It was late. My brothers lay snoring and breathing on bunks above me in the darkness. The windows were open to the night. The warm breeze of early summer and the music of crickets drifted in. The room was filled with the smell of lilacs.

It was the breeze, the moonlight on the closet door that woke me.

Through the screen I heard the back porch door creak open. There was a whimper. Soon choked, rattled gasps. I eased up the screen and climbed onto the roof. Little granulites of shingle tinkled into the gutter below as I crept silently down in my bare feet.

In the shadow of the back porch, a hulky figure materialized. The dark hollows of my mother’s eyes were buried in her palms. The gasps continued.

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