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0-14
Her feet were always cold growing up. Socks and tights and stamp them on the warped yellow linoleum and they never got warm. Dad merging into his lime-green lazy boy, and yelling that they didn't need any heat. Put on a sweater. Cold. Cold silences and cold arguments. A arctic cold front from mom through the kitchen and smile sunshine empty at church. Sunday school. Wednesday night bible class and she grew up knowing that she was going to hell. All her friends were. Drop-out-Jen and Burn-out-Trish, and yeah. Whatever.

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15-17
Which was why she decided to get on with it as soon as she could drive. Rolled out her beater car after her parents went to bed and went on out to the Flying Pig on Highway 42. She didn't need ID to get in. Just a short skirt. And there was always a guy there ready to buy her a plastic cup of beer. The Flying Pig didn't use glass cups for a reason. Place was full of flying plastic and smashed chairs. Guys raising hell, who didn't care. Guys with tattoos. Guys with muscles. Guys with leather coats and fast sex smiles. Cups of beer. Guy's who cheered when she danced by the jukebox and bought her another cup. Told her that she was bad. Sexy. Beautiful. So she was. Going to hell in a plastic cup. With a bathroom dispenser condom. With a ride on some guy's bike. Road to nowhere. Bad moon on the rise. That was her.

Then there was the part where she went home. Driving slow. Head out the window. Screaming. Porch light on. Yelling. Slamming doors. Until finally, she was out of there.

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18-19
Which was where she slept in the car. For a night. Then Potato-Joe offered her surf space on his couch. Which since his couch was his bed, meant she spent three months rolling into the middle and struggling to hold onto the side. That lasted three months. Until one night they got baked and he tried to bake the cat - Potato - in the microwave. Then she was back with the car, except now she had a cat. Who scratched her. Until she hooked up Hells-Angel-Pike. Oh, yeah. Brilliant idea. He almost blew her up when the meth lab in his garage went. Singed Potato-the-Cat, who took off for parts unknown. Took herself off.

Somehow, she got a job teaching yoga of all things. Downward facing dog. Bad moon on the rise and sunrise salutation. Place of her own. Shared with five strangers and a bathroom that never got cleaned. Heated the house with the oven or the dryer. Cold. It was always cold. Economic vegetarian and living on ramen. Hoped that this month Shangrila Yoga would pay her. Until she took over doing the books. Not that that helped with Coke-Jane's skiing habit.

But she went to parties when she wanted to. Went out to the Flying Pig. Partied. Threw plastic cups. Hooked up. Hooked up with Tequila-Steve. She didn't really remember that one. Except years later she still she couldn't eat shrimp without getting nauseous. Drank up. Hooked up. Wild-Weekend-Dean paid for the hotel. Tangled sheets and sore muscles on cloned plastic. She remembered that one. Partied up. Hooked up. Then there was That-Bastard-Ron. Bathroom condom ripped.

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20-22
Motherhood. The books said it was a glorious experience. The books called it a miracle. Morning sickness in the afternoon. Swollen feet. Lost her job. Although, that was mostly Coke-Jane's coke habit.

She ended up working the night shift at a gas station a mile and half from the Flying Pig. Truckers and travelers. People going places. While she was woozy all the time from lack of sleep.

Then there was child birth. When they said you forgot the pain, they meant that babies are cute and lie, lie, lie.

Ben was adorable. Brilliant. Colicky. Sick. She was sick. He was sick. A year long snotball in her nose and dragging herself into work and a free lawyer to try-try-try to get some sort of child support from That-Bastard-Ron. Paternity tests she couldn't pay for. Part of nothing was still nothing. Road to nowhere led to her.

Because That-Bastard-Ron still managed to show up. Yeah. A bottle of scotch. Not a great birthday present for a two year old. Ben giggled though and played with the box.

Later in the morning, as she lay awake in bed, she told the world to turn the page.

23-26
Four week tax class, while Ben crawled under the desks playing motorcycle-pirate just like daddy and six weeks later, she was doing taxes. Fourteen hour days. The grandmas and grandpas at her office entertaining Ben. End of the season, and she somehow was in charge of the QA department. Year after that a district. And a house. Her own house.

Bought herself a bottle of wine. Drank milk with Ben. Cookies. She hadn't screwed a guy since Wacked-Out-Jessie. The paternity tests hadn't just been for the courts. Drank her milk and licked it down.

