By Michael Putnam

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Our grandparents always found us. For years, my wife and I packed up our possessions and moved to another city. Then they would find us again. They never called asking where we were, and we never called them. Our grandparents were cordial in the beginning, said they just needed proximity. They’d move into the neighborhood or the next sub-division over.

We’d let our guard down, and they would pounce. The arrived always at dinner time, crock pots in hand and wine for the grownups. There was an incident in Madison involving the destruction of our front door and tire marks on the carpet. They were cycle heads, Gram and Gramp, and when they moved they moved light. My wife offered them Brian, our oldest, after they found us somewhere near the place EST became CST. They refused, said it was the whole family or nothing.

We transitioned to hotels, staying a week at a time. Our children enrolled in online school. Still they found us. Gramp and I exchanged black eyes at a movie theatre in Charleston. Her parents did all they could, up to and including buying us a blueberry island on a lake in northern Maine. We changed our names, sold our possessions, and burned our clothing with the boat we rode in on. The kids were gone by that point, unable to cut it on the road.

But our grandparents burned their boat too when they landed on shore. One violent month ensued: hand-made traps, make-shift weaponry, deplorable acts committed by both sides. Until it was me and Grams, both too bruised and shell-shocked to care. So she taught me to fish, and how to plant a blueberry bush. Turns out she grew up Down East and summered near that lake every year ‘til college.

– Michael Putnam