Awaken

My ears pricked up and listened to the rush of voices and footsteps. Everyone was going out, but I couldn’t hear where too. The children hadn’t said anything, had they? I couldn’t recall.  The front door closed and I awoke fully. Shaking out my fur, I stretched and yawed. My tongue lolled out before curling back in. I felt the bed under my paws and the dull eyes of the other soft toys staring back at me.

In the distance, car doors slammed and the engine come to life. My ear rose up and down. I listened, wanting to make sure I was really alone. Too many close calls had happened. The car drove away and slowly, I crept to the edge of the bed. Listening again, just to be sure then sliding off the bed.

Avoiding a fallen doll, I padded to the window sill, jumped up and peered through the curtains. I kept still, lest anyone look up and see me. The driveway was empty and so was the street. For a few moments, I sat and watched the clouds rolling by and some birds landing on the roofs of the houses opposite.

Jumping off the ledge, I prowled around the large room. The floor was a mess of toys and games. I stepped around some train track and avoided some crayons. I went to the white wardrobe and I nudged open the door with my muzzle. Once it was open, the full length mirror showed me in all my glory.

My fur was light grey, my legs a shade darker and my toes carefully marked out. My face was small, my nose black with a softly drawn smile underneath. My muzzle was creamy white, my eyes amber, my ears white though grey on the other side and my wonderful tail was also grey. There was no confusing me.

I sat down, my tail twitching from side to side as I fell into my contemplation. Simple questions came into my mind, who was I? Why was I like this? What was my destiny? And what were the answers? A soft toy wolf come to life, through magic or love and to protect.  I put my head to one side and studied myself. I poked my tongue out and looked down at it till I went cross eyed.

Shaking my head, I closed the door and turned to look across the room. The bunk bed was opposite me and the fitted shelves behind me. There was a chest of draws ahead of me and two toy chests either side of it. Everything was wooden and white. I risked walking across the carpet again, trying not to disturbed anything.

Carefully making it to one of the toy boxes, I scrambled upon it and padded over to the draws. There was no way I could jump the difference, so I got off and went to the other side. Balanced on top of the second toy box was a Lego brick house. I stood on top of that and made the jump. My front paws it the side of the draw, but I couldn’t cling to it and thus fall, hitting the lego house on the way.

I landed heavily in a pile of multi-coloured bricks. Standing up and shaking, I stepped to the side and looked at the damage. There was no way I could fix that. Sulking away, I got up on the window sill again and howled. My lonely cry filled the room. It felt good, so I put my head back and howled some more. My voice soared around the room and my ears stood up to listen to the echo.

One day, I hoped something would reply. Though today, didn’t seem like the day. After a few more howls, I stopped and listened to the natural sounds of the house. My tail swayed in time with the clock and I danged it off the window still as I looked out some more.

A white van pulled up and two men got out. I froze, but carried on watching them though my glass eyes. They opened the gate and came up to the door. The bell rang. I listened to their muttering voices. A loud knocking almost made me jump then I saw them step back and look up at the house. One of them saw me and pointed. Had I moved?

I couldn’t see their expressions. They knocked on the door again then one of them went around to the fence. I listened hard and the fur rose up. There was something off about those two. Checking they weren’t watching me, I got down and went to the door. Luckily, it wasn’t fully closed and I was able to squeeze through.

I padded out and went to the top of the stairs. I could see one of the men through the door. Being careful, I went down the steps and crept along the wall. He knocked on the door again and I felt the vibrations going through my stuffing. Shaking it away and keeping my growl, I headed into the kitchen. After a quick look, around I saw the only thing I could get upon was the table and that wasn’t going to be good enough.

A shadow crossed the window. I looked up and saw the other man there. He went to the back door and rattled the handle. Slipping under the table, I let out a long howl. The door handle sudden stopped. I peered out and saw the man pressing himself against the frosted glass. I howled again, making it more threating.

He banged on the door then came to the window. I hide under the furthest chair, hoping the shadows would cover me well enough. I saw him looking through and around, confusion on his face. He went to the door again and this time as he knocked on the glass, I let out a massive growl.

He turned away and went passed the window again. I heard him scrambling back over the fence and I followed him back to the front door. I hide in the shadows of the stairs as he came to join his friend. I couldn’t see though the coloured glass door, but I could hear their harsh whispering voices.

