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This happens in Chapter 20, “The Blackberry Kiss.” It seems as though Phoebe’s mother has left the family, at least for a short time. She left notes for Phoebe, Prudence, and their father. Phoebe’s note says to keep all of the doors locked. Prudence’s note has instructions to heat up the spaghetti for dinner. Mr. Winterbottom’s note says “I had to go away. I can’t explain. I’ll call you in a few days.”

Sal gets a sinking feeling in her stomach because this scene is an all-too-familiar one. Her own mother left her, too. Although she sent Sal postcards from her travels, she never physically returned home. Sal was afraid this would happen to Phoebe and her sister, just as it happened to her. Phoebe immediately fears the worst: that her mother has been kidnapped by that “lunatic” they keep seeing on the street. When Sal goes back home, she tells her father about Mrs. Winterbottom and the notes. “She says she’s coming back, but I don’t believe it,” Sal adds. Her father replies, “People usually come back.” His answer gives Sal a bit more hope that her own mother will somehow return someday, too.

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When Pheobe's father reads the note from his wife, why does Sal react the way she does in Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech?When Phoebe's father reads the note from his wife, Sal says, "I had a sinking, sinking feeling." Why does Sal react the way she does?

When Phoebe's father reads the note from his wife telling him she is going away, Sal has "a sinking, sinking feeling" because her own mother had gone away under similar circumstances, and had never come back.

Phoebe's mother is vague about why she is leaving, but it is clear that she is unhappy and needs to have some time alone to straighten things out in her own mind. Sal's mother had needed to do the same thing, and Sal has still not quite reconciled for herself exactly why her mother left and why she had not come back. Sal's feelings are in turmoil, and she is consumed by feelings of loneliness, betrayal, and even guilt. She refuses to talk to anyone about her unhappiness, however, preferring to avoid the issue because it is too difficult for her to face.

When Phoebe's father reads the note from his wife, it is kind of a situation of deja vu for Sal. The message brings back far too clearly the memory of how things were when her own mother left, a memory which she has been struggling mightily to forget. Sal knows how things will be for Phoebe's family now, how they will be confused and angry and hurt until the problem with Phoebe's mother is resolved. As close as she is to Phoebe, Sal also probably senses that now, she too will be forced to relive a time she would prefer not to remember (Chapter 20).

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