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Carolyn Matherne

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Member Since: Apr, 2009

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Books
· Iron Assed and Oil Field Trash


Short Stories
· Fresh Milk 1968

· Love Potion Number 9

· When Ms Orrie Died

· Momma's In The Well!

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Prologue to Growing Up Burns
By Carolyn Matherne
Posted: Sunday, August 28, 2011
Last edited: Thursday, September 06, 2012
This short story is rated "PG13" by the Author.

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Recent stories by Carolyn Matherne
· Fresh Milk 1968
· Love Potion Number 9
· Momma's In The Well!
· When Ms Orrie Died
           >> View all 5
This was written shortly after my fathers death, a time I was wallowing in reflective grief.The drawing is of my sister Margaret who recently married and specifically asked me to draw her a picture. This was what I came up with.
 

IT IS SAID THAT AFTER DEATH HAIR ON THE HUMAN BODY WILL CONTINUE TO GROW  IN SUCH TINY INCREMENTS- AT LEAST THAT WAS SOMETHING I RECALLED SOMEONE SAYING A VERY LONG TIME AGO. I DON’T THINK IT IS TRUE. I WATCHED THE SHINY STRETCHED SKIN ON MY DYING FATHERS FACE, FOR THIRTY SIX HOURS AND WHEN HE FINALLY DID DIE, THERE WAS NO STUBBLE, NOT EVEN THE BAREST OF STIFF WHISKERS TO SCRATCH MY LIPS WHEN I KISSED HIS COLD SKIN FOR THE VERY LAST TIME.

THERE ARE A LOT OF MISCONCEPTIONS AND UNTRUTHS THAT ARE FOSTERED AND SHARED AS IF THE SACRED MOTHER HERSELF THRUST THEM UPON US. ONE IN FACT BEING THAT HAIR FOCLICLES CONTINUE TO PRODUCE AFTER DEATH.

THAT WAS NOT SOMETHING THAT WAS IN MY THOUGHTS AS I OBSERVED THE MANY HOURS OF MY FATHERS DANCE WITH DEATH. WHAT WEIGHED SO HEAVILY ON MY MIND WAS A TORENT OF MEMORIES, ALMOST ALL VERY SAD MEMORIES OF CHILDHOOD. HAD IT JUST BEEN MY OWN IT WOULD HAVE BEEN A MUCH SHORTER MUCH SWEETER REMEMBERANCE. I HAD BEEN THE OBEDIENT ONE, THE GOOD LITTLE GIRL, THE ONE WHO FEARED MY FATHERS WRATH ENOUGH NOT TO GO AGAINST HIS WISHES.

NO, IT WAS NOT MEMORIES OF MY OWN THAT SET WITH THE DYING THOSE MANY HOURS.

MY PARENTS HAD ALMOST A DOZEN CHILDREN, SIX SONS AND FIVE DAUGHTERS. I WAS TANGLED SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE MEELEE, PERHAPS THE REASON I FEEL SO OVERWHELMED AT TIMES. LIKE A ROCK ON A STORMY BEACH BEING BATTERED BY ANGRY WAVES ON THE ONE SIDE AND CONSTANTLY WHIPPED BY A NEVER ENDING SHARP WIND ON THE OTHER. A VERY TINY ROCK WEDGED AMONG MANY OTHER COLD AND VERY HARD ONES., WEDGED TIGHTLY AMONG LARGER AND HARDER ONES THAT CRUMBLED AND BROKE AS I COULD ONLY WATCH THE BITS AND PIECES BEING DRAGGED AS IF TO AN ABYSS.

I WAS NOT STRONGER THAN MY BROTHERS OR SISTERS. I WAS THE WEAKER ONE, THE ONE WHO NEVER STOLE CANDY FROM THE GROCERY COUNTER. I NEVER SNEAKED MY MOTHERS MARLBOROS TO SMOKE UNDER THE BACK PORCH. I NEVER SKIPPED SCHOOL TO SPEND THE DAY WITH SOME PIMPLY FACED BOY OR TO GO SHOP LIFTING WITH MY FRIENDS.

