Unwrapping (FLASH FICTION)

file371237662910Sammy blew out the all the candles on the cake, closed her eyes and wished – no wait. No point.  Her wishes had already come true.

And now at last it was finally her birthday, although it had taken far too long in coming.

“Happy Birthday dear Samantha…”

It’s funny, isn’t it, how time decelerates when you’re waiting for something important? It’s like a suitcase laden Mini going up a one in nine hill with a stubborn wind against it. You can see where you’re heading to the top, but the journey there jitters and judders along as the wheels try to heave the vehicle up.

But no matter – she was here now, surrounded by those who meant the most to her. She’d already cried once, and would no doubt go again. They hadn’t needed to come. But they’d still taken the time and trouble.

Her too; no idle waiting on her part although admittedly lots of faffing about. She’d had months to plan the décor, the balloons and the festooned frippery teasing above the tops of their heads. All meticulously chosen and put up by her fair hand. (And taken down several times trying different bits of it here and there – and then here again – to get it all just right.)

Not the cake though. She hadn’t made that. Shop ordered and delivered, thank you very much.  She and everyone in the room knew very well that kitchens and she did not mix. They were diametrically opposed on a cellular level. Countless dinner party attempts and even dishing up something simple for her other half was proof enough. Some things you simply cannot change. She was and would forever be the Takeaway Queen.

Mum had been so right. Poor old mum. She was the one person missing today. She would have loved this and been so proud. But fate wearing a black cloak of cancer had swept her away nearly 18 months ago now.  But she’d known this landmark – Sammy’s coming of age – was on the horizon.

Mum had even sent a present via their trusted solicitor, who’d done so much for them both these past few years. He’d been one of the first to arrive, carrying the ornately wrapped pink box with delicate flossy ribbon in front of her now, proudly sat atop taking pride of position on all the other gifts. So generous of them.

She could feel herself welling up again.

Such platitudes. Such lovely comments about her hair, her dress, her shoes. The bruising and swelling was all gone now, and the pain retreated to careless

She’d never had a birthday like this before. Forty-two years on this planet, but this really was her first one – her first of many more as a woman. Samuel truly was gone. Samuel was now surgically and legally erased. Hello and welcome to Samantha; here to take on the world.

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