Volume 3 Number 1 • Spring 2011

Tori Weston

Birthday Cake

Thirteen. Tomorrow I'm going to be thirteen. I close my eyes and try to imagine what my party will be like. What thirteen will be like. Just a few hours ago, my sister, my cousin, and I decorated my grandmother's basement with blue and white streamers and shiny gold letters that read: Happy Birthday. My mom has promised that my birthday cake would no longer be in the shape of Smurfette, Strawberry Shortcake, or any other cartoon character. It's 1989 and I am now a young woman and deserve a cake that is a little more sophisticated and grown up.

With the covers kicked off and the heels of my feet digging into the sheets, I feel hot. Maybe the heat is turned on too high, mom always mentions that our apartment gets too hot. I wonder if it's too hot for ice cream cake. An ice cream birthday cake would be nice but mom says that no one would want to eat an ice cream cake in the middle of January.

As the salty taste of his sweat touches my lips, I wonder if my birthday party will be like the school dances. Bouncing and getting sweaty to My Prerogative or slow dancing and grinding to Roni. Lying still and stiff, I close my eyes tight and try to think about blowing out my candles but my chest feels too heavy to inhale. His heavy breathing, the hot short puffs of air against my ear. It burns. Not the way birthday candles do.

Thirteen. He said that this would happen anyway to girls like me. Girls who think they know more than adults, girls like me who think they know everything. I ignore his words and what he's doing because it's pushing away the thoughts of birthday cake, cake with chocolate frosting and those candy letters that melt in your mouth.

Thirteen. Tomorrow I'm going to be thirteen and there will be chocolate cake with sprinkles, and candy letters that spell my name. My mom tells me that I can choose who can come to my party. I can choose who can have cake. Tomorrow when I turn thirteen I will tell her that he can't come to my party. I will tell her he can't have any birthday cake.

Tori Weston received her MFA in Fiction from Emerson College in 2004. In 2006, she was selected to participate in the Hurston/Wright Foundation's Writers Week and in 2008 was the recipient of the Archie D. and Bertha H. Walker Scholarship to attend the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA. When she's not writing or working on her blog The Memoir Mixtape, she is scouring used record stores and yard sales in search of a vinyl copy of Roxy Music'sFor Your Pleasure.