Happy Birthday

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: The Imaginarium
A short story inspired by the Imaginarium Picture Prompt 5.

Submitted: April 29, 2017

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Submitted: April 29, 2017

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Happy Birthday

 

Gary, come here!”

 

Gary stood by the door for a second before going towards his mother’s voice. She sounded sober so that was okay. He never knew quite what to expect these days when he got home from school.

 

Did you invite some friends for tomorrow, Gary? Not too many, but three or four close ones. You only get to become a teenager once in your life, you know!”

 

Yes, Mom. I’ve invited Phil, Mark and Chris. Phil and Mark said yes, but Chris wasn’t sure....Said he’d let me know tomorrow.” He wanted to say that none of them were really close friends now, especially Chris. Not since her last drunken display, anyway. But he thought better of it and held his tongue. If she got upset there was only one way the evening would go and that was down a bottle. At least by keeping quiet he wouldn’t be left feeling guilty that he’d brought it on.

 

* * * * *

 

Even though the previous day had passed without incident, Gary was still feeling nervous about his ‘party’. He’d tried to tell his Mom weeks ago that he was too old now, that none of his mates had had parties for a few years. She hadn’t wanted to know, refused to listen, and had then turned to the bottle for reassurance. He wished he’d not asked them, just told her they couldn’t make it. But it was too late to change things now.

 

You still want us to come round later, Gaz?” Phil sauntered over to him in the canteen.

 

Yeah, sure......if you want.....It’s up to you and Mark.....Don’t feel you have to.”

 

No way, man,” Chris had crept up unnoticed. “Not into the drunk’s den.”

 

Gary turned towards him, trying to hold back his temper. Why did he have to keep bringing it up? He’d been a good mate up until a couple of months previously. The sniggers Chris wanted to achieve seemed to echo around the canteen.

 

Come on, Gaz. Don’t mind him.” Phil almost pushed Gary away from Chris, glaring at their former friend as he did so. “Let’s go see if Mark’s still coming.”

 

* * * * *

 

It seemed quiet enough as they neared the house. Without saying a word Phil and Mark hung back while Gary went ahead inside. There was no sign of his mother so he had no way of judging if she was sober or totally out of her head. He beckoned to his friends to come in.

 

The kitchen table was laid out for a child’s party. There were bowls of crisps, tiny iced cakes, square-cut sandwiches, sausage rolls.....And right in the middle of the table was a chocolate cake proclaiming ‘Happy Birthday’. But there was still no sign of his Mom.

 

It was kind of embarrassing having his mates see the table laid out for the party of a six or seven year old. He was relieved when they just grinned and helped themselves to some of the snacks. Gary had just allowed himself to relax slightly, had leant forward to pick up a sandwich when he heard footsteps upstairs.

 

They froze, listened and Gary could not believe what she had done. There was no doubt about it; just by listening to her unsteady footsteps he could tell that she had been hitting the bottle. And hitting it hard!

 

You’d best go, guys. Sorry but.....”

 

No problem, Gaz. See ya Monday.”

 

And please.....don’t say a wor....”

 

No worries, Gaz!”

 

By the time his mother had made it to the bottom of the stairs, Gary was in the kitchen. He was so angry he was shaking, but he would not look at her or say a word. He’d let her be the one to break the silence.

 

Wher....where are ya frien.....”

 

Do you need to ask, Mom? How could you? And what the hell was this meant to be? I’m thirteen, Mom, not seven!”

 

His mother stood in the doorway frowning, swaying on her feet. “It’s....it’s for your par..party. Happy Birthday, Gar.....ry!”

 

Happy Birthday? You have to be joking, Mom. You’ve gone and done it again. Ruined everything....Never mind that you’ve already made me the laughing stock of the school!”

 

But.....”

 

Gary picked up the plate holding the cake. It was a lovely cake......a shame no one would get to eat it. He looked at his mother, then looked away again and hurled the cake along with the plate straight at the wall. “That’s what I think of your Happy Birthday, Mom!”

 

And with that, Gary walked out of the kitchen and out of the house. He’d go and see Phil at his house instead.


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