Warning: mild language.
“What!? But Mom…”
“Sweetie, I’m so sorry.” You heard the apologetic voice on the phone. “I’ve tried everything to get out of this meeting, but this contract is so big that I can’t get out now. I promise we’ll spend tomorrow however you want.”
“What am I going to do until then? We always celebrate at midnight. And this is one of the big ones.”
“I know, I know.” You could hear the woman's voice crack. “But I promise I’ll make it up to you tomorrow. Maybe you can hang out at the neighbors house? You know they adore you.” You could hear voices in the background calling for your mother. “I have to go now,___.”
“Fine…” You could feel the clench in the back of your throat that would eventually be the start of a sad cry. “I’ll see you in the morning, Mom.”
“Goodnight Sweetie. Happy birthday.” The line went dead.
You stared at the lit up screen of your cell phone before looking at yourself in the mirror. All dressed up and nowhere to go. It had to be tonight of all nights. Your damn eighteenth birthday, and your only plans had been shot down. Now you looked at the girl in the mirror, her hair was glossy and done up, wearing her favorite non-T-shirt, and that good pair of jeans that brought out her curves. But now there was no club or party to attend and all that work had gone to waste.
Since your birthday fell during winter break, Mom always treated it like a holiday. She would take you out all day, let you get dressed up, and always have cake and songs at midnight, when it was actually your birthday. (Because, as she put it, “You’re a big girl now. You can stay up late just this once.”)
This wasn’t the first time something like this had happened. But it was the first time it felt real and bothered you. After all, no one really cared if you turned eleven or seventeen. Ten, Thirteen, sixteen, those were the mile markers that everyone looked forward to. Eighteen was definitely in that exclusive group. There was no backup plan this year. No pre-made cake, no gifts to open, no party planned to look forward too. You and Mom had planned on going to her friends house for her annual holiday party and just go on from there. You certainly weren’t going to a house on the other side of town by yourself, no matter how familiar.
With a sigh, you tossed the disgraced device onto your bed and followed suit, staring at the ceiling as if it would solve your depressed state. Now what?
Choosing not to sit and be depressed, you went down the stairs to the kitchen and decided to eat the misery away. Digging the leftover take out , you dumped it onto a plate and tossed it in the microwave, each movement punctuated with the sheer forced used to complete it. A stomp there ,a slam here, and a weary sigh when it decided to show itself.
“Boooreeed.” You groaned as the machine beeped.
Settling down to watch a movie, you had finally found some relaxing comfort until the back door banged familiarly.
“Yo! Doll-Face!” There was a smacking sound. “What was that for!?”
“For acting like a jack ass.”
There was a stream of cursing as you tore the door opened to find the familiar duo bickering on your back porch. “What the hell are you two doing here?”
“Pops told us you and your Ma couldn’t make it to the party.” The red eyed American said, “So he wanted us to check on you.”
“Really?” You said, your voice laced in an unamused tone. “You came to cheer me up because your daddy told you so?”
The tall blond rolled his violet eyes. “Don’t be stupid. We know how much this birthday crap means to you and that you wouldn’t want to spend it alone.” The brothers strolled into your house without invite and stripped off their jackets before tossing them somewhere out of habit.
“What smells?” Al sniffed around as he wandered your kitchen and opened the fridge as it would answer him.
“Leftover chinese. Help yourself out.” You tossed over your shoulder as you threw yourself back onto the couch and hitting the play button.
A familiar warmth threw itself beside you and big feet rested on the old coffee table. Matt just awkwardly patted you on the head as sign of comfort. You knew the Canadian boy wasn’t much for words, so you took the action for what it was and just enjoyed the quiet presence. His brother however….
“All this shit has meat in it!”
“Good! You need it!” Yelled Matt in retaliation as he raised the TV volume to drown out his brothers complaints.
You couldn’t help but smirk a little to yourself as the brief bickering.
“Aye~ There she is!” Al hopped over the couch and landed on your other side. He poked your cheek and you had to bite it to fight the urge the laugh at him. “Come on. You know we make you happy.”
“No you don’t. You annoy me.”
“A happy annoying.” You pushed his face away.
“Nah. I just tolerate you as my personal court jester.”
The tanned American smirked, his red eyes twinkling. “Then how can I entertain the queen?”
“You could throw yourself down some stairs.” Matt told him. “That would be pretty damn hilarious.”
“I got better offers!”
You rolled your eyes and stuffed a forkful of food in your mouth. You didn't want to laugh at them. Not just yet. After all, you should have been depressed and alone right now. That had been plan B after all, it was a shitty plan you had just come up with. But it was a plan none the less.
“Come on Doll.” Al said and poked you again. “We came to cheer you up, and at least try to look happy.”
You swallowed. “How can I be happy? I don’t have anything on my birthday. I’m fucking eighteen, Al. I should be at a damn adult party or a club, or something I couldn’t do at seventeen. My mom is stuck at work, its cold as hell out, and my only option left was to watch TV.”
“Jeez,” Matt said. “Stop blowing things out of proportion. It’s not like your mom isn’t going to make it up to you.”
