Amy was sitting on one of the chairs at the big oak table,
with an untouched plate of cookies and a glass of milk before her.
She’d taken off her backpack and was cradling it in her lap.
Jeanette looked at her as long as she would let herself, and then she knelt and hugged her.
“You be good now,” she said, and against her shoulder, Amy nodded.
Jeanette meant to say something else, but couldn’t find the words.
She thought about the note she’d left inside the knapsack,
the slip of paper they were sure to find when Jeanette never came back to get her.
She hugged her as long as she dared.
The feeling of Amy was all around her, the warmth of her body, the smell of her hair and skin.
Jeanette knew she was about to cry, something the woman—Lucy? Lacey?—couldn’t see,
but she let herself hold Amy a moment longer,
trying to put this feeling in a place inside her mind, someplace safe where she could keep it.
Then she let her daughter go, and before anybody said another word,
Jeanette walked from the kitchen and down the driveway to the street,
and then kept right on going.