Here’s a 15-minute wonder, coming in at 438 words. Backstory is that this really happened to my kid brother whose girlfriend walked out on him. Comments welcome.
Not five minutes earlier Gloria had led the singing of “Happy Birthday.” Me, 30 years old, and there were times I wondered if I’d ever make 30. Now, it was all about “What do you think we were doing!” Gloria was being what they call rhetorical. It wasn’t a question. I’d just seen her with her arms around Jimmy’s neck, sucking on his mouth.
Gloria was my girlfriend. I took her out skating, paid the dinner bills, let her decide which movies to see. So what right did she have to do a mouth-to-mouth on Jimmy?
“You want to be suspicious, go right ahead,” she shouted. “Do you know what controlling means? Socially abusive?” She stuck her pretty pert nose right up to mine. “I’m sorry I gave you an expensive birthday present. It should have been a tube of Preparation H cause you’re a pain in the ass.”
Oh, hey, it was my fault for seeing them kissing in the kitchen? At my own birthday party? Even before I finished opening the presents? Gloria really knew how to hurt a person. Thirty is a sensitive time for a guy. It only comes around once and then — what? — old age? Dementia? Heart disease?
I had heart disease you wouldn’t believe, watching Gloria walk out the front door on Jimmy’s arm.
“I wish you all good fortune,” I shouted to the room. Room. There were about six so-called guests drinking my beer. Eating my chips.
“Hey, lighten up,” Angie said. “C’mon back here.”
“No,” I said. “My love was thrown right back in my face. With callous disregard. Indifference to my heart and the fact that it’s my birthday." Okay, so the beer was talking.
“I’m going outside and end it all.” A few heads looked up. Well, two heads. The rest were watching basketball on TV. “I’m going to throw myself under….” There was no bus service this late at night. No cars even. “A tree.” And I slammed the door behind me.
Standing on the stoop, the irony got to me. My last birthday? No, there’d be a lot more to come. I couldn’t be jealous. That would mean I thought…. I tried to mop up the beer in my brain. It would mean I thought Jimmy was better than me. That Gloria was smarter. That I should kill myself, but couldn’t come up with a better idea than throwing myself under a tree. And I began laughing so hard I had to sit down.
“What’s so funny, neighbor?”
Old Jenkins looked over the hedge.
“Only three hundred and sixty-four days to my birthday. That’s what funny.”