When I was 17 my mother helped me carry a half dozen boxes containing all that I owned to the third floor of Fake Hall, where I, being the last of three roommates to arrive, moved into half a cramped closet, two dresser drawers and the top bunk. A few weeks later I caught a ride back home, hooked up with a friend, and stopped by the trailer to visit her and the family dog, in whom resided the tear-strained story of my family's life. By this time my younger brother had spirited himself back to Florida, hitching a ride with our dad, who had once before snuck into New York and taken both my brothers and my sister, with their permission and without our mother's knowledge. She'd returned the favor a few weeks later by dropping me off to spend the day in Georgia with enough money for lunch, and returning that night with one brother and one sister. My sister hadn't returned to Florida and was at this point dividing her time between not-our-kind-of-people families in the neighborhood.
As visits go, the visit fit our family. "How are you?" "Fine." "How is school?" "Fine." She was packing her car. "Would you go to the store and buy a quart of oil? Get it in town." That was strange, but then, she was too; I obeyed. An hour later I returned with the oil. She was gone.
Thirty three years later there remains the rare, unexpected occasion when this still bothers me.