Mikey’s Ninth Birthday
“Hey, where is everybody?”
The backyard, which was gaily decorated in green and black, was empty. The balloons were bobbing, the streamers blowing sadly in the breeze. It didn’t look like the birthday party he’d been expecting to find. There should have been a bunch of nine year olds running around screaming, but the only one there was the birthday boy.
He was lying facedown on the big trampoline, his face hidden in his arms.
There was no answer forthcoming, so Heath put down the present he’d bought Mikey on the picnic table (the new Snatchers video game that he’d been squawking about for a month. He’d saved up all of his allowance and even took some money out of his savings to buy it, so his friend had better appreciate it) and headed for the trampoline.
He pressed his palms down on the bouncy surface, hoping to shake a reply out of his silent pal. “Hey, didn’t you hear me? Where is everybody?”
“Go away,” is all he heard, the words still muffled by Mikey’s arms, so he decided not to pay any attention to them and instead climbed up on the trampoline.
“Mikey, what’s wrong?” When Heath didn’t get an answer, he nudged his friend’s shoulder. “Mikey.”
The boy flipped over violently, glaring at his friend, as if daring him to say something about his red eyes. “No one showed up, ok?”
“What? Why?” His best friend was the most awesome guy he’d ever met. Why wouldn’t anyone show up at his party?
“Eddie Porter’s having a party today, so they all went over there.” The sullen reply was punctuated by Mikey sticking out his lower lip in a pout, which normally Heath would have laughed at, but he knew that his friend’s feelings were hurt.
Mikey raised his head and glared angrily, ready to fight. “What do you mean ‘so what’?”
Heath shrugged. “We don’t need them to have fun. If those jerks need to go to that pea-brain Eddie’s party, let ‘em.” The lip was still poking out, but Mikey was listening. “We can get my geeky brother Greg to set up the big screen out here so we can play video games, like we did that one time, and maybe we can get your mom to let us camp out here on the trampoline, because Sarah said there’s supposed to be a meteor shower tonight. Wouldn’t that be cool?”
Heath held his breath, hoping that this would make Mikey feel better. There wasn’t much he wouldn’t do for his friend, and it made him feel bad when Mikey was hurting.
Mikey nodded, sniffling. “Yeah.”
“And you know what else?”
Heath leaned closer and whispered confidentially. “We can have the cake all to ourselves.”
Lo, and behold, that brought a smile. Mikey did love birthday cake.
“For coming to my party.”
Heath shrugged. “You’re my best friend. I’ll always come to your birthday party.”
With one more smile, Mikey turned onto his back and looked up at the sky, Heath following suit.