IN FACT I HAD NO FRIENDS. MY FATHER WAS FIERCELY ADAMENT THAT WE MUST REMAIN ‘SEPERATE FROM THIS OLD WORLD’ AND I DID. I HAD NO FRIENDS AT SCHOOL AND NONE AT HOME.

SO MOST OF THE MEMORIES KEEPING THE DEATH WATCH WERE MEMORIES OF THE TERRIBLE THINGS MY OWN BROTHERS AND SISTERS ENDURED DURING THEIR TIME WITH MY PARENTS.

 

MY FATHER WAS BORN A TWIN, THE ELEVENTH OR TWELVTH  CHILD OF THIRTEEN BORN TO MY GRANDMOTHER. ALL THIRTEEN WERE THE OFFSPRING OF MY GRANDMOTHER , MY GRANDFATHER AND ACCORDING TO MY FATHERS RECOLLECTIONS, ALSO THE OFFSPRING OF MY GREAT UNCLE. I DON’T KNOW HOW MUCH OF THIS WAS FACTUAL, I ONLY KNOW IT SEEMS TO BE A PART OF WHO WE ARE.

IF IN FACT MY GRANDMOTHER DID MARRY AND HAVE CHILDREN BY ONE BROTHER AND THEN TAKE UP WITH AND HAVE MORE CHILDREN BY ANOTHER- PERHAPS THAT EXPLAINS MY FAMILIES NEED TO KEEP EVERYTHING PERSONAL AND PRECIOUS ALL WITHIN THE FAMILY.

LONG HOURS PASSED AS I HELD MY FATHERS FEVERISH DYING HAND, AS HIS EVERY LABORED BREATH COUNTED DOWN THE LAST OF HIS LONG TORTURED LIFE. THE NURSES HAD COME AT FIRST, TO TURN HIS BENT FRAIL BODY ON SCHEDULE, EVEN CONTINUING TO PRICK HIS SWOLLEN AND DISCOLORED FINGERS TO SEE WHAT SUGAR LEVELS WAS IN HIS BLOOD. EACH TIME THEY CAME IN PAIRS, TO CAREFULLY MOVE THE DYING MAN TO ANOTHER POSITION, CAREFULLY ADJUSTING THE SHEEPSKIN BOOTIES ON HIS FEET, THE PROTECTIVE PADS MEANT TO HELP PREVENT THE DETERIOATION OF HIS VERY THIN AND FRAGIL SKIN. FOR FOUR YEARS THEY HAD CAREFULLY MONITORED MY FATHERS CONDITION, MAKING SURE HIS DIABETES WAS CONTROLLED AND CONSTANT TURNING AND MANUEVERING HIS CRIPPLED BODY SO AS TO PREVENT THE DREADED BEDSORES THAT CAME FROM AN OLD BODY LYING TOO LONG IN ONE PLACE.

AT SOME POINT DURING THE EARLY MORNING HOURS I FINALLY CAME TO THE REALIZATION THAT MY FATHER WAS INDEED GOING TO DIE. THE NURSES HAD COME QUIETLY INTO HIS ROOM AND WERE GENTLY MOVING HIS TIRED BODY INTO ANOTHER POSITION, MURMURING WORDS OF COMFORT AS HE WEARILY MOANED IN TIRED PROTEST AT BEING INTERRUPTED ON HIS SLOW AND TEDIOUS JOURNEY FROM THIS WORLD. I EMERGED FROM MY NUMBING AND PAINFUL MAUDLING LONG ENOUGH TO INQUIRE IF THE SCHEDULED TURNING OF MY FATHERS FRAIL BODY WAS REALLY NECESSARY, AND WAS THE STEADY PRICKING OF HIS CRIPPLED HANDS FOR A SPOT OF BLOOD GOING TO DO ANYTHING TO MAKE WHAT TIME HE HAD LEFT ANY BETTER. THE NURSES SADLY SHOOK THEIR HEADS, ADMITTING DEFEAT. MY FATHER WAS DYING IN SPITE OF THEIR CONTINUED CARE AND NOTHING WAS GOING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. THEY ACCEPTED MY REQUEST THAT MY FATHER BE LEFT ALONE, NOT BE MOVED AGAIN AND THAT THEY NOT PRICK HIS GNARLED AND CRIPPLED OLD FINGERS ANY MORE.  THE NURSE IN CHARGE EXPLAINED THAT THEY WERE ONLY TRYING TO MAINTAIN HIS VITAL FUNCTIONS OTHERWISE HE WOULD SLIP INTO A DEEP COMA BEFORE DYING. I ONLY ASKED IF HE WOULD FEEL PAIN OR DISCOMFORT IF HE WAS NOT FURTHER TREATED AND DID INDEED SLIP AWAY. THEY ASSURED ME THAT HE WOULD NOT. AT MY REQUEST THEY LEFT MY FATHER ALONE AND CAME ONLY TO PEEK INSIDE FROM TIME TO TIME TO SEE IF THERE WAS ANYTHING THEY COULD DO FOR ME.

