"Ten," said the preacher.
"Nine," I told him.
"Nine," said the preacher. "She drank. She drank beer. And whiskey. And wine. Sometimes, she couldn't stop drinking. And that made me and your mama fight quite a bit. Number ten," he said with a long sigh, "number ten, is that your mama loved you. She loved you very much."
"But she left me," I told him.
"She left us," said the preacher softly. I could see him pulling his old turtle head back into his stupid turtle shell. "She packed her bags and left us, and she didn't leave one thing behind."
"Okay," I said. I got up off the couch. Winn-Dixie hopped off, too. "Thank you for telling me," I said.
I went right back to my room and wrote down all ten things that the preacher had told me. I wrote them down just the way he said them to me so that I wouldn't forget them, and then I read them out loud to Winn-Dixie until I had them memorized. I wanted to know those ten things inside and out. That way, if my mama ever came back, I could recognize her, and I would be able to grab her and hold on to her tight and not let her get away from me again. ...
From Because of Winn-Dixie. Copyright (c) 2000 Kate DiCamillo. Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.
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