by Bob'n Around
Invisible matters of the mind turned real into the written word.
|My mum named me April. Most kids get theirs from a beloved relative, parent’s favorite idol or other significant feeling like Joy, my new best friend’s first name. I got stuck with April. My parent’s couldn’t think of anything female. I was a surprise birth, supposed to be a boy.
“Why’d you get called, April?” Joy asked, after showing off how she was the joy of her mum’s life.
“I got born on April Fool’s Day, April first. My mum promised me I would carry on my dad’s family name as a lad instead of a lass.” I sighed. How Joy laughed. Nothing I could do about it. I was stuck with it all of my young life.
“They wanted to remember you as a family joke?” Joy giggled, snuffed, bent over holding her heaving tummy. “What do they do on your birthday?” she wanted to know.
That made me feel worse. It was true. My mum and pappa liked practicing April Fool’s jokes every day of the year, but on my special day non-blow out candles where you never got your wish was only the beginning of such things.
Oh, they did it all in good fun. It was either take it and grin or be called the worst thing there ever could be, a spoil sport. Pappa bragged how it was the best kind of training for keeping your wits sharp.
I’d come over to Joy’s house to invite her to my birthday party, looking for reinforcements to cover my back. She wasn’t having any. “I’m not going over there and be made a fool of.” She had the prettiest long locks of golden hair shaking at the thought.
“It is me those practical jokes will be aimed at. You’ll be as safe as if you wore armor,” I implored. “Show me your new party dress, the one made of pink chiffon that feels as light as air.”
That was underhanded, I know. Once she had it on, there was no going back. I’d cut it close on purpose with party time coming on. “You better be right,” Joy spoke to me in her mirror. “Anything happen to this dress and I’ll be wearing rags.”
We live next door to each other. The weather was a delightful springy day. She walked as if on parade. I held the present she’d bought for me, feeling it, figuring out what it might be. “Go ahead, Joy. You are my guest of honor. You go in first.”
My front door was already slightly open. A chorus of Happy Birthday beckoned us in at the sound of our voices. Joy’s voice joined the happy throng. As she pushed inside, a bucket of rainbow tinted water lost balance, turned upside down, spilling all over her head. Pappa shouted out with glee, “You certainly made a big splash, April, darling.”
Joy’s drenched springy curls lay plastered across her eyes. She gasped, shuddered, slipped, plunged forward, face landing in my birthday cake. “Oops,” mama said, “You forgot to make a wish.”
“My lovely dress.” Joy’s cry of consternation and my anguished reply brought their eyes from her to me.
“Joke’s on you. I guess it backfired,” I told pa.
There was a lot of commotion getting in the way of settling things down. “I want to go home,” Joy wailed, rubbing sticky chocolate frosting into her eyes.
I became her seeing eye dog, leading the way, shooting daggers back at my family for destroying the best friend I’d ever had in my life. “I’m so sorry, Joy. I wish there was something I could do to make things better. Will you ever speak to me again?”
“For one thing, help me out of this dress. It doesn’t fit so good,” she began wiggling at it as soon as we got back inside her house.
“I’ll spend every penny I earn until I can buy you a new one.” This knowing it was one of a kind. I’d never seen anything like it.
A strange gleam and whisper of a smile appeared as Joy’s washcloth revealed her face. She licked at a spot of chocolate and grinned. “This old thing? It’s a hand-me-down. Tricked you didn’t I?”
“You did this all on purpose?” My jaw dropped to her floor.
“Your family deserved a lesson. An April Fools joke double whammy is what I came up with.” She patted her golden curls dry. “Got you and them, too,” she laughed out loud, pointing at my image in her mirror where this had all begun. “Our secret right? We’ll play the joke as long as we can.”
That spring and summer was the best one of my life. Free tickets to the movies whenever I wanted them, going out to eat became second nature, sleepovers happened without having to ask.
The best part of all was no more practical jokes. Peace was made with Joy and me by agreeing to a new contract with a new way of doing things. April (me) would no longer have April Fools jokes on my April 1st birthday or anytime else.
At first it was a struggle for mum and pappa. It took getting into the new habit of doing secret thoughtful 'Pay It Forward' gifts before their new lives were satisfied. Joy's practical joke was the best and biggest teaching experience of all.
I guess, in a way, pappa thinking practical jokes were a good learning tool, could actually turn out all right. And for once, I hadn't minded becoming an April Fool.
Entry in the "SENIOR CENTER FORUM" April contest. Note. My birthday is April 6th. I bumped the date up a little and did a gender change just for this month's contest. The privilege of being a writer.