Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Escape, The Conclusion

This is the conclusion to the story I posted last week. To read part one and to see a picture of most of the people in this story, go here: Escape, Part One. And I will soon be out of town through the weekend, but I will catch up on your great blogs when I return.

Liza followed the direction of his pointing arm and what she saw made her drop the food, cover the children's eyes, and pull them close to her.

The passing telegraph poles now held bodies; bodies of men, women, old people, children. Some were hanging, some were nailed on, crucifixion style.

She stifled a scream and forced herself to close her eyes. Other women on the flatbed were unable to choke back their reactions though, and wails and unfettered sobs pierced the otherwise pristine morning.

Inexplicably, the train slowed its thunderous roll and she raised her head in alarm. All over the car, women and children let loose fearful cries. Meli whimpered in her mother’s lap while Carlos wrapped his arms around both of them. The telegraph poles they passed now were free of the gruesome cargo, but the abject horror of what they’d seen sat like a leaden cannonball in their souls.

A railroad man made his way gingerly to the flatbed. “Please, sir, what is going on? Why are we stopping?” Liza asked with as much control as she could muster.

“Only a stop for refueling. We’ve got to make it quick. We don’t know if it was the Villistas or the federales who left that…,” his voice trailed off as he jerked his head in the direction they’d come from.

The next hours on the journey to the coastal city of Tampico blurred. Liza occupied herself with keeping the children’s minds on happier things, but her heart ached.

Tampico was not the haven they’d heard. While open fighting had not yet broken out there, the food shortage was acute. The three went through the hurriedly assembled food supplies Liza kept in her bag despite her efforts to ration it. There were many hungry, especially lone children at the train station, and just as it was in her home, no one around her would go without, except of course her, although she kept that hidden from Carlos and Meli.

She managed to find them a small place to stay, really the back shed of a blacksmith shop, but it was a roof, four walls, and a place more sheltered than the openness of the train station.  It took most of the money she had, but it was all she could do for the present. After the first night spent sleeping fitfully on the dirt floor and knowing she’d be unable to appease her children’s hunger for another day with just long draughts of water from the cold well nearby, she pulled Carlos to her and bent down close to his face.

“Do not, Carlitos, DO NOT,” she emphasized as she squeezed his shoulders, “open this door for anyone but me, OR let Meli or you go outside for ANY reason, not any at all. Do you understand?” She spoke slowly, letting each word sear into him.

“Yes, Mama, I understand,” Carlos replied solemnly, protectively reaching out to Meli.

Liza furtively slipped through the chaotic streets, where people were in a confused flurry, trying to prepare for something, but for what, they didn’t know, and where thousands of refugees from the violence, just like them, flooded in by the hour.

Her feet ached, she felt weak from not eating since they’d left home, and she knew she would break down in a second if she thought of her husband, marked for death and in hiding, but she pushed on. His last words to her, “We’ll find each other again, I promise you,” became her lifeline to sanity, and she allowed herself to dwell on the strength and certainty of them.

Finally, she found one vendor who had something edible to sell, but it took all the coins she had left. It was birdseed, and even at the inflated wartime prices, she was grateful to find it. If birds could eat it, so could they for a little while.

It seemed the streets got more sinister and the people more aggressive as she moved back to the little shed as quickly as her weakened body would allow her.

In sight of the shed, her breath caught and her heart ceased for a moment. The door, which she’d carefully pushed closed and had Carlos latch from the inside, was slightly ajar. She saw a shadow pass inside near the lone window, much too tall for a four and five year old.

Now she was running, sobbing, not caring who she careened into. Her feet had never carried her faster and she hit the door with so much force it banged off its top hinge and broke.

Her eyes expected the worst after what they’d already seen on the journey there, and she thought she’d faint dead away when the reality of the scene hit her. She brought her hands to her face and choked out great, heaving, gasping sobs.

“We found each other again, just like I told you, sweetheart, just like I promised you,” her husband said as he stretched out his hands to her, although it was hard for her to find room in his embrace with the two children already folded inside it.

She sank into his strong arms and continued to cry, but tears of happiness.


They made eventually made it back to their home and hotel in San Luis Potosi, and although there were other near escapes for my great grandfather, the rebels never caught him. He lived out his days in Mexico, and my great grandmother lived to be 95, still one of the strongest and most loving women I’ve ever known.

88 comments:

  1. This is such great storytelling, dear Shelly. It became a technicolor motion picture running through my mind. I can't imagine the gruesome sight of bodies hanging from poles. It brings to mind people and heads impaled on pikes centuries ago.

