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Understaying Your Welcome

nomadicShe shoved her wadded up sweats and t-shirt into her duffle bag. Down in the yard, a blue jay dove on a squirrel. Hand still in the bag, she imagined a mother bird risking all to protect her young. She’d never know the feeling.

The rest of the house was silent. These big wooden houses, if someone was moving you’d hear it. Sounds carried through the registers in the floor and up wide staircases, down spacious hallways to the small room in the tower at the front of the house.

They’d had a nice dinner at a picnic table in the backyard, her hostess and her 5 boys. Their dad was working late; he wouldn’t be home until after they’d all gone to bed. And now she was leaving before he was up.

She was more comfortable with men, so last night she’d chatted more with the boys than with their mother. The woman kept eyeing her oldest boy, a young man, really.

She’d done nothing to encourage any special attention, but his mother’s puritanical eye flitted back and forth between them long after she herself had noticed the strain and switched her attention to the toddler on her left, busy shoving corn up his nose.

She was more comfortable with men. They were comfortable with her.

She hadn’t asked for it and didn’t go looking for it, but the same trouble had followed her too many years to count.

Followed, because she kept moving. One step ahead, most of the time. Other times, one step too late, and it made the moving that much more important, urgent.

She zipped her duffle and slipped down the quiet stairs and out the front door to her old Indian motorcycle.

As she’d done more than once before, she slipped it into neutral and rolled silently down the hill, shifting it into third and letting the engine’s revs start the roaring beast when she was well clear of the house.

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