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You didn't wake up as I carried you to bed; when I peeled off your socks and shoes, tugged a comforter over you.

I leaned over, ready to kiss you on the forehead-

It wasn't right. It didn't feel right.

It felt right before, when we were on the floor and you were in my arms; when it felt like Mom was stained-glass, and I was the light that shone through, radiance given hue and tone.


My rose window was gone.

And all that was left was me.

"Guess my power needs an audience," I murmur as I reach out to stroke your hair, stopping as you stir.

And all I have right now is myself.

"And all you have right now is... well, me."

Did you know you snore? I didn't; it's a faint whicker, right at the edge of my hearing.

Who's watching out for you?

I think we both know.

I know what you want.

"I can't do this."

I know what you need.

"I can't stay here."

And you're going to be the one who has to live with it.

Things come together quickly, even if I have to be quiet to keep from waking you.

Your computer hums to life; I let it run through booting up as I go into your closet, dig out that musty old weekend bag, and start loading clothes from your dresser.

Thank you, past-me, for actually folding your laundry this week.

Computer's booted; I open up the browser, navigate to the Greyhound company's site.

It takes forever to load, dial-up modem pulling down an unnecessarily fancy page-

Money. That would be good. You'd donate to a good cause, right? In the bag it goes.

Schedules are up; I grab a stationery pad and start transcribing, numbers and times flowing from screen to eye to hand as most of my mind starts to puzzle through the note I'm going to leave you.

"Postmortem script," I say to myself, stifling a laugh.

I think you'd find it funny. But that's not what you need right now, is it?

Places to stay - youth hostels, motels? I'm not sure how far you'll get with a high schooler's ID, but it's worth a shot.

Is Dad going to follow you?

Don't worry about that. He'll have other concerns.

The letter's written; your bag's packed and stuffed back in the closet.

I sit on the edge of your bed and watch you sleep. Listen to you snore.

"Little horse?" I smile. "Little owl."

The words sound almost right.

"I know where you are, all caught up in your head." My smile twists, turns wry. "And I'm so far away from there, right now."

"I have perspective, now." I watch you breathe, how each exhalation stirs the hair strewn across your pillow like wind on tall grass.

"I know you want to leave, more than anything." I stand, then lean down to kiss your temple; you murmur in your sleep, the faintest curve of a smile on your lips.

"I'll give you a reason to run," I whisper in your ear.