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How long has it been since I saw you?; since I had to bolt shut my bedroom door and hide the things easily stolen?I’m trying to remember. I’m too young to have to worry like this.

“Mark… come home. Pleeeease” I pleaded to him silently in my head…safe in my bed…on a school night sometime after 3 am. The stuff isn’t important.

Seeing you walk with that strut of yours, wearing your grungy bandanna wrapped twisted round your unkempt head, long fingernails filled with an earthly crust and pants that could walk themselves…

that’s what I want more than the 8-tracks you stole the last time you cut a whole through the cubbie wall and crawled through to the other side.

Damn, you’re smart. Nobody every gives you enough credit, you know that?

Even when you’re talking smack and I look at my boyfriend and roll my eyes, I know that someday in the not too distant future I’ll hear about the things you’re talking about now and I’ll remember our conversations and how I heard it from you first.

I look up to you, you know that?

I’ll never forget the tree house you constructed from all the wood you stole from Uncle Gerald. He wanted to choke you until he saw what you had created.

I’m sure he was wondering how you knew to frame in windows and build the eaves that hung over the A-frame of the 12′ ft X 12′ ft area.

And, let’s not forget the hardwood floors you made; cut diagonally before any fancy designer knew to think outside that box …and made from 2 x 4s.

Ouch! That made Uncle Jerry wince.