“Will you keep track?”


I promised I would. I could see Mom standing in the kitchen with the light behind her. She watched and watched us. But when we came in and Sergeant Defenbargh boiled hot dogs for supper, she didn’t say anything.




The clock read 3:05AM when I woke up. At first I thought it was Sergeant Defenbargh, because the front yard was still green and at night was the best time to paint. Mom didn’t even talk. She went straight to the dresser and started pulling out clothes and shoving them into a garbage bag. I stayed under the blankets. Finally she threw some of the clothes at me.


I got dressed. I knew this meant we were leaving, and I wanted to fight her and argue and say, “I want to stay here with Sergeant Defenbargh!” But I didn’t. Because it was my mom. How could you say no to your mom? 


We didn’t go far. Just to Grandma’s house, which was only five miles away. Grandma was sitting at the kitchen table in her bathrobe. She was drinking coffee and had just finished eating toast, because the crusts were on a plate in front of her. Grandma didn’t like crusts anymore than I did. Mom put me in Grandma’s bed, which had a very strange warm smell, like how a board game will smell when you open the lid after it’s been in the closet for a long time. I told her I wasn’t tired, but she put a finger to my lips and tucked me in. I watched through the curtains as it got light. I tried to listen to the voices in the kitchen, but it was too much work.