    As you I have discussed many times since our friendship began, most American children have no concept of real sacrifice, hardship, desperation and self discipline. I wish every young person could read your true tales and benefit from the life lessons they teach.

    I am aware that you will be out of town this weekend and I hope you have a safe and happy trip. Please remember to drop by and pick up your blog award Saturday or at your earliest convenience thereafter. See you soon, dear friend Shelly!

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    1. Shady: It's so incredible to me that many of these events happened relatively recently. I don't know what the present generation fo kids would do if they had go through it. I fear we've ill equipped them.

      I look forward to reading your anniversary post, if not Sunday morning, then Sunday evening when we return. Thank you, friend!

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  2. This two=part story is exceptional but it feels a bit compressed. I bet you could turn this into a wonderful novel. Great writing as always, and a joy to read.

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    1. Stephen: actually did try to pack this in so I could fit it into two parts instead of stretching it to three parts, which I know many people don't care for. There was so much I had to leave out that I felt almost guilty!

      Thank you for your kind words, my friend~

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  3. Shelly, I have been waiting for the conclusion of your story and delighted that it had a happy ending. I was so hoping that the shadow would mean Liza's husband had returned. Have a wonderful trip and congratulations on your blog award. You deserve it!

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    1. Nonnie: As I mentioned to Stephen, I feel like I had to leave so much out to get it into two parts, but I'm glad the overall sense of joy at the end came through. And thank you

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  4. What a terrifying, fascinating, loving story and how great that you were able to know your great grandmother! You have such an incredible family history so rich in love.

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    1. Dr. Kathy: I feel incredibly blessed, especially the older I get, to have those people as my foundation. Thank you!

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  5. You may have condensed the story to fit the allotted space, but you did a wonderful job. It rings true to the history and the emotions of the characters. It is a wonderful thing for you to possess the stories of your forebears, and we thank you for sharing them with us.

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    1. vanilla: Thank you for your kind words- I wish all people would start recording their family histories as there are so many wonderful stories that all too often pass into oblivion~

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  6. Oh Shelly she was indeed a very strong Mother protecting her children and waiting for her love. This story is riveting and knowing it is true and your family makes it more so. Your writing is superb. I love these stories of real struggles and survival. Well down. I imagine there are a lot of fascinating stories in your family I am liking your retirement because now we get to read them:) B

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    1. Buttons: I've always loved this story, but always when my grandfather told it, he was very matter of fact, as if everyone had gone through something like that. Thank you so much for your very kind words!

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  7. That's so amazing. Please write a book!

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Janie: Ahh, you're so sweet, my friend!

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    2. I'm not trying to be sweet. You are a great writer.

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    3. Janie: Well, thank you- and you are sweet anyway!

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  8. Wonderful story and so well told. What a tribute to your grandparents.

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    1. Mountaingmom: Thank you so much- it was a pleasure to write about them!

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  9. Dearest Shelly,
    Wow, what a story of "Escape"; your writing is full of suspense and riveting!!! Oh, how I felt moved to read the reunion♡♡♡ I was touched by the strong bond between your great grandmother and your great grandfather!!! As you wrote, He was the one gave his wife the power to survive. I thought it is the core of this story. Bond of family is always wonderful, isn't it☆☆☆ I vaguely remember my father once said that our grandparents were happy when he came back from the war. I wonder what kind of reunion it was, too young to think about it then :-) Thank you very much for sharing this story.
    Sending you lots of love and hugs from Japan, xoxo Miyako*


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    1. orchid: Oh, thank you, my dear friend! I can imagine how elated your grandparents must have been when your dad came home from the war- what joy! And you are so right, that family bond is a wonderful, life affirming and life giving thing. I hope you have a wonderful weekend!
      xo-

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  10. You have the best stories, and what I love about them is that they're about real people - members of your family, many times. In my family, our ancestors were pioneers, and luckily we have lots of books that have been made with their stories in them. You come from good stock, Shelly - lots of strong people in your lineage!

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    1. Karen: Hardy stock, you and me, girl! Maybe one day our descendants will look back and say the same thing about us~

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  11. When I got to the part where your great-grandfather was in the shelter awaiting your great-grandmother, I actually got chills, Shelly! Such superb description - I was there. Thank you for sharing this wonderful example of courage and perseverance with us. You mentioned that your grandfather used to tell this story. Did you get your great-grandparents' version of it as well? Amazing people.