I howled and threw in some growls. For a few moments, they didn’t move then they turned and went back to the gate. I rushed into the living room and using the armchair, got on the window sill. I knocked through the blinds and looked out. The men had gone back to their van and were standing before it, looking up at the house. I didn’t move, fear growing that they had all ready seen me.

However, they turned and got into the van. I heard it start and watched it drive away. My tail wagged. Home was safe again. Getting off the window ledge, I went back upstairs and spent a few minutes trying to place the lego house into a pile. The sounds of a car pulling up drew my ears back and I scrambled to the window.

Carefully, looking out I saw my family were back. With my tail madly wagging, I got down and took my position on the bed again. They’d never know I’d saved them, but it was all part of my job.

Insanity

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When you step into insanity anything can happen, but how you come out of it is what really counts.

Resentment

Does it matter that I’m going to die right here and now? Does it matter at all to anyone? The world won’t come to a stop at my death, I know that…everyone knows that. They only wonder about it. And everything will go on without me as it always has done. Do I resent my life though? All the pain and suffering I’ve caused in others, do I resent that? Maybe it doesn’t matter, maybe death is the absolute end.

And Heaven? Do I believe in that? I guess not, because I don’t believe in God. What about Hell then? I’ve heard people say that’s where I’ll end up…but if I don’t believe there can be one…maybe I’ve been living in it my whole life. Does anyone actually know? I doubt they’d even care anyways. I know there’s going to be no one to mourn my passing.

I had it all; the family, the friends, the lifestyle, the business. Money seemed never endless and I never knew what I ‘hard time’ was. Unless it just bypassed me because I was able to escaped it? The dreams and wishes I had as a child and young person, I achieved and so much more. The world lay at my feet for so long….and now this…..

Dying hurts. No matter what anyone says it does. My suffering has seemed long, though time moves differently when you realize the end is close. Does everyone feel such things before the body gives out? When I saw the footage of people dying in far off countries, when I saw animals worked to death, when the homeless and sick were at my door, begging, is their suffering any different to mine now?

I want to cry out and scream not me, not now, I still want to live, I can go on and change. Can’t anyone grant me that one wish that money can’t buy? I’ve become resentful. Remembering things from a past I had long buried and another that I made my future. I don’t believe in destiny, I made my own. I choice all the paths myself and no guiding hand of fate ever appeared it me. Why waste your life in believing suit dribble?

What I’d give right now though, to feel the sun’s heat one last time. Or to feel sand between my toes, hear the laughter of my children, hold my lover in my arms. Money can’t buy those things, like it can’t buy me time and life. How much I’ve missed in my blindness….those simple things that simple people rejoice in. Those things bypass the rich and famous. They fall on deaf ears and numb skin, they don’t exist in a martial world.

I don’t think I resent that though, those things. They can’t compare to the feel of money on my skin, or the excitement of an extreme sports car. Life should be made up of the big things not the small things…life should be dangerous and expensive. We are the masters…no Gods of the Earth. We can kill the mightiest of animals and wipe them from the plains. We can create life in a lab and travel through space. Those who have power are the greatest and we look down on the Lost of society.

Oh, yeah, I remember the Lost. You look at me now and do you see any stain of them on me? Anything that could make me from the gutter like them? No? Well let me tell you about my other past. It’s a secret I’ve squashed down for an age, even to myself. I made it into a story, a dream, that baby born in a public toilet wasn’t me. That baby was someone else and that child they grew into was someone else too. Why then do I remember their past? The pain of the abuse, the sting of tears and the sense of utter hopelessness? Why do these feelings crowd me so?

As you die why is it that the past always comes back to you? In those final moments why does the mind choice to show us these images? Why reminds of the suffering and not the good times? I can recall years of being in the hands of others. So many faces, names, houses, places, tall buildings, open grass land. There were people sitting behind desks, I peered out of wooden and metal bars. A blood splatter teddy bear in the bath.

Push them away! Return them to the back of my mind! Let them becomes lost in death. No one else need remember them, those where my times of pain….endless suffering….but I escaped. Escaped it all and learned to live again. People abandon their lives all the time and start a new one. It seems the easiest thing to do. Take some clothes, some money and a favourite toy. Get on the bus, a train, a plane and go to a new place. A new place! Where the sun is always shinning and when it does rain the pavements glow. There is no bitter wind or snow, nothing to remind you of home.

