Writing: Short Story
Word Count: 705
The park is full of people.
“Happy birthday,” says your big brother. “Come on, smile. You’re sixteen now, aren’t you?”
He earnestly takes your hand and leads you to the table laden with cake and presents. Your family and friends crowd around, waiting.
“I‘ll open presents,” you mutter, breaking the uncomfortable silence. “Then we‘ll have cake.”
Your best friend nudges playfully at your shoulder. “Open mine first. It‘s the one in the Home Depot bag.”
The breath that everyone seems to be holding is released, and the atmosphere is light again.
When all the presents are unwrapped and accounted for, and you have thanked each of your guests, Mom takes a lighter and sets the candles on the cake aflame. The whole affair is messy, since the area around the cake is crammed with crumpled tissue paper and ribbon. Someone softly begins to sing “Happy Birthday,” in a hesitant whisper. It takes several seconds for them to realize that the song has started, and eventually they’re carrying the tune in more or less recognizable pitches. You laugh at their effort, and applaud loudly to appease their bruised egos once they have finished. The candles are quickly blown out and removed, as one of your kid cousins is clearly yearning to take one home with her.
For your birthday, Mom has agreed to let you be in charge of cutting the cake. The only time she’ll ever let you handle a knife, she says, and hopefully the last. You decide not to remind her that someday you’ll do so- despite her wishes, because come hell or high water you’re determined to learn to cook for yourself. Besides, what have you done to make her wary of you using a knife?
You save the largest slice for yourself.
“Hog,” your big brother whines. “It’s your birthday, and all, but couldn’t you at least be fair?”
“I’m eating for two.”
“Don’t tell me-”
“No! Jerk. It’s Dad’s share I’m eating.”
“Should have known you’d pull up an excuse like that.”
Having eaten their cake, your guests begin to leave. Some stay behind to help clean up, promising to visit again soon. Within half an hour or so, the park is empty save for you, your brother, and Mom.
“I’ll finish up here. Why don’t you and your brother head on home first?” Mom suggests, gathering up the wrapping paper.
Big brother speaks up. “Actually, Mom, I’ll stay and help you clear away the rest of the trash. That looks like it‘s going to take a while to get done.”
It’s still early in the afternoon, and the sky is blue as can be. Still, the walk to your house is short, and you begin to look forward to taking an early nap. One of your friends passes you by in a car, beeping it so loudly that the cat lady living in the house next door pokes her head out in irritation.
“Teenagers,” she grumbles, shaking her fist at the car. She notices you walking by. “Hello, dear. Are you doing all right?”
“I’ve been better, thanks.”
As you shut the front door behind you, the first thing you do is make for the living room to watch TV. You search the room for the remote, but to no avail.
“Dad, have you seen the TV remote?”
You immediately realize your mistake the moment those words leave your lips. The emptiness of the house is glaringly obvious in the complete silence that follows.
It’s frustrating, the way that you can’t get over not having anyone to find the remote for you. If there had been one extra person at the party, you probably wouldn’t have eaten such a large slice. Before, there was someone who would strictly watch your diet and scold you for eating so many sweets. Even though Mom and your big brother have tried hard to make your birthday a memorable one, you haven’t been able to shake off this feeling. You have never felt so incomplete.
Dad died today.
my longest post yet, maybe?
And I haven't posted in a long time, sorry.
I want to write a happy story.
~Lewis, posting this in a hurry so that Silver can read it.