23 - Woo! Party!

23 6 2

Now.

I was regaling Karen with the story of my birthday the following week in our next session.

"It was so lovely. I usually hate birthdays, but this one was actually amazing," I said.

"Why haven't you typically liked birthdays in the past?" asked Karen.

"A multitude of reasons really. At home we were never really allowed to have parties because they cost too much and it meant an interruption to the normal, drunk functioning of our home for a few hours. It wasn't all bad, though. Our birthday tradition was that Mum would always make gnocchi from scratch because it was all our favourite, and we always had chocolate cake. Our wishes never came true because the old bastard lingered longer than any of us hoped he would," I laughed, remembering how many times I blew out the candles with the mental image of him leaving and never coming back, typically in some violent and traumatic way.

"Outside of home and after I met Camden, birthdays took on a whole new meaning. My birthdays were never actually my birthdays anymore, because it was just another opportunity for Cam to have his mates around so that they had a legitimate reason — if you could even call it that — to get absolutely wasted. His birthdays were always so much worse though."


Then.

I knew Camden was sad about not seeing his father for his eighteenth birthday, so I tried to make it as special as I could. I bought him a bunch of his favourite band shirts, with illegible logos and gross, gory imagery that I hoped he would never wear in public with me. I bought him some new records with a similarly grotesque aesthetic, and some skate DVDs he'd been going on about for months. I also baked him a birthday cake — vanilla, with layers of raspberry mousse and peanut butter frosting because PB&J was his absolute favourite. It was perfectly iced and piped, and I was so proud of it.

A group of his mates were over to celebrate, half gathered around a small bonfire out the back and half crammed in front of the PlayStation in the living room. It was his birthday wish that I made sure everyone had at least one drink in hand all night, which I complied with because he was already drunk enough for me to know not to argue. I was the only sober one there, followed closely by Landon and Keely, who had been nursing the same single bottles all night, luckily for me.

It was getting late, and I was tired and a little upset that we hadn't done his birthday cake yet. It was only a cake and I know I shouldn't make a big deal out of it; but I had spent hours on it and thought he would actually appreciate the effort I made for him considering his mother's idea of a birthday cake was a dry sponge cake with preservative-laden cream filling, pink icing and sprinkles that you picked up for $5 at the local Woolies supermarket. They were inedible garbage, and not just because I was vegan and they weren't — I remember what they tasted like from my pre-vegan days. But all Camden seemed to care about was drinking more than anyone else there, like it was a race to see who needed their stomach pumped first. He would win that race every time.

He was sitting on the couch with a controller in his hand. I was genuinely surprised he was still able to see any of the buttons, let alone string together a combination move to beat his opponent. But he did, and I jumped on the opportunity to use the break in play to bring up the cake.

"We haven't done your cake yet," I said quietly in his ear.

"We're in the middle of a fucking game, Sadie." In addition to being surprised at his drunk prowess with a controller, I was also surprised he was able to string that many words together, coherently, especially considering how many empty cans of VB and Johnny Walker there was crushed and thrown unceremoniously around where he had been seated. "Go get it if you want it so bad."

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