Three children and their father linger at the dinner table. A suitcase,
half-packed, sits in the room with them. They all feel its weight.
“So,” the father is saying, “don’t open the door to strangers.
The longer you talk to them, the more they will know.”
He steeples his fingers, looks down at the fish bones on his plate.
“No one else knows where I keep the gun.”
The younger girl is chewing with her mouth open, resting
her head on her palm, elbow solidly on the table. The father
advises that it is okay to be rude to strangers. He says
something about the meanness of the world no matter
how good or big a heart. The older girl proposes to speak
to door-knocking strangers in gibberish; the youngest, a boy,
giggles along with her. The one with her elbow on the table,
normally the first and the loudest to laugh, says, “It’s not funny.
Don’t be stupid.” When told to relax, she turns sharply to the eldest
and snaps, “Easy for you to talk like this; you’re leaving.”
Rather than be hurt, her sister sees this as affirmation:
she is glad to be going, and she tells them so.

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