I’m sitting in front of the fire and I’m trying not to cry. There are tears in my eyes. I turn my head away when the girls run into the room. They’re playing dress ups. They’re having fun. They don’t need to see their mother like this.
I am upset and I am angry and I am disappointed. I’d quite happily decided I didn’t want to have a big party and I feel like I've been pushed into having one anyway. Now I have spent a lot of money and sent out invitations and now people are saying No. No, they can’t come. No, they won’t come. Two of my four siblings have already told me No. I wonder if anyone is even going to show up. I wonder if I’m going to spend my birthday feeling like a loser. I wish I’d never agreed to go along with this whole birthday party thing. I could have spent that money on a decent phone.
I stare at the glowing embers of the fire angrily. I’m frowning. I know that little line that runs vertically down the bridge of my nose will be getting deeper, but I can’t stop. If I don’t frown I’ll cry, and I don’t want to cry. It’s too hot in here and that’s making me more upset. I have a headache. Everything is bad.
I get up and leave the room; retreat to what is meant to be my own space, but there’s no such thing as your own space when you have children. Briar and Xanthe walk in and out of my room casually. Briar wants to chat to me. She wants to keep me up to date with every aspect of their imaginary game. If Xanthe is going to pretend to be a dog now, then Briar needs me to know. I wish Briar understood that I was upset. I snap at her, and then I feel worse. She heads back to the safety of the living room.
I try to remember how many people have RSVP’d. I try to tell myself that my birthday is going to be great. I try to picture a successful party, but just as I begin to feel better I remember…
It’s my 21st and Mum and Dad have said I can have a party in their garage. It’s not going to be a big thing. There won’t be any family. There won’t be any speeches. I won’t be doing a yardy. I just wanted to do something, and Mum and Dad said OK. I’ve invited all the girls from work. I’ve invited Tarina and all the guys. I’ve invited Andre. I’ve got a big bag of pot and a lot of alcohol and I’m ready to party with my friends. It’s exciting.
I sit in the garage and I wait. Everyone from work turns up. They all came together, but they didn’t need to worry about the moral support thing because they’re the first to arrive. I’m happy to see them. I offer them drinks. I ask if anybody would like a cone. They tell me No. They tell me they can’t drink because they have to drive. They tell me they don’t want to drink because they have work in the morning. They don’t give any reason for not wanting to smoke with me, but I can see they think I’m doing a bad thing. I can see they think there is a difference between getting wasted on alcohol and getting wasted on a plant. I smoke a cone anyway. It’s my fucking party.
Tarina and all the guys arrive. I’m relieved. They’re always up for a party. Some of the guys have brought girls with them, and I’m happy about that. The more the merrier, I think. The bigger the better. The girls from work seem to disagree. They talk loudly about how the other girls look like skanks. They sit at the table in my parents’ garage and insult my guests. I don’t know what to say. I feel awkward.
Andre saunters up the driveway. He is too shy to enter the garage. We stand outside and he gives me a gift. A bracelet. I love it and I love him, but he is gay. I’m glad he has come.
The party has just begun and now everyone is leaving. Tarina says she is sorry, but the girls from work have just been too bitchy and no one is having a good time. I say goodbye. I watch them leave. I put some more weed in my bong.
I ran away about a week after this. I just couldn't stand working with those girls anymore.