Friday, July 10, 2009

a little blackened spot on the wood of the deck

I heard a story one time about a little boy whose parents missed his birthday. He searched the whole house for the presents he knew they'd left him, and when he found nothing he thought about crying but didn't. There was no one around to see, so he made himself a birthday cake -- which was completely imaginary -- and placed a single candle on it, which he lit with a match he'd found in one of the kitchen cabinets. He didn't sing Happy Birthday to himself, and he didn't give himself any fake gifts. The birthday party he'd created for himself had no beginning, really, but it came to be somewhere as the wax dripped down the sides of the crayon-like pink candle. He put his face next to it and watched the smoke rising in bursts from the flame, saw the molten wax overflow onto the floor, and thought of all the things he'd wanted to get for his last birthday and none of the toys he'd been given that were now broken, lost, and forgotten. He thought about his friends' parties, about the year his dad turned forty and all his friends from work came over to surprise him with a pinata full of the tiniest chocolate bars known to man. He didn't think much about rabbits or Santa Claus or pots of gold, but he did wish in an indistinct way that something magical would happen for his birthday. The candle burned slowly, but shrank noticeably as the hands of clock the boy was not watching traced a familiar dance across its face. He got up and walked away before the flame died and his party ended, but not before he made a wish that he would remember not to tell a soul.

No comments: