He lifted his hands and looked down at them and then he looked down at his compost-covered clothes.

“Cow manure? Seriously?”


I grinned and nodded. He laughed a little and then before I knew it, he was on the ground next to me, wiping his hands all over me. We were both laughing as he reached to the bag next to us and stuck his hand inside, then smeared it down my arms.

Ellen, I am confident that the next sentence I am about to write has never been written or spoken aloud before.

When he was wiping that cow shit on me, it was quite possibly the most turned-on I have ever been.

After a few minutes, we were both lying on the ground, breathing hard, still laughing. He finally stood up and pulled me to my feet, knowing he couldn’t waste minutes if he wanted a shower before my parents came home.

Once he was in the shower, I washed my hands in the sink and just stood there, wondering what he meant earlier when he said we were just alike.

Was it a compliment? It sure felt like one. Was he saying that he thought I was strong, too? Because I certainly didn’t feel strong most of the time. In that moment, just thinking about him made me feel weak. I wondered what I was going to do about the way I was starting to feel when I was around him.

I also wondered how long I can keep hiding him from my parents. And how long he’ll be staying at that house. Winters in Maine are unbearably cold and he won’t survive without a heater.

Or blankets.

I gathered myself and went in search of all the spare blankets I could find. I was going to give them to him when he got out of the shower, but it was already five and he left in a hurry.

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I’ll give them to him tomorrow.


Dear Ellen,

Harry Connick Jr. is freaking hilarious. I’m not sure if you’ve ever had him on your show, because I hate to admit I’ve probably missed an episode or two since you’ve been on the air, but if you’ve never had him, you should. Actually, have you ever watched Late Night with Conan O’Brien? He has this guy named Andy who sits on the couch for every episode. I wish Harry could sit on your couch for every episode. He just has the best one-liners, and the two of you toget.her would be epic.

I just want to say thank you. I know that you don’t have a show on TV for the sole purpose of making me laugh, but sometimes it feels that way. Sometimes my life just makes me feel like I’ve lost the ability to laugh or smile, but then I turn on your show and no matter what mood I’m in when I turn on the TV, I always feel better by the time your show is over.

So yeah. Thanks for that.

I know you probably want an update on Atlas, and I’ll give you one in a second. But first I need to tell you about what happened yesterday.

My mother is a teaching assistant over at Brimer Elementary. It’s a bit of a drive and that’s why she never gets home until around five o’clock. My dad works two miles from here, so he’s always home right after five.

We have a garage, but only one car can fit in it because of all my dad’s stuff. My dad keeps his car in the garage and my mom keeps her car in the driveway.

Well, yesterday my mom got home a little bit early. Atlas was still at the house and we were almost finished watching your show when I heard the garage door start to open. He ran out the back door and I rushed around the living room cleaning up our soda cans and snacks.

It had started snowing really hard around lunchtime yesterday and my mother had a lot of stuff to carry in, so she pulled up in the garage so she could bring it all in through the kitchen door. It was work stuff and a few groceries. I was helping her bring everything inside when my dad pulled up in the driveway. He started honking his horn because he was mad that my mom was parked in the garage. I guess he didn’t want to have to get out of his car in the snow. That’s the only thing I can think of that would make him want her to move her car right then and there, instead of just waiting until she was finished unloading it. Come to think of it, why does my father always get the garage? You would think a man wouldn’t want the woman he loves to get the shittier parking spot.

Anyway, my mother got that real scared look in her eye when he started honking and she told me to take all her stuff to the table while she moved her car out.

I’m not sure what happened when she went back outside. I heard a crash, and then I heard her scream, so I ran to the garage thinking maybe she had slipped on ice.

Ellen . . . I don’t even want to describe what happened next. I’m still a little shocked by the whole thing.

I opened the garage door and didn’t see my mom. I just saw my dad behind the car doing something. I took a step closer and realized why I couldn’t see my mom. He had her pushed down on the hood with his hands around her throat.

He was choking her, Ellen!

I might cry just thinking about it. He was yelling at her, staring down at her with so much hatred. Something about not having respect for how hard he works. I don’t know why he was mad, really, because all I could hear was her silence while she struggled to breathe. The next few minutes are a blur, but I know I started screaming at him. I jumped on his back and I was hitting him on the side of his head.

Then I wasn’t.

I don’t really know what happened, but I’m guessing he threw me off of him. I just remembered one second I was on his back and the next second I was on the ground and my forehead hurt like you wouldn’t believe. My mom was sitting next to me, holding my head and telling me she was sorry. I looked around for my dad, but he wasn’t there. He’d gotten into his car and drove off after I hit my head.

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