My mother

Was walking home one evening, when she saw a girl and a boy standing outside a dorm (we live next to a small college).

The boy was yelling and swearing and pushing at the girl, and she was standing there shaking, and my mother, seeing and hearing all this, couldn’t help herself. So as she was passing by, she said, “you know, young woman, he doesn’t love you.”

The boy started shouting at my mother’s retreating back, but she kept walking.

The next night, my mother was outside, getting fresh water at the nearby drinking fountain, when she saw the boy from the other night, with a friend, both of them drunk.

“This is the woman who made my girlfriend leave me,” the first guy said.

“I wasn’t trying to hurt you,” my mother said.

“Shut up and get your water,” said the other one. “Let’s hope you don’t choke on it.”

So my mother took her water bottle, and, instead of walking back to our house down an empty alley, with the two of them watching, she took a longer route, on the street, where there was light and people. She was being careful then, avoiding an attack.

But the girlfriend left, and maybe she’ll stay that way.

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