Monday, December 5, 2011

Make a wish.

Today's Prompt:

"Everyone has a birthday right? Well, of course they do. So when is your character's birthday? Do their characteristics match their zodiac signs? Take your character through one of their birthday celebrations (Or tell a story about your own), whether it was last month or twenty years ago. 500 word count limit pretty please."

Since I'm working on The Winter of the Birds, (the sequel to The Summer of the Frogs), I decided to use Claire as a guinea pig for this prompt. :) 462 words.

The thing about birthdays is people use them to mark the passage of time. And time, for me, is irrelevant. It doesn’t flow in a straight line, but splits in a brilliant bursting of many singular possibilities creating infinite universes as each moment skips along.

Though this reality tied me to it most securely, if I closed my eyes, I could see everything. As one might look down into a pool. Or at a shattered mirror on the floor.

But I humored them. The ones that could see and the ones who couldn’t. Mom, Sebastian, Gerald, Tommy, Andy, Mara. All of them.

And me too.

Honestly? No way I was going to pass up a chance at cake. Not when two layers of chocolate-y goodness had my name all over it.


It said, “Happy Birthday, Claire!” in my favorite color of green across the top of rippling chocolate icing. The letters framed by a circle of ten white candles that flickered waiting for me to make a wish.

I laughed and smiled as they sang and I blew out tiny flames, then danced around the table, skipping like a child in our small eat-in kitchen while Mom cut the cake into neat triangles. Twirling between my brother and my beloved. Bouncing in figure eights with my friends as poles. They laughed along with me. Happy, I think, that this latest batch of drugs seemed to be working.

When the cake was eaten and everyone long gone, I lingered at the little square formica table. Hesitant to release the festive mood that filled our usually somber house.

My brother, Sebastian, touched my shoulder on his way by. “Good night, sis. Happy birthday,” he said again before trotting up the stairs to his room.

I smiled a crooked smile and heaved a sigh. Pushed away from the table and stood for a moment looking around for all the tiny pieces of evidence of my birthday party. The leftover cake under a tent of plastic sat on the counter. A bit of red and blue paper peeked out from the trash can. Plastic forks in the sink that Mom would later wash and put away.

My gaze landed finally on Tommy who stood patiently, as always, in the shadows waiting for me. I reached out a hand which he took.

“Happy birthday,” he said and kissed the back of my hand before releasing it.

“Thank you.” I said. “But do you have to go?”

“You know I do.”

I frowned and crossed my arms. Looked away so he wouldn’t see me scowling. I huffed and turned back to him once my face straightened out. He was already starting to fade away.

I swallowed hard and smiled bravely. “Next time?”

He nodded and was gone.

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