birthdays and other melancholy days
April felt more like October. She was only forty-nine but she felt the cold coming. She never liked cake and she hated people singing to her so she knew the next few hours were going to suck ass. What were birthdays but a yearly reminder that you’re a year closer to death? For all she knew, she was going to get run over tomorrow and the number forty-nine would sum up her entire existence.
She especially dreaded fifty.
Half a hundred.
She had her doubts about Him too.
If she sat and thought about it, which she was doing, the days that were making their way past her at an alarming rate weren’t that valuable anyway. Not like when she was eighteen. Now those days were gold. When she was eighteen, guys wanted to fuck her. She would trade two of her days now for one of those days then. She would probably let more guys fuck her.
Try explaining that to an eighteen year old.
“You’ll want to fuck more.”
(Then the police come and drag away the creepy old lady…)
She saw it all play out in her head as she sat behind the large planter at the mall. She was hiding from her party and the people that made up her life and her life in general. She saw a couple of teenage girls but refrained from imparting any advice.
By the time she was seventy, her days would be almost worthless. Or so she thought. She knew plenty of older people and they all seemed happy enough and she wondered how they did it. Maybe when you get older everything is fuzzier, like when you’re given valium or whatever it is they give you before an operation to take the edge off. Maybe life is good like that.
She found that she had wandered into one of those stores at the mall that sells rude t-shirts, posters of punk bands made up of men who seem a bit old to be acting the rebel, and sex toys. She stood in front of the cheap vibrators and laughed as girls and boys walked by and giggled to themselves at the thought of actually buying one. She knew they were poorly constructed and she’d probably snap one in half the first time she pulled it from its box and inserted it into hers. They were just for show. Pity the girl who bought one with the intention of making a lifetime friend.
She felt a familiar burning in her hand. That’s what comes with age. Random aches and pains with no medical cause. She stared at the hands of a middle-aged woman and felt the usual revulsion at the loosening skin and brown spots that were starting to arrive. She moved them like they belonged to someone else. Her hands couldn’t be this old. They must be novelty hands.
She realized she’d been standing in front of the vibrators for too long and sheepishly moved on. Somewhere there was a restaurant filling up with her friends and some acquaintances. Probably just as eager to have the festivities behind them as she was. She slowly moved to the exit of the mall, but couldn’t get herself to leave.
The girl at the kiosk offered to pierce her tongue and she stood and debated it. She remembered her brother’s advice about tongue piercing: “Guys assume that if your tongue is pierced, you suck dick,” but even that wasn’t enough to convince her.
She wondered how people born on New Year’s Day make it through the day. The last thing needed was a giant flashing ball dropping into a crowd to remind her. She quickly ran through all the negative words she associated with crowds and the people who make them up. Then she imagined them celebrating and kissing.
The pain in her hand she could take. The long ache in her heart she could not. She tried to focus on the burning in her old-woman hand but he wouldn’t be ignored. The only man she’d ever loved and lusted after. She’d had plenty of both but never at the same time so he barged into her thoughts uninvited as he was apt to do from time to time. She wondered if he ever thought about her.
She walked back to the kiosk to get her tongue pierced but chickened out.
A teenage boy was looking her up and down and she met his gaze with a smile. He blushed and she realized his dick would fare no better than the cheap vibrator in her box. The thought made her laugh.
“Careful son, I will break that shit off.”
She finally made her way out to her car. Tonight would still be worth a dozen nights when she was eighty.