by J.L. O'Dell
A story of friendship between two girls
| Originally written for the Writer's Cramp, Jan. 2018 Prompt was "16 Candles" bolded as the last line.
Jackie was a solemn girl. She attended a great school in the country and was popular amongst the other girls who attended her school. Everyone liked the new girl. She was attractive and smart. When she did engage other students, they discovered she had a great sense of humor. But Jackie chose not to go out of her way to make new friends. Because of this everyone at her school thought she was also just a little strange. It wasn’t that Jackie was antisocial or anything like that. But she just didn’t feel like trying to fit in with any group.
On her birthday her family planned on throwing her a party. “Who should we invite?” Her mother asked. “How many girls do you want to come?”
“Mom, I just want a small party with the family. That’s all. Nothing big.”
“Sweetie, I understand but you have to make new friends. It’s not healthy for a young girl not to make friends. Besides, Taylor would want you to make friends. She would want you to be happy.”
“I know Mom. I will but not now. Now I just want Taylor.”
The night of her birthday party her family, Mom and Dad and her two younger brothers, decorated the dining room with western birthday decorations. There were 16 bright balloons of red and blue stamped “16” in yellow on the side of each, and colored streamers everywhere. Above the entrance to the dining room was a big “Happy Birthday” banner declaring her 16th birthday. Horses, Jackie’s favorite animal, were on each end. Taylor and Jackie both loved horses and talked about owning their own horse ranch someday.
While her family was downstairs preparing for her birthday party, Jackie spent some time in her room remembering the fun times that she had with Taylor, who was her lifetime friend. They were born on the same day, of the same year. They met in grade school and became the best of friends. They were besties. In second grade they swore a solemn oath, that they would be friends forever. “You broke the oath, Taylor. I know you didn’t mean to.”
Of course, Taylor didn’t mean to break the oath. But sometimes things just happen, and no matter how much you love someone, no matter how hard you fight, sometimes you lose. Taylor lost. Jackie remembered visiting her at the hospital after Taylor’s family was told that their daughter had stage IV cancer. Everyone took it hard. Taylor was only 15.
“Jackie, it’s time. Come on down.” Her mother called from the bottom of the staircase. Jackie sighed and headed for her bedroom door. She took one last look in the mirror, to make sure that she had a smile on. It wasn’t fair to her family that they should go through all the trouble of throwing her a birthday party, and she’d show up with a frown. So she pushed the sorrow behind her for a time when she was alone. “Besides, Taylor would want me to be happy.” She told the image in the mirror.
Jackie left her room and headed for the staircase. She decided to wear jeans and a black top. Black always made her blonde hair more vibrant and it contrasted with her fair skin. She and Taylor both liked to wear black. They both had blonde hair. Taylor’s was long and silky while Jackie kept her hair shorter. But she decided she would grow her hair longer like Taylor used to wear hers.
Her family waited at the base of the staircase and as she walked down the stairs, everyone began singing “Happy Birthday to you.” Jackie blushed. Her two younger brothers couldn’t help themselves and threw confetti at their older sister. Jackie put on her best smile and greeted her family.
Since Jackie was the guest of honor she sat at the head of the table and was served her cake and ice cream by her two temporary sibling servants. Everyone enjoyed the party, and the brightly colored decorations. Jackie’s Dad thought it only appropriate that she give a small speech on her sweet 16th birthday, but Jackie said, “No speeches, Dad.”
“Oh my God. The cake is shaped like a horse’s head. That is so cool.” Jackie smiled as she looked down at her cake. “So cool.”
Jackie really didn’t feel like giving any type of speech. She knew that her family was doing their best on this occasion. Her parents knew that Jackie was putting on a brave face and were proud of her. For days they feared that she might hide in her room today, and not want to celebrate her birthday. They both knew what today meant to Jackie.
After cake and ice cream, Jackie opened her presents. She smiled as she opened each package and thanked everyone for such a special time.
“I am happy. Thank you all for such a great party.” Jackie hugged and kissed her Mom and Dad and both her brothers.
“It’s early, Jackie. Is there anything you would like to do?” Jackie’s mother thought maybe there was something that they could do together like maybe going to a movie in town.
Jackie thought for a moment, and then knew what she would like to do. “Mom, Dad, can we take these balloons outside. There’s something I would like to do with them!”
Mom, Dad, her brothers and Jackie each grabbed some of the balloons, and all went outside into the front yard.
“Thanks guys, for a great birthday. But I want to share this with Taylor, because she is also 16 today. I want to release these balloons into the sky one at a time, so Taylor can catch them and put them on her cake in heaven. These balloons will be her “16 Candles.”