My friend Betty June made living on the bend of Dismal Creek a reckless adventure we enjoyed while biding our time till leaving the hollers to become successful. We had no idea what success even looked like outside the place where we grew up. I thought having wall-to-wall carpet meant living on the rung above us since we were still putting our feet on the cold linoleum floor.

I rode my horse to her house on the occasions my parents went to town and Betty June’s dad laid drunk on the couch mumbling something about nobody loved him anymore. Betty June and I peered down at him and shook our heads. What with his still being in his underwear too lazy to dress that day, he wasn’t any woman’s idea of success. We covered him with newspaper to keep him from looking worse than an eyesore and took the keys to his old truck along with a couple of quarters. We whooped and yelped up and down the hillsides not even looking for boys since we were only twelve at the time. The feeling of freedom made us happy and gave us a glimpse of what living above our current circumstances might look like instead of enduring the haphazard guidance of adults who treated us like one of life’s many burdens.

During our adventures, we always stopped at the drugstore soda fountain and enjoyed a chocolate milkshake with two straws, a rare treat we believed would come easier when we worked jobs and made enough money to buy ourselves one each. We considered chocolate as valuable as saffron, worth more than gold, and hard to come by. After returning her daddy’s truck underneath its tarp, we would climb on the back of my horse and ride to my house to find something useful to do when my parents drove up with their eyes casting about to make sure I hadn’t gotten up to no good. Betty June and I always looked to the future with wonderment, waiting for the time we would enjoy each and every moment while it was happening.

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