Dad told us that zone was known in physics as the boundary between turbulence and order. ‘It’s the place where no rules apply, or at least they haven’t figured ’em out yet,’ he said. ‘You-all got a little too close to it today.’

Dad makes this comment to Jeannette and Brian after they set a batch of hazardous waste on fire, and Brian nearly burns to death. Here, Dad refers both to the physics of the hazy area that manifests over a flame, and also suggests that Brian and Jeannette were too reckless. Dad’s quiet and grave tone may indicate that he’s too thankful they survived to be angry, but it could also suggest a moment of self-reflection, as Dad intentionally subjects his kids to a life of chaos and lawlessness, not unlike the boundary between turbulence and order. Traditionally, parents guide and discipline their children to help them navigate the physical, legal, and social rules of the greater world. Mom and Dad, on the other hand, allow their children to discover the world without much direction or supervision. In this quotation, Dad sees that this philosophy almost cost Jeannette and Brian their lives.