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Twenty-Five Candles

By Adina Bernstein

 

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             Today Lacey was twenty-five. She was expecting Brian, her fiancÚ to be cooking her favorite breakfast, blueberry waffles with whipped cream and a bright red cherry on top. Her mouth watered, thinking about that first delicious bite as she walked into the kitchen. There was nothing, but a note saying “Sorry, babe I have to leave for a meeting”. Lacey crumbled the note up and threw it in the garbage. “He is planning something tonight,” she said. Lacey checked the phone for any messages from her parents, her brother, Eddie, or her best friend, Beth. “Fuck, they forgot my birthday” she said out loud. Lacey made breakfast, showered, took her morning dose of Zoloft and got dressed. 

The Zoloft, her anti depression medicine had kept her sane since she was fifteen.  After a series of traumatic incidents in January of her sophomore year of high school, the school psychologist suggested that Lacey be tested for depression. After spending several weeks in a psychiatrist’s office, Lacey was diagnosed with depression. Of course, her family and Beth knew about her depression. When Lacey and Brian started dating two and a half years ago, she thought that she would be cured. She told him on their eight month anniversary about her depression. He was supportive and comforting. But Brian had been working a lot lately and so had she. The depression creeped up slowly, but when it was there, at full strength, but Brian didn’t know. Only Lacey’s doctor knew, she told Lacey to increase the dosage.

“Hey, Lace, happy birthday” said Stefanie, one of the nurse practitioners when she got to work.  “Thanks Stef” Lacey responded. “Any plans for tonight?” Larry, one of the doctors asked. “I hope so” Lacey replied.  Later that day, after the office closed, her co-workers gave her a party. As Lacey’s co-workers sang to her, she smiled. She was imagining the apartment decorated. Presents were pilling up, a chocolate ice cream cake, and champagne. Her family and friends would be waiting. After their guests left, Brian would make her birthday even happier.

 

 

As she approached her apartment, her heart began to pound. The lights were off and there was no indication of movement. She unlocked the door, turned on the lights and nothing. There were no decorations, no presents, and no guests. Just an empty, quiet apartment. The answering machine was blinking and Lacey’s good mood evaporated. She could predict the message from Brian, and she was correct, Brian had called and left a message. The message said, “Lace, sorry, I forgot about your birthday today, we will celebrate at Hatters Inn over the weekend. I will be home late; I have to have drinks with a client. I love you”. If she were a cartoon character, Lacey would have blown up like a volcano.

Hatter’s Inn was an inn that they sometimes went to when they wanted to be alone. But going to Hatter’s Inn was not going to make up for the bastard forgetting her birthday. They all forgot her birthday, even her parents. Forget them, Lacey thought as walked into the bedroom.  After changing her clothes, she walked into the kitchen to get dinner. As she opened the fridge, she spotted a bottle of wine that she and Brian were saving for a special occasion. Well tonight was a special occasion, Lacey thought. She would have some wine with dinner and put on her favorite movie, Sixteen Candles. Happy Birthday to me, she thought. 

Lacey put the TV dinner in the microwave and put the DVD in the player. A few minutes later, she walked into the living room and started the movie. As Lacey was eating her dinner, she continued to drink the wine. She drank most of the bottle and realized that she hadn’t taken her evening dose of Zoloft. She continued to drink the wine and swallow the pills. Lacey realized that she had drunk the entire bottle of wine and taken more pills than was necessary. But at that moment, Lacey didn’t care.

That’s when Brian, Lacey’s parents, Eddie and Beth arrived. They had presents, and a cake. They noticed the movie playing, the dirty plate on the table and the light in the kitchen. “Lace?” Brian asked as he walked into the kitchen. “You fucking bastard” Lacey called him as she threw the engagement ring. It fell at his feet; Brian picked it up and put it on the table. “Are you drunk?” Eddie asked as he saw the empty wine bottle and open jar of pills.

 

 

“What do you think?” Lacey responded. “Honey, we wanted to surprise you,” Her mother said.  “Lacey, lets get you to bed, you will feel better in the morning” Beth said as Lacey’s father attempted to take her by the waist. “I’m really sorry, honey” Her father told Lacey as she escaped from his grip. “Too late for that” she told them as she picked up a kitchen knife and aimed it at her chest. “Lacey, no!” Beth yelled. “Lacey, put the knife down. I’m sorry that we didn’t tell you, we wanted to surprise you. Do not do what I think you're going to do” Her mother begged. Eddie and Brian surrounded her; Eddie wrestled the knife away from her while Brian held Lacey as she cried.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry” Lacey cried as her tears fell onto Brian’s shirt. “Lace, its ok, lets get you to bed” Brian said as he picked her up in his arms. “Honey, we will call you tomorrow” Lacey’s mother said as they picked up their coats and left. Brian carried Lacey to their bedroom. He laid her on the bed, pulled the covers up and shut the light.