Fiction Friday – Birthday Blues

I missed a week of Fiction Friday last week as I was away so am really happy to be back today. Actually I did write something for the prompt last week at the beginning of this week, I was going to post it, but can’t find where I saved it. That happens when you move between three computers at work!

Enough of this anyway. Today’s prompt from WriteAnything is quite fitting for me – it’s a birthday related prompt, and I’m going out tonight for the 1st of my four celebrations. I know, I’m so spoilt! The prompt is:

Write about a man with an impossibly bad streak of luck on his birthdays, who, as his 40th birthday approaches, is scared of what might happen.

What I’ve written works fine as a short story, but I’ve come up with an idea to develop it further to make a novella, or maybe even a novel. Big ideas. Anyway, I hope you like this, as always it’s unedited.

Birthday Blues.

1st July

           ‘Honey, stop pacing and sit down. Come on, come sit next to me baby,’ Jem patted the sofa next to her and looked up, coyly through her impossibly long eyelashes. When he just looked at her she flicked her long blond hair behind her shoulder and traced a hand down her neck, to the top of her low cut shirt.

          ‘Not now Jem.’ Paul could always read her like a book. ‘I can’t think about anything else right now.’ She sighed, she was almost at the end of her tether about this. She understood he was worried, but thought he was exaggerating a little.

          ‘Baby, it’s going to be fine.’

          ‘Fine?’ The volume of his voice made her jump. ‘It’s not going to be fine. Every year, every single year something bad’s happened. 39 years. Why would this year be any different.’

          Jem stood up and walked over to him. She put her arms round him, or as far round as they’d go, she was a small woman, and he was built like the rugby player he was. She rested her head on his chest and tried to think of something to say. She knew there was no curse, no vex, that god didn’t hate him, but there was no telling him that. He’d built this up to be such a big thing in his head, that there was no telling him anything.

          Last year, it had only been a small thing. His trousers had ripped at the restaurant. At the crotch. They’d been a present from his little sister – cheap skate that she was, she’d got them from a cheap shop. He’d taken them back the next week, and, surprise surprise, they told him lots of people had brought them back with the same fault. He still thought it was him though. There was no telling him.

          The year before was a little more serious, she’d found a lump. She hadn’t wanted to tell him, not on his birthday, but he’d seen her face when she got out the shower. He could read her like a book. It had been benial, but that’s not the point, she’d found a lump on his birthday.

          Every day on 2nd July something bad happened, however small, to him, or someone close to him; his bother falling off his bike and breaking his leg on Paul’s 10th birthday, him losing his car keys three years ago, him nearly choking in the restaurant on the first birthday of his they spent together. Usually it was small things, things that happen every day of the year, but because he was aware of the date, he remembered more than he would if it happened the next day.

          Jem pulled away, taking his hand. ‘Come on, lets go to bed. Tomorrow’s coming, there’s nothing we can do about it. But I’ll be there, I won’t let anything bad happen to you. We’ll be fine.’ She stood on her tiptoes and rested a gentle kiss on his lips. For a second, just a second he believed her.

 

3rd July

           Paul sat holding Jem’s hand. He picked it up and twisted it slightly. She had perfect nails. She’d done them for his birthday to match the pretty pink dress she’d bought. She’s looked beautiful. More beautiful than she had on their wedding.

          He looked up. Her parents were huddled together, tears silently rolling down their faces. They shouldn’t have to do this. It wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. He looked back at Jem.

          ‘I’m sorry Jem. I so sorry.’ The tears came then. Silent, but gushing. He couldn’t see through them when he looked at the nurse and nodded. She removed the tube from Jem’s face a flicked a switch.

          ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry,’ he repeated again and again. Jem’s mum left her husband’s side and came over to hug Paul. Jem’s dad did the same.

          ‘It’s not your fault,’ Jem’s mum said as the beeping from the machine the other side of the bed turned to a continuous noise. A doctor lent over and gently touched Jem’s neck. He turned to the nurse and said something quietly. She turned the machine off so the only noise was the three of them crying.

          ‘It’s not your fault, it’s not your fault’ she repeated again and again.

          It didn’t matter what she said, he knew it was. She’d been run over on his birthday. He WAS to blame.

So what did you think? Please leave me a comment with your thoughts.

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9 thoughts on “Fiction Friday – Birthday Blues

  1. I love how you jumped from July 1st to July 3rd without actually showing us what happened on his birthday. Very well done. I’d love to see what else you do with the story.

  2. Quite a twist. In the beginning, you had me thinking that Paul’s anxiety was a little unwarranted. That maybe something small would happen and Jem would prove to be right in her flippant attitude. It was a big surprise when you finally reveal that she was the one who felt the brunt of Paul’s birthday curse. I like the build up in the second portion. I could really feel the tension of not knowing exactly what was going on, but knowing that it was something serious, something life changing. Good luck on an extended version. There is much to develop between these characters and circumstances.

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  4. Wow. I certainly didn’t expect the twist. In the first part I felt that it would be something inconsequential so that magnified the power of the twist. I agree with Shelli. I like that the actual incident happened “off stage.”

    I think it works well as a short but could definitely be expanded into a larger work. Good job.

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