The Ones Left Waiting
Author's note: My mother inspired me to write this story. She worked as a chemo nurse and would often come home... Show full author's note »
MiaDays turned into weeks and before I knew it, it was Jackie and Daniel’s 18th birthday. They weren’t having a party. Jackie didn’t feel up to one, and if Jackie wasn’t, Daniel wasn’t either. So it was just them, Firth and me for a quiet gathering in their living room.
I arrived late, per usual, and then the presents were opened. Firth’s gift was first. Jackie opened the box and silence enveloped the room.
“Oh. My. God.” Jackie breathed.
“FIRTH!’ she screamed, throwing herself on top of him.
“Come on, we’re dying in suspense over here!” Daniel called.
Jackie leaned up and took out a necklace out of its box. It was a beautiful gold chain with a heart pendant with a diamond in its center. Even in the fading light, it sparkled.
“All my love, Firth.” Jackie said, reading the engraving on the back.
“Oh, Firth. You really shouldn’t have.” Jackie berated him lovingly.
“I wanted to.” Firth said gently.
He fastened it around her neck and Jackie grinned adoringly up at him. I observed them, smiling at their happiness. Firth adored Jackie. It was completely obvious. That necklace was the real deal. It must have cost him a ton. But he didn’t care. He would do anything to make Jackie happy. I felt a sudden longing for what they had together.
Daniel cleared his throat.
“Well, I don’t know if I can live up to that, but I hope you like it anyway.”
The twins exchanged gifts. Daniel got a warm rugby jersey from Jackie, and also a pack of “Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans” We all burst out laughing when we saw this. When we were twelve, Daniel was convinced that they didn’t exist. So Jackie and I set out to prove him wrong. We bought him loads of packets. Then that turned into a full-fledged jelly bean war between us and the boys.
From Daniel, Jackie received a cashmere scarf and a giant stuffed elephant nearly as big as she was.
“Daniel, I love him!” she squealed, clutching the stuffed animal.
“My turn!” I exclaimed, handing her my present.
Jackie tore the lid off and I watched her reaction to my gift with bated breath. Would she like it?
Jackie pressed a shaking hand to her mouth and ripped of my hat, revealing my hair now cropped to my chin.
“Oh Mia!” Jackie cried.
‘How could you? You love your hair.”
“I love you more.” I said, hugging her.
“I don’t understand.” Daniel asked, perplexed.
“What did she do?”
“Isn’t it obvious? I cut my hair.”
“That’s not all!” Jackie exclaimed.
“She turned it into a wig.”
Jackie burst into tears and I looked at her, alarmed.
“Do you not like it?”
“No! I love it! I just can’t believe I have a friend like you. But Mia- your lovely hair!”
“Hair grows back. And besides, I needed a change. I was sick of it being long. Now, put it on!”
Jackie untied her bandana and compliantly put the wig on her head.
“You might get called a ginger. And we can dye your blonde eyebrows red if you want.”
Jackie grinned through her tears and opened her arms.
“Come here, all of you.”
We joined together for a group hug, Jackie in the center.
“This has been the best birthday ever.” She said happily.
“I love you all.”
Daniel interrupted this tender moment by grabbing a handful of cake and throwing it straight into Firth’s face.
“Cake fight!” he screamed.
“Oh, you are so dead!’ Firth retorted, lunging for Daniel.
Jackie and I shrieked and dove for cover, but we ended up getting spattered too. So, naturally, we joined in and the most epic cake battle this world has ever seen commenced.