MY FATHER NEVER ROUSED AGAIN, NEVER AGAIN TOLD ME THAT HE LOVED ME. EIGHT HOURS PASSED AS HIS LIFED EBBED SLOWLY AWAY. IT WAS ALMOST LIKE WATCHING SOMEONE BLEED TO DEATH, ONE TINY DROP AFTER ANOTHER, ONE SLOW RAGGED BREATH AFTER A SLOWER MORE RAGGED BREATH.

MEMORIES FLOODED THE SPACE BETWEEN US. I NEVER TOOK MY EYES FROM MY FATHERS FACE, EVEN WHEN THE NURSES CAME QUIETLY TO THE DOOR. IT WAS LIKE WATCHING A RIOTOUS TELEVISION SCENE ALL THE WHILE REAL LIFE WAS ALSO BEING TRANSPOSED ON THE SAME SCREEN. I WATCHED MY FATHERS FACE, COULD HEAR HIS LABORED BREATHING SHARING SPACE WITH ALL THE PAINFUL MEMORIES THAT STILL PLAGUE THE FAMILY.

I SAW FRANK TEETERING ON AN IRON PIPE TRYING TO WRAP A CHAIN JUST SO, ENDURING OUR FATHERS DERISION AND CRITISIM. THE CHAIN WAS NEVER PLACED TO SUIT OUR FATHER. HIS INSTRUCTIONS WERE SUCH THAT THERE WAS NO WAY FRANK COULD EVER GET IT RIGHT. EVEN IF HE HAD, IT GAVE DADDY GREAT SATISFACTION TO BE ABLE TO MAKE FRANK FEEL STUPID. THAT MEMORY STILL PLAYS IN MY MIND. WHY WAS IT SO IMPORTANT TO MAKE HIS SON FEEL SO INADEQUATE?

I ALSO SAW AGAIN THE WAY FRANK DROPPED A BAT AT HOME PLATE AND RAN AWAY FROM THE GAME TO HIDE BEHIND THE GYMNASIUM WALL AFTER SOMEONE HAD YELLED “HERE COMES YOUR DAD!”

BUT THEY DID NOT SPOT DADDY SOON ENOUGH. HE USED A BELT TO BEAT FRANK UNMERCIFULLY THAT AFTERNOON WHEN WE GOT HOME FROM SCHOOL.

FRANK HAD DISOBEYED AND WAS NOT ‘APART FROM THIS OLD WORLD.’

I BLAMED BOTH MY PARENTS FOR WHAT HAPPENED TO MY BROTHER FRANK., FOR HIS LEAVING THE HORRIBLE CONDITIONS AT HOME AND ACCEPTING THE HORRIBLE CONDITIONS WITH THE AWFUL PERSON HE MARRIED. IF ONLY THERE HAD BEEN LOVE AND KINDNESS INSTEAD. FRANK DIED AT FORTY TWO. HE DIED BECAUSE HE ACCEPTED A STUPID BITCH AS A WAY OUT OF THE HELL AT HOME. THAT STUPID BITCH SUCKED EVERY BIT OF LIFE FROM HIM. FRANK LIVED FORTY TWO HELLISH YEARS. I STILL BLAME BOTH PARENTS FOR WHAT THEY DID AND I BLAME HIS WIDOW FOR CARRYING OUT AN UNJUST DEATH SENTNCE.

