Thing 2 was a kept man. His crib was his cell. Prison life consists of routine, and then more routine. He slept sound. Sound enough, for someone still shy of his second birthday. It was the crib. He seldom slept away from it, and the few nights we tried to stay with friends or in hotels were quickly added to the pile of experiments we regret. He was a kept man, and he was comfortable.

These walls are funny. First you hate ’em, then you get used to ’em. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on them.

He depended on them. He stood at the railing and waved the day goodbye each night and rose to meet it again each morning. He was alone, but he was not lonely. Thing 1 visited often with hugs and nail files baked into cakes.

I dreamed of you. I dreamed you were wandering in the dark, and so was I. We found each other. We found each other in the dark.

Freedom found him today. One moment he was fighting the battle of boy against nap and the next he was walking down the hall with his pants in one hand and his shoes in the other. It was as if someone had returned his belongings to him and sent him on his way.

We asked him what happened. We asked him how he got out. He just nodded and handed me his shoes, filled with dirt and bits of clay. I dressed him and let him wander into the yard, a nap beaten and freedom gained.

I went into his room, bracing myself for the inevitable Rita Hayworth poster across the headboard of his crib. There was nothing but memories and questions that he wouldn’t answer.

What happens on the mile stays on the mile. Always has.

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