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Detra’s story

Part 5

“My entire life I’ve been good at following rules. But in New York I didn’t know any of the rules. One time a man touched me on the subway, and I froze. Ever since I was a child—I’ve had a fear of defending myself. When I got home, I asked Lucas: ‘What’s the rule for when someone touches you on the subway?’ And he said: ‘Tell them to get the fuck away. That’s the rule.’ Lucas taught me how to live in a world that’s gritty and real. We’d always been close, but in New York he became like my guardian. I’d only planned to live with him for a few weeks, until a better option came along. But there were no rooms I could afford to rent. So the weeks turned into months. I went back to Arkansas one last time— to get my stuff. I had nowhere to put any of it. But I couldn’t stand the thought of my husband having my stuff. I chose a day he was on vacation. My son Garrison agreed to help me, and we rented a U-Haul. I was careful to only get my things. I didn’t take anything that ran the house. Nothing from the kitchen, except my rooster collection. I didn’t touch his recliner. But the 14-foot sectional was mine. I bought that with the money I made working at Dress Barn. I got my three pictures of curved bridges, and my Nancy Drew mysteries, and my Oriental rug. I only took my stuff. That was my stuff. But I’ll admit, the timing was bad. My youngest daughter had planned a graduation party for the next day, at the house. And she was so angry with me. Lucas and Garrison have always supported me, but it was my final nail in the coffin with the other kids. They asked me to meet in the Target parking lot. It was like a scene from an Old Western. There was a drizzling rain. They stood across from me in a semi-circle. Each one stepped forward and gave me a kiss on the cheek, then returned to the circle. The youngest delivered a speech they’d prepared. I don’t remember the whole thing, but it basically said: ‘We don’t want you around.’ Before I went back to New York, I dropped all my stuff at the Total Mini-Storage. As the metal door came down on the unit, I said a little prayer: ‘God, help me find a home of my own one day. And let it be big enough to fit a 14-foot sectional.”

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