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Guess there was a false alarm back there somewhere. Or a miscarriage never mentioned later. I have a definite memory of my mother asking me if I would like to have a little brother or sister. And my excitement. That, I remember clearly. Of course, what I really wanted was an older brother, but even at four or five there are some things that you cannot help but understand. That, no matter how much I wished it, I could not be an Indian when I grew up. That there was not really a fairy on the toilet paper roll (often). Still, if Mama asked me if I wanted something…

I kept waiting. Nothing happened. For years. Got my brother eventually, to such rejoicing you would not believe.

Yea Glenn!

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The end supposes the beginning. The dog wags the tail or the tail wags the dog. There was a trail down the hollow when I was a little girl, but the trail went under the barbed wire fence that was rusted so badly it was about to fall apart and sagging so low that even a little girl could wind up with snagged pants if she tried to slip underneath it. I know, because I did try, and lost it in the end. It is hard to extricate oneself from barbed wire when all alone in a ditch. I wondered what would have happened. Could I wind up stuck there forever? Would snakes come and tickle my ankles. Would spiders build webs in my hair? Would the birds laugh at my problem? Would the squirrels swear at my being in their back yard? Would the foxes come at night and bark at me.

The foxes in the hills around my grandmother’s did bark. I heard them before, in the nights when I crawled out of my nest of four quilts, so heavy I could hardly breathe beneath them, much less move, having to pee, hating the little chamber pot under the bed because it was so easy to miss. I would pad barefoot out of the cold front bedroom through the living room where my grandmother slept in her rocker beside the banked stove. She could not sleep lying down; asthma, she said. Open the door, open the screen, creaking but quiet, onto the smooth concrete front porch.

Outside the smell of hickory woodsmoke filled the air. The air was still and frigid, cracking. There was no sound nearby, no birds, the dogs all in their house curled in a warm ball together, the chickens in their coop all puffed (no baby chicks yet beneath light bulbs, in a month or two the mail order peepers will come). No one about but me and the moon, making hard shadows, and off in the distance up the hill past the hollow with the tiny creek and the barbed wire, the foxes, not like dogs at all, calling out the cold night. Then I went to the moon, shaking scared of the foxes and chilled and pulled down my pants to pee steam off the edge of the porch.