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    1. jenny_o: My great grandmother was a terrific writer and in one of her pieces she left a brief account of this, and she talked of it, but never with a lot of detail. My g. grandfather died long before I was born, so I never got to hear it from him. Thank you so much for your kind words- I had to leave out a lot to get it into two posts, so I'm glad it still made sense.

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  12. You had me holding my breath when she pushed the door off it's hinges. I thought it would be bad news but I'm glad it all went well. Such a brilliant story that had me hooked from the beginning. We don't always get to know what really goes on in the private lives of people and this was a good incite and your great grandmother lived a good ripe old age.

    Enjoy your trip and I'll see you later.

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    1. Rum-Punch Drunk: Thank you, my friend- I'm so glad their story still plays well a hundred years later.

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  13. Somehow I misses the original post so I just went back and re-read it and then came here to read the conclusion...EPIC! A story told through generations. How wonderful this is. I agree with Karen's comment above as well - stories involving real people and real events are the best stories indeed. Happy Thursday :)

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    1. Optimistic: Thank you so much for taking the time to read it in its entirety. I was so happy to be able to tell it here!

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  14. Oh, gosh, I cried at the end, your words at the end, that they made it, and lived long lives!! Oh, I so wish I could have talked with her. All she went through for love, for survival.

    Thank you for sharing Shelly.

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    1. Jamie: She was an amazing woman, for sure, and always, always upbeat. Thank you for stopping by and for your kind words, my sweet friend!

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  15. I've just finished reading both parts of this story. I could cry, Shelly. I hope to never be tested like your great-great grandmother -- or her husband or their children. To be hungry and frightened, and to HAVE to be brave: is there anything more noble? More heart-wrenching and utterly human?

    You bring another part of the country alive for me. A hundred years ago, my ancestors were clearing land and suffering through blinding snowstorms while yours fought for their lives, hunted. Human beings are wonderful, resilient things; and I thank you for bringing that home to me again and again.

    Hugs,

    Pearl

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    1. Pearl: I wonder if I could ever hold up to the things the people of that generation had to. I almost a little disappointed I haven't been tested like they were, but then, I'm not running to find out, either!

      I think we're all capable of more bravery, more sacrifice, more goodness than we ever think can muster. And yes, we are a wonderful, resilient human race.

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  16. What a poignant story! I'm glad it had a happy ending!

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    1. Sherry: I am very thankful for that happy ending!

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  17. Again I read this perched on the end of my seat with my heart in my mouth, especially towards the end. I was horrified and then I thought 'the husband, it has to be him' and I raced the last bit for a sense of relief. And joy :-) Phew!

    An incredible family tale well told. And your grandma was one incredible lady!

    Enjoy your trip Shelly :-)

    xx Jazzy

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    1. Jazzygal: She was an incredible person, that's for certain. Thank you for your kind words and wishes, my friend!

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  18. I think I will read this a couple more times so I can talk about this with my brothers. They like to hear breath taking stories. Your art of writing is amazingly capturing ( I am translating Hindi thoughts so excuse me for my English if it is broken.)

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    1. Munir: Thank you, my friend! And your English is always excellent and well done!

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  19. This is such an incredible story---you are an amazing and talented writer, Shelly!

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    1. menopausal mama: It's easy to tell a great story like this. Thank you!

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  20. I was holding my breathe all the way though! What marvelous women you have had in your family.

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    1. Sandie: Truly, I am blessed with the family I was born into. Thank you!

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  21. Wow! Wonderful that they all survived, reunited, and had each other to lean on!!! :) :)

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    1. Rita: I am so very thankful, too!

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  22. wow..what a story!

    Those great-grandmothers ..or any grandmother...are strong strong women.

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    1. Christine: I hope we can be as tough if we ever need to be!

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  23. Shelly...I too have tears of joy! It truly is like I was part of the hugging circle of your great-grandmother/grandfather's re-encounter. You say it's the conclusion, but perhaps someday you can continue the saga of surviving the 'west' with Carlos? Huh, huh? Purty please? What did they do for the hotel...how did Carlos meet the love of his life...more, more, more please.

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    1. HOOTIN ANNI: Oh, thank you for your kind words! My grandfather had such an interesting life- I just might write some more about him~

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    2. I hope some day you will!!! I look forward to these, 'cause I know how well you write and you make the stories come 'alive'.

