Taking a deep breath, I blew out the candles. One by one their flames were extinguished, and I was filled with the utmost of satisfaction. The pungent smell of the smoke soon vanished as my family and friends erupted into cheers. There was movement all around me as the cake was cut and the pieces were handed out….but I only saw him.
I was eighteen.
Seth looked away, breaking our strange trance that no one else in the room had seemed to notice. Jamming his hands in his pockets, he looked down at the hardwood floor. Sue smiled and cut into the masterpiece of a birthday cake she had made for me, and my friends all chattered away excitedly. We were in the dining room on the rainy, fall afternoon celebrating my birthday with cake and a few presents. Lexi, Claire, Quil, Zeke, and of course Seth, Leah, Sue and Charlie were there with me, nearly busting at the seams for a taste of Sue’s baking skills.
“Open mine first,” I heard Claire insist, shoving a shiny pink-wrapped package at me.
"Let her eat her cake first!” Lexi laughed, dipping her finger in the pink frosting. She swiped it on Clarie's’ arm and they both burst into laughter than I only half-heartedly shared.
I watched Seth as he took his seat at the end of the table next to Charlie, patiently waiting for his share. He had been acting strange for the past few weeks, and I think I knew why.
After my hissy fit in the meadow, things with Seth were fine for awhile, and then the closer it got to my birthday…the weirder they got. Don’t ask me what came over for me in the meadow, because I couldn’t tell you. I hadn’t planned or expected to explode like that, but something snapped inside of me. Hearing Seth talk about going out with another girl was more than I could take. I had nearly exploded on him and told him how I felt. I wanted to scream and cry and unload on him about how badly I wanted him for myself. How selfishly I pined after him, my best friend, and how wrong I felt but at the same time how utterly right it felt to want him. I wanted to tell him the truth - that I wanted him to wait for me to grow up and for it to be okay for me to feel the way I felt about him. I wanted to tell him that it nearly broke my heart to think of him moving on and away from me.
But instead, I sat in my chair, on the opposite side of the room from him and said nothing. I watched as our friends talked and laughed and joked over cake, and I wished I could think about anything else but the fact that I was now eighteen.
Seth looked up at that exact moment, and our gazes met.
“Happy Birthday,” he mouthed to me across the table. I managed to nod and try not to look like a fool as he gave me a small smile.
‘Thank you,’ I mouthed back.