one hundred word story #39: Empty nest

A mother of twelve, Gertrude never went anywhere alone. The furthest she could go was the end of the bus line, but even then, one of the twelve often hopped aboard. Sometimes it was Charles, a failed mime, or Joanna, a butcher with forever bloodied hands. Scarlet, who organized strikes in the harbor, occasionally dragged sailors back to their two-room apartment. Gertrude recognized their look: unmoored, captive, as she was, by the wants of so many others. One day she followed the sailor back to sea. She lingered at the port, inhaling the salt, counted to twelve, and hopped aboard.