THE BIRTHDAY GIFT

FIVE MINUTE FICTION

presentIt was a balmy summer night and in the distance I could hear the drum of music as I stood on the balcony enjoying a chilled white wine. I closed my eyes and breathed in the sweet smell of sunset. Happiness filled my lungs and my smile! Fiona would be here any moment. Today was my birthday and it was almost party time! Excitement rushed through me as the door bell chimed and I ran to open the door.

“Happy Birthday, Allison!” my best friend squealed as she flung her arms around me. We fell into the wall, laughing.

“Thanks Fea! Ready to get your party on?” I asked excitedly.

“Is the Pope Catholic?” She joked. “Let’s go!”

I quickly grabbed my purse and locked the door behind us before skipping down the stairs arm in arm with Fea.

The club was packed when we arrived. As we squeezed our way to the bar, I noticed a handsome young man next to me squeezing his way through too. I felt my cheeks flush warm as our eyes met when he briefly touched my breast.

“Oh I am so sorry!” He apologised, turning an adorable shade of red.

“That’s ok,” I assured him, though I was certain my shade of red was in neon flashing lights.

We stood very still, very close and in awkward silence.

“This trip to the bar is going to be a long one” I thought.

couple having a drinkThen we started talking.

And we didn’t stop all night.

I learnt his name was Jason, visiting from Queensland and staying at his cousin, Daniel’s place in Fairy Meadow. I learnt he was 21 and the eldest of 4 children, of which he was the only boy. I leant he grew up on farmland near Bundaberg and that his passion was to take over the farm now his dad was getting old. I learnt he loved country music, pizza and star gazing. I learnt that love was possible at first meet.

Midnight struck. The night had come to an end rather too quickly. However, I didn’t run away and I didn’t turn into a pumpkin. But I did lose my heart with our first kiss. Love, I decided, was the best feeling in the world! My smile felt permanent! Nothing seemed impossible anymore. Life felt immortal in those few moments.

The night had only just begun.

And then it was over.

friends walking away arm in armWalking home with Fea felt like floating! I wanted to see him again and hoped he’d call. Then my phone rang.

“Hello,” I answered with a huge grin. But it wasn’t Jason. It was my mum. They were taking my brother, Ben, to hospital. They had a heart donor.

“Wow! This night’s getting better and better!” I thought.

Fea and I went to the hospital to support Ben. Outside there were a couple of ambulances. From the corner of my eye, I thought I recognised something, but in my hurry, dismissed it. As I scanned the waiting area for my dad, my eyes found Daniel, Jason’s cousin. All at once, everything stopped. Daniel recognised me instantly and stood up. What I’d dismissed earlier came floodingly clear with his first step – a jacket. Before he opened his mouth, I knew what he was going to say – Jason was hurt. All activity was silent in my ears. Movement was slowed to almost a pause. His words whispered a never ending echo into my soul….Jason was dead.

If it was possible for the world to stop spinning, it did with those words.

“How could my brother be gaining his life as the same time as Jason losing his?” I thought.

And then the penny dropped.

In the theatre waiting area, my family waited for life while another grieved a loss. Daniel explained how while walking across the road, Jason was hit by a car.

“I’d not seen him so happy,” he recalled. He looked at me and hesitantly asked,

“Would you like to know what his last words were before he was hit?” Through a happy birthday Allisonthousand tears I nodded. Daniel leant closer and spoke softly,

“I want to see her again.”

My heart broke a million times with every tear that fell. I knew that even though Jason would never see me again, I would see him everyday……in Ben.

Happy Birthday, Allison.

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