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skin.
Back at the house Dad bandaged me up, sitting me on his lap like he used to do when I was little, holding his left hand in the middle of my back as he cleaned up the little tear where I moved a little too quickly stretchin' out my shoulders.

"We need to work on that, N.B." He smiled, our faces half a foot away. "A slow stretch and burn without the quick jerking next time, okay pal?" I nodded yes.

"Dad?"

"Yeah, buddy."

"Do you miss Mr. Gill?" I don't know why I asked him, it just came out.

For a minute he stayed real quiet, bit his lip even and swallowed three or four times hard, making a little clickin' sound each time his adam's apple bottomed out below his whiskers. I didn't want to make my Dad cry but it looked at first like that's what was gonna' happen and right in front of me so close, it made me feel a little ill.

"I do."

That's all he said. He clamped his hand hard in the middle of my back and pulled me into his chest so hard the stubble on his cheek and chin ground through my hair into my scalp, burning a little. Dad held me like that for what seemed like ten minutes and I was pretty sure it was tears dripping down my back like wax from a candle, hot for a second. Burning, then gone.



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