An exceptional birthday party
|“What do want for your birthday, sweetie?”
Melinda was browsing the decorations at the party supply store. There were many themes available with coordinated invitations, balloons, hats, swag bags, etc. But there was only one thing on six year-old Emma’s mind.
“Of course,” her mother sighed as she began loading every item with a unicorn on it into the shopping cart.
* * * * * * * * * *
“Can’t we cut the cake, now?” asked Greta’s mom. “The kids are getting kind of crabby, and I'd really like to get Greta cleaned up and have a little quiet time before putting her to bed.”
“I’m sorry,” replied Melinda with a conciliatory smile. “We need to wait a few more minutes. Paul just texted that he’s stuck in traffic, and he really wants to see Emma blow out the candles. I’m sure you understand.”
The sun was already low in the late October sky as the minute hand of the pendulum clock began its climb toward six pm. The atmosphere in the family room was restive. The paper donkey was riddled with pinpricks and balloons were dragging their strings. The guests were ready for cake and ice cream.
“Falling star wishes are the bestest,“ Greta told her friend Emma, just to be contrary. She was envious of all the attention focused on the birthday girl.
Birthday wishes are better than falling star wishes,” Emma insisted loudly.
“They're the same!” Sammy declared with the solemn certainty of a nine year-old big brother. His decisive intervention calmed the gathering storm.
“They're both magic, but you hafta wish 'em right or they won’t come true,” Sammy continued. “You can’t tell anyone a birthday wish, and you hafta do it just when the song ends and the last candle goes out.”
I’m gonna wish for a real unicorn, thought Emma. And I’m gonna do it right.
* * * * * * * * * *
“Daddy’s home!” Paul called out as he made a big show of arriving empty-handed. “Is everyone ready for candles and cake?”
“Yay!” shouted several guests as Emma ran to hug her daddy around the legs. She then slipped down and clung to his shin for a ‘footie ride’ to the table where Melinda was preparing to light the candles.
Paul lifted Emma onto the seat of honor and readjusted her unicorn party hat. Melinda drew him aside.
“Did you get the unicorn?” she whispered.
“Sure, I snuck around back and put it by the patio door,” he grinned. “The thing is almost four feet tall, she's gonna love it. I’ll stand by the slider and pull it in as she makes her wish.”
The six candles were soon blazing to a ragged chorus of Happy Birthday. All eyes were on Emma as she inhaled deeply in preparation for the big blowout. She looked over the candles and through the patio slider into the darkening sky.
Emma timed her saliva laced whoosh and the birthday wish perfectly. The final candle flickered out on ‘unicorn’ as a falling star flashed through her field of view. The omens were all aligned.
“Neighhh!” and “Yaahhh!” rang out simultaneously as a struggling, kicking, live unicorn escaped from Paul's grasp.
“I did it! My wish came true!” Emma shouted in exultation, joyfully hugging the four foot tall unicorn. The birthday guests 'oohed' and 'aahed' as it greedily slurped at the birthday cake.
The adults watched speechlessly for a minute.
"Paul?" Melinda finally asked, not sure what question should come first.
"Magic?" he shrugged blankly.
"But what are we going to do?"
"Her name is Rosie," declared Emma. "She can sleep in my room."