The Ink Well Prompt #16: Your Birthday / Her birthday

With my regards to my fellow writers, I leave my inspiration on @theinkwell's call


Her birthday

It was time to blow out the candles. Up to that moment, everything had been completely normal. This was just another date, not because her birthday was not a special day, but because, at her age, she had performed this ritual five dozen times... She knew perfectly well how to behave. Her faithful friends and their families had performed for her all the protocols that the date demands and now, as I said before, it was time to blow out the candles.

She was listening to the beautiful celebratory song sung at every birthday and found herself thinking that the beauty of each song was the special constitution of the choir. She looked away from the cake to stop at the nearest voice. It was that of her son who, beside her, was looking at her. The woman wondered if people, when they sang, were capable of smiling as openly as her son. She realised that they were, obviously, because everyone in that special choir was singing in that way, and she was flooded with joyful gratitude.

The last verses were playing and the woman prepared, bending her body, to blow out the candles. It is always possible for a magical event to happen in this circumstance. As she closed her eyes to make a wish, a memory, like a flash, crossed her mind and she found herself, without further explanation, a girl. A girl with an unfulfilled wish.
Blow out your candles!
She heard the voices. She looked up as if returning from a dream.
Something inside her had broken, but she kept smiling.

I'm making a wish! She said sincerely, without anyone understanding the seriousness of her sentence.

Ask for a new car! her son said to her, his phrase sounding as if he himself were the genie of the lamp.
The boy's sentence uncovered a kind of catharsis.
If I were you I'd ask for a trip around the world! Someone said with a chuckle.
Or a beautiful bracelet! Said someone else.

A prince charming, a grandchild, a part-time job, winning the lottery, paragliding, a trip to India to get to know you, a private island, a secret lover, a designer dress, a flying carpet....

The laughter of her friends, always ready for a joke, followed each suggestion of a wish.

That meeting seemed like a memorable moment. It became in fact a humorous competition to be remembered in the future. The room was filled with laughter, with exchanges. The centre around the cake was gradually faded by the need for a drink, or to ask someone an urgent question.

To each of her friends and family Martha arrived with a piece of cake and from each of them she received a kiss of thanks and sincere congratulations. No one noticed the moment when she decided to slice her cake without making a wish.

Martha was a determined woman, as she dismissed the attendants, she decided it was time to face her question... she had a difficulty, she found herself looking inside herself at the same inability as when she was a girl.

She put on some music, turned up the volume louder than usual, leaned back on the sofa and let herself be carried away by the sound of the piano... she let her mind float between the chords. After a while he felt the need to review his life. She could go through photos on his phone, but she preferred to open the photo albums....

She knew it could make him sad, but she smiled at the idea. "A little sadness never hurt anyone", she told herself.

She saw herself as a newborn in her mother's arms, she saw herself as an eight-year-old in that dress that stayed in her memory forever. She saw herself in love, and she saw herself as a bride, she saw herself as a mother, she saw herself as a widow, she saw herself surrounded by friends and family and she saw herself alone... counting the days, the months and the years.

When she closed the album Martha had an answer. What she was looking for was not hidden in the photographs, nor in the memories. She only had a question with no certain content... she didn't know what it was. But she would not stop living without finding it. She was determined.

Thank you for reading



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