A birthday story....
|Written for the: "The Writer's Cramp"
Prompt: Write a story about the best (or your favorite) birthday gift you ever received.
I woke up earlier than usual that Sunday morning, too excited to even think of sleeping past the six o’clock hour. The dormitory was still quiet, and I had the showers to myself – not having to struggle with twenty or more other girls for a chance to get a good stall. I hummed softly while getting dressed in my Outing uniform, a dark blue skirt and a white blouse with a ridiculous tie in the front. We were going to attend Sunday Mass at the boys’ school next door, but even that wasn’t going to be the highpoint of my day. I couldn't care less about boys and their issues.
“Happy Birthday to me,” I said, as I made my bed. I wasn’t expecting a lot of gifts from my classmates. Usually, it was a tradition to wake up to small items wrapped, or not, scattered all over one’s bed, but I had woken up to nothing. Not even a card. No matter. Something better was going to make up for it. For you see, today was Visiting Day, and my parents were going to come all the way down here to see me.
Once every month, parents and loved ones are allowed to come to the school to spend an entire day with the students. My parents had missed coming last month, and even though I was disappointed, they had definitely promised to come on my birthday. It was a thirteen hour drive to get here, and the cost of traveling those days was quite expensive. My parents were not wealthy by any means, so one can appreciate the sacrifices they had to make to see me. Needless to say, I was more than excited at the prospect of seeing them after three long months. I was just a freshman, and you can imagine the bouts of homesickness I got every night before going to bed.
Mass went by in a blur, my gaze always drifting to my watch as I prayed to God to end this ritual quickly. Finally, we were free to go back to our school, and as per custom, the gates were thrown wide open and we could see cars driving into the stadium where relatives waited anxiously for us to show up. I walked through the stadium bleachers, searching for my Mom and Dad, but after two trips around the place (it was getting fuller by the second) I realized that they had not yet arrived.
It’s cool, I thought while making my way back to the dorm. Maybe they’re just running late. They’ll show up soon enough. The day’s not over yet.
By three o’clock, the smell of delicious home-cooked meals and excited chattering from the girls in my apartment made me nauseous. I had changed back into my daywear, not wanting to mess up my previous uniform. I wanted to look neat enough for my parents. A few girls invited me to eat the meals their parents had prepared, but I shook my head in polite refusal. I wanted to be hungry enough for my mother’s cooking when she came.
Five o’clock and I was almost in tears. Visiting hours officially ended in an hour, and no one had come to get me yet. I hadn’t heard the familiar bellow of ‘PATRICIA, YOUR PARENTS ARE HERE!!’ and the most agonizing part was listening as other names but mine were called. I lay in bed, shrouded in misery and loneliness while a cloud of happiness and pleasure from the others threatened to drive me insane. I thought of running to class, to stay there for a while, but a part of me still insisted that someone was going to send for me soon. I didn’t want to make my parents wait any longer than they had to.
Seven-fifteen, and darkness replaced a once beautiful day. My parents hadn’t come, and the last group of giddy teenage girls were making their way back to the dorm. My thirteenth birthday had come and gone, and the bitter taste of disappointment felt heavy on my tongue. I sighed and picked up my textbooks, deciding to go to class for late night studying instead. Tomorrow, I’d try going to the main office to place a call, to see if everything was okay, or maybe to yell at them for making my birthday such a terrible experience.
As I walked down the narrow stretch of road leading to the low buildings, I heard someone screaming behind me. I paid no attention at first, assuming it was just another classmate wanting to torture me with an invitation to eat their mom’s cooking. Argh. I could gag.
“Patricia!” This person yelled, forcing me to stop and turn around in bemusement. In the gloom, it was impossible to see who it was, but I soon realized it was my best friend, Susan. There was a ridiculously wide grin on her face. “Your parents!” she panted. “Your parents are at the gate! They sent me to get you.”
“Stop kidding, Susan,” I said impatiently, even though my heart was thumping louder within my chest, and my lips were forming a reluctant smile. “Visiting hours are over and you know--”
“Come on!” she interrupted, laughing and tugging my arm. “They won’t let them into the stadium since it’s closed, but the security guard has them waiting by the gate. Hurry!!”
I didn’t need to be told twice. With legs that felt like rubber, I ran my hardest towards those large steel gates. Halfway there, I saw them. My mother and father standing with enough goodies for a classroom party. They waved at me with smiles of relief, and that simple gesture was enough to have me bawling like a baby.
“Thank you,” I whispered, not really caring for the material things they had gotten, as I hugged them tightly. For just knowing that they had come this far, on this special day, was the greatest gift they could ever give.
Word Count: 998