I COULD SEE POOR LITTLE JOHNNY ON THE BUS RIDE HOME. HE WAS MAYBE SIX YEARS OLD AND HE LOOKED SO SCARED AND HELPLESS HOLDING HIS BROKEN GLASSES. WE WERE ALL SAD. EVERYONE ON THE SCHOOL BUS KNEW THAT LITTLE BOY WAS IN TROUBLE. IT DIDN’T MATTER THAT HIS GLASSES WERE BROKEN BY ACCIDENT OR THAT JOHNNY COULD NOT HELP WHAT HAPPENED. ALL THEY KNEW WAS THAT OUR FATHER WOULD PUNISH THE POOR LITTLE BOY FOR HAVING BROKEN GLASSES. AND HE DID.

JOHNNY WAS PUNISHED OFTEN AND SEVERLY. HE WAS PUNISHED FOR NOT PULLING ALL THE WEEDS FROM THE GARDEN. IT DIDN’T MATTER THAT HE COULD NOT SEE. ALL THAT MATTERED WAS THAT HE DIDN’T DO WHAT HE WAS TOLD. THERE WAS NO MERCY FOR BEING BLIND.

AND WHEN JOHNNY STOLE A MOTORCYCLE TO RUN AWAY FROM THE HORRIBLE PAIN INFLICTED AT HOME, HE WAS AGAIN PUNISHED BY OUR FATHER BY BEING PLACED IN A REFORM SCHOOL.

I RECALLED THE PAIN AGAIN AND AGAIN AND I DISTIBCTLY REMEMBER THINKING MY PARENTS SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE ONES LOCKED UP. I BLAMED BOTH OF THEM FOR EVERYTHING THEY ALLOWED MY BROTHER TO BE PUT THROUGH.

I HAVE MIXED FEELING ABOUT MY SISTER MARGARET.

IF THERE WAS EVER A DEVILS SPAWN- SHE PROBABLY WOULD BE IT. FROM AS LONG AS I CAN REMEMBER MARGARET WAS A BLEND OF BOTH OUR PARENTS. SHE HAD OUR MOTHERS DECEIT AND LACK OF BACKBONE BUT SHE HAD OUR FATHERS CRUEL CUNNING AND HATE. I AM NOT SURE WHERE HER PROPENSITY TO STEAL ANYTHING CAME FROM- I GUESS IT WAS JUST AN ‘EXTRA’ CHARACTER FLAW. I LOVED MY OLDER SISTER BUT NEVER LIKED HER. SHE SEEMED TO DELIGHT IN SEEING OUR FATHERS HARSH PUNISHMENTS HANDED OUT, ESPECIALLY WHEN FRANK WAS THE RECIPIENT. I LEARNED VERY EARLY THAT ALMOST EVERYTHING SHE SAID WAS NEVER THE TRUTH. FOR SOME UNGODLY REASON, MARGARET SEEMED UNABLE TO SIMPLY TELL THE TRUTH! EVEN WHEN IT DID NOT MATTER.  IF HER LIES HAD BEEN IN SELF DEFENSE OR IN DEFENSE OF HER YOUNGER SIBLINGS OR EVEN IN DEFENSE OF OUR MOTHER I COULD UNDERSTAND HER REASONS TO LIE. BUT HER LIES SERVED NO PURPOSE MOST OF THE TIME. THEY WERE JUST BIG STUPID SOUNDING STORIES THAT SHE HAD A HARD TIME KEEPING STRAIGHT.

I DON’T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO MARGARET TOMAKE HER FEEL THE NEED TO COVER UP EVERYTHING WITH AN ELABORATE STORY THAT MORE OFTEN THAN NOT MADE NO SENSE. I THINK THERE WAS SOMETHING DEEP DOWN THAT SHE KEEP PUSHING DOWN AND HAMMERING DOWN AND PILING ON TOP OF IN SOME DESPERATE MEASURE TO KEEP IT FROM SURFACING AND CONSUMING HER COMPLETELY. IT WAS ALMOST AS IF EVERYTHING SHE DID WAS A CHOICE MADE BY TOSSING A COIN, WITHOUT ANY THOUGHT OR CONSCIOUS REASONING. LIKE HER BEING HELLBENT TO SNEAK AROUND AND SMOKE!  EVERYTIME SHE WAS CAUGHT SHE TOOK A HELLUVA BEATING, YET SHE WOULD IMMEDIATELY GO RIGHT BACK AND DO IT AGAIN. 

