Although South First Road was a dead-end street, it was alive with families and kids – all boys except for me.

When I looked at my boy friends, I saw racing partners rather than potential life partners. We played hard and whatever they could do, I could…almost do, especially when it snowed.

Usually when the snow fell, we’d ride our sleds down the hill, our bottoms balanced squarely in the middle of the wooden planks. This particular winter, once the street had been worn to the perfect mixture of ice and snow, the boys upped the ante.

I watched as Alvin surveyed the road. He ran holding the sled away from his body. A second later, the red metal was sliding down the street, with Alvin’s body prone, his head and legs tilted upward.

Then it was my turn.

I ran home as soon as I felt my mouth hit the sled’s metal front. The blood scared me more than the impact. My lip ached, I was scared and what I needed was a hug.

Instead Daddy took a quick, unimpressed look at me.

“Oh, you’re alright. You’re tough.”

Yeah, I’m tough, just like the boys, I thought.

I was tough just like the boy Daddy almost had; the one whose cry was stilled at birth, the one no one ever spoke about.