Groaning, you grabbed the blanket on the couch and wrapped it around yourself like a shield. “Maybe that’s not the point.” You stared at the floor. “Maybe I just want one damn day about me and not feel like a brat.”
“Oh please, you’re the least bratty person I know.” Al snorted. “What the hell could you possibly do to sound like one?”
“I’m always bailing you two out of trouble.” You said, clenching your fists in the fabric. “Or worrying about school. Or whatever unsavory work Francis gives me because I’m always broke. I just wanted one night that wasn’t about any of that.”
The brothers looked at each other and nodded. You knew that nod. “No.” You said firmly.
“No what?” Matt asked.
“No to whatever you two are planning. I know that look in your eyes. It usually means something violent or illegal is about to happen because of you two.”
“You have no faith in us, do you __?” Al said, a look of fake innocence on his face.
“Shame you have no choice then.” Matt got up and stretched. “You don’t have to come. But give us about an hour. We’ll have this place festive in no time.”
You knew there was no way to stop them. Stopping Al and Matt while they had their minds set on something was like waving your arms around a freight train to make it come to a halt. Completely pointless, inadvisable, and bad for your health. “Just...don’t do anything too reckless. I don’t feel like being questioned by the police again.”
Al waved off your concern. “Relax, Doll-Face. You’ll love it.” He slung on his aviator jacket and marched to the back door. “We’ll be back.”
You glanced nervously at the clock. It had been almost an hour, and you had about ten minutes to midnight. The street remained quiet. The only lights present were the holiday decorations the colored the lawns and sidewalk with their shades of red, green, and yellow.
“Where are those idiots….” Speak of the devils.
Your front door slammed open and the red eyed american stood there with a wild grin on his face. “Party time!”
“Al!” You yelled. “Don’t just barge in like hat! You scared the crap out of me!”
“Whatever. Just go upstairs to the porches roof.” You glared at him before reluctantly climbing up to the second floor with Al on your heels. You could make out movement on the porch top as you window at the end of the hall that would lead to the almost flat surface. The roof of your front porch wasn’t at a very extreme angle, in fact it was borderline flat, which made it great sitting on cloudless nights and just hanging around, since almost no one bothered you up there.
Matt sat on on a blanket and beside him rested one large box and a smaller gift wrapped one on top. “What’s all this?” You asked as you sat down.
“Some stuff we were saving for later, but we figured we may as well have it now.” Matt told you as he held up his tablet. There was a digital button on the screen that had the word activate under it. “Do the honors?”
“Nothing is gonna blow up this time, is it?
“No.” Al said. “Dad took our explosives after last time. Now press it, we worked too hard to get this timing just right.”
You rolled your eyes and tapped the red circle on the the screen. Every light in the street went off. The only sounds were a couple dog barks and distant siren. “What did you guys -” You cut off by the lights abruptly coming back to life even brighter than before. They flashed in sequence and up and down every house across the street spelled out the phrase: ‘Happy Birthday ___’ and your favorite song played from speakers that were mounted on the roof on the boys neighboring home. You gasped and dropped the tablet onto your lap and you felt your face grow warm and tears threaten your eyes.
“Fuck. Don’t cry!” Al said. “what’s wrong?!”
“I’m just so happy!” You hugged the tanned boy in a death grip before tackling his brother in the same fashion. ‘Thank you guys so much!”
Matt awkwardly thrusts the smaller box into your hands. “If we let you open it now, will you stop the water works?”
You nodded and tore off the decorative paper and lid to find a silver bracelet with charms. A pink and blue cupcake, a wine bottle, a maple leaf, a bat, and your birthstone. “It’s beautiful…” You said to yourself.
“It was Olivers idea.” Matt said. “He had us all pick out the charms. Don’t expect it again though.”
You smiled and slipped it on before asking what was in the other box.
“Some stuff from the bakery.” Al flipped it open and you found a (Fave flavor) cake with colorful frosting.
Just then, the siren that was once distant drove by as it chased...a polar bear? “Why is Kuma being chased by the cops?”
“We may have tripped the alarm to Dad’s bakery.” Al smirked.
“You have a key though.”
“That’s no fun!”
You rolled your eyes and laughed at the antics of your two friends. You spent the rest of the night with them as you all messed with the lights to put on a personal show to the playlists, all the while, Kumajiro gave the police a good chase around the neighborhood before he vanished into the safety of the backyard, where they couldn’t find him.
Your mother got home late and found you and the boys sprawled across the living room. The TV was still on, You were curled up on the couch, Matt snoring in the armchair, and Al laying on the floor. All three had cake crumbs on their faces and a content look.
The woman sighed, knowing you would have been alright as long as these two were around. She briefly flicked to the news and stopped at the story that was on.
“The whereabouts of the mysterious bear that caused a police chase is unknown. But police have reason to suspect a trio of what appear to be local teenagers that laughed at the scene of the chase, as they were the only ones present on the streets and several complaints about them disturbing the peace.”
Mom sighed in irritation. “Not again…”