The dark had just faded into the first signs of morning, the last leaf on the aged willow trees had long since fallen, the snow that the harsh edge of winter had brought, finally rose to become rain. And the world had finally begun to churn to the lush springtime. A woman in a long red overcoat stood in the glow of a rising sun, lifting a leaf to her nose. She stroked her thumb across the stem, breathing in the last of winter still vivid in its crinkled paper-like exterior. The woman let the leaf drop from her hand as the memories of that winter struck her mind, she fumbled in her pockets as it did, searching for something.
She lifted her hand from her side, in her clenched fist was a set of car keys. She smiled a little and turned away from her home. Her five year old daughter lay asleep in her bed, tugging at her hand-knitted blankets. The child's birthday was approaching fast, and her middle class family did not have much in the way of gifts. The young mother walked briskly away from the house and towards her car, kicking up dirt as she went. She climbed into the white van, and turned the key, pulling away from her home and towards the city. She would be back before her daughter could have woken up, she was sure.
An engine noise pierced the early morning air and the small child churned in her sleep. She yanked the blankets off, pale pink and blue gushing over her eyes as the soft fabric fell upon her head. The child's eyes slowly flickered open. She smiled, the sun was rising up, and today was her birthday. She threw off the covers and leapt from the battered mattress, picking up her old rag doll as she did so.
"Mama! You know what day it is? Its my birthday!" she cheered, trying to wake her mother whom she assumed was asleep in the room across from her own. "Mama?"
Meanwhile, far from the little place...