I hate birthdays. Especially my own.
It happens too late in the year and always got overshadowed by the real holidays. And I have always been okay with that. When I was a kid my parents never had much money. That combined with the proximity to Christmas meant one or two presents. Not that presents mattered.
I mean as a kid they did but not as much as lasagna and cake.
The same meal every year, my favorites. My mom made her special eight cheese lasagna and German chocolate cake. We had tradition. Dad would change out the light bulb in the dining room with a blue one and we would eat cake under the blue light. They said it was my special thing, the light I was born under.
I never understood it. They said the bedroom turned blue as I was taking my first breath. I always assumed it was some kind of joke. But it was our thing.
I loved it.
Beth bought a blue bulb and would bathe me in it for my birthday as well. We would make love under the blue light.
I loved that even more.
And my parents were dead. Like Beth. My phone sat silent. If not for Her, I would not have even known it was my birthday. I’m sure social media reminded people who didn’t really care but if that is what it took to make them care it really didn’t mean anything.
I made a birthday meal of the leftover rice and dumplings. As I sat at the table and shoveled it into my mouth the light in the ceiling fan blew out. Of course it did.
What did I expect? That it would turn blue? That would have been unrealistic.
It would have been nice though.
Rock Bottom had never felt so low. I was full and stuck with the taste of shrimp in my mouth and sorrow in my heart. Why couldn’t life be like a book? This is when my secret powers would kick in. I would find a way to free myself of Her. It would turn out Beth was still alive and we would find each other. Live happily ever after. Raise a brood of beautiful children that got none of my faults and all of her perfection. I just want my own happily ever after. One where things work out. One where none of this happened. Where I didn’t want to die all of the time.
One where someone gave a shit.
A walk to clear my head seems apropos. The walls are closing in on me. It felt hard to breathe. Hard to think. Suffocating. Like drowning on air. I need to get out of here before I go insane. Farther insane. How long had I been trapped here?
It was embarrassing how long it had been since I had someone to talk to. I tried but everyone has their own shit to deal with. And I knew I didn’t rate very high on their lists of added misery. Maybe they would have talked to me if they really knew how bad it was. How desperate I had become. But I didn’t want to be a burden. It was hard enough being me without asking someone else to help shoulder the pain. They all had families, loved ones to worry about. I was out of step with them all at this point.
I talked to Chad more this week then in the past ten years. We texted occasionally. When I was more active on social media we would comment on each other’s posts. It was an illusion of closeness. Objects may appear closer than they are. People as well.
I found myself roaming the streets. Not paying attention to my surroundings, just steadily walking and thinking.
The fact of it all was I am to blame for all of it. I shut down. Locked myself away after failed attempts began to pile up. Stopped looking fornthe good and just focused on how shit it all had gotten. It became easier to push away than to let anyone in. Defense became my knew offense. If it all was going to fall apart why let it affect me? Why allow myself to get hurt?
I ended up hurting myself instead. It was all so clear. This is how I lost Beth. How the other girls faded away. I was smoke. Impossible to hold, just a cloud that they spent time in. A ghost in my own life.
I had succeeded in killing myself years prior. It was an emotional death while waiting for my body to catch up. Now, with real loss and regrets I saw how fucking stupid I had been. Expecting the fairy tale ending without putting any effort into it. Cinderella slaved away for years before finding her prince. I expected my princess to just walk in and slip the glass Vans onto my foot. My godmother to show up and turn my pumpkin into a carriage.
I got the evil godmother I deserved. The wicked witch that froze men did and drowned any potential suitor.
I got exactly what I earned. After years of putting nothing into it the end result was fucking karma. And I still managed to come close. So close.
I shook the reverie and was shocked to find myself standing on the bridge where we had the snowball fight so many years ago. Another life ago. The river growing slushy, the air just now cold enough to begin to solidify it.
How many times had my life brought me to this very place? Was this my fate? I tried to think of reasons not to jump over and let the water take me. I knew I wouldn’t drown, but maybe I could freeze solid. Maybe I could weight my pockets down and just sink to the bottom and stay there. With the bones of the others the river took. With Timmy.
I remembered another kid, Dusty, that had fallen through the ice. It happened the year after Timmy. I told my mom that now Timmy had someone to play with. The sharp slap across my cheek, like when I insisted She was responsible a year before, shocked me. I didn’t understand. I meant it in a nice way. It turned out Dusty and I had shared a birthday.
