With unnecessarily loud stomping and door banging, Kyle returned to the bedroom and threw himself back on his bed. “You go first in the shower.”

No, you!”

No, you!” He bounded up, pulled Victor’s pillow out from under his head and started whacking him with it. Victor started kicking back, trying to shove him away.

The two boys scuffled playfully. Victor was taller, but Kyle was a strong and flexible gymnast and soon pinned Victor down. The beds creaked as Victor thrashed back.

You won’t be ready for church if you don’t take your shower,” Kyle mimicked a parental voice.

Suddenly, with a quick calculation, Victor went limp, and Kyle sprawled on top of him. Victor savored Kyle’s weight on him, along with its spasms of laughing and panting. He knew it would only last an instant, but he stored it away in his mind and carried it with him, as Kyle pulled him to his feet and pushed him out the door.

*** *** ***

Across the southern Indiana town of Stanton, the windows of a compact blue bungalow glared back at the early sun. Inside the house, all was quiet. Bridget Wallace floated on the edge of her dream, but finally the constricting sleeping bag was too annoying to ignore. She forced herself awake enough to arch her back in order to find the zipper pull. With jerks she freed herself and then sprawled happily back on the bed. Packing boxes filled the room, forming a rough cityscape against the freshly painted bedroom walls. Fluorescent tags glowed against the dull cardboard. Stretching out her arm, Bridget flipped over the nearest tag to read the contents. Shoes, boots, mittens. Nope. That wouldn’t help right now.

Maybe Mom found the towels, she thought, as she rolled off the bare mattress and headed for her very own bathroom. She loved their new house after living in a Chicago apartment. She wasn’t sure she loved anything else about their move to Stanton, but having her own bathroom was totally awesome.

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