Today is my birthday, or that’s what they tell me. I don’t know the exact date I was born. No one here does. We’ve always just existed behind the cold, damp gate of Greystone Orphanage. The guards tell us stories of birthday celebrations—sweet foods that melt in your mouth, wax sticks lit to count the years, large rubber balls filled with air that rise above the ceiling.
Sam tried to escape on his birthday. He wanted to eat until his stomach burst, listen to loving parents sing and rehash the triumphant day they brought him home. He wanted an Iron Man toy. He didn’t know what it was, only hoped it would break through these iron bars, setting him free.
His frail body slithered through the rusted bars of the window— he was the only one tall enough to reach it. We heard a splash, then silence. Seven moons later, Becca came back from the infirmary, said she saw Sam on a board missing his right shoulder.
The guards don’t speak of birthday parties anymore.
After watching Stephen King’s It as a child, I had always been deathly afraid of clowns. But my son was turning six, and he begged for a clown until I finally caved in.
That Saturday, I watched the party from the kitchen window while my husband supervised. What did a mother know about giving a growing boy a party anyway? If I had my way, he’d still be wearing my underwear on his head and trying to walk in my heels.
It arrived an hour late. I could see through his face paint, and when he stumbled out of the minivan, a small Jack Daniel’s bottle fell from his oversized pocket. He scooped my son in his arms and tossed him up and down in the air as if he were juggling.
I burst through the back door, screaming, “You demon! How dare you throw my child!”
The children stopped and stared. It said nothing, only swayed while holding my son.
My husband escorted me back to the house. “You forgot to take your pills again, sweetie.”
“Pizza anyone?” The waiter laid an extra-large, supreme pizza onto the table in front of the party of fifteen bouncing three-year-olds.
“Yay!” they chanted.
The pizza was loaded with mozzarella, provolone, and cheddar cheese. It had pepperoni, sausage, black olives, and mushrooms. The crust was crisp on the outside, but thick and soft in the middle.
The supervising parents placed a small slice onto a light blue plastic plate in front of each child, starting with the birthday girl. She took a bite and strings of cheese dangled from the corners of her mouth and on her chin. When she finished, she was a white and yellow whiskered princess. She held the leftover crust in her hand like a wand and, twirling around in her blue tutu and braided, blond wig, she sang, “Let it go! Let it go!” as her preschool friends sat in their chairs eating and kicking in delight.
word count: 150
This is in response to Mondays Finish the Story: a flash fiction challenge where we provide you with a new photo each week, and the first sentence of a story. Your challenge is to finish the story using 100-150 words, not including the sentence provided.
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