See if you can come in at more than a Word Count of 600. Using the prompt ‘A Celebration.’ A celebration doesn’t mean something happy for everyone. (REQUIRED)
DEADLINE – 23:59 EST (New York Time) Wednesday.
Some celebration, he mumbled, glancing around at the mass of people stuffed into his box of an apartment. Who the heck celebrated turning 50? Oh my God, he was 50!
How had he gotten so old, so fast? Just the other day (or so it felt), he’d held his son in the hospital, awed at the new life balanced precariously in his hands. Jonathon who died at 16, done in by a drunk driver on his first solo. Susan who died of a broken heart after losing her only child.
What the heck did he have to celebrate? Thirty years on a dead-end job? Company’s pension gutted, leaving him nothing on which to retire? Or maybe the fact he’d have to work until he dropped dead, greeting at Walmart or some such demanding job.
Holding his champagne awkwardly, he smiled, thanking everybody for coming, for his birthday wishes, for the presents piled on the side table, gathered around the uncut ‘Best Wishes’ cake.
Julie, bright-smile faker, stopped beside him.
“Peter, how wonderful to have reached fifty! I, myself, haven’t yet hit thirty you understand, but I am sure you feel younger than ever.”
He swallowed a caustic reply, good at his own brand of fakery. “Younger and younger, Julie.”
“I’m sure,” she smirked, kissing his cheek before heading back for more champagne.
So who was paying for this bash? He sure wasn’t. He’d come home from the Five and Ten to find this mass of people in his apartment. Some close friends, but mostly people from work, people he’d grudge a hello, at work where he was bound to do so, but he’d certainly never socialize with them.
“Presents and cake,” somebody shouted, sounding suspiciously like Ray.
Reluctantly ushered to the table, he looked at the packages. Did he have to open all these? Had they decided he should have a gift for ever year? Yea, gods.
The phrase brought a real smile. His son had hated those words, moaning every time about how old-fashioned he was, how embarrassing. No wonder he’d said them at least twenty times a day that year.
Paper rustled, each forcing happy words. “Oh, a new toaster! I’ve been dying for one in black.” And, “A red toaster! How great. Now I can make toast in both rooms.”
And so on. The final gift on the table was an envelope, someone cheap enough to bring nothing but a card. He torn open the envelope.
‘If there is a finite amount of matter in the universe,’ the front read.
He opened the card:
‘How can Olive Garden offer unlimited breadsticks?
The best, Ray.’
A folded paper was clipped to the back of the card.
Looking up, he raised both eyebrows.
“Open the paper,” Ray said, doing the adult pee-pee dance. (No flapping arms).
Unfolding the paper, his eyes rounded in shock. “Where….?”
Ray grinned. “Remember that Lotto ticket we purchased?” Smugly added, “We won.” Handed him a magazine folded open.
Shakily, he took the magazine.
“Little cabin in the woods,” Ray grinned. Gods, they both hated that song.
“Little man at the window stood.” He looked down at the magazine. A For Sale ad, big red SOLD written across the picture; cabin surrounded by forest, butting up to a sparkling lake.
“No more damn bunnies!” They both shouted.
“Actually,” he conceded happily, “no more damn Walmart!”
With that, the party began.
The quote used on the card was taken from the internet. I was, however, unable to determine who wrote that wonderful line. It was begging to be used and, alas, I could not resist its siren’s call.
The phrase ‘yea gods’ was taken from my father who embarrassed me endlessly with it during my teen years.