Hanks would be eight years old very soon, maybe even today. She wasn’t sure. There was a birthday party planned but mom did the planning and Hanks didn’t.
If Hanks was going to be 8, that must mean Snort was 5. He was pretty little for 5 but he knew how to yell and kick his casts and be stubborn. He was a little bit fun but not a whole lot. Not like a sister would have been. For one thing, he couldn’t run and he had to have blocks on the pedals of his tricycle because his legs were short. When he climbed off the tricycle he couldn’t even walk easily. That meant it was best he stays on his trike which was okay, but often times Hanks wanted to explore or check something out or go farther away from home than mom wanted her too. It was hard to do that in secret with Snort tagging along so she had to be smart and learn how to ditch him.
Hanks didn’t have a 2 wheel bike yet. Mom was too worried she would fall and get hurt, so Hanks wasn’t really wanting to go very far on a 3-wheel bike like a baby with a baby brother. It really was too much.
Bradshaw was more fun. Hanks would trick Snort and get him to ride down the sidewalk to the corner and she would take off to the back yard and go under mom’s big plum tree that covered the sand box in the back. Then she and Bradshaw would play pretend: pretend they were pirates, pretend they were explorers, pretend they were Indians searching in the wild forest for food. When they went into the deep forest Curly usually came along. Curly sat on Hanks shoulder and kept the snakes in the trees from eating Hanks by beating them off with his big curly tail or making really loud scary hissing sounds. Snakes just slunk away when Curly was around. He would chatter up a storm and Hanks thought he really made waves a lot, messing up the snakes lives and breaking branches to protect them and disturbing the quiet in the forest.
Mom didn’t like it when Hanks made waves, but Hanks just grinned when ‘Curly did. It was truly fun to watch him stir up the inside of the forest, scatter the little animals, and disturb the quiet trees and bushes and leaves and rotting logs. They made quite a team: Bradshaw, Curly and Hanks; marching through the thick green dark forest waving sticks like swords and shouting banishments to all the ghosts and skeletons and creatures that came before them and surrounded them, some with good intent some not so good. Hanks felt strong and brave and smart and big when she was with her friends taking over the land to make it their own and letting all living things know they were the conquerors.
Hanks stood on top of a sandy mountain with all the jungle and forest life around her, making noises, talking, grumbling, warning, slithering and slinking about and became king of the world. Bradshaw stood beside her swinging his long silver sword and letting everything know how big and important they were and Curly clapped his hands and chattered and danced about on Hanks shoulders and let very living creature know he could help rule the world.
Mom called. Time to get dressed for the party. Hanks absolutely did NOT want to go in the house. She did NOT want to have a party, and any way, she had NO idea who was coming. No one talked about it at school yesterday.
Hanks was ready just about the time the kids would be getting there and she sent Bradshaw and everyone else that had joined them back to where they went when they were not with Hanks. She sat on a chair in the living room and waited. Mom had decorated the dinning room table with the white cloth and had treats on the table and surprises wrapped in white tissue paper. The cake was in the middle of the table and mom was talking about games they could play. They thought the door bell rang, but it was the clock saying it was time for guests to arrive. Hanks went to the door and looked out. No one yet.
She went out doors and walked around the house just to see what she could see and then to be there at the front door when the kids started to come. The second time she walked around the house she put away Snorts bike and hid hers in the back yard. The third time she walked around the house she took Bradshaw with her. After the fourth turn around the whole house and back yard and plum tree and sand box, and a quick glance at where the forest and jungle and mountain were, she went in the back door and into the dining room and picked up a tissue wrapped surprise and opened it. It was a stretchy pink plastic bracelet. She looked at mom and mom said there are more. You can choose whatever ones you want for yourself.
Mom got out the ice cream and filled dishes of ice cream and cake for Snort, mom, Hanks and Bradshaw. Hanks didn’t invite Curly or Tall Boy or any of the others because she wasn’t sure how mom would feel about it. They set aside enough ice cream and cake for Rain to have when she came home and they wondered if her boy friend would come later and there was plenty for dad.
Dinner tonight would be Hanks’ favourite: baked chicken and sweet potatoes.