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**PRINT: FRIENDS FROM CINCINNATI: Installment 24 features this part coming-of-age short by Chicago's Patrick Somerville, author of the Trouble collection of shorts out in 2006. | PAST BROADSHEETS |

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Amina Cain

When he got out of his car a group of us -- many of us were headless -- began asking him questions.

"Where were you born?"

"Where is your daughter?"

"How do you think your actions will affect the rest of your family?"

"Why did you do it?"

To these he answered, "I was born in a small town you've never heard of. My daughter is traveling. The rest of my family supports my decisions. I did it because you asked me to."

He stopped. "You," he said, looking at me. I could see him because I was not without a head, but a leg. "I've seen you somewhere before."

Two years earlier we had met on a bench overlooking the river in that part of the city where there are many small bookstores. Though we didn't go on to become friends, that night we had a lively discussion of a news program we had both recently seen.

But this time, at our second meeting, I didn't answer him.

Later, he approached me and asked what had happened to my leg.

I was standing outside of the National Library, waiting to go inside to join a reception. The air was warm and I felt peaceful. "We all had to lose something. This is what I chose to lose."

Who is the you?

Two nights after I met him I had to ask myself are you looking at a river, physically, are you looking at it?

"I too have lost something."

"I know." I watched the party through the window. One person was pouring a glass of champagne for another. Next to them someone opened up a map of an adjoining country, a recent acquisition. It was not necessary to imagine my life because I could see it right there in front of me. "I have to go. Someone will look out the window and see me talking to you."

"Do you remember that when you walked away from the bench two years ago you reached out to pet a dog?"

"Yes. A Doberman pinscher."

"I've seen that dog since many times."

Then, while we were both thinking of the pinscher he said goodbye to me and walked off to find his car.

I turned towards the library.

Someone was watching me from the window, even though she had no eyes with which to see.