, please make love with Helen, we require an assertion of value, we are frightened. I said that they shouldn’t be frightened (although I am often frightened) and that there was value everywhere. Helen came and embraced me. I kissed her a few times on the brow. We held each other. The children were excited. The there was a knock on the door, I opened the door, and the new gerbil walked in. The children cheered wildly.
— Donald Barthelme, “The School”