WRITING PROMPT: A Birthday Wish

Birthday Cake.jpg

Prompt: You are in your twenties. You wake up to find yourself in your eight-year-old body. You are in the time and at the place you were when you were 8, but with all the memories and mannerisms of your twenty-something self.

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The smell of bacon roused Jess. It’s a smell that took her back to her eighth birthday; the most memorable one of her life. Dad had said that she’d become a big girl, and Jess had to agree.

She was certain that it was that exact day, because underneath the salty tang of the bacon was a hint of whiskey, a combination that’s involuntarily etched in her mind like a badly-drawn tattoo.

Barbie dolls and My Little Pony colouring books were strewn about her room, remnants of love from her late mother.

Wait, mom’s still alive, isn’t she? Am I dreaming?

She threw the covers aside and walked out the bedroom door. Everything was much taller than she remembered. She couldn’t even reach the top of her dresser without tiptoeing. Jess wasn’t sure what to feel when she saw her eight-year-old self in the mirror. First thing’s first, she had to go to the kitchen.

Mom was there, making breakfast for the family—the last breakfast she’d ever make. Jess ran up to her and hugged her from behind. “I’ve missed you so much mom!”

“Aww, I miss you too honey, but it’s only been a night. Why don’t you be a good girl and slice these tomatoes for me?”

Jess picked up the vegetable knife, which felt a size too big for her palms. Despite that, she replaced it for the bigger cooking knife. She’ll need it for the job.

“Isn’t that a little too big for you hun?”

“We—I’ll be okay, mom.”

“Alright dear, but make sure you don’t hurt yourself, because I’ve got a special surprise for you!”

Jess smiled, recalling the ice-cream cake her mom had hid in the refrigerator. Would it be the same one this time too?

After mom was done with cooking, Jess helped set the table, eager to revisit this very day.

Dad had already taken a mouthful before everyone was seated. “Tastes like shit,” he said.

“Tom,” mom said, gesturing to Jess.

“What? She’s old enough. Maybe she can grow up to be a better cook than her mom.” Vapours of whiskey trailed his every word.

A silence hung in the air, broken only by Tom’s munching. Jess sat down next to mom, the side where she had her black eye.

“I don’t get it,” Tom said. “You stay at home all day, but you can’t get shit done. You don’t even know how to cook breakfast correctly.”

“Not today,” mom whispered.

“What, I can’t tell the truth just because it’s a ‘special day?'” Tom brought his hands up, fingers in inverted quotes, causing mom to flinch. “Now shut up and finish your shitty food.”

After breakfast came the surprise. An ice cream cake just for Jess.

“Now what’s this?” Tom said. “You waste my money,” he gestured to the cake, “on this shit?”

“It’s her birthday, To—”

“I don’t give a fuckin’ hoot what day it is! You never listen, you useless bitch.”

Jess remembered crying on her eighth birthday, remembered dad swiping the cake off the table, wrapping his belt around his fist, giving mom the usual beating. She remembered mom passing out, never to awake again.

Jess withdrew the kitchen knife she’d hidden under her onesie. Her eighth birthday had been a memorable one; and this time around, it was about to become the best.

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