That’s new life for you.

If there is a God can he grant me that? Will I start all over again and come back. Come back and live a new time? I heard the theory of reincarnation once. How we all come back and it’s the cycle of life. You don’t always come back as a human though, it could be an animal or plant…but we never remember the past lives. What would we do with this knowledge anyways? We’ll tell stories to the children about how we were once an elephant stomping though Africa, until a hunter shot us and cut out our ivory tusks. And you remember the screams of our family and the fear in the baby’s eyes?

Such stories we would tell the world. They’d make a book and keep a record of everyone’s other lives to be studied. But it wouldn’t change the world. Even if people knew we can back as elephants we would still hunt them. It’s what mankind are programmed to do. Have I ever killed an animal? In my dark past I killed a cat to eat with some homeless men. In my new past I killed a stray dog because it bit my child. But I did these things to survive and I don’t regret them.

For years men have question what is in the beyond. We searched the lands, seas and skies looked for some truth in the old lies. We found nothing but old bones and silenced mouths. Now we searched space, hoping to reach out behind our means and make connect with other beings we believe exist. Of Heaven and Hell, of limbo, of Paradise of damnation, we have found nothing. How can the places exist then? Are they like the wind? But surely then we would feel them?

What do I feel? Empty….Am I sure? I lie. I feel fear and dread, for I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know if I’ve lived my whole life a lie and that when it turns out there is a God, surely my whole life will then be a regret. But what if there is nothing? Then I shall be nothing and remain so.

What did I do with my new life? Wasted it…my business grow, I gained friends, a lover, a family, a fortune. I threw it all away after those glory days. First my children left me and then my lover. My friends dwindled until they had all gone and the money? I spent it all. Threw it all into things I thought would make me happy, make me forget it all. I brought objects of beauty that should have been shared with the world, but I hide them away. Took long holidays in hot, dry countries or cold, snowy ones in which I studied the culture and learned the history of the peoples. I begin to live through the eyes of the others.

However, when I returned to my life, it didn’t change me. The people below me I wanted nothing to do with. I hide with those beauty objects on the island that was my house. But I never wanted to hide from the world. It is my deepest regret that person I became….the one you see before you now. I am corrupt by power, hatred, desire and money. This person is the end of my destiny, though I never choice that path. If there is a God in Heaven, can he forgive me? Has he been able to see what greed has done to me?

But if there is a God then surely there must be a Devil in Hell and can see my sins also. Will it be his hand I feel when the last breath comes? Will my soul rot in a fire pit forever? Wait! Do I even have a soul? If I don’t believe then maybe I don’t have one? But then again maybe I still do…maybe anything does have a soul and we just don’t know it. What does it look like? What does it do and feel? Can mine be saved, if that’s needed? Can it rest in peace until it’s allowed to return for another chance?

Maybe everything is wrong though and there is nothing. Just a made up tell for children to comfort them in dark times. We are living a lie then and then truth is always beyond our reach because we are not powerful enough to get it. Can that always be so? Will mankind never know the answers to those questions we ask in every generation? Maybe the truth doesn’t have to be found though, maybe we each know and we have always known, because it’s always been inside of us.

The pain is unbearable! Is this the end? What do I see before me? Darkness still. Is that to be all of it? Never ending darkness and drifting? Please let there be something more, please let there be something else. I’ve lost everything, but my sins. The cling to me still, but I want them gone….can they go…can I be forgiven as I become forgotten? Please if there is something out there now, hear me…I repent everything.

What is that whiteness? The dot in the corner of my eyes. It grows…so big and bright! What is it?

The Lost Unopened Letter

Treadwell Heights

Yorkshire

1887

My Dear Love,

I do not know how to write all that I must say to you. Too many times I have started writing and thrown the paper away. My quill has flown from my hand and left ink upon my desk. I have further upset the poor surface by my scattered things. It has all been in vain though, because I have failed in my given task!

My head and heart are in battle and I cannot note either one’s thoughts down. There is too much left to be said and the hourglass has run down. Alas, I still try even though the autumn sky grows darker and rain taps its mournful song against the windows. The servants bring the lamps and lit the fires, causing glows as colourful as the falling leaves against the walls.

