Type: Original Fiction
Main Characters: Virginia, an unnamed best friend
Word Count: 229
Summary: This birthday isn't the same
The lights were dimmed and the air was silent. The father of the birthday girl appeared in the doorway with the cake, its seventeen candles aglow lighting his face from beneath as a chorus of song rose to greet him. As the familiar tune swelled, Virginia felt all the happiness rush out of her as though she were a balloon pricked by disappointment.
“What’s wrong, Gin?” asked a girl.
Not caring to explain, she shook off the concern by saying it was nothing. The rest of the party passed pleasantly enough, but Virginia could not enjoy herself as much as her guests. When the most of them had gone, her friend followed her out onto the back patio.
“It’s because it was store-bought,” her friend said. It wasn’t a question.
Virginia nodded. “Do your parents make your birthday cake usually?”
“Yeah. To me, that’s what birthdays smell like. The cake baking in the oven, then the smell of the candles when you blow them out.”
“My mom always made the cake.”
Her friend took her in her arms. “Your dad really tries, though.”
“I know. And I know he misses her too. It just stings every time I’m reminded that everything’s changed.” She let herself cry a little in the arms of her best friend before adding, “Except you. Thank you.”
“Don’t be silly,” she said, stroking Virginia’s hair.