For a short time in grade school, my father left us. It was for work, and he flew home when he could, but he still left us. I remember one year when he returned he gave me a licorice rat. My brothers and I ate our rats pulling the tails with our teeth, chasing our sisters with their gnawed carcasses. When he left, my mother told me that he was living in the Panhandle, some distant place where all the cities are the same. Some distant place where all the fathers are one.