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27-28
Ah, the dating years. Book club. PTA. Library mixer - wow that was a mistake. Bar. These scored her: Secret-Weed-Frank, Stuck-On-His-Crazy-Ex-Wife-Tom, Restraining-Order-Chuck and National-Guard-Virgil, who shipped out three weeks after meeting Ben. Then again, with half the guys in town in the Reserve, that was life. War. Everyone was going to hell. She stopped at that gas station where she'd once worked and ended up buying a yellow "My Heart is in Iraq" magnet. Didn't put it on the refrigerator. Wrote emails. Star crossed romance. Hot leave sex. Nightmares. National-Guard-Virgil blew hot and cold dad with Ben. Yeah, great romance. She threw away the magnet.

That-Bastard-Ron showed up a couple times. Taught Ben to say, "I'm not a bitch," and to check out girls and she was fairly certain got her seven year old drunk. Ben was certainly hung over the next day, so yeah. Great. Fine.

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28
Wild-Weekend-Dean showed up at Ben's eighth birthday party. Torn jeans and for a minute, just a minute, she was that girl. A minute. Giggled with her women-friends over the moment. Why not. Asshole was an asshole. Totally her type from yesterday. Sometimes she thought about that girl at the Flying Pig and wanted to hit her with a clue-bat.

Then there were cloned monster children and it was all a lot Twilight Zone. A very different page. Wild-Weekend-Dean was some sort of road-warrior hero. Traveling the US. Fighting things with his brother.

She half-way meant it when she offered Dean a beer. The clue-bat was in the closet. Close the door.

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28-30
She bought a gun. Learned to shoot it. Took Ben with her to the class on gun safety. Her little man. Both of them wondering just what Hero-Dean was up to. Building up that long-ago weekend, those add on days, into something. Stupid. But it was an efficient sort of romance. Left her plenty of time to cut the deadwood from her new tax district. She wore a short skirt and a long jacket. Cut through paperwork. Shone like justice. Or a great bottom line. And she didn't mean her ass.

Got a raise. Got a new-new district. Moved to a new house. Ben was a trooper. Ben looked for trolls under the bridge and wanted to know if she thought Hero-Dean was coming back. Even after That-Bastard-Ron showed up six months after his birthday and gave him a stack of Playboys. From the '80s.

Flyby by Hero-Dean. Rambling. Wild words. End of the world. He left without a beer and she watched the news. Got the news. Thought this was it. Thought about going to church. Bought three pounds of rock salt. Repaved her backyard. Concrete and salt.

That was fun. Not really. She kind of sucked at it.

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30-31
Hero-Dean showed up broken. Been to hell and back. Brother was there now. Nightmares. Drinking. Issues. Baggage. A storage hurt locker full of baggage. He surfed her couch. Yelled when he rolled over the side. She bought a tarp for his car. They did not sleep together.

For three months.

Three months of him mowing her lawn. Fixing her fences. Trimming her trees. Cooking Ben breakfast without being asked. Driving Ben to school in the mornings with a grin. Wild-Weekend-Dean. She came home one day and he'd gotten a job. He wanted to pay rent. Wanted to pay his share.

She didn't jump him then.

Not when he came home from a garage sale with a set of golf clubs and asked Ben if he wanted to go to the course up the road on five dollar Tuesdays. Not when they sat on the porch and looked at stars when the power went out. The shotgun might have made that awkward.

That-Bastard-Ron rolled up on his motorcycle. Cool and slick. He sat on the sofa while Dean leaned against the mantle with his arms crossed. That-Bastard-Ron looked like a mangy-dog next to a wolf. Wild-Weekend-Dean. Hero-Dean. Wolf-Dean. Dean.

She arranged for Ben to sleep over at his friends. Had, it wasn't a wild weekend. She had to be at work early in the morning for a meeting. It made her feel old to have to time sex to allow for a good night's sleep. She slept very well that night.

It wasn't romantic. But when her feet were cold, he warmed them with his. Nightmares. Drank too much. Warm feet.

Best year of her life. Sure.

Her life wasn't over. Dean had helped save the world. There was time for more. Hopefully. It was scary out there, but she had a crappy-salt-filled backyard and Dean had spray painted Devil's traps on her floors. Tax season was around the corner. Warm feet. Death. Taxes.

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