Before leavin’

He told me a secret once. Said the day after his ninth birthday, the day his mom left, she told him, “Listen here child, you make your wishes to the wind, you hear me? Wishes are wild and they don’t stand no tamin’. You keep something locked away ain’t meant to be kept and you break it, break it in a way can’t nobody fix.”

He told me that he just stood there and looked up at her. The way the sunlight framed her hair made her look more like an angel and less like someone who was abandoning him. She had a gold necklace with a stallion pendant. She had too many bracelets. She dyed her hair with a store-bought brand.

His mother ran her hand through his hair. He felt it with every nerve ending.

“Sometimes you love something enough to know that you ain’t the best thing for it. You’ll see, one day,” she told him. “Get the hell outta this goddamn town. Get out or they’ll never let you leave. Don’t trust nothing that makes you stay.”

He didn’t cry he said because somewhere in him he’d known all along. “People don’t just leave you,” he said. “They’re always slowly slipping away.”

And then he kissed me on my forehead and walked out of my life.

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