We had shared a birthday.
She took him. She thought he was me. She took him hoping it was me. It always came down to me and Her.
Rage built in me. I didn’t ask for this. I never asked for anything. A robin landed on the railing next to where I was standing and began to sing. I looked at it, so mindless and driven only by instinct. Free of the deeper questions, content as long as there was food and a nest. Instinct and sex drove nature. It was unfair. Humans were supposedly superior yet we used our higher purpose and did nothing with it. I had accomplished less than this fucking bird.
As I directed my self hate at it I saw it freeze in place. Ice form on it’s wings. Heard it’s hollow bones snap. And I funneled all of my anger into it and watched in satisfaction as it exploded.
A car honked as it passed me. Some kid thinking to scare me. My anger went at him next. All four tires exploded and he lost control in the slick road and hit a telephone pole.
I shook with fury. Quaked with power. I was beside myself. I had never felt this way before. I felt alive and flushed with righteous anger, like a vessel of the gods.
Like I was going to be sick. It was gone as fast as it began. My head began pounding and I tasted blood in my mouth. I must have bit the inside of cheek as I lashed out. And I knew I had lashed out. I saw the flashing lights of the ambulance coming. Someone must have called 911 about the accident.
Blue flashing lights. My last thought was I got to see blue light a for my birthday like when I was a kid. Like when Beth lit up the bedroom in blue. As darkness came I saw my parents. I saw Beth. They were smiling at me. Wishing me a happy birthday. I could hear them singing to me. Telling me to blow out the candles on the cake. All the flames were ice cold and the brightest blue.
Happy Birthday to me.
“Sir. Sir. Can you hear me?”
I blinked. Eyes refusing to focus.
“Good. Welcome back.”
I was inside. Someplace bright.
“Where am I?”
“You were brought in by the ambulance sir. You are in the hospital. What do you remember last?”
“A car wreck?”
“Look up. Now left. Good. Right. Alright. Thank you. You passed out on the bridge. Has this happened before?”
Only once. And then there was the time I died.
“No. I think it was low blood sugar. I haven’t been eating well the last couple days.”
“Alright. Any family history of black outs.”
“Just from alcohol.”
“And have you been drinking?”
“No. I have just had a bad week. My ex wife died a couple days ago. Stress I guess. I am fine. Can I go?”
“Why don’t you lay there for a little bit and rest. I will be back in a few minutes and check on you.”
I killed that bird. And caused the kid’s tires to blow. It was me, I have no doubts on that now. Wong Two was my fault as well. My anger let me tap into it. I could feel the power surge through me. I need to figure out how to control this.
And probably not pass out after using it everytime.
Was this Her power? I have questions and no answers.
“Well hello there again.”
I was shocked back to reality. And then just afraid. It was the cop from my apartment.
“Hello again Officer.”
“Funny how bad shit seems to just follow you around Mr. Ehrenkov. Accidents seem to be drawn to you.”
“If it weren’t for shit luck.”
“I don’t believe in luck. Ot coincidence. I have been looking into you Mikhail, mind if you call you Mikhail?”
“A trail of death has followed you for quite a while now. You have racked up quite the body count.”
“No offense officer, but fuck you.”
“Now that is no way to speak to a police officer. I think you are at the center of all of this. I think you are responsible for it. I’ll make you a deal, tell me everything now and save us both a lot of trouble and confess.”
“Confess to what?”
“The accident involving Henry Nguyen for starters. The incident with the delivery man at your apartment, Mister Wong Nguyen. The newest accident on the bridge that put Douglas Flori in the hospital. To begin. We can touch on your parents death and the circumstances involving Elizabeth Dettore, your ex wife as well. A laundry list of unexplained circumstances and I think you have answers.”
“Do I need a lawyer? I feel like you have a lot of accusations and no proof here. But if you want to do this…”
“Just trying to satisfy my curiosity for now. These are just questions that are bothering me. But we can continue this in a more formal setting if you prefer. I am going to get to the bottom of this one way or another. Be easier with your cooperation of course.”
“I don’t have any answers. I wish I did. All I have is questions myself.”
“I see. You have my card. And I have your info. I have a feeling we will be talking again soon.”
“I cannot wait.”
This is not good. He is going to end up at the bottom of it alright, the bottom of the river. She will not like this. And neither do I.
Worst fucking birthday ever.
I hit the button and summoned a nurse. Might as well try and get some pain pills out of this ordeal.