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  24. I'm so glad she found peace behind that door! What a beautiful ending. Oh and that part about stopping the train--I can't imagine that kind of terror.

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    1. Elisa: I think my heart would have failed completely. It was a resilient generation!

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  25. As always, I love your stories. I have so much regret when I think of the details I missed by not paying close attention to my grandparents' tales as a girl.

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    1. Amy: It's not too late to start for your kids- and your blog is going to be a thing of joy to them and their children~

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  26. A beautiful ending to a suspenseful and well-written story.

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  27. This work is strong. I'm impressed.

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  28. A well said story, good narration. Keep up the good work.keep. Inform
    best regards
    Philip
    PS. This is my first vidit here, i couldn,t find any follow button here, I am from my cell phone.😊

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    1. PV: Thank you! There is a follow button there, but I'm not sure if it shows on the phone. I am heading to yours now-

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  29. The horror of the opening scene would be a memory that traumatized everyone who saw it. I couldn't finish my toast.
    Thank God for protection of your great grandparents and their sweet little children!

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    1. Jenny: It is completely horrific, and I hate the thought of them, as innocent children, having to witness it. And yes, it was God who protected them, for sure!

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  30. Those poor children would have been traumatised their whole life after seeing such horror and this had me on edge even though I knew they must had remained safe with their parents it still had me on edge it saddens me that such young children had to see such horrable things and to have to flee for thier lives

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    1. Jo-Anne: It just horrifies me now that they had to see the things they saw and experience what they did. However, they became very successful adults, so it didn't hinder them. I am very thankful I've never had to go through anything like that~

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  31. Strong women run in your family apparently! Wonderful writing. You are doing a great thing by putting their experiences down in words.

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    1. Bossy Betty: I did indeed grow up with some wonderful role models. And thank you!

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  32. Your story, history, and todays headlines tell me their will always be ugliness in the world, yet joy manages to creep through and sustain us.

    I am encouraged by this post to seek more stories from my older relatives and perhaps, write about them, too.

    Thank you.

    Ps. Another ending to your story: And they are why little Shelly was born into the world. :)

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    1. oops, "there" and forgive any other errors :)

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    2. Anita: Oh, I so hope you do seek out your family stories and get them written down- far too many die because no one thinks to pass them down. Your children and future descendants will delight in them! And yes, I am very thankful they persevered so I could be here! :)

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    3. Anita: Since I just retired as an English teacher, I don't notice!!!

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  33. Oh wow, what a story! I love how you illustrate the good within these difficult scenarios in your family history. amazing.

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    1. Lydia: I loved listening to them tell stories, even from my earliest memories. Thanks!

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  34. Shelly, what an amazing story! I had to go back and read part one. You have such a fascinating family and family history! I just saw the movie For Greater Glory--if you haven't seen it yet, you must! It's a different time in Mexico's history, but your story reminded me of it.

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    1. Maria: Yes- what an amazing story that movie was wow! Mexico has always been so full of turbulence, and the current violence there breaks my heart, but I have to believe she will rise above it again. Thank you!

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  35. What a strong woman. I'm glad your family members found each other again. What a frightening ordeal. Your great grandmother needs to be the heroine of many a book! ;-)

    I loved this story from beginning to end. Thank you for telling it, my friend.

    ~JD

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    1. Janette Dolores: She truly was a wonderful woman- thank you! I so appreciate you always taking the time to read and write such nice comments on my posts!

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  36. What an inspiring story, thanks for sharing Shelly.

    Nas

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  37. Always a pleasure to red your blog. Great story and very well written xx

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    1. Michelle: Ahh, thank you for your kind words!

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  38. Oh Shelly, I was mesmerized...and cried at the end, something I rarely do when I read. What a magnificent family you have, and how lucky you are to have had a great grandmother such as yours...such a strong woman. Thank you so much for sharing this.

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    1. Cathy: Thank you for your very kind words, my friend! She truly was such a strong woman, but so gentle and loving, too~

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  39. I always love reading about your family history, you have such rich stories that are always a pleasure to take in.

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    1. Julie: Thank you for those wonderful words, and thank you for stopping by~

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  40. It's amazing to hear personal stories from events I have only heard of in history classes.

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    1. Missed Periods: It does put a whole new spin on things. I would never have wanted to meet Pancho Villa in real life. Despot would be a good description of him.

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  41. I was once again spellbound. You bring history to life by telling us of your family. You are so good at this Shelly!

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    1. Pat: Thank you! A good story does much of the work of telling itself~

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