ONCE A NEIGHBOR BROUGHT HIS CAR TO OUR HOUSE FOR FRANK TO WORK ON. EVEN AS A TEENAGE FRANK WAS A REALLY GOOD MECHANIC AND EVERYONE KNEW IT. AFTER THE MAN PICKED UP HIS VEHICLE HE CAME BACK AND TOLD OUR FATHER THAT HIS CIGARETTES WERE MISSING.

FRANK TOOK A TERRIBLE BEATING BECAUSE OF THE MISSING CIGARETTES.

I WILL ALWAYS BELIEVE THAT MARGARET TOOK THOSE CIGARETTES!

MARAGRET RAN AWAY FROM HOME WHEN SHE WAS SEVENTEEN. THAT WAS ONE BIG FAILURE.WITHIN THREE DAYS SHE WAS BACK AND HAD BLACK AND BLUE BELT MARKS FOR HER TROUBLE.

MARGARET AND I WERE SO DIFFERENT. I HAD NO FRIENDS AND STILL HAVE SO FEW. MARGARET ALWYS HAD ‘FRIENDS’, IF THEY COULD BE CALLED FRIENDS- EVEN THOUGH SHE WAS A CONSUMATE LIAR, A THIEF AND WAS SO VICIOUSLY CRUEL.

I WATCHED MY FATHERS FACE AS HE WAS DYING AND ONCE AGAIN WONDERED WHY THAT MAN CAME INTO THE ROOM I SHARED WITH MARGARET WHEN I WAS ABOUT TWELVE.

I CAN STILL SEE THE MOONLIGHT THAT CAME THROUGH THE WINDOW AND SPILLED ACROSS THE BED WE SHARED. MARGARET WAS LYING AT THE OPPOSITE END OF THE BED, HER FEET AND LEGS BATHED IN MOONLIGHT, HER DECEPTIVE FACE AND EYES IN SHADOWS. I AWOKE, INSTINCTIVELY CLUTCHING THE WRIST OF A MAN STANDING OVER ME. I COULD EASILY SEE HIM IN THE MOONLIGHT ROOM. HE WAS WEARING A WHITE T-SHIRT AND WAS STANDING RIGHT AGAINST THE BED, HIS HAND ON MY STOMACH, RIGHT ABOVE MY NAVEL. I WAS CLUTCHING HIS WRIST AS I TRIED TO RISE TO MY ELBOW. I REMEMBER ASKING ‘’WHAT DO YOU WANT?’’ IN MY SLEEPY CONFUSION I THOUGHT IT WAS ONE OF THE BOYS AND IT TOOK AN COUPLE OF SECONDS TO REALISE IT WAS NOT ONE OF MY BROTHERS. BY THE TIME I WAS AWAKE ENOUGH TO REALISE IT WAS A STRANGER STANDING OVER MY BED, THAT STRANGER HAD DARTED FROM THE ROOM. I REMEMBER GETTING UP TO FOLLOW AND MARGARET WHISPERING ”DON’T MOVE!”

SHE HAD LAYED THERE ALL THAT TIME AND WATCHED HIM COME INTO OUR ROOM AND WATCHED AS HE REACHED DOWN AND TOUCHED ME. WHY???

I ASKED HER ONCE ABOUT THAT NIGHT AND SHE LIED. I’LL ALWAYS BELIEVE SHE KNEW WHO THE STRANGER WAS AND WHY HE WAS THERE. BUT REGARDLESS WHAT STORY SHE WOULD EVER TELL, I’LL NEVER BELIEVE THAT SHE IS TELLING IT TRUTHFULLY.

