She didn’t notice the way the sun reflected brilliantly off the ice droplets which slickly coated the rust-worn barbed wire. It had been shiny and new only two summers before. Her hands, stiff in the brown jersey layered under yellow leather. The leather was worn nearly away in the places where the cut of the baling string had hardened calluses. Her hands would never qualify as pretty, with their stubby fingers ending in unpainted, chewed fingernails. But she wore the calluses with pride. And relief. The replacement of festering blisters, regularly agitated by an endless cycle of responsibility, had happened gradually. She didn’t notice when the pain began to ease, it just did. Until one day, she discovered it was gone. If she took the time for such things, she would have imagined that inside, she was as hardened as her hands. That process had occurred unnoticed as well. One day the little girl with dreams and plans woke to a world void of emotion. The passage of time, now marked by a ceaseless cycle and the transitions of gray to green to brown that ruled the calendar. How is it possible to be suffocated by acres of space? As she pulled the gate taut with the twisted loops of wire and practiced ease, she was grateful. If this was her life, at least she had the hands for it.