Year after year after year, it was the same circus. Heather hated April 13th; not because it was the 13th and she was superstitious. Not because April had to be the boringest month of the year, no longer winter but not yet spring. She hated April 13th because everybody wished her a happy birthday. But it wasn’t her birthday. No matter how many times she said it though, people didn’t get the message.
No-one knew her actual birth date. Her mother didn’t declare her birth and then proceeded to abandon her in some ditch where she was found some days later, lucky to be alive the orphanage staff kept telling her when she was a kid. She should be grateful to whatever Spirit, God, Buddha up there had protected her for the days she was on her own. It was at least days; she was malnourished and it had taken weeks in an intensive care unit to get her back on track.
“Happy birthday Heather.”
“It’s not my birthday.” She grumbled, as her classmate moved away.
At first she never put any birthdate on the stupid cards teachers insisted on making them fill at the beginning of each year. But every time they asked her why and she didn’t want to explain. So she’d taken to changing birthday with every teacher. But that too they picked up. And they called her foster parents.
Why did anyone have to have a birthday anyway? It wasn’t as if it were that important: I mean, except for driving and voting and stuff. But really who cared? It wasn’t as if she’d ever have the money to buy a car or if she cared enough about politics to vote. She could be 5 years old or 25. It didn’t matter.
And the worst part about it was the party; she knew. She just knew that when she came back to her foster home, there would be a cake and balloons and happy birthday garlands all over the place. Worst case scenario, they’d have invited half her class, none of them really knew her. And she’d have to keep a smile on her face, when the only thing she would want to know was crawl under the bed with a book and read the night away, like every other night.
Even if April 13th was her birthday, who wanted to celebrate being one day closer to old? Closer to death? April 13th was just another day, like every other. An un-birthday or whatever. Like Lewis Carroll said. She didn’t want presents or cakes or parties: she was unwanted in the first place. She had the sense she’d made this comment to her parents several times.
“Sweet sixteen Heather.”
“It’s not my birthday.” She sighed.
Eventually she left school. Nobody said ‘see you later’ but a lot of them would be at her place to gorge themselves on free food and drinks. She hated this: her foster parents weren’t that rich, and parties were a waste of money.
Except this time when she came home, nobody was there. Her parents hadn’t come home yet. There were no decorations, no garlands, no red plastic cups, no stupid themed posters etc… She felt a twinge of… something. She went to her room, sat at her desk, did her homework before pulling Through the Looking Glass from her small bookshelf. It wasn’t her favourite book by far, but on April 13th somehow she came back to that book. From its cover fell an envelope with her name on it.
She opened it to find a short message from her parents.
Since we know how much you hate making a fuss about today, your father and I decided to leave you the house for the evening. We’ve been invited to dinner by friends and figured you’d be happy to do exactly as you pleased. There’s food for you to micro-wave if you wish.
We’ll see you tomorrow.
Perfect! She had the house to herself. Amazing. She picked her book and went down to the living room. She put on the radio and lounging on the sofa she read for a while. She finished the book only to realize that there were still a good two hours before she would have dinner. She turned on the TV and watched a couple of shows, that proved to be boring. The lack of imagination of the writers baffled her.
The chicken and mashed potatoes in the micro-wave were good but not as good as if her mom had made it fresh, as she was wont to do in the evening. And there was no dessert, cupcakes or stuff that she would prepare. By 9pm she was bored and wondered when her parents would come back. She called her mom’s cellphone but it went directly to answering machine. Had she turned off the phone? She never turned off the phone in case Heather needed anything. Were they in trouble? No. Someone would have called. They didn’t want her to bother them. They didn’t want her. But it was her birthday… or not birthday. Or whatever. She wanted them with her.
Ok… so maybe there was something about birthdays or un-birthday… Maybe it wasn’t the party or the decorations. Maybe it was one way people showed they cared. One day a bit more than any other. Maybe she could ask her parents to make it an un-birthday party instead…
In response to Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Tale Weaver prompt unbirthday