“It’s a surprise. You’ll like it. Come on.”
August, 1947 “happened” and little Michelle’s life would never be the same again.
On that day she was humming as she grabbed a handful of grain from her blue bucket and scattered them around the chickens that were scampering all over their fenced yard. One of the hens stopped, looked straight up at the girl, and then returned to her dining. Michelle smiled back at the daring feathery creature and stooped to give her some extra food.
The girl’s father, Elphège Bellerose, had been gathering eggs in the coop when he noticed his daughter through the back exit that was still open. He quit his chore and walked to the door. For a while he stood observing his child, the only female out of five children. She was a beautiful six-year old: fair- skinned, a little tall for her age, with big, curious brown eyes framed by amazing eyelashes. The yellow pinafore dress that she was wearing over a short-sleeved white blouse was a strong complement to her long, dark brown hair that was tied in back and swished around a bit with every motion that she made.
After a few minutes, he called loudly, “Michelle, come in here!”
She jerked around and stopped short at the sight of her father, dressed only in overalls and mud boots, standing stiffly in the entrance.
The day was hot and sticky, and he drew a large handkerchief from a pocket and wiped his forehead. “Why do you look so scared?” he asked. “Did you do something wrong again?”
Michelle’s blue pail swung back and forth. “No.”
“Well, then, don’t worry. I won’t hit you. I just want to show you something.”
“What is it?”
He beckoned with his finger. “It’s a surprise. You’ll really like it. Come on.”
“A nice surprise?” the girl exclaimed excitedly, as she dropped her pail and started skipping ahead. Her father had never, ever given her anything special and she couldn’t wait to see what it was.
In the doorway, Elphège turned around and faced the front entrance as he waited.
Just as the child ran over the threshold, a loud, angry cry came from the front door that had just opened.
“What in the world are you doing?” roared throughout the whole room and the walls almost shook. Michelle braked short as her grandmother ran in waving her arms helter-skelter in the air. The woman was so incensed that her face seemed to be on fire.