Today was her ninth birthday. Her mother picked her up at school and her school friend rode home with them. There wasn't a school bus from that school that went that far out of town. The friend was overly excited and the birthday girl caught some of that excitement.
The family from next door walked through the fence opening while it was still daylight to join the birthday celebration. There weren't many presents but that was the way of life for the low-income families living in the country setting. A ninth birthday was something to celebrate regardless of the financial situation. The friend from school brought a present and the mother and father gave the birthday girl a new (used) coat. There is still a picture in the scrapbook of the birthday girl modeling the navy blue coat with the red hood and holding up nine fingers and trying to smile for the camera.
After the homemade cake was cut and consumed, the young people wanted to go next door to watch Walt Disney on the neighbors TV. There was much excitement and laughing and running as the back door slammed behind them and they headed in the direction of the neighbors house. It was dark and there were no lights. It was at least 100 yards to the neighbors front door and there was only one way to get there:
On the worn walkway through the break in the fence.
Everyone knew about the one opening except the visiting friend from school. Amid the screams and laughter of the running children, the birthday girl kept calling in the dark to the friend for her not to run, yelling to her to come with her. In her excitement, the friend did not take heed. There were three rows of barbed wire on the fence between the properties.
There were no more birthdays in her heart after that and birthdays are not something to celebrate to this day. And there were no more friends for a very very long time.
Previous posts found at Part I and Part II.