You should know that I’ve walked Treadwell’s many corridors all day in the deepest of agonies. I have packed and unpacked my things many times. The maids whisper behind the doors and twice the groom has asked me if he stood prepare a carriage.

So, here it is my Love. I cannot be with you. My heart breaks to write such! It has not been an easy choice and though I yearn for adventures, my place is here. I cannot remove the shackles as you once called them. What will I do without these dusty empty halls and rooms? If I leave Treadwell will be shut forever and surely lost!

I picture you reading this and my heart breaks further. I image you standing on the merry ship’s deck as she leaves the docks and the fading cries of well-wishers. Rain falls softly on the paper like my tears causing the ink to run. Oh, read on my brave lion, I have further confessions to make.

It is not just Treadwell that binds me. Lord Cumberland has asked for my hand and I have decided to accept it. He will restore my beloved home and I shall be an orphan no longer. He and I shall never had what we had, but it will be content enough.

I pray that you do not return, for it will be too late. I hope you have many adventures and never forget me.

For I will never forget you, my one true love, my lion.

Adaline

Autumn Get Away

Sitting on the golden beach, coconut shell cocktail in hand, I relaxed and decided to no longer regret spending the last of my divorce money on this island holiday. I sipped my too sweet, ice chilled drink and listened to the sea waves hitting the shore in the distance. What I wanted more than ever was to pretended I was completely alone right now, but the other tourists were making that impossible.

I sighed as once again I heard an argument coming from the bar area. Turning and nudging down my sunglasses, I looked over and saw a young couple at the dried grass roofed wooden bar. I couldn’t quite make out what had happened, but the fast hand gestures and aggressive body language of the man drew me in.

Sipping more of my drink, I kept an eye on them. Until, disgruntled the man give up and stalked off along the beach with the woman shouting at him to come back. Putting my sunglass back up, I used them to hide behind as I check out the rest of the beach. Ten feet to my right were a forty-something couple with a two year old boy. Before they had been building sandcastles and smothering each other in sun cream, but now they were all sleeping in the mid-afternoon heat. Beyond them the beach ran on before turning a graceful sweep and disappeared behind the tall coconut palms.

To my left, a handful more tourists in their too bright and short clothes lay or sat on the sand. A brave few had set off to towards the sea, their footprints trailing behind them. Three people were clustered around the shade of the bar as if it was a life raft and four others, like myself were sat on the beach’s edge in white lounges.

Taking a longer drink through the twin straws, I placed my coconut shell down on the little side table and thought about taking a nap too. However, my mind was much to awake, despite the heat. I pulled the trashy chick-lit novel from my wicker bag and began reading it. A few pages later, my eyes became distracted by a tall man arriving at the bar. I peered over my book at him, finding his dark brown curly hair familiar and drawn by his long arms.

He got a drink in a green coconut shell then went to a lounge close to mine. As he folded his legs and arms over, my memory sparked up. He was my high school history teacher, Mr. Ford. What was he doing here?

I shoved my book back into my face and felt a childlike panic borrowing inside of me. My thoughts reeled; was it really him? How can it be? What’s he doing here? Term has started already. Okay, okay. It’s not him, just some who looks like him. Just get back to reading and chilling.

I coughed then took a few sips of my drink and got back to my book. My noise and movements had drawn his eyes and I knew without even looking that he was staring at me. I waited, expecting any moment he would look away then I could peek at him again. Finally, when I give in and flashed my eyes to him, he was still staring. I concentrated hard on my book, but the words had blurred before me and I’d forgotten why the main male character no longer wanted to be with his girlfriend. I risked another look; our eyes met and held each other’s.

Yes, there was no doubting it. It was Mr Ford. I’d know that slightly curling grin of his and sooth baby face anywhere. He looked a bit older and I recalled working out the age gap between us once, I think it had come to around ten years. He had been fresh out of university and told us that we should always aim higher. Then he’d rambled on about the Second World War or the Cold War and we’d stare blankly at him.

I smiled at him and turned back to my book, but instead of reading, I fantasist meeting him later on and sneaking into his hotel bedroom. Just as I got the courage up to ask him if he wanted a drink, he got up and left. I put my book into my lap and watched him carry his drink back to the bar. He abandoned it on the side with a glare from the bar man, and continued along the beach.

