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A little voice carried across the table. “Why did you end MYSTIC that way?” Students gathered around waiting for me to sign their books. I heard her question and desperately wanted to answer. However, I had made a promise not to give away the ending to some of her fellow students who were halfway through MYSTIC.

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Love. I stopped at the vet to pick up Roscoe and Smudge’s heart and flea meds. My mind raced with everything on my to-do list. The line to check-out was long. I waited. That’s when an open door caught my attention. A metal table. A towel. A tiny brown body lying still.

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I get to meet a lot of new people every day. I’m either surrounded by teens when I substitute teach, or adults as I strike up conversations with people at the gym, dog park, or grocery store. Most of the topics include the weather, running, dogs, and occasionally writing. Lately, people have been telling me their stories. Since I prefer listening to talking, I enjoy hearing about their lives.

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Bittersweet. It’s a word that has resonated with me lately. It seems there is this pull on my heart like puppies tugging on a rope; one end is joy, the other sadness. I search for the place right in the middle where I can stop and take it all in.

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It was May of 1990. Eric and I had just met in March, and it was my twentieth birthday. We were living in Los Angeles. He came to my apartment carrying a present. I opened it. He bought me a coffee maker.  I was surprised. My new boyfriend didn’t get me a necklace or earrings. He got me a kitchen appliance. In only a few weeks of dating, he had already learned the important role coffee played in my life. Of course, I thanked him, but in my mind I was wondering if things were going to work out between us. I mean, a coffee maker? Even back then the budding feminist in me (who has grown enormously over the years) did not appreciate a man getting a woman something for the kitchen. Then every morning as I brewed my coffee before work I thought of him. Twenty-five years later that coffee maker holds a special place in my memory. And now he’s the one who does all the buying of our kitchen appliances and handles most of the cooking. I couldn’t care less. So, it was actually a great beginning to our relationship.

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I was about five years old. I followed my grandmother to one of their spare bedrooms. It was the one that had creaky old stairs leading to the attic. Rarely did anyone ever go in the room. As a young child, it frightened me. My grandmother opened the closet door and grabbed a box from the top shelf. Inside were unopened toys! She had hidden an entire box full of toys in the creepy attic room.

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