house, you'd never know to look behind the coats to see what is there. I remember the first day I had preschool, I got stuck in the broom closet. I had thought there would be a shortcut in there to the other side of the school. It took some time to get used to the fact that other people's rooms fit in their houses.
Of course, that is how first kids, then their parents, then the teachers, and then the whole town starts to think you are strange. Throw in two sets of missing people with an alcholic father and you get pitying looks wherever you go. I've heard it in town and school enough times, everyone thinks my dad is an alcoholic. They never wonder where he gets it, that he has never stepped foot in a liquor store since after my mom went away. Even before then it was only to get the odd bottle of wine. My folks were hardly the partying type, not with all of the halls of the house to explore. You'd think people could put two and two together and get a rational thought, but no, not in this town. They used to say things about me, but that stopped once I reached junior high and went out for the track team. I know I have an unfair advantage, being a natural runner, but dad suggested I take up some afterschool activity. It gave him more of an excuse to search the lower levels.
Once I started winning my heats and beating the high school track stars in our joint practices, people started being nicer to me. I was only a 7th grader, but they could see 5 more years of glory being brought to the school and town. Sometimes I could hear them whispering that I should go out for the football team, but contrary to expectations, I am not one for a pack. I like it being me, something I can control, against the others. I don't like failing because others fail. They always wondered how and when I trained - in the third hall, I can run though never-ending fields, either as a teen or as a half-grown dog. I figured out a long time ago how to get the collar on and off without my dad's help - and needless to say, I know better than to ask Mrs. Murtle, regardless of how nice she is and how little she gossips when she is in town.
The endurance I get in either shape transfers across the collar. The muscles and posture are different, but the will and freedom are the same.
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