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Philispburg, Montana

      Daddy carried the console radio, wrapped in a blanket, onto the U Haul trailer and wedged it between other belongings.  I watched with a feeling of heaviness as boxes were loaded.  I ran into the house to be sure that nothing was left behind.  It was hard to believe we were moving.  Only a few months had passed since the doctor advised Daddy and Mommy to move to a warmer, drier climate because of Mom’s health.

          My footsteps echoed against the empty walls of the house.  The black coal stove sat facing the furnished front room.  The windows were uncovered and ashamed in their nakedness.  Alone and forlorn, the rose kitchen’s cheerfulness seemed to have faded.  My bedroom felt lonely as I looked around the room.  Opening the closet door, I peered inside. Everything was gone. 

          “I don’t want to leave,” I said, just loud enough for the house to hear.  My stomach churned with the fear of the unknown.  In Philipsburg, and in this house, I was safe and secure.  I sensed that my life would never be the same as it had been here.  I straightened and wiped the tears from my cheeks and dried my eyes.  I didn’t want Daddy and Mommy to know I had been crying.
          I walked back through the front room, turned and lifted one hand. “Bye, house,” I said and opened the screen door, which gave me one last squeaking yawn.
          Dad was fastening the tarp over the U Haul; it resembled a tent with bulges.
“We’re loaded and ready to go,” Dad said to Mom.
          We took one last, lingering look at the red brick house.  The fact that we had only rented the furnished house meant nothing; the family times we had shared there had made it home.
          As Daddy drove our black 1949 Ford down the street we waved goodbye to neighbors.

          Our car pulled the hill heading out of Philipsburg, and I watched through the back window, as the houses grew smaller in the distance.  The road leveled, and all I could see was the U Haul following behind.  I turned in my seat and stared out the side window.  Montana ranch country sped by.  Cattle grazed in their pastures, and I was sure, with their heads hanging low, they were identifying with my sadness.