Maybe it really wasn’t him?

I dropped my shoulders and grabbed my coconut. In a few mouthfuls, I had finished it, leaving only the sediment and sticky bits. I gathered my stuff and went back to my hotel room, my thoughts still fantasising that I’d bump into him again and we’d have a holiday romance.

By the time I got on the plane to go home, I still hadn’t seen him again.

The Key

Reluctantly, he handed over the key and said goodbye to the house for the last time.

Granted (Her Part)

This was the right address for sure, though I still couldn’t believe it. The house is a straight rectangle, red bricked with large coloured glass windows. There was no front or back garden, instead there was just a gravel edging and small driveway for a car. A tall large, iron fence encloses the area with the only way in being a double gate.

I step to the side, still clutching the piece of paper and looking past the house. About eight feet up, was the end of a graveyard and there was only a brick wall keeping it from land sliding into the house.

I went to the door and rang the bell. I slip the paper into my bag and felt my slightly sweaty palms. A dog started barking. I jumped a little then hurriedly straighten out my cleaning uniform which consisted of blue trousers and a t-shirt. Long gone were those little black white laced dresses.

The door open, revealing a smiling old man with a pair of sunglass balanced on his nose. He had a nice light grey suit on and his right hand was holding the handle bar of a dog harness. I smiled at the yellow lab, who’s tail was wagging hard, before announcing myself.

Hi, I’m Daphne from the agency, we have an interview today.

He nodded, welcoming me in and closing the door behind me.

Can I stroke your dog? He looks very handsome.

I put my hand down and the dog licked my fingers. I laughed and wiped his drool away.

The old man indicted to the first room and we went in there.

So, this place is a converted Methodist church right?

He nodded and told me a brief history. Most of which I had read online.

I settled into the overstuffed chair, he had taken the other one, and looked around the room. It seemed sort of bare. There was a small fire place with some ornaments on top of the mantle, a matching sofa to the armchairs, a small side table and a glass case in the corner. The wallpaper was dark cream with climbing ivy flowers and the floor was wooden boards, beside from a large rug in the middle.

When he had finished I asked if he had ever been able to see?

He shook his head and launched into speech. One he’d given countless times. I really shouldn’t have asked, but the internet hadn’t told me much.

I understand that, don’t amputees feel the same? I’m sure I heard that somewhere.

My other jobs? There‘s been nothing out of the ordinary really. I just do what I can to make money. Things have been difficult these past few years.

You are a famous author. I’ve often read about you in some magazine or other. You’ve received many prizes and been to some huge events.

Well, I guess that’s one thing less to do, I thought and looked at Theo. He seemed mega happy, with his tongue rolling out and his tail beating a drum on the floor.

I’m afraid I’ve not read any of your works. I’m sorry.

Your books. I’ve no read any of them.

Read to you? Yes, of course. I use to do that in the home I worked in. What other duties will I have? I know what the job advert said, but it would be nice to clarify.

Well, that all seemed reasonable. I’m happy with that. Would I have to live here though?

I thought about telling him I was planning to move in with my boyfriend. But I held back. He waved a hand up as he spoke then it dropped as he become thoughtful once more. I waited, trying not to stare, but finding nothing in the room to set my eyes on. He opened his mouth again and told me the tasks to do with Theo. The dog looked up loving and excitedly as his name was said.

Yes. I love dogs. I’d be happy to help care for him.

Questions? Do you need support getting in and out of bed? Or the bath tub?

Well, that’s fine. What about the weekly shopping? Ah that’s good know.

How many people have you interviewed now? You don’t have to tell me and I’m just curious.

Allergic to dogs? Why did she even apply? The agency stated you had to be okay with dogs. That would make sense. Oh, well I guess most people are. Still though I’m sure you’ll make the right choice…. Me? Oh? Well, thanks. Can I have some time to think about it? Would that be okay?

Yes, I’ll get back in touch before the week is out. How many more people have applied?

I nod away as he flows on to into story then remember he can’t see. I look around the room again and decide that I might take the job. He seems a nice enough old man and it doesn’t seem like too much trouble.

I laugh as his story tails off and points out one flaw.

Didn’t the Victorians hide anyone with a disability away? Or something?

