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I Am Santo

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Petie listened to the engine of the car. It was late afternoon and mom had been driving for forever. They’d stopped somewhere during the night – he remembered waking up and seeing the long white lights of a gas station overhead through the back window – but he didn’t believe they’d stopped since. And mom wasn’t talking or singing, wasn’t playing the license plate game or counting blue cars, but instead kept her attention on the road. She seemed scared and sad. Petie wasn’t sure where they were going, but he knew it was away from Da. He called his dad that because when he was little he couldn’t say the whole word. But now he was a big boy and it was okay that he and mom left Da behind. Petie was five years old, watching strange looking trees and fields blur by the back window. He wasn’t scared because he could protect mom. Petie thought so because he knew how to fire a gun, had watched it on TV plenty of times. And when Da hurt mom that night, when he heard mom crying and saw her bleeding nose, Petie pulled the trigger. Da was still breathing when they left the house, but they didn’t call the hospital. They left and drove very fast. Petie didn’t like Da, but he missed him right now. At least he played road games on long drives and sang in the car. This was boring.


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