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Where They Go By Ron Heacock


―Mom, where do they go when they die?‖ She was loading bags of groceries into the trunk of the car. She did


not answer. I walked over to the bird lying on the brown mulch piled up next to a skinny tree. The mulch was surrounded by a concrete curb in the FoodMart parking lot. The bird, one dull beady eye staring, was some kind of brown and grey sparrow-like thing. One wing was stretched out, and its neck bent the wrong way. ―Mom?‖ I repeated, looking down at the bird. She must have thought I was going to pick it up because she grabbed


my shoulder and pulled me toward the car. I might have already bent down. The sun glinted off the chrome bumper. ―Don‘t touch dead birds, Sammy. They carry diseases.‖ ―Where do they carry them?‖ I asked. She didn‘t answer, just pushed me into the back seat and closed the


car door. I could hear her through the rolled up windows, ―You didn‘t touch it did you? Buckle up now, you know, seat belts save lives.‖


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―It‘s a sin to tell a lie,‖ she said. It was a different day, the weather was cooler. We were in the garage,


having just returned from the eye doctor. After she closed the garage door the sun shined through the cracks between the door panels, painting lines on the cement floor. It smelled like fertilizer, motor oil, and gasoline. I told her that I dreamed I was in the backyard, but then I woke up, and I really was in the backyard. The grass was wet. I was in my pajamas looking up at the cold, black, starry sky. I started to cry, and I wished I was back in my bed. So that‘s why there were leaves and stuff on the sheets this morning; ‗cause my feet got dirty in my dream. I asked, ―What‘s a sin?‖


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