He sighs and agrees with me, before getting back to the interview.

No, there’s nothing else I can think of right now. Any questions from you?

He brings everything to a close then stands up.

Oh, it’s okay. I can show myself out. Please.

He waves me away and commands his dog to the door. Theo takes us there, his tail forever wagging. At the door, I watch his hands feel across it for the latch and handle. I fight down the urge to help him.

I will let you know. Thank you for seeing me today. Shall I get that…? It was nice to meet you too.

He opens the door and we say our goodbyes.

I step out and walk down to the gate. The door shuts behind me and I take in a deep breath of cold autumn air. I turn back as I step onto the street once again and look up at the house. Yes, I think I’ll be taking the job.

Granted (His Part)

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I’ve never been able to see. Let me make that clear before we start. As for your other questions, I’ve been told the easiest way to experience it is to wear a blindfold. Do I miss it? How can I missing something I never had. Would you miss your finger if I cut it off? Why of course you would, because you’ve had that finger all your life. You know what it can and can’t do, you know where it is, etc. If I took it, there’d be days when you believed it was there still. Yes. I do believe that amputees have similar experiences.

Now, about the job, the agency told me you’d had lots of pervious work, some of it sounded quite different from what’d expect of a young woman. Yes, I know things have been bad. I got lucky, I guess, old family inheritance and the early discovery of a gap in the book market. Money is never anything though.

Ah, you heard about that did you? Well, I don’t write much these days. And don’t worry about having to take me to any public events, I’ve not been to one in years. In fact, don’t worry about having to take me anywhere. Theo does all of that, don’t you boy? Good dog. Good dog.

Sorry, what did you say? No, of course not, why would you have read any of them. There are some none braille ones knocking around somewhere. You’ll find it’s the same with some other books I have. Speaking of which, would you be okay to read to me sometimes? I’ll probably fall sleep and start drooling before you’ve even read the first page! But it would be so nice to hear some of the stories again. Now, what else is there?

Oh, your duties, so as well as that, daily; cleaning, cooking, opening my letters. Once or twice a week; shopping and some errands. No, you don’t have to live here, though there are many bedrooms available. I can give you all the keys, no worries there. Let’s see what else was there? Oh, feeding Theo and making sure he was water. I always take him for his walks, it’s good for me. Though, you could give him a bath and a brush. I think he’s due one. Would that be okay with you?

Good. Any questions? No, you won’t have to get me up or put me to bed. I might be an old man, but I’m still capable. No bathing either. Yes, I’ll give you the shopping list and money. You’re the third interviewee I’ve had. The first one was allergic to dogs. Can you believe that? She sit through the whole thing sneezing. I told her I was sorry about the dust then as she was leaving she told me, adding that she couldn’t accept.

The second was a middle-aged man. He did well, but I don’t think I’ll be choosing him. There was just something, I don’t know. He was a fan and he’d never had a cleaning job before. Seems he was very down on his luck.

So, if you want the job, Daphne it’s yours’. Ah of course, take all the time you want. But please get back to me soon. I shall have to be back in touch with the agency before the week is out. Would that deadline suit you? Unfortunately not, you are the last. I only had three apply. I guess it’s because I demand too much. Most just wish for a simple cleaning job, not to be cook and butler too.

Sometimes, I think I was born into the wrong era. If I had lived in the eighteen century or even further back I could have had a whole army of servants. I don’t know. Maybe, that might have been the case…. Is there anything else? No, good. Please, let me show you to the door. Don’t worry about it. If I don’t get up every now and again, I’d just stay sitting or lying and there’s no way I’m ready to give into that. Follow me. Good boy Theo, front door. Door, Theo. So, you will let me know won’t you? Yes, just call me. Here we are. No, I’ve got it, thanks. It was nice to meet you, Daphne. Thank you. Goodbye now.

Well, Theo what do you make of her? She seemed nice didn’t she? A good replacement for Mary, would you say, boy? I know, I know. It’s time to go out now. Go get my keys. Good dog.

Colored Fox

Opening the colouring book to the first page, she studied the drawing. It was a fox appearing through a garden of flowers. Selecting her pens, she enjoyed listening to the scratch scratch sound across the paper. Her stress started melting way as colour brought the scene to life.

(Image from; http://batsford.com/blog/tag/millie-marotta/)

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