The Passed Note Issue 1 June 2016 - Page 16

head of the table, “I’d rather have Mom do it.”

Back at my infamous sixth birthday, Mom balanced the cake, taking slow steps from the kitchen into the dining room. She checked beneath her feet for abandoned shoes, toys, the smallest of my cousins running around. A Bailey birthday means the entire family squashes into the house of the celebrated.

Mom lowered the cake before me, candles already lit. Even though I didn’t need to count, I did. Six candles. It was decorated just how I asked, with bright vanilla frosting and blue icing snowflakes dancing around HAPPY BIRTHDAY MACY! I love winter. For those few months every year, I’m older than Des. Smarter, more mature, separate. But she’ll catch up. She always does.

She sat at my elbow that day like we were best friends and bellowed “Happy Birthday” the loudest. A competition. Earlier that day she’d made me open her family’s present first—a journal and a set of glittery pens—before proclaiming, “I have one too!”

“She’s your cousin,” Dad told me whenever I complained about Des. “She just wants to be like you.”

No, I wanted to tell him. She wants to be better than me.

I inhaled to blow out the candles, Dad ready with the camera. I needed to blow them all out in one breath or the whole family would go “Awww” like I’d already doomed my new year to lousy luck.

But then I saw the candles on the right flicker. One went out.

Des.

She was trying to take my time away. Like it was already March and my winter independence was over.

“NO! I don’t need your help!” The scream tore out of my throat. And Mom’s beautiful cake with sky blue frosting snowflakes was squashed in my fist and I hurled it at Des.

From that day on, our rivalry went into hyperdrive.

“Did you hear about the stupid party Carol’s throwing for Des tonight?” I ask Dad.

“I did,” he says after a pause. “You going?”

“Hell no.”

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