She beamed. “You’re so courteous. Sometimes I think I shall never again meet anyone who is properly polite.” She looked at me intently and then said, “I think … you shall be"—she pursed her lips, narrowed her eyes, and nodded slowly—"a monster.”

I frowned. “What?”

“All newborn things become something,” said Inez.

“I’m not a newborn.”

“But you are,” she said. She nodded down at my grave. “You have entered a new world. Your old life is no more. You cannot be a part of it any longer. The wide universe stretches before you.” She looked around the cemetery calmly. “I have seen many, many newborns, Mr. Dresden. And I can see what they are going to become. You, young shade, are quite simply a monster.”

“Am not,” I said.

“Not at the moment, perhaps,” she said. “But … as time goes by, as those you care about grow old and pass on, as you stand helpless while greater events unfold … you will be. Patience.”

“You’re wrong.”

Her dimples deepened. “Why are you so upset, young shade? I really don’t see anything wrong with being a monster.”

“I do,” I said. “The monster part?”

“Oh,” the girl said, shaking her head. “Don’t be so simple. People adore monsters. They fill their songs and stories with them. They define themselves in relation to them. Do you know what a monster is, young shade? Power. Power and choice. Monsters make choices. Monsters shape the world. Monsters force us to become stronger, smarter, better. They sift the weak from the strong and provide a forge for the steeling of souls. Even as we curse monsters, we admire them. Seek to become them, in some ways.” Her eyes became distant. “There are far, far worse things to be than a monster.”

“Monsters hurt people. I don’t.”

Inez burst out in girlish giggles. She turned in a circle, parasol whirling, and in a singsong voice said, “Harry Dresden, hung upon a tree. Afraid to embrace his des-tin-y.” She looked me up and down again, her eyes dancing, and nodded firmly. “Monster. They’ll write books about you.”

I opened my mouth, but no words came out. I didn’t know what to say.

Jim Butcher, The Dresden Files: Ghost Story.
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