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I was on my way across Alligator Alley to see one of my favorite singers in concert.  I stopped to stretch my legs and take a few photos. The giant parking lot was empty. Cars zoomed past in front of me heading across the alley. Just before I climbed back into my car, a man stuck his head out the window of a truck and began howling whistling and barking at me. My first thought was, seriously, this is still happening? How do guys still think this behavior is okay? Then I thought about my manuscript. Of course, it’s still happening it’s why I felt so compelled to write a story about human trafficking.

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They placed her in my arms. I thought they had made a mistake and brought me the wrong baby. She was so big with beautiful dark curls framing her face. When she left to be with who we were told would be her adoptive mother she was a tiny three-month-old that had been with us over two months. I hardly recognized the six-month old I held in my arms. She cried and cried refusing to be set down even for a second. I understood. For the next several months she was either in my arms or my husbands. That summer her brother and sister came to live with us too. They were two and three years old. We had five children under six–seven of us in a two bedroom house owned by my grandparents.

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We took their leashes off and watched as they bolted across the sand splashing in the waves, sunlight on their backs, running as fast as their legs would take them. Their excitement over their newfound freedom filled me with happiness. The pups I once held in my palms were now ninety-pound dogs ready to explore the world. They kept going and going until all we could see were two wagging tails in the distance. Worry seeped in. Maybe we gave them too much freedom? What if they got lost or hurt?

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My mother-in-law was sitting outside a store in her power wheelchair drinking a cup of coffee waiting for her ride when a stranger walked by and dropped some coins into her coffee cup. Imagine her surprise! She had no idea she needed help.

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A quiet house

Door opens to smiling faces

My babies are home



Food filling the fridge and spilling onto the counter





And a giant pan of mac-n-cheese

Familiar voices fill the living room late into the night, teens that have grown to adults

My heart content, feeling a peace I never fully understood I’d lost

All is well

Conversations at breakfast, mugs of coffee refilled

Sunny, crisp air, days with books in our hands for hours

Decorations pulled from bins, scattered throughout the house

Icicle lights sparkling

Pups tails wagging, waiting by their leashes

Memories fill the space we call home. Our separate lives become one.

We are family. We are love. We are together.

The gentle unease returns

Backpack full. He’s leaving

“Text when you arrive.”

“I’ll see you soon.”

Waving, watching the wheels drive away


Pups tails are still

Three remain

One last movie

One last morning coffee

One more goodbye


The hum of the dishwasher

The shuffling of paws on the floor

A peace is missing

My babies have learned to fly

A quiet house

The storm’s been brewing for a year. I’ve seen it off in the distance. I’ve felt its presence every day. It’s the storm of change. Most days I’ve ignored it, but now it’s overhead, ready to blow the past away forcing me to start anew.

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