The blue balloon squirms past your head, and then mine, and then into the sky, becoming one with its backdrop, becoming anonymous. We stand quiet, motionless, as the growing distance between us and it emphasizes our smallness, pushes us with invisible, all-encompassing palms into the ground, makes us forgettable. You turned seven today, and this is your birthday party. This is the end of your birthday party.


With the blue balloon waving behind me, and with my shoelaces untied, I entered the kitchen to find the table freckled with confetti. It winked and gleamed “Happy Birthday” at me in silver and gold when strands of sun reached it, but the white paper plates set upon it faced empty chairs. Only one had been smudged with chocolate—the others were left clean, blank, unsmudged.


I found you in the backyard, standing with your back to the house. You were wearing a blue dress that was too big for you, and made mysterious the curvature of your body, save for your shoulders, which looked sharp. Its hem nearly brushed the grass when you spun to face me with eyes that almost immediately fell to my shoelaces. Your mouth, stained red with what you didn’t say, looked as though it could have been housing something in the space between your lips and your teeth.


I pulled the white ring of ribbon from my wrist towards your much thinner one, but my fingers were clumsy, were in too much of a hurry, and while it rose, a single tear fell, tracing the soft slope of your cheekbone and the length of your face before falling off its edge and becoming anonymous.

X is a writer.

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