DAD PULLED THE TRUCK into the lean-to and the three of them–Dad, Mama and Cal–listened to the engine die.   Cal’s wool suit scratched against the seat with every breath he exhaled. Staring at the plank wall, he recollected Jean’s train rolling into the distance, knowing that his parents’ spirits were strung behind it, bouncing on the cross ties like empty cans.

Without wanting to peek at her, Cal and his father waited to see how Jean’s absence would weigh on Mama now, whether she would pick up and go on, or melt in front of them.