A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor Page 1

Author: Hank Green

Series: The Carls #2

Genres: Fantasy , Science Fiction



I’ve decided to stop lying to you.

As far as I can tell there are only three kinds of lies: the kind you don’t want to get caught telling, the kind you don’t care if you get caught telling, and the kind you can’t get caught telling. Let’s go through them one by one.

 1. The kind you don’t want to get caught telling. This is just your average, everyday lie, whether you’re late for work or did a real bad murder. Getting caught in the lie, thus, is a problem.

 2. The kind you don’t care if you get caught telling. This kind of lie is about the lying, not about the outcome. You repeat the lie, stick to the lie, change the lie, re-form the lie, abandon the lie, come back to the lie. The lying might help avoid some negative outcome, but really it’s a tool for weakening reality, and thus strengthening yourself.

 3. The kind you can’t get caught telling. This happens when only you know the truth. This is the kind of lie I’ve been telling.

For years now, that last kind of lie has felt, to me, like a kindness. I mean, it’s not a surprise that the story of your reality is incomplete. We all know that. Scientists don’t know where most of the matter is. I don’t know what it’s like to live in Yemen. Our imagining of the world isn’t fully accurate. But if you know something no one else knows, something that would change everyone’s story overnight, something that would make everyone else’s life worse, telling the truth might seem like the wrong thing to do, like exercising too much power.

As I have discovered, there’s nothing special about me, nothing that makes me particularly suited to making that kind of decision for an entire planet of people. The only reason I get to make it, it turns out, is ugly, vulgar luck.

A lot of people have said that I have a habit of exercising too much power, and one of those people is me, which is why I am about to do something I’m extremely uncomfortable with: let other people tell the story. Oh, to be clear, I don’t have any choice. I wasn’t there for a lot of this, so it isn’t my story to tell. Instead, my friends are going to tell it with me. Maybe that way we can share some of the responsibility of the power of this truth. It won’t be all on me: each of us have to agree that the words in this book are worth putting in here. Trust me, it wasn’t easy, these people can be fucking stubborn.

All of this is to say, I’ve decided to stop lying to you. We have decided to stop lying to you. Even though the lie is easy to tell, even though I never really said it out loud, even though the lie, most days, feels like nothing more than self-preservation, it’s time to tell you about the lie.

Here it is, in its most basic form: I have been doing everything I can to convince you that we are safe.

We’re not.


I am only doing this because I have to. Most famous people ask for fame, and then when they get famous and complain about all the bad parts, we are correct in calling them out on it. But I have always felt like millions of people knowing my name would be nothing but awful.

It’s why I didn’t let April put my last name in her book. It is also not in this book. Of course, you can look it up on the internet, but neither I nor anyone who knows me has ever shared my last name. You can only find out what my name is due to the general erosion of privacy and the actions of people who have not respected my clearly-stated preferences.

That’s how I want to start this out. I stayed out of April’s content on purpose. I wanted to be a private person, and now I’m not, but I’m accepting this because it’s the best way to tell this story. And while I’m not going to tell you my last name (it’s the principle of the thing), I am going to be far more open than I want to be.

For example.

My parents are pretty rich. I grew up on the Upper East Side in a town house they’ve owned for thirty years. It was worth a lot when they bought it, and it’s worth a LOT now. So I actually grew up with something like a yard, and when I was a little kid, we’d go out there and plant carrot seeds and tomato starts. At the end of the season, yanking a carrot out of the ground was like a magic trick. That tiny seed, too small for even my little fingers to manage on their own, had become this big, beefy orange grocery store item covered in wet black dirt. It was like putting a bottle cap in the ground and pulling out a Coke. Those underground crops—carrots, beets, potatoes, onions—were my favorites. Even when we were growing things in pots and boxes, I loved the idea that things were happening out of view and that if you just scraped the surface, something as magical and perfect and tasty as food would just fall out.

It never occurred to me at the time that gardening was something my mom was doing for me. But when I grew up and my interests changed, the gardening went away. And I didn’t even consider more than watering a houseplant until I called my mom a few months after April died.

“I can’t let it go, Mom, she has to be somewhere,” I was telling her over the phone, explaining an obsession that had blossomed in me. “No one else is looking. They’ve all just moved on.”

“Is it doing you any good?”

“Me? What does this have to do with me?! They haven’t found her, Mom, I don’t think she was in there.”

“Maya, love, where would she have gone?”

“I don’t know, that’s the point. Outer space? Hoboken? I don’t know. But I do know that life is not back to normal. Everybody thinks the Carls are gone and the Dream is gone and it’s all normal now, but it’s not. I know how this sounds, but there are a lot of other people who think something’s up.”

“How much time are you spending on the Som?”

“They’re good people, Mom. I made a lot of friends there. It’s better than Twitter.”

And that was, in several ways, true. The Som was a small enough community that the kinds of people who got off on making others miserable were promptly banned. But in one way, it was worse. We built the Som to be a social media platform just for solving sequences from the Dream. It was a place for mysteries. To a hammer, everything looks like a nail, and to a social media platform designed to investigate mysteries, everything looked mysterious.

The Som was something I had been really proud to help build, it really had been a part of making humanity feel more like one big thing. Now it was the go-to platform for conspiracy theorists. But at least they were nice conspiracy theorists. And to answer my mom’s question here (though I didn’t answer it then), I was spending a lot of time on the Som.

“Maya, maybe go plant something.”


“Like when you were little. Or do something. Knit. Do a puzzle. I think you need to focus on something else for a while. Go make some space inside your head.”

It seemed extremely condescending at the time. Like, yes, Mom, it would be great if I could get a hobby that wasn’t obsessing over my dead ex-girlfriend. That would be good for everyone, especially for you, since you wouldn’t have to watch your daughter spiral further and further from reality. But that’s not how it works, Mother.

Except, to some extent, it really is. Because thinking about carrots existing somehow made me want to plant something, or tend something, or dig something. But I didn’t have a yard. So instead, I got on a train and, thirty minutes later, knocked on the door of my parents’ town house on the Upper East Side. My mom answered the door.

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