I REMEMBERED FINDING A CRYSTAL BULLDOG IN HER WHITE WOOL COAT POCKET. I KNEW IMMEDIATELY WHERE THE BEAUTIFUL FIGURINE CAME FROM. IT WAS A PAPERWEIGHT FROM THE SUPERINTENDENT’S DESK. I KNEW IT BELONGED TO MR. ROSS. AND I REMEMBER STILL HOW SCARED I WAS AS I CLUTCHED THE COOL GLASS BETWEEN SHAKY FINGERS BURIED DEEP IN MY STAINED PARKA POCKETS, PASSING THE DOORWAY TO HIS OFFICE OVER AND OVER, WAITING FOR THE OPPORTUNE TIME TO DART IN AND SET THE FINGURINE BACK WHERE IT CAME FROM.

I HAD NO PLAN FOR WHAT I WOULD DO OR SAY IF I HAD BEEN CAUGHT RETURNING THE CRYSTAL BULLDOG. I STILL DO NOT KNOW WHAT I WOULD HAVE SAID TO EXPLAIN WHY IT WAS IN MY POSSESSION. LOOKING BACK NOW IT WAS A WONDER THAT I WASN’T BLAMED FOR THE THEFT. I DO REMEMBER THOUGH, I NEVER SHARED THAT INFORMATION WITH ANYONE FOR THE NEXT THIRTY YEARS. I NEVER CONFESSED TO ANYONE THAT I HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE CRYSTAL FIGURINE BEING TAKEN FROM MY SISTERS COAT AND BEING PLACED BACK ON THE MR. ROSS’S DESK, NOT UNTIL I TOLD OUT MOTHER SHORTLY BEFORE SHE DIED.

I HAVE OFTEN WONDERED THOUGH, WHAT DID MARGARET THINK WHEN SHE PASSED THE SUPERINTENDENTS OFFICE AND SAW THAT CRYSTAL PAPERWEIGHT BACK WHERE SHE HAD TAKEN IT FROM??????

I SAT BESIDE DADDYS BED AND WISHED I COULD TELL HIM ABOUT HOW HENRY AND I HAD LAUGHED ABOUT HOW MUCH FUN IT WOULD BE TO FOLLOW MARGARET TO ONE OF THE CHURCHES SHE WENT TO- THE ONE WHERE THE PREACHER WOULD SWING SNAKES AROUND AND CONJURE ALL SORTS OF WHATEVER- MOSTLY MONEY I SUSPECT-FROM HIS STUPIFIED CONGREGATION.

 HENRY/ PACHO AND I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE A LOT OF HILARIOUS FUN TO GO IN WITH OUR OWN COLLECTION OF RUBBER SNAKES AND CATCH MARGARET WHEN SHE WAS THE MOST MESMERISED BY BRO JIM JONES, OR WHATEVER HIS NAME WAS- AND SIMPLY TOSS THE WHOLE LOAD OF RUBBER WRITHERS RIGHT INTO HER UPRASIED ARMS. THE ONLY THING THAT STOPPED US WAS WONDERING IF BRETHERN JONES MIGHT RETURN THE FAVOR AND TOSS US A WHOLE SHITLOAD OF REAL DIAMONDBACKS!

I WANTED TO TELL THAT STORY TO DADDY, EVEN AS HIS LIFE WAS PASSING. I DIDN’T THOUGH. IT WOULD HAVE BEEN TOO GREAT AN EFFORT FOR THE GUTLOAD OF BELLY LAUGHS THAT HE WOULD HAVE GOT OUT OF IT ALL AND I KNEW HE WAS TOO TIRED BY NOW.

MORNING SUNLIGHT WAS STREAMING THROUGH THE WINDOW WHEN DADDY TOOK HIS LAST BREATH. I SAT SILENTLY FOR A LONG TIME JUST LOOKING AT HIS PEACEFULNESS. TEARS BEGAN TO ROLL DOWNMY CHEEKS AND I FINALLY ALLOWED MYSELF TO CRY. I GRIEVED DEEPLY FOR THE LIFE MY FATHER HAD SPENT DEEP IN DEBILITATING MENTAL ILLNESS AND I WAS GRATEFUL FOR THE QUALITY OF LIFE HE HAD ENJOYED AT THE MANOR NURSING HOME, THE ONLY TIME HIS LIFELONG MENTAL ILLNESS WAS SUCESSFULLY TREATED..

 

 
 

 


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Carolyn Matherne



Iron Assed and Oil Field Trash

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