Birthday Candles

Thirty. Thirty days in April, June, November, and December. Thirty New Years Eve’s, Fourth of Julys and Christmases. Thirty years, two dogs, one house, 3 failed relationships, 18 extra pounds, one car accident, and 15 jobs; what did she have to show for it? One 3 layer chocolate cake with 30 candles in it and a room full of thin smiles singing “Happy Birthday,” trying but failing to hide the pity they all felt.

Jennifer hated office birthday parties. Especially when they were “surprise” parties for yours truly, her. She smiled, trying her best to at least appreciate the effort, if not the actual experience of the party. She glanced down at the cake, nearly aflame with the thirty candles crammed onto it. The message “To the first year of the rest of your life. Happy Birthday Jennifer” was drizzled in red frosting in between the candles.

Some small voice in her head whispered, “Maybe they do mean it, maybe it’s not fake. It’s not so crazy that someone, or multiple someones, could actually care about you…” As quickly as it came, another voice pushed it out of the way, laughing as it fell on the floor.

“Yeah right, like that could ever happen. You are a sorry, good for nothing, whining failure. Do you really expect anyone to like you?”

“…rthday to yooouuuu!” The sudden silence jolted Jennifer back into the room and away from her self-abusive mind. She looked around for a moment, surprised to find herself the center of attention.

“Make a wish!” a male voice yelled out. A small chorus followed, “Make a wish Jennifer, blow the candles out!”

She twisted her face into a half smile, took a deep breath and bent down towards the cake. “Let this be the year I escape myself,” she thought to herself as she closed her eyes and blew out all 30 candles.


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