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Happy birthday to me.
Found a gift card in my mailbox
     ...for a place I rarely shop...
—but my parents have seen me there, at least.
Evidently a call
     ...or text...
     ...or e-mail...
would be too hard.

     They claim I don't want to talk to them.
     Then how come we only communicate when I reach out first?

Brother calls & sends some texts, first thing in the morning.
"Help me with my résumé?"
I stare at the phone
     (I'm not home)
and wonder when he'll remember it's my birthday.

I'm still waiting the next day, when I'm helping him with his résumé
     (and with some formatting issues on his USB drive).
I mention I spent the previous day in another city.
My brother pauses and says, "Oh, happy birthday, by the way."
His tone calls it an afterthought.
     Four months ago,
     for his birthday,
     I learned to fillet a sardine
     and made him a special dinner.

If I call him out on his afterthought,
he'll insist I'm overreacting or misreading him.
     (He's done that before.)
     (They've all done that before.)

My family insists I'm terrible at reading people.
Strangers express amazement at how well I read them.
I also ace "read this expression" quizzes
     (I can't get as low as an "average" score on them even when I try.)
So I hold my tongue, finish helping him.
And wonder if my aversion to relationships is conditioning rather than true aromantic asexuality.

Go home.
Try not to cry.

Happy birthday to me.
Happy birthday to me.
It won't come from the family,
happy birthday to me.


This was my Thursday and Friday, the week before I wrote this.

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