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You ever knowed someone who’s mam died and they was all broken like glass inside and they was your best friend ever? I din’t know what to say or what to do and so I just looked at Carl, looking sad as wet sunsets or dead kittens, and being just as silent, and one hand on his shoulder and not sure that was ok to do.She wasn’t sick, his mam, leastways not so far as anyone knowed. She just died. Sudden as thunderclaps and no grey sky warning before it and no sparking flash-bulb light. Doctors said her heart just stopped and they said it can do that sometimes and not ever start again. And Carl swore hard as any man, all his words like thrown stones and all of ’em thrown ‘gainst God and doctors and even his da. And ‘fuck’ and ‘shit’ and ‘bastard’, he said.

Over and over again. And I told him to just let it out, like a poison released, and it wasn’t never no sin to be doing like Carl was doing, I thought, not even though he was doing it in front of the church.The minister came out to see what all the commotion was and his face was red as wasp stings and he was holding his fist up to hammer the blaspheming air. When he saw it was Carl, well, I think he understood, and he let fall his slack fist and he said ‘There now,’ and ‘It’s you is it?’ and he asked us if we wanted to come gentle inside.

Carl shook his head and turned away and I turned away with him. The minister called to our backs, saying as how the door to God’s house was always open. When we was ready, he said, anytime, day or night, and he blessed us in God’s holy name. And Carl said all his best swear words again, saying ’em under his breath this time so only God and me could hear ’em.

We din’t plan it or nothing. Not nohow. We just decided there and then to go, not knowing the place we’d go to or for how long, but knowing we had to